Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Day 14-My Research Books

WHILE I practise my YODA-patience and await Win's sloooooow recovery from post natal exhaustion (that poor guy hasn't slept for more than 2-3 hours straight for at least 5 days now, I think), I twiddle my thumb and hang out at the library or surf ebay's mini world. Oh, and work at my day job, of course.

I have been very good with not spending money mainly cos I have spent them all. But tomorrow, its 2009! A brand new year and a brand new budget..haha..Little India, here I come! I just realise that the word "LITTLE" is so apt. Not only does it describe my favourite hangout, it also describes the world I am building and 2009 budget. Anyway, I am already thinking of ways to scavenge and hunt for freebies.

Example: my exciting new books from Central Lending Library which I borrowed with my nieces' library cards today. Each one of us can only borrow 8 books at a time. (After 31/1/09, its back to 4 books per person.)

On India:

On Dolls' Houses

Until Win is able to finalise the plans , its just hit the books for me. Due date for return -21/1/09. Wonder if Win will be done by then.

By the way, just so you know, SuZ and Win are not exactly in agreement on the layout of the palace. Oh, the humanity!

Sunday, 28 December 2008

Day 13-"My Maharajah's Palace" by SuZ

MY DARLING DARLING SISTER, SuZ has finally waved her magic wand and gave me a most gorgeous rendering of a palace I can only dream of. Her genius beggars description so I now present her art:

Front Elevation-Artist's Impression (rendering is based on Win's 1st plans):

Side Elevation: (quite a bit more than Win's vision)

We sat together on my mum's dining table from about 8.45am till 2.45pm today. It was just plain fascinating watching her. I only left the table to answer nature's calls. By the time she finished the side elevation, she was truly spent. She promised the back elevation in the near future and told me there would be quite a major change. The palace will now be a U-shaped building with a splendid courtyard behind.

I know the plans kept changing and until the house is actually built, your guess is as good as mine as to how it will eventually turn out. Whatever happens , these precious , precious gifts both my siblings gave me, I will forever treasure. I am so blessed.

Saturday, 27 December 2008

Day 12- Xander & The Tree Wizard

"XANDER Claus has come to town." This refrain resounded on many a facebook walls and now on this blog. Yes, Win's Boxing Day darling has finally arrived, after poor Mama Xander laboured for more than 20 hours.

Looks like I will have to add a baby room with cradle and the works in my palace cos X-man wants a spot in history too.

For the time being, the plans for the palace are of course on hold for a teeny while cos Dada has not been sleeping much.

In the usual Chinese tradition, Mama X will be in "confinement" for 1 month. Its called "confinement" cos both Mama and baby will not leave the house until the mother is properly nourished with Chinese confinement food.

Exactly 1 month after the baby is born, the parents will organise a feast, for all their relatives and friends. This is also when the proud parents will show off their ever so cute baby. 26th Jan is also the Chinese Lunar New Year. Xander really picked a great day to be born. Anyway, Win said he would also try to finalise the plans during this 1 month.

I am now thinking of incorporating a "showing-off Baby Xander" scene in the dollhouse. Don't think the Bride will want anyone to steal her thunder though, especially a cute baby.

The one thing I did for my palace today was to visit the TREE WIZARD, Christopher Pereira, at his 1st solo exhibition at Sculpture Square. Chris makes miniature trees and he is probably the most notable tree maker in Singapore. His work was selected as a gift to the President of Singapore in quite a prominent gala event here in 2004 where the National Volunteerism and Philanthropy Awards were given out. He also told me that he has been invited to exhibit at the Singapore Arts Museum in the early half of next year.

I sought Chris out because I had wanted to see if he can make me a big banyan tree and some frangipani trees for the palace. I had wanted the Banyan Tree that Buddha meditated under. Chris promptly corrected me and told me it was a bodhi tree and not a banyan. I love trees and I am one of the lucky few whose house is surrounded by them, especially banyans. I may just have a banyan anyway.

Not only can Chris make me any tree I want, he can also help and guide me in the building of my Mughal palace!!

I was so thrilled that I invited him home to show him the plans, pillars etc. We got really carried away and even talked about how if the dollhouse should turn out well, it could be featured at Chris' next exhibition at the Singapore Arts Museum!! I am to visit his workshop soon.

It is good to have met Chris today cos unlike everyone else who thought I was too ambitious, he told me "everything is possible" . He seemed keen for us to work together. I had better talk to him about my limited budget for the palace before anything happens.

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Day 11-Palace Budget

WOW! Everyone says building dollhouses is an expensive hobby but I didn't think it was soooo expensive. I guess I made it even worse when I chose to build a palace and everything is to be super-lux.

1226.34, that is how much I have spent as at Day 11 and I don't have a house, only 1 doll, 0 furniture except 6 pillars, 2 reference books and tons of other things.

SO, I will stop buying until the house is built. The only money I will spend now is to build the house and for Sumaiya's dolls , which I hope, she is in no hurry to complete (I know you are reading this Mehreen :) and I am only j/k ). Or if there is something so absolutely necessary or irresistable , no, not irresistable, just necessary.

I am glad I didn't buy the 9 dancing girls for the Durbar Hall. They are not to be the "people". I wanted them to play "lifesize" ceramic "sculptures" of dancing girls. How does one tell if a doll in the dollhouse is the "human" or the "doll? Anyway, these girls are very pretty but may take up too much space since there are 9 of them. Each doll stands at 6" high and 1 1/2'" wide. I will buy them after the house is built, if they are still available. Maybe if I place them in a circle , they will not take up so much space. Or maybe I should just buy 3 instead of 9.

I SPENT the bulk of my money on surprise, surprise, Christmas decorations. They have fabulous glass ornaments this year and as if there is a conspiracy to make me spend spend spend, the theme this year is Mughal or so it appears. I bought 14 rims of pretty silk and velvet ribbons in various colours and designs, all Mughal inspired, to make cushions and all the fabric furnishings.I also found some miniature brass statues of Indian Gods standing at 0,5-1.5 inches which will look so great in the house. I bought 23 of them.

I then visited framers for quotes on just the panels. At the right dimensions these panels can make great cornices/dados/skirting etc.

OH YES, so I was roaming the streets near the Hindu temple at Serangoon Road when I chanced upon a shop selling religious artifacts. I was browsing at their laces and beads when I saw their workshop. There were aluminium sheets bent into an arch and cut in the Mughal fashion. I found out that the shop supplies pooja mandir or Hindhu home temples. If you are not familiar with Hindu altars they are actually designed to look like mini temples, see pic.

I asked the owner if he can cut arches as per Win's designs and he said "No problem". "Can you build the dome for my palace?" I asked. "No problem" he answered. "How much?Estimate please". "Well, I charge about S$1800 for the altar".PROBLEM!

He told me to email him the designs anyway so he can give me a more accurate quote, repeatedly warning me "the dome is not easy to make, you know". I need any more warnings.

Saturday, 20 December 2008

Day 10-Palace's Pillars

I FOUND my pillars! The pic on the left is not the one but is inserted for reference only, like most of my other pics since it's a pain resizing my photos.

There will be 6 pillars for the ground floor main halls, each standing at a statuesque 16.5" high and 41/2" at its widest which is the base.

The 4 gold and green pillars will go into the Durbar Hall, the centre ground floor room and the 2 silver and red ones are for the Mirrored Hall, which will be the room behind the Durbar. This means that both rooms will have to be expanded to accommodate the columns.

Win has already planned for the 2 main halls to have double volume ceiling height since his 1st version so the height is not a problem. The width however will probably have to be expanded to about 14" from 12. Definitely not your typical dollhouse size.

My pillars have fairly intricate designs. They actually came only at 12" high but I added capitals . Gorgeous carvings of 4 elephants for Durbar and 4 Buddha statues for the Sheesh. I really hope the proportions work out. Don't want those beautiful pillars going to waste.

I was out from about 11am till 6pm , mainly at Mustapha's in Little India sourcing for materials to build the interiors. You can really find almost anything there (even a boyfriend I suspect) A most fruitful day but boy, am I bushed!

Anyway, not only did I find my pillars but I think I may have solved the problems of treating the oh-so-impossible inlaid walls, not to mention the Herculean Sheesh Mahal. It is still Herculean but not impossible. I am just too tired to write down what I think may work after walking for 7 hours except to say I will be using plastic sheets and plastic table cloth. I also found lovely bamboo blinds (coasters), wall lamps , and bed heads (jewellery),pots for the Pavilion and yes, I finally bought some tools like a saw and at least 6 pairs of scissors.

Before I pen off , I must also mention these wonderful "village" dolls I found. There are 4 of them, about 2.5-4" high. I haven't decided where they should go yet, probaby the Art Room which I can create now that I will have 15 rooms or is it 16?

Friday, 19 December 2008

Day 9- Versions Of Palace Plans

TODAY, my architect/master builder tendered his notice, citing personal reasons (Xander's impending arrival ..this Christmas!!, me being too bossy, too pressured, too little time etc etc . Maybe he is just afraid I will have him executed after the building's completed like what Shah Jahan did to his architect, Ismail Khan, as the legend will have you believe. Worse, Emperor Shah Jahan was also rumored to have his chief mason's right hand cut off so that the masterpiece could never be recreated).

Win will now only provide the designs for the palace which should be completed before Christmas or Xander's expected birthday. I am then to source for other builders to see it into fruition. This means that the project may now take longer than expected.

Oh well, at least, he is no longer thinking of quitting his current job to do this full time.

To document his great work before his resignation, I will continue to post his drawings-in-progress.

The 1st one is his 1st revision of the palace. This design has been rejected. I have decided that the palace should just have only 1 dome since it is not easy making the dome. I also think that the palace looks better only with 1 dome.

1st Revision:

Since then, Win has made further revisions as follows:

2nd Revision:
Win changed the shape of the windows to make them more Mughal, less Gothic

Details of the windows/gate:

Illustration of joints for boards

More windows

He also changed the columns to beams which he may have to change again as I have already bought some column bases for the structure

Details of how I can construct the spiral staircase:

3rd Revision:
A further revision was made to size down the palace by 1m in width and the following is the 3rd revision with dimensions (without the dome):

We met today for him to tender his resignation and also to hopefully finalise the dimensions. The palace will be roughly the size of Rev.3 but each room will be cut into half in depth so that the number of rooms will be doubled. We also worked out how the exterior "walls" can be opened for viewing. His final drawings will enable me to order the MDF boards and to get them cut.

He left the meeting indicating that he MAY be able to help me wire the palace. Perhaps at the right price.

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Day 8- Jai Kumar

JAI KUMAR has arrived, right in the nick of time too.

He is one of Sumaiya's hand sculpted dolls, not a Heidi Ott. He is about 6 inches tall, which means 6 feet tall in real life. In the photo, he's sitting in a 1:12 scale chair, to give you an idea of what he looks like compared to his surrounding.

He is movable at his elbows, shoulder, knees and thighs so that he can sit down. He is not self standing, he has to lean on something to be able to stand. (Injured when he was carving a 12 feet high Maya).

The shoes are painted on and the clothes are glued to the body.

Special Instructions:

Jai should NOT be washed or polished.

He can be dusted, but has to be handled carefully so that his hair doesn't get mussed up. He should be posed carefully so that his joints are not over-exerted.

Jai will come with a birth certificate so that years from now, others will know where he came from.

Jai is an instant success with both men and women. I wish I can run to where Sumaiya is and give her a big big hug.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Day 7- Palace Plans From Win

AND ON DAY 7, Win created The Maharajah Palace, at least the 2D-3D version. "Thrill " doesn't even begin to describe how I feel when I open the 1st file . I will let his work speak for itself:

1st Impression with man to show proportion:

Full Frontal

1st Floor
2nd Floor

3rd Floor
All Floors

Even as I am uploading these pics, Win is already redrafting to

1) correct the dome shape
2) correct the shape of windows
3) create another room which will be the Sheesh Mahal , there are only 9 rooms in this one
4) make the bedrooms longitudinal for viewing purposes - this means all the bedrooms will have access to the Verandah of Purity

Thank you, bro, this is a great gift for my palace!

Monday, 15 December 2008

Day 6-Architectural Philosophy

I SPENT about 45 minutes on IM this afternoon with Win just discussing the construction of the palace and showing each other links to websites of miniature artists and stately dollhouses that we both fancy.

The more I share with Win, the more I am convinced that he is going to be my master builder. To assist in the convincing, he showed me a picture of the Brighton Pavilion (above) like it is a testament to his craftsmanship, and ask me if I believe he has the painstaking patience to build this. He seemed particularly fascinated with the latticework . I swear though, by his accelerated typing speed, that he was even more excited at the prospect of wiring and lighting up the palace. My dear bro is after all, a GEEK at heart but that bro of mine sure knows how to pique my interest

For I was wondering why on earth is this magnificent Mughal palace in England? I therefore did some research and lo and behold, found the foundation of my palace.

The Brighton Pavilion aka The Royal Pavilion, Brighton was indeed built in the Indo-Saracenic style, an architectural style prevalent in 19th century India. In true colonial "spirit" and in an attempt to integrate with their "subjects", (in the hope that the latter would not begrudge their new rulers their plunder and exploits) ,the British Lords tried as much as possible to live like the locals. Indo-Saracenic or Indo-Goth adopted by 19th century Brit architects , fused elements of native Indian/Indo-Islamic architecture with Gothic revival style prevalent in Victorian Britain.

Indo-Saracenic Style-How wonderfully perfect is that for my palace?! Not only is it Indian but also European at the same time. Now I can purchase many of my dollhouse paraphernalias easily because what's prevalent are so Anglo-centric.

The history of this Pavilion is even more fascinating and amazingly relevant. The Prince Regent, who later became King George IV, had in fact used the Pavilion as his love nest with long-time companion Mrs Fitzherbert whom he could not marry due to her Catholic religion.

Yes! Mrs F is my "Jealous Mistress, Maya" and of course the Prince is my "Prince Raj Singh"

Anyway, what sealed it for me was some drawings I found depicting John Nashes' designs of the interiors, not that I will be re-creating them (too westernised).

With this backdrop, I knew I have finally found the "Architectural Philosophy" for my palace.

WHO are my people? They are the descendants of a prominent but extinct Maharaja family. "Blue blood" who no longer enjoy the power but still retain some of their wealth .Nothing like the heady days of limitless coffers and deep privy purses, mind you , but enough money to lead a fairly luxurious and glamorous life. Most of their inheritance have been squandered or plundered so their current wealth is due mainly to the last generation's unabashed surrender to commerce. Ways of business practised with the brilliance and elegance only Royalties are capable of, to the delight and constant clamour of their impressionable "subjects". Yes, my Maharaja family are now merchants of unique and distinctive jewellery only the filthy rich can afford . Trust me, everyone wants a piece of the Royal Jewels.

WHERE are my people? State of Rajasthan, of course where most of the restored ruins can be found today. My Indo-Saracenic palace was of course, one of those that seemed destined to vanish forever . Until my people, namely, Prince Raj Singh (Prince is his name and not his title, as in the Artiste Previously Known As Prince) and his best friend, Jai Kumar took on the task of saving the palace. Amidst the wild and forbidding landscape of Central Rajasthan, the palace "clings to the side of a boulder strewn hillside, surrounded by monumental fortified citadels with sheer walls crowned by crenellated battlements and embellished with clusters of chattris (domed pavilions) and jharokas (decorated covered balconies)". That was from India by Henry Wilson. A palace that will eventually inspire such awe and wonder to all those who surveyed it , that they left with not a hint of doubt, who the absolute ruler is. With grandeur plans to execute the complex restoration works meticulously and thoughtfully with much sensitivity and integrity, albeit at a snail's pace, they hoped that The Maharajah Palace (we have got to come up with a better name, Win) will eventually regain its rightful place of honour amongst India's greatest miniatures.

HOW do they live? As I have stated, luxuriously and glamorously although nothing like the heydays of perpetual banquets and unconditional hospitality. They do not have enough money to restore the palace all at once so they will only do their living quarters for the moment . The restoration of the Third Court (or the Court of Everyday Lives) must be in time for Prince's wedding to Tara.

When the economy turns around and business is better, they hope to also restore the First (temples and gate), Second (court of ceremonies & court kitchens), and Fourth (private apartments) Courts as well as the HAREM (not necessary in this order, in fact quite definitely the HAREM 1st). These "extensions" will be restored and perhaps converted to either a museum or hotel for the discerning few, needless to say, at an exclusively exhorbitant price.

FOR THE PURPOSES OF NOW HOWEVER, we will be concerned only with the THIRD COURT. It shall have 10 rooms , a courtyard with a beautiful fountain, immense rooftop which also housed the open-air bath and a modest (by palace standard) garden called "The Garden of Eternal Enchantments".

The 10 rooms will be :

1) The Durbar Hall or the main reception/banquet hall (please note the pictures shown are for reference only. They do not in any way resemble the actual places nor are they any indications of what the rooms will eventually look like, remotely or otherwise. Nor are they taken by me)

2) the Sheesh Mahal or mirrored hall

3) The Royal Bed Chamber-Prince's Bedroom opening out to the Verandah Of Purity
Verandah of Purity
4) The Kala Vithi or Art Gallery which also doubles up as Jai's Room
5) The Ambara Kamara- Maya's Bedroom built and designed by Jai for his one true love. Actually, all the rooms are designed by Jai but only for this one, did he make each and every piece of the furnishing and fixtures including the hitchkar or swing chair.

Close-Up view of another hitchkar that does not belong to the palace (for reference only)

6) The Imperial Guest Room
7) Third Court's Kitchen-Artist's Impression- at least one servant's quarter will be annexed to this kitchen
8) The Great Library

9) The Grand Bath- restored in the style and splendour of a traditional Turkish hamam

Except ours will have a pool
10) The Agra Room -Private Sitting Room
That's it for now, at long last. I believe I have finally laid the foundation for my palace. Time to go to bed.

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