Three years ago in June, it was my nan's 80th birthday, and all of the family gathered together to celebrate. I nervously handed over a very special handmade present, carefully wrapped and topped with blue ribbon...
Just before Nan opened her gift I turned it round for her, and she saw this inside...
...A very special 80th birthday tea party was waiting within!
Every item in the room box has been collected or handmade, and every piece symbolises something of significance in my nan's life. On the tea table is a pork pie because my Grandpa was a butcher by trade, his beloved pipe and favourite brand of Swan Vesta matches, as well as a box of Bird's Custard - the packaging from the decade my grandparents met - because it was his favourite custard brand. I painted the tea set the same colour as the one my mum remembers as a child. A copy of Betty's Paper sits on the left chair, perfect for the lady of the same name. The tea cosy was made from a pair of my grandpa's favourite corduroy trousers! My nan is a huge fan of a good old cup of tea, so I knew it needed to feature heavily in the scene... now you know where I get it from!
And can you see who's sitting on the chair?
One of my special felt hats - slightly wonky because it's the first I ever made. On the wall are photos from my parents' wedding, a family photo from when I was a toddler, and on the right, African elephants. My uncle and his partner lived out in South Africa for a couple of years, and Nan had a wonderful time when she went to visit.
Birthday cards on the mantelpiece, and a photo of my young mum and uncle above, with a photo of my parents propped up there. The standard lamp to the left was in my childhood doll's house, and has been re-covered in fabric from my mum's cousin's bridesmaid's dress from Mum's wedding.
I have never been entirely happy with the way the flames of the fire turned out - I would have liked them to look more realistic - but the potential for special effects was limited in this case!
It wouldn't be a birthday without a box of Quality Street chocolates. On the shelf is a duck. I love ducks and Nan used to take me to feed them when I was small. She lives by the sea in North Wales, and we used to collect shells together too, so they also had to be included. To the right of the shelf is a picture of mini me with my nan and her brother at her wedding anniversary. I couldn't find any photo frames to fit so making them was quite an experiment.
You may recognise this hat as one of the two I made as my celebration of the Queen's Jubilee this year. I gave it to my nan for her birthday in June to add to this scene, as she is the only one in the family to have been alive when our queen was crowned! The toy car is because my uncle and brother are both car-mad, and my brother owns a white VW Scirocco - his pride and joy. One of my favourite places to visit when I go to Wales is the Ffestiniog Steam Railway, one of my Grandpa's favourite haunts, so a book about steam trains had to be one of the birthday gifts.
A rather scary toby jug still sits in my nan's living room to this day, so here's my amused nod to it here! Winnie the Pooh and The Wind in the Willows are there because I now own copies of each from the 1920s, which belonged to my nan's father.
A stunning Victorian grandfather clock chimes out every hour in my nan's living room and the whole family are so fond of it, so a grandfather clock stands in this room, too. At its foot is a carpet bag (again made from those corduroy trousers), a familiar-looking hat, a chimney sweep's brush, a black umbrella and a book. Whenever I visited Wales as a child I would watch Mary Poppins with my nan and found it utterly magical; it's still one of my favourites today. Nan has always appreciated literature and encourages my interest in it, so the Mad Hatter's top hat adds the final touch here.
My favourite photo of my grandparents. My grandpa died when I was nine but I treasure so many happy memories of him, and the full-size version of this photo lives in my purse. I love how happy they look here.
Nan has a table just like this one. She taught me to sew on a Victorian Singer sewing machine - a genius idea because a child can use the wheel to control the speed, making learning less scary. We often write letters to each other so here are a pile waiting to be read, and a cheeky bottle of her favourite ginger wine waits for later!
My nan's brother's family are very talented musically, so the violin and sheet music represent this.
The tortoise under the table? My mum and her cousins each had a pet tortoise when they were small - Topsy could apparently move surprisingly quickly when she wanted to!
There's the other one, hoping for cake, clearly.
Birthday parcels wait to be unwrapped. The cushion is made from the fabric of a chair that sits in my nan's sitting room. Don't worry, I didn't cut a square out of it when she wasn't looking.
A cheeky mouse running up the clock and a working electric light complete the scene.
I haven't been able to visit Wales for a couple of years so I was so pleased to finally make it over there last weekend and snap some photos to show you! It was such an exciting project to work on, with the whole family contributing ideas and memories for me to turn into items, and my brother made the box itself.
I'm working on a smaller scale room scene at the moment, so hope to be able to share it with you next week.
If you could capture any scene in miniature, what would you choose?