Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Already a year has gone by...

It is exactly a year to the day that lovely Mr KT (aka Dave) passed away during his much longed for liver transplant operation.   The first few weeks after his passing I felt as though I was lost in a kind of "fog", shock mixed with raw grief I suppose.  Hence it did take me a while to get going again with KT Miniatures, but...slowly and surely life began to move forward with the help of family and friends. 

Suddenly and very quickly (like so many others thrust into the same position),  I have had to learn to deal with problems that I'd never had to before in all my 36 years of marriage. Mostly because they were Dave's area of expertise and he would automatically sort them.  Probably to date, the most challenging have been technical problems with the computer and KT Miniatures' website, and all things to do with my car!  But I am learning and have surprised myself in what I've been able to do.

One of the best pieces of advice from someone given to me after the funeral was to keep busy...and I have been doing just that. Ok, occasionally grief has a nasty habit of creeping up when I least expect it but it passes, and the secret is definitely not to sit and mope, but to get out there and do something.

And although it hurts like mad that he missed his daughter's graduation ceremony last autumn,  that he missed a son's wedding this January and was not here to share in the pure joy of our first grandchild recently born or indeed the impending birth of a second grandchild soon to be does feel so much better now. 

Dave was naturally a very positive and optimistic  person right up to the very end, he used humour to help him and me cope with his prolonged illness, even in his darkest hours. What is rather nice is that we as a family can smile or chuckle when we talk about him now.  

Thanks once again to everyone for your kindness and friendship given over these past few surreal months and for your continued support to KT Miniatures. 

 I think at last we are well and truly on the up at this end now,  and life seems a lot more rosy:)


Sunday, 9 July 2017

New Studio Finished At Last - Time To Move Back In!

At last, after several weeks of upheaval and hard graft, my new studio/workroom is complete. The carpet is down, the furniture is back in and although I'm still in the process of moving "stuff" down the two flights of stairs from my old workroom,  I can now get back to work properly.
As you can see, I decided in the end to paint the pine fireplace and the wooden alcove shelves in an off white eggshell paint.  But I'm confident now that it was the right choice and it has really enhanced the room. 
I used  a selection of vintage style tiles from Topps Tiles and created a random effect of five different designs from the same tile range. The result was even better than I thought it would be.
The poster was from Kelly Hall Designs bought a while ago and I finally had it framed by a local company.  I absolutely love it as the artist has featured a local landmark called Wittenham Clumps for this Oxfordshire poster, which she has created in the vintage railway poster style. It really enhances the space above my fireplace.
Am still in the process of moving everything down from my old workroom but gradually the room is  taking shape.
I use vintage jugs and nursery cups picked up from local car boot sales and charity shops to store my tools, paintbrushes etc. So too old tins, boxes and even wooden boxes  are used to hold other bits and bobs. I really don't care if the jugs or cups have hairline cracks in, or the tins have dents and are a bit on the rusty side... they are perfect for what I need them for. My old tiny Victorian dolls house has now been moved from the hall shelf into here, along with my old style toy shop. A  black Victorian jewellery box, admittedly a little worse for wear, is turned up on its end and is perfect for housing three little treasures. The tiny clock was bought for just under £3.00 in the Dunelm sale - my pretty green curtains were also from the Dunelm sale at an absolute snip of a price...I do love a bargain! The lovely ancient burgundy vintage industrial style lamp belonged to daughter-in-law but she had no more use for it so it had been destined for the charity shop. However I rescued it for my desk but my weighs an absolute ton! The beautiful painting of a French chateau on the top shelf was a very special gift from a friend.
 My lovely old 1920s cabinet is now very useful for keeping absolutely everything in!
 An old pine school cupboard has been brought down from upstairs and painted in a pale green/grey eggshell paint. I have great plans to do something arty with the doors and want to change the boring old knobs, but that will have to wait for another day. My lovely old battered 1920s/30s bungalow is now at home on the top. The cupboard itself is filled with all my paints, glues, tools, etc.
 My old squidgy red sofa is still on the other side of the room - it is so comfortable and I have had it for years now.  You just sink into it....bliss!
Another absolute bargain was this vintage key cabinet and letter rack, bought greatly reduced in a closing down sale from a wonderful local shop.
I will use the letter rack for letters but I won't be using the cabinet for keys. Instead I will use it to keep all those little dolls that I could  not find a home for in my dolls houses for whatever reason....I had to give them somewhere nice to live, instead of a dusty box?

So there we are....I still have quite a lot more to do - as yet I don't even have a lampshade. Am also looking for a massive old picture frame to make into an arty noticeboard using vintage offcuts of antique wallpaper (if I can find enough) or possibly old ephemera....but that will also have to wait for another day, as  I have now blown my meagre budget completely. Tomorrow I hope to get stuck into some KT Miniatures work and begin listing some old treasures once again. 


Sunday, 2 July 2017

More Old Miniature Treasures From the 19th & 20th Century...

Last week I put up the other half of a wonderful antique dolls house collection that came in recently. I was left gobsmacked, as within 24 hours nearly all new "antique and vintage stock" that was put up for sale on KT Miniatures' website  literally flew off the shelf! Which was nice for me but there were a few disappointed customers...sorry. 
If only I had more but some of these just do not come along that often and in such good condition. Amongst some of the more unusual pieces was a German oak wardrobe, a curious old Art Nouveau wardrobe - very pretty, an antique metal bed with canopy pole, all of which can be seen in the photo above.
Then there were further old treasures such as these two very old German tin and soft metal fireplaces. The smaller one has a built in range and the larger fireplace is ornate, and quite pretty. You can just see a hint of a glorious old metal teapot on a trivet, which I suspect is as old as the 19th century Evans & Cartwright range that it came with, and which you can see in the previous posting on here. The odd looking bowl of fruit I have never seen before and again, I think it is very old. The bowl is made of very thin wood and the mock fruit are fixed to a paper disk that has been hand decorated. 

Lovely items!
My new studio is coming on nicely and I am very excited.

 A builder friend is coming tomorrow to tile the fireplace - it is going to be tricky as some tiles need to be cut plus a vent needs to be put into the as he is a professional and knows what he is doing, I decided to leave that job up to him.  As you can see in the pic above, I decided to paint the pine fire surround in an aged white eggshell paint, so too the built in shelves over my computer desk....and am chuffed to bits with the result. I've made a random patchwork plan so that my friend will know which tile to put where (hopefully). I decided against having just floorboards for numerous reasons including that I just could not face more weeks of chaos, with sanding and varnishing etc, so the carpet is due on Wednesday. 

Meanwhile, sadly that is the end of that particular old collection, all have been listed and more or less sold now, but I do have some other lovely miniature treasures that have been stored away for several weeks up in my old workroom, and which will be listed to the website as soon as my new studio is up and running, and fully functional...hopefully by the end of the week.


Monday, 26 June 2017

Rare Evans & Cartwright Metal Miniatures Plus Other Antique German Tiny Treasures.

It is rare to come across any circa 1800s Evans & Cartwright metal items these days, but just recently not just one but two "E&C" pieces came in. Both were snapped up pretty quick unsurprisingly, but I thought I would still highlight them on here. 

Just briefly, Evans & Cartwright were a British toy company based in Wolverhampton. The company started in 1816 originally by John Evans, then he was joined later by his stepson Sidney Cartwright. They built up the business together until Sidney then took over in 1842, and eventually the company ceased around 1870 - 1880. For a full in depth history of this company, see page 124-129 of Liza Antrim's wonderful book "Family Dolls' Houses Of The 18th & 19th Centuries".

c1800s Evans & Cartwright Metal Range
This is believed to be a rare circa 1800s Evans & Cartwright metal cooking range. It measures  5 3/8″ wide x 1 1/2″ deep x 5″ high. So quite large in scale.
 It still has the original tap fixed to the left hand side.
The embossed detail gives you a sense of the detail found on a real life size Victorian range....absolutely super!

 As you can see from the photo above, the top right hand plate cover is missing.
So too, a tiny edge piece of the left back decorative corner, which has long been snapped off. But to be honest, other than a little rust, this is in a reasonably good condition. .

A range exactly like this appears on page 129 of Liza Antrim’s FAMILY DOLLS HOUSES.  A wonderful piece of history.

c1800s Evans & Cartwright Metal Fireplace With Additional Unknown Wooden Fire Surround 
This is believed to be a circa 1800s Evans & Cartwright metal fireplace with an additional wooden painted fire surround of unknown make. A metal fireplace similar to this appears on page 129 of Liza Antrim's FAMILY DOLLS HOUSES.  

 The metal fireplace itself is all there, including the gilt metal fire fret.
The decorative detail is quite ornate, and apart from a little rust and wear, this is in relatively good played with condition.
The wooden fire surround is a glorious ochre painted colour, sadly the maker is unknown. The metal fireplace slots neatly into the surround and I assume that the surround is of the same age as the E&C fireplace.

For reference, the metal fireplace measures 3 1/8" at widest point x 3 3/8" high x 1 3/4" overall depth.  Fire surround measures 6 1/4" widest point x 5 1/4" high x 1 3/4" depth.

 Below are two other rare German miniature treasures from the same collection and which have also been sold, but because they rarely come along I thought I would show you them on here.

 c1900s Erhard & Sohne Ornate Mirror Frame With Candle Holders (missing mirror)

This is an antique gilt coloured metal mirror frame, rather ornate in design along with two candle holders – one each side of mirror frame.
The original mirror is missing but as the original rear mirror fitting tabs are still present and intact, it should not be too difficult to fit a replacement mirror.

Apart from the missing mirror, this is in a good played with condition. For reference, this measures 3 1/2″ high x 2 1/2″ overall width, and it appears on page 36 of Swantje-Koehler-Verlag’s ORMOLU DOLLHOUSE ACCESSORIES.

Antique German Filigree Cradle 
This is unusual and delightful. I have never seen or handled one quite like it before so I think I can describe this as being rare.  
As it came with the collection of items dating from the mid 1800s to early 1900s, I have to assume that it will be of the same era.
The frame is of soft filigree metal and has been lined with blue material. 

The underside is lined with brown paper of some kind.
Overall this is in a good played with condition,  just some minor loss of gilt colour around the filigree borders. What a wonderful item! For reference, it measures 2 3/4″ long x 1 1/4″ at highest point x 1 1/4″ wide.

Other antique treasures listed last week are still available, so why not go check out my website:

More antique treasures from this same collection will be going up for sale this week. 

Monday, 19 June 2017

Has Been A While...Lot's Going On

My goodness....has it really been a month since I last put up a post on here?

Well, if you are wondering why KT Miniatures has been so quiet, there has been a lot going on here and mostly rather nice. For starters of course, I have been undertaking "Grandma Duties" which I am enjoying thoroughly. Plus I have also been away at least three times during the past month, not all holdidays may I point out :) Then there is the ongoing task of shifting my workroom/studio down two flights of stairs to Mr KT's and my old computer room/office. After scraping all the old wallpaper off, my builder/decorator friend Gordon then did all the papering and painting for me, as there were nasty cracks and issues that needed a professional to sort out. 
There are still a few things to be done - such as tiling the boarded up fireplace and getting a carpet. After much deliberaton, I decided against stripping floorboards as they are the open ones and not in great condition. I just couldn't face further chaos and mess in stripping, filling board gaps with sawdust and pva, not to mention staining carpet it is. 

However, I have decided to be arty with the fireplace tiles though and have drawn up a plan with the aid of the computer after having chosen some reasonably priced old looking tiles. I am going for all five patterns from Topps Tiles "Archivo" range. My plan is a random patchwork effect...should be fun.  The next decision before the carpet is fitted, is whether to wax the fireplace and newly fitted shelves or paint. Then if the paint option is chosen, what colour should I choose? Decisons, decisions!

I am moving towards the painted option as I have had that pine fire surround for years and feel I want a change. Although  have never used eggshell paint before, someone suggested that it would be more hardwearing and a more pleasing effect than satinwood paint. Hmm...we shall see.
Meanwhile, I have every intention of beginning to list some rather lovely antique and vintage goodies this week. Unfortunately the old stock is still packed away in boxes up in my old workroom, but a lovely collection came in yesterday, which I will start working on this week as I can lay my hands on them more easily. It is currently piled high in an old pink plastic crate and the items you can see in the above pic. are just the ones laying on the top. Trust me....there are some exquisite pieces underneath! I need to to go through it all and sort them out. I never stop getting excited when I handle these old treasures - I wish I could keep them all! :)
There are also several boxes of tiny random antique accessories.

This particular collection belonged to the maternal grandmother of the owner and it is important to her that these go to a good home. On first inspection they appear to mostly fall into the late 1800s - early 1900s era.  I will endeavour to show some of the more interesting pieces on this Journal over the next few days. 

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Yay - I'm a Grandma!

After a nail biting few days I can finally announce that I am a Grandma at long last - yay! Am thrilled to bits.

 Baby Jasper David arrived in this world on Friday evening to the sound of the Rolling Stones and Fleetwood Mac (apparently),  after giving his mum a difficult time. And even though he is rather battered and bruised, including a big forceps mark across his face - poor lad, he is already healing. 
He is gorgeous and I had my first cuddle with him yesterday. 

So as mum and baby hopefully arrive home today I may be a little pre-occupied on Grandma duties, but will continue to check my emails and will resume further listing to the website in a day or so. 

Monday, 15 May 2017

Few Unscheduled Days Off...Best Laid-Plans And All That!

My best-laid plans have not gone entirely to schedule these last couple of weeks or so, and in the end I decided to take a few days off. Hence the original planned listing of vintage stock never got off the ground, apart from an Amersham dolls house (now sold)...

and this late 1940s/early 1950s Tri-ang No 50 dolls house - which at the time of writing this blog is still for sale.

Life can be complicated can't it? Well it is certainly is here. Am still waiting for the birth of first grandchild - now a few days overdue, and although there have been a few moments in the last couple of weeks including daughter in law being admitted to hospital with high blood pressure, all calmed once again and she was allowed home.

Then after Easter as I embarked on one massive decorating spree of upstairs bedrooms (I love decorating), a spanner was put in the works when builder friend came around to inspect some worrying cracks and newly discovered damp patch just where desk with computer is situated in downstairs room. Turns out there are exterior brick problems that need sorting - am very much hoping they are nothing major and at this stage builder friend assures me that he "thinks" they are just minor but felt that they definitely need attending to. So instead of coming in a few weeks time to decorate that room that will be my new "studio" ie. workroom, he is due to come next week ...I appear somehow to have jumped the queue in his very long client list! Therefore I will need to embark in stripping all wallpaper from this room as a matter of urgency, as I had agreed originally with builder friend to do this...but that was when I had thought that I'd have several weeks to complete the task:) So although I hope to undertake some listing of antique and vintage items to the website this week,  I will only be able to do so as and when I can. As always, you will be able to see at a glance, photos of any new additions at the bottom of my Home Page.
Meanwhile  after much pondering, deliberating and getting the views of family and friends....I decided to go ahead with the purchase of a large circa 1920s Scottish dresser with lower drawers and upper glazed display cabinet. It is now here and I love it...I  can't quite believe it is mine! The twiddly turned pieces down each side are beautiful and quite unusual. I got it from a wonderful local antique pine dealer - CLICK HERE  TO VIEW WEBSITE. Ken delivers all over the UK and even overseas would you believe! The drawers will be filled with the contents of the old filing cabinet which has seen better days, and the glazed cabinet will give extra display options in my new "studio".
In between the mayhem going on here, as baby was still showing no signs of arriving,  I finally decided at the last hour to go to Kensington Dolls House Festival last Saturday in London with one of my miniaturist friends. It was a fabulous day, plenty of absolutely gorgeous miniatures to feast our eyes on and it was super to catch up with so many old miniaturist friends too. It made a change not to have any pressure in having to purchase materials etc, or anything in particular as has been the norm in recent times, but with no workshops in the offing at the moment (I have not given up totally on the idea and still pondering on these) and with no other immediate projects to create either, I had great fun in making four purchases purely for myself.

Handpainted mantel clock by Victoria Fasken

Handpainted ornate resin clock by Lenda Boswell

I purchased two clocks for my own vintage style clock shop.

Miniature farm set by Franzes Paradise of Switzerland
Miniature giraffe by Reina Mab Miniatures of Argentina
 The other two purchases were tiny toys from overseas traders for my vintage style toy shop.

 One day I will do another blog about my shops but for now here are a couple of pics as they are at the moment. 
I made this to sell at Thame Fair earlier this year but I just couldn't let go of it in the end as it was a one off,  inspired by a miniature building that I saw at the Bethnal Green Museum Of Childhood. The back slides out for access.

The quirky vintage style clock shop's stock is as you can see, rather sparse of clocks but I am looking forward to filling it to the brim with a combination of real antique clocks plus vintage style artisan miniature clocks.

The antique style toy shop has been featured on here before and is filling up nicely indeed - CLICK HERE FOR FULL STORY. Am rapidly running out of shelf space and am going to have to put some thought into further shelving and maybe some hanging rails. It is very difficult to photograph as the there is so much reflection on the front glazing but when the additional shelving etc. is in place I will attempt to properly photograph once again for this Journal. This structure was the original prototype of one of our workshops we ran a couple of years ago and I love it. There are so many stories attached to lots of the pieces in here and a friend suggested documenting a detailed list of contents,  which is a brilliant idea and which is now on my long "to do " list.

Well I am hoping that the next time I blog on here my very first grandchild will have arrived safely. As you can tell...I am rather excited!!!!!!

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Has Been A Busy Easter...

I hope you all enjoyed your kind of seems a long time ago now. It has certainly been a busy time here and I've just realised that it has been quite a while since I put up a blog posting so I thought I'd better let you know that I am still here:)

My Easter weekend was spent knee deep in spiders webs, dust and disintegrating  black bin liners, up in two loft eaves, clearing away junk that we had acquired over many years. One word of advice  - NEVER USE CHEAP BLACK BIN LINERS to store loft junk in!  We discovered that we had unwittingly used several and they had simply disintegrated almost into was disgusting.  The heavy duty bin liners had been  fine though, so not all was a mess. My  two sons were brilliant and got into the tiny spaces that I couldn't manage and lifted the really heavy stuff. Thankfully spiders don't bother me and just as well as there were all shapes and sizes up there!  I could not believe how many "bits" of carpet we  had saved over the years "just in case we might need it" .  Of course we never did!
We did away with all the old cheap bin liners which were in varying stages of deterioration and put as much as we could into brand new plastic boxes with lids.
We decided to be brutal in what we got rid of and very quickly the skip was filled to the brim. Was fascinating what we came across though, completely forgotten toys from the boys childhood such as the early 1990s version of Tracy Island, Micro Machines, Action Force, Action Man, dozens of toy cars, soldiers, Airfix Kits, Subbuteo and so on... including the large scale fort I made in 1978 for my woodwork project whilst on my nursery nursing course. (It was those woodworking lessons where I discovered a real love of working with wood and tools).  Needless to say all these treasures were taken out of the bags and transferred into large plastic boxes with lids where possible, then put back in the loft. We only found a handful of my daughters toys, as most of hers are stored over in the eaves of the side extension. 

 However other things that we found included my 1970s Laura Ashley wedding dress - unfortunately discoloured now as it appears that a suede jacket within the same suitcase had gone a little strange and affected everything around it. Silly me...I think the suede jacket was only put in there as a temporary measure during one of our house moves over 30 years ago, but somehow got forgotten about!
My goodness...I had a 24" waist and weighed just 8 1/2 stone when I got married! I couldn't even get this past my hips now. My children could not believe I could have ever been this small!

Amongst the old baby clothes and old cot, was this beautiful shawl given to me on the birth of my daughter from my lovely old next door neighbour (sadly no longer with us).

We came across long forgotten love letters (both mine and hubby's) and the most gorgeous old school art books belonging to my mum from the 1930s. They are so beautiful that I am going to scan some of the images for family members and for myself, and print off on special watercolour art paper, as I don't think any of these would look quite the same on ordinary paper. I don't want to use the originals as I would be afraid that the colour might begin to fade. As these have been stored away for decades the colour has remained glorious.

I also came across some of my own art homework done as a teenager which my children had never seen and I hadn't actually set eyes on for decades! Sadly they had been rolled up so are quite crinkled. Not quite in the same league as my mum's colourful artwork, but nevertheless it shows a little of my family social history, as I had drawn the kitchen of our Cotswold stone cemetery lodge house (built in the 1930s). The drawing shows an old maid saver cabinet which I remember well, an electric clothes airer and an old Belling electric cooker from the 1950s. Our back door was a solid wooden door about 6" thick and I can remember the key was big and heavy - not something that you could easily carry around in one's pocket. The picture on the right was the view out of our lounge back window. That same view now would be very different as Farmer Long's field on the other side of that hedge is now part of the cemetery grounds plus at the top of the hill is a new school and houses. I suspect the view of the old church tower would no longer be visible from that window. These would have been drawn in the early 1970s.
This was a charcoal picture of the corner of our lounge in the early 1970s. Because the charcoal has faded greatly it is difficult to see the detail, but there is a metal Ladderex shelf to the left with a record player and LP's underneath. The black leather chair is so very 1960s! Standing to the left of the chair was one of two huge speakers with a black mesh, for the record player. The television on legs is so very 1970s, don't you think? Those beautiful lead windows set in stone pillars are now long gone I understand. I loved those windows, they always seemed so magical somehow, but understand they were a pain to keep clean. In the corner is a bureau/bookcase that my parents had when they first got married in the late 1940s.

There has been much reminiscing and laughter I can tell you these past few days prompted by all the wonderful things we had found in the some tears too. 

With two grandchildren on the way, plus my grown up daughter having moved back home, I am embarking on much decorating to several bedrooms ...I love decorating and probably just as well:).  Hence the need for lots more space to store additional stuff up in the loft. Also, as it is about nine months ago since Mr KT passed away, I felt it was definitely time to dismantle his two computers from his desk, pack his bits and pieces away and finally dump his old chair which was falling apart. After he died I remember someone saying to me that I will know when it is time to let go of his things.  And it is true. Most of the items had gradually gone in one way or another over these past months but I just couldn't let go of his chair and contents of his was just as he had left it all those months ago and gave me some weird sense of comfort. But finally about a month ago I suddenly felt it was time that it was sorted out. I could suddenly begin to envisage that room very differently. As I now have a dodgy right knee and no longer have Mr KT to help me carry big dolls houses or heavy stock up two flights of stairs to my loft workroom, things are having to change. 

Surprisingly am suddenly feeling very enthused at the thought of having a downstairs workroom...and all kinds of plans are now afoot.

On my travels last weekend, whilst buying this old pine chest of drawers to contain my daughter's clothes (it is still sitting here in the middle of the room, next to my computer desk),  I came across the most beautiful dresser from the 1920s from the same dealer and perfect for my new workroom....or "Studio" as an old friend suggested calling it the other day. I still need to measure and ponder a little more, but if I manage to get it I will show you it on here.

Meanwhile, now that the Easter holiday break is over and all visiting  relatives have now departed,  it is time to knuckle back down to KT Miniatures. Listing of more old treasures will begin this week and I do have one or two old dolls houses to put up for sale too.