Here we have our second instalment of the winners from the more recent Creative Competition. This is our 2nd place winner, Betty Melbourne and is her take on a writing hut, for Tolkien. In her own words here’s the story of her house
When I thought about entering this year’s Creative Competition I wanted to recreate a writing hut. However J.R.R. Tolkien (of Lord of the Rings and ‘The Hobbit’ fame), who was the writer I wanted to use, never had a writing hut. Despite this I decided to get really creative and make the writing hut he should have had!
I chose the Summer House kit, as I felt this one fitted the idea in my head the best. I began the transformation by painting the outside walls with an interpretation of one of Tolkien’s own illustrations from ‘The Hobbit’ – The Elven king’s Gate – with the distant entrance on the back wall of the building and the surrounding forest, along the side walls. For the front wall with the doors, I used a printed version of the Gate to Moria from ‘The Lord of the Rings’ with the instruction “Speak friend and enter” written in elvish on the front of the porch. (I think Tolkien would have been quite welcoming!)
The hut itself is mounted on a baseboard representing a quiet corner of his garden surrounded with grasses (made from pine needles), moss and stones. At the side of the porch is a planter, which I made from lolly sticks, containing Tolkien’s own supply of Longbottom Leaf tobacco (beloved of all Hobbits!). The plants were made from silk flowers, and hanging from the porch is the last crop of tobacco drying nicely! (tissue paper dipped in coffee!) On the porch, as well as his muddy wellingtons, is a little baize topped table and a camp stool where he can sit and enjoy a pipe of tobacco while contemplating the next part of his stories. Hanging from various hooks around the porch are Boromir’s horn, Gimli’s axe and Legolas’ bow (kindly made by a friend) with arrows in a leather quiver made from an old leather glove!
The interior of the hut resembles what Tolkien’s study looked like based on a variety of photographs. It is furnished with a roll top desk, where he would create his stories, complete with a handmade inkstand, blotter and the essential pipe and ashtray as well as his original designs for the front covers of The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. He is obviously in the middle of composing the next chapter but all does not seem to be going well if the contents of the waste paper basket and the surrounding floor is anything to go by! Next to the desk is his briefcase (more leather from my old glove!) ready for when he leaves for his lecturing duties at the University. The table against the back wall is where he would create the illustrations and maps that are a feature of his books, and the walls are covered with examples of his work. Next to the table, on one side, is his trusty radio, to keep up with current affairs, and on the other is a cup of tea (probably provided by Mrs Tolkien through the handy hatch!) and Gandalf’s distinctive pipe.
Opposite the desk is a bookcase full to overflowing with the many and varied books (all carefully constructed from free “printies”) that he would need to support his writing, with one or two of his own tucked in there! On top can be seen rolled up maps waiting to be sent to the publishers to be included in the next book and leaning against the lower shelves is his portfolio of artwork. The shelf around the room holds his clock (so he knows when it’s tea time!), more books, (including his own first editions), the box that Galadriel gave to Sam in Rivendell, another pipe and his jar of Longbottom Leaf tobacco. By the door is a barrel (similar to those which Bilbo used to help the dwarves escape from the elves in The Hobbit!) which holds the essential umbrella, a walking stick and of course Gandalf’s staff! On the back of the doors Tolkien has fastened an elvish alphabet for easy reference and translations of the poem about the rings from The Lord of the Rings. I have tried to combine reality and fantasy to create the sort of environment in which I feel Tolkien would have been comfortable, surrounded by evidence of his fantasy world yet still firmly in the real world with his university and publishing commitments. This project has been a real labour of love, much of the contents being handmade, and I have thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of its construction.
And here are the full set of images of Betty’s work, we’re sure you’ll find it as inspiring and clever as we did!