Classy classes...

As I was saving photos to my external hard drive today, I saw several photos of classes I have taken this year but had not shared with you y...

As I was saving photos to my external hard drive today, I saw several photos of classes I have taken this year but had not shared with you yet.   This post is about those classes.  Although I learned lots again, I don't actually have finished miniatures to show you.  Still, just to give you an idea of these classes… But first a little a warning: long post!

This past October I took classes from two of the best miniature silversmiths in the world:  Jens Torp and Pete Acquisto.

The fist class was with Jens Torp.  We learned how to turn a wax model of a bowl with a lid on the lathe.  The wax model will be sent away to be cast in silver using the lost wax technique.  Then in a few months time we will finish the casting, put on handles and a knob and end up with a (hopefully) beautiful silver bowl with lid.

Jens explaining -with detailed drawings ;-) - what we are supposed to do.  

The first stages.  After spending some time getting a nice round block of wax on the lathe, I started shaping the wax.  This will be the bowl eventually.

While shaping and hollowing out the bowl I found that the wall of the bowl towards the bottom was getting very thin, about 0.8 mm.  Although this is still possible to cast, I still had to do some engraving on it, so I decided to start another bowl.  

The shape is nice, but because I didn't finish the bowl, the bottom rim is slightly thicker.  

You can see the mess you make when turning wax.  And this is just a little as we cleaned the stuff away regularly.  Poor Trees (the class was at Trees Beertema's) found wax all over the floors of her house.  I still have to finish the wax turning and carve some of the decoration at home.   This is a really fun technique and I look forward to seeing what my bowl will be like in a few months time.  


A few days later Pete Acquisto came to the Dolls House Netherlands show in Ulft and taught a one day class the day before the show.  There is not too much you can do in one day, so Pete brought cast silver wall sconces which we would solder and finish in the class.   I had met Pete before in Castine, but had not taken his classes then.

I loved the location of the class.  It was in an old iron-factory hall which is now an industrial monument  and houses part of the Dutch Iron Museum in Ulft.

Pete taught us how to clean and finish the silver using the dremel.  Sounds easier than doing it by hand but believe me, it isn't.  I found it difficult to do the fine detail this way.

Pete showing us how to solder the silver.  

The sconces soldered and in the process of being finished.   I still have some more finishing to do at home, but they're almost there!  We had fun in the class, learned some new techniques again and it was lovely to see Pete again.


In May I was able to go to the Kensington Dollshouse Festival and for two days before the show take part in Bonni Becke's passementerie class.   Ever since I had been to Castine in 2007 I had wanted to take this class.  So when I saw that Bonni was coming to London to teach it, of course I had to go!


Some examples of what we'll be making.

Bonni explaining one of the weaving patterns.


The first hours.  Getting the hang of the loom.  I didn't get it right in the beginning.  From the red part down, I didn't pull the thread tight enough.  Bonni said it was actually very difficult to do this kind of weaving on this loom, haha!  I did wonder why everyone was doing it so fast when I was crawling along, trying to keep the sides even.  

It all got a bit exciting when the fire alarm went off and everyone had to go outside and wait across the street.  It turned out to be nothing serious, but you never know.  

Bonni brought along lots of gadgets and clever tools.  This one is for making tassels.  

My second warp and weft in silk.  Trying out a few knots and fringes. 

Several test pieces, different materials and techniques.


We had great fun at during the class.  With Bonnie teaching and Jamie Carrington sitting next to me it was hard to concentrate sometimes as they made us laugh so much.  
The techniques I learned from Bonni will be very useful in many areas of decorating the house, but also in costuming.  The weaving technique can be used both in full scale as in miniature.  

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20 comments

  1. You are a brave lady! I know everything will come out beautiful like everything else you do!

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    1. Thank you grandmommy. But you don't have to be brave for these classes. The teachers will help and guide you through it all. It's fun!

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  2. What fun! I love turning casting wax on the lathe. Yes, it is very messy!!! I wouldn't want to do it at home. I have an alcohol lamp that has a bent tube that blows the flame forward. You can do a little fire polishing with it at the last when you are finished turning.

    I would love to take one of Bonni's classes. She is such a sweet lady. I have seen her a few times in Chicago.

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    1. I remember your reply from a few years ago Catherine, from when I did the wax carving for the mirror. You mentioned turning wax on the lathe then. I must say it was really fun and I can see a lot of uses for it. I think I would build some sort of screen to go around the lathe though and put something on the floor because...oh! the mess!!! I'll see if I can find an alcohol lamp, maybe second hand or so.

      Yes Bonni is a very nice lady, and a lot of fun! I enjoyed that class a lot.

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  3. This is quite the fascinating post! And I'm more than a little jealous of your classrooom experiences :) What fun! I've never done any weaving, but I've turned acrylic that made a bit of a mess, kinda like the wax I think. Anyhow this post is very inspirational----

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    1. Oh I know I am a lucky girl with all these classes I can follow. With your knowledge you could do the wax turning yourself. I have never turned acrylic but I expect it is a bit like turning wax ;-)

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  4. Hello ?josje,
    What amazing artists you got to learn from. I can't wait to see your own finished projects. I would love to take a miniature silversmith class one day. thank you for sharing the great pictures.
    Big hug
    Giac

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    1. Hi Giac, It is pretty fantastic to learn from these great teachers! A lot of projects are waiting for me now but I should have some time this month to work on them. If you get an opportunity to follow a class like that, grab it! You learn so many techniques which can be used on other projects too. Plus it is lots of fun of course!

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  5. Es maravilloso aprender de grandes maestros. Felicidades! un saludo, Marisa

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    1. Thank you Marisa. Yes it is and I know I am lucky to be able to do that!

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  6. Una gran suerte poder aprender de los mejores en el tema de miniaturas!!! Disfruta y aprende de las clases!!!
    Besos.

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    1. Yes I am very fortunate Pilar. Thank you!

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  7. Geweldig Josje, altijd leuk om te zien wat je hebt gedaan in workshops, lijkt me geweldig! Ik kan me voorstellen dat je niet kunt wachten tot je schaal terug is, spannend lijkt me, maar het zal prachtig zijn. The muurkandelaars van Pete Aqcuisto zien er ook geweldig uit, ik herinner me die, oh wacht, die heb ik gezien in je post over de zilversmid's werkplaats. Dat weven lijkt me lastig, vooral om het gelijkmatig te krijgen, niet te los, niet te strak, een aardige balanceer-act, heel nuttig lijkt me die workshop van Bonni, bedankt voor het laten zien van alles!

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    1. Ja goed onthouden ;-) De zilversmid werkplaats inderdaad. Ik moet ze nog steeds afwerken, misschien in de kerstvakantie. Dat weven was echt leuk en interessant. Ik had een jaar of twee geleden zelf een weefgetouw gemaakt, na op internet allerlei filmpjes en andere informatie gezocht te hebben. Dat ging wel, en met veel oefenen was ik er uiteindelijk vast wel gekomen, maar er gaat toch niets boven een ervaren leraar. Ik heb net een selectie zijde garen besteld zodat ik binnenkort wat passementerie voor mijn poppenhuis kan weven.

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  8. These classes look classy indeed. How privileged you are to live within reach of talented artists. Can't complain though. In Feb next year I will do a workshop with Beth Freeman Kane here in South Africa. I'm already so excited! I love seening your work Josje. Have a merry Christmas.

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    1. Hi Megan, Yes I am lucky indeed. But mostly because it is the artists who are willing to travel from the USA to Europe (Bonni and Pete) and Jens from the UK to Holland (his classes are quite close to where I live). How wonderful you will be able to do a workshop with Beth Freeman Kane! Her work is fantastic. I was able to see some of it when I was in London at the Kensington Dollshouse Festival this past May. February, well that's not too long to wait ;-) Merry Christmas to you too!

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  9. I do so enjoy reading your posts and I agree with others, very brave attempting the weaving. It looked really complicated!

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    1. Hi Irene, well it does look complicated, but once you get started and understand what you're doing ( I always have a bit of a problem understanding written instructions) it is not that difficult. Although getting it nice and neat is another matter, that takes a lot of practice. I put a new warp on the loom to make tie-backs for curtains, but the weaving I did last night was not very neat. Some more work is needed on that!

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