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Saturday, 30 April 2016

Still Working Away....

Just wanted to prove that I was still hard at work. At this point, only the grape hyacinths and the crocuses are "planted", although I need to add some labels to the boxes. The daffodils and the amaryllis need bulbs, and there aren't nearly enough daffodil leaves in the green container as yet. And the pot the single grape hyacinth is in needs aging.

The basket and small bowl are auditioning to see if they would look good with plants in them; I think the basket might be too big, and the bowl too small. However, I do have some good instructions for making enamel or zinc containers out of card.

Monday, 25 April 2016

Feeling Like Spring

Last week Sunday I spent all day at Keukenhof, the bulb gardens in The Netherlands, drooling over all the lovely blooming stuff. Except for one tremendous 15-minute downpour, the day was lovely and I think I got a little bit of a suntan.

There was a rose show on in the large pavilion, and I have never seen so many multi-coloured roses; I just fell in love with the red and yellow and white striped versions that were on display. Of course, it is unlikely I will ever be able to grow them - I live in USDA Agricultural Zone 3B after all - but I may just try some of them in miniature one day.

When I got home, there were lots of forwarded how-to's in my inbox, from a mini friend back in Amsterdam. I decided to look at all the wonderful ideas she had forwarded to me, and found a wealth of bulb plants to try.

So that is what I am working on right now; I have a show and sale in Moncton, NB on May 7, and flowers are going to be all over my table. No photos yet today, as I am working assembly-line style and none are really finished yet, but they will come. I started with 3 distinct types of daffodils; my tendency is to follow instructions, and once I have done them once, I make my own "improvements" to the process. Some of these bulb plants will actually have bulbs, so I have to dig out the polymer clay.

In my own garden, I have early tulips well above ground that will bloom in a couple of weeks or so, along with daffodils and primroses; all flowers that announce spring, and that I just love to see appear. The insane robin is back also, attacking itself in the workshop window and leaving its droppings all over the glass. I hope the stupid thing finds a mate soon and builds its nest, and leaves my windows alone!

I see a lot of glue and paper in my near future....

Friday, 22 April 2016

...And I'm Back!

Lady Iolanthe and I had a wonderful holiday together in Northern Germany and both the South and Northern parts of The Netherlands, despite a bunch of problems resulting from her plane cancellation which led to us being re-routed through Frankfurt and then to Amsterdam, where we were too late by 5 mins for our train connection back to Germany, Bremen this time. (She was flying in from the Canadian west and I from the east, meeting in Toronto to travel on together.) All in all, it took 36 hours, 15 hours of waiting in various airports included, for a trip that would normally have taken 7 hours....

So we arrived in Germany a day late; however, my sister-in-law and her husband took us sightseeing the next day, to Schloss Jever. I didn't expect any minis on this trip, but my goodness, there were minis in the museum at the Schloss!

This super kitchen was more of a Playscale size, but I just loved all the items in it. The wood was left its natural colour, and as you can see, there were metal, copper, pewter and pottery elements there as well. The kitchen reminded me of the toy German Victorian-era kitchens we see so often in miniature magazines, but much more natural, far less elaborately decorated.

This is a view into a "modern" room box that has a kind  of 30's presence about it; there is actually a sort of hammock hanging from the ceiling over the stairs. The grouping of pictures on the left-hand wall is unusual for a doll's house. The yellow glass windows make the whole room box look very sunny and contemporary. And that coloured glass circular window - partially blocked out by a floor lamp - is a feature I must consider for a miniature setting one of these days!

Here is Lady Iolanthe admiring a model warehouse, a dolls' house designed for boys to play with, complete with pulleys and a block and tackle, and I imagine it would once have had boxes and barrels to lift into and out of the warehouse doors. In Germany, the Tudor style of building is known as fach-werk, I believe, and there are hundreds or perhaps even thousands of buildings built in this style still lived and worked in today, some 600 years later.

On Wednesday we toured the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, managing to see only about half of it. It's a place that requires more than one day, for sure. Of course, we stopped in the dolls' house gallery, where Petronella van Oort's and Petronellas duBois' (I think) elaborate seventeenth century dolls' houses are on display. You need a ladder to see into the top story of the former, and it has a portrait of it on the wall beside it! Only one of the original dolls, a baby in an elaborate gown, remains in this house. The thing I always loved about this one is the incredibly fine basket work, made with willow fibres, so thin they look like fine thread, called "wilgen-tenen" or willow-toes, in Dutch.

The other Petronella's dolls' house is so chock-a-block with miniature, gleaming silver that it astounds you. The dolls that inhabit this are charmingly out of scale, and there are well over a dozen of them; maids with toddlers in leading strings and rolls of padded fabric around their heads, to protect against falls, a room full of gentlemen drinking, smoking, gaming and chatting, staff working in the kitchens, and so on. In the attic, a maid is ironing clothing while shirts and cloths hang to dry from wooden slatted racks hung from the ceiling. Here too, finely worked basketry is everywhere.

These two houses are so wonderfully reflective of their period, that sociologists use them to study how wealthy Dutch burghers lived at the time. The servants in the second Petronella's house are dressed in regional costume, recognizable enough to place them in the Dutch landscape. My sister-in-law took the photos for me, as I had left my camera in my luggage back in Bremen.

I also lucked out, in that I was able to pick up 4 Dutch dollhouse magazines; two issues  of DollsHouse Nederland, and one of Poppenhuizen & Miniaturen (P&M), along with their most recent quarterly projects issue, on bedrooms and bathrooms. The older magazines were being swapped out for the most recent issues, and the shop owner dug out the ones they would normally have returned to the publishing company - timed that one right! Not only that, but the magazine shop was right across the street from our hotel in Maastricht, so no problem getting there, either.

That's it for now; I am trying to get over the six hour time difference, something that I find more difficult the older I get. However, my stomach did actually start growling at 12:15 local time today, demanding lunch, so there is hope. Next event is the Moncton Miniature and Doll Show, in early May, for which I have to do some work still.

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

See You in a Couple of Weeks!

Tomorrow I am off to Europe for a visit with my older daughter to the places I grew up in. We head for Amsterdam and immediately take a train to Germany. After a weekend there, we will be driven to the city I called home for the first 11 years of my life, Maastricht.

My daughter and I will explore the city, and I've even found some new sights I have vague memories of, that I can now visit again. After a week there, we leave for Amsterdam, to play tourist there and see if we can find the house I was born in - unlikely, after so many years, but a quest nonetheless!

No minis on this trip, as far as I know, just a chance to travel around with Lady Iolanthe (who leaves comments on this blog), who lives in the same country as I do, but is actually further away than Europe.
Canada is incredibly large....

Friday, 1 April 2016

Beginning the Belladonna Plant

This one has had me thinking; the blossoms are bell-shaped, so how to make that happen with paper? I decided to use coffee filter paper, and coloured it a dark purply-red with a Copic market. Once the ink was dry, I dumped the punched flowers into warm water, pulled them out, and pushed them down quite firmly into the bottom of a Styrofoam meat tray. Although they aren't perfect, I think this may be the best I can do with this plant.

For the blossoms, I used the six-petal punch, and for the sepals, which show on both the blossoms and the berries, I used a small five-pointed star punch. The marker I used to colour the filter paper is shown below. If I were to do these flowers again, I would likely use a pinker colour of marker, but on checking out images of this plant I find a large variety in the colours.

Right now, they're all standing up, but the flowers actually hang downwards; the stems will be trimmed and I will use the same method of applying flowers and berries that I used with the St. Johnswort, short stems tucked into the leaves' attachment points.

That will be the next task, making and shaping the leaves. It's not easy to determine the exact shape of the leaves, all I know at this point is that there is usually a large leaf opposite a small leaf. I think I need to head to books for better images!