I have constructed a mead hall!
Well, half of one. In 1/24 scale.
Why a mead hall? I’m not actually sure. This is why I need to keep records. I’ve always enjoyed building miniature things, but the Anglo-Saxon idea was hatched last summer when I was on an Old English kick.
Now, I did some preliminary reserach on miniature-making and English history, but when it comes to authenticity, I’ve assigned no particular date to the building, and the construction techniques are based heavily on superglue. If these facts horrify any historians or miniature enthusiasts out there, I sincerely apologize.
I started out by making a few artifacts: a fire pit, a two-beam loom, and some long tables and tablecloths. (I don’t think the tablecloths actually appear in any of these photos, but they do exist.) Most of the model itself is made of wood scraps from the hobby store, stained with a mixture of instant coffee and a bit of water and finished with a coat of shellac.
After the skeleton was finished, I acquired a folding table and put together a rough cork base for the model to rest on during construction. Sadly, it quickly outgrew the table.
Next came many hours with the instant coffee, and the addition of more artifacts. I also started adding wall panels. For anyone who might be inspired to take on a similar project, let me tell you that the cosmetic difference between painstakingly crafted wattle-and-daub walls and slapdash craft-painted basswood walls is negligible. Don’t bother.
Of course, there are plenty of tasks waiting to be done! Among them:
1) A floor, made of… something. According to my reading, timber is actually not the most historically probable. (I don’t have a source handy, but it’s somewhere in a stack of papers in my studio.) However, a dirt floor seems difficult to represent convincingly. I experimented with painting the cork on which the whole miniature building rests, but that was a no go. Other options? I’ve heard about a substance called paperclay, but it’s not available where I live. I do have some straw-like substance that might make convincing rushes, and I’m considering affixing the straw to a solid floor finished with a mix of craft paint and cornstarch.
2) A diorama-style backdrop for the shelf where the as-yet-unnamed hall now rests. As you can see, the current landscape leaves something to be desired.
3) Lamps, specifically cressets (a cresset being “an iron vessel or basket used for holding burning oil, pitchy wood, or other illuminant and mounted as a torch or suspended as a lantern : a fire basket.” Thanks, Merriam-Webster!). I keep trying to make these out of wire, but no success yet.
4) More chairs. Perhaps not the most interesting aspect to a blog reader, but I actually lost one of the seats for the central dais. (A common problem when you’re working with furniture the size of a thumbnail and have an unusually strong tendency to misplace things.)
5) Some Staffordshire Hoard goodies, of course! Have any of you ever worked with metal clay?
Despite these fledgling ideas, this whole project has been stuck in a state of semi-completion for months now. I’m hoping this post will inspire some reader comments to help me get it back on track!
(I’m also looking for suggestions for WordPress editors. I’m about to resort to Notepad out of frustration with this browser-based editor, which appears to be a close relative of the gastropods.)
5 thoughts on “A Miniature Post”
Amazing. It has always amazed me how people can work with such finicky miniatures 🙂 Not sure if it’s for me! However, I did always want a dollhouse… commission time anyone? 😛
I would be happy to make you some miniatures in exchange for some nice photos of my model once it’s finished! (Really, as finicky as it is, I built this thing just for my own pleasure and according to the limits of my own skill and inclination. If I’d been doing it for any sort of scholarly purpose, I’d have been much more meticulous about accuracy and had much less fun figuring it all out.)
That sounds like a perfect trade if you ask me! I would love to enjoy some picture opportunities with your miniatures. Though in truth, you’ve already done a pretty great job yourself of taking some photographic evidence of your miniature pursuits. You are right though, you need to be having fun with such crafty things, if you’re too focused on technicalities and lose out on the enjoyment, you’re doing something wrong. That’s why I avoid finicky knits. I love knitting, and I can do complicated things, I just don’t want to because I don’t enjoy it as much (and unfortunately I now have two complicated projects coming up. Woe!).
Were chairs often used in anglo-saxon mead halls? I’d think chairs would be a luxury item for anglo-saxons.
Not everyone would have had a chair. There are long benches by the trestle tables, and one across the hall, and a weaver’s stool by the loom, and I guess plenty of spots on the floor for everyone else! However, there might have been one or two chairs proper for the lord and possibly lady of the hall, elevated on the central dais. (The dais is also useful on purely practical grounds, since I retrofitted it to house the fireplace battery. Very convenient: now I just need to hide the wires and find a good place for the switch.)