Sunday, 15 November 2020

Bzzzzy as a little bzzzzy bee.

 Hello my friends,

August has been a lost month for miniatures in my case. A heatwave with a record length (for the Netherlands) did not help. And before you know it, the month has gone and is replaced by september before I could blink with my eyes. September and even october went the same way. And now we are almost halfway november! 

So did I do nothing? Oh but I did do quite a lot. But little to do with miniatures and  nothing that I can show you here. I think I have been experiencing the "new build anxiety". Building a miniature house is new for me. And I am a risk-averse person. That is why I put so much effort making precise drawings for every room. And with little time and energy to actualy do building work last months, I made a list of everything I need to do to cpnstruct and finish a room. It has become quite a manual that will help me plan every step of the build. 

Because every room will be quite different from the others I will have to make a list catered to the specifics for every room. The idea of making such lists would drive some of you crazy (and rightfully so) but it has helped me enormously to visualise every step of the build and the ideal order in which every step should be followed to assemble each room. But I have not done nothing in mini. I worked on more floortiles and even more floortiles. ;-o

And I started on a beehive. I do not know yet where I will place it in or around the house It will not have garden or a courtyard (since it is surrounded by a moat). If no good opportunity will present itself, it can always end up in the attic. Or perhaps another project when the house is finished?

The construction is very simple. I used hemptwine and a cottonthread in a matching colour. I found a few handy tutorials in magazines. In reality these hives are made from loose grass/straw that is bound together into ropes. These ropes are wound into coils and fastened with strands of grass during the making of the beehive. 

The outside of the hive.

My problem was that both tutorials advise to use a cap or something similar as a mould around which you make the hive. I obviously buy the wrong household items because nowhere could I find a suitable mould. If the size was right, the shape was way off and vice versa. 

The coils are bound together by thread using the 'festonsteek' or blanketstitch. This gives straight lines on the outside instead of diagonal ones. Pretty! My experience in sewing and embroidery is virtually non existent so I found this quite exciting to do. After some trial and error I got the hang of it. Progress was quite slow but I enjoyed stitching the beehive nonetheless. 

The inside of the hive where the extra threads will be hidden from sight. 

After the last coil I turned the hemptwine inward and stitched it to the inside. I am quite happy with how it turned out but de colour of the cottonthread was too light and bright. It really stood out. So, on a friends advice I made some black tea.

One cup with very strong and dark tea for the beehive beehive, and one cup of tea for myself while waiting for the hive to soak away. 

And soak away, and soak away. This process for colorisation is quite slow. The upside of that is that is does not get too dark too quickly. And in this case I want to keep the grassy colour and not end up with an unnatural looking reddish brown hive. 

And here you have the result. The cotton thread and the hemp twine have darkened a bit but not too much. And the cotton has taken on more colour than the hemp so that they have practically the same colour. I am very happy with the result. I will make one or two more hives. 

Be well and stay healthy and safe! 


Tuesday, 4 August 2020

Collecting from home

Hello my friends, as summer progresses covid will not yet go away. Where in parts of America the first wave of the virus sadly still rolls on here in Europe a second wave is beginning to rise up. Let us hope that one or more of the vaccins that are being tested around the globe is soon found to be a good medicin to heal us and eradicate this threat. 

In the meantime we have to be careful. Careful for ourselves and those around us. I hope that all of you, and your loved ones, are healthy and safe and that you all may stay that way!

While working from home I have bought several miniatures the past few months. Made by several wonderful miniaturists or just run of the mill items. Some I saved up for, others I could snap up as soon as I saw them. Let us say that I have no budget for the remainder of the year. 🤫

First I want to show you the two dolphin shaped candlesticks. They are made in silver by Stephan Wein. They are quite decorative and delicate. I could not resist them as you may understand. 
The 4 urns are from the other end of the miniature scale. These are factory made halfscale vases cast in resin. But they look good. I want to decorate them so they can be used in the diningroom. Faux marble perhaps or silvered with leaf silver? What would you do?

Other miniatures which may very well end up in the diningroom are these Venetian glasses. Hand blown by Gerdt Felka. I love the red and White decorations on the stems of these glasses. Every fluted glass is different from the others. 

You may remember that I showed you a hunting rifle in my post "In front of the looking glass". I'm afraid that I have yet bought more fire arms. Dueling was a right of the upper classes. In the 17th century, pistols were added to swords as methods of seeking satisfaction for wrongs. Although luckily dueling pistols were sometimes more a status symbool than a means to harm ones opponent. Thousands of beautifully styled and carved firearms were stored in noble houses across the continent, waiting for the right insult to be levied against the owner or his associates.

Sir Zonneschut needs to have a decent pair of duelling pistol as well. although he probabaly inherited them. This mahogany case holds a pair of flintlock pistols made by the miniaturists Jim Watt. Sadly he died a few years ago, but he has made wonderful miniatures in his day. The double barreled rifle is also made by him. 

All metal parts, save the metal barrels are made of silver. All the flat areas are engraved, but the picture is sadly not sharp enough to show all the details. But you can see some of it. These will probably end up in sir Zonneschuts library.

Now sir Zonneschut has been spoiled enough with goodies. Lady Zonneschut deserves something equaly beautiful, if not more so. Right? The next miniature may by one of the smallest that I have bought, but it really outshines many others.

Let me zoom in on it so that you can see it for yourself. This is a silver brooch made by Sun from Nalladris. She specialises in replicating (historic) jewelry in miniature. It is a minute copy of a jewel from the 18th century. It is made out of silver and set with miniature silver pearls, (faux) pearls, and a green (faux) peridot gem. It measures only (just under) 8 millimeters in length. I simply love this little treasure. Don't you? 

Bijschrift toevoegen

As you may now, I am a big fan of the miniatures of Elisabeth Causeret. There are several miniaturists who make beautiful and delicate porcelain, but the crockery for daily use in the kitchens and larders was made of earthenware and stoneware. Simple and sturdy designs that cán be very beautiful in their own right. I also received an order of het beautiful stoneware and earthenware. Every piece was neatly wrapped and survived the transport from France to the Netherlands.

Above you can see my current collection of Stoneware from Cologne. Grey stoneware with blue glazed decorations were imported from Cologne since the 17th century, hence the name "Keuls Aardewerk". But stoneware like this was used, from the French Alsace Region to the Netherlands and made in several places in France and Germany. 

The low storage pots will be used to lay meats in salt or fat, covered with cloth or wooden lids. The high pots were often used for storing vegetables, beans et cetera in brine. Sometimes they were also used to store (vegetable) oil used for cooking and lighting. Every Dutch period larder and kitchen should have at least a few of these. The two jugs and the the two tankards in the foreground will get a place in the kitchen as well.  

And last but not least, a bunch of porcelain apothecary jars. These are mass producer and their lids do not even go off. I have an idea to turn them around so the black writing will no longer be invisible and embellish them with blue porcelain paint to give them another look. But that is a job for the near future since these are not destined for the east wing that I am currently building.

Well that' it for now. I hope that you like my purchases. 


Friday, 17 July 2020

"Wat er op de vloer omme-gaet" All that goes on on a floor. (encaustic tiles)

Hello my friends,

The title of this post 'wat om die vloeren omme-gaet' refers to the title for an article written by Eloy Koldeweij. It can be found on the site of the Dutch national Library and a very interesting read. (‘Wat er op de vloer omme-gaet’: poppenhuisvloeren en de realiteit

Medieval encaustic tiles
It focusses on Dutch flooring materials and fashions from the middle ages into the nineteenth century. The emphasis lies on the question if the cabinet houses from the 17th and 18th centuries are reliable contemporary sources for the variety of floors and (simulated) materials that they have. A very interesting read indeed! I have used this article as a reference while choosing the types of flooring for Huis ter Swinnendael.

My first attempt at encaustic tiles
If you have read my blogpost on the start of the build I start with the east wing of the house. The cellar of this wing will house the Stewards office and the cooking kitchen. Both rooms will have tiled floors with clay floortiles. All the rooms on this floor of Huis ter Swinnendael will be tiled. Only the servants entrancehall will have white marble on the floor.

While the stewards office will get a floor in two tones, grey and red, the kitchen floor will only consists of grey tiles.  But which pattern will I use for the Stewards office? As you can see in the picture above I have narrowed the choice down to four types of arrangements. Feel free to give me your opinion. 

 I made the different tiles out of terracotta or grey coloured airdrying clay. I rolled out the clay between two spacers to get an even thickness and let it dry until the clay is leathery but not yet hardened to a point where you can't cut it. It is a tip I picked up in one of my books on miniatures. Cutting the airdrying clay when still soft does not give clean lines because the thin sheet of clay tend to cling to the knife and come up of the table when you lift up the knife.

When all tiles are ready I will place them on the floor arranged in the chosen pattern. When the pattern is made to fit, I glue them on the floor of the room. When all has dried I will grout them quickly with filler and clean the excess filler right away as to not damage the tiles.

The fireplace in the rentmeesterskamer (Stewards office) will get small glazed tiles on its floor. These tiles will have slipware decorations and are called encaustic tiles. By 1675, when the house was built, this type of tiles were no longer fashionable and therefore no longer made. So these are likely to be recycled from the previous house which was destroyed in 1672. Encaustic tiles are best known from floors in churches and grand house from the midle ages and grand houses.

Various designs of encaustic tiles
Truth is that I like the real ( medieval/ renaissance) slipware tiles/ encaustic tiles so much that I wanted to include some of them in Huis ter Swinnendael. But I remained hessitant. 

When I found the posts of Daydreamer in her Blog ( I saw that encaustic tiles look great in miniature. I then knew that I simply had to make some myself. She has made over 1300!!! encaustic tiles for the floor of the Great Hall of her castle. I have made a much smaller amount of tiles. 

I may make more though. I will likely use some of them for the floor of the larder too. But the larder lies in the West wing and will have to wait for now. 

First I drew some decorations to scale after some original tiles on pictures I have sourced on the internet. It helped me to make a choice between the many possible decorations that were made through the centuries. 

The encaustic tiles are made out of airdrying clay in the same way as the other tiles. They are 1x1cm in size. For the decorations I used white paint. The original tiles would be decorated by pressing it into the clay and then filling the indentations with white clay, sometimes coloured with pigment. 

Finaly the tiles are glazed with a satin gloss glaze with some cadmium yellow mixed into it. This gives them a realistic yellow hue. You can see the difference this glaze makes. For this picture I glazed only a small part of them and placed them between the still unglazed tiles. As these are recycled tiles I do not make all matching decorations but a nice range of different decorations. And not every tile is decorated. I am very happy with the result. I will glaze all of them twice berore installing them. That will deepen the colours even more. 

By now I also have made most of the larger floortiles for the rest of the floor. But that is for a next post. I hope that you have enjoyed reading this one and till next time.