Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Morris, Yeats and a Fairy’s Bed


While Goose Cove is being glued together, I thought I would show you some more furniture I made for Ivy Lodge.  Once again I have tried to design something that is suitable for a simple woodland fairy – a bed where she slumbers and has her Midsummer Night’s dreams.

Firstly I edged the bedhead with a simple curved border that I cut out with my scroll saw and then sanded using mini sanding cones and a Dremel. 

My idea was to have the fairy sleep under the protection of a tree so she would feel safe at night.  The tree itself is a simple (crab) apple tree and includes some stylised apples to reflect the final lines in W.B. Yeats poem ‘The Song of Wandering Aengus’.  This poem is has always been special to me and I imagine the ‘glimmering girl with apple blossom in her hair’ to be Celandine, the fairy for whom I am building this little home.

The Song of Wandering Aengus

I went out to the hazel wood,
Because a fire was in my head,
And cut and peeled a hazel wand,
And hooked a berry to a thread;
And when white moths were on the wing,
And moth-like stars were flickering out,
I dropped the berry in a stream
And caught a little silver trout.

When I had laid it on the floor
I went to blow the fire a-flame,
But something rustled on the floor,
And some one called me by my name:
It had become a glimmering girl
With apple blossom in her hair
Who called me by my name and ran
And faded through the brightening air.

Though I am old with wandering
Through hollow lands and hilly lands,
I will find out where she has gone,
And kiss her lips and take her hands;
And walk among long dappled grass,
And pluck till time and times are done
The silver apples of the moon,
The golden apples of the sun.

William Butler Yeats

The bedspread is inspired by another William.  The design, by Pamela Warner, is based on the bedspread that William Morris had on his own bed at Kelmscott Manor. 

It was only when I went to look for a good photograph of William Morris’s own bed that I stumbled upon a blog that intriguingly links William Morris’s bedspread back to Yeats! The embroidered bedspread, pelmets and curtains of Morris’s bed were embroidered by his wife in collaboration with his daughter AND Lily Yeats, the sister of W.B. Yeats!!  So my inspiration was coming from two Williams, both interconnected but without my knowledge.  

The flowers are perfect for a woodland fairy’s bedroom - pretty and natural – in lovely summery colours.  The fabric used is the humblest of all cottons – unbleached calico - again in keeping with the rustic, simple theme of the home.  Doing this embroidery was very enjoyable.  I used a frame.I will probably add another pillow or cushion to the bed in the future when I see the whole room put together. 

The dressingtable and stool complete the furniture for the bedroom.  So far there is only a writing set on it. 

 Naturally the rest of the soft furnishings are yet to come - rugs, contents of dressing table, vases of flowers, mirrors, pictures etc etc.  

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Arthur becomes Goose Cove and advice on windows please!

My ‘Arthur’ is now called Goose Cove and here is the background to why I am building it.

My friend Ellen, who carried this kit over to Ireland in her suitcase, lives in Gloucester, Massachusetts.  This area is beautiful all year round and one of my favourite places in the world.  She and her husband used to live in this divine gabled house with wrap around porch right on the water’s edge of Goose Cove in Gloucester (they have moved a few hundred yards up the road to another beautiful cove!!).  This cottage I am building is a reminder to me of all the happy times I have spent with them in both the old and new houses.

There is a small vacant plot right beside their old house where (in my imagination) my little cottage will go as a guest cottage just for me to while away blissful summers!  (Oh I wish this were happening in real life, but a girl can dream!!!)  This local house with its 'Arthur' type centre gable and porch is a further source of inspiration.

So Goose Cove is a tiny New England cottage by the sea.  In front of it are some rocks and a floating dock and, of course, the water.  Moored to the floating dock is a rowing boat which is useful for checking the lobster pots!  So this is not a sandy BEACH house but more of a waterfront home backed by trees.

Just a few minutes walk from Goose Cove is a picturesque village called Annisquam.  It can be reached by a wooden footbridge and leads on to Annisquam lighthouse and sandy beaches.  The houses in Annisquam are simply gorgeous.  Tall trees, rocks, sandy coves and the sea.  Absolute heaven.  These photos again are to show my inspiration.  

I think it is important to know this kind of background to a house that you are building.  I tend to project myself into the house and area and this helps me make decisions about what I want to include, colours to use etc.   

The first change I made to Goose Cove was to change the windows and door from having arched tops to being rectangular (I also raised the height of the two in the front because I felt they were very low).  The door has a large pane of glass in it and I would like to leave it this as it is.

However, I am not sure what way to treat the windows.  Below are four variations ALL of which can be found locally in other houses in the area, so it is really a matter of which will look best. The house will have siding on it which will be painted a light stone colour.  

I really like option C myself but wonder if it is too busy.  It is important to know that there will be NO gingerbread trim on this house and the porch will be extended and will be straight across at the front with no extra gable.  In other words, the outside of the house has been 'de-frillied' and for that reason I would like to have a bit of interest in the window panes.
Any thoughts or comments would be of help and interest.  So please help me choose!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Chaos Theory and Flow Chart Analysis

(Because I have nothing else to show, I am adding some shots of flowers from my garden…..)

Before starting to build this kit, I had completely forgotten one of my major character flaws – my total inability to keep things simple.

How many times have I bought a knitting pattern that is exactly what I want EXCEPT that I intend to use thinner/thicker yarn, change the armhole setting, add a collar, make it longer, incorporate waist shaping, throw in a cable design and then do the whole thing in a size that is not even included in the original pattern?

The Arthur was to be a little treat.  A complete change from the mental mathematics I went through trying to construct Ivy Lodge.  This time I was going to build the kit exactly as it came.  I was going to add a couple of LED battery lights at the end so there would be no wiring.  It was going to be RELAXING. 

I am trying not to laugh/cry at my own stupidity!!  Did I really think I would not make changes?  Did I really think I would not end up wanting to wire it???!!

Far from doing exactly what I intended, ie. just making the kit as is, I have gone off on a good few tangents.  Nothing dramatic mind you, but just enough to require a battalion of mathematical instruments, digging deep into my rusty knowledge of geometry, drawing up accurately scaled diagrams and all the time taking sideways glances at the bin and wondering if I should not just toss the whole thing out and go and have a nice cup of tea instead.

I have absolutely NOTHING to show for all my angst.  Instead I am caught in a circle of problem solving and trying to do things in a flow-chart sequence.  All in vain!  Just as I am going to do something, I remember that I probably should be doing something else first.  I am sure this is familiar to you all, but for the time being I am living in total self-inflicted chaos……….

Friday, June 10, 2016

Woodland furniture and Wax

While I am still planning and doing preparation work on the Arthur, I thought I would share a couple more pieces I made for Ivy Lodge.

The back of this delicate bedroom chair is designed to represent a branch bending in the wind.    The simple side table has ‘tree shaped’ ends for it.  These two pieces look good together but will actually be in different rooms in Ivy Lodge.

All the furniture for Ivy Lodge has been treated with tinted beeswax to give some uniformity of tone.  I use solid beeswax (because that’s all I have!) but I found a neat way to apply it to miniatures.  For larger flat areas – like the top of a table – I would use fine steel wool, just like for 1:1 furniture.  But this does not work for areas with angles, carving or ‘holes’ like this chair.  So I use a bent cotton pipe-cleaner. 

It gets into all the little crevasses but is gentle and rounded. Gently buff the wax off with a piece of old t-shirt or something else very soft.  If there are little bits of wax left, I remove them with cotton wool buds and/or sharp tweezers.

And just for a bit of fun!  I often make a scaled prototype to see if something looks right or if I need to make changes.  Here is the prototype of this chair and the final version.  

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Sanding in the Sunshine - oh and a question of scale

In Ireland we are enjoying really glorious weather - very unusual for us to have long spells of fine sunny weather like this.  It has been perfect for sanding in the garden and means my tiny workroom is not covered with dust.  

My father always told me preparation was key to success in painting/woodwork.  So I have sanded, filled,(stopped to pull splinters out), sanded again and filled a bit more. I decided to wood-fill the edges of the plywood in case they are visible at the end.   Lots of these edges will be inaccessible when the house progresses.

I plan to do another dry fit over the next few days and then prime everything before sanding again.

I ordered lights for the house but had to return half of them because they were totally out of scale despite saying they are 1:12 scale.  There is no dolls house shops left in Dublin (or Ireland) and I have to buy everything online - unseen.  I wonder has anyone else had this experience.  I was amazed at how enormous the fittings were.  This one, for example, is a lovely light and was going to be over a kitchen table, but it is HUGE.  The shade would have been the equivalent of 18 inches in diameter  and almost two feet high in real life!!

I also ordered shutters that claimed to be 4" x 1".  They are actually 4 and 5/8 inches x 1 and 1/4 inch.  Perhaps the people running these businesses do not realise that exact measurements are important to miniaturists.  Grrrrrr........I am going to have to cut these and patch them.  Very annoying.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Arthur FINALLY unwrapped.....

2 years ago the conversation went something like this:

Ellen:  ‘Hi Carol, just to remind you I am flying over to Ireland in a couple of weeks.  Do you want anything from the States?
Carol:  ‘Could you bring a dolls house please?
Ellen:   ‘If it fits in my suitcase – sure!’

It did and that is how I got my first dollhouse kit – the Arthur.   

I paid about $20 on eBay in the US and my dear friend delivered it to my door as promised.  Although I was dying to open it, I decided to be good and not do so until I had finished Ivy Lodge.  Well Ivy Lodge has been a real challenge to me for all kinds of reasons.  I got ‘stuck’ and I did absolutely no miniature work for over a year.  I have got my skates on again in the last few weeks and hope to have it finished very soon.  But for now I badly need a change, and……

….on top of that, last week I ordered ANOTHER much bigger dollhouse kit from the US which is on its way!  So I really need to crack on with the Arthur as well as finishing Ivy Lodge. 

The box was still factory sealed and thankfully the instructions are included. After 2 years I could hardly complain if there was a problem!!!

I have only ever scratch built so making a kit will actually be quite a challenge.  Love the relevant advice – Don’t Panic!

If anyone has any advice…..PLEASE DO NOT HOLD BACK.  

Monday, May 23, 2016

More furniture making!

This bedside table was such fun to design and make and it turned out exactly as I wanted.  Once again I have drawn inspiration from the arts and crafts movement and included subtle curves.  I wanted to keep the design simple but functional.

I usually use jelutong wood for my furniture and I stocked up when I was at KDF recently.  Although technically a hardwood, it is easy to work with being both light and strong.  This is important for two reasons – firstly because my range of tools for miniature woodwork is extremely limited and secondly because since my wrist surgery in January I have limited strength in my left hand. 

The drawer will contain little keepsakes and letters when I get round to making them.  I am also making loads of books from a Paper Minis kit.  Great fun and a break from sanding!!

I have made quite a lot of 1:1 furniture in my time – from glass fronted bookcases to tables – and what I love about miniatures is that they are so quick to make compared to full size.  This is because I cheat and tend to use simple joints rather than the dovetails and mortise and tenon joints that I would have to use for full scale pieces.  My old woodwork teacher might not be impressed though.

The chest of drawers is fairly straight forward in terms of design.  The only embellishment is a small border down each side at the front.  Like the bedside table, the silver bead handles have been toned down to resemble old brass.  I mix antique gold, silver and black acrylic paint which I think gives the right impression.

The oval mirror got the same treatment.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Needlepoint Footstool and Sewing Box

This simple needlepoint footstool has been designed to reflect the woodland theme of the fairy house.  In the needlepoint pattern I have included violets, wild cherry blossom, berries, bluebells and acorns.  It is worked on 36 gauge silk using over 20 colours.

The footstool also serves as the fairy’s sewing box. 

 There is a little drawer containing the things she uses to do her embroidery and general sewing.

  The embroidery silks are made following a great tutorial by Sarah of Amber’s House

I picked up the tiny cotton reels at Kensington some years ago.  The scissors case is made from very soft leather.
The embroidery hoop contains a small floral design which I stitched using one strand of embroidery thread, a very fine needle and magnifying light! 

The back of the footstool is designed to echo the front.


Friday, April 29, 2016

In the Woodland among the sweet violets

For a long time I have wanted to photograph Ivy Lodge in a suitable setting.  I have a tiny woodland area in my garden and at the moment the bluebells and violets are in flower, so I took my little fairy house outside and tucked it in amongst the trees where it belongs.

This gives a much better understanding of how I imagined the little house to be and why the woodland theme and nature are important elements for the inside of the house and furnishings.  Allow me take you on a little tour….

Here is the front of the house with its little door leading inside.

The inside is in the process of being completed so at the moment looks very bare. 

Here you can see there are two floors in the house and a little hidden attic room where the fairy stores some of her most precious treasures.

This is one of her bedroom windows at the back of the house.

To keep her warm, she has a little fire downstairs and here is the chimney made of stone.

There is a little porch lantern to guide her and her guests safely to her door where they can pull the little string of bells to attract her attention.  At this time of year sweet violets and bluebells grow beside her little home and fill it with fragrance.

Here it the back of the house.

Thank you for visiting and I look forward to giving you an inside tour of the house when it is finished.