I don't know for how long now I wanted to make miniature houses that looked like they were made of ceramic. I would make them out of ceramic if I had the materials and a kiln, that would be far easier. But seeing as I don't have either and I have polymer clay, I wanted to try and see what it took to make them look like ceramic.
Exactly what inspired them is hard to pinpoint because I think the muses are many. To begin with, I come from a middle class family that many times struggled to make ends meet. One of the things I remember my mum saying when I was growing up is "war economy". Things like orange juice and cereal were a luxury to us. But I never felt I lacked anything and I remember my childhood being full of magic and wonder. I was used to having little and simple things. But they were mine and I treasured them like air. Maybe it was this what made my imagination run and be and do whatever I wanted, without physically having much or needing to.
When I was 15, my family moved to Italy and there I discovered even more of a passion for old and worn things, for the stories they told, for the time they spent in someone's life who was no longer there. I wondered how their life had been in a now derelict stone home, or what it was like to wash their clothes in the river running through the middle of the valley.
I was shocked and at the same time amazed that the village that I called then my home, had a twin; the former town which was abandoned due to an earthquake which was now a ghost town. I remember walking through the streets of the old Italian village with its walls and alleyways made of stone, unable to comprehend its beauty, its value and its silence. It was deserted. There was only a small bar being run in the village, right on the edge of it by the old council building, which was open for a few years. Workshops were run nearby, but in the outskirts, not in the village. The village was empty, it was just a skeleton of broken houses, missing doors and forgotten possessions.
As teenagers we used to scavenge the houses for interesting things (never used the word "scavenge" before the "Walking Dead"); I myself found some books and sheet music. Some were said to be haunted of course and some were strange, full of staircases, apparently leading nowhere. I remember very well that the first floor of a house had entirely collapsed and you could see the first floor from the main door. I remember the hand towel still hanging from the rack in the bathroom which hadn't been touched in 32 years.
For years, food and music festivals would be held there during the summer; and at Christmas, live nativity scenes would be performed throughout the village. Unique experiences that I will carry with me forever.
The ghost town is not so ghostly anymore; the last time I was there a large part of it was being refurbished and today the old Castle is a restaurant and numerous events are held there every year. In some way, it's nice that the village is not being forgotten and that it's coming back to life; but in another, I feel a deep sense of nostalgia knowing how silent and other-worldly it used to be.
It's getting colder quickly here, leaves are turning and slowly falling and it must've been the urge to feel cozy that also inspired me to make little houses.
I love the English countryside, especially Cornwall and it's impossible for me not to draw inspiration from the Cornish landscape with their little stone walls and sometimes quirky colours.
I love their simplicity, their humble shape that for some reason appeals to my heart like a warm childhood dream. You know that inside them something good is happening and that no matter what the weather or life brings, it's always home inside.
I could talk about them forever! I love them that much. That's why I wanted to recreate that simplicity of old Italian and Cornish houses, with cracked walls and paint that says "I've been here a long time. I've seen and lived a lot of things, but I'm still standing".
I've also drawn inspiration from Scandinavian houses, especially the brightly coloured ones. I swear they were built by wizards, were they not?
I'm still on the trial and error phase, which is why the houses look so different.
I want to see what direction I want to go and how the materials I used work with one another. But I'm feeling inspired to keep creating and who knows, I could be sculpting Scandinavian houses right in front of the real deal next year, I welcome the experience with open arms.
I would love to make a tiny village and recreate, at least in my imagination, what it felt to walk through my teenage Italian ghost town. Some things are meant to stay in our heart and in our mind forever, isn't that wonderful? There is no house big enough on this Earth that could safeguard all the beautiful things that happen to us. The infinite keeper is our heart.
I'm pretty happy with the result, but it turns out making simple things are one of the hardest things to make! Pretty quickly I found myself trying to fix everything, so I had to train myself to let things be the way they are. As if time had got to them, not me.
I'm glad I didn't fix them, because I would've have ruined them.
Thank you so much for reading and I'll catch you next time,
Love & Light,