V: Vagary

V is for Vagary. Fluctuation, variation, quirk, peculiarity, oddity, eccentricity, unpredictability, caprice, foible, whim, whimsy, fancy.

I can’t think of a better word, or set of synonyms, to describe the new 1:12 scale echeveria kit available now over at MMS+S. There are no fewer than five leaf sizes and shapes that combine to make three sizes of a charming pointy-leaf echeveria. I’ve redesigned the build method, too, to start on a fine paper-wrapped stem wire (included in the kit), which is perfect for armatures (gnarly-armed structures) and general ease of shaping the plants.

Here is a bushel basket of prototypes, using both of the base colors — white or apple green — colored with alcohol-based markers. (If you want true reds and yellows — or blues and purples — order the white stock. If you’re good with more muted tones and want to spend less time coloring, choose the green :)

Possibilities of color combinations are endless (and fun).

This is a versatile kit, and a form to make a succulent wreath is available soon!

Let Scarlett’s tail and rabbit feet, seen here in complete repose, be your inspiration.

I recently re-found this unfinished Henri Rousseau-inspired collage panel, and glued it to the side back of the Modern Miniature Succulents + Sundries set.

The MMS+S set is in disarray, like many aspects of my life, but potentially still functional.

Zoom out now, please, to 1:1. The former owners of our house built this charming, funky wave-topped gate (seen here from the back). But, inexplicably, they painted the front of it the same dispirited brown as the rest of the decks, and completely ignored the back. For four years, it has *nagged* at me.

Yay go me. Here it is finished in four shades, by the light of the silvery security beacon.

Albie and I survey the change. You can just see that sad brown deck color peeking out under cat and mat.

This is the old hardware, atop the treacherous birdbath pedestel, for those of you/us interested in these things.

And finally. Keli and I have been challenging ourselves to … not let the bastards drag you down draw a random thing and post it on Instagram, until, for each of us, momentous events transpire. (For me, that’s undergoing replacement surgery of both hips, on 01 October, 2018.) I have chosen Crayola and ink as my drawing medium. We are #messy_k_enge and #curlymuenich, if you care to follow along (+also under our regular names @iseecerulean and @nancy_k_enge). We are expecting phat coffee table art book publishing contracts to swamp our respective agents.

How could they not?

 

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.

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,

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.)

The Solstice, Lighting

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Last night — Good Solstice, all! — I set to work installing the ceiling lights in the Sea Rise Pavilion kitchen.

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Because I’m such a lighting electrics n00b, I used five 3-volt chip LEDs, set in mini eyelets. They are tragically insufficient to light the kitchen. But hey! I learn by doing. So I went to bed.

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This morning, I ordered some larger (3mm) LEDs, then pulled the chip LEDs and eyelets from the ceiling installation. (Those are the holes you see.) Under-shelf lighting seemed like a good use of the sadly pale chips, so I plotted a layout in Illustrator to use as a template, and drilled new holes in the upper shelf. (Um, not an ideal construction protocol, the drilling of already-installed things.) I methodically undid all the twisty magnet wire connections from the ceiling — thankfully I had not set the heat shrinks — and reset the eyelets under the shelf. With my teensiest drill bit I made exit holes for the wires in the back wall, in line with each eyelet.

It is a good setup, but two of the chip LEDs did not fully survive. (Though they do work intermittently, argh, whygodwhy?)

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Then I walked out to see this sunset over the ocean. One can aspire.