A Look At Some Artisan-made Miniature Ceramics
Part 1: Chamber and toilet ware
This article is intended as an introduction to artisan-made ceramic miniatures produced in the last 30 years or so – that is from the late 1980s until the present day - illustrated mainly by pieces from my own personal collection. These pieces have been bought from UK dolls’ house fairs, retail shops or online, since 1991. (Sadly, most of the shops have since closed down). I'm British, living in England: as a consequence, most of the work in my collection is by UK-based artisans. Any items by non-British makers have come from international sellers who have exhibited at UK shows, in particular the London/Kensington Dollshouse Festivals and Miniatura, or were bought online. The article isn't an exhaustive review by any means – there are a great many omissions, because I don't have examples of the work of every maker, neither do I have every pattern or colour that particular items were produced in for those I do have – but for those makers I can feature, I hope it will serve as a guide to identification of their work. To help with this, I have illustrated makers’ marks, when these are present on the examples shown.
I thought originally that this would be just the one article on “artisan-made miniature ceramics” until I began to gather items from my various houses ready to photograph for the illustrations. It was apparent very quickly that almost 30 years of collecting has led to an embarrassment of riches! There was way too much for just one article, so “chamber and toilet ware” has become the first of an eventual four parts. The later ones will cover kitchenware in Part 2, tableware in Part 3, and will finish with ornamental ceramics in Part 4. (Although even this classification has been fraught – where does one place oven-to-tableware, or items such as clocks, mirrors and candlesticks?). I also felt that I needed to widen the brief to include “faux” ceramics, otherwise the work of very talented artisans, past and present, who transform/ed cast metal, polymer clays, or even plastic, into very convincing “china”, would have been left out. With one exception, I haven’t included plumbed-in ceramic sanitary fittings – bathtubs, handbasins, toilets, etc. – nor any form of portable baths. I have enough of those items for a whole separate article...
Before internal plumbing became commonplace, 19th century households, with an increasing awareness of a need for cleanliness, relied on ceramic wash sets for the day-to-day management of personal hygiene. (Florence Nightingale famously said “Any woman can keep clean with a pint of water and privacy.”) Chamber pots were used overnight in preference to a long trek in the dark from a warm bed to an outside privy, which was even more unpleasant in wet or cold weather. A basic chamber set comprised a large capacity ewer (jug/pitcher) and basin (bowl), a chamber pot (sometimes with a matching cover), and, often, a covered slop-pail. The quality of these sets varied from thick earthenware to finer, but still robust, china. The finer sets were usually very prettily decorated, but were only for more affluent households, because they could be expensive. These more costly sets were often sold with many matching accessories, including soap dishes, sponge bowls, beakers, toothbrush boxes, and shaving mugs. All but the poorest Victorian bedrooms included some form of stand to hold the necessary utensils for washing. If the washstand hadn’t an attached towel rail, towels would be hung on a horse, kept nearby, in homes with sufficient means, otherwise a hook or nail in the wall, or the back of chair sufficed. A bedside cabinet (night stand) provided discreet storage of the chamber pot if it wasn’t fitted into a covered commode chair (close stool/potty chair) – or hadn’t been simply pushed under the bed. (One long-time colloquial term for the pot was a “gazunder”!). The only miniature covered chamber pot I know of is plastic, from the Chrysnbon Chamber Set mini-kit. I have this kit, but currently can't find the pot, nor its lid!
I’ll start the review of the chamber and toilet ware from my own collection with Stokesay Ware because, at one time, they produced sets with the greatest number of matching pieces, and their delicate, yet intricately detailed, designs would have been found in the more affluent homes in real life. I have at least one example of most of Stokesay's toilet articles, in one design or another, so the illustrations which follow are fairly comprehensive, but I never did get a toothbrush box!
Karen Griffiths is Stokesay’s potter. Karen trained, and initially worked, in making full-size articles, before discovering her talent for making top-quality miniatures. Karen and her partner, Peter Armstrong, have been supplying collectors with them for over 35 years, and are still trading today.
Stokesay Ware chamber sets and washstand accessories: Persian Rose
Stokesay Ware chamber sets and washstand accessories: Asiatic Pheasant
Stokesay Ware: two Blue Willow slop-pails
Stokesay Ware: Nursery Ware slop-pail
All but the very smallest of Stokesay Wares’ toilet articles carry one or other of Stokesay’s maker’s marks on the underside. They are usually applied in the main colour from the design:
Stokesay Ware maker’s marks in two shades of blue on pieces of Asiatic Pheasant chamber ware.
The above illustrations show the current maker's marks. The STOKESAY or SW mark is used depending on the size of the piece. At the start of her career, Karen didn't mark her work at all, then the earliest pieces to be marked carried the initials SW executed freehand.
In recent years, Stokesay Ware have discontinued much of their chamber ware, or produce it only intermittently, so it is now quite hard to find, especially the smaller washstand accessories. Secondhand items sell on eBay for prices which reflect this. Occasionally, brand new toilet articles or "new old stock" of discontinued items turn up on eBay from the makers themselves, selling as stokesayarchive, or on the Stokesay Ware stand at Kensington Dollshouse Festivals and Miniatura.
Probably my personal favourite miniature potters, Avon Miniatures were a husband and wife team, Keith and Donna Brown. They attended fairs from the mid-late 1980s, and were one of the first miniaturists to sell online via their own website. Donna and Keith retired from attending fairs about 15 years ago; the website continued for a few years after. I know that Keith died not long after their final fair; I don’t know whether Donna is still alive. Over the years, their output was prodigious: a huge amount of very fine pottery in a diverse range, in lots of different plain colours or several patterns, which included kitchenware, tableware, ornamental vases, “picture” plates – and chamber sets. Most of my houses are far from grand – they almost always are the homes of what were once termed “working-class” families, set in the years 1900, 1933, 1965, 1996 and 2015. Avon Miniatures' pottery is typical of the everyday articles that would have been found in any of these households in real life. Only one – set in 1940, but furnished in late Victorian style, with 1920s and 30s additions – is a more affluent household, but, even here, some of the chamber ware, is by Avon.
Avon Miniatures: Willow Pattern chamber ware
Avon Miniatures: Old Roses
Avon Miniatures: Pink “set”
Avon Miniatures: Octagonal set in white with gold trim
The Willow Pattern sets illustrate two variations of the design, with two different shapes of basin. The pink pieces are the same colour and were bought at the same time, secondhand, but may not strictly be a set, even though they go well together, because, while the ewer is completely plain, the pretty, fluted basin has a repeated stylised flower motif with a raised centre, and the chamber pot differs again – it has a similar flower to the one on the basin, but with fewer “petals” and a centre which is depressed rather than proud. The octagonal set is a special favourite of mine – the shape is the same as several chamber sets produced in the early 1920s for Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House, at Windsor Castle (UK), by Cauldon, a (full-size) Staffordshire pottery firm. These miniature sets were copies of the full-size articles produced by Cauldon at the time, as "suitable for use by children and servants". They're displayed in the young Princess Royal's room, and the bedrooms of the domestic staff.
Avon Miniatures: Pale beige jug and bowl set, with a Rose chamber pot
Avon Miniatures: Primrose chamber pot
This plain pale beige jug and bowl was one of my earliest miniatures buys, in 1992. I didn’t keep detailed records in those days (how I wish I had!) but I believe I bought it from Fiddly Bits, Hilary Swallow’s dolls’ house shop which used to be in Knutsford (UK). The two pieces did have a matching chamber pot when I bought them, but that was given to a friend about 10 years ago. The Rose chamber pot illustrated above has the same background colour as the plain wash set it’s shown with. These Rose and Primrose chamber pots were bought online in the last year or so from Karon Cunningham. Avon produced chamber ware decorated with several other different flower designs, and in a variety of other plain colours.
My six Avon Miniatures chamber pots, showing how they vary in size
This variation is to be expected when items are truly hand-made. Unlike Stokesay Ware, Avon never produced slop-pails to accompany their chamber sets, neither did they make washstand accessories, apart from a shaving mug:
Two views of an Avon Miniatures shaving mug
I was thrilled to spot this one on Pat Cutforth’s Cancer Research Charity stall at Miniatura (Birmingham, UK) a few years ago, and snapped it up! It’s very tiny – those bands in the photo’s background are only 8mm wide.
Two versions of the Avon Miniatures’ maker’s mark
The Avon mark is a monogram composed principally of the initials D (Donna) and K (Keith), but arranged in such a way that A (Avon), M (Miniatures) and B (Brown) are also discernible. Depending on the design of the base of the piece, the mark was either moulded proud or was incised, as shown.
Avon also used to supply plain white china pieces to other artisans to hand paint. These artists included June Astbury, Christopher Whitford and Pat Venning. About two years ago, I saw a painted Avon chamber set on eBay, which looked very like June Astbury’s work. Surprisingly, the set included a slop-pail. Judging by its shape, it appeared to be a cheap imported metal bucket, with a lid, which had been painted to match the china. (As well as working on ceramics, June Astbury regularly painted metal to resemble china). The seller was in the USA, and I didn’t think to ask permission use her photos, at the time. At the time of writing (March, 2020), Swan House Miniatures in the USA has an Avon teapot for sale which has been painted by Christopher Whitford.
Apart from rare finds on sites such as Swan House Miniatures, Avon pieces are now only available secondhand. Whether new or previously-owned, prices can be high.
Carol started-out as a “full-size” potter in 1980, before moving into miniatures gradually over a few years. By 1990, most of her output was in 1:12 scale. Carol preferred to throw pots, rather than cast them in moulds, so there was often minor individual variation between similar pieces, although she did use moulds when matching items were needed for sets such as dinner services. She has not produced miniatures for a long time now.
I have just one chamber set by Carol, decorated with blue sponging. It came to me about 10 years ago, secondhand, via eBay. The ewer and chamber pot are on the smaller side of 1:12 scale, so the set fits beautifully into my 1:16 1900-set worker’s cottage.
Blue spongeware chamber set by Carol Lodder
Comparing the size of chamber sets by Carol Lodder and Avon Miniatures
Carol Lodder marked her pieces with a simple incised CL monogram on the underside:
Carol Lodder’s maker’s mark
Another miniatures ceramicist active in the late 1980s and throughout the 90s, Pat Venning was known for her beautifully handpainted pottery, including her interpretations of Clarice Cliff designs. Pat made her own pots, as well as painting on plain white ones supplied by Avon Miniatures. I do not know exactly when Pat retired.
The shaving set below is all I have of Pat Vennings’ work in my entire collection:
Three-piece shaving set by Pat Venning
Pat Venning’s maker’s mark
The shaving set is very dainty – the mug is even smaller than the Avon one! A tiny jug for hot water and a lidded soap bowl complete the set.
Pieces by Pat Venning or Carol Lodder are rarely seen for sale these days but they do occasionally appear on eBay.
A Woman’s Touch (Vicki Halperin)
Vicki Halperin took over the trading name of A Woman’s Touch when Rachel Munday retired, about 20 years ago. Vicki herself hasn’t appeared at fairs for quite some time, but the website, and the shop at The Old Bell Pottery in Lechlade, Gloucestershire (UK), are still open at the time of writing (March 2020).
Victorian mug advertising toothpaste, by Vicki Halperin, A Woman’s Touch
My pot, bought at Vicki’s last appearance at the Kensington Dollshouse Festival, has no maker’s mark.
Nikki Nakki Nu (Nikki Newboult)
Nikki is another very talented ceramicist, who works in both 1:12 and 1:24 scales – some of her tiniest dishes are minute and hardly any thicker than a piece of paper! I have used a number of her smaller pieces as soap dishes and she makes very pretty small trays, which also come in handy on washstands. None of Nikki's pieces that I have carry a maker's mark.
A miscellany of small china pieces
In the image above, Nikki Newboult’s pieces are the two trays and the five rectangular flat dishes around them. The white lidded pot is Chrysnbon plastic! The three pieces in the column on the left are all Stokesay Ware.
I’ve had the Stokesay Ware powder bowl since 1993 – it was one of my first SW buys. Underneath it is the pot for melted butter from Stokesay’s discontinued Blue Willow asparagus serving set. Something like 10 years ago, I persuaded Karen to sell me a pot alone because I wanted it use on a washstand – I was delighted when she agreed. The final item is a Blue Willow beaker, actually sold as a washstand accessory!
Nikki is very much a live trader - she usually sells her beautiful china at the Kensington Dollshouse Festival. She doesn't have a website.
Washstands and pot cupboards
Whilst most of the china on the washstands in my houses is from the very fine makers above, where necessary, I have filled any gaps with cheaper imported pieces. What follows is an array of washstands and pot cupboards “dressed”.
The washstand from the girls’ bedroom, Ketterley Manor.
All the ceramic pieces above are Stokesay Ware Persian Rose fine china. The toothbrushes, with real bristles, are by L & A St Leger. The 1930s brand toothpaste box is from Shepherd Miniatures. The washstand, by Bernard McQueenie, has Terry Curran tiles.
The washstand from Professor Kirke’s bedroom, Ketterley Manor.
All the ceramic pieces are Stokesay Ware Asiatic Pheasant fine china. Toothbrush and toothpaste box as above. The washstand is by Dennis Jenvey.
The smaller washstand in the boys’ bedroom, Ketterley Manor.
Avon Miniatures Willow Pattern ewer and basin. The toothbrushes, in a Stokesay Ware Blue Willow beaker, are by L & A St Leger, as before. The toothpaste box is again from Shepherd Miniatures. Two imported blue and white 1:24 pie dishes stand in for finer SW soap dishes and sponge bowls, now discontinued. The plain white towels, simply decorated with drawn thread work (just seen), are by Eleonora Cappelletti. The boys have been provided with a Blue Willow slop-pail from Stokesay Ware, but it got left out of the photo! The washstand was bought on eBay. Its maker is unknown, but it does have Terry Curran tiles.
The second washstand in the boys’ bedroom, Ketterley Manor.
Another Avon Miniatures Willow Pattern chamber set, with a different basin, complete with chamber pot. Shaving set by Pat Venning. The pair of gentleman’s hairbrushes with “tortoiseshell” backs is by L & A St Leger. The “ivory” shoehorn is by Danny Shotton. The “washstand” is an imported dressing table with faux bamboo detailing, by Jia-Yi.
The “plumbed washstand” from the family bathroom in Ketterley Manor.
All the white china pieces shown are imported. The beaker and lidded pot were sold as 1:12 scale, all the rest is 1:24 table and kitchenware. The nail brush is by L & A St Leger, the hair tonic bottle from Sussex Crafts, c1994. The washstand itself, a copy of the full-size one in Lord and Lady Robartes' bathroom in Lanhydrock, was made to commission by Gary and Heidi Masters (Masters Miniatures). I added the “marble” – printed paper laminated with colourless, self-adhesive library film. This piece is the exception to the "no plumbing" rule quoted in my introduction. I've included it to show how the wealthy wished to disguise their early plumbed fittings as more conventional furniture.
The other, non-plumbed, washstand from the family bathroom in Ketterley Manor,
The 1:12 and 1:24 white china is, again, imported. The shaving stand is by L & A St Leger – I’ve just realised I don’t know who made its fine ceramic bowls. It's possible that they're Stokesay Ware. I must ask Laurence at the next fair. The nail clippers are by Nhu (Pham) Nizza, who trades as “Itsy Bitsy Mini”. The clippers came from the USA, via eBay seller lacyhome4boys. I bought the very well-made, but unsigned, washstand from Pat Cutforth’s Cancer Research charity stall at Miniatura in 2018. Does anyone recognise the maker? Its tiles are very fine and could be by Ann Shepley or Terry Curran - both long retired.
The housekeeper’s bedroom washstand in Ketterley Manor.
Avon Old Roses ewer and basin - the matching chamber pot is still in the bedside cabinet. Stokesay Ware Asiatic Pheasant beaker and soap dish, and Persian Rose slop-pail. 1:24 flan dish, as sponge bowl, by Nikki Nakki Nu. Wrapped soap by Emma Jane Miniatures. Toothbrush with bristles, L & A St Leger. Toothpaste box and tin of Wintergreen Embrocation by Shepherd Minatures. Harrods Cold Cream pot, Terry Curran. “Tortoiseshell” combs and hand mirror by Jane Woodham (Truly Scrumptious). Embroidered sponge bag and slippers, Emma Jane Miniatures. The washstand is the 'Classic' design by Cliff Brown (Edwardian Elegance).
The washstand from the parlourmaid's bedroom, Ketterley Manor
Avon Miniatures white and gold octagonal chamber set. Stokesay Ware Blue Willow slop-pail. Imported 1:12 and 1:24 white china to make up washstand set. Toothbrush and toothpaste box as above. In the pot at the back on the right is a set of Chrysnbon manicure tools, their handles handpainted as “tortoiseshell” by an unknown artist – bought from Kristin Baybars’ shop, London, (UK) in November 2018. The washstand is by the late Jane Newman. The Stokesay Ware Asiatic Pheasant tiled splashback is original to the piece.
The washstand from the maid-of-all-work's bedroom, Ketterley Manor.
Avon Miniatures Pink chamber set (possibly mismatched, because there are design differences between all three pieces). Imported white china beaker and 1:24 kitchenware dishes, with floral decoration, complete the washstand setting. Her dentures are from an eBay job lot, in a tumbler which should be accompanying the Phil Grenyer (Glasscraft) plain carafe on her bedside cabinet. The washstand was bought on eBay. Its maker is unknown. Does anyone recognise it?
The hierarchy which existed in British domestic service in the first half of the 20th century is reflected in the equipping of the washstands, shown in the three preceeding images. Whilst the housekeeper, Mrs Macready, doesn't have a fully matching set, the quality of the ware is finer than that provided for the maids, and it does at least co-ordinate fairly well. The Avon set is typical of the superior quality supplied to senior servants. The finer slop-pail will have been bought originally for use by "the family", but now surplus to their requirements has come down to the housekeeper's room.
Next in the pecking order, is the Manor's parlourmaid, 20-year old Ivy. Her matching Art Deco-inspired jug, bowl and pot are of a style and standard which were provided for servants of her status in the 1920s, but the slop-pail is mismatched. Like the housekeeper's, it is a replacement from the household's stock of spares, presumably following a breakage.
Betty is the (very nearly) 40-year old maid-of-all-work. She first came to the Manor as a 12-year old "tweeny", in the days when there were far more servants. She does all the "rough" housework, the laundry, prepares vegetables, and does the washing-up. Her lower status in the household is reflected in the motley assortment of leftovers from the rest of the house which have been cobbled together for her chamber ware – very little matches, and she even has an old nursery slop-pail.
Ketterley’s towel horses
Towel horses were an essential adjunct to the washstands in more affluent homes, if there was no rail attached to the washstand. All the rounded-top ones shown above are from Heidi Ott; the other two, Streets Ahead. All the embroidered towels, and the one decorated with drawn thread work on the washstand, are by Eleonora Cappelletti. The maker of the towels on the rails next to the washstand is unknown. They came with the piece, which was bought from a friend. The other similar horse was an eBay buy. The lace-trimmed yellow towels came from a US eBay seller, who is now retired.
From left to right, the towels in the above illustration have been taken from the rooms of Professor Kirke, Susan and Lucy (the girls), Mrs Macready (the housekeeper), Peter and Edmund (the boys), the “family” bathroom, Ivy and Betty (the maids). Eleonora Cappelletti is an Italian artisan who specialises in exquisite miniature needlework and embroidery. She exhibits regularly at the Kensington Dollshouse Festival. I bought the towels from her, one set at a time, at the four successive shows in 2018 and 2019.
1:12 and 1:16 pot cupboards
1:12 pot cupboards, all from Ketterley Manor.
Further details for the cabinets shown above, including locations, from left to right:
Housekeeper’s bedroom: top of cabinet, clockwise from top left: silver chamber stick, Gordon Blacklock (this has a minute detachable snuffer!) imported alarm clock, eBay; plain carafe set, Phil Grenyer (Glasscraft); 1:24 paper doily, Dale Kendall; small dummy book, as Bible, Ellie de Lacy. Pot: Avon Miniatures Roses. Cabinet: Cliff Brown (Edwardian Elegance).
Girls’ bedroom: top of cabinet, clockwise from top left: box of matches, Pauline Millard (Pauline's Miniature Packages/PMP); lamp, Ken Batty (Al’turn’ative Proportions); crystalline carafe set, Phil Grenyer (Glasscraft); small cotton crocheted doily, maker unknown (part of an eBay job lot); silver candlestick and candle, Terence Stringer (several years retired). Pot: Stokesay Ware Persian Rose. Cabinet: Gary & Heidi Masters (Masters Miniatures), made to commission.
Ivy’s bedroom: top of cabinet: Art Deco alarm clock, Hall’s Miniature Clocks; plain carafe set, Phil Grenyer (Glasscraft); 1:24 paper doily, Dale Kendall. Pot: Avon Miniatures White and Gold Octagonal. Cabinet: part of an eBay job lot, possibly German, and obviously fairly old.
Betty’s bedroom: top of cabinet: small dummy book, as Bible, Ellie de Lacy; plain carafe, Phil Grenyer (Glasscraft) – no glass because it’s holding Betty’s dentures, on her washstand; 1:24 paper doily, Dale Kendall. Pot: Avon Miniatures Pink. Cabinet: another piece from the eBay job lot as the one from Ivy's bedroom shown above; again, it looks as if it's possibly German, and quite old.
It's interesting, I think, that these four cupboards all belong to female members of the household. The Professor and the boys keep their chamber pots under their beds...
1:16 pot cupboards.
Shown above, the cabinet on the left is from 9, Brenville Road, a three-room agricultural worker's cottage, set in 1933. The one on the right is from Brindle Lane Cottage, a one-room workers' cottage, home to a family of eight, which is set in 1900. The details of the two cabinets' displayed items are:
Brenville Road: top of cabinet, clockwise from top left: Cubey’s cough linctus, Shepherd Miniatures; plastic oil lamp, The Littles by Mattel; Art Deco alarm clock, Hall’s Miniature Clocks; Aspro, Shepherd Miniatures. Pot (plastic): Barton/Caroline’s Home, c1965-1975. Cabinet: Barton/Caroline’s Home, c1965-1975.
Brindle Lane Cottage: top of cabinet: chamberstick, Sussex Crafts, c1993; alarm clock, cast metal, painted by Sue Perkins (The Wee Property Company); box of matches, Pauline Millard (Pauline's Miniature Packages/PMP). Pot: Carol Lodder. Cabinet: Sylvanian Families, Epoch, c1991.
The variation in size between nominally 1:12 chamber pots is very marked!
Comparison of the sizes of (mostly!) 1:12 ceramic chamber pots.
From left to right, the details of the above pots are: Avon Willow pattern, Avon Old Roses, Stokesay Ware Asiatic Pheasant, Carol Lodder’s blue spongeware. The last one on the right is not claiming to be 1:12 or ceramic - it's a tiny plastic potty by Dol-Toi.
Now see how a Barton plastic potty compares with one from Stokesay Ware:
A Barton/Caroline’s Home plastic potty on the left, a china Stokesay Ware chamber pot on the right.
I know it's a digression, but I have included the images of the 1:16 Dol-Toi and Barton potties to illustrate their relative sizes compared with the 1:12 ones. The image immediately above shows a nominal Barton/Caroline's Home potty to be virtually the same size as the 1:12 Stokesay Ware example. Perhaps surprisingly, the Barton plastic potties were sold as a set with Barton's bedside cabinets from the early 1960s until as late as the early 1970s - a time when chamber pots for night use by adults were rapidly becoming a rarity. The same size pot was then included as part of the Caroline's Home nursery set, following Barton's re-branding of its dolls' house furniture lines in 1975. This potty was now supposed to be used by a 1:16 toddler, yet given the pot's size, the poor child would never have been able to sit on it! The tiny Dol-Toi potty is much more in scale for a 1:16 infant. The plain white Barton/Caroline’s Home pot, as originally sold with the cabinet, is ideal for 1:16 adult use, though, which is why I have put one in the bedroom in 9 Brenville Road which has no internal plumbing, and is set in 1933.
The next two images show how judicious use of TRUE 1:12 accessories often works well in 1:16, helping to overcome the chronic lack of quality accessories in the smaller scale. A number of artisan-made 1:12 items completed the furnishing of two period 1:16 washstands with all their necessities, one in Brindle Lane Cottage (set in 1900), the other in Brenville Road (1933).
The washstand from Brindle Lane cottage
The details of the washstand above, clockwise from the top left, are: tooth mug, advertising Maw's tooth paste, Vicki Halperin (A Woman’s Touch); ewer and basin, Carol Lodder; shaving mug, Avon Miniatures; shaving soap in ebony bowl, L & A St Leger; cut-throat razor and shaving brush, Danny Shotton; ebony hair brush, L & A St Leger; comb, maker unknown, from the USA, via eBay seller lacyhome4boys; pocket watch, Jane Woodham (Truly Scrumptious); lidded box (plastic), Chrysnbon. The washstand is a 1:16 kitchen table by the late Jane Newman; bought secondhand quite some time ago. A previous owner had vandalised it by by this crude attempt at a "shabby chic" makeover. I’ve not yet found the time to restore it...
The washstand from No 9, Brenville Road
The detailsof the the Brenville Road washstand, clockwise from top left, are: imported white china beaker; toothbrushes, Chrysnbon white plastic, painted by me in suitable 1930s colours; imported 1:24 white china bowl; 1930s toothpaste box, Shepherd Miniatures; white china jug, bought c1993; Chrysnbon white plastic bowl, blue rim painted by me (there’s a blue flower copied from the jug down in the base, as well); 1:24 white china plate, as soap dish; bar of soap, maker unknown, from USA via eBay seller, lacyhome4boys; shaving brush, Danny Shotton; comb, details as soap from USA; Stokesay Ware Blue Willow melted butter pot from discontinued asparagus set; safety razor, L & A St Leger. [Unseen is a spare razor blade from Carol Lester (The Dolls House Mall) - it's underneath the razor in the Stokesay Ware butter dish]; 1:24 cupboard, as washstand, Bill Hall (Just Ann and Bill). Both Ann and Bill retired in 2019.
Other ceramic sanitary ware and related miscellaneous items
Internal plumbing created a need for loo brushes and something in which to keep them. These two different “Sanitary Brushes” are by Terry Curran (now long retired). I bought both of them second-hand, via eBay. Terry didn’t sign his early work – the brown pot shown here has his mark, the blue one doesn’t, but they are both genuine.
Terry Curran “Sanitary Brush” pots complete with original brushes.
Terry Curran’s maker’s mark doesn’t appear on his earliest miniatures. This image also shows the brushes in detail.
Since he retired, Terry's work has become highly sought-after, and currently commands high prices whenever it is offered for sale. It is all secondhand now, apart from a very few pieces still available new from online retailers. In the USA, at the time of writing (March 2020), Swan House Miniatures has 12 different new items for sale, and SP Miniatures has one plate. Doreen Jeffries' website Small Wonders Miniatures has an unused cheese stand and a few tiles, in the UK.
Both Terry Curran pots and their brushes are displayed in Ketterley Manor. Before they’d turned up on eBay, I’d bought the white brushes in the two photos below from US eBay seller, lacyhome4boys. They’re imported from the Far East by Falcon Miniatures.
Falcon Miniatures brushes in Elisabeth Causeret pots
Showing the brushes in detail and Elisabeth Causeret’s maker’s mark.
The brushes aren't as fine as Terry Curran's, but they were very inexpensive - although there was the consideration of international postage to pay and a need for pots to put them in... The pots are by French ceramicist, Elisabeth Causeret – who does sign her work, as shown above. I bought these particular pots at a Kensington Dollshouse Festival in 2018 - having taken one of the Falcon brushes with me to check the fit - and I think they’re perfect for the job. After I'd acquired the Terry Curran ones for the Manor, I moved these Falcon/Elisabeth Causeret combinations into the 1:12 1990s students' house – the brushes are too big to use in any of the 1:16 settings. Elisabeth Causeret currently sells her work at both the Kensington Dollshouse Festival and Miniatura in the UK. She doesn't have a website.
Very much under the “miscellaneous” heading are these hospital-style bedpans:
Faux ceramic bedpans by Teresa Dudley
They're included because the inspiration for the interior of my big Ketterley Manor is Lanhydrock House, near Bodmin, in Cornwall (UK). For Ketterley, I’m planning to recreate Lanhydrock’s Sluice Room, in which there’s this set of shelves:
Spare bedpans, pails, potties and a bidet in the Sluice Room, Lanhydrock House, Cornwall, UK
I’ve managed to get at least one miniature to represent most of these things – the spare flowery Avon Miniatures chamber pots, two Stokesay Ware bidets, the bedpans shown above, and some very cheap imported lidded metal buckets which, in theory, can be painted to look more like china slop-pails – IF I ever find the time! The miniature bedpans aren’t actually ceramic – I think they’re some form of polymer clay – but look very good when displayed. They’re made by an American miniaturist, Teresa Dudley (Northern Lites Miniatures), who specialises in medical equipment. She currently lists on eBay (including ebay.co.uk as well as ebay.com): her eBay ID is teresanlm. Out of the above shot, under Lanhydrock's Sluice Room sink, is a footbath, and on the windowsill are several "stone" (actually glazed coarse earthenware) hot water bottles. I’ve amassed six miniature ones with removable stoppers, by Sussex Crafts . They’re not really any form of ceramic – they’re some sort of casting resin – but they look convincing enough!
Sussex Crafts are currently actively trading. They appear at Miniatura and also sell via their own website.
Stone/earthenware hot water bottles by Sussex Crafts
An assortment of hot water cans
I wanted to sneak these in, too, because, although they’re definitely not ceramic, metal cans like these were essential for transporting hot water for washing around the bedrooms in larger houses in the days before bathrooms with hot taps. Lanhydrock has them in several sizes and finishes from enamel to polished brass, which I’ve attempted to emulate.
In the illustration above, the green/tan “enamelled” cans were painted by Bob Vincent (Country Contrast); the light cream ones are by Janet Brownhill (Country Treasures). All four were bought at Miniatura in 2018. The rusty cream can is also by Country Treasures, but was bought 25 years before the other two! Janet Brownhill also supplied me with the unfinished ones in 2019, so I could paint them to resemble copper or brass (ha ha – as if I’ll ever get them done!). The big real brass cans are by Derry Mahoney: one was bought from Kristin Baybars’ shop in 2018, the other two online from Karon Cunnningham a year later. I have to confess that, beyond the name, I know nothing about Derry Mahoney. There are several futher examples of Derry Mahoney's work on Karon Cunningham's website, but no biographical details at all. Can anyone enlighten me? The bigger cans were used for filling sponge or hip baths, which needed more hot water than the chamber set ewers.
Ketterley Manor's temporary “Sluice Room” shelves:
Looking nicely filled!
The colourful “enamelware” jugs on the top are another fake – they’re made from printed paper – but they are the work of an exceptional maker: IGMA member Carol Cook. The tins and packets are from Pauline's Miniature Packages (PMP) and Shepherd Miniatures. The "rubber" hot water bottles are imported, and were bought on eBay. The bars of yellow household soap - stored unwrapped to dry and harden, to make them more economical in use - are by eBay seller middlemumsminiatures. Just now, Ketterley’s servants’ bathroom is also acting as the sluice room/housemaids’ closet, but I’m hoping that the Manor’s planned nine-room extension will happen eventually, thereby creating separate provision for the cleaning materials, sanitary wares, spare light bulbs, etc. in a dedicated separate space The patent medicines seen above will then have a shelf of their own in a bathroom much less cluttered than it is at present.
Carol Cook, PMP and Shepherd Miniatures are all currently actively trading, appearing at UK fairs and online. (PMP's website is Weaverthorpe Miniatures).
Now that we're all clean and comfortable, we’ll visit the kitchens in the next instalment of this tour through my artisan-crafted household ceramics!