Monday, 30 November 2009

Day 99-101-My Craft Room

Invite to Party designed by SuZ.
Theme of the party was a fusion of Fashion (Girls) and Spies (boys).
Tasha picked "fashion" as her ambition is to be a fashion designer, like SuZ. Mummy picked "Spies" for the boys and little Nathaniel.

As some of you may know from my post on Day 97, Day 99 was The Birthday Party. This day had a direct impact on my mini making, because thanks to a chain of events, today , after almost 1 year since I started this hobby, I celebrate the birth of My Craft Room!

The chain of events started with Shir, my youngest sister, asking me for help to organise a party for Tasha's 9th birthday. (Cindy, this is for you!)

Since I am incapable of organising any party in 1/2 measure, our plans became more and more elaborate with each passing day and the guest list grew and grew. Before I know it, it became a party for all Shir's 3 kids so that the other 2 will not demand for something similar when it comes to their turn.

There was to be a 2 hour long treasure hunt with 9 clues that rhyme (!!), a fashion show on a runway and a game of police and thieves, all in line with the theme. On top of that, my dining room was to become this:

and my hall was to become the runway for the catwalk. (Please do not be fooled by the title "Super Models" because as you can see, the girls are not exactly high fashion material. The catwalk was actually more to showcase my vintage bags. I gave them matching gaudy scarves, tattoos (leftover "mehndi" from my Banjaran Girls), some glitter and nail polish and they were parading my bags like old hens (sic). Yes, poor Tasha was quite offended when one of the uncles asked her "Aunty, you going to the market?"

Now in order for all that to happen, I had to move my "bazaar" to the guest room. Let me tell you, this is one room where we junked all the misfits, not quite a space to show off anything. So I had to doll it up for the party.

One of the things I did was to lug out this table base from my store room. I found this base at the dump about 500 metres from my house when I went running one morning about 6 months ago. I dragged (literally) it home (yes, people rescue strays, I do junk) because I thought it would make a great base for my craft table. All that dragging had caused the legs to be wobblier than it was. I also found out quite belatedly that it was quite an awkward shape after the 100 kg Queen Anne sat on it. After being asked a few "Are you sure?" before Neo, my man helped me move the Queen Anne, I did not want to tell him "I guessed I wasn't so sure after all despite having said "yes yes yes " rather impatiently".

Here are the pictures of the guest room on Party Day:

I knew then that the guest room would be transformed to My Craft Room. And so began 3 days of intense cajoling, compiling and constructing. There were 8 boards (Ikea last Friday), 8 stainless steel mounting strips (Builders Mart, last Saturday) and after reminding FaiZ twice today, and irritating the hell out of him, S$100 bucks worth of AA brackets (today at 7.10pm).

The cajoling was the hardest but I managed to persuade Neo and FaiZ to put up the mounting strips on Sunday.

At 9.15pm tonight, 2 hours after the brackets arrived, this is My Craft Room now:

Back Wall

New Bazaar

Books on India

Side Wall
Temple and Tree

Front Wall

"Indian Girl"/ Rolling Pin Mirror

Books on Minis

By the way, the party's not over. For those of you who have read one of my earliest post, you would have known that the littlest addition to my family was born on Boxing Day 2008.

This is Xander when he first arrived at my house for his cousin's party:

This one was taken just before he went home, after being badly bitten by mosquitoes.

Not surprisingly, his parents have decided that my home is not suitable for infants. No more birthday parties here, especially for the littlest one as you can see from the invites his dad had designed:

Oops, guess I have blanked out the venue for obvious reasons. Trust me, the venue's not here.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Day 98-MarJ's Turkoman Rug

It is such a lovely day today, the weather is almost as perfect as last Saturday when we were hosting the most exhausting birthday party for a 9 year old. So lovely that Maya thought she should be working outdoors today and so she gathered her things, one of which was the lovely Turkoman stitched by MarJ, my housemate and the one who started me on this crazy mini journey.

This design with its simplified cruciform, lozenge-shaped guls (elephant's paw prints), was derived from a carpet believed to have been acquired in Kahgar, the most westerly city in China, close to the border with Kirgizstan. It displays some similarity to Yomud or Beshir weavings, but its exact origin and age are obscure.

The pattern is from Making Miniature Oriental Rugs & Carpets by Meik & Ian McNaughton. This book has to be my most worn mini how-to-book todate.

Marj started this rug around the same time I started my 1st one, maybe a week after, in the 1st week of March this year. She finished everything except the edging sometime in August or September, about a couple of months after I finished my 2nd one.

Thanks to very wrong instructions by me to only use 2 threads, Marj have had to sew over her 1st work again to avoid "patches" where the threads were too thin. Athough she didn't use frames, it is obvious that she did a great job of keeping the carpet straight. She used a 18 count canvas (we will use this until we use up all the cloth) and 3 different coloured threads.

The reason why this post came so late was because I only finished the edging 2 weekends ago, over 2 sessions. I think this carpet is fantastic, way better than mine and I am not being modest. Thank you, MarJ for a very precious gift to the palace because I don't know who else will want to spend this kind of time for something that has not yet been built.

In the meantime, Maya is enjoying the rug tremendously. I must say the rug really shows off the splendour of Maya working in the grass.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Day 97-Fine Foods, Fresh Fruits

Fine Foods, Fresh Fruits
(Also the last instalment of my "Bazaar" scene for this year)

This last stall had been 90% done for the longest time, shortly after I returned from my Bangkok trip in August with the fruits, in fact. Even now with the cats, it is a work in progress.

I have decided this shall be a family store run by 2 relatives,
one selling fresh fruits and vegetables

and the other fine foods, like the best beans, lentils and rice you can find

Unlike their more popular neighbours, Rolla and Ro and Tallulah, the patronage at this stall is of a different breed, not so illustrious but no less welcomed.

This is a family who love cats and pedigree cats, mind you. Alas, the family's love for the feline has outweighed their business cents (sic). Clear to all but themselves, there is a severe lack of paying customers at this stall and here is a close up of why:

Now, will you even walk into a stall where the signage are cats prowling and sniffing your produce, right at the shopfront?

So what if you provide extra services like grinding and pounding seeds into powder if you allow Bengal fur to be in the mixture .

Who cares if you own the loveliest pair of Persians in love

when your tom cats don't behave?

And when you finally have a customer, will she be more interested in your cat spilling the beans than the beans themselves?

There is no wonder why it is another bad day at the stall

when your fruits are bruised by your kitty stuck in a basket

or your pet is the one sampling the cut kiwis instead of a customer.

OR maybe we are getting it all wrong.

Maybe when you are a cat lover, like our Family

you play, live and work how you like
"like owner, like cat," they say,

Carefree, CareLess and Cashless.

I have been having trouble naming the store until now. I think I shall call it "Feline Family Fine Foods & Fresh Fruits" unless someone else has a better idea. Helene perhaps?

Postscript: In planning my trip to India early this year, I bought a guidebook called "Nelle's Guide, Northern India" (1990 1st Edition) for S$2. It turned out to be a gem not for its tour tips which are almost 2 decades too old, but for this beautifully written extract on Chandni Chowk and my inspiration for my Bazaar:

Chandni Chowk pierces into the very heart of Delhi. This largest trading center in north India was once a quiet road , shaded by Banyans, with a canal flowing along the entire length . Jahaara, Shah Jahan's daughter, had a square built on this road and in its center a pool fed by the canal. On a clear night the water reflected the light of the moon: so it came to be known as Chandni Chowk, the moonlit square. The nobility built mansions here, shops sprang up along the street, and Chandni Chowk became the most fashionable place in the empire. Emma Roberts , an Englishwoman, recorded in her diary that the streets often echoed with the shrill roar of many caged cheetahs being hawked and hooded hunting leopards. The title of great men were shouted by their followers. There were Persian cats and greyhounds for sale while the trumpeting of elephants mingled with the sounds of cartwheels and itinerant musicians....

Apart from my palace, this Bazaar is the other dream scene I really want to create. But as you can see, the display for each stall is so big that I fear I may not be able to execute this without losing some furniture, like a dining room table. I have built the 3 stalls inside out, interior and no exterior, and each stall already measures at least 32" long and 19" wide. I hope to build the facade of the Bazaar and a street scene with howdahs, roaring cheetahs . There's also Chandni Chowk's legendary perfume store and of course, the ubiquitous tea shop.

This Saturday, there will be a party for 20 kids at my house. It's Tasha's 9th birthday and I will have to shift the "Bazaar" away from the dining table and to the guest room. Good luck to me!

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Day 97- Catwalk

The weekend after the witches left, I did something I have never done. I painted. It was really more out of necessity than inspiration.

In the last month when I wan't exactly in my "creative high" , I had done the unthinkable and let my nieces and nephew fiddled with some of my minis. There was in particular an incomplete scene (90% done) I let them play with. Maybe they can inspire me, I thought. And true enough, they did.

My 7 year old niece, Qesha had scattered cats in that scene (coming soon). I love it so much I decided to steal her idea.

These were the cats:

Under better lights:

They came from a S$3.00 packet of a dozen. And yes, there were green cats , in 3 different shades, as if that was their most natural colours. One even had a yellow face. I needed skinny, hungry cats, not sick ones.

So I took out my encyclopaedia, some 10 year old poster colours that were hardened already (luckily they came in bottles and not tubes) and started working on the cats.

I had earlier consulted with Rosanna who advised that I should use a primer before painting. I also did some research on painting plastic and found out that you should :

1st, sand the plastic - check
then 2 coats of plastic primer- Only had wood primer and 1 coat only
Use acrylic paint- Poster colours
Finally, varnish to seal colour-check

The madeover cats took forever to dry and some never did! In any case, these are my skinny, scruffy prized cats:

Before: The Orange & White Cat (pic above)
After: My dead Burmese, Khomeni Puntip

(disappeared 4 years ago, it was our most beautiful cat.)

Before: Mr Yellow Face
After: A Lilac Burmese

Before : Lime Green Puss
After : A Turkish Van

Before: Mr. Khaki
After: A Thai Korat

Before: A Black Stalker (1st pic)
After: A Black Bombay

Before: The Cat in front (2nd Pic)
After: A Singapura

Before: Lemon Brown Cat
After: A Burmese with whiskers

Before: The 3rd Green Cat
After: A Striped Bengal

Before: Cat In Zebra Skin

After: A Prized Pariah

If there is such a thing as shabby cats, mine qualify I am sure. Its very strange ,but after I am done with them, they are no longer just plastic cats. They became my babies, as if I have made them. Is that how painters feel after they are finished with each canvas? Even the ones that are no good?

Maybe it's only the bad "artists" who feel this way and can't bear to junk their work.

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