Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Gustavian Style Lamp

Continuing on my handmade lighting obsession.. I made a lamp a little while ago but forgot to blog about it. :)

I've decided to go with a modern Gustavian style in the San Franciscan so I need some accessories! There is not much out there in this style in the mini world and what there is, is quite expensive. Make my own it is! I decided to start with a lamp as I need to start planning & implementing my lighting scheme in earnest.

My inspiration were these lamps and while mine isn't quite as beautiful as these.. I think it's still a good mini approximation.

Source: Cedar Hill Farmhouse
For this lamp I started with a Houseworks turning and drilled a hole down the centre. I also carved a notch out of the base to accomodate the wiring that would travel up the center of the turning.

But I wanted this base to have a driftwood-y aged Swedish grey look that you see so much in Gustavus pieces. So I tried a sample turning to see if I could achieve the effect I wanted.


For the shade I printed some appropriate graphics on white linen using the freezer paper method.

Chose the one I liked and wrapped it around a rectangular piece of card stock I had presized around my internal structure so that it would fit snugly. And that would make a high enough cylinder to cover the top of the light bulb.

I could have done a better job on this.. the graphics are a bit wonky. But I like the idea. :)

Here is the unpainted lamp next to the painted turning.. this is going well!

And it works!

Time to paint the base. First I covered the base in a light wood stain. Then I used successive thin washes of black, grey & white. Lastly I dry brushed on some chalk white to highlight.

Here you can see the lamp internals.. It's not pretty, but it doesn't have to be. Smoke and mirrors is all I need. :) 

This structure is made up of two smaller plastic fastener backs sandwiching a larger plastic washer. I had to use the smaller items to hold up the light bulb as the washer's hole was too large for it. The fasteners have the added bonus of having several holes in them so you can offset the wire, as they generally come wired towards one side of the bulb, making placement tricky if you don't have threading options.

I love the finished product, but I still need to make one more. :)

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

My most prized possession

We interrupt normal programming to allow me a moment of nostalgia...

My Father passed away 10 years ago this month.. it was sudden, unexpected and a massive shock.. I remember that cold winter morning like it was yesterday. I had just walked into my cubicle at work.. it was 8am in the morning.. The phone was ringing as I walked in... my husband was on the phone, crying... he told me to come home.. I was panicked.. I'd never heard him like this before.. I asked him what was wrong and he gulped out through his sobs.. come home, baby.. it's your Dad... he didn't make it.. What? What do you mean he didn't make it? There's nothing wrong with him.. I danced with him at Catherine's wedding last weekend...

Worst morning ever... I was 34 years old..

I know many people lose their Dad's younger than that.. but I'd spent most of my twenties living in America and had only moved home 18 months before.. I cannot tell you how much regret I have, at not having more adult time with him. He was my super hero. He was dynamic and charismatic and hot tempered and a fantastic Dad. He was excited by life, he would wake me up at 5 am in the morning. "Wacky do! Come outside! Look at the Sunrise!.. It's the best part of the day. Look how beautiful it is! Isn't it great to be alive!". He never treated me as a girl. He treated me as a person. He taught me to fish and catch crabs, including catching my own bait of worms, yabbies & soldier crabs. ("You'll always be able to catch your own food".) How to drive a boat (in case something happens to me and you have to drive us home.) How to paint a house.

He was passionate about the causes he believed in. Social justice, opportunity and dignity for the poor, workers rights, free education and medicare for everyone, fighting political corruption, animal welfare, support for primary industry producers and rural communities, trade with China.

I'm sure you've realised from the list above that he was heavily involved in politics & activism for his entire life.:)

He was extremely intelligent, but had no formal education past 10th grade. He was left handed at a time when teachers treated left hander's cruelly and it left him with a life long hatred of school.. but that didn't mean he didn't think others should get an education, particularly me. :)

He was a voracious reader.. He always had at least 10 books out from the Library at any one time. He could do complex mathematical calculations in his head. Some of my earliest memories are of him rattling off the working of a sum out loud that he was calculating. "Carry the 3". He used to bark out times table questions to me at the breakfast table. If I didn't answer immediately he would bark the question and answer at me repeatedly.. at the time it scared the heck out of me but I realise now he wanted me to have the foundations for future more complex calculations..

He insisted I read the morning newspaper each day before school. He started this as soon as I could read. He believed it was imperative for productive and active citizens to be across current events. He was a lover of history, he took me to Greece to see the Parthenon and The Oracle at Delphi.

Parthenon, Athens Greece 1978

We traveled the world, through South East Asia.

Hong Kong 1978

The America's, Europe, The Caribbean.. We went to Eastern Bloc Countries when there was still an Iron Curtain. Bulgaria, Romania, Czechoslovakia..

Peasant Farmer & Me, Bulgaria 1978

I was 6 years old. Only in adulthood do I realise how brave (or foolish) that was. He took a 6 year old into the Eastern Bloc in the 1970's!.. It was the best education I could ever get. Do I remember much at all about my primary school years? Not at all.. But that year of travelling.. I remember it all.

Transylvania, Central Romania 1978
Dad always bought very practical or educational gifts, fishing rods, a first aid kit, an Atlas.. you get the idea.  It's Christmas 1981 & I was 9 years old. I probably really wanted a Barbie Dream House or some such item.. What did I get? A Macquarie Dictionary..

Really Dad?? Not exactly what I wanted. "But it's the Australian edition! It has Australian spelling and all our slang & colloquialisms. It's great!" His excitement was infectious.. but I can't say I was overly impressed. :) He proceeded to read out loud the definitions of slang terms, pleased as punch with his gift and wanting me to like it as much as he did.

Of course I didn't.. and I was pretty vocal about it. I know it deflated him a little.... Fast forward 35 years and I no longer have any of the many Barbie products I coveted, but I still have that Dictionary. It is my most prized possession. If my house was on fire, after my husband and dogs were safe, it would be the only thing to tempt me to run back inside to save it. Everything else could burn.. but not that book.

Clearly Dad understood even when I didn't.

A parent or a teacher has only his lifetime; a good book can teach forever. —Louis L’Amour

I have a lot of regrets..

I regret I didn't have more time with him.. I'd give anything for him to still be here today.
I regret I didn't tell him I loved him more often. That I didn't hug him more often.
I regret I didn't let him drive home like he wanted to the last time we were out together.
I regret I didn't badger him to look after his health more. To change his diet and maybe not eat those three apple turnovers for dessert.
I regret I spent 10 of the last 12 years of his life overseas. That I didn't come home immediately when he asked me to every time we spoke.
I regret I didn't like my Dictionary gift at the time and didn't give him the pleasure of seeing me enjoy it. I wish he knew how much I value it now.

But, my deepest regret is that he died on his houseboat.. and I wasn't there to drive him home.

There's another house in the house. :)

Who knows when I'll get to build it but I've managed to acquire a Dura-craft Victorian VH600. I've been coveting this house for a while and I finally got one. :D

The kit box (which is HUGE) has definitely seen much better days and it was a bit of a gamble as to whether all the pieces would actually be in the box... But I'm happy to report, after a meticulous stocktake of the parts against the piece list... Its all there! Happy Days! :D

I have big plans for this kit... 

Monday, 19 June 2017

Painting the Tree

Continuing on with the San Franciscan's tree. Once the clay had mostly dried I started laying down a watery grey base coat to neutralise the orange clay.

The clay actually shrank and cracked in some of the places I made crevices, so I made sure to pay particular attention to them... I am going to use them to my advantage. :D  This is a gnarly old tree after all!

Hopefully I'll be able to create some lichen or moss in these cracks. :)

And it's starting to look like a tree. As you can see the base is still drying so I have a little bit of waiting to do!


Ok, moving on!

I loaded on a second coat of a very dark brown almost black colour made out of burnt sienna, olive, black, burgundy & a little white... and as you can see it dried in a very un-tree-like shiny finish. Time to add some chalk paint to flatten it.

I used Americana Rustic for this layer.

 It's getting there... but too brown.

Then I tried to layer on a lighter muddy grey mix because I've noticed that a lot of old trees are more grey & a dark olive-y colour, than they are the classic brown colour we think of.

Building it up.

Oops.. maybe too much...need to tone that down.

Turned the flash on to capture the detail.. I was starting to lose the light of the day.

 Better but still too brown. So, I mixed another lighter grey and tried stippling that on.

Oops.. have gone way too far!... Need to tone it down again. :D

I added back some of a mix of olive, burnt sienna, black, grey & white, until I had a muddy olive grey colour.. Then I added a little bit of charcoal wash to the roots.. better.. but still a bit splotchy.

The finished trunk... well not really, it still needs a little tweaking, but I've totally overworked it so I've had enough for now. I'll see how I feel about it in the morning and go from there.

A complete tree skeleton! (for now :D ). I still need to trim the canopy a bit.

 Next up, foliage!

Working on the San Franciscan's front stairs

As I've mentioned before I'm planning 3 flights of stairs with two turns for the front of the house. Obviously, now that the basement bash has been added, I can no longer go with the house's original stairs. 

This required a rethink on how the stairs would exit the porch, necessitating the addition of a cantilevered landing to allow the first flight to travel down perpendicular to the house.

I did some quick calculations to determine the width and depth of the landing required, then fired up the mini bandsaw and cut one out of 8mm MDF. The closest size to the house MDF I could find at the hardware store.

I then centred it based on the front door opening and the width of the opening in the porch's decorative trim, though I'll likely be at least partially replacing that, to allow uniformity with the landing & stair railings. 

The original house front stairs had no railing as they were only three stairs high. Now that the house is substantially higher, railings are a necessity. I wouldn't want my little people taking a swan dive off the landing onto the driveway after a big night out.

I glued and clamped it overnight. 

Above is the landing glued into place. 

The underside of the porch, bay windows and landing which form an overhang from the basement area will be finished of in painted wood paneling so the join will be hidden in the final product.

Once I determined the final number of stairs needed in each flight ( 5 for the top flight, 6 for the centre and three for the bottom.) I glued the individual flights together to make mocking up easier. It will also allow me to start thinking about finishes for each individual flight.

Please excuse the bloodbath in this photo. I had been working on the
tree and my clay is an unfortunate colour. All will be cleaned up
with gesso, before final landscaping is applied. :)

I also moved the second flight of stairs back to line up the lip of the top step with the back of the bottom step on the upper flight. As I mentioned in my previous front stairs post it looked a little strange the way I had it in my last mock up.

I think the top flight of stairs will be painted wood to match the house. They may have lightly stained treads to match the decking on the porch and landing. The second and third flights will either be completely bricked in a brown brick hue or have the risers bricked and the treads given a treatment to look like cement slabs. The bricks will be made of egg carton to allow flexibility.

Here's a quick look at the window well created by the foam retaining wall and the baywindow & porch overhang. 

And from the other side. There will be some sort of railing topping the retaining wall for safety purposes. 😉

I was hoping to get a chair and cafe table under the window but I'm not sure there will be room. 😞 There will definitely be some greenery, a wall garden or some such. Hilarity ensued over at the Greenleaf Forums when someone suggested pot plants.. for the Australians this was a normal statement about pretty flowers but the Americans took it to mean something else entirely.. lol.. Probably didn't help that the house is set in San Francisco!

And finally a high view with the tree in place.😃