Dolls' Houses Past & Present

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Building a Billy Japanese Tea Stall - Kit Review by Zoe H.

The Billy Japanese Market Tea Stall Kit No. 8664.

When the Billy Japanese market stall kits were brought to my attention by someone on the DHP&P site some time ago, I decided I would like to have a go at making one.  I bought my kit from Amazon where they are currently retailing for around the £30 mark, including postage. They are dispatched from Japan and mine took almost five weeks to arrive.

This looks like it’s going to be fun!

The kit contains everything you need to make the tea stall apart from the white PVA glue and double-sided sticky tape.  WARNING: the kit contains just enough of everything you need and there is almost no room for error! Be especially economical with the little bottle of brown stain. Luckily most of the other materials are easy to get hold of if you do run out.

Oh, the instructions are in Japanese!

I had hoped the instructions would be in both Japanese and English but they weren’t. I don’t read or speak a word of Japanese so this was a real set back.  Initially I thought I’d be able to cross-reference the diagrams on the instructions to the kit parts quite easily but this proved not to be the case because most of cross-referencing was in Japanese too.  This was when I had a rare brainwave and looked to see if there might be a helpful video on YouTube. Thankfully, there was:

 

I’m not sure I would have cracked this kit without this excellent video. The entire build of the kit is demonstrated from beginning to end. Unfortunately, there is no voiceover on the video and only a few English subtitles appear here and there so it doesn’t give you everything you need: the problem of matching the templates to the kit parts remained and that part felt like one of the hardest puzzles I’d ever done.

The hardest part – matching the templates to the materials.

The most difficult part was working out which material these templates were to be cut from and also which of the various thickness they should be.  I watched the video again and again and eventually cracked it but talk about brain ache!

The easy part.

It is a real shame that the language barrier presented such a problem, and presumably will for many others too, because once you have worked out what to do, the kit is actually very easy to build and could probably be completed in an hour or two.  The materials are paper, card and foam board and so the only skills required are cutting and pasting.  It took me a couple of very long afternoons to make mine…!

Coming together. 

Once I did get going, it was hugely enjoyable to see the kit coming together and everything fitted together like a dream.

Making the shop sign.  

 

Making packets of tea.

Making the various stall components and stock items was fiddly but very enjoyable and absorbing.

 

One of those ‘Doh!’ moments.

I did suffer one further very silly minor setback when I tried to make the glass of iced tea to sit on the counter top.  I could see from the YouTube video that the little green block of… whatever it is… had to be placed in water and it would then swell and soften and a piece of it could be inserted into the little plastic glass provided. I duly put the block in water and waited… and waited… The video gave no indication of how long the process should take and eventually I left mine overnight. However, when I looked in the morning it was still rock solid.  This is when I had my ‘Doh!’ moment, as in: ‘Doh! It should be hot water!’ I tried that and had instant success. Well, I’ve never claimed to be the sharpest tool in the box..!

 

My finished tea stall.

I absolutely loved putting all the finishing touches to the stall and it all came together so nicely and looked so pretty that it really did feel like all the head scratching and frustration had been worthwhile.

 

Mission doll stall holders.

The stall stands 16.5 cm (6 ½”) high and the base is 16 cm (just over 6 ¼”) wide by 11 cm (just over 4 ¼”) deep.  It is probably about 1:18 scale and is just right for my little Mission doll couple, though they are probably Chinese and not Japanese but I won’t tell if you won’t…

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