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?

Marion’s Cape Town Proteas

Marion Russek kindly sent some protea family photos from her visit to the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens in Cape Town. Though the peak bloom season is from June to November there, she still got some sumptuous shots. I cropped them pretty tightly, and sampled some colors from the flowers for additional eye candy :)

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Pulling swatches really helps me understand what colors are going on, and provides a natural starting palette. Many, many thanks, Marion, for sharing the warm sunlight of South Africa with us. Plus! I learned a new word: fynbos.

Color + Form Research

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Spent a drizzly hour+ marching around the South African garden at UCSC Arboretum, taking reference photos of proteas for the upcoming kit, inspired by Keli’s free-style flowering.

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So many other-hemisphere plants to see. Not all are in peak bloom, but I was more interested in surveying the range of protea forms, their structures and colors.

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I didn’t even concern myself with recording variety names, since I plan a sort of hybrid form for the kit. But the colors, the colors!

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This one is a Leucadendron, “Inca Gold”. So luminous.

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In the transition zone between South Africa and succulent gardens, there were flowering eucalyptus. The scent was heavenly! There’s nothing quite like being in a deserted botanical garden on a rainy day, with only hopping bunnies and many small brown birds.

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Look at the subtle coloration and bold pattern of this succulent.

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Again, but with the spiral nature of growth (and decay).

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These were quite a surprise. Smallish, leathery, spiky, but what?! If I had done these colors I would call it a mis-step, but now I am emboldened.

This field trip was a wonder. I’ve many more examples of natural plant colorations that will probably necessitate having to buy more markers.

 

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.

Wrought Iron Sign Salvage

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I wrought Sea House emblems for the landward and sea-facing sides of the pavilion roof. They’re meant to be salvage from the old Sea House Pleasure Pier and Estate. And so they are.

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Sized to fit between the raised seams on the metal roof, I cut seven copies of the emblem from 65 lb. black cardstock and glued them together. After drying under weight, I sanded the edges even, and slightly beveled the top edges. I added fastening “bolts” then lightly stippled and dry brushed some wear and weathering. Not too much. The caretaker is diligent about her conservation duties.

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Then I had to make a smaller version to mount on the fireplace.

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It looks splendid, don’t you agree? (Well, except for the ripply rug. There’s always something.)

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I bashed out the support column in front of the kitchen, and felt much better about the space, even though it still looks like every other ELF kitchen ever made, ever. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.) I’ll scrape away the brackets on the floor, patch where the post was, and it’ll be an intentional remodel artifact :) I found the LED pot lights I ordered, then lost, so next step will be the ceiling/roof, and then the exterior siding.

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In the greenhouse, the hydroponics have been relocated to an anchored barge just off the rear utility deck.

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Meanwhile, I got to open an early present, a vintage sign hollow aluminum lowercase n, about 12 tall by 3 inches deep. Feeling the love. Thank you, my B.

Boxen, Handles, Slipcases

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There’s a new set of boxes over at MMS+S, reminiscent of the “dish pack” size, for all your miniature packing needs.

I installed ELF handles set in reversed eyelets on the Sea Rise Pavilion front doors, and then glued the whole panel into the frame. I think I’ve finally worked out which components will be attached together, and which will remain removable. Rethinking having the hydroponics inside the greenhouse; they might get moved to the lower back utility deck. There is still much I don’t know.

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Working on a simple slipcase kit to fit single and triple sketchbooks, in the classic and smaller sizes. Adds a nice finishing touch, and keeps your shelves and bookcases looking tidy. (And yes, that’s an April Wright mug — her pottery is wonderful! The wee bear bowls being used as bookends are feves from Laurel’s ValueARTifacts shop.)

Other stuff in progress and in sketch phase, brimming and swimming with ideas and plans. Focusing now on finishing up work projects for the year, and spending the holidays with family, and taking some time off.

Be good to yourselves, dear imaginary friends!

 

 

 

An Exaltation of Yuccas

I’m excited to share photos of some incredible yuccas, made by two different miniature artists, both starting from the same kit.*

*Uhh, to clarify: each had her own kit. Two artists, two kits, two locations. Nancy B finished first. Not that it was a contest.

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This is Nancy Bristow’s work. (Nancy has been making miniatures since the 1970s, and it was she who finally identified the Braxton Payne pots I had bought at auction, and pointed me to his obscure website.) She hand-colored the leaves using markers, and I love that she styled them curling out and upward. So pert and jaunty! They’re planted in BP pots she “aged”, and used bird grit as gravel.

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Here’s a shot of Nancy’s work-in-progress, adding knot holes to the stems. I noticed she chose to curl the leaves first, before attaching to the stem. Brilliant! It is so gratifying — and informative — to see how other makers work with my kits. One can learn so much.

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This is Keli Minick’s interpretation of the yucca tree kit. Look at those colors! I love the graceful trunk, and the stubby branch. Two completely different plants! She suggested using round nose pliers to separate and shape the leaves after attaching — which makes the process much less tedious. And she kindly pointed out a typo in the armature instruction sheet. Argh!

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Here’s what the Broad Leaf Yucca Tree kit looks like to start. This is the green leaf variation; cream and white are also available. (I believe Nancy B started with white leaves; Keli with cream?)

What would you make of it?

Sincere thank-yous and expressions of humbled awe to Nancy B and Keli for allowing me to share their work. 

Sea House Pavilion Remodel: Front Entry

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Work has begun on framing in the front entry, using 3/8-inch stock to match the existing structure. I chose a set of Houseworks French doors, installed backwards so they open outward. There will be a 5-inch wide transom window above. The door woodwork is finished in an eggshell white stain, and the two side panels will be reclaimed weathered gray horizontal planking.

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I got curious about the line weights in intricate pattern that I might successfully cut (and remove from the mat) on the Cricut, and got down to 6 points (.083-inch / 2.1 mm). This seems a good scale for the narrow panels of the doors and transom (the greenhouse window leading is 9 points (.125- inch / 3.2 mm).

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The difference in scale between the front doors and the greenhouse windows makes sense (especially now that I know I can cut finer line weights). The interior front wall will be planked in the eggshell white stain, with a matte varnish.

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Now I’m thinking on how the ceiling between the main floor and the sleeping loft will work, and how to finish out the fireplace through to the roof — some tricksy geometries. I ordered a bunch of vegetable kits from Georgie Steeds at The Miniature Garden — my favorite miniature plant kit purveyor — to populate the long shelf in the greenhouse. The interior greenhouse windows are open to the room so the potted trees can reach out.

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Also, how is it almost November?!

 

 

 

Sea House Pavilion Sea Rise Remodel

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Turns out — after a lot of experimentation and test builds and weathering practice and pondering and faffing about — as much as I am captivated by abandoned miniatures, I do not wish to actually build one. I felt a bit sad when I realized this, but also relieved. The pavilion remodel still has sea level rise as a core premise, but now it’s more of a retrofitted, off-the-grid, self-sufficient adaptation that’s been going on for some years. With scavenging and memorabilia. The old skiff, with its faded Sea House emblem, stays. Stormy is just passing through :)

Fiesta Yucca

FY01-02_both2Two first-ever specimens of yuccas — finished potted plants, not kits —  will soon be available over at MMS+S. I’ve boldly named them Fiesta Yuccas, a taxonomy unique to nancyland, which means they’re not strictly exact replicas of yuccas one might encounter in this mortal coil. The leaf pattern graduates from a rich medium green to lime to sunflower, tipped in gold and striped with moss. The flat leaf pattern looks like a very appealing mandala. Sure to add light and life to your arrangements.

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The taller of the two is slender and graceful, with three branching trunks. Both specimens are potted in Braxton Payne terra cotta cylinder pots. Of course.

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The shorter one, potted in a slightly smaller cylinder, has the same three-leaf cluster structure as its taller sibling, and projects a powerful presence. The trunk armatures remain pliable and can be curved or straightened into most any form.

That I have arrived at not one, but two! specimens that tilt my acceptance meter to ‘yes, this is worthwhile’ is a tremendous achievement (she who regularly invites to tea the three-headed monster of perfectionism/paralysis/procrastination).

So that means I get to post a cat picture.

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Here is our yearling+ Scarlett, sleeping out the very foggy summer on a side deck bench. Every time I walk by she rouses enough to meow some variation of “Mao, wow!”

I smile every time.