Autumn 2023 was my first time at Miniatura as an exhibitor and the excitement started building up weeks before the event, though getting ready for the show kept that excitement in check.
Heading to the show on the Friday saw my car loaded with 3 dolls houses; a 1:24th scale Georgian, my 1:12 standard bay window house and, by kind permission from the owner, a large 3 floor Georgian house commission piece. I also took a Bronté Parsonage book nook.
Arriving earlier than the 4pm time given to start setting up, the exhibitors there were allowed in early to arrange their stalls. Deep breath, a high viz slipped on and off to find my table. The place was a hive of activity and buzzing with excitement - everyone engrossed in their own world of miniatures and setting up stall to enthral and delight the customers who were due to arrive at 10am sharp the following day.
A nod and a ‘Morning’ to fellow enthusiasts and I got on with setting up my own little world of wonder. Gentle murmurs and quiet chatter around as everyone focussed on their setup and in this lovely atmosphere and with the help of Andy, we placed the commission dolls house onto the covered table. Within 5 minuites, another trader came to look and exclaimed – ‘Oh my god, it’s beautiful!’ What a wonderful start to the day - I hadn’t even put anything else on the table.
I soon had the other dolls houses set up, lights plugged in, switched on and checked for faults, Even after a 4 hour drive, every bulb lit up first time. The book nook had new batteries fitted and was proudly placed upon the accompanying presentation case.
All ready to go, I went wandering to see who else was around though not wanting to disturb anyone. Many had yet to arrive, some had almost finished setting up but most there were still stood among boxes of stock, pondering where to put things. A quick 'Hello' to Michael R Miniatures and then on to see if Jane Laverick was around. I had wanted to say 'thank you' for her kind mention in a blog she wrote about a dolls house my brother Matthew had commissioned me to build. He had decorated each room as a scene from A Christmas Carol and had asked Jane at the previous Autumn Miniatura show to make him a Scrooge doll and a Ghost of Christmas Present doll, which she did beautifully.
Jane remembered making the dolls for Matthew. We had a good chat and she gave me some good advice for a novice at the show.
Time to go check into the local hotel and relax. I had no idea what to expect the following day.
Saturday morning brought nerves but tea and a bacon roll soon sorted that. Maybe it was just the hunger after all ...
Many traders were in early to finish setting up, finalise positions of stock, chat to friends and have a look around. My display had plenty of visitors before the public were allowed in. More lovely comments were offered and I started to relax. I was looking forward to this now.
There was a tannoy announcement at 10am, the show was open and the public streamed into the hall and spread out and before long, I was hearing more ‘Oh wow’s’ and answering many questions. All four items I had on display brought looks of wonder to many faces. And smiles, lots of smiles.
Before I knew it, the show was closed for the day. It was 4pm and my throat was sore from all the talking. Time to unplug the lights, close the front of the dolls houses and head back to the hotel.
The evening brought a relaxing meal in the hotel and I thought I had spotted Thomas, who had been a contestant in the Great Big Tiny Design Challenge, at the next table. I didn’t know then he had already looked at my work.
Sunday brought a lovely sunny start to the day and in the calm of the morning, I wandered over to the exhibition hall. After yesterday, I was much more relaxed. The day brought less public but was still busy enough to keep me on my toes. I did find time to chat with Thomas and he commented on my work, saying that the 1:24 house was the best he had seen. A generous comment and much appreciated boost.
There were many more 'ooo’s' and 'ahhh’s' from people looking at the houses and once again, before I knew it, 4pm rolled around and the close of the show for 2023.
It was a wonderful experience and I will be back in the Spring of '24. I want to thank Andy Hopwood for all the help and for putting on a great show, along with all his staff. I also have to thank Crab Pot miniatures for keeping an eye on my stall as I popped off for a much needed refreshment break.
The main thanks go to all the people who stopped by my stand to look, whether just for a moment or if they kept coming back, as many did. Thank you to you all. It was a pleasure to chat to all of those I did and to see so many friendly faces.
Thank you all