Saturday, January 23, 2021

Library Progress

There have been a few developments in the library that I thought I'd share with you.  The first is the long, long awaited rug, which I have named the lockdown rug:  I started at the beginning of January 2020, and finished it just before Christmas.  

I started following a pattern for the medallion in the middle, and then got really bored following a chart, and started to make up my own design.  

I think the green and brown shades pull the room together.

This lovely little chair and footstool was an ebay find.  The chair has a bergère shape and is very well made, polished beautifully.  The quality of the woodwork is completely let down by the upholstery, which though a good colour,  is made of quilting cotton finished with picot braid. 

 I find that the moment picot braid is put on a miniature, it suddenly looks clunky.  Quilting cotton is very easy to use, but often the pattern is just out of scale.   I don't know why, just my personal taste.  It is a shame, as the upholstery itself has been really well done, and I don't relish peeling it off to start again! 

On the other hand, it could do with some embroidery or tapestry...

Next to the armchair is a revolving bookcase from Masters Miniatures, which was a Christmas present .  It has a beautiful inlaid top, which is lit up by the Tiffany lamp.  Usually a table like this would be covered up with knick knacks, but I like to see the marquetry. 

A revolving bookcase is a great way to add more books to a room without losing surface area, the perfect place to put a glass of sherry while reading in front of the fire.  But of course, it needs to be filled!

The Great Winter Bookmaking continues... it is astounding how many books it takes to fill the shelves!  We are getting there slowly but surely.  Some of the books date from the begining of my miniatures adventure, and need replacing as they aren't as well made as later books, but all in good time.

The next thing on my list of things to do is sort out the lighting.  I don't want bright lights, as I like the cosy atmosphere of this room, but I also need a little more light to show off the lovely items at the back of the room, especially around the fireplace.  

I think a pair of sconces would look best, but of course (of course!), when I glued in the chimney, I didn't think about the electricity, so it will be a bit of a pain sorting that out. 

 I have a few electrical jobs piling up, so perhaps I'll take the plunge one rainy afternoon and do the lot.  It involves emptying the house, which I hate doing, as I generally drop, lose or break something in the process...

Perhaps a beautiful pair of sconces from Ray Storey will be my motivation!

So, a few more jobs to do before the library is complete, but at least progress has been made!

I hope you are all keeping safe and warm,



Monday, January 4, 2021

Lounge Lizard


These cold days of Winter, coupled with the on-going COVID restrictions have meant that we're all spending more time in comfortable clothes around the house. 

 Always one to find inspiration in the strangest of places, I had a sudden desire to make a miniature banyan, the ancestor of the dressing gown, and an accessory that no self -respecting gentleman would be without!

The British fashion for the Banyan began in the 17th century.  It was a garment inspired by the loose, silk robes of the Middle East, and was usually made of rich silks or brocades.  Only the very rich, leisured gentlemen could afford some downtime, and the banyan became a symbol of the elite, to the point that it was de rigeur to have one's portrait painted while wearing one. 

The 17th century English diarist, Samuel Pepys was such a social climber that he even hired a banyan to wear for his portrait!

The construction of the banyan was very simple, with no collar or cuffs, cut from one piece of fabric.  The luxuriousness lay in the amount of fabric that was needed to make one, and the fine, expensive silks used.  I used this authentic pattern from the 18th century, and it was very simple to make.

I chose a simple, plain beige silk, because that is what I had on my work-box, and one of my resolutions this year is to use more of the things I have in stock, rather than ordering online.  After a decade of miniaturing, I have quite a lot of things!

I also chose it because it is very difficult to find a light silk with a pattern that is the correct scale.  Most brocades are too stiff for miniatures.

Cutting out was easy, and I used a fine line of glue to seal the cut ends before sewing them, to stop fraying.  I have yet to find a fray-check product that doesn't bleed into silk.

I should say at this point that I am not really a doll person.  My house doesn't have a doll family, as I prefer the interiors as they are.

 But hiding in one of my fabric drawers was this little chap.  He had been bought a long time ago, from a very cheap dolls house shop online, and the quality was, well, not good. 

 I rewrapped his body, changed the giant boots he was wearing for a daintier pair of legs, added stockings and shoes made from glove leather.  The shirt was made out of an old handkerchief, and the stock around his neck from silk ribbon.  A pair of silk breeches and presto, not so bad after all! 

The banyan was cut to fit this doll, but as his arms are too short, I gathered the sleeves to show off his lace cuffs, and added a couple of decorative tassels ( I do like tassels!).  Looking snazzy and relaxed 18th century style.

When the vogue for shaving your head and wearing a wig happened in the 17th century, gentlemen had a bit of a problem.  The expensive and difficult to keep wigs would only be worn when fully dressed, and weren't very comfortable.  Lice and shaving rash meant that most men took them off as soon as possible, but then their poor bald heads were quite cold! 

 A fashion for caps was the solution.  Not to be confused with nightcaps, these were worn in the day, and ranged from stiff embroidered hats to soft, informal turbans. 

(I think I will definitely have to embroider a miniature version of this one!)

I made our chap a matching cap from silk, nice and loose at the top, with, of course, a tassel.  Very chic.

                              Now we're ready for the portrait!

I hope he feels warm and relaxed, and I hope you do too!



Saturday, December 26, 2020

Happy Boxing Day


The presents have been opened,  the dinner cleared away... now it is my favourite part of the season, the cozy moments of Boxing Day.  

Time to relax quietly before the New Year...perhaps I'll start a new mini project.

I wish you many good things for the season, and look forward to another miniature year with you,


Saturday, December 5, 2020

Completely Floored

      I have been searching around for a way to make a realistic stone floor that really looks its age (405 years!)  I used real stone flooring in the dining room, but the slabs are a little too straight and perfect for my stonework, especially for an entrance hall that has seen a lot of history! 

       I make all of the stonework for Daviot House, doorways, lintels, steps and windows from DAS clay, textured with an old toothbrush and coloured with watercolours.  It is a good way to make sure that all the stonework matches through out the house, as it does in a real old house.

     I used my usual method of rolling out a large sheet of clay and cutting it into slabs, texturing with a toothbrush.  When the clay was totally dry, I used layers and layers of watercolour to get the perfect colour of well worn sandstone.  I finished the slabs with a coat of satin varnish to seal them.

I laid them out in the hall to make sure of the fit.  Then I reglued the slabs on to another piece of card to be grouted.

I used ordinary fine grouting, which is a fraction of the cost of 'special' grout sold by dolls house suppliers.  It is in fact exactly the same thing!

The grout is quite dark when wet, but soon dries into a lovely light grey, which goes well with the stone colour.

To create a barrelled effect, I curved some stiff card over the ceiling.

  I think it adds a little more architectural interest in a room that would otherwise be just a long tunnel.

A few items of decoration for the walls...

A Victorian print representing the Clan MacGillivray

And two more infamous characters, Mary Stuart and William Wallace...

A lovely Master's Miniatures table with a couple of pewter items from Tony Knott and a bust of Charles I... but just his head!  I have also pinched a selection of toy weaponry from my sons until I can collect or make enough miniatures.

A later addition of a hall table for post and keys... I imagine there will be a few Christmas parcels on the table soon!

The chair is from Ashwood Designs, and lends an air of ancient gravitas.  I am undecided about the lighting for the moment, and until I do, a small chandelier from Phoenix does the job.

I also have to research/find a yett for the back doorway.  

A yett is an old iron gate that was used to stop intruders entering the building if they had been fortunate enough to break down the thick wooden door.  This example is at Drumlanrig Castle.  Yetts were cheaper and easier to install than a portcullis, but you still needed a Royal Warrant to have one, just in case you decided to rebel against the King.

And of course, I still need to make the staircase!

                        All in good time,



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.