Saturday, 30 August 2014

Nightstand and mirror - Robin Betterley's Miniatures

As I am going to be pretty much 'on hold' (AGAIN!) with the Gate House until I have assembled everything I need I thought I might work through the kits I have and make a different vendor's item each time to sort of review it.  'Review it' meaning my opinion of how difficult I found it and what I thought of the end result.

I thought I may as well begin with yesterday's piece from 

Robin Betterley's Miniatures.

Miss Lydia Pickett's Cottage Collection
Fancy Night Stand 

Unlike the Gate House itself which had no instructions this tiny piece comes with a welter of stuff.  

Firstly their items are beautifully packaged with attractive labelling and a clear photograph of what you should end up with (in colour).  They are always 'themed' into particular narratives that they develop over time.  

Something I have noticed already is that no-one seems to say on the packages what the finished size will be.  This has already proved troublesome as I am having to take pieces out of the packets and try to calculate the size to see if they will fit in various spaces.  This isn't just an issue with Betterley's per se.

So into the packet and on to the instructions.  On the reverse of this A4 sheet are four photographs which are referred to in the comprehensive instructions on the other side.  Below that is the 'story' of how the Lydia Pickett characters came to create the night stand.

I totally understand how that appeals to buyers and creators alike as I always have a story for my houses.  That said, personally, I do want to create my own narratives and not just recreate someone else's.  Clearly there is a huge market for those who do and they couldn't do better than travel with the Betterley's ideas.

The actual instructions for constructing the piece are fantastic.  Loads of hints and details of how they achieve their wonderful finishes.

The build itself is four simple steps - clearly outlined with the four photos to guide you.  One caveat I would have preferred the photos with the steps so I didn't have to flick back and forth.  Not a big issue but if I am reviewing I need to nit-pick!

For a beginner like me they are dream instructions - they even recommend particular brands of paint and glue and generously share every technique they employ to achieve the very best result.

eight pieces

I try to keep things 'square'

Trying to prevent warp as it dries

 (Before sanding) Bit of warp on the base

As always, it is better in real life
I promise you my finish on this is better in real life when using real eyeballs.  The magnification of the camera shows every little detail.  I did change the pixels from 16 to 2 but I honestly couldn't see any difference.  I have no idea how to photograph quarter scale.  If someone knows how please give me the answer.

The build was straight-forward.  The pieces fitted together beautifully.  I suspect there must always be a bit of warp on wood at this scale (?) maybe painting the pieces before removing them from their motherboard might help (?).

The detailing, such as the carved back, is lovely and if you like pretty this is decidedly for you.

Just to add to the already terrific little kit there was a bonus piece - one of the world's tiniest mirrors.

I did find this a bit of a challenge.  Not sure you can grasp how tiny this is in this scale.  It is standing beside a small brass pin (the handle for the chest) and is made up of five pieces.  I think I was the most impressed by the tiny stand.  You get to insert it in a notch in the back; it went in fairly easily and works beautifully.  The mirror is absolutely free-standing.  The front frame is beautifully detailed - even if you do need a magnifying glass to know this.  I think a little gilding might show it up better.

Well done Betterley's - I had no intention of doing marks out of ten but it is hard to resist when you find a ten.

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