Making a butcher’s shop

While I am sewing my husband can get a bit bored. So he has started a long term craft project of his own. Nick loves Victorian “toys” and fancied making a butcher’s shop diorama. You can see many of these on the internet and in museums.They were often used as a display item in the butcher’s shop, but now they are highly collectable. A really nice one recently fetched £30,000.

Victorian Diorama
Victorian Diorama

One of the attractions of making something like this is that the style is “naive” rather than realistic, so allows for imperfections. So far Nick has made the casing from a couple of Ikea trays. He has started carving the figures, using lime wood which is fairly hard but can be modelled. He is using Fymo for the hands (and one of the heads that came out a bit small). I have agreed to clothe the little fellows once they are carved and painted. The small butcher lost his arm in a terrible accident. Nick discovered that, when screwed back on, it can now articulate. Ideal for serving the sausages.

Hand made wooden figures
Making a butcher’s shop

Did you spot the Fymo hands on the floor. And the shoes? Last weekend Nick finished a side of beef. Just for fun I made a little apron for the master butcher. As you can imagine I have been given the role of providing outfits for the men, and curtains for the upstairs windows. I will give you an update on dressing the figures once everything has been painted. The pig and turkey made in modelling material have now been discarded in favour of wooden meat articles.

making a butchers shop diorama
Butchers shop with meat

The habit of making small scale models has been popular for ages, not just for children to admire and play with, but also to entertain adults. I made a doll’s house and a green grocers at evening classes in the past. My ex-husband John has a model railway in his garage, while his car is parked in the road. There are dioramas put together with Barbie dolls, and scenes using small stuffed animals too. I am not sure why we find these diminutive worlds so compelling but I love them.

Almost every day now I inspect the shop and find something new has arrived. Like five perfect little flower pots, and then this weekend  the whole thing was encased in an old picture frame and mounted on the wall.

Butcher's shop Diorama - with frame
Butcher’s shop Diorama – with frame

The evolving scene, made in wood, is so interesting, it almost seems a shame to paint it. I will update you when it is a bit further along. Have you ever made a dolls house or shop?

4 Responses

  1. Maison Bentley Style

    I absolutely love this! I still remember being given a pottery/naive art greengrocers shop that was in my stocking one year and unwrapping every apple, pear and banana one by one. Your husband is doing a magnificent job! xxx

  2. Stephanie

    Agree with Maison Bentley. Your husband is doing a wonderful job on this fun project! I also like it unpainted, as the detail is very interesting in wood. I’ve always been fascinated with miniatures, though I haven’t made any. I had a huge dollhouse that my grandfather made for me when I was a girl though and I loved making furniture and accessories for it. 🙂 There’s a guy in Florence who makes cherubs and animals in wood and I always stop by his window to look at all of the items in the case, wanting to buy a pretty flying cherub to bring home with me.

  3. Joyce

    Terrific! I absolutely love it!! wow, really really cool. I like it unpainted, but I think paint will really add some drama to the whole scene… intensify it. Can’t wait to see the end results and the steps accomplished along the way. So cool.
    In the shadow box, and unpainted it reminds me of some paper relief I have done.
    I did wall paper the kids doll house once , long ago……..and I just about went crazy……..ha.
    I love to playing around with play dough (and clay etc)
    looking forward to the next post of The Butcher Shop! (this also reminds me of one of your photographs from your recent trip..the hanging meat) Is that where the inspiration came from to do the butcher scene?

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