Friday, January 31, 2014

Cape Dutch House: Entrance Hall

I spent the last few days building the side walls for the entrance hall of the Cape Dutch house.

Busy gluing all the studs on.

Ready for the plywood to be glued on, since I don't have enough big clamps this happens with the assistance of my hubby who puts some very heavy over sized concrete bricks on it, too heavy for me to lift. Next time I will try and remember to take a photo.

Next I had a bit of hand trimming to do at the angled door openings.

I still need to glue the walls permanently in place. Ha, I had a big bummer...for some reason I got my measurements mixed up and the attic door openings were too low, raising the bottom wasn't too difficult, but the top...still need to fix the top level on the right hand wall.

The plywood surface is not the nicest I have seen, I don't particularly feel like spending hours on filling and sanding the walls, so I have decided to cover them in watercolor paper and then paint them. The paper has just the right texture for a plaster wall that isn't quite smooth. I am rather happy with the size of the room, none of these furniture will go into this house, they are just there to give you an idea of size. Sorry for the bad photo, it is gloomy outside and raining, not that I really mind, so far January has been very hot and dry.

I was hoping to show you some photos out of a book that I ordered on Monday, but a postal strike put a damper on that, last year we had one as well and that took six weeks of striking and backlogs to sort out with many parcels disappearing forever...I was so looking forward to receiving it, it is a newly released book on Cape Dutch furniture with over 400 pages and more than 1200 full color photos and lots of new research... the last books on this subject was published in the 80's with mostly black and white photos. This book isn't available at the usual book stores, my middle brother is in the museum business himself, got to hear of it and let me I don't know how long I am going to have to wait...grrrrr...

Since the rug I was busy stitching is so very Victorian and won't fit in with the time period of the Cape Dutch house...I started a new one.

Not much yet, but you have to start somewhere...right? I chose a chart in Annelle Ferguson's book, it was charted by Sue Bakker from an antique English rug from about 1740. I have a book on the way with the original rug in there...but that one will probably also land in the strike backlog...another grrrrrrrrr...I will go and ask at the PO later today, maybe I am lucky and it got here from the UK before they started the strike.

So in the mean time, here is a scan of the rug Sue Bakker stitched, I am stitching mine with french knots and this rug is destined for the bedroom.

Have a great weekend

Sunday, January 12, 2014

A Bit of This and That

This weekend turned up some unexpected treasures, I was asked by the chair lady of our club to go and look at some tools at an estate sale of a miniaturist that passed away last year, somebody I have never met as he only lived here for the last few years of his life to be closer to his family and he wasn't active in the local clubs. He was well known in Cape Town though and much loved by the members of the club there.

This man was a furniture maker and there were these chests of drawers mostly filed with all kinds of woods, both exotic and local woods, many that I would like to have but are difficult to come by either because of cost or rarity. The family seemed to be hoping that the wood would go to a good home and be used for miniatures. Well, I am saving for my trip to Denmark later this year and was torn in two....and then hubby came to the rescue and offered to buy it for me, the deal included the chests of drawers, a good thing because I wouldn't have known where to put it otherwise, there were ten drawers!

The two woods I was most happy to find was birdseye maple, hard to find in SA and expensive and the second stinkwood (so called because of the smell it gives when cutting it), a local hardwood that is protected now, it was extensively used in Cape Dutch furniture, a very dark and close grained wood...and I was just wondering last week where I was going to find enough of a kind friend has some that he can't use because of faults in the wood, the good parts are big enough to use for miniatures, so he is going to give it all to me when I see him again. I am really happy about all this as I like to use if I can the woods that were originally used for the antiques.

I spend some time over the weekend cutting more wall panels for the Cape Dutch house. View from what will be the front of the house, I had time to cut door openings in the one wall before the sun set, as I do this outside.

This will be the center wall of the house, fitting all those different roof lines are going to be an interesting exercise.

I also started a piece of embroidery last year for my newest sewing table, this one will be mine, I am copying an old English piece, you can see the original here, I used a different border from another antique sampler and moved it to the bottom as the bottom will be hidden when the screen is pulled up. I am cross stitching it on 75 count silk gauze with Pipers silk.

Well, that is all my news for now, have a great week everyone.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Today...28 years ago...

I married the love of my life.

Wow, we look so young, well I was... scarcely 20, and Greg 25.

We celebrated a day early and went out scouring around some of the secondhand bookshops in Johannesburg yesterday, something we both like to do.

First stop was a charity bookshop, where at first I only found the booklet on Queen Mary's dollhouse. Hubby was still busy while I was busy getting bored and itching to go on to the next shop.....when I happened to see one of the staff bringing a new pile of books, I went and looked and found the bargain of the year, the book on the right. It was printed in 1980, is out of print, rare and normally quite expensive, out of my reach in any case, they charged me a mere $3, oh, happy day.

At the last bookshop hubby bought me this book as a gift, it has all the history on the old 18th century kitchens in the Cape, the layout of the kitchen, the furniture in it and all the other items necessary for a kitchen of those days, this is going to help a lot in planning the kitchen for the Cape Dutch house as most other books doesn't mention the kitchen at all, with time as I work on the house I will show you some of the photos in the book.

Next we went for lunch at a tea garden that I haven't heard of before, it is at a house that were build in the 1930's and loosely based on Cape Dutch style.

It was really hot yesterday, 35 (95) degrees, this is a typical summer's day in December and January, our two hottest months of the year in SA, just love the contrast of the green lawn and bright blue sky.

Hamburgers with a delicious homemade meat patty, I liked the tomato on top, first time I got a hamburger served like this.

The main entrance of the house, the house was gifted to the municipality in the 1980's and houses a library in the left wing, the rest of the house is used as a recreation center for the local community, ballet, karate, art classes, etc, they were busy painting etc, I would love to go there again in a few months.

The back of the house.

The house fortunately still has some of it original features, like this bar in the shape of a Viking ship, the guy who built the house was of Norwegian decent, his father was born in Norway, his mother was from Scotland and the house is called Norscot Manor.

The windows in the Billiard room, I wonder if they hanged the curtains in between the windows and the part that juts out in the front, I have never seen something like this. I loved the air vent above the window, they were in every room of the house.

The beautiful view from the lounge, when the house was built this area was way out of the city and a farm, now it is in the suburbs.

A lovely fireplace in the bedroom, there were quite a bit more to see but impossible to photograph with all the renovation work going on at the moment. All in all we had a wonderful day celebrating our anniversary.

Enjoy your weekend

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Building on the Cape Dutch House has begun

I have started to build on the Cape Dutch house over the last two weeks or so, I started with the back wall of the entrance hall. Before I go any further, I should say here that when hubby and I carried in the base for the house, I realized that I would have to build the house in two halves, otherwise it would never be able to come out of our house again as it would be too wide to fit through the door, with a bit of thinking I figured out how to do that and you will see the details of that as the build unfolds.

Here is a scan of the real wall with it's beautiful screen door.

And the beginning of my wall, these houses had very thick walls and I didn't want to lose it in the miniature house, so I decided to use plywood with pine strips for the walls.

The walls are a bit thinner in the attic part of the house, so on the one face of the wall I only took it up to ceiling height.

The first wall almost completed, the small cutouts that you see in the top of the wall is where the ceiling beams will slot in after painting the room. The side walls will slot onto the pine that isn't covered by plywood. That door opening is big enough for a real cat to fit through, mine already went through it, I will have to watch him.

When you look at the door and window opening thicknesses in this real house, you can see why I want to keep that in the miniature build, it adds so much character and charm to the house.

This is the scale drawing for the screen door and it's molding.

Making such a big molding on a small drill press are no joke, it took me days to slowly cut away the excess wood in thin little layers.

The shape is emerging nicely.

The finished molding.

I also made the door panels last week, I wanted to be sure that I would get the curved top right before I made the door stiles. I am using Rhodesian Teak for all the woodwork in the house, Burmese Teak was used in some of the real houses of the time but the wood is scarce and very expensive and I just happened to have quite a bit of the Rhodesian Teak on hand, we bought it about ten years ago to make a book rack with it but that never happened.

I am still busy doing research as to how the houses were decorated in the late 1700's, the real house was built in the early 1700's, but underwent quite a few changes by the end of the century, by that time the British were in control of the Cape, I found a nice book with letters and extracts from a journal that were written by the wife of the secretary to the Governor of the Cape, she mentions quite a bit of the domestic arrangements of the time. The book starts off with a bit of her history, I found it very interesting, she was about 47 when she arrived here with her much younger husband (15 years in fact), she came of a good Scottish family, knew the Prince Regent personally as well as Sir Walter Scott, a famous English writer of the time.