Friday, 3 September 2021

Having a blast!

Hello my friends,

September has arrived but unfortunately we have had to postpone the move into our new house to mid oktober! Which means that all the miniatures and miniature related stuff that are packed stay packed for another six weeks! So sad, but we'll get there eventually. No need to despair. In the meantime there is something I can share with you guys. 

In 1806 it was not yet fashionable to put up ancestral harnesses in the hall of you country house. But displaying weapons themselves was not uncommon. So why not place a mortar or cannon in the hall of Huis ter Swinnendael? 

Although I am a peaceful person myself, I have already collected a few weapons for Huis ter Swinnendael. The silver and steel sword made by Jens Torp and the mahogany, steel and silver hunting rifle and a set of dueling pistols. Those are made by the late Tony Watt. 

I also have another huntingrifle which looks like an american colonial rifle and presumably is made by an american miniaturist. But the seller was not sure of its provenance. 

So why not stop there? It would be indeed a good point to stop, but there is one more ornamental piece of firearm that I want in miniature. And although I did not realise that I wanted to have it, until I got this miniature clock... I do want it now!

This little brass clock is shaped like a ships compass. The compass would be hung inside it so it would remain level at all times The blocklike attachment to the side should resemble a lantern for a little oillamp so the compass can even be read during dark nights and stormy weather.

A small sticker reads the company's name and the year 1999. It was a gift for employee's or relations of a maritime company. This is a late Victorian model and not very intricate. So useless for Huis ter Swinnendael. Or not?

Since in 1806 it is not yet 'en vogue' to put up ancestral harnesses in grand houses, ceremonial or ornamental cannons were sometimes displayed in halls and gallery's. And since the great grandfather of sir Carel Polyander was at the battle of Terheijde. Where the Dutch "vanquished" the British (technicaly it was just a stalemate so victory could have easily gone to the British, but they retreated first) during the second anglo/dutch sea war in 1653. Having a mortar from his ship as a  reminder of this "heroic" feat would be a great and unusual miniature.

Now there are miniature mortar cannons out there, so why take the trouble to make one out of this brass trinket? Short answer is that those are often too small or too big, or too modern. And this way it will be a unique miniature. I asked Marie-Louise of Smallscale to help me with the metal part of the mortar. And I would make the wooden sled it rests on.

But what is a mortar anyway? Up until the 1800's the weapon was often made of bronze, and many mortars had a fixed elevation of 45°. The mortar was mounted on a "bed" so without wheels (unlike a canon). In the battery, the mortar was generally bedded upon a level wooden platform; aboard ship, it was a revolving platform, so that the piece could be quickly aimed right or left. The mortar's weight, plus the high angle of elevation, kept it pretty well in place when it was fired. And that high angle was its worth to the artillery. Walled defences were great at stopping horizontal gun and cannon fire, but were quite defenseless for projectiles falling from the sky.

In Amsterdam the famous Trippenhuis has mortar shaped chimneys carved out of sandstone. Queer subject for a chimney, no? Although smoke coming out of the mouth of these "mortars" would add an eerie realistic touch. 
But that is not all. One of the painted ceilings inside show little cherubs flying around while carrying canonballs, a mortar cannon, and rifles. The reason for this unusual subject for expensive embellishments is simple. Part of the huge wealth of the Tripp family came from making and selling armaments on a grand scale.

But back to 'my' mortar cannon. I have given the little object to Marie-Louise. She has given me permission to post this picture of the first alterations that she is making to transform the shipscompass into a mortar cannon. It seems however that this item is not made of brass after all, but some cheap alloy with a thin brass coating. So perhaps soldering may not work on it. If not there will be other options. We'll keep you posted on the progress!

Well that is all for now. As soon as she has finished the transformation I will make the wooden sled to carry the mortar and try to  find some 'canonballs' of the right size.

And when all that is done I will show you the end result. Lets hope it will work out as planned. Fingers crossed!


Saturday, 24 July 2021

Ever wanted to stand inside a historic Dollshouse? Now you can!

Hello my friends, 

Last week I attended a businessmeeting wich was held in the historical center of city of Utrecht. During our lunch break I walked over to the Centraal Museum in Utrecht where they display the oldest of all the remaining Dutch Cabinethouses still in (known) existence. The house of Petronella de la Court. 

I was not planning on entering the museum, since the second half of the course I attended was to begin soon. I only wanted to buy a new book that has been published concerning this cabinet house. "Een huyshouding in' t klein"  written by Margreet dan der Hut. 

To my surprise, the woman who helped me in the museum shop told me that they were dismantling the dollshouse, to put it in storage. They will renovate the museum building and therefor everything needs to be put away safely into the museum's depot. 

The video at the beginning of this post is a short stopmotion film where you can see some of the rooms being emptied of their miniature contents. 

I wanted to see a glimpse of the empty house and bought a museum ticket. Whenever will I get this chance again? unfortunately the curators were on a lunchbreak as well (which makes sense) so I could not talk to them and ask them a few questions. 

 Moving the house and its contents into the depot is quite a job, because the house consists of 1,500 parts. A miniature bookcase, a scaled violin, a few centimeter long waffle iron... you name it.

 Everything has to be filed, photographed, packed, and prepared for the move, piece by piece. So you see here the makeshift studio in the museum where they catalog and pack all the miniatures. 

 But what is all that talk about standing inside a dollshouse? Did I try to stick my feet into the empty rooms while noone was looking? Certainly not! But for the year that the renovation of the building is being carried out and the dollhouse of Petronella de la court is not on view, the museum has made a virtual tour of the house. See this link to the website with the virtual tour.

 You can "enter" every room and look around in 360 degrees. In some rooms there is extra information (look for the + symbols inside the room) on certain objects. in the 'Saletkamer'you can click on the music stand in the middel of the room. there you can listen to 5 short fragments of music. It is the music that is actualy written on the original mini music sheets you see in the room. they are played on original instuments. The music may, or not, be your taste but I think it is wonderful to know that the music sheets contain actual contemporary melodies and are not just decorative scribbles. But then again, if you see the details and objects petronella collected for her cabinet house, you really need not expect anything less than real sheet music. 

 I am happy that I could get a glimpse of the dollshouse being emptied and made ready for storage. And I love it that the Centraal Museum has made this video and virtual tour for us all to watch and enjoy! I hope that you will enjoy it as much as I do.

And with this post I will leave you for my summer break. My own move to our new house is coming closer every day. I hope to meet you all again here in september.


Thursday, 15 July 2021

Stringing venerable beads. A scalloped teatable and (even more) Gueridons.

Hello my friends, In light of the coming move I told my self to not buy any more miniatures until after we have unpacked and settled on the new adress. 

Be that as it may... Promises are easily made, but difficult to keep. So when I found a teatable with a scalloped shape, I fell in love with it. But there were several pieces of this item available, so there was no rush to buy one. So far so good. The next week I saw the number of items drop from 4 to 2.

Yikes! And after the weekend there was only one left. It is made/sold by Hungarianminiatures on Etsy. I do not know if they make miniatures in a small batch or if they keep replenishing sold out models. 

So just to be sure, I bought the last one. promise to self broken... But when it arrived, It really made me happy. It is very detailed and nicely made. Stylewise it will fit in Huis ter Swinnendael. If not a miniature copy of a period piece it will pass for a late 17th century model without a problem. Perhaps the legs are on the slim side for the period but that would be the only flaw. 

 In the same shop I also saw these lovely gueridons also named torchères. The difference between both names is mainly that a gueridon generally refers to a pedestal type of table, used to display items like art or porcelain. While torchères are only used to place candlesticks or candelabra's on. 

 If you have followed my blog for a bit you may know that I love gueridons. I have a pair made by John Hodgson and a pair that I 'cobbled' together myself. And now this pair of wooden gueridons. Both the table and the gueridons will get a place in Lady Zonneschuts dressingroom.

But I also found some time for stringing some beads. It is a little project that I started two years ago and packed away for the temporary move to our current place. And the irony is that I had forgotten all about it until I came across the little box and opened it before packing it for the upcoming move.......

It is intended to become a chandelier. I have seen so many lovely home made examples. Both by professional miniaturists as home made that I wanted to  try to make one myself. 

I have spotted some flaws in my original plan. The weight of the small beads is not enough to let them hang in a nice arc. And both of the horizontal rings are not connected so the frame is not fixed (yet). Lets see how it works out. But perhaps I will undo it and remake it around a shop bought chandelier. Stringing the beads in the right order has been quite relaxing in itself though. :-) 

Well, that is it for now I'am afraid. I hope you enjoyed reading this post just as I did writing it. Take care, stay healthy and enjoy the summer.