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The Village Hall Veterinary Centre – Our Creative Competition 3rd Prize winner! Part Two!

September 13th, 2010

Here is the second part of Amanda Stalker’s Village Hall Veterinary Centre blog – our Creative Competition third place winner!

The Characters

Outside we find Mr Godfrey and Bessie the Border Collie on a lead made from embroidery thread twined into a rope.  This is typical of Mr Godfrey’s “make do and mend” attitude to life (he can remember the war!).  Mr Godfrey was my first ever creation and demonstrates my desire to “have a go”.  I wanted a happy-go-lucky, cheerful “older guy” with lots of stories to tell but I couldn’t find any characters available that matched this description.  So Mr Godfrey was made from polymer clay, baked at a low temperature and then painted with the appropriate colours flesh tones.  I bought a book about polymer clay models to start with, but the models were much bigger than 1:12 scale, so amounts and baking times had to be adapted.  The polymer clay was moulded on to a wire frame which I made from garden wire bought from Wilkinson’s Hardware store.  The body was then wrapped in foil to pad it out before applying it the polymer clay – this saves on polymer clay!

I originally thought I would make a lot more figures and would need a lot more polymer clay which would have been expensive.  But when the “book and animation” part of the project commences, I will need to make many more figures to populate Peasdon and the veterinary surgery, so this economical method was probably a good idea to start with.  I did have to pay specific attention to Mr Godfrey’s tiny hands to get realistic gestures.  The modelling was done with cocktail sticks as I had no tools, just imagination and a desire to succeed!

The head was first baked on a stalk then pushed into the body.  The foil body was wrapped in wadding to make a realistic anatomy.  The eyebrows and hair were made from Crystal, my cat’s, hair which was a perfect pale colour and texture!  I had never made such small clothes but with a mixture of glue, machine stitching and hand stitching the ensemble was completed, with twill trousers made from material scraps for his “country chinos”.  The sweater was made from a pair of my husband’s new brown socks, which had a knitted 1:12 scale appearance – he still hasn’t missed the pair of socks!  Mr Godfrey’s trainers are also made of polymer clay and have wire laces, but these are hidden by his trouser material.

Bessie is a basic 1:12 scale model from my youngest son’s old toy box.  She is Mr Godfrey’s “eyes and ears” in his later life and she has already alerted Mr Godfrey to something moving in the bushes – it must be the bunny!  The bunny was originally white and was painted with different browns to camouflage her in the undergrowth.  Just nearby a mouse is also hiding in the moss.  She was quite difficult to make from polymer clay and her very thin tail kept breaking – this one is the third attempt!

The sign for the Village Hall Veterinary Practice, which stands on the right-hand corner of the model, was printed on my PC with a logo made from two pictures found on the internet, which represents a dog.  The uprights are made from more expandable curtain rails sprayed white.  They are topped off with newel post roundels, bought from DHE and cut down.  The inner frame is a shop sign, also from DHE, just repainted white.

We then have Mrs Darling with her daughter Amber and baby Jacob in the pram, together with their Airedale, Russel.  Mrs Darling was bought from a DHE sale and had long blond hair which I cut to look more practical for a working mum – she is still quite glamorous though.  The clothing came with the doll.  Amber was also bought from DHE, but the pram with its baby is entirely handmade.  The baby with its bead rattle was baked from polymer clay.  The pram was made from wire, enamelled and covered with blue textile to make the hood and blanket and the wheels were from a toy car.  Russel’s dog lead is made from part of a metal necklace chain fitted to a loop as a hand grip.

The Interior Construction

Included in the Village Hall Veterinary Centre is a fully equipped operating theatre complete with surgeon and canine patient.  The operation in process is a laparotomy.  Exploratory operations for this condition take place on a regular basis, usually to look for foreign bodies the dog has swallowed.

There is also a “patient” waiting to be seen in the consulting room and several customers and a nurse in reception.  The original kit was subdivided to provide the one large room, and the extra kit was bought to add on the operating theatre.

The Operating Theatre

Health and safety are vital for any veterinary practice, so all the alarm systems had to be included.  The alarm sensors and air conditioning came from Delph Miniatures, while the light switches came from The Dolls House Emporium.  There is an autoclave – a sterilisation unit which was sold as a tattooist’s autoclave – together with a part-used blood transfusion bottle containing scenic water mixed with dark red paint to simulate the dog’s blood.  There is also a jar containing a “foreign body” that has been extracted from a “patient” which is a piece of plastic painted reddish and placed inside scenic water as formaldehyde.

The stainless steel table is a repainted wooden table from Delph Miniatures.  The air conditioning panel also came from Delph Miniatures, and the x-ray on the wall is a real x-ray of a dog shrunk down to 1:12 scale.

The theatre light was one of the trickiest things to make.  It contains Christmas lights from a 16-string light bought from The Dolls House Emporium.  The expanding wall-stand is made from plastic tubing obtained from a balloon stick and cut into lengths to look like hinged sections – this came from my younger son’s birthday party balloons.  The light is real and works from the electricity supply which is connected to the building.

I made the drip stand myself and it is a complicated and authentic replica of a veterinary drip stand.  There is a tiny fluid bag filled with scenic water connected to the dog’s leg as it would be in a surgery.  The connecting wire is made from a clothing tag, painted red to represent a blood-line.  The endotracheal tube is made from a hair bobble which has been given a blue tip, as it would in real-life.  The tube keeps the dog’s airway open during surgery.

The anaesthetic machine was probably my most challenging piece.  It has two shelves made of wood and painted to represent stainless steel.  The wheels are made of small batteries, which were a perfect size and made of metal.  It has an oxygen cylinder that feeds through to the patient at a special flow-rate calculated to each dog’s lung capacity, together with a scavenging system and soda lime container which absorbs waste gases the operation.  The re-breathing bag is made of mouldable plastic which has then been painted.  The oxygen flush button was a piece of plastic painted to look real.  The tubing is part of an “active drain” used in surgery to drain body fluids from the dead space (areas such as a gap created after removal of something, for example a mass).  These drains are surgically placed and removed at a later stage.  The green colour line of the drain is just like that used on some anaesthetic circuits and the white box has a lead connected to the dogs tongue, which is a pulse-ox meter which checks the oxygen level in the blood and the heart rate.  Most importantly are the nurses who also monitor and check the patient’s vital signs in addition to the technology!

The stainless steel sink is a Delph Miniatures product with a spot of scenic water to make it look like it has just been used.  The signs include “Now wash your hands”, “Poisons”, “Hazardous Substances”.  The cupboard contains formalin for preserving body samples for histology.

The operation taking place is an exploratory laparotomy, which allows the surgeon to look inside the abdomen.  The story behind this is that the dog has become suddenly unwell, lethargic and has been vomiting despite previous treatment.  As in real life, an x-ray has revealed a possible foreign body inside.  This would need removing before necrosis sets in to the tissue and the situation becomes life threatening.  This greedy Labrador lives in a home environment where children leave toys around.  In my own, real-life, experiences I have come across three situations in which dogs have had the following objects removed from their gut by surgery:

1)     One pair of size 14 knickers, a football sock and a further pair of underpants (in that order)

2)     Fourteen stones from the garden in the stomach of a Springer Spaniel

3)     A watch strap, a toy solider and 72 pence in assorted copper coins with one 10 pence piece – this was a “guess the x-ray” case in which the coins looked like a coiled spring, stacked up on one another, and were not identified till the operation got underway.

Our surgeon has been correctly “scrubbed in”.  This is Mr Travers (named from a surgical instrument, like the rest of the staff at Village Hall Veterinary Practice).  He is wearing (painted on) blue surgical gloves and his scrubs – cotton garments worn in theatre.  These are covered by the outer garment which is made from authentic theatre material – a surgical cotton disposable gown, which is the latest thing in modern vets’ practices.  Older practices might still use washable gowns which need re-sterilising in the autoclave – these gowns would have been put on in a sterile fashion and the surgeon waits for another member of staff to fasten the back of the gown.  The surgical cap is also made from material out of a real surgical cap.

The surgical trolley is made of wire and tray sprayed silver.  Just as in a real theatre there are two layers, an outer and an inner:  the inner layer is sterile for only the vet to touch.  The “drapes” are cut from the real thing.  Typical surgery instruments on the tray are made of modelling putty from my son’s old modelling activity and include: forceps, gelpies and a scalpel with its realistic blood edge.  Real dental burrs have been used for some of the instruments.  A pair of tissue forceps, artery clamps, and other various instruments with the finest thread for delicate eye surgery in real-life, which comes out at the right scale for this operation, complete the instrument tray.

Now through the doors into the consulting room.  The windows in the doors were made from a plastic lid and the frosted “privacy” glass from sticky back plastic.  The skirting board came from DHE and the floor is made from fablon stick-on plastic.  The power supply comes through a DHE transformer which lights a theatre light, a hanging light and a standing floor lamp.  The supply uses plug-ins rather than copper wire.

The Consulting Room

The table in the consulting room was bought from Delph Miniatures and rubber foam matting was put on top.  The dog was painted with a cut on his paw and real bandage and tape from the surgery were wound around a cotton bud and sliced with a scalpel to make a draw full of real bandages.  The gloves and latex box were also from Delph and the computer came from a dolls’ house fair.  The drugs seen on the shelves represent the real pharmaceuticals used in vet’s practices nowadays but the boxes have all been shrunk down to a tiny size.  The boxes have been made from photo paper and card.  The opthalmoscope and auroscope (for ears and eyes) were made by me from polymer clay, baked and painted.  The Formulary book is a shrunk down version of the real thing and similarly the Diagnosis in small Animal’s book.  The stethoscope was made from a hair bobble (very useful things, hair bobbles!).

The operating theatre sign and the other signs around the room, such as the “Anatomy of Horses, Dogs and Cats” poster, have all been made from life size posters that have been shrunk down.  The silver cupboard was bought from The Dolls House Emporium as a kitchen cabinet and cooker set.  The cooker was removed and the cabinets were spilt to form the correct surgical size.  The cat basket is made from wire and garden string with a mesh door made from a frying pan spatter guard.  The white rabbit model came from a dolls house fair, the kitten was a present from my mum and the waste bin came from The Dolls House Emporium.

The lady vet was a Victorian doll which came free when I bought my first dolls’ house from The Dolls House Emporium back in January 2010.  She had ringlets so I restyled her hair to make her look more like a modern practical vet.

Reception

Mrs Patel got over-baked and became Asian.  I intended to have a larger lady but the new colour gave birth to a story about a snake escaping out of his bag.  “Topsys Textiles” of Alfreton gave me the sari material when they heard about The Dolls House Emporium competition I was entering:  many thanks to Topsys.  The snake, Monty, is made from polymer clay, baked and painted to look like a python, and he is used to being in public shows so is happier “out of his bag”!

The aquarium was a packaging box from Delph Miniatures.  The gold fish are made from polymer clay, painted and have masking tape for the fins.  The plants are twisted garden wire, bird grit and aquarium stones fill the bottom of the tank and it is filled with scenic water.  As fish make bubbles, I blew through a straw as the scenic water was setting to make bubbles and create a disturbed surface to the water in the tank.

The chairs were bought from The Dolls House Emporium as a set with a table and I have sprayed them cream.  The reception desk was bought online.  The printer, the computer, the chip and pin machine and the telephone all came from Delph Miniatures.  I made the little stand for the leaflets myself and the orchid plant came from The Dolls House Emporium.  I made the boxes and leaflets, and the Poppy Appeal box came from a dolls’ house fair, with its realistic tiny poppies inside.  All the pet care brochures are realistic and the vet’s bag is ready and waiting for all of those home visits.  The client doll is from The Dolls House Emporium and the Daily Mail news paper for clients to read whilst waiting is from a dolls’ house fair.

Along the walls of the reception area are products for sale and informational books.  I made all of the products so there are Kong toys, which are for dogs to chase and chew, Waggers, which are real hide chews (made from my own dogs’ chews soaked in water and cut up), a cat basket, six books about ferrets, aquariums, cats, dogs and horses and fifteen assorted products including:  flea treatment products, treats, shampoos, seven different kinds of cat and dog biscuits which can be found in high street shops, fish food, three orange tubes which represent pedigree chum tins, and a dog bowl.

All of the posters have been cut from veterinary leaflets and journals.  Leaflets include “No room for fleas” for cats, and “Stronghold”, Advocate wormer products.  The Milbamax products are for dogs and cats.  There is a training lead for a dog which I made and also dental sticks for dogs.  In the window are posters for the Cats Protection League and Hills Science Plan veterinary food for dogs.  There is also a Royal Cannin advert and an information poster about arthritis in dogs.  Posters about parasites in their pets make people aware that they can take preventative measures.  Vets Now is an out of hour’s service and there is a poster showing the cycle of the flea!  All authentic and good public information that you would find in any modern vets practice.

The extra room which is the consulting room was made by a partition which I cut, painted and inserted.  The drugs on the shelves are miniature real veterinary medicines used in practice.

The veterinary nurse (Mrs Balfour, another surgical instrument) who is just covering for the receptionist (her name is Mrs Olsen-Hagar, which is a type of forceps) is made out of polymer clay, baked and put into a realistic uniform, which, as you can see from my photo, is a copy of my own uniform!

Conclusion

Village Hall Veterinary Centre has been a labour of love that has taken all of my spare time from March to August 2010.  I have incorporated all of my experiences at a real-life veterinary practice, including pets, people, products and procedures, in to the project.  Now that it has drawn to completion, whilst I am drawing a sigh of relief in one way, in another way I feel there is more to the future than I thought!

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4 Comments to “The Village Hall Veterinary Centre – Our Creative Competition 3rd Prize winner! Part Two!”


  1. The Village Hall Veterinary Centre is absolutely marvellous and very, very clever. It just goes to show what can be made out of so many differnet materials. The end result was certainly a labour of love, just wish I could be thast clever. Well Done.


  2. I am overwhelmed with the ingenuity and resourcefulness of this very, very talented lady. She has covered every little detail and I can only express my admiration and congratulations to her- she tells a good story as well! A credit to the dolls house hobby, and a well-deserved prize winner (though I would have put her a little higher..!) What a standard to set for next year, though- we are going to have to sharpen up our entries, I think!

  3. Amanda Stalker Says:


    Thank you so much for the wonderful compliments on my miniature vets, its been a challenge and a real joy to make, I feel honoured to get such recongnition for my work also I’m lucky i have my wonderful family who didn’t mind our dinning room turning into a craft room for the entire project.


  4. what a wonderul job, you must be very clever. i love the pram. and all the things made for the interior.
    and the theme i am a animal lover and this is great.

    i was looking to see were you could buy the pram then noticed it was handmade.

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