This is an ongoing list of questions that come in to me on a daily basis, I think they make an interesting read, and I will get them organised into categories  when I have a mo…. but for now just scroll down the list till something takes your fancy!
    I will keep adding to them as more questions come in which should turn this page into a handy go to spot!
    I think its its great to be asked for advice, and even better to share theanswers so you know you are not the only one with problems!

So if you have a (miniature) problem use the form on the ASK JULIE page to pose your own question – its free and I love a challenge!

Q: Corner Shop Name Sign – I am making/decorating/stocking a grocer/hardware shop circa. 1920s 1930s, with accommodation above, based loosely on a shop of my husband’s family. Can you please offer any advice as to how I can paint (or otherwise) the name etc on the outside front fascia. There is room for the name “Powell’s”, a number above the front door and Grocer and Hardware, as it is a corner shop. It is 1/12th scale. Help! Your expert advice would be much appreciated, as I seem to be up against a brick wall – or should I say fascia!

A: Thanks for your question, without seeing a picture I can’t be too specific with suggestions, but I can give you some general ideas. If you have a computer and printer the world is your oyster! (But if you don’t I can suggest a couple of other things!)

First of all you need a sign to add the name onto. Its easier making a sign to apply to the shop than it is to try and decorate the panel available on the shop building. I would suggest a piece of wood – you can buy very thin strips of it from dolls house suppliers online – I would recommend my friend’s online shop: She has section on wood and i would recommend the Obeche wood as easy to use – it comes in wide strips so will do a sign nicely.

If you are a dab hand at woodwork then shop signs look nice with a molded edge if you can knock a frame together for it? Either way I would use primer, sand it then apply a base coat of enamel paint (I use the Humbrol model makers little tins of paints).

The lettering is the tricky bit.

Using the above method you would need to hand paint the lettering and this requires a steady hand! However you could also buy Letraset dry transfer lettering (try WH Smiths) or peel off letters (any good craft store or online from amazon or ebay) The gold coloured peel off letters have the advantage of being repositionable (should you need to!) and the slightly raised effect and gold edge which accents the matt gold infill has a nice effect (also if you wanted the letters a specific colour they can be hand coloured with ‘Sharpie’ felt tip pens.)

If it was me I would either print the name (on a coloured background) on photo paper cut it out (not forgetting to touch out the white paper edges with a felt tip pen held at 90 degrees to the cut edge to prevent slipping onto the print). Then stick it onto the piece of wood. Or I would create a waterslide decal – by printing my design on special paper (widely available online) and apply it to a painted wooden piece then over paint some of it with gold accents/details.

Q: Scenic water is hard to find here (North America) and when you do, quite expensive. So I wondered if I used tap water and glue also colouring for jellies and other food stuff?

A: I sometimes use clear Gorilla Glue as an alternative, but you’ll need to experiment with what colourings work with it. I think you’ll find you won’t get the bulk you need to fill things by using glue and tap water – once its dry it will shrink a lot. The Gorilla glue mostly keeps its bulk, and is fine for jars and bottles although I have not used it over large areas.  

Q: Do you make/supply Victorian barometers 

A: Theoretically yes ….and no. LOL I ‘ve had a tidy out of my studio recently. I know I didn’t get rid of it, but I don’t know where I put it! and it may be some time before I come across it again.

But I am happy to let you know that I bought it from Phoenix Model Developments – they have a website shop and the kit is in stock. Item number DH025 – it comes complete with the decals for the dial and mercury scale.


Q: A couple of things I need advice on … I’m looking for some vintage leather books ( quite a few) any recommendations?

Also I’ve got a few jars I  would like to fill to look like it has liquid in maybe a different colour. Could you advise what is best …

A: I can recommend Dateman Books – they produce replica printed books and have a range of period book bindings for Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian houses.

Regarding putting liquid in jars – I would recommend Deluxe materials Solid water – it can be tinted with pigments and applied with a fine tip syringe to get into the bottom of the bottle – use a cocktail stick to move the contents around to remove air pockets. Pigments and syringes are available on the website too.

Q:  My new dilemma is do I wallpaper the outside with brick paper… you have done (Featherstone Hall Hotel) or do I just paint it cream and have stone coloured quoins?  I was originally doing the latter…….but now I’ve seen your bricks I like it much better that way?

A: Brick Paper- I think its a no brainer – do it! Otherwise when the house is on display it will just look like a big grey chunk. I used a one from streets ahead called DIY263 old red brick – although they still do it, there are newer ones available now – DIY761B weathered brick Flemish bond is embossed so will look even better that a flat paper. You should be able to find it on the internet (Streets Ahead are trade only)

Q: I’ve put 2 wall lights in the alcoves where the range thing is, now I’m left with 2 x 6cm gaps which I want cupboards for…….yet can’t find any…….in fact one side is 6cm other is a bit smaller………..ah well!!  I do have a light coloured drawer thing and that does fit in one side……not sure what to put other side though, maybe a chair…….

A: ….got your picture. I have managed to save it on my pooter – I get what you are saying about the alcoves – I have a couple of ideas – grab your Featherstone Hall Book….

Take a look at page 126 – what about a butchers block? (you could tile the alcove – makes it easier to wash the blood off!) couple of nice meat cleavers and couple of dead chickens and you are laughing! You could also have a tool rack on the wall below the light with saws and knives on?

Or page 125 – I cut a bookcase/shop unit in the middle at 45 degrees and made a corner unit. you could do that with a base unit and add a couple of shelves across the alcove?

Q: I am currently sending myself round the twist with deciding if to put some windows in my 2 grand rooms, I feel that curtains make a room, i have been searching for the right curtains and can not find any I like, Do you know anyone that makes really elegant curtains .. swags n tails too?

A: Re curtains: You’ll know from the book that after stairs, curtains are a close second in my list of hates! but I get where you are coming from! but if you put windows in your grand rooms you’ll have to cut holes in the building – what about (if they are going on the back wall) you put window frames mounted on the wall (Like a framed picture) with mirror in them instead of glass – less work and they will reflect light back into the room? As for a curtain maker I can recommend my friend Linda Toerzey at Simply silk, she does curtains for other customers of mine – – and her work is beautiful!

R: (Reply) Thank you for the curtain lady contact, so grateful, i though more about the windows over the weekend and i really don’t want to start cutting holes into my house, I love your idea about the windows .. thank you so much, far better that having to cut into my house

Q: Do you have any tips on making a wall a little dirty in the kitchen. At the moment I’ve got embossed tiled paper and it looks too spanking new and shiny. So just would like to make it a little dirty and used!

A: make a thinish solution of brownish paint (see how technical I can be!) brush it on and wipe off before its totally dry with kitchen roll. Do it several times to build up layers. Practice on a spare bit first – to practice the technique and just to check the paint does not interfere with the tile card surface!  Its the same idea as aging the outside of Featherstone Hall (and the kitchen floor tiles) Take a look at the relevant pages in your copy of the book for photos.

Q: I’ve been thinking of my study/library. Well I’ve been thinking this one through and still haven’t decided to either have both them rooms rolled into one and a games room for the other room

A: ….it depends on how many rooms you have in the house, but a library by itself can look a bit dull – a good big desk and maybe some collectors cabinets would liven it up (and a drinks buffet or trolley). I did library/bar/snooker room and card room all in one in Featherstone Hall – but I was short of rooms!

Q: I’ve spent so much money this month trying to find a correct wood stain. So ordered another make and let’s see what happens…

A: I tend to use Ronseal or Coloron – don’t get bogged down in buying the right colour – you can mix them together – I do!

Q: As I have already mentioned to you (I think) I am working my way through several sets of no-sew silk curtains. My problem is that I am repeatedly warned that glue cannot be used with silk. In the magazine, though the curtains are silk, there is not enough advice on this problem. I have just been looking through ‘Featherstone Hall’ again, to see how you managed silk,  especially for preventing fraying, and have noticed that on page 62 you refer to ‘spray glue’.  What do you mean by this? Can you please let me know the name of the product? I would be most grateful for your advice.

A: Yes silk and glue is a tricky mix to get right… I use 3M Craft Mount spray glue on my silks – HOWEVER you do have to be very careful in you usage (fumes) and selection of silk – if its too thin the glue can spit and then the silk is ruined. You can get around this by ironing on some very fine dressmakers interfacing first. The interfacing bonds with heat alone to the silk and its much easier to spray glue the interfacing. It will also give the curtains some ‘body’ which will help in making the drapes look more real – I’m not keen on pleating boards – they tend to look to perfect, I do mine by hand for softer my realistic ones.

NEW QUESTIONS WILL BE ADDED TO THE TOP OF THIS PAGE UNTIL I GET THE TIME TO ORGANISE THEM IN CATEGORIES! So don’t sit there faced with a pile of pieces on the floor that’s supposed to be a house, or trying to decide what to put in which room, whats right for the period of your house or trying to work out just how to do something – get on to ASK JULIE – Its free and I am happy to offer my advice – you may not want to hear some of it – tough love is painful sometimes! But please get in touch if you have a (dollshouse!) problem using the form on the ASK JULIE page – If I can’t help, offer some ideas or a crackpot solution, I may know someone else who can – and I am happy to recommend other miniaturists or suppliers that I know and respect, who may be able to help you.

Just a quick note to say this page is a work in progress due to the need to switch website providers. My original host closed down their hosting section and I had a couple of weeks to create a brand new website from scratch with little in the way of computer skills to do it. I am getting there, but only have one pair of hands – so please stick with me until I get fully up and running with this new site.
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