...well, only of this year!

As you can see I have a new layout on my blog. I hope you like the bigger photos!

Yesterday I was taking some pictures of my pretty Stokesay tea set which I bought for the bedroom at the Arnhem fair back in October, when I noticed I have a bit of a theme going in the bedroom. Can you see what it is (apart from the toile and soft red colours)? A small clue: I don't have any problems going to sleep...

A wonderful 2011 to all of you!
You may remember when, back in August, I posted about an interesting cabinet which was going for auction at Christie's in London. I wrote about it:

" I would love to have this cabinet. It would look great in my kitchen holding my favourite china, or in the bedroom full of linen. Or even better: it could go in my work room, holding all of my materials for miniature making. Of course it could become a 12th scale dolls house, I think the measurements would be just right for that!"

Unfortunately the cabinet was too expensive for me and even if I had been able to buy it, getting it from England to Holland would have been a major undertaking.

Fast forward a few months, it is now December 2010 and I get an email from Madelva, the editor of the Spanish miniatures magazine 'Miniaturas'. Madelva had seen my post about the cabinet and cooked up a little surprise for me... She had contacted Christie's and with their permission, published the building plans for the cabinet in 12th scale! (Miniaturas año 16, No 155)

Such a wonderful surprise, thank you Madelva! I will certainly build my own cabinet now.
Thank you all so much for entering my small 100th post give away and for leaving such lovely comments! I have drawn the results this morning using the online random number generator. I started laughing when I saw the who the first person was to be picked by the generator. I thought I'd better take photos so you can see for yourselves...

First winner is ...Linda Carswell!

The second winner is ...Marion!

The third winner is...Angelina!

And the fourth winner is...Tijm!

Congratulations to all of you! Could you please contact me with your addresses? You can find my email address in my profile.
It rained all day yesterday, but today I woke up to a beautiful white world! Perfect weather to start on my Christmas decorations.

At the Arnhem Fair two months ago I bought a few wooden animal miniatures from Reifendreherei Flath. Hans-Günter Flath is a German toymaker from the Erzgebirge (Ore Mountains). I want to make a little nativity scene with the wooden animals. Of course this should not include Rudolph, but I thought he was so cute, I just could not leave him behind!

100th post and a small giveaway

Last week St. Nicholas gave me a fantastic set of Le Creuset casseroles. The smooth enamel finish of Le Creuset cast iron is durable and hygienic. Everything you cook will taste just as good as you intended. They are the must haves for every cook.

As this is my 100th post, I thought it would be nice to have a little celebration giveaway. I will have 4 large casseroles to give away to four of my readers, each in a different colour. You can see the colours in the photos below.
Now please note that these are dolls house scale and not full scale casseroles ;) They are cast plastic and the lids do not come off. They're actually fridge magnets but are just about the right scale for the 12th scale dolls house.

If you'd like to win one of these miniature casseroles, please leave a comment on this post and state which colour you would like (green, cream, orange or red). You can enter until December 19th, I will draw the names of the four winners on Monday December 20th.

Remember the beautiful shoes and handbag by Patrizia Santi I showed you a month ago? Many of you asked me for her website and I thought she didn't have one. Well, good news, Patrizia has a blog called Patrisan. And even better news, she is hosting a giveaway where one lucky person will get the gorgeous shoes in the photo below. Aren't those heels just perfection?

The giveaway ends December 18th, so hurry over there, become one of her followers and leave a comment...Who knows you may be the owner of these gorgeous shoes before the year is over!

About two months ago Marsha from Sassy Mini Dolls organized a Christmas Ornament Exchange. Not a miniature thing per se, but I loved the idea and decided to join in. My swap partner was Sherry, someone I have never met, but judging by her blog and the emails she sent me, she's a very sweet person.

Have you ever tried to make something for someone you don't know? I can tell you, it is soooo difficult! I read Sherry's blog back to front to try and find out some more about her....still difficult ;)

I finally decided to make her an angel. The little bird she is holding refers to the birds on Sherry's birth announcements.

Unfortunately the ornament Sherry has made for me is still stuck in the mail somewhere between the USA and Holland. The fact that the Dutch mail has been on a strike I'm sure hasn't helped the matter...I am confident that it will arrive before Christmas though (don't worry Sherry!). I am still in full Saint Nicholas mode here and don't start my Christmas decorating until December 15th usually so I am very patient. Of course I will show you my gift here when it has arrived!

Check out Marsha's Blog Party to see the ornaments made by other participants!

For the first half of this year I have been busy working on a 17th century kitchen roombox. The kitchen was designed to look like the real 17th century Dutch kitchens did, but also had to have the look of the kitchens in the 17th and 18th century Dutch dolls houses.

I made the roombox for Mr. Emiel Aardewerk, an antiques dealer who specializes in Dutch silver and miniature silver. At the moment the roombox is on show, filled with gorgeous 17th and 18th century silver miniatures, at the PAN Amsterdam National Art and Antiques Fair.

The miniatures in these photos are my own, not antique ones. I made the kitchen cabinets from lovely mahogany, although that can't be seen anymore. The kitchen has been slightly aged as if it has had a few centuries of use. It was quite hard to put some grime on crisp clean grouts and freshly painted cabinets, but I do like the result!

The tiles on the wall are copies of traditional Dutch tiles called 'witjes' (little whites) which in fact aren't white at all but are slightly tinted with red, green, blue, yellow etc. The other tiles of course are Delft blue. The floor and worktop are painted to look like marble. Floor and wall tiles were made from acid free paper.

I can't resist a beautiful pair of shoes. You'd have to put me on a leash to stop me from buying them. But I'm not and I bought them. These are the classic shoes and handbag that every girl should have in her wardrobe. They were made by Patrizia Santi, her shoes and handbags are fantastic. Yes, Italian of course.

Friday and Saturday I visited the Arnhem Fair with my friend. We had a fantastic time and were able to see and buy a few wonderful miniatures. In the weeks to come I will show some of the things I bought, starting today with some lovely ginger jars.

Over the years I have collected a few full scale ginger pots. They're not precious antiques as they were shipped into Holland by the thousands. In fact, I think you can still buy ginger in these jars. But they're very decorative and I love the green glazes on them. From the early 1900's they are frequently used by Dutch artists in still lifes, Vincent van Gogh being one of them.

At the request of a Dutch miniaturist, French miniature potter Elisabeth Causeret (Poterie Miniature) made ginger pots in miniature. She did a fantastic job, the glazes are so good!

Elisabeth made the pots without a lid and this is how you'll find most of them. The ginger pots were closed with a large cork which was sealed with wax. To find one with a lid is quite uncommon.

I love how the miniature pots have imperfections in the glazes, just like the big ones! When my friend and I came to Elisabeths stall on Saturday, she only had four ginger pots left, two for my friend and two for me. I hope she'll have a few more at the next fair so I can have a small collection of them, just like I do in real life.

I thought I'd share this photo with you as it has a little bit of a pink ribbon in it, and October is breastcancer awareness month! I made the rose as a small birthday gift to send with a chair I made for a friend in Germany.

Blue and white never bores me. The blue and white of the sky and the clouds, the water and the waves or the blue painted pigments on white porcelain...

Some months ago a took another porcelain painting class from Cocky Wildschut here in the Netherlands. I have taken several of her classes, each time painting some porcelain pieces based on designs by Cocky. This time was different. I brought a large antique Chinese lidded vase with me and translated that design into a miniature version. It was fun to do! You can see the miniature vase in the picture above sitting on a beautiful little table by Mark Gooch.

The large Chinese plate on the wall was painted by Cocky. The tulip vase was made by Henny Staring. I made a few parrot tulips for it. I cut the petals for the tulips from paper and painted them with water colours.
Two days ago my friend A. came to visit me. A. and I met a few years ago at one of Jens Torp's classes. We get along very well together, we live only about 15 miles away from each other and have very similar tastes in miniatures. I love to visit fairs with A. as neither of us will blink an eyelid when spending a small fortune on a beautiful miniature.

A. is a talented miniaturist (although she doesn't think so herself). She brought two of her most recent works to show me, a lovely hand woven basket and a beautiful walking stick, carved to resemble cane with a silver tip and a silver decorative band just below the handle. I don't have a picture to show you, but look what else she brought:

'That's just great', I can hear you think 'but WHAT is it?' Well, it's a very fancy vacuum cleaner. A. runs her own business as a dental technician and uses many machines and tools which are also perfect for miniature making. A. replaced this dust extractor by new one and brought this one over for me to use. If you have read my last post you understand how perfect this is for me!

I can plug in my sander or circular saw and hook up the machine with the hose. Of course you could use a vacuum cleaner too, but this machine will switch on automatically when using the saw and has a very quiet motor so much less noise! Great!

I am still working on some commissions, so I don't have many miniatures to show you. On top of my new machine is one of my nearly finished commissions.

This handsome fellow walked into our house this summer. Isn't he gorgeous? He's also the sweetest, most cuddly cat I ever met. My son wants him to stay. I want him to stay. That is, until I see the sclera of my eye wrinkle to resemble the skin of a Shar-Pei...No, not good for me.

Ahhh, the smell of sawdust...Don't you just love it? I do too. I have done a lot of cutting and sanding the last few months and I love it. Yes I do wear a dust mask most of the time. However, the itchy skin and eyes, sniffles and sneezes tell me that the mask is not enough though. No, not good for me.

If you're Dutch you'll recognize what's in the glass jar. For the rest of you, it is a chocolate bar. I love them and eat a lot of them. But somehow I don't react well to them. I slowly swell up, usually starting in the middle of my body and then it gradually starts spreading up and down. Recovery takes a long time. No, not good for me.
Or: 'A hunt for miniatures at the biggest flea market in Europe'.

This past weekend we have been out treasure hunting. We started in Lille, France at the biggest flea market in Europe, about 150 to 200 kilometers (yes!) of the roads of Lille center given over to pedestrians and stalls. Parking around the area is crazy, but as long as you don't obstruct traffic, you can park anywhere you like, no parking tickets are issued. We were very lucky to find a parking space only two minutes after leaving the highway, at only a three minutes walk from the start of the Braderie.

It was wonderful. So many goodies to look at. I was hunting for miniatures of course, and I especially wanted a miniature portrait. After only 15 minutes I found her, a lovely miniature painted on ivory. She is a beauty from 1943, very finely painted. After a bit of haggling I got her for a very good price. I am just thrilled with this lovely portrait. The frame of course is too big to hang in my dolls house, so I'll have to search for another one.

Oddly enough, almost all of the treasures I bought are ivory pieces. Old of course! The little ´bucket´ you can see on the right is ivoire de Dieppe (ivory from Dieppe), it is a little match holder or ´pyrogène´ from around 1880 in excellent condition. I thought it would make a nice umbrella stand or something like that.

I also found two little books with ivory covers. The biggest one is a 19th century little prayer book, with prayers and illustrations to guide you through the week. The smaller ivory one is missing the book inside, as you can see it used to hold fables.

On Sunday we decided to leave Lille to the masses and visit Gent (Belgium) instead. And wouldn´t you know it, it was the weekend of their annual flea market. More stands to look at and treasure to find! I found a little silver and silver guilt salt sellar, which would be perfect with a big plant in it. On another stall I found another ivory piece. This time a little statue of Maria with Jesus on her arm. I like the way the folds in her dress are carved.

At one stall in Lille I saw two lovely ladies holding a miniature metal and glass armoire, just right for a dolls house. I decided to wait and see if they would put it down, but they liked it very much and tried to get a price on it. The stand holder was not very helpful, and as the ladies didn´t speak French, I helped them get a good price on it. I know it has found a good home with a fellow miniature collector.

As you can imagine, after seeing hundreds and hundreds of stalls, it is not so easy to find something suitable for a dolls house, but I am so happy with my finds!

After a busy time working on a commission (which is now finally finished) I took some time off to go on vacation with my family. In one of the beautiful Dutch towns we visited I found some really pretty fabrics, one of them perfect for the Drawing Room in my dolls house.
I decided to re-upholster my sofa and chair with this fabric. I love the result, even though the photos show the colours slightly differ, the colours match beautifully with the room. I kept the silk on the base and arms of the chair, this is the same silk I used on the curtains.

Once I had finished my commission, I thought it was time to treat myself to something very nice, and so I did! I bought a beautiful little 17th century concertina table from Mark Gooch. I think it looks gorgeous in the room with the silver tea set on it. The tea set (with adorable little ivory knob) is by Mike Sparrow.

Update 8/30: Click here to go to the website of Mark Gooch. And here to go to the website of Mike Sparrow.