It was just one year ago that I first came upon the "Medieval Tudor Castle Dollhouse" Blog and saw the beautiful Encaustic Tile floor Nina had made for her Guard Room of her Castle. It was LOVE at first sight! And Desire, followed quickly thereafter by Inspiration, impelled me to begin my OWN Medieval Castle Dollhouse! I quickly drew the plans, bought the plywood, and began construction. Regular readers will know that I have blogged about the Castle often this past year, and even though it is FAR from finished, it has been the feature location of more than one Party for the dolls who have found their way into this Miniature World of mine. So, as I look back on this past year since I started the Castle, I have to confess that I'm just a tiny bit disappointed that I haven't accomplished more! Could it REALLY already be a whole YEAR? In my optimism I felt SURE I would have completed more of the rooms by now! In fact, I don't think I have COMPLETED ANY of them! In my favor I will argue that I have some excuse for not getting more done. There are the OTHER dollhouses which absorb my attention too, and there have been a whole series of Parties and Holidays creating a whole lot of DISTRACTION from building! Nevertheless, I now feel as though I had better knuckle down and get busy BUILDING again! And so at last, I have come to constructing the Great Hall floor. From the first, THIS was where I wanted to use the Encaustic Tiles that Nina had made for her Castle Guard Room. Here I MUST add a HUGE thanks to Nina for her sharing of her methods and sources! I have shamelessly copied her method and would never even have THOUGHT of using these tiles but for her beautiful post about her Castle floor! Thank You Nina!
But before I go further, I MUST show you a couple of the Illuminated Manuscript paintings that I found which show tiled floors. Apparently it was a commonly used material for the grander sort of buildings shown in Manuscript illuminations. The simplest form was a checkerboard pattern of two colors of tiles. Here below is an example from my favorite Boccaccio's "Decameron" showing a meal being served in a Great Hall with a tiled floor.
But the tile artists of the Middle Ages also created more elaborate patterns with their tiles as we can see in this illumination, again from Boccaccio, showing a King receiving a petitioner, where the tiles are triangular and combine to create a circular design.
And an even more elaborate design is shown in this illumination which shows a woman instructing some men. This is from another work by Boccaccio, le "Livre des Femmes Noble et Renommees."
Another example showing a very intricate floor tile pattern is from the "Hours of Catherine of Cleves". This one shows Saint Nicholas standing on a floor with an elaborate checkerboard pattern.
And an even MORE elaborate pattern on the floor below Saint Dorothy, again from the "Hours of Catherine of Cleves."
And yet Another fancy floor tile pattern, this one below Saint Thomas Aquinas' feet in the "Hours of Catherine of Cleves." This book of Hours includes an amazing section with Illuminations of the Saints, all done as portraits against tapestry cloth backgrounds and standing on tiled floors, every one with a different design!
But the type of tiles Nina was using for her Castle, encaustic tiles, is a particular type of tile where the design is created by using a separate color of clay to create the design on the tile, which was then fired, making the pattern more durable than a painted glaze would. The designs on these tiles were often very elaborate, and sometimes were even used to illustrate a story. Below is an example from a fourteenth century church in Hertfordshire, England.
And another series of tiles with stories from The Tristan Romance made for Chertsey Abbey in the thirteenth century.
And below is an example of the floor from a chapel built for Henry III at Clarendon Palace.
So, why am I showing you ALL these examples of Medieval Tiles? Well, clearly the Medieval world LOVED pattern! But all these examples show a Consistent Pattern throughout the floor! While the example Nina used, and I have chosen to copy, was an apparently random assortment of designs all combined together! I believe her source was an ancient floor in part of Westminster Abbey. Because it was that random chaos of pattern that so appealed to me in the first place, I am going to duplicate it in my OWN Castle Great Hall floor!
I started to make the tiles WAAAAY last spring. I got one whole batch cut and painted and glazed with an ocher wash. I drew every pattern I could identify from Nina's picture on her blog post! (Thank you, Nina!) And then the weather got HOT! Can you REMEMBER? Week after Week in the nineties with NO let-up! There was NO WAY I was using the oven to cook sculpey tiles in that heat! So they got put aside and other projects took over my attention. But now it is COLD outside, the PERFECT time to run the oven hour after hour for baking tiles for the Castle floor....... How many tiles did you say? Well, I lined up the first batch in front of the hearth... about ninety tiles in that batch. Hmmmm.... doesn't cover much floor does it!
So then I ran a single line of tiles all the way across the floor to count how many tile rows I would need (my tiles are a little irregular.... more like 7 or 8 inches mini size rather than the 6 inch size Nina was using.) I came up with 29 rows deep by 45 rows wide. That's more than 1300 tiles I need to make!
So I knuckled down and got started! For now I'm using two different colors of sculpey, Terra Cotta and Chocolate, but I am going to add a couple more varying colors too. Probably another brown and a burgundy color. Maybe even the navy blue Nina was using for her contrast color. I've got a lot of tile decorating ahead of me! Here you can see a couple of the designs I started with.
And here is a lovely design that makes beautiful patterns when done in careful repeats...... but I am probably just going to use it in random mixture..... because I really like that chaotic medley !
Here you can see the first batch of tiles in front of the hearth and with the fire lit it starts to feel like the floor I am hoping for!
And closer in, you can see the variety of designs...... I think I counted thirteen different designs!
But so many tiles cover so little floor! And I think I am going to have to use grout of some kind..... does any one out there know anything about mini grout for mini tiles....?
So, as you can see, I have SO far to go!