Thursday, 10 October 2019

Heigh Ho! Part Two.....

I promised a speedy return with Part Two of the Heigh Ho! saga and I am doing my best to comply.  If you have not yet read Part One then I suggest you do that before venturing further so that you get a seamless story.

I have to confess to being somewhat daunted at what I have to cover in this post. It is likely to be very photo heavy - at the moment I have nearly 100 photos poised to leap into position. (Would that they did - getting photos into the right place in a blogpost is sometimes very wearisome). I shall have to pare down the number....

I mentioned in Part One that I was very relaxed about the time available to decorate and furnish the cottage.  However, I was in for a nasty surprise!   When Colin arrived back in the Czech Republic in early June it was to tell me that he was having an exhibition of his paper models and paintings in the museum gallery in nearby Vodnany, starting on 9th July, and that he would very much like not only to borrow back the three paper castles he had lent to Small Worlds but also to include the three dolls houses he had made for us.   (So far you know nothing of the third one and I certainly do not plan to include details here! A treat to come...).

Since an empty pit cottage would not look good in what is a delightful local museum I had to get moving.  Time was of the essence.   

Clearly, the first thing for me to do was to become very familiar with the well over 100 photos that Colin and Roz had shot on a visit to Beamish  at some point during the build.  Thank you Colin - without them there is no way I could have furnished the cottage with anything approaching authenticity.

I decided almost at once not to attempt a completely accurate reproduction of any one cottage in Francis Street. Roz had helpfully sent me a pdf of part of the guidebook to the Beamish Museum.   In it I could read that there were several houses and a shop on display and it was not possible for me to work out which of Colin's photos related to which of the cottages.   So I decided on an amalgam of the house interiors, taking into account the descriptions of the life-style of the various inhabitants, and trying to ensure that almost everything in my cottage also appeared in a similar form, in one of the full-size Francis St cottages.

I chose to make the background of "my" family Roman Catholic (and was amazed to find how many appropriate items I could find in my collection that I could use in this respect).

One over-riding impression that comes from studying the photos in detail is how full cottages were at that time, not just containing much furniture, but also art and knick-knacks of all kinds.

Here serendipity (probably my favourite word and concept) came to my rescue.  As those of you who follow my blog will know, for Christmas and my 77th birthday in January my neighbour, 102 year old Rose, and her carer, the excellent Jo (who crochets quite beautifully and to order - the round rugs in front of the downstairs fireplaces were made by her) - gave me many tiny presents.   You have met most of the larger items in the post I wrote in April - In an Eclectic Manor.

As I unwrapped everything for the second time, over here, I realised why so much looked familiar. Many of  the items could have been specifically designed to go into a pit cottage in the early 1900s......

This made my task very much easier; apart from one or two items, chief amongst them a metal bed and the pictures, it would mainly be a matter of decorating and then placing things appropriately. Phew! Much more manageable in terms of the time available.

I am aware that having threatened a picture-rich post, so far there have been many links but no photos! But this is where they start appearing....

Choosing papers

Living room partly done
And the bedroom...

Francis St -  so fullsize beds
Once I had wallpapered and found some suitable paper to represent lino in the living room it was time to turn my attention to the most important item in the bedroom -the bed! 
Francis St living room beds

The full-size Francis St cottages have beautiful beds, both upstairs and in the living room.

I have no metal beds in my collection and they are very expensive to buy.   However I remembered reading in one of Pat King's wonderful books on creating dolls house furniture from every day objects exactly how one could do it using combs and other odds and ends.
I already had the giant comb....

But how do I put the brass knobs on?

It turned out that I had to work with the comb the other way up, counter-intuitive because it had been nice and easy to stick the teeth into the balsa wood base. However reversing the comb worked and I could neatly clip the brass fixings (no idea what they were originally) from my stash onto the last two teeth at each end. I then glued the combs to the balsa wood base and used a couple of black straws for the rails. 

Note Peter Fagan bedside table
If you look carefully at the very first comb picture above you can see what the legs are made of.....

The little bed for the living room was made in the same way ...
Showing its legs...

Pillows courtesy of Jo/Rose,blanket by Jo
Lynda - she of the ballet shoes, patchwork quilt and liquorice allsorts of previous years - was visiting in September and spent some time much improving on my clumsy attempt at making a patchwork quilt and pillows for the small bed from an Oxfam tie...

The other two beds upstairs were amongst the Rose/Jo gifts; one is covered in a green fabric that was on the foot long four-poster I made for one of Butterfly's favourite dolls many moons ago, the other has a blanket made from a charity shop miniskirt.

Between the two little beds you can just spot a commode from Rose/Jo
Here is the blanket enhanced by blanket stitch courtesy of Lynda - and note the dinky opening roof window and the knitted combinations on the far bed, made by Sheila Randal.   

Furnishing the rest of the bedroom went quickly - more Jo/Rose items.... 
...a fireplace and guard, wooden clock, towel rail and a  Kensalcraft chest of drawers on the far wall,  complete with Virgin Mary image, assorted rugs on the floor...

...and a hastily vintaged chest to hold some linen...

The living room almost furnished itself.  The parlour organ was a must.....
Fullsize - and note the Pope on the wall
I luckily had a perfect one to make from a Chrysnbon kit. Fiddly things to construct so it is just as well that I put this one together last year and it was ready and waiting to go in .....   

    I thought there should also be some hymn books and other music so searched online for period music  and took the liberty of adding the rosary box (not needed for many years now) which I bought in Lourdes in 1955, as the music container.

The fireplace, made by Colin, was enhanced by a decorative mirror and a plastic fireguard, carefully bronzed. 
Note the Staffordshire spaniels...
And how serendiptious were the Staffordshire spaniels? What were the chances of finding some in the Rose/Jo haul just like the ones in real-life Francis Street?  But there they were!
...and in real-life

There are bona fide religious texts from the second-hand stall at Vodnany market above the desk at the back. On it is not just a clock but also one of the mysterious religious bottles.... shown by Roz in real-life and mentioned in the pdf document....
The table of course has the compulsory aspidistra with an oil lamp swinging above it.

Knowing that many of the miners were racing pigeon fanciers I thought that there should be proof of this in the cottage - hence the cups on the dresser and some pigeon literature from the 1900s on the armchair and dresser shelves. And there are of course successfully returning pigeons in the yard.....
Good that the cat is supremely uninterested in birdlife!

The kitchen was great fun to furnish. I decided to be a little more adventurous with the wallpapering and found two papers with a similar pattern but different colours.  I wanted particularly to set off the stunning kitchen range which is made by Phoenix models (I paid much less than the price in the link!) and built by Colin (probably correctly soldered...)  I enhanced the surround by adding a mantelpiece and painting it all to match the chimney breast wallpaper.

From this..... this....
..and based on this.

Another Jo/Rose item, complete with equipment

I already had the wooden sinkbase but no actual sink.....
.... so I robbed  the butcher-cum-fish shop, Peacockes,  for the perfect sink, depositing the unfortunate golden carp in a far less elegant container. 

The two armchairs, comfy though they look, are actually solid resin  from the Raines Take a Seat range , the sewing machine is a fridge magnet and the sadly non-working clock is one of a number of similar clocks I have been collecting for quite a while.
Fullsize machine in Francis St
Much of the array of items on the table (which is one of the few things not from Rose/Jo) are again from them as are the vegetables on the draining board.  

I just wish I could get the drying rack to stay on the ceiling and not only pose there for photos!

You will have noticed all around the house various pictures, portraits and other ornamental objects.  Many of them come from a wooden bracelet that, chopped up, provided little wooden panels with religious pictures on that I could scatter round the house.   They are solid enough to stand by themselves.
I also found a number of small crucifixes which are now on the walls - one at least in each room I think.
I sourced suitable pictures from catalogues and online and then matched them to suitable frames. The pictures I choose are all based on what I could see on the walls of the fullsize cottages. 

The wooden framed texts here seen life size were reproduced using the trusty standby of tile spacers
It took me a long time to decide on the "correct" Pope for the date since there was a change at just about the time that the cottages are set.   I went to and fro between two popes, trying to decide which one is on a wall in the real-life cottages (see parlour organ photo) but am still not convinced I ended up with the correct one .....

  From the kitchen one moves through one of the two working doors into the yard - the other door leads into the washhouse, complete with copper and mangle of course.  Both wrong scale at the moment though so no photo!
The yard itself is complete with washing on the line and ....    

 .......of course the inevitable outside toilet or netty. The Czech word is one of my favourites - kadibudka. It is another item drawn from my Peter Fagan collection of Colourbox Cats.
The real life version in Francis St
Whilst we are outside I need to repair an omission and draw your attention to the delightful handmade chimneys......

...alongside the real ones... 

Colin's attention to detail is stunning - extending also to the ingenious easily removable staircase for better viewing, entirely handmade. 
And the doors and windows throughout are a delight, allowing delightful sneak peaks from many angles....
I very much hope you have enjoyed Part Two of this collaborative work.   I am immensely grateful to Colin - it is a joy for me to be able to work on houses that he has produced - there is already another one in Small Worlds, waiting to be furnished.

And last, but by no means least, my thanks are due to a young Czech with excellent woodworking skills who serendipity allowed me to steer to some time in England this summer with friends of mine in Welwyn Garden City.  He had a wonderful time there - thanks Julia and Tony - and wanted to say thank you to me for helping him to get there.   I said no need but if he insisted....

He is training to be a civil engineer and his father is a carpenter. An excellent combination to cope with the only place that we, well actually Butterfly, had worked out that the cottage could stand.   It required constructing a platform that would fit into a tight corner, cover the whole of the large thatched cottage that already stood there, and allow the miner's cottage to stand in its full glory on top.... 

He came, he designed, and he constructed.  I leave you with photos of the final stages....

Platform has to span this...
Fit below this and clear plug and radiator
Post-delivery finishing touches

Mira with Heli the Helper

Oops there goes the Cape Cod guttering

Careful now....


Down she goes....

It fits!!!
But does this?

Thank you so much Mira - you may hear from us again, there are some shelves around the walls being planned - but next time we insist on being billed for the work!


  1. Absolutely wonderful! I think somebody must have dismantled a miner's cottage to create the Jo/Rose haul... it's just too perfect. I love the kitchen and the yard the most, I think. Hot glue gun for the drying rack?

    The stand looks fantastic... but you do realise it needs painting green!?!

    1. You can do the hot glue gun - I fail miserably with them, vide bay window on pargeted house, four goes now...

      That's precisely why I didn't let Mira put a finish on the stand - I wanted to consult you on whether to leave it unpainted and just varnished or not. I am not convinced yet....

  2. That pit cottage is AMAZING! Wish I could see it in real life.

    1. Well, maybe another visit is due? But wait for the forthcoming secondhand bookshop (not Colin this time). Hopefully early next year....

  3. Oh it looks amazing !! a complete triumph.

    1. Thank you Helen - it was fun, though pressured.

  4. ...and having recently seen it in real life - along with some of the other things hinted at but not yet revealed! - I am still lost in admiration at this wonderful place and its contents!

    1. I am so glad you have seen it all in real life, especially given your contribution to Small Worlds in respect of the perfect flyer blurb :-)

  5. This is all brilliant! I think my favourites are the range and the pottery dogs, but everything is quite magnificent. You must be very satisfied with the result. xx

  6. I am indeed, it feels like one of the most successful interiors I have done though Butterfly's are better :-)

    I have several times glanced at the photo of the kitchen range and its immediate surroundings and caught myself thinking "Gosh that looks so real".

    Have you been to Beamish? Ah, maybe not, I see it is further north than I thought...

    1. No I haven't - it is quite Far North so would need a Special Expotition. x

  7. Totally stunning & very true to the cottages at Beamish - amazingly beautiful work!

    1. Thank you - I haven't been there yet but plan to make it one day!

  8. Wow the miners cottage is fantastic, I love how you made the beds with combs and all the tiny details.

    1. Thanks Diane. I love Pat King's books - inspirational!

  9. What an interesting and fantastic model of the Miners cottage! I grew up in Hetton-le Hole where Francis Street used to be before being rebuilt at Beamish Museum. Francis was the name of the Pit Managers/owners son I think. We visit Beamish quite often and you've done an excellent and touching recreation.

    1. How lovely that you know it so well Jenny - I value your approval all the more! I have sent links to Beamish and wonder if I will hear back from them. Hope so!

  10. Cestina, you have done a wonderful job recreating a pit cottage interior, it is beautiful. I particularly love the range and the drying rack, they brought back some wonderful memories. I do hope you get to visit the wonderful Beamish Museum one day, I am sure it will inspire you even further, it is so beautifully authentic. Anne x

  11. How nice to see you here Anne. I wish Beamish were not so far north as I very much want to visit it....

  12. First time visitor from Virginia in the USA. Absolutely enchanted with your creativity. Thanks for sharing.

  13. Oh my goodness, I have really enjoyed reading about making the dollhouse furniture and seeing your photos. Thank you for sharing. I am your newest follower.
    Crafty Hugs, Sherry xx
    Loose Stitches and Unraveled Threads