The many and various ways I pass the time now has a new addition. Usually it involves drinking coffee whilst sitting at a computer keeping in touch with chums, or sipping wine sitting on our tiny terrace catching the sun, and wondering what else I can do to avoid any cleaning or tidying or putting away of stuff and things that aren't even MINE. And now I am going to type this blog. Provided that doesn't become a chore as well, in which case...

Friday, 24 January 2014

By Popular Demand...

I woke up at 8.30am this morning and then - wait for it - got up, put on some socks and a cardie over my PJs and then came down and made the coffee. This is some sort of record for late January. However, I am now at a slight loss now to know what to do with the extra time, so I thought to myself, I thought, erm, well may as well BLOG.

Because we are by way of being neighbours (five miles is cheek by jowl, almost, in the blissfully underpopulated stretches of rural mid- Wales we inhabit) I see more of my Big Sis (aka Perpetua of Perpetually in Transit on Blogger) than I do of any other family member apart from The Daughter, The Husband and The Dog.  Of late she has been encouraging me/repeatedly requesting/nagging me (strike as you think appropriate) to do a blog update on The Dolly House, which has taken shape and form, been decorated and furnished by me and had lighting and twinkly fire grates installed (thanks to The Husband) and is populated by a large extended family of dinky little dolls, all set in the early Victorian era of about 1845-59. 

The menfolk are between 5.5" and 6" tall in this 1:12, inch-to-a-foot miniature world, the ladies and their female servants are about 5" to 5.5" and the children considerably less, right down to the baby who is an inch-and-a half long and meant to be about three months old.  It took me quite some days to get into the swing of dressing them in handmade clothes to my own design, the very smallness eluded me at first, and my early attempts were clumsy and ungainly.  I ordered some specialist books, and watched various YouTube videos, and then I gradually got the hang of the scale, started using very fine fabrics (fine cottons like Liberty Lawn are particularly good but silk is a nightmare to handle), cut the pattern pieces small with a narrow seem allowance, pressing them open as I went and hand-stitched everything in the teensiest stitches I could muster.  I have even learnt to repaint the faces in modelling enamels, where I felt the need, and my crowning achievement has to be learning to re-wig dolls in viscose or mohair fibre, and add facial hair for the chaps.

I have been Very Busy.  I said so yesterday, didn't I?  NOW do you believe me?!

I fit and stitch straight onto the dolls, which have soft arms and legs and torso over a flexible pose-able wire armature, but have porcelain arms/hands, lower legs/feet and shoulders/neck/head.  So a lady has pantaloons fitted first and stitched to the body at the waist (and gathered at the ankle if the design demands), then petticoat skirts after that, then her outer dress skirt over that, and then the sleeves stitched at the shoulder, and finally the dress bodice over that, with any trim or lace added beforehand in the case of cuffs and at the hem, and afterwards for the collars or neckline.

I have a taken about a gazillion photos of the process, step-by-step, and also of the room settings and the dollies going about their daily dolly business.  I have put lots of albums of the best of these photos on Facebook.  I could edit it down to half a dozen and add them to this text, but the story and weeks and weeks of work would be lost in such an abridgement, and the choice of which to use will be very time-consuming for me, so I am now going to go over to my Facebook age and change the privacy settings to "public" on all the dolls house albums.  That way,  you can find Marion Griffin Bulmer on Facebook and view the photos at your leisure when it suits you, and leave the odd comment next to them if you like.

So there, Big Sis, you can stop your "encouragement" now.  I have at last done as I was told.  Obedience has always been slightly eventual for me.  The Dog takes after me in that.



  1. Hari OM
    Loved the verbal picture Marion - it'll have to do me as (sorry) I just don't "do" book-facing...

    This delicate work gives testament to the optometrist's all clear on your eyes yesterday - crikey, I struggle with simple tear-repair. I only once ever tried sewing silk. It was last century. Which tells you what I thought of THAT experience!!

    I don't feel the loss of visuals - your description was lovely!! YAM xx

    1. Silk is a slippery customer, and it just won't stay SQUARE with the warp and weft at right-angles to each other. Anyone who sews silk (such as the seamstress who made my wedding dress) has my undying admiration.

      BTW, I visited Perpetua earlier today, and she was a bit wan and wincing when we arrived, but perked up a bit with the company, and we left before she could flag again. In the (long) absence of our mother I am going to be very bossy and keep her in order as far as poss.

      Wish me luck, matron!

    2. Hari OM
      oohhh glad to hear it - I was thinking as I responded to K's news that this is when good neighbours and family count. It's always good to feel one is being useful too!.... 'good luck' &*<>

    3. Glad to see my eleven years' seniority paid off at last, Baby Sis. :-) You give a very good description of the immense amount of work you've put into the house and its residents. It's all so gorgeous, it was a shame to keep it to yourself.

      PS I flagged fairly soon after you left last Friday and was in bed by 6.30, leaving DH to do his worst with supper. The only bright spot that day was your visit and the lovely roses. :-)