My Gee Bee Tudor Cottage
By Judy C
Back in the middle 90’s when love was young, my (now) husband was ardent to provide the moon and stars if that was my request, and so, when I said my heart’s desire was a dolls house for Christmas, he was somewhat nonplussed, but pliable.
I guided him to the house clearance shop where I had spied my quarry, but had some problem getting him through the door, as he didn’t wish to buy my gift from what he termed a junk shop! Actually viewing the little house pained him even further, but I was adamant this was what I wanted, and so the deal was sealed, and triumphant, I carried it away. Sadly I didn’t take any photos that day.
At home I gave it a gentle clean up with a damp cloth, and suddenly the primary colours were revealed in all their glory: a scarlet roof, a vibrant golden yellow base and vivid turquoise blue trimmings. Privately I had to admit it was a trifle garish, and while Himself was listing the short comings of my little house, I was required to come up with a plan to replace the 3 missing windows.
As it happened, shortly after, I won a ticket to the London dolls house festival, and there I met Marion Osborne who is always willing to chat to a dolls house enthusiast. I told her all about my recent acquisition, promising to send her some photos, which I did, and I was delighted to receive a reply from her soon afterwards.
I explained to Marion that I had devised a plan to cut replacement windows from sardine cans, and asked if it would be ok to over-paint the yellow base, which I was finding rather harsh. Patiently Marion agreed that, it being MY house, I could smother it in glossy grey paint if I wished, but she suggested that a better course might be to name the house something like “Sun-light Villa” or to print a cardboard garden, which could be cut to fit, and held in place using tacky wax without causing a permanent and irreversible change. She also warned me to have plenty of sticky plasters handy when cutting the windows!
So it was that while collecting sardine cans I made a list of suitably whimsical house names, including “Cornfields” and “Golden Meadow” before finally settling on “Sunflowers”.
Very carefully, using the brass rubbing technique, I made some paper patterns of the surviving original lattice window, and one wet Saturday afternoon, armed with a full box of adhesive dressings and a craft knife, I rolled up my sleeves and concentrated on making a passable window. It was hard work, but I was quite thrilled by my efforts, until I attempted to roll the sharp edges over to hold the acetate glazing. To my horror the metal snapped. I was very disappointed, but the suggestion was made to try again using a beer can, which being aluminium turned out to be easier to cut, and more malleable.
In retrospect I am not 100% satisfied with my early restoration technique. I feel the replacements I made are painfully different to the surviving original window, but although I have managed to purchase some genuine original windows, I have elected to retain my early creations. I feel I learned a great deal from that first restoration project, and I keep them as a reminder.
The damage to the original wooden paper in the gable front was easily rectified, and research proved the empty slot above the downstairs window should hold a paper sun canopy, which posed a far greater problem. Eventually I settled on gluing a painted paper awning onto some acetate saved from gift packaging and creased into a Z. This sits well and is still crisp some 15 years on.
I suspect the purists among you may object to the balcony railings, for which I can only apologise!!