Nothing Beside Remains

This month’s very tardy nancyland splash page pays homage to two of my favorite things: Shelley’s sonnet “Ozymandius” and beach cleanups.

I recently became site captain for Esplanade Beach volunteer cleanups organized by Pacifica Beach Coalition, and my experience is heartfelt and mind-expanding. The image on the splash page is a fishing buoy, possibly debris from the 2011 Japanese tsunami, retrieved from the beach some sixty feet below:


The part of the poem that most resonates with me:

“The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed

Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

Glue, Sneak Peak


This is a reality shot of miniature landscaping.


And this is a super secret in-process shot of a project unrelated to miniatures… 15 x 20-inch (38.21 x 50.7 cm ) watercolor cold process block pages painted in a matte acrylic wash. Pretty! Also, I’m surprised there are no cats sitting on them, dry or otherwise.



Her favorite color remains blue, and she can fly like this bunny.


My favorite modern miniature of all time.




So happy with the results of Annie Christensen’s echeveria tutorial! Here are a few before adding the chalk detailing. I experimented with watercoloring both sides of gray and light green card stock, as well as a duplex sheet of sage/dark green.


Some in place under the lavender-drying deck (two varieties).


And more around the back. Truly, paper alchemy. I’ve got some micro-punches on order to make smaller ones, and different varieties. With lavender and California poppies growing, this landscaping will be so NorCal.


(This is a peek at one of my succulent beds, so you know I speak true. You can just see some CA poppy in the mid right edge. They should start going off next month :)

The Thing Missing From My Life

Short answer? Paperclay. Long answer follows.


I settled in to finish the long back foundation wall, literally before the storm and power went out. Above you see the carton materials wrapped from the left side wall and primed in Ceramcoat “Mudstone”, then the beginnings of the long traverse using various parts of egg carton. Then I noticed something.

A while ago, our thoughtful reader and observer Barbara W. had sent me a mold from Woodland Scenics. Although sized as “boulders” it occurred to me that at 1:12 scale they would make excellent rubble, the kind I was using in the foundation.


I reviewed my on-hand options and chose a pouch of Creative Paperclay. I had never worked with this material before, though it was on my list. I chose some of the larger boulder forms and filled the mold. I forgot about it until I started the back wall foundation masonry. Then I noticed that the molded boulders had a similar texture to the carton materials I was using. Like, really similar.

The dried paperclay is a remarkable material. It is extremely stable and lightweight, easy to trim, and as I was soon to find out, paints very well.

back_wall_rocked_030616.jpgI reloaded the mold with the full set of rocks in paperclay to use around the rest of the foundation, and finished out the back wall with the few that had already dried (those in white), along with egg carton and packaging forms. It seems to take two or three days for the paperclay to dry thoroughly.


I applied the same set of acrylic layers and washes as the interior foundation.


Here’s a dramatic corner shot.


And the entire finished back foundation wall.


Although there is additional touch up and detailing to add, this needs to dry thoroughly. I could not resist gluing in some moss, though, to make it come alive. Thanks, BW, for the gift of the mold and allowing me to discover paperclay. The fun has just commenced.

Gratitude, Framing

Thank you all for your hearty congratulations and encouragement along the way. I really was surprised to win again, and a bit overwhelmed. When I got this comment from Bennie:


Something clicked with “I watched it evolve from beginning to end!” Sharing our work as we did has created a genuinely supportive community for both sharers and viewers, something I value. For me, there are elements of vulnerability and trust in posting imperfect works-in-progress, in letting you see unedited glimpses of my messy studio, my naked un-manicured fingers. One of my motivations is to spark your creativity, as a maker or a viewer. Inspiring appreciation, fostering delight, is another. So thank you for dropping by. Really truly.

The light today is crazy, brilliantly sunny then dark and gray. But I was glad to arrive at this point in the new build:


I got enough pieces from a second kit to be able to get a basic (and square) frame up, and determine with only minor maths the additional posts and casings that need to be built. Starting with the porch support post (finally).


Next, I’ll knock it all flat again to finish the interiors and exterior cladding, then reassemble with omg glue.

A peek at the side wall progress:


Now back to bricking.





Well that was a surprise. I am wide-eyed proud to announce that the Sea House Warming Hut placed third —of more than 100 entries! — in the 2015 HBS Creatin’ Contest. (More contest results here.) Thank you for being curious and caring enough to watch and comment on my meandering mini odyssey; heartfelt congratulations to everyone who participated.

Tiny rancor is more than happy to share my five three minutes of fame :)

In other fun news, I just signed on to this 28-day challenge sponsored by Creative Live. It’s free of cost, and results are shared on Instagram (I’m nancy_k_enge). Check it out!

Aubergine, Overlook

Using the kit’s doors, stained aubergine, with the mullions painted oxidized lead black.

Yesterday I took a picnic lunch (not pictured) to Thornton Overlook, just north of Pacifica. So pleasant to sit outside with mild sea breezes and a majestic view. The Sea House Warming Hut is not far from here, in case a chill fog sets in :)

Looking south, with Pedro Point rocks in the distance.

Floors, Brickwork, Walls, Circus!

I use great books to weight the flooring as it dries flat. I like to think some of the principles and observations seep into the wood and inform the structure.

I filled the voids in the walls with foam core (smooshes into the corners nicely), thin kraft cardboard (looks like MDF, sandable) and wood glue (dries hard). One of the side walls has a large arch that used to open into another room; it’s since been bricked over.

The century-old oak beams are still visible on the interior walls. I whittle-aged them without stabbing myself. Oak is way denser than basswood :)

Oopsie! I mis-measured the height of the arch :/ The century-old oak beam supporting this wall is/was/will be, um, custom fitted.

Then I spent a lot of time staining and sanding. The weather today was mild enough —and not raining! —that I could do it outside. That was nice.

The exterior walls are clad in vertical board-and-batten, stained daffodil Keli yellow and classic gray.

Looks like the circus came to town!

“The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not.”
—Erin Morgenstern, The Night Circus


Inner Walls


The interior walls of the 2016 build are exposed brickwork, which will be whitewashed, with star-shaped tie irons from Old Mountain Miniatures. The bricks are all salvage from the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. More than this is not known.