I'm Robin Britton and I work from my home in the market town of Thame in Oxfordshire. I have been creating original miniature dolls for around 25 years, and for most of that time sculpting individual and original characters in polymer clay.
It's been a while ....real life and some painful problems with my knees and things just got in the way, as they do, but your super blogs have been a delight. Thank you.
Last year our gardens here in U.K. and many other parts of Europe got scorched to bits - and now we're being battered by heavy rain. Despite this, Mother Nature will reign supreme in the end so perhaps we should take a leaf (sorry for the pun) from her book and go with the flow..... it will be alright in the end.
Our wild patch is full of moon daisies, pink corncockle, yellow rattle and red campion - but it's pouring with rain so I can't take a pic. today. However a few weeks ago our half-price red hawthorn was a total triumph and the tamarisk looked amazing against the blue sky.
In our vegetable garden the onions are swelling and carrots and leeks growing and the carnations, which are allowed a home there, will look great alongside the onions. Soft fruit is flowering or setting and there should be lovely strawberries to eat when Wimbledon starts.
Although I wasn't able to get to KDF I managed to totter around our local car boot sale with my long-suffering friend and picked up these enchanting little ladies. They're only about two inches high - one is missing and arm and the other a finger or three - but I loved them and they only cost £1. They look to me to be Edwardian, but I'm no expert, and I wonder if they were meant for a Christening or Wedding cake. They are marked but it's indistinct.
Finally take a look where Sammy has taken up residence to keep an eye on what we are up to - top of the cooker amongst the enamel collection.
Two or three weeks ago I went to Minatura, and, as always had a lovely day catching up with old friends and admiring the exquisite work on offer from top artisans. It was sad that some old friends have, like me, retired but also sad that there do not seem to be very many new young artist craftsmen joining the miniaturist ranks.
This time my spending was on a couple of super vintage treasures - not quite miniatures, but little.
1930s ceramic 'Westie' - reminds me of the little dog called Toddy who used to live next door
Our small granddaughters have been for a visit and they're very keen 'creators'!! I'd saved a couple of cheesey biscuits tubs from Christmas - about 6" tall - covered them in white paper and chopped out windows and a door and glued in a first floor. The girls went to town with paper, glue, felt tips, plasticine and odd redundant miniature bits and pieces from my store - Voila!! Two little houses - the next generation of miniaturists is born. I know many of you also have children and grandchildren that enjoy our hobby let's encourage them - we need them all!!
I hope all your gardens are looking spring-like - mine cheers me every day. I picked a few pieces of this lovely japonica to wish you all a very Happy Easter.
On the whole, Mother Nature is the expert when it comes to plants - but every now and again a mini-monster slips past her, to devastating effect. A couple of years ago mealy bugs crept into my conservatory and wreaked havoc among the orchids, I'm chasing the odd vine weavil as I type, and in the garden the ferocious lily beetle has arrived. Aaagh!!!
Let me show you these vile mini-monsters. The mealy bug is barely a couple of milimeters long and clusters in fluffy, sticky groups and the other two are under 1/2" but their destruction is dreadful.
It took more than a year and a half to rid myself of the mealy bug, which I suspect came in on a rescued plant during which time it happily sucked sap from half the orchids and left them rather unhappy. Now they are fending off the occasional attack from the odd vine weavil which has chewed off all the flowers on the orange tree and started on a couple of orchids. This monster lays its eggs in the pot and the nasty grub chews the roots of ailing plants before turning into this grey monster. But it ain't bright enough for me!! During the day it hides, but at night crawls across my light coloured wall - I switch on the light and splat with a slipper!!!! Three so far, I hope that's it.
The scarlet lily beatles can destroy any plant in the lily family overnight. My Imperial lily out in the garden has been got at already! It's cunning. Easy to spot, Oh yes, but on approach (must have eyes in the back of its head) just falls off the plant and disappears. So the slipper works fine on the weavil but reluctantly I have resorted to chemical warfare on the mealy bug and lily beetle. I have to win this war!!!
Let's be cheery - despite a sudden brief snow storm I think Spring is on the way. These lovely tiny hoop daffodils are just perfect.
As a little foretaste of Spring we have been enjoying a few days of mild weather and the gardens are bursting with early colour. My other half is happily messing about with compost heaps and 'pottering' out there.
Sadly I'm a bit under the weather so I have to be satisfied with just looking for a while - but I'm loving our wild patch under the fruit trees where primroses, crocus, snowdrops and anenome and tiny daffodils are naturalising beautifully. Other bulbs are bursting through and the hellebores are making a fabulous show - and I can take out my camera. So this blog is just about the flowers....
These tiny delicate crocus have spread and grow all over our garden, and pop up in the lawn too.
When the hellebores seed, seedlings appear in the most unlikely places and in a variety of colours.
The cyclamen I photographed a month or so ago have suddenly become dozens!! Hard to believe that there was just one in this pan about five years ago. They've migrated to the next one, and into a narrow border on the other side of the path and into a couple of pots that stood nearby just for two or three weeks. I love the fact that when plants are happy they spread themselves around.
Inside the orchids are starting to flower like mad.
There are more - but I'll show you next time. Thank you for looking Robin
The start of a New Year for many of us means, if not actually making New Year Resolutions, that we give a little thought to the things we'd like to do - it will be interesting to see how we all get on in the coming months. You might remember that I put together the bits and pieces for our little granddaughters to make a wintery scene for Christmas. They did so well and loved doing it - one was inspired to make another at school with her little friend.
I had some super presents - including this magnificent, quirky stone rabbit - just now looking for a permanent home somewhere in the garden!
Outside, bulbs are peeping through and tiny cyclamen are a cheery sight - spring is on the way but I'm sure we've got more winter to come first, having had a bit of a snowy flurry a day or two ago. Pictures of deep snow in other countries are awesome!
Inside I've got lots of orchids just coming out and in bud. The second photo is of one I've been waiting to bloom for several years - a gift as a small cutting from a very special friend no longer with us. I love having a conservatory as it means flowers all year long.
Best wishes to you all for a Very Happy New Year Thank you for looking Robin
Thank you for your friendship, inspiration and sheer fun in blogland during the last year. I wish you all a Very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
Our card this year has been designed by our youngest Granddaughter....thank you all for a lovely year.
It seems to be that a family tradition has been established so Granny creates a Christmas 'make' for the youngest ones. This year it's all about Father Christmas delivering presents to the children at the North Pole.
CHRISTMAS AT THE NORTH POLE
It is a well known fact that Father Christmas lives at the North Pole
and spends the year planning presents for all the children throughout the world.
What is not quite so well known is that it takes a whole day to deliver them –
so if he was delayed.....
the Eskimo children might not get theirs until Boxing Day!! DISASTER!!
To make sure that this does not happen, he delivers theirs first.
And because we all know that the North Pole is all snow – with no trees -
as a special treat just for the Eskimo children, he brings them trees as well.
So the girls were supplied with a couple of igloos - paper mache over plastic pots - pizza base polystyrene base and mountains a quantity of cotton wool and of course a mini Santa and baby polar bear and trees.
...that I am easily distracted....this afternoon I could be doing the ironing, but writing a blog is more fun! I should be engaging in secretive conversations about Christmas presents, but wandered off up the garden...although I have made a start....
On Saturday a friend and I headed for a delightful day at the Kensington Dolls House Fair - can you believe it was the 50th!! So many amazing artisans, and with wonderful artists from Europe and further afield exhibiting as well. Of course I purchased small glassware treats from Phil Grenyer (forgot to take a picture) but one of the biggest treats for me was seeing old friend Sarah Heaseman's stand - exhibiting outside Cornwall for the first time. Her evocative Cornish seaside and countryside cottages and accessories are exquisite and realistic and I hope very much that we shall see her in London again. Sarah doesn't have a website but pics. of her work are on the KDF website.
It has been a very rainy and chilly week, but finally I had to make a trip to the top of the garden and the compost bin - and what lovely distractions on the way! Glorious luminous yellow Winter Flowering Jasmine is scrambling up the shaky suppost while the fabulous pink Viburnum reaches for the sky and scents the path - and really can you beat the dear little violas in an old terracotta pot?
Two or three years ago I started what has obviously now become a tradition to create a mini 'Christmas make project' for my youngest granddaughters - so that is my most immediate distraction. I've decided on igloos at the N. Pole....and that's as far as I've got. I'll let you know! Thank you for looking Robin
This Sunday marks 100 years since the end of World War 1 and my family like thousands of others will take time to remember those who sacrificed their lives or their health that we might live in freedom. Since then many thousands of others made the same sacrifice for us in World War 2 and subsequent conflicts. In cities, towns and villages we shall come together here in U.K., and in other countries to honour them all. I want to tell you about a really special initiative here in Thame (Oxfordshire).
Set up in 2014 The Thame Remembers Project set out to identify the final resting places of the 212 from Thame who gave their lives in World War 1 - wherever in the world that might be - and place a Thame cross on the grave. 300 people have involved themselves and placed crosses on graves in 102 cemeteries on four continents, including ocean graves. All have been delivered.
This week as we walk around our Market Town, paper poppies are appearing in front windows of houses. 600 left Thame to fight in World War 1 - 'Thame Remembers' was able to find the addresses of over 300 - 65 of whom died. Local school children and youth groups cut out and coloured in the poppies - a black centre to signify one who did not come home, a white centre for those who did - the current home owners have kindly displayed many and others fill our Town Hall windows. Beneath each poppy are the details of the young man - some windows have the names of two or three brothers.......
These are such poignant and impressive projects that I thought others might like to hear about them and perhaps be inspired to do something similar. I should also like to thank all those involved in this wonderful project.
On Sunday I know that the town will turn out in force again - Mums and Dads with toddlers in buggies, teenagers and us 'older folk'- because not only do we honour those who have gone before but today in 2018 our young men and women are still prepared to risk their lives for the rest of us. Thank you for looking Robin
It seems such a long time since we had such a glorious autumn - the weather is warm and wonderful, the changing colours of trees and shrubs and evening skies are a delight and much happy gardening has been taking place. Here in the U.K. the clocks 'fall back' this coming weekend so I suppose we shall have to acknowledge that winter might be just around the corner. Then it will be time move to inside activities...back to reducing excess 'stuff'(boring but necessary) and thinking about miniatures again (much more interesting).
Out in the garden the early morning mists and dew transform so much and these clematis seed heads look beautiful - soon they will be fluffy and differently beautiful.
It is the time of 'hacking back' so old willow and hazel have been pollarded or coppiced and rampant climbing roses and shrubs brought back under some sort of control. However, when we created this garden almost from scratch we deliberately created a labour intensive garden - much loved by mad gardeners such as us. The circular gravel garden looked super for a number of years, but lately it has become very crowded and overgrown; although still looking super, it needed attention so plants have been removed or reduced in size, and some treasures given space. Needless to say I now have a number of pots containing spare plants looking for new homes in our borders or someone else's.
Roses are fantastic plants which keep giving until the very last moment and we still have a number that are blooming their hearts out. Clematis 'Freckles' is just coming into flower and all sorts of interesting fungi are popping up all over the place - magic!
My work bench has become a bit of a dumping ground over the summer but I know there are two or three little people tucked away just waiting to get out of their box.......characters just for me. I shall have to start thinking.
A friend and I had a lovely jaunt to the Autumn Miniatura Show at Birmingham a couple of weekends ago, did lots of catching up with old chums and as ever, had a good dose of miniature inspiration. As I've been bottling pickled onions for what feels like weeks - it was just the treat I needed! Of course a little spend is absolutely essential to make the day.
We were a little disappointed to see that a some of our favourite artisans weren't attending, and (we went on the second day) that it didn't seem terribly busy - having both been long-standing fair standholders we know of course what that feels like! However it meant we were able to enjoy ourselves looking at all the super work on offer in comfort rather than a scrum, and chat to old friends.
Two artisans that create just delightful miniatures, so I felt like a kid in a sweetshop as I struggled to decide which of their beautiful items to choose, were Emma Jane and Ottervale. In the end Emma Jane's golly was perfect for my toy cupboard....and the teeny weeny squirrels by Ottervale China could not be resisted. Both will be at Kensington in December so I shall have to go back and see them again. Both items are really 'miniature' so apologies for the less that perfect photographs. Lots of other lovely things to drool over of course, and as ever, lots to inspire.
Sadly my favourite car boot fair has now closed until next year but I did spot a tiny metal eastern figure that will look great on a little shelf.
Mother Nature brings us little treats......diamond droplets on a dainty plant and even in a built up area without huge open skies, a sunset to rival any.