Monday, 25 December 2017

Adam furniture

Before I continue my tour of Womble Hall I will show how I made a couple of unusual miniatures and explain why.

In my report from Kensington dollhouse festival, I mentioned that I saw some magnificent tables with Robert Adam tops. I have used Adam wrapping paper for ceilings - if you haven't seen them look here. I have plenty of paper left, and I thought that it could possibly be used for table tops as well (although they were originally ceiling designs, never implemented).

Although I have now been experimenting with House of Miniatures kits for a while, I still felt reluctant to use a kit without having tried out first. It isn't a rare kit, and I had a duplicate, and yet I thought I would run a test. First, I found a pattern, semicircle, in more or less the right scale. It didn't quite fit, but it didn't matter for my specific purpose. For furniture I have made from scratch, I have used various kinds of wood: pieces of wooden venetian blinds (pretty, but hard to cut), balsa (easy to cut, but crumbly) and cheese boxes. Obviously, a cheesebox lid already has the suitable semicircular shape, so that was helpful, although it was slightly bigger than the HoM kit. I worked with the top first, sanding it smooth, painting gold and then gluing the paper semicircle onto the top and trimming carefully. I needed to seal the edge so that the seam between the wood and paper would be next to invisible, and the only way I could think of was decoupage - I am sure there are other and probably better ways. What I did was varnish the edges and then sand them, repeating a couple of times until the edge was smooth. You could still see the white edge of the paper, so I painted it over, very carefully. The paper is glossy so it did not need any further varnish.

Now the top was ready, and I started thinking about the base. Once upon a time I would probably just glue on the legs that would keep going off, to my irritation. But I had the HoM instruction sheet, and what I needed was a semicircle about half a centimetre thick, and this is not the kind of material I have easily available. I have no tool that can cut circles (wish list for next Christmas?), and when I tried to cut a trapeze it didn't look neat. Usually when I get into a dead end with a project, I put it aside and do something else. I was rummaging my stashes for something completely different when I saw a wooden circle that was a part of a kit to make a piglet. I hadn't bought it to make a piglet, but for all the parts and fabrics included (it was in a charity shop, for 30p). So I cut the circle in two, and then everything was straightforward. I used chopsticks for legs and managed to cut exactly the same length so the table was, to my amazement, absolutely steady.

Seeing that it worked as I had thought, I could now with confidence replicate the miniature with the Chippendale kit. I have promised some miniature friends to post a detailed description, so I took step by step pictures - feel free to skip them if you only want to see the result. 

This is the paper I used; as you see, I had just scraps of it. But then I only needed a semicircle.

Once again, I started by painting the parts with gold. Then I glued the paper onto the top, leaving a margin that I then trimmed carefully.

Then I sealed the edge with varnish.

When the varnish had dried, I sanded the edge. The white paper edge was clearly visible so I painted it very carefully. 

The tool I am using is called "a third hand". If you haven't got it, give yourself a belated Christmas gift. 

The rest was easy: first glue on the base and let it dry under press. The instruction said clamp, but I was anxious not to damage the paper so I just put a heavy box on top. Then glue on the legs. It is probably the easiest kit of all.

Here is the result. 

And here are both tables, for comparison.

Since the handmade table is slightly larger, it is really a semicircle that looks more natural in the middle, but there is not much I can do about it. I cannot put them together to make a round table, which would be fun. But there are two lessons learned. First, I need not be scared to do something radical with the kits. Second, I can make a nice miniature from scratch, particularly if I have a pattern. It means I can try more.

Meanwhile, I got so bold that I decided to try a more sophisticated kit. Again, I only used it because I had a duplicate, and the bold part was making the table top. This is the paper I used.


Obviously, I wanted the medallion in the centre, and the pattern is large so I could only use a bit of it. When it was done I of course saw that it wasn't very well centred, but it was too late.

The challenge was to mix a paint that would match as closely as possible. I am not good at mixing paint, and it is difficult to match perfectly, but close enough.


I am not showing step by step assembly, because I have made this or a very similar kit before. I also had trouble matching paint then.

To make it look more natural, I have "aged" it. And of course I have put some stuff in drawers.

I have no space for any of these pieces in Womble Hall, short of replacing something else, so at the moment I don't know what to do with them. Maybe I will make a special room box. Or maybe I can simply display them as they are. (Although they always look better in a proper environment). 

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