Thursday, 6 February 2014

Porridge in a pot.....

Well that's what the pot in question looks as if it should be used for anyway.   But in fact it has ended up with something quite different inside it....

Followers of this blog will perhaps remember the name Norman Randall.   I've mentioned him more than once in the past because he made the carcasses of several of my dolls houses, leaving them, for the most part, for me to finish.

His wife Sheila was a colleague of mine at work and when Norman was due to retire she was bemoaning the fact that he really didn't know what he was going to do with himself.   I asked whether he enjoyed woodworking and lo!   A dolls house maker was born.   

And some time later so was a miniature knitter - Sheila produced the most amazing baby clothes and dresses for little girls.   

Norman was responsible for three of my best houses - the Dutch House, already familiar to blog followers from some very early posts but here to be seen again encased in solitary splendour in its temporary home in the Bavorov Museum, before Small Worlds opened to the public...

As with the Japanese house, he built this one from plans and handed me the unfinished carcass, which I then decorated inside and out.   The Japanese house was a delight to work on - I had to do a lot of research on how the Japanese live in their homes before I touched the house at all.   It will feature in another blog post once I am back in Bavorov, but here is a glimpse of the outside.   Sadly, the roof is suffering badly from being lifted off several times a day to show visitors the inside.   I shall have to think of some way round that next season.   

All this was so many years ago that I can no longer remember which came first of the three - it might well have been the Cape Cod,  again built from plans, which I took over originally from Norman completely decorated. It had however suffered quite badly during storage in the garage and moth had got into the carpets so last year it underwent a complete renovation, thanks to butterfly who has chosen it as the house she would most like to live in.   You will find full details of her work - still to be finished this year - part way through the blogpost on the above link.

But again - here's a glimpse....

Work on the siding on the roof has since been completed but the house is still bathroomless, awaiting the return of butterfly to Bavorov in the spring.

What, you may well ask, has all this got to do with porridge in a pot?   Well, once Norman and Sheila got into miniatures they joined, along with me, a group called The Herts Miniaturists.   We met monthly and made things together and one day Norman was moved to create a room in an unusual container - yes indeed, a big black saucepan.   I can't remember now whether this is what triggered the idea of rooms set in unusual containers, so that all of us in the group then set about making something, or whether someone had the idea, set it as an in-group competition, and Norman then did as he was told!

I do know, however, that Norman sent photos of his room-in-a-saucepan to a dolls house magazine, which then triggered a nationwide competition, with many of our makings, including of course the saucepan, being featured over several months.   So here it is at last - sitting on my bookshelf across the room, waiting to take its place, along with his other creations, in Small Worlds - thank you Sheila!

That's about all for this time - but before I go I'd like to mention how I've been spending some of my time whilst away from Small Worlds.   If I can't play with my own houses, what could be better than browsing other people's blogs?   I've found some wonderful ones and will shortly be updating my list of good blogs to take a look at.   One thing that has surprised me, given the almost total absence of Czech miniaturists blogging, is the number of highly talented ones I have found in Poland.  One of them - Lady Fanaberia of Miniaturowy świat is running a giveaway this month - details in my sidebar.  

Maybe I just haven't located the miniature crafters and collectors in the Czech Republic yet.  I know there is a huge amount of craft talent out there and I would love to make contact with people who are as passionate about dolls houses and miniatures as I am.   The Czech version of this blog is lagging behind badly - 20 posts in Czech to the 51 in English - but a young friend of mine, in training to become an interpreter and translator, is now steaming ahead with the Czech version so I hope that will result in more contacts and comments on it soon.

In the meantime, thank you for ploughing through this somewhat word-heavy post.   I promise more photos next time, when one of my recent purchases will be revealed.....



  1. Loving the porridge pot!! Norman is fantastic..

  2. Your posts are always a joy from start to finish for me
    The pot is just amazing-what ever next?

    Love Chrissie x

  3. Wat leuk dat je mensen geïnspireerd hebt tot de poppenhuis en dat ze zo enthousiast zijn. Mooie poppenhuizen om te showen. De pan met keukentje is erg leuk. Origineel idee.

    Groetjes Xandra

  4. Sheila has sent me an email which she says I may post here:

    Thank you so much for the 'porridge pot'. It has brought back so many lovely memories. Norman really enjoyed his dolls house hobby and once a house was finished he was very happy to let it go to a good home and start on the next one. He would be tickled pink to think that some of his creations were in a museum.

    The photograph of the saucepan looks great. You were right about the first house he made - it was the Cape Cod. It is looking really great.....

    One of my favourites was the Japanese house and I know he was very pleased how the roof turned out, although, of course, the fact that the roof has to be removed to see inside is a problem. However knowing your and Butterfly's ingenuity I am sure you will sort something out!

  5. Love the porridge pot! Just goes to show what can be done. Looking forward to learning more about the Japanese house, too, in due course.

  6. Hi Cestina. Your porridge pot is fascinating and quite unique!!! (I too grew up on Eleanor Brent Dyer's "Chalet School" Books!0 Celia

  7. The porridge pot is so great! It's one of the best idea I've ever seen :)

  8. That Dutch house is my favorite. I just love that architecture. And to know you guys started this whole trend of minis in unusual containers! That's fantastic!
    I am able to get around much better on my crutches today. The pain of the initial first day on my muscles has gone away. I'm going to look like a bodybuilder. LOL! Thanks so much for your sweet words and suggestion. It's sad that you have to deal with this long term. All the best to you.
    big hugs♥,

  9. What an intriguing idea - making a scene in an unusual container such as a saucepan. I love the Japanese house - it reminds me of Miss Happiness and Miss Flower (I made these dolls inspired by Rumer Godden's books when I was a teenager and wrote about them on my blog). I would like to make a Japanese house for them one day but must finish other projects first.

    I have a large collection of the Chalet school books, though not every title yet. I seem to remember that in one of the earlier books the Chalet girls made and furnished a dolls house.

    1. How lovely to find another Chalet School fan! Oh yes indeed, dolls houses feature very much in the books once Tom Gay arrives. She starts off by making a very simple house for the annual Sale in aid of the Sanatorium and then each year her contribution becomes more and more elaborate, ranging from a Tudor Inn, through a Swiss Chalet, to a whole small village. Her year group join in making the fixtures and fittings.

      The competitions to win the offerings become more and more complex as well. My favourite competition is the one where participants have to work out how many things in the furnished house are made of identifiable everyday objects. Since this is something I enjoy doing very much - and I ask visitors to the museum how many things like that they can find in Small Worlds - it clearly has to be my favourite of all the competitions!

  10. Wow, this is awesome. We wish we could come and see your collection in pawson but your posts are a fabulous compromise.

  11. Hello Miss Cestina, I don't know how I missed this post, so I will comment on both, first, how sweeeeet are those tiny baby dresses, I just love the Japanese hose, love all oriental things, can't wait to see that. Norman has become a Master builder now, that house in the pot is BRILLIANT, it looks like the inside of a caravan. Butterflies
    's contribution has been amazing, well she is my favorite artist in blog land :). I love to visit here and get to see into your wonderful little world it's mind-blowing....