A little festive cheer at the Herengracht canal house.

Some sparkling lights in the year's last days.

Something lovely to feed the senses.

Perhaps even a little gift...

Speaking of gifts:  the wonderful Christmas stocking was a little handmade gift from my friend Janne from Norway.  Thank you Janne, I love it!

 I promised you photos of the roombox filled with the beautiful 17th and 18th century miniature silver pieces, so here they are!  The roombox is centered around the little silver bed, a rare silver miniature.  
A few centuries ago scale was not strictly adhered to, so the bed is quite small in relation to some of the other pieces.  I think it makes the whole scene even more charming.  

The silver pieces all come from A.Aardewerk Antiquair Juwelier in The Hague. 
The bedroom roombox was exhibited at the TEFAF New York this past October.  

All photos copyright A.Aardewerk Antiquair Juwelier.

During the summer months I have been busy making another roombox to display 17th and 18th century silver miniatures.  The inspiration for the 17th century interior of the roombox came from several paintings by Pieter de Hooch and Emanuel de Witte. 

I made the floor from paper which I painted to look like marble.  The tiles in the hearth are also paper.    I turned the columns of the fireplace from pear wood on my lathe and then marbled them.  
The beams on the ceiling are oak, as is the mantle on the fireplace.  The walls are plastered, painted grey and then aged.    

On the walls hangs 'gold leather',  embossed and gilded leather panels.  In this case the panels aren't real leather, but a type of foil, printed especially for me by my nephew who specializes in art printing.  
I mounted the foil on panels, just like the real gold leather. Even though the printed panels already looked good, I still used several layers of paint, archival varnish and wax on the panels and emphasized the golden embossed raised areas with gold wax.  

Depending on where the light hits the panels, the gold has more (or less) shine.  

The two windows have glass window panes with a kiln fired leaded pattern on them.  
The curtains are silk.  

It was a beautiful summer's day when I took these photos, so the light streaming through the windows was wonderful.  Of course I had to play with some of the pieces from my own collection and take a couple of extra photos.  

Enough of my playing.  The roombox was made for a collection of antique silver miniatures, which gives it a very different atmosphere.  Next weekend I will show you some beautiful photos of the room with the miniature silver in it.  

At the beginning of this year I asked Dutch miniaturist Elly Ypma to paint a miniature version of Breitner's 'The red kimono'.   

George Hendrik Breitner (1857-1923) was a Dutch painter and photographer who was known for his realistic style in his paintings of street scenes and harbours.  Breitner, a member of the Amsterdam Impressionism movement, often used photography as reference materials for his paintings.

I visited the Rijksmuseum in May, where the original painting was part of the 
'Breitner: Girl in a kimono' exhibition.  

The model for the painting was Geesje Kwak, a girl who posed for Breitner between the ages of 16 and 18.  From the time of his stay in Paris in 1884, where Japonism dominated the fashion scene, Breitner became fascinated by Japanese art. Geesje Kwak was the subject of a series of seven paintings and studies by Breitner of a girl dressed in a red or white kimono.  

Geesje Kwak. Photo by Breitner.

Geesje Kwak.  Study for 'The red kimono', 1893.  Photo by Breitner. 

Sketch for 'The red kimono', Breitner.

'The red kimono'  by Breitner, 1896.  Exhibited at the Rijksmuseum 2016 (with unknown gentleman). 

'The red kimono', (detail) Breitner 1896.  

Elly sent me her wonderful miniature version of the painting in April 2016.  She had made a thin frame for it, but I wanted the frame to look more like the one I had seen in the museum, so I ordered a frame from John Hodgson which had the right look.  It fitted perfectly around the original frame!  

I aged both frames with some acrylic paint to tone down some of the golden shine.  Although not entirely the same as the original frame, I do really like it.  

The painting is bigger (well, in twelfth scale anyway) than the original, but I asked for that as I wanted it to fill the space above the fireplace mantel.  

The room is not finished yet,  but in time I will find or make everything to pull it all together.  One thing I do want to get is a picture light to make it stand out in the room a bit more.  

Elly did a fantastic job on this painting.  I always like how she doesn't make the painting exactly the same as the original, but uses a bit of her own style in it.  

Below is a short video I found on YouTube with some more information on Breitner and his kimono paintings:


Three years ago I wrote a this post in which I showed two cookie boards (cookie molds) on which St. Nicholas is depicted.  If you are a regular reader of my blog you will probably know by now that the feast of St. Nicholas is a Dutch tradition, celebrated on December 5th.

There are many traditions associated with the feast of St. Nicholas, one of them is eating 'speculaas', a  spiced cookie which is molded on wooden cookie boards.  

Speculaas is not exclusive to St. Nicholas.  In 17th century Holland,  young men would buy and decorate a speculaas cookie in the shape of a man called 'the lover', to give to a girl they wanted to court.  After a date, the girl would give the cookie back to the young man.  If she had eaten the head of the cookie, it meant she liked the young man.  If she had eaten the legs, it meant he'd better take a hike.  

My collection of speculaas boards has grown lately.  These were a gift from Arjen Spinhoven as a thank you for a favour which led to a nice commission for him.  These speculaas boards were made with laser on wood, which is what Arjen specializes in.  He has a large collection of wonderful furniture and accessories,  houses and building elements for many dolls house scales.

As it happens, I was in a local museum yesterday where I saw a huge collection of speculaas boards.  Beautiful carvings in wood.  Some of them specifically for St. Nicholas.  It immediately made me want to carve them myself in wood.  So who knows, by the next St. Nicholas feast I may have an even bigger collection...;-)  

Happy St. Nicholas Day!