Tuesday, 17 December 2013

A Not Particularly Christmassy Christmas Post!

Hello there. Sorry I haven't posted anything in ages, as usual, life seems to be going at such a fast pace I hardly find time to do anything. I had hoped to do a condensed Christmas Countdown this year, but even that failed to materialise, and now with barely a week left to go until the BIG DAY 
I felt it would be a shame not to get something on my blog, even if it wasn't particularly Christmassy!

Back in September, I went on a short break away to Yorkshire, staying at a castle gate house just outside the city of York. I would love to show you some photos of the inside of Fairfax House, a georgian house set up with period rooms, but photos were not allowed inside, which is understandable, but is also a pity as they are well worth seeing!

I did, however, get some good photos from the York Castle Museum, just a stone's throw away from Fairfax House. The museum has various room settings, a Victorian street scene and household appliances through the ages. The photo above is a typical Victorian parlour of a middle-class family, there is also another shot of the room with its fireplace below.

It's the sort of room Scrooge's nephew might have had in A Christmas Carol. (shoehorning in a little bit of Christmas there!!) Victorians loved to fill there homes with clutter and bold, fussy patterns. 

This is an example of a more working-class family cottage, more likely in the country than in a city. It looks fairly cosy, but would probably have been little more than one room for a whole family to live in.

Here is the other view of this room.

A view of a 17th century room. Lots of dark carved oak and panelling was typical of interiors during the 17th century, though things did change during the latter part of the century, as you might well see in some planned new posts in the New Year!

Here is a view out onto the Victorian street scene below.

A mid-18th century parlour. 

Do you see the dolls' house in this room?

Here's another view which I hope shows the dolls' house a little better.

Oh! must have posted this picture out of sequence! we've gone back a century here! The 17th century room again!

A 1930's living room set up for a birthday party

It's the sort of look I was trying to get in the parlour at the Swan Inn, though this is more typical of a suburban semi. Notice the TV? This family must have been fairly well off. TVs were quite a novelty in the 1930's, with limited amounts of programming available

a 1930's kitchen.

Again, this would have been fairly middle-class, with all the latest labour-saving appliances, the electric iron was plugged into the lightbulb fitting!

Some older ways to cook food! An open fire with a clock work turn spit, and chimney cranes to hold the pans, and griddle.

This fire is much smaller and comes with a bread oven, hot coals would be put inside the bread oven, then when the oven was hot enough, all the coals would be raked out before the bread was cooked. 

This 1980's kitchen is very similar to the one I remember from the house I grew up in. It does seem strange to see this in a museum!! (makes me feel old!!)

Wash day! All that would be needed, though it took all day to do!!

early carpet sweepers and pump vacuum cleaners.

An early fridge. This would have been a very expensive luxury when it was new!

A victorian range cooker.

a Victorian pantry.

A Victorian carpenter's shop from the city street scene, a large part of the job was making coffins!

A shop on the Victorian street scene. 

Seems to be selling all manor of household goods.

The street urchin's view!! ;o)

Dolls' house furniture for sale inside the toy shop. Looks like we managed to avoid the Christmas rush!

some other 21st century time travelers, anyone seen the Tardis?

the Grocer's shop window. York was home to several famous confectionary and chocolate makers, including Rowntree's and Terry's

A candle maker's work shop, I think they were known as chandlers.

The home of a poor family living in the city.

Some of the other city residents or should that be rodents?!!

York Castle Museum is filled with wonderful things and well worth a visit, particularly if you have an interest in social history or are doing some research on particular periods of domestic life. 

So, not perhaps a particularly Christmassy post, as I said, but I hope you enjoyed it anyway. I do hope to catch up with my comments soon, but I have been keeping an eye on all your blogs and enjoying them.

Monday, 28 October 2013

What HAVE I been up to?

 OK! it is now officially the end of summer! British Summer Time has ended, and we are back to long, cold, dark evenings. The last time I wrote anything on this blog was way back in August! If you were to ask me what I have been up to during that post and this, I am not sure I would be able to give a reasonable explanation! I've been away on a little holiday at the end of September, and been to visit a few friends and family in that time, but miniatures have been put a little on the back burner.
I think, in part, it's because I wasn't able to go the the Miniatura show in September, and won't be able to go the Kensington Christmas Show at the end of November either; it has sort of blunted my enthusiasm a little.  Not that I have been entirely inactive on the miniature front...

In my last post I mentioned some miniature projects that needed to be done before I moved on to other things. I have done a few of these, some not worth noting on the blog, but I have made some plants to go outside the pub, a project that has been waiting for a long time.  I decided that some lavender would look good either side of the porch entrance to the pub.

I took some simple things I had in my miniature stash, including some modelers grit, which was left over from my Miniature Garden Centre Wisteria kit. 

I cut some florist wire into short lengths, and some green 'tinsel' I bought last Christmas from Kristin Baybar's shop (though have seen it available elsewhere since), which was also cut into short lengths.

I then used the same principle to make lavender flower heads as were used on the wisteria kit, only kept a lot smaller (I think mine are actually a little too big to be accurate 1-12th scale, but don't think it really matters too much). this was done by dipping the wire into a drop of Tacky Glue then coating the glue covered tips of the wire into modelers grit.

I then had to think about the colour! English lavender tends to look a bit grey, both the foliage and the flowers, however, a visit to the garden centre showed that there were several varieties of lavender, some with greener foliage and purple flowers, and that is what I opted for. I painted the flowers with two shades of lilac paint, first a light colour all over, then a darker one which I just dabbed on, and was quite pleased with the results.

I filled a flower tub with some Das air drying clay then arranged the flower stems, trying to make them look like they were growing 'naturally'. Then I pushed in the green foliage, again bending and shaping it to look like it was growing 'naturally'.

The final touch, still needing to be done is to add some 'soil' to the top of the Das clay. I bought some modeling material from the miniature garden centre, which is brown and passes for soil, but it occurred to me afterwards that the contents of a cheap tea bag might do the trick just as well!

Here is a view with both tubs finished (except for the 'soil') sitting outside of The Swan, and which seem to work very well with the wisteria, which gave me the idea of making lavender in the first place!

A closer view of one of the finished tubs.

and here are the two, either side of the porch.

I've also started to make a sign for The Swan, to hand on the metal bracket I purchased a long time ago. This meant painting two sides of a piece of wood with two painting more or less identical. No easy task for me!! I drew what I wanted first of all to give me an outline to follow, I decided it would be easier to paint directly onto a piece of wood.

I then used oil paints, thinned with turpentine spirit, to create a swan swimming on the water. I am no great artist and found working in a small scale even harder, but was fairy happy with the result of the first swan. The second swan is now finished, and is not quite the same as the first one, but looks reasonably OK (sorry I don't have a picture of it). I know the bull rushes are not very good, but will mostly be hidden by the frame that will be used to surround each picture before the sign is finally hung in place outside The Swan Inn.

I will do my best to catch up with all your recent blog posts, but it takes ages for them to download onto my vintage Mac these days, which is partly why I have been so neglectful. I do hope you will forgive me!!