Thursday, 13 June 2013

Where's Butterfly when you need her?

Oh my goodness - my friends and family will know just how challenging yesterday was for me in Small Worlds.

Starting with the need to be there at 8am because someone from the  Town Council was supposed to be coming to unbolt the mříž over my back door (I still don't know what it would be called in English), it went from bad to worse with all my most hated activities lining up to be tackled. 

In no particular order these are 
1) Waiting for someone to turn up who doesn't....2) Trying to cut a straight line with a pair of scissors.....3)Measuring something and then cutting to fit.....4)Working out the most effective way of using 6 giant acetate sheets to cover dolls houses of all different sizes and shapes.

Whoever came up with the slogan "measure twice and cut once" was living in a dream world.   My slogan would go "measure umpteen times and then find yourself cutting and re-cutting umpteen times plus one".

I have anyway never been able to cut straight but if it's a piece of paper it doesn't really matter too much.   One can always start again from scratch.   If it's a sheet of expensive acetate measuring 84 x 59cm which one has brought over from England especially to cover the dollshouses to protect them from little fingers and the ever-present dust, then it becomes more nerve-wracking.

The first two sheets went swimmingly well because they each covered one house.   With the aid of the table, which I assumed was accurately rectangular, and a long wooden set square thingy (note the professional language) I managed to cut covers for the two biggest houses - the Colonial and the Cape Cod - both to be seen here in Butterfly's blog post about renovating them.

Well, I say swimmingly but that's not entirely true because it was on the Colonial, the very first house that I tackled, that I discovered I could measure as much as I liked beforehand, I was still going to get it wrong over and over again.   I ended up having to do that horrible thing of cutting slivers off to get it right.    I did better on the Cape Cod and actually I was quite proud of my new-found ability to cut in a straight line.   But please don't tell Butterfly or she will refuse to cut anything for me ever again.   

The point at which I needed her desperately, far more urgently than those actors in Stratford she is currently working with, was when I had to do the smaller houses which didn't need a sheet each.   Because then I had to work out the most cost-effective way of using each sheet.   Those who have worked with me over the years know that maths has never been my strong point.   And nor is visualising or reversing shapes.

I spent a long, long time running to and fro, measuring and remeasuring and then adding up lengths and widths and trying to work out the most perfect combinations.   I was delighted with one sheet which was going to cover a two-storey shop called Tyger Tyger (guess what it sells?) and one other house, I forget which now.   I cut the Tyger Tyger part and then spent half an hour struggling to fix it as I had planned, before realising that it was impossible to do it as I had figured.   Despair!   A wasted sheet! 

So more maths and measuring and running about until I was ready to drop.   But it all got done in the end and though I say it myself - the lines are all straight and there is very little wastage.   Just about the right amount in fact to make windows for the Cape Cod and the Essex Pub, seen here waiting to be pargetted.

Earlier in the day the Mayor arrived to have a quick look round before Saturday's official opening - he hadn't been yet - and I was of course balanced precariously right on top of the ladder trying to fit a quart into a pint pot on the already overloaded top shelves.   He has promised to say a few words on Saturday.   
I too shall say a few words, mainly of thanks to all those who have helped in this adventure, but I can't decide whether to risk my "darling Czech" as someone once described it, or call on the help of one of the friends present, many of whom are well-used to coming to my rescue when I need not only to be understood (not usually a problem) but slightly more elegant or accurate in the phrasing.

I promised a glimpse of the Children's Corner so here is a before and some after views of it.   As you can see, it's not very large but it seemed quite wrong to me to have a collection of dolls houses which visiting children were forbidden to touch, without giving them something that they can actually play with...


I forgot to mention another hated activity - working with material.   There needs to be a curtain over the sink area and I have spent the past few weeks searching for a pole skinny enough to fit into the hooks I had already bought.   This week I found a pole - and promptly lost the second of the hooks.   (I have been carrying one around with me whilst pole-hunting.)     Looking in every possible pocket, bag, nook and cranny did not produce it so I tried to buy new hooks.   None to be had in the village so I resigned myself to heading into the nearest town to continue the hunt.

In the meantime I measured, with some difficulty, the giant Ikea curtain that needs to be cut down and in fear and trembling took the scissors to it.   Not quite as straight as the acetate but I can diddle with the hem when I come to sew it up.   Oh how I hate sewing!   I hid under the desk at school when they came round asking who would like to take extra sewing on Saturday mornings.   Definitely not me.....

Oh and guess what - as I sat in car outside my house some time later I was moved to look in the pocket of my anorak which was lying in the back, and lo - there was the second hook!  I swear I haven't worn that jacket since I started pole-hunting.......

So today I got the curtain up.   One stitch I did learn before I hid under the desk was tacking which is I'm afraid all I have done with the length.  There are some skilled sewers visiting in August - and it would make a change from patching my much-loved summer dressing gown which they are now refusing to do any more.....

So everything is pretty well ready for Saturday's opening, including the stowing away of all the working materials which some of you will remember we were able to have very luxuriously spread out for the nine weeks we were working on the houses.    Not so any more - everything is neatly tucked away under the remaining worktables and screened off from the Children's Corner.....

This has turned into a much longer post than I had intended but just to finish off here are some promised photos of our "new" window display.   Unfortunately it really can't be taken from outside - all one gets is a photo of me reflected in the glass  - but here's just a glimpse of it from the inside

Thank you once again for following this adventure - I am much looking forward to the official opening on Saturday and my one sadness is that Butterfly can't be here to share in the pleasure of finally opening Small Worlds to the public.   The adventure will go on - there are still many houses to describe and to work on so I hope that you too will continue to enjoy the journey with me.


  1. Am SO sad not to be there for the opening. Am SO happy not to have been there for the cutting. Always knew you could do it if you REALLY tried!

    The children's corner looks great, as do the curtains - congratulations on lots of phobic activities all achieved with aplomb...

    Will be thinking of you on Saturday.
    Alison xx

  2. I would love to be there it all sounds, and looks, amazing and I am sure all the hard work will be rewarded with the smiling crowds that flock to see the wonders.

    Hope Saturday is wonderful!

    Love Chrissie xx

  3. Good heavens you must have been exhausted! It all looks lovely - congratulations.

    Why don't you ask the mouses to help with the sewing? (No more twist! No more twist!)

    I hope you have a splendid day tomorrow. I think it would be a shame if you did not indulge in a little darling Czech. I know I would prefer to hear direct from the person who had made something I was looking at, even if her language was less than perfect. You've done all those other things - I urge you to do this as well. As you say, you will be understood :-)

    A x

    1. Well I shall certainly start off in darling Czech but I am not sure how far I shall get. It really ought to be a cinch after trying to explain the Alexander Technique :-)

  4. That is a lot of work! But it turned out wonderful. You did it!

  5. Good luck. We can't wait to hear all about the opening. We do hope those pesky homeless pigs found an abode before the mayor came, imagine how they'd look loitering with intent!

  6. Dear Cestina what a fabulous post, it sure was exactly what I needed after my stress crazy week,( well maybe not the wetting myself part but) it had me laughing so hard, good thing I had finished my tea or that would have been everywhere too, sadly I have a lot of the same problems,math, measuring , tool things, oh that dreaded sewing, it certainly wasn't funny for you but I can just imagine me doing the same thing LOL,you have done yourself proud Missy everything looks fantastic, hope the opening day was a hit, can't wait for more of this incredible artistic journey.Oh and our sweet Butterfly, what a cheeky girl (REALLY),she is always getting me to google all sorts of words, aplomb for example, I learn something new almost everyday, thanks for the wonderful post and will wait for the next instalment..

  7. Thank you so much for posting your updates. You continue to amaze me. You deserve all you desire for your project.

  8. I've been away since last Thursday, so not able to comment before. Hope the Grand Opening Day went well - looking forward to the next post telling us! - and really impressed with the way everything is looking at the moment.