Monday, 8 December 2008

My Maharajah's Palace-Day 1

TODAY is the start of my journey to an ambitious endeavour. I am going to create my Maharajah's palace. This was a decision I made last night.I don't have a name for my dollhouse yet but I guess we shall call it Maharajah Palace for now.

Just 3 days ago, I had wanted to do something South East Asian and found what I thought looked like an Indonesian dollhouse made by an organisation called the Yayasan Wisma Cheshire.

Yayasan Wisma Cheshire is part of the worldwide organisation of Cheshire Homes for the Disabled. These dollhouses are made by their paraplegic residents. It is the aim of Wisma Cheshire to enable all their residents to learn a skill within or outside the home – with the ultimate hope that they will find employment and gain financial independence. These houses are then sold, amongst their other crafts in their shop called The Red Feather Shop. It's a pity they do not have their own website but I found this picture at an expat website

After some enquiries with them over email, I found out that each house would take at least 1 month to complete. That's ok, I am in no hurry as my dollhouses will be given away only after I die. Their cost is very reasonable although shipping and handling charges (third party) are steep. I also found out that the house is actually a Swiss Chalet and not Indonesian.

Well, I may still buy from them because you know, this IS the Cheshire Home and you must agree with me the house is really charming. I probably can try converting it into a Thai traditional home.But alas, that is later..much later..

'Cos after last night and after seeing Sumaiya Mehreen's dolls, my mind is made up. My very own first dollhouse (the one I did for my friend does not quite count-see below) is going to be a Maharajah's palace in a wedding setting.

Things I did today for my Maharajah

First Thing: Having met Sumaiya Mehreen's ladies and that 1 gentleman at her blog, I knew I had to have them. One of them "My Chandra" is being sold at ebay for USD200. I have reproduced below, pictures of the 3 main characters of my palace, the Bride, her Groom and his Jealous Mistress..Boy, I think this dollhouse is going to cost me a fortune:

Second Thing: I then ran over to SuZ's, my sister who is a talented designer and an architect by training and ask for advice on how to build the house. We pored through Taschen's "Indian Interiors" and I showed her what I had in mind. The book is a treasure trove of seemingly impossible architecture. Impossible to miniaturise. SuZ gave me some very useful pointers, one of which was that I would probably finish the house only in 2010 if I am lucky.

She also eventually said she would handle the exterior while I manage the interior. I don't know, SuZ may be very talented but she is also one busy bee. I probably will have to deal with the "architect" and "contractor" sooner than you can say "Maharajah".

Third Thing: I then went home and started writing to Sumaiya. This is an extract of the email:

"Hi Sumaiya,

My name is Susan and I am from Singapore.

First and foremost, let me tell you I am absolutely enthralled with your dolls, Chandra, Jahan, Parvati, Kumari..oh and Xio Lin.

Let me give you some background to what led me to you.

I have just been introduced to the joy of creating doll house interiors. A friend of mine who is an events organiser proposed the theme "Home for Christmas" for their client (a mega mall by Singapore standard) this Christmas and they were to create this tiny "village" (4 dollhouses ) in a winter setting.One of these houses by the way, is in fact the same model as the cottage that you had built.

Anyhow, I helped her decorate their largest dollhouse (Queen Ann-Real Good Toys). Due to the tight dateline and my full time work, I eventually only had 2 days (2 weeks ago, Sat and Sun) to finish the decor (interior decor only, no walls no floors and the house came painted). I don't have the pics yet but will post them on Facebook when available. It is a credible job for a first timer but nothing like what you and your friend, Lenor Johnson had created.)

Ever since then, I got hooked and now I ambitiously want my own 1st dollhouse to be a Maharajah's palace (!!!) . Seriously though, with my siblings' help (my sister is an architect by training and own a furniture and baby fashion business- The Life Shop and The LifeBaby . She designed cool furniture and kids' clothes with an Asian twist. My brother designed the website and is a fairly good craftsman for certain things), we may be able to create something-may not be anywhere near the master craftsmen but hopefully something befitting of a home for your gorgeous ladies. May take us 1-2 years though.

When I saw Jagan, I knew immediately I wanted a wedding setting(ala "Kama Sutra" the movie). I saw one of your dolls, Ms Chandra, (actually she introduced me to your website and now Lenor Johnson is my favourite dollhouse artist too. You are my favourite doll creator :))on ebay ...".

I then asked her if she could "create most of my dolls for the palace". I ended with

" I am going to Little India now, a stone's throw away from my home to start shopping for my Maharajah. I do hope to hear from you . Thank you for taking the time to read this email.

Fourth Thing : Little India. Am I happy my home is really just a stone's throw away from this ever enchanting, always chaotic but endlessly colourful street. I spent S$120 on a dollhouse that has yet to exist , most of them from the "3 for S$10" shop . I am not going to show you pictures of these wonderful, wonderful finds. Why? Because you will not be able to tell the difference between them and the super expensive ones that I will eventually pay for, for my precious dollhouse which in my head must surely belong to a museum someday. SuZ and Win, you better HELP me!!

When I came home, my friend showed me 3 samples of the sign they intend to put up at the "tiny village" in the "mega mall" to thank me. The one I picked says "In appreciation to Susan, the dollhouse museum owner wannabe".

Last Thing: This blog which I have been going at for the past 3 hours. Wow, I certainly have done quite a lot for a yet to be dollhouse and one that many suspect may never quite live up to its full potential. Who knows, though, dreaming is free, so might as well dream BIG. Just Hope for the best and Expect the worst.

Of all the things I did today, this blog has got to be the hardest. Aligning the pictures was hell and there's no undo button. Let's see how long this blog will last. Won't be surprised if the next post is months later, if at all.


Sumaiya Mehreen said...

I am honored to be the first reader of the blog :D... and thank you from the bottom of my heart for giving my dolls such a wonderful home...

While your plans are grand, please don't despair. It will be a wonderful project to work on with your sister. And planning the house is as much fun as building the enjoy every step of the way. :)


Sumaiya Mehreen said...

I saw a Thai palace at the following link:

Maybe you could talk to a local carpenter who does woodcarving to create similar panels that you could add to the house to make it look more South Asian.

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