Friday, 28 October 2022

a Garden of Earthly Delights: The Dower House "Dining Room"?



"In proving foresight may be vain:
the best laid schemes of mice and men 
often go awry"
- Robert Burns 
☙☙❦❧❧

As every miniaturist undoubtedly knows,
things don't usually go as originally 
planned. 
More often than not,
at certain unforeseen junctures,
 our artistic creations will actively step in and begin steering us towards a 
 destination of their own choosing:
 different than the way we've charted. 
When this happens,
we can resist by pushing back 

OR
take a chance that the new fork in the road
will lead to a better place
than originally planned. 

The following account is my "condensed" version
of how my
"best laid schemes went awry"  
and how I did put up a fight;
but after I surrendered to THE WAY,
I arrived on time
and exactly where I was suppose to be.
True to form-
this is an exceptionally long story 
and of course it always begins in chaos
The photo above shows the state of 
Dowager's former Kitchen 
at the end of June 2022.
fyi
I'm including the months throughout this post 
to show how the process developed 
in starts and stalls and doubling back,
and how everything remained in a state of flux 
until the very last leg of the journey. 

For those unfamiliar with this dollhouse kit, 
Here's the actual layout of 
all highlighted text includes a link



After I'd removed all the stuff that I'd stored
in the room,
I was left with the ugly empty carcass you'll see below.
 
Stripping away all of the remaining 
fabric and interfacing still clinging to the walls,
was a time consuming job.

Surprisingly,
the majority of the 30 yr. old tape run was still viable so
all I had to do was connect it to the copper tape 
in the Living Room,
which I did- testing the line
over and over and over..... 


After that was done,
I brought in all the Dowager's furniture 
which she'd taken with her from the Manor House
and insisted on using in the cottage. 
She had to decide where the task lights would be placed,
and thus
where more electrical tape needed to go.
so of course-
 More Testing!


According to my
Dower House
 Renovation Story:
the Dowager has had the old kitchen gutted 
and relocated it in the
yet to be built kitchen annex
 on the left side of the cottage.  
Her former tiny kitchen would become
 her New Formal Dining Room,
which would include a brand new casement window
and a fireplace.

I going to STOP RIGHT HERE
to say  
that I've NEVER EVER
had a designated dining room
in any of my doll's houses.
 not in #43 Green Dolphin St.
not in Land's End, and not in Villa Leone. 
I've always made the Living rooms
into spaces where the 
occupants could sit and eat.
BUT THIS TIME 
I wanted a
REAL DINING ROOM 
with not only a fireplace but also a table 
that could seat 4;
where I could have full place settings;
silver cutlery and real glass stemware.  
but ALAS!
none of it was destined to be


 Installing a fireplace inside this narrow room, 

 using her Wide Round Table & 4 chairs,
 made it a VERY TIGHT SQUEEZE. 
 Someone would've ended up
with their 
buns in the fire-
this called for a practical change of plans
 

My suggestion to the Dowager,
 was to push the table

up against the wall
and reduce the number of chairs 
to only 2.

 The Dowager reluctantly conceded. 


Of course, I could have opted for
a long narrow rectangular table,
but
 I
 had my heart set on using THIS particular gateleg table
which I'd purchased back in the 1990's.
And Here

was a golden opportunity to put it to good use.  
So, the table and the fireplace stayed put
whilst 2 of the chairs were removed.


One problem down- 
here comes another one- 
the wallpaper


Choosing wall coverings has ALWAYS been an exercise in frustration 
so it takes me a very long time to decide.
Wallpaper sets the mood because it occupies the majority of visible space.
It determines the direction
of a room
and early in July 2022
I was still in need of direction.

I'd printed a Tibetan Prayer rug onto cotton
and draped it over the drop-leaf table as a tablecloth.
 I'd done this before in the music room of Villa Leone .
I really liked the richness of the look. 

The sage coloured wallpaper 
 repeated some of the greens
in the tablecover
but to be honest
 I found the overall effect 
Predictable and Boring

On a whim
 I tried the vibrant
PINK on PINK
scrapbook paper  
and it felt like A WINNER!



 I loved the high contrast of the stark white woodwork against the boldness of the walls.

This was the point when the room woke up
and started paying attention to what I was doing.

It seemed to be pointing me towards 
 Edwardian,
Moody, Masculine and Mysterious
which then put me in mind of-
Sherlock Holmes
and then I thought that this room
should double as a library
with built in bookshelves surrounding the fireplace-

Brilliant~
ðŸ’Ą
 what a GREAT IDEA!


I was pleasantly surprised
that I liked the intensity of the pink walls
as much as I did-
nevertheless
I decided NOT to glue the wallpaper templates
to the walls just yet:
I would wait until I was 100% sure.

To that end the templates were held in place
with green painters tape for the next 4 months.
 Even so,
the interior decoration continued moving forward.

Years ago
my dear friend Fatima of 
Beauxminis
and 
the Vancouver Dollhouse Miniature Show
had gifted me a vintage, unfinished
BESPAQ corner shelf unit for Villa Leone.

I wasn't able to use it in the Villa
 but here in the Dower House I could.
  
 I applied a fruitwood stain to the raw wood
 followed by a thin aging compound to darken it up a bit, then I filled it with some of the Dowager's 
favorite blue and white china. 




I was glad to have it on display,
 yet disappointed too,
because the glass china cabinet door
opened from left to right.
 If the door was open,
it got in the way; 
If it was closed, 
you could barely see the china. 
grrrrrr...😠 my

my best laid plans are going awry!
nevermind
carry on... carry on...



Since I was restricted to using only TWO chairs,
I would've prefered that they matched, 
but having them both with the same wood stain,
came in a close second. 


I borrowed the John Hodgson side chair
from the Dowager's Living room
and recovered a smaller chair
in the same Elephant printed silk.
A rich oriental carpet was laid on the floor-
Sherlock Holmes here I come!   


A large bust of Queen Victoria
found her home on the table 


so far so good
now for a few books
and a student lamp

Back in the 1980's this student lamp had been
a ceiling light fixture inside this doll's house. 


At that time
it had had two working light bulbs
but when one burnt out
there was no way to replace it. 
so 

I removed the burnt bulb
and turned the fixture upside down.
By using 
assorted washers and jewelry findings glued to its base,
I was able to redistribute the weight so it would remain upright once the heavy metal lamp shade was added.

The solid lampshade forced the light downward
onto the table whilst casting interesting shadows against the wall. 
FYI
I personally prefer indirect lighting
but most people 
including the Dowager,
prefers to SEE what she is eating-
therefore
MORE Illumination was Required

So for overhead lighting 
I hung
 a SMALL 3-armed LED chandelier
with bright white plastic shades


Later on,
 I painted the shades with an alcohol marker.

 


 

There's not a HUGE difference
in the amount of light cast 
yet the Dowager and I both agree that 
these"parchment"shades look better! 
 
Meanwhile,
I'd discovered that I'd constructed the fireplace
out of level

and not just a Little out of level,
but A LOT! 



Fortunately everything was still removable,
so I took it out and built it all over again.

This time,
I took a page from my friend 

Janine's MINWORKS blog
 and cut down a small resin picture frame
for the NEW fireplace surround which
looks streamlined and modern and 
not Edwardian at all.
hmmmm?

By now it was the end of July.
I'd been working on this room for a month
and I still wasn't very excited about it


Returning again
to The Story:

As aforementioned:
this Dining Room of the Dower House
had been original cottage kitchen, 
with a flagstone floor. 

For practical purposes,
the Dowager had decided to retain the flagstone
in this room.



I'd never made flagstone before 
 but I thought
"how hard can it be?" 
Well-
it wasn't "hard" but I don't think that mine
 looks like flagstone.



I made it by coating a template of Heavy Cardstock with 
white glue and DryWall Patch followed by a coat of 
LIQUITEX 
RESIN SAND

Where I think I made my mistake
was not colouring the flags
prior to applying 
the top coat of Resin Sand. 
In other words,
I'd sealed them before painting them
therefore, the colour didn't penetrate.
Then, when I carved out the stones 
I didn't like the look of the grout.



I've painted and re-painted this floor more times
than I care to count. 
I've regrouted it lighter; then darker;
then back to lighter again.

Reworking the flagstone continued off and on,
from July to October 

NOTHING WAS GOING AS PLANNED! 

By now my enthusiasm
for the "
Sherlock Holmes theme"
dining room

was rapidly waning.

By the middle of September,
my interest had totally evaporated, 
so I gave up working on this room
 altogether.

To distract myself, I made flowers.


For me,
constructing miniature flowers whether from a kit
or from scratch,
 is a great stress reliever.
 

I must have had a lot of stress
because for the next two weeks
 I made a total of 80 Peonies and Roses-  

MOST OF THEM PINK! 

Earlier in June of this year,
 a dear
 friend from Australia
 Linda Park 

Linda's Mini World
was vacationing here in Canada.
Linda, Janine, Fatima and I always try to get together whenever Linda's in town
although during this visit 
Fatima was away in the Azores. 
Even so,
 Linda, Janine and I shared a Wonderfully Delicious catch-up luncheon and mini visit
 at Janine's aptly named "Becalmed Cottage".
 The reason I'm telling you this is because
 little did Linda or I
know at the time, 
that her visit would be the crux
of what would later happen 
to the Dowager's Dining Room

During her visit
Linda had given Janine stacks of 
VINTAGE
VICTORIA MAGAZINES
which Janine thoroughly enjoyed then later
 passed on to me.
WE LOVE VICTORIA MAGAZINES! 
Whenever I'm at the thrift store,
I always look for them to purchase second hand.
Their nostalgic and beautifully staged photos of 
"the good life"
are in my opinion- unsurpassed. 


I spent an entire lazy day in August 
 lying in bed with cupfuls of hot tea
 going through the entire pile;

flagging pages and absorbing their romance. 
 
It wasn't long afterwards 
whilst I was still basking in their afterglow, 
that something I must have absorbed
from those magazines 
inspired me to return to the 
Dower House and
REMOVE THE GLASS DOOR 
from the Dowager's China Cabinet 
then rearrange ALL the china in it. 
And, after again viewing the Fabulous
Miniature China and Silver collections
displayed on the shelves of 
Josje's youtube vlogs ,
 I decided to 
include a bit of silver and coloured glass
 on my shelves too.


Unlike Josje's Magnificent collections,
the Dowager's has an equal mix of 
High and Low
which I playfully rearranged 
until I was satisfied that it all looked good together. 

  

 I  found a bunch of pink fimo roses
to spill out over the china and down the shelves and
Voila!
 The corner unit
 immediately became a major focal point. 




This cupboard transformation
took place during the last week of  August.
However,
for the next couple of weeks
I continued to wrestle at the crossroads 
between letting go of my initial ideas
which were going nowhere 
or 
 fully embracing an emerging new one.
  
by the end of September, I'd made up my mind. 
I officially kicked Sherlock and 
the Formal Dining/Library to the curb.

The Dower House would have instead
a  
 New Garden Room! 
in homage
to all those Wonderful VICTORIA magazines received from Linda Park

Pure Bliss!


Once the interior shelves were redone
I also re-dressed the top of the cupboard with 
additional pieces from the Dowager's china collection

The new cupboard arrangement 

 opened the door to new decorating possibilities-
such as including another piece of 
Linda's EMBROIDERY


This EXQUISITE FLORAL PETIT POINT 
was one among many of the precious mini gifts 
I'd received from Linda during her summer visit.


LINDA is an avid embroiderer Par Excellence!
Her Miniature TALENTS are truly AMAZING
and as for her abundant generosity,
 I could Never Thank her Enough!  


Linda has stitched for me 2 pairs of slippers for Villa Leone as well as a pair for the Dowager's bedside,
 which I featured in my last post
↓ 

She's also embroidered a matching tea cosy
for the Living Room tea table which I totally Adore!

Each piece she stitches is an absolute 
SHOWSTOPPER, so
adding her needle art to the Dowager's Garden Room
makes me feel Very Happy 
INDEED! 

 Removing the china cabinet door also
  altered the colour dynamics in the room. 

So soon after Sherlock had been evicted  
 the elephants seat covers were also told to leave. 
 
before↑
after↓

The chairs were recovered in an
 iridescent rust/green THAI SILK 
I'd purchased at a thrift store. 

The fabric is incredibly beautiful!  
Along its selvage is a band of delicate embroidery,
some of which I used
to recover both of the dining chairs with.


The centre emblem 
reminds me of a Tudor Rose
which ties in PERFECTLY with the
 Garden Room Theme

 
At this stage
I took the room apart and began the process of permanently connecting the lamps to the electrics.  
The wallpaper, the window, the wood trims, the flagstone floor and the fireplace were also permanently installed.  

btw
My daughter's boyfriend Lee, 
says that for scale,
 I should always include a HAND SHOT 
somewhere in my posts,  
 so 
this one's for you, Lee! 💕 

This Perfect little needlepoint cushion
was also a gift from a LONG time ago,
 from Pam Grant.  Yet another 
Needle-Savvy friend of mine! 
 Its pink and green geometric pattern
looks lovely on this small chair!


To the left of the side chair
 directly in front of the leaded window,
( leading tutorial here)
is an inexpensive blue and white porcelain vase
which the Dowager has filled with purple hydrangeas.




The faded hydrangeas in the vase
are a Bonnie Lavish flower kit,
which I'd originally constructed for 
the GARDEN OF VILLA LEONE 
The tutorial of how I customized the flower kit is here 


On the floor under table of hydrangeas 
 is a small basket of books,
 and to the left of the basket, 
is a rustic
 bottle basket
which was a special gift
which Linda hand delivered to me 
from the Amazing 
Lidi Stroud 
 BASKETCASE MINIATURES
Thank You again Lidi
for this Very Special Treasure! 



The darling glass fronted half cupboard 
(shown below)
makes an ideal liquor cabinet
next to the fireplace. 

I placed a few bottles in a round silver tray
(a metal bezel casing) 
displayed on top of the cabinet.  

There's a better photo of the assorted liquor bottles
a little further down the page which  
I'm not highlighting
since they'll be changed very shortly. 

 I've ordered a mini bottle of PIMM'S
from Shepherd Miniatures
which I'm waiting to be delivered. 

I saw a BBC program which specifically talked about how much the British enjoyed drinking their PIMM'S 
so
I searched high and low until I found one in miniature.

What is Pimm's?
I had no idea until I Googled it

"Pimm's is a gin-based fruity spirit.
A quintessentially British liqueur,
it's made by infusing gin with a secret concoction of botanicals, caramelised orange and warm spices."

sounds Yummy
Meanwhile, until it arrives,
I want to place assorted glasses on the top shelf
of this cupboard
and extra liquor bottles on the bottom.


This pretty cupboard also has a secret top drawer
( no knob) 

 I've filled it with a corkscrew, 
and two tiny bottle openers, 
along with pink and white linen napkins.


 I also found a picture in a magazine  
of a Regency Botanist.
I glued the print onto cardstock
 sized to fit the gold frame, 
then hung him directly above the liquor cabinet.

 i really LIKE Him! 
AND 
I like the new arrangement on the FP mantle. 
This fireplace mantle 
is narrower than the old one so 
the blue painted clock just barely fits!  
I've dressed the surface of the mantle 
with a Stokesay Ware Blue Willow china plate; 
Marie Freedman china cup;
a glass pink and green bead jar;  
and 
2 Peter Acquisto silver candlesticks


Above the clock 
is a bull's eye mirror 
which beautifully captures the reflection 
of the corner cupboard.

I made the mirror using a recycled round jewelry pin
and a convex stick on mirror 
from a dollar store auto parts aisle
I've used a bull's eye mirror  
once before
 in the bedroom of #43  
which you can see here 
They're very effective for viewing parts of the room which would otherwise be difficult to see
and 
they capture more of the light.

The interior of the firebox surround 
is outlined with carved metal bracelet links 
glued inside its perimeter for additional texture and interest 
but...
my Absolute Favourite Feature in this 
Garden Room are-

 THE FOXGLOVES! 
I made these foxgloves back in April of this year 
just to see if I could.
I used several different paper punches
and a variety of colouring methods
attempting to improve my techniques
with each plant I made. 
I'd been saving these flowers for the 
Dowager's cottage garden.


However,
 once the room went into botanical overdrive,
I felt I needed something "growing" to go with the cut stems in the hydrangea bouquet.

Placing the foxgloves in the fireplace
was the only available space inside the room.
But who has live plants growing IN their fireplace?  
Then
I just happened to find a website of full-sized
 Potted Porcelain Plants
used in home decor.
This quelled all my previous hesitations,
of whether or not to keep these where they are,
because now that they're officially
FAKE it no longer matters.

see 1:1 Porcelain FLOWER SCULPTURES
 here




For a Wee Bit of Whimsy
I made a fireplace fender from a 
length of plastic Railroad model 
Gate and fencing 
which I painted black then doused 
while still wet 
with a generous sprinkling of ground cinnamon
for textured rust. 

 In the photo below 
is the new entry into the annex
currently plugged with wallpaper
for the Dowager's protection
 Between the doorway and the fireplace
is a brass wall sconce that I topped with a 
pink-tinted Chrysnbon glass globe
found in my stash.


The Palm fronds are left-over stems from 
featured in the preceding post of  
the Dowager's bedroom. 

The brass urn and the pedestal stand 
came from the estate of Bettie Smith
who was a very dear friend of mine for over 40 years. 
When she passed away last summer,
I was given a number of things from her vast collection 
a few of which I've been able to use here.
They are a constant reminder to me of her 
and her unfailing friendship 
and her unlimited joy of minis-  
 I hope that she approves their new home.  

On the floor next to the small armchair 
is a garden trug I borrowed from the garden of 
#43 Green Dolphin Street 
which the Dowager has now decided to keep! 
In it are a frilly variety of freshly cut Peonies 
made from a discontinued flower kit,
and a small bundle of lavender stems 
which Linda had given to me the year before. 

I included a Mini Fanaberia gardening book 
inside the basket, too! 


This is JENNY the Dowager's faithful spaniel 
made by Leslie Frick.
She's taking her afternoon nap on the sisal rug which
is a the last big bit left from the original wall-to-wall carpeting I'd installed back in the late 80's. 

Returning again to the draped table: 
It's been dressed in a mix and match of items 
more for display rather than for dining. 

Here's What's Currently On It
A WONDERFUL 
Royal Copenhagen Musselmalet Dish cover
given to me by my bff Janine! 

During those iffy"Sherlock months" I had the 
dish cover displayed inside the china cabinet
(Ref. photo 10 of this post)
Janine told me then that she thought
it didn't fit with the rest of the china,
but
because the cupboard was the only place
I had to display it, I'd left it in there.  
 But then when the glass door was removed 
and all the china was shuffled about, 
the opportunity to move the Musselmalet onto 
 the table 
for display purposes only 
wasn't the least bit out of character. 
Its distinctive blue and white pattern
 provides a smooth segue from the corner unit 
to the table as well as visually hold its own, 
 in front of the bust of the Queen.
 And speaking of the bust of the Queen
on the wall behind her head,
 hangs a VERY large painting 
of a small herd of cows in a meadow.


In the photo below
you can see the textured effects of painting over the surface using matte Mod Podge and a tiny paint brush

"how now brown cows?"

to the right of that bucolic painting is a framed picture of a goldfinch 
(a plastic bird button with its shank removed) 

Under the goldfinch 
is a painting of a young woman in pink
( magazine clipping on cardstock) 
and a 3 dimensional metal Leaf Sculpture, 
a recent birthday gift to the Dowager 
from one of her children. 
something I'd saved from something I threw away.
A commemorative Qn.V plate 
sits on the table below the pictures. 


I've Tucked a tiny Teresa Welch flower bowl 
in between the plate and a 
Butterfly dome

I made this piece from a glass dome 
purchased at a Michael's Craft Store. 
The tiny puffy butterfly stickers I found a dollar store.  
cut them in half and glued them onto a snippet of dried grape stem then 
planted the stem into a mound of fake moss. 




In front of the Musselmalet dish cover
is a 
and 
a Marie Friedman teacup and saucer
and
a matching side plate with a chocolate and macarons;
and a Janice Crawley Chicken teapot 
which after 25 years of storing in a drawer,
 I finally get to display. 
The colours of the teapot are PERFECT! 

 Definitely worth crowing about!  

As an aside:
The Dowager has Treats and is serving Tea 
here and in the living room and in her bedroom!
She's old enough and can do as she pleases 
but it seem to me to be
somewhat eccentric...  my question is- 
should I be concerned?

 HEY! WHAT'S THAT?
 an excuse 
for a big finger picture! ðŸ˜›

Along the edge of the table are a few of the 
Peonies and roses I made in September
 during my 2 week hiatus
I lOVE peonies but since I don't have a lot of success with them in my RL garden,
it feels quite gratifying to me
 to grow them in such decadent abundance in miniature,
even though I'm constantly picking them up off the floor after knocking them off the table with my giant hand. 
 
This makes # 3 for you Lee! 

I changed the lamp shade on the student lamp
upon the conclusion of my 
Sherlock Holmes adventure. 

I settled on this pink fringed one because it was in proportion and girly.
It came off of the brass Ni-glo lamp base,
 installed in the Dowager's Bedroom.

Alongside the table is another 
"wanna be fake"
potted foxgloves

I have it sitting on top of a 
Al Chandronnait picnic basket
next to a stack of 
Mini Fanaberia flower books.


I've installed a silk embroidered valance 
with a bamboo pull shade 
above the leaded casement window.
The valance with the tassles is another section cut from the same length of iridescent Thai silk 
used to cover the chair seats. 
The bamboo pull shade was cut from a painted asian scroll 
purchased from the thrift store. 


We've reached the end.
Here's a final OVERVIEW of
 the Dower House 
Garden Room


"In proving foresight may be vain:
the best laid schemes of mice and men 
often go awry"
And I'm so glad they did! 

☙☙❦❧❧

elizabeth

As a reminder:  I'm still having problems with the comment section. If you try to leave one before the sidebar finally appears, or before the whirly-thing in the tab stops twirling, then your comment won't register.  This can take up to 60 seconds before the program quits loading and kicks in- Talk about frustrating for you as well as for me trying to respond:🙁 oh well,... it IS 
what it is. ðŸĪŠ





























a Garden of Earthly Delights: The Dower House "Dining Room"?

"In proving foresight may be vain: the best laid schemes of mice and men  often go awry" - Robert Burns  ☙☙❦❧❧ As every miniaturis...