Saturday, March 15, 2014
The Very First House...1985
I took my camera. The photos aren't the best. My apologies. They are mostly taken through glass, but I asked my friend Pat Arnell, that built the museum if I could feature some of the houses that I restored and otherwise worked on, on the blog from time to time. She approved.
Since I am still doing stonework on Daisy's house, I thought that this might be a bit more interesting than close up photos of stones being painted.
So here goes!
This is the very first house that I worked on for Pat. She knew me as a miniaturist, artist and friend and had faith that I could do it. I wasn't so sure.
She threw me into the deep end of the pool....Thank goodness, it was restoration work and not swimming....I can't swim!
I think, to soften the blow, she took me in to see the new thirteen room Brooke Tucker's Yellow Rose mansion, that had also just arrived... It's the only full dollhouse that Brooke ever built.
She got the first house I was to work on, out of the shipping crate and put it on the worktable before I got there.
It is a beautiful little bungalow from around the nineteen twenties... I have seen real houses like this that were built a bit earlier and some that were built into the 30s. Twenties was close enough. Right in the middle.
When I got a look at the house, I wanted to run and hide in a closet. It had been stored in an English coal cellar for a number of years and the brick siding was almost as gray as the roof.
The windows were old, yellowed, and cracked to boot. That meant all new windows had to be cut..
This was a handmade house. No kits for this proud father. He built it well. The base with the posts and chains are all part of the structure.
It was also well furnished. Most everything, except the people that you see in the house came with it. Oh and the curtains...I did those. The house was unntouched by human hands for 60 years or so...
It took a few days just to clean it up. I found that some of the paper bricks no longer had grout lines printed on them. The same with the roof. Other than that and the windows, it was mostly cleaning and repainting to do.
At that time I used a lot of Ajax cleaning solution(no longer made) and cotton swabs. A lot of it was carefully cleaned inside and out. Then I redrew the lines on the brick and the roof that were missing....
Then came the windows...Measure twice, cut once didn't do the job...EVERY window in that house was a different size. Just by a fraction of an inch, but each one, even the ones that came in pairs by the front door and above had to be cut individually...Yes...Each of the 10 windows in the bay!
After that I repainted inside and out. Original colors, or as close as I could get to them.
This house is one of two houses that Pat and I came to call the haunted houses. They stood about four feet apart in the same room... Long after this one was finished we noticed that the chains on the front wall would be down from the little eye screws that held them up....The eye screw was still there, but the chain would be coiled at the bottom of the other post... Never did figure that one out.
The other house was the very large Bellamy mansion that Pat restored herself. In the kitchen an old fashioned four sided toaster that sat on the stove was found under a table on the other side of the room and the kitchen door would NOT stay closed. We would carefully close it and leave... The next day it would be wide open. Don't anybody tell me that these little people don't live their own lives when we aren't around...
This is the card that hangs beside the house on the wall of the present museum. I did larger, older, newer and prettier houses than this one, but this will always be my favorite.
When in Tucson, be sure to save a day to look around. Maybe two. http://www.theminitimemachine.org/
See you tomorrow.