After having had so much fun building Robotime's DIY miniature library named 'Sam's study' (you can take a look at my earlier blog about that) in April, I felt like doing another project this winter. Having discovered a great admiration for plants in the recent years, I decided 'Miller's Garden' to be my new project. And because it such an enjoyment again, I'd like to share some of the experience with you.
Above you get an impression of the package. I wanted to create a housely feeling as soon as possible, so first I painted the frame and wallpapered the right wall. Then I put some pictures in frames for a start, and soon enough I was up for the first challenge: a noteboard with a 2x2mm small clip. Which meant cutting the tiniest piece of paper, and folding the smallest piece of wire to resemble a real life paper clamp!
On the second wall, I was to bend two tiny hooks, one for the first plant, the other for a looped rope (which, of course, I had to twine myself as well).
Starts to look like a garden, doesn't it? Next up was installing the light and the big window, including curtains. Compared to the chandelier I had to make in the library, this lamp was relatively simple, but still it was very exciting to test if the electric installation works - those little wires are só fragile!
I looooved the ornament in the side table, so I enjoyed playing with the light before the table went to stand on the, well, the side, where it is supposed to go ;).
Now that the electric wires could be put through the walls, I fixed both walls onto each other and onto the bottom frame. You might have recognized the drain pipe on the one wall. This is actually made of a drinking straw. So clever!
Talking about straws, take a look at this lovely straw hat (there were flowers to be added, too, which you'll see in the later pictures):
Then I stuffed two cute little cushions for the bench, cut out a canopy, created a washboard, a cart (dental sticks came into use for that one), miniscule hinges for the door, some garden tools, small furniture, wooden stepboards, a Van Gogh painting, glass jars, a terracotta pot, bags for seeds and bulbs, books, and a small brass kettle.
It's amazing how much you can make with the simplest components. Most of the items are just out of paper, dental sticks, beads and metal wire. The candles for example are made of pressed paper sticks, of which I had to carefully remove just so many layers until a the size of a wick was left, and paint that black. The watering can is entirely out of paper.
For some reason, I saved the flowers and greenery for last. Probably because I secretly dreaded cutting those hundreds of little leaves, hehe. But it proved to be not nearly as bad as I feared. And making the flowers was crazy. A tiny piece of thin paper (sized less than a square centimeter) became a tulip, you can actually folded pieces of paper sized 7,5cmx8mm in such a way they look like roses, I cut and folded paper into created hyacints, lavender, something that I think look like poppys but they might be gerberas.
Finally, I covered part of the wall and the grid with ivy. I wish I had counted the leaves I've cut, but I guarantee you that my fingers were numb when I was finished.
And now it was time to put all the smaller pieces into place! I assemled the garden quite different than the booklet suggests, but I found that suggestion way too chaotic and stuffed. I am so happy with my result!
You can find more designs on Robotime's homepage, but your local distributor might sell them as well.
In my 2019 review, I wrote '[The Storylines map] will be my guide in 2020 too, but I am also wildly looking forward to Pascal Merciers new release and to read more Russian classics - I've been enjoying all of the Russian authors I've read this year. And hopefully there's still some time for one or two of the beautiful history books that are still on my shelf... I'll set my reading challenge to 50 books or 20,000 pages for 2020 - let's see!'
I started off working towards this goal quite well, with 11 books read by mid-March, 8 of which were on my storylines reading list (Nostromo, The Color of Magic, The Children of Men, The Call of the Wild, Cider With Rosie, Childhood's End, The Age of Innocence and Foundation.
But then the world changed. The library closed, so I could just finish the 3 storylines-books (All the King's Men and A Wizard of Earthsea, The Tombs of Atuan) I still had at home, but the fact that I almost completely worked from home meant my main reading time (on the commute) vanished.
When I started planning our road trip through Northern and Eastern Germany, I realized that many of the destinations I picked were places that had a link to Romantic landscape painter Caspar David Friedrich. Him being one of my favorite painters, our trip was soon named the Caspar David Friedrich pilgrimage.
I've always wanted a doll's house. I love doing time consuming things that have a beautiful results (doing jigsaws, colouring in post cards, for example). No need to mention I love books. Of course, Facebook and co know all about me, so the targeted marketing for Robotime's miniature DIY houses hit bull's eye when they appeared on my feed.
My order arrived a few days earlier than I expected, which made the joy a little bigger yet when I unpacked the box, that already looked gorgeous from the outside. And then I was confronted with about a thousand parts - shelves, furniture, paintings and books to be! Look at all that detail!
A work visit to the International Youth Library in 2016 changed the way I thought of children’s books completely. It was an exhibition of works by Dutch and Flamish illustrators. I don’t know under which stone I had been hiding until that moment, I’m afraid I had never really thought about the topic, but seeing those artworks made me realize for the first time how much amazing work of art is need to fill a book with illustrations. There were original oil on canvas, watercolors, pencil drawings, lithographs and more in that exhibition. Since then, I’ve been following some great contemporary illustrators, especially from the Netherlands and Flanders. I’ll add some links to their Instagram accounts below. Also, I began to dive into all those great artists from the Golden Age of Illustration, a period from roughly the 1880’s till the 1920’s that in which book and magazine illustration excelled. Advances in printing technology permitted accurate and high quality reproduction of art, at much lower cost than before.
This was the time of Arthur Rackham, Edmund Dulac, Warwick Goble, Ivan Bilibin, Kay Nielsen, Kate Greenaway and Ida Rentoul Outhwaite, just to name a few, artists that are still admired today and have influenced many later artists. I’ll never get tired looking at their images of fairies and wonderlands! I need to mention Anton Pieck, Rien Poortvliet and Rie Cramer from the Netherlands, too. Today, I have filled an entire shelf with books that I just bought for their illustrations.
Check out these amazing Dutch and Belgian artists:
I read 47 books with a total of 18,812 pages. 11 of those books were in Dutch, 30 in German and 6 in English language. 8 books were works of nonfiction, the rest were novels or collections of short stories.
I started reading some of the Russian classics in this year: Pushkin, Gogol, Chekhov and of course Dostoevsky (I already read a Tolstoy years ago, not to worry). My favorite book of this year in reading was The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCollough - I just love chunky family histories set in the past! The biggest disappointment for me was The Secret History by Donna Tartt - I loved The Goldfinch, which I read a couple of weeks earlier, so had high hopes for her most celebrated novel, but it didn't do it for me. I was happy to finally read a beautifully illustrated edition of A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson, which had been on my shelf ever since winning it after a biology contest back in high school. The choices for books were rather random: titles that spoke to me in the library, books that had been sitting on my shelves for years, recommendations by friends as well as a couple of classics from the Story Lines Reading list. Here’s an overview in chronological order of my reading.
BOOKS read in 2019:
1. Geert Mak – Verleden van Nederland (2009)
2. Multatuli - Max Havelaar (1860)
3. F. Scott Fitzgerald – Tender is the Night (1934)
4. Fyodor Dostoyevski – The Brothers Karamasov (1879)
5. Niklas Natt och Dag – 1793 (2017)
In 2014, I found this jewel of an artwork online. It's an adaption of the London tube map, but book titles replace the stations, the different coloured lines each represent a certain genre. Does a station mark a crossing of lines, the genre of the book on this point will also be a cross-over. I just love how carefully this map is designed. The black line is representing the horror genre, the pink one is Romance. Stories taking place on oceans or on rivers are placed along the Thames. Doyle's Sherlock Holmes is placed on the Baker Street station.
But I didn't just buy this poster because it's pretty, I also decided to read every book that's named on it. And that's quite a challenge, because these are a lot of books indeed! Creating the list and then find all the books in the library or the web is a challenge in itself, even before the reading starts. But it gives me the opportunity to read some classics of genres I wouldn't normally tend to, so it's definitely worth the effort.
There's an updated version of this map now (2019), which can be found on Literary London. For everyone interested in joining, below's a list of the books. Series are highligted in green. You can follow my progress on Goodreads. Happy reading!
The interest for Maria Sibylla Merian (1647-1717), artist and founder of modern insect research, is still great. In the anniversary year 2017, the Forum International of the Nuremberg BUND Naturschutz (an institution for natural conservation), together with the Merianschule Nürnberg combined the memory of Merian with practical nature conservation. In May, they put together a small butterfly bed at the herb garden at the Nuremberg city wall. In addition to nectar plants for butterflies, they also thought of the right plants for caterpillars. For while butterflies are not picky when it comes to which plant they get their food from, their caterpillars are often highly specialized. For example, if we were to eliminate the stinging nettles that are commonly seen as weeds, such beautiful butterflies as the peacock butterfly or the small tortoiseshell would have a hard time.
The Merian-expert Mrs. Margot Lölhöffel from Nuremberg had the idea to extend this action, and so the project 'MERIANIN 2018+' was born. The concept: Maria Sibylla Merian is used as a symbolic patron for the conservation for insects and flowerbeds. Since I find this an excellent and very important topic, I asked Mrs. Lölhöffel if she was willing to answer a few questions about this project for my blog. And she was!
VN: The MERIANIN 2018+ initiative reacts to two recent events: In 2018, it was 350 years ago that Maria Sibylla Merian arrived in Nuremberg. In october 2017 we learned that the insect population in Germany had gone down by around 75%. How did you come up with the idea to combine both?
Nach wie vor ist die Begeisterung für Maria Sibylla Merian (1647-1717), Künstlerin und Begründerin der modernen Insektenforschung, groß. Im Jubiläumsjahr 2017 ergab sich für das Forum International des Nürnberger BUND Naturschutzes zusammen mit Kindern und Lehrerinnen der Merianschule Nürnberg eine schöne Gelegenheit, die Erinnerung an der „Merianin“ mit praktischem Naturschutz zu verbinden. Im Mai legten sie gemeinsam ein kleines Schmetterlingsbeet am BN-Heilkräutergarten am Hallertorzwinger an. Neben Nektarpflanzen für Schmetterlinge wurden auch Fresspflanzen für Raupen gepflanzt. Denn während Schmetterlinge nicht wählerisch bei der Nahrungssuche sind, haben sich ihre Raupen oft stark spezialisiert. Würde man zum Beispiel die meist als Unkraut bezeichnete Brennnesseln ausrotten, hätten es solch schöne Falter wie das Tagpfauenauge und der Kleine Fuchs sehr schwer.
Die Nürnberger Merian-Forscherin Frau Margot Lölhöffel hatte die Idee, diese Aktion zu erweitern, und so entstand „MERIANIN 2018+“. Das Konzept: Maria Sibylla Merian wird als symbolische Schirmherrin für den Lebensraum für Insekten und Blütenbeete eingesetzt. Da ich das eine ausgezeichnete und zudem sehr wichtige Idee finde, habe ich Frau Lölhöffel gefragt, ob Sie bereit ist, für meinen Blog ein paar Fragen zu diesem tollen Projekt zu beantworten. Und das war sie!
VN: Die Initiative MERIANIN 2018+ hakt gleich bei zwei aktuellen Ereignissen an: 2018 ist es 350 Jahre her, dass Maria Sibylla Merian in Nürnberg ankam. Außerdem wurde Ende 2017 bekannt, dass der Insektenbestand in Deutschland um ca. 75% zurückgegangen ist. Wie kamen Sie auf die Idee, beides zu kombinieren?
Intrigued as I am by botanical and zoological drawings (I am a true admirer of Ernst Haeckel, Maria Sybilla Merian and Robert John Thornton), I've been thinking about starting my own herbarium for a year or so. Chance has it that it's having a revival nowadays anyway, for it totally matches the principles of mindfulness to go out in nature and watch.
Yesterday, Marco and I walked down to the river and I noticed that, next to the planted tulips and daffodils, there are also gorgeous little wild flowers around. Since we were carrying a basket with drinks to enjoy with some friends at the beach, I told Marco I wanted to collect wildflowers on our way back.
And so I did - and all of a sudden I had developed a sensitive eye for beautiful grasses, leaves and flowers. It's amazing how much beauty there is actually out there that you never really perceive - you just see greens until you start to look.
Once at home I collected my largest, heaviest books and a pile of scrap paper and started to organize my flowers to dry them in the books. I hope it'll work - if it does, I'll show the result in about 3 weeks!