...not quite yet!
But I'm halfway there.  I celebrated my fiftieth birthday last weekend and received some lovely gifts which I would like to show you here. 

One of my gifts was this lovely antique decanter box with beautiful burr walnut and rosewood banding veneers and a brass (?) and mother of pearl inlay on the top.  The box originally held six bottles and glasses, but due to a family feud, those were divided amongst the heirs, and the box was left empty and sold. 

I'm sure many of you would have loved to have the box with filled bottles ;-) but not me!  The box will be the home to a lovely miniature scene sometime in the future. 

 I was also given these two 19th century miniatures, painted on ivory.  I took them out of the frames to have a good look at them, and they are very finely painted!  They will look wonderful in the bedrooms of my new Canal house. 

I took a few close-up photos of the miniature paintings, and in one of them I noticed I could see my reflection in the glass.  The other photos don't have that, but I thought it was rather fun even though the portrait can't be seen very well. 

I was given another miniature painting, this time not an antique, but painted in the 17th century style by Dutch artist Jaap Wijtenburg.  Jaap never copies existing paintings directly but works ' in the style of '.  I love this painting of a Dutch interior with a distracted teacher and his pupil.

The painting came with the original oil sketch.  I love having that with it as you can see how the painter 'builds' his work.  In the sketch we only see the teacher and his pupil, in the finished painting we see the distraction in the form of a pretty girl added to the composition. 

Jaap works with oils on linen which is stretched on wooden stretcher bars.  The frame is made of ebony. 
I love Jaap's work.  He also paints miniature portraits on commission, something I would love to have done of my whole family one day!

A few weeks ago I took another class with Jens Torp.  Last year we asked him if we could do a wax carving which would then be cast in silver.  Jens agreed to our plans and he encouraged us to all come up with our own designs for a mirror. 

After a lot of research and sketching I decided to try and copy an existing mirror of which I had found a photo on the internet.  I scaled the photo down to the right size so I could use it as my design.   At the moment I can't find the photo of the original mirror in my files, so I will show you that at a later time.

Below are some of the photos I took during the class.

This is the result after three days of hard work!  Nowhere near finished, but we still have 6 months until the wax carving is sent off to be cast.  I should be able to get it finished within that time, don't you think?

We started with a block of wax, which had to be sawn to the right size and thickness and then filed to be absolutely flat, smooth, straight and with right angles.   Then the first measurements of the design are copied onto the wax.  These are my friend's hands working on precise measurements.

On the back we had to cut a rebate for the mirror glass.  Many tools are used to get this done: a scalpel and ruler to get the lines straight, ball cutters, scrapers, small chisels, files etc.  Anything to get to the right depth and getting it perfectly flat (which is hard, I'll tell you!)

But, as you can see I did manage to get the rebate nice and flat.  The next step was to cut out the overall shape on the outside.  Even though this shape wont remain like this as I will cut leaves and curls into it, the goal is to get it as symmetrical as possible before you start to do any carving. 

 A good deal of time was spent getting it symmetrical.   In this photo I wasn't quite finished with that yet, but the basic shape is appearing.  I the background some of the tools I was using.  Basically, anything that works for getting the shape you want can be used. 

On the third day I got the two feet finished.  At first it is difficult because you have no idea how deep to carve, getting the tools to work for you and trying to get the right shapes!  Well, it is still difficult but we can't expect to be as good as the master (although we sure all would like to be!).