'Singel 224'

End of February 2003 I bought a Dutch canal house at 'de Stolp'.  It is a hybrid between two houses 'de Stolp' had in their collection.  'De Singel' (named after one of the famous canals of Amsterdam) is a beautiful house with 12 rooms and a large attic.  The attic roof can be opened in order for it to be viewed.  The house is 1.33m high, 1.00m wide and 0.40m deep.  (52.4 inches high, 39.4 inches wide and 15.76 inches deep).   The nice thing about this type of house is that the rooms can always be seen without having to open the front or the back.                         

To the front of the house I stuck paper which looks and feels like brickwork.  The windows were painted in the typically Amsterdam colours 'canal green' (just had to use that) and ivory white.  I used good quality outdoor paint, so the paint work should last at least 100 years!  I've changed the oval top window into a feature which can be found in many Amsterdam canal houses: a large shuttered 'window'.  Through these windows the supplies for the household would be brought into the house by using the 'hoisting beam'.  The hoisting beam still needs to be installed above the window.

I spent one afternoon in town looking at all the different dormers.  Result: a very painful neck and a head full of ideas.  In the end I chose a simple shape for the dormers on my house to match the shape of the gable. 


I have changed the front door to look like the beautifully decorative one I have in my real house.  Above the door I have installed a lantern which I had seen in Amsterdam.  It protrudes both on the inside and on the outside, thus lighting the entrance on both sides.  Making the lantern so that the dimensions looked right and so that it fitted into the existing window frame gave me quite a challenge!  But I did it, and the light works too!




~October 17th 2004~                                                          
Today I have found in the online Amsterdam archives an old photograph of the house with the real address 'Singel 224'. I chose this address for my house because 'Singel' is the model name used by 'de Stolp' and 22-4 is my birthday.  By coincidence the real 'Singel 224' looks very much like my house, while the other houses on the block don't look anything like this!  The two white 'blobs' at the top of the gable are two men in long white overcoats painting the gable.  Just like I do now, they liked to keep the paint work in good condition then too!


The real house in the old photograph has probably been built in the 19th century.  The façade of my dolls house will be 18th century in the style of Louis XIV  (Louis Quatorze)  which was used between ± 1700 - 1740.  For inspiration I have looked at many photos of houses from that period.                                                                                                                                                          

I've made the doorframe more monumental by giving it pilasters and a broken-bed pediment.  To make the pilasters I've used wood from the lid of an old wine box.  For the ornaments on the pilasters I have used bits of an old brooch.  The two lions on the pediment are holding the coat of arms of Amsterdam.  Even though the 'cast iron' grille on the front door is 19th century, I've kept it because I love the look of it.  The window above the door has become much bigger, so I've had to take away the lantern that was there before.  It was a lot of work to make that, so I'll try to use it elsewhere!



The banister on the front steps (partly made from chop-sticks) gave me a lot of problems , again!  (See 'The Hall')  I just can't seem to figure out how to cut the right angles.  Maybe someday I'll understand....  

I've made the steps (or 'stoop') and the basement as if they're made out of stone in stead of bricks.   I have used a sheet of ply-wood to cover the brick wall which was already there.  The small basement window keeps the sheet in place.  I've had to paint the stoop and basement several times before I had mixed the correct blue-grey colour. 


To make the bricks for the pavement and the road I used sandpaper .  First I painted the sandpaper with acrylics to get the right colours, then I cut it to the right size, mixed the colours and glued the pieces down.  For the road I have used a herringbone pattern as seen on most roads in Amsterdam.  The 'concrete' curb stones separate the pavement from the road.


                                                                             Between the cracks in the pavement I've put some small weeds and grasses.   I bought some very fine gravel from a model railroad shop and used that in a few places between the bricks and the curbstones and by the steps to the basement.


Above the entrance to the basement I've hung the nice lantern which I had originally made for the window above the front door.  On the photo top right on this page the lantern is still in its original spot.  Because I made the window above the front door bigger, the lantern didn't fit in it any longer.                                                                           


I made the lantern from card stock and painted it using the same high quality outdoor paint I used on the windows and doors.  I cut the 'glass' for the lantern from blister wrap packaging.                                                                                                  


In front of the house I have put a few potted plants.   I made the hydrangea from a kit by  vaRIAatjes*.  I bought the pots of lavender at a show in London.  They are made by a very talented lady who makes the most beautiful plants, but unfortunately I can't remember her name.



This potted peony I copied after a real one which was flowering in my garden.  I used coloured tissue paper to make the flowers and printer paper (painted green) for the leaves.  



There are some weeds growing between the bricks on the pavement.    A dandelion is flowering close to the stoop.    To make the dandelion I used painted printer paper.  I drew the shapes of the leaves in pencil before cutting them out. 



On the right a close up of a beautiful terracotta pot and some grasses between the bricks of the pavement.



 Two common blackbirds are fighting over some pieces of bread.  The blackbirds were made by Georgia Marfels from Germany. 











In 2009 I made a beautiful flowering clematis to put by the front door.  (A Bloomin' Easy kit by Bonnie Lavish).   I shaped the flowers and leaves while they were slightly wet from the watercolour paint  I used to give them some extra colour.   

Update 2016:  The flowers are still looking good, but they have suffered from some fading even though they are not in direct sunlight.    

There is a beautiful, minuscule butterfly on one of the flowers.  So delicate and small!  The butterfly was made by Julia Cissell of God's Flying Flowers. 









This is the complete façade as it looks today.  I have made some changes to the gable.  In Dutch we call  a gable of this shape a 'klokgevel' , which would translate as 'bell gable'.  These types of gables in the style of Louis XIV are relatively rare, maybe because the bell gable was predominantly used on the more common houses. 

The gables in the Louis XIV style were richly decorated with playful ornaments, often topped by beautifully architectural scrolls or a decorative vase.


The flower-ornaments on the gable came with the house when I bought it from 'de Stolp'.  I have joined the ornaments by adding some curved architraving and moulding (again made from a wine-box lid), which fits exactly around the ornaments.  I copied the ornamental vase from a house in Amsterdam and made it out of paperclay.

I used the same house as an example to make the hoisting beam.  I used several blocks of wood and different types of moulding for it.  The first pigeon has found its way there already.  A few floors down two house-sparrows have settled on the window-sill.  I don't think the façade will stay clean for very long with all of these feathered friends around!                            

March 2013:  It has been 10 years since I started on the Canal House.  Even though I have always said it would be a 10 year project, I am not quite finished with the house yet.  I have done several other miniature projects in those 10 years, which meant work on the house halted.  But, the completion of the Canal House is imminent.    


The latest change has been the addition of a very narrow facade next to the original facade of Singel 224.  At the back of the Canal House is all the wiring for the lighting and a wooden box which houses the ensuite bathroom for the bedroom.  Because of this box extension the house can't stand flush against the wall anymore, which means that from the sides you can easily see the ugly back with all of the wiring.   The solution for this was making the extra facade.   In Amsterdam there are about seven or eight of these kinds of small facades, just wide enough for only one window.    The most beautiful example I think is the Kleine Trippenhuis' with a front facade of only  2,44 meters wide.  The ' Kleine Trippenhuis'  was the inspiration for my miniature small facade.

The small facade is attached to Singel 224 with magnets so that I can easily remove it when I need to work on the wiring at the back of the house.  













I have tried to match the small facade to the style of the original facade.   I happened to still have the remainder of the bricks for the pavement and street which I cut 10 years ago from sandpaper, which made it a lot easier to add a bit of street matching up with the original street.  In those ten years dust, light and touching have faded the bricks somewhat so there is a visible difference between the old and the new part, but I don't mind that.  






Of course you should not be able to see through the windows (as the whole point is to hide the wiring behind it), so I made simple white cotton curtains for all of the windows.   By painting the small facade white, it does not distract attention away from the main house.   I actually think the main house is enhanced by it!  











The beautiful decorative columns next to the front door are by  Sue Cook. Even though  these columns are much more decorative than the columns I made myself years ago for the front door of Singel 224, I wanted to use them anyway.  They fit in well with the style of the Dutch classicism,  a building style which was used until the end of the 17th century.     

My narrow facade was built in 1690,  so that's still within the time frame.  ;-)




March 2013:  After adding an extra facade to the front of the house, of course I had to add one to the back as well. 

For the rear facade I kept the same window configuration as I used on the front.  The style of the gable and the back door is more plain than on the front.

I could not resist making a small room behind the back door of the small facade.  Using a simple wooden box I made a room with stone floors (egg carton actually), white walls and a false door which suggests there are more rooms in the narrow house.   


The desk with all the contents and the little chair were given to me by Erna a few years ago.  She wanted to focus on another hobby and gave me all of her miniatures materials and some books.  Such a wonderful gift to receive!  These two pieces of furniture fit the little room perfectly. 



I bought the sunflowers at a little market in Bangkok in 2003, when I just dicovered the world of miniatures.  The porcelain dogs are by Valerie Casson, the painting of the kitten is a partial copy of the painting 'Chacun son tour: patience'  by Jules Leroy (from a Christie's auction catalogue).





I made small gardens behind both back facades.  Or maybe I should say patios, as these gardens are not very big! 

On the patio behind the small facade I made a drain for the downspout and the outside faucet.  On the garden wall hangs a ' cast iron'  door grill which I made years ago.  The rustic garden bench is another piece I made years ago, using twigs from the corkscrew hazel.  Although the garden is small, there is plenty of room for pots and plants.  I'll have no excuse to be bored over the next few years! 





















The garden behind the big house is of course a bit wider than the patio in the photos above, so it has room for some wonderful patio furniture.  The metal garden furniture which folds up just like the full scale ones, was made by Sergio Piacentino (Piamini from France).  Above the back door I made a lovely little canopy using some plastic fencing, clear acrylic sheet and very thin lead.    


Against the garden wall I made a deep planter in which I planted a trained apple tree.  I used florist wire, spackle and acrylic paint to make the apple tree.  The photo below shows it at the stage where I have just started adding the paper leaves to the tree.   

















The paper leaves received several layers of paint, a grey colour on the bottom of the leaves and yellow and green colours for the top of the leaves.    

I made the apples out of Fimo clay.  Not one of my favourite things to do! 

The fantastic work shoes by the back door were made by  Patrizia Santi from Italy (Patrisan).

The working secateurs on the tableare by  Edmund Drescher from Germany.  The tea pot in the shape of a watering can with a rabbit sitting in it was made by Janice Crawley from Canada. 

The cat on the garden wall was named 'Tonnetje' (Little Barrel) by me, after the place I found him, at the fair in Kensington, London. The cat was made by  Annie Willis from the UK.   













A few vegetables are growing underneath the apple tree.  There is red lettuce, green cabbage and cauliflower (made by Angie Scarr).   The seedlings were made by me from Fimo, just as I did with the apples.  I don't think I will be using clay again in the next few years, that was quite enough for me!






The rabbit has dicovered the cabbages!  (Rabbit made by Dolores van den Akker from the Netherlands).  If you look closely you will discover another little animal which discovered the vegetables... a rat!  And it's eating the radishes!  So that's what Tonnetje is looking at from its perch on the wall... (rat made by Georgia Marfels from Germany).



I have been asked many times for a photo showing the entire canal house.   The photo below shows the canal house as was in June 2011.   Not finished yet, but a lot has been done.   You can click on most rooms in the photo, which will take you to the page where you can read about that room.



The front and back facades are practically ready.  I'm decorating the rooms in the house surely but slowly, one by one.  If you'd like to read the history of the house and its owners, click on the photo of the book below right.  If you'd like to continue the tour of the house, please click on the photo of the front door below left to enter the house.                                                                                                                                                                


                                                                                                      Click the book to read about

                                                                                          the history of Singel 224.



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