As we move from summer into autumn, the thoughts of many miniaturists (myself included) will be turning to projects old and new. My own languishing project, which I'm itching to get back to, is an evocation of a French-style doll shop from the 1890s, the zenith of French dollmaking, so I was delighted to be invited to review a new book published this month by The Guild of Master Craftsmen, The Big Book of a Miniature House.
Written by Christine-Lea Frisoni, it was originally published in France, but is now available for the first time in English translation. It's a satisfyingly weighty, sumptuous hardback which aims to take the reader step-by-step through the creation of a 1/12th scale French country house. As you would expect from a GMC Publication, this is a beautifully produced book and the photography throughout is wonderful.
As a veteran of no end of doll's house builds I was particularly interested to see the construction of the house.... always the most daunting part of making from scratch. Thankfully, the level of detail is excellent, although I think that a reasonable level of woodworking experience would be required.
The author takes nothing for granted though, and starts off with a comprehensive list of tools and supplies, as well as information on basic techniques which would prove invaluable to anyone tackling the build. Clear and detailed plans and diagrams, as well as a wealth of photographs, illustrate the assembly of the house, and there are lots of ideas and suggestions for a variety of different styles of house, based on the original.
Exterior and interior finishes, decoration, window dressings and soft furnishings and period lighting effects are also explained, with the emphasis on achieving the elegantly evocative, faded grandeur of an old country house. Every room is shown in detail, from kitchen to nursery, floor to ceiling with no nook or cranny left unexplored.
The final chapter, Furniture and Fittings, also has instructions for a range of gorgeous pieces, from a Provençal armchair to a Louis XVI Bergere chair, from beds and tables to dressers and mirrors.... everything needed to recreate the genteel shabby chic look of a French country house.
There is something for everyone within the pages of this book. Even if you don't want to actually make the house itself, there are over 230 colour photographs to help spark a multitude of ideas and inspiration for many other miniature projects.
It's currently my favourite bedside reading and I've already noted several ideas which would be ideal to enhance La Mignonette and add impeccable French style.
With Christmas just around the corner it would make the perfect addition to any miniaturist's 'wish list'.
The Big Book of a Miniature House is published by GMC Publications Ltd.
ISBN 978 1 86108 954 0
Available to purchase HERE