Friday, March 30, 2012

Featured Fan Friday

This weeks featured fan is Tara who has created some really unique Victorian style rooms to showcase her Victorian Barbie collections. She is currently in the process of creating a website to showcase her work. When the site becomes available I will let you know. She has graciously sent me some photos as well as some valuable historical information to share with all of you. Tara has some very creative ideas on adding realism to your dollhouse and diorama settings. The following is written by Tara. All photographs belong solely to her, posted here with permission.  Enjoy!~

Front Entrance Hall

The Entrance Hall set the tone of the house. Every Victorian dwelling had one, even if it was a tiny closet-sized anteroom fit only for wiping boots and sheltering the guest from inclement weather.
Very civilized, if you think about it!
In wealthier homes the Entrance Hall, or foyer grew larger and more elaborate, and was an indication of how comfortably well off the owners were.  It served as a formal waiting area where the visitor could be officially greeted by the head parlor maid or, if they were really affluent, the butler, who would then announce your arrival to the mistress of the home.  

If you knew your hostess was home and expecting visitors you would take off your coat or cape, hang it up with your bonnet and store your parasol or walking cane. While you waited you could warm yourself by the fireplace they often had one in the foyer check out the mirror to make sure you were tidy and admire the wealth of your friend and ponder how well she had married.

Victorian women operated under a burden of protocol most gals of today would find incomprehensible. In the days before telephones.....and certainly Twitter!! }A typical middle or upper class woman socialized by having "Home Days" and "Visiting Days". These were official specific afternoons when you were prepared for guests to drop by, so you made sure the house was clean and tidy and perfect. Every woman had her own visiting card,  called a "carte de visite" with her name and her Home Days available printed on it, so everyone knew who  was home when, and they all took turns visiting each other. 

A lady would make the rounds by herself, with her daughters or perhaps another friend usually between 3 and 5 pm. They would go specifically to the addresses of friends they knew were having "Home Days" which meant the lady in question was ready and prepared to receive visitors. On Home Day a friend could drop by unannounced, be received in the front hall and then wait for the hostess to appear doubtless in an elegant "at home" outfit to usher you into the Parlor for a nice chat. 

A visit was supposed to last no more than 15 minutes, unless subtle signals by the hostess invited the visitor to stay longer for tea and cake, or perhaps cucumber sandwiches.{Yes, you heard right, slices of cucumber on buttered bread.} It was a severe breach of protocol to outstay your welcome, so great attention had to be paid to the parlor clock on the mantelpiece. Should you drop by the house of someone who was indisposed at the moment or decided she wasn't in a socializing mood you could always leave your card on a little silver tray in the Entrance Hall to indicate you  had dropped by and was most  interested in a reciprocal social call at some time in the near future, thank you very much.

The wallpaper and decor of our Entrance Hall is rich, dark and somber, almost churchlike, and an indication of the sober righteousnes of the owner's personalities. 

The mirror is actually a little mirror/sconce object we got at a garage sale for 2 dollars. I painted and stained it with Minwax to give it that rich dark look, and marbelized the flat surfaces using black and white hobby paint and just swirling them together. It's Gothic style echoes the ecclesiasticle theme of the room. 

The most expensive thing I purchased was the front door which was part of a Byers Choice Christmas Carolers display set, I paid about 40 dollars {ouch!!!}for mine. It was a splurge, but since evrything else in the room was so cheap I felt ok about it!!!!

The painting above is nearly four inches high, I simply purchased a birthday card and an inexpensive dollar shop frame.The wallpaper was two dollars a role at our local outlet store.The border was from an old border role I already owned and just cut the bottom off of.

Mini Hint: copy centers like Staples and Office Max can shrink or enlarge your pictures to match whatever frame size you want. For the best effect, ask for high gloss finish on sturdy card stock.

A chair actually, a trinket box awaits the visitor's tired posterior although the house pooch {a refrigerator magnet} seems to be taking up space on it at the moment. A column from the wedding cake section at the Ragshop {and glued to a small tile for weight} is topped by a miniature Japanese vase sporting tiny plastic fern fronds. The stained glass window was a purchased at a Hallmark Store and produced by the Amias Glass company. We painted the reverse side white for contrast and framed it with stained wood trim.

Mini Hint:Clink of the link for more stain glass patterns from the Amia website.
OR.......if you're on a budget and you love our background, print out this stainglass pic on study card stock, you can print this yourself although for maximum quality{and perfect sizing} you should put it on a CD and take it to Staples. Remember to insist on high gloss card stock, and glue 1/12 mini wood trim{ stained or gilt} around the edges for a nice frame.Or simply have it sized to fit one of your own existing windows.

Detail of ceiling.The "plasterwork" is a standard thick, 
textured wallpaper available off the shelf at most 
wallpaper or hardware department stores. 

Invest in one roll for about 20 bucks and you can do 
several ceilings or even cut it into strips to create your
 own wainscoting. Itcan be painted,gilded or stained to 
look like tooled leather...the possibilities are endless!!!! 
I glued a regular plastic fancy picture frame from a
 dollar shop and then painted it in oil based satin white.
{But I'm sure latex would work too}

The chandelier was a Christmas ornament 
from the now defunct Treasure Island craft chain. The 
ornamental wood work was purchased at a hobby crafts
 store {in my case, Joanne's} and stained with Minwax and 
combined with fancy edges I cut off from from various 
borders I've picked up cheap in flea markets and outlets, 
ie Big Lots, Family Dollar etc."

A big Thank You to Tara for sharing her pics & 
techniques! She has some great suggestions on where to 
find miniatures in ordinary places.

Happy Crafting!



  1. Hello from Spain: thank you for showing the Victorian home of Tara. Please when she believes the blog indicates the direction. It is a work gorgeous. Thanks for the information. It is a wonder. Keep in touch

  2. This was really fascinating to read. People of a certain class still call parties an 'At Home', even if it's for a wedding. And cucumber sandwiches, with English cucumber, are very nice! This cut brown bread, spread with butter or cream cheese, and a layer of thin-sliced, crispy, refreshing cucumber.

    I love how the room is put together, and Barbie's visiting dress is lovely.

  3. I love all of the details and the description of it all was fascinating! I hope you'll be able to share a link to her site as soon as she get's it put up! Thank you very much for sharing. :D


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