Saturday, November 28, 2015

Coming Up Roses

This post was inspired by the last of the climbing roses that managed to bloom in my garden until a week ago...the longest they have flowered, and probably something to do with the warm November we had.

Sadly the weather has become bitter, and the roses have gone, but I realised they were the theme that connected a few new things around Daviot House that I wanted to show you.

Some bright red climbing roses at the front of the house help to break up the white facade.

This is a portrait of Lady Rose MacGillivray, lady of Daviot House, painted about 1640.  She was the daughter of Flora MacGillivray, who had the current wing of Daviot House built in 1615.

I have been painting a few family portraits recently, documenting the inhabitants of Daviot House, and Lady Rose is my latest work.  

Lady Rose hangs above the wonderful 17th century casket from Tony

 I think the black frame of the painting, though a bit austere, goes well with the casket.  

And then, because I never manage to go to any miniature fairs, a few new items... a tiny rose teacup and box of rose Turkish Delight from Small Wonders, and a stunning bonbon dish from Glasscraft. 

You can just about make out a tiny crochet doily, made by MiniGio, who makes the most perfect crochet items.

And that's not all...  For the longest time I have been stalking Kris Compas's portfolio page waiting for a replacement sofa for the parlour.  Kris made the original dark blue Chippendale sofa that was in the parlour, but I found that the parlour was getting a little too dark.  I wanted to make the parlour slightly more light an feminine, to balance the serious green of the library.  

I was very pleased when she put up this sofa for sale, along with a perfect 'crapaud' style armchair... and lo and behold, on the fabric are tiny little rose buds... perfect!

And who is this looking very proprietorial on the new sofa?!  A new addition to Daviot House, a beautiful ginger moggie, just like my RL cat, Edgar.  He is a creation of Kumi, who makes delightful needlefelted cats and dogs. 

 I had tried to make a needlefelted cat before, as I believe in trying to make things first.  How hard could it be? Well, it was a complete disaster, glue and fluff everywhere!  So I admire Kumi's work very much, so beautifully detailed, and perfect in scale.

I love the lighter sofa, it draws the room together without being too heavy, AND, best of all, it goes with the rug I have been sewing forever, and was worried about having to do again.  Hooray!

Sadly, the lighting is terrible for this photo, as we have just had horrible gloomy weather, so the blues look a bit too strident under the daylight lamp.  The colours are much softer in natural light.  You can see the armchair in the corner, so wonderfully made by Kris, and topped off with one of my embroidered cushions.

  ...And there is a hole right in the middle, just waiting to be filled by a rug....  (New Year's Resolution 2016)!

The shelving looks a little bare, now that the books have been moved to the library, but that is no bad thing, just an opportunity to fill them up with more miniatures!

I hope you are keeping warm and cozy in the Northern hemisphere, and enjoying Spring in the Southern,


Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Apart from the endless books I have been making (and still need to finish), I made a few items for the library, and combined them with a few items that I already had, but could never find a place for.  Suddenly, everything seemed to fit together, which was really satisfying.  Just like the dining closet, the library sees to have taken on a life of its own - I don't think I actually made a decision, everything fell into place.  

I made a couple of vases of narcissus and daffodils, a smoking cap, a sage green lamp with tassels to match the curtains and a framed painting of Narcisssus, based on a fresco found in Pompeii.  

The beautiful Italian plate was from an Etsy seller, who unfortunately closed shop a while ago, and I haven't been able to track her down since.  It's just lovely and pulls all of the little items together.

So far the library has been made on a shoe-string, with only things that I had to hand - and yes, Irene, I did have quite a stash of bits and bobs!  Normally this never happens, and I spend weeks waiting around for parcels to arrive, and pay ridiculous amounts in postage. 

 It was quite a challenge to use and make do with what I had, and if I had had the budget, I would have certainly spent more on it.  But there is something quite satisfying about using what you have and thinking a little bit more creatively perhaps than usual.

Of course, as Daviot House is my only house, and will probably never be 'finished', I know that I can change things in the future whenever I have the budget to do so.  But for now, I'm quite satisfied...

That said, of COURSE I had to treat myself too.....!

A beautiful table made by Ken Kirkbright from Small Wonders miniatures, and a marble bust from the same shop.  I do love Small Wonders, but the current euro-pound exchange rate and eye-watering postage rate means that a trip to Doreen's shop is a special occassion!  

The table is fabulous, as the square shape fits perfectly in the library, without being too overpowering.  The book of monkeys is from Kenneth Blythe, and fits perfectly on the book rest from Artofmini, which is where I bought the key, sconces and andirons (nice, euro-friendly prices!)

I still have a lot of books to make, and I am pondering the wall colour, whether I should keep it white or go for a slightly creamy colour...but it is getting there!


Monday, September 14, 2015

One Thing Leads to Another, and another, and another...

Back from holidays, and the plasterers have finally been in, finishing off the ceiling of the hall.  Plain off-white, it makes the space seem much larger than it is.

The door at the back on the left hand side always bothered me.  There was something too final and restrictive about it, rather than enigmatic, and was also a bit redundant, as it was supposed to be a doorway into an imaginary kitchen... which is now a real kitchen to the left of the hall.

There was also the problem of the imaginary stairs, so I thought I would resolve it by getting rid of the door, and making the beginnings of a staircase.  I added some light by putting in a stained glass window with the family crest, and I think it finishes off the hall well.

But where does the staircase lead?

To this delightful mess above the kitchen!  I normally post photos when I have completed a room, or it looks passable, but I thought this time I'd treat  you to a glimpse of the disasters which I start off with... this room was done all day Sunday, though the theme is 'Make do Monday' - I only used things that I had to hand...

First, wooden floor boards - nothing too, too fancy for Daviot House, but just lovely, good quality wood...

Wide lolly sticks and foam board to make a book case and steps...

Now a doorway and chimney...

Some cornicing...

A little white paint job and floor wax...

A ceiling, stonework and a light source...

And we start to get the makings of a little library above the kitchen!  So that's where the stairs go!


I just have to make a lot more books now!

Thanks as ever for your interest and your comments, they are, it goes without saying, most appreciated,


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Parlour Update (grab a cup of coffee...)

The heat in Lyon has been unbearable, my poor real life garden has completely wilted, and I had to say goodbye to an old cypress tree that the heat finally killed, which was very sad.  However, every cloud has a silver lining, and having to spend time indoors meant that I have been fairly productive making minis recently. 

I keep going back to the parlour in a bid to finish it, but unlike the bedroom and dining closet, I seem to struggle to get things just right.  I have settled on the new blue for the shelves, but things seemed just a little too blue, so I added splashes of deep red.

On the right hand side wall I finished a portrait of a lady, and she goes quite well with the other, poe-faced gent.  What miserable ancestors the owners of Daviot House have!  Above them is a little painting of Daviot House itself, which I did a while ago, but couldn't seem to find the right place for it.  I think the three go quite well together.

The sewing table was a kit from Mini Mundus that I made for the orginal parlour (waaaay back in time, when I only had a single room box, right at the begining of this blog).  I liked the Beidermeier shape, but the plain wood was a little, well, plain. 

 So I got out my paints and gave it a good coat of matt black, and then painted little white flowers on it.  The top surface has an urn of flowers, which matches the urn of flowers on the embroidered firescreen.  And of course, as my RL garden dried into dust, I consoled myself by making a Constance Spry-sque flower arrangement in a silver urn... so good things come in threes!

Next up was my seating problem.  I bought a beautiful sofa from Kris Compas last year, and had been on the look out for either matching or coordinating chairs from her.  As she doesn't do commissions, it's a case of "grab it if you like it"....and I was too slow to buy a beautiful rust-red crapaud chair, which would have been perfect.  Oh well.  Make do and make it yourself.  I had Jane Harrop chair kits in my stash from a long time ago, and went through my fabric stash and then my wardrobe to see if I could sacrifice anything.  A nice, light cotton paisley shirt got the chop!

I made a pair of chairs, though you can only see one in the photos... I think they go very well with the mid-blue, and although the print is a little big for this scale, I think it worked out ok. The colour is just so very cosy, and matches the portrait over the mantle, though I think to my horror that the carpet that I have been sewing for FOREVER may now not be the right colour....oh dear.

An ivory (plastic) Chinese figurine that I found in a brocante for 10 cents takes pride of place by the fireplace, and a globe just peeks out from the other side of the sofa... they add to the other Chinese and travel related items in the room which nod to my childhood in Hong Kong.

The grandfather clock is a place-marker for my dream mini - a working grandfather clock from Small Time day!

And yes, I still have a paper rug, but I promise you I'm working on it!


Wednesday, August 12, 2015

And so to bed....

A very hot July allowed me to finish off the bedroom finally... only the bed curtains left to do!

A nice, warm nightgown for those draughty Winter nights...

The Daviot House sampler above the stumpwork box...

And some beautiful lilies, just like the ones in my garden...

Sleep tight!


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

A sense of accomplishment?

Just a quick round up of things I've fiddled with recently, purely to give myself the idea that I HAVE actually progressed!  The kitchen bay window is now finished, and filled with salmon pink geraniums, which of course are a direct reference to one of my all time favourite books, The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge.  Though a children's book, her descriptions of Moonacre Manor are just so vivid, that they are a delight for any miniaturist to read...

The exterior has had a few additions, in fact, Daviot House has grown by about a third (much to my family's horror!), and I have decided to concentrate on finishing the outside for the moment.

A new rose bush and escutcheon...

A new door bell and window gable for the porch (yet to have the watercolour paint treatment)...

A new lamp that I 'made' by jazzing up a cheap lamp with glass paints and silk tassels....

And a new coat of paint for the bookshelves in the parlour - this time I think I have found the perfect colour of blue, finally!  This is about my 5th try to get the colour right.

I am posting these little things, because I have just increased daviot House's size, which means at least another 6 years of fun!

The newest 'wing' in various states of progress (and for the moment totally roofless) so much potential (so much work!).  Sometimes I feel that this house has a life of its own!


Saturday, June 20, 2015

Getting on with the bedding...

I thought I would post my progress on the bedding.  First, a flowery embroidered pillow, very late Stuart, lovely Spring blooms in an urn.  I embroidered using petit point on some lovely antique cotton that I found at a brocante... I also made sheets out of antique handkerchiefs, the valance is made of some amazing needlelace which I just couldn't cut, so I have carefully manipulated the fabric under the mattress.  

I liked the polychrome effect of reds, blues and yellows, and used these colours to start the curtains for the bed.  


I was inspired by the needlepoint slips of the late 16th and early 17th century, and used petit point directly on to the cotton. The white is a little too bright, so I will be bathing the curtain in a solution of weak tea to mellow it slightly.


The cotton fabric has a very small count, though I haven't counted it, as I think I would go cross-eyed!  Let's just say it is small, very small!  Here you can see I have started to intersperse the flowers and fruits with animals.The designs are all my own, and I was inspired by various source, including the uncut slips from Traquair House in Scotland.

There's my thumb for scale, so yes, small.  The thread I am using is some vintage Guttermann silk sewing thread.  I found a box of it years ago, and I don't have a full range of colours.  This is quite useful, as embroidery from that time often had a restricted spectrum, and domestic embroiderers had to make do with what they could find or afford. 

My favourite motif so far is the tiny lemon tree at the top, with both fruit and flowers (the gardener in me is conveniently ignoring this).  This combination is often seen in slips, as they were usually taken from botanical prints, that for reference show the fruits and flowers at the same time.  I think it is quite a pretty effect!

I have had to order new contact lenses recently, so a gentle reminder to everyone working in miniature to take care of your eyes.  My progress is quite slow, as I try not to strain my eyes too much, they are very precious.  But hopefully you won't have to wait too long for the next installment...

As ever, thank you for your kind comments, they are very much appreciated.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

A New Bed!

As you know, the bedroom at Daviot House has undergone many transformations - it has really been a difficult space to get right, a long and narrow room, with little space for a bed.

First, I liked the idea of an alcove bed, but sadly, it was so far at the back that you couldn't see any of the embroidery on the pillows and bed sheets... plus it left a huge area of unused space at the front.

The next incarnation was blue with a single tester bed, but sadly, someone pointed out that it looked very 'French', which I think was meant as a compliment, but not the look I was trying to achieve AT ALL!  It's good to have comments, they put things in perspective.    So I went back to the drawing board and tried to figure out what I wanted, and how it would all fit it.

Then I found this room in Provost Skene's House in Aberdeen. 

 Small, Scottish, white walls, dark antique furniture, and best of all, a four poster bed to adorn with embroidery.  Perfect! So this has been the starting point, and I'm gradually getting closer to completion.

A simple stone fireplace, with the initials of Daviot House's first inhabitants, Alexander and Flora MacGillivray, built exactly 400 years ago.  which reminds me, I must get on with organising a giveaway soon to celebrate!

Crewel work curtains and bed hangings are made from printed material for now, as you know it takes AGES to embroider things!  This way, I can feel that the room is 'public ready' without being stressed out about completing the sewing.

This bed was the best find ever (I think it was originally Irene who used one in her fabulous Tenement) - just the right size to be fairly imposing, as old beds were, but not too big for the space.  And look at all that embroidering potential!  Hangings, pillows, sheets, bed spreads, steps, the list is growing....

The bed is from Ashwood designs, and it is perfectly made.  I will be visiting them again!

Here is the portrait I painted of Flora MacGillivray, dated from about 1614.  I found an orginal painting of the time that had the cherry tree in the background, which I thought was really lovely and unusual.  It also gave me the colour scheme for the room, which is shades of cherry red and dusky pinks, and not, dare I say it BLUE!  Who would think!

Here is the start on the bedclothes - a bolster embroidered with tiny needlepoint and straight stitches, a design I came up with one sunny afternoon.  I have embroidered directly on to the cotton, which must be about 60 count, though I couldn't say exactly,  I will be applying this motif to the bedsheets as well.

So, lots of work in store, but I am very happy with the results so far!