Archive for the ‘Book Review’ Category

This is a Paper Palace to Cut Out and Color - Evaline Ness

This is a Paper Palace to Cut Out and Color
Designed by Evaline Ness
ISBN 0-684-14708-4

My mother gave this book to me way back in the mid 1970s.

She had come across it in a cut-price bookshop that used to be on the Kilburn High Road (in London).

Shops like these are the last chance for a book that has been remaindered.

If a book doesn’t sell there it is pulped, and I have always been glad and grateful that this one, at least, was rescued.

I have never taken the book apart in order to turn it into a 3d palace, but I have decorated (and re-decorated) again and again in my imagination.

One of the things that I find particularly pleasing about it is the way the shape of two of the rooms is changed by the triangular supports.

This is a Paper Palace to Cut Out and Color - Evaline Ness - back cover

Then there is the way that it is possible to allow furniture to spill out of the rooms, not to mention the way that the owner of the palace is encouraged to use their imagination – and plenty of gold !

This is a Paper Palace - Evaline Ness

Whenever I need to make something fine and golden for a dolls’ house, this is one of the first places that I visit for inspiration.


The book is still in copyright, so I can’t share it it great detail here –

This is a Paper Palace - Evaline Ness



– but if you are inspired to make a Paper Palace of your own, and would like some furniture to go in it, I would suggest having a look at the digital copy of The Girl’s Own Toy-Maker that is available from Google books.

It has some rather nice furniture patterns (as well as suggestions for a couple of small houses and other paper toys) that can be made from paper / card and I think that all of the designs could be worked up into something more substantial – with a little bit of work.

Here are a few of the simpler items –

The Girl's Own Toymaker - Dolls' HouseChair

The Girl's Own Toymaker - Dolls' House Chair with Arms

The Girl's Own Toymaker - Dolls' House Table

The Girl's Own Toymaker - Dolls' House Fireplace

The Girl's Own Toymaker - Dolls' House Washstand

I was delighted to discover that there is a companion volume for boys too –

The Boy’s Own Toy-Maker

The Boy's Own Toy-Maker - soldiers marching out of a fort

Read Full Post »

Miniature Kitchen Loves and Sweet Inspiration Kim Marshall Saulter 1

I have to ration my time on the internet to one hour a day (otherwise I would be here all day !) and I overspent my “Blog Budget” wildly last week – so I really shouldn’t be here at all.

However, I have just seen this book by Kim Marshall Saulter and instantly knew that it was one of those Must See Things That Had to Be Shared.

There is a very generous 21 page preview of the book on Blurb here –

 Miniature Kitchen Loves and Sweet Inspirations

Kim Marshall Saulter - Kitchen Loves and Sweet Inspirations

Read Full Post »

Robert Opie's Victorian Scrapbook - endpaper

Robert Opie’s Victorian Scrapbook.

ISBN 1872727735

62 pages, full colour throughout (photographs by Paul Forrester)

Copyright 1995 Robert Opie and  New Cavendish Books

(and if any of the above ask me to remove these photographs I will do so immediately)

Robert Opie started to collect ephemera at an early age.

The collection grew steadily to embrace toys, magazines, technology, travel, souvenirs, fashion and design – and a very small portion of it is now featured in a series of books

These are very generously sized – 38cm x 26.7cm – and I have found them to be an invaluable reference for getting the “feel” of a period right.

The Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising  ( in London) now houses Robert Opie’s collection and it is very well worth a visit.

Sadly, the website for the museum is not very exciting, although it is clearly laid out and does provide details of access, opening times and an opportunity to buy the books – and I would encourage anyone who is interested in historical detail to add these to their collection immediately.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


I like to imagine that Robert Opie’s parents Peter and Iona Opie encouraged their son in his efforts, as they were dedicated researchers and collectors too.


10th May, 2013

The Londonist has a podcast interview with Robert Opie.

The pair tour the museum, discuss the history of product advertising and to what extent brands reflect contemporary culture and lifestyle.


I enjoy the Londonist podcasts and I hope that you will too

Read Full Post »

This week we have had rain, snow, sleet, hail, fog – so I haven’t been able to do all the things I was planning to do.

It did, however, mean that I had a chance to start rearranging my bookcase.

I need to do this because, although I had made a solemn promise to myself not to buy any more books, I was tempted beyond endurance by a copy of The Carole and Barry Kaye Museum of Miniatures Catalogue.

It is not very large – 10 inches by 8 1/2 inches and 110 pages – and it is absolutely full of colour photographs of dolls’ houses, miniature scenes and accessories collected by Carole Kaye.

I was fascinated by the American scenes and decor and there were makers who were completely new to me – the work of Rainbow Hand being a wonderful new discovery.

There were also some very beautifully dressed and modelled dolls by George Stuart, which I had never seen before. However, I made the mistake of reading the short paragraph about his Charles II (which is quite stunning to look at) and became intensely annoyed…

Charles II was not “the second in the line of Stuart Kings” – he was the third – James I of England (and 6th of Scotland), Charles I, Cromwell (not a king at all), Charles II – and what is wrong with paying your debts? and the king did not personally plunge the United Kingdom into endless wars – as seems to be implied –

and –

…and then I calmed down a bit

…and remembered that History is Written by The Winners

…and a great deal depends on which books you have read

…and what you have been told

So, no more words, but some pictures – which are far more interesting!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I am told that only part of the Carole and Barry Kaye collection is featured in this catalogue and sadly the Museum is now closed, so I will  never see it in-situ and in its full glory.

The collection has apparently been donated to The Naples Museum of Art and Philharmonic Center for the Arts where some of it (at least) is now on display as part of the museum’s permanent collection – although I have not been able to find any details about it on their website.

Read Full Post »

What a Life! - and autobiography  (authors E.V.L. & G.M.)

One day in 1911 two Edwardian gentleman sat down with scissors and paste and created a masterpiece – using illustrations from Whiteley’s Catalogue.

It was published under the title What a Life !  – (an autobiography E.V.L. & G.M.) – and I find it  surreal, inventive and very funny.

It also provided the inspiration for my Whiteley’s Catalogue House –

so called because at the bottom of the first page…

What a Life! Chapter 1

there is the picture of a dolls’ house that is, to me, the absolute epitome of late Victorian suburban architecture,

I wanted one, in miniature, quite desperately the minute I saw it.

OPen House Miniatures - Whiteley's catalogue Dolls Houses, August 2011

I made the first one at least 15 years ago now and I have just completed numbers 19 and 20.

Over the years they have changed a little bit here and there, but they are still one of my favourite houses to make.

Size wise they have remained pretty much the same – the base is 1 and 1/4 inches (3.15cm) wide by 1 inch (2.5cm) deep and from the base to the top of the chimney pots is approximately 2 and 1/5 inches (6.3cm).

I do not know who made the original house, or what size it was, or what colours it was painted in, so you could say that these are mostly my own invention, but they would never have been made if  E.V.L. & G.M. had not sat down with scissors and paste and created What a Life !

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

What A Life! – (an autobiography E.V.L. & G.M.) , Collins edition 1987, ISBN 00 217796 X (possibly out of print)

Read Full Post »

Open House Miniatures - white elephant screen for doll's house

This White Elephant Screen owes a great deal to Graham Rust, whose book The Painted House is crammed full of designs for murals, screens and fireboards – not to mention studies from nature of flowers, shells, fruit, scenery and wildlife.

It is also full of excellent, professional advice on how to plan a painted project and tips on how to achieve perspective and lighting effects.

I would dearly like – if only I had somewhere to put it ! – a dolls’ house that I could decorate with his designs.

Unfortunately, I am fairly certain that I could never put any furniture in such a house as I would not want to cover up the murals.

My attempt at a compromise is the White Elephant Screen, which is adapted from one of the room plans in The Painted House.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

In the introduction Mr Rust writes that The Painted House is:

…is intended to serve as a pattern book for professional painters and a source of inspiration for those seeking ideas for the decoration of their houses…

This does not mean to say that his designs are copyright free and, if you buy his book and use his ideas, please make sure you give him full credit.

Read Full Post »

Dolls’ Houses – from the V & A Museum of Childhood – ISBN 978-1-85177-546-0

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This is a large book (11 inches tall) of 144 pages and there is at least one full colour photograph on each page.

I bought this book (from Amazon) because I have two Shire books by Halina Pasierbska which I have found very informative and entertaining.

I was very slightly disappointed that this book covers much of the same ground as the two I already have – even to the extent that there are a couple of identical passages in both.

One quotation by Maria Edgeworth (from her 1801 essay on toys in Practical Education) that is repeated, is a favourite of mine –

Our objection to dolls are offered with great submission and due hesitation. With more confidence  we may venture to attack baby houses, an unfurnished baby-house might be a good toy, as it would employ little carpenters and sempstresses to fit it up, but a completely furnished baby-house proves as tiresome to a child as a finished seat is to a young nobleman. After peeping, for in general only a peep can be had, into each apartment, after being thoroughly satisfied that nothing is wanting, and that consequently there is nothing to be done, the young lady lays her doll upon the state bed, if the doll be not twice as large as the bed, and falls fast asleep in the midst of her felicity.

Carping aside – and there is a limit to what is known and can be said about dolls’ houses! – if I had borrowed this book from a library I would not want to return it.

It covers, in a very compact and un-fussy way –

  • a brief history of dolls’ houses – not just those in the V & A – (20 pages)
  • the dolls’ house as a ‘toy’ (10 pages)
  • an overview of the Victoria and Albert Museum’s collection (20 pages)
  • a comparison of kitchens through the ages (18 pages)
  • a comparison of bedrooms and bathrooms through the ages (22 pages)
  • a comparison of reception rooms through the ages (18 pages)
  • an scrutiny of dolls’ house furniture and furnishings (14 pages)

There is then an appendix listing the dolls’ house in the V & A’s collection and a bibliography.

On a purely personal basis, I enjoyed spotting modern items that I recognised.

Some things were very, very familiar and I am willing to bet – at least 50p – that the carpet under the kitchen table of Roma Hopkinson’s House (on page 73) came from Kristin Baybars’ shop because I remember cutting up a piece of  thin, boldly patterned real carpet, sections of which were just right dolls’ house size.

(Note for historians – I bought the carpet from a shop on the Kilburn High Road, in North West London. It was new (in the late 1980s) very thin, and cut beautifully without fraying at all.)

Read Full Post »