When I started making The End Terrace for my new character, Daisy Bell, I wasn’t really sure what sort of house it would be.
I was, at the time making a dolls house for my friend, Amy, which was a vague copy of the 1:16 Tŷ Llygoden by external measurement.
Amy wasn’t sure of the scale she wanted and so I started with her house as a 1:12 small house and it ended up being a 1:16 big house.
However, in the process I also began work on a house for Daisy Bell and so cut out a second set of components. I very quickly decided that I didn’t want another Georgian style double fronted house, so common in dolls house circles, and the first thing I decided upon was to change the stairs from two short straight flights with a half landing to a single flight with a half turn set of tapered ‘winding’ treads at the top.
I wanted the stairs to also turn the other way to the previous house, and be a reminder of the stairs in the house I grew up in.
At this stage I was still working on the house being opened at the front in traditional style but I wasn’t happy with that as we shall see in due course.
So I began making the stairs by layering up wooden blocks, and then triangular blocks for the tapered treads.
Of course, I then proceeded to glue them them turning the wrong way!
A second set of triangular treads were cut and glued the right way around. I roughly shaped the underside of each tread on the winders and then found that made it so much more difficult to hold when it came to cutting the groove for the central newel post!
OK, I did it in the end but there was a lot of self doubt and rechecking to make sure that the ‘Heath Robinson‘ set up would be safe for use on the saw. It was in the end and nothing went wrong bar being a tiny bit out of square.
Then came the shaping of the underside, that amazing curve that is formed by a skilled plasterer over bent laths, that I loved so much as a child looking at the stairs in our house.
I did a test fit in the house carcass I had and it seemed to do what I wanted so now it was worth putting some more effort into them.
It does show how much of an effect my childhood staircase had on me to want to do this!
I asked Daisy to step in just to check the proportions were right.
I then added the long central newel post and the stair stringers carrying the form around the winders.
Of course, I should have added the stair nosings before doing that as it would have been easier! But I did manage to do that before I decided on the handrail.
I decided that the house would be a ‘modernish’ conversion, and that the original features of turned newel post, spindles and hand rail, as I had in my childhood home, would have been lost in the 1970s trend for modernisation. Also, to be honest, it was easier to make…
Time for paint. I decided that a builder preparing a house for a quick sale would probably just paint all the woodwork in gloss white, leaving the bare wood where the stair runner was.
That’s it for part 1. The next instalment will look at the changes in the house structure to accommodate these stairs and my thoughts on what sort of house this would be.