Thursday, February 28, 2013

My First Project...Well Maybe

Hello everyone. I decided that I am going to build my first project from scratch. I know. It's perhaps a little ambitious to think that I can design, build, and decorate an entire dollhouse house on my first try, but ah well. Throw caution to the wind and see what happens, right?

Well, I sat down to start drawing. Hmm, let's see, I said. It has to be something simple, something I can manage in a relatively short amount of time and not be too complicated or expensive. Alright. I can do this.  How about a five-story, nineteen-plus room Victorian New York townhouse complete with over eleven fireplaces, a not one, not a two, but a three-story grand staircase, two art galleries, servant quarters, full wine cellar, scullery, and a completely operational dumbwaiter to boot? Sure. No problem. That sounds easy. Ha! What was I thinking? Does anyone else ever suffer from illusions of grandeur when planning their projects? Isn't it so tempting to do so.

In my mind, this house was going to magnificent. If only you could see the vision I have in my head. Here are a few photos that inspired me. I first blame the Thorne Miniature Rooms. This beautiful parlor below was one of the first images that sparked my idea for the townhouse. Isn't it dreamy? I love the little peek you get of the front door off to the left. Look at those pocket doors too. Sweet.

One of the Throne Miniature Rooms A New York Parlor (1850-70) on display at the Art Institute in Chicago

And here below are some more images of inspiration...or more little culprits fueling my imagination. Here's a great kitchen picture, an exterior shot, another gorgeous parlor, and staircase photo. The exterior shot reminds me of another huge inspiration for my townhouse--the movie The Heiress staring Oliva de Havilland and Montogmery Clift. The movie is set in Washington Square Park in the 1880s and is wonderful. I love the house that is featured in the film. If you haven't seen it, go get it. It's FABULOUS!

A serious Victorian kitchen. Check out that chandelier.

Can we say Washington Square Park or what? I'm not crazy about the green on the doors, but LOVE the windows that run all the way to the floor and the massive ionic columns. What a terrific entrance.

I'm not sure if the color choices are exactly period for this parlor. However, I love it anyway. The ceiling mouldings add a bit of interest and then there's that great chandelier.

I enjoy the details and "weight" of the woodwork in this stairway.

Below are a few photos of my preliminary plans for the townhouse. Please forgive the crude drawing. These were only my first sketches, so they are pretty rough. Plus I was in a Victorian dollhouse induced dream state at the time.

A rough and quick drawing of the side elevation.
The second and third level floor plans.
The lower and first level floor plans.

Just as I began to draft the attic floor plan, I started thinking. Hmm, this project is really taking on quite a life of it's own--and a rather big life at that. I finally came to my senses, or back to reality, and realized that maybe, just maybe, a smaller project would be a bit more appropriate for a beginner like me. I think I've been watching too much Downton Abbey. As if anyone could get enough of DA. So...back to the drawing board, as they say. I'll file this grand townhouse idea away for another time down the road. Maybe with a little more experience and time, I'll be ready for it.

Now, I do have another project in mind. And actually I have already began building a mock-up of it with cardboard. As soon as I can, I'll post some pictures of my drawings and the cardboard model. It's a wee bit smaller than my New York townhouse idea. But, it will be just as terrific in quality...well hopefully...fingers crossed. Stay tuned for more.

Before I go I would like to say that I have been greatly inspired by the outstanding quality and craftsmanship of so many wonderful artisans in the miniature blog world. Two of which stand out in particular. Ray from Modern Miniatures Whitledge-Burgess and Giac from Late Victorian English Manor Dollhouse are two phenomenal artists that everyone should see. I have them listed in my blog list. The work they do is absolutely stunning--exquisite and unique design, flawless technique, and impeccable taste. Plus their postings are very informative and helpful--and user friendly. Check out their blogs right away. You'll be amazed. They have made quite a professional and creative contribution to this art form.

Alright, I need to wrap this post up. I've been blabbing away and you're probably asleep at your computer. Wake up!

Take care and see you soon!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Introduction: A Return to a New Adventure

Hello. My name is Brad. I guess you could say that I have been fascinated with the world of miniatures for quite some time. I remember finding a National Geographic magazine we had laying around our house back when I was in grade school. I remember opening up the magazine and there it was--an article featuring Queen Mary's dollhouse. I thought the work of the artisans who created the dollhouse was nothing short of amazing. To this day I am still astonished at the beautiful detail and impeccable authenticity they were able to achieve. And to think that was back in the 1920s! Wow. It's truly a magnificent work of art.

The library in Queen Mary's dollhouse--one of my favorite rooms.
 The detail is absolutely exquisite.

After reading that article and pouring over the pictures a few hundred times or so, I finally convinced my dad to help me build my first dollhouse. Of course I made my request under the pretense that it was "really for my two sisters." I think my dad probably wondered just a little bit about his son who wanted to start designing and building a dollhouse. It was the late 1970s after all, and we lived in a tiny Midwest town where boys were supposed to be playing football and going to Cub Scout meetings. Zoinks. Don't get me started on that story. But bless my dad's heart, he built that dollhouse anyway and I think my mom even helped me decorate it. Now that I look back, I owe a lot to my dad and mom. They supported me so much in those years and always encouraged me to be true to who I was--no matter how different it may have seemed. Noticing that I enjoyed miniatures, my dad and I went on to build a big model train layout. It was a wonderful way to spend time with my dad.  Plus, I think he probably enjoyed the trains a bit more than the dollhouse stuff.

Since then I have done a number of scaled scenic models for theatrical productions that I have directed or designed. I work in the performing arts field, and having some skill and interest for design does come in handy every now and then. But now I am at a point in my life where I feel the need to create for simply creation sake. Pretty much all of the creative work I do now in my adult years, whether it be singing, directing, or teaching, is done within the boundaries of my professional career. Now don't get me wrong. I absolutely adore all the work I do and I thank God everyday that I am blessed with the ability to work in the art forms that I love. But once in a while, it nice to make a beautiful piece of art without parameters or expectations set by others.

Thus, I have come back to my love of all things tiny (insert trumpet fanfare here--Dun ta da da!). I'm not at all sure if what I have to offer will be of interest or much value to anyone; but I thought I would share my stories and miniature projects with whoever is willing to take a look. I have been reading some wonderful and inspiring blogs on the art of miniatures. They are absolutely stupendous. They have completely inspired me to give blogging a try and to create some of my own miniature projects. So, here I go. I hope you'll read and come along with me on this new adventure. Who knows? It might be kind of fun.