Saturday, 15 January 2022

Animals: Quintus gets miniature buddies!

Pita & Lorca

Hello my friends,

You may remember that I added a little plastic pooch to some photos a few years ago. The dog came with a job lot, and I decided that he was too cute to throw away. He's a mini terriër I named Quintus. He looks perfect for the part of a lapdog for Belle Zonneschut to indulge and spoil with cake and other treats. I imagine Huis ter Swinnendael will house several animals. For example rats and cats downstairs. Parrots and dogs upstairs and mice in the attic. And perhaps a nest or two around the house? 

I am a dog lover myself and we have had a few dogs over the years. I love and have loved  all of them. One that stole my heart in particular was Lorca. A Portugese Podenco. We inherited her together with Pita when her previous owner, a very dear friend, died unexpectedly.  Here you can see Lorca with her 'sister' Pita, a Spanish Galgo. 

Lorca had turned blind in that same year. And to save her from the pain this infliction caused by her ailment, her eyes had to be surgically removed. It made no difference for her eyesight, she had already turned blind. She was almost twelve years old when this happened. We adopted her to let her spend her remaining days with us. Lorca had always been very playful. If you gave her a ball she could play with it for an hour. She would kick it between her hind legs and then turn around and catch it while still rolling. And kick it away again, and again. She was a cunning little huntress. 

Lorca & her human ;-)

Because she had turned blind we thought that taking care of her would be very difficult, but nothing was further from the truth. In no time she knew the way from her baskets around the house to her water and feeding bowl, and back. When taking her for a walk, she knew by the amount of pull of the leesh on her collar that she was walking half a meter to my right or my left and that she walked the same direction as I did. Wether it was in a straight line, rounding a corner or in a circle. No stumbling, staggering or falling. And not running into trees and walls eirher. (well I helped with that last bit by stopping or turning in time.)

The greatest compliment to Lorca's coping with her blindness was that I have had people in the neighbourhood, that I had already passed several (sometimes dozens!) times while taking Lorca for a walk, come up to me one day and tell me that never before had they noticed that Lorca had no eyes. I was so proud of her!


She could not play with balls anymore though. Until, my partner came home with a ball with a little metal bell inside it. She almost immediately understood the possibilities of that bell.  And on the second day she played with it as if nothing had changed. She used her ears to follow the direction of the ball and her nose to find it when it had stopped rolling. When she found her target, and she almost always did, she would jump onto it with the same vigour she had always done. Capture the ball between her front paws and wag her tail furiously. And before you knew it, she would kick it away between her hind legs and go hunting after the tinkling sound. Off to another capture. The hunt was afoot! She stayed almost 3 years with us. Playful and cheerfull untill the end. Sweet, sweet memories. 

Well, back to mini dogs! 


I got Quintus in a job lot of second hand miniatures. I decided to keep him but I did not think about looking for more miniature animals. Then one day I saw the different dogs and hounds on Facebook that Patrick Duclou makes with his newly acquired 3d printer. He paints them himself. I asked him if he could make some greyhounds for me. 


He happened to have three models of Greyhounds. I ordered two seated ones and one standing, painted in different ways. Patrick made them beautifully.


For me Lorca is unique. I pondered if I wanted to have a miniature version of her, but I decided against it. At least for now.

I have given these two lads and a lady Greek names. Arion, Erato and Theseus. I imagine them running around the house as the companions of sir and lady Zonneschut. Much to the chagrin of the house staff probably. And I can also imagine little Quintus being the boss of all of them. 

Well, that's it for now. Be well and stay safe! 


Saturday, 8 January 2022

Taking stock & Kintsugi

Hello my friends, 

After a few postponents of the date for moving we finally moved into our new house mid oktober 2021! Finaly we could start unpacking the boxes and start settling in! Most boxes were already packed in june 2021! Because the original date picked for the move was the end of juli of that year... Which means I have not seen most of my miniatures and craft supplies for almost six months!

A new house means a new craft room. And my third craft room in 5 years is the first one with a view! The room faces north so no direct sunlight will enter the room which is perfect for light sensitive miniatures like some paints and fabrics.

This is a great moment to take stock of my growing collection of miniatures and craft supplies. It is also a good moment to check if everything is in good order and if the move has not caused any breakages or other damages. 

I already had a list of (almost) everything I bought. With a short description of the miniature, its price and the maker or seller. But which plate with a bird on it is the blue and white plate with bird? And which is the blue and white plate with chinese decor with bird/ and one with a large bird...
I know which ones are meant... but can I still keep them apart in 5 or 10 years from now? And is this list of any use if I am the only one who understand which description fits which miniature? A proper inventory should be clear to everyone who goes through it. 

So to come up with a better version I am using photographs to aid the texts. Select a few miniatures, for example made by the same miniaturists. Take a picture of the group (front and back). Making sure that makers marks, when they are present, are visibly photgraphed etc. Number each item in the picture, and write all necessary details per number on the same or the coresponding page(s). And then go on to the next group. And so forth, and so forth...

While taking stock, I have indeed discovered some miniatures that I had forgotten entirely and that I have not shared with you here. How can I have forgotten having these miniatures? I bought them only a few years ago. Not 10 or 20 years... Oh well, I have catalogued these "re-found" miniatures now, so forgetting their existance should not happen again. And I will share them with you soon. 

So far I have not found any breakage or damage due to the move except for one of the legs of my Escutcheon desk that was originally owned by Elly de Kraker. I have repaired it now and the breakline is virtually invisible. Not due to the move but due to my own clumsiness, I dropped and broke one of the seven Kakiemon plates that I made in a workshop by Cocky Wildschut. :-(

Although it is not a consolation for breaking it, I have decided to try to glue it together while adding gold leaf to the breaklines of the reglued plate. This way I try to make it look like it is repaired in the way of Kintsugi.

Kintsugi is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery by mending the areas of breakage with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold. As a philosophy, it treats breakage and repair as part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise. 

Since the broken plate is meant to be a Japanese one, due to the Kakiemon decor, I find repairing it á la Kintsugi quite fitting. Kintsugi was developed in the 15th century. Although I do not believe that Kintsugi was known/or appreciated in 18th century Europe. 

Here you can see the result of my attempt.  the goldleaf is applied but not yet cleanedlike in the picture below. I do believe that the fine golden lines between the shards are quite lovely. I no longer want to put the plate in a dark corner of a room where noone would take notice of it. 
So in a way my imitation of kintsugi in miniature has helped me to come to terms with the fact that I have broken that plate in the first place. A miniature heal so to speak. :-)

Well, that is it for now my friends. Stay safe and happy. I am only halfway through cataloging my miniatures, so I will just go on with that.


Sunday, 2 January 2022

Cunera Olshoorn: Framed! & a happy Newyear!

Hello my friends,

A new year! Let us hope that in 2022 we finally get the better of that virus and life for all of us will turn back to normal. But let it also be a year with hopefully a lot of time for making miniatures!

For me the new year starts with the little Rascal Cunera. Diane Meyboom has finished and framed her stunning portrait after my last post on this miniature painting in september 2021.

But first, if you indulge me, a little history on Cunera. Because some of you asked me about her peculiar first name. And to be honest, I was intrigued as well. Where does it come from? This is what I found on the meaning of the name: 

The origin of this name is still today quite uncertain. The most probable theories include: 1) From the Ancient Germanic “*kôni / *kōnia” (bold, experienced (in battle), someone who understands, experienced, wise). 2) From the Ancient Germanic “*kunja / *cunja-” (noble, kinship, clan, dynasty).

Both possible meaning have a nice ring to it. Wise, bold, noble... But were her parents in the 1680's aware of this? Maybe but probably not. More likely was she named after saint Cunera of Rhenen or after a ancestor with the same name. 

Saint Cunera was the daughter of a british chieftain /King that sailed with saint Ursula to Cologne. Ursula was to marry the King there. All went south and most of the party were killed in a raid. Cunera was saved by King Radbod of the Frysians and bought to his household at the palace in Rhenen. This all takes place in the 4th century, so do not expect high gothic or renaissance palatial splendour.

Radbod grows fond of Cunera in the way that he trusts her to run the palace household in his absence. That evokes a dangerous jealousy in the queen and one night she strangles Cunera with the aid of a courtier using Cunera's own scarf. The murderers bury her body under the floor of the palace stables.

When the King returns from his trip no horse will go into the stable. (her first miracle) Her remains are quikly found under the floor and the royal murderes soon confesses her crime and is exciled away from court to die alone in the wilderness. Soon, after people claimed to be healed by Cunera from ailments to the throat or their cattle cured from diseases, she became a martyr saint. Her specialty is throat ailments (because of the throtling) and life stock diseases (because of the horses). 

But she was also a protector of sailors and ships! (because she sailed with Saint Ursula and survived the attack). That last patronage was struck of her record in the 19th century. When the Catholic Church 'cleaned up' the list of saint's and miracles.  But when Cunera was born in 1680, the family Olshoorn was in trade like many wealthy merchants families in the Dutch Republic. Cunera was still believed to keep sailors and ships safe in story seas. And the Olshoorn family were catholic, so that could very well be the reason for Cunera's unusual first name. Perhaps her parents hoped that the Saintly namesake would protect the families shipping interest a bit more than usual? Who knows. 

Whatever the story behind her first name may be, I love the excuisite miniature portrait Diane Meyboom has made after the original.

What was her life like? There is not much information available accept the dates of birth, marriage, birthing and death. We do know that she married a Van Ryckevorsel, another wealthy merchant family in Rotterdam. Cunera died at (only) 42 while giving birth to a baby girl. The baby was then named Cunera after her mother. 

The Rotterdam Museum also has a portrait of Cunera's daughter and namesake, together with her husband and 10 year old son. This portrait you can see in the picture above.  Somewhere in the future I will ask Diane to paint a miniature of that family portrait as well. But I will have to save up for that first. 

Well, that is it for now. I wish you all a happy and healthy 2022!! May it be a good year for all of you!