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!