Sunday, 22 January 2023

Build in progress: Lady Zonneschut's dressing room, the sash window and the finishing touches.

Hello my friends, 

I started this room as a lockdown project during the first year of the Covid pandemic. And now, after almost two years I have finally time to finish building it. It is the first miniature room I have brought to completion and it has been an interesting learning curve for me. 

In this post I will show you how I made the window to fill in that huge window opening. Well not really. I got so caught up in the work itself That I forgot to take pictures. The above picture tells a lot of the story though. I cut a piece of 2 mm thick cardstock to fit the window opening and measured out where the 20 windowpanes would end up in the window frame. After marking them and cutting them out I had the rough shape of the window. I glued a piece of moulding (visualy) dividing the window in two parts. Then I painted it and and let it dry. 

While the paint was drying I cut out a piece from a clear plastic folder. I would prefer to use wood and real glass for these windows but again, this roombox started as a "lockdown project" and I limit myself to the materials I had available at that time. So cardstock and plastic it is.

And here we have a look of the window from the outside at a dry fit. The outside is not yet painted. I like the glimpse it offers of the interior of the dressing room.

But it does not end there. Because of the altered layout the four original walls no longer connect to each other. So I needed to add some wall pieces to fix the pink background of the corridor or side room to the walls of the green dressing room.

And then you get something like this in the picture above. The dark brown pieces envelop the walls and tie everything together. After I glued the different wall pieces together it became one sturdy roombox. And that is for the first time. 
Until now the walks in all pictures of the room in  previous posts were made with paint cans and whatever was at hand placed behind the loose wall pieces to keep them standing upright. Now that all the wall pieces are fixed together the visible seams needed to be filled in, smoothed and painted over to hide them. 

And that brings us to the dressing room looking like this. A window in place and no gaping gaps in the corners. We're really getting somewhere now! And now it was time to cut the floor and ceiling panel to size. 

And speaking of the floor panel, my chosen floor, the print of a highly decorative parquet floor had started to anoy me a bit. The wallpanels in this dressing room are also decorated with prints and so is the ceiling. Lockdown project or not, all these prints together are becoming a lot of prints for just one room....

So why not try an alternative for the floor?

So, with the help of the brown paint that I used for sealing off the supporting wall pieces I tried to mimic a wood grain for a plank floor. I added the paint with a large brush in a layer thin enough to let the white undercoat shine through in places.

Although the result is bit coarse for 1:12 it looks quite decent for a first try. With a sepia coloured fineliner I have given the illusion of individual planks. 

Now all this is done, it is time to furnish the room and make whatever miniatures are still missing. The picture below
is just a first set up. The "yoga mat" on the floor is just a placeholder for the Chaise longue I am making. But that will be the subject of another post. 

Monday, 16 January 2023

Little Country pleasures

Hello my friends,

Already it is the middle of january. There is some progress on the dressing room for lady Zonneschut, but I will show you that soon in another post. Today I want to show you the progress made on the first workshop I attended in 2023. And for those of you who have been following my little blog for a while, will recognise in the first picture one of the steps of painting porcelain. 

Sometimes I decorate plates and vases in freehand. But here, just like the tile tableaux of Prince Maurits and Prince Frederick of Orange, I prefer to transfer the scenes onto the tiles first. And this stage is done at home so that I can start with the actual painting as soon as possible during the workshop.

In the picture above you can see prints of designs used for painted tiles made in Rotterdam from the 17th up to the 19th century. Rotterdamse Pleziertjes ( These were meant for single tiles but when you reduce it 12 times little remains of the little country scenes. These scenes are called 'pleziertjes' (pleasures) and depict scens of people enjoying the good life. Either in stately gardens or in the countryside. 

I chose 3 scenes and intend to use these tableaux in the tiled kitchen. They look like an echo of the gardens and landscape that surround Huis ter Swinnendael bat are not visible. The fourth tableau is not intended for the kitchen and is not a 'pleziertje'. But more on that later. 

I colour the backs of these images with pencil, tape them onto the tiles and then draw over every line with a ballpoint pen, pressinggraphite from the back of the image onto the tiles underneath. 
When you have traced all the necessary lines of the drawings you get something like you see in the pictures above. 

You can also see the big tile with the little 'tableaux-to-be' in a blue box. This is a lunchbox that held some lovely presents I received for Christmas from Birgit of the Biwubaeries blog! I whill show you those lovely gifts she send me in the next post on the progress on the dressing room.

This picture is taken during the workshop given by Cocky Wildschut. As you know I try to attend every year one or two times. More if possible. Because I so love to do this. The first step is rather easy. Simply retracing all the pencillines with 'drawing ink' (porecelain paint in a different mixture from paint used for painting).

At this stage you can add or leave out a few details if you so wish, but you do not yet fill areas in with colour. That will be done during my second workshop of this year after these lines are fixed due to firing these tiles.

The "inked" drawings look a bit smudgy but that is the loose graphite powder of the traced drawing. That will burn away during firing making the result more crisp and smooth than it looks now.

And what about that fourth tableau? Well that is a design of my own creation. It shows you the heraldic crest of the Zonneschut family enveloped in a rococo frame and held up by two hounds. Those of you who have followed this blog for some time will know I love hounds. And therefor I only find it fitting to have them supporting the crest rather than lions or other animals. 

When you look closely you can see that one supporter is female (in honour of Tara) while the other is male (in honour of the late Bosie).

The motto written on the scroll around the base reads "Ut vitam cum grano salis" which happens to be my personal motto. (what a coincidence ) ;-)

It translates in english (litteraly) as "take life with a grain of salt", which means to me "Do not take everything too seriously". In other words a little levity from time to time makes life nicer. Do with it, or think of it, what you will. But I am happy to have this as my personal motto.

Just like the tableaux I painted earlier all will get a monochrome decoration in blue. Except this one. The two red fields in the escutcheon (and the collars as a detail) are already filled in. In the next workshop I will fill in the two yellow fields and the blue around the diamond shapes. This exception will let the coat of arms stand out from the otherwise monochromatic tableau. 

But I will have to wait until the end of march to continue on these pieces. So back to the dressing room!

Be well, 


Friday, 23 December 2022

Build in progress: Lady Zonneschut's dressingroom, fireplace and ceiling.

Hello my friends,

One of the key elements in a period room is the fireplace. Often the only means of heat and light in a room.  Until now this vital element was missing. And in a dramatic way even. As seen in the picture below it was a large white void in an otherwise colourful room.
Because the dressing room of Lady Zonneschut is a relatively small room I chose to give it a corner fireplace. With real live versions in my mind I perused my (growing) stash of bits and bobs and offcuts of mouldings to see if I could turn this fireplace into a decent 17th century model.

I did. I made a list if the pieces I needed to cut to fill up thel corner and build up the fireplace. 
I cut out a square hearth floor on which everything would be built. I cut away one corner to give it a decorative edge. 

Originaly the moulding surrounding the opening would stand on a rectangular base. You can see these rectangular pieces 2 pictures up. But these would hang over the outer lines of the hearth floor. That did not look good! So I discarded those together with the now too short mouldings for the sides. I cut 2 new pieces to span the full height of the opening. To me this looks much better. 

But I was not ready to paint yet. Between the mantle shelf and the fireplace mantle I added two brass S-scrolls. I added a few layers of card stock at the bottom and the top of the S scrolls to tie the fireplace surround together with the top moulding. These elements together will form on their turn the surround for a mirror.

I painted the floor and mantel of the fireplace in a dark indigo blue mixed with ivory black. The rest was painted in the sage green I used for the rest of this room. The mirror is a mirror foil and the frame consists of pieces of gilt Dresden paper banding. One day I may replace this with real mirror glass when I find some that is thin enough. But for now this will do nicely.

The blue elements of this fireplace will be marbled of course. The surround should look like a marble or other kind of decorative stone. Using translucent white mixed with acrylic medium I softened the dark blue. The veins are a bit rough and the brighter white dots should resemble little pockets of quarts in the marble. These soften the stark blue base coat.  Do you like it?

The bottom half of this fireplace is now pretty much finished. It now mostly needs to be filled with a hearth plate, a pair of andirons and my original plan for the top half was a number of decorative corbels to display a selection of blue and white porcelain.  But that I will make for another, larger room.  

Here I want a painting that fits into the scheme of the room. I have chosen a panel of the Salon Demarteau with a statue of Cupid amidst the same foliage and roses of the putti fountains i have used for the doors of this dressing room. Here Cupid is supporting an arrow in one hand and a laurel wreath in the other while looking pleased with himself. I am sure that this painting personifies "Amor Vincit Omnia"(Love conquers all) I think that is a nice theme for this room that is the private sanctuary of a lady. 

Just like with the doors I want to frame Cupid as a central panel above the fireplace to fit in the scheme of the dressing room. I cut a frame from 2 mm card stock. cut out a central panel and lined it with cut pieces of 2 mm skewers. These 4 pieces brings the total to 216 pieces of cut bamboo in this boombox! 

Then it was time to paint all the additions green, as you can see in the picture above.And with that done, it is time to turn the attention to the ceiling of this room. Originally I had planned a white ceiling for this room. Just like you can see in the picture above. White stucco ceilings with or without sculpted decorations and/or with a painted central medallion was often the popular choice from the second half of the 17th century up to the 3 quarter of the 19th century. The white ceilings helped to reflect the soft candle light, making the best use of the light of each little flame.

But with the advent of bright gas light it became too reflective. To reduce the glare and soften down the light of this fashionable new light source they started to use colours to cover up the white ceilings again. But the design I have chosen for the painted ceiling predates all that. This design is from around the year 1700.

The sage green of the walls is quite a cold colour. Together with a white ceiling it  would make quite a cool room. But I want this room to show warmth! A luxurious little room to withdraw oneself from the hustle and bustle of a large country house with family, guests and servants. So therefore I turned to another popular ceiling treatment back in the 17th century. The painted wooden ceiling. It is old fashioned and outdated in the time of lady Zonneschut but it was still very popular when the house was built in 1675. So a painted wooden ceiling it wil be!

Imagine that the original beamed ceiling is covered by planks. Hiding the beams from view. This gives a flat surface to paint. The design I have chosen was found on the internet (the site of the Rijksmuseum) and is made by Elias van Nijmegen (1667- 1755).Apart from paintings and portraits he also designed and made interior pieces like overdoor paintings and ceilings.

Because the ceiling in this dressing room will no longer be white the cornice around the ceiling can't stay white either. In period rooms with painted wooden ceilings these cornices, when present, usually get the same colour as the rest of the walls. So here you can see them in green. This changes the look and feel of the room more than I expected it would. The coloured cornice and ceiling make the room look smaller, more cosy and more late 17th century. 

Well my friends, we have come to the end of this post and at the same time Christmas has almost arrived. Only two more days. I hope that the world we be a better place for all living on it than it has been the last year.  

Just to show that it can be quite peaceful, a picture taken from my livingroom last weekend. The ice is gone now, thaw has set in to the delight of the birds and other animals. No white Christmas for us this year. But that is not the most important element of the celebration ofcourse. 

I wish you and your loved ones a very merry Christmas! Enjoy!