Diary of Another Dummy Board- The Lacemaker

All the principles that we have applied to the painting of Belle we shall now put to the painting of the commission for the Dutch House , The Seated Lacemaker.

Go to:Cookie’s blog

For pictures of the most beautiful Dutch townhouse, similar to the one where our Lacemaker will live.

The Dutch House by kind permission of Cookie Ziemba

The Lace Maker - original by Netscher

This figure will be a much more long winded affair to create than Belle because,

  • There is a lot more detail in it; the hat has embroidery and the lace pillow upon which the girl is working, has many finely wrought bobbins to paint.
  • The colours are dense; the black for example will need quite a few coats of oil paint to achieve the lustre on the wool of her skirt and the red of her jacket will also need to be built up, in the same way. This means longer drying times.

Of course we shall paint the chair upon which she sits but we shall take her out of the background, so no painting the wall, broom or the decorative picture behind her. That sort of background will be achieved when she is set amongst the paraphernalia of the dolls house where she will eventually live.

Here is the basswood piece with just the outline,

Just the outlines

And here the first coat of paint.

Blocks of colour and a few shadows.

There is a long tradition of dolls houses in Holland and the Low Countries, as they used to be called. Some of the oldest houses still in existence, are in museums and private houses there. They were after all, invented in the Low Countries at the same time as the dummy board figure, in the 17th century. The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, has several.

17th century Rijksmuseum dollshouse

Originally they didn’t look like the dolls houses we see today as they had no ‘outsides’.They were made to look like cupboards, chests on stands and it was only when you opened them, you realised that they were miniature houses. It is said that they were created, in the wealthy home of course, first and foremost, as educational tools for small girls who would need to learn all the skills required of a housekeeper. A nice practice of housewifely skills for later in life.

What fun those girls must have had.

And when the girls grew up and had houses of their own, they would keep the dolls house and use it as a ‘showing off tool’ to impress their guests. Or just play!

I was at the Rijksmuseum three years ago researching my book and took this photo, or rather Stephen did- he is much better at it than me! ( It’s wonderful that the museum let you take photos…so many places won’t ) and also found this painting by Appel, of a dolls house which, for all the world, looks like it’s employing little miniature dummy boards, to illustrate what people might be doing in the house. They are actually 17th century dolls.

The PastMastery stand at 2009 Kensington Dollshouse Festival

My own display ‘house’ which Stephen and I made as a home for our mini dummy boards, isn’t so realistic. We decided to keep almost everything in it dull, so that the colourful figures would show up against the black and white backgrounds. When lit, it’s quite effective and makes the figures throw good shadows.

The Morning Room

Two Dutch inventions in one…the dollshouse and the dummy board.

Please…I would love to see how and where you display your dummy boards – or would if you had some ( PastMastery ones or not….photographic or otherwise.)…. do let me know and I will feature them on this blog!

At the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, the painting of a dolls house by Jacob Appel

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2 Responses to “Diary of Another Dummy Board- The Lacemaker”

  1. julie Says:

    I find the whole process of how you create the dummy boards is fascinating. The lace maker is a beautiful image and already you have captured it. You definitely have more patience than I do working in oils, I couldnt bear the waiting !
    julie xxx

  2. Cookie Ziemba Says:

    Hi Sue,
    Thanks so much for adding my blog site to yours and for showing my Dutch 17th c. house exhibited at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. I can’t wait to see the Lacemaker and hopefully, the house it will “live” in. Thanks!
    Cookie Ziemba

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