A Day at the Races

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Marx Bros Film info link

MP3 links So many pieces using this name – who knew?

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Sometimes they let me out to play

On Saturday we went to the Dolls’ House and Miniature Fair at York Racecourse.  Being a 2.5-3 hour journey, we set out nice and early, got mugged by a bank cash machine:  must sort that out a little further, and then got held up in road works so didn’t arrive until car parks pretty much full.

It was great fun to see all the stands and was a little bit of a memory lane experience for the pair of us.   We used to do trade shows years ago, selling something I used to design and throw together.  Another day, another story. Perhaps.

There were lots of things to drool over but I was very self-restrained and bought some wood I needed for current job, a cutting mat at a wonderfully reasonable price and some ready-made, non-opening books to save me having to make the vast number I foresee me requiring pretty soon.

I wandered off and talked to a number of stall holders, who also very kindly let me take photos.  And here they are.

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Where poss, intro headings to each stand mentioned are links to exhibitors’ website

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Anglia Dolls Houses

Tim Hartnall built the Art Deco room box for my friend Isla (see The Inspiration of Friends).  I wanted to pass on a greeting from her and chat generally.  I do love the way Tim’s houses have rooms of varying sizes and shapes and the whole house layouts are more realistic than many box designs.  This is perhaps not a clear explanation.  Imagine looking into the doll’s house and seeing not just regular shaped rooms with doorways opening from side to side across a landing or stairway and steps up the centre or up one side but with some doorways opening at the back of rooms on to a common landing and access and viewing from the side of the house as well as the frontage  Do visit his website (link above) at  to get a much better idea of what I’m trying to explain.  He also, very carefully, uses the style of door suitable to the social standing of the room:  lovely panelled doors for the up-market living areas and ledge and braced doors for the area yard, kitchen areas etc.

Georgian Dolls House - Tim Hartnall

Irregular shaped room not as deep as large one to its right and with stairwell and landing behind

Tim Hartnall Georgian House detail

and the view on to landing through the doorway

Tim Hartnall detail of Georgian House

The area yard is built into the depth of the frontage and swings out with said frontage when open. It has a ledge and brace door as will be used only by staff and tradesmen.

Tim Hartnall Anglia Dolls Houses

Mr Hartnall and a visitor - how do you carry that size of dolls house around with you to shows? Hmmm

Having done shows with my bits and bobs, it never ceases to amaze me how good the condition is of examples of Dolls House and other miniaturists’ work (particularly at this hectic season).  I know you would want your display stuff to look at its best and you carry good examples, but mostly you schlep around much the same stuff time after time and dolls houses very often ain’t little.  I don’t know how the exhibitors do it and keep smiling.  I know I became a real Jekyll and Hyde when setting up and taking down.

Danny Shotton Miniatures

Danny Shotton’s stand kept pulling me back and the photos really don’t do his work justice as they are hard to photo with all the lighting.  I’m hoping to be able to buy lots of things from him once I get to dress the set properly.  I don’t think he runs a website but quite a number of sites seem to sell his items.  Where to begin?  Mr Shotton makes stainless steel implements.  He also makes items using ivory and cane and ebony like woods and many other materials.  The fine detail and finish are lovely.  Just look at the callipers if you want to see the perfection of shape he somehow achieves at this small scale.  I could spend a small fortune just on this stall alone.  Apologies for use of slammers/exclamation marks but couldn’t find a better way to express the standard of this work.

Danny Shotton Miniatures

Danny Shotton Miniatures

The wonderful measuring callipers

Danny Shotton Miniatures

An attempt at shot of full display - sorry, there's just no way I could get it to work adequately but click on and you can zoom around a little

Danny Shotton 1/12th scale miniatures

Back to the 'sharp' stuff - such attention to detail and finish!

Danny Shotton Miniatures

Beautiful walking canes

Mr Shotton also has shoe horns made from old piano keys.  He also uses this material in the lace bobbins and handles for items such as pastry/shaving(?) brushes.  There is just so much to see in such a small area of display.  I know it’s extra childish of me but “yummy”.

Glass Craft

I do seem to have chosen to photograph items that reflect the light in an extraordinary manner and generally make life difficult for the photo, and here is another one.  Glassware is always attractive and this particular stand caught my eye – they did seem to be selling like hot cakes, and no wonder:  they are lovely in their perfection.

Glass Craft - Byker

Again, no way that a photo is going to show what this glass wear is really like, sorry

Glass Craft - Byker

An attempt a little more detail

Kastle Kelm Miniatures

These lovely exhibitors had packets of ready-made dark leather books that caught my eye.  And then I really looked at their stand.  I realised I’d visited their website in connection with their miniature paintings but hadn’t remembered the rest.  Lovely stuff.  Lots of bits of steam punk contraptions and, for those who prefer the witchy items, some really interesting scenes and individual items too.  My descriptions couldn’t possibly do them justice so do have a visit to their site and explore the lot (link above).

KastleKelm Miniatures

Impressive stand sign and great items below

I took the image of their stand sign so’s I’d get the attribution as right as I could but hadn’t realised just how much of the detail of the upper stand I’d caught with it.  I had their permission, don’t worry, but waste not want not – the close-ups of that top row came out quite well and I thought I’d share them too.

KastleKelm Miniatures

Detail of items below sign - Left

KastleKelm Miniatures

Right-hand detail

KastleKelm Miniatures

and Centre detail

KastleKelm Miniatures

Witchinesss for all

and my favourite …

KastleKelm Miniatures

The workshop bench with lots of cogs and gubbins

Dolls House by Design

We stopped off to take a closer look at the wonderful level of finish and materials in these houses and have a chat with the proprietors, who, understandably from their name, make to your design for you. Their website is well worth a visit.   I got sorely tempted by a bed by Tom Birchmore that this particular house (in photo) had in it.  A range of Mr Birchmore’s beautifully finished furniture can be seen at Shepherd MiniaturesIf you’ve time, have a look at this Collectors’ Club page about Tom Birchmore’s work and see his highly efficient method of sanding down – it’s well worth a shufty.

Dolls House by Design

Precision work and lovely wood finishes

Dolls House by Design - Tom Birchmore's furniture

Dolls House by Design - Tom Birchmore's four-poster

All in all it was a highly enjoyable day and well worth the trip down.  All the organising staff were lovely and it was glorious to see the packed halls, the enthusiasm for the wonderful items on show and to see and, when possible, talk to the people I’ve been viewing and buying from online.

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5 responses »

  1. i must be very biased, but I have to admit I like your stuff best. You pointed out some nice sites,
    but nothing to my mind at least, that I would want to follow. I did like the UK Dolls House Magazine…loved the miniature paintings….Speaking of which you need some…

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