Peacock, Pacific, Sea House Conservatory


There is much to appreciate in this drawing, presented to me by 5-year-old Maddie. No hand turkeys for that girl; a peacock is more compelling. This avian’s boisterous tail, for one, is a breakthrough in both interpretation and technique. Vibrant life radiates in the rich purple effortlessly confident strokes on wings and body. Its feet hold firmly to the bottom of the page. Not least is the pathos of the bright pink worm; its expression reminds us that outward beauty is not a sure sign of good will. Be inspired.


Had my first opportunity to walk outside today (!), along (what remains of) the paved Manor Bluff trail, and even on some hard-packed sand atop the bluff. It was breezy with rain-moist air, and felt so good. Another milestone in my recovery, almost eight weeks post-op. Yay go me, and she was.


Still somewhat working from my bed top, but I have made progress in cleaning the various surfaces in the studio proper. Sad and ridiculous, I know, but just what is. It’s like I’m growing up all over again.


The other half of the conservatory is in rickety dry fit, and I’ve decided on a layout and also that this might will be the new (former) home of the small local business, Modern Miniature S___ & Sundries, est. 1921.


It of course had a different logo (and maybe name) back then. Backstory, in media res.


I’ve given a great deal of thought and research to the floor, and have arrived at this pattern. Still undecided between watercolor paper or egg carton for the pavers.


A closer approximation to the tonal contrasts. The interior walls will be a warmish white, perhaps with Art Deco-y botanical stencils on the lower panels.


The floor pattern with the top grid removed. I’m torn between simplifying the amount of work it will be to cut and lay the more intricate pattern with the simpler design.


Current thinking is to break the rigidity of the more complex pattern with setting “whole block” units randomly into the design. The amount of work required is not appreciably less, but the overall effect is more pleasing to my eye.

As always, your input and reactions are welcome, for yay or nay or… other. Lively discussion encouraged! (I’m still not getting out enough :)


15 thoughts on “Peacock, Pacific, Sea House Conservatory

    • Nancy Enge says:

      Children’s drawings are always an inspiration for essential detail and fresh ways of seeing. And to think we all started out as children!
      I’m sure I’ll waffle back and forth on the floor pattern, and I don’t even really care for waffles. But it’s like a line in the sand, a starting point… and really, floors are mostly covered up anyway :)

  1. Megan Wallace says:

    You should be a real-life art critic, I LOVE the peacock!
    Don’t overthink the floor. I do like your thought of random ‘whole blocks’ though. I think the effort will pay off.

    • Nancy Enge says:

      “Easy to criticize, harder to do.” As adults, it is difficult for us to color outside the lines, or even take the time to stop and look and really see :) Free expression can be so joyful.
      Agree with not overthinking, and subverting the pattern with ‘whole blocks’. Maybe even placing some wholly other tile here or there? We’ll see!

  2. mormson says:

    I prefer the simple flooring so it won’t distract from the lovely things you will be adding to your new glass world. Don’think the flooring should be textured….egg boxes…… I expect glasshouses of any kind to be smooth tiles. That would be if I were doing it but you never make anything that is less than perfect so whatever you decide will be the right way to go.

    • Nancy Enge says:

      Marilyn, thank you for the high praise :) I have made egg box flooring smooth(ish) by sanding after tinting, sealing and grouting, then resealing. They retain all the patterning with none of the lumps, but it’s a dusty process. If I use painted watercolor paper I can send it through my cutter and then paste the pieces up on a vellum pattern :) What would an Art Deco designer do?

      • mormson says:

        I have no doubt it would be option two, all about clean lines, sharp edges and simplicty.

  3. Keli says:

    We have similar thoughts for the floor, I am planning the simplest of the patterns you proposed. I find your ‘random whole blocks’ concept captivating.

    I am undecided on material. Egg carton will be too coarse, I am considering cork, hadn’t thought of watercolor paper.

    How wonderful that you got out for a walk to visit your ocean and breathe in healing air.

    • Nancy Enge says:

      I thought about hex or even octagons, but it looks too bathroomy to me.
      Pretty sure I’m incapable of cutting and gluing up an entire floor in a regular pattern anyway. (Rebel scum resistance designer mind.) Charcoal paper might work well too, if it was glued first to a substrate to give it some depth?
      And YES, it was v good to walk outside, and along the ocean, step after step, feeling all the parts sync and strengthen. Thanks as always for seeing that :)

  4. Shelleybweb says:

    So happy to know that your recovery is going well. Congratulations on acquiring two kits and for feeling well enough to play with them. I prefer the simple grid, the other one is too busy to my eye. I know that if you do the more complex one it will be perfect. So any floor you do will be a winner. The mix of the two might satisfy us all, complex for you, simple for some of us, and random for the hell of it.
    Glad all is going well.

    • Nancy Enge says:

      Many thank yous, Shelley! Being able to think and imagine things other than body-related is a welcome development.
      Perhaps the simpler tile pattern should dominate, with the cross-grid being the random occasional instance; I’d not thought that far. Random for the halibut :)

  5. Christina says:

    I’m drawn to the simple pattern and immediately thought of bricks when I saw it, so very in keeping with an early 20th century conservatory. And I have always wanted a brick floored greenhouse. But, I agree with Shelleybweb that whatever you do will look exactly perfect.
    I love the peacock and even more so your critique. My daughter “hates” art and makes things grudgingly and with bad temper when cajoled into it. I think what she does is spectacular and always tell her so but she doesn’t trust me because I’m her mom and in her mind, this means I am blindly biased and not to be trusted. What she sees as childish, we see as charming and innovative, but you can’t tell a tween anything they will believe out of hand….

    • Nancy Enge says:

      Appreciate the vote of confidence, Christina! Right now I’ve got some paint washed and speckled watercolor papers drying under a stack of books, to test cut and assemble as tiles. We’ll see…
      Disdain is a hallmark of that age, yes? It’s so sad when we judge our own expression unacceptable. And when moms stop being the center of the universe :(
      When Maddie and I discuss art, I always try to make my comments specific (and genuine) like, “I like the way you can see the brush strokes here” or “This square in the center really draws your eye, so I know where to start looking” rather than a blanket “This is so great!”.

      • Christina says:

        I agree about being specific and genuine in compliments. There’s too much general garbage ‘that’s awesome!!!’ in parenting these days, but yes, this is 100% age related disdain. I’ll get over it ;)

  6. Bennie says:

    Cute rough fit, it looks good so far. I’m glad you were able to get out of the house a little – keep plugging away!

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