Issue 200 sneak peek
8 December 2014
It’s time to celebrate, with the 200th issue of The Dolls’ House magazine! Inside this New Year issue, we’ve got sparkling projects and stunning features to inspire your miniatures. This month we’ve got lots of tips on how to customise, upcycle and personalise your miniatures, getting exactly the look you want within your house. Plus, we’ve got a behind-the-scenes look at Small Stories, the V&A Museum’s new dolls’ house exhibition. Projects include making festive cocktails, an elaborate chandelier, a perfect party dress and more. We also show you how to design your own fabric, how to build your own dolls’ house front and how to embroider bespoke chair upholstery. Come and join our big celebrations in miniature scale!
Above: Early Flowering Crocus by Marianne Cook
Above: Sparkly Party Dress by Janet Harmsworth
Above: Cocktails and Crackers byLynn Allingham
Above: Breakfast set by Emma Kennedy
Dolls' House 199 sneak peek
7 November 2014
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas! This December issue of the Dolls’ House magazine is full of festive cheer, from a gingerbread man scene to create, to our ‘The Magic of Christmas’ feature. We’ve got a ‘50s-style party dress for you to make, a traditional Christmas rose to create for your garden and stylish paper decorations to bring cheer into your miniature home. Plus, we’ve got an interview with Jessie Burton, author of the hit novel The Miniaturist, a close look inside a 1:12 scale hotel, plus interviews with other top miniaturists. You can even knit and customise your own miniature Christmas stockings! Bring on the mince pies – we’ve got everything else for the season covered!
Above: Gingerbread cushion by Sara Scales
Above: '50s-style party dress by Janet Harmsworth
Above: Gingerbread men by Lynn Allingham
Above: Paper decorations by Beth Blight
Above: The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton
Above: Knitted Christmas stockings by Frances Powell
(Inside scoop: the stripy one says Katie!)
Sneak peek inside our new look Dolls' House magazine!
30 September 2014
We're rather excited about this issue of the Dolls' House magazine, with a new look, and even more great content to inspire your own miniatures. It hits the shops this Thursday, on 2nd October, so here's a sneak peek at what's inside!
This month we bring you a redesigned magazine, with even more inspiration for your own miniatures. With autumn in the air, projects include an orange-leaved Sumac tree, a polymer clay meat pie, Fairisle jumpers and more. Plus, learn how to make your own custom curtains, how to create a wooden parquet floor and how to add patinas to different surfaces. We interview some top miniaturists, and take a look inside a stunning 1:24 scale Georgian home. With tips on different scales, great prizes to win, beautiful shopping pages and even techniques for making your own house from scratch, this issue is one not to miss!
Once you've got your copy we'd love to know your thoughts! You can write to us at the usual address or email Katie.Holloway@thegmcgroup.com - your letter may even be published in the magazine, and win a prize!
(above: Sumac tree project by Marianne Cook)
(above: Polymer meat pie project by Lynn Allingham)
(above: Feature on VictorianDollhouse.com)
(above: Make your own curtains project by Beth Blight)
(above: Knitted Fairisle sweaters project by Frances Powell)
Big Castle for mini inspiration!
13 August 2014
At the weekend I visited the gorgeous Hever Castle, the childhood home of Anne Boleyn, and picked up lots of dolls’ house inspiration! Set in the most beautiful grounds, and with a lake, moat, flower gardens, mazes, hedges and an exhibition of dolls’ houses, there is certainly a lot to take in, and inspiration for miniatures is left, right and centre.
A tour round the castle itself provides endless inspiration for Tudor houses, with intricate furniture and furnishings everywhere you look. Plus, with love letters between Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII for viewing, it certainly does make the imagination wander. Plus, there are more modern additions from the various residents over the year, all beautifully preserved.
Walking around the grounds provided perhaps even more inspiration, as I started planning how to capture the essence of the Italian garden in miniature, and wonder which colours would be best to recreate the stunning rose garden. On top of that the topiary was something to behold! (note to self… find a miniaturist who creates tiny mazes!)
Plus there is a special treat to visitors on weekends in August, with live jousting tournaments! I offered my husband a handkerchief as a token if he’d joust for my heart… I don't think the lure was strong enough, though as he remained firmly on two feet. Still, maybe that was safest, as I didn’t want to lose my photographer for the day! (Plus, I’m quite fond of him…)
As for the dolls’ house exhibition, tucked away behind the gift shop – the houses were incredible! Featuring miniatures depicting all different eras, for me the pièce de résistance was the 1:12 scale model of Hever Castle itself, as created by John Hodgson. Each room shows different scenes, ranging from Medieval to Victorian times. Don’t all rush at once… actually, do!
www.hevercastle.co.uk, 01732 865224
Hever Castle, Hever, Nr Edenbridge, Kent, TN8 7NG
Photographs: Stuart Holloway
Miniature bake off
7 August 2014
We all get rather excited each year when the BBC's Great British Bake Off rolls around - and this year it literally kicked off with a roll (a Swiss roll...)
We got particularly excited with the showstopper challenge last night as the challenge was to bake miniature cakes! Now they weren't exactly our kind of miniature (they were a far cry from 1:12 scale!) but it got our miniature senses tingling nonetheless!
So we thought we'd share with you some of our favourite miniature cakes and bakeries for a touch of inspiration to see us through until next week.
This swiss roll would certainly have got full marks in the first challenge - it's from Paris Miniatures on Etsy.
As far as miniature cakes are concerned, how is this for a showstopper then? Found on miniloves.tumblr.com
We rather love this mini cake shop display too! From miniaturepatisseriechef.blogspot.co
And how about the below cupcake caravan? Read the feature about hte miniature collection in the September issue of the Dolls' House magazine - it's on sale now!
What about you? We would love to see the miniature cakes you're creating! Email your pictures and letters to Katie.Holloway@thegmcgroup.com
The joy of nostalgia
28 July 2014
As unseasonal weather lashes at the windows here at The Dolls' House magazine office (dramatic thunderstorms started the day...and incredible hailstorms, and all this following days of a heatwave!) I'm in another world. Reading an article has taken me right back to my childhood when I watched Noggin the Nog, Bagpuss and The Clangers (my favourite ever childhood TV programme). As an adult I find it fascinating to discover the backstory to these delightful tales, and now I know all about the Nogs...and yes, they were sinister, but that was an essential part of their attraction...scary but safe.
A dose of nostalgia of course is behind every dolls' house - more obviously in those echoing a previous century. But even modern dolls' house carry a hint of rememberence - a faded fabric perhaps of a shabby chic residence, a favoured holiday destination recreated. Although it is also a carefully honed nostalgia as we recreate the best bits of the past...not the injustice, the inequality, the seedier aspects of life. Our dolls' houses tend not to show 'warts and all', and any 'grime' that we include is a carefully applied technique.
There isn't anything amiss with this approach, and through all my years steering The Dolls' House magazine I've been careful to point this out - especially when meeting readers at Miniatura or The Kensington Dollshouse Festival. Being a dolls' house owner and author of two project books on making miniatures, I know how important it feels to 'get it right' when completing a dolls' house. But that 'right' might be someone else's 'wrong', the thing is not to worry about anyone else. It's your dolls' house, your style, in any way that you want it to be. Put in what you want, decorate how you want, and be proud of your achievements. Your dolls' house is your slice of history, your own little bit of nostalgia - revel in that fact!
You can read the feature which inspired this blog here:
Tops for Tudors
21 July 2014
I love British history - I think all dolls' house addicts do. We just love getting the details right and so a little research is all part of the fun. When an email popped into my inbox about a new reference source I thought I'd let you know about it. It concerns one of my favourite bunch of monarchs, the Tudors.
You can discover it here: http://bit.ly/1nMQIj0
When it comes to the Kings and Queens of England the Tudors dynasty is endlessly fascinating. So far back in time there is the inevitable speculation about what really went on, so of course we will never know the reality. There are the numerous interpretations of films and tv series. The Tudors would appear to have all the hallmarks of a royal soap opera; intrigue, love rivals, power struggles, wealth, and gristly means of death.
You would think we would know it all when it come to the Tudors....but I bet there's more to discover yet!
Simply the best
16 July 2014
I was watching a television programme the other day about 'behind the scenes at Windsor Castle'. It was fascinating viewing as you can imagine for anyone who likes to know the nitty gritty behind events. And this is the Queen's home we're talking about - I know that she has several palaces, but this is a favoured weekend retreat. This put me in mind of a vist to Windsor Castle to see one of its star attractions - the Queen Mary Dolls' House. What indeed could be better on a summer's day; heritage, history and miniatures?
The Round Tower of the Castle dominates the town. Not suprisingly it is a busy tourist attraction and the day that I visited was no exception. Excited school groups moved like shoals of fish through the other visitors. Practically everyone had cameras and snapped away happily at the iconic edifce. But, no photographs were allowed inside the buildings, including the dolls' house, which was my first port of call.
There was a long queue waiting..but thoughtfully the Castle had laid on an example of fine military marching...
Boy, they must have been hot in those uniforms! You will have to read my resport in a future issue of The Dolls' House magazine to find out more about my visit to Windsor Castle.
In St George's chapel you will find the tombs of several notable Kings and Queens (incuding Henry VIII) and the simply achingly sympathetic one of the Princess Charlotte. She was the daughter of the Prince Regent and heir presumptive to the throne, she died at Claremont House after a labour lasting 51 hours in which she had given birth to a stillborn son.
And as for the TV programme that prompted my visit, I knew more about the State Apartments - and especially that magnificent dining room - as I toured the rooms. A truly grand day out!
Did I need a Mackintosh?
30 June 2014
I am finding my feet back in the office after a wonderful week away from work. But of course I never really switch off from dolls' houses and miniature inspiration...I think it must run through my veins!
I enjoyed a week in Scotland, including an overnight stop in the vibrant city of Edinburgh. I had been in touch with the Museum of Childhood there to find out about the dolls' houses that they had, so that was an early destination. It wasn't as grand an establishment as The Museum of Childhood at Bethnal Green in London, but it had some charming displays. I particularly liked this butcher's shop - though certainly not one for vegetarians to linger by!
There were several other conventional dolls' houses though, like these..
Taking photographs in the dim light of the gallery was difficult, so I apologise that these only give an impression of the dolls' houses. It was rewarding to note though that other vistors were as intrigued by the miniature properties as much as I was.
For real size inspiration in the city I took in two National Trust for Scotland properties; Glastone's Land, and The Georgian House. Gladstone's Land was the house of wealthy merchant and landlord Thomas Gledstanes. It showcases high-rise living, 17th-century style, at the heart of the historic Royal Mile. In six rooms split across two levels, the authentically restored tenement shows how people from a variety of backgrounds went about their lives at a time when the cramped Lawnmarket was very much a living, breathing, working part of one of the world's fastest-growing and influential cities.
The Georgian House was a more obvious dead ringer for a giant dolls' house. The house has been magnificently restored to show a typical Edinburgh New Town House of the late 18th to early 19th century. The fine collection of period furniture, porcelain, silver and glass reflecting the lifestyle and social and economic conditions of the time. The elegant location of Charlotte Square is a Robert Adam masterpiece of urban design!
The sun shone on Edinburgh but mid week the forecast was correct in it's one rainy day. So what better than to find a Mackintosh...and The Hill House in Helensburgh fitted nicely!
Overlooking the River Clyde, The Hill House is universally regarded as Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s finest domestic creation. It is a mix of Arts and Crafts, Art Nouveau, Scottish Baronial and Japonisme architecture and design. Mackintosh designed nearly everything inside the Hill House too, from the decorative schemes and the furniture to the fittings and contents. His wife, Margaret Macdonald, designed and made many of the textiles as well as a beautiful gesso fireplace panel. Much of the house has been restored so it looks almost exactly as it did in 1904 when its first residents, Glasgow publisher Walter Blackie and his family, moved in.
No photographs were allowed in the inside of the building, but the guidebook is excellent - should you be able to visit or get hold of a copy. I had heard of the publishers, Blackie but hadn't realised Walter's connection with Mackintosh until my visit here and it was great to read up on the history. How marvellous to be able to commission a house like this!
Now the genius of Charles Rennie Mackintosh is really acknowledged, but it seems incredible to imagine how strange or radical his designs were at the time.
Just as last year with my visit to Mackintosh's Glasgow properties, it was such a thrill to see his design for real, it was on that day a brilliant ray of sunshine!
18 June 2014
I was intruiged to read on the BBC News about the restoration of the huts at Bletchly Park in Buckinghamshire. With the anniversary of the start of WWI this year, as well as important dates from WWII surrounding us, it has made me think about the portrayal of such times in our dolls' houses.
Now I know that having a doll's house is an escapist hobby, it's an ideal world where the horrors and pain of the real one don't exist. It's rare that we cover wartime, but the 1940s is becomming a time that some miniaturists want to interpret. It helps because this can be within living memory, if not our own then our parents, and this can make it more meaningful, more real, than a Georgian or Victorian dolls' house.
What intrugies me about the Bletchly Park story is the secrecy and the work done by the women within the organisation. Many not actually knowing the full extent of what it was they were actually doing, such was the need for keeping information within a limted 'need to know' basis.
I've just finished reading 'Light of the Moon' a novel by Elizabeth Buchan - I couldn't put it down. It follows the story of a woman who acts as an agent in enemy occupied France in WWII. There were several properties mentioned in the book; from a chateau, to a farmhouse, and even a nun's cell. All ripe for the picking when it comes to miniature interpretation. And I love that idea..the idea of a double identity, aspects of one hidden away from prying eyes...but they could be somewhere, in your dolls' house. Is there a crystal set hidden in the attic? A suitcase and change of clothes ready for a quick get-away? And that essential form of transport - the bicyle - propped up by the back door? Maps, parachute silk, explosives! What story will your dolls' house reveal?
You can read the BBC news report on the Bletchly Park restoration here http://bbc.in/1qrmXLk