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 well as a passion for the creation of ‘Small Worlds’, the Regency world of the Poet Lord Byron and chocolate, I also have an enduring interest in the life and legacy of Nicole Brown Simpson.
“I just don’t see how our stories compare -I was so bad because I wore sweats & left shoes around & didn’t keep a perfect house or comb my hair the way you like it – or had dinner ready at the precise moment you walked through the door or that I just plain got on your nerves sometimes.
I just don’t see how that compares to infidelity, wife beating, verbal abuse…
I just don’t think everybody goes through this….
I called the cops to save my life whether you believe it or not..”
These are the harrowing words written by Nicole shortly before her brutal murder on Sunday June 12 1994 in the garden of her Brentwood home in Los Angeles as her two children were sleeping.
Nicole’s former husband NFL hero and celebrity O.J. Simpson was subsequently arrested, tried and acquitted of her murder and that of her friend Ronald Goldman in a relentless blaze of publicity the following year.
I began to read about Nicole shortly after her murder in 1994, she was the focus for the research and publication of my BA thesis in 1999 and I have been reading about her ever since.
She was also the inspiration behind the design of my “California style” ocean-front house 875 South Bundy Drive June 1994 and now known as ‘Nicole’s House’, which before you ask, is created in 12th scale!
In June 1994 and shortly before her brutal murder, Nicole was making plans to leave her home at 875 South Bundy Drive in Brentwood, Los Angeles in order to escape the abuse and obsession that had characterised her long relationship with O.J. Simpson and only days before her death, Nicole had seen a beach house in Malibu available for rent and she was excited and positive at the prospect of a move there with their children.
‘Nicole’s House’ is a House created in Miniature that tells several narratives:
Firstly, there is a recreation of some of the principle rooms at 875 South Bundy Drive as they were discovered in the early hours of Monday June 13 1994 as the investigation into the murders of Nicole and Ronald Lyle Goldman was underway.
The additional rooms are created as a tribute to the style and essence of Nicole who loved the style of interior design that has come to typify the “California Look”.
Finally, as we know that Nicole was planning a move to a beach house in Malibu, ‘Nicole’s House’ is a poignant reminder of “what could have been”.
“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!