I am not going to meet the HBS bloggers build deadline for September 26, 2016, and I am using cute kitten photos to distract from my mingled sense of failure, regret and self loathing.


I *have* met all my work and all most of my volunteer deadlines.


Feel free to judge me, but look at my belly first :)


Though I will continue — and finish —  the build, I’m more than a bit scattered and distracted with other projects.


Sweet dreams, best beloveds.


Retro Sofa, Fairy Surprise


The retro sofa made from one of Kris Compas’s excellent kits, and upholstered in silk cut from a gentleperson’s tie, is finished. The legs are painted a medium gold, a tone somewhere between the multiple shades of butter yellow and tan in the fabric.


For the piping I corded three strands each of a blue and gold DMC floss. I liked the variegated result more than a single color.

I love the design of the sofa, but I’m disappointed in my fabric choice. I now see that a simpler, far less patterned fabric is called for, one that does not compete with the rhythm of the sofa’s luscious curves. Oh well.

In other news, I walked out in the garden this afternoon to find that the fairies had vacated their backyard terrace location, leaving their outdoor furnishings and accessories behind.


A short tour found their dwelling relocated to the front southside terrace, an area I have been working on clearing of its irredeemably overgrown lavender, rosemary and other shrubberies.

moved_front_061916This is a street-facing, far more public location, and I’m frankly surprised. What will the neighborhood make of the new inhabitants?

And finally, a wee acknowledgement. Today is 19 June, or 619, which was my house number in a faraway sojourn, an amazing house in a now enchanted place. The *best* water, phenomenal night skies, and the site of epic revelries. To all of you who enjoyed Plain Meeting House Road, salut!


Retro Sofa Upholstery


I did as much as I could last night on the retro sofa kit from Kris Compas, before I needed to decide on the fabric. This is the base, seat and back cushions padded out with batting, and the back (being held in place with rubber bands until the glue cures). The dots mark the tufting positions (with a small correction).


I surprised myself somewhat by going with the gold and blue fans — originally I thought the Paisley. Thank you all for your input. It was fun and interesting to hear what you would choose. This piece is the covering for the bottom of the sofa.


Here is the curved back. There is rather a lot of triangular notching to do.


The back glued on to the seat base. Silk is slippery to cut and glue straight!


The sofa so far. Next up is tufting and covering the back cushion, making the buttons (with the cute button press supplied with the kit), making the piping or braid, and painting and attaching the legs. Oh, and pillows. More tie silk fabric choices!


Retro Sofa


Kris Compas had two new kits up in her Etsy shop, this sofa and some equally awesome chairs. I chose the sofa kit for the Argo Wool Works showroom porch.


I want to use tie silk for the upholstery. But which one? Thanks to the generosity of friends, I have a curated collection of about 30 ties from which to choose. I’ve narrowed it down to these six:


Blue, gray and black Escher flying fish.


Ivory and black dots, which I used on this bench:



Leaping trout on a burgundy background


Blue and white Paisley on black


Multicolored truncated ovals on burgundy


Gold and blue fans on pale yellow


I feel like my granddaughter, Maddie Lou, making decisions with the happy abundance of choices.

Which one would you pick?



Foundations, Éclairs


Attempting to integrate the show-through back wall brick arch, I built a few brick foundation ruins.


After sealing the bricks, I mortared them with DAP CrackShot.


They have been since grunged, weathered and eroded, and cast into the background.

More importantly, we celebrated my husband’s birthday with the question, What is your spirit animal éclair?


We received so many heartfelt responses, mostly off the list of the available tiny animal figurines. Sloth, hyena, bunny… nope. Thus far, B has resonated with rhino and lion. I found the tiger encased on its side in delicious dark chocolate this morning; I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions.



Back Brick Arch


After tipping the build backside up, and using the same pattern as on the inside wall, I glued on the bricks and sealed them with Mod Podge. I favor these bricks by Andi Mini Brick & Stone because they’re a solid color throughout, well-priced, and easy to cut.


Mortared with a palette knife and gloved fingers, using DAP Crack Shot. This and the following shot were photographed at night by ambient light of my Luxo lamp, hence the color variations.


Gruzz brushed on with gray and deep green powdered pastel.


Finishing out the rest of the farmer style board-and-batten siding. Yay for using up offcuts. Fooling around with preserved reindeer moss, mostly roots and mid-structure  (rather than the rounded top mounds) to give a slightly more lichen-y feel.


The finished-for-now back wall. I added some floor board remnants and foundation elements to the existing structure. After carving out a lot of mortar and rounding all the exposed brick corners, I sea-sponged on a thin white wash of white acrylic, then re-scrubbed individual bricks clean. The siding nailheads are made with a soft-leaded pencil tip rotated in place, then wiped downwards with a fingertip to create stain trails. Convincing!

Now I have to do a bit of research on street names and sign styles of 1906 San Francisco. I’m tempted to use my old address, but have to see if the area was even developed then. (It was in the outer Richmond, near the backside of Sutro Park.) Alternately I could cut a very fine stencil of the Argo Wool Works logo


to paint on the bricked-in arch, which might look something like this:


My final offering is this delightful piece filled with the pure light of truth, by one of my very favorite contemporary writers, Mallory Ortberg of

It’s satisfying to read aloud.




Ceiling, Standing Stone, Brick Arch, Yipes Stripes, Bench


For the Argo Wool Works showroom ceiling, I glued the two roof sections from the Backyard Bungalow base kit together, and edged with half- by quarter-inch (13 x 6 mm) basswood to extend the overhang. I measured the placement of the beams and walls in dry fit like three or four times, encountering anomalies each time.


Yet another dry fit, this time with the upper window frames in place, and one section of ceiling planks. I’ve decided a 1/16-inch wiggle room is acceptable, especially since the whole ceiling and under eaves will be semigloss white, and any gaps will blend into the painted bricks… or something. I’m using the ever versatile 3/4-inch rustic clapboard siding from to cover the ceiling.

In the lower right of the photo you can see this standing stone feature I’m working on:


It’s two gorgeous crystalline mineral shards that I promptly forgot the name of, found at a very eccentric bead and rock shop here in Pacifica.


The back of the build was to be clad with the yellow and gray siding, but I decided today to have the bricked-in arch from the interior carry through to the outside wall for interest. I might mess with the foundation to suggest remnants of more of the building, too. There’s only just over an inch of space on the base, but I think it’ll be enough :)


Small progress on the Yipes, Stripes rug, at 2.5 x +2.5 inches, it’s a bit more than half finished. It’ll fit well in the showroom. (Stitched on 48-count silk gauze with ten colors of Gütermann silk; making up the design as I stitch :)


And here, lit by the westering sun, is my first bit of tie silk upholstery — nothing too challenging. Our dear BW sent a vintage Daisy House bench kit (so sad they’re no longer in business), and the fabric is a lustrous gray, black and ivory woven dot pattern. Thanks again, BW and Suz and Dave!

California Poppies


Native poppy season is well underway here in Northern California. One of my art supply stockists (thank you, Britain, for that great word) was selling Letraset markers for $0.67 (!) so I laid in a fresh supply of flower colors. The 3/16-inch (4–5mm) petals — four per flower — are punched from inexpensive 20 lb. paper. Stamens are a thin strip of paper tinted deep yellow, cut into a fine fringe and rolled around the stem tips. I’m using 28-gauge paper-wrapped wire cut to approximately .75 to 1.25-inch (19–31mm) lengths.


Here’s the first clump of poppies in with the lavender. The color with these markers when dry is a bit muted, so I’m going to mix in some Sharpie for vibrancy in subsequent propagation. I’m using small mounds of preserved moss to suggest their foliage, as I did on the Sea House Warming Hut living roof. There is continuity in Nancyland :)


The yummy bench is from Peter Tucker, found at the Good Sam show a few years back.

You are welcome to come sit and watch the gardens grow :)