Friday, July 15, 2011

A medieval perspective

In contemporary medieval paintings and woodcuts there wasn't a great emphasis on what we see as 'proper' perspective. However, in the picture above, and looking at many other illustrations, it seems consistent that fireplaces were not deep, and mantelpieces were often very high. Controlling the smoke must have been difficult!

I've attempted this look in the fireplace of my weaver's house - and to be honest, it just looks odd!! It's probably to do with the relative height and size of the room, or something like that. I've thought about changing it, but I'm getting used to it, and anyway it's already glued in! We'll just have to see what difference some furniture makes to the room. . .

I admit to having a liking for books for 'young adults' (teenagers) both for non-fiction and for fiction. They're usually simply honest, straightforward and uncluttered.

Here are the two which I use a lot for when I make medieval stuff.
The first is in the Eyewitness Guides section of Dorling Kindersley - 'Medieval Life'. The photos and text are clear and simple - including everyday objects from all types of activities.
The second book is a Dover reproduction of a 1931 book on how to create medieval costume and accessories. It seems to have been aimed at people who wanted to dress up for costume parties, which were a popular home entertainment in simpler times. The details are probably not quite historically accurate, but it's enough for me when I'm making miniatures :) The book includes contemporary medieval illustrations, suggestions for costumes and accessories (not actual patterns but easy enough to make up), and quite good text to fill out the details.

And a general rant about reading
As for my liking for young adult fiction? Faves from my childhood are too many to list, but Rosemary Sutcliff has always been the absolute best for me. I tend towards British authors, probably because when I was young in New Zealand, Britain was still regarded as 'home' for us colonials, even though my family had been here since the 1840s! The strange thing is that when I visited Britain, it did feel as if it I was home. Family history? Tribal memories? Reincarnation? Who knows?

Authors I've found later in life and loved are Eva Ibbotson (reading her is like drinking champagne!), Susan Cooper (The Dark is Rising), Philip Pullman, Philip Reeve, Terry Pratchett (brilliant!!!), Ursula le Guin, JRR Tolkien . . . to name a few.
I do love reading! Science fiction, history, non-fiction . . . bring it on!!



  1. Hi Glenda! Thanks for sharing your sources! I don't have any of those "overview" sorts of books for the Medieval Period.... time to go shopping maybe.... I spend HOURS looking through my Medieval Miniature Books looking for specific details on things like how the doors were nailed together..... LOL....!! I know that as an artist myself, I paint what I know, so I am certain that the Medieval versions are quite specific even if the perspective is all off. As you know... I LOVE the Medieval Illuminations and anything that goes with that era!
    As for your fireplace, I think the only suggestion might be to make the hood project farther than the side supports. I think they liked to be able to stand right next to the fire! Considering that only recently in those times, people had lived with the fire in the middle of the floor with a hole in the roof..... so slightly smoky chimneys were probably an amazing advancement!
    I am in awe of your work on this tiny scale!!!

  2. I actually love your high tiny fireplace very much:) It looks good in this tiny room:) Still can't wait for more and like Betsy I am in awe of your work on this scale too!:)

  3. Enhorabuena por esa preciosa chimenea, estoy deseando ver los avances de tu pequeñisima casita.
    Gracias por los enlaces.
    besitos ascension

  4. The effort you put in every little detail is amazing - chapeau!!! I like your research sources, and in general I often prefer "children's" books to adult readers. In my opinion a well written book for young people can't be bad for old people who hope they're at least still young at heart... (LOL). And I really hope you're going to show us more of this fantastic weaver's house soon!


  5. Yes, the perspective was not the highlight of medieval art, but also I think the fires were very high, as there is cooked while standing in front.
    Your not seem particularly strange to me :-)
    At the University I have given several examinations of medieval history: I was pretty well :-)
    So I think you're on your way to give an excellent interpretation on the theme :-)
    Mini hugs, Flora

  6. You certainly have some interesting resource material to entertain and inform you. I think you should expect to feel somewhat uncomfortable about the fireplace as it doesn't gel with our fixed ideas about proportions that I'm sure are etched into our brains over a lifetime of seeing all the little 'short' modern fireplaces. I'm looking forward to seeing the furniture in place, no doubt your fireplace will look better. And I've just remembered that I promised you a little dresser - I wonder which box the pattern book is in??????? ;)