Saturday, March 27, 2010

McQueenie kits and Suramics pots

I wanted some joint stools for the castle, so I ordered two kits from McQueenie Miniatures in the UK.  This is a great source for early British furniture, both in kit form and ready made.  Want to make your own aumbry?  McQueenie sells a kit!

The joint stool kits were quite easy to assemble, (although the "spacer" they included confused me so I just improvised that part of it :)) It's all hardwood (mahogany in this case) and I just used a linseed oil mix, and then wax, to finish them.  Mahogany isn't "period", of course, but they're still lovely little stools, and very high quality.

I don't think I took photos of some adorable hand-thrown pots I ordered a few months ago from Suramics Pottery in the US.  Let me rectify that right now:

I love these little works of art and the warm, brown glaze!  They will look great in the kitchen we're just about to build for the castle.  Sue Dix, the artisan, makes full size pieces, but she also sometimes throws some minis.  You can find Suramics Pottery both at ArtFire and Etsy.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Great Links for William and Mary / Queen Anne / Early Georgian miniatures

Here are some links to artisans, inspiration and books concerning late 17th century and early 18th century 1:12 scale dolls house miniatures.  While the years between 1680 and 1715 are usually called the late Jacobean or Stuart, Queen Anne or Early Georgian period, it may be more commonly called the early Colonial period in the United States.


Kris Compas is an American artisan who makes upholstered furniture, including Queen Anne settees and sofas and wing chairs (one pictured, below) .  She's happy to collaborate on custom pieces.

Colin Bird is a UK furniture maker who offers pieces that would work for this period, including this simple cupboard:

James Parker is a UK furniture maker who offers some pieces that would be perfect for this period as well, including both single and double manual harpsichords.

Iulia Chin Lee is a US furniture miniaturist who makes stunning pieces suitable for this period. IGMA Artisan.

Herdwick Landscapes -- makers of 1:24 scale houses, also 1:12 and 1:24 scale fires, grates, lighting fixtures and furniture.  Some great pieces for this period, including hob grates :)

Small Time Miniatures (UK): miniature clock makers who also make other lovely pieces in both 1:12 and 1:24 scale, including furniture and scientific instruments suitable for this period.

George Pennell (US): miniature furniture maker.  Mostly Shaker pieces, but some Queen Anne era pieces, including a very elegant chair.  IGMA Artisan.

Pear Tree Miniatures (UK): makers of medieval, Tudor, Jacobean and Stuart furniture (the Carolean daybed pictured below, for example.)  Beautiful stuff.

Avon Miniatures (UK): a fine array of fine English china in 1:12 scale.  Just about everything is available in either white or Willow pattern (plus some more Victorian patterns), making it perfect for Georgian dolls houses. IGMA Artisans.

Braxton Payne (US): Fireplaces, mantels, firebacks, pots, fireplace accessories, many available in smaller scales.  IGMA Artisan.

UK Artisan Tony Hooper makes many pieces suitable for this period, including an early Georgian kitchen range and tons of great hardware.

Town and Country Planner (UK) sells a wide range of roof and floor tiles as well as garden pavers and hanging signs -- lovely looking work.  

Ray Storey, Lighting:  UK artisan Ray Storey makes perfect period lighting, including some lovely (and hard to find) black chandeliers and lanterns.  Also brass chandeliers.  Highly recommended.

Len Lewis (UK) builds extraordinary dolls houses, many of them Georgian, and you can see his work on his website at Classic Houses.

Sally Meekins Miniature Ceramics (UK) hand made and painted.  Particularly useful for this period is the range of extremely charming blue and white ware.

Stokesay Ware (UK)  Exquisitely fine, perfectly in scale, Stokesay Ware offers quite a few blue and white pieces, and will custom make a Willow pattern teaset for you without handles, perfect for the early Georgian period! IGMA Artisan.

Old Bell Pottery, another UK site selling beautiful china and pottery for many eras.  Hand painted.

Arlette's Miniatures, a UK furniture maker specializing in upholstered furniture perfect for this period, including Knole settees, a personal favourite of mine :)

Bubba's Minis:  A US furniture maker who offers all sorts of early American furniture, some of which would be very suitable for an early 18th century Colonial home.

John J. and Sue Hodgson (UK):  master miniature furniture makers with a particular focus on the later part of this period, and on Rococo pieces more suitable for Louis XIV and XV.  These pieces are truly works of art.

Teresa Thompson (UK) maker of extraordinary 1:12 dolls costumed for a wide range of historical periods.  Please do check out her site, Costume Cavalcade, even if only for the inspiration!

Pete Acquisto, famous US silversmith, works in  dollhouse scale.  Many, many period pieces, appropriate for this era.

Mike Sparrow (UK): maker of miniature silver, offers both Queen Anne and Georgian pieces.

JS Miniatures (UK): maker of Georgian fireplace surrounds and fireplace kits.

Tarbena Miniatures (UK):  furniture from 17th century.  Expensive, beautiful pieces.

Lee-Ann Chellis Wessel:  stunning miniature ceramics, including blue and white Chinese patterns, suitable for this period. IGMA Artisan.

The Linen Press (UK) maker of miniature embroidered textiles, including those suitable for 17th and 18th centuries.

Sussex Crafts:  (UK) 1:12 scale ironmongery with fabulous pieces for this period. 

Turnings in Miniature:  Thomas Saunders makes wonderful turned bowls, vases and stands out of wood and stone and sells them through his Etsy shop!

Nantasy Fantasy (US): fabulous assortment of unusual instruments (both musical and scientific) accessories and specialist items for quite a few periods.  I love this place!  IGMA Artisans.

Masters Miniatures (UK): makers of period furniture, including the charming spinet, pictured below.


New England Miniatures carries a full line of JBM Miniatures, which include many pieces of good quality wooden furniture suitable for this period.

Itsy Bitsy Minis -- carries an extraordinary range of wallpapers and coordinating fabrics -- many damasks and Jacobean patterns perfect for this period.

Les Chinoiseries:  1:12 scale fabric and wallpaper -- a Spanish e-tailer with gorgeous yard goods for every period.

Janet Granger (UK) sells a wonderful array of kits for miniature needlework, many of which would be perfect for this period, including cushions, cabriole leg stools and rugs.

Micro Stitchery (US)  carries a full line of Bonnie Schoonmaker's miniature needlepoint kits on silk gauze, including patterns suitable for Jacobean, William and Mary and Georgian projects. (see the Oriental bench, below).

Miniature Needlepoint (UK) sells Carolyn Waldron's kits for a huge range of carpets, wall hangings and cushions.

Mini Stitches (US) carries a wonderful range of kits for historical samplers on silk gauze, ranging from 1690 to 1822.

Dovetails (UK) makes miniature fireplace surrounds, ceiling roses and other plasterwork for different periods, including the very hard to find classic Tudor fireplace and lots of Georgian options.  Reasonable prices, too.

Inspiration and Advice

How to achieve a genuine Georgian house style - a useful little article on period detail, including the early Georgian period.

Carol-Anne-Dolls Georgian Dolls' House -- great inspiration here!

Lesley's Garden -- List of Historical Plants:  very useful list of what plants are appropriate for what periods.  Lesley also makes wonderful kits!


Miniature embroidery for the Georgian dolls' house by Pamela Warner.  40 period-appropriate projects.

Making Georgian dolls' houses by Derek Rowbottom.  This is perhaps my favourite book on Georgian dolls houses -- both inspirational and very, very practical, with lots of projects and plans.

The authentic Georgian dolls' house by Brian Long.  An excellent companion for the above, Long's book has a great deal of research on individual features and fewer actual projects.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Queen Anne furniture -- custom settee and japanned secretary

I've been buying and making more pieces for my future dolls' house lately.  I mentioned in an earlier post that I had ordered a custom Queen Anne settee from Kris Compas.  It arrived yesterday, so I set up a little vignette to photograph.

I arranged the pieces in the ground floor room of the Tower.

The perfect little sofa makes me so happy!  Kris makes every part of her pieces -- including shaping the cabriole legs.   I think it's begging for some needlepoint cushions :)  If you'd like Kris to make something for you, please check out her website at CDHM.

I'm so pleased with how this turned out.  It started as a bog-standard unfinished whitewood piece by Streets Ahead.  I primed it, spray painted it red and then used gold and black permanent markers to draw chinoiserie designs on it, looking at a variety of early 18th century japanned antiques for inspiration.  You could also japan a piece in black chinoiserie, but I really love red!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

First miniature doll making

The kids and I have been making dolls to represent ourselves in the world of the Tudor castle.  We used a combination of instructions:  some patterns and general helpful information on dimensions and scale from the book Making miniature dolls with polymer clay by Sue Heaser; and the very useful techniques found on a couple of websites, which I'll append at the bottom of this post.

Evangelista and I were the first to finish our dolls, and she took these photos today.  She arranged all the little settings for them, as well!

 Here is my character.  She will be the castle cook.  This is just her undershift -- she'll have a skirt, a bodice, a leather belt and her hair will be covered :)

 Here is Evangelista's doll.  She will be the cook's assistant.  She's wearing an underdress and a red overdress (from patterns in Heaser's book).

Here they are, enjoying some music and reading, accompanied by one of the castle's many, many cats!

And here they are enjoying a delicious pie.  Notice the cat on the table!  I think he's interested in the pie, too.

Useful Links for Polymer Miniature Doll Making

A very useful series of articles on sculpting scale model dolls in polymer clay from

Articles on adding hair to miniature dolls at MSAT Mini Dolls

Friday, March 12, 2010

Miniature leather book cover technique

At KnitWits yesterday, the girls and I worked on various projects, from real life costumes (Fred) to miniature dolls (Evangelista and me) to books (Tiddles).

I'll show some of our doll work in a later post, but here are two books made by Tiddles using a technique she came up with.

I love the patina on these!  She made them by covering blocks of balsa wood with a rather heavy leather.  She coloured the sides and tops of the wood with a gold felt pen (a really useful item for miniature making) and then antiqued the leather using ordinary artist's acrylic paint.  (Any kind of craft paint would work, actually).  Then she added some gold marks on the spines using the pen.

What I love about these is that Tiddles's technique has transformed rather plain black leather-covered books into something rich and marvellous.  These would be appropriate in a wizard's study, don't you think?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Update on the castle

I've been remiss in taking photos of the castle, lately -- it's been a busy time for me in other ways :)   The Castle is still active and being worked on.  Our next room will be a large Tudor kitchen.

But I'm already planning my next project -- a William and Mary era house furnished in the time of Queen Anne (circa 1710).  To that end I've been buying and making some bits and pieces in anticipation of the new abode (and, I suppose, a new blog!)

This is the jewel of my early 1700 collection so far -- a custom Queen Anne settee by the extraordinarily talented artisan Kris Compas.  I don't have it yet, but it's winging its way to me as we speak!

Isn't it divine?  Can I point out that Kris has matched the tiny pattern across the front of the piece, even across the welting?  It's five inches long and I can't wait for it to arrive so I can photograph it in the Castle.  Don't you think the Tudor family living there will love it, even if it is a temporary visitor from the future? :)

It was inspired by this antique 1710 settee, by the way:

I encourage you to check out Kris's work at her CDHM Gallery (where you can buy pieces she's already built) and her blog, 1 Inch Minis by Kris.  She has beautiful items already built, and if you've ever dreamed of working with a great artist on a custom piece, I can assure you that she is friendly, helpful, creative, willing and talented beyond belief!  I can't wait to work with her again, and I can recommend her in the strongest possible terms.
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