Sunday, 20 November 2016

Staging for visitors

In two weeks I am giving my traditional Christmas party, and I anticipate that my guests will want to see my dollhouse. For a number of reasons, I didn't have this party last year, so the last my guests will have seen is this, two years ago:

The shell is not glued yet, there is no back, nor roof nor fronts, the doors and windows are not properly inserted, the stairs are leaned-to, the wallpaper is white-tacked, and most floors are simply covered with paper.

Yet my guests thought it was the most wonderful dollhouse they had seen.

Maybe they hadn't seen many. Or simply weren't looking closely.

If you don't look closely it does look cute. Small cute rooms full of small cure furniture and objects and dolls.

But this time, even if for my guests it may look the same, most of the superficial work is done. There will be plenty of things for them to admire, things I am proud of. Floors, stair railings, back corridor lights, flickering fireplaces, Adam ceilings, pleated curtains. Some may pay attention to the Chippendale furniture. Some may notice various details. Some will count cats.

Some will ask me how I made this or that. Most won't.

In anticipation of this visit I must make sure that everything is as much as it should be. That all pictures hang straight. That candles in chandeliers don't fall off. That all tiny objects on tables and chests are there, not lying on the floor around. That books are neat in bookcases (except those deliberately spread on the floor). That the door knobs haven't fallen off. That pots and pans and jars in kitchens and larders are stored away or arranged in an interesting disorder. That all dolls are upright, except those asleep in their beds.

That there is no ball of white tack in front of the grand stairs. Nor full-size tools left somewhere.

That lights work. That fronts still close and open (I must put in magnets!). That all unfinished spots I once left for later are finished.

Preferably, I should make five more sets of curtains, but I doubt I will have time. I may re-arrange the furniture and hang some more pictures.

The more I look at my house the more glad I am that I didn't postpone it until retirement.

Saturday, 19 November 2016

Real miniature book binding

If you wonder why I have been so silent it's because I have discovered a new hobby: book binding. I am taking a class, and they give us homework, and even if they hadn't I would have been tempted to try. I am sure my miniature-making skills come handy.

Here is the first book I made in my first class. I am very proud of it.


The class made me think of the many ways I had made miniature books, including fake books, printie books, book spines like this or this, but also some "real" books with pages and pictures. But I have never made a properly bound minibook, and it was a challenge.

In full-size binding, one millimetre is a huge error. In mini-binding, a quarter of a millimetre is fatal. And still all the steps should be done exactly in the same way.

For signature I just used cut-up magazine. I tried to make pages without cutting words in the middle, but magazines do not consider miniature-makers. So it doesn't look very neat:


But at this point I was just testing whether it was possible to do it at all. It was. For endpapers - and now I know there must be two! - I took some interesting craft paper I found among my supplies. I needed three holes to sew the section.

I also needed a strip of mull to strengthen the back. I don't have mull, and it would be too coarse anyway, so I just cut a tiny piece of fabric. And sew with a small needle in a figure of eight, just as I learned in class, starting and finishing in the middle. 

This is what it looked like when I finished. 


Now I had to make the cover. Since it was supposed to be a real book, I took one of the many saved front covers of children's books from New York Review of Books. I have used them for fake books. But now it would be real. 

Even the thinnest leather I had would be too coarse, and I would never be able to cut it straight. Instead, I took a ribbon. It's difficult enough because the ribbon doesn't stay in place, as ribbons don't.

I glued on the front cover from NYRB right next to the spine (I always thought they go on top of spines), turning in the teeny-tiny flaps. You can see the quarter of a millimetre error on the top. For the back cover, I just cut a suitably coloured piece of shiny page from a magazine. 


And here is the book. Not perfect, but not bad for the first attempt. At least I know exactly what I did wrong. 

After that, I wanted to try and bind a book from a printie, of which I have dozens.


A book printie has a strip for pages, a cover, a title page and a set of endpapers. The separate front and back cover and spine in the bottom right corner are in case you make a full leather binding, which I didn't.


I started with the cover, which was against the instructions from my class, but it seemed more of a challenge.


I used thin card - recycled, as I always do - for the boards, turning in the flaps. Again, a quarter of a millimetre error on top. I must train this step.

The signature (which is, by the way, the correct term for the inside pages of the book) from a printie is made in a special way because it is only printed on one side. So you fold the strip and glue pages back to back. 

Then you add the endpapers to the frond and back of the concertina, then glue the endpapers to the inside of the cover and gently glue the back folds into the spine.  

Again, I am not fully happy, and my vision is really getting poor for this kind of precision job. Luckily, I can print out this book again and make another, better copy.