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.

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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?

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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.)

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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.) 

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

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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 :)

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.)

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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.

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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.

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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.)

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

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?

 

 

Funk, ABChallenge, Mudroom

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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.

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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.

Dresden Trim, New Avatar

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I was given a wonderful pack of assorted Dresden Trim, as well as an entire sheet of fish. I spent a pleasant few hours sorting through the scrap, snipping and arranging the bits and pieces. Things got interesting when I started combining parts of one with another. Above is the beginning of an illustration for 2018.

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I cut the wings from a bird in flight (a swift? a swallow?) and this happened. I felt an instant sense of recognition, like I had met a new old friend.

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I made the ladder longer, and glued the pieces together.

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The back is reinforced with toothpicks and cardstock circles cut to the wheel dimensions, stacked and glued together, then glued to the outer rim.

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Because I’m not a stamped gold foil kind of girl, I spray painted her matte black. Please say hello to my new avatar.

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She shows up strikingly against many backgrounds.

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I gifted her shoes made of black eyelets and tacky wax. She stands freely, observant, curious and full of questions.

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However… sometimes it’s hard being 2.5D in a complex 3D world. You can lose touch with essential parts of yourself.

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We believe it’s good to have your head in the clouds, and your feet on the ground.

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And have your heart wide open… but sheltered by something good.

(These particular Dresden trim pieces came from Castle in the Air, but I have since found three other good online sources: Rose MilleDresden Paper Crafts; and Walter Kunze.)