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!