Wednesday, April 1, 2020

à table!

For those of you who have followed my blog for a while, you might remember the tiny little Dining Closet that I originally created for Daviot House.  Charming, yes, practical... not so much.

The problem is that a dining room has such great potential in a Dolls House, from furniture to tiny accessories.  A bit like the kitchen.  

And a long time ago I purchased a lovely sideboard made by Ken Kirkbright.  It was lovely, but it didn't fit into the Dining Closet.

So a proper Dining Room was required!  Whenever I am back in Scotland, I take the opportunity to visit some lovely old houses for inspiration.  My favourite dining room was in Provost Skene's House in Aberdeen (currently closed for renovation), and I used this room as a departure point for Daviot House.  

I liked the dark panelling, but didn't want it all around the walls, as this tends to make a miniature room with low ceilings incredibly dark.  It looks great on large models with high ceilings, but Daviot House has very low ceilings (which are authentic for Scottish vernacular 17th century houses, but difficult for this miniaturist!)

  The solution was to make only one wall, the fireplace wall, panelled, leaving the others white-washed.  I even managed to add two columns either side, which adds an element of gravitas.

The fireplace was made by Malcolm Hall - I have three of his fireplaces to date, and they are just wonderful - not too heavy, or over ornamented.  For a medium-sized house this is very important, and I like the austere, simple grey against the wood panelling.


I made the chandelier with a red tassel - one of the features I liked about the Provost Skene dining room was the lovely chandelier hung from the ceiling with red silk.  I mimicked this by making a red silk sleeve to go over the bulb wires, which is a useful way of hiding them!

The original chandelier was very big, so I scaled mine down to suit the room - a three arm is more than enough.


There are so many stars of the show in this room, but I am especially pleased with the dining table and chairs.  They are by Masters Miniatures and are just the right size for this small room.  I am considering reupholstering them, as I am not sure about the blue colour...something deep red might look better.

I painted the dinner service myself.  It is very difficult to come by a good dinner set without breaking the bank.  Stokesay Ware has become ridiculously expensive, as they have limited their production immensley.  I couldn't manage that, but I did buy a good quality, plain white set and used porcelain painted with an Imari pattern.

The glassware is by Glasscraft - including this lovely fruit bowl, filled with the best fruits I have ever seen in miniature.  Sadly the maker disappeared from Etsy, but I am so glad I have this arrangement.  I'm just looking out for a well-made pineapple to complete it.

(We are going to ignore the death trap doorway at the back for the moment... I haven't finished the stair tower yet!)

And here is the sideboard that started everything off!  The room next to the dining room has now been transformed from Dining Closet to Music Room, but more of that to come...


Tuesday, March 24, 2020

My, How You've Grown!

Goodness, what a lot of time has passed, but at least I have something finished to show you... yes, I finally completed the rose carpet for the drawing room!

This is the last point I showed you in September...

And here is the completed carpet in all its glory... six months later!

It fits the room just perfectly, which is the advantage to designing your own.  I had found it very difficult to find square carpet designs, which is why I invented my own.  And I think I prefered doing it from scratch - I used the colours I wanted and the designs - shells and roses.  I used DMC threads on 46 count linen, fine enough for this scale, but not too ruinous to the eye-sight!

And now the carpet is in place I can turn my thoughts to the remaining wall - the window seat wall.  Not only does it need curtains, but the paintwork needs redoing - you can see all the different colours I have tried for this room, including a vile sea-green!

I'm not sure if I will go light or dark for the curtains, or even match the wallpaper, I'll have to have a think...

The dark corals, brown and burgundy colours of the carpet really match the lovely mahogany of the furniture, and stop the room being *too pink*

And now to finish another project for this room, which has been sitting on my shelf of 'Things That I must Accomplish Before Starting Anymore Projects"...  the Hepplewhite sofa.  

I have finished the embroidery; roses, lilies and daisies to match the chairs, but I have been putting off the actual upholstery.  It is very nerve wracking to cut up embroidery that you have spent a long time on, let alone the whole gluing process!  I have been waiting fr the right moment to even attempt it!

I also need to find the exact shade of vintage gutermann silk that I used on the chairs - I have run out, and am currently scouring ebay for more stocks... this is the disadvantage of using vintage items.  They usually have the lovely muted colours that we like for miniatures, but the supplies are often very difficult.

When I have finally found the courage to finish the upholstery, you'll be the first to know!


Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Therein Lies Treasure...

Hello Everyone,

After a little summer break, it's a new term and a new post.  I thought I'd show you around the drawing room today.  Daviot House has two drawing rooms (two!).  This was not particularly planned (nothing ever seems to be), but grew out of necessity when I realised that I was trying to put 'two rooms into one'.  I had a similar problem with the dining closet, which morphed into a breakfast room and a dining room (more about that another time).  

The drawing room on the first floor has a lovely bay window with a window seat.  I have yet to finialise the curtain situation - for the moment we have a temporary curtain.

A Sue Cook fireplace and Malcolm Hall fire basket.  

The room itself is not very large; 28cm squared, so there have been quite a few constraints.  The biggest problem for a small room is the lighting.  Especially chandeliers.  Most which are available to buy are either too big, or too flashy - Daviot House is not Versailles! So I worked out how to make one that would be just the right size without overpowering the room, or hitting the inhabitants on the head as they walked past.

The chandelier is just the right size for this room

Mostly I wanted to show you this room because it contains quite a few of my treasures.  When I started this blog, it seemed that many people had bottomless pockets to spend on their passion - it still seems that way when I read about people spending thousands upon thousands on a house and contents.  That is not to judge, only to say that it can sometimes be disheartening to a collector with a budget, that our houses just won't be up to scratch. 

An antique miniature above
a working clock from Malcolm Hall

 Ten years later, and I realise that the joy of collecting something is not the ability to spend outrageous sums in an instant, but the gentle coming together of treasured items.  Items that hold meaning, because they were a present, or a fantastic find.  

The miniatures that give me the most pleasure are those that didn't even know they were treasures.  And most of them can be found in the Drawing Room, the most elegant room of the house.

Tarbena mirror above an
Ian Holoran side table

I have always had dolls houses in my life, but my first real 'treasure' was given to me when I was twelve years old.  After a visit to the dentist, my mother and I went to the library where there was a miniatures exhibition.  

An exquisite Delft style plate from a Northern Irish maker

I can't remember much about it, who the exhibitors were, but I came home with the tiniest blue and white plate.  Twenty seven years later, I still have the plate.  It has travelled as much as I have, kept in a jewellry box during the years when I didn't have a miniature house for it.  It has been to boarding school, university, and it even came with me when I moved to France, before I even knew I would become so passionate about miniatures.

 I have searched in vain for the maker over the years.

Faint maker's mark and the date

Two years ago I was trawling on ebay for items and I found a job lot of vases for auction - nothing particularly interesting, mostly imported, but the price for the bundle was a few pounds, and I thought that I would add them to my stash.  

The dragon vase filled with flowers by Ilona, and silver shell dishes by Acquisto and Randall

When I received the order in the post, I was astounded to see that among them, glittering with the most delicate gold, was a perfect vase.  And on the bottom of the vase was the same maker's mark as on the little blue and white dish from many years ago! 

 My heart leapt, and the vase today has pride of place in the Drawing Room, a testament to the joy that my miniatures have given me over the years.

They may not be the most expensive, rare or sought after, but each item in Daviot House represents much more to me, and I do hope that you find many treasures that give you joy for your miniature houses.

An antique print originally from a Georgian dolls house

An extremely hot fire and lit chandelier

Hepplewhite chair I embroidered in front of a beautiful Masters Miniatures sewing table

The stumpwork sewing box I made

The tiniest silver scissors from Don Henry and steel thimble by Danny Shotton

The unfinished sofa and bare floor - the Drawing Room is still a work in progress!

The carpet I am currently working on, of my own design


Saturday, July 13, 2019

P is for... Paper, Paint and Petronella

We had a heatwave a couple of weeks ago - 41°C!  It was terrible because we couldn't go out or do anything, just close the shutters and try to keep cool.  The good thing about making miniatures is that it is calming and relaxing, and so an ideal occupation when stuck indoors.  

I had no energy to take on any big tasks, but a little painting is always fun.  For a corner of the Dining Room, I needed a new painting.  I had been reading about the dolls houses in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, and came across the portrait of Petronella Dunois, the owner of one of the houses.  I though it would be a fitting tribute to have a painting of her in Daviot House.

I carried on the 17th century theme by making a little 'Still Life' arrangement of flowers.  The bowl is a cheap china tureen that I had in my mini-stash, and I painted it with porcelain paint.  You can just about see a little peacock!  I may fill the bowl with more greenery to get that really lush effect of floral still life.  Perhaps if the temperature goes up again?


Thursday, May 9, 2019

Hepplewhite Adorned

I have been busy embroidering over the past few months, and thought I'd show you my most recent work.  I ordered a Hepplewhite suite from Masters Miniatures, and covered the seats with very light cream silk.  The spray of flowers in the centre include roses, lilies and daisies, the summer flowers that are in my real garden around my birthday.

It is extremely difficult to take a satisfactory photo of miniature embroidery!  This one gives you a sense of the scale.  I finished of the seat pads with gold silk cord and tassels - everything looks better with a tassel!

The embroidery is very time consuming, as every stitch counts, but this project was harder than usual, as I had to make the sure the embroidery matched on each chair - not easy with free embroidery, but I think I managed it.

Here are the completed chairs flanking the fireplace in the Drawing Room.  I have yet to complete the sofa that goes with them.

I also made a fire screen for the breakfast room.  It is on light yellow duchesse satin, and the bouquet includes very Jacobite white roses, thistle, bluebells, heather and rowen - all very symbolic of Scotland.  Again the photos don't quite do it justice...

It looks much better in place!

I was very touched by your comments on my last post, and thank you all for welcoming me back,


Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Moody Blues or I got stuck!

Sometimes I think I am in control of Daviot House.  I decide what goes in, which rooms are where, which furniture to use etc...  But sometimes, just sometimes, I have the sneaking suspicion that the house has its own opinion.  Some rooms fall into place, and others Get Stuck.

  I last posted A LONG TIME AGO after a Spring Clean, when I changed the colours of the morning room walls.  But something wasn't quite right.  I wasn't happy with the layout, the sofa, the colours.  And I got stuck.  I didn't touch the house for quite a long time - I didn't find a great deal of inspiration, and things weren't working.  

Looking at other people's blogs made me feel a bit guilty that I wasn't being productive, or leaving lovely comments, or joining-in with everyone.  I had contracted that strange disease, 

                                The Miniaturist's Blues!

I think quite a few of us feel it from time to time, often Real Life gets in the way of creativity, and I'm sure some really great miniaturists have disappeared from the blogosphere due to it.  So things were pretty blue in my Mini World!  Well, if life gives you lemons, make lemonade.  If you feel blue, go blue.  And that is exactly what I did.  Here are the results:

The Breakfast Room in all its splendour, set with the finest silver and blue and white china ...

I painted the porcelain with a dainty pattern...

The table cloth was a wonderful find at a flea market - it is the perfect size for the table, and the lace edging is just about in scale for an Edwardian crochet hem.

 The rug was a very damaged evening bag - although I don't like cutting up antique petit point for miniatures, this was far beyond repair as a bag, and I cleaned, mended and backed it with linen to preserve it.  I love the muted colours!

The panelling and fireplace were inspired by a visit to Fort William in Scotland last year, from a room in the Highlands Museum there, dating to the mid-eighteenth century.  It is very simple, made from cardboard and Das clay.  

There is a rather snooty gentleman in a Tarbena frame, but I do like him, I think he stops the room from being too twee.  The sconces are my usual DIY using elements from Bindels Ornaments, and the clock is by Malcolm Hall on Etsy.  

The breakfast table is set with various pieces of silver, including a fabulous butter dish from Stephen J Randall, a toast rack from Art Forge and a teapot that was rescued from a charm bracelet.  

The egg cups, bud vase and cutlery are pewter from Warwick miniatures.  The stunning tea caddy is from Malcolm Hall.  It was a good Christmas this year!

The corner cupboards are filled with porcelain that I painted myself, and others from my collection from V&R Miniatures, Muriel Hopwood and Deerness ceramics.  

It is very good to have all of my blue and white collection in one place, and I think that the black accents of the sconces and the clock on the mantle piece help to tone down the blue, so it doesn't feel overdone (although my RL addiction to blue and white china has spilled into my miniatures!)

I hope you have enjoyed the Breakfast Room of Daviot House, and forgive me my long absence - I will be back again to keep you updated on other rooms of the house that I have been working on during my sabbatical,