Jump to content

Chicago 2015 Guild Study Program


Recommended Posts

I frequently think of the Thorne Rooms as some of the finest miniatures that we can see... I must admit that miniatures hold that place in my heart, "a happy place" as the creativity and results that I see in the miniature community in the U.S. is amazing...ordinary people doing extraordinary work.


I've always told myself that if the GSP was held locally, where I can drive... that I definitely will try and attend. 


I enjoyed my class with Allison Ashby and Steve Jedd's contribution to our project.  11 students participated in Allison's class where we worked on the rococco overmantle of The Thorne Room, English Bedroom of the Georgian Period, 1760-75.


Our prework was promptly sent allowing us to focus our creativity by working to shade a template; this created an opportunity to view the overmantle with a different vision; that is, a sort of 3-d vision.  Our assignment was to shade and draw the details of the overmantle with a pencil.


Day 1: Allison supplied us with a set of wax carving tools, clay, and pattern for the overmantle. 

We began modeling with clay... with Allison's instruction and demonstration.  I did not experience much progress on Day 1, and Allison was prepared and managed our expectations well, advising us early in the day, that Day 2 will be much better.


Day 2:  She was correct, and the ability to herd the clay with our tools was beginning to happen!


Day 3:  I thought most of the class participants were very relaxed and enjoying our final day. 


Except for Petitpoint; this might be the slowest medium that I have ever attempted to use... still I am pleased with my efforts as a beginner learning a new technique, and also pleased that such wonderful results can be obtained with some modeling tools, xacto knife and some fine sandpaper.


I have been working dilligently, as I was apprenhensive that I would lose the technique if I didn't keep working on it when I returned home; so I continued to work the next evening after returning from Chicago.


Here are some photos of my progress...




18 hours of class time 10/5/2015




10/12/2015 and the "laying tool" that I created as part of my cursory 100 hours exercise on a wood lathe






You can see in the photos that some progress has been made each week - and I am hoping to be finished with the carving in 4-5 weeks...


It was a wonderful class!  If anyone has the book, Percy Macquoid's "Dictionary of English Furniture (1924-27)"  or the Dover reprint Volumes 1-4, please let me know if the Bed is truly in the books as indicated in the Copy of the description written in the Thorne Rooms Book, "Miniature Rooms".  I would like to see if the bed is a remote possibility... the crown of the bed looks like water drops in motion and it might be a fun, although insane item to consider as a future project.


I will try and source the wallpaper from Susan Bembridge Designs in the UK.... and I am planning on using this bedroom in the dream structure build... appears that it will be Georgian structure....


A Foredom flex shaft tool can be used for this project... but so far I have only used hand tools, so for those miniaturists who are fond of power tools, you can obtain wonderful results without power tools.


I hope Allison considers offering this kind of class again in the future; as I think there are more miniaturists who would enjoy learning this technique.


oh... and the Salmon was wonderful Friday night, and the hotel staff was accomodating... they even brought us warm cookies one afternoon...


Definitely a great experience, so I hope others will participate in a Guild Study Program in the future!





As a sidenote, the "laying tool" is used to assist a needleworker to pull threads tightly against the tool, and then you slip the tool out. It allows you to lay your threads evenly... the tool is not frequently used for petipoint, but it is a nice tool and gift for a needleworker... I took the photo with the project for our Petitpointers group.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The carving looks great Tamra, if I understand correctly, you have a flat wooden base with clay on top that has the carved details and I assume that you shape the clay while it is still wet.

I think I have the book you are talking about, will check a bit later today if I can find the bed in there.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Tamra, I couldn't find the bed in my copy of the book, mine is a 1991 reprint of the 1988 edition. It does say in the front of the book that is an exact reprint of the original book.

I did a google search on Chippendale pagoda four poster beds and found this one, gilded but the carving and bed posts looks similar to the bed in the Thorne room's miniature version. The real bed is in Saltram house in the UK.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Elga, I think the process you describe is accurate, but the clay is modeled both when wet and dry, it is easier to fine tune the details when it is dry the next day...


Thanks for looking at your books, the version referenced in the copy of the Thorne Rooms Book, is a little expensive, and I couldn't find a set of 4 volumes inexpensively yesterday in my searches... I'll check the interlibrary system to see if I can borrow it from another library here in the US...


It was fun to visit the photos of the Saltram House.


Just in case I missed something, I will look at my Chippendale Book again tonite to see if I can find a drawing of my raindrop canopy bed.  I don't remember seeing it....

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Tamra, I just realised my book is A History of English furniture not Dictionary of English furniture and was originally published from 1904 to 1908 in four volumes, sorry for that mistake.

I found an old postcard of the Saltram house bed...I wonder what happened to the beautiful bed hangings at the back and the bedspread?


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Elga, I wonder if the bed linens on your postcard were crewel work... it is so similar in style to petitpoint that Annelle Ferguson has illustrated in her book.  I wish I could see how the fabric was gathered on the underside of the canopy and I have always wondered how to gather that much fabric into the center of a canopy bed; and can't decide if it is more difficult to do gather on a miniature canopy or a life size canopy.


Oh, I wish I could have a better view of that carpet... and then my mind wanders - I ALWAYS want to know if the existing furnishings today were original;  this is when time traveling would be a wonderful resource in our fact gathering missions. 


From the photos published in the Thorne Rooms book, the bed's canopy makes me think of raindrops...so if I ever make one, mine would be called the raindrop canopy bed.  Maybe I can drop Ralph Lauren an email and ask if they can include this bed in the future design line. 


Based upon the photos of the bed in the book, and the photos of the original bed it is interesting to see the differences of the very ornate carvings on the canopy.  They were not excluded from but they do not appear to be as ornate; so a visit back to the CAI may be required to study the bed in person.


My review of The Gentleman & Cabinet-Maker's Director (3rd edition reprint) by Chippendale does give me a resource for the bed posts, but the canopy is not pictured in this book.... so the search continues.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

I also wondered if it is crewel work...it does look like it.

As to the tented canopy, I did see a photo of it yesterday and found it again :-)


I think one would need to use a very thin silk like china silk and on this bed it is pleated which I think is a great idea for a mini version as it would be less bulky...now you are making my fingers itch to start on the four poster bed I want to make for my Cape Dutch house!

I found this link that shows a bit of the process, the hole in the middle is also a great idea I think...now to see if it will work in miniature.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Elga, that is a beautiful link that you posted for the canopy's gathering of silk.  The Chair pictured directly behind the bed is in Chippendale book listed above.... and I noticed that the bedspread has changed again in this photograph... I may already have a silk that I can use for upholstering, but I'll wait until I get the wallpaper. 


It is a beautiful bed that you selected for your Cape Dutch house...





Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

After a long wait for delivery (14+ days), I received "A History of English Furniture" by Percy Macquiod in the mail today, copyright 1988 Bracken Books, London.  I suspect the life size bed photographed today, and the miniature bed at the Thorne Rooms is based upon the bed in Fig. 523 in the Volume, The Age of Mahogany.  The Bed is described as Mahogany and Gilt Bed, 12 feet 7 inches; length 7 feet; width 7 feet.  Property of the Duke of Marlborough.  This is the only bed that in my words, has undulating waves of water in motion carved in its canopy.  This is important to note the height of the original bed at 12 feet 7 inches, as the measurements of the Thorne Room is published as 12x19x19-1/4... clearly a dilemma... The original bed is much more ornate, then the picture of the bed photographed in Elga's Posts #4 & #6.


At least now, my curiosity has been satisfied , and I will now try and cross reference with Chippendale's book to make a decision about the design of the bed's canopy.


The original books that Mrs. Thorne refers to as noted in this particular European Room,  when it slows down and I can get to the library I am determined to borrow the 1920s version of the book and will try and verify if the books are indeed exact reproduction of the original and report to the forum.


I have made some progress on the carvings, and silk has been received, so the height of the room is the next decision as the wallpaper height has to be determined.  Amazing that both of my silk options that I ordered on line, are good options, and very similar to the color of the bed covering in both of my Thorne Room Books.


So the question is - do I alter to accept an authentic height of bed or make the room as Mrs. Thorne represented.... ?  Decisions!



Link to comment
Share on other sites

We are looking in the wrong set of books Tamra, in the Thorne rooms book it says the bed is in the Dictionary of English furniture that consisted of three volumes and was written by Percy Macquoid and Ralph Edwards, it is a different set of books than the four volume set A History of furniture that we looked in, the wikipedia article on Percy Macquoid says that he died in 1925 and since the second set of books were written from 1924-1927, I suspect that Percy started it and Ralph finished it after Percy's death.

I hope you can fnd the other set of books in a library, they cost a small fortune on all the websites where I saw it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think they are the same set of four volumes, just the republished versions indicate "history", instead of dictionary.... I feel like a history detective... would be fun to tour the UK and see the bed in person though... I wonder if the Duke's residence would consider my request... "Hello Sir, If I might make a inquiry to see the carvings of the Duke's bed?   It shall only take me 20 minutes to photograph and measure.  You see, I'm working on a dream project of mine..."  <Reality snap>   Well, perhaps we will find the bed in the V & A.


I wonder if I can see the book by visiting the Chicago Art Institute as Mican indicates they have many of drawings, books, etc from Mrs. Thorne.  I'll try the interlibrary system first and see what it produces before asking for an appt at the CAI.   Next option is a plane ticket to Washington DC for the Library of Congress and then a quick visit to the Smithsonian ...this trip would have to be timed with spring to see the Cherry trees....



Link to comment
Share on other sites

May I wade in on this beautiful topic? The cover in the last picture in Elga's post #8 looks like "trapunto," which is a puffy quilting technique. On further inspection, it may be the same cover as in the first picture. At first I thought the cover in the first picture was damask, but look at the thickness of it as it lays across the foot of the bed; more like the trapunto piece.

The cover in the middle picture looks to me like the same floral fabric of the drapes and canopy curtains, but it seems to have a crewel embroidery edging, the green hills. Note the same effect is at the bottom hem of the headboard draperies.

I've been studying bed dressings in preparation for my 1850 Plantation Bedroom at Aragon. Maybe we should start a new thread in Textiles!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Martha, I think it would be fun to have a new topic in textiles!  I suspect the crewel work in Elga's photo in post #6 is more period appropriate for the room - but I have to make a decision to go for my interpretation of the room vs. a reproduction of Mrs. Thorne's work... It could take me years to make the crewel work in mini, so using the solid silks is the immediate solution, but as a person who enjoys needlework, crewel would be a long-time goal,  but it will have to wait until the Casket is complete.


I am guessing that the quilt that is on the bed in other photos (post #8) is used when we have the older items 'resting' for preservation purposes.


I have always been a fan of "here & now" genre, as it is not restrictive and can work through the structure and place items that speak to my heart..  This is the first time, in a really long time that I have actually considered putting on my fussy historical hat ...



  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 years later...

in 2019, I have been working periodically on the beginning of this room...

Mar 2019 I was thrilled to purchase mudmen for the overmantle as photographed in the Thorne Rooms book from the St Louis Miniature Museum Gift shop - this treasure was well worth the drive from Indy to St Louis and thank you to my friend Roni for sharing the drive with me!

May 2019 I received my bespoke wallpaper from Susan Bembridge at the Kensington show.  I requested the Sutton Park Chinese Yellow wallpaper be warmed a bit and sent two samples of silk to adjust the colors...there were so many wonderful details to study in the UK - our group trip of miniaturists was truly a dream come true for me.  

August 2019 I received my first supply of 3/8" Medium Density Overlay and dear son patiently cut my pieces of MDO of his father's table saw per my specifications for the room box... I do need to do some routing for the wire runs, as I have decided I will use round wire.

Earlier today, dear husband cut some 1.25" thick quartersawn cherry into slices of wood for floors... this was my only Christmas wish, that he would rip the cherry for me as I'm not comfortable using his life size table saw and only 3 days after Christmas... I'm quite pleased looking at my stack of cherry!

I am happy that I can begin 2020 ripping my cherry into smaller widths with my preac table saw and lay some floors...  I must examine the photos again for this European room, and I hope to celebrate the dawn of the new year by spending a couple of hours with my table saw and re-saw my  pile of thin ripped boards into properly sized floor boards.  

Dear husband purchased this jig from Rockler, and the boards are very consistent... and the jig did work as we thought it would work.  


Unfortunately, the Alison Davies Bed that we purchased for the room is not tall enough so a new plan must be developed to  create a bed with much higher posts... and must find my silk!

In the interim, I am getting new glasses for stitching soon, and hope to return to a more frequent visit of silk gauze and fiber, too.

I enjoy the new year and a fresh start for our projects... what will you work on in 2020?





Link to comment
Share on other sites

Tamra, I am looking forward to seeing your room. I am bust working on a Victorian bedroom roombox and am hoping to have enough time this year to also finish a parlor room box and to construct another room for my Cape Dutch house.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Create New...