Friday, 31 July 2009

Day 88 Pt 1-How To Save Your Dolls

Good evening, everyone. Today I want to give a tutorial on "How To Save Your Dolls". This is my 1st tutorial and I am a little nervous. There are also a few false starts so please, do bear with me. I am also sorry I skipped Day 87C but I will get back to that soon .

SO, here goes nothing..

This morning, I made an important decision which entail cleaning and clearing my work space aka dining room. And of course, I had to accidentally knock down a pair of dolls which fell 3 stories from the shelf.

Now, some of you may know how important dolls are to my project for without them, my project is nothing. And these dolls are extremely fragile, especially around the neck. This is in fact not my 1st accident and I have a pair who were sadly decapitated. I cannot tell you who yet because you can still see them in some of my stories.

Anyway, this pair is similar to the pair in the 1st picture,. A man and his lady, waltzing in front of a tacky gate. with grass and all and of course, the dreaded wooden base with the same brass tag.

Luckily for me, their heads didn't fall off. And even luckier, the awful gate, the wooden base and fake grass patch broke into pieces.

The only damage as you can see was that my girl has lost her feet. Thanks to the missing grass patch and feet, this pair of dolls are now shorter than the other 69 dolls I have.

Now if the same thing happens to you, the 1st thing you must do is to weave a basket.

Would you believe I forgot how to? Even though I have already made 9 or is it 11? So off I went to Casey's minis who has a tutorial or more on almost every conceivable mini (except if I may say so, How To Save A Doll). I stayed too long, thanks to Tessie PLUS Casey had like 13 different tutorials ranging from "very easy" to "rocket scientist." I decided that at my level, I should pick the "Not So Easy Baskets".
I don't have all the materials she said we will need but I figured I could use whatever I have and add the 14th tutorial to her "Complete Blog of..."

And so, instead of woodsie for the base, I use the cap of my contact lens box. I also replaced the poster board with a glossy advertisement card I tore up in the morning when I was cleaning up and cotton strings instead of waxed linen.

3 hours later, this was the result:

Now, this is unlikely to happen to you but as far as I am concerned, these Not So Easy Baskets might as well belong to the rocket scientist.

I gave up and thought, at this rate, I might as well knit one. And so 15 minutes later, here is my 2nd attempt:

I can hear cooing already..yes, isn't she perfect? Well, she would be if I really knitted it. Not so. This is in fact a "toothpaste cap" basket. Find a suitably shaped cap, 1/2 way decent glue and cotton food strings and just glue the strings onto the cap. Don't forget the base. Check my Day 68 for how. You need not worry about the inside because this is a basket and baskets are meant to carry things and this one must carry many.

Now if you like leaves like me, that's the 1st item that must go into the basket.

These were in fact plastic leaves I used for my Queen Anne. I sprayed some "Moss Green" paint on it to lend some realism because who can stand plastic. For maximum results, use paint meant for dried flowers.

Then if you have, like me, bought a whole load of junk off ebay like this:

don't junk them, even though you really should. Instead, start stuffing as many as you can into the basket, like this:
After that, glue the completed food basket onto the dolls and Voila!

Now, that still does not solve the other "short"coming. Here's THE CRITICAL STEP: Place them on a bench as precariously as you can, as if the girl is about to fall off, like this:

And finally, put the whole piece de resistance into a crowded scene that you are planning, like a thriving flower shop?:

And there we have it, a few simple steps to saving your precious dolls. And not only that, you also have a story to explain the awkward way the man is holding his lady because you do not want your friends wondering why your dolls are dancing around their food, do you, even if it is Discount Tuesday?

Here's the story: It is a cold and rainy Tuesday and their usual groceries day . As part of their rounds, a stop at the florist is a must for the lady of the house. They are a little late because of the rain but that did not stop the crowd, already gathering at the stall. Thanks to their height or lack of, they have to stand on a bench just to see what's still available. The lady, anxious to catch a glimpse of her favourite flower shop, leans over a little too much and is about to fall when her man grabs her.

Now if your doll should unfortunately fall because of THE CRITICAL STEP as mentioned above, watch this blog for I most probably will have a tutorial on that as well.

I hope this tutorial has helped you and thank you, for reading this far.

Oh, I forgot, there is still the remnants of the 1st basket case. If you are a dud like me, then I am afraid you will have to junk that. BUT KEEP THE CAP. You never know, it may save a doll someday.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Day 87B-Flowers From Siam

Because I have no garden and
No pence to buy,
Before the flower shop I stand
And sigh.
The beauty of the Springtide spills
In glowing posies
Of violets and daffodils
And roses...

The flower shop where I bought my posies was the 1st mini stall I chanced upon when I was looking for the much talked about mini heaven in JJ. I was prudent, thinking that there would be many others, so I didn't go nuts and buy everything.

Now I am making these pictures of the stall very small so as not to alarm darling Jayne. Don't despair, my Tallulah Belle, for although there appear to be millions of flowers, the varieties were lacking and the craftsmanship nowhere like yours.

These flowers however are good for big scenes. Like when you need to build a bazaar or have them strewn in a wild desert. And nobody is really looking at the details. I also like them way more than the clay ones for these are made of paper in every colour imaginable.

But when I say there are not many varieties, I am not kidding. They just make the same specie in many hues. So you will not find cherry blossoms or birds of paradise. Nor lotuses or even water hyacinths, the latter of which are grown abundantly in the rivers of Bangkok. In fact, hyacinths procreate so rapidly that they have become a menace to Bangkok waters. And our friend SuWan is a national hero because he pioneered a way of making beautiful furniture out of them and consequently, bagged a string of awards and accolades for his achievements.

And thus my "make-shift" stall may look busy; Alas, it sells only

گلاب or Roses

which were probably 1st cultivated in Northern Persia; considered by many as the most beautiful of all flowers; available in every colour except blue and true black and in the 19th century, old scented versions were used to make jelly.

گل داوٴدی٬ سدابہار٬ ستارہ نما پھول or Chrysanthmumswhich had been cultivated in Chinese gardens for more than 2,500 years; were considered one of the four Chinese noble plants along with bamboo, the plum, and the orchid, therefore peasants were not permitted to grow them in their gardens although they make great Chinese tea; and REMEMBER, no bringing Rosanna bouquet of chrysanthemums because in Italy they are associated with death!

بنفشہ or Violets

with colours varying in the genus, ranging from violet (which the stall has none), through various shades of blue, yellow, white, and cream, whilst some types are bicolored; and you eat them with salads or to ease urinary complaints ; and through centuries have inspired common sayings including:

Dream of violets and advance in life.

Wear a garland of violets to prevent dizziness.

Violets are considered a good luck gift, but when violets bloom in autumn, epidemics will follow within the year.

گلابی پھول or Carnations also available in a huge range of colours, almost all except blue, are edible (yums!) and where folklores are concerned, have the following meaning

Carnation (pink) - I'll never forget you

Carnation (purple) - Capriciousness; whimsical; changeable

Carnation (red) - My heart aches for you; admiration

Carnation (solid color) - Yes

Carnation (striped)- No; refusal; sorry I can't be with you; wish I could be with you

Carnation (white) -Sweet and lovely; innocence; pure love; woman's good luck gift

Carnation (yellow) - Rejection; disdain

which weirdly enough, was the one that got me the most excited, so I bought 300 of them.

I can see it already,

my little flower stall in the bazaar...

and there She is, setting up and getting ready, way before the break of dawn

the owner of the stall and the nicest of the nice,

and whom I shall named Tallulah, our flower girl..

and as we watch her swaying in,

with her uncompromising choices (for the rest she has trashed),

a small group is already gathering;

even before she puts down her last basket

hoping to quickly make their pick.

And just as we speak,

( bless Rosanna who is always right, the stall is indeed the most sought after)

the best of Rajasthan is already here

so much so you can see how our poor flower girl

is already suffering a head ache,

wondering how she is going to cope

or maybe

she is still just bothered,

about the last pair of eyes she tried to sculpt

and how the blue of those eyes

just refused to match the Palace Gardenias...

Monday, 27 July 2009

Day 87A-Bangkok's Baskets of Beans

Last Sunday, I visited JJ or the Chatuchak market in Bangkok for my mini fix. We reached there at about 3pm and stayed for 3 hours because the market closed at 6.30pm. The 1st 20 minutes was spent on the phone with our Thai friend, SuWan, trying to locate where the other was in this crazy maze. We never found each other. For the rest of the time I was mainly squatting at a tiny stall, buying up enough minis to make my own mini mart.

I have learnt very soon after I started this hobby that miniatures were very much a part of Thai culture since ancient times. This is due largely to their beliefs and religion.

One of the first things a foreign visitor to Thailand notices soon after arriving in the country are the spirit houses which are present at the front of practically every house and business. Miniature temples or houses, these spirit shrines are a way of honouring and placating the spirits of ones ancestors or even the spirits of people who used to live on the property. By keeping the spirits happy through offerings, it is believed that good luck will be ensured for the house or business where the spirit house is located.

Do you know that the Thais even have house warming parties for their spirit houses? So of course, they furnish these houses with miniature furniture, exquisite dancing dolls and even food.

Only the best for their spirit houses and as much money as the host can afford for the party to do honour to the spirits. A robbery, a fire, or a spouse running away is a sure sign that the owner had skimped on the house-warming!

I believe that it is largely due to this rich and enduring tradition that handmade miniatures in Thailand, even those thrown in baskets or bins in heaps are truly well made and undeniable things of beauty.

I am sure Thailand must be the country with the most miniature houses per capita.

As I have mentioned earlier, on this day for about 2 1/2 hours, I bought enough miniature to make my own market place. So I need to split this day into 3 posts. Each post dedicated to 1 stall.

Today's post is about my lentils, beans and peas stall in my yet to build bazaar. This bazaar will be filled with colourful stalls meandering between my houses in the desert land of Rajasthan.

If you look at the 1st picture, they are of the 60 mini baskets of beans, rice, lentils and corns that I bought for 500 baht which is about S$20.00. Of course I could not get all 60 into the picture but they are there. Each basket is filled to the brim with real produce, immortalised in lacquer and standing at 1" high and slightly less than 1" wide in the most perfectly weaved baskets made of cane.

And of course, in my usual strive to be as real as I can, here are the more popular lentils, beans and peas of my stall:

Urad Dal (whole and Split)

Also called Black Beluga Lentils. Whole Urad dal/dahl is used more like a chili or stew than a soup or dal/dahl. These lentil-like beans have black skins covering creamy white interiors. Whole urad dal/dahl derive their strong, rich, earthy flavor from the black skins and have an uncanny ability to absorb flavors.

Considered the hardest to digest, this dal takes a long time to soften and stomach and because of its dense nature, often calls for a lot of spic
es and falvourings.

Mung dal/Moong Dal (whole and split)

Whole moong is actually a bean or pulse and is known as 'sabat moong' . They are small green beans fairly used in India, China, Thailand and Japan. Sprouted, they are called "Tow Gay" in Hokkien, which is my dialect group. This dal is ons of the most basic in northern India. Small and kidny shaped, this dal is available as whole green mung beans with skin on (saabut mung or green mung dal), green split mung beans with skin on (chilkae vaali mung) and yellow skinned and split mung beans (dhilli mung or yellow mung dal). All these are considered asy to digest, especially the skinless yellow variety.

Boiled with chunks of sugar crystals and coconut cream, Fafa makes the most fantabulous green bean soup dessert with these beans.

In India, Moong dal is used to make delicious dals and curries. Innocent as they look, these beans can be extremely fattening.

Rajma (Red Kidney Beans)

The kidney bean with its dark red skin is named for its visual resemblance to a kidney. The kidney bean is also known as the red bean, although this usage can cause confusion with other red beans. Red kidney beans (Rājmā in Hindi and Punjabi) are an integral part of the cuisine in northern region of India. These are available everywhere in supermarkets and apparently, Indian bazaars.

Over here, red beans are also made into soups and pastries and other mouth watering desserts. Not so long ago, I was actually addicted to breads made with these beans.

Lobiya/Chawli/Black Eye Peas

These are a subspecies of the cowpea, grown for its medium-sized edible bean, which mutates easily giving rise to a number of varieties, the common commercial one called the California Blackeye being pale-colored with a prominent black spot. Quite popular in the west especially South is often used in Indian Cooking as well. In North America, they are most famously known as a pop group with a lead singer called Fergie.

Not quite as easily digested, lobiya must be cooked well and for a long time with carmainative (gas-reducing) spices like ginger, garlic, ground asafoetida or ajwain seeds.

*burp and other offensive noises & smells. Yes, I emit them just from doing this post.

Friday, 17 July 2009

Day 85-Baby Bohemia

Greetings from the Kingdom of Siam!
This is my 2nd day in Bangkok and tomorrow I will visit what I hope is the miniature heaven, J.J. formerly known as Chatuchak market. I am here with my sister and Dad. And right now, I am sitting next to SuZ in our room at the Ibis Hotel which explains the pictures I am posting today.

They are from a photoshoot of one of Lifebaby's collection, Baby Bohemia which according to SuZ was inspired by My Maharajah's Palace after she did the rendering of my palace on Day 13.

Some of the saris used in the photographs as backdrop are the ones I bought from India when I was there this January with SuZ.

In the picture above are bird mobiles bought in India as well.

This was the reason we were in India.

And now they are here.

Lifebaby's contemporary interpretation of My Palace Fashion.

Is it any wonder this is currently my favourite collection?

On another note, I went to watch Harry Potter and the 1/2 Blood Prince at Siam Discovery Centre this evening. I am sorry to say this has to be the worst instalment. I actually fell asleep at one point and woke up only when someone screamed. I had apparently missed a scary moment, the only one in the whole movie. I am sure I am alone here as everyone else seemed to love it. Please don't shoot me.

It was a good experience though, watching a movie in Bangkok. The King is so revered here that before the start of every show, there will be a short documentary on the King and everyone in the cinema will stand up for the whole duration of this docu, (about 3 minutes) as a mark of respect.

And the best thing is the popcorn set they sell. The containers are designed to match the theme of the movie and these are the ones for Harry Potter.

Do yours come like this in a cinema near you? Not ours for sure. Not in Singapore! If I live here, I will probably start collecting popcorn paraphernalia. Good thing I don't.

Monday, 13 July 2009

Day 84-Rolla's Nursing Chair

Who's there?
Rolla Who?
ROLLAP YOUR BLINDS AND LISTEN TO ME, I have something fine for you!

And so begins the story of how the old fox finally met his match. Outclassed, outwitted and out of his pocket, Maharajah Ranjit Singh hadn't the faintest idea what hit him that day.

It was of course, Rosanna Rolla, the Banjara gypsy, whose fame has spread so far that even Ranjit, who almost never left his tent, has heard of her and her fine embroidery. And there's her ever loyal husband, never leaving her side and always carrying something.

I have something to show you, my lord, Rosanna enticed, THIS, she points to a finely made western winged chair, is a chair to match Tara's wedding chair. Rosanna then looked around to make sure noone was evesdropping. This is a magic nursing chair! Rosanna whispered excitedly, but first let me tell you what it is made of..

39 of the best Ceylonese stones are used for the pillow and the chair. You know the ones from Ceylon are the world's best? Maybe only the Burmese ones can match them in the cut, clarity and colour.You don't believe me? Rosanna promptly whipped out a picture.

Well, do you recognise this man? Oh but surely you do, what with your status and name, all the who's who are always seen at his parties. This is Prince Pandusedeva, son of King Vijaya of Ceylon.

He will verify this for you for he was the one who gave me the stones after I embroidered 2009 saffron pillows for his palace and temple. You must also know that not everyone can get a picture of the Prince! He had given it to me especially to prove ownership of these stones.

Before Ranjit could take a closer look of the picture, Rosanna quickly push it back into her bossoms. This means of course, that Ranjit did not read what's written behind the picture. Someone has scribbled "Prince or Pirate, you choose".

It is quite obvious what Rosanna chose.

Well, yes, of course, I recognise Prince Pandusedeva, yes yes I have been to all his parties, Ranjit lied. They are quite the talk of the continent, finest wine, ladies, food, hmmm. Rosanna smiled. Ranjit might as well be talking about the restaurant "Prince of Ceylon" where the picture, an advertising pamphlet, was taken from. These stones must be the much acclaimed rubies from Sri Lanka, Ranjit thought to himself.

Now, you see the saffron cloth and matching trimmings? Rosanna continued. I was told they are the finest in the world, from China. My husband had to charm 107 snakes so we have enough gold for that. Hmm, China silk and satin, Ranjit muttered as he ran his hand down the back of the chair like a lover.

And then Walter turned the chair over and Ranjit squealed, are these real gold studs you fixed at the bottom of the chair? Rosanna told him solemnly, do you know our snakes danced for 1001 nights before we could get enough coins to melt them down to these? Really? Ranjit raised his brows quizzically.

And that is not all, Rosanna volunteered. As I told you earlier, this is Magic Chair Part 2, a sequel to the Wedding Chair. If any woman who has sat on the Wedding Chair with her husband, should sit on this one after a night of *ahem, love, but the love must happen during a particular time in a month and if while sitting there, a Kokopelli sings, then the woman will conceive immediately and there is a 50-50 chance the child is a boy! By the way, Rosanna added quickly before Ranjit could say "Kokopelli", I have certificate of authenticity! And Rosanna took out another picture.

This is an award given to me. See Bella means beautiful in Italian. I was given this award at least twice. Sans! Yes, she is one of them so you can go ask her too. Anyway, you see the tree in the picture? It's the tree of life and notice how far the branches spread? That means fertility. And you know, it is for sisters only, meaning women who will have babies. And of course, I am so honoured to be given this award because of my craftmanship as well plus the fact that I am funny and full of life, talented and thoughtful, caring and supportive and you know, (Rosanna added shyly), people actually think I am an inspiration. Maybe you should ask Sans! I should not be bragging about myself.

By now, Ranjit knew he had to have the chair. Alright, what do you want for it? Thinking that Rosanna did not know the value of all the material used, he asked a little off handedly.

Well, Rosanna considered, I know you may not think it is much but these materials I used are from all over the world..and after all the hours we put in to make this chair, we could have built a house! So I guess, I want a house, nothing fancy, just a simple, pretty bhunga in exchange for the magic chair!

WHHHHHHHATTTTT? A house for a chair???? And before Ranjit could stop exclaiming, Rosanna has taken out a 3rd picture to show him exactly what she wanted. If you click through the picture on your left, it will bring you to the rest of Rosanna's dream bhunga.

Well, of course, you know the rest of the story. Ranjit said yes, after the Rollas had taken about 10 steps away from his Tent with the Chair. And clever Rosanna told him, No House, No Chair.

So until the bhunga is delivered, the chair will remain carefully wrapped in the pistachio ice cream box it came in.

I hope you love the chair as much as I do. And Rosanna, if you ever need any references, tell them to ask Sans!

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