Skiff, Brackets


Scarlett has grown into a far more helpful studio cat. Here she continues the weathering process on the underside of the Sea House Pavilion Squat roof, while I work on building a wee skiff.


I eBayed this circa 1989 Midwest Products skiff model. I love this kit for many reasons: The superior 36-page construction manual and a full-size plan. Each of the 117 steps has a little checkbox next to it, to track one’s progress. And shipbuilding vocabulary: inwales, cleats, chafing plank, stem and false stem, strongback, painter, breasthook, skeg, knee and quarter knee, transom, fairing.

Here is step 109, Inwales:


Even with the apprentice skill level 1 rating, there was still plenty of late night swearing, especially setting up the framing. I realized very early on how glad I was that the finished model would be heavily weathered.


Making the oars was possibly my favorite part. They’re built from dowels and stripwood, whittled and sanded into final shape. (Still have to varnish the second one.)


The outdoor shower is old Reutter Porcelain, tragically discontinued. One of my all time favorite pieces!

At some point, the Sea House Pavilion was retrofitted with sturdy brackets, much like the foundation of the SH Warming Hut.


This time, made much easier by cutting the components on the Cricut machine. I used the scoring tool to mark angle folds and placement of the bolts, which are two dots thick. (Note to self: hmmmm, maybe make available to sell? Have good metallic cardstock by Neenah. Am thinking of drawing contemporary and or retro wrought iron patterns, too?)


Recently, most of my building has been in the quiet of late night. Scarlett keeps me company on the studio thinking couch. Good kitty.


Studio Cat, It Has Begun


I’m going to lead with this pic of Scarlett, lest you think she only haunts my endeavors. Here she is at the control center of Brian’s studio, enjoying the warmth of electronic musical components, and inexplicably enduring loud sounds and buzzing. Purple and contented.


Last night, we had freak thunder and lightening storms, which drove all cats inside. I had dismantled the Sea House Pavilion build earlier, in preparation for the remodel. What better way to begin aging and distressing the various parts than to allow wet cats to regain their composures lounging about the structures? The roof cradle was their favorite for grooming (not pictured), and I can only hope a natural, organic weathering effect is underway.


I used pliers and my fingers to yank all the cut silk and preserved moss foliage off the base. It was a major effort, and took a couple of goes. The whole build was constructed in three detachable parts: base, pavilion, roof. I also removed the back arched brick wall remains. Not sure if I’ll re-incorporate it into the new structure — sea level rise does take its toll. I remember it was part of the backstory of the Sea House Pavilion, and I do love combining old and new. That sense of place, the evocation of those who came before us, even as we go about our contemporary lives. We’ll see what happens.


An Idea Occurs

Some backstory: A long time ago, there was the Sea House Pavilion build. Good times.


It surprise-won the Grand Prize in that year’s HBS contest. Then more stuff happened, and once again, we packed up and moved house. This time, up the coast to Pacifica. Time passed, and we got a new kitten. Whereas the older two boy cats had always ignored my work, Scarlett’s relentless depredations of all miniature endeavors, um, challenged my work flow. All the builds had to go live on top of tall bookcases.


Here is the above-mentioned cat, now slightly less naughty, and a partial view of our north fence line, in the process of being demolished and rebuilt.


Late this afternoon, I sat outside on the retaining wall, looking at the back of our little blu house. We’ve had some very high temperatures in the San Francisco Bay Area — like, tacky wax melting; all the miniature pictures and signs fell off walls in all the builds. Triple digits F° hot. Today was the first day it was cooler than the face of the sun possible, pleasant even, to be outside.


Perhaps it was the temporary expansiveness of a fence-less suburban back yard… but an idea — a solution to something else entirely — occurred to me.


The idea began when I unearthed this lovely corroded Master lock, as I was weeding and tidying up some of the excavations before the fence guys return tomorrow. Kris Compas’s post about how she dilapidates upholstery, read earlier in the day, and the steady stream of Abandoned Miniatures in my FB feed no doubt contributed to my thinkings.



2+2=5 was playing as I wrote :)

So the idea to reimagine the Sea House Pavilion as “a post-sea level rise coastal squat” may be the solution — a transformation — to the problem of housing all these builds. Just keep remodeling them! And I get to do research and problem solving and learn by doing new techniques! My favorite things! There’s still Scarlett to reckon with, of course, but she may turn out to be my assistant disheveler.

Sea House Warming Hut: Overwrought Iron

I decided to use the remaining section of the JMG Miniatures laser-cut panel to make the ruined remnants of a wrought iron railing, as a part of the original brick foundation. I wanted it to be twisted wreckage with a story to tell, but not faux-Gothic macabre.

Several coats of flat black spray paint, glue globbing, lamp black acrylic, “rust + dust” shaved pastels and tiny dots of opportunistic sage lichens. It’s really fun to crap paint intentionally, for once :)

After smooshing them around in a few places, I opted for the back, with the view into the open hut above. I set them in far enough to be visible, but not a statement beyond “What was deluxe becomes debris.”*

And with that, I think I’ll turn my attention to the interior of the hut for a while (except for the ongoing living roof planting and interminable foundation gravel gluing). I’ve been considering the chairs for ‘round the fireplace, as well as other seating and maps and books and beverages.

*A special prize! for all who *know* the provenance of that… lyric. And care to share it. Googling is informative, but totally cheating in this case. Unless it’s to marvel at the poignant brilliance of this perfect song :)

Floor and Build

modern miniature floorThe Sea House Warming Hut floor is bleached, salvaged wood planks milled from the old mythical Sea House Pleasure Pier. Even though the scale of the woodgrain is off, I favor HBS’s  3/4-inch “rustic clapboard siding strips”. And a lot of sanding and pencil point nail heads.

modern miniature building

I soaked a few strips of  1/32 x 5/32-inch basswood in water, and bent them round the rim of the same bowl used to draw the half-circle for the stonework. Then I let them dry in the sun (which made me feel better about the freakishly warm weather we’ve been having).

modern miniature woodworking

This part was fiddly. I glued the curved pieces, one at a time, to cover the uneven gap between wood floor and stonework. I held them in place by hand until the glue set up, then clamped to dry fully. This surround will also help keep the debris from the wood stove contained.

modern miniature woodworking

A few coats of satin varnish, and I’m ready to start building.

modern miniatures, Sea House Warming Hut

Also fiddly, especially if one first fits the sidewalls overhanging the back foundation rather than the front, as it says nowhere in the instructions, other than “Sidewalls will slightly overhang the foundation”, and have to pop everything off and start again. Even though one did a complete dry fit.

Next up is painting the trim and the sliding door.

Sea House Warming Hut

Sea House has a new logo

The venerable and imaginary Sea House organization has a new logo!

Filled a couple of notebook pages with ideas, sketches, color studies and measurements for the new build for the HBS/ 2015 Creatin’ Contest, then went back in time and crafted a new logo for the Sea House Pleasure Pier empire.

Sea House Warming Hut

It can get nipply on the North Coast, and a thoughtfully-provisioned warming hut is a welcome respite after a beach meander or cliff walk. Maybe even a destination?