Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas!!

Christmas is happening all over Mindolton. May you have a merry one at your house too.

Health and Happiness to you and yours in 2015!

Monday, December 22, 2014

The miraculous healing power of a doll’s house - Dollhouses in the News

Read the full article here

In a new exhibition at the Museum of Childhood, dolls’ houses offer tiny windows into another time. Jessie Burton, author of ‘The Miniaturist’, explores her lifelong fascination with shrunken worlds

Honey I shrunk the kitchen: the Killer Cabinet House, 1835-1838, on show at the V&A Museum of Childhood V&A

When I was eight, I was taken to the Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green. I remember an unending corridor of glass vitrines, behind which loomed exquisite dolls’ houses. It was a giddy experience in the land of adults, and I have never forgotten it. For once, I was a giant; but it was not simply the power of proportion in my favour. Past lives thrummed in these tiny rooms, easily animated by childish imagination. Creativity unlocked adventure.

By the age of 27, I was struggling in my professional life. Things were not going right; everything I wanted felt constantly out of my grasp. I had not thought much about dolls’ houses in the intervening years – I was a grown-up, after all – but on a visit to the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, my preoccupation with these unreachable rooms returned. Petronella Oortman’s cabinet house was built in 1686; its beauty stole my breath and became the mainspring of my novel, The Miniaturist.
The Dutch cabinet house of Petronella Oortman, from Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum

We like to believe that we have left childish things behind, as if, in adulthood, they have no importance – but that Dutch cabinet house was a timely reminder for me about the illusion of control and the often impenetrable distance between ourselves and what we desire. There is nothing infantile about an enormous cabinet that took 19 years to build and furnish, enamelled in tortoiseshell and pewter, costing as much as a townhouse in the most expensive part of Amsterdam.

Indeed, the house was not intended as a toy – rather, it was a status enhancement for a wealthy merchant couple, a proto-Facebook where they put their ideal life on show. People would come and visit their real house, and witness the miniature version, waiting in the hall. Like many cabinet houses of the time, every room was a replica of Oortman’s real home, crammed with tiny Venetian glasses, oil paintings, silver candlesticks the length of a pin, a working fountain, hidden chambers, a library with calligraphy books no larger than a stamp, ceramics and silks shipped from the Indies. Anything she owned in full-size, she had shrunk down so that she could see all her treasures in one glance of her eye. It was, you might argue, a reminder of the Netherlands’ extraordinary imperial power.

Read the rest of the article here

Friday, December 19, 2014

Interiors: a doll's house from the Museum of Childhood - Dollhouses in the News

By Halina Pasierbska

This weekend the Museum of Childhood opens an exhibition featuring 12 extraordinary doll’s houses made over the past 300 years. Halina Pasierbska looks inside Whiteladies House, a very stylish modernist villa forever stuck in 1935, where the cocktails are on ice and the pool party is in full swing.

It was after seeing illustrations of a grand 18th-century German doll’s house that the artist Moray Thomas decided to design one herself. Whiteladies House was built in 1935 and was inspired by the handful of modernist buildings that had begun to crop up in Hampstead, north London (Wells Coates’s iconic Isokon building was completed a year earlier). Its flat-roofed, geometric shape and white render is typical of the experimental architecture of the day.

Whiteladies was more a social observation than a children’s toy. According to an illustrated pamphlet, Thomas managed ‘to record in miniature the habits, homes, tastes and ideas of the people of today – the young people who are unhampered by choice possessions of old furniture or by old conventions of drawing rooms, calling hours, formal manners or privacy... A generation bred in one war and living its little time of sunshine to the full before the next one.’

Bearing this in mind, there is a poignancy in the care-free gathering that the viewer is invited to witness: its eccentric inhabitants and their friends are frozen in time, sunning themselves, diving into the pool and laying the table for an alfresco meal in the loggia.
A two-storey galleried lounge occupies the centre of the house, with full-length windows opening on to the garden. It also connects with an open-air dining room on the side. The lounge is equipped with a glass cocktail bar and contemporary furniture in white sycamore.

Whiteladies was designed by Thomas and built by William Purse, of whom little is known apart from the fact that he was a chauffeur and talented carpenter. Thomas made the decorations, hangings and pipe-cleaner inhabitants with the help of Basil Hunt, a Sussex road-mender with a passion for model-making. The facade of the doll’s house is hinged, making it possible to look beyond the front door (complete with silver knocker) and have a closer inspection of the rooms. The interior is modern, with Bauhaus-inspired tubular steel furniture, a turquoise-coloured circular free-standing bathtub and murals by the British futurist artist Claude Flight among the standout contemporaneous pieces. What is also intriguing is the attire and behaviour of the people within it. The inhabitants of Whiteladies are a privileged set, tennis rackets in hand and never far from a (miniature) soda syphon.

The bathroom has an air of luxury about it, with its contemporary mirror glass and silver fittings.

Thomas had an altruistic reason for embarking on this project too, which was to raise funds for the Bond Street ward of the Middlesex Hospital. As such it is one of the oldest existing charity doll’s houses. Whiteladies House was exhibited at the Building Centre at 158 New Bond Street in London in May 1936; later that year it was offered as a loan to the children’s exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum. In 1937 it became a gift to the museum. Sir Eric Maclagan, who was the director of the V&A at the time, and who is credited with broadening the museum’s public appeal, wrote to thank Thomas for her donation. ‘I accept Whiteladies House with real enthusiasm. It delighted me when I first saw it and it is a centre of attraction at present in our exhibition for boys and girls in the North Court.’ As Whiteladies goes back on display nearly eight decades later, I suspect it will capture the imaginations of a new generation of visitors who gather to observe the life in miniature that Thomas managed to capture.

The kitchen is situated on the ground floor. It is simply but adequately equipped, which is typical of kitchens at this time. It has a hygienic rubber floor and boasts some comparatively recently introduced household appliances, such as a refrigerator, an electric cooker, vacuum cleaner and iron.

The exterior
This wooden modernist construction makes much use of glass and cream and green paint. The balcony was inspired by one that the artist Moray Thomas had admired in an Austrian house in the summer of 1935. There is a definite atmosphere of Mediterranean-style living – sun, fresh air and good health were encouraged at the time. The pipe-cleaner inhabitants are among many items made by Thomas from inexpensive materials. Through the chromium doors, which can be closed in winter, is the sandblasted outside-dining loggia, with an incised design on the wall and stone furniture.

The indoor dining area is designed more for style than for comfort. The floor is lined with black and terracotta tiles. The chairs in the style of Mies van der Rohe are up to the minute. The delicate blue-glass wine set was, like the chairs, probably made in Germany.

The walls of this room on the upper storey are decorated with scenes illustrating a day in the lives of the people who live in the house and their guests. There are two further bedrooms on this level: a maid’s room and a spare room. In a letter to the museum in July 1956, Thomas revealed that the mural decorations in the house were by Claude Flight and other artists, including herself.

Read the original article here.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

$40,000 dollhouse fit for a princess - Dollhouses in the news

It seems that in December dollhouses are big news. I have found a number of stories about them online.  For the next few weeks I will be reporting on Dollhouses in the News. Here is the first post of the series.

Maybe Santa will bring me this for Christmas. Santa, I've been nice this year...

This is from this news story

A London interior designer and a real estate firm have launched a special new home.

It's got a marble entry hall, hand-polished parquet floors, Nina Campbell wallpaper, handmade furniture and bedding, and remote control lighting. And it's only $40,000!

There's only one catch: It's 6,045 square inches. That's right, it's a dollhouse.

Every Christmas seems to bring news of hyperpriced dollhouses, but this one caught our attention for its incredible detail.

It features:

A parquet floor, which alone took 14 hours to sand, polish and complete.
A Beatrix Potter-themed nursery with wooden floors, a luxury Moses basket, toy box, chest of drawers and changer all hand-painted in Potter artwork.
A drawing room that is furnished with gold silk curtains with a mini cream trim, an Aubusson rug, French furniture, a chandelier and dark wood flooring. There is off-street parking, in the form of a garage, complete with a miniature Silver Ghost Rolls-Royce.
The sale price for the house is $40,000, but if the seller gets more than one offer, it will take sealed bids.

The design firm behind the house, Dragons of Walton Street, will be donating 10 percent of the proceeds of the sale to charity, and Savills, the broker, also plans to donate its "agent fee."

Sure it's expensive for a dollhouse. But Savills said that if the house were real, and located in London's Chelsea neighborhood, it would cost as much as $20 million.


Thursday, December 11, 2014

Christmas windows in downtown Toronto

I was walking past the Hudson's Bay flagship store in Toronto the other day and what I saw stopped me dead in my tracks.

I can only guess that they are advertising perfume as little bottles are interspersed with the mini furniture in the few open rooms, but I am not familiar with the brand.

This section looks like New York City brownstones

But this house looks like Paris

There is a lovely park in front of the houses

The sign on the window says 'Dollhouse'. Is that a perfume? Or is it the clothes?

Only a few rooms are open. The mannequins are holding miniature furniture
as if they are in the process of playing with the dollhouses

I want to climb into the window and play too.

I wonder if they plan to use this display again.
Maybe I should ask if I can have it when they are through with it.

On the north side of the store, along Queen Street, Hudson's Bay has put up their wonderful Christmas windows again this year . Click here to see them all. They are animated and lovely.