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?

 

 

G: Gray, Gray + Green

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G is for the grays of a winter storm.
Sharp Park Beach, looking south to Mori and Pedro points.

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G + G, for the warm grays and bright-eyed greens of a handsome cat.
Napoleon, overseeing the Sea House Warming Hut build.

 

D: Dollhouse, Wheelie

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Alongside a small apartment building in Rockaway Beach is an odd assortment of broken Talavera pottery, derelict lawn ornaments and abandoned dollhouses. It is thought-provoking, but not at all sad.

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In an effort to get out more, I’ve been auditioning various coffee shops around town. Current fav is Perfect Pour on Clarendon. Small, friendly, excellent coffee (they do their own roasts). Wheelie enjoyed making my cappuccino appear mustachioed. Little hipster.

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

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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?

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.

Greenhouse Lighting, Lineage Legacy, Beauty

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Growing in electrical confidence. I pulled the beautiful 12 volt bulbs out of these fixtures from miniatures.com, and replaced them with 3mm 3 volt LED bulbs.

lighting_01.jpgI drilled holes through the greenhouse framing to accommodate the aluminum tubing. Here are the fixtures upside down, glue drying.

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Right side up, but still wobbly.

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On the outside of the greenhouse I routed the wires down through 3/32-inch shrink tube, and drilled holes back into the interior. I’ll glue the shrink tube conduit to the vertical leading on the outside glass, and re-gather the wires inside to connect to a coin cell battery concealed in an under shelf tub. All in all, an elegant solution to a lighting retrofit? You will please be the judge as I implement the plan :)

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In other goings-on, I received a parcel from Keli, containing — among other things! — an astonishing bestowal of gifts from Charlene’s legacy. I will share in detail in future posts; I am still processing the magnitude of what I was gifted, and am in flat-out awe of the artistry of miniaturists. These things need to be shared.

I flashed on a fever dream/hallucination I had while living on the East Coast, and had contracted Lyme disease and was very ill. In bed, gazing out the window to the woods beyond, I had a vivid vision of all the people of my individual lineage, stretching back through time — all my ancestors — accompanied by a tremendous sense of comfort and rightness. Coupled with that biological heritage review, there was a sense of recognition of others who were of my tribe. Miniaturists are my tribe :)

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This is my older granddaughter Maddie, who will be 5 years old in March. Photo taken by her mum (my daughter) on a family hike with her baby sister and Papa on New Year’s Day. The expression on her face… serious wonder.

Humble Lighting, Cats

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I got my lighting order from Evan Design: replacement chip LEDs for the under shelf, and five 3mm LEDs for the pot lights (3/16-inch brushed aluminum eyelets) in the ceiling. Look at how warm the “warm white” is!

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And gah! Look at what a tangle the backside is. There’s five chip LEDs (the tiny red and green magnet wires) and five 3mm LEDs, wired to two 3V battery holder/switches. I’m posting this in all humility and baby steps learning. I *will* get better at wire stripping and making elegant connections. Because how I love learning new things?! Even though I cringe at being clumsy and awkward doing so.

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Speaking of elegant connections… I went to post this at my main workstation, but found Scarlett snugged in my chair (and absorbing the under desk Dyson heater warmth). Of course I could not disturb her, so I retreated to the couch with my laptop.

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And there was Albie, snugged into a fresh, warm load of laundry waiting to be folded. So now I’m arrayed on the other end of the couch, with laptop, phone, sketchbook, freshly sharpened Blackwing pencil, two reference books, a baggie of lighting components, and a glass of wine, all amid the piles of half-folded laundry. Same as it ever was,

Wheelie Has an Outing

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Today, Wheelie and the rest of us (literally, I’m guessing half the Bay Area) ventured out to the Cal Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park. But first, we were hungry, so we found an awesome nearby neighborhood restaurant called Hakka, on Cabrillo Street. Highly recommend!

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We considered global plate tectonics.

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As always, the ongoing Color of Life exhibit is fascinating. Wheelie discovered an affinity with the polymorphic Gouldian Finch.

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We enjoyed visiting Claude in the Swamp, from a downstairs Steinhart Aquarium vantage point.

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But I feel fairly certain that this little girl in front of us was enjoying it the most.

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Not being divers (yet!), the local California coast kelp forest exhibits are mesmerizing.

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The jellies never fail to entrance. Ever.

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Wheelie discovered another kindred soul.

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The culmination of every visit to Cal Academy of Sciences, for me, is the pilgrimage to the living roof. One of my very favorite places.

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Wheelie likes it, too! She feels her spirits soar.