*While we patiently await documentable evidence of more substantive progress, behold, teleportation!

Scarlett: I can’t even make eye contact with you, no matter how many sounds you make.
Nancy: I know. That’s why you should get down right now, of your own accord.
Scarlett: But then I would have to admit defeat.
Nancy: It’s not a contest. I have already lost.
Scarlett: Maybe if you could just look away.
Nancy: Fine. I’ll just go sit over there.


Scarlett: Fine. It’s pretty boring in here anyway. Also, the lighting is all askew. And the shelves are empty.

Scarlett: Can you just go to the bathroom or refill your drink or something while I make my exit? I feel self-conscious.
Nancy: You don’t have a whole lot of choices…
Nancy: Fine.


Nancy: You made the right choice.
Scarlett: I’m very, very tired now.
Nancy: I’m sure you are. Teleportation is exhausting.

*Translation: I’ve been making stuff, but am happy with none of it.

Felines and Flora

I’ll just get the cat pix out of the way first thing.



Classic long-suffering Albie and his unwanted sidekick. All he wants to do is sleep on the bed and not be mauled. She shadows and adores and mauls him.


See the succulent/cactus hybrid hovering slightly above her sisters in the long planter? This is a new feature :) I’m adding believable stems to some of them.


This may be one of the most enigmatic photos I’ve ever published. Here are tiny stems very close up — they’re just over an inch long. They’re made from floral wire wrapped with torn strips of brown paper bag. Easy to make a gentle curve and plant.


In other projects, I got all the sizes of leaves from JMG Miniatures to make potted palms for either side of the stairway. They come five to a bag and are cut from a nice green sturdy stock. I’m not even painting them! I glued a fine gauge green wire onto the central stem of each frond to enable sculpting.


Once the glue was dry, I curled them around a fat watercolor pencil (Derwent Inktense, Teal Green 1300, not mandatory).


I gathered groups of three or four fronds, and bound them together with strips of torn brown paper bag.


I bundled three or four frond clusters around another length of floral wire, and covered the lot of them with more torn paper bag strips, and stabbed them to dry in their eventual planters. These are those ever-versatile, well-modeled chocolate brown Houseworks tapered pots to which I had given a “zinc” finish.


Here they are “palmed” and waiting for the glue to dry in the pots. I’ll cluster more succulents around the bases, tying in with the rest of the casual landscaping. I like how they both frame and add a “parlor” friendliness to the entrance. Since this is meant to be a refurbished working farm building, I didn’t want to put in a stuffy staircase banister.

In the showroom proper you can see an exquisite spinning wheel, gifted by our beloved reader BW. We’ve both agreed it’s a bit too pristine, but I’m reluctant to augment it. I need to channel my inner Sleeping Beauty for counsel.

Until then…

Starla Argo


Introducing Starla Argo, a seven-point celestial, who lives in the semi-autobiographical North Coast community all my builds inhabit.


This is a first prototype and is not fully felted or finessed. I’m happy with the proportions, but want to try out some different construction techniques for the star rays, as well as highlight colors.

I also just learned about Paverpol Craft Medium, a liquid textile hardener that seems perfect for preserving details. I want to read a bit more about it, and then check it out!


The “tin” sign above the cubbies is this old yarn label I found at the Graphics Fairy, then tinted with watercolor and glued to a flattened wine lead foil.


The pair of porcelain sheep figurines on the back wall bookcases are feves from ValueArtifacts. For which I credit and blame our dear reader Barbara W for my growing obsession. If you’ve not visited the shop, there are some treasures to be had. The tiny fish pitcher on the table is from there, as well as the sleek white and black mid-century cat duo in the front left corner.

Wroughting Iron, Again


The human hand often makes the best gluing jig, yes? After considerable deliberation about style, I’m making a salvaged wrought iron railing for the wee balcony off the Argo Wool Works showroom. These are portions of the same laser cut panels from JMG Miniatures used in the Sea House Warming Hut. The best thing about making “vintage” wrought iron is the globbier the glue and the cruddier the paint job, the more scale authenticity.


Observe my current working conditions. The railing joints are reinforced with black paper brackets and “bolts”, which add tremendous stability to the fragile structure.


Scarlett was on her way to inspect my suspiciously-tinkling glass of white wine (Layer Cake Sauvignon Blanc, vintage 2015, lovely). Soon after, she sat down on the many 1/16-inch punched bolts (and x-acto knife, etc.) which clung to her fur and trailed after as she sped on to the next investigation. (The dots clung, not the knife :)


The railing installed, with mounting brackets. It appears a bit too “freshly painted”, so I want to hunt down some examples in the wild to see how they oxidize. But not too much. Structural integrity is important :) Also made brackets for the scythe from Sir Thomas Thumb, which will support some sort of sign. Perhaps Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch’intrate?

Nah. Probably just Argo Wool Works.

Hide one’s light under a bushel


I wound up making six bushel baskets from Kris Compas’s tutorial. I used one-inch wood circles that I had on hand for the base, and after the second basket, redrew the pattern so all the uprights were like fringe, instead of individual slats. (The pattern is up on 1inchminis. There’s also a version to print multiples. Yay no measuring.) By the fifth or sixth basket I was getting a nice bulbous curve by shaping it over the top of a two-ounce acrylic paint bottle. Coopering the top rim was also much easier on the paint bottle form.

I’m working mostly on the new project now, but the in-progress Argo Wool Works Showroom is a nice bright place to sit and think and plan, with a cup of tea. (The ladders are by Sir Thomas Thumb, to be used to display hanging goods. I also splurged with the 2015 contest award and bought a scythe o_O)

Now I have to go make a 12:1 cup of tea :)


Foundation, Sideways


I’m about to go sideways on another project, so I want to catch up on what progress there’s been on the as-yet-nameless 2016 build. I’ve opted not to enter the HBS contest this year, and so will continue to post freely on this structure. This is a side foundation in progress, integrating the 1906 San Francisco earthquake salvage, which includes rubble as well as dressed stones, aka egg cartons.


Painted in a first coat of “Mudstone” with room for the support post.


I made one of Kris Compas’s bushel baskets from this month’s tutorial. Adorable.

2016-02-20 17.24.50.jpg

Here’s the backside of the build. I decided to add a deck off the porch to increase the living area. The main structure is not yet glued to the foundation, so I’m keeping add-ons modular. There will be more foundation elements to the deck, but I’m done with math and power tools for the evening.

Heading into a major multi-birthday month, which I believe in celebrating *fully*. It will include multiple three-year-olds. multiple 60-year olds — and others— as well as baby goats, cheese and fine, fine wine.


Foundation, Ground


I traced the foundation perimeter outline onto the project board. Because there’s just four inches (10 cm) of clearance, and I learned valuable lessons trying to build out the underneath of the Sea House Warming Hut — only three inches — after it was fixed to its project board, I’m roughing in the base earth now. Using a mixture of glue (actually, old mosaic tile adhesive that I have an excess of — there’s that serial artist thing again) and thin paper toweling, I built up an uneven substrate in the farthest reaches of the foundation. The ground is a mix of fine sand, Irish Breakfast (leafy) and Earl Grey (fine texture) teas. (Which I also have an excess of, because I like tea. I might even collect tea, and these were really old.)


The paper-glue modeling gives enough unevenness to suggest a convincing ground. I’ll be adding in some plant life where the sun might reach. Beyond that, I don’t know.


Foundation Rock Painting


Here’s the upside-down foundation with an “Espresso” wash, after drying overnight.

Delta Ceramcoat was on sale for US$0.97 (!) so I stocked up on these gorgeous earth colors:


If I wore lipstick I would totally want some in “Georgia Clay”.


I followed up with washes of “Roman Stucco”, “Trail Tan” and “Light Ivory”. Some stones were painted with a heavier wash of the light ivory, then dabbed off.


This is what the underside of the floor would like like if you crawled under the foundation and looked up. It will never be seen in the build, but I like knowing it’s there.


I was going to glue in joists and floorboards, but I’m just not feeling that crazy. Look at how different the stone color looks because of the light:


The exterior foundation walls are going to be built from salvaged dressed stone, with the occasional rubble and timber posts. I’ll be using egg carton:


And must now remember to buy the same kind (Judy’s Organic) to keep textures similar.


Here’s the start. It will be built at the rate at which I acquire cartons, which is equivalent to driving a rubble-loaded wagon back from San Francisco, so it will take a while. And that’s okay. The scenery is gorgeous :)

Lastly, I’ll share this PSA I made today. In the crafts store parking lot I looked down to see this perfect little horror of the most commonplace litter. Feel free to share :)


*steps down from soapbox*



After determining the maximum height of the stairs based on the project board dimensions, I established the height of the foundation, which turned out to be four inches. Using inch-thick styrofoam, I cut and glued it to the bottom of the second base kit.


I decided on more rubble and salvage from the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, and was pleased to also repurpose some foundation stones from an abandoned early build. I used the recommended Foamtastic glue, which I’m pretty sure is just an extra-thick tacky, and as a result my thumb joint is sore from *squeezing* the bottle all day.


Here’s the upside-down completed foundation, with a first coat of paint drying, an entire two-ounce bottle of Delta Ceramcoat “Mudstone”. (I’ve since added a wash of “Espresso” to good effect, but lost the light and will have to wait until tomorrow to show you.)