Domestication 2

13 04 2008

Ok, So about silver cutlery:

You put your stuff into the basin, on top of a sheet of aluminium foil. Fill with hot water and half a teacup of sodium carbonate.

Leave for half an hour. take out your stuff, and wipe clean: Beautiful clean silver! It works with jewellery too of course, just don’t put stuff with stones in it: it is quite agressive. The aluminium foil has turned black when you take it out!

Here you see some of my cleaned cutlery!

As you can see I have many different designs. That is because I buy a spoon or fork whenever I see one I like in an antique shop, or on a market. They are all old ones anyway. I like old cutlery, especially the spoons: They are BIG! With these spoons you get a whole mouthful of soup, not just a drop.


12 04 2008

This, my dear readers, is the image which will greet you when you enter my house. I am not dull, so guess what…

I am useless at housekeeping. I am never finished with my work, and housekeeping comes third after Work, and Pets. And with my recent injury I have been incapable of performing some household duties anyway. Although there is very little I can’t do now, I’m seriously behindhand.

I do love a neat, clean house, so if the mess disturbs you; I will be only too happy to show you where I keep my impressive array of seldom used cleaning appliances and materials.

I have, in a burst of enthusiasm, brought this great book on housekeeping. It is written by a mother and daughter team, Marja and Liny, who are Paragons of Perfection. I find that very depressing, but I want to improve myself, so I got the book anyway. They have a television show where they help people get out of the mess and show us many handy, clever, and old fashioned household tricks. My biggest fear is that they show up on my doorstep! I have already tried their trick of cleaning silver cutlery and it worked great!

The Tarq in the Alhambra

27 02 2008

Well, finally finished: The Tarq in the Alhambra.

It’s not just the painting, I have also changed my brand of gouache paint! That’s a big decision you know! I have now switched to Lasceaux. It means renewing the whole range of colours, but also having for a small part to re-learn working with the paint. The colours will work differently together, so that means I must re-learn mixing them. It paints slightly different, and dries differently too.

But I’m very pleased! This is really a beautiful paint; véry rich. Meaning very deeply pigmented; the cheaper a paint, the less pigments they put into it. The colours then become increasingly pale. Also they might be inferior pigments wich will fade over time. Paint is nothing more than: pigments and a carrier. That can be Arabic gum for watercolours and gouache, linseed oil for oil-paint, Acrylic for Acrylic-paint, or egg for tempera. Or spit: which is what they used on pre-historic cave paintings.

This is the first result with the new paint:


A horse in the Alhambra 3

19 02 2008

Is finished! Here you can see it half finished, the walls are almost finished. I use many layers of gouache paint, which then melt and mix, making for a very rich texture. I’m also slowly working things out here, because, yes, it’s a horse in the Alhambra, but I’m using the series also to try out difficult problems. In this case a play with light and dark.


The finished painting!


Horse in the Alhambra 2

17 02 2008

The painting of Trabag is in its first stage, just monochrome colouring, but everything is at its place. From now on it’s just a lot of work. I sometimes start an oil-painting this way too, but this is going to be in gouache.


The whole series is very much inspired on Mughal Miniatures from the British Museum. I never go there without having a look at my particular favorites. They are often quite flat, space-wise,but I’m noticing the space in the paintings is getting deeper. Trabag has quite a lot of depth.

moghul_miniature_amberhead.jpg. . moghul_miniature.jpg

The Alhambra horses are also quite small, 15cm by 15cm, and painted with gouache, and embellished with real gold and silver leaf. I sometimes put them into real space, and sometimes I just use tiles or a stone-grid as a background.

This is the ”Quarto Dorado”


And different ways the horses are put in:




American Bald Eagle

16 02 2008

I’m posting this because I think Lofter will like it.. .americanbaldeaglebok.jpg

Last year Colorado Saddlery in Denver moved premises, and every now and then they found something in the rafters and send it to us, thinking we might like it.

There was this saddle-tree without a horn, and very old-fashioned bars: no modern horse has such a back. As I am still really an apprentice I thought I’d use it to try my skills on. And, I’d make something really over the top. Something very ”American”. I was thinking of those great American Carousels (mostly made by immigrants) and came up with The American Bald Eagle! The head by the way, is carved out of a piece of willow-wood-for-wooden-clogs! So there is a dutch connection!bald-eagle-kop.jpg

This is an American carousel horse: . carrousel_denzel_horse.jpg

It is, notwithstanding the insane design, an old-school saddle. Separate front-jockey, hard-seat, double-D rigging, and an eight-string construction. Enjoy!



Just adding another carousel horse: carouseleagleprance.jpg

And a Stein&Goldstein head: Cool! : carrousel_steingoldstein.jpg

A Horse in the Alhambra

6 02 2008

Where shall I start… When I was 10 years old my parents took us to Spain, and, to do something cultural, they took us to the Alhambra Palace, Granada. I was completely wiped out, boiled over, and in love. I had many dreams about it.


The Alhambra Palace


I went back some time ago, armed with three cameras and 30 rolls of film!!!


The best dream went thus: I was a cook. In the Alhambra. But I didn’t know what to cook, and I didn’t have any food. I was led to a courtyard, there were a couple of zebras and ponies. No go, I’m not going to cook horses and zebras!

Then a fat Arab came, he showed me the cutest horse: half horse, half zebra. And so cheerful! Never! This horse was not going to be cooked either!

So, no dinner. But a very nice dream, good party, and everybody was very happy, and it started a series of Gouache paintings which one day will be: ”One Hundred Horses in the Alhambra”

This is Rabhar in the Alhambra

A white Arab in the Alhambra

A frisian!


And this is going to be the next one: A spotted Arab called Trabag. I found an old picture of this horse in a book, must be some weird genetic anomaly because there are no pure spotted Arabs. (the Americans like to breed near pure Arabs which are spotted, but they are never truly Asil) I like weird coloured horses for the ”One Hundred Horses”


And tomorrow I’ll start on this one, perhaps a new post then to show you, dear visitors, how it is progressing.


14 01 2008

So why do I do it?


Because it would be a great job if I didn’t get all that flak. And if I could make a basic income out of it. It is great to make something which is good, beautiful, and useful. And sometimes I can express myself as an artist too.

It started with Tarq’s saddle. Which gives no trouble by the way, it has even survived Tarq’s swimming adventure. It has protected his back when he slid down the dike, and bumped on his back over the iron border of the canal. I had to dry it, brush it up, and although clearly has been through the works, is still beautiful and perfectly serviceable.

With Tarq’s saddle I let my worst imaginations loose. design, tooling, colouring, and sowing and construction did take three months.



But definitely worth it. And worthy of The Tarq!


I’m now working on an endurance saddle. The X-treme! I’m leaving everything off which isn’t absolutely necessary. Maximal comfort for the horse; minimal comfort for the rider! It’s still only half finished.


Besides. There is something of a message here: one doesn’t have to buy badly made saddles, that don’t fit and damage your horse. And I spend a lot of time and effort in giving clinics, and lectures, about the importance of, and how to make sure, that your saddle fits reasonably well.

Probably all a waste of time and effort.


9 01 2008

vintage ”printer” It is an ancient tradition in The Netherlands for printers to have a celebration on the first Monday of the year. The printers would make a special print for the owners of the printing-studio’s, and they in return would give the workers presents, and lots of alcohol.

The result of this practice was that there was very little, or none at all, printing done in the first week of the year. Multatuli, a famous nineteenth-century writer complained that one of his books wouldn’t be ready to be published due to Coppermonday.

As I am a member of the ”Graphic Centre of Groningen” where coppermonday is an ongoing tradition, I had a very nice Monday evening. As we are all artist-printers we also give specially made prints to each other. There is an official coppermonday-print which is being sold via the local newspaper, and a Graphic center print, which is made by one of the members. This year it’s a very good one made by Wim. I know him well as we work on the same lithography-course on Tuesday.

As I leave these things to the last minute, (I know: Shame on me) and I’ve been ”the complete invalid” for the last five weeks of 2007, I had nothing to give out. Luckily I still got quite a good haul from my friends 🙂

After the speech and unveiling of the prints, time for meeting and greeting, and drinking! Luckily there were non-alcoholic drinks too, but I saw the box of empty bottles next day, and the tradition seems fully alive still ! I couldn’t stay long though; I didn’t want to bother to take my crotches with me on my bicycle, and that was a mistake, because I started to hurt very much and had to go home early. But: good evening!

Update: By ”printers” I mean: the men & women who use very oldfashioned printing presses, to make art or do typography in a very oldfashioned way! 🙂 🙂 🙂 With ink, and paper, and a lot of blood, sweat and tears! 🙂