Peacock, Pacific, Sea House Conservatory

Maddie_peacock

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 :)

 

W: Weaving, Waxing, Waning

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W is for weaving. I’ve been playing with hand-tinting the looms of the round basket kits in spectral and hombré shades. I started with black weavers and rims, then went to a medium warm gray. After a few baskets, I thought the offcuts would make good banners or samples of the colorways, and then the idea was born for the Basket Circus + Exposition.

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Many thanks to Keli for participating in the totally legitimate focus group which determined this name.

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What a difference between black and gray for the contrast. I love them both.

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We’re getting to the glorious sunset colors time of year here in foggy-summer Pacifica. I remain in awe. Nature, you know she don’t mess around.

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Albie joined me a short time later on the front deck. This picture is significant because it answers the question, “What phase is the moon in?” Each September, my husband and I celebrate the anniversary of our marriage on the full moon. This year, it seems we have 10 or so days to go. (Hope we remember.)

gravity

And finally — as if you’ve ever doubted — here is proof that cats can defy gravity. Even when they’re sleeping.

V: Vagary

V is for Vagary. Fluctuation, variation, quirk, peculiarity, oddity, eccentricity, unpredictability, caprice, foible, whim, whimsy, fancy.

I can’t think of a better word, or set of synonyms, to describe the new 1:12 scale echeveria kit available now over at MMS+S. There are no fewer than five leaf sizes and shapes that combine to make three sizes of a charming pointy-leaf echeveria. I’ve redesigned the build method, too, to start on a fine paper-wrapped stem wire (included in the kit), which is perfect for armatures (gnarly-armed structures) and general ease of shaping the plants.

Here is a bushel basket of prototypes, using both of the base colors — white or apple green — colored with alcohol-based markers. (If you want true reds and yellows — or blues and purples — order the white stock. If you’re good with more muted tones and want to spend less time coloring, choose the green :)

Possibilities of color combinations are endless (and fun).

This is a versatile kit, and a form to make a succulent wreath is available soon!

Let Scarlett’s tail and rabbit feet, seen here in complete repose, be your inspiration.

I recently re-found this unfinished Henri Rousseau-inspired collage panel, and glued it to the side back of the Modern Miniature Succulents + Sundries set.

The MMS+S set is in disarray, like many aspects of my life, but potentially still functional.

Zoom out now, please, to 1:1. The former owners of our house built this charming, funky wave-topped gate (seen here from the back). But, inexplicably, they painted the front of it the same dispirited brown as the rest of the decks, and completely ignored the back. For four years, it has *nagged* at me.

Yay go me. Here it is finished in four shades, by the light of the silvery security beacon.

Albie and I survey the change. You can just see that sad brown deck color peeking out under cat and mat.

This is the old hardware, atop the treacherous birdbath pedestel, for those of you/us interested in these things.

And finally. Keli and I have been challenging ourselves to … not let the bastards drag you down draw a random thing and post it on Instagram, until, for each of us, momentous events transpire. (For me, that’s undergoing replacement surgery of both hips, on 01 October, 2018.) I have chosen Crayola and ink as my drawing medium. We are #messy_k_enge and #curlymuenich, if you care to follow along (+also under our regular names @iseecerulean and @nancy_k_enge). We are expecting phat coffee table art book publishing contracts to swamp our respective agents.

How could they not?

 

Q: Quandary

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Q is for quandary. Where to next? How do I get there? The signs are not clear. What to do?

Things have been a bit unsettled in nancyland of late. Not in a bad way, but in a way that hasn’t necessarily been conducive to working on the Sea Rise pavilion project, or the miniature protea kit, or posting … anything. So it goes. (Thank you Kurt Vonnegut, for that all-expressive phrase.)

Slow progress — and regress — on the studio reorg, but the end *is* in sight.

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Got the bookcases installed along the half-wall upstairs, and the reference library culled and organized. There’s happy Scarlett in her old-cashmere-sweater lined new-location fleece bed.

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One of my favorite places on Earth is Harley Farms Goat Dairy in Pescadero, perfectly located halfway between Santa Cruz and Pacifica. On a meandering birthday drive home, we of course stopped there to check in with the mamas and babies. These are some of the very pregnant mamas in the loafing barn, waiting to give birth.

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K-2SO is fully functional — with articulated thumbs! — and has begun work at Modern Miniature Succulents + Sundries.

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Spent a recent morning painting and drawing with Maddie, who just turned five years old. If you’re looking for artistic inspiration and to question and push your boundaries, I highly recommend the company of a child.

hardware

Or you could just go to the hardware store.

 

 

 

O: Organization Orchestration

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O is for Organization. Lack thereof in these photos, because I am completely reorganizing my studio and office. Moving everything off and out of every cubby, shelf, drawer, bin and pile. Going through everything, purging non-essentials. Beginning to make new piles and groups of like things, so I can see what’s what. Sorting bits and bobs back into their storage boxes. Making sure I maintain a walkway through the chaos.

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O is for Other Side. This is the left side of the room. I’m pulling my reference library out of the two bookcases (partially visible left foreground) and moving them out of the studio into three new bookcases, dusting, sorting and divesting as I lug them upstairs. This frees up lots of shelf space for things used more frequently. (Fortunately, I have a separate space where all the wood cutting and sawdust-generating tools live, a wee shop on the back of the garage. It means a lot of back and forthing, but computers and sawdust don’t do well together.)

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O is for Ongoing, OMG. The disarray is total, the only clear spaces being my main workstation (not very visible behind the bookcases), and the emptying shelves. This is a challenging project, but it will be so good when it’s done :)

M: Mandala, Map + Other Baskets, ShelleyB Weavings, Mystery

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M is for mandala.
I love this shade of green outlined in white tracery, punctuated with thorns. And that a blue jay tucked an acorn inside. Good cache, jay!

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M could be for maps woven into baskets.
I’ve been fooling around with taller/wider looms. This one is woven from a vintage map print of Berlin. Really liking the subtle colors and patterns.

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Another view straight on, where the cream colored paper core catches the light less.

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M is for mind-boggling.
ShelleyB has continued to experiment with her fantastical weaving patterns as well.

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More of her madness carefully plotted charts. Love the houndstooth!

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(I’m also working on a set of black and white storage baskets for the pavilion remodel, using black looms and plain old white weavers. And a jaunty circle-dot lining :)

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M is always for mystery.
Another of the Rockaway Beach abandoned dollhouses. Who or what is behind that open door?

 

 

B: Blade, Funk Protocols, Wheelie, Weavings!

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B is for BLADE: X-Acto X-Life No. 11, on an old silver-plated tea tray that lives outdoors atop my worm compost bin. Hmmm, maybe I should have saved this for X. Megan and over-achiever Keli, I’m looking at you.

Thank you for sharing your funk wisdom and protocols. I laughed, and cried a little, and felt deeply how truly kind you all are. It was helpful, and energizing. Some of my takeaways:

“Give it a little time and some sun; sun will break up a funk like nobody’s business.”
—Sheila

“Keep breathing through, keep walking, keep looking out and seeing that unexpected beauty, accepting that unasked for kindness.”
—Azteclady

“Having something to look forward to helps me to make the transition from funk to functional. Be kind to yourself.”
—Megan

“Punt.”
—Joyce

“Bring the Funk! (Dance!)”
—Jodi

“I know from experience that once in it, you just have to ride it out to the end… usually they’re just passing through.”
—Elizabeth S

“Every day is different, life is a wave, happily!”
—Ingi

“First I have to recognize The Funk. That always seems to take longer than it should.”
—Keli

“Hang in there, I have faith in you that we’ll see more wonderful creations. And get that cat out of your beautiful, tiny house!”
—Bennie

“… I also find doing a kit, following someone else’s instructions helps me to, at the least, get back a sense of accomplishment.”
—ShelleyB

“Take this time to pause and reflect, but trust your instincts.”
—Barbara W.

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So Wheelie and I went to look at the waves and do salt air aromatherapy for a while, to “take it all in and savor the goodness”.

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I returned home to find this brilliant rendition of the Toto2 picnic basket kit that ShelleyB was kind enough to share. This changes everything! and we’ve been pinging ideas back and forth. She says the proportions and shape of this basket makes good storage containers, with or without lids, and wondered if a kit of three might be made available. Maybe a taller version, too, as a laundry hamper? I can’t wait to get out some graph paper and chart monograms.

Also, I have not forgotten or given up on the protea flower kit. Really.

Funk, ABChallenge, Mudroom

shifty_eyes

I’ve been in a bit of a creative funk recently. It feels like Scarlett looks.

(Even though what she’s really signaling here is, “If I don’t make eye contact with you, you can’t see that I’m up here again, biting on the lead blade of the scythe and chewing the potted palms.)

My symptoms of creative funk include seeing everything I do as crap, simultaneous restlessness and fatigue, dropping things on the floor even more than usual, and a sense of dullness.

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In a creative funk, even though many wonderful things continue to occur, like finding surprise! beautiful flowers on the doorstep, like magic… well, actually, unexpected kindness does wonders for boosting spirits.

I know to keep breathing through a funk, not push too hard, to listen. Go for walks. Take naps. Soon, I’ll issue the funk an invitation to tea.

A_apple

I decided some arbitrary and not-too-difficult challenge practice might help, so I started ABChallenge: Take or draw a picture representing every letter of the alphabet, in order from A to Z. Nothing stupid like every day, but don’t be lazy. Why not do it with me? Then we’ll have something to talk about.

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I finished the mudroom in the Sea Rise Pavilion remodel, meant to be a shrine for the pieces from Charlene’s Legacy that Keli gifted me us. Here it is the late night of completion, with cruddy lighting.

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As seen from the interior.

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And through the open back door in the fresh light of morning.

Funk slumps happen to us all, I think. What do you do when you find yourself in one?

A Surprise Mudroom, Keli’s Flowers

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The new year brings gifts of change, and gifts of gifts. I have scrapped the idea of a shower room in the Sea Rise Sea House Pavilion remodel, opting instead for a mudroom back entrance. Specifically, to act as a showroom for the gifts from Charlene’s legacy that Keli has bestowed.

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A mudroom fits right in to the spirit of the build, and believe me, these pieces from Charlene’s collection are exquisitely detailed and realized.

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I’ll show more detail on the actual pieces after I’m not so caught up in building the mudroom. Shown here are waders, completely handmade from very thin leather, paint and wire buckles. Tiny black seed beads for suspender fasteners. One of three (!) uh, two fishing poles, made of metal, wood, wire and magic. The tackle box will be the subject of its whole own post — there are tied lures with real feathers, and other stuff only fisherfolk know about.

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These are flowers realized by Keli from the EC01 Echeveria kit at Modern Miniature Succulents + Sundries. Wow, wow, wow. She made the leaves and sepals, and arranged them in a vase with microbeads.

They reminded me of proteas, and so now I’m all researching and sketching for a new kit. Thank you, Keli, for sharing the rich wonder of Charlene’s legacy, *and* for sparking a brilliant idea for a wonderful, waterwise flowering plant that plays very well with succulents.