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.

Greenhouse Lighting, Lineage Legacy, Beauty

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Growing in electrical confidence. I pulled the beautiful 12 volt bulbs out of these fixtures from miniatures.com, and replaced them with 3mm 3 volt LED bulbs.

lighting_01.jpgI drilled holes through the greenhouse framing to accommodate the aluminum tubing. Here are the fixtures upside down, glue drying.

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Right side up, but still wobbly.

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On the outside of the greenhouse I routed the wires down through 3/32-inch shrink tube, and drilled holes back into the interior. I’ll glue the shrink tube conduit to the vertical leading on the outside glass, and re-gather the wires inside to connect to a coin cell battery concealed in an under shelf tub. All in all, an elegant solution to a lighting retrofit? You will please be the judge as I implement the plan :)

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In other goings-on, I received a parcel from Keli, containing — among other things! — an astonishing bestowal of gifts from Charlene’s legacy. I will share in detail in future posts; I am still processing the magnitude of what I was gifted, and am in flat-out awe of the artistry of miniaturists. These things need to be shared.

I flashed on a fever dream/hallucination I had while living on the East Coast, and had contracted Lyme disease and was very ill. In bed, gazing out the window to the woods beyond, I had a vivid vision of all the people of my individual lineage, stretching back through time — all my ancestors — accompanied by a tremendous sense of comfort and rightness. Coupled with that biological heritage review, there was a sense of recognition of others who were of my tribe. Miniaturists are my tribe :)

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This is my older granddaughter Maddie, who will be 5 years old in March. Photo taken by her mum (my daughter) on a family hike with her baby sister and Papa on New Year’s Day. The expression on her face… serious wonder.

2018: In or Out?

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For every fish out, let’s have a fish in. May your ladders be sturdy. See clearly. See stars. Grow flowers. Spin the wheel. All in.

This is a collage made from Dresden trim, layered over a recent sunset here in Pacifica. I know the blessing is silly, but it is heartfelt. Welcome to 2018, friends.

Humble Lighting, Cats

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I got my lighting order from Evan Design: replacement chip LEDs for the under shelf, and five 3mm LEDs for the pot lights (3/16-inch brushed aluminum eyelets) in the ceiling. Look at how warm the “warm white” is!

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And gah! Look at what a tangle the backside is. There’s five chip LEDs (the tiny red and green magnet wires) and five 3mm LEDs, wired to two 3V battery holder/switches. I’m posting this in all humility and baby steps learning. I *will* get better at wire stripping and making elegant connections. Because how I love learning new things?! Even though I cringe at being clumsy and awkward doing so.

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Speaking of elegant connections… I went to post this at my main workstation, but found Scarlett snugged in my chair (and absorbing the under desk Dyson heater warmth). Of course I could not disturb her, so I retreated to the couch with my laptop.

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And there was Albie, snugged into a fresh, warm load of laundry waiting to be folded. So now I’m arrayed on the other end of the couch, with laptop, phone, sketchbook, freshly sharpened Blackwing pencil, two reference books, a baggie of lighting components, and a glass of wine, all amid the piles of half-folded laundry. Same as it ever was,

Wheelie Has an Outing

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Today, Wheelie and the rest of us (literally, I’m guessing half the Bay Area) ventured out to the Cal Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park. But first, we were hungry, so we found an awesome nearby neighborhood restaurant called Hakka, on Cabrillo Street. Highly recommend!

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We considered global plate tectonics.

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As always, the ongoing Color of Life exhibit is fascinating. Wheelie discovered an affinity with the polymorphic Gouldian Finch.

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We enjoyed visiting Claude in the Swamp, from a downstairs Steinhart Aquarium vantage point.

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But I feel fairly certain that this little girl in front of us was enjoying it the most.

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Not being divers (yet!), the local California coast kelp forest exhibits are mesmerizing.

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The jellies never fail to entrance. Ever.

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Wheelie discovered another kindred soul.

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The culmination of every visit to Cal Academy of Sciences, for me, is the pilgrimage to the living roof. One of my very favorite places.

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Wheelie likes it, too! She feels her spirits soar.

 

Dresden Trim, New Avatar

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I was given a wonderful pack of assorted Dresden Trim, as well as an entire sheet of fish. I spent a pleasant few hours sorting through the scrap, snipping and arranging the bits and pieces. Things got interesting when I started combining parts of one with another. Above is the beginning of an illustration for 2018.

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I cut the wings from a bird in flight (a swift? a swallow?) and this happened. I felt an instant sense of recognition, like I had met a new old friend.

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I made the ladder longer, and glued the pieces together.

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The back is reinforced with toothpicks and cardstock circles cut to the wheel dimensions, stacked and glued together, then glued to the outer rim.

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Because I’m not a stamped gold foil kind of girl, I spray painted her matte black. Please say hello to my new avatar.

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She shows up strikingly against many backgrounds.

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I gifted her shoes made of black eyelets and tacky wax. She stands freely, observant, curious and full of questions.

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However… sometimes it’s hard being 2.5D in a complex 3D world. You can lose touch with essential parts of yourself.

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We believe it’s good to have your head in the clouds, and your feet on the ground.

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And have your heart wide open… but sheltered by something good.

(These particular Dresden trim pieces came from Castle in the Air, but I have since found three other good online sources: Rose MilleDresden Paper Crafts; and Walter Kunze.)