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.

Post-event, post-holiday, now to refresh the studio for winter

Had a wild weekend at Brickbottom Open Studios this year. I met so many wonderful people, and I hope I’ll see many of them again here on my website as they keep track of my projects going into 2018. From there, I ran straight into a small, intimate, family Thanksgiving, and now the long weekend to clean the studio and start my projects for the winter. I’m looking forward to finishing the dollhouse, described in previous posts, and experimenting further with two projects that emerged during Open Studios prep.

Emerald Cities began as an experiment in flat-pack art and photographical miniatures, the Blood Red Roses are the result of wandering down a path when a planned project didn’t quite work out, and the Anatomical Studies are old friends who came to play after a long time.

In honor of Thanksgiving, I want to thank my new friend, K, for hosting my work in her space during Open Studios, my fellow Brickbottom Artists for being brilliant and supportive, and My Sainted Mother for taking up the slack while I was so busy and for letting me make the pumpkin pie this year as it ended up my best one yet. 😉

Progress on miniature buildings and Open Studios 2017, coming up this weekend

I’ve been pasting and papering and designing all week, to launch a new project at Brickbottom Artists Open Studios 2017, this weekend, Nov. 18 and 19. I’ve been working on small sculptures of buildings and cityscapes as objects in their own right and to photograph for use in collages and other works. I like to play with perceptions of scale in my work, so I’m eager to get lost in the shadows and textures and imagined streets among these minimalized structures.

Here are some progress shots of a little factory, waiting on my totally wrecked work table for its final surface finish. Also, some super tiny castles and corporate towers that I really like, though I’m not sure how much they like me. The smaller the object, it seems, the bigger the work involved.

Don’t forget, if you’re in the Somerville, MA, area, come meet me and lots of other artists at the Brickbottom-Joy Street Open Studios 2017 event, this weekend! I’ll be showing the first towers of my little cities as well as many collages, large and small. See you there!

BAAOS banner small

 

Nature walks, art under glass, a view of the Mystic

The little power plant object is nearly complete. One of my regular nature walks is along the Charlestown side of the Mystic River estuary in Boston. It’s a place teetering on the brink between industrial past and environmental present. This somewhat abstract diorama depicts the view of the electric generating substation I see on the Everett side of the river. My sense of the place is expressed in the bone-white plant (in real life, its red brick), the burnt wood evoking the rotted pilings of long-gone piers, and the fresh gull’s feather, which I found there recently, dominating all, because the gulls were there long before the power plant, and they’ll be there long after it’s gone as well.

It still needs a few details, but I’m pleased with the effect so far.

In progress: Nature walks, industrial zones, getting ready for Open Studios

This weekend, I started work on a set of small assemblages honoring the urban landscape of my city. I live and work in a somewhat formerly industrial area but still nature is to be found all around. These little diorama objects use gleanings from my urban nature walks and references to the places they are found. Here is a very tiny impression of the electric generating substation on the bank of the lower Mystic River estuary. It’s all of 1.5 inches high, cut from card stock. I have just started covering it with papier mache. The jar of feathers picked up on my walks will be part of the finished object.

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