Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Craft Club and Skiing!

Since January I have been running an after school craft club for children at a nearby school.  I have been teaching them how to make 3d illustrations!  It's been great and I am really proud of what they have achieved.  Here are just a few of their finished pieces:

That's supposed to be me by the way (above) in the stripy top and glasses!  

I have absolutely loved seeing all the different ideas the children have had. A lot of them did stick with making bedrooms but a few of them branched out and made other rooms/scenes. 

I am hoping I will be able to run another load of sessions next term- we will see!

In other news, last week I went skiing in France (Montgenevre- on the border- only a 20 minute walk from Italy) with my family and Henry.  If I'm honest I was a little dubious as I am not a very sporty person and not a HUGE fan of skiing (I can take it or leave it) but the whole holiday was brilliant! We had a very nice skiing instructor and I found myself really enjoying the lessons.  Also we stayed in a chalet with a couple of other families (who we didn't know)  They turned out to be very nice and interesting and we had a really fun and funny time with them. (and now I definitely like skiing!)

Henry and I wore matching ski suits that we borrowed from his Dad and friend.  We were easy to spot!

We also ate a lot of nice food including a lot of cheese (well, we were in France!) pizza, burgers hot chocolate etc... and then skied it all off again!  We were told by our rep that up in the mountain there was a restaurant where we could get hot chocolate 'so thick you can stand a spoon up in it.'  On the last day, even though it was blizzarding and freezing, Henry and I went in search of this chocolate. It didn't disappoint. It seemed to be literally a cup of melted chocolate. It was yum. I can't testify to the fact that my spoon stood up in it though.

We went on lots of chair lifts and a cable car which were fun.  Henry and I walked to Italy and looked at the multicoloured pasta shapes.  We went to a restaurant called Caesers were I ate a baked Camembert and played chinese whispers with the other families. I read the last book in the Moomin series (I liked the bit where Mymble brushed her hair until she was like a ball of lightning) We played a very silly game of articulate. I did some work on my dummy book for Witch's Cat sequel. We listened to avalanches being set off by bombs.  We waded through about three feet of snow- I have never seen so much snow in my life!

I also found a new little friend in Montgenevre. Can't work out what animal he's supposed to be (I think some version of a devil/horned thing) but I like that. 

So all in all a very good week!


Friday, 15 March 2013

Colleen Moore's Fairy Castle

Have you ever heard of Colleen Moore's Fairy Castle?  I first discovered it about ten years ago when I found this book about it in my local dolls house shop.  I was immediately spellbound.  This miniature castle is a thing of beauty!  I wish I could see it in real life but it is in Chicago (on display in the Museum of Science and Industry)- a little far away for a day trip!

Basically, Colleen Moore (who was a star of the silent film era), embarked on a project to create a castle decorated with fairy tale themes in dollhouse scale.  She spent hundreds and thousands of dollars and seven years making this dream happen.  She hired hollywood set designers and crafts men to create the castle's fourteen splendid rooms and exquisite furnishings.  She also gathered antique miniature treasures from all over the world to put inside it. 

The fairy castle is situated in a Magic Garden.  This area of the Fairy Castle is animated by the endless rocking of the cradle of Rock-abye Baby, which unlike in the lullaby, rests safely in a tiny treetop on a bough that never breaks.  Here it is below.  it was actually Colleen Moore's most beloved object in the garden.  Her Irish grandmother had the golden cradle set with pearls made from a necklace, a pair of earrings, and a brooch she had inherited and worn from childhood.

I love the fact that this caslte is a culmination of so many different famous people.  For example there is a picture on the wall by Walt Disney, there are tiny books in the library contributed by famous writers of the day (F. Scott Fitzgerald, Daphne du Maurier and John Steinbeck to name a few), there is an autograph album with the signatures of six American presidents, Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Phillip, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Winston Churchill, Picasso and many more.
In fact, over a hundred people were involved with working on the castle including Harold Grieve, a motion picture director and interior designer who like others, became bewitched with it:

'The leading characters of Fairyland will live in this house and they will naturally be interested in antiques.  They'll want to shop all the auction galleries and antique places in Fairyland, hunting for King Arthur's Round Table to go in the dining room, and Sleeping Beauty's bed...'
I also love how no expense or extravagance is spared when it comes to this enchanted castle.  It is filled with diamonds, rubies, jewels and precious things galore. For example in the princess's bedroom (below), Colleen Moore was thinking about Sleeping Beauty running from her golden bed to her ivory dressing table. What material would be elegant enough? The answer was Mother of Pearl.  The walls are painted pale pink with a mural of Peter Pan over the door.  Also notice the exquisite stained glass window.

Another thing I like about this castle is that Colleen Moore didn't put any characters in it. 'She intended the castle to be a home for the fantasy characters that had delighted her as a child.  And just as she was free to imagine its residents, she wanted viewers to have the same opportunity to people it with the fairy-tale characters of their own imaginations and renew the fantasy afresh each time.'  I think this makes the whole thing even more magical!

Well I've barely scratched the surface of the magnificence and detail of this castle. I so wish I could go and see it in real life! Maybe one day... For now I will have to satisfy myself with looking at pictures and trying to re create something similar in my own castle (haha I wish!)

So what do you think of it? Had you ever heard of Colleen Moore's fairy Castle before?
 I'd be interested to know!


Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Twenty Five

Last week I had a birthday!  My friend Anna made and sent me this lovely little cake in the mail.  I just love it.  Celestine quite likes it too...

I'm usually quite big on birthdays but this year I didn't really have the time or money to do a lot.  Henry and I went out for a meal to Prezzo with my grandparents one night which was nice. They do the nicest pizzas at Prezzo. I also had honeycomb cheesecake which was yum.  I also went out for a meal with some friends. I really wanted a burger so we went to this place where they apparantly do gourmet burgers but the service was rubbish and nobody thought it was very good. It didn't matter too much though because we all went back to mine afterwards and had pudding there which was much better!

Anyway I also thought I'd show off a few of the things I got for my birthday including a beautiful (miniature) necklace made by Ursula Sturmer, the tiniest Paddington bear ever (made by Sally Reader Miniatures) and some purple drippy candles for my castle made by Dark Squirrel miniatures.

I also got a box of extremely alcoholic chocolate truffles from Henry's Dad and Gran which Celestine was very interested in.   

Lastly, I'm one of those people who loves getting nice cards. I never throw them away!  Here are two of my favourites from this year:


Thursday, 7 March 2013

Life Lately...

I have put the lighting into my castle! Every room has a chandelier.  The picture you see here at the top is going to be Celestine's room.  I have also wallpapered every room now. //  I have been drawing gold dust geckos. //  I bought some exquisite miniature books at a miniature fair and some other things for my castle.  //  I have been collecting up lots of star crystals for my wedding.  //  I realised my initials will become HMP (Her Majesty's Prison) once we are married. //  Henry and I went to Nottingham to visit his family and visited Rufford Abbey Park.  We saw lots of geese, ducks and swans and Barney was a nuisance with the cat.   //  I have been working on the cover for my Witch's Cat book. //  I met my friend Anna in London and we went to Goldhawke Road and looked in all the fabulous fabric shops (I loved them! I will be back!)  //  Henry had a birthday and I spent five hours making him this three tier Zelda themed cake (copied from one I saw on the internet.)  His eyes almost popped out of his head when he saw it!

Hope your weeks have been good!  Have you done anything exciting?