Saturday, May 11, 2019

I'm Flying, With a Little Help from My Friends

Here's a quick update on my plans. I will be on the plane tomorrow, as planned. Arm in a sling and feeling unprepared, but I know that everything will be fine in the end.
After a disastrous second visit to the specialist for my sore shoulder, I went back to my GP, who took matters in hand. He did the necessary tests and diagnosis himself, identified the problem, and prescribed a course of action. Doctors don't rat each other out, but I could tell that he was disgusted that I'd lost a week of potential recovery at a critical time due to the disinterest of his colleague.
My GP has been the family doctor for four decades and he knows me well. He noticed my bleary eyes and shrill voice and scribbled a note for sleeping- and anti-anxiety meds, laughing and telling Henning he knows I won't take it, grind it up and sprinkle it on my food.
I've been keeping track of the pills so no one can dope me, but as the pressure keeps mounting, there have been moments when I seriously considered gobbling a few.
I've been trying for a week to get a new SIM card for my phone to work; I need an international number. Yesterday, I figured out that the reason it's not working is that Busiswe with the bullfrog face at the phone shop was too busy applying lipgloss and snapping her gum to Rica the number. This is a legal requirement and I will have to go back to the shop with my original documents to redo it. It's weekend; I hope that someone will be bothered to help me before I catch the plane.
Also yesterday, we had an all-day power failure that lasted until 9:30pm. Although there were a few things I could do while we still had daylight, I'm now in panic mode to tick the last things off my list.
A concerning number of people in South Africa are on anti-anxiety meds, our generic name for it is Fokitol. Sometimes it feels as though not caring is the only way to survive in a country where no one does their job unless they're a criminal and about to do you in.
Fortunately, I have a huge bag full of stronger medicine. It's called my Friends and Family. Thank you for all your caring messages, prayers, and help over the last weeks. I haven't had time to personally respond to some messages, but once I'm out the other end you will hear from me.

Monday, May 6, 2019

H is for Hospital, or a Medical Emergency at Least

Mouses Houses
I woke up last Monday with excruciating pain in my left (dominant) arm. A trip to my GP resulted in a packet of pain killers. They made me throw up for a whole day non-stop and did nothing to relieve the pain. Two days later I saw a specialist, who did a sonar and gave me the happy news that the tendons in my shoulder are still attached. There's a lot of inflammation but seeing as nothing's broken, my case is uninteresting and they shoed me out the door to 'wait and see'.

So, for the last week, I haven't been able to sit, stand or lie down because my arm is tormenting me. It also won't let me lift things, write, or type on my keyboard. Because I'm not sleeping, my sense of humor and all enthusiasm for Germany has left me. All I can think about is dragging luggage on and off trains; when I'm not busy panicking because nothing's packed or ready to go. I'm considering a trip postponement.

Tomorrow I'm going back to the doctor. Something needs to be done.

The mouse maker at Mouses Houses has broken her arm. I'm so happy that I'm not alone. Misery loves company.

Friday, May 3, 2019

Why Make Minis?

Painter Georgia O'Keeffe said, ‘I decided that if I could paint that flower in a huge scale, you could not ignore its beauty’. For me, the opposite is true; there’s an enchantment in taking things from real life and making them so small that people really must concentrate to notice the details. It's as though the essence of everyday things intensifies when you reduce the scale.

These images are from a workshop I taught in 2011. I haven't made many dollhouse plants since. Soon going to change that!

Sunday, April 28, 2019

G is for...

The time has finally come to let the cat I've been keeping under wraps for six months out of the bag. In two weeks - to the hour - I will be on a plane. When I started planning this trip it seemed so far away. I can't believe how time has flown and of course, I don't feel nearly ready.

The reason you haven't seen any posts about the Del Prado house and I've been generally quiet, is that I've been busy preparing for a three-month stay in Germany. It's not a holiday. I'm going to attend to family matters, study, work and do a legion of other things.

On one hand, I'm so excited my toes are curling; on the other hand, I'm already missing my husband and animals and I don't know how I'm going to be able to take leave of them.

Fortunately, a lengthy journey needs a lot of preparation and I'm being kept very busy making sure the dogs have enough winter blankets and the tarantulas enough food to see them through till I come back. I made a mega-batch of muesli for Henning (he won't eat the shop-bought stuff) but apart from that, I know that he will be able to keep himself fed and warm. He likes to remind me that he was a happy bachelor for years before he met me. Still, there are so many little details which I routinely take care of that he doesn't even know about. I'm sure I will return to find crocodiles lounging around a swampy swimming pool and all manner of colourful fungus growing in the fridge and in the shower.

I have to confess that my main concern for this trip has been finding a way to stuff as many art supplies and tools from my studio into my suitcase as possible. I would rather go naked than be short of paint and brushes!

The ghostly toy blocks in the photo are one of the projects I'm taking with me. Cast in white resin, they're ready to be painted and accessorized.

If blog readers in Germany would like to make contact with me, I'll be staying in Karlsbad, and I'm trying to wrangle things so I can be at the show in Rheda on the 25th May.

While I'm gone I won't bore you with lots of pictures of forests and castles on this blog, but I do plan to check in weekly to let you know how I'm getting along. If you prefer to share every little detail of my adventures, I'm vlogging on Instagram HERE.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

F: Frogs and Fountains

These little frogs are so tiny that my camera squints when I try to photograph them. Only about 5mm long, they're perfect for a 1/12 scale dollhouse garden. I'll be making a fresh batch soon, and I'll show you process photos and some ideas on how to use them in and around your dollhouse.
Rainbow with the first rain - August 2013

In our real-life garden, there are several ponds and a fountain. Needless to say, there are frogs and in summer they have very loud concerts at night. They're not the only noisy ones though. Just look at how the grey loeries enjoy the fountain. Their real name is Corythaixoides concolor, but colloquially we also call them kwêvoëls or go-away birds, for the sound they make.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

E is for Endurance

I've persevered with my resin experiments over the last few weeks. Also been exclaiming in exasperation quite often. I switched to white resin. It's great for hiding bubbles and imperfections, but it comes with a new set of challenges. Still, I managed to make quite a few embellishments and they're ready to be sanded and painted.

Here's a bit of biographical chat.

 Denoting or relating to a race or other sporting event that takes place over a long distance or otherwise demands great physical stamina.
2. The capacity of something to last or to withstand wear and tear.
Very often when we use the word endure, we mean that we're suffering. I know, because in pity-party conversations with myself I regularly ask why I'm forced to endure this or that. However, endurance also has powerful affirmative connotations.
There’s something about an item or activity which has stood the test of time that grounds us and helps to make sense of life. To me, it's ballet.
Geared up for class.
Ha, I bet you didn’t know that I’m a secret ballerina! This month marks my fourth anniversary at the Dance Hub adult ballet studio. I started dancing for the first time after a prolonged illness. My life was in tatters; my body was weak and scarred, and my mind dwelled in dark places.
When I enrolled in ballet classes, I promised myself that I would not give up until three months passed, no matter what. I hated the first weeks; I was excruciatingly self-conscious, I was so tired all the time, and I couldn’t do the simplest things such as balance on my toes. I endured those classes with a capital E.
My favourite ballet shirt.
Gradually, I started understanding ballet terminology, I learned which muscles to use, and I became a bit stronger. While I was doing battle with the physical aspects of mastering the most difficult form of dance, something else was happening in the background. Every slight conquest boosted my self-confidence and  I learned to relax. 
Our beautiful teacher, Louina.
That's me against the window on the left, balancing on my toes :-)

One day I burst out of class and exclaimed, I love ballet! I realized then that I’d found the other kind of endurance; the kind that lets you push your body until you become hot and sweaty and it feels great.
Practice, practice, practice.
Don’t imagine that I’m any good at it. No matter how much I practice, I will always be the clumsiest ballerina in class but ballet has become a part of my life, one of those enduring things that give meaning to everything else. There are such lovely people in the class, the teachers are fantastic, and working on my body, mind, and attitude has had a tremendous spill-over benefit to other areas of my life.
Jump for joy! That's me in the centre.
May you find joy in everything you do this week.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Buckets and Straws

Making enamel utensils for the dollhouse is on my to-do list for a long time. Miniaturists do it with so much realism, I thought it would be an intricate process.
Once I started, the only challenge was to stop adding rust stains and chips before the buckets became too damaged and grubby to use. This project was good fun, didn't require special tools or supplies, and it was quick to make. I used cardboard from cereal boxes which I 'rescued' from the dustbin in the interest of protecting the environment, so I feel extra happy with my buckets on that account. When I have a bit more time I will make a tutorial so that you can try it too.

Speaking of the environment - plastic drinking straws were banned in many countries at the beginning of 2019, and the rest of the world is soon to follow. Surveys show that people in affluent countries spend more money on take-out food than groceries. Most take-away food comes in plastic containers and straws are at the forefront of the movement to stop single-use plastic from overwhelming the planet.
I'm all in favour of cleaning up the oceans and reducing the size of landfills but my heart was heavy at the thought of losing drinking straws as a craft source. One can do so many things with them, from dollhouse drain pipes to pram wheel axles, the uses for straws are endless.

One morning last week, Siegfried and I sneaked out for a double thick milkshake (I'm an unadventurous vanilla person). Imagine my delight when I pulled the wrapper off the straw to discover a sturdy cardboard tube! You can see it at the top of this picture. The other straws are a bendy straw from a juice box, McDonald's milkshake straw, and an ordinary plastic drinking straw. While I will jealously guard my stash of plastic straws for future use around the dollhouse, I'm going to invent lots of excuses to go for a milkshake so I can collect paper straws. Just when you think something is taken away, a valuable new provision is added!

What do you use drinking straws for, and what other kinds of plastic or paper containers do you repurpose for your dollhouse?

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Short and Sweet

Hey, what's going on?
Nothing much or lots, depending on how you look at it.
February had a surprise in the form of a visit from my father in law, Siegfried, all the way from Germany. He will be with us for a few more weeks and while he's here, I'm cooking delicious food and making sure he gets enough rest and frequent short walks.
I'm busy with my various jobs, working on my long-term goal of achieving an organized life, and despite everything else going on in the past few weeks, I made great strides with miniatures.
I've set aside the clay and fabric for a while and started experimenting with resin. Anything sticky and messy is outside my comfort zone but I think I'm finally mastering the medium and loving the result.
If you're getting ready for spring and enjoying warmer days, make the most of it. Here in South Africa, we're bringing in the harvest and basking in mild end-of-summer days with glorious sunshine.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

How to Give Chocolate to a Miniaturist

Henning went overseas recently. When he came back, there was the usual ceremony of gifts from afar.
Henning: 'I brought you chocolate.'
Me: 'Wonderful!' Thinking: not. I'm not much of a chocolate eater and when I do, I prefer supermarket brands to the fancy-schmancy imported stuff.
Hmm. The tin is pretty. It would be ideal for keeping pencils.
Whoa! Look at those wrappers. Each one has a reproduction of a classic painting printed on glossy paper. I could frame them and hang them in my dollhouse.
And there's a pencil. Multicolor, no less! I haven't had one of those since I was a kid. Writing with it is going to be so much fun.

Me, holding out the tin to Henning: 'Would you like a chocolate? Mind you don't tear the wrapper or the foil.' Thinking: The gold foil is going to come in handy for making dollhouse Christmas decorations.

That my friends, is how you engineer a win-win situation when living with a miniaturist. All parts appreciated, except the chocolate, which was eagerly devoured by the man with a sweet tooth.

Mini-wise, I'm working on a village of tiny houses at present. They are cast in resin and hand painted. Initially, I had misgivings about my mini painting skills but as I go along, I'm becoming addicted to the process and loving how I can individualize every building.

I'm not only playing with miniatures. A large shipment of teddy bear making supplies arrived and I'm busy unpacking and adding new items to the website. Glass eyes and smaller sizes of safety eyes which were out of stock are available again.
These pretty colored safety eyes come in several sizes and have a glitter backing. Difficult to photograph, but stunning in real life. Velvet noses and other goodies are on the website already and the eyes should be on the site by Wednesday.

Wishing you a sweetly creative week.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

The Importance of New Year

Aliens might know everything about gyroscopic hyperdrives and faster-than-light travel, but these two don't have a clue about the importance of the New Year. That must be why they abducted me from my holiday, strapped me to a chair in a room that looks very much like my office, and pushed me into 2019 at a speed that holds me down with a force of about 10G. I can hardly keep my eyes open, never mind find the strength to tap on the keyboard.

But seriously, the proper thing to do is not to hurtle into the New Year in a blur. There's no better time to chart your course and make a few changes if needed. If you don't have any New Year's resolutions yet, jot down some ideas. It doesn't matter if your plans fail; it matters that you try.
Here are my tools for 2019. I'm not going to reveal my plans for the year ahead yet, but there are some clues. The diary was a gift from my husband, and the cover is significant.
This lovely planner and luxury pen were a gift from a friend who is much better at mapping out goals than I am. Thank you, it's going to help me so much!

Whatever star you reach for in 2019, I wish you a beautiful journey.