15 February 2023
Discover Nichola Battilana’s spectacular miniature homage to the world of Beatrix Potter, with this adorable rabbit house.
I can’t recall a time I didn’t know about Beatrix Potter. While not always at the forefront, she’s tucked quietly away with childhood memories, instantly revived when one sees her work. How could I help but be inspired by talking rabbits, and ducks, lavender tobacco, and mischief?
The initial idea for this piece was to create a Beatrix Potter traditional kitchen in a room box. When I happened across the stump tutorial used for this project, I immediately tossed half of my plans out the window. Sometimes it’s best to go where your inspiration takes you and not force your ideas to fit. They can be tucked away for another time. Several Beatrix Potter illustrations were used as inspiration for this piece.
There’s no specific scale, but it does measure 6¾” tall, that’s not including the roots. It isn’t a particular scene, but rather a compilation of details from various Ms. Potter’s stories like The Tale of Benjamin Bunny and The Tale of Peter Rabbit. From the hanging onions and rabbit tobacco (lavender), to the little ball of yarn, the elements combine to create an homage to the world of Beatrix Potter. The stump was created using the ‘Realistic Bark Tutorial’ from Sharon Ojala as a jumping off point.
The base is a coffee canister which I then covered in paper towels, with a paper mache technique, which results an amazing textural finish, very similar to natural bark. The interior walls and floor are covered in a material called Creative PaperClay. (The bunnies and vegetables are created with this same material.) The product really lends itself to this project because of the effect you can achieve when colouring it. With light washes, a watercolour-like finish results, which mimics the sensitive illustrative style of Ms. Potter. Inside the stump there’s a mixture of handmade and purchased elements.
The tiny chair and table are made with simple wooden coffee sticks. The hanging onions are small balls of clay, wrapped in tissue with coloured raffia stalks. The lavender is made using FlowerSoft on snips of florist wire. The vegetables are PaperClay and topped with greenery clipped from deconstructed faux flowers and vines. Purchased elements include copper pots, the frame on the wall and the basket sitting outside the stump opening.
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There’s also a teeny teacup (you know Josephine Rabbit must have sipped an awful lot of tea!) and carrot shaped teapot from Alpha Stamps. When I finished the stump, I realised that it needed some inhabitants so I sculpted three little bunnies to cause trouble inside. They too were made with Creative PaperClay. Each of those little fellows is finished off with a fluffy raw wool tale and whiskers of single strands of fur bristles.
I really enjoyed working on this piece. Pouring over Ms. Potter’s illustrations, making note of the small details of her work, has rekindled my admiration of her artistry. Not only was she a technically skilled illustrator, but a delightful visual storyteller too.
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