Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there...







Before you start asking yourselves whose blog you are reading, I can assure you that these two little people are actually in the Bedroom of my Canal House.  Yes!  These two lovely doll children are mine.   Dolls.  For a non doll person.  Absolutely.  I found them at the Arnhem fair last October at Angel's Little Ones and took them home with me. 

Now mind you, these two lovely faces will not be residing in the Canal House.  No, that is just a step too far for me.  These kids will live in my Christmas House.  But as that is far from finished I let them live in the Canal House for now.  A few weeks ago I bought a lovely book 'Twas the Night Before Christmas' (made by Caterina) for them and I thought it was cruel not to let them read it until their house is finished.  So here they are, big brother is reading to his little sister. 

I bought the little sweater (Le Petit Tricot- no website) and socks (Annelies de Kort) in Arnhem as well.  My friend and I were almost fighting over the little sweater, we both loved it but she let me have it!  We have very similar tastes, even when there is a hundred things on a stall, we both pick the same thing. 

The boy is wearing jeans for now, but I will make him a pair of brown corduroy knickerbockers when I have found the fabric.  For the girl I made a pretty white blouse and little bloomers finished with lace.  She is still waiting for her little pinafore dress (I am thinking of doing a little smocked bodice perhaps).  But for now they are lovely as they are...

'Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!'



I am a lucky girl!  A few days ago I won Debora's giveaway, a miniature Narwhal tusk.   Narwhals are the unicorns of the sea , with their beautiful long tusks they look like mythical creatures.

Debora is a very talented miniaturist and, hardly surprising,  made perfect miniature versions of Narwhal tusks.  Her attention to detail is wonderful, and is was a joy to unwrap my gift. 




For the time being I have put the tusk in the library of my Canal House, but I want to give it s spot where the detail can be seen more easily.  One detail I really like (and can't be seen in the photo) is the hollowed out end of the tusk, it really looks like the inside of a tooth. 




But all of the detail is wonderful really, the beautiful curved grooves in the tusk, the little routed edge around the mahogany, the hand engraved brass plaque...

Thank you so much for your beautiful giveaway Debora, it is a little treasure!




...Christmas? 

I was working a little Christmas scene and wanted to use little bottle brush Christmas trees.  Of course I didn't have any so I searched for something to use instead.  I found some chenille stems so I made them out of that.  Very quick and easy, and they look so cute!


I thought some of you might want to make these too, so I made a mini tutorial for you.  I made them in this blue-grey colour, but of course you can use any colour and use many different decorations on them. 
For the base I used plastic thingies which cover up screws, but you could use a bit of a dowel or a pen, whatever you have laying around .

Have fun!





Finally!  I have started work on the attic bedrooms.  As there is only one bedroom so far in the Canal House (which seems a bit odd for such a big house), I decided that the attic would have two bedrooms and a bathroom.  For one of the bedrooms I have just finished making this bed.


The bed is in the Louis XVI style, made out of pieces of skirting board and matboard and upholstered with a white cotton.   As it is mostly matboard  (which basically is a thick cardboard) it is not as strong as a wooden bed would be.  But as long as the inhabitants of the Canal House don't start jumping up and down on it, the bed should be fine. 



The sheet and pillowcase are made of  fine cotton.  I printed the duvet cover on a piece of regular white cotton from an old sheet.   The design is actually from an old rug, but I rather like it for the bed.




I made the mattress from a lovely striped cotton resembling ticking.  It was supposed to be covered up by the bedding, but as I finished it I liked it so much I wanted to have it exposed a bit.  Totally unrealistic of course, who ever sleeps on a mattress without any sheets?  But it looks nice!



The painting is one I found on internet and printed to the right size for the little frame.  I have had the frame for ages, I don't really know where it came from.  It was very chunky though, so I reduced the thickness of it by at least half  (just by sanding and sanding and sanding....) which now makes it pretty and delicate.


Yesterday I celebrated St. Nicholas eve with my family.  The old Saint has been very generous to us (as always I should say) and we had enormous fun while opening our presents.   I received a couple of very small packages which, as you can imagine, made me very happy. 

In one of the gifts I found this beautiful antique opalesque glass and enamelled vase.  It is French, made around the turn of the last century.  I photographed it in the upstairs hallway (which I have nearly finished, but more on that later),  the colours go so well together.  Thank you St. Nicholas!



In another small package I found a box chock-full of old Chinese mother of pearl gambling chips.  These are so very pretty, they all have different little designs on them.   I keep getting new ideas of how to use them for my miniatures.  I love these!  Thank you St. Nicholas!



In the next few photos I will show you a not-so-little gift I received.  My Dutch readers will probably recognize it immediately, as it is a well known part of our St. Nicholas tradition.  The feast of St. Nicholas has been celebrated for centuries in the Netherlands.  Many centuries ago, it became a feast celebrated within the family.  As the children received their gifts anonymously (as the Saint originally did as well), their gifts were covered with a sack, the first letter of their names placed on top it to indicate who it was for. 

For a long time now gifts are wrapped and the names are written on the wrapping paper. The idea of the first letter of the name has still remained, and we now get our initial in chocolate.   These chocolate letters are available only around St. Nicholas time.

In my family it is no secret that I love, love, love a certain brand of chocolate, and when I get a big chocolate initial it usually doesn't last the day.  The rest of the year I have to do without (which is probably for the best).  Until now.  One of my gifts was a big, heavy box.  When I opened it I found this:


My first and last name spelled in chocolate letters!  14 of them!  And my favourite brand! 



St. Nicholas thought this would last me the whole year, so about one per month on average (yeah, like that is going to happen).



I am not sure whether or not to thank the old man for this ;)  Thank goodness he also gave me new exercise clothes, although the size on one of them was XXL.  Maybe he can see into the future?  Oh, I surely hope not!



He arrived in the Netherlands three weeks ago, but this weekend he will be very busy!  St.Nicholas eve is Monday night, but many people will celebrate today or tomorrow.  Most people will help the old Saint and do the gift buying, wrapping, surprise making and poem writing for him.   






...big exhibitions of the miniature world!



Remember this kitchen I made about a year ago?  I am pleased to say it is now in an exhibition at the Museum Bredius in The Hague.  The exhibition is called 'Tall and small' and shows a large collection of miniature silver, mostly from the 17th and 18th century. 

It  is the first time  Dutch antique miniature silver is exhibited alongside some of its full sized examples.  The exhibition shows hundreds of miniatures from the collections of the Museum Bredius and the The Hague antiques and jewelry dealer A.Aardewerk, supplemented with pieces on loan from international private collections.  

 For those of you who read Dutch, here is a link to a nice article in the paper De Telegraaf .
The exhibition can be seen until January 15, 2012. 




 Meanwhile at the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag (Municipal Museum of The Hague) there is another miniatures exhibition. This exhibition is called XXSmall and 'offers a model world of the past and present that will enthral visitors of all ages' as it says on the museum's website.  The items on display will not only be Dutch, but from many other countries as well.  You can read all about it here.





The Gemeentemuseum Den Haag houses the beautiful Sara Rothé dolls house, which dates from around 1745. This is one of the photos I shot of the dolls house interior when I visited the museum in June.  (Bottom left room in the dolls house).   The chest of drawers holds many silver items, a must in an 18th century dolls house! 
The museums website says: 'Silver miniatures will be a specific focus of this exhibition, with a literally dazzling display occupying a dedicated gallery and a separate publication being issued on the subject.'
The exhibition can be visited until March 25,2012.

I certainly will be visiting both exhibitions!




One of the students I met at Chris Malcomson's class last week was Hubert Boom.   Before the class started he told Chris he also made some furniture and asked whether we would like to see it.  But of course!  Don't we always want to see what others have made?  Hubert took a box out of his bag and opened it up.  When he presented us with the cabinet he made, our jaws dropped...

Hubert showing one of his cabinets at his brother's table at the Arnhem Fair.

Hubert showed us the most beautifully made Louis XVI cabinet.  Perfect in every detail.  Made exactly as the full size version was made.  Hubert told us that he's a cabinetmaker by trade and enjoyed using his skills to make a few miniatures.  We all wondered why on earth he was taking the class!


English bookcase (nearly finished)  made of beautiful palisander wood. 

During the fair, Hubert was helping his brother at his table (Piccolo, but the shop has now closed), where he had three more cabinets to show us.  I took these photos at the fair, so unfortunately you can see me and my camera in the refection of the glass.  This gorgeous bookcase was almost finished when I saw it.

It is so beautifully made.  The two doors on the left reveal open shelf space, the door on the right hides three drawers, all fully dovetailed of course. 


Early 19th century Dutch cabinet.

I love this cabinet.  It is so typically Dutch.  Just some very fine and simple decoration in the middle between the doors and below the columns.  This cabinet was made from mahogany.  The full sized cabinets were often mahogany veneered onto an oak construction or solid oak.  

  
My mother has a similar cabinet in full size.  I immediately noticed the bowed shelf inside the cabinet.  Fantastic!  What? A bowed shelf fantastic?  Yes, because the full scale cabinets all have bowing shelves due to the direction of the wood grain used for these shelves.  My mother's cabinet has bowing shelves as well.


Fine oak Louis XVI cabinet.

This is the cabinet Hubert showed us in class.  He used the finest oak he could find for its construction.  Oak typically has quite a coarse grain which makes it difficult to use in miniature projects.  Hubert managed to achieve a very fine result.


Louis XVI style cabinet interior.


The beautiful fittings were specially made by Jean Claude Martin.


All the drawers are dovetailed, of course.


Detail of the broken pediment on top of the cabinet, with ornamental vase and carvings.

Hubert does not have a website (yet), so I offered to show his cabinets on my blog.  I am sure you all don't mind me doing that ;) as I am sure you will all agree we have got another fabulous miniaturist in our world!




...well a few days actually!


Last week I spent a few of days at the Arnhem Dollshouse Fair.  My friend and I signed up for a Chris Malcomson class, making a Dutch wall table from around 1705.  During the first day of class we worked at building the basic structure of the table, veneering and making a start on shaping the table legs.

I booked a wonderful hotel room in Arnhem with a huge roof terrace overlooking the Rhine river.  The weather was gorgeous so we sat outside with a cup of tea working at shaping our table legs. 



Friday morning, sunrise over Arnhem as seen from our hotel room roof terrace.  Isn't this absolutely glorious?  I assure you there was no trickery involved in this shot!



Tha table apron after a few coats of shellac.  Just look at that shine!  The table top had just had a a first coat of shellac and has been sanded down.



 My table legs nearing completion.  It is quite difficult to get them all looking the same! 
Chris had given us Cuban mahogany from a broken old box of around 1740 to make the legs.  I love the idea of the wood having so much history already.   The wood may even be hundreds of years older as of course we don't know when the tree of which it came was felled.



After the class was finished Friday afternoon it was time to hit the Fair.  Even before the first night was over, I managed to spend a big chunk of my budget.  On Saturday I did some very careful shopping and went home with only 10 cents left in my wallet.  Well done to me for resisting to go to the cash machine or pulling out my credit card!
I never have enough time at the fair, even though I am there for two days.  There is just too much to see, too many people to  talk to.   It was lovely to meet a few fellow bloggers, like Debora from http://petitpunt.blogspot.com/,  Peiwen from http://oiseaudenim.blogspot.com/  and Audrey from http://www.bopeep.nl/BoPeep/Welkom.html



Here is a quick shot of some of my purchases.  Many of the items I bought are to go into this new house I am working on.  Here you see the table I made in Chris' class (it just needs a final coat of shellac).  On the left you can see one of the lights I bought from Ray Storey, who was at the show in person.  He is such a lovely man, always full of great stories to make you roar with laughter.



On top of my little table are some bottles and glasses I bought from The Little Dollhouse Company from Canada.  They come over each year and bring us a lovely collection of miniatures to choose from.  In the scene I am planning for this room I would like to have two Martini cocktails.  I got the glasses, now I still have to mix the cocktails!


Even though the rooms in my new house are not very big, I think it wouldn't look good if I put in many small pieces of furniture.  When I was playing around with some odd pieces to see what would work, I had also used a half finished chair I started working on about four or five years ago.  I never finished it (see the green chair in my previous post). 



As the green unfinished chair was sitting in the room, I thought its style would actually work very well in the room.  I just needed the finish the arms, put new upholstery on it and make some legs for it.  I love the little casters on the legs!



Here's a little peek at the legs under the skirt.  
The chair isn't quite finished yet, as it really needs some upholstery trim to hide the selvedge of the fabric.  I do like this selvedge with the line and dots (thats why I kept it on show),  but it also has the little holes which you often see on selvedges. 





I have started on a new house. Ah, I can hear you say: "What, another one? But you haven't even finished your first house and just recently started building the second!" Well dear friends, you are right. I will tell you what happened...





Remember this beauty?  I found her last year at the flea market in Lille (see my post on it here).  I had her on display in my real house for about a year now, but wanted to use her in a miniature scene.   She didn't really fit in either of my Canal Houses, so I thought of maybe using her in a small roombox.



Then there is this beauty.  I know, she doesn't look like it now, but she has the right bone structure and just needs some careful dressing and styling to turn her into something wonderful.  I bought this Georgian style house from a very talented man several years ago.  He had started building it and partially wired it, but could not finish it due to medical problems. 



Although the structure is quite large, the hall and staircase are huge, making the rooms -which have all different levels- on both sides fairly small.  For a long time I had plans to make it into my own costume institute and house my beautiful costume collection.  As my costume collection so far only exists in my head, the house stood in a corner of my workshop, collecting dust and housing spiders. 




I had made up my mind to sell the house, when all of a sudden I heard a little voice saying "Please give the house to me?  I will make it into a lovely, comfortable country house!"   How could I refuse?  I could see it so clearly:  a well loved house, which has been in the family for many years.  Set in the years before the second world war...
Yes, I had the builders in immediately, pulling down walls, raising ceiling heights...




But the real birth of the new house started with this little bundle of joy. A few weeks ago my carpenter friend gave me some pieces of beautiful (and apparently quite rare!) American Black Walnut veneer.  I am always very grateful for these leftovers as they are perfect for my miniature projects.




I took advantage of the hot weather we were having up until last week, and spent some time in the garden cutting hundreds of parquet flooring pieces.  I then spent a leasurely afternoon sitting in the shade, fitting all of the pieces together to make up a beautiful floor. 






I built a Georgian fireplace mantel to complement the Georgian façade of the house.  It looks very good in the room.  I put some odd pieces in the room to see how it worked, and even though it really is a small room (as you can see clearly in this picture the room is on two levels as well)  I think it will work. 



I decided on a brick back for the hearth,  to match the parquet flooring.  The bricks I used are leftovers from the ones I used on the street in front of my Canal House.  Never throw anything away ;)
With watered down acrylics I changed  the colours of the bricks a bit to go with the warmer tones of the floor. 



From my stack of fabrics I picked out the colours I wanted to use in the room.  The pretty portrait was the starting point for it all.



For the chimney breast and the back wall I used this very attractive moiré print cotton.  I love the subtle playful lively effect against the rather strict and architectural fireplace mantel.



On the other walls in the room I used this warm red cotton with linen effect.  I must say how much I love working with fabric,  I think I will use it all through this house.   Must order a lot more though, as I am fast running out on my stock.
By looking at this last photo, can you guess what my overall theme for the house will be?