Now and Then: Chairs, Leadlights, Conservatory, Rocks

The first of two estate chairs for Sea House Leadlights. Probably.

I bought two of Kris Comapas’s Estate Chair kits because I wanted to use more of this thrift store dress fabric, which I love.

From a Pescadero thrift store strapless, bubble-hemmed dress
Happy little estate chair, work in progress

It’s a rather large scale print for miniature upholstery, as well as being a very fine and lightweight fabric, but did I mention how happy it makes me feel?

Though legless and unpiped, still a very welcoming estate chair

Kris includes good instructions and cord to make fabric-covered piping in her kits, but I generally prefer a twisted cord made from 3 strands of embroidery floss.

Yes, K-2’s eyes light up (when he sees me)

Here you can see my associate K-2SO inspecting the floss piping with his massively articulated fingers. (I love him, too.)

I find attaching tiny piping gracefully onto miniature upholstery to be a tedious task, so I’m putting it off until I feel more… um, articulated dextrous. And patient.

Sea House Leadlights design studio

The Leadlights design studio also has a new chair. Makes it look way more office-y, don’t you think? I’m really pleased with the level of quality and detail in this chair. (Ack! This photo also reminds me I want to finish tricking out the desk accessories, and to trim that orange bookmark on the last-minute-made sketchbook!)

That brick rubble is glued down Scarlett. (Yes, she checked.)

Work continues on the Sea House Conservatory build, with a sea level rise remediation support pier in place.

Model Magic air-dry clay rocks and boulders

Geologic rock and boulder construction is underway. My preferred material — think I’ve tried just about all of them — is Model Magic air dry clay, made by Crayola. It is lightweight, inexpensive, readily available, pleasant and responsive to sculpt, accepts all kinds of pigments well, and dries with virtually no shrinking.

Spatters and washes and sprays, oh my
Lots and lots of boulders and rocks
Granite-veined black rocks

With this last batch of rocks, I experimented with adding black acrylic paint or India ink to the white clay before sculpting. One batch had fine black gravel mixed in. The paint or ink initially made the compound stickier to work with, but it was nice to start with a pre-tinted base. These have green and gray washes spritzed on. When dry (takes a day or two depending on size and relative humidity) with a fine brush I painted the surf erosion holes and granite veins with white acrylic, diluted 1:1 with water.

As I was ordering new clay, I learned Model Magic also comes in black, gray, and “Earthtone, Bisque and Terra Cotta”. So stoked to use these colors on the next exploratory rock and boulder sets.

Closeup before the tide comes in

The finished rocks are slicked with a satin multi-purpose sealer, as they’re meant to look wet. The final Conservatory project base will have about an inch of water in tidal flow. (I’m excited about that, too, as I’ve never worked with a “water feature” before :)

Sea House Conservatory, in progress, February 2020

Deck planks are installed, and I’ve finally arrived at a stair design that makes sense and blends into the overall structure.

Yesterday I was at Chrissy Field in the Presidio, and took a bunch of pier photos for genuine detail ideas. It was a perfect winter’s day, cool, clear and sunny, with very little breeze.

Looking north to the Golden Gate Bridge and Marin
Chrissy Field, Presidio. See the fog horse galloping over the City?

Glorious.

Retrospective: Sea House Leadlights

Albie oversees receipt of Serendipity Shed base kits, 16 August 2019

I thought it might be interesting to review building highlights of the Sea House Leadlights studio office, from start through submission. (Can’t really say “completion” because things never stay done ‘round here.) There are links back to original posts — if any were made — with more details. I wasn’t very bloggy :)

First ideas

I spend a lot of pages thinking, sketching, dreaming, considering and working out dimensions and story.

The starry floor in process

The first floor idea, though fun to design, paint and assemble, did not work well in the space. So it goes.

Two base kits mashed together

Height was added to the starter kit with parts from a second. I like to retain recognizable elements of the kit, so the roof angle and footprint, as well as door and lower window placement remained unchanged.

Loft wall detail

I glued cold press 140 lb. watercolor paper to the walls for texture before painting, and added a whitewashed aged brick back wall in the loft.

Adding siding to the new front
Half-loft installed, supported by faux beams

I opted to make the front façade removable as well as the roof… this makes it so much easier to photograph the interior.

Bench tops and bottoms

I cut the built-in benches from 1/16-inch basswood on the Cricut Maker. These were glued together and supported with 1/8-inch dividers.

Interior space begins to come together
Tree Frog green was the only possible finish color, with black leather cushions

I thought and sketched about the window designs for some time. The Pavilion is bubble-themed; the Conservatory celestial… for the Leadlights design studio I went Egyptian Deco. Mostly sort of.

Sea House Leadlights front doors and front/side windows
Sea House Leadlights upper window

The upper window is a stylized scarab. Very.

The “leading” designs for the windows are cut from lead black cardstock, glued front and back to the plexi, then framed in black on the exterior (and tree frog on the interior). I like to see wood grain, so I use a 1:1 ratio of acrylic paint and staining medium.

The scarab window at night

If one looks straight on, the window frames the bricked loft wall and the old Sea House logo. With sacred scarab wings.

Side building signage

I — or rather the Cricut Maker — cut the signage from matte black vinyl. The stars in the design are meant to resemble anchor plates used to reinforce old buildings. I love them.

In this backlit photo, the vinyl letters appear to float off the side of the building. It’s not quite so unnatural-looking in person, but knocking back the synthetic smoothness is on my eternal learn-to-do list, to find ways to tone down the material. (Transferring wee letters and figures is a fiddly, fussy business, especially onto an uneven surface, and I am not eager.)

Side sign
View from above

Here’s a roof’s-eye look at the progressing build. The holes are drilled for the LED light fixtures that will illuminate the work space below. (The wiring to be concealed beneath a custom rug and other stuff stored in the loft.) A narrow shelf beneath the scarab window on the removable front might support batteries if I ever add lighting to the front. Floor tiles gleam softly with scuff-resistant utility. Leather window seats beckon.

To be continued…

Sea House Leadlights Interior, Roof; Scarlett

Hello Sea House Leadlights office

The entrance to the Sea House Leadlights office is up a few stairs and across the deck to the left of the fireplace. A set of leaded glass doors opens into a snug but functional design studio.

Details: Terra cotta pot by Braxton Payne. Basswood deck and siding stained with Minwax Classic Gray. Pumpkins made from tissue paper and thread. Boulders sculpted from air dry clay painted with acrylic washes and sealed with ultra matte varnish. All succulents, yucca and other plants hand colored with W&N Promarkers. Many are prototypes; some available as kits at Modern Miniature Succulents + Sundries.) 

Desk and bulletin board

Beneath the half-loft a large tabletop desk has plenty of room to roll out plans and inspiration. Low built-in cabinets with black leather cushions provide more seating, storage and level surfaces for tea trays.

Details: The ceiling lights are 12V modified for warm white LEDs. Bulletin board is made from cork sheet framed with basswood stained to match. Sketchbooks made from my kits at MMS+S. Various meaningful artifacts including original leaded glass designs for other Sea House buildings, and a drawing of a cat by my then 4-year old daughter. Fèves, prized vintage Monopoly shoe, and an anodized earring from the 1980s.

The white-washed brick loft stores window frames, tools, Sea House memorabilia and miscellaneous treasure — as well as the switch (lift the black basket) and battery pack (hidden in a custom box) for the LED lights.

Details: Oh yeah, the baskets and boxes are also available as kits at MMS+S.

A gazebo-style roof welcomes natural light. (I’ll detail more of that happy construction in another post.) I made the 1:144 scale basswood model of the source kit for the original Sea House Pavilion, built some years ago. The Egyptian cat is a porcelain fève. Best of all is the vibrant painting by Jim Tracey that commands the studio — also another post.

Finally, of course, Scarlett. Here she has somehow managed to fluidly infiltrate an impossibly small entrance to the Sea House Sea Rise Pavilion loft (my ongoing remodel of the original 2013 build.) I swear she does these things just to remind me she can.

Oh, how she makes me laugh.

Boo Cricut and Provo Craft & Novelty

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Sealed With A Fish

swaf_01_5x4

I’ve been enjoying making fish sketchbooks, and have finally come up with packaging I like. They’re individually packaged in a cotton fiber vellum folio, and sealed with a fish.

:)

SWAF_contents_5x4

There will also be a kit of three blank fish sketchbooks, with some bonus printed fishes for you to play around with.

swaf_kit_contents_5x4

I have a little more photography to do, then look for them tomorrow in the shop!

 

 

Fish, Scarlett, Ruby

1_fish_sketchbook

I have made a new variation of the sketchbook.

3covers_enpaper

Three different covers. Endpapers are cut from one of Recollections “Black Jack” papers. Book pages cut from a nice substantial Southworth paper I’ve had for maybe… *thinks back to the last time we may have actually printed out a résumé* … a really long time. I drew the fish a few years ago when I was dabbling in surface pattern design. So we meet again, eh, fish?

ephemera_pocket

Of course an ephemera pocket.

living_roof_062417

I have been gone a lot lately from my home, and Scarlett especially was not stoked. There was some regressive behavior and acting out.

living_roof2

I was reminded, though, of how much I liked the Sea House Warming Hut living roof, and how much I miss having a current build. But then I remembered the fate of the Argo Wool Works…

sigh_062417

… and sighed. Thus far, the room box that houses the set for Modern Miniature Succulents + Sundries is unravaged, cunningly set atop a bookcase, so that will have to continue to suffice for my construction longings. Scarlett is a year old now — a small cat in stature forever! — and although her depredations have diminished considerably, I am reluctant to reengage with my nemesis.

Maddie_Ruby_062417

The reason for my absence is shown above, in this picture taken by my daughter, of her daughters. Here is four-year-old Maddie reacting to the sounds of her 10-day-old sister, Ruby. We are all so in love.

 

 

Packaging Process, In Progress

concept

The new finished open sketchbooks require different packaging than the current MMS+S flat kits. I set about designing an insert for the books’ 3 x 4-inch plastic bags that will provide a protected, recessed container. After roughing out dimensions on paper, I work in Illustrator to draft a model. White cardstock cuts first, with numerous and many revisions.

cut

Once I’ve got a solid working white model, I cut models in my intended paper, a rich black cardstock.

testing

Numerous iterations transpire. Where does the cutout appear? Where will the labels go? How does it fit in the bag? Where are the dominant folds vs. the grain of the paper? How can I best optimize use of paper, given a 12 x 12-inch maximum dimension? How might I make this easier, more elegant to assemble?

variations

Some versions later, I’ve got my best solution (though what’s pictured is not it :) I streamline the pattern in Illustrator for optimal cutting on the Cricut machine, joining paths, eliminating rogue anchor points, and doubling key scorelines. This happens about 11 times.

surprise_flower.jpg

Earlier today I walked out on the back deck to take the mass quantities of paper scrap I generate to the recycling bin, and I noticed this sudden dramatic bloom on one of the new nursling succulents. Dumb angle photo, but what a pleasant surprise!

sideview

A side view of the insert. It’s effectively one layer of cardstock thick on the sidewalls, and three on the bottom, with two on the immediate front face. Sturdy enough to withstand shipping? Do I need to add another layer to the sidewalls? Test mailings will tell.

backview

The backside. Utilitarian!

Sidenote: I work in inches for packaging, and in points and picas for most other applications, such as labels. Graphic designers are bilingual that way.

header00.jpg

Insert sorted for now, my attention turns to labeling. The current 3 x 3-inch labels will not work for this package. I consider two 1-inch labels — enough to order some — when a header card occurs to me. First ideas include, for some reason, a cutout circle to hang on a rack.

v1

But then I wonder why? I’m not a hanging rack sort of shop. The circle is unnecessary.

v2front

I rework the design a bit more. A staple will anchor lower center, through the bag and insert, to secure the header card and further reinforce the package.

v2back

Because this packaging is for a one-of-a-kind, original artwork, a signed certificate of authenticity is included :D

deskmess

And the deskmess to back it up (not included).

Alrighty

1done1_4x5

The first three Vintage Maps organizer kits are up over at MMS+S. There’s combinations of vertical file holders, file folders, and folios, and they all come with cream-colored rounded-corner stationery sized to fit.

VM03_mess_blog

Still to come are Vintage Maps sketchbooks, and combo kits with folios. Of the ten Cavallini & Co. maps I bought from Two Hands Paperie, these five had the scale and style I was looking for: Berlin, London, Rome, Seattle, San Francisco.

berlin

london

rome

I’m still a little iffy on Seattle. A bit too much water and legends.

seattle

SF

Also in MMS+S is an Office Essentials kit of three vertical file holders, 12 matching file folders and 12 sheets of cream-colored, round-cornered stationery. (Additional file folder sets are available separately.) The kit is available in the Warm colorway (orange, yellow and gray) and Grayscale (white, gray and black), as well as all black or all white. The white is perfect if you want to color your own surface patterns with markers or watercolor.

all3_blog.jpg

Granddaughter Madeline is about to have a new baby sister, hence my general distraction/absence from writing and commenting on all your wonderful projects. I miss you.

Remember this succulent flower stalk I posted a while back?

echeveria

This is what it looks like now, fully bloomed.

tiny_succulent_flowers2

(The background looks a little different because I cleared out a bunch of growth that had developed unsightly speckling. Sub-optimal location.)

View from the top:

tiny_succulent_flowers3

There’s a lot of stuff going on! It’s holding its own, with very little insect depredation, stable and very long-blooming. May we all be so blessed.

DeskMess

deskmess0

I have long been a fan of Cavallini & Co. paper products, especially their vintage maps and posters.

I used their map of San Francisco on the underside of the Sea House Pavilion roof.

inside_roof

sleep

And their vintage map of Italy on the back wall of Loft 1961, my first ever miniature build.

Cavallini & Co. print on beautiful cream-colored Italian paper of a substantial, but not too heavy, weight. I finally found a retail source, Two Hands Paperie, that carries *all* of their posters — at the best pricing! — and invested in a supply of lovely vintage city and country maps.

deskmess1

Because we all need vertical file holders to tidy our bookshelves, and journals, folios and file folders made from perfectly-scaled vintage maps of favorite places: London, Berlin, San Francisco, Seattle, Boston, Rome, Paris.

1done1_4x5

Vertical file with file folders. (London pictured.)

all3done3-4x5

The vertical files hold three sketchbooks or travel journals, as well as file folders and the new Vintage Map Journals with jaunty red bookmarks. The files are the same size as the solid-color Office Essentials vertical files, although of a different construction. The vertical files can also house the new Vintage Map Folios that hold fine cream-colored stationery or map file folders. The folios can also act as a slip case for a sketchbook or journal. It’s an elegant system designed to organize the shambles of your miniature office. Look for them real soon over at MMS+S.

 

04 May 2017

physicalfitness_050417

Stormy is mortified that Zilly has taken up physical fitness, and insists on sharing his progress.

Also, many thanks to our readers who noticed the newsletter has not appeared :) It is late this month, sorry.