Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Gothic madness

About two years ago when I decided to 'get into' miniatures I looked for a house to copy and came upon the home of the Interior designer Nicky Haslam who lives in a beautiful Gothic Style 'Folly' house in England. The house was once also the home to John Fowler the mythical English interior designer of 'Colefax and Fowler' fame. The house now belongs to the National Trust and Nicky is a tenant. I have his book called Folly de Grandeur by Simon Upton edited by Jacqui Small LLP.
You could say that I chose a difficult house to copy but at the time being a pure novice the difficulty didn't hit me. I merely saw a house I liked and an interior that I could 'live' with. I sketched out the plans, calculated all the sizes from photos, bought wood and a LOT of egg boxes and glue and some blades and began. I had very little in the way of materials and most of the techniques were still beyond me. I spent over a year scaling down furniture and textiles and trying my hand at imitation. Then Life got in the way with first my little brother falling ill and then leaving us and a month later my dog and all this just after the death of one of my best friends. I began to take care of my mother and my surviving dogs and a little of me. 
A dollhouse just didn't seem a priority so I put it all on hold. 

To get onto a cheerier topic here is one of the pieces of furniture in Nicky's house. It's a gothic style cupboard on legs that sits in his dining room and holds china and glasses. I needed a few key pieces to make my re creation work and this was the one I started with. As the fretwork didn't stand up to my techniques I found a wonderful couple on Etsy who specialise in laser cut fret work and I asked them if they could copy these panels. Their company is Puffin Design Crabpot  on Etsy and they make furniture and kits and dollhouses. They are easy to work with and enthousiatic about commisions so if anyone out there needs something done in this line don't hesitate. 

Here is one of the sketches I sent them and as you can see I Don't had any special software !
 They worked out the panels into two layers which was a great idea, giving depth to the fretwork.
 Here you can see already how it will look when finished. 
 Assembly with little more than a few pieces of wood and some mahogany strips. I was really poor in stock and back then had no idea yet where to find materials! 
 I made the castelations from an old picture frame, here squaring up the glueing with a scrap of wood. 
 The base from scraps and popscicle sticks. I amateurishly carved the legs ! It's all a learning curve. 
 Assembly in progress, I had to imagine the interior. The exterior was painted as near as I could manage to his original. the inside in F&B green.

 Above and below the finished cupboard. It is the sort of piece that in reality has been painted over many times and I tried to imitate this finish. I filled it with what I had at the time and photographed it against an open book of wallpaper. 


  1. It sounds like you've had a lot on your plate in resent years Mrs. M which is probably why creating miniatures becomes a great stress reliever and gets your mind off of the realities of the Real World which are often beyond our control, and into a world which we can, take control of.
    I was a great fan of John Fowler and his eclectic English Country style and the facade of his Folly was and IS enchanting to me too!
    Your recreation of Nicky Haslam's fret-worked cupboard is Beautifully done!
    But as a novice, I would say that the quality of your work shows that you are already miles ahead of the pack, and so what wonders will you be able to achieve as you garner even more notches in your work- belt!? :)

  2. Elizabeth thank you , smiling ear to ear ! praise indeed ! Yes this for me is escapism and enormous fun every day, even if my hair gets pulled out, I'm covered in paint and like yesterday I cut the end of my thumb AGAIN ! I say that if someone from the future finds this finished house they could recreate me from all the DNA I leave in it !!! I used be director of developement in Paris for big fashion houses, with up to 40 people under me so moving here to the deep country was a huge shock. I couldn't keep my health under control so my doctor made threats and voila ! I don't regret it as the travelling was painful ! I used to go back and forth and dress Saudi Royals ( the real ones ) at one point. Fun to see how others live but tiring. So now I am a semi retired grey haired lady who walks dogs and makes miniatures and I feel so blessed every day. Have a nice day and thank you again for your kindness.

  3. Hello Mrs M,
    I am sorry to hear about all the very sad situations you had to live through. I hope life is treating you more kindly. How wonderful your cabinet came out . The laser work is fantastic and the detail is so crisp and accurate. You did a fantastic job figuring out how to build the box and finishing it. I am so happy to be following your blog and look forward to seeing more.
    Big hug

    1. Goodness! you must know how high the esteem is for you in this mini world ( and surely outside it !! ) thank you for looking in. You have inspired me to try parquet flooring ! you will see how it turns out if it deosn't fly out of the window first !!! kind regards xx

    2. I will ad that although life does tend to throw things at us, I for one am a really happy person. I awake thinking how Lucky I am and go to bed thinking the same and in between I fill my day with more than 50% of things I love doing so happy and blessed. Hugs and more

  4. Hi Mrs M.
    Always happy to read your posts. You are steaming ahead into a more settled future. You have such a “good eye” and miniatures offer so many opportunities to use your many talents.
    All the best and enjoy each day,
    Regards Janine

    1. Janine hello, thank you , I am a bit stuck on my stair at the moment and had hoped to post an update. I decided during the night, two days ago to build the staircase and landing within a finished 'box' with the openings cut in each side to future rooms. This allows me to do the panelling and glue the landings in place as if not they have Nothing to hang onto ! Then I will add each room on each side and then place the whole thing on a base with drawers to contain things when I chop and change the decor. I hope that I will finish it before I'm too old to handle things !!!! hihi !!

  5. My you have been busy. Thank you so much for the wonderful write up in your blog. Your drawings are fantastic and make our life so much easier. Really looking forward to working with you in the future. Thank you for your custom, Caroline and Richard from Puffin Design. https://www.facebook.com/PuffinDesigns/

    1. Hello Puffins , thank YOU for your talent and kindness and making such a great job despite my embarassingly poor sketches. My head is full of things to have you make but the main thing is the windows. I'll get in touch soon, meanwhile thank you for stopping by , I try to post regularly , Stephanie