Saturday, 27 March 2010

Day 136-The Pipe Dream



Katrina-Mark III with Box of Tobacco
2" high, slightly less than 1/2" at widest
This is the 3rd version of the silver range created for the Marlboro Men,
hence Mark III like how they named vintage cars.

Blossom-Mark III
2" high, base 3/4"
(named after the cherry blossoms in the photograph made by Jayne )

Our dear palace craftsman has been rather remiss in coming out with new work. I believe her last was the elephant pull toy only because she had to do it to save her life. Of course, that elephant had run away before she could make a tidy sum out of it.

The gallivanting in Europe did not help the pocket either and without any work to sell, business has dwindled to a standstill. The only good thing is her weight loss of about 3 kg as she has had to just survive on water, so that she could put down the 1st payment for her new house.

Smoking Hot Range 2010
(outside the new mortgage built by Illisha)

Until about 3 weeks ago that is, when there were 2 enquiries for her Piping Hot Pipes made last year. 2 orders in 2 days? Perhaps the wind of fortune is finally blowing her way.

Piping Hot Range 2009

And so our craftsman immediately set to work. And work she did, from 12 noon to 10pm in the evening with only short breaks for water. And as she sweat and teared (from the glue), cursed and swore (hammered her finger so there was really blood, sweat and tears) through her labour of love, it finally dawned on Sans!

Both Old and New Pipes

It is not for lack of industry or creativity that her work is scarce but rather the fact that they are never valued for what they are worth! She thought angrily as she hammered on.

Look at these pipes, she asked herself woefully. Will my patrons see my bleeding finger in them? Can they smell the years taken from me from all that glue sniffing while the smoke spirals from their mouthpieces? In the end, they go home with one of my creation for a fraction of what it is really worth in terms of love and labour. And still they criticised when my pipes rust after 2 years or if the parts fall off because of the bad glue. I think it is time for a change of profession.
Since I have already made the hookahs, I think I will start a shisha cafe, thought Sans! I will begin humbly with just a room and one shisha. Yes, one will suffice for now because everyone has his own mouthpieces and it is common for the shisha pipe to be shared and passed around. You will not believe the incredible bond one can have with another just from having shared a pipe.

Very soon though, I will need to look at expanding my cafe. Of course, I am sure it will be a roaring success, retorts Sans! To the other more sceptical voice in her head.

Whether they are young or old, rich or poor, men or women, I will welcome them all with only the best, be it furnishings or food, conversations or entertainment.

An Artist's impression
(created in an online game called "My Mini Life" by Sans!)

And I will call my cafe "The Pipe Dream".
What? Don't you know the " pipe dream" means "unrealistic fantasy?"The other voice asked
No, no, no, I like it for its allusions to dreams created by smokers of opium pipes.See the connection? Opium pipes? Water pipes?

Whatever, the other voice resigns and goes back into hiding which allows Sans! to dream some more. And so while smoking one of her pipes, she begins to imagine what "The Pipe Dream" will look like.

Rule No. 1 (and only): In order to celebrate the work of all artisans, as much handmade work as possible will be used at the Cafe.

Long blue "bolster" made with bedding by Dale, perfume bottles in ceramic box by Mercedes,Lotuses in Chinese vase by Thai artisan

Starting with the tobacco. They will be infused in the best perfume and soaked in the shavings of exotic fruits for out of this world flavours.

Crate of mangoes and sliced dragon fruit by Laiad. Pot of hot pink daisies next to dragon fruit by Jayne.Plate of Indian sweet cakes , Kalakand by Kiva (better pic here)

And the food, no, I mean cuisine, haute and nothing less. Michelin rated or not at all! From all over the world, the best that money can buy.

Breads by Christel (thank you Helene!) Embroidered pillow and bolster by Rosanna.Cherry blossom bonsai by Jayne. Trunk by Taenia.

And what is a cafe without the chai? I will serve tea befitting royalty, chai with floating saffron worth more than gold. And as for lattes, only the creamiest milk from the teats of Wagyu cows will do.

Tin cups of chai with floating saffron (yes they are really there) and milk tea by Cindy.Fried rice in foreground by Mdm Ang (thank you MarG). More of Rosanna's pillow.

Conversations will flow like the coffee and tea in "The Pipe Dream". Be it religion, politics, universe or mothers-in-law. People will talk and talk and forget to work.

Book of Koran by Helene. Side table by Ilisha, Small bonsai of cherry blossom by Jayne.Rug in foreground by MarG.

And they will come in throngs, the most beautiful, the best brains, the courageous. They will grace my humble cafe filled with handcrafted furnishings, delicate embroideries , all labour of love.
Maya by Sumaiya. Blue long "bolster" and red silk paisley pillows by Dale. Bold red cushions (made for wedding chair) by Ara. Tulips by Sylvia


A smoker's impression


I did create the hookahs because 2 very sweet souls asked within 24 hours of each other, whether I sell them. This is a first since I started blogging. I was of course flattered.

Although 2 enquiries in almost 2 years does not a living make, it did get me seriously thinking about whether I want to sell my creations. At the end of a 2 week deliberation, I have decided against it. At least for now. There are many concerns, mainly quality, pricing and expectations. A recurring problem is matching what you have expended with what others regard as worth. So I totally appreciate what some of you must feel.

To all of you who craft for a living full time, Christel, Cindy, Dale, Grace, Ilisha, Jayne, Jody, Julie, Kiva, Laiad and Sumaiya and many others, I salute you!

And for those of you who are doing this part time like Sylvia and Taenia, I hail you!

To some of you who have just entered into the foray of setting up your own shop, Mercedes and Rosanna, I applaud you!

Lastly, to those who are into dollhouses for hobby only, like Helene and I , come to The Pipe Dream as we have nothing to do but play !

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Day 135-A Dream Home For Sans!

It was love at first sight.

Strange, isn't it, how you may have never seen it or imagine how it looks like and yet,
the moment you lay your eyes on it, you knew.
This is you! And yours!
That is exactly how it was for Sans! When it came to this house.

You must agree with me that this eclectic,eccentric and irrationally beautiful house which comes with a "formal garden" is so very Sans!
And how appropriate it is that the 1st home to be completed at the palace grounds should belong to the palace craftsman.

"Formal Garden" with a magnificent courtyard, 2 benches, 2 "jewelled chairs", 2 mythological chairs, a fountain, a trellis and a "harem girl".

I found the wonderful Ilisha Heffman through Penny Plain, Two Pence Coloured , a magical blog on toy theatre (another one of my many interests) owned by Trish Short Lewis. I think I read all of Trish's posts in 1 sitting, including clicking through all her links. One of them, Hestia House led me to my kismet moment with Emily's Dollhouse.

Sewing Room with "Emily", sewing machine, sofa, mirror & mannequin

I knew then that this is the dream house for Sans! And as if to confirm our destiny, the house bears the name of the street I live on, "Emily". I was thus anxious to get in touch with Ilisha so I emailed her twice and when she did not reply immediately, I left a comment on her blog, Sunday Magazine Paper Doll Challenge.

I was stuck at her blog for a while, thanks to Ilisha's 1" scale paper dolls (another of my love). Each o f them comes in a kit and are really made for budding fashion designer to play with.

Victorian Samplers

I also found out that Ilisha is a graphic designer and a toy maker who loves buttons, printed fabrics and the wonderful world of fashion.

Childhood Miniatures

To me, Emily's Dollhouse is a culmination of how Ilisha has so boldly and effectively combined all of these talents.

The pop-up dollhouse is half scale. There are 50 animals hiding in the full set.

Master Bedroom

Ilisha mixed patterns and imagery from all periods of history, all over the world so it could not be pinned down to one specific time or place.


As an example, one doll has a skirt from a Russian Icon, a blouse fashioned from Indian fabric, Italian mosaic flowers in her hair and a face from a Pompeian fresco.

Details of Harem Girl and the 2 mythical chairs

Another doll has a skirt made from an Indian parasol.

Guest/Craft Room

Ilisha made patterns from her Italian mosaic pins for the quilt on one of the beds (a "glass" quilt!)

Reading Room

and for some of the upholstery (the blue flowered club chairs).


Fountain and Chairs

She made the fish in the pond from Chinese clouds....


She said "I also made way too much furniture than could ever fit in at one time because when I was a child I was intimidated by toys that had a right and a wrong place for things. "

Kitchen & Dining Room

"I was afraid to play with them, so with this house it's impossible not to play."

Sitting Room

And so play I did, till the wee hours of the morning yesterday.

And I fit every piece of furniture inside the house and on the courtyard,
which makes a very happy Sans!
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Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Day 125-130-The Rolla's 1st Snow

21st-23rd Feb 2010

The first time my Rollas experienced snow was in Slovenia...

pictures taken in Ljubljana, Slovenia

Day 1

window of cafe at train station in Nova Gorica

It started with an incredibly beautiful journey on the "happy train" from the station in Nova Gorica, the Slovenian border town with Italy's Gorizia. The train fare was merely €5 but if you are stowaways in my Lucky Strike tin box, you pay nothing.

Here are some pretty awesome pictures taken by FaiZ , all from the happy train. Yes, believe it and enjoy:

The majestic River Soca

1st sign of snow

As we go higher..

An incredibly taken shot
(enlarge it to see what I mean)


Train stations

Day 2

Life-size dollhouses
(where my Rollas wish they can spend the rest of their lives)
even their bus-stop is built like one

Lake Bled's Gondolas
the boat we took to the island where the church is


Lake Bled's Awesomeness

Day 3

A nuclear scientist showing me how to fix a toy.

More Eastern European Architecture

a fascinating facade where nature has built a ladder for a Slovenian Romeo

Photo exhibition entitled "Stairways" in an open air gallery

Traditional art painted on wood

Signboard of a bookshop


Day 4 onwards

The famous Sacher Torte
(Rosanna & Eva, those cakes are for you)

As you can see,words beggar the beauty of our experiences in Slovenia. If a picture says 1000 words, I must have put in enough here to build an encyclopaedia.

As for Austria,all the pictures I want to post are miniatures from the toy museum and the folk art museum. This I will do in my projects blog after I get some sleep.

Will you let me know if you wish to visit Slovenia? And if you do, will you send my love?

Goodbye, Slovenia!

Credits- All pictures from the train ride onwards are by FaiZ.
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