Saturday, 16 May 2020

My self decorated miniature porcelain. (No workshop due to Covid-19) :-(

Hello my friends, As you all may know I love porcelain. As well as 1:1 as in miniature. Today I would have attended my fifth workshop given by Cocky Wildschut. I have learned so much from her, but there is a lot more to learn yet. 

However, todays workshop was cancelled (well in advance) due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Having lost a good friend to Covid-19 I take this disease very seriously. I totally agree with the cancelation of the workshop, but when my calender told me  that today would have been the day, that made me a little sad. 

So what to do? Without anything new to show you, I decided to make a little overview of the items that I have decorated in the last 4 workshops I did attend. Memories of four happy days! 

In the first two workshops I decorated the items in the picture below. They are partly chosen by Cocky in order to teacht certain techniques. The plate with the bird and the blue bowl were pieces I decorated myself using those techniques.


The bowl and two plates on the left were assignments to learn the basics of  porcelain painting. The bowl and the plate on the right were my own choices. The small polychrome plate was the first miniature plate that I decorated and in the back of my head I had that nagging feeling that I had seen the plate before. I could just have asked about it? Cocky would have told me. But when I was rummaging through my books on miniatures I came across this familiar photo!

The little plate with the red flowering tree and the little blue stream is a design based on one of the plates that stand on the mantle shelf in the large kitchen of Petronella Oortmans babycabinet in the rijksmuseum. Petronella has 9 of these plates on that shelf. They are called Arita ware or Kakiemon ware which is a type of Japanese porcelain. And then I knew that I wanted a series of those little Kakiemon plates for Huis ter Swinnendael!

The blue and white decorated porcelain is very classic and desirable, but it is not the only porcelain that was collected.  I wanted to make a small collection of these Arita plates. In the third workshop I asked Cocky if I could make more of this type of plate. But I did not want to make six more plates that look the same as the first one. So I took the Original design where the tree stands in the middle, (named M.) And drew two alternative designs in the same style. With the tree on the left (named L.) and with the tree standing on the right (named R.)Than I drew a few more of these basic designs to get it in my fingers.

And here is the result. Seven plates with three basic designs. The biggest difference between them is the placement of the red blossoms on the branches. They differentiate the look of the plate and on the first glance they all look different although they have three basic designs. This is also the case on the 17th century ones. I am happy with the result. I plan on placing them on the mantle shelf of the fireplace in the stewards office.

The next item is this large plate. The photo was taken just before it went into the pottery kiln. It has a decoration of a deer and a stag and is heavily decorated. In the left pic I put on the decorations with pen. In the second I filled certain surfaces with the brush or used the brush to add shades.  The shading was done in the fourth workshop after the penned design had already been fired in the kiln.

The remainder of the workshop I used on decorating a few vases. They are not ready yet, I have to finish them in a next workshop but you can see where I am going with these. I had a lot of fun following the workshop . Cocky, her husband Rien and the other participants are all so very nice. It was another well spent afternoon.

I hope that a vaccin is found soon so that the world can become normal again. And when the workshops are resumed, I will have a lot of ideas for new items. :-) 

Well that's it for now. I hope you have enjoyed this little post. Till next time!


Thursday, 16 April 2020

A visit to Het Poppenhuis (Arnhem)

Hello my friends,

I have been painting and gluing in order to build up the first wall sections for the first rooms. I will show you the progress on that next week, when there is really  something to show.

A few months ago I had to go to Arnhem for my work. A good friend of mine works in the same field as I do and we had agreed to meet and catch up prior to the meeting. Unfortunately we had to reschedule that cup of tea, so what was I to do with my morning?  I had a visit to the 'Het poppenhuis' in Arnhem on my miniature wishlist so It may have been fate, or just a coincidence, but I made an impromptue visit to the shop that morning.

Rika gave me a warm welcome and we drank a cup of tea while talking about this hobby we share. What I did not know, was that attached to the shop, was the office of DHN magazine. Naturaly I did not decline the invitation to visit the office and the studio where the pictures for the magazine are made.

After looking at Rika's private collection it was time to go to the shop. She mainly sells hand made miniatures. So there was a lot of great stuff to see. Since my time was limited, I still had to attend the meeting in the afternoon, I had to linger less and focus more. :-)

It is often difficult to choose, but choose we must. Every coin can only be spent once. I bought these two  hand painted vases. one can never have enough porcelain in my mind :-0 Next to it are four apothecary bottles and two tinware candlesticks.

I also bought this painted plate. Within the garland you see an orange tree and the text "Vivat Oranie" It is old Dutch spelling for "Long live Orange" from the 80 year war into the revolutionary period at the end of the 18th century the Princess Van Oranje Nassau were Stadhouder and held the highest (military) office in the republic. They were Princess but did not rule as kings. The faction in society that thought that the House of Orange should rule the Dutch Republic or at least hold the highest office, liked to show their political stance. Crockery and porcelain was one way to show this allegiance. Originaly it was meant as a show of gratitude, the House of Orange led us in the 80 year war to free us from the spanish crown and the opression of protestants. In the revolutionary periode at the end of the 18th century, having this kind of earthenware almost amounted to an act of defiance or treason. In 1795 the revutionary patriots had driven out Stadhouder William V, who fled to England. Therefore this plate needs a place, albeit an inconspicuous one, in Huis ter Swinnendael.

But there is more. I loved this baroque bust of a whig wearing gentleman in quasi Roman armour.  Is he a member of the Zonneschut family? Who knows, nothing decided on that yet, but he will get a place in the house. And then there are a set of 6 glasses and 2 glass goblets in the manner of the 17th century. All made by Gerdt Felka. I really love them. And since I will set the house in summer there was no reason not to pick these charming roses. You can almost smell them, don't you?

Lastly I bought these lovely two items. A stool and a tray. Both painted in a lovely way. It was the decoration that did me in. Especially the little stool. I love the light blue base with the rust and cream coloured decoration. I will try to imitate that colourscheme for the washing attic. That is where this stool will eventually end up. The serving tray is quite pretty. It can really end up anywhere in the house. I'll find an apropriate place for that tray.

Well, that is it for now. I hope you have enjoyed this little post and till next time!


Thursday, 9 April 2020

Time to start building! the cellars in the east wing.

The project of building ones own house is a time consuming endeavour. Stressful but exciting. Espescially when one can't help with the actualy building work and has a fulltime job. The project of building a dollshouse at the same time is also quite laborious. And, unfortunately, the dollshouse always comes last when choices have to be made between these three.

But an important step has been made! Those of you who have been following my little blog for a while, know that I started with drawing sketches of floorplans and facades to choose the type and look of the house. After the ideas of a Regency townhouse, a baroque 'Lustschloss' for a German Prince, and a castle in the Gothic revival style. In the end I decided to go for a Dutch country house built in de Dutch classicist style that was popular in the second half of the 17th century. The Dutch golden age for Architecture. But my search was not over yet…
First I drew a freestanding house (more than 3 meters in length!) that would take up an 
entire room to display it. Too big and too impractical… (sigh)

Then I drew this one room deep example. With an added tower as a little bonus. 
I quite loved the division of the façade, but the depth of one room bugged me. 
I missed the see through from one room into another which was so much 
fun in the first design.
I combined elements of the first two designs into what would/will become Huis ter Swinnendael. 
A house of double depth with a double height art gallery that can only be seen through other 
rooms and which will receive (most of) its light through a skylight topped with a dome.
Large and spacious but still standing against a wall and thus saving a lot of space.

Then, I made a 1:48 maquette of the house in cardboard. With the rooms lined with paper designs made with Windows Paint. The maquette helped to to give me a better impression of scale and decor. And point out a few flaws that the drawings did not reveal. So I adjusted those. For instance the first room floor height was lowered, and the central wing with the art gallery and the grand staircase was widened.

The model of the house. the focus lies on the rooms and their decor, and not the 
outside appearance. as you can plainly see. :-)
And the model broken down into the separate floors and rooms. The colour schemes are
not fixed but help to give the style and mood that I want to give each room.
Then I started to saw the nescesary walls out of  MDF to construct the first rooms....  That did not go well. I am not used to do carpentry. My measuring was not precise enough, my sawing was not straight enough. In short, a disaster. It all ended up in the bin. Apart from taking some time off of the construction side of things, the work on Huis ter Swinnendael continued.

And with time came a solution. I started to redraw the house in a designer program so that I could draw every component to the milimeter and then have it cut out by a local lasercut company. It took some time to get used to the design program, but finaly I had the right drawings.

Scaled to the millimeter!
And now, almost a year after I threw my hand sawn pieces in the bin, and nearly two week after I placed the order, this package arrived! Yess! And now the assembly of the first rooms can begin. These walls, floors and ceilings make up the roomboxes which later will slide into the house itself.

I won't build the house in one go. I start with the east wing, from cellar to gable. Then construction 
wil start on one of the other two parts. So in the end it will be 3 cabinets with rooms shoved 
together to form one large house!
It is time to come out of the box, my dears. I have long waited for this moment! :-)

First I will paint every surface with a white primer. That way I close every piece off from the air and prevent moisture from getting into the mdf. It should also reduce the risk of warping I'm told.

Room 1: One floor, one ceiling, and 6 walls? Check!

Now I can assemble the pieces.  Country houses like Swinnendael usually have thick walls and these are thin boards. This thickness is created by dividing the inner and outer wall panel with wooden spacers. This way these walls also leave space for the electrics, and for gib-doors, wall niches, secret passageways and all that. :-) Some wall panels will be fixed to the floors or ceilings and the "fourth wall" of each room will later be attached to the outer door of the cabinet. I want to be able to disassemble the rooms easily without having to rip up glued parts and damaging them. Hopefully this system of roomboxes will work in reality as it has done in theory. Only time will tell.

Well, that's it for now my friends. I hope that you have enjoyed this little post. The pics are not that spectacular, but for me this signifies an important step. The construction of Huis ter Swinnendael has begun in earnest!