Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Pioneer Cottages in Miniature

Waipu Museum's Miniature Pioneer Cottage
I've been up at Waipu today. It's a little village that was settled in the 1850s by Scottish immigrants who came there via Nova Scotia. That heritage is still celebrated today, with Highland Games every New Years Day and a Scottish week in winter. I remembered from a previous visit to the museum that there were some model cottages there so I went back for a closer look.
   Made by Bob Tillet, these scale models give an excellent idea of what types of dwellings the early pioneers constructed. Timber in the area was plentiful so early buildings were built of wood rather than stone as they would be in Scotland.
   Kitty Slick's House was built in the 1880s for Duncan Slick and Rebecca McLean. From the 1930s till her death in 1950, it was lived in by a single woman, Catherine (Kitty) McLean.
The Story of Kitty Slick's House
The local children called her Kitty Slick and teased her about being a witch. After her death, the house was neglected and became derelict, adding to the eerie mystery. It was easy to imagine it being haunted. 

Kitty and Rebecca McLean

The other miniature cottage on display is a model of the first one built for the settlers' leader, Norman McLeod. Also constructed of timber, the original had a wooden shingled roof, rather than the corrugated iron one on the model.
Model of McLeod's Cottage
Looking at the miniature buildings it was easy to imagine the lives lived by those first settlers, working through many hardships to carve out a civilised settlement that honoured their heritage.
  It was an interesting visit.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

The Moving Around Goose!

The polymer clay goose
My daughter made this goose for me, the first time she'd made anything out of polymer clay. And it has proved to be very versatile.
  Most of the time it resides in my Tudor dolls house, in the kitchen. I made the chopping block out of a tree branch from our garden. The 'iron' hoops are black paper strips. The chopper is a metal miniature. You can't see it from the angle of this photo but there is very realistic looking 'blood' on the blade and on the block!
  And when the bird's not in the Tudor house, you can find it in the Edwardian house scullery. The Edwardians were partial to a bit of roast goose at Christmas time.
The goose in the scullery
  Here it is, waiting to be cleaned and stuffed with chestnuts and apples and served with apple, gooseberry and bread sauces for the Christmas feast!

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Dolls House Scale Measurements - What do They Mean?

Chairs in 1:12 scale (the largest), 1:24 scale and 1:48 scale
What is 1:48 scale? What is half scale? The measurements used in the dolls house and miniatures hobby can be confusing to beginners. I have often been asked about the scale of a dolls house so I thought I would write this detailed account so you can determine what scale your dolls house is.
  Universally, even in countries which use the metric system of measurement, dolls house scales are always shown in inches. In the ratios given for the different scales, the larger the number, the smaller the dolls house will be.
   Imagine you are sitting in a real room that is 12 feet wide. I'll use this imaginary room to show you the difference in the dolls house scales.
1:12 Scale: Also known as 1 inch to 1 foot scale, this is the most common dolls house size. The majority of miniature furniture and accessories as well as dolls houses that are available to buy are in this scale. The 1:12 ratio shows that 1 inch in a model equates to 12 inches in real size.
   This means our imaginary 12 feet wide room would make a miniature room 12 inches wide.
In this scale the door of a dolls house is just over 6 inches tall, ceilings are 8 inches high, and a female doll is about 5 1/2 inches tall.
 1:24 Scale: The 1:24 ratio is also called 'half scale'. This means that 1 inch in a model would equal 24 inches in real size. Our imaginary room would be scaled down to just 6 inches wide.
   Half scale is gaining in popularity. Dolls house enthusiasts who are getting short of space are increasingly turning to 1:24 scale as it takes up so much less room.

  1:48 Scale: This 1:48 ratio known as the 'quarter scale' is even smaller with 1 inch on a model equalling 48 inches in real size. Now the imaginary 12 feet wide room is only 3 inches wide in miniature.
   Dolls houses in quarter scale are often built of thin basswood, foam core or matboard. They take up very little room and are a good size to sit on a shelf or counter top.
Now if your brain can compute even smaller measurements for a miniature building, think about 1:144 scale! Dolls houses this size can fit in the palm of your hand. The scale is sometimes called 'dolls house for a dolls house' because it is just the right size to be used as a dolls house in a 1:12 scale nursery.
And what about Barbie size? This is 1:6 scale as the size is large enough to fit dolls the height of a Barbie doll into a house. Dolls houses in this size are suitable for young children to play with as they can move furniture and dolls around easily in the spacious rooms.
   I think choosing which is the dolls house scale for you depends on your personal preference and the space you have available in your home to work in and display your miniatures.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

The Authentic Tudor & Stuart Dolls' House

Published by The Guild of Master Craftsman Publications
I wonder if any of you Tudor dolls house enthusiasts got this book for Christmas. I referred to it constantly when I was building my dolls house, set, I imagined, in 1588, the year the Spanish Armada sailed against England.
   Brian Long has created a very detailed and wonderfully illustrated guide. Photographs of existing Tudor and Stuart buildings are shown as well as drawings and models. Historical notes add depth to the information and there are also 'how to' guides for making things as varied as a thatched roof and a livery cupboard and a water clock.
  All aspects of Tudor life are covered, from lighting to sanitation; from children's toys to cooking utensils; from furnishings to fireplaces. This really is the definitive book to making a dolls house authentic-looking for the 16th and 17th centuries.
  So if you didn't get this book for Christmas, you might like to drop hints or put it on your wishlist for your birthday in 2013!