Sea House Leadlights Interior, Roof; Scarlett

Hello Sea House Leadlights office

The entrance to the Sea House Leadlights office is up a few stairs and across the deck to the left of the fireplace. A set of leaded glass doors opens into a snug but functional design studio.

Details: Terra cotta pot by Braxton Payne. Basswood deck and siding stained with Minwax Classic Gray. Pumpkins made from tissue paper and thread. Boulders sculpted from air dry clay painted with acrylic washes and sealed with ultra matte varnish. All succulents, yucca and other plants hand colored with W&N Promarkers. Many are prototypes; some available as kits at Modern Miniature Succulents + Sundries.) 

Desk and bulletin board

Beneath the half-loft a large tabletop desk has plenty of room to roll out plans and inspiration. Low built-in cabinets with black leather cushions provide more seating, storage and level surfaces for tea trays.

Details: The ceiling lights are 12V modified for warm white LEDs. Bulletin board is made from cork sheet framed with basswood stained to match. Sketchbooks made from my kits at MMS+S. Various meaningful artifacts including original leaded glass designs for other Sea House buildings, and a drawing of a cat by my then 4-year old daughter. Fèves, prized vintage Monopoly shoe, and an anodized earring from the 1980s.

The white-washed brick loft stores window frames, tools, Sea House memorabilia and miscellaneous treasure — as well as the switch (lift the black basket) and battery pack (hidden in a custom box) for the LED lights.

Details: Oh yeah, the baskets and boxes are also available as kits at MMS+S.

A gazebo-style roof welcomes natural light. (I’ll detail more of that happy construction in another post.) I made the 1:144 scale basswood model of the source kit for the original Sea House Pavilion, built some years ago. The Egyptian cat is a porcelain fève. Best of all is the vibrant painting by Jim Tracey that commands the studio — also another post.

Finally, of course, Scarlett. Here she has somehow managed to fluidly infiltrate an impossibly small entrance to the Sea House Sea Rise Pavilion loft (my ongoing remodel of the original 2013 build.) I swear she does these things just to remind me she can.

Oh, how she makes me laugh.

Sea House Leadlights Back Wall; No

Part of the back wall of the Sea House Leadlights design studio

The back wall of the Sea House Leadlights design studio is about utility and remembrance. There’s a water spigot and old brick patio remnant for transplanting yucca and succulents. A faded advertising poster from nearby attractions survives on the wall, as does a longhorn cow skull from ranch days.

(Details: Brick wall grouted with tinted spackling paste and aged with muddy gray acrylic wash. Garden tools by Sir Thomas Thumb. Terra cotta pot by Braxton Payne. Basswood siding stained with Minwax Classic Gray. Foundation made from styrofoam, detailed here. Cow skull is resin, aged with Winsor & Newton Promarkers. Boulders sculpted from air dry clay painted in several acrylic washes and sealed with ultra matte varnish. All succulents, yucca and other plants hand colored with W&N Promarkers. Many are prototypes; some available as kits at Modern Miniature Succulents + Sundries.)

Who is this?

A vintage collection of gnomic being fèves populates the succulent understory. I tried to match their colors with the foliage, as they prefer to blend in. This guy is far more camouflaged in the final build, rest assured.

(Details: I find my fèves here.)

No

And, no. Never say never, and never ever compromise your instincts. This is my younger granddaughter Ruby, when somebody told her NO. She is two years old, approaching three. Know your truth.

The Sea House Leadlights Fireplace

I wanted an outdoor fireplace for the deck because few things are better than being outside than being outside with fire, especially at night. I knew some of the old Sea House building bricks would be involved, but did not have a clear vision of the overall design.

from the October 2019 CB2.com catalog

Until I got a catalog from CB2.com, and saw this. And I knew.

Attempting to translate one reality into another

It took more than a few sketches and extended staring into inner space to work out how I could extract the essence of the CB2 fireplace for the approximately 8.5 inches of width I had on the Leadlights side deck. As is typical, I figured out far more once I had the actual materials at hand.

Dimensions determined and mat boards cut. This is the top, outer semicircle.

I used “corner” bricks to edge the semicircles, slightly sanded to fit the curve. Regular brick make up the middle layer.

Inner and middle layers in process
Test fitting the the topmost layer
Gluing the layers and structural reinforcements together
Grouted and the first of many coats of eggshell white acrylic paint
The back wall of the firebox, to be painted lamp black
Not highly visible, but the arched firebox is glued in, ready to sandwich with the back wall layer.
In-progress fireplace roughed in

Here is the final fireplace in situ with split birch logs laid, the spark arrester chimney, comfy chairs and a good red wine ready to pour. The exquisite carved wood sandpiper sculpture is a gift from Keli, keeper of Charlene’s Estate.

Of course the firelight flickers and glows.
Sea House Leadlights front exterior, for context

I intend to start writing more here, again. I miss you. I dove deep on this project, and found I could either devote myself to the process of building or to writing, but not both. (I chronicled photo highlights on Instagram; if you’re on there I’m @nancy_k_enge. There’s also lots of pics of Scarlett :)

Scarlett is a helper cat

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.

Foundation Discord

The block of iniquity

I wanted to raise the Sea House Leadlights building up from the project board, to anchor it to the site with a solid foundation and to allow more space for landscaping. For the other buildings in the Sea House compound I have used air-dry clay, as well as our much beloved egg carton and packaging material to simulate boulders and bedrock.

And then.

Eff me, not styrofoam. Wait, yes, styrofoam cut into conveniently sized blocks.

I came across this product, in an ultra-convenient, innocently beguiling craft form. Yes. Styrofoam, one of the evilest manufactured substances on our beleaguered planet.

In anguished indecision, I stood in the aisle of the crap craft store pondering the consequences of my choices and actions. And then, because I had a 40% off coupon, I bought it.

I built a two-tiered foundation on the project board, anchored with glue and toothpicks.

After a couple of base coats of warm and medium gray-green acrylics, I set the build atop the foundation to meld. I’ll add additional highlight details once all of the foundation stones are set.

I added a sill plate? between the structure and the foundation.

On to visualizing the deck surround
Visualizing with measuring and math.
Carrying on.

And so. I am conflicted about the inescapable implications and consequences of my materials choices. And yet, I carry on with this build.

Tile floors

Impeccable book design by Giulia Garbin.

I noticed this book in the “New” section of the library, mostly because the design aesthetic is so similar to my own. Star Power, A simple guide to astrology for the modern mystic by Vanessa Montgomery, was designed and illustrated by Giulia Garbin.

Illustration by Giulia Garbin.

This figure in particular captured my imagination, and I decided to redraw it as a pattern, and see if I could get it into repeat.

Geometry is elegant and perplexing.

It was tricksy, but I persisted.

I added a six-pointed star to the hexagram center of the pattern to make it even more swirly.

The blue is near impossible to photograph true.

Inspired by a ceiling mosaic I once saw in Ravenna, Italy, I mixed up a nice deep blue, and painted the smooth side of cold press watercolor paper.

Metallic gold spatter is universally understood.

After printing out the pattern with 3 point-wide ground lines, I cut the individual tiles with my desktop cutter and pasted them up.

This was a fun pattern to build!
The finished floor.

I sealed, grouted, cleaned and finished the floor with a few coats of satin varnish. It is so pretty! But unfortunately, not at all in the scale or perceived style of its intended build.

Diamond squares. With dots.

So back to the drawing board. I eventually arrived at this design, and also with a new idea for finishing it.

The new floor base, with Bombas socks.

On multiple sheets of card stock a few shades lighter than the grout color, I printed out and taped together the pattern base.

Dots. And cut-corner squares. Or diamonds.

The individual tiles were cut.

And glued to the printed base with my signature glue pattern :)

All in all, it went much faster than I thought it would. And by printing the grout lines on an in-between background color to disguise any minor off-placements, I was able to skip the whole monstrous grouting process, and just finish the floor with a few coats of sealer and varnish.

I’m more than satisfied with the results, and feel like this is a new and simpler technique for future floor fabrication. There’s a satisfying dimensionality to the card stock tiles that is wholly appropriate to 1:12 scale, and all without the mess and dulling of a traditional grouting process.

I hope to use the blue-and-gold floor some where, some time, maybe as a patio?

Sea House Conservatory, Pacifica, Santa Cruz

Sea House Conservatory, in progress, February 2019

The Sea House Conservatory removable plexiglass and faux iron beam roof is assembled. It is supported by iron pillars and wood siding painted N-C16 Midnight Stroll by Clark+Kensington. I made new finials from wooden beads and toothpicks.

Brackets join and support the faux iron roof beams

Where the two corner beams met the center beam and roof ridge there was an inelegant gap, so I cut iron brackets and bolts from two layers of black card stock, to reinforce both the roof structure and the illusion :)

Wheelie at the fireplace end of the Conservatory

The fireplace and hearth underwent yet another color change. I wanted something more working/utilitarian looking, less living-roomy. Picture the chaise draped in reference books and aprons and a seaweed drying rack hanging from the rafters.

Sea House Conservatory leaded window design, 3 of 11

Turning my attention now back to the many windows, cutting the original kit grid mullions out of the frames with a Dremel. Tedious. Then sanding, painting, and fitting the cut leaded designs into the frames, front and back. Oh, and finishing (but not mitering) the outsides with 1/16-inch square trim. Ugh.

Pacifica sunset, between storm fronts, 15 February, 2019

We’ve been getting breaks between rain storms, glimpses of the sun, and some beauty clouds.

Ruby at 20 months, shopping in her sister’s vest for her mama’s birthday present

Spent a long weekend in Santa Cruz with my daughter and younger granddaughter Ruby, while her papa and older sister Maddie were in Lake Tahoe getting Xtremely snowed on. Ruby’s choice of outerwear was her sister’s vest. Ruby on the runway.

I like me. Print this out and hang on your refrigerator, lest you forget

Maddie, who turns six next month, is loving Kindergarten. Her mother shared some pages of the journals the children keep. The first remarkable is that upper and lowercase writing is still being taught — yay! So for Maddie, already proficient in capital letters, this manifesto represents challenge, learning, practice. And then the everything else: the sentiment, and the exuberantly joyful self-portrait. Perfect expression, I’d say.

Sea House Conservatory: More Floor Tiles

I added more pattern sections to the tile floor template.


To facilitate a smooth transition between tile colors, when I began to run low on the first set I glued them randomly further out on the template to integrate with the as-yet-to-be-painted new batch of tiles.

Using the same paints as before, I splattered up a new sheet to cut into tiles.

Meanwhile, I’ve got a working idea for the back fireplace wall, so I can alternate experimenting on that with setting floor tiles.

Sea House Conservatory: Tiled Floor

painted_paper

I painted a couple of sheets of 11 by 15-inch 140 lb. cold press watercolor paper with washes and splats of neutral gray, tan and yellow oxide acrylics, then pressed them flat between two drawing boards weighted with books.

pattern_test

The tile pattern and grout lines were refined through several test cuts and pasteups. I added a 3-point corner radius to the tiles to suggest age and wear.

final_tile_cuts

After a few more test cuts, I loaded the painted watercolor paper and began cutting tiles. Because this paper requires three passes of the deep cut blade for each tile, I used masking tape on the edges to hold the thick paper to the cut mat to ensure adhesion. (Lessons learned through bitter informative experience.)

pasteup_01

I’m gluing the individual tiles to prints of the pattern layout showing the grout lines. The process is far less tedious than I anticipated, a pleasant surprise. It *may be* that I won’t have to actually add grout after they’re all assembled and adhered to the subfloor. I plan to add one final light gray wash and some delicate speckling to the whole floor to unite the separate assemblies. And with pressing and a coat or two of matte varnish… we shall see.

in_place_01_

The final tile floor won’t be put in place for some time — so much painting to do! — and the ideas for its total design still floating need not be finalized at this point. Which is good, because I’m still kind of all over the place, design-influence-wise. Right now I’m trending from Art Deco back to Bauhaus, and how that might all fit in with the larger Sea House story, sea level rise, and a crow named Clary.

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 :)