Even more Christmas... Another display with some pieces from my collection...

Oak Dutch Louis XVI cabinet made by Hubert Boom.

With all the beautiful window displays I see everywhere around this time of year,  I felt like making a little Christmas display with some of the miniatures I bought this year.  

The shoes and handbags are by Patrizia Santi.  Perfect for a few December parties!

As I was saving photos to my external hard drive today, I saw several photos of classes I have taken this year but had not shared with you yet.   This post is about those classes.  Although I learned lots again, I don't actually have finished miniatures to show you.  Still, just to give you an idea of these classes… But first a little a warning: long post!

This past October I took classes from two of the best miniature silversmiths in the world:  Jens Torp and Pete Acquisto.

The fist class was with Jens Torp.  We learned how to turn a wax model of a bowl with a lid on the lathe.  The wax model will be sent away to be cast in silver using the lost wax technique.  Then in a few months time we will finish the casting, put on handles and a knob and end up with a (hopefully) beautiful silver bowl with lid.

Jens explaining -with detailed drawings ;-) - what we are supposed to do.  

The first stages.  After spending some time getting a nice round block of wax on the lathe, I started shaping the wax.  This will be the bowl eventually.

While shaping and hollowing out the bowl I found that the wall of the bowl towards the bottom was getting very thin, about 0.8 mm.  Although this is still possible to cast, I still had to do some engraving on it, so I decided to start another bowl.  

The shape is nice, but because I didn't finish the bowl, the bottom rim is slightly thicker.  

You can see the mess you make when turning wax.  And this is just a little as we cleaned the stuff away regularly.  Poor Trees (the class was at Trees Beertema's) found wax all over the floors of her house.  I still have to finish the wax turning and carve some of the decoration at home.   This is a really fun technique and I look forward to seeing what my bowl will be like in a few months time.  

A few days later Pete Acquisto came to the Dolls House Netherlands show in Ulft and taught a one day class the day before the show.  There is not too much you can do in one day, so Pete brought cast silver wall sconces which we would solder and finish in the class.   I had met Pete before in Castine, but had not taken his classes then.

I loved the location of the class.  It was in an old iron-factory hall which is now an industrial monument  and houses part of the Dutch Iron Museum in Ulft.

Pete taught us how to clean and finish the silver using the dremel.  Sounds easier than doing it by hand but believe me, it isn't.  I found it difficult to do the fine detail this way.

Pete showing us how to solder the silver.  

The sconces soldered and in the process of being finished.   I still have some more finishing to do at home, but they're almost there!  We had fun in the class, learned some new techniques again and it was lovely to see Pete again.

In May I was able to go to the Kensington Dollshouse Festival and for two days before the show take part in Bonni Becke's passementerie class.   Ever since I had been to Castine in 2007 I had wanted to take this class.  So when I saw that Bonni was coming to London to teach it, of course I had to go!

Some examples of what we'll be making.

Bonni explaining one of the weaving patterns.

The first hours.  Getting the hang of the loom.  I didn't get it right in the beginning.  From the red part down, I didn't pull the thread tight enough.  Bonni said it was actually very difficult to do this kind of weaving on this loom, haha!  I did wonder why everyone was doing it so fast when I was crawling along, trying to keep the sides even.  

It all got a bit exciting when the fire alarm went off and everyone had to go outside and wait across the street.  It turned out to be nothing serious, but you never know.  

Bonni brought along lots of gadgets and clever tools.  This one is for making tassels.  

My second warp and weft in silk.  Trying out a few knots and fringes. 

Several test pieces, different materials and techniques.

We had great fun at during the class.  With Bonnie teaching and Jamie Carrington sitting next to me it was hard to concentrate sometimes as they made us laugh so much.  
The techniques I learned from Bonni will be very useful in many areas of decorating the house, but also in costuming.  The weaving technique can be used both in full scale as in miniature.  

Yes I'm back!  With a whole new look!
Although I still like the way my blog looked, I wanted something a little fresher and more up to date. I had a new look in mind, but to implement that idea....

If you've seen my previous post you'll know I had to go offline for a while to make some changes to my blog.  With the winds howling around the house and the rain lashing against my windows it was the perfect weekend to sit down and wrestle with HTML, HEX codes and responsive widgets and tools.  With all the research, trying to figure things out and trying out different things, it has taken me three full days to get my blog working in the new style.

I like it this way.  I like the new front page where you can see several posts at once and you don't have to do endless scrolling to see a post from a few weeks back.   New for my blog is that I have several pages and a menu at the top.  You can still search by label (the labels are at the bottom of the page) and search by date (in the sidebar when you open one of the pages).

Hello dear readers! 
I have not had much time for my blog in recent months, but that's all about to change (she said confidently ;-) ).  I am working on a blog update which means that my blog may be offline for a few days.  Not to worry though, it will be back soon and with a whole new look!

In the mean time I leave you with a photo of this miniature oil painting I bought at the fair in Ulft (Netherlands) recently.  It is an impression of a painting by J.van Ravesteijn (1615), painted by Elly Ypma in 2015.  

If you have been following the build of my first dollhouse, you may know that I made up a little story about the history of the Canal House and its owners.  A story consisting of general historical facts, some personal preferences and a bit of imagination.

The story starts with the fictional character of Martha van Grootheest de Kleijne, who buys the Canal House in 1742.  Parts of the story reflect my personal interests, as does the decoration of the house.  My preference for tea drinking is represented in the story, and my love for silver can be found throughout the house in beautiful miniature silver objects.  Later in the story a marriage to an English lady explains an English influence in the decoration.

Some of my much loved silver (and blue and white) objects in the dining room of my first dolls house.  

A class with Geoff Wonnacott.

Several years ago, I believe it was as far back as 2009,  I asked Geoff if he could come over to teach a class in the Netherlands.   Unfortunately for us he was very busy and didn't have time to come over and teach.  In the years that followed several of my friends and I kept asking (or maybe at some point it could be considered as nagging) him to please come over.  Pleeeeeease!  

 Geoff finally succumbed to the pressure and in May he came over to teach us how to make the wonderful Louis XVI parquetry gueridon.  

Cut out the table using a scroll saw.  Not my strong point.  Thankfully sanding will make it perfectly round.

I forgot to take photos at times.  This is a little writing desk (bonheur du jour) I worked on at home using the technique I had learned in the class.

Adding a drawer and, for this table, a half round raised back.

Back to the class piece again.  Working on the checkered parquetry top.

Starting on the parquetry on the rounded front drawer.  The finished piece you see here is not mine unfortunately ;-)  This is Geoff's piece which I was using for reference.

This is my table, almost finished.  It still needs a finish  on the wood.  Unfortunately I could't get the same type of finish Geoff uses on his pieces (which he did bring to class, but as I wasn't finished yet…), so I used spray shellac.

The shellac gives the piece a warmer and slightly darker finish and I think it is not as 'crisp' as  the finish Geoff uses, although that could also be due to my woodworking skills of course ;-)

The gueridon in its new home.  It fits well in this room I think.   In the lefthand corner of the photo a glimpse of another new piece I got in May, of which I will tell you more in my next post.

It was a really good class in which I again learned a lot.  I hope Geoff will be back to teach another class!

It seems like I have skipped an entire season!  I suppose I have taken a summer retreat, but with the weather turning cooler again, I have returned to my miniatures workshop.  

I have put a few summer souvenirs on the fireplace mantle.  

In my last post I promised to show you how I made the different elements of my dining room roombox. One week later than promised (I blame the nice spring weather we've been having), but here is the first episode:  the making of the fireplace mantel.   

Let me start with a reminder of what the room box looked like 'naked'.  In the next three posts will show you how I've made the fireplace, the mirror and the alcove cupboard.

I used this photo of an 18th century Louis XVI fireplace from a house in The Hague as my inspiration.  I was not trying to make an exact copy, but I did want it to have those 18th century characteristics and a similar 'feel'.  

Start of the fireplace mantel.  After determining the size and sketching the design on paper,  I transferred the design onto a piece of wood.  I have cut out the shapes with a saw and then used a router to create the curved and raised moulding.  

Shaping of the detail in progress.  I used Milliput to add the 'carved' detail to the mantel header.  Milliput can be shaped like clay for a while before it gets hard.  When it has cured you can cut it, drill it and file it like wood.  I use many different tools to create the end result:  dental tools, cutters, a surgical knife, files etc.  

The mantel legs are fluted and rounded using the router.  The legs consist of several elements to match the lines and shapes of the mantel header.  I could have routed both header and legs as one piece and then cut it, but that would have made it difficult to handle while routing.  

The assembled fireplace mantel.  On the bottom of the mantel legs I added plinths with the same shape as the mantel legs, just a little bit bigger.  
The mantel shelf (foto below) echoes the shape of the header.  It took me a fair amount of time to get the right shape on the shelf without it looking clumsy and out of proportion.  It was interesting to me how a job like this, which seems simple and straightforward, can be much more difficult than it appears.  

The finished fireplace mantel.   
For the marbling I used acrylic paint which I applied in layers using a cotton rag.  Layer after layer after layer of colour, until I was happy with the colour and the effect.  In between the layers and washes of paint I used clear varnish and then polished with very fine steel wool to get a shine.  I applied the veining with a fine brush, a stick and pencil.  After a final varnish I applied a coat of thin wax to give it that lovely shine which marble has.  

Next time: the making of…the mirror.

Last week I promised to show you the dining room I have been working on for several months.   It is a dining room designed in collaboration with A.Aardewerk Antiquair Juwelier after an eighteenth-century example, to display part of their collection of 18th century silver miniatures.  The roombox  was on display at the TEFAF Maastricht art and antiques fair last month.  

Apart from the beautiful antique silver miniatures, the roombox (including the fireplace, the mirror and the table) was entirely made by me. 

Something I was working on a few months ago, a recessed buffet for a dining room.   The room was designed around some beautiful antique silver miniatures.  I will show the finished room next week.  For now, please enjoy my feature film 'Handwork':

Progress on my second Canal House is slow.  But I suppose that is what happens if you don't work on it, isn't it?  Having said that, I did get some work done...

I wanted to have plain pinewood floor boards in the dining room.  Something which you often see even in the grander houses of the 18th century.  During my last private visit of the beautiful canal house on the Herengracht one of the caretakers of the house told me that pine floors were very expensive in the 18th century as all the wood had to be imported from the Nordic countries.  

In November all the lamps of my first Canal House suddenly started giving a very feeble light.  Pretty though it was, it meant there was something wrong in the electrical circuit.   In order to get to the root of the problem, I had to turn my house so I could reach the back where all the wiring comes together.  Quite a big job and I didn't have time for that until last week.

After a time consuming process of elimination, I found the defective light on the upper landing and was able to fix it.  While I was able to reach the back with my soldering iron, I added a couple of new lamps to the system.

In my electrics drawer I found the table lamp with the two hearts.  I'm not sure where I got this from, but it was a cheap light which I bought online I think.  It fits perfectly in my Arts & Crafts room with the heart shapes reflected in the chair backs and the shape of the foot of the lamp reflected in the little Moroccan table.