Minnies Miniatures by John Burley
My name is John Burley and I was born in 1950.
I left school at the age of 15 with no real qualifications although I was quite good at art and design only subject I really liked . Any so called talents I have now are self taught.
Lets skip forward to 1991 because of my interest in art and design my interest in furniture began and I opened a small shop called Times Gone Bye selling Victorian 1910-20’s-30’s-40’s furniture and anything else I thought interesting most of the 30’s and 40’s furniture was called utility furniture we called it shipping furniture because it did not sell and we shipped it on as quick as we could.
Increased enemy bombing and a shortage of timber had created a desperate need for all sorts of basic furniture by 1941 .The Board of Trade produced Utility specifications for the furniture industry the designs were worked up by a Advisory Committee. In 1943 a Utility Furniture Catalogue of designs was produced divided in to five sections: living room, bedroom, kitchen and miscellaneous items which included items such as bookshelves etc. They still may I suppose hold the Copyrights to some of the designs. I think I did have some catalogues at some time long gone now.
Back to the shop it was not long before I found myself doing repairs and making small items from reclaimed timber I then moved on to making furniture based on simple Utility designs that I had in my shop or had passed through my hands if you did a house clearance there would most likely be some Utility furniture or actually seen but making them out of pine and other woods that were popular at that time. People started to ask if I could make this and that so my commission period started. I made single kitchen units full kitchens furniture for narrow boats all sorts of furniture at one time I even did some restoration work on a Dalek I believe was bought from the BBC props department .I still had the shop and my wife Sylvia used to come and set it out and dress the furniture she had a lot of experience in that direction also it need a women's touch and I was still buying and selling all sorts of things lots of smalls as we used to call them. We still have some furniture and bits and pieces including our cooker which was made in 1955.
Now jump to 2008
By this time my career had changed direction again. Sylvia,s birthday was due soon and knowing that she always wanted a dolls house I purchased a flat pack MDF one with the intention of fixing it up and doing the exterior work then leaving the rest up to sylvia. Well I ended up altering it more ways then one with the small number of tools I still owned I then presented it to Sylvia on her birthday that is when the 1930-40’s theme started unfortunately there is not a lots of dolls house pieces out there for that period I did manage to find a few bits but very hard to find the right things. Sylvia started making some things for the house she had seen a mirror in the shop I had bought years ago cant remember the name of the style but they are plain having no frame and moulded flowers across the top she found one on a site but they were always out of stock anyway Sylvia found someone who could cut mirror glass in 2 mm thick in to such a small size and made her own.
Well if Sylvia can do it lets have a go went through my mind. Using my experience and knowledge from the 1990’s I started to make some furniture based on Utility furniture I had already made ,its a lot harder working in miniature I did have some pictures from that time not many but I think my brother and son have a large back catalogue they used to help me some times, my son still makes furniture. Well I really enjoyed it and made too much hence the web site Sylvia does all the painting and makes some of the items.
This year in June I was made redundant and started to think could I make a hobby in to a business . I found a shop for rent moved in and divided it in to two to make a sales area and a work shop I am still making 1930-40’s furniture etc but now branching out to cover other periods and learning new techniques I am trying to improve on all the designs and work I do all the time.
I really enjoy the challenge of making any commissions that come my way
I opened the shop on the 14th of August this year John Burley
Web site: www.minniesminiatures.co.uk
Minnies Miniatures (shop & Workshop)