April 24, 2012

Hindsight and Other Thoughts

I got home Sunday night after spending six days at the Tom Bishop Chicago International show. My kids missed me so much that they texted photos of themselves crying real tears for me to come back home. No way. I was having too much fun.

I missed my family, but not as much as the kids claimed to have missed me.
Here's a 1/12 scale wooden sign I'll put in my Northpark home somewhere. 

I coveted these real leather sandals by Patrizia Sauti of Scarpe e Pelletteria.
The "Open" sign in the background is by The Neon Guy, at Spencer's Nook out of Alabama.
It'll go well in Billy's 1/12 scale comic book store. 

I am a sucker for contemporary dollhouse kitchen accessories. 

This piece is by Lola Originals from my previous home state of California.

Here's a favorite piece from The Little Dollhouse Company. This Italian import created
by le mini di Pierluigi is metal, and I plan to use it on the outside of the back porch of my Northpark home. I think I'll add some trailing greenery and some flowers. 

I did make it home safely, and so did my newly acquired miniatures. Sadly, though, somehow I managed to lose some of my finds—a small rake to be used in an outdoor gardening scene, and some really nice glass jars with lids. I thought I was being so careful to bring items purchased back up to my hotel room each hour, and then carefully wrapping the items and packing them away. Don't know what went wrong.

Since this was my first really big miniatures show, I didn't know exactly what to expect. No longer a newbie, I've come up with a few tips that I know will help me next year when I go to Chicago again. These tips might help you, too, for any mini show you're inclined to visit.

  1. List wants and needs...okay, none of these pretty little things do I need, but there certainly are items I really want. I spent too much time and money purchasing things for my "fantasy" miniaturist self (i.e. things that I think I might want to put together one day, even though I have no idea what I'm doing...like making doll hats). Next time, I'll create a list of the projects I really want to complete, that are in the scope of my existing talents, and focus in on getting those items.
  2. Make a beeline for your favorites: If you know some of your favorite artisans will be at the show, head for their booths first. That way you can get your most coveted pieces first before you blow your entire wad. That's the strategy friend Brae at Otterine.com seems to employ. Makes sense to me.
  3. Carry a plastic bin with a cover...I might not have lost an item or two had I carried a hardshell plastic bin with a lid and carefully placed each purchased item in that bin. With the soft-sided plastic bag handed out to everyone at the entrance to the show, I was bound to lose something. I just stuffed money and my miniatures in that bag, and then subsequently had to go digging deep inside it to remember what I'd purchased, say several minutes before...I was making an effort to match fabric choices with wallpaper colors, etc. It's cumbersome. Next time, I'll simply place my items layer upon layer (with bubble wrap in between) and carry a veritable lasagna of new mini favorites.
  4. Use iPhone camera regularly. I would have done well to take photos of the items I either wanted to consider purchasing before the show's end or immediately after acquiring them. Then once those items were safely packed, I still had a back up of my new inventory. I did manage to take a few photos during the show of room boxes and other things that I wanted to remember but could never afford to purchase. I always asked the artist first for their permission to photograph.
  5. Schedule time to see the other shows. Before the Tom Bishop preview show, I was able visit the 3 Blind Mice show that open the day before the big draw. Sadly, I hadn't carved out enough time to visit the Independent show schedule for the same weekend. I heard that that show was nice, too, but poor time management on my part made me miss out.
  6. Small bills, and lots of them. I think it helps to have a lot of single-dollar bills and change. Some of the vendors didn't take credit cards, either.
  7. Have a budget and stick to it. Yeah, right.
Overall, I had a great time. I met up with friends from California, whom I hadn't seen in almost a decade. I met a blogger friend in person and other new friends from across the Pond.

And I will never look at the spare change in my jean pockets or what I find in between the sofa cushions again quite the same way. I'll need every little bit of spare coinage to indulge myself again next year at Chicago International. The kids somehow survived without me this time, and they can do it again. That's what my husband and their grandpa is for...taking care of my real-life dolls while I have a chance to play.

April 19, 2012

Wish You Were Here

After nearly 20 years, I've finally made it to Tom Bishop's Chicago International--one of the largest dollhouse and miniature shows in the world. I got here on Tuesday evening, and on Wednesday, I took part in an exquisite doll making class fro LilyElf Miniatures. It was wonderful!

Today, although I'm not signed up for a class, I am peeking in on some of the other workshops. Some of these workshops cost several hundred dollars to join. Most of the expensive classes last for two to four days! It's mind-blowing.

My new friend Nancy is finishing up a doll made in our workshop. She's adding curly hair to this little girl. My doll still needs some work, but I'll post her photo soon.

This little lady is baking in her cottage kitchen, built by artisan Teresa Layman. 

Tomorrow begins the preview sale at the Show, and I'll be one of hundreds of miniature collectors waiting in line to get in. I can hardly wait. Right now, I'm going to make a list of my miniature must-haves.