Monday, October 19, 2020

Book Nook


  My goodness, what a strange rentrée! Stopping and starting and changing every week.  September is the traditional time in France to think about going back to school, buying stationary and books.  Although we're now in October (how did that happen?!),  I wanted to do a post with a bookish theme, to show you the new library of Daviot House.

  The library isn't completely completed (when are mini rooms ever finished?), but it is turning out to be a nice cozy spot to spend the dreich autumn evenings....

The Library is on the third floor, and started life like this:

 I have been collecting for the library over the years, and have more than enough to fill it.  I put up clean white paper to form a blank canvas, this helps me decide where everything should go. 

Some things I liked, but for some reason I found this room a bit boring.  The beautiful fireplace by Malcolm Hall was hidden from view, and I couldn't see the bookcase very well.  It also seemed a little small for a library.

So I put the fireplace at an angle:

This configuration is often seen in 17th and 18th century houses, but for some reason it is not to popular in dolls houses.  I wonder why, because it is a great way of showing off two walls more clearly, while putting the fireplace in full view.  It works well for a deep, narrow room.

The bookcases were made out of samba wood and illustration board.  A few coats of Liberon Luxembourg Green   tied them together with the panelling on the right hand wall.  I tried some classic coving but found it a little too heavy, so I used upside down skirting board.  

The ceiling panel follows the line of the bookcases.  I don't know if I will have a ceiling light in this room, as I find they can block a clear view of the room when the ceiling is quite low.

And now for the books!

Sadly, though I thought I had plenty, I need to make a lot more!

I have had this beautiful Masters map desk for many years, waiting for the library to be finished.  But once in place, I wasn't quite sure.  It is a very dominant piece of furniture, and takes up a lot of space.   wanted the room to be a library with a desk, rather than a study.

I have a lovely secretary by Escutcheon, so I tried it instead...

I much prefer the smaller desk to the side.  It allows more space in the centre of the room, and a clear line to the fireplace.

But now that big open space needs something to cover the bare floor boards... it's just as well that I spent most of this summer's heatwave stitching one.  It's nearly finished!

The backwall bookshelf is still quite bare, so it will be a winter of bookmaking for me.

Whenever I go travelling, I always keep an eye out for tiny things that might fit in Daviot House.  This bronze statue was from the many stalls of souvenir sellers in Pompei.  The tiny picture is a painting etched on glass that I found in an antique shop in Rome so long ago, before I even had a miniature house.  The details are astounding.


 The little bronze horse was found at Naples airport, at the very last minute, and is a testament to the patience and fortitude of my other half.  We nearly missed the plane for this, and I'm so glad I found it. 

This year, which has curtailed many people's travels, I find my miniature objects from my holidays take me back to better times.

The italianate plate is from the United States by a wonderful artist who studied in Florence. The painting  in the middle is of a Tuscan street scene.  I've only just realised all of the Italian connections there are in the library. Very apt for an eighteenth century Scot on his Grand Tour!

I love this silver ink well set by Stephen Randall, it adds a little grandeur to the desk.   I haven't finished the accessories for the desk - I imagine each cubby hole should be filled with correspondance.

The mantlepiece is one of my favourites, the colours are so rich and different.  It is by Malcolm Hall, as is the clock.  The tiny, carved, jade bear was also a find from long ago and the cat is by Neil Carter.  I am especially pleased with the lamp.  I won it on ebay for a ridiculously low sum, and only when it arrived in the post did I realise that the Tiffany pattern was daffodils (or Jonquils)!  

The painting is an absolute favourite of mine.  Not Italian, this time, but of a Scottish landscape.  I love the brooding colours.  I may put it in a slightly more magnificent frame though.

Here was a fabulous find on Etsy by Michael's Miniature Treasures.  I only came across this miniature maker recently, and he has some absolutely beautiful things.  The urn is made from acrylic, but so finely done that it imitates bone beautifully.

A gorgeous tea caddy by Malcolm Hall, though I think I will use it as a box for letters.  I love the compass star on the top!

This fine feathered fellow I made over the summer.  He is a little noisy for a library, but as long as he has his supply of fresh fruit, he seems contented.  I just need to think of a suitable name!

Now I only need to put a roaring fire in the grate, put up some curtains and put down the rug to make this the coziest room in the house (not forgetting all the books to be made!)


PS For those of you who follow the news in France, you will be aware of the shocking death of Samuel Platy.  As a member of the teaching profession, a believer in freedom of expression and the right to teach without fear, I would like to add:  Je suis prof. 

Friday, July 24, 2020



After quite a long wait, I finally got around to upholstering the Hepplewhite sofa...  I had initally wanted to wait until I had the perfectly matched silk thread for the tassels as the chairs, but that exact gold seemed elusive.  So I used a brighter gold, and I don't think it detracts from the overall effect too much.

I gave the seat a slightly padded look, so it would look comfy and inviting.

The three piece suite, complete, and in situ.

I almost prefer the brighter gold of the sofa, I think it picks out the gold of the rug quite nicely.

The colours and motif also bring together the rug and the wallpaper, without being too flowery.

Here are a couple of shots that show some different embroidery types;

 the fire screen and rug in petit point, the sofa, work bag and miniature embroidery piece in silk embroidery, and the stumpwork box.

A few years ago, I read an illustrious miniaturist (who I will not name) proclaim that textiles were impossible to use in miniatures, as they coud never be realistic enough, or to the right scale.

I humbly beg to differ!


Wednesday, July 15, 2020

The Waiting Game

A new level for Daviot House has given me two new rooms to play with. I wanted a library/ study and a sitting room on the second floor, to balance the more formal rooms on the first floor.

With all the recent renovations, I think a plan of the layout would be good to show how things have evolved.

I was never truly happy with the original parlour. For some reason, if never seemed to work, the layout was strange  it was next to the bedroom, the colours didn't quite seem to go together well... so why not start with  a clean slate?

I drew the features that I wanted on paper first, to see the dimensions of the panelling and fireplace.  It is a small room with a low ceiling, and I needed to maximise the space.

I generally have to buy my building supplies online, and then....wait.  This means that I often have a number of projects on the go at the same time  as each is waiting for that vital piece before I can move on to the next step.

 For obvious reasons, recently the wait has been extra long... so I've tried to make do where possible. The panelling and door are made from trusty cereal packets..

I wanted two flat columns either side of the fire.  I found some perfect ones from Sue Cook, but until I can order them I have put in card versions.

The floor boards I luckily had in my stash, just the right amount and no more, phew!  These boards are the iron- on type that I use throughout Daviot House for continuity.  They are easy to apply and don't break the bank.  You can find them at Sussex Crafts.

I love both Sue Cook and Malcolm Hall fireplaces, but neither had exactly what I was going for, which was a simpler design of a fireplace at Traquair House.  So offcuts of wood moulding and cereal packets will have to do for now!

The floorboards ironed on to card, then coated with boiled linseed oil, left to dry and then waxed

A touch of fake marbling...

Not so bad... but you can see where I am waiting for cornice and skirting...all in good time.

I like the soft yellow walls against the mid and ice blues of the upholstery, but I thought there was something missing in the overall scheme.

The original parlour, which this room replaced, had a slight chinoiserie theme.  I decided that it was a very definite style that didn't harmonise with rest of Daviot House.  I didn't want to completely jettison the idea, so I searched around for some inspiration.

At Abbotsford,  Walter Scott's famous home in the borders of Scotland, the parlour is hung with exquisite hand painted chinoiserie wallpaper, chosen by his wife.  I think it was Scott's cousin, working in the Far East at the time who sent it to them.  I took a few photos last year...

It is bold and stunning paper, but really needs a big room to carry it off successfully.  So I thought I'd make a small screen, inspired by the design.

I cut three pieces of walnut sheet, sanded them and gave them a coat of gesso on one side.  Then I used acrylic paints for the design.

I muted the back ground colour, but kept the same beautiful sea green.  The original paper is incredibly detailed, but I chose to use the same type of flower and only three birds on my screen, so it wouldn't look too overwhelming.

I am waiting for some brass hinges in the post, so I used strips of ribbon to hold the screen together.

The colour of the screen just stops the colours from being a bit too bland.  

And as a lovely coincidence, Walter Scott's wife was a French lady, Charlotte Charpentier, who was born in....Lyon, where I live!

That's as far as I can go with the parlour until I receive a few things in the post, so this room will start the waiting game again...

And whatever happened to the original parlour?  Well, it all started with this beautiful bed.  I needed a master bedroom of a decent size, so the original parlour is no more!

I have started dressing this bed, and used one of my son's old shirts to make pillows and a mattress.

The scale of the stripes is just perfect, and as it was for a two year old, the cotton is lovely and soft.

In one afternoon, with an old shirt, needle and thread and some risotto rice, the bed went from this... this.

A few pillows and a bolster to complete the bedding;

And now the waiting game begins again as I launch into renovating the new master bedroom!