Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Baby Cradle Update #6 (Final update!)

As I said in my last post about the baby cradle I was handing the cradle over to my wife for painting and finishing. Unfortunately, I do not have pictures of the intermediate stages. We were busy getting ready for our vacation the first part of May. I am writing a series of posts on our vacation in Europe, WHAT WE DID ON OUR VACATION: AMSTERDAM.

At any rate, the cradle is in position in the nursery in my daughter's home. This passed weekend my wife and I visited our daughter and I took a few pictures of the cradle. I must say that it looks like it belongs in the nursery. My wife did an outstanding job in painting the cradle and creating the bedding and padding around the cradle.

 It took several coats of paint to make sure that there is adequate coverage. The first coat was a primer coat. after the primer had completely dried my wife gave the cradle two good coats of a good quality oil based paint. She used an oil based paint after discussing it with the paint provider. she was advised that the oil based paint would provided the best coverage, have the best looking finish and it would be the most durable paint.
 The only problem with an oil based paint is the odor after the paint is applied. That is one of the reasons that we wanted to complete the cradle as quickly as possible. If the paint has time to dry and cure thoroughly, the odor will completely disappear. When I took these pictures this passed Sunday, there was no evidence of paint odor in the room. When the baby arrives in a few weeks there will be no issue with paint odor on the cradle.
Now that the cradle is done I have focused my attention on completing the change table and the crib!

Friday, May 27, 2011


I just returned from an European vacation. My wife and I took a Mediterranean cruise with a few extra days added at the beginning and end of the cruise to make it a twelve day vacation. It was great! We flew from Toronto to Amsterdam on KLM, KLM. It was the first time that we flew with this particular airline. We gave them top marks for service, food and comfort during the flight. We would recommend KLM to anyone for comfort and ease of travel. We left Toronto at 11:00PM and arrived in Amsterdam at 2:00PM the next day. It was a seven hour flight but it did not seem that long.

It was also the first time that we had been to Amsterdam. As we descended to the runway I had a good view of the canals that had been created over the centuries that provide transportation throughout the city. From the air, Amsterdam looked to be very neat and well organized. The woman who sat beside us during the flight told us that she was going to meet up with a group of people and take a ten day bicycle trip through Holland, Holland Bike Tours.

The airport in Amsterdam, Amsterdam Airport,  gave me the same impression as Amsterdam from the air. the airport was clean and organized and so very interesting. We arrived in the middle of the tulip festival, Amsterdam Tulip Festival
so everything had to do with tulips. I had to take a few pictures of the colorful tulip displays in some of the shops.
 Since I am always looking for things made out of wood I was particularly interested in the wooden tulips in the picture above. They are just as beautiful as the real tulips. From a distance it is difficult to tell the real tulips apart from the wooden ones.
 There were many many shops that were selling tulip bulbs, cut tulips and potted tulips. There was every color and variety that you could think of. It was very colorful. I am glad that we arrived in Amsterdam when we did. Perhaps another time we can take in the tulips festival.

we would have liked to have left the airport for a while and explored the city. It would have been really interesting to visit Rembrandt House that has an extensive collection of works by Rembrandt, Rembrandt House. Unfortunately, we only had a few hours lay over in Amsterdam which did not allow us to leave the airport. We will have to plan for another trip that will include a few days stay in Amsterdam, Amsterdam Tourism.

Amsterdam was only our transfer point this time. Our destination was Barcelona. That will be the topic of my next post.

Monday, May 9, 2011


While I was on vacation during Christmas I decided that I would create three nutcrackers for my children for the following Christmas. That would be Christmas of 2011 which is little more than seven months away. I know that I have been preoccupied with making a cradle for my youngest daughter's first child. I have also had a fairly heavy travel schedule this year, shuttling between China, Mexico and the US. I did manage to prepare my first piece that I would like to sell; The Master. In between all of this activity I have not lost sight of the nutcrackers. I thought a lot about what each nutcracker would look like and I discussed each nutcracker with each of my children. What I do have are three working drawings, one or two for each of the nutcrackers. Here they are. Please do not judge these drawings on their artistic merit. They are only meant to be a guide while I am working on the nutcrackers so the drawings are not of the highest quality.

The first two drawings are for the Nutcracker for my son. They are based on one of his favorite video game characters from the video game, Halo. The character's name is Cloud. I did several drawings of Cloud before these two. These two drawing are full size so that I can take actual dimensions from these drawings. When the nutcracker is completed it will stand approximately eighteen inches tall. All nutcrackers have some part of their anatomy that moves which enables it to crack nuts. Traditionally, it is the mouth that opens and closes that makes the nut cracking device. I did not want to change the face of the character so I decided that the arm holding the sword would move up and down. This will be the nut cracker.

 The next two drawings are for the nutcracker that I am creating for my oldest daughter. She wanted to have a skater nutcracker. I decided that I would use an old fashioned Victorian skater. The clothing and the skates make a quaint figure that gives the character a whimsical look. Like Cloud, the warrior, the skater uses her right arm as the mechanism that creates the nutcracker. When the skater is in the normal position there is little indication that it is also a nutcracker. I have not developed the full size drawings yet for the skater but they will just be larger versions of this drawing. Like Cloud, the skater will be about eighteen inches tall.


The third nutcracker for my youngest daughter only has one drawing at the moment. It is going to be a nurse practitioner nutcracker. My youngest daughter is finishing her studies to be a nurse practitioner. It was only fitting that I would create a nurse practitioner for my youngest daughter. Like Cloud and the skater, the nurse practitioner will stand approximately eighteen inches when it will be completed. As Cloud and the skater use the right arm to create the nutcracker mechanism.  

There is a tradition of nutcrackers using a variety of mechanisms to crack nuts.

The Nutcracker Museum in Leavenworth, Washington has graciously allowed me use some of their photographs in my posts about Nutcrackers, The Nutcracker Museum.

This graceful nutcracker of a French courtesan was one of my inspirations for the three nutcrackers that I am working on.The top of the nutcracker lifts off and the nutcracker is inside. There are more pictures and details in the Nutcracker book that is available fro the Nutcracker museum. It is an excellent book. I would highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in nutcrackers.

The pictures above is courtesy of the Nutcracker Museum in Leavenworth, Washington.

The carving of a Chinese girl is also delicately rendered with careful detail and expression in the face and body.

The pictures above is courtesy of the Nutcracker Museum in Leavenworth, Washington

The actual cracking mechanism is hidden from the front. It is a screw mechanism where the nut is inserted in the back and the screw is turned down until the nut breaks.

The pictures above is courtesy of the Nutcracker Museum in Leavenworth, Washington

The nutcracker poses a special challenge. one is making an interesting figure that is attractive and usually novel in some way. the second challenge which completes the first challenge is that is must also be a working, nut cracking device. To me, it is a challenging combination of the artistic and the mechanical.