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This painting is based on a statue in the British museum. It’s somewhere on a bottom shelf in the Oriental section. Everybody has seen these Tang dynasty horses of course, sometimes they have a rider, or an attendant, but I have never seen them embraced. This statue is missing a lot; legs, tail, part of the saddle, the figurine, what’s left is the torso neck and head of a horse, and the lower arms of somebody embracing it. A gesture of love that’s how it seems to me. Also because those hands so delicately touch the horse’s neck.

I want that statue.
But even I can understand I can’t have it. But I can paint it, and it is in part mine now :)

For Bill in return for his poem.

American Eagle saddle Aafke Art design

The American Eagle saddle is a design I made on a vintage tree which didn’t have a horn. That gave me the room to add the Eagle head. The idea is inspired by American carousels. The american carousels from around 1900 are amazing.


I thought why not design and actually make an original saddle, a really special saddle like they carved on the carousel horses?

So there was this old vintage tree which we would not use anyway for anything else and the project was on! Here is the carving of one of the fenders:


You know, the very, very first attempt I made in leather carving was actually a feather!

here you see one of the saddle skirts, tooled and colored. Sorry for the bad quality.

American Eagle saddle skirt aafke art design

The cantle is carved, (that was quite difficult) and the rigging is in place. There’s still a bit of carving to do, guess where?

american_eagle_saddleskirts_en_rigging Aafke-art

For the Eagle’s head I had brought a piece of the wood they use for making wooden shoes. That’s the Dutch bit in this saddle! I spent a whole night cutting and carving wood, because I really wanted to show the saddle on the ”Equitana” horse show in Germany and I was seriously running out of time.  It was later to be painted but a stuck in one of the glass eyes for the picture. I left it a bit rough on purpose, that way it blends in naturally with the leather carving on the saddle.

American eagle head carving by aafke art

The finished head on the finished saddle!

American Eagle head designed by Aafke Art

The American Eagle has it’s own stand. I think it looks quite happy with it.

American Eagle saddle design Aafke Art

And a picture of me, with a classic quarter horse, the American Eagle Saddle, and a very Dutch sky in the background.

American Eagle saddle horse aafke art

Last month the Q took me to Fort Worth to see the Impressionist exhibition. The Kimball is a lovely museum, some beautiful artworks of course, but the architecture is gorgeous. Anyway, downstairs they have various statues from different eras and places and they have this lovely lady, from a time when women with a bit more substance were preferred.

I made this small oil painting of her. On panel, I don’t remember the exact size, and I am back in the Netherlands now. But here it is:

Snickers was visiting us for a few days, and he was irresistible! Snickers is the born despot. Always looking elegantly turned out in his shiny black coat, like a man in his best dress suit Fully satisfied with his own importance, his rights to snacks, attention, and taking his rightful place on the bed with confidence.
The Q however was adamant, Snickers had to be removed.

I had buckled already, I would have allowed Snickers on the bed for the whole night.

This majestic ruler had to be painted!

Here it is hanging in our new apartment, (don’t worry, I will do something about the color of the wall)

And here it is, finished!

Yes, that’s why I was away from my blog for a long time! I was preparing my wedding! And I did it all myself. I arranged the marriage in Denmark, because of the paperwork. So, marriage license, paperwork, place to stay, invite a few people, became more people, arrange for places to stay, look up planes and trains, arrange a wedding brunch, decide on dress, buy material for dress, make dress, more people are coming, so arrange for a wedding dinner also, make coat, try to find fabric for coat, order a bouquet holder for the flowers, etc. etc.

So I have made two dresses, one marriage dress, one evening gown, and two corsets, and a tiara, and a nice warm clutch coat. I forgot my camera so I don’t have better pictures of the corset for now, but here it is:

The corset is made of white coutil with the same fabric the dress was made of as the top layer. The busk is gold plated, the lace is from England, it’s made by the last factory in England which still makes real cotton lace, made on antique machines, with antique patterns. They were the ones who also made the lace for the recent Royal wedding. But of course my wedding is way more important!

This is the back of the corset:

This is the dress, almost finished. My stand is antique, from 1880, and it is smaller than I am, and shorter too, so the dress hangs a bit loose. I used a vintage vogue pattern from 1953. I first made two toiles, before cutting the actual fabric. The fabric is a creamy white with embroidered vines with leaves and flowers. I brought fresh water pearls from China and I sewed one pearl on every flower. It also should have a petticoat underneath.

Here I am wearing it all! Trying out the snooty fifties model look! The petticoat was surprisingly warm. The gloves are vintage (the something old) The earrings and necklace were gifts from valued friends, (the something new), and I had sewn a blue ribbon bow inside the dress, and a silver coin.

The umbrella is a pagoda umbrella from the excellent Danish designer Lisbeth Dahl, I love the umbrella, and it was particularly appropriate as we got married in Denmark! I am wearing the coat here as well, it is made of a creamy white wool/cashmere blend, and lined with the same fabric as the dress. I did the flowers myself too. I brought the roses from the people at the flower market I have brought my flowers from since I was a student, the ivy (you can’t see it) is an ancient symbol of love, marriage, fidelity and growing together, and it is from my garden. I had three darker pink roses which a friend brought with her, they are a variety called ”Ribe Ruse” or something like that… This is important because we got married in Ribe in Denmark!

We got married in Denmark because the paperwork in the Netherlands made it impossible to get married in my country, and the process was horrendously complicated and we could set no dates aside and it was too problematic to get married in America. Also it took way too long!
In Denmark, EU country, Schengen country, it is very simple to get married. Very simple paperwork, very simple process, and I got in touch with a Danish Wedding planner who made the whole process a wheeze, as well as being very helpful with all the extra arrangements because we had a lot of friends and family coming.

So anybody who wants to get married and has too much hassle with paperwork and silly rules in their own country, or if you just want a beautiful, super romantic destination wedding, contact Rita at Wedding Denmark.

If you ever come to visit, don’t forget to look up as you enter!
because I painted the ceiling in my hall.
And you can also see my ”Amsterdam school” lamp!

I have been having some fun! I love the members of Basenotes, the perfume forum I visit almost every day. I wanted to do something nice for my friends on Base notes so I have been re-binding and illustrating two old pocket books. It’s a great suspense novel by Ngaio Marsh: ”False Scent”. There is of course a theme of a very special perfume which runs through it, and I have my idea what it would smell like, and the game is going to be that who-ever guesses it gets one of the books.

So here are the covers, inside is a little vial where you can put your perfume if you like.

I drew the illustrations directly in the book, in the empty spots.

The fatal perfume is presented!

Inspector Alleyn inspects the body…

This post is for Alexis from Electra designs corsetry. She asked on facebook to see some of my corsets and I am terribly pleased, and although I am in America at the moment and have only 4 corsets with me and no dress form, I decided to go for the cushion option: Get a big cushion, and tie your corset around it and you get a reasonable, not great, but reasonable approach to how it looks.

So I have been working on making corsets. I am still working on utter perfection though.

So here is my first corset. I’ve been wearing it a lot, and I still like it. I have already worn out one corset lace on this one.
I made it from a pattern, which was published in a dutch magazine, La Gracieuse in 1880, and ”adapted to the modern figure”. Which is where it goes wrong, because I don’t think I have the modern figure. Anyway, while making it I already adapted it a bit, so it’s not exactly following the pattern after all.
It is made of denim (!) not coutil, fused onto the curtain fabric which is the outer layer. It hasn’t stretched yet. It has a wide busk and spring steel bones. Because I happened to have them hanging around.
I still wear it quite often because it is a great corset and makes me a lot more comfortable when I have my moon-time. I think it cuts down on my painkillers by about 50%!
The spring steels make it a bit heavy, but it’s greatest drawback is that it doesn’t allow enough space for my hips and my bum, after a few hours that starts to irritate me.
After making this corset I was hooked and kept dreaming of more.

So then I started experimenting a bit. This is my #3 corset, made of coutil inside and Boutonniere Broche on the outside. So two layers of proper corset material. I have been abusing wearing this corset a lot!
Oh, yes, and I completely forgot to put in a waist tape…
The idea behind this corset is to have more space for my hips and bum (btw, it was not enough) an hourglass waist, and lots of space for my ribs, (actually too much), so I can have full use of my lungs while cycling. Because while you normally don’t notice anything, if you are, for example cycling up against one of these very steep bridges in Amsterdam, you notice you are restricted by a corset.

This corset is made with single 7mm boning which is a bit too light. (#2 was made with single 11mm) One time I was bored and tried my hand at a bit of flossing. All bones are flossed on this corset.

#4 corset turned out to be incredibly wasp waisted, a bit too much really, I don’t waist train. It is more of a waspie, I used a smaller busk, with swarovski crystals in the little nobs, really pretty and very sturdy. It is also the first corset where I made the bias tape myself from the same fabric.

I then made two corsets, at the same time, I call both of them #5, with the same (altered again) pattern. I needed to get rid of that extreme wasp waist. One is at home, made of lovely velvet and coutil, and this one, made of a vintage fabric I have had since I was in high school and never dared to use for anything because I love it! now an underbust corset doesn’t take a lot of fabric so this is the first time I used some of it. I had a busk with gilded hooks and knobs, very pretty, and spring steels next to it for stiffness. The other bones are 11 mm spiral steels. The inside is of white coutil.
I added even more space for hips and bum, and it’s getting to be enough, just a little bit more…

Showing the back to show the nice creme rivets (in a steel lacing bone). And the ribbon, This is the only corset I close with a ribbon instead of a lace, or my favorite: a good looking black nicely woven thin rope from the hardware store.

#6, Black coutil inside and the black boutonniere broche on the outside. this one is supposed to be for comfort, with finally enough hip and bum space (at last!) Double boned with 11mm spring steel, which I think is overdoing it a bit. next time I will use the 7mm spring steel boning. Very nice black powder coated busk, which I again paired with spring steel bones. Forgot the waist tape again! We’ll see how that works out in this very heavily boned corset.

The black busk. I will abuse this one a lot to find out how sturdy that powder coating actually is!

#7. The last one up to date. Back to square one. I took the commercial pattern, and added the needed space for hips and bum. (perfect). It is now a bit too wide in the chest at the back. I do make mock ups, but you only really notice the irritating details after a hours, or even days, of wearing
The fashion fabric was pretty but nasty to work with, very thin, frayed a lot, and as you see it’s rippling! Which makes this corset unacceptable. I might make another one, because I love the fabric (it’s inside out btw, because I liked that even better) and fuse it. I had prepared the strips of fabric to make bias tape, but I wanted it for my trip so made do with commercial bias tape. I always like a black border anyway.
Now this is very nice, very comfortable, but I can’t seem to get rid of the hourglass waist when I really want to make a good fit. I am going to try one more time, to have a fitting Perfect Pattern, with slightly less hourglass effect.,

The back, laced with my favorite lacing: the rope from my hardware store. Dead cheap, and it doesn’t slip when lacing up, and pretty! A bit too short, so I didn’t lace the last rivet. These are burnished brown.

I painted this for friends who lost their daughter.
I never met her, and only had four photo’s to use as an example.   Her mother told me about her though. I had the impression of a sun child. That’s the term I use for those rare people who seem to be able to make the sun shine even when it’s raining.

This is the ”under painting”

The finished portrait

Aafke Art on YouTube

aafke at you tube




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