Of all romances in miniature… perhaps this is the best shape in which Romance can appear..’ so said the fabulous Lord Byron in one of his many journal scribblings and as a passionate devotee of Regency history as well as an artist who designs ‘Small Worlds’ in 12th scale and who loves to create a scene and not only of the hysterical kind; it is perhaps only to be expected that I would create a Regency inspired miniature!
In 2009, I began the creation of 13 Piccadilly Terrace circa 1815 which is a Regency House complete with a basement kitchen and the attic rooms that will reflect the architecture, interior design, furniture and life-style of the Regency and which has been inspired by the poet Lord Byron and his circle as he lived at 13 Piccadilly Terrace in the year 1815.
Although my idea for the design of 13 Piccadilly Terrace began several years ago, I remain busy with the research and the hoarding of materials, fabrics, pictures with the buying of lots of delightful Regency miniatures; which I might add, is always the fun part!
And although I am proud of my painting techniques, woodworking skills and electrifying abilities; I am aware of my limitations which include a horror of dressmaking and sewing.
However, one of my many grand plans for this 12th scale abode is the creation of the unique ‘Byron Screen’ for the library and which was decorated to reflect his love of theatre and pugilism and used in his apartment at the Albany until it was bought at auction in April 1816 by his publisher John Murray.
After extensive restoration work, the present John Murray has kindly loaned the Byron Screen for display in Byron’s Library at Newstead Abbey; which I was delighted to see on my visit there last January.
And another of my many grand plans for this 12th scale abode is to arrange a wedding in the ‘Family Room’ that is situated on the piano nobile and with inspiration drawn from the Byron betrothal of January 2 1815 at Seaham Hall in County Durham even though I shall have to rely on plenty of artistic license with the decor and furnishing of this room being as I am limited to the use of my imagination as the accounts of this infamous union are sketchy to say the very least!
However, as I have studied and photographed the gown worn by Annabella on that cold January day during a visit to the Fashion Museum in Bath, I can boast of one item of authenticity even if it is 12th scale!
For although I can handle fabrics I can glue, the art of the needle is beyond me and it is fortunate that I have made the acquaintance of Louise from Angelique Miniatures who having positively embraced the art of miniature couture on my behalf has created this wedding gown and the silk pelisse in exquisite form!
And so as my ‘Lord Byron House’ continues to develop, I will be sharing with you the unfolding tale, the triumphs and the tears and even though I have been creating ‘Small Worlds’ for many years now; the passion to design and create a miniature world remains just as intoxicating, rather like my love of cake!
And on that note, I’m off for a wander into the kitchen of 13 Piccadilly Terrace in the hope that a slice or three of this delicious cake remains mine for the taking!
As my ideas for St M’s have grown, so have the properties and with another church, a chapel and a manse in varying stages of the embryonic design process, I have been happily dreaming up so many new festivals, feast days, fundraising ideas and fun for this 12th scale parish that unless I live until the year 2120, I fear that most are likely to be sadly unrealised!
Fortunately, the vision for St M’s Parish Hall has been realised and this old and quaint parish hall has been created as a place for celebration and busy social interaction for besides the Christmas Coffee Morning to raise funds for Shelter, a UK charity that offers assistance for those threatened with the loss of the very roof over their head and a Shrove Tuesday Feast; St M’s Parish Hall has also thrown open the doors to host a week of campaigning in which to raise awareness about domestic abuse and among the notices jostling for space on the busy parish noticeboard, space will always be found for the poster of ‘Missing’ Claudia Lawrence who vanished inexplicably from her home in York over seven years ago in March 2008.
Although St M’s Church and Parish Hall both took a bit of a battering during the transit to my new abode in York over a year ago; once the bubble wrap was removed and the minor repairs attended to, I decided to give them each a make-over including the creation of a dedicated bell-ringers enclave, a purpose built kitchen, some kinder-on-the-eye flooring and topped-off with a design for some attractive new landscaping for the Memorial Garden which compliments St Margaret’s Church and although the appeal of this scruffy, evergreen and restful place still endures; it remains the best place in which to enjoy a well-earned cuppa.
Welcome to the Parish of St M’s and the ‘Small World’ that the Mice from St M’s inhabit in which they will be sharing their musings, mishaps and ministry, although I should add that I will be the one attending to most of the arduous work including designing, creating, researching, the blogging and the cleaning up afterward!
However, I remain hopeful that I will get to enjoy the occasional ‘hot’ cup of tea and until those Mice have made their presence felt; I shall enjoy sharing a ‘little’ more about me…
The Parish of St M’s consists of (for the moment at least!) a church and parish hall in 12th scale and although both began life in kit form as simple pieces of MDF; the creation and design has been entirely my work and with my dislike for stairs and hinge brackets, the original concepts have been ‘tweaked’.
As I have always loved visiting churches, particularly those old churches that upon entering can stir up an evocative history of its’ people which remains as a public monument to their art, architecture and faith and where for centuries they have poured out their hope, joy, struggle and love; my vision has been to create an old church that captures this sense of history and yet is ever changing, a peaceful place for reflection and thanksgiving.
The church has been named the Parish Church of St Margaret in honour of an English Saint who having died in France in 1192 enjoys a Feast Day on February 3 and as both my mother and mother-in-law are also called Margaret; the naming ceremony was simple.
The inspiration for St Margaret’s has come from many sources and as I spent over ten years working in and around some of the most wonderful churches and chapels that surround the market town of Malton in North Yorkshire for both the Church of England and the Methodist Church; I was rather spoilt for choice!
As this little church is full of items that are of personal significance, I will share the story behind some of them with you. The first being the communion table with the inscription In Remembrance of Me created by Mark and Sharon for Stockton Miniatures and although they have created other miniatures of the ecclesiastical kind for me; this remains a personal favourite as it reminds me of the wonderful table I would use in Leavening, a delightful village nestled in the shadow of the Yorkshire Wolds.
Likewise, the simple gold cross that enjoys pride of place on the altar and the primitive wooden reading stand have been inspired by their full-size counterparts from the Church on Saville Street, a place I spent many happy years, as on any given day I could either be packing my craft tools into a plastic stacking box for Tot’s Praise or beavering away in the office preparing for a FloodZone Holiday Club amongst a jumble of papers, boxes of candles, fundraising buckets for ‘Water Aid’ or ‘Action for Children’ and the donations of cereals, pasta and biscuits which would soon be on their way to the Malton Food Bank or else I could be making a cup of tea for someone who just needed a warm drink and a friendly ear…
Hello! Hello! For in the words of that rather jaded pop song; “I’m Back Again!”
Events took a somewhat eventful turn in February and although not entirely unexpected, the last few months have been of upheaval and change as I have moved abode some twenty miles north to York and as this ancient walled city is my hometown, I have been fortunate to have met with much delighted surprise at my return; rather like the arrival of the Prodigal Son over a thousand years ago but without the fatted calf prepared in my honour!
And I have a new nest or ‘Den’ with its own garret room that offers a view of York Minister in which to scribble, read and create while surrounded by my treasured books, pots of exotic fauna and a stash of chocolate that remains safely hidden away somewhere…
I would like to tell you that several of my ‘Small Worlds’ add an attractive finishing touch to my oasis of calm and to be fair, most of them do but only if you are prepared to overlook the odd chipped balustrade, a broken kitchen window and an interior of a flower shop that now has the appearance of having lived through a tornado.
Given that I was a jittery as a blancmange as I supervised the removal of my ‘Small Worlds’ cocooned in acres of bubble wrap like giant larvae from their familiar and safe surroundings and to the care of others who had the unenviable task of transporting them to their new abode, the process was somewhat traumatic and that’s just from my perspective!
The realisation that my one of my ‘Small Worlds’ having done a 360 degree turn was now responsible for the moveable feast dotted all over a busy York street, albeit in 12th scale did little to calm my nerves, particularly when a kindly stranger handed me several plates of ‘Bat Buns’, some Pumpkin Pie and four glass jars of ‘Screaming Carrots’ that he had happened to stumble across while walking his aged dog.
And in was in the midst of unpacking and so on that I was contacted by Jane Kubiesa working on behalf of the Dolls House and Miniature Scene magazine which is published monthly by Warners Group Publications.
As Jane wanted to include some photographs of the Brentwood Flower Market for a future issue along with some copy about my love of all things fauna and flora; I was very happy to oblige and you can image my delight when not only was there a very complimentary article about my work but that I was finally a cover girl!
Artisan, and former floral designer, Tee Bylo is probably best known for her realistic miniature re-creations of florists shops and her attention to detail is amazing.
She uses her first-hand trade knowledge, her passion for all things floral and her love of miniatures to make exquisite mini flower scenes…
Exquisite? What a wonderfully complimentary word! Thank you Jane!
Maybe now is the time to reacquaint myself with another of my ‘Small’ Flower Shops and become creative… I also need to appease the imaginary inhabitants of ‘Bouvier’s’ who have been left traumatised by the unfamiliar humans that transported them to their new abode with all the grace of a tornado!
Now all I have to figure out is where I put that piece of drainpipe and wheelie bin that had managed to escape during the move and which I fortunately salvaged from the removal truck…?
“Of All Romances in Miniature… Perhaps this is the Best Shape that Romance Can Appear.” ~ Lord Byron
I have been creating small worlds in miniature for many years now and the passion to design and create a miniature world remains just as intoxicating and challenging! Which, I might add has also left me a little lighter in pocket!
Vision and inspiration for the creation of my small worlds comes to me in all different forms, the pages of a history book perhaps or a television drama series or even within the pages of a contemporary magazine I find myself reading while waiting for an appointment!
My small worlds have included the Gothic Castle Dracul perched on a snow covered mountain to the trendy and “hip” Themis, a fashion boutique inspired by the “Swinging London” boutiques such as Biba and Granny Takes aTrip.
There is also Surf’s Up!, a surf store that is complete with it’s own beach and guaranteed beautiful weather…
I have even created Marilyn Monroe’s bedroom as reported by the police officer who had discovered the body of the movie star in the early hours of Sunday August 5 1962…
“When the first baby laughed for the first time, its laughter broke into a thousand pieces, and they all went skipping about, and that was the beginning of fairies – Peter Pan”
If the author of the enchanting tale of Peter Pan is to be believed then Sir James Matthew Barrie will not doubt be reassured to discover that there is still at least one faerie that can be found skipping about within the stone walls that surround the ancient City of York, although at first glance, she may be mistaken for just another conventional human; appearances can be deceptive!
For nestled in the shadow of Micklegate Bar and within the ancient City of York is where you will discover the studio of the Yorvik Faerie and where I create my ‘Magick in Miniature’ with the design of the All Hallows Hamlet, a collection of fantastical miniature buildings where the weird and fabulous collide.
And over in this world of the Yorvik Faerie, there’s the Harum Scarum Emporium that sells all manner of notions and potions that can be found nestled somewhere within the All Hallows Hamlet…
As the All Hallows Hamlet is a marketplace of emporiums, boutiques and other such establishments for discerning folk with a penchant for retail indulgence and a predilection for all that is extraordinary; it was only right that I should have unlocked the doors of the Monsignor Suárez Vampyre Slayer’s Emporium on All Hallows Eve!
For as long as I can remember, I have always enjoyed a fascination with (and a sneaky regard!) for the Vampyre of folklore and mythology and as such I created something of a fantastical store that seeks to offer those essential accoutrements for any discerning hunter or slayer of the undead.
I confess that I have been more than a little excited about the creation of this ‘Small World’ for not only is it a fantastical store brimming with merchandise of the magickal kind and after a lot of meticulous research on my part (any excuse to read, read, read!) really is seeped in all manner of ancient folktale and superstition!
And as the last weekend of October was one of celebration with the festival of Día de los Muertos or otherwise known as the Mexican Day of the Dead, I have it on good authority that a certain ‘Small’ feline did in fact put in an appearance within this newly inaugurated establishment, along with one or two other folk from the All Hallows Hamlet…
As Tilly Simms has always been something of a creative soul, her imagination was now flying all over the place much like the leaves that had tumbled from the old Oak trees that surrounded All Hallows and she began to wonder if the cat she had seen was not really Murphy at all but a Mundane in disguise as a shape-shifter or could it be the beastly familiar of that most evil witch or… that it had been Murphy that she had seen but that he was now slowly transforming into a…. werewolf!
To Discover the Tales that I Weave About the ‘Small’ Folk from the All Hallows Hamlet for Yorvik Faerie
It was the artist Henri Matisse who said that “there will always be flowers for those who want to see them” and although I am no fan of his work, I do love his philosophy!
For many years I lived and breathed a world of flora and fauna as a floral designer and although my life has taken many strange twists and turns since I began as a ‘green-fingered’ recruit in my teenage years; there will always be a place in my heart for a flower or two.
Having already created ‘Bouvier’s Flower Shop’ several years ago, I have simply been unable to resist the opportunity to design another small world of flowers and so I have created the Brentwood Flower Market which now can be found nestled within a quaint Tudor building that has all the appeal of a typical rustic flower shop and which remains alive with the human presence.
And as I have been known to share the extraordinary tales of a ‘Small’ Cat; I thought I’d share with you a ‘little’ more about this 12th scale feline as he is the ONLY animal, domestic or otherwise that is permitted unlimited visitation rights to the ‘Small Worlds’ that I create!
“Women and cats will do as they please, and men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea.” So said Robert A. Heinlein…
The inspiration for a ‘Small’ Cat is a Persian fluff-ball that moves like the speed of light, has a penchant for lime-green feathers and can on occasion be extremely vocal; particularly when a basket of grooming implements comes into view!
He will on occasion answer to the name of Murphy…
AND the exciting tales of this ‘Little Big Cat’ look set to continue with the debut appearance of ANOTHER fluff-ball who enjoys a ravenous appetite, has a fondness for cuddles and will on occasion, answer to the name of ‘Minnie B’!
However, when I’m not troubled by the antics of these ‘Small’ felines; I can usually be located within the annals of Regency history and in particular the year 1815 as the design for my abode for the delightful Lord Byron called 13 Piccadilly Terrace circa 1815continues…
And although the pots of distemper paint, lime wash and brown mahogany wood dye have been packed away for the moment, a large cardboard box containing the gorgeous silks for the soft furnishings awaits…
I can handle fabrics that I can glue but, alas, the art of the needle is beyond me!
It is fortunate that as I am also an enthusiastic social networker who travels through cyber space to the lands of Facebook and Twitter, I have been able to meet other miniaturists whose skills can more than compensate for my shortcomings.
Artists such as Louise Goldsborough of Angelique Miniatures have positively embraced the art of miniature couture on my behalf and Hayley Bedells of MiniMunchies has managed to create a delicious feast or two for my ‘Small World’ inhabitants which is something my own family have been known to long for!
Now what I most long for is a nice cup of tea and perhaps a chunk or two of chocolate!
However, before I disappear, I have one final ‘Small World’ to share with you for I am also the designer of St M’s and the ‘Small World’ that the Mice from St M’s inhabit in which they will be sharing their musings, mishaps and ministry from St Margaret’s Church and Parish Hall, along with the antics of those two Little Big Cats!
I should add that I will be the one attending to most of the arduous work including designing, creating, researching, the blogging and the cleaning up afterward! I am also hopeful that I will get to enjoy the occasional ‘hot’ cup of tea now and again!
However, until these Mice make their presence felt in the very near future, I shall enjoy sharing another story with you about me…
St M’s Parish consists of (for the moment at least!) a church and parish hall, both 12th scale models that have been designed and created by me.
My vision was to create an old church that captures a sense of our history and yet is ever changing…..
In addition to being a peaceful place for reflection and thanksgiving and always with the enjoyment of plenty of good food and lots of cake!
The old and quaint parish hall has been created as a place for celebration and busy social interaction…
… AND one in which the mouse presence is keenly felt!
Complimenting St Margaret’s Parish Church is a Memorial Garden that has the enduring appeal of a scruffy, evergreen and restful place.
It’s also one of the best places in the world (‘Small’ or not!) in which to enjoy a cuppa!