Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

The best Christmas present?  A new, narrow gouge that makes PERFECT grout lines!  Guess I can get going again on the exterior.  A HUGE container of gesso will help, too!  (Thanks, Glen, you're the BEST)!  Hope everyone has a very happy holiday!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Brick Experiment #2

Actually, 2, #3,#4 and #5 (I think).  Didn't have much luck this weekend with the bricks.  I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong...I was not even able to reproduce the stone sample I did earlier!  Having a rough time, I guess.  I am going to buy some commercial gesso and see if that makes a difference.  Still haven't discovered the ultimate scribing tool, but a mini, standard screwdriver proved to be the strongest contender, with the meat thermometer a close second.  

Winter blues settling in...trying to stay optimistic but all I want to do lately is devour carbs and sleep.... 

Here's my house from summer.  How many months til June?

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Entrance Hall

This photo, taken from the book Thomas Jefferson, Architect, shows the Entrance Hall of my "inspiration house."  I am using it as a guide for the hall of my own Merriman Park.  (I hope the people that really live in this house don't read this and think I'm stalking them or something).Oh, well!  Anyway, I'm not planning on re-creating the room exactly as shown--but I do love the proportions of the space and the beautiful details of the mill work and moldings.

This room is a bit controversial  in historic preservation circles because when the house was "rediscovered" in the 1930's --all falling down and in near ruin--  the home underwent a restoration.  It was at this time that the  Palladian screen was added to the room based on marks left on the floor where columns may (or may not) have been originally placed.  I guess they also beefed up the crown moldings at that time.  Other changes were made to the home as well:  two matching out-buildings, or dependencies, were built flanking the main house and connected by underground passageways.  (Jefferson utilized this feature in many of his buildings).  So there has been a lot of cat-fighting and wringing of hands as to how "pure" the house stands today as a work of Thomas Jefferson. 

Personally, I think the changes are not only in the spirit of Jefferson, but they make the home more livable.  The building is not very large to begin with and the dependencies provide a garage and guest house.  And this home, after all, is not a museum --people are living in it. Bathrooms and kitchens are rather nice to have on hand when you don't have slaves to empty your chamberpot!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Balcony Banister

Here are the aforementioned cast metal banister splats I received from Sue Cook Miniatures in England.  I'm pretty sure they are made of lead so kids, do NOT put them in your mouth!  I plan on spraying them black to mimic wrought iron.  

OMG, I just had a flashback to ages ago when I was a floral designer in this chi-chi little shop here in Minneapolis.  The two owners of the shop HATED each other --it really was a horrible work environment-- but that is ANOTHER story.  Anyway, after some crazy, MAJOR DRAMA, the owners decided to close down the shop before they murdered one other.  Well, my co-worker, Meg, decides she wants to buy the shop.

Now, Meg is a wonderful, fabulous person --so don't think for a moment that I'm dishing on her because I LOVE the girl to filth. She is a very artistic, talented, creative individual BUT let's just say she wasn't that hot at the business side of owning a floral shop.   
We did a huge wedding business and we used to have to fill out these Wedding Consultation Forms every time we met with a prospective client.  This was in the years B.C. --before computers-- so we actually had to fill the forms out by hand I know!  How Jane flipping Austen.  Naturally,  I always made sure to use my very best, flowing, flawless penmanship when I filled out my Consultation Forms.  Meg's forms, on the other hand, were a chicken-scratched, coffee-stained, cigarette-burned MESS. which I used to take perverted delight in reading on my lunch break for laughs.

Well, one time I was tittering over a copy of one of Meg's forms when I came across this little gem: " The altar (I had finally succeeded in convincing her it was not "alter")  arrangements will attach to rot iron candelabras. Rot iron.  Yes, rot iron.  And she used it like seventy-five times throughout the form.  She can spell bloody candelabra, yet wrought iron eludes her. 

But I digress.

Anyway, I plan to paint the splats black to mimic wrought iron and maybe pick out a few areas in gold-leaf. You know, because (everyone):  it's not done til it's overdone!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Brick and stone: Experiment #1

I'm trying out stone and brick finishes for the exterior of Merriman Park.  On the far left is a stucco finish.  The middle is the accent color and on the right is my first attempt at stone.  I have to say, the "real" samples look a lot better than this photo!  Oh, well...

I also tried to do bricks, but something went terribly wrong and I am re-doing!  Not sure what happened --I think I ruined my batch of gesso-- either too much glue or not enough.  Or maybe the coats didn't dry long enough?  Not sure.

The stone and bricks are done the same way: a layer of gesso, then layers of paint on top to mimic the stone or brick color. Once that dries you scribe the mortar lines with a straight edge: larger squares for stone, smaller for brick.  Then you go back with paint and touch up the individual stones.

I've tried using different tools to scribe the mortar joints, but haven't discovered the definitive one, yet. The tong of a dinner fork seemed to work best, but there must be something better than that!  Looks like there will be more experimenting with tools and colors until I figure out what works and looks best.