Monday, January 15, 2018

In a Nutshell

Welcome back, dear Readers!
So much has happened in 3 years, so we will give a bit of a retrospective over the next few months on past projects and updates.

To kick off the New Year, and to introduce another hobby I haven't touch on before, I will begin with the most recent bit of excitement:  I was asked by the Mount Angel Library director to mount an exhibit of 1:12 scale miniatures, from my private collection.   It was a last minute request; A previous exhibitor had to close her exhibit early and the library was hoping to have something in place within 2 weeks.  It was an exciting, but daunting request.  The original exhibit request was for a three month duration, November 7th 2017 through January 7th 2018.  Per the library's request, I have since extended it an additional two weeks to January 20th.

My miniatures had mostly been in storage since we moved here to Mount Angel in 2014.  I had to actually start over and curate my own collection, as I did not remember what all I had~not to mention, my original packing had been for both safety and expediency but I had neglected to label anything.   As well, seven months ago I sold two of my dolls houses at a miniature show, and had split up rooms and accessories for storage, without much rhyme or reason.  ThereforeI spent most of the two weeks prep time, "decorating" the rooms. 

There are a total of 6 rooms, over 3 levels.  I created simple backdrops from wallpaper I had in my stash, using the most neutral backgrounds I could find.  I have a tendency to gravitate to stripes, and bold Arts and Crafts designs, so this was the hardest part!  I used foam core for the walls, with short partitions to give the illusion of separate rooms.  To save time (and money), I dispensed with doors or windows. 

 While putting together the exhibit, I reminisced over the various pieces I had collected over 20 plus years.  I have crafted or customized many pieces myself.  My inspiration came from both modern interior design magazines, and my collection of reference books for 18th and 19th century interior design and furniture. 

It was during the late Seventies that I discovered the publication Nutshell News, at my local library.  I poured over its pages; A tiny magical universe had opened up my imagination and started a lifelong passion~or obsession, depending on your perspective.   I purchased my first dolls house when I was seven years old.  I had saved for months, and it was my prized possession throughout my entire childhood. It even accompanied me when I married, and moved into my first home.  When my son was born, I built my first kit house.  It was redecorated a dozen times.  In later years, my son began reading the Brian Jacques books, and he insisted the dolls house inhabitants be animals, instead of the usual figures.  Thus started a smaller collection, within a collection: miniature jointed animals.   

I have never been part of a miniatures club, although I subscribed for many years to Nutshell News.  By the nineties, I had discovered  Miniature Collector, as well as the UK publication Dolls House World.  But Nutshell News was always my favourite of these publications; its diminutive size and variety of articles and projects inspired and influenced me as a both a child and adult.  And, though the publication is no longer in existence, I have kept many of the back issues.  While searching for the title of my exhibit,  I was reminded that Nutshell News had itself been named in honour of the quote from Shakespeare's play Hamlet Act II, scene ii:
"I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself a king of infinite space". 
This quote has always stayed with me.   And, to title my exhibit "In a Nutshell", seemed the most eloquent summation of my 40 year love affair with all things small.

Painted cottage bedroom set and children's nursery

The Explorer's Library and Dining Parlour

Country Kitchen.

1930s Kitchen, influenced by Mary Englebreit art work

Stoats enjoy an "after dinner party". I stitched the miniature petit point rug, from a pattern book "Making Miniature Oriental Rugs and Carpets".  The whole crab platter, was painstakingly preserved from a real crab by Dot's Doll House on the Oregon Coast. 

Miss Priss, the Persian, provides musical entertainment for the dinner guests.  The instrument is an upright harpsichord called a "Clavicytherium".

Close up of The Explorer's Library.  Many of the books are readable, and there are real fossils and geodes. I stitched both petit point carpets from a pattern book "Making Miniature Oriental Rugs and Carpets".

 I hand painted the "cottage" style furniture based on extant examples, popular in the 1870s.  The kit furniture is  the Real Life Victorian bedroom kit.  The kits are no longer manufactured, but you may still find them on Ebay.

Close up of the children's nursery.  The Girl's side features a bunny and faery collection, the artwork on the easel is my own, and I dressed the brass bed.  The Boy's side has Beatrix Potter bedding I made, and I hand painted the metal miniature Disney figures.

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