Saturday, 12 September 2020

Tudor restoration

After a long break in house restoration I felt I should turn my attention to my other houses since Womble Hall is more or less presentable. The Tudor house hasn't suffered as much as Womble Hall, and the worst damage was totally my own fault. After I had unpacked the house, I left it unattended overnight, and it was attacked by wild beasts who managed to pull it down from the table onto the floor, during which the roof went off.


I feel strong affection for the Tudor house, because it was found in a dump, and I restored it and added a lot of details both inside and outside. I did extensive research on various period-correct features, and although I would never say that a project is finished, the Tudor house was as complete as it can be. It was even featured in a dollhouse magazine.

Just as with Womble Hall, this is an excellent occasion to revise and improve some things. It has been eight years since I did the main work on the Tudor, and I haven't done much on it once it was sort of done. There are many things I would do differently and probably better today, and there are things that simply need repair.


The first thing was to mend the roof, and fortunately all shingles were somewhere inside the house, and I had spares from when I first made the roof. So it was first a matter of gluing loose shingles back and then fixing the roof on the house.

Before going on with interior details I decided to do something I had been planning all along but never got round to. The house clearly used to have a front that could be closed and opened. Right now it is more important than ever because it needs to be protected from wild beasts, but hopefully also keep off at least some dust. 

I cut the front from a large piece of board which I otherwise use for bookbinding, another hobby I have. It has an irregular shape because the three stories of the house go over each other, as they did in Tudor times to diminish land tax. The board is very thick, and cutting it is always a pain. 


I could not mix an exact match of the yellow paint, but I don't think it matters. Then I made timber frames both on the outside and the inside. 


I used cardboard boxes for "timber" - I am a recycler. 

There were hinges left from when the house had a front, but because my front was made of board rather than wood I could not use the metal hinges. Instead, I made hinges from pieces of leather. The hook that kept the front in place was still there, and I had an eyelet. 



I must admit that I had not noticed the hook before. 

Now I can close and open the house which is both convenient and neat. 

Next, I had to mend the interior. 



At some point, I installed display lights in this house. They weren't working, and I decided to remove them altogether. I wasn't quite happy with them even when they did work, and nowadays there are better technologies in case I want display lights again. 

I started with solar - the upper floor with the great bed.



It was in a better shape than I had feared, but the bed itself was broken. It was, however, easy to mend, and I also added side curtains. 



The solar was thus finished. I didn't add or change anything for the time being.

 



With the great hall and the kitchen I wanted a few more radical changes.

In the past weeks I have been making food from polymer clay. I have already shown my bakery and my greengrocer stall. I borrowed some bread and some veggies to go into the Tudor house. Tudors ate lots of bread, in all social groups. They were not too keen on vegetables, and at that time what was available was mostly cabbage and onions. 

But they were all the more fond of meats. I had meats in my old Tudor kitchen, but as I develop better skills in clay sculpting, I started replacing old meats, mostly made in air-drying clay, with more elaborate ones in fimo. I have used several books for instructions.

I started with ham, steak and leg of mutton, then made a variety of sausages.

 


These hang in front of the inglenook in the kitchen. I have removed objects from the middle and front for better view. 



Yes, there is a pig roasting in the fire!

I made pies and cheeses. 


 

I know the Tudors made cheddar. Not sure about stilton, but it's visually gratifying so it will have to be inauthentic.

Then I had a great test of confidence. The mandatory piece on a Tudor fest table is a boar head. If you told me even a month ago that I would be bold enough to make a boar head from polymer clay I'd say, no way. But I considered it for a while and thought: What do I have to lose? If I fail, I will just knead the clay into a ball and make something else. Again, I followed instructions from a book, telling myself that the artist is after all a human being, working with the same materials and tools as I, so why wouldn't I be able to make it? Judge for yourself. 

 


With these new additions, the great hall has become much more impressive. 



The chicken is the only thing I haven't made myself, but after boar head I am sure I can make anything. 

The full view of great hall: 



 

What I suddenly became aware of, which I believe is the result of my recent evolution as a miniature-maker, is that the furniture looks improbably new. Which of course it is. When I made it, eight years ago, I had no idea how to distress furniture and also would never dare to. So this is something I will need to do next: age and distress the table and benches. Now I have the necessary tools and skills. This is the exciting thing about going back to an old project: you see how much better you have become.

In the kitchen I knew I had to make some sacrifices. I have lots of lovely antique pewter stuff and lots of things I made to look like pewter, some even before I had the Tudor house. For many years I just kept squeezing everything into the house, and in the end you cannot see anything properly. So I deselected almost half of the objects that used to be in the kitchen, on various criteria: size, authenticity and also how they fit in with everything else.

I re-assembled the trestle table and arranged the remaining items on and around it. 




I will stop here for a while. A project is never finished, but at least I won't be ashamed to show this house to a visitor. 




4 comments:

  1. How can someone have thrown something like this to the dump? You've done great work on the house!

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  2. Hello, I just stumbled back into the world of miniatures while in lockdown this spring. Of all the lovely blogs on dollhouses and miniatures, yours has been the most fun and most inspirational. Your ability to turn the bits and pieces of our stuff into fabulous miniature stuff is exactly what I hope to emulate.
    I am also inspired by the confessions of the displaced hedgehog. Thank you for sharing all this with us.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you. My hope in writing this blog is to inspire other people.

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