My Georgian and 1920s Roomboxes
by Brenda Hodges
I have always been interested in dollshouses since having a large one bought between myself and 2 sisters when I was 4 years old. Later, I had a small beautiful wooden Tudor style house bought for me that I collected dolls & furniture for, but always remembered my childhood house. It wasn’t till 1998 after being very ill that I was able to have my dream house. As I was seriously chemically sensitive by this time, it was very difficult to have new things. My husband built a beautiful Edwardian house outside that I couldn’t have for 3 years but I bought antique furniture for, I also bought old dollshouses and became quite a collector.
In 2004 I bought a very large beautiful neo-classical house that was already decorated and off-gassed, I also bought a lot of Bespaq furniture, pictures, drapes, chandeliers etc, all from ebay, but all had to be off gassed. The house had to be sold, so I never got to put the furniture etc in.
I have a connective tissue disorder, Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, Dysautonomia, Pots, & Peripheral Neuropathy and at the beginning of 2011, I was again seriously ill after mini strokes, I wasn’t able to do anything, my hands and eyes were really affected. As I gradually started to function a bit better I was very bored, I still couldn’t do anything much just sit, I kept thinking of all the lovely furniture etc in boxes in the loft and tried to work out how I could use it. I decided perhaps I could make room boxes but still couldn’t use new woods or glues. My dear, very talented son-in-law Roger Allgood made beautiful aquarium cabinets and vivariums by hand, and when the business was sold there were 4 vivariums over that weren't finished, and I asked if I could have these. I decided to make Georgian room boxes with them.
We had lots of bits also left over from the original neo-classical dollshouse project, and the large bedroom was mainly made up of bits left from that house. I ordered the plaster mouldings which I designed for each box from Sue Cooke’s, and fireplaces already painted by Sue.
We always used Ecos non toxic no odour paints in our home, so I ordered lots of different matchpots. Bit by bit I patiently did the painting of each piece. As my hands were quite hopeless at holding a brush and my eyes so sensitive to bright lights, I was in semi dark most of the time, but I have periods between treatment where my eyes coped a bit better. So on these days, bit by bit, I did a little piece of the painting. I also had the brush wrapped around with a cloth to soften the pressure. It took a long while. The walls and ceilings also had to be painted as they were wooden veneer, done with great difficulty with a small roller.
I drew rough diagrams for all the roomboxes and my wonderful carer, my husband Roy, took them into the garage and put together all the pieces to my diagrams, adding also false windows I cut out pictures for, and doors. The painting isn’t brilliant but doesn’t show. I have added the chandeliers, drapes, and furniture all bought for the neo-classical house. I am so pleased with them I wanted to share.
Hubby has now finished another box for me that I designed and made a few pictures and bits for. After falling in love with some cloth 1920s dolls made by Teresa at Costume Cavalcade, I decided to try to make a 1920s roombox. I’m really pleased with it.
As I had used the vivariums that my son-in-law had made by hand to make my Georgian houses, I looked on ebay and found a flat pack with glass, as I need to keep the dolls dust free. I designed it easier for hubby to fit as he’s getting fed up now. This will be my last project as my hands are very bad.
I already had Bespaq furniture, and made pictures from birthday cards and hubby painted frames. I was lucky enough to buy the last Bodo Hennig radio from Maple St. I have a night scene at the window with light for the moon.
I had a stole, scarves, gloves and green & pink hats made by Annette at The Little Hatter, to my design. She made the cape on the stand also. I think she makes these now for her site, they are lovely.
With the lights dim, reflections sparkle from the chandelier and the fire, and the drinks and cigarettes are brought out.