By Judi Noakes
The club project was to create a setting in a box-file, and at home we happened to have some quite old ones which reminded me of the old office my father worked in as a solicitor when I was a child in the 1950s.
I remember the offices having a strange smell, and the old paper documents stored on the dusty shelves for years had turned brown. The cerise tape binding all the deeds was also another vivid memory. To recreate this I found a silk thread (at a fair), which was an exact match in colour, but I wound it around each bundle and on to the next - no individual bows on each deed I’m afraid, but once placed on the shelves you can’t notice the difference.
My father would take me to his office on Saturday mornings when it was closed to clients so I could wander around while he worked. I loved playing with the old wax seals, paper clips etc., and climbing up and down the flights of old twisted stairs. The large front office on the first floor was the Founder partner’s office (I remember him only as a very old man). It had two turret shaped windows in the corners and I would sit on the window seats and gaze at the world going past below.
In the model, the shelf units were painted with brown acrylic paint, rubbed down to look worn, then polished with wax to give a satin look. The deeds were made to look old by rubbing brown wax furniture polish over them.
Angel hair was used to create cobwebs and I was lucky to find a yellow plastic phone in a charity shop, which I painted black and then made the dial. A good tip is to rub Gripwax over the black paint when dry as this takes away the high gloss.
Some of the books were made as individual ones and others I cut out pictures of book spines from magazines. I stuck pieces of half doweling on to a piece of card, and then pasted the pictures onto the mouldings, pressing them in between each doweling piece, to give a rounded spine effect.
Old legal documents, tied up with cerise ribbon, had turned brown over the years. Old books full of case histories lined the shelves, along with ring binders containing current matters. Stationery items litter the desk, including the day’s newspaper with the crossword nearly complete.
Angel hair spread across the book shelf makes perfect cobwebs. You can find this faux snow in the Christmas decoration isle at stores.
The somber mode of dress was the order of the day, even on a Saturday morning when clients were not known to call. The hand knitted cardigan was necessary as in winter the only form of heating was the small electric fire, so the office was always a little on the cold side. Pen and ink had not yet been replaced in a solicitor’s office by the ball pen, and the wax seals are still in use today.
Clothing the solicitor doll was a real challenge as I hate dressing male dolls in formal clothes - perhaps it is lucky he is sitting behind a desk! I was pleased with the finished effect and think of it as a tribute to the memory of my father.