A few days ago, I visited A la Ronde, a property near Exmouth in Devon owned by the National Trust. This sixteen-sided building was designed and built in 1796 by cousins Jane and Mary Parminter. Inspired by their Grand Tour of Europe (fashionable for wealthy young men but very unusual for women of the day) the cousins decorated each room using items collected on their travels and their own creative genius.
I loved this beautiful mosaic table-top, created from small pieces of marble and semi-precious stones, miniature art works and religious motifs collected on their tour. Some of the found items were under small glass panels and the individual pieces joined by metal edging, rather like the lead in stained glass windows. I love the colours, the irregularities, the miniature souvenirs … it is amazing!
How did they do that? In 1800?! What glue did they use? In another room with a decorated frieze of feathers, the blurb said that the cousins made glue from the swim-bladders of sturgeons (fish) mixed with brandy. Was that a well-known glue of the day or how many experiments did it take to come up with that solution?! Fascinating!