Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Netherlands...Land of Windmills

Stairs climbed to get into windmill
Now, you can't come to Holland without seeing the windmills so I headed off for Zaanse Schans to check them out. The bus system here is fabulous - for about $4.00 I could take the 45 min. trip and be delivered right at the front door! I started off at the museum, expecting a history of the mills and I did get some of that. The most fascinating part was watching a video of the dressing of a young woman in the clothes that were the fashion sometime in the 1800's. I could not believe the number of layers, the time required to get dressed. Even putting on the hair cap took a long time with the braiding and the numerous layers of various decorative pieces. Once dressed, I doubt these ladies did any work whatsoever! Couldn't have been the peasant's class!

The best part was having the opportunity to actually explore a working windmill! Inside! Steep ladders allow you to climb ever upward until you're at the connection from the moving blades down to the huge grinding stones (or saw blades or pumps for moving water) below. (Obviously, they use "common sense" take care of yourself here.) I roamed through the Dye Mill, where they ground various natural materials (dried bugs, various minerals, even dried dung) to provide a powder that could be mixed for painting. Apparently they used milk paint (and I guess it's still available). It is paint made with milk and lime and with pigment was added to it. It spoils fairly quickly but artists in the past used it extensively. One man was painting various "primitive" pieces using the milk paint on wood, finishing the piece with beeswax and fat rubbed over it to seal it and bring out the colors. Fascinating history!

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