I wanted this to be the oldest part of the building. Thinking on the lines of it being where the imaginary traders’ guild met and possibly supplied meagre accommodation for passing members of the brotherhood.
I started out with the intention of doing the floor entirely in York stone, as most of the images I could find relied on fabrics and wall hangings for colour. But I also wanted to make the room double length which meant a little more of a purchase of slabs than I was prepared for this early in the experiment.
Oh, yes, it certainly was still very much an experiment at this stage. It’s probably only in the last few weeks that it’s shimmied into being a main hobby.
Making the room
To make the double length room I chopped up bits of the demolished room boxes and badly glued them together using muslin and glue at the odd crucial butted join, as my cutting was so bad there was hardly any surface to surface contact.
I was then worried that the whole thing would lozenge out of shape because of the haphazard method of joining. However, it worked very well once wall beams had been added. It became incredibly strong and rigid.
The dimensions were 16” long, 12.5” wide and 17.5” high – the original boxes were in inches.
Back to the York stone. As I thought about it more, my imagination made it into more of a mixture of features that appear in Great Halls and those that appear in churches of the period.
I had bought a few terracotta tiles to play with for other parts of the house, particularly the entry hall to give it a feeling of former times in the history of the building. I had wanted to see what paint and varnish they took and what different looks I could get.
Ideas, I’m not short of but holding and painting very small things, I reckoned, was going to cause a big challenge and I needed plenty of practice and experimentation.
I decided, as there were a number tiles spare from the calculated hallway area, that I could use the stone slabs and the terracotta together, running a random pattern idea through from the front door to the back of the Hall.
Because this was going to be a patchwork floor, I used a layout pinched from some of the images of church floors where the odd old tiles seem to have been put together in Victorian/Edwardian period into more out-of-the-way areas, giving a somewhat random layout rather than an easy to follow pattern.
I set to painting some of the tiles.
Soon found I was going to be still short a few tiles (no comment please) despite measuring up and doing pretty accurate maths. The shortage was ‘cos I wanted to cut up some of the tiles into halves and the odd quarter and therefore needed spares to be able to do this.
Fimo to the rescue!
Now was the time to experiment with the Fimo. All instructions for cooking this are for electric ovens. Fimo and its friends tend to be a little woolly around timings/temperatures for gas cookers, and ours is bottle gas, so there was another possible variation. Too much water vapour!
I gave it a go, using a chestnut brown clay, figuring that if I burnt it, it would add to the ‘flavour’. The tile shapes weren’t too bad after a little judicious edge sanding, and they cut like a dream with a bit of a tendency to want to bend, even when cool. They were soon encouraged to flatten out again without cracking. I was worried about this bending thing, but they didn’t mark with your finger nail, just remained flexible, so I reckoned that was OK.
Then, at last, the research came in handy. Medieval floor tile patterns. Many were far too complicated for me to get the standard of finish I would like to aspire to, so I adapted one or two. Strangely found that one of the more fiddly looking ones was actually good to do, giving quite a variety of layouts to work with – single or together making a motif.
Museum of London tiles collection – at the original time of writing I located their amazing catalogue/database, showing individual tiles that can be enlarged for closer inspection but it seems to have gone elsewhere. However, this Pinterest page seems to show the same items.
A general Google search gives an amazing range of images, though some run on to the Victorian copies and layouts.
I used the recommended methods and materials, and, surprisingly for me, I got it more or less right.
This is also when I became great friends with white wood filler in a little tub. It is unparalleled as a substitute for grouting, to fill the odd space between wall and floor edge without making a blithering great dirty mark in the wrong place, for filling the odd crack in any surface as it’s finer than grouting and is dead easy to re-colour or tint.
ps: I’ve had a total brain storm since building the Hall (sorry mind shower!). The Great Hall is now 28” long with the addition of a raised platform area and spiral stairs! All because I wanted to play with the tile patterns again. More to come on this.
- The House Blog – 1 (theinfill.wordpress.com)