Saturday, 30 May 2009

Day 71-The Emperor's Emporium

It has been a long and frustrating journey, the making of this tent aka "The Emperor's Emporium". I believe I had wanted to make a tent even before I wanted to build the temple (Day 42) and when I saw what Mercedes first made for me, my resolve became even stronger. You see, in the beautifully wrapped "Palace Parfumerie" box are tiny gorgeous little bottles screaming to be displayed.

So came the Evil Maharajah Ranjit Singh, my carpet/perfume/hookah trader on Day 48 and the urgency grew. Although I have this book called "Making Miniatures" by Christiane Berridge with a tutorial on Arabian tent, you will have to drill holes (stumped!). I also didn't understand the steps for making the tent top as there was sewing involved.

Nevertheless, I started gathering supplies, bought a piece of plywood and thought I would just go from there, still not knowing how to make the walls. After I glued some really nice sticker on it, I junked it as it was too dark.

A light bulb moment when I went to Arab Street and found beautiful handwoven Kashmiri carpets which I thought would be great for the walls. Another such moment when I saw barbecue skewers! Woohoo, that's how I can make the walls stand! I also have a table mat made of bamboo which I thought would be great for the floor. What about the top? Paper mache!

I was getting very excited because although that was a mere paragraph describing my thought process, I had been cracking my head for at least 2 months on this ! I was getting anxious as I had even spun stories around the non-existent palace tent (Day 62 ). I set to work with high hopes and

took pictures of my progress in case people want to know how I make my spectacular tent. You can imagine how I felt when it turned out like this:

To torture myself, I let this structure stand on my dining table for 2-3 weeks until last Saturday when I went over to Chris' to see his even more damaged building. It did nothing for my ego. By the way, I posted his work on my projects blog if you want a closer look.

The trip was really fruitful though for Chris showed me this wonderful material called Simona (?). Anyway, it's like the inside of the cover of a Bodyshop scrub which I used to make the table on Day 43. And it stand! Like a block of wood! Just glue! He also showed me how to cut a circle with string, nail and penknife to make the tent-top. I was not that adventurous though and took the easy way out. So my tent last night looked like this:

No pics of progress for obvious reasons.

The best part was of course doing up the interior which took me from 10pm to about 7.30am this morning.

I knew I had to change the top so I consult with SuZ, my sister and the palace architect when I tricked her, my mum and dad to come over to my place- we live 3 minutes from each other.

In 2 minutes, she found the right material in my house and taught me how to build the top. I used an old pillow case from India, which was already torn, for the "canvas". It was not the greatest work and very filmsy but at least, it look like a tent.


Interior (10 1/2" W, 11", 11 1/2 H)
As you can see, I have used almost all the carpets I featured earlier in this tent for the obvious reason that this tent belongs to a carpet seller. I was really thrilled to find, from the cloth stash that SuZ gave me, the "straw" weave fabric which I used for the lower half of the walls. Top half featured the mini carpets from Turkey. This is how the carpet sellers at Arab Street show off their better looms. By the way, the shape of the tent is cross sectioned heptagonal, if you know what I mean.

The screaming bottles
Set above sits on the rugs that Mercedes gave me. The next set is displayed with Mahendra's Roses of Misgivings that took me a ridiculous 4 hours to arrange. There are like 20 more beautiful bottles which I will use in the other houses and The Palace.

My hookahs on My Indian Side Table

The best find of the week
I gasped out loud when I found these mini elephants on Friday, because they stand at an exquisite 1/2" ! I think people around me thought I swallowed some because I was quite loudly choking from my gasps. These elephants are displayed on my favourite coffee table, the one that Taenia gave me on Day 62.

Home with Ranjit Singh
I know you can't tell but he is very pleased. He is also admiring the chandeliers. The blue one was bought in India and the 2 silver ones at the side are Christmas ornaments from last year that I bought on Day 11. (My goodness, I didn't even know how to upload my own pictures back then!) Look closely and you can see Ranjit relaxing against Sylvia's pillow. Her other one is on my Indian Carpet Low Chair. Green tassels were bought from Little India.

External (20" high from floor to top of tent)
Expanded picture reveals camels. I know you think they are the palace camels. Wrong! I have since acquired 3 more! I have also bought 4 more cargo cum "supporting" elephants.

Base Support (5" high)
Why? Hmm, because I like high ceilings? And if you are wondering how you climb up to the tent, here's how:

Tent Top- (enough said)

If you are wondering why Sylvia is in the picture, well, you will find out soon enough..perhaps the next post?

Those chairs were upholstered by Mercedes in the prettiest Mughal fabric.

Sissy (my favourite palace animal)


You know, the tent has been really good for Ranjit's business. He even managed to sell the worst of his carpet collection. That evil man had wickedly insisted that he would deliver it by 1st class mail to the unsuspecting fool. Look how Ranjit carefully rolled the merchandise up so no one could tell it is trapezium instead of straight!!?

"What a wonderful day!" thought Ranjit and of course, he celebrates the end of his day by gleefully partaking in a double hosed hookah tokes with his best and only pal

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Day 70-Those Lovely Blogs

This has to be one of the loveliest award I have ever received. One Lovely Blog Award from One Lovely Person, Rosanna. Thank you. I dedicated a doll and a story to Rosanna on Day 53 of this blog and that story remains one of my personal favourite to date.

This is Rosanna's Lovely Blog and I don't think I have ever missed any of her posts.

Below are my choice of 7 Lovely Blogs. Breath of fresh air, eye-candy, and as My Fair Lady will say "lo-ve-ly". I have picked their own work to speak for their art and of course, to show you why I love their blogs. If you click the pictures, it will bring you to the page where the various artist posted these works. Enjoy!




I received this award again from Carmen on Day 92. Carmen is an artist from Spain and I follow all of her blogs because she produces some amazing pieces and is generous with her gift. So thank you, Carmen, from the bottom of my heart.

Carmen's most popular blog is at Miniaturas Dora but I am absolutely in love with the work featured at the one below:

(Trust me, you will too)

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Day 69-Sans! Pipes For The Marlboro Man

Katie of Katie's Clay Corner made a comment on Day 67 about looking for a "perfect hooka ". That was the day Sans! Pipes for Palace Girls made their debut. I told Katie then that she had given me an idea and here it is, the idea in fruition: Sans! Pipes for Marlboro Men:

This silver hookah is the Father of all hookahs.It stands at about 2 1/8" high and if made entirely of silver would have sold for USD1000.00, like the one on your left.

Many would have thought this hookah is better for display but really, a silver hookah smokes better than any other hookah (according to the ad of the Thousand Dollar Hookah).

For another reference, hookah on your right is a real life Silver Harem Hookah. According to This imposing Harem hookah tops out at 5’7” and weighs 45 lbs. Coming with three 60” hoses, this inspiring decorative piece is sculpted from brass and is ideal for use on a special occasion.

I have designed my silver hookah to be masculine with a boxy body and black hose. The double hose may appear "couple-like" and smoochy-woochy but they are really meant for a couple of guys on a game's night, sharing a smoke. I made a plateful of pipes in case the boys turn out in throngs which they generally do.

In the meantime, I have updated the girls' pipes by giving them a new hose:

After I finished making these hookahs and was getting ready to write this post, guess who should send me pictures of the "Smoking Room" in her hotel at Tunisia?

I may seem a little blasé now about how these coincidences almost always happen. I seriously believe though some of my blogomates and I are psychic and can read each other's mind.

And yes, I do know what you are thinking but that is the topic for another post.

Friday, 22 May 2009

Day 68- Sissy's Basket

This was a few days before the Rollas, (our gypsy family from Day 53) left for Tunisia. I was rather surprised to see Walter and even more so when he spoke in a woman's voice, going "Hurry, hurry Sans!".

I stared at him holding this ridiculously large box, wondering why everyone always address me with an exclamation mark behind my name and also not quite believing my ears . For apart from the falsetto Walter was using, I swear I also heard the strumming of a sitar from inside the box. I was just about to say "What the.." when suddenly out pop the head of a very harried RoSaNna.

"Sans! Please! Weave me a basket quick!" RoSaNna demanded politely. "Make it in the shape of a barrel, no taller than 2 1/4". The round base should be no wider than 1 1/4" wide. Now the basket must have a lid. Make it wider than the top, at about 1 3/4" in diameter. Make sure you use jute, Now! Sans! Chop chop!"

Ahh, so that wasn't Walter in a strange voice, it was RoSaNna in her usua..and before I could finish that thought, RoSaNna was hurrying me again.

I quickly gathered some raw material and started "weaving". RoSaNna had warned that I should not be too ambitious as we did not have enough time (?!). " Don't bother following the link Sylvia gave Mercedes in her "I Made A Basket" post. And DEFINITELY nothing as fancy as my borsine!! We simply have no time!"

With trembling hands, I first cut a hole in the plastic candy barrel I found. Amazingly, the barrel fits RoSaNna's requirements to a T. I then smeared Tiger glue on the barrel and started winding jute strings around it. I did the same with my favourite round material, the inside of a cap (see white round disc) for the lid.

In less than an hour, I passed the completed basket to RoSaNna, made exactly to her requirements.
I then witnessed the most amazing transformation. Right before my eyes, I saw Walter silently let his hair down from his turban, wordlessly change his pink turban into a white one and then quietly adorn his ears with 2 gold loops and his neck with snake necklaces made from beads and shells.

I tell you, these Rollas, they are just full of surprises for when he next appeared, he had changed from Walter (left pic )to the Performer (right pic)!

People started gathering around them. The Performer looked around and found a satisfactory location. He then set his pots and baskets about him with the help from RoSaNna. He sat cross-legged on the box in front of the closed basket. RoSaNna removed the lid of the basket, after the Performer began the 1st few notes on a flute-like instrument.

It was really quite a terrible tune. His flute was obviously wrong or broken or both and I was thinking I must make him a better one when suddenly, as if drawn by the tune, something emerges from the basket.

My goodness, RoSaNna has acquired an Indian Cobra for their "tamasha" or the "Snake Charmer's Act".

This is how it usually goes: the reptile sways to and fro in time with the musician's tune, apparently hypnotised. The snake never strikes, and the charmer may go as far as kissing the creature on the head. This is when amazed onlookers will throw coins and notes to the successful performer. Eventually, as if on cue, the snake returns to its container, the charmer replaces the lid, and he gathers up his earnings.

Sometimes, for added thrills and squeals, the charmer may allow the animal to slither out of the basket and slowly move toward the audience. Using a stick or hook, an assistant, in this case, RoSaNna, lures the animal

onto her bosoms and then she walks around, daring her audience to touch the snake. Almost no one does. This usually draws the loudest applause for who will not be impressed by the lady's courage. Once they have earned all they can from their current viewers, they move on to perform somewhere else. And that is why the Rollas were in such a bad hurry for they were due for their next engagement in Tunisia!

A few facts about snake charming: The cobra standing erect and extending the hood is a normal defensive reaction and simply indicates the snake's startled reaction to losing its darkened environment. That's why the animal is usually kept in a basket with a lid and it is opened only just after the flute is played. Charmers may even wave their instrument over the opening (in such a way as to not arouse audience attention) in order to prompt the creature to emerge. As for the snake's swaying movement, it is actually a reaction to the movement of the performer's instrument and sometimes the tapping of his foot. The animal cannot actually hear the tune being played, though it can perhaps feel some of the sound vibrations as well as those from any tapping by the charmer. That was why RoSaNna was strumming her sitar. She was training the snake to get used to the vibrations. The serpent's evident reluctance to attack is explained by its timid nature; most snakes prefer to scare off possible predators rather than fight them. Most snake charmers reduce the chances of a bite even further by sitting just out of striking range (about one-third of a cobra's body length). Even kissing the creature is not too dangerous, as cobras are incapable of attacking things above them. Though some claim that snake charmers drug the animals, this is rare, if it occurs at all. In addition, many snake charmers learn to read their animals and can tell when they are ready to strike. In a worst-case scenario, most snake charmers know at least rudimentary methods of treating snakebite. The return to its container is caused by the snake charmer stopping his waving motion. Even the reptile's basket plays a part, as it keeps the snake's blood temperature down and the animal groggy.This explains the very specific requirements by RoSaNna.

Anyway, the Rollas and their tamasha was a huge hit in Tunisia. Picture below was taken in 1899 during one of their acts.

Footnote: I received this beautiful mouth blown glass snake (measuring an impressive 2 3/4" long when coiled) in the big yellow box today. It was from dear Rosanna . It came as a pendant and as I was born in the year of the snake, she had thought it would suit me. There was also a monogrammed card in which Rosanna had written "...Snakes are a curious thing...but they are also thought to be luck bringers that's why I am sending it to you. Good luck, my friend."

Rosanna, I really really love Sissy! I have named her so for obvious reasons and she will feature as a major animal next to Camel and Elephant in the palace. Thank you, my friend ! Sssssssssssssssssssssssss

For those of you interested in a career as a snake charmer, you can go to to find out how. The 4 ingredients you must have are: Snake, Snake-charming flute, Basket and last but not least, Magic. Good luck!

Google+ Badge

Blog Widget by LinkWithin