Tuesday, 29 June 2010

A Sunday Outing

On Sunday, my cousin Alice and I went on an adventure to Castlemaine, a town to the north of Melbourne. We went on the train, and I made cupcakes with lemon icing for us to snack on. Castlemaine was established in the gold rush of 1851, and it is a very pretty town, with a wide, leafy streets and several rather nice Art Deco buildings, such as the Art Gallery and the Theatre Royale.

We found a great shop called Habadash, which is full of fantastic vintage buttons (such as the bakelite ones above), ribbons, lace and linen. It's not cheap, but everything is beautifully displayed, and there is a lot of things that would be difficult to find anywhere else. I bought a sweet diamante heart brooch, a couple of glass buttons in the shape of strawberries, and some very fine lace for trimming doll's underwear.

The reason we went to Castlemaine was to see Buda, a historic home that was lived in by the Leviny family from 1863 to 1981. Edward Leviny was a silversmith from Hungary, and he and his new bride Bertha moved into the house in 1864. The Levinys had ten children, four sons (Louis, Alfred, Ernest and Francis), and six daughters (Mary, Ilma, Kate, Gertrude, Dorothy and Hilda). Alfred and Francis died as young children, Louis moved to South Africa, and Ernest worked as a surveyor in Western Australia, returning home to live for a while after the death of his wife.

Of the six girls, only Ilma married, and lived with her husband in Castlemaine. The other five daughters lived at home with their parents. Encouraged no doubt by their father, who was a gifted jeweller and silversmith, the girls each developed a particular artistic passion. Mary made the family's clothing, sewing, smocking and embroidering, Kate specialised in photography, Gertrude in woodcarving, Dorothy in metal and enamel work, and Hilda also in embroidery. The Art Deco lady with flowers is an example of Hilda's work. I would love to embroider a copy of it.

All the furniture in the house (with the exception of the piano) originally belonged to the family, and each room contains examples of the girls' work in the form of rag rugs, fire-screens, embroidered pictures, carved picture frames and painted decorations. The stained glass-like butterflies are from a lamp in the kitchen, which was actually made by Dorothy out of a metal plate, using a special enameling technique which mimics stained glass.

Aparently, each girl had their own particular set of patterned china which they were served their food on. I particularly liked this rather unusual set, with a pattern that looks like red coral.

There are often exhibitions of clothing or textiles in the rooms of the house, this time of decorated vintage clothing. It was quite dim in the rooms, so I apologise for the hopeless photo, but I thought this outfit from the 1930s was just stunning. The gold parts are painted kid leather, which has been padded and appliqued.

The house is situated on 1.2 hectares of gardens, with little paths and paved areas, arbours, lawns, and a park area with huge trees. We sat out near the ornamental pond and ate sandwiches. I tried out a new hairstyle for the day, it's my Mormon halo look, which I quite like. All in all, a lovely day out in the country!


  1. Wow thanks for the heads up about Buda! I think my parents would love to check it out - might head out there when they come visit in August.

  2. Goodness gracious me that was a dreamy day. Sigh, all Sundays should go like that xxxx