Friday, July 30, 2010

Paisley Friday!

Hello all you shiny, happy, people out there in blogsville!!! How are you and what do your plans involve today? Ours revolve around our friends who are visiting for the weekend. Unbeknownst to you (I love using words like that!), I have been busy cooking and cleaning behind the scenes...this post has been scheduled to run without any assistance from me (I just had to hit the "publish" I wish life were like that sometimes (maybe not, when I think of it..)). Oh I point here was that I like to get a major chunk of the work out of the way so I can enjoy time with company...its nice when you're afforded the luxury of planning isn't it? I'm a planner (and plotter, too!).............. :) and peace reigns when I'm allowed to chart out all the minutiae in my mind. I'm not a pleasant person to be around when you catch me unawares (consider yourself forewarned...!!!)

So while you enjoy pretty pictures of design and decor, I'm going to be lounging around, enjoying company..there will be chai and laughter...good food and fun. I wish you joy and peace this weekend!!!

We will return to regularly scheduled programming come Monday!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Gallery walls extrodinare........

Putting together a home shouldn't be hard and it certainly shouldn't be expensive! One element that has caught my eye time and again is the concept of the picture wall/gallery. No, not talking museums or even the White House here...just making do with artwork you have on hand...your child's paintings, prints, botanicals, (framed fabric!), mirrors...basically anything you can group can be a cohesive group, bound by: 

  1. Color (or lack of it i.e. b/w, monochromatic images),
  2. Frame shape (ovals, squares, rectangles, or a glorious conglomeration of angles and curves),
  3. Frame color (i.e. the frames are all one color and weight...while the art is all-over-the place).
  4. Subject matter/theme: i.e. botanicals, doors (one of the desi bloggers had put up an awesome post on this...if it was you, please let me know, and I'll link up to it!), birds, butterflies, airplanes, photographs. Too many to list. You get the picture, right? (pun totally intended! sorry..the ham in me....)
...Or a wild eclectic mass of interest.... Totally up to you. But whatever you do with it, its sure to liven up those walls!!!
Inspiration?!!? Here's some..........
Further reading:
  1. An excellent tutorial on how to get your picture gallery just-so each time. 
  2. A mini-compendium of resources on hanging art. (With a large dose of humor thrown in!!). 
  3. A recent post on gallery walls. Some lovely pictures here.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A new online resource: Rue Magazine

The design blogosphere's buzzing about the launch of a new online magazine, put out by four blogger friends.  The premiere issue, set to debut in September, promises to take us to Inspiration Heaven. I can't Wait!

Launching in September '10. Watch this space.

Home tour: Susan's Retreat in Singapore

“Life imitates art far more than art imitates life.”

- Oscar Wilde.

I'm sure by now you're as smitten by Sans! as I am.....didn't you just love the personality that peeked through in her interview?? Since I didn't want to mess it up lose the essence, here are a few welcoming words from Sans!' blog (to put it in context, these were the words she used to welcome her blogger friends to a virtual home-tour over at her blog!)

"So, come, come, my dear friends ! Welcome to my home. Oh, did you think this is my Indian palace? Ermm, I am ashamed (..not!) to admit, my miniature life has quite certainly taken over my real life!......... If you will please, do leave your beautiful shoes right at the door, that's it, thank you. And while I put on my favourite song.... 'fraid it's not anything Chinese, it's my current favourite from AR Rahman, the composer and singer for Slumdog? .. do sit down.."....

Here's what Susan has to say about her home/decorating style....

"As you can see in the pictures, I am heavily influenced by Indian Decor. I was so desperate for a copy of the Elle Decor, India (special edition) I had my brother call the publishing house when he was in Gurgaon and have 2 copies specially delivered to his hotel :)."
Let's drop in now and say hello, shall we?

Cozy corner in her living room.

Different angle. Love the wooden "guy" in the corner....he's hanging on to every word in the conversation... What a pal!!

On the coffee table......

Another nook in the living room.

I love that she's using carpets to cover her coffee table and diwan seat! how ingenious is that!!??!
(click on the images for larger pictures)

Living room in perspective.

Little vignette on her side table.

The details!

"Darwaza" vignette!!

Staircase often do we ignore/forget this space? Look at all she's done here. Gorgeous!

 Even more amazing--this is the approach to the landing. I can just imagine the ambiance when those tealights are lit!!!

Beauty. Personality. Charm. Character.....something no amount of money can buy!! I could go on posting pictures of this gorgeous home, that houses an extremely talented artist, with a very warm personality......or I could let you wander over to her blog for more inspiration....Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

An artist's journey.........

Labor. of. Love.

These were the first words that came to mind when I stumbled across "The Dollhouse Diaries: My Maharaja's Palace". Followed by "oh, that's pretty", "wow", "she made this??!!!", you get the picture!!...I couldn't  scroll down fast enough.........picture after picture, room after room conceived and lovingly recreated in miniature. Behind the scenes, I could just  picture her, researching each plot (because it is not enough for her to just build a room, often from the ground up,....there are stories to be told as well!) 

Miniature "charpai" with a lovely bedspread!!

Such a pretty window!

I'd like to take you on a journey with me, to wonderful Singapore, to meet Susan or Sans! as she is affectionately called. Sans!' art is unique as she works in the world of miniatures...she casts her spell on empty-shell dollhouses to recreate palaces and huts filled with beautifully detailed interiors. Each room is populated with little people, with intriguing stories of their own to share...........

"Pillows on bed".

Handcrafted "juttis" for her little people........

I had put a few questions to her, curious to know of her journey.... She writes:

"My focus is Indian culture which is a bit of an obsession with me at the moment. As I research more for my dollhouses, I am beginning to really appreciate how much of an influence India and its culture has over the rest of the world. Even today, I am amazed at how much of what people use in their daily lives across the universe, were actually handmade in India :)."

Handmade "toran".

Read on..............................

GB:  How/when did you start designing dollhouses?

Sans!:  It was Christmas 2008 when my housemate, who owned (still does) an events company, held a "Home For Christmas" themed event at a huge mall in Singapore. The event featured 4 dollhouses especially flown in from the States together with furniture. I was roped in to help decorate the houses over a very short time. I stayed up sleepless for 48 houses doing up the Queen Anne, the biggest dollhouse and completed it. Looking back, I see now that the work that I did then was really amateurish. :) and I would never again attempt to decorate a house of that scale in such a short time! :). You can view them here :) .  . Quite awful really. :) Anyway, that was when I was hooked.

It was in Jan 2009 that I made my 1st miniature , a set of silver goblets that have fallen apart since..haha! That month I also made a book on miniature Indian painting :).- Maybe someone can finally tell me whether the Sanskrit words are correctly placed..haha! I thought it was "interesting" to make a miniature book on miniature paintings :). I have to shamefully confess that that was also the 1st time in my life I crafted since primary school when it was part of schoolwork.

Tiny pewter tumblers, on an adorable red console (I'll take it IRL!!) :)

I had already decided shortly after the events that I wanted to build a Maharajah's Palace with all the intricate carvings etc. That's why I started the blog, to record my journey to the building of this palace. The very 1st post was about how the idea of building an Indian palace came about - I wanted my palace to be spectacular ! :):) My sister Susie, came up with an artist's impression of what my palace should look like :)

It never crossed my mind to build it myself. I had looked to India for artisans to help me build one.There are really wonderful model makers who can do exactly what I want except they may not be familiar with the building of a dollhouse (layout, opening, assembly details are different from just a model) Here's some examples of their work. I actually went to India to visit Agra's Fatepur Sikri and the Taj in Jan 09 ..yea, I know I am crazy that way :). My sister was going there for work and it was free lodging :).

Plans for the grand palace!

That was before my housemate told me the 4 dollhouses they used in the exhibition would be mine if I wanted them! I recorded that day here :- !  Can you imagine how thrilled I was? Dollhouses are not sold here in Singapore. It was either I build one from scratch or the closest for me to get one was from Indonesia (you can see the one I wanted to get from Indonesia is on the Day 1 post. And I am not even talking about the palace ! Just the run of the mill dollhouses that people in the West take for granted. That halted the plans for my palace for a while because I needed to "convert" these Victorian houses into Indian lodgings PLUS I just got a quote for USD10k from the model maker in India to build me my palace (without looking at plans- they may be quoting a high fee to be on the safe side or maybe they were really NOT interested in building my dollhouse! LOL)

Thanks to being so new to crafting, I did everything else except work on the houses for more than 1 year :). I made a tree, even " built" a temple which was easy because it was from a S$2.00 kit made in China (USD1.25?)  and many many more Indian (mixed with Persian , Mughal etc) artifacts and accessories including hookahs, Indian side tables , pillows etc . I even started stitching Oriental Miniature rugs and I have never sewn in my life-- even during primary school :). Everything except working on the 4 houses because I really could not decide what to do and then how to do it!

After some research , I fell in love with the Bhungha  and havelis and I decided ( I did not know how then) that that is exactly what I would convert the 4 Victorian houses into . And the era must be during the times of the Maharajah. I picked British India , late 18th to early 19th century. As you can see, I  always dream big 1st and then worry later :).

To welcome the "guests"...

Finally in April this year, I "bashed" the smallest of the 1st house (attacked by termites :) ) and created the tribal house :). Not a bhunga because try as I might, I could not make the house circular :):)

Little house.

Gorgeous "antique" door! Read the post to see how she did it.

It is July already, and I have only finished 2 rooms. I hope to finish one more , the artists' workroom this weekend . I was making paint brushes just before I replied to this email :). My artists will paint ganjifa cards :) amongst others.

GB:  Tell us about your inspiration for the maharaja palaces (your trip to Pakistan, India?)

Sans!:  As you know, I have been to India and hope to make a trip there at least once a year. In the meantime, I research almost every item I make . I have loads of books on India, be it craft, ID , Mughal art , palaces or forts and history. I join blogs on Indian culture and decor and at the moment, because I am building a tribal village house that is to be a home for artisans , I am especially interested in the subject matter of handicrafts of India and the traditional method of building anything from charpai to baskets, carpets to jutti.


A spot of tea, anyone?

Treasure chests!!!

Another important factor influencing my direction and motivations are the friends I've made since I started the blog. I am the recipient of much generosity and often have miniaturists just send me their creations specially made for my palace, sometimes out of the blue. It is just an amazing community here. So I started writing stories about these gifts and friends, creating characters from Indian dolls I have and naming these dolls after my friends. I have in my possession almost 200 polyresin Indian dolls :). The tribal house is one I am building for a family of Banjaran gypsies who are very creative with their hands and are entertainers :). Rosanna, the Italian friend will be visiting me in Singapore this coming Monday :):). Yes she is flying down here to spend some time with me and to see Bali and Malaysia :).

These are some of the characters I have created :

Eva, the lady peddlar  after a friend , Eva in Spain

Tallulah, the flower girl after Jayne in US who makes miniature flowers

Rollas- the Banjaran gypsies- , my friends, Rosanna and Walter and Rosanna's dad :). Rosanna is a whiz at embroidery

2 mothers.


GB:  Where do you get all the materials from? Do you make everything or do you modify stuff that exists?

Sans!:  As my subject matter is quite unusual, the objects I need are not widely available in dollhouse shops. I will either have to commission someone (and not very many of them will know how to do them well) to make specific things and I have (Kiva Atkinson for Indian food and Sumaiyah Mehreen for my 1st 4 dolls) or try building it myself. In any event, we also have no specialty toy stores here for dollhouse lovers. I am quite particular and although I find 100% realism boring (I am going to get shot for this I do want my items to be as close to "British India" as possible. So when I was in India, I went to the non tourist-y parts of Delhi to get their fabrics, trimmings and ribbons. I was quite overwhelmed by the beautiful and intricate bead work in a small strip of ribbon. There is no substitute really for these. I use these ribbons to make fabric items like cushions, the Banjaran valance and blanket etc . They are not exact mini replicas :). I am not built that way :) so they are made with liberal artistic licence .

Adorable little stool!

I am very lucky to be staying quite close to Little India in Singapore and I shop there for a lot of my little things. I bought some wonderful mini copper pots there.Whenever I am in Bangkok, I will go to their famous weekend market, JJ where they have a section devoted to excellent handmade miniatures that can be modified to look Indian, eg baskets etc. So yes, I modify a lot of existing stuff to look more Indian or old and distressed. I love it when I can change something so completely that it is unrecognisable from the original form (like Hassan Sometimes, I do have to make things from scratch. Like all my hookahs . We have a wonderful bead shop in Singapore, small but comprehensive and for many of my little projects like hookahs, bowls etc, I used these beads. Common household items like buttons and clasp can also be used. I made this hookah from beads and buttons :

"Hookah" made of buttons!

I am always trying to improve on the old model The other thing I am going to keep making is the charpai. I hope to weave one properly . That goes for the stool too. I used oriental fans alot to make carved wooden boxes . The other great store is of course our $2 Japanese Store Daiso.

Casual "baithak"...

"Shoe shelves" made of ice-cream sticks and buttons!

GB: Have you ever held any exhibitions? Your art belongs in museums! If you do, do you have any scheduled- and where?

Sans!: You are too kind :):). I hope that one day, after I chalk up 10,000 hours practising my craft, I will have the opportunity to :).

GB: I love the stories you build around your characters..which comes first, the story or the setting?

Sans!: You have read what I said about me creating the characters so I won't repeat that part but it is almost always the setting 1st. Often my stories happen only when I start writing the post :) . My 1st story was Mahendran and the Roses of Misgivings - . It's really a silly story and completely disconnected like a lame limerick. But I took a lot of pictures arranging the flowers with this and that prop and the story just evolved when I starting to post about the flowers. Later on. I started mixing history with my story like The Indian History of Shoe Throwing . Another really silly tale.  I think it is only funny to me and the people who gave me those presents :). But I always like my characters to be strong, independent , clever and resourceful . The women especially are usually portrayed as very creative and smart business woman. Did you read the article on NY Times (Linked via.) ? Exactly like the lady in this article :). If you don't read anything else, you must read this amazing story. I love love love it!

You must visit her over at her blog. Drop in, say hi, linger and be sure to bookmark it...because there are waaayy too many pictures and stories, rich in details, research, and inspiration, for me to cover in one post!! I know the question that is now foremost in your minds is..."if that's her dollhouse...what's her home like??". Good question. Come back tomorrow to find out.......... ;)

Monday, July 26, 2010

Some pretty pictures...

...and a punch of style for your week ahead!! I work on prettying my nest, I'm constantly on the lookout for the next piece of inspiration to reach out and grab are some random images from this week's forays into the design world.

Hello. Monday.

Love this. Very do-able...covered settees/colorful cushions/plants/lamp/mirrors=all elements usually found within our own homes. I would love to recreate this space in my own home...even the wall art seems possible (if I were allowed to paint-we rent, you see). But there's loads of options opening wall decals, mounted fabric (and some more, which I would like to introduce you to in my future posts...)

A little OTT in my opinion....but those gorgeous pieces of furniture were just calling my name...they remind me of Kashmiri walnut wood carving...sigh!

Framed fabric=genius.

Blue pottery+shades of brown... what a pretty combination.
All images unless mentioned otherwise: Elle Decor.

This weekend was the usual: chores and errands + firefly watching + cooking up a few treats. I cleaned and scrubbed like a woman possessed...I'm happy to report that we are now several U-haul boxes lighter (luckily for us, our neighbors are moving and I gladly passed them on--anything to prevent them from landing up in a landfill...I don't understand why some states don't recycle!!). In other news, can't get this song out of my head.

This week, as promised, we will be travelling to Asia for a really heavy dose of hold on to your hats coz' this ride's about to begin.....!!! Check back tonight for the first installment.....(*giggle* I love acting like the suspense-wala announcer...seriously, what a ham, huh?)

Friday, July 23, 2010

Paisley Friday!

This week for paisley fridays, I'd like to share a little project that I worked on last weekend........I present to you my new paisley cushion. It is now happily perched on the couch in our living room.....

So the cushion itself was pretty inexpensive-- a set of two for $9.99 at world market (I used a coupon + some store credit for it as well--what can I say?- I'm cheap careful with my money)... and i absolutely loved the colors (it was just the pop of color my living room needed), the only thing bothering me?-it was kinda---flat! no zing, no pop, nothing much going for it apart from the zany what's a girl to do?  I'm not a glitter/sequin person and this was already busy enough... so I decided to do some (very slapdash) embroidery to pick out the pattern a bit and make it look more spendy than it's the before...

(this is also the back of the pillow at the moment...not planning on any touch ups for the back)

and the after......(just showing a close-up of the work--really slapdash, but who cares...its not I like I have to be graded on it (anyone else out there remember SUPW classes.... :) remember, how we hated them?....well, sometimes a little extra knowledge does come in handy!!--tho' I'm sure sister Mary would cringe if I presented this in class!!  :) )

so anyway, now that I'm feeling very pleased with myself (doesn't take much does it?) and have shown off some really shoddy workmanship, I'm sure you'd like to see it in perspective (just a little peek, because one area still needs work...I promise I'll post pictures when I'm satisfied!)

My little pop of color in the living room...

(sorry for the cr#pp% picture)

So, what do you think? There's a lot of other rust/orange/yellow action going on elsewhere in the room, this corner needed something to tie it in... will post more pictures soon....

Happy friday and enjoy your weekend folks!!!....and remember to check back next week...we're flying to the orient to meet an artist and tour some homes........

Thursday, July 22, 2010


.........Viva Terra, an eco-conscious store......and guess what they have for sale?.........this piece of gorgeousness!!!....

The 5'X5' panel costs $598....not cheap, but so obsession-worthy......made entirely of reclaimed wood panelling.

other beauties..........

recycled glass never looked so good...

Kalamkari bedding.

Antiqued mirrors framed in mango wood.......

Japanese "Imari" bowls

Want to see more? go check out their website.

Linked via.

Also wanted to mention that there are several giveaways this week: over at My dream Canvas, Mochatini, Rainbow-the colors of India, and Once upon a tea time. Enjoy!
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