Monday 29 July 2013

Oh I do like to be beside the seaside.....

Part two of the holiday window coming up....

The thermometer hit 42 degrees (107F) in my courtyard yesterday and I very much wished I could teleport myself to the seaside somewhere!   Instead I shall have to make do with this mini-version....

I have had a beach scene in mind for many years, ever since coming across this very Beryl Cook-like lady on my travels.   And the idea was boosted a couple of years later by the gift of two beautiful deckchairs from my sister-in-law Mette. Madam is now reclining on one of them - her original chair was nothing like as beautiful.

The trigger for starting on the beach scene was, as you may have read in the last post, the imminent arrival of Czech TV to film Small Worlds.   For those interested, this is the link to the actual broadcast, which went out on 21st July - it has already triggered quite a number of visitors.   Our local castle is at ca 14minutes into the programme , Bavorov's beautiful baroque church comes at around 16/17minutes with the local manor house immediately after that, followed by a tiny scrap of Small Worlds - blink and you have missed it!

I decided that I wanted most things on the beach to match the colour I already had which was blue.   So, since the only sun umbrella in Small Worlds is a rather ugly brown one by Lundby, I thought I would have a go at using it as a model to create a blue striped one.   

This proved to be rather more fiddly than I had expected....

 The striped bit worked fine - I laid clingfilm over the brown one, dipped my stripy material in diluted white glue, draped it over the clingfilm and anchored it into place with clothes pegs - no miniaturist can function without these amazing tools!
The spokes were rather trickier, toothpicks (equally important tools for the miniaturist), painted white, and attached to some sort of press stud. Trouble was, the whole thing kept moving around but I decided that total accuracy was not necessary since the only way one would be able to see underneath would be by lying down next to Madam.

I attempted to make the stand with a bendy straw but gave up in the end and decided to use the white stand thoughtfully provided by Lundby......

With that out of the way I spent rather a long time making a windbreak, green rather than blue, too short to start with so an extra bit had to be added.   Then having made it, I completely forgot to include it in the beach scene when I assembled it.   But it did find a home on the campsite eventually.

So to the beach huts......I decided to turn the photo frames into proper little huts which meant a roof and a floor each, and some side walls.   The back of the photo frames would serve as the back walls. Because I wanted to use foamboard for the walls, I needed to cover them with some form of weatherboarding.   I am too mean to use decent woodstrip on what were going to be more or less temporary structures so I pulled some woven mats to pieces - the strips are of very thin bamboo (I think it's bamboo), about 1 cm wide and we glued them onto the foamboard and then painted them white.  (I had my young helper that week).  

The roofs are made of one of Butterfly's favourite materials, corrugated card - she sneaks some into pretty well every project.   I set my brigadnik to ripping off the useless outer layer and when the walls and floors were in place, we stuck the roofs on and painted them with aluminium paint.  

Some suitable lino-style wallpaper onto the floors, a couple of benches and small tables, discarded clothes hung on the walls and a cup of tea on each table and the rather sparsely furnished huts were done.

So then it was just the beach itself that needed to be sanded (note different use of verb "to sand" something).   Although I did actually in fact mainly use sandpaper to do it.....I laid down a sheet of sandpaper and then scattered some real sand over the top.  A while back I bought a tube of something called "Sand Hardener" in that wonderful shop "The Range" - my daughter-in-law often invokes it - with no real idea of what to use it for.   However I thought we might be able to make a sandcastle.   Far too ambitious I fear but we did manage a few tipped up buckets of sand that obediently hardened overnight.   We also threw a few tiny shells around and then all that was left was to add the human interest.....(the starfish were little "silver" charms off a bracelet from the Czech equivalent of a pound shop, Kik).

Madam was already cornering the best bit of the beach, close to the hut with a cup of tea to hand.   She was joined on the other beautiful deckchair by a man who clearly dwells in the past.   I dithered a bit about clothing him in the Edwardian swimming costume but it had been so lovingly knitting by one of my friends, Sheila Randall, whose husband Norman has been mentioned in other posts as the builder of several of my houses, that I decided it really deserved an airing.  And here's a contemporary version of the title song to keep the outfit company.

Yes, yes, I can see I need to do something about his feet and hands. Maybe they will look better when he has caught the sun a bit.

Oh my goodness, I have forgotten all about the Boardwalk (cue a favourite song).   I needed one in front of the huts so that there could be that very English beach thing of donkey rides.   So more dismantling of woven mats which worked just as well there as on the huts.   I held the donkeys back from the farm scene and since one of them looked as if he was making off as fast as he could, I let him do just that.   Who am I to argue with a donkey? (Butterfly will tell you just how unpleasant they can be....) The redundant steps from the Japanese house/garden lead down onto the actual beach.

To finish with, a few photos of the whole scene -

I hope you have enjoyed your day by the seaside.   There is sadly no coast here in Bohemia, despite what Shakespeare might have thought, so it will be a while before I see the real sea again.   

Thank you for staying with me so far. I hope you will join me again for the last of our holiday adventures when we will go camping - in miniature.

Monday 15 July 2013

We're all going on a summer holiday....

But before we do I must apologise for the long gap since my last post.   I find it very hard to believe that it is 3 weeks since I posted but that's what Blogger is telling me so I suppose it must be true.

I am very much enjoying being in Small Worlds - at the moment it's a pleasant mixture of time to do my favourite thing, which is creating something out of very little, and the opportunity of showing interested people round the collection.   

I am more and more delighted by the behaviour of Czech children - and their parents - and my cup of delight overflowed yesterday when a toddler of about fifteen months headed purposefully towards the Mouse Mansion, hotly pursued by his/her three year old brother shouting "You mustn't touch! You mustn't touch!"   And the baby stopped short and just looked - their mother wasn't actually ignoring them, she was occupied with another child at that moment.

I have had help in Small Worlds for the past week - there is a system in the Czech Republic whereby young people can work in the summer months as a "brigádník" which is a sort of work experience for which they also earn money.   My brigádník is the granddaughter of one of my great friends here and I have known her since she was two years old.   It's delightful to find her, aged nearly 16, working alongside me in Small Worlds.   And I am happy to say that so far the takings are sufficient to cover her very modest pay!   She's off to camp for two weeks now but will be back to provide cover in August when I have a fairly constant stream of resident visitors.

I've spent the past three weeks working on the new window display. Starting work on it was rather rushed and unintended - the mayor arrived just after I first opened to say that a TV programme was filming in the area and that a cameraman would drop in that afternoon.   

Since I was just sitting there doing a sudoku I thought it might look better if I was doing something rather more Small Worlds related so hastily extracted the photo frames I had planned to use as beach huts at some point in the future.   I of course forgot to take a decent photo of them before I started to dismantle them....

I also located a board to set up a beach scene, some sandpaper, and some rather beautiful deckchairs that my sister-in-law (she of the skilled sewing fingers) had given me many years before.

The camera man came, we both drooped in the excessive heat (forty degrees centigrade in my courtyard) and I have no idea whether the rather inept interview, but hopefully decent shots, will appear on the Czech equivalent of BBC1 some day or not - it's a series revealing unknown and worthwhile tourist sites so I do hope that it does.

The next day I stopped to consider what I might do with a beach scene and settled on "Kam pojedeme na prázdniny?" - "Where shall we spend our summer holidays?"- which gave me the opportunity of three quite separate scenes since I knew that the beach would not be big enough to fill the window.  

That idea quickly crystallised into "By the seaside", "Down on the Farm" and "Camping".   This post will only cover the easy one - "Down on the Farm" since the others, especially the camping bit, involved quite a lot of "Before" and "After" creative work which I should like to document separately....  

I hunted round the collection for a suitable farmhouse and found nothing.  So I then
spent quite a few frustrating hours making a 3D jigsaw of a Normandy Farmhouse which I had bought ages ago,  thinking that it could stand in the background of the farm scene.  

I do pretty well at ordinary jigsaws but given my inability to reverse patterns this was something of a challenge.   And I was even more frustrated to find that there were three pieces missing at the end. 

It looked very cute but in the end it didn't make the cut into the window.  

I was, however, seduced into buying several more on some point I plan a display of houses built from bricks and these can join them.  

I decided that I would probably not bother with a house in the farm bit, just a tractor, some children and a few animals which I have been collecting over the past weeks - our local village co-op has some excellently sized and priced animals though I have yet to find an in-scale cow.   They are all smaller than the sheep and goats. Very annoying.   My brigádník suggested the cow could be a calf.   Yes indeed, as long as one can disguise the full udders.....

We grabbed some of the left-over straw from the thatched cottage and bundled it into little bales which we piled on the tractor wagon (having given it some coffee-stirrer sides first).   We also scattered some around the useless jigsaw puzzle cloth which is serving as the background grass.  

(Have you ever tried to roll up a half-made jigsaw on one of these mats that purports to hold it in place?   Hah! I strongly suspect them of gluing the pieces together first.) 

We set up some fencing for a sheep pen - though sadly all our sheep are rams which will probably lead to some appalling battles once they are huddled together......

The sharper-eyed and more knowledgeable amongst you will recognise some spare balcony edging from Jenny's Home, that "triumph" of design by Triang and Homes and Gardens Magazine in the 1960s....

 And that was more or less it for the farm section of the window -though I did have to introduce a bit of height into the scene by making the pigs the mountaineering variety and popping in a small (and totally out of scale) bed and breakfast hut.......

More of the window next time - but before I go, for those of you following the adventures of the mouse troop, there has been some movement again.....

Unbeknownst to me, some rich relatives of Maximilian drove up to Mouse Mansion recently in their very luxurious car

....and hastily turned round and headed off in the opposite direction..... (They may have spotted some ever-lurking pigs)

Some of you may notice that the elderly lady in the back of the car is clearly the twin sister of the one listening attentively to one of the choir practices in the house.   And you have met the elegant couple in the front before as well.....

Anyway, the travellers were clearly intent on finding a pleasant place to spend an idle hour and I am delighted to say that they have taken up residence in a nearby walled garden
This scene might be entitled "The Pussy Cat's Nightmare" though so far the unlucky moggy is intent on staring fixedly at the goldfish under the lily pads and seems blissfully unaware that she is surrounded by Giant Mice.

Thank you for following me through this animal-heavy post;  I look forward to seeing you again soon when it will be either beach or camping, as the fancy takes me.  I hope you are all having great holidays and that you are also enjoying this miniature version of a summer break.....