Monday, 27 July 2020

A little bit of this and a little bit of that.

Isn't lockdown a great thing for the miniaturist?

Firstly, thank you all for your lovely comments on my previous post and thoughts regarding the glass bell fitted next to the cruisie.    The next time I am in touch with my contact at the Dennis Sever house I shall make a point of asking her it's actual purpose!

I've finally got over my procrastination of creating a coat and tricorn hat.   I've found umpteen excuses not to start this - not the right fabric for the coat, not the right fabric for the hat, no pattern, no starch, no time so I'm now pleased to say "I've done it"!

I've never created something like this in miniature hence the faffing and avoidance tactics.   First things first, buy a book.

This turned out to be a great find.   I'm not interested in the "dressing dolls" part of it but there are patterns galore for every period and style from swanky coats and tricorn hats for gentlemen to pinnies and mob caps for the servant girls.    Well done to all you miniature doll makers/dressers out there.  I applaud your patience!

Once I sorted out my pattern I had to create a prototype.   This was done using a piece of white cotton and glue.

Once I was happy with that I set about putting together the actual item I needed.    The hat proved a tad awkward given that the felt I used was a bit thick and no glue I had seemed to want to stick.   I managed that around the brim but given the felt was so thick the instruction "wrap around a pencil" didn't work.    In the end I just used a few tiny stitches to keep it all in place.

As this item is not for dressing a doll but part of dressing a room a prop had to be put together to replicate the door this item would be hanging from.    Foam board, foil and pins did the job admirably.   A quick blast of starch and it was left overnight.

It worked!    I was pretty chuffed with that given it's a first.   There is another tricorn hat and a cap required for this room and items pop up in other spaces but at least I don't have to do it again for a while!

Below is the scene I'm replicating.   As this is the "fourth wall" I had to use a picture of the dresser to the right of the coat as the door closes on the central divider of the house.   It also meant I had to cut the cornice and floor short but as it's the fourth wall, I'm not bothered by that.    The pictures show King William (of Orange) and Queen Anne hence the ribbon.


The next thing on my Dining Room "to do" list was a notice board.   I'd put this task off as well as it meant searching for suitable documents to reduce and print.    However, I got that done at the weekend and, using a really good picture as reference, managed to put that together and fix it in place.


Phew, that worked!

Next to come was another tricorn to sit on a corner of the painting of Isaac Jervais -


Followed by a bonnet hanging on the wall to the right of the painting featuring Elizabeth Jervais - the same bonnet as worn in the portrait - 


Finally, a pair of pattens - 

These are positioned on a foot warmer (a kit purchased from Arjen Spinhoven).


(I discovered recently that it was considered very bad manners not to remove your pattens on entering someone's home).

** With many thanks again to the Dennis Sever House for permission to use their photographs.

Friday, 26 June 2020

Cruisie Lamps

Work is progressing slowly with the Green Dining Room but as I'm about to start on something I've not done before, I'm procrastinating although I've told myself I have to get on with it - more on that in another post. 

Meanwhile I've been searching around trying to find cruisie lamps in miniature.

The double cruisie lamp is primarily a domestic lamp with origins in Scotland and Ireland.   Also known, in other parts of the country as a Betty lamp.

These little oil/fat burning lamps were used mostly by the poor.   The top pan being filled with the substance and a wick added.    I have heard, although I don't know how true it is, that the Scottish had the double pan because we're so tight nothing was wasted and any drips were collected in the bottom pan and reused!   Animal tallow was preferred but fish oil could also be used although this was smokey and had a terrible smell.

In the working Kitchen of my Silk Weaver house the central ceiling light is a cruisie lamp with a glass fixture next to it.   I'm not sure of the purpose of the glass fixture, maybe it prevented smoke filtering into the room, but as it's there in the RL house, I've added it.

After much searching and enquiring of various miniaturists I was able to place an order for my little cruisies with Susan of Ashwood Designs.    This is a new item created by them and I think they're just marvellous.  Exactly what I was looking for.    Thank you again, Susan.    They were also able to provide me with a choice - wick or no wick so of course I had to have both!

* With thanks to Ashwood Designs for permission to use their photograph

This morning has been taken up with me finally getting the Kitchen finished with the addition of this little lamp.

Thursday, 23 April 2020

Progress with the Green Dining Room

Hello followers and thank you so much for the lovely comments you left on my last post.   They are very much appreciated and I'm pleased you all like what I'm doing with this.

It would be too easy for me to charge ahead with this project to the detriment of my other two properties that I took a step back and concentrated on one of the others but the time has come to get back into the Green Dining Room.

This is my progress so far.

I've added a photo of the real property further down so you can see exactly what I'm trying to achieve.

The "painting" to the left is George II.   The table covering is a rug.   Thankfully I was able to find one the exact width.    (These things don't happen that often!)    

I've concentrated my efforts on the left hand side of the room as there are still a few bits I need to complete the right hand side.

Unfortunately there was nothing I could do about the glare with the lighting.   I think it must just be reflecting off the PVA I used to finish the copies.

Below is the real thing.   Some photos show the open doorway and some show it covered.   I went with covered as it was the easier option!

* With thanks to the Dennis Sever House for permission to use their pictures.

There are still some bits to add to the table scene - a couple of birds to hang from the left of the painting and a tricorn hat for the right hand side.   I'm going to try and make the hat and I had been waiting for a fair to get the birds but that's on hold for the time being.

Below, I've tried to show my little corner and the RL corner for comparison.

* With thanks to the Dennis Sever House for permission to use their pictures.

While I would love to have "like for like" minis to complete the scene, it's sometimes not always possible to find the right thing in mini so I've tried to create something that looks the part.

Below is another chance to see where all this work is actually going!

*With thanks to the Dennis Sever House for permission to use their pictures.

So, now that I have the best part of today to "play" I'll see how I get on with a tricorn hat, and a mob cap!

I hope you are all keeping well and busy.   Stay safe!

Saturday, 18 January 2020

The Green Dining Room

Happy New Year followers!

Work has now started on the Green Dining Room and I'm slowly collecting all the necessary pieces required.  The photo below shows what I'm aiming for.     (With thanks to the Dennis Sever House)

*Copyright Ben Rea

I started with the fireplace, building it up slowly with mountboard.

The best way to deal with the walls was to create them individually using mountboard and adding the panelling.   

The windows to the right will be fake as it's tricky trying to recreate a building that has staircases, corridors and rooms off other rooms and getting it all to fit and appear believable in a front opening house.    That is why I'm working very closely with the drawing shown above.   The artist has dealt with the building as a cross-section whereas I am showing it as "face on".

The history of the imaginary family living in this building covers the years 1724 to 1914 and show their rise and decline in the silk industry.    The green Dining Room shows them very much on the up.

 Tile printies were used inside the fireplace along with bricks using a stencil and compound.

Meet Isaac Jervais* and his wife, Elizabeth*.   The decorative bow on Elizabeth's dress in the painting is displayed on the frame.    Above the fireplace is King George III.   

*Copyright Roelof Bakker

To get the same lighting effect on each of the paintings, 1/24th scale lights were used with shell findings attached.

To achieve the external atmosphere as seen through the windows, I googled "18th century London fog" and this is what I got...…..


Hopefully my next post wont be as long in coming.   Still lots to do and lots to add.

Tuesday, 23 July 2019

More work on the Working Kitchen

I can't believe it's been five months since I last posted about this property.   I feel I've been working on it for ages - to the detriment of my other projects but I'm back again with an update for you.

Firstly, to answer a couple of questions asked regarding the last post - 

Daydreamer - there's nothing said about the central part of the kitchen floor.   I just have to assume that perhaps when the present day owners were making it all safe that maybe work was carried out and rather than replace it with slabs, they put in wood to keep an overall feel for the period (and to make it easier to get back in if needs be).

Sheila - The bread oven.   After much searching the RL house I came across the lid of an aerosol (spot carpet cleaner to be exact!)

I already had the door so firstly, I added a base, primed it and painted it black, bent the door to fit the curve and then cut a small space at the bottom which I filled with some stones I already had.

It now looks like this.  I was really pleased as I'm not usually that lucky in finding "the right thing to do the job"!   It saved me a lot of bother.

So, on to progress.

I have scoured hundreds of pictures to get the detail of these rooms correct as there is so much stuff in the room and I am continually finding other items I hadn't seen before so of course, that's another mini order.   Blue and white china is at the top of my list as an awful lot of it appears in every room of this property.

In a lot of photos of the RL property, the spaces are dark and it's sometimes difficult to see what's going on in the corners - the wall cupboard to the left is one of those tricky spaces.   I initially thought I could see a cupboard there but after searching further pictures I don't think it is a cupboard but hey ho, it's a cupboard in my space!

Since I took the decision to remove the staircase from the property (with the exception of the stairs to the attic space) I couldn't really see the house as a normal house would be seen, ie. rooms leading to rooms in a logical manner so I took the decision to have it viewed "front on" as shown in Ben Rea's* painting.   Each room being viewed on its own and that is why there are windows on the right with an outside view.    It wouldn't work if I showed it alongside the picture of the crumbly kitchen next door.  As said previously, I've swapped the kitchens around as you wouldn't enter a Courtyard from a crumbly kitchen!

*With thanks to Ben Rea for permission to use his work

The little string of figures above the range are gingerbread men.   Created by painting and linking together sections of paper cutout figures purchased from MiniMcGregor

The Delft tiling surrounding the sink area is a tile printie and the plumbing was created using a piece of solder and forming it into the shape required, adding a tap and attaching it all to a correctly sized piece of "glazing".    The whole panel was then stuck in place.

This is the Working Kitchen* I am replicating and there are still a few bits to be included but it's almost there.   There are variations in the pictures I am using for reference and if I can, I'll show some in another post.

*With thanks to the Dennis Sever House for their permission to use the above photo.

*Photograph taken by professional London Photographer Susannah Fields **

** Susannah Fields very kindly gave me permission to use that particular photograph which is one of a collection taken at the Dennis Sever house.   You can see more of her DS work here and here    They may give you a better idea of what I'm trying to achieve with my own mini version.