Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Silver, Herb, Seed, Root or Werewolf Fur?

You’ve probably read somewhere or seen it on television that the best way to be free of a vampyre would be to arm oneself with a crucifix and a large bottle of Holy water or if you are of a very brave disposition; you could get rid of this fiend by driving a stake through it’s rotten heart before chopping off the head and then having a nice bonfire with what remains.

But did you know that there are many different ways of seeing off a vampyre?

On offer and measuring just 2.5 cm or smaller is a collection of miniature vials now available exclusively on the Crooked Hen Gift Shop.

Available for sale individually and from the shelves of the 'Monsignor Suárez Vampyre Slayer Emporium' in the All Hallows Hamlet, these are exclusive remedies created by the Monsignor himself AND guaranteed to see off the most determined of Vampyres!

With a pinch of 'Silver, Herb, Seed, Root and Werewolf Fur' suspended in resin, labelled in parchment and finished with paper tied with jute, raffia or silver wire- these little vials will add a perfect finishing touch to YOUR fantastical miniature world... OR could YOU discover another use for it?

Whatever your plans for this miniature; a unique vial of will find it's way to you beautifully packaged with a collectible 'Thank you' card and a poster from the 'Monsignor Suárez Vampyre Slayer Emporium'.

This is a collectible miniature and as such is NOT intended as a toy OR suitable for children.

Away with the Faeries!

“When the first baby laughed for the first time, its laughter broke into a thousand pieces, and they all went skipping about, and that was the beginning of fairies."

If the author of the enchanting tale of Peter Pan is to be believed then Sir James Matthew Barrie will not doubt be reassured to discover that there is still at least one faery that can be found skipping about within the stone walls that surround the ancient City of York, although at first glance, she may be mistaken for just another conventional human; appearances can be deceptive!

For those of you who have known me since childhood, it will be of little surprise to discover that the return to my hometown of York has reawakened those mystical qualities of my character and with the opportunity to acquaint myself with the inhabitants who reside at the bottom of my new garden; my fascination for all things fey has taken flight as it were...

And now with my wings firmly in place as the Crooked Hen, I’m either engrossed in my own little world in a new studio at 1 Bar Lane that is nestled withing the shadow of Micklegate Bar within the ancient City of York or I'm at the bottom of my garden getting messy with paint. wood and glue!

And it is from within the cosy confines of this studio that I am working on the design of one of two rather unique 12th scale structures stuffed with those fantastical and whimsical items that I hope will add a perfect finishing touch to the shopping experience for the inhabitants of the All Hallows Hamlet!

You can now join me in the magickal world of the All Hallows Hamlet over at Away With the Faeries! AND as I burrow down and get on with some more work!

Friday, 5 January 2018

In Search of the Ghost of Piccadilly...

Of all romances in miniature... perhaps this is the best shape in which Romance can appear..' so said the fabulous Lord Byron in one of his many journal scribblings and as artist AND a passionate devotee of Regency History who loves to create a scene and not only of the hysterical kind; it is perhaps only to be expected that I would create a Regency inspired miniature!

In 2009, I began the creation of 13 Piccadilly Terrace circa 1815 which is a Regency House complete with a basement kitchen and the attic rooms that will reflect the architecture, interior design, furniture and life-style of the Regency and which has been inspired by the poet Lord Byron and his circle as he lived at 13 Piccadilly Terrace in the year 1815.

Although my idea for the design of 13 Piccadilly Terrace began several years ago, I remain busy with the research and the hoarding of materials, fabrics, pictures with the buying of lots of delightful Regency miniatures; which I might add, is always the fun part!

And although I am proud of my painting techniques, woodworking skills and electrifying abilities; I am aware of my limitations which include a horror of dressmaking and sewing.

However, one of my many grand plans for this 12th scale abode is the creation of the unique 'Byron Screen' for the library and which was decorated to reflect his love of theatre and pugilism and used in his apartment at the Albany until it was bought at auction in April 1816 by his publisher John Murray.

After extensive restoration work, the present John Murray has kindly loaned the Byron Screen for display in Byron's Library at Newstead Abbey; which I was delighted to see on my visit there last January.

And another of my many grand plans for this 12th scale abode is to arrange a wedding in the 'Family Room' that is situated on the piano nobile and with inspiration drawn from the Byron betrothal of January 2 1815 at Seaham Hall in County Durham even though I shall have to rely on plenty of artistic license with the decor and furnishing of this room being as I am limited to the use of my imagination as the accounts of this infamous union are sketchy to say the very least!

However, as I have studied and photographed the gown worn by Annabella on that cold January day during a visit to the Fashion Museum in Bath, I can boast of one item of authenticity even if it is 12th scale!

For although I can handle fabrics I can glue, the art of the needle is beyond me and it is fortunate that I have made the acquaintance of Louise from Angelique Miniatures who having positively embraced the art of miniature couture on my behalf has created this wedding gown and the silk pelisse in exquisite form!

And so as my 'Lord Byron House' continues to develop, I will be sharing with you the unfolding tale, the triumphs and the tears from Piccadilly Terrace on the blog and even though I have been creating life in 12th scale for many years now; the passion to design and create a miniature world remains just as intoxicating, rather like my love of cake!

And on that note, I'm off for a wander into the kitchen of 13 Piccadilly Terrace in the hope that a slice or three of this delicious cake remains mine for the taking!

To learn more about the life of Lord Byron through the creation of this unique house, follow the link: The Ghost of Piccadilly Terrace. The Tales from Lord Byron's Abode...

Thursday, 4 January 2018

A Bouquet for THAT Fairy Tale Bride!

On July 29 and on an incredible and much more summery day over 36 years ago, the world was 'lost' in a sea of enthusiastic flag waving, military parades, dubious hats, the soaring strains of Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance, swathes of ivory taffeta and unbridled patriotic fever to celebrate the wedding of the Prince of Wales to the Lady Diana Spencer.

As a young teenager and naive monarchist who would happily spend hours sketching designs for wedding flowers on the odd bit of paper; I remember being the first to claim the best seat in front of the television at the home of my grandparents to watch this real fairy tale wedding.

When some years later we heard the chatter about mistresses, dubious telephone calls, obsessive bahaviour and emotional turmoil; I and the other 750 million who tuned in to watch this unique and frothy spectacle would soon come to learn that this fairy tale had not ended on a happily ever after!

But what of that wedding?

Even though I had been excitedly anticipating seeing the dress; my excitement soon faded when I finally saw that huge crumpled frock and even as I write this, I can only think of that wonderful quip from Fiona in the film Four Weddings and a Funeral; 'Scarlett, you're blind, she looks like a big meringue.'

Five years later on another sunny July day, I watched Sarah Ferguson promising to 'love, honour and obey' the Duke of York at Westminster Abbey and even though she couldn't even find the City of York on a map during a US television interview; I still believe that she really was a beautiful bride.

Although I had been a florist for some time before the union of the fun-loving Fergie to the boorish Duke in July 1986, I can only remember one or two commissions from brides who wished to emulate her S-shaped bouquet of gardenias, yellow roses, cream lilies and the obligatory sprig of myrtle grown from a cutting of Queen Victoria's bouquet.

Diana's bouquet, however was quite a different thing altogether and although it isn't one of my personal favourites; I remain just as impressed by this betrothal extravagance of flora and fauna even now!

Even three years after this wedding and as an eager trainee florist I would be wiring lily of the valley, stephanotis, gardenias, yellow roses and endless ivy leaves every Friday afternoon as the 'Diana Bouquet' was the fashionable choice for every aspiring fairy tale bride and even thirteen years later; a mock-up of this bouquet in silk flowers displayed in my design room would still attract admirers with a request of 'Ooo! Could I just hold this please?'

And so it was that one summer with time of my hands and the need for a challenge, I created a bouquet designed as a 'shower' in 12th scale inspired by the one carried by Lady Diana Spencer.

And, yes, it really was a challenge!

For not only did it take several attempts with varying degrees of success to manipulate the individual flowers into place with a combination of strong wire and determination; I also had to curb my enthusiasm for adding more ivy leaves and risk a creation suitable for my niece's Barbie doll!

Yesterday and running the risk of an inquisitive peck from one of my resident chickens, I ventured to the bottom of my garden to capture an image of this bouquet on top of the old corbel which has often served as a useful photographic prop for my creations, 12th scale or otherwise.

And as I was firing off these images, I couldn't help musing on my recollection of how much easier it  had been to create the 'Diana Bouquet' in 'real' fauna and flora!

A Portrait of Grandma in Flowers...

Dear Diary...

Hello and welcome to more efflorescent tales from a corner of my world and although the doors to Bouvier’s Flower Shop and the Brentwood Flower Market have been closed as of late; my floral endeavours have been continuing albeit in more of a fantastical way as the Crooked Hen and I've been busy creating some plants which would struggle to find a definition in any botanical guide!

However, I have also continued to indulge in some more floral design for our 'real' world with the flowers for the wedding of my dear niece and her dashing groom and another tinged with a hint of real sadness.

For on the early morning of Sunday April 19, my wonderful Grandmother died and although it was a privilege to have delivered her eulogy before her loved ones during her Memorial Service at Southlands Chapel in York; I also created a tribute to her with flowers.

Calling up her gentle nature and graceful poise, as well as a nod to her favourite colour of blue, I gathered up armfuls of the palest Sea Holly, cheerful Daisy Chrysanthemums that symbolize joy and added stems of elegant miniature Spray Carnations which I finished with lush Fern and speckled with spicy grey Eucalyptus.

After I had arranged these flowers in a rustic basket and inspired by my Grandmother’s ethereal nature, I then added several wisps of Bear Grass as a finishing touch and called it ‘A Portrait of Grandma in Flowers’ the images of which I now share with you, dear reader including the words of Brian Jacques that have long remained of comfort to me.

“Don't be ashamed to weep; 'tis right to grieve. Tears are only water, and flowers, trees, and fruit cannot grow without water. But there must be sunlight also. A wounded heart will heal in time, and when it does, the memory and love of our lost ones is sealed inside to comfort us.”
Brian Jacques

Until next time, Adieu!

Tears For Fleurs! A Tutorial with Tee...

Hello and welcome to more efflorescent tales from a corner of my world!

As the last weekend in October is one for remembering the dearly departed with the festivals of the Mexican Day of the Dead and All Souls' Day, I have designed my own unique tribute in remembrance of those no longer with me with the creation of a spray of flowers in the design of a teardrop and which I placed on the table in the Design Room of Bouvier's Flower Shop on All Hallows Eve.

However, given that my photographic skills appeared to have deserted me when I set about capturing the images of this teardrop floral spray perched on a table in the Design Room of the newly revamped Bouvier's; I was relieved to discover that the results of the outdoor shoot were something of a compensation!

And if you would like to discover the tale behind the creation of this teardrop floral spray then please read on!

Using a combination of off-white silk roses, snippets of Conifer and some other bits of fauna that I snaffled from my garden, I also assembled a piece of DRY Floral Foam, a handful of fine silver wire, my trusty pair of scissors and a mug of tea...

I might add that the choice of beverage is optional!

With the snippets of Conifer, I begin to design a 'Floral Bed' in the design of a teardrop.

For those of you familiar with my floral creations, you'll know that I love to use 'real' foliage when I can and that I am also an enthusiastic 'harvester' who loves to take advantage of the free pickings from the hedgerows and bridleways around me!

As I continue with the snippets of Conifer, my design begins to take shape.

Conifer remains one of my favourites to work with for reasons that include a gorgeous colour, the appearance of being 'freshly picked' for many weeks and its heady scent which j'adore!

Now that the basic teardrop design has been completed, it's time to add the silk roses which are a lovely off-white colour.

With the roses in place, I now add the other pieces of interesting foliage that I have harvested.

I use the silver wire to hold the pieces of foliage intact within the spray.

The silver wires are also useful for creating 'circles' of foliage which adds nicely to the design.

As the design is nearly complete; it's time to add the finishing touch with some tiny pieces of fresh moss.

I use the moss to fill in any of the small gaps that remain until I am happy with my design.

With my floral spray completed, it's now time to enjoy a well-deserved mug of tea...

Although I have used 'real' foliage for the creation of this teardrop floral spray; alternative snippets of plastic, silk or even paper leaves would also happily work with this design and I have found some wonderful pieces of 'foliage' while browsing the Aquarium department of my local pet store.

Even though I have been creating and teaching floral design for many years now, I STILL believe that everyone has the ability to make some sort of an arrangement with the use of fauna and flora and once you have mastered the basics, there really is no right nor wrong way!

I hope that my tutorial will inspire you to create your own little floral masterpiece and if you have any questions for me, please ask...

Boo! Bloom Where You Are Planted!

“Witch and ghost make merry on this last of dear October’s days.”

For one All Hallows Eve there was ghostly fleurs and much merriness a’ plenty to be discovered!

For after the trials, tears and tribulations of that drastic renovation and the tale of woe you can chuckle over; the doors of Bouvier’s Flower Shop have finally reopened and with a revamp of enhanced lighting to appreciate the larger floor space, the exposed beams that are both aesthetically pleasing and practical and finally the lick of cheerful paint that banished those pesky damp patches; I am confident that the imaginary inhabitants of this particular small world will find their new working conditions much improved!

The year before last I found myself surrounded by vases of lilac Sea Lavender and buckets of lime-green Asters on All Hallows Eve at the Brentwood Flower Market as I went in search of some feline luck that was rumoured to be nestled among the gloriously decadent Birds of Paradise in those colourful clay pots.

Last year however, as the theme is one of ghostly design and to compliment the new furniture that has been finished with a subtle powder blue paint; I have been working with bunches of white Statice, elegant Arum Lilies and snippets of lucky white Heather.

The black spiders that can be seen dotted here and there and the generous lashing of cobweb finished with a moss in the palest of green compliments this scene of spookiness.

If the Halloween palette of orange and black is more to your liking, there are several grumpy pumpkins to be found and let’s not forget the obligatory large bowl of candy canes that are waiting to be devoured!

And if you are in need of a little feline luck, a York Lucky Cat is patiently waiting...

Upstairs at Bouvier’s and the design room is as busy as ever for there’s been a flower basket to create that will offer some much needed cheer, the design of a hand-tie bouquet with a message of sympathy and a plant that waits to be lovingly gift wrapped and delivered to its lucky recipient…

As the first day of November is All Soul’s Day in which the dead are remembered with prayer and celebration throughout our world; a poignant funereal tribute of white roses awaits…

And if you too would like to create a floral tribute for your own special ‘Small World’; there will be an easy to follow tutorial coming soon!

Perhaps it’s just as well that after such a busy day that someone has kindly left a large slice of a Halloween ‘Treat’ for me to enjoy!

May YOUR All Hallows Eve continue to be a sweet delightful treat too!