My Baroque Italianate Palazzo Dollshouse
by Maureen Caelli
The culmination of five years’ work is finally ready to display or possibly sell. Five years ago I first drew up the plans for this dollshouse. It is a fifteen room palace set in the Baroque period in Italy. I started by having the main straight cuts done by the hardware store. When I transported this home I then started on the many complicated in-cuts to make the “U” shape building and all the doors and windows. The next stage was to prime the wood ready for the many murals. At this early stage each room had to be planned down to infinite detail so that the furniture did not cover an ornate mural. So then some four and a half years ago the long process of painting the murals on the walls and ceilings started.
This process took some three or so years with some time out of that for a major solo art exhibition in mid 2012. These murals were painted in oil paint – the new water clean-up variety, which allows me to use oil paint because of my turpentine sensitivity from my nervous system damage. These oil paints while harder to use in the tiny work, enable rich colour and I hope durability of my work.
In early 2013 I had completed the murals on the unassembled dollshouse wood. So then the hard work started from which I am still recovering as it really stressed my Multiple Sclerosis. My first job was to make the stand for the dollshouse out of an old table. I cut the curves off two sides and made a shelf under the table for room boxes and the electrical transformers for the multitude of lights – I counted over 200.
Above, the right side, showing the stand and electrical cables below. Below, the left side.
Each floor and walls had to be glued and screwed together to make a stable construction. But of course there were parts that didn’t line up due to small errors of cutting. After small pieces were placed and gaps were filled the palace came together and surprisingly the murals all lined up. I had to paint the murals on it unassembled as my MS would not allow me to reach inside an assembled dollshouse and paint them.
The right front open, showing the servants' quarters on the ground floor with an arch through to the kitchen, the sitting room on the first floor complete with all the hand painted furniture and hand made carpet and pillows etc, the second bedroom on the top floor, once again with the hand painted furniture and hand stitched carpet.
The right side opened up showing the kitchen on the ground floor, the music room on the first floor and the Nanny's room with the baby in Nanny's arms.
The recessed centre section of the dollshouse opened up - I have shown it with light streaming in which I think looks good. It shows the entry on the ground floor, the second sitting room on the first floor and the nursery on the second floor. I hand made most of the toys and blankets in the nursery.
Close up of the second sitting room showing the ornate china cabinets, murals and stairs leading up to the nursery. I took a great deal of effort in gilding the furniture and painting the walls and ceiling of this room.
After the assembling then there was the lighting to fit, the floors to tile and parquetry and the carpets to make by hand stitching. I decorated all the chandeliers with crystal beads to make them large stunning ones fit for a palace. Next I installed the cornice, skirting boards, window, doors and all their trim. Finally I made the curtains, painted or made all the furniture and finally dressed the dolls. I took great care in choosing lots of miniature pieces in each room to decorate and reproduce a working palace.
The left wing opened up, showing the dining room on the ground floor and the pool room on the first floor, with the main bedroom with the royal bed on the top floor.
If you look carefully at each room I have tried to make it like a painting with an ornate bracket in each of the top corners to finish off the details. Each room is heavily decorated with a great deal of detail which is the signature of my miniature art work. People often take many viewings to take it all in. I have hand made much of the miniatures like the small embroidered cushions, handmade embroidery boxes, jewellery, food, flowers and pot plants, etc.
The dining room through to the lady's sitting room showing a lady looking at a beautiful bird cage in the archway.
The main sitting room with the hand painted furniture with gilding and flowers, the hand stitched rug and pillows, the hand made doll, the hand made ornaments etc. It is one of my favourite rooms, but it is so hard to say that as I love them all.
I have made all effort to make the palace historically correct even to the bathroom which did exist, even the plumbing, in the Baroque period.
The left side opened up showing the third sitting room or lady's parlour, the study on the first floor and the bathroom on the top floor.
I hope you have enjoyed seeing my dollshouse.
Peering in the window of the sitting room, which I love to do.
Through the window of the nursery, oh so enchanting.