B: Blade, Funk Protocols, Wheelie, Weavings!

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B is for BLADE: X-Acto X-Life No. 11, on an old silver-plated tea tray that lives outdoors atop my worm compost bin. Hmmm, maybe I should have saved this for X. Megan and over-achiever Keli, I’m looking at you.

Thank you for sharing your funk wisdom and protocols. I laughed, and cried a little, and felt deeply how truly kind you all are. It was helpful, and energizing. Some of my takeaways:

“Give it a little time and some sun; sun will break up a funk like nobody’s business.”
—Sheila

“Keep breathing through, keep walking, keep looking out and seeing that unexpected beauty, accepting that unasked for kindness.”
—Azteclady

“Having something to look forward to helps me to make the transition from funk to functional. Be kind to yourself.”
—Megan

“Punt.”
—Joyce

“Bring the Funk! (Dance!)”
—Jodi

“I know from experience that once in it, you just have to ride it out to the end… usually they’re just passing through.”
—Elizabeth S

“Every day is different, life is a wave, happily!”
—Ingi

“First I have to recognize The Funk. That always seems to take longer than it should.”
—Keli

“Hang in there, I have faith in you that we’ll see more wonderful creations. And get that cat out of your beautiful, tiny house!”
—Bennie

“… I also find doing a kit, following someone else’s instructions helps me to, at the least, get back a sense of accomplishment.”
—ShelleyB

“Take this time to pause and reflect, but trust your instincts.”
—Barbara W.

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So Wheelie and I went to look at the waves and do salt air aromatherapy for a while, to “take it all in and savor the goodness”.

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I returned home to find this brilliant rendition of the Toto2 picnic basket kit that ShelleyB was kind enough to share. This changes everything! and we’ve been pinging ideas back and forth. She says the proportions and shape of this basket makes good storage containers, with or without lids, and wondered if a kit of three might be made available. Maybe a taller version, too, as a laundry hamper? I can’t wait to get out some graph paper and chart monograms.

Also, I have not forgotten or given up on the protea flower kit. Really.

Marion’s Cape Town Proteas

Marion Russek kindly sent some protea family photos from her visit to the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens in Cape Town. Though the peak bloom season is from June to November there, she still got some sumptuous shots. I cropped them pretty tightly, and sampled some colors from the flowers for additional eye candy :)

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Pulling swatches really helps me understand what colors are going on, and provides a natural starting palette. Many, many thanks, Marion, for sharing the warm sunlight of South Africa with us. Plus! I learned a new word: fynbos.

Color + Form Research

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Spent a drizzly hour+ marching around the South African garden at UCSC Arboretum, taking reference photos of proteas for the upcoming kit, inspired by Keli’s free-style flowering.

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So many other-hemisphere plants to see. Not all are in peak bloom, but I was more interested in surveying the range of protea forms, their structures and colors.

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I didn’t even concern myself with recording variety names, since I plan a sort of hybrid form for the kit. But the colors, the colors!

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This one is a Leucadendron, “Inca Gold”. So luminous.

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In the transition zone between South Africa and succulent gardens, there were flowering eucalyptus. The scent was heavenly! There’s nothing quite like being in a deserted botanical garden on a rainy day, with only hopping bunnies and many small brown birds.

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Look at the subtle coloration and bold pattern of this succulent.

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Again, but with the spiral nature of growth (and decay).

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These were quite a surprise. Smallish, leathery, spiky, but what?! If I had done these colors I would call it a mis-step, but now I am emboldened.

This field trip was a wonder. I’ve many more examples of natural plant colorations that will probably necessitate having to buy more markers.

 

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.

Wrought Iron Sign Salvage

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I wrought Sea House emblems for the landward and sea-facing sides of the pavilion roof. They’re meant to be salvage from the old Sea House Pleasure Pier and Estate. And so they are.

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Sized to fit between the raised seams on the metal roof, I cut seven copies of the emblem from 65 lb. black cardstock and glued them together. After drying under weight, I sanded the edges even, and slightly beveled the top edges. I added fastening “bolts” then lightly stippled and dry brushed some wear and weathering. Not too much. The caretaker is diligent about her conservation duties.

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Then I had to make a smaller version to mount on the fireplace.

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It looks splendid, don’t you agree? (Well, except for the ripply rug. There’s always something.)

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I bashed out the support column in front of the kitchen, and felt much better about the space, even though it still looks like every other ELF kitchen ever made, ever. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.) I’ll scrape away the brackets on the floor, patch where the post was, and it’ll be an intentional remodel artifact :) I found the LED pot lights I ordered, then lost, so next step will be the ceiling/roof, and then the exterior siding.

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In the greenhouse, the hydroponics have been relocated to an anchored barge just off the rear utility deck.

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Meanwhile, I got to open an early present, a vintage sign hollow aluminum lowercase n, about 12 tall by 3 inches deep. Feeling the love. Thank you, my B.

Boxen, Handles, Slipcases

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There’s a new set of boxes over at MMS+S, reminiscent of the “dish pack” size, for all your miniature packing needs.

I installed ELF handles set in reversed eyelets on the Sea Rise Pavilion front doors, and then glued the whole panel into the frame. I think I’ve finally worked out which components will be attached together, and which will remain removable. Rethinking having the hydroponics inside the greenhouse; they might get moved to the lower back utility deck. There is still much I don’t know.

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Working on a simple slipcase kit to fit single and triple sketchbooks, in the classic and smaller sizes. Adds a nice finishing touch, and keeps your shelves and bookcases looking tidy. (And yes, that’s an April Wright mug — her pottery is wonderful! The wee bear bowls being used as bookends are feves from Laurel’s ValueARTifacts shop.)

Other stuff in progress and in sketch phase, brimming and swimming with ideas and plans. Focusing now on finishing up work projects for the year, and spending the holidays with family, and taking some time off.

Be good to yourselves, dear imaginary friends!

 

 

 

An Exaltation of Yuccas

I’m excited to share photos of some incredible yuccas, made by two different miniature artists, both starting from the same kit.*

*Uhh, to clarify: each had her own kit. Two artists, two kits, two locations. Nancy B finished first. Not that it was a contest.

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This is Nancy Bristow’s work. (Nancy has been making miniatures since the 1970s, and it was she who finally identified the Braxton Payne pots I had bought at auction, and pointed me to his obscure website.) She hand-colored the leaves using markers, and I love that she styled them curling out and upward. So pert and jaunty! They’re planted in BP pots she “aged”, and used bird grit as gravel.

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Here’s a shot of Nancy’s work-in-progress, adding knot holes to the stems. I noticed she chose to curl the leaves first, before attaching to the stem. Brilliant! It is so gratifying — and informative — to see how other makers work with my kits. One can learn so much.

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This is Keli Minick’s interpretation of the yucca tree kit. Look at those colors! I love the graceful trunk, and the stubby branch. Two completely different plants! She suggested using round nose pliers to separate and shape the leaves after attaching — which makes the process much less tedious. And she kindly pointed out a typo in the armature instruction sheet. Argh!

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Here’s what the Broad Leaf Yucca Tree kit looks like to start. This is the green leaf variation; cream and white are also available. (I believe Nancy B started with white leaves; Keli with cream?)

What would you make of it?

Sincere thank-yous and expressions of humbled awe to Nancy B and Keli for allowing me to share their work. 

Fiesta Yucca

FY01-02_both2Two first-ever specimens of yuccas — finished potted plants, not kits —  will soon be available over at MMS+S. I’ve boldly named them Fiesta Yuccas, a taxonomy unique to nancyland, which means they’re not strictly exact replicas of yuccas one might encounter in this mortal coil. The leaf pattern graduates from a rich medium green to lime to sunflower, tipped in gold and striped with moss. The flat leaf pattern looks like a very appealing mandala. Sure to add light and life to your arrangements.

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The taller of the two is slender and graceful, with three branching trunks. Both specimens are potted in Braxton Payne terra cotta cylinder pots. Of course.

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The shorter one, potted in a slightly smaller cylinder, has the same three-leaf cluster structure as its taller sibling, and projects a powerful presence. The trunk armatures remain pliable and can be curved or straightened into most any form.

That I have arrived at not one, but two! specimens that tilt my acceptance meter to ‘yes, this is worthwhile’ is a tremendous achievement (she who regularly invites to tea the three-headed monster of perfectionism/paralysis/procrastination).

So that means I get to post a cat picture.

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Here is our yearling+ Scarlett, sleeping out the very foggy summer on a side deck bench. Every time I walk by she rouses enough to meow some variation of “Mao, wow!”

I smile every time.

 

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.