Conservatory, Cycladic, Tomato, Cats, Rust

I finished gluing the painted paper tiles to the pattern for the Sea House Conservatory main floor.

Stoic Albie helped keep them flat, as Stoics do.

I then spent a lot of time considering how best to make the floor fit the base and carry over to outside the walls in a way that pleased me. 

If I was a cat, this is how I might look pondering the options. “Why yes, that might actually work …”

As part of the solution, from quarter-inch birch ply I built a two-inch riser for the base and painted it medium grout gray. And — not because I want to relive the 1980s and feature wall faux finishes — I sea-sponged on a lighter warm gray. Mostly because I didn’t want to stare at a flat gray box. (My building process involves a lot of staring.)

Eventually, the weather/temperature/humidity cooperated and I was able to spray two good coats of matte sealer on the floor tile assemblies, prior to their grouting.

Also got a few more coats of satin antique white on the fireplace. (Built from this Houseworks Deco fireplace.) Here it is curing in the late afternoon sun, admiring its reflection in a glazed ceramic vase.

gluing_down

Gluing down the sealed tiles to the base. It will might make more sense in a few days when you see the whole idea. Are you really, really weary of seeing pictures of these tiles?

polkadot_towel

Then here’s a pic of Scarlett sitting next to me on the front deck yesterday, watching the sun go down (and grooming). (Her, not me. I was sipping a glass of delicious Double Brut IPA.)

cycladic_spirals

This is my current design inspiration for conservatory decor. It is a Cycladic terra cotta vessel from 2000 BC — ! — found on Naxos. I’m smitten with everything about it: the spiral waters, fish, the sun, or maybe a full moon? (From Art of Crete, Mycenae and Greece by German Hafner, 1968, public library.) 

floor_dryfit_00

A last peek at the conservatory in the night studio, with the standing walls. For now.

tomato

In real life, I’m working on a landscaping project on the side of our hillside house under the sunroom add-on. The soil is compacted and full of rubble, and I’m putting down flattened cardboard to suppress what weeds do grow, and adding top soil, compost and worm castings. There’s next to no direct sun, so I’m transplanting hardier succulent cuttings to see what will survive. They get a little leggy reaching for the light, but they’re doing all right. In September I noticed what looked like a young tomato plant growing at the back of the area, evidently self-started from the compost. When it put out flowers I was charmed; what hope and vigor this plant has! And then the other day I noticed it had made a tomato! A single, multi-lobed heirloom. In December! It’s like a miracle :)

rust_plancha

And finally, here’s one for your reference files. Look at the beautiful rust pattern and colors on this cast iron plancha, sadly left out in the rain next to the BBQ. (Left behind when our neighbors moved, it was already warped, but was still serviceable for outdoor cooking.) We’ll see if I can bear to scour it clean, or if it joins the Things That Are Rusting collection.

Doesn’t everyone have one of those?

Sea House Conservatory: More Floor Tiles

I added more pattern sections to the tile floor template.


To facilitate a smooth transition between tile colors, when I began to run low on the first set I glued them randomly further out on the template to integrate with the as-yet-to-be-painted new batch of tiles.

Using the same paints as before, I splattered up a new sheet to cut into tiles.

Meanwhile, I’ve got a working idea for the back fireplace wall, so I can alternate experimenting on that with setting floor tiles.

Sea House Conservatory: Tiled Floor

painted_paper

I painted a couple of sheets of 11 by 15-inch 140 lb. cold press watercolor paper with washes and splats of neutral gray, tan and yellow oxide acrylics, then pressed them flat between two drawing boards weighted with books.

pattern_test

The tile pattern and grout lines were refined through several test cuts and pasteups. I added a 3-point corner radius to the tiles to suggest age and wear.

final_tile_cuts

After a few more test cuts, I loaded the painted watercolor paper and began cutting tiles. Because this paper requires three passes of the deep cut blade for each tile, I used masking tape on the edges to hold the thick paper to the cut mat to ensure adhesion. (Lessons learned through bitter informative experience.)

pasteup_01

I’m gluing the individual tiles to prints of the pattern layout showing the grout lines. The process is far less tedious than I anticipated, a pleasant surprise. It *may be* that I won’t have to actually add grout after they’re all assembled and adhered to the subfloor. I plan to add one final light gray wash and some delicate speckling to the whole floor to unite the separate assemblies. And with pressing and a coat or two of matte varnish… we shall see.

in_place_01_

The final tile floor won’t be put in place for some time — so much painting to do! — and the ideas for its total design still floating need not be finalized at this point. Which is good, because I’m still kind of all over the place, design-influence-wise. Right now I’m trending from Art Deco back to Bauhaus, and how that might all fit in with the larger Sea House story, sea level rise, and a crow named Clary.

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.

manor_bluff_112518

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.

working_on_bed

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.

both_halves

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.

MMSS_retro_uomo

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

floor_idea_00

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.

floor_idea_01

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.

floor_idea_02

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.

floor_idea_03

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

baskets _091518

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.

BCE_sign_v1

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

black_weaver_warm

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

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gray_green_basket

sunset_091418

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.

Albie_sunset_091418

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?

 

S: Smorgasbord

S_smorgasbord

S is for Smorgasbord. Yes I know I’m stretching it, and being somewhat silly. There was a break between storms, and the ocean at Manor Bluffs looked so pretty. That’s the unstable, crumbling edge of the cliff you see in the lower right, and the beach 60 feet below. (This was also the vantage point for February’s H: Horizon shot.) 

grapefruit_slice_032418

S is for Slice. In this case, grapefruit. Or pamplemousse in French, which is a superior word. 

S is for Shelley, sharing. I bribed Shelley with some wider (taller?) looms to continue experimenting with her weaving magic. She sent variations on three traditional patterns, bird’s eye, twill and goose eye.

shelley_B_birdseye

shelley_B_twill

shelley_B_gooseeye

Mind blown (again.)

jan_toto2

Jan of morphunkyMiniatures in Edinburgh, UK let me share what she’s doing with the Toto2 basket kits. Love the vintage illustrations on the lids! Be sure to check out her other great luggage, furniture and “eccentricities” — very original and beautifully made.

petroskey_stone_032418

S is for Stone. I like rocks, a lot. This one is incomprehensibly old, and it used to be alive O_O. Keli recently surprised me with a package of Michigan goodness, including this specimen of fossilized coral called Petoskey Stone. Well worth reading about! In the sun, the white parts sparkle. Stunning.

S_sign

S is for Sign and a Sign-off Story. This is a large — almost five feet wide — sheet metal sign, “handcrafted by an Amish craftsman known around Lancaster County as Rusty Merv”, that I accidentally got some years ago. Originally ordered as a gift for my daughter, I mildly damaged it slicing open the shipping box with an X-acto. (In my defense, it was very poorly packaged.) So I had a new one shipped to her, and held on to this one. It was a nice brick red color at the start; when I lived in the mid-century house with all wood paneling, I spray painted it this dull moss color.

Right-reading, ‘gather’ has hung in various places in a few different houses, and most recently, perpendicularly in the entry way that opens to our living room. With the nancyland studio re-org, I moved it over the thinking couch (which folds out into a guest bed) and hung it upside down. This makes me smile all the time, I think because I’m an introvert.

Q: Quandary

Q_quandry

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.

reorg_030718

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.

mama_goats_030718

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.

K-2SO_plant

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

painting_with_maddie

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.

 

 

 

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

M_mandala

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!

VM_basket _01

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.

VM_basket_00

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

shelley_B_021218-1

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

Shelley_B_021218-2

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

black_and_whites

(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 :)

rockaway_dollshouse_00

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