Carrying On, A Maker’s Dream

Practically like Stonehenge — I imagine — establishing where the deck posts might go.

After the interesting maths of determining (and re-determining) the height of the stair stringers, I cut the posts for the deck surround.

Surprisingly more complicated and variable.
I tipped over a pot of yucca before the glue was set.

Best of all, I received an email from a woman who’d purchased a couple of yucca tree kits from my Etsy shop. She posted a lovely video of her results and I could not be more impressed or surprised. Do check it out.

Peacock, Pacific, Sea House Conservatory

Maddie_peacock

There is much to appreciate in this drawing, presented to me by 5-year-old Maddie. No hand turkeys for that girl; a peacock is more compelling. This avian’s boisterous tail, for one, is a breakthrough in both interpretation and technique. Vibrant life radiates in the rich purple effortlessly confident strokes on wings and body. Its feet hold firmly to the bottom of the page. Not least is the pathos of the bright pink worm; its expression reminds us that outward beauty is not a sure sign of good will. Be inspired.

manor_bluff_112518

Had my first opportunity to walk outside today (!), along (what remains of) the paved Manor Bluff trail, and even on some hard-packed sand atop the bluff. It was breezy with rain-moist air, and felt so good. Another milestone in my recovery, almost eight weeks post-op. Yay go me, and she was.

working_on_bed

Still somewhat working from my bed top, but I have made progress in cleaning the various surfaces in the studio proper. Sad and ridiculous, I know, but just what is. It’s like I’m growing up all over again.

both_halves

The other half of the conservatory is in rickety dry fit, and I’ve decided on a layout and also that this might will be the new (former) home of the small local business, Modern Miniature S___ & Sundries, est. 1921.

MMSS_retro_uomo

It of course had a different logo (and maybe name) back then. Backstory, in media res.

floor_idea_00

I’ve given a great deal of thought and research to the floor, and have arrived at this pattern. Still undecided between watercolor paper or egg carton for the pavers.

floor_idea_01

A closer approximation to the tonal contrasts. The interior walls will be a warmish white, perhaps with Art Deco-y botanical stencils on the lower panels.

floor_idea_02

The floor pattern with the top grid removed. I’m torn between simplifying the amount of work it will be to cut and lay the more intricate pattern with the simpler design.

floor_idea_03

Current thinking is to break the rigidity of the more complex pattern with setting “whole block” units randomly into the design. The amount of work required is not appreciably less, but the overall effect is more pleasing to my eye.

As always, your input and reactions are welcome, for yay or nay or… other. Lively discussion encouraged! (I’m still not getting out enough :)

 

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?

 

B: Blade, Funk Protocols, Wheelie, Weavings!

B_blade

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.

Wheelie_beach_012318

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”.

shelley_weaving

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 :)

cone_palette

peach_green_palette

red_green_palette

spiky_red_palette

spiky_yllow_palette

sunray_palette

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

pink_01

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.

pink_black_00

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.

pink_green_00

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!

yellow_green_01

yellow_green_00

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

eucalyptus_blooming

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.

succulent_color_pattern

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

succulent_color_spiral

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

succulent_red_green

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

plans

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.

mudroom_120718

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.

mudroom_02_010718

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.

keli_flowers_010718

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

SH_roof_122017

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.

SH_logo_roof_122017.jpg

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.

front_122017

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

SH_fireplace_122017

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

kitchen2_122017

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.

gh_122017.jpg

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

lowercase_n_121817

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

FF24_pavilion_02

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.

slipcases_kitchen

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.

yucca_02_nancy_bristow

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.

yucca_3_nancy_bristow

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.

yucca_keli_111917

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!

YU01_contents

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.