Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Day 174- Talk The Walk







happily ever after .

I made these shoes sometime in June. A pair has gone to New Zealand and another to the States.  One pair is awaiting Norway. I am keeping a pair for the tribal house although it really has too many shoes already. Anyway, I got pretty bored with taking pictures of the shoes until I thought, maybe I should make the shoes tell a story. The above was my very half baked attempt at photo essay, more to amuse myself .  And  maybe also to let the new owners know how these shoes were once connected  to a love story.

And speaking of connection, the next 2 pictures are  for Betsy or Daydreamer of  About My Dollhouses.

On 29th August 2010, she made a post entitled Chinoiserie where she showed a 1:12 scale mural that she did for her dollhouse after the walls were installed. Yes, she painted the walls as if she was painting the real walls of her home. I thought she was crazy and brilliant and inspiring, all row into one. She spoke about my Tree of Life post where I talked about how some of us in this community seemed connected in some mysterious ways.  

Betsy, I took these pictures on Sunday, 29th August 2010, the day you wrote Chinoiserie.  He is a frequent visitor and we thought he could be a kingfisher because of his large beak.That was the first time I captured him on film. Today, I found out that you may have painted him on your wall too.

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Day 161-Alcoves

Alcoves, wall niches, nooks or crannies, by whatever name they go, I see them everywhere in traditional Indian houses. Be it palaces, havelis or even tribal houses, arched alcoves, often with pretty details provide a whimsical but important showcase for their Gods, favourite piece of art or even a forgotten toy. 

One of the more innovative uses of niches include "secret hiding places" for jewellery. I took the above picture when I was at Fatepur Sikri last year, the Mughal palace built by Akbar the Great. I remembered how our guide moved the tile from the bottom of the niche, put his hand in and told us : this was where some of the finest treasure could be found back in those days.

I always knew my tribal house would have alcoves, I just didn't know how until I saw these little dipa dishes or Deepavali lamps being sold at S$1 each at Little India. I bought a whole load of them and picked this design for my tribal house.

On Day 161, sometime in May this year,  right after I finished the walls and floors, I "installed" the alcoves. I knew I had to do this before I could start on the furnishing as "massive" hacking and bashing was required. I also thought I must have back-to-back alcoves to mask the holes that I had to make in the walls. 

The hacking was not pretty and neither were the holes so I took no pictures of the process. It was really simple actually. I  just  started with drawing the outline of the dish against the wall and then hammered and chiseled my way through. Once I had a hole through the wall, I put two dishes back to back and glued them, Picture above shows the "back to back" alcoves in the living room and its exterior.

The alcove in the living room is to be the most important one  because it is the family altar. I read that details for alcoves differ depending on its significance (ones outside the house being the least) but for uniformity, I decided to use the same design for all of them. 

While we are here, may I also take this opportunity to show off the laundry basket made for me by Flora. This was just one of the many wonderful creations  I received from Flora about 2 weeks ago. The rest I will show off in due course  but this laundry basket with all the crease and folds that I love will take pride of  place in this room. Thank you Flora. 

Of all the niches, the one in the kitchen is the hardest to photograph. I suspect it will be mostly hidden when I furnish this room. That's why my mind draws a blank when I try to come up with a story for this one. Some of you may have read in my last post that I have a story for each nook and I already have one for all the rest. Maybe I'll just call this one "The Forgotten Nook" since it is back to back with The Forgotten Toy.

So here they are, a bunch of imperfectly installed alcoves. I had thought them flawed, a little awkward, maybe even boring without the stories. Perhaps that's why I didn't mention them in my past posts. Just like a real alcove, I guess. The story is always what is in them, never about them. No wonder they have been likened to picture frames, always the backup singers and never the stars.

Until Helene highlighted them in a comment on my last post. That was when I saw the alcoves again and realised that they are indeed quite fabulous.  

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Day 161 & 188- A Forgotten Toy

Hello! My name is Parakeet. I am a wooden toy. Some people call me a naive children's toy,  a redundant description, if you ask me. I mean, are not all children's toys naive? Not any more, you say? So much has changed? Have I been sitting here for so long? 

Anyway, this was me, BEFORE, but after some brown paint. Originally a  "metal mini", I eventually became "wood".   I was fashioned after the  emerald green parakeet of India, aka the Indian Ringneck Parakeet. These birds are very smart, some of them  even psychic, like Mani, the fortune telling parrot in Singapore.

Mani is a legend in Singapore and could predict World Cup results although I understand he was not as good as the octopus. Look at him in the picture. I wonder if Mani could tell that the "fortune seekers" are not really Indian but Italians. Must be trying to pull a fast one with those costumes. Then again, they looked so pleased. Maybe Mani told them Italy was going to win the  World Cup! Hah! Look who's got the last laugh now! 

I am not sure if you can tell beneath all the wear and tear but my colours were brilliant once. I look such a wreck now! Darn, the sun is  truly a girl's worst enemy!  Heed my advice, girlfriends- ALWAYS use sunscreen, bring an umbrella , wear a veil! Or you may end up like me, aging before my time!

I remember those good old days...I was so much fun too! With a tug of my strings, you could move me . See, now I am looking left, perching . Come, tug me! Go on...

Don't mind the creaking and groaning, it's been a while but see? I have turned and am pecking on the ground looking for food. *Giggles. Kids loved me. Adults too. I was a real crowd pleaser in those days. Until one day, when someone left me in the alcove outside the house.....

and  no one came back for me. I just sat here for I can't remember how long . The only way I could tell time was by how tall the trees around me has grown. 

It didn't seem that long ago when the world could see me sitting proudly in my nook and there were hardly any trees. 

Guess my story was no different from the thousands before me and the millions to come....perhaps one day, someone will find me again and I will be treasured once more. We'll just have to wait and see.  After all, I have all the time in the world and I sure ain't going anywhere.


I have wanted to create this scene ever since I saw Henry Wilson's picture in his book "India". The wooden bird in the picture was in fact fashioned after the Indian Ringnecked Parakeet. So three months after putting alcoves (4 f them) in the house, I made the toy on Thursday. This is the first of my "alcove stories". And yes, Parakeet can perch, turn and peck. Sort of.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Day 181-187 -Real Life Gifts For My Palace

You know you are completely consumed by your hobby when you refuse to acknowledge that it is only a hobby. No, no, no, you insist, it is too much a part of me to be a mere hobby. It is LOVE, ART, PASSION (emphasis added with bold, CAPS, underlined) Hobby has suddenly become almost a dirty word and the word, cute? Intolerable! 

And when family and friends gift you with only things related to your L.A.P. you know the body snatchers have invaded. It is so easy to make me happy now. I have become totally predictable and as easy to read as ABC. Even my life size gifts are meant really for my minis.

This is a bird cage given by MarG. Picked by her wonderful assistant who also loves mini making, here is a perfect little Mughal birdcage, almost Indo-Saracenic or Indo Goth in architecture.  I think it will make a perfect firefly park, or perhaps mum's Indian peony garden  or maybe even both with fantastic creatures like phoenixes and exotic birds like Oriental hornbills. Thank you, MarG ! Thank you Pam!

As if to feed my all too ambitious dream to go where I have never been, MarG and FaiZ went shopping for the most basic airbrush tools. Specifically for someone who has never done it before. Funny how I have always wanted one, long before I discovered miniatures and way before I even knew I could paint.

To serve as an inspiration and perhaps another palace annex, Win bought me a Vrindavan Activity Set (For Children 3-13), all the way from India. The description on the back of the card reads

The exotic temple traditions of India comes alive through this beautifully illustrated model of a temple courtyard complete with altar and figures of Krishna, the cowherd boys and girls, curious cows and mischievous monkeys. Several activities,  prayers and songs provide a glimpse into the magical lives and daily worship of the inhabitants of the sacred village where  Krishna and his friends played thousands of years ago. For youths 3 to 13, this introduction to Indian temple life captures the imagination. Nothing this elaborate or engaging related to the East has ever been produced for children. 

And here is one more to add to my Gods of Small Things.  A gift from Rosanna, this is a Thomas Sabo bracelet  where you can pick your own charms from about 4-500 varieties. It apparently took Rosanna a  long while to choose between this Ganesh and  a teeny elephant with a pearl at its trunk At the end of the day, the fact that the Ganesh can double as a mini God in my palace triumphed of course. 

Another one from Rosanna, this is a plate from Provence with a garden motif. At the time of making this post, I placed the plate inside the birdcage just where the base of the dome head is and it fitted perfectly. It seems this plate may well be the foundation of  a park or a garden. Kismet.

Next are the lovely scallop shells from Flora. Flora uses these shells as palettes and after reading my last post on the artists' workroom where I also used mini shells as palettes,  she has sent me these.  I took the pictures of these shells with the four bamboo clams from No Signboard Seafood Restaurant. Rosanna and Walter had treated us to a most exquisite dinner and the bamboo clams was the 1st course.

One of the bamboo shells will be sent to Flora and the rest, together with the scallop ones will be my real life palettes. As I have written to Flora, these shells will remind me always to nurture my skill, one that I never thought I had until now. 

And to top it all,  I have had the best gift of all,  great company, aplenty,  both virtual and real. Now together  with great music (selection from Lush Tiga) and my L.A.P, what more does a girl need?  

Thank you, family and friends, and thank you, X' for the music.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Day 182-186-Malaysia With The Rollas

Dim sum bike at Ipoh's famous dim sum tea house "Fu Shan Cha Lo" 

And so it was that we set off from Singapore for Malaysia on Thursday afternoon to FaiZ's sister's home in Johore Bahru. She had generously agreed  to loan us her car for our use. It was about 3pm when we set off from Johore Bahru towards Kuala Selangor hoping to reach there at about 7pm for the treat of a lifetime. 

The Firefly Park In Kuala Selangor (Pic from a brochure)

I was told that the Selangor River is one of the very few places in the world where you can find the gathering of millions of fireflies. I knew the watching of the fireflies or kirip-kirip in Malay,  would be magical and indeed it was. Bobbing along the river of the night with matching skylight on a slow sampan, we sat and watched the belambang trees being lit up by these shining and glowing masses. Silent except for the soft crickets and quiet splish sploshing of the river. It was as if Mother Nature was singing Silent Night with special effects.  When the boatman drew close to put one of these bugs on Rosanna's hand, she looked like she was wearing the most amazing diamond ring!  A field trip for me because I had wanted to build a miniature firefly park for the longest time.

Our next destination, Ipoh, a state that was named after a tree. In the picture is an Ipoh tree and the only one left in Ipoh because all the others have been destroyed due to the poisonous sap. Ipoh is also  FaiZ's hometown and the place where he grew up. 

We reached Ipoh at about 11pm and met FaiZ's parents at "Old Wong's"  for some chicken noodle and the promise of durians for dessert at their home in Meru Valley.  The Rollas have by now heard too much about durians which explained why they were not particularly enthusiastic. By the time we reached home, we were all so tired, no one wanted desserts. 

The next morning, we woke up to the  glorious expanse of green  and limestone mountains.  This is the view from the balcony of FaiZ's Meru Valley home. Many from afar have come and settled here for this view. We teased the Rollas about getting a house here which was really very affordable.  And so after a sumptuous dim sum breakfast, we drove round the Meru Valley Estate to look for the perfect Rolla house.

Rosanna, MarG and I were squealing in amazement when we saw this house and insisted we should stop for pictures. As if the architecture was not fantastical enough, the owners decided they have to match everything according to the theme. No prizes for guessing what the theme was but I bet you it was "doll's house".

 There is the "candy" umbrella over a table that is still under wraps. 

And an artist's impression of the house on a painted signboard placed above the coded keypad.

A matching letterbox of course with its own lawn. I can hear exclamations of "Oh my, the grass look so real and" Is that an egg shell path?" 

Last but not least, the topper or a renaissance cherub angel  fountain? 1 inch scale , albeit not as detailed, available here.

The Rollas trying the house for size. Nahhhh, we all decided. We were all very curious who built this house. My guess was a giant miniaturist building her dollhouse. Now do you really want to shrink yourself to live in a house like this? It was so huge my digital camera could not take everything in. 

On the other hand, we found this house later that afternoon on Cameron Highlands. This is the Ye Olde Smoke House. We had tea and scones here while Walter and Rosanna were on the golf course. They joined us later. Everything here felt more authentic. Even Rosanna remarked that it was as though she was in Scotland again.

 We have the pretty but less ostentatious  fountain.

A Tudor birdhouse where birds really dwell. 

And a perfect nook for secret lovers. Or maybe just tea for two?

At Cameron Highlands, arrangements were made for us to stay at Uncle Sai Pan's (FaiZ's dad) friends' apartments. Of course, it overlooked the Cameron Highlands Golf Course where Walter played a round of 9 holes.    

We had steamboat dinner that evening. Rosanna and Walter were overwhelmed by the amount of food which was deceivingly over the top. They agreed afterwards the look was worse than the bites.  We went back to the apartment after dinner  with Uncle Sai Pan insisting that the Rollas stay for desserts. It was to be the most hilarious moment of our trip.

Here is Walter bracing himself.

"I am ready! Hit me!"

"Awwwww hell! What was that????!" Should have warned him that one could never be ready enough!

Trying their darnest to please Uncle Sai Pan. It was almost like watching celebrities eat because there were about 3 -4 cameras clicking all the time. We all went to bed with big smiles, except maybe Walter. 

The next morning, we had breakfast at Uncle Chow's and then we bade farewell to FaiZ's parents before heading off to the Boh Tea Plantation. Retail! Yay for me.  I bought enough tea to last us a few years only because the packaging was pretty. I suspect Rosanna did the same. 

View from restaurant at Kenyir Resort and Spa

Heading towards Cherating after that, we stopped at the Kenyir Dam Resort for lunch.  We were all feeling a little car sick by then but knew the ultimate destination would be worth it.

Here e are! At last! Cherating also means crab in Malay. It is also one of my favourite places in the world. And when the tide is low, the sea at its clearest and warmest , I can lie down in the water for hours, dreaming of impossible things or nothing at all. And  this was what we did. 

From left to right, FaiZ, MarG, me, Rosanna, Walter. 

Thanks to the generosity of FaiZ and his family, I think I can speak for everyone when I say this has been  an incredibly memorable trip. 

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