Monday, 21 January 2013

Chippendale house

Now that I have made some of the beautiful Chippendale furniture, with more to make, I need a good way to display it. There are far too many objects to make a room box. I need a house. One day when I grow up I will buy this house, but until then I'll have to do with what I've got. Over a year ago I bought a dollhouse at Oxfam for ten pounds. I liked it, and I tried to find out what it was and where it came from.

To my huge disappointment it turned out to be from ToysRUs. A playscale house. Not for a serious miniature maker. My two granddaughters were delighted to play with it, since they were not allowed to play with any other houses. Then it was exiled into a corner. For some time I considered taking it out to the garage. Or even taking it back to Oxfam. But I didn't. It is a bit like being adopted by a cat. You have a responsibility. Somebody had thrown this house away, and I gave it shelter.

So now this house will be decorated to host a display of Chippendale furniture. I will call it the Chippendale house to make up for my previous neglect. 

This is a very important blog post, please read it carefully. It endevours to explain how much work lies behind a dollhouse project. Typically you see a finished dollhouse or room box, all pretty and nice, and you have no idea how many hours, days, weeks, months it took to make. Even if the miniaturist says it took them three years, it says nothing. But it probably helps a bit if I describe it step by step.

This house was already assembled. You may think that it was one step less to do, but in fact I seriously considered taking it apart again. Normally you would paint and decorate a dollhouse before you assemble it because it is much easier. It's ok on the outside, but the inside is a pain. However, I was too lazy to take it apart. Besides, you can actually put your furniture into an unpainted house, even though it doesn't look natural. I simply need a place to put them in, so why not a house.

I started by painting the outside walls. I don't have a hobby room so for a larger projects like this I have to use the dining room table and clear up every day when I am finished. I used ordinary all-purpose white paint that I bought five years ago for 1:1 decoration. I have used it for a great number of dollhouses and room boxes since then. Even this first coat of paint made a difference. It looks just like a house under renovation.

I didn't have the right paint for the windows. I ordered it from an online shop after I had read plenty of books about the period in which the right colour for windows in a Georgian house was drab. I had always thought that drab was just a negative adjective, synonym to dull. And it is. But it is also the correct name for a colour that was popular during Georgian era.

Painting windows is a tedious job. Lots of masking tape, and there will still be dabs of paint where you don't want them. It took me several evenings. But I wasn't in a hurry. I listened to music and concentrated on what I was doing. After a long day of working with my head, it was relaxing. 

Here is the result. When I compared it to the picture that had been my model I realised that I had made it all wrong. So much for trusting your memory. The drab in the picture was less drab, almost green. The window lattice was white. At least the door was the right colour, brown. It could also be green, but I have a green door in another house. I haven't painted the quoins - cornerstones - yet, but I will. Meanwhile, I wanted to decorate a couple of rooms to put my furniture in. I had grand plans to make proper skirting and dado rails, but the house is in a wrong scale, and there are rather ugly skirtings and cornices that hold the walls together, so additional rails would make it look too crammed. I'll wait until I have that dream house. But for this one, I painted all the rails white. I made the big mistake of painting rails in one room blue. I thought it would go well with blue-and-white flowery wallpaper. It didn't. It looked hideous. In this situation you are glad you are working on a miniature.

I also had to close two square holes in the floors/ceilings where stairs were supposed to go. I have no room for stairs, they take a lot of space.

This is the first room I decorated, with printed wallpaper and floors. They aren't authentic for the period, but they look nice. Genuine Georgian wallpaper is either too drab or too pompous. This is in between. Pompous wallpaper would be too conspicuous in these small rooms, and I didn't want it to look too drab. It took me quite a long time. If I used a video you'd be bored to death. But I need to repeat it: it looks very easy in a picture, but it takes hours and hours. Especially when your house is non-standard, which for some reason all my houses tend to be.

In this picture, three rooms have wallpaper, but only one has floors. It is a good opportunity to notice what a huge difference it makes when everything is in place. The door is fake; obviously there is nothing behind the wall, but fake doors create an illusion of extra space. I had to clear away the dining room table for Sunday dinner so I just finished as much as I could. Until next weekend I won't have time to work on this project. But even now you can see how interesting it is going to be. The fireplace is temporarily borrowed from another project.

1 comment:

  1. Hej Maria. Skriver här också.
    Så här står det på min Dockhuskartong = 2003 Early Learning Centre. Swindon, Made in China. ELC (

    På min hemsida finns bild på möbler på kartongen. Se min hemsida nedan på direktlänken: