Saturday 17 August 2019

It's that time again.....

I can't remember a year that has gone past as fast as this one...

It's partly the fault of the ospreys of course.   If one is as dedicated to watching live webcams in Wales and elsewhere as I am, then everything now turns around the osprey season (look and quake at the Storm Hannah video).  The parent birds arrive separately from their winter sojourn in Africa in March/April, lay eggs within two to three weeks, those eggs hatch some six weeks later and before you know it the chicks have passed through the fluffy stage, followed by mini-dinosaur (worth watching for the boxing match part way through - human mothers could learn from Telyn's reaction!), until they are almost the size of their parents and ready to fledge from the nest a mere matter of weeks after hatching.

Then, stuffed full of fish by their parents, they prepare to migrate, heading off solo on the long journey to their winter quarters, and it's already nearly the end of August and another summer has sped past.

And I am left with just the very beautiful paper model of Olly the Osprey put together and hung by Colin Rose, which now, together with a lurking trout, is to be found hanging over the children's corner in Small Worlds. 

I am delighted to say that having him there has led to a substantial increase in donations towards the  
Yes, I know these are not ospreys.....
conservation work and if people don't leave anything in the osprey box then I tithe from the donations to Small Worlds.

Ospreys lead very neatly into the Annual Event of August, the birthday present for my neighbour Rose.  I started to make special presents for her in 2016 when she reached the age of 99, with another following each year.  She is now the proud owner of more "special presents" than anyone else amongst my friends and family and I am rapidly running out of ideas!

And no, I haven't made her an osprey nest though that is an idea for next year, and she did get a lovely teatowel from Dyfi, thanks to another ospreyholic, TrishaNic.....

It is a neat segue because Rose too has become something of an ospreyholic at the age of 101...well, 102 now.   I managed to turn her elderly TV into a smart one so she could follow the antics on the various nests on YouTube and after refusing for several years to have the TV on when no one else is around, she has spent a good part of the spring and summer "with the birds".

So if not an osprey nest, what did I manage to come up with this time?   

She has already had her life in a box (99).....

......a rose arbour (100), 

......and a replica of the room she sits in (101).....

So what now?

Well, earlier in the year we celebrated another birthday, that of the excellent Jo who lives with Rose and cares for her beautifully.  On that occasion Rose, her good friend Sandy, and I took Jo out for a vintage tea at the delightful Mabel's Vintage Tearooms in Bushey, Herts. We all enjoyed ourselves immensely and I was much impressed by the portrait on the wall of the beautifully decorated period tearoom. 
The original Mabel perhaps?
I remembered that portrait when I was flailing around for something to make - something that would not take too long at that, because I arrived back in the CR several weeks later than usual and was immediately taken over by work on something quite different of which much, much more in a later blog (or two).   

My intention was not to reproduce the tearoom itself - too many chairs and tables for a start, not to mention cakes and sandwiches.   Rather, I wanted to use the portrait as inspiration....

As usual, the first task is to source a container. This time it was very easy - I had exactly the right size box, nice and sturdy and wonder of wonders, the very cheap plastic frame Butterfly and I found in our favourite cheapie shop, fitted perfectly. 

I papered the walls and covered the floor.  (The box of real-life floor tiles from the Prague carboot sale last year continues to prove its worth!)

It was then just a matter of finding a cabinet, table, teaset and paintings. Oh, and of course, a Mabel....

I say "just" but I had set my heart on using the top half of this cabinet from the 1960s Petite Princess  series which, painted brown, would have been perfect. However I did not want to destroy it completely. Sadly it proved impossible to dismantle it without permanent damage so I had to find something else.

Another problem was that I had no doll in twelfth scale suitable to be transformed into a maid. And the box was in any case a little small for 12th scale. 

I found a Lundby corner cabinet that could work, a Spanish somewhat tarty looking doll, (despite her crucifix)
and after trying several different ones, a possible table.

I ordered a willow pattern teaset from China and set about putting things together. Fortuitously a visit was due from the ever-skilful Milena who was responsible for the wonderful mini-crochet in Rose's Room last year and I left the transformation of tart to maid in  her capable hands. 

She did not disappoint.   She was very distressed to find that clothing had been attached to the doll with pins - straight through her back and stomach!  You can just see the holes.   She became immediately determined that the new garments should all be properly sewn.... 

She also discovered by accident that the eye makeup of the doll was easily removable and that made a huge difference to her character.   

A careful selection of materials.....

 .......some skilful sewing...... 

...and the addition of a dinky lace cap and there she was, Mabel in person....... 

....albeit with the wrong hair colour, but an Edwardian maid nonetheless.

In passing, Milena played with another doll, this time one that looked more like a vampire. The same trick with the eyes changed her character too and a repurposing of her black gown .......

....and changing her red shoes to trim black boots turned her from vampire to Victorian governess.


Although a friend who looked at her carefully felt she would prefer not to leave any children in her charge....shades of The Turn of the Screw?

In the meantime I changed the colour of the cheap plastic table....
...and looked up the instructions for making a table cloth drape nicely.   
A hankie dipped in glue worked well, but it discoloured somewhat in the process so I gave the same treatment to a delicate lace doily and draped that over the top.

I painted two picture frames gold, to match the gold finish that Butterfly would be putting on the cheap plastic one when I got the whole affair to England, and cut some Edwardian pictures from an art catalogue.

I found some items for the cabinet.....

.... a cake and a vase of roses from my stash.....

.........and then packed everything up in little boxes for transporting to the UK. 

Hopefully the teaset would be waiting there for me.   I was a little worried that security at the airport would want to know what this strange box was, showing up on the xrays, but all went smoothly.

Butterfly worked her magic on the frame but sadly the teaset did not arrive in time (it still hasn't come) so I had to use the substitute I had brought with me and I assembled the whole room.  

I gave it to Rose on her birthday, along with the picture on which it was based, and it is now sitting on her mantelpiece, alongside her ever-growing collection of miniatures.  She can open the English branch of Small Worlds soon!

I am sorry to be so silent on the blog at the moment. There has been much going on in Small Worlds and I have been without help there for much of this summer.   Amongst other things there have been visits by two reporters, one from the largest Czech tabloid newspaper - you can see the article here  (scrolling down below the muscle men will get you to a nice gallery of photos) - and one from a German regional publisher with newspapers across the south of Germany.   That article should be appearing next week and, if it does, I will link to it here too.

There are also two mammoth blog posts coming up about the work I did as soon as I arrived back in the CR, but I make no promises as to when I shall be able to write them. Many visitors are descending shortly!

Thank you for continuing to follow the activities in Small Worlds, and watch this space....


  1. I love Rose's latest room setting! Always good to catch up on happenings at Small Worlds, am now off to look at some ospreys.

    1. You always manage to be first with your comment Helen! I don't know how you do it but it's always lovely to see you... Enjoy the Ospreys xx

  2. 👋 Hi. Cestina, WoW! I love your blog and doll house creations! And what a beautiful gift from TrishaNic! Alrighty, See you at Dyfi, Cestina, Your friend, Bryan

    1. Oh how nice to see a commentator from Dyfi - I think you are the very first Bryan. Glad you enjoyed the blog and yes, one day at Dyfi!

  3. Another wonderful post. Always interesting and inspirational, my own dolls house is nearer to having a place readied so that I can work on it. Love the newspaper report.....thank you for sharing.

    1. Glad you enjoyed it Christine. The publicity seems to be almost doing itself this year!

  4. Another treat for Rose to enjoy. The photo of Milena sewing made me laugh... "Small. Far away."

    Meant to say, I don't have to scroll that far for the picture gallery. I get it directly underneath the first photo of you x

    1. How weird, I have to go so far that I almost give up each time, thinking that they've removed it.

    2. It's down below with the muscle men too... but much easier right at the top!

  5. Lovely! What a clever idea. Quite the transformation(s) from Milena. The tablecloth is marvellous. xx

    1. Yes, Milena has opened up whole new possibilities...

      I sweated blood and glue over the tablecloth. Very messy job!

  6. How terribly clever you all are! And there's no reason why an Edwardian parlour-maid shouldn't have had fair hair - people do, after all, even without the use of hair dye.

    1. And indeed Rose herself was blonde in her youth....

  7. Wow what a wonderful present for Rose. How did you attach the frame to the box and what did you use to change the colour of the table as it looks fantastic now?

    1. The box fitted precisely into the frame and is not fixed in any way. A piece of luck!

      The finish on the plastic table is some thirty year old Colron wood stain which bizarrely goes quite well onto plastic. I am not sure that the modern one would work as well. I was a little surprised at the highly polished effect though! Clearly the maid doesn't just serve the tea!