Before you send out a search party for me, I'm still here!  I've just been busy and with a beautiful summer behind us, I have not had much time to spend on my miniatures.

Autumn is definitively here,
the days are growing shorter again, it is time to turn on some lights.  
I always find it difficult to find a light fixture which I like and which I can afford.  

The painting below by Adriaan de Lelie is called 'The Art Gallery of Jan Gildemeester Jansz.' (1794-1795).   Some of you may remember that I used this painting as the inspiration for the two reception rooms in my canal house 'Herengracht'.   Jan Gildemeester owned the house at the end of the 18th century and had the two rooms shown in the painting remodelled to use as his art gallery. 

The rooms in the painting still exist, almost exactly as they were in the time they were painted.  They are part of a canal house at the Herengracht which, unfortunately for us, is not open to the general public.  So, other than in photos, I had never actually seen the house inside. 

If you have been reading my blog posts for a while, you may remember I have written about the miniature porcelain painting classes I take once or twice a year.  I really enjoy them and for a long time now I have wanted to buy a kiln so I can paint porcelain pieces and fire them myself.  

Unfortunately kilns are very expensive so buying one wasn't really an option.  Until a few weeks ago when I managed to buy a small kiln without going into bankruptcy.   The kiln goes up to 1000ºC which is more than enough for firing porcelain glaze paints (they need around 800℃).

Although I have painted porcelain before, mixing the paints was always done for us.  So, the first thing I did was make a colour chart with the pigments I have.  I had a lot of fun trying different mediums and learning how to mix the paints.   

The firing process itself takes 6 to 8 hours.  One of the more difficult things is to keep my curiosity under control and not peek inside the kiln until it has cooled completely.   Ah, that pesky patience!

 Here I tested different mediums and different firing temperatures with quick little sketches on tiles.  My painting technique needs to improve, but it will over time.  I also need to paint smaller so I am on the hunt for tiny brushes.

I had some cheap dishes in my stash and wanted to see whether I could fire them in my kiln, so I quickly painted them with a little design based on an old Chinese piece.   Here again I tested different mediums and mixes to see how it would look once fired.  

I made a bit of a mess in some parts, but I was impatient and fired them anyway.  Again, technically they're not good but as an experiment they were a success.  I must do better next time though!

These pieces are only test pieces but they look rather nice in the Arts&Crafts inspired dining room in my first Canal House.  I now need to practise, practise, practise until I achieve pieces I am happy with.   I've got a whole set of china for the dining room waiting to be painted...

In July I drove to Tune in Denmark with two miniaturist friends to attend classes at the summer school there.   First we made a stop at Egeskov Castle, a beautiful castle with wonderful gardens,  well worth a visit.  But the main reason for stopping there is because it is where Titania's Palace is housed.    Titania's Palace is a miniature castle which was commissioned and worked on by Sir Neville Wilkinson from 1907 to 1922 for his  daughter Guendolen.

I had seen Titania's Palace before when it was still on display at Legoland.  I think the castle is a much better setting for this wonderful miniature Palace.  Taking photos of the rooms was very difficult because of the glare from the windows on the protective glass.  My photos are therefore not the best, but I'll show you just a few anyway. 

Egeskov Castle
Titania's Palace (inside Egeskov Castle)
Titania's Palace, interior.
Titania's Palace, interior.
      Something in this little chapel below drew my attention...I have the same little book! Mine is a bit more worn, the velvet on the spine has almost worn away and the ivory cover is a bit chipped. But it is the same little book.  I found mine a few years ago on an antique market in France.  

Titania's Palace, chapel.
I have the same book!

In the evening we visited Ursula Dyrbye-Skovsted, who lives near Egeskov Castle.  We had a delicious dinner in her garden and very much enjoyed ourselves in wonderful company.  After dinner Ursula gave us a tour of her marvelous workshop and place of business ' Intarsia wood'  .  Wow, that was something else!  What a fabulous workshop!  The house and workshop are nearly 100 years old, and have maintained all the charm which the history of craftsmanship, passion and life brings.   Unfortunately I did not take any photos, but there are some on her website Intarsia ApS .

We left Ursula late that evening, and after a long trip with heavy traffic, relentless rains, roadworks and a detour we finally arrived at the school in Tune around 1:15 AM.  
It was all worth it though, as this was what we woke up to the next day:

Some of the buildings  and many seating area's of the school. 

My classroom.  This is where I spent most of my time the rest of the week (until 11:30 PM on some days!).

Not too bad ;-) 

Even during the occasional shower the view from my desk was wonderful.

 My teacher for both of the classes I took was Bill Robertson.  Here he is showing us a technique on the metal lathe.

During the first class we worked on making a wine decanting machine.  The machine holds a wine bottle which can then be slowly tilted to separate the wine from the sediment.  
My machine is not ready yet, although I did make most of the parts.   I am waiting for some tools to be delivered to me so I can finish it.  

 I had only once, very briefly, turned metal on a lathe, so basically I was new to the lathe.  There was a lot (!!) of measuring involved.  We had to turn three or four of each length so that we could pick the two most similar to use.  I made a few mistakes, so I turned more than required but that's all good experience. 
All the parts are screwed together, so we had cut nuts and bolts too.  So cool when the parts you have turned actually screw together!  As I said, my wine decanter machine is not ready yet, I'll write another post when I have finished it and show you how it all comes apart.

My second class involved more work on the lathe, in wood mostly this time.  We made a set of campaign chairs, the main feature of these of course is that they can be taken apart easily for travel.

The front legs of these chairs were turned on the lathe.  Trying to get four legs to look the same takes some practice!  Again, I did not finish the chairs, but that was not my goal.  My goal was to get acquainted with working on the lathe, and that I did!

It was very hot that week, so the last night of school my friends and I went to the beach for a swim.  Well you can see my friends' interpretation of 'going for a swim' ;-)  To be fair to them, they did go for a swim. 

After spending a leisurely Saturday in beautiful Copenhagen, my friend and I returned home on Sunday.  We spent the last night at the school as well which was rather spooky as we were the only two people there.  No staff, no teachers, no other students, just us two.  We had quite an eventful night with alarms going off and running into the security guard in the dark...but that's another story ;-)

For us Tune was just wonderful.  We will be back!

...echo, echo, echo...

Hello everyone, I'm back.  There was a similar echo on my blog back in February I believe.  I'm sorry I left my blog alone for a few months,  I did not feel I had much to show you although I have been busy!

One of the things I did was make a miniature kitchen.  I know what you're thinking: 'What, another one?'.  Yes, yes, another kitchen.  But this time it was slightly different.  I was asked if I could duplicate an old handbuilt miniature kitchen, as closely as possible.  

So I did.  It wasn't easy.  In fact it was quite difficult as I had to copy the style and method of someone else's work.  I also tried to use the same materials which were used in the original kitchen.  Again not so easy as for instance the marble used for the floor and countertop is no longer available as the marble is mined at a different depth now and so looks different.
With the very kind help from a local marble company and some experimenting with oil paint I came close though!

New 'old' kitchen
Old kitchen

There are real tiles on the wall into which I scratched tile grids.  I searched to find tiles which have the same size and colour variation as the tiles in the original kitchen.   Again I was very kindly helped by a local tile company.  

I had put the old kitchen in the back of my car and showed it to the people of different companies.  They were all so kind, helpful and interested!  Which was much appreciated by me as of course my orders of 9 tiles and a tiny bit of marble means nothing to them.  

Exact copy of one of the windows.
Turning the handle for the oven door on the drill press.
The oak for the cabinet was provided to me by my young cabinetmaker neighbour.  He kindly planed the oak to the many various thicknesses for me which left me with the task of building the cabinet and stand.  As my machines are built for making miniatures and the oak was up to 2 cm thick, again that was not so easy.  But my little machines and I managed ;-)

As I don't have a lathe (yet!!) I thought I'd have to find someone to make me the different metal fittings of the kitchen too, but after some experimenting I found that my big drill press did the job perfectly.   So I made all the metal parts myself as well.  The only thing in the entire cabinet I did not make myself are the hinges on the cupboard door, those I found at the hardware store. 

Another thing I found difficult was trying not to make it look perfect.  The grouting for instance had to be done slightly rough and let's say 'sloppy'as that's how the original was done.   I did not go overboard with putting patina on it, as time will do that all by itself, just like it did with the original.

I put a few of my own miniatures in the kitchen to give it some life for the photos.  Although the new 'old' kitchen differs slightly from the original old kitchen on some points, I am very pleased with the result.  And I had fun and learned a lot!

A few weeks ago I visited the Dolls House Nederland Show in Apeldoorn.   I could only go for one day this time, so it was impossible for me to see everything.  It was unusually quiet that day at the show, which was very good for us visitors but not so good for the people who were trying to sell their miniatures.  I hope the people who were there did their best to compensate for the lost sales.  I certainly did! 

Here are some of my purchases: 

A lovely lidded vase, painted by Dieneke Boektje.  The vase temporarily lives in the yellow salon, but I bought it to go in my chinoiserie dining room, which I have only recently started to work on.

      I picked up the vase and two bowls which I painted during a Cocky Wildschut class.  The dog and cat tiles on the wall in the background were also painted by me in one of her classes.  Even though I produce work with varying results,  I always enjoy these classes.  

And then I saw this beautiful wall fountain.  It is made by Henny Staring-Egberts.  My head said 'don't go there, don't look at it'  but my heart would not let me.  Within seconds I knew I had to get this ;-)

Isn't it gorgeous?  It is not hanging in its right location yet, although I do rather like it on that wall.  However, it would be rather odd to have a fountain behind a door.  It should go in the downstairs hall close to the dining room.

Blue and white by several different makers.    Wall tiles on the left by Idske de Jong,  salt vessel and blue lidded pot by Elisabeth Causeret,  vase and bowl painted by me,  wall fountain by Henny Staring-Egberts.

I leave you with two photos of the spring 2014 fair in Apeldoorn: 

…a class with Jens Torp

Two weeks ago I took another silver class with Jens Torp.  This time we were going to make a 12th scale silver chamberstick.  The class would include two techniques which were new to me, turning on a metal lathe and soldering silver.   The photo above shows my finished chamberstick.

This photo shows some of the components of the chamberstick.   The bottom bowl has been cut from a sheet of silver, then shaped and drilled.  The top bowl has also been cut from  sheet of silver, shaped and drilled, and then soldered onto a silver tube which we had turned on a lathe beforehand.  

The soldering was nerve-racking, as in silver soldering the whole piece is heated and it could all melt into a big blob of silver in a split second.  Thankfully Jens was watching us and telling us what to do. 

A short impression of my first try on the lathe.  Jens is standing by with instructions.   I was turning the top part of the tube which the top bowl has to fit onto.  As you can see I have difficulty reading the measurement on the calipers…too many tiny lines too close together!

The tube with top disk attached were then mounted onto the lathe again where some decorative turning had to be done.  At first things were going fine for me, but when I had a few lines on there, I just could not see what I was doing anymore.  Help!  I think I need better light and better glasses.

After turning the decorations a hole had to be cut into the tube which would hold a device for raising or lowering the candle.  Then the bottom bowl was soldered on and the little handle riveted into place.  
Sounds simple enough, doesn't it.  Well I can tell you it isn't!

Well as usual there was a lot more sanding, buffing, polishing etc. to be done before it was finished, but here it is, all finished and looking lovely and shiny...

It resides in the bedroom now, but it could go anywhere really.

Isn't it lovely?  I enjoyed this class.  Learned some new techniques…I should really say I tried some new techniques as there's a lot more learning to do before I master them!

Jens sells these chambersticks, made by himself of course.  And then they're somewhat more delicate than mine…Now how can that be? ;-)