Monday, 29 May 2017

And then there were three.....

The three weeks Butterfly and I spent in Small Worlds before Easter (it seems a long time ago now) were packed with activity.   You have already seen what she and I were up to - the Easter window that was down to me, and the very much more creative undertaking that Butterfly was engaged in.
We were joined in our second week there by Andrea, an old friend and avid follower of this blog.   Her below the line comments have frequently sparked off new ideas for Small Worlds and since I know her delight in telling stories, I decided to invite her to let her imagination loose on the next house awaiting "dressing" to use a theatrical term...
 After all, I had the perfect items just waiting for their ideal home!  

And then I thought why not let her write the best part of the blog too?

So, with great pleasure,  it's over to Andrea.....

Something happens to me when I look at dolls’ houses (yes I know there is much disagreement about how to set out that phrase, but that’s the one I use). I’m sure it happens to you as well, but how to describe it? A sense of being a child again, certainly, but also a sense of seeing other lives in full. 

A dizzying, Alice-like shrinking so that I am not outside looking in, but sitting at the table drinking tea, or in the kitchen of the Victorian house, hoping for a lick of the bowl when Cook has finished her cake-making.

Or, best of all, in the nursery playing with teeny tiny toys.

In addition to all of that, is the sense that some of the houses are palimpsests of the past lives of previous owners, with ghosts of their hopes and dreams lingering in the rooms.

I have followed Small Worlds online since the beginning, but I had not seen it in person until April this year. It is MAGNIFICENT! 

Cestina gave me the Full Tour, which I enjoyed very much. Seeing all of the hard work put in by Cestina, Butterfly and their many, many talented friends was breathtaking. 

I had scarcely recovered from the excitement of the Tour, when Cestina asked whether I would like to set out a new house. WOULD I? (Yes.)

You will remember that Cestina’s talented daughter-in-law, Laura, made an astonishing range of items, designed to go into the workshop of a dolls’ house maker. You can see them here in their temporary home in England.
It was that treasure trove that I was invited to arrange. Dolls’ house parts within a dolls’ house world. Dizzying doubleshrink.

I had great fun. The dolls’ house maker is called Pepik and I imagine he started out as a carpenter. As I moved things around in his living quarters downstairs, as well as his upstairs showroom and workshop, I got little flashes of his story.

Pepik lives alone and doesn’t seem to mind that his bedroom is the first room that visitors see.
After all, he can fold away his bed, so no-one would ever know! 

Visitors are quickly shown through to the parlour, where they can take tea and nibble delicious snacks prepared by Pepik’s friend from the village, Maria. As you can see, her idea of a snack is reassuringly hearty and will sustain those who have traveled far for an appointment. 

Pepik’s work is known throughout the country and much sought-after. People are so pleased to get a date for a visit, they don’t mind being kept waiting while Pepik finishes his previous consultation upstairs in his showroom. 

Here, people can look at plans and choose fixtures fittings and decorations for their own, unique, house.

The room they never see (although there is a tantalizing glimpse through the archway) is Pepik’s workshop. 

No-one is allowed in here, not even Maria, although she would dearly like to be admitted. I suspect she would dearly like to be admitted to all of Pepik’s life, but as yet he does not seem to have noticed her gentle overtures…

It is fair to say that Pepik is not a tidy worker. He works on several projects at once, to allow drying and thinking time and is never happier than when all the visitors have gone and he is left alone for days at a time to construct his masterpieces. 

What does he think of as he works? Maria would like to think it’s her – perhaps it is, sometimes. But I think he remembers his childhood long ago, watching others playing in streams and laughing, being just that little bit too shy to run and join in. Sitting by himself, he starts to whittle some twigs, making figures jump from the dull wood to take their place in the world.

Thank you Andrea, for so beautifully telling the story of Pepik the Toymaker.  I remember your saying that you were no Lynda, to make tiny items for Small Worlds. But story-telling is yet another skill that makes Small Worlds magic and you have given me many ideas in the past four years.

There will be another house when you come again!

I am now getting ready to set off to the Czech Republic.  Small Worlds will open for the summer season on Saturday 17th June and I hope that the first blog post of the new season will appear shortly after that.   

Thank you for visiting the Small Worlds blog - it would be lovely to see some more of you there in real life one day.


  1. what a delightful setting Andrea has created for Pepik!

  2. A wonderful post and beautiful home for Pepik

    Love Chrissie xx

  3. How lovely that everyone else can now get a glimpse into Pepik's life. Hats off to him, to Laura and to Andrea!
    Alison x

  4. Loved the story and the dolls house workshop is fantastic, I am doing something similar in my modern dolls house but it will be a mini me making the dolls houses :).

    1. How lovely Diane - I should love to see the results :-)

  5. Enchanting! I love to hear (or read) the back stories that other dolls' house lovers give to their little people.

    I know a great many people prefer their houses to remain without inhabitants who might make a mess in the perfectly laid out houses, but to me, those houses are often a little bleak. They are, after all DOLLS' houses and I believe they need dolls whith lives of their own to fulfil their destiny. This story and layout are of the kind I love.

    So, a big thank you to Andrea - and to Cestina for allowing her to tell us about it.

    1. I agree about the stories Jenann but I have to confess to being a little ambivalent about actual bodies in dolls houses. One can have a piece of furniture which is absolutely true to life; that doesn't work with dolls, however good they are. That's why I prefer the kind made by Judith James, as in the Victorian house in the photos above, that are unashamedly not real people (though they do have characters of course). Having said that, I am rather taken with the ones that Butterfly has just created for the Tudor Tavern (last post) :-)

  6. Love the back stories, and agree that sometimes it's better if the characters they are about have 'just stepped out of the room for a moment' ...

  7. Andrea has done a perfect job of "scene-setting". Laura's dolls' house maker's "stuff" is the star of course, but my personal next-best favourite is Pepik's gorgeous settle bed.

    1. Yes I love it too Edel, and for the life of me I have no idea where it came from. Possibly a gift from my sister-in-law many years ago....

  8. What a wonderful story! I like Pepik and Laura!

  9. Oh Maria - move over!
    I think that Pepik is someone after my very own heart!
    I long to be left alone for a few days to make my minis and wood is my favourite medium too!
    Pepik - you are welcome to work on my lathe anytime ;)
    That said, my cookery skills leave a lot to be desired so perhaps I shall just visit your kitchen, settle at your table for a piece of cake and glass of juice ...after all, we all know that the way to a mans heart is said to be via his stomach (and not a lathe) :D

    1. Apologies, I've just seen that it's posted as 'Kaos Krew' ...also known as Gwyn :)

    2. The Gwyn who has just acquired that amazing house? I am green with jealousy :-)