Singel 224

the study and library

Arts & Crafts

The English Arts and Crafts Movement has always appealed to me.  In reaction to the increasing industrialization of the late 19th century, William Morris, who was the main influence on the Arts and Crafts Movement, believed that good design and traditional craftsmanship using high-quality materials contributed towards a good society.  The designs were often influenced by medieval and romantic styles and nature.

The hall of the house has been influenced a little by the style of the Arts and Crafts Movement and in the study and library I will continue along those lines.  The change from 18th century to 19th century design is explained in my story of the history of the house:  in 1893 a fire destroyed part of the interiors and were rebuilt by the new owners of the time.  

The beginning in 2003:  I have cut a hole in the ceiling of the study in order to build the library as a gallery above the study.  A spiral staircase will connect the two floors.  On the gallery I have built bookcases out of all the bits of wood I had left. 

The first few books are finished.  Now all that remains is to fill the bookcase!  I have fixed copper curtain-rails to the lower cabinets on which I’ll hang little curtains.  That way I can cheat a little with the amount of books I have to make…..

Building the spiral staircase proved to be a challenge.    I had some trouble figuring out which way it should turn, after all, you have to be able to walk upstairs without bumping your head into the ceiling.  By using a paper template and a doll I was able to solve the riddle.I’ve had to do a lot of thinking and measuring to make the spiral staircase, but it fits perfectly.  The photo on the right shows the staircase in situ, held in position by two clamps.  The floors are made with strips of teak veneer, sanded down and waxed.
Update 2016:  After all of that work, I have decided to remove the staircase again. It does mean there really is no way of getting up to the gallery, but we’ll just imagine there is a hidden staircase elsewhere.  

I painted the ceiling of the library with stylized flower borders and a very simple stippled pattern.   The  photos above show the borders and ceiling during construction.
The ceiling consists of a framework of small ‘beams’ glued to a piece of card.  Because of this I could do all the paintwork at my worktable.    The flower borders were painted with watercolours.  For the stippled pattern I used acrylics, the gold paint is a gouache.   When all the borders were finished, I stuck the frame to the ceiling with some wood glue, propping it up with a few paint-stirrers.

To prevent accidents from happening, I built a fence on the gallery of the library.  I used curtain poles and some materials I found in a model-railway shop to make the railing.

I worked for evenings on end to make books for the library.  At least a thousand were needed just to fill the shelves on the upper part of the library.  I have used several methods to make these books and most of them have real pages.  I scanned some of the books from my own library. Only a few of these have actual text inside.  It would take me 20 years to make them all with text.  But who knows…  To be honest I am a bit sick of making books right now.

At least Swapke was enjoying my books!  Swapke was a knitted doll who traveled by post and visited dolls houses all over the country. In February 2006 she came to stay with me for a week.  I wrote and photographed some adventures for her.  Unfortunately Swapke got lost in the mail only a few weeks after she stayed with me.  

The library is filling up with books and items relating to culture and nature.  I have bought some wonderful printed leather bound books from Ellie de Lacy Miniatures on the subject of anatomy and wildlife.  I also bought several books from Dateman Books.  The Diary of Samuel Pepys is just one of them.  

On the back wall of the Library hangs “Una and the Lion” (original painting ca. 1880 by Briton Rivière after the poem The Faerie Queene by Edmund Spenser, 1590).  This wonderful miniature oil painting was painted by Elly Ypma (2018, the Netherlands).

The little stuffed lion beneath it is based on a fifties Steiff lion, one I have full scale as well.  This miniature one was made by Elles Leenders (Netherlands).  

Above the painting hangs a miniature narwhal tooth.  The narwhal tooth was made and mounted with a little engraved sign by Deborah Beijerbacht (Netherlands).   She made several for her blog give-away and -lucky me! – I won this one.  

To the right of the painting is a miniature version of a book I have used a lot for reference for this canal house:  Rococo in Nederland.  My rococo “bible”.  😉  

Where would I be without carpenter Jaap, who gave me all this lovely teak?  My stock is running a little bit low, I’ve used all the best pieces.  Now I have to ask myself:  What do I want to make, how do I want to make it, what bits of wood do I have left, can I make what I want with it?  Well, not always.  Sometimes I have to adjust a plan because I don’t have the suitable materialsIn the study, below the windows, I have made a low bookcase with an integrated desk with drawers.   I wanted to make the top out of one piece, but I only had some very thin wood left, so I glued strips of leftover wood to all the edges to make it look more robust. In this picture you can see I’ve moved the staircase to the right, which I think looks better. 

I made the desk chair after an example of an early 20th century secretary’s chair.  As I wanted to use teak again,  I had to cut a thick piece of wood into thinner ‘slices’  by using the circular saw. Not my favourite job,  I’m always a bit anxious when I’m using that machine.  Both the backrest and the seat have been carved out by using a rotary tool which makes for a very comfy desk-chair.  Update 2019:  It is funny reading this 16 years later.  Over the years I have acquired many more tools and have learned to use them.  Although I will always have a healthy respect for power tools like the table saw, cutting slices like I described above is now a simple task I often do. 

Twice a year there is a big miniatures fair in Arnhem (Holland).  A few of the lovely things I bought this fall (2004):  a ‘Tiffany’ lamp by Ray Storey, a tape dispenser (with real tape!), a tiny book about love and an album with very small stamps and a very small pair of tweezers (Tine Krijnen) and a working pair of scissors. 

I bought some very simple drawer-handles, and with a bit of wood and some paint turned them into a very handsome pair for my desk drawers. 

The black wooden rubber stamp holder has three rubber stamps which really work!  It was made by Hermann Straeten (Minidrechsler, Germany).

The Victorian gothic style fireplace is by Sue Cook.   In my odds and ends drawer I found several pieces to adorn the mantelpiece.  The beautiful Japanese Satsuma button once belonged to my husband’s grandmother.  I also found a small ivory head and a carved mother of pearl gambling chip  in my drawer.  The mother of pearl carved piece was found on the street by my husband many years ago.  
I painted the watercolour ‘Dutch landscape in the snow’ in 2004 and it has now found a home on the mantel.  The beautiful English lantern clock has a running clockwork and was made by Jim Watt.

Next to the fireplace I’ve made a ‘cozy corner’, a nice place to retreat to with a book.  These ‘cozy corners’ were a very common design feature in Arts & Crafts interiors.  The cushions were made from a small woven carpet.  I used acrylic paint to tone down the bright colours.  The large pillow on the seat was made by Bir:Oniki, it is a hand knotted camel saddle bag (in miniature obviously). The wallpaper is ‘Pimpernel’ by William Morris.  I made the fire screen during a class with Barry Hipwell.


On the right hand side of the study is the staircase to the upper floors.  Again I used teak veneer for the risers.  For the banister, like I did in the Hall, I made a specially fitted ‘angled piece’,  so that the handrail turns nicely towards the newel post.  I made the barley twist  newel post from a description in a miniatures magazine,  a lot of work, but I like the result. 

2013:  An antique carved calling card case serves as art on the wall.  
The Sarak Ak-Su carpet (originally from West Turkistan, Central Asia) was made by Bregje of Bir:Oniki. 

2019:  On this wall now hangs a small collection of art with a sailing theme: a watercolour, an oil painting from around 1930/1940 and an ink on ivory (old piano key).  
Electric light switches have been added.  

The comfortable Arts & Crafts style chair by the fire has been made by Kari Bloom of Miniton Miniatures.   The sides and back of the chair have a beautiful detail:  green glazed tiles set into the wood.   The fabric on the cushions is called ‘Lodden’, a design by William Morris. The tiger skin on the floor next to the fireplace is a hand knotted rug made by Bregje of Bir:Oniki.


I made the revolving bookcase from a kit.  The beautiful book “Mappe-Monde”  was hand sewn, leather bound and gold tooled (not great I must say) by me in a class by Tine Krijnen (Miniatuurboekbinden, the Netherlands).  

The fantastic Anglepoise desk lamp is by David Provan, I found it at the Kensington Dollshouse Festival  in London in May 2004.   The lamp is based on the original Anglepoise lamp, designed in 1932 by the British designer George Carwardine.

On the right side of the room is the staircase leading to the basement and kitchen.  The stairs are hidden from view by the closed balustrade which is lined with the same fabric I used for the curtains. The artists metamorphic desk with bookstand was made by Keith Bougourd (Small Time Miniatures), as was the Charles Voysey swan chair which can be seen in the photo below. 


2019: The Library and Study have been finished for a while now.  There have been small changes now and then, like the sailboat paintings on the wall and the position of the metamorphic desk.  The latest change has been the replacement of the carpet.  The new carpet has been embroidered by my friend Elly de Kraker who sadly passed away in 2018.  The photo is not doing it justice at all,  the carpet is gorgeous.   

You’re invited to study the salon! 

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