Ladies’ Solar

I was torn about making this room, so I compromised a little. Back in the day, women were generally kept apart from the day-to-day goings on in the castle. Some castles were actually built with the ladies’ solar having peep holes so they could look out at the feasts where the men were – probably to keep an eye on them. The idea of the men out there and the women cooped up ticked me off, but what better way to show off the gentler arts, so I decided to go for it. First I made an inkle loom. This is for making trim, belts, etc. I knew people who owned them, so it was easy to get a model. It was basically some flat wood pieces with little dowels drilled into them. Threading it was another story. I took thread and made a lot of knotted loops over the end of a tool so they would be the same size, then carefully put a thicker thread through it. I wasn’t going to actually weave it. I ended up taking a threaded needle and weaving that and then putting the end of the thread around a hettle that would have done the actual weaving.

The second was to make a spinning wheel. This was a little complicated. I wanted to make it work and that simply wasn’t possible. Oh well. I used a book on spinning wheels to make it. The Whole Craft of Spinning by Carol Kroll was the book.  I also wanted cards for wool carding which is when you make the wool workable for spinning. These were squares of balsa with dollhouse nails put through them and then a handle attached.

I made a young woman in a long gown playing a stringed musical instrument for entertainment. She would have been a lady in waiting. The instrument is just carved and stained basswood with silver thread for strings. It’s kind of a lute or mandolin.

Furniture was sparse. I wanted a slatted chair. I had seen them and they looked cool to me. I cut the pieces time after time getting the angle wrong again and again. It never occurred to me until much later and way too late to draw the chair from the front and make a pattern from that. I carved out a little design in the back of it.

I made three little chairs, delicate for the women they were intended to serve. I used a wood burner to put a little fleur-de-lis design on each of them.

I figured they would have a chest to hold supplies and such, so I made a simple wood design. I used a nice wood trim from the dollhouse store as I thought a solar would have some of the finer things in life.

(While revving up for the finish in 2013, I found myself unimpressed with this room. It just wasn’t enough. So I added some things. I wanted a table for the chairs as much handiwork requires one. I made it out of basswood and chair legs dyed to match. I made a table to go with the slatted chair as well of a simple flying furniture design. I realized I had made no window seat so I went ahead and did just that. The seat was made from a piece of balsa with a doubled up paper towel for padding on one side. I glued both top and bottom down and put a ribbon on the side. I made a basket of yarn and knitting. I didn’t use yarn as it would be way too big. I instead used the thread that’s a tad thicker than embroidery so it would have texture. I made knitting needles out of toothpicks and did some knitting on them before cutting them down to size. It’s a good thing it’s small as I dropped a number of stitches.)