Organizing the studio; books and birds

Hi, all. I’m a bit late with this post, sorry. I spent the past two weeks reorganizing my studio – not quite done yet, but much better than it had been. Finally able to get back onto my work tables, I have jumpstarted the dollhouse and begun work on a future workshop on non-adhesive bookbinding. I’m also running behind on my 50/Week story challenge, but I did write a nifty little period piece about a mad monk. I need to do two more before Saturday to be back on my weekly schedule for that.

It hasn’t been all dust and heavy lifting, though. I spent several days photo-hunting loons and other birds on the Mystic estuary and watching wildlife from my kitchen window.

JFries - My writing desk, 2.13.19
JFries – My writing desk, 2.13.19
JFries - Book models in progress, 2.13.19
JFries – Book models in progress, 2.13.19
JFries - The dry media table, with distraction, 2.13.19
JFries – The dry media table, with distraction, 2.13.19
JFries - dollhouse gables, 2.13.19
JFries – dollhouse gables, 2.13.19
JFries - Loon, Charlestown, 2.11.19
JFries – Loon, Charlestown, 2.11.19
JFries - Canada goose, Charlestown, 2.11.19
JFries – Canada goose, Charlestown, 2.11.19
JFries, Rock, Charlestown, 2.11.19
JFries, Rock, Charlestown, 2.11.19

Roofing and the joy of faux finishes

Hello, all. It’s been a while. Things have been kind of crazy, y’know, the way they get. Anyway, I have been extremely busy with work and planning and organizing and birding and politics and preparing for gardening, and through it all, I have been shingling the dollhouse roof.

I’m going for the look of slate, and I hope you’ll think I got close. It’s been some fun on the Google, first looking up what slate generally looks like, then how to fake it with paint, then what slate roofs in particular look like, then how to build a slate roof, and from there deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole of roofing, skylights and all that sort of jazz.

The following images show some of what I came up with. I painted more manila folders with a small-scale slate effect and others with a copper effect, because slate or other stone tile roofs will often have metal flashing and gutters at their seams, and those will sometimes be made of copper, according to my admittedly superficial research. I went more for look than structural accuracy. In my defense, my neighbor, who is a roofer, says this is pretty much correct. I find it relaxing and fun to cover sheets of paper with faux paint effects. I’m not sure what that says about me as a person, but it would suck if I didn’t enjoy it, as I need to do a lot of it.

These photos are couple of weeks old, and more progress has been made since they were taken. The work is going quickly at this point, which makes it hard to take a break for blog updates. It is about time I began work on the characters who will play out their drama in this house, as well as the furnishings and props, too.

By the way, the blog’s new background photo is a shot I took of a tree on my street, against a wet, gray sky, the bare branches just getting knobby with their first buds. Springtime in New England!

Mystery House has a color at last

It’s yellow for Spring time!

These past weeks I’ve been working very hard on the dollhouse for my mystery graphic novel project. There were a couple of setbacks since January. I decided the acetate windows would not work for photography, so I had to cut them out and replace the mullion bars with toothpicks. Next, I realized the second floor is too dark to see into if the back roof/gable panel is in place, so I dithered for some time about how to fix that problem. But finally, all that was done, and today I put color on the exterior walls.

As you see, I went with a sunny yellow, which will be complemented by colors on the gingerbread ornaments still to come. Next, I will tile the roof, for which I painted card stock to look like slate. You can see a hint of that, dry-fitted with tape, in one of the photos.

As with most labor-intensive projects, it’s amazing how suddenly real progress can appear, and after months of slogging, the thing looks like it will soon be finished. It’s quite energizing.

Birds of Somerville and dollhouse progress

It’s been a crazy several weeks, with a strained knee, two bouts of the flu, a blizzard followed by record warmth in February, and a nor’easter to usher in March like a lion, so I haven’t had time to put together a blog post until now. But progress has been made, and a new hobby has emerged.

On the dollhouse, the clapboard siding is finished at last, and I am working now on replacing the acetate in the windows with small wood frames. I found it difficult to focus a camera through the acetate, and in any event, I just didn’t like it all that much.

And the new hobby – wildlife-spotting around scenic urban Somerville. My at-home feeders serve a resident flock of about 15 resident European house sparrows, two pairs of house finches, one lingering junco, a mated pair of northern cardinals, several mourning doves, two blue jays, and the ubiquitous feral pigeons and gray squirrels. Meanwhile, near where I work my day job, I’ve also noticed a welcome return of water fowl to the Mystic estuary, where year-round herring gulls and summer-resident Canada geese have been joined by a pair each of red-breasted mergansers and mallard ducks, and some red-throated loons appear from time to time. This past month, I decided to break out the camera.

The Dollhouse

 

The Birds on the Estuary

 

 

House of Mystery, playing with light

I continue to work on the dollhouse for my mystery project. Yesterday, I took a break to play with the light in my studio as it illuminated the rooms under construction.

I’m excited about this project and determined to finish this house over the next several weeks. I will also soon start work on the characters who will act out the drama to be set in the house.

House of mystery progress update – putting up the siding on the Orchid dollhouse

Construction continues on my New England beach house project, using the Orchid dollhouse as the starting point. Ironically, while putting up clapboard siding, one manila strip at a time, I find myself cursing the noise of the workmen putting up clapboard siding, one wooden strip at a time, on the house across the street. Life / Art. I’m pleased with the effect of the paper clapboarding. You can also see a little of the interior and the kitchen cabinetry. This cozy-modern cottage will be the setting of a story about trying to get away from it all, as a graphic novel illustrated with collaged photos. Stay tuned for further updates.

Dollhouse, busy projects, and the old camera gives up the ghost

Work progresses on the dollhouse. I’ve been putting up very small clapboard siding. It’s made from card stock file folders, cut into strips, folded and glued. The paper is easy to handle and shape around things like gables and window frames, and the effect is quite realistic. I can hardly wait to get to painting it.

I’ve been spending a lot of time on life projects, too, including reorganizing much of the house, preparing for Open Studios in November, and clearing the decks to have our bathroom painted, hopefully this week. Maybe I should try installing the dollhouse bathroom at the same. 😉

Sadly, my Canon camera seems to have died. It was old and had lived a full life, but it shall be missed. These photos of the dollhouse were taken with a loaner, which I haven’t quite mastered yet. Still, behold:

Front siding
Clapboarding the front of the Orchid House.

Windows and door frame
Window and door frame details

A peek inside
A peek inside

Back extension
The back extension under construction

New Site, New House, New Projects

Welcome to the refurbished Instant Elixir Cures All! It’s not drastically different from the original version, but it’s much better organized, pulls my artwork together by thematic projects, and brings my writing into the mix. More features and functions will arrive in the next several weeks, including a shopping section.

Best of all, it has its own domain name now – http://www.jenfriesarts.com. I hope you’ll enjoy this virtual portal into my studio.

I mentioned projects. I’m excited for what this winter will bring. On the drawing board are a series on the urban environment, explorations of dream castles, and stories told in pictures, the first of which will be set in a dollhouse I am building from scratch, which turns out to be fairly demanding work.

Here are some photos of the house in the early construction stages.