Saturday, 28 September 2013

More clock makeovers

I need many clocks for my clockmaker's shop, and I was lucky to get a set of four on ebay.

They are not particularly pretty, and who'd want identical clocks in a shop anyway. So my task was to make them all different and attractive. I started with the bigger one and followed instructions from Jean Nisbett's helpful book on converting standard ugly furniture into pretty and unique. Nisbett recommends enamel hobby paint, but I prefer ordinary water-based acryl.

First, I painted the clock dark green. I didn't have the right colour, so I mixed green with brown.

Then I used a coat of lighter green, which I immediately wiped with a cloth, and after it had almost dried, used sandpaper unevenly over the surfaces.  Then I used a coat of varnish.


I made the face from a printie, covered with transparent plastic. I used ready-made sticker decorations.

With the second clock, I wasn't as elaborate. I simply stained it with mahogny and varnished. I glued on a wind-up button from a real watch. In the picture below, I placed an original clock by its side to show the difference.

The remaning two clocks I decorated in various ways. I glued some lace on one and painted and varnished it. I deliberately let the original surface show through a bit since it creates a worn effect. The last one I painted with Swedish "country red" which gave it a more noble light-wooden finish. The pendulum is an envelope clip. All faces are from the web.

I also have an original Barton grandfather clock with movable hands, the origin of which I cannot remember, but I know I haven't paid a fortune for it and didn't at that time know it was a Barton (or what Barton was for that matter). It is too big for the clockmaker's shop, and I have always had it in the Victorian house.

Friday, 27 September 2013

Cuckoo clock

For my clockmaker shop, I am renovating all kinds of clocks, and one of them is this: you may recognise it from children's dollhouse accessories. But I have made it over quite substantially, as you can see.

First, obviously, I painted it dark brown, stained with mahogny and varnished. I changed rope to chain. I used a real clock face and real hands, which I must admit I glued on. The tiny wheel on top is a real cogwheel. I think it was worth the effort.

Playing with light

More than half a year ago I finished  a very special room box representing a painting. Already then I considered putting in strong light in the box, to imitate the "Vermeer-effect" of the painting. It is a bit too much work to have a transformer and wiring for a single room box, and fortunately these days there are led lights. However, a dollhouse led light is by far too dim to light up a room box. In fact, I was, after first euphoria, rather disappointed by dollhouse led lights. They can be used in addition to conventional lighting, but not on their own. I can write a separate post about it.

For my room box, however, I needed a strong light, and I saw how wonderful it might become by putting in my mobile phone with a flashlight app.

Now I have finally bought and fixed a smart-touch kitchen spotlight. My clever son, who knows all about lighting in photography and film, told me to use baking paper as a filter to make the light softer. And here is the result. I think it is stunning.

Sunday, 22 September 2013


I have repeatedly stated that I am a maker, not a collector, but I have recently succumbed to a number of purchases that have taken me off my maker's trajectory. The interesting thing about buying an unusual piece, such as the Marx clock, is that, if you are curious like me, you learn a lot. Sometimes it is something every miniaturist knows, or should know, but I am, as noted, not a collector, and I really don't know much about dollhouse and toy companies.

Last week in Stockholm, a friend took me on an antique shop round, which we usually do when we meet. I was tempted, and I fell. I could have fallen for more, but I showed character. This is what I bought:

I didn't have any particular project in mind, but I couldn't resist it. I think that by now I recognise an interesting piece when I see it.

In fact, the only piece I recognised was the Arne Jacobsen chair, The Egg.


I learned about Jacobsen when I was in Copenhagen some years ago, staying in a hotel that had Jacobsen furniture and folders explaining it. They also sold models in 1:6 scale, which I refrained from buying. I had since then been scouting for the Lundby-scale Egg on ebay, and it turns up every now and then, fetching fancy prices. I paid a fancy price for this one, but somehow it is different when you hold it in your hand. It feels authentic in a way you cannot be certain about a picture on ebay. Of course I know that sellers "age" their merchandise, but I am pretty sure that this chair is a genuine Jacobsen from the late '50s. (And if it isn't, I don't care).

Another piece that needed some research was this sofa:

The piece of paper says "Dollhouse furniture, architect J Udd". The person in the shop could not provide any further information. Web search yielded meagre results. "Architect J Udd produced models of dollhouse furniture of good quality in a nice, period-correct '50s design. Produced in the Gothenburg area". Hmmm... helpful. More search. Picture! Just like mine. "Fantastic sofa by architect J Udd. He produced his furniture during the '40s and 50s outside Leksand". Right, slightly contradictory information, but someone in my miniature group confirmed that John Udd made dollhouse furniture and lived in Dalecarlia, not far from Leksand. My miniature-collecting cousin said she had some furniture by Udd, and yet another virtual friend displayed a whole dollhouse of Udd furniture. So now I know that I have a rare piece, but so far I haven't been able to find any further information about the mysterious architect, not on the web, not in the National Encyclopedia or Who Is Who. Investigation continues.