Monday 30 January 2017

The Street Where You Live - Victorian Box - Julie Ann

Hello! I do hope some winter sunshine has been shining through your windows wherever you live. Earlier in January I resolved to research my father's family who settled in London from Poland in around 1891. This week researching into the little street in Mile End, Old Town where my grandfather, Judah and his wife, Annie started their family led me to create something using Calico Craft Parts: a box that contains some of the secrets of a lost street.

I took one of the MDF Victorian Round Boxes and had a  play with the pieces, along with some tiny windows and doors.

Because Gardom Street, where my grandparents lodged, no longer exists, I was going to have to use my imagination to create the tiny terrace of houses that was their new world.

I started with a 'dry run', assembling the box without any glue and fixing doors and windows temporarily with glue dots.

Once the box was in pieces again, I could decorate each of the mini panels to suggest a separate dwelling. I played with different textures, applying texture paste through stencils, using crackle and ageing the edges with archival ink.

As I worked, ideas came. I decided to feature the one house that stood out for me - Number 7 - where my father was born. One of the mini block Calico house kits was perfect for this. My dream would be to have photos of my ancestors, but for now I imagined Annie looking into the future and inviting me into her present. All I have left of Gardom Street is a name on an old map of London's East End, so I used scraps of map paper as part of Annie's collage.

When we turn the box around, there is Annie's first child, my father, Samuel representing the future in England, which you can see on the tiny map. I painted the lid and surround with acrylic paint and stamped with this 'mini' stamp. The sentiment reads 'Imagination rules the World'. When we look into the past there are so many gaps to fill in with our imagination - plus there is something of a rule and tape measure theme in the piece, as my paternal grandfather, Judah was a tailor.

I covered the backs of tiny Scrabble pieces with map paper and playing card illustrations to convey the idea of travel and chance in my forebears' lives. I used the tiny MDF hinges and catches, but I replaced them in places with copper wire.

Here you can see the copper wire threaded through the hinges at the back and the map paper sides of the miniature house. I used tape with a ruler design along the tops and bottoms of the house panels.

How I wish I could step into Number 7 and meet the family! I used just a touch of gilding paste to highlight texture on the houses.

A bird's eye view: I wonder if Annie fed the little cockney sparrows that visited her window sill?

Thank You for peeping into the past with me and to Calico Craft Parts for helping me to make my dreams and imaginings into something 3D! Whatever your quests and dreams today and in the following weeks may they bring you joy and fulfilment.

Calico Craft Parts Used in this Project
MDF Victorian Round Box with plain edges
Sheet of tiny windows and doors
Mini Block Style House Kit
MDF Engraved Scrabble tiles


  1. How fascinating that you've incorporated your journey into your family's history to create this story for your street. It looks fabulous! I look forward to more as you journey back in time!!

  2. This is so charming and magical, Julie Ann!
    It reminds me of one of my favourite places to go to as a child - a place full of fairytales and wonders...and the houses in the middle that looked very much like yours. What a charming idea and so lovely executed!

    Claudia x

  3. Your houses are fabulous Julie Ann and the whole piece is made so very special with the wonderful story about your family! Such clever use of the round box. xx

  4. I really love this, Julie Ann. I hadn't spotted the Victorian boxes, so that was a charming surprise in itself, and then your wonderful little doorways, with great texture and in such lovely vintage hues, are inspired. A delightful tribute to the little terraced cottages, and no.7 particularly, with your family connection.
    Alison x

  5. What a wonderful tribute Julie-Ann! It's beautiful. 😊

  6. This is enchanting julie ann. What a lovely way to present your genealogy. I have never seen these boxes before and they conjure up so many thoughts,

    Lucy x

  7. Julie Ann, this is sheer brilliance my dear friend! Again, your characters bring so much to your designs! Such a fabulous creation and Calico Crafts Parts are perfect for the starring roles! xx

  8. What a wonderful piece Julie Ann. Every last little detail is a delight and so nice to hear a little of your ancestry. Absolutely amazing work as always and a piece to bring joy for a long time.

    Lesley Xx

  9. Julie, this is totally magical and I just love the fact that you have created it as a tribute to your family. I also have an affinity to Mile End. My mother was born in Tredegar Road in 1914 and lived there for several years. There were often several different families living in the terraces and life was not easy. Tredegar Road still exists but in name only. It is now lined by high rise very expensive apartments. This beautiful, tactile acknowledgement of your ancestor's home will become an heirloom to pass down through your own family. Beautiful work my friend xx

  10. Gosh, what an exciting journey you are on, Julie-Ann. This Victorian box is wonderful. I haven't seen these before. The detail on every front door is amazing. But it is the story behind this which makes this so magical.

  11. Julie Ann, this is remarkable! The detail and texture is amazing and the love that you have managed to convey is palpable. A fascinating piece of art and I feel so privileged to share it with you. So, number 7 lives again and obviously will be in your heart forever! Xx

  12. Many thanks to everyone who commented on this make that was dear to my heart. I feel very privileged to have been able to share it with you here. xx

  13. Absolutely stunning Julie Ann. The Victorian box is just wonderful and the detail on it is just amazing. And such a lovely story too! Jennie x

  14. This is the most incredible little box! I love the little doors and windows! You added some lovely touches that make this personal to you! Chrisx

  15. Thank You so much, Jennie and Chris, for your lovely comments. x