Monday, 10 July 2017

À la mode...

I have now been back in Bavorov for just over two weeks and am slowly getting my act together.   For the past couple of years I have posted photos showing a quick glimpse of some of what I have gathered up during the winter months in the UK.  These mostly charity shop finds are destined to find a place in Small Worlds eventually so the sharper-eyed amongst you may well spot them appearing in due course.

This is by no means everything - I have just discovered that because of the trouble I have been having with my camera half of the photos I took seem to have vanished completely, including the very pretty blue and white china given by Nicky, for which much thanks.

I am very grateful to those friends who make sure that the stream of tiny items does not dry up!

My first task on returning is always to put in a new window display.   Usually I am back here in late spring by which it is high time to remove the Christmas displays.   This year Butterfly and I came over just before Easter for three weeks and so it was an Easter window that had to come out - rather later than I had planned since my scheduled departure on 3rd June was delayed for two weeks following an accident to my new car.  No one hurt I am glad to say.

Certainly high time for Easter to disappear though.   I cast my mind around to see what I could get in quickly.   I had planned on a railway focus but that still required quite a lot of preparation.   So what else could I do?

For many years now I have been collecting items made by the American company, Raine Willitts, starting with their Take a Seat Collection after I found a lot of the chairs being sold off in the UK's excellent The Works shops, a much favoured haunt for me when I am there.   Readers of this blog, and visitors to Small Worlds, can find many of the chairs scattered around the houses. People very often ask about them and are surprised to find they are made of resin; the detail is extraordinary.   They are very slightly under-sized for twelfth scale but they still seem to look good in many settings.

I then found their Just the Right Shoe range which is sheer delight for anyone who loves buying and wearing amazing shoes.   I detest both activities so its charm is slightly lost on me.   One day these too will appear in Small Worlds - after all Bavorov used to be known as the Town of Cobblers, so what could be more fitting?   But that display too requires more work.

So I was left with fashion.  There have already been two examples of a Raine's fashion collection featured in the front windows of Gosthwaites Department Store
but now it was time to open up all those other boxes that I have been stockpiling for a number of years.   It was just like Christmas - but I won't make you sit through a video of the opening of them, which The Guardian tells me is now a fashionable thing to film.   I am bewildered by this!   

But here are the full boxes at least - the top one contained many carefully bubblewrapped figures - it was so beautifully wrapped by the ebay seller that I did not even look at them when they arrived. 

 I dug around both at home and in Small Worlds to see what I could actually display the mannequins on.  I found a little chest of drawers, two white "vintage"suitcases....

......and a very ancient Petite Princess room which as you can see I last used for a display during Queen Elizabeth's Silver Jubilee Celebrations in 1977...

The dolls house collectors among you will remember Petite Princess and similar furniture called Samantha Ann, and Amanda Ann.  I have always disliked it intensely, but I do own some of it nevertheless.   I was convinced that there had been two of the roomboxes, one not yet touched and eventually searching did reveal that I was right.

 So I was all set to create the fashion show. Or maybe it should be shows, because it turned out there were five distinct sets of clothes.  Bathing suits, underwear, evening wear, outdoor wear and, for want of a better description, day wear.

So here they all are ready to go into the window (which as you already know does not allow me to take good photos once things are in it).

As you can see, the beach scene (which has actually been greatly enlarged since this blogpost) has once again been robbed to provide a setting. 

After due consultation with my local primary school teacher friend, one item of underwear did not make the cut into the window display - but you are allowed to see it here in all its glory....

Our first attempt at putting it in the window had to be aborted - we had the big stuff in the middle and the underwear and bathing suits flanking it on the edges. It looked ridiculous like that so out it all came and we much preferred our second attempt which you can just about see....

And now for a little porcine bonus.   As followers of our blogs will know, when she was here at Easter, Butterfly produced some brilliant characters to people the pub in Shakespeare's Stratford.  This has however meant that the tavern is now under new management and has even had to change its name.   It is no longer "At the Sign of the Lion", it is now rightly called "The Boar's Head Tavern" as featured in Shakespeare's Henry IV Parts One and Two.   

Mistress Quickly stands proudly in the doorway of her newly named tavern and the series of photos below tells its own tale.....

Take one pig....

                                              Remove its head

                Consider using a piece of one's own history to mount head on

Decide against it - if Butterfly wants to vintage the shield in due course, she may.....

Take a different route but spend hours trying to make the blessed boar not tip forward onto his nose when swinging from the beam

Take another different route 

And to end on a French note, just as we started at the top of the post,
et voilà!

PS  The Boar has had his tusks for a while, as promised in the comments below, but I forgot to add the photo!

I hope you have enjoyed reading the most recent adventures in Small Worlds - it is my refuge from the great, big, scary world outside - thank you for being with me and I invite you to join me there again soon.  

Monday, 29 May 2017

And then there were three.....

The three weeks Butterfly and I spent in Small Worlds before Easter (it seems a long time ago now) were packed with activity.   You have already seen what she and I were up to - the Easter window that was down to me, and the very much more creative undertaking that Butterfly was engaged in.
We were joined in our second week there by Andrea, an old friend and avid follower of this blog.   Her below the line comments have frequently sparked off new ideas for Small Worlds and since I know her delight in telling stories, I decided to invite her to let her imagination loose on the next house awaiting "dressing" to use a theatrical term...
 After all, I had the perfect items just waiting for their ideal home!  

And then I thought why not let her write the best part of the blog too?

So, with great pleasure,  it's over to Andrea.....

Something happens to me when I look at dolls’ houses (yes I know there is much disagreement about how to set out that phrase, but that’s the one I use). I’m sure it happens to you as well, but how to describe it? A sense of being a child again, certainly, but also a sense of seeing other lives in full. 

A dizzying, Alice-like shrinking so that I am not outside looking in, but sitting at the table drinking tea, or in the kitchen of the Victorian house, hoping for a lick of the bowl when Cook has finished her cake-making.

Or, best of all, in the nursery playing with teeny tiny toys.

In addition to all of that, is the sense that some of the houses are palimpsests of the past lives of previous owners, with ghosts of their hopes and dreams lingering in the rooms.

I have followed Small Worlds online since the beginning, but I had not seen it in person until April this year. It is MAGNIFICENT! 

Cestina gave me the Full Tour, which I enjoyed very much. Seeing all of the hard work put in by Cestina, Butterfly and their many, many talented friends was breathtaking. 

I had scarcely recovered from the excitement of the Tour, when Cestina asked whether I would like to set out a new house. WOULD I? (Yes.)

You will remember that Cestina’s talented daughter-in-law, Laura, made an astonishing range of items, designed to go into the workshop of a dolls’ house maker. You can see them here in their temporary home in England.
It was that treasure trove that I was invited to arrange. Dolls’ house parts within a dolls’ house world. Dizzying doubleshrink.

I had great fun. The dolls’ house maker is called Pepik and I imagine he started out as a carpenter. As I moved things around in his living quarters downstairs, as well as his upstairs showroom and workshop, I got little flashes of his story.

Pepik lives alone and doesn’t seem to mind that his bedroom is the first room that visitors see.
After all, he can fold away his bed, so no-one would ever know! 

Visitors are quickly shown through to the parlour, where they can take tea and nibble delicious snacks prepared by Pepik’s friend from the village, Maria. As you can see, her idea of a snack is reassuringly hearty and will sustain those who have traveled far for an appointment. 

Pepik’s work is known throughout the country and much sought-after. People are so pleased to get a date for a visit, they don’t mind being kept waiting while Pepik finishes his previous consultation upstairs in his showroom. 

Here, people can look at plans and choose fixtures fittings and decorations for their own, unique, house.

The room they never see (although there is a tantalizing glimpse through the archway) is Pepik’s workshop. 

No-one is allowed in here, not even Maria, although she would dearly like to be admitted. I suspect she would dearly like to be admitted to all of Pepik’s life, but as yet he does not seem to have noticed her gentle overtures…

It is fair to say that Pepik is not a tidy worker. He works on several projects at once, to allow drying and thinking time and is never happier than when all the visitors have gone and he is left alone for days at a time to construct his masterpieces. 

What does he think of as he works? Maria would like to think it’s her – perhaps it is, sometimes. But I think he remembers his childhood long ago, watching others playing in streams and laughing, being just that little bit too shy to run and join in. Sitting by himself, he starts to whittle some twigs, making figures jump from the dull wood to take their place in the world.

Thank you Andrea, for so beautifully telling the story of Pepik the Toymaker.  I remember your saying that you were no Lynda, to make tiny items for Small Worlds. But story-telling is yet another skill that makes Small Worlds magic and you have given me many ideas in the past four years.

There will be another house when you come again!

I am now getting ready to set off to the Czech Republic.  Small Worlds will open for the summer season on Saturday 17th June and I hope that the first blog post of the new season will appear shortly after that.   

Thank you for visiting the Small Worlds blog - it would be lovely to see some more of you there in real life one day.

Saturday, 22 April 2017

'O brave new world, That has such people in't.....'

This mini-post is but a signpost to something very much longer.....the saga of Butterfly's labours in Small Worlds recently.
We were in Bavorov for almost three weeks and 'thereby hangs a tale', one which I shall leave you to find by visiting Words and Pictures and revelling in the good company. Enjoy!

And Butterfly - once again
'I can no other answer make but thanks, 
And thanks; and ever thanks'

Friday, 14 April 2017

Veselé Velikonoce - Happy Easter!

It's Good Friday, known as Velký pátek - Big Friday -here in the Czech Republic, and Butterfly and I are on the verge of reluctantly leaving the haven of Small Worlds and heading back to the UK.

We have had a lovely almost 3 weeks here and much good work has been done in the museum and Stables, especially by Butterfly, although she did balk at working her magic in the bright orange room, and took up residence in Small Worlds itself since we were not open to the public, except for one morning to coincide with the Easter Market.  There will be more to see of what we have been up to in forthcoming blogs.

It was a delight to welcome our friend Andrea for a few days.   It was the first time she had seen Small Worlds, although she follows it avidly on the blog.  Her reaction was all we could have hoped for and she was able to indulge her delight in story-telling as she set up a new scenario in one of the houses.
Today however is a picture-rich post just to wish you all a Happy Easter.   Easter is a much loved festival here in the Czech Republic, more so even than Christmas perhaps, and so it was no surprise when a friend urged me to create an Easter window display.

I hesitated to agree because I didn't think I had much to do it with.  We went round the house gathering up useful things but in the end the Stables came up trumps and I found I had far more than I had supposed.

It was just a question of melding things into one window scenario.  Well, two actually because there is a small window as well that I like to fill separately.

This autumnal scene ...

...turned springlike

Autumn fruits ......

....became Easter eggs 

Goosey, goosey gander was brought back to life after many years in the wilderness of storage....

....and given some more friends

and many assorted ducks, geese, chickens, rabbits and frogs were hauled out of retirement.

The rabbits were given a desirable home 

The ducks now rejoice in a crystal blue pond 

and the collection of Eggheads are enjoying their various occupations...

... in the peace and quiet of a Czech pine forest -

 - including being newly born!

Once again it has proved impossible to photograph the window when everything is in place - too many reflections from outside, including me, the camera, and the cars and building opposite! 

So I leave you with some photos taken before the display was put in position. This is what went into the smaller window. 

It was supplemented with a vase full of willow twigs bearing Easter eggs - see what I mean about the reflections?

And from this final photo you can just see the layout of what went into the window - apologies that this time the camera person (me) was not operating at her best!   

Nevertheless, this post comes with all good wishes for a very happy and peaceful Easter holiday.  See you again soon.....