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Saturday, July 31, 2010

Medieval Chairs

From what I've read, life in the Middle Ages meant a transient lifestyle due in part to volatile conditions and in the case of the nobility, to widely scattered land holdings that needed supervision. Rather than have enough furniture for each residence, much of the lighter furnishings was transported on these moves. Heavier items such as beds or tables were left behind but chairs which symbolized the importance of a person, were often taken.

The Glastonbury chair was known to exist since the early Middle Ages and is thought to be based on a chair made for Richard Whiting, the last Abbot of Glastonbury, England. Although often referred to as a "folding" chair, these chairs didn't actually fold, they dismantled.

The other type of chair was known as a Savonarola or X chair, so named for their crossed legs. They apparently originated in Egypt and were used throughout the Roman Empire. By the Middle Ages when chairs were used by kings and high ranking church officials, the X structure became a symbol of authority.
The Savonarola chair, named for a 15th century Dominican cleric, is distinctive for the elaborate curve of the X. Due to their solid wood construction, these chairs were not only sturdy but comfortable.
Funny enough Henry Tudor did furniture makers a disservice in dissolving the monasteries. It was monastic groups as well as the guilds who were instrumental not only in maintaining high standards of workmanship but also influencing the form and ornamentation of the furniture. Spires of Gothic cathedrals were the model for furniture finials, while circular tracery was made to resemble the rose windows of architecture. With the decline of high religious devotion in England, 15th century architecture grew simpler. At the same time in France it grew more complex.

Before delving into my medieval research, I'd never heard of either of them. These photos show the first prototypes made from plans that I found for the originals. They'll still require some changes, on the whole I'm quite happy with them. They're certainly better than most that I've seen on the market.

The Glastonbury chair on the far right also represents my first attempts at wood carving. The first chair back that I carved was meant to show a lion but when I had finished with it, it looked more like a pigs head on a lions body. I'm slowly learning that less means more, on areas one inch square or less.

OMG... addendum!

I've noticed that maple trees are the earliest tree to change color ...usually doing so in mid to late August but I was really surprised when I found all those "colorful" leaves in the lawn.
Normally trees drop their leaves as a way of keeping moisture in and keep from drying out but that certainly can't be the reason this year. We've had enough rain with lots of hot days in between. The amount of rain in a growing season also affects the leaf color intensity, and severe droughts can delay the arrival of the fall color show for weeks.
The leaves that I found were probably from a sugar maple since they're typically orange-red. Black maples produce glowing yellow leaves, while red msaple become brilliant scarlet.
I'm already noticing cool nights so I guess this was my first indication of autumn arriving. Those leaves still came as a shock!
My hydrangea is in full flower & has been for a while.
I hope it puts on this kind of display when it gets bigger. And as for my runner beans, I have lots of flowers but not much in the way of beans.
Because Canada has such a wide range of climates, ranging from sub tropical to arctic, our most discussed topic of conversation tends to be the weather.
...and I am definitely not ready to pull out my mittens yet!

Friday, July 30, 2010

OMG... you see what I found!
The maples are dropping their leaves already.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Santa's Summer Cottage

We have family visiting for the entire last half of July. Between Ken's kids and mine and all their kids, it's family time at it's best! Having grown up an only child with not even any cousins around, I love making up for it with our extended family.
A while ago, Pikko and I had a discussion about Santa & where he lives in the winter. Yesterday we decided to visit with Santa at his summer cottage, located very definitely in Bracebridge Canada at the 45th parallel or halfway between the north pole and the equator. Apparently it runs right through the middle of this tree. We were made to feel extremely welcome
Here half of our gang, introduced themselves to Smokey the Bearwho has long kept a watchful eye out for forest fires in Canada. ...but then there's always one guy in the group who feels the need to get overly friendly.
Even here, thanks to our new "and expanded" value added tax, money must be tight; Mrs Claus apparently felt the need to open her own business, a bake shop. I presume that profits are used to buy toy making supplies for the elves. At the same time, she still finds time for a bit of color coordinated flower gardening long as you don't look too closely at the fence. You don't supposed that Santa came home one night having over imbibed a little!
The property is quite large so we took the train to explore a portion of it. Everywhere elves were busy at work ...some even looked strangely familiarThe reindeer appeared quite well fed which is just as well since some of Santa's horses seemed rather wooden from turning too many circles Little Izzy must have sensed this; she hung on white knuckled the entire time but gamely decided to stay for several extended rides before switching to the swan boats and even taking a test flight on one of the available planes. Everything definitely met with her approval!
In the meantime, I tried out one of the latest couturier hat designs but decided that antlers just weren't meFinally we got to the reason for our visit; Mrs Claus welcomed all of us into her home, finding the time for individual chats.

And then we met THE MAN!

who graciously agreed to pose for group portraits.
Before we left, I had a private word with him regarding what I considered an oversight on his part. After mentioning that I considered myself most definitely on the "nice" list, I boldly asked why I hadn't gotten the one gift I'd craved for the past number of years. Surely it wouldn't have taken up much room in the sleigh! All Santa would have had to do is make up my million dollars in large denominations.
Before leaving, some of us older kids managed to stake out the first and then the last seats on the roller coaster, where during one particular curve, I suddenly remembered why I haven't been on a ride for so long.
Not sure who had more fun: the 4 kids or I and at least I wasn't the only one who fell asleep on the drive home.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Summer Travel Swap

I'm really late posting about this swap. I had another swap to finish & send off for the AllThingsMini that for the life of me wouldn't work out as I had planned. Not only was I on time restrictions ...once again!! but I kept changing my mind on what to make.

For the summer travel swap, my partner was Maria who showed me her beautiful city of Rotterdam. She had me arriving by train and then immediately put me on a bike
which must be one of the best ways to see a city. I've only been to a few European cities (in real life). Their old world charm never fails to fascinate me.
Maria instinctively knew all the things that interest me. We went to an open air market... for a bit of shopping before continuing on to a dollhouse al fresco meal and then a last look of Rotterdam at night.

Here's what Maria sent me home with as a reminder of my visit with her:
Maria, thank you so much! Hope to see you at Caterina's winter swap.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

Obviously I have too much time on my hands LOL!

Just went to I write like to analyze my writing style. I'd never heard of David Foster Wallace. So now I'll have to get one of his novels from the library to see whether to take it as a compliment or a slur.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Castle Roombox

First off, I guess I should show you what I'll be making in Nova Scotia, in September:I've decided it'll be a 12th century knights Templar castle. To prepare I read two histories about the Templars, a number of architectural books, books about the rise of Gothic cathedrals, books about medieval furniture. I've learned a number of new words ...aumbry and savonarola, just to name two. The one refers to a cupboard while the other one is a folding chair.
So with all my reading, I decided I wanted a special bower window, a larger fireplace, fancy door surrounds.... You can't ever say that I don't put my all into whatever I do! LOL
I could have bought a plain window but that's the kind that will probably come with the workshop. I could have bought a fancy window but it would have been the wrong size. Seems that commercial Gothic windows are wide rather than narrow the way I want it. I thought long and hard about it. My biggest restriction was the foamcore wall thickness of a 1/2 inch.
This is the look I was aiming for: It's from a Rik Pierce workshop known as Fair Rosamond's Bower. I would so dearly love to take one of Rik's classes.
I wrote to Rik, and when I didn't hear back, I started to make my own window. I thought about making it of wood or paperclay but with each of them there were drawbacks. This is what I decided on: What you're seeing is simply layered cardstock. My finished window would have been just slightly thicker than 1/4". Once glued together, gessoed and then painted to resemble stone, you wouldn't be able to guess it's humble beginnings.
Look what arrived in the mail today:Rik didn't even wait for me to pay him! Eventually, having written back to tell me dimensions and his prices (which I must say are very fair!); having told me that he would require a money order as he didn't have a Paypal account ....he simply assumed that I was honest & would actually pay him! I didn't know such trusting people still existed.
How cool is that!! Aren't I a lucky girl!!!!
I'm off to the bank tomorrow ....but I may still finish my cardstock window. Who knows when I might still need it.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Vintage Kitchen in a Bread Box

Once the Springfling contest was done, I had hoped to start on a project that I've been building in my head for almost a year ...a vintage kitchen on baking day inside an old fashioned wooden roll top bread box. Right now it's sitting empty & forlorn on it's specially designated shelf in my kitchen. I have all the lighting, the furniture and the "characters" at hand. But it doesn't seem likely that I'll be able to start it any time soon. I prefer to finish one project before starting on the next because I know from experience, I won't finish it otherwise.
I have a castle roombox workshop coming up in September and once again I have to! have things looking just the way I envision and not just how someone else thinks they could be. Time just isn't an option in all this.

But before I put away my "vintage kitchen", I felt I should show you one of the lovely characters who will be inhabiting the kitchen. This is Katrinchen:
which in german means, little Katrin. She'll be sitting under the baking prep table, helping in that wonderful way that all little children "help"! I commissioned Katrinchen from the very talented children's sculptor, Alex Buslovich. If you check out Alex's blog, you'll see all her other fabulous fimo kids.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

You know it's hot when you can't eat ice cream fast enough to avoid it melting down the cone!
At 9 this morning, the temperature was 26C (80+ Fahrenheit) & it appears we'll be in the 30's again this afternoon; already the humidity is at 70% making it feel more like 40C (+100F); it's been like this for almost a week now! I saw the thermometer climb almost 10 degrees within an hour yesterday. Overnight we drop about 10 degrees.
There've been several heat alerts out advising us not to overdo any activities, especially between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. I don't think they need to worry! The ceiling fan above my bed is whirling furiously; the lake feels warm as soup and if I'm not in up to my head, I'm in the shade with a tall glass of water & a good book.
Between Jacqueline Winspear's Maisie Dobbs novels and a Gothic window that I'm building out of cardstock, I can hardly find enough time to nap.
We've started taking our laptops outside to the back porch in the early morning until the sun comes around there; then it's off to the shade of the nearest tree down by the water.

Time for another siesta. Manana.....

Monday, July 5, 2010

Southwestern Swap

As I'm sure to have mentioned, I belong to the AllThingsMini forum; not only are some great miniaturists to be found there but the swap items are generally fantastic and widely varied!
I enjoy themed swaps since it encourages you try something different and I really don't mind making more than one of the same items. Sometimes I'm even lucky enough to be in a swap where I can use items I'm currently working on.
Although the southwestern swap had the least participants of any I've had in some time, the quality of the items was absolutely fabulous.
The steer skull actually had teeth on the under side, just like the real thing would have; both paintings are 3 dimensional and the tray really well done. Thanks so much Christina and Cate.
Just an update: my items were the terracotta painted vase and the potted cactus.
Although I'd made extra cacti; I only had enough vases to cover the swap. When one person dropped out of the swap at the last moment, I received one of mine back. Carrying everything to put away, the vase fell ...rolled under my foot; I stepped down.....
Maybe I can use the shards in a potting bench scene. I obviously wasn't meant to have it as a vase.
The cacti are listed on my For Sale page, if anyone's interested.

Next swap is this month; the theme this time is "Around the World Travels". I keep changing my mind about what to make....

New "For Sale" Page

Off and on lately, I've been reading about blogger allowing static pages to be used. What this means to me is that it's now possible to add a page to my blog showing the items I have for sale rather than using an eBay or an Etsy storefront, etc. However, like everything new, Blogger doesn't exactly make it easy to create secondary pages. I had to google for specific help in several places.
It'll also mean having to do everything myself for marketing, linking to search engines etc.
I read everything in a blog reader I'm sure most of you do as well, so I'm not sure how effective this will be. I guess like everything else it'll depend how much work I'm actually prepared to put into it.

Here's the link to my sales page. Tell me what you think....

Friday, July 2, 2010

Canada Day - July 1, 2010

Our country's birthday is usually celebrated in a big way. We accepted an invitation for dinner on board a friend's sailboat to be followed by watching the fireworks on the bay.
Fireworks are twice as spectacular when you're watching from the water so this is one time when the bay is jam packed full ....from single boats such as the one we were on, to a number of boats tied together for company, to ferries offering dinner cruises.
Flags are flying and everyone has a grand time.
The really lucky people are the ones able to watch from the comfort of their living rooms.
There are several yacht clubs and I'm sure they were all as busy as the one we started from ...hardly even room for the ducks
By the time darkness fell, everyone had jockeyed for position; the bay was full; police with megaphones, onboard their boats had to clear a path for the barge carrying the explosives to make its way to the middle of the bay ...and the fun began.

This was my second time watching from the water. My first ...and my last time, using a totally automatic digital camera; small size might be handy but nothing beats a manual camera when it comes to difficult shots like these. What you're seeing is a culmination of approximately 90 shots! I was not impressed!
Poor quality photos and the cool weather not withstanding, we had a wonderful time!!
My thanks to David & Vera for a marvelous evening.