Friday, July 30, 2010

In which I become an internationally exhibited photographer ...

in the miniature world of dolls house bloggers!

Rory Hill, a successful accountant in Houston, Texas, recently moved out of his mother's house at the age of 37. His new bachelor pad, a mid-century modern Schönherr bungalow, is the subject of a recent spread in the Houston publication My Vintage Dollhouses.

Looking for just the right art work to compliment his "new" furniture, Rory visited a couple of his favorite galleries, Nau-Haus and John Cleary. Finally, in a small gallery in his new neighborhood [Rice Village , north of Rice university], he discovered several prints he thought would be perfect for his new space. The prints were listed by Australian photographer Rebecca Green, but no titles were given. ...For now he decided to refer to them as Table Tops and Stacked Tables.

I was thrilled to see that not only have I made my first international sales*, but they have been featured in this wonderful publication!

The prints that Rory Hill chose were originally published here as part of my study exploring differences of scale. I'm delighted that Rory gets such enjoyment out of them! And I like his names - I would probably have called them something like Tables Scales I and Table Scales II. Thank you, Rory - you have given me great encouragement, and I wish you all the best in your new home.

*The author of the spread on Rory's Schönherr bungalow informed me that "Rory said he is sure the check is in the mail....;)". I didn't ask which postal service he used!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Bliss in Winter

During the last couple of weeks, I was visiting my mother in Bathurst, NSW. It's winter in non-tropical Australia, and the temperatures in Bathurst went as low as -4°C overnight, to 11° or 12° during the day. Not as cold as many places in winter - but compared with Darwin (22° overnight - 33° during the day, and not much variation over the year) - bliss! I do like rugging up in winter woollies, and snuggling under warm blankets and doonas at night - and we went to my favourite cafe, with an open fire, and drank hot chocolate and tea - and I picked violets and jonquils for my bedroom. Definitely bliss!

I didn't take photos of that kind of bliss, but I did photograph another kind: the Bliss furniture which my grandmother collected.

My Realitty has been posting this month about her Bliss house, and she has many of these same pieces of furniture too.

A couple of years ago I picked up a copy of Bliss Toys and Dollhouses (Dover Publications, 1979) at a secondhand bookshop in Sydney. This tells me that the R. Bliss Manufacturing Company of Pawtucket, Rhode Island (US) was founded in about 1832 by one Rufus Bliss. He started out making wooden screws and clamps for piano and cabinet makers. Bliss' nephew Albert Bullock joined the company, and then Alva Bullock and Edwin Clark formed a partnership, but the company kept the Bliss name, even after Rufus Bliss' retirement in 1863 and several changes of ownership. 'Bliss Piano' and 'Bliss Doll House' do have a different ring to them than 'Bullock & Clark Piano', etc!

It seems that their first known dolls house was advertised in 1889, long after Rufus Bliss had died. So he certainly didn't design the dolls houses and furniture that bear his name.

This set of wooden furniture with paper litho designs of children and the letters of the alphabet probably dates to 1901, according to Antique and Collectible Dollhouses and their Furnishings. Each piece has a different picture of children engaging in various activities. The sofa - A B C D E and P and Y on the arms - has two children playing with a doll on the back. On the seat, a boy is lying on the ground. He doesn't look very happy - has he been making sandcastles and fallen over?

The alphabet continues on the chairs - I have G/L, H/M and J/O. My Realitty also has I/N. I think we are both missing F/K.

On G/L, we seem to have a depiction of a youthful sailor farewelling his sweetheart, who is then shown weeping. H/M has the interesting combination of a little girl looking at a tea table, and a policeman directing traffic. J/O has a young tailor measuring his equally young client, and a girl in an apron carrying a basket.

The table which goes with these chairs does not show any letters, just some children cooking:

so which pieces completed the alphabet? I can see in Antique and Collectible Dollhouses and their Furnishings that the piano stool, which I'm missing, had T U V, but I don't know where Q R S and X and Z appeared. On other sets, the piano showed QRST (and the stool UVW), but as you can see, the piano in this set has no letters either:

Very appropriately, the children on the piano are playing musical instruments - perhaps in a military band, as the top of the piano shows 5 little soldiers and their tents.

There were several sizes of furniture available, but even within a set, you can see that the scale varies - the chairs are larger in scale than the sofa, table and piano. I have the piano, the sofa and the table, which are in 1" to 1' (1/12th) scale in the nursery of my Lines No 17. The chairs are too big though - they are 5" tall, and more like 1 1/2" to the foot (1/8th scale).

(This photo shows an earlier arrangement, before I added the Bliss table and replaced the black tin piano (hardly visible on the left) with the Bliss piano. At the moment, all the furniture is wrapped up, so I couldn't take another photo (and last time I photographed the other rooms in this house, all the photos I took of this room were out of focus!)

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Wallpaper, old and new-old

After finishing the inside of the DH/D, I turned my attention to my Battlement House. This house is the abode of an antiquarian's daughter (and possibly the antiquarian, when he is home from his explorations).

To start with, I placed the furniture I've been collecting for it, in the room which will be the antiquarian's study, along with the carpet, pieces of printed out wallpaper, and some antiquities from the antiquarian's collections.

(The wallpaper is a 1918 design by C. F. A. Voysey, which I've reproduced from an illustration in an old Past Times pocket diary.)

Then, I decided that I would remove the electric light switches. They're very large, and date from about the 1920s, so if I ever use the lights in this house, I'll get it rewired.

Underneath the switch by the fireplace is a fragment of earlier wallpaper. It looks like green and grey diamonds on a buff background.

So, now - do I try to remove the paint from the walls and see if there are more fragments? I'm not sure how I would get the paint off - I suspect scraping would just bring up the top, printed layer of the paper with the paint, and leave, if anything, just fibres from the buff coloured paper itself. I think this paper is the same date as the lights - it matches the colour of the lampshade in this room - so it's probably not the original wallpaper. It's still old, and I'll try to protect it somehow so that if someone removes the wallpaper I put in, this fragile bit of paper doesn't come off with it.