Saturday, 28 February 2009

Day 34-The 12 Royal Blooms

Dedicating to Mercedes and all lovers of flowers, I present to you the 12 royal blooms of My Maharajah's Palace.
After I did the oriental rosette arrangement on Day 33 and upon agreeing with Mercedes that everyone can use more flowers, these are the other 12 mini polymer clay flowers I bought on Day 34. These wonderful flowers were on 1/2 price for 90 cents to S$1.50 for a pack of 4-12. I think people use them for necklaces because I found them at a beads shop. Flowers range in sizes from 3/16" (smallest) to slightly more than 1/2" (like the Peacock Peonies above). I had done some research to see what the flowers are (can't have them all be roses) and so they bear very close resemblance to their real life namesakes. Although some of the names are invented by me, the genus of the flower used is accurate eg Peacock Peony ("peacock"-invented, "peony"- accurate).

Peacock Peony
-imported from China, its national flower during the Qing Dynasty. It is also known as the "flower of riches and honour".

Budding Magnolias-is an ancient genus, having evolved even before bees appeared. This specie is known especially for its anti-anxiety qualities and is used frequently to calm the nerves of young brides.
Only the creme de la creme of these Crimson Dahlias (also known as the "Peony of India") are used in a Hindu's worship of her Gods and Goddesses.

Black Narcissus is popularly believed to have been reincarnated from the Greek God, Narcissus. The lesser known derivation is that the plant is named after its narcotic properties (narkoa meaning "to numb" in Greek) which explains why Prince and Jai has a pot of this plant in each of their room.

Blue Cabbage, believes by the world to be the "vegetable to surpass all other vegetables" is the staple in many Indian dishes and an especial favourite in the palace kitchen.

Carnations aka coronation flowers, are grown in respect of the late Maharani Devi, who died 10 years ago, as a symbol of the purity of a mother's love. Her cat, Xerxes, whom old servants claimed has been with the Maharani since she was a maiden, can often be seen picking these flowers to where he rests and relaxes.

Japanese Camillias, the tea plant, is of major commercial importance because tea is made from its leaves. This is also the emblematic flower of New Zealand, where our dear Mercedes is now.
Purple Daffodils, the less potent of its cousin, the Black Narcissus,but nonetheless the prettier relation, is kept as a back up to when the other narko runs out.

Cactus Flowers, known to bloom only in the bluest of the blue moon. It is usually large, scented and gloriously beautiful. Its occurrences is believed to herald the arrival of an auspicious event like the birth of a child or an impending union.

Blue Gardenia plants are prized for the strong sweet scent of their flowers and is extremely rare and difficult to grow. The flower is used as a unique dye for expensive saris, priced for its rarity This shade of blue known as "Palace Blue" can be produced only from these blooms in the palace. (this one's for you, Sumaiya as I know you like elephant ornaments)

Orange Chinese Belles ("Chinese Bellflowers") when immersed in the baths of the Maharajah, eases cold and cough, lightens your skin and creates a sweet scent emanating from your pores.

Saffron Runuculus- As a special tribute to Zoe , I present to you, this endearing story I found at her Blog, Garden Hopping about runuculus (by the way, any resemblance to the palace story I posted yesterday is purely conicidental, I swear! Read Zoe's blog if you don't believe me)

"I usually have at least one plant in bloom in my garden, so thought I would write about one these on a Friday, to try ensure I posted once a week at least. I have been potting up some Ranuculus, and became curious about the name while planting them; it is an odd word on the ears. Having done some Horticultural studies in the past, and having learned botanical Latin nomenclature as part of that, I was intrigued to find out the roots of the name, so dug out my copy of Stearn's Dictionary to discover Rana was Frog and Ranunculus was little or small frog!

This intrigued me further, because there was nothing frog like in the appearance of this plant or it uncultivated cousins, Buttercups or Marsh Marigolds, except for their penchant for wet boggy conditions too. Maybe this was the reason? Not satisfied with that explanation I went searching on the Internet and found a version I much prefer, a story of an Asian Prince.

'In fairy tales frogs are apt to change into princes and it was an Asian prince in just such a story who gave his name to this flower, which grows naturally in swampy ground. The prince was so good-looking that he was loved by everyone. He also had a beautiful voice but this was his undoing. He loved the open country and sang delightful songs in the presence of nymphs. He did not have the courage to declare his love to them and this haunted him so much that he died. After his death he was changed into the flower with delicate tissuey petals which bears his name.'

' The king's daughter was overjoyed when she beheld her pretty plaything again, picked up, and ran away with it. '

Illustration by Warwick Goble to The Frog Prince

All through history plants have been used as symbolic allegory, especially in Medieval times for moral and religious symbols and Victorian times as a language of love. I am not aware of any specific meaning attached to Buttercups and Ranunculus in earlier times, but in the Victorian allegorical flower language Ranunculus symbolised 'You are rich in attractions' when offered in a posy or bouquet."

Thank you Zoe, here, a posy of runuculus for you.

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Day 33-Mahendra's Roses of Misgivings

I was so inspired by what Doreen and Jayne had done with their flowers that I went out and bought a vase (very beautiful Japanese bead (1/2" (w) & 1 1/8" (h) which I thought has a Mughal feel and will look good in Tara's room) and these pretty white rosettes. This is the result (2 3/4" h total) after a failed attempt and 4 hours. The leaves are from the Daiso batch which I bought in Day 2.

For me, apart from a sense of accomplishment, (no matter how amateurish the effort may seem,) the fun part is also the photoshoot of my handiwork afterwards:

It starts with a simple arrangement, a table, maybe a rug:

Then someone, ah, Mahendra, following the sensual scent of the fresh blossoms, comes in and starts dancing with joy at the sight of my priceless beauty:

She decides it will look great in her room at the Haram Sara and so "commandeers" what she thinks is a masterpiece and places it carefully on her dressing table.

There is more prancing and preening while Mahendra admires the vase and of course herself

You can see how she is so mighty please with herself in the close up shot here:

The next day, someone reports Mahendra's theft and poor Mahendra is promptly sentenced to die by being pricked to death with rose thorns.

Strangely the roses in the vase never fade or wilt or die. Legend has it that it is due to Mahendra's dancing as she has done so with the purest and most complete joy. That dance is now known as the Dance of Eternal Beauty and the Prince regrets to this day, the execution of Mahendra and his lost chance for immortality.

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Day 32-A Special Edition Book & Others

STILL FEELING EUPHORIC especially after the 6am run this morning, the 1st time since 2007 after I could not walk for 2 days having just completed the marathon.

It's been such a fantastic weekend. I was able to devote time to making my minis, get back to running and of course, be the happy recipient of the Great News. And so, "larkily", I completed the Iznik series, made "sun-kissed" duplicates of 9 of the books (sun-kissed because I printed the covers on the wrong side of a very expensive photo paper and I refused to throw it away so now the duplicate books look warped and faded as if they had been placed at a window ledge of a house in a tropical country like Singapore for years and I know this cos I have books like that which I absolutely refuse to get rid of) and even made a Special Edition for "Classical Iznik Ceramics" (5/8" w & 7/8" h) (see Day 27 for complete list in the Iznik Series if you must). Its quite pretty, if I may say so. I have used tassle and a "pearl" gem that has a flat base (those with self-adhesive bottom) to tie the book so this one closes quite nicely.

For Sumaiya, who says she wants to read my books on Day 27, here it is for your absolute pleasure:

Once you are done, do remember to put the book back on the table together with the other series so that Mosche can have his turn.
Ahh, here's Mosche:
Like the other famous Mosche, he is blind in 1 eye so we affectionately call him, our 1 eye cat (Mosche is our real life grey tabby cat who passed away a few years ago , ouch, that still hurts. He really did only have 1 eye and was named after Moshe Dayan.Our animals are all named after great leaders or famous personalities from the region they came from. and usually share 1 or 2 characteristics with their famous namesake. Our white Persian cat whom you may have met in the Queen Anne diary is Xerxes. Thankfully he is still alive. )

And here's Mosche after he is done reading.
And here is Mosche as how I will like to envision him, in heaven (he loved red), still enjoying lazing in an armchair, forever looking pleased with himself.
This picture will be perfect when the carpet is done. Thankfully MarJ is still enjoying the process and making good progress.

Day 31- The 4 Victorians

MARJ has just delivered a most supercilliousbabeliciousincrediblyamazing piece of great news. Her company (the same one who did the event of the 4 dollhouses), has just held an AGM where their shareholders have passed a resolution, amongst many others, to NOT sell the 4 dollhouses. Instead (I have to savour this), they, (the 4 dollhouses, I mean, including the massive Queen Anne) will, be, (O dear , so excited I have to pee) given, to , ME .

I am so overwhelmed with the news, I am still reeling backwards, forward and sideways. Such superb timing! Godsend, Gobsmacked, Goodie, Goodie, Goodie!

Now where shall we start, probably with the Victorian Cottage Jr aka "termited" house below.

Of course, I am already drowning everyone with ideas and they all looked decidedly worried (except MarJ whom I have invited to help rebuild all 4 houses with me. And just as we type, MarJ is x-stitching the Turkoman rug I started in Day 29. )

It is unlikely (in fact, there is no way) I am replacing the Maharajah's Palace with any of the dollohouses which are all Victorian in architecture. I must say though the Princess Anne above can be transformed into an old colonial smokehouse in British India..nahh.

I really need to change all the colours of the exteriors. Need to find someone who loves sandpapering dollhouses and yes, we need to start a new blog or rather 4 new blogs..

I will keep on making things for the Maharajah's Palace and will want to meet Rajiv and his team and all the archi models I posted on Day 30 very soon. There's of course, Sumaiya's dolls so no rest for the wicked, Sumaiya :):):) cos there's definitely no stopping my India train. It's just that now, I will be kept bz bz bz while I await the building of my palace.

MarJ, if you are reading this, YOU are now my favourite person in the whole house!

Saturday, 21 February 2009

Day 30-Rajiv, The Model Maker From India

MY TEENY WEENY LITTLE outburst with Win has its consequences. On Day 28, after I put up my post, Win and I had a short peace talk over the phone where I had asked him if he needed some time off. I jokingly remarked "Please don't tell me you need 9 months until ZanZan is 1 year old ??!!". He had laughed and then we hung up.

I thought all was well and he would finally get down to working on my palace plans. Remember how it only took him a mere 2-3 days to complete version 1-3? Surely, he can let me have the full and final version 4 in a couple of days if he really wants to?

Well, I guess he did not see the double question and exclamation marks in my jokingly made remark because last night SuZ said to me " I understand you gave Win a 9 month hiatus. He was so relieved". !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!......

Poor Win, I know he has been mainly in charge of night feeds and hardly slept for more than 3 hours in a row before he had to rush to work the next morning (he has just been promoted too). And it is already DAY 50 for him with no easing in sight. This house must surely figure quite high on his list of to-do's, NOT!

I have decided I will just let him be for a while and stop bugging him.

To TORTURE myself, I am therefore devoting this post to the great talent of Rajiv and his team by flooding the page with pictures of the architectural models built by them .

I have sent Rajiv a few more emails just to keep him warm. I also tried to ask him for an estimate of the costs involved but I think we are having a teensy bit of communication problem because every reply from him is a request for me to send him the completed plans!!

I think there is only one way to do this properly. I will need to meet Mr Rajiv in Gujarat although not any time soon but yes, eventually.

All these pics are making my heart ache :)>. Sometimes I wish SuZ did not find him so I won't know what I am missing.

Friday, 20 February 2009

Day 29-Book Series On Ceramics

JUST FINISHED making the pages of my new series of books on ceramics from West Asia, art exhibits at MoMA and here are some samples:

I am really getting the hang of it although you won't be able to tell from the low res version of the pictures posted here .

This time, the images are sharp and the words clear even at such small scale. There will be 12 books in this series, each book displaying different objet d'art from the museum. The description of each piece is on the next page. Details like the name of the object, date, place of origin and material used are provided. Pic on left (high res) is of my favourite exhibit. I think there are a total of 71 artwork covered in my books.I just love doing this cos you learn so much at the same time.

In the meantime, after almost 6 hours of stitching, I have only covered 1 1/2 sides of the 1st line of the edges:

See how I have drawn lines over the canvas?? Took me 1/2 an hour but I am so glad I did cos it really helps spot mistakes quickly.

X-stitching is very similar to computer gaming. It's very addictive, requires all your concentration and hurts your hand bad!

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Day 28-The Termite House & A Rug's Start

A FEW THINGS happened today which may or may not mean a turning point for my Maharajah's Palace. Firstly, a dollhouse (the Jr Victorian Cottage by Real Good Toys) stored temporarily at my home has been attacked by termites!! The pest guys came today and I will only know in 1 week how badly damaged this house is. This is one of the 4 dollhouses I helped my friend decorate, the project which got me so passionately absorbed now in dollhouses and all things related.My friend was supposed to transport the dollhouse together with the other 3 to her new warehouse but alas..

If it is as severely savaged as I suspect it will be by these merciless termites which have killed many of my rather precious handbags (used to collect vintage purses but that is another story), my friend will want to get rid of it. I will then generously offer to save it and this means something to do while waiting for my palace to be built. A new house, a new blog and getting off Win's back, which was the other not so pleasant thing that happened today.

Poor Win, for in my anxiety to answer the chasers from both Mr Mistry and the tree wizard on how soon I want to start on the dollhouse, I was a trifle short with him. Of course, I immediately regretted it and thought, hey, maybe its not such a bad thing after all, the Termites Attack!

Anyway, the really pleasant thing I did today was to visit Singapore's oldest and rather famous (even my dad's been there cos of mum) cross-stitch store at People's Park Complex. I am determined to start on my carpet and have picked the Turkoman rug from the book I bought in Day 27 to start with. It looks like the kilims and Bokhara Persian that I own . If I am successful, my rug will be about 9" by 5" . If I am very successful, I should be able to do all the 25 patterns in this book.

These are the things I bought:

2 pcs of 18 count canvas 18" by 30"

2 pcs of hoop (needless really but they look pro) 8" & 10"

The following cotton threads - Cosmo 169 (navy blue), Cosmo 2241 (maroon), Cosmo (241) crimson, Cosmo 1000 (cream)

AND lastly...

Will log progress and see if I'll take 2 years to finish 1 rug. That was how long Sandra Morris took to finish the one she made for her DH staircase. Must be an exquisite piece of art.

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