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!