Sometimes, things work out better than hoped for

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The topic of this and last week’s Santa Cruz commute thinking time was about how to render the Sea Rise Sea House Pavilion’s greenhouse windows. I knew I wanted to do something leaded (or leaded-esque), and I knew the inevitable off-square measurements of the actual structure would be a nightmare to fit.

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I’ve built two wing extensions on either side of the main deck to increase the living space area. One side is the greenhouse, and the other will be the shower and sleeping alcove. For the greenhouse leaded glass, I drew my designs using 9-point (1/8-inch) lines, which seem reasonably robust for a seaward structure. They’re cut from black cardstock, and glued front and back to non-glare Plaskolite, which provides a semi-opaque — and salt-spray burnished — surface.

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My initial approach was to tediously center the Plaskolite within the 3/16-inch framing. (Of course if I was more dedicated, I would have routed a channel in the one million each of the frames, or, have built them with three layers of stock. But I’m not.) As I was fiddling about with measurements and drawing and cutting prototypes, I realized the best — and squarest — way is to cut the panes and cardstock leading a scant larger than the outside window openings, and glue them atop the frames. Then, trim out with thin strip wood.

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It looks just fine! Intentional, even. The two layers of cardstock, glued to the Plaskolite front and back, look believable. Even the little schmutzes of glue make sense in a marine environment (although they are easily cleaned up.)

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Here’s the whole structure-in-progress, including the new roof extension, which might be where the sleeping quarters wind up.

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And here is the main — or one of the many — reasons I drive down to Santa Cruz each week: for Ruby, now four months old. She lights up a room, no batteries, routing or wires required.

Sea House Pavilion Sea Rise Remodel

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Turns out — after a lot of experimentation and test builds and weathering practice and pondering and faffing about — as much as I am captivated by abandoned miniatures, I do not wish to actually build one. I felt a bit sad when I realized this, but also relieved. The pavilion remodel still has sea level rise as a core premise, but now it’s more of a retrofitted, off-the-grid, self-sufficient adaptation that’s been going on for some years. With scavenging and memorabilia. The old skiff, with its faded Sea House emblem, stays. Stormy is just passing through :)

Skiff, Brackets

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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.

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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:

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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.

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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.)

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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.

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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?)

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Treasure Map, Yucca Kit

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Maddie drew a treasure map. The iconography is bold and challenging on many levels, not the least of which is her rendering of the letter “R”. Type designers, bow down, maybe even despair a little bit, that you might ever envision an “R” this way. I’ve not yet heard her telling of the map story, only that the thing that looks like a Crusader shield is an “X marks the spot”.

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I’ve listed the first yucca tree kit over at MMS+S. It includes both an armature kit and a leafy clusters kit, with a choice of three base colors: white, manila or green. I plan on making kits of just the leafy clusters available, for those who want to make their own armatures, and eventually just supply packs of leafy clusters sans instructions, for those who get it and want to build more yucca plants. Every build needs at least one good yucca :)

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So many possibilities! There’s one more versatile yucca houseplant kit in the queue, and after that, it’s on to making specimens. I’ve drawn a different leaf cluster, longer and finer, and am working with a smaller gauge armature, just for the finished trees and plants.

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Here is Maddie, studying the most recent Eric Carle book, and Ruby, being what contented two-month old humans are. Kind of my world right now :)

Rousseau 1:12 Mural First Cuts

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I sketched out and constructed a palm plant motif in Illustrator, then reversed a copy of it to make the most of the painted papers.

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Here are my first cuts of the pattern from two of the painted papers, flung onto the wall. I was working against the losing of the light (because hey, Game of Thrones). They will work splendidly as a middle background layer, when arranged.

Still undecided how I will stick them down.

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It took me a couple of cuts to get it right, but here is what a (partial) painted paper looks like after four passes of cutting. Still plenty of material for hand cutting parts available.

 

Rousseau, Painted Paper, Collage

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A few weeks ago I came across this spread in the April 2017 issue of House Beautiful. It’s a wall mural inspired by the imaginary jungle paintings of Henri Rousseau. Designed by Laurel Canyon homeowner Molly Luetkemyer, it was painted by LA artist Jeff Robinson.

I was instantly smitten, and thought a miniature version could be the perfect third wall for the MMS+S set. Since I am currently very keen on repurposing and/or drawing from my considerable hoard stockpile of materials and supplies, I grabbed a peaked MDF wall from — um, actually I no longer remember what build it was from.

Years ago, I dabbled in some cut painted paper collage paintings, inspired by Eric Carle. I love this method of illustration. For this 1:12 wall, I plan on using hand- and machine-cut painted papers augmented with markers.

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Here is the wall (MDF, 12 x 17 inches) with the preliminary foundation background painted in acrylics. I’ve been studying Rousseau’s jungle paintings, and making note of elements I want to include: light to dark background gradations; sky, moon/sun, jungle; exaggerated plant details; simple two-tone object shading. In Luetkemyer’s inspiration mural, she says the plants are based on California’s landscape, and I plan to do the same. What an awesome opportunity to draw all my favorite plants and flowers: yucca, ficus, succulents, sansevieria; gorgeous orange and red mystery fruit; outrageous florid orange and yellow flowers.

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Using 14 x 11-inch medium-weight drawing paper and acrylic paint, I’ve begun making my papers, starting with the greens.

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And then some warms:

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It’s getting late, and I’ve run out of room on my drying rack, so my helper cat and I are calling it a night.

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Nancyland’s August (or Fogust, as we say here in the Bay Area) home page splash image is made from two of the above painted papers, layered using the magical “Lighten” blending mode in Photoshop.
The lyric snippet is from Grouplove’s “Colours”, a song Maddie and I both enjoy singing along to when it comes on the radio :)
Lyric snippet update: The National’s “The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness”. Listening to on repeat.

 

Armatures, S-Town, Cricut

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I’m working on a yucca-and-others armature kit. It involves hand-tearing a lot of brown paper into narrow strips. One of my best-practice recommendations will be to watch a movie (that does not require eyes glued to the screen) or better yet, listen to podcasts. As of this writing, I’m listening to S-Town, again.

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My husband’s employer was hosting a TSA Pre certification opportunity, so after we enrolled, he cut work early. After a pleasant luncheon in the Presidio, we took a stroll through the Legion of Honor Museum, where this very antique clock caught my eye — hence the S-Town reference. If you’ve not listened to this brilliant piece of true life storytelling yet, I encourage you to do so. I promise it will simultaneously break and uplift whatever is left of your tender, jaded heart.

Here’s one of my latest exchanges with the wonderful customer support worker bees at Cricut:

Nancy Enge: Any progress with the SVG import capability?
Nancy Enge: My experience says no.
*** Deepak joined the chat ***
Deepak: Hello Nancy

Deepak: We are still working on it.
Nancy Enge: Hello Deepak
Deepak: Let me try from my laptop.
Nancy Enge: Try what?
Deepak: Uploading that image
Nancy Enge: Deepak, don’t waste your time
Deepak: Yay!!!
Deepak: It is uploading on my laptop
Nancy Enge: Yay what?
Nancy Enge: That is just normal technology

Nancy Enge: As you can see: a mess
Nancy Enge: All of the score line lines are thrown hither and thither
Deepak: We are continuously working to provide better user experience.
Nancy Enge: Of course you are
Nancy Enge: I did not mean to imply that any of you are slacking
Nancy Enge: Especially you customer support staff
Deepak: :)
Nancy Enge: I was just checking in on this most troublesome problem we have encountered
Nancy Enge: for the last few weeks
Deepak: You know today I got an user who is not able to upload an SVG image, I tried it on my laptop.
(04:12:36 AM) Deepak: It didn’t work.
Deepak: However I tried your image, it worked.
Nancy Enge: Welcome to my world
Deepak: So I was so happy.
Nancy Enge: Hehehehe
Deepak: :)
Nancy Enge: Simple SVGs work
Nancy Enge: It’s those with lines meant to be score lines that are problematic
Deepak: Yeah, you are right.
Nancy Enge: Why this is the case, I have no idea
Nancy Enge: I am a designer, not a software engineer
Nancy Enge: Dammit :)
Deepak: I am not sure with whom you you talked. I have your image and photo, I will show it to our product specialist
Deepak: Next 2 days is my week off.
Deepak: I will update you by Monday.
Nancy Enge: Thank you, Deepak. I have talked with three of your brethren to date
Deepak: I have already saved details.
Deepak: I will drop an email on Monday after checking with him,.
Nancy Enge: I know those of us who upload our own designs are Cricut’s minority users, outliers…
Deepak: For us everyone is important.
Nancy Enge: We would all like to believe that :)

Deepak: There are some technical bugs; we are actively working on it. We are not in the business of selling machines. However, we are in the business of winning hearts.

Deepak: I will surely get back to you on Monday.

Nancy Enge: *cough*
Nancy Enge: Sorry, I’m laughing so hard I almost spilled my drink
Deepak: :)
Nancy Enge: I appreciate your efforts on our behalf, Deepak.
Deepak: Thank you so much! :)
Nancy Enge: So, I’ll keep trying
Deepak: For your inconvenience I am adding $10 Store credit to your account.
Deepak: Using that you can purchase digital cartridges.
Nancy Enge: Ugh
Deepak: It will reflect on your account within 48 hours..
Nancy Enge: Thank you, though
Deepak: You are welcome
Deepak: Is there anything else I can assist you with today?
Nancy Enge: No.
Deepak: Have a great night
Nancy Enge: You, as well.
*** Deepak left the chat ***

 

Albie, Yucca, Frustration

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This is Albie, absorbing the morning sun through the studio sliding doors. Our large middle cat, he is a handsome warm inky black, and very difficult to photograph. This one has zero interest in destroying miniatures.

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Re-working the Modern Miniature Succulents + Sundries set a bit. I built a corner planter for specimens, and glued in one yucca tree with the new, narrower leaves. For the rest, I want to keep the plantings fluid and easy to change out, so I devised a kind of armature on the stalks of rolled brown paper for elevation. They are planted to the floor with tacky wax.

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Here’s how it looks planted out, and with other plants massed around, like a typical nursery.

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Still experimenting with colorways on the different stocks. This is the original shape leaf cluster in medium green, with leaf and pine markers. After the glue is set, the leaves are separated and arrayed.

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Here is a similar leaf cluster, scored down the middle with the back of an Xacto knife. it makes it into a whole other plant.

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Here they are side-by-side. So much potential!

And now for the frustration rant: Cricut has released a new version of their Design Space app that has inexplicably broken my SVG files — the format for my drawings used to cut all these shapes. I have been in close contact with their support staff for the last two weeks, but no answers, fixes or workarounds yet. I even abandoned Firefox for Google Chrome. It is all very tedious, time wasting and — frustrating.