Thursday, 5 July 2012

Going Dutch-or anyone for coffee? Part 3

So where to start?   With music, known to be the food of love, or coffee which, according to a Turkish proverb, should be "black as hell, strong as death, and sweet as love"?

I think we will go upstairs first (though irritatingly this is a house with no stairs, something which always infuriated me as a child).  I have already mentioned that it was finding the kit for the Mini Mundus Grand Piano that made me decide to make the upstairs space into a music room, but one grand piano would clearly not be enough by itself.  
The Mini Mundus kit contains over 70 parts and takes a while to build.   It's so long ago now that I can remember very little about making it.   I know that I decided not to go for the very shiny finish that the link I posted in Part 2 displayed - such shiny pianos did not come in until rather later than I wanted my room to portray, and the one in the link above was far more what I was after.   I used a walnut stain on the wooden pieces, remembering to stain before gluing the kit together - I was caught like that in the early days of making miniature furniture - as all miniaturists learn to their cost, the stain will not take over glue......

Once the piano was ready, I 
needed to find some music for it so kept a sharp eye out for tiny sheet music.   It's surprising where one finds it - on chocolate wrappings for example!   I have a selection of little brass-bound glass boxes in many sizes - you will be able to spot two or three in various roles in this house.   Here one serves as a music container.   

In the background of the photo you can see a muse standing proudly in a niche on the wall. Or perhaps not a muse but Plato reflecting that "music and rhythm find their way into the secret places of the soul".

One of the delights of furnishing a dolls house room is that things that have simply been picked up somewhere and kept  "in case they come in useful sometime" always eventually find their proper home.   That is certainly how Plato arrived, and also the plaster niche on which he is standing in this photo.

So now for some more musical instruments.   I already had a harp in the Walmer dolls house so decided to move it across to the Dutch House.   In fact I had two harps...

Cue for digression - there used to be a range of metal pencil sharpeners made in various vintage shapes - I managed to gather up two or three old-fashioned cash registers, a sewing machine, a cello (or it might have been intended as a double bass), an old-fashioned gramophone and film projector, a globe, a harp and numerous others.   You can see some of the range that was available in the photo - it was scouring the internet for a suitable photo yesterday that made me realise how many there must be  buried in boxes in the garage in England.   

They came in a slightly odd assortment of scales (there will be a whole post devoted to the tricky subject of scale soon) but with care they can mostly be incorporated into some sort of miniature scene.   With the possible exception of the Golden Gate Bridge which I have just discovered also exists in the range!   

For a time the metal harp was in the music room but it has now been consigned to the attic - the Dutch House attic of course.

The superior harp however joined the grand piano in the music room and I looked around for some other instruments to complete the room.
I found a very cheap range of brass instruments, one of which is actually a brooch - often useful sources of miniature items - and then turned once again to the pencil sharpeners for a cello. 
But in the final incarnation this too has been consigned to the attic and a totally out of scale cheap plastic violin has been recruited to act as a cello.   All these are tastefully distributed round the room and that's the upstairs completed.

Ah no, I forgot the lighting - if the house inhabitants want to play at night they need a lighting source so there are also two candlesticks, the one on the piano nicked from a Barbie or Pippa set (remember Pippa? The dolls actually work scale-wise as people in some of the larger dolls houses) and the other made of glass and really rather nice.   That one has ejected Plato from his niche to give more light to the pianist.   Plato now stands on yet another lucky find - a pillar from a cake decorating shop.

Next time - the coffee shop.   But I also promised to update you on the negotiations with the Town Council for a room of my own.   Yesterday we were able to see it for the first time, still full of the exercise bikes and other instruments of torture one finds in a "Wellness Centre" (a misnomer if there ever was one!).   The windows were partly covered with a strange reflector so it is hard to see how much light might come into the room.    

We have very mixed feelings - on the plus side the location is ideal, next to the library and very close to the Town Museum and the size is reasonable, if somewhat spoiled by a wash hand basin gratuitiously stuck on one wall, but the decor!   Oh dear!  The ceiling is covered with depressing brown plastic tiles, a bit like these, but smaller and without the benefit of stags' heads and Christmas tree.
They almost match the lighter brown lino floor, thus pulling the  room down to seem much lower than it is, and there is brown formica panelling on the bottom half of the walls all the way round. (I detest brown). The lighting would not work for a museum and there is a lack of suitably placed power points.
It could all be dealt with of course but the question now is whether the Council might be prepared to do some at their cost rather than my having to carry it all.  They will after all be getting an attraction to their town - the local museum has problems getting visitors from outside the area and once the locals have made one visit they don't come again unless there is a special exhibition.   So I do hope we can come to some agreement.   

Further discussions won't happen till after 17th July when my friend comes back from Croatia to ensure we all understand each other perfectly, as my Czech can be somewhat haphazard at times, so once again - watch this space.   Before that - the final stages of preparing the Dutch House and then on to the matter of scale.

It is lovely to read your comments and to know that people are enjoying the journey - do join as a follower to keep me company along the way - and congratulations to anyone who spots today's changes in the blog. (A change will also affect all previous blogs, so no clues there I'm afraid.)  It's how I meant it to look all along but the controls wouldn't work - a serendipitous mistake meant that it suddenly did as I wanted! 

You know you've made it when you've been moulded in miniature plastic. But you know what children do with Barbie dolls - it's a bit scary, actually. 
Cate Blanchett

I'd like to inspire more people to delve into the world of miniatures so I am joining the Inspire me Fridays linkup at Joyful Stamper


  1. I thought I could see a difference, but I couldn't say what it was! I still can't, but never mind.

    I hope the building gets changed somehow!

  2. I haven't read the whole thing yet, as I couldn't proceed without shrieking "NO STAIRS?????????". Right - back to reading now

    1. As I typed it, I could hear you saying, er shrieking that.. ;-)

  3. I think I detect a slight hauteur (or possibly froideur) in the pianist and dejection in the harpist - possibly they are aggrieved at the focus on the furniture? Just saying...Am still reeling from the No Stairs the musicians parachute in? Another possible reason for their demeanour..

    1. Contain your soul in patience, all will be revealed in the final part.

      And as to lack of stairs - this sadly happens in all too many dolls houses. Maybe the inhabitants become very skilled at scaling the exterior brickwork?

  4. ...and hide their scaling equipment under their skirts?

    1. Well you wouldn't want them sitting with ropes and crampons draped across the piano and harp would you?