Saturday afternoon, and I drove back in time. I visited Susan M. Tunnicliffe, no rx at her charming home. Susan is the artist that makes all the lovely silhouettes and spice boxes, pipe boxes, mirrors, etc., which will ALL soon be available in my artisan store. Susan lives in one of the oldest houses in Philadelphia, built in the late 18th century. A couple of blocks over, is the Old Swedes Church. The Swedes arrived in Philadelphia before William Penn. They built their church out of bricks, and built themselves log homes. Independence Hall, where the Constitution of the United States was signed on September 17, 1787, is about 20 blocks away. The streets are narrow, and some were very icy, and it was a bit unnerving, but I did it, I made my way to her house.
When she opened the door, the smell of cinnamon, cloves and orange filled the air. I was taken back in time, and it was wonderful! The house is tiny, but oh so sweet! This type of early house is called a Trinity house. Three rooms, one on top of another. A living room, bedroom, and kitchen, which is in the basement. A life time resident of the area, one of Susan’s neighbors, mentioned her house still used an outhouse, instead of an indoor bathroom, until the 1960′s!, when a woman and her son lived in the house. Yikes, with all this snow, that would not be fun!!
Each room has a working fireplace. Susan lives in this house with her 3 cats. She does not own a television, and has not had one for 30 years. Her time is spent creating lovely things.
One of the first things that caught my eye was a small pile of wood under her Chippendale sofa, just waiting to be cut, sanded, carved and painted, then assembled into something wonderful, made to look like they came straight out of the 18th and 19th centuries.
Susan rarely looks at an actual item as a starting point, she just starts working on a project, and just like some doll makers I know, the materials just start to speak to her. Scrap wood is never wasted. Small pieces are used for small projects. With the exception of the silhouettes, many of Susan’s designs are very limited in quantity.
One of her beautiful silhouettes sits on her mantel.
Her hand made pipe box hangs on the door.
In the corner was a lovely old cupboard filled with early Canton, and as I walked past the Chippendale wing chair, one of her cats gave me a gentle tap on my arm, with her little paw, as if to say, I want to be noticed too.
I could have stayed all day, but I didn’t want to wear out my welcome. Susan, has so many ideas for new things, but one can only do so many things in a day. Hopefully I can return again in the Spring, and watch her as she makes those wonderful cement ornaments for the garden. I’ll be sure to bring my camera!