Sunday, June 2, 2019

1zu12 Rheda Show Report

Just when the awesomeness of Germany started having a comfortable lived-in feel, there was the 1zu12 miniature show at Rheda. I went as a spectator this time, but I hope to exhibit there in future.
I met some of my greatest miniature heroes in person at the show and I spent an entire day marvelling at the variety and the quality of miniatures on offer.

This is one of those times when a picture can't do justice to the subject but I'm going to try, with lots of comments added. Grab a cup of tea and walk through the show with me.

The show started with a squeeze to get in the doors at 11am. For my South African friends, this is something like the frantic first day of HobbyX, nothing like strolling into a miniature show at home. But also not like HobbyX because people here are well behaved and they keep a polite distance.
(In an aside: I've noticed this sign in several places like the bank and hospital. Now I know what that gap in the queue is called - a discretion zone. You don't need to worry that someone is going to sneeze down your neck).

Some super cute needle felted dolls and teddies. Unfortunately, I didn't get the exhibitor's name, she was very busy selling her wares. (Birgit thinks the creator is Natasja Woord of Creahobby).

Miniature babies and the most exquisitely dressed dolls by Victoria Heredia from Spain. She doesn't have a website and doesn't speak a word of English or German but we communicated mini just fine using gestures and facial expressions. I hope to meet her again.

One perfect teacup from Elisabeth Causeret. Every dollhouse needs her pottery.

The incredible porcelain painting of Rita and Horst Kruger. The tiles measure 10mm square and are paper thin. Knowing a little bit about porcelain painting, I can appreciate the fine work and many firings needed to make just one perfect tile.

Will Werson's wickerwork. Delicate but sturdy and oh so evenly woven.

Vonas Miniaturen. Using exotic wood, antique ivory, and precious metals, this artist crafts one of a kind miniatures on a lathe. Perfectly proportioned and to scale, I could only stare in wonder.

 Gerd Felka's stand was a blaze of colour. Impossible to resist.

Shirley Scheibehenne doesn't limit herself to teddy bears. Her tiny birds and bats were fascinating.

And here's an icon of the miniature world I wanted to meet for a long time. Ray Storey's miniature lighting and glass are the stuff dreams are made of.

Helga Sadowski's miniature people and mice have so much character. We had a good chat about the best types of clay to use, and where to shop for supplies in Germany. Thanks, Helga!

If you don't know the work of Vera Rijgensberg yet, visit her website. I was impressed by the evocative style of her work.

The literature of Kathrin Hohensee. Her displays are as neat and precise as her miniature books.

The amazing work of miniature doll artist Daniela Kiefhaber. Look closely. The doll in the tiny nutshell is a Hitty. She's carved from wood and fully jointed.

Eric's wooden home furnishings reminded me of my friend Maryna's work. Everything a well equipped dollhouse needs.

A glut of the most perfect micro dolls in polymer clay. This is the work of Paola Ojeda and Alvaro Rodriguez of Taller Targioni in Spain. They don't have a website so if you see them at a fair, don't miss the opportunity to visit their stand.

Valerie Casson. I met her, in person. My heart sings! Some day I hope to have the privilege of attending a workshop she presents.

Doris Tussing's little people were definitely the most life-like dolls at the show. I couldn't stop looking, and every time you shift your eyes, you notice a new detail.

Whew, you made it to the end. Are your eyes aching? I can assure you not as much as my feet. There were more than 200 exhibitors at the show and I visited all of them two or three times.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

This is Where I Am

First glimpse of Germany from the air.

Hello Everyone

I disappeared when you were waiting to hear what happened next, sorry! The truth is that I've fallen down a rabbit hole and ended up in a fairy tale. It's called Germany. Wow, have I fallen hard for this place. But let's continue where I left off last time.

I caught the plane, arm in a sling and in quite a bit of pain but from there on things became better. First, the flight was half empty and I had two seats to myself and could lie down to sleep. When I arrived in Frankfurt, going through passport control and customs was a breeze. People are so efficient here. I took a fast train from the airport to Karlsruhe, where Siegfried (father in law) met me with his car. From there it was a 25km drive to my home for the next three months.

Karlsbad viewed from Biebelheim
It's impossible to describe the perfection of this little village without pictures. Nestled between corn fields and patches of forest, there's so much green that it feels like a dose of tranquilizer.

Karlsbad village centre.
The church is at the center of the village and the area is a perfect mix of modern and old. I've been so busy snapping pictures that I haven't had time to upload them to Instagram.

For the first few days, I felt completely disorientated. The sun hangs in the wrong part of the sky, cars drive on the wrong side of the road; as soon as I step out the front door I feel lost. Thankfully, Siegfried keeps nipping at my heels like a sheepdog and after a week, I'm happy to say that my internal compass is kicking in.

Over the weekend, I unpacked my art supplies and set up a workspace in the attic. Take a good look, my desk will never be this tidy again!

Tomorrow, my classes at the Volkshochschule start. I will be very busy learning to speak German like a German and finding out about the culture and history of the country.

As a sideline, I'm learning to ride a bike again. The story about not forgetting how is completely untrue. After 35 years out of the saddle, I've already had a few good falls; the bike runs away with me and bucks like a horse when I pull on the brakes. But that's a story for next time.

Wishing you a wonderful week in whatever part of the world you are.


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.