Sunday, 23 February 2020

A nautilus(y) cup

Hello my friends, last week I hit the mark of 50 followers. Welcome Anne-Mie, Linda and Gonda. I am happy that I am not the only one who enjoyes my little endeavour in the world of miniatures. 

Today I want to share with you a little miniature that I made. It is a miniature cup that pretends to be made with a Nautilus shell but is in fact just an ordinary snails shell. Found in a border in a local park. I found a few workshops in Dollshouse books and magazines that I have collected. So why not give it a try?

You may know the renaissance phenomenon of the Wunderkammer. Collections of rarities put together by monarchs and nobility. Entire rooms filled with collections of colourful, exotic and rare specimen of shells, horns, et cetera. These were the so called Naturalia that showed the marvel of Gods creation. 

Opposed to that there was the collection of Artificialia. The excuisite objects that showed the craft and ingenuity of man. In the Netherlands the wealthy burghers liked to display their interests, knowledge and good taste by amassing similar collections but on a smaller scale.

For Huis ter Swinnendael I want to make two early baroque collectors cabinets. One for the Naturalia and one for the Artificialia. By 1806 these early 17th century collections have become rarities themselves. Many pieces are valuable and therefore are kept. But the later collections of paintings, porcelain and antiquities have by now become much more important for the family to show their refined taste.

But back to the cup. Many shells have very different shapes from a Nautilus. This snails shell is not a perfect match but goes a long way. First of all the snails shell was cleaned and painted with mother of pearl nailpolish. I did not give it a basecoat of white paint because I hope that the natural colours of the shell wil enliven the colour of the nailpolish from underneath. 

Then I saw that the rim of the opening with this type of snail runs crooked. With the nautilus it does not. I took out the needlefiles and gently started to file down the edge to improve the Natilusness of the shell. After that I needed to repair the rim and other damaged area's with more nailpolish. 

Now it was time for the stand or foot of the cup. I shoved some beads I have in my little collection onto a toothpick. I then filled the cavities with airdrying clay and cut off the excess toothpick on one side. I added some small stickers used for making and decorating cards. After the clay had fully dried I gave it a coat of bright red paint. Lastly I aplied a coat of gold paint. I want to gild the base but I have not yet come around to buying the stuff needed for gilding. So paint it is for now.

Finaly it is time to add the shell itself. Here I also applied some of these small stickers to simulate the addition of gold on the shell itself. I removed the remainder of the toothpick and glued the shell on the card and let it dry.

And there we have it, my first attempt to make a nautilus cup. I enjoyed making it. I hope you have enjoyed reading about it. I do want to try and make one with metal as a challenge for the near future. As you can see I have a few more snail shells to pollish.

Those of you who have read my earlier posts may have noticed that in this picture there are a few new miniatures. The picture frame is a modern silverplate frame that I have painted gold. It wil be gilded eventually. The Bernini-esque bust was bought at Het Kleine Kabinet in Arnhem. A lovely visit of which I will show my new treasures in another post. And finaly the bronze statue of a Roman figure. It is a signet stamp used for wax seals. An antique I found on Etsy. 

Well, thats it for now, be well and u til the next post! 


Thursday, 6 February 2020

I'm Imagining Imari

Hello my friends,

The famous porcelain with decorations in blue an red, somtimes highlighted with gold. We all know it or at least have seen it. Imari.

Originaly, as the name suggests a Japanese type of porcelain. It was soon copied in China for the European market and eventually also copied by European porcelain manufacturers for the European market. But today, centuries later, all these types of imari ware are highly prized all over the word. 
I have two miniature gourd type vases from the late 19th or early 20th century. Not the best quality made at that time but I like them.

You may have read my first and second post (back in 2018) about the old eggcups I painted in Delft blue. They were inspired by the tiny garden urns in the babyhouse of Sarah Rothe van Amstel which can be seen in het Haags Gemeentemuseum in the Hague.

I used special felt tip pens for ceramic in these first attempts. But although I tried my best the lines were much to thick for miniature. And besides that the paint spread evenly, without room for adding colourvariance though thickness or multiple layers. I did my best at the time. But now that I have painted ceramic with paint and brushes, I feel that I now can do better. So it was time to paint another eggcup.

One eggcup/garden urn that I did not show you in the earlier posts is the one where I used Imari porcelain as an inspiration. Here you can see (right) it compared to the second one I made using porcelain paint (left). You can see the difference between the two. I have made the second one for a friend. So it will not get a place in Huis ter Swinnendael.

I preferr the second one over the first. With the confidence for using paint and brushes instead of marker pens I look at the old Delft vases again and think, this I can do better. So just as with the Imari one the Delft blue gardan vases will be redone. But that is for a next post my friends.


Tuesday, 21 January 2020

A chair is a chair, is a chair, is a chair...

Hello my Friends,

Thank you very much for your kind wishes for this year. I promised myself to make no New Years resolutions. But secretly I made one none the less. I want to spend more time making miniatures and finaly start with the first rooms of Huis ter Swinnendael.

Well the first part is going well at least. I have made four 17th century chairs with stretchers. In Dutch they are called a "kistregel stoel" I followed a tutorial from the Dutch DHN magazine. There a group of talented miniaturists, worked together on recreating the Rembrandt Huis in Amsterdam, where the painter lived and worked in his heyday. During the project every issue of DHN contained a project for a room decor, or a pieces of furniture or other objects from that house and era.

The link has great photo's and text (Dutch) on this great project:

I have most of these tutorials and will make several of them for Huis ter Swinnendael, albeit adapted here and there to suit my own requirements.  These chairs will go into the Stewards office. The scene will be set in 1806, but the family built the current house around 1675. Just after the first house was burned down by the soldiers of Louis XIV in 1672. This year is in Dutch history also known as the “Year of Disaster” (Rampjaar). In one year we were invaded by the French King(in the south) and the Prince-Bishops of Cologne and Münster (in the east), fought out a war at sea with the British (in the west).

So the House will stil contain some of the furnishings from previous generations. In 1806 these chairs have long been removed from the state rooms upstairs. Fallen from grace due to the changes in taste and fashion. This type of chair is a late rennaisance model. But at the end of the 17th century the baroque was already well on its way to become the favoured style by those who could afford it. These chairs may be a bit worn but still good enough to be used downstairs.

A chair deconstructed...
It started with getting the right materials first. In the tutorial they use a bannister to cut the legs from. It is balustre shaped. I however wanted to use a collumn shaped banister. And I found one that had the right shape and size. I only had to file of the litle point on the top to turn it into a chairleg. Another adjustment I made was adding a decoration to the top. I have an excess of eight bannisters. So I cut off their decorative tops to glue them on the back rests of the chairs. The remaining bannisters will be used to either make stools or small tables.

In my world this is precision engineering. ;-)
Then came the hard part. The legs of the back rests had to be cut to an 8 degree angle. Help! Not every chair in the 17th century had this angle. But not doing so would not look right on these chairs. My partner came to the rescue. A simple yet effective solution. One that I will use again with future (chair) projects.

Then it was time to add the first coat of woodstain and rubbing the wood with very fine steelwool to smooth the surfaces. Then I filed away some wood to show the wear and tear of the +/- 150 years these chairs have been in existence in 1806. After that it was time to add the second coat of the woodstain.

When all was dry, I drew the patterns I needed for the leather coverings. One for the seat and one for the back. I used some of the fine goatsleather I had bought at the fair in Spijkenisse. I hesitated between the red and the blue leather, so it was obvious that I chose the third colour which is brown. Male logic perhaps? But brown was a very popular colour for leather. So I am happy with my choice. And I plan on making a more elaborate version with armrests and double stretchers for behind the desk of the Steward. There I will use the blue or the red leather.

Cutting the leather was actualy quite easy. Upholstering the chairs took longer than I hoped but was less difficult than I anticipated. The leather being supple and therefore easy to work with helped a lot. In the tutorial the backrest was also stuffed, but the few Original chairs that I know of do not have stuffed backs, so I just folded them over the backs without stuffing them.Perhaps I will age the leather a bit wit steal wool or a brush. But I need to work on a testpiece first.

And here they are! finished. I may still add a line of brass tacks to the edges. Perhaps by adding small dots with a gold pen. Or little nail art drops. If I can find ones that are not bigger than 1 mm. But for now they are finished and wait the rest of the furniture for the room and the room itself.

So that's it for now. I hope you have enjoyed reading this post. Be well, and until the next post.


Wednesday, 1 January 2020

A happy 2020 to all of you!

Hello my friends,

The old year is gone and the new year has arrived. And with it also a new decade. Will these twenties be roaring like the last decade of that name? I hope so, if it will be in a good way.  I have made a little scene for the first of januari. The left overs of a night celebrating the New Year.

the morning after the revelry.
Trying my hand with airdrying clay I made a little scene with traditional Dutch 'oliebollen' en apple fritters. The pink fish should resemble confectionary and is made using one of the 'speculaasplanken' which is made by Arjen Spinhoven.

As I said before, I wish you the very best of luck in this new year. And a lot of fun with miniatures!