Saturday, December 27, 2014

I hope you had a lovely Christmas, here is a little post to show you recent developments at Daviot House... enjoy!

A new porch at the front gives the house more substance, though the glazier needs to be called to fit new windows in the turret!

The warm lights invite us inside from the cold...

But before we go in, let's have a look at the garden, where signs of Spring are just beginning to show...

The back wall is awaiting its fountain...

The dining closet is in desperate need of some doors!

It looks much warmer inside - shall we go in?

That's better...  would you like to have a seat in this chair?

Or perhaps on the knowle sofa?  I wish the owners would call in the plasterers for the ceiling...2015 will be a year of DIY...

... but the lady of the house will insist on spending money on her blue and white china!  Here's a new bowl by Muriel Hopwood.

And here's a vase by Muriel Hopwood, this time filled with tulips

Perhaps you would like to sit in this armchair, and drink a hot cup of tea

Or perhaps you'd prefer to relax on the sofa?  Where ever you decide, I hope you have a wonderful weekend, and a Happy New Year,


Friday, November 28, 2014

Let's make... no pin, no hairspray, no pretty pleater curtains!

Before November whizzes by, I thought I should post a second time this month... things have been busy at Daviot House, which means lots of things to show you in December, who knows, maybe I could do an Advent posting...

Here is my method for curtain making.  There are lots and lots of wonderful methods out there, but here is one for those of you that

A. Don't have/can't afford a Pretty Pleater (me) 
B. Hate sticky hairspray (me)
C. Can't be bothered fiddling around with a million pins (me)
D.  Have about a nano second to make things due to an extremely busy RL (me)

You do need either some fabric stiffener or a mix of white glue and water (tacky, pva, I've even used wood glue!).

So here it goes.....

Cut out your curtain panels - a good gather for this scale is 1.5 times the final width that you need.

Use a needle and thread to make a simple running stitch gather along the top (it doesn't need to be very neat)

Here is the magic ingredient, fabric stiffener, I use it because it is convenient and I have a large bottle of it in my cupboard, but a 1:1 mix of water and white glue should do the trick, or even old fashioned starch.  Remember to test your fabric first, and always try to use natural fabrics, such as cotton, silk or viscose.

Soak your panels in the fabric stiffener and then squeeze out the excess.  Put your panels on a flat surface, and arrange the folds as you like.  If you want your curtains to be tied-back, tie a piece of thread around the curtain.

  It is a good idea to look at a real curtain to get an idea about drape - fabric never normally falls in stiff, box pleats all by itself.

Real curtains don't rise up at the bottom, so make sure the bottom edge is flat, if the curtain is long, you can scrunch up the bottom edge to imitate the way fabrics fall on the floor.

Leave  your curtains to dry, or if you are as busy as I am, put them on an old metal tray and dry them gently with a hot air dryer (not a hairdryer).

While the curtains are drying, let's make a curtain valance....

Measure your window width and add a couple of cms either side.  Make a wooden support.  I used some square pieces that I glued together, but you can use whatever you have on hand, even a frame made of lolly (popsicle) sticks.  I drew a simple curved valance shape, you could do a fancier one, or just straight across.  Make sure you allow for the ends of the wood support.

Use fusible bonding fabric, or back your fabric with a thin card stock to keep it rigid.  This also helps with clean cuts when shaping the valance.

Next, cut out a strip of fabric to cover the top of your valance.  I also backed this fabric with bondaweb, but you don't have to.  Remember to apply the glue to the support, not the fabirc, and in quite a thin layer, to reduce the risk of the glue going through the fabric.  Although the ceilings of Daviot House are very low, and the valance nearly at ceiling level, I like to cover the top of the valance, as it gives it a good, 'finished' look.

Now add some trim.  You can go mad here if  you want, but I kept mine simple, just a cord of silk button hole twist.  I found that the busy fabric didn't need much more, though if you are using plain fabrics, you may want to jazz it up a bit!

Glue the curtains to the underside of the support.  If you tied your curtains when they were still damp, you can make some tie-backs to go around this part.

I used two old brass jump rings and sewed them onto the tie-back.  The tie-back is also finished with the same silk cord as the valance.

This photo shows you the draped effect of the curtain on the floor - much more realistic than curtain ends that seem to go up in the air :) !

I used the same method to make some sheer silk curtains, this time I edged them with a tiny picot braid

Here is the completed curtain, and here it is below in the window.  I hope you liked this simple method of making draped fabric,


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Miniature Stumpwork Casket

Just as the dark days of November draw in, and everything seems slightly grey and dull, I thought I'd surprise you and share my latest stumpwork project - a little box.


As you know, I am completely incapable of using wood, so I used a 'just a box' kit from McQueenie's miniatures, a fairly small and simple thing made from mahogany.  I started with the lid panel, and based my design on a motif that is often seen on 17th century caskets,  a lady with a lute.

As you can imagine, trying to capture the tiny stitches with my camera was nearly impossible, especially the detached leaves and flowers, so I hope you can see everything that went into it!  Her face was particularly difficult, but I managed to get at least an impression of facial features.  I had a lovely time doing her hair in twisted buttonhole bar stitch, it gives the hair a little movement, and really suggests ringlets.  I had tried curling thread over a very fine needle and setting with starch, but I really don't recommend this method on this scale, it was very messy and frustrating!

The front panel motif is a red squirrel with a lovely stripy tail, I am oarticularly fond of his excessively fluffy ears!  The fuschia flower on the left was inspired by a plant in my garden, which has been giving me so much delight in the grey of Autumn, as it is screamingly pink - I had to tone it down a bit here!  It is constructed of brussels stitch over the end of a very small stiletto, and three detached purple petals, so though t doesn't look like it in the photo, the flower is very 3D.

A tiny blue tit on a pear tree, also inspired by my garden.  The pear is a silk wrapped seed bead with tiny French knots at the bottom.  The grass is triple brussels stitch.

Sadly, I don't have a hare in my garden, but I do like this one, bounding about with his ears flapping in the wind - I couldn't bear to embroider a hound chasing him, as you usually see in 17th century embroideries!

The back panel has a Christmas rose, a stag and a quince tree, which make this panel feel quite Wintery, though the quinces have just been in season here.  It is a wonderful fruit, and I love making quince cheese in the Autumn.  This quince has been constructed in the same way as the pear, and the Christmas rose has leaves of detached picot.  The stag doesn't photograph well at all, which is frustrating, as it had very intricate work, but this is the best shot I coud get!

Sewing the panels was great, I really tried to use as many different stitches as I could without overwhelming the scale, as this is really easy to do.

Making up the box, however, was a horrible experience, as it was nervewracking cutting so close to the panels!  The buttonhole twist used to finish the edges was extremely difficult t o get straight, which is an absolute must in 12th scale, as otherwise any slight wiggle looks really clumsy.  I have learnt a lot though, so then next one I tackle shouldn't have so many problems.

I hope you have enjoyed it!


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A Room With a View

Gosh, September was a busy month... I know that here in France, we get a lot of holidays, but going back to work/school is so much harder after so much time off!  But I have also been busy working on Daviot House.  Sometimes I find I am more productive if I don't blog, but then I don't get to share things regularly with you...  

After ordering more fireplace tiles, I finished the fireplace and GLUED IT ALL IN!

I never glue things in indefinitely, as I am always redoing things, but this time I am sure it is all ok, and so got out the glue.  It doesn't seem to matter how well I measure and cut, there are always little gaps and holes.  The cornicing was a bit gappy, and down the sides of the fireplace, the light from the fire was shining through the walls.

So I got out the acrylic mastic and filled it all up, nice and tight and smooth.  Then, of course, I needed to repaint, as the mastic is BRIGHT WHITE, and the plaster walls are a lovely creamy off-white.

Then, I had to clean and polish the floor.  Then I had to drill a couple of small holes in the wall for the curtain tie-backs.  So then I had to clean and polish the floors again, and then touch up the walls with cream paint at the bottom... 

You get the picture, September has been busy, but sometimes it feels as if I am taking three steps forward and two steps back all the time!

So here are some lovely, calming pictures of the dining closet from various views:

The Hall contrasts nicely with the blue dining closet

I am very pleased with the Delft elephant spill vases from V&R Miniatures either side of the fireplace

An eerie, Dickensian view through the window...

A tiny little key in the cabinet lock that I have been meaning to glue on for about three years... it took me all of three minutes!

The new curtain tie-backs that provoked so much cleaning and painting!

And to finish, a peek at what has been going on outside recently, a new turret with a slate roof, made with, you guessed it, DAS clay... I think I will be doing the whole of the roof this way, so now would probably be a good time to take out shares in their company, because I'm going to need A LOT!

See you in October!


Sunday, August 31, 2014

A 17th Century Stumpwork Mirror

              I thought I would just bombard you with photos for the reveal of the stumpwork mirror - to enjoy over a coffee this bright Sunday.  There have been quite a few additions since the last time I posted, see if you can spot them all!

       Thanks so much for your kind comments in August, the surgery went well, and I am almost back to normal (whatever that is!)