Category Archives: house

Stenciling the Laundry Room

I did this last month. (in one day)


I made about 20 test runs on white butch­er paper to find just the right col­or com­bi­na­tion. And set­tled on this:


And here’s all the stuff it took to get the paint onto the wall.

stencil supplies

The sten­cil is from Trim­belle Riv­er Stu­dios. The room doesn’t have much in the way of long walls so I did a lot of fudg­ing to make the motifs fit.
I used oil paint sticks and sten­cil­ing brush­es. (Shi­va: Olive Green, Yel­low Ochre, (and a lit­tle Barn Red) Windsor/Newton Man­ganese Blue.) First time I’ve worked with paint sticks. Because they have to be smushed onto a pal­lette before you pick up the paint on the brush it takes longer than sten­cil­ing with acrylics but I like the way the paint has dimen­sion on the wall and the fact that the col­ors are some­what trans­par­ent.

Passing Time Outside of the Studio

The painters arrive tomor­row to fin­ish the great house paint­ing project. They will be paint­ing my office, the DH’s office, and my stu­dio. I am work­ing out of a lit­tle rolling cart on the kitchen counter. Severe­ly lim­it­ed in terms of mate­ri­als and tools.

The House of Myth­i­cal Crea­tures is on hold for the week. It’s ready for each of the images to be mount­ed. I have to fig­ure out how I’m going to attach the images one to anoth­er. I’m think­ing about some sort of book­bind­ing. Hence my project for the next week is to exper­i­ment with some ways of bind­ing books.

Today I made (my first) two books.

A strange lit­tle fold­ed book whose pages open up fur­ther than you think they ought to. I think it’s bor­ing. But the tech­nique of sim­ply attach­ing the pages to a con­tin­u­ous back­ing has mer­it. It would have to be more than just a line of black mat boards taped togeth­er, that’s bor­ing too.

folding book

The sec­ond book looks like a checker­board with over­lap­ping pages with cutouts. I can’t real­ly see how it fits with THMC. This one has pos­si­bil­i­ties for some oth­er projects rat­tling around in the back of my head though. Espe­cial­ly once I get over the idea that the cut­aways have to be square. I’ll make some more of these in the next cou­ple of days.

checkerboard book

I have dis­cov­ered that I still get annoyed when cut lines and parts don’t line up exact­ly. I’ve always been par­tic­u­lar about those sorts of things. Luck­i­ly I have learned a num­ber of tricks over the years. Sto­ry sticks and cut­ting mul­ti­ples in one go are the first two I used.

The instruc­tions for the checker­board book called for cut­ting out six tem­plates (from a xerox) and then trac­ing the tem­plates onto the page paper and then cut­ting those out. A recipe for dis­as­ter. Much bet­ter to fig­ure out the dimen­sions of the full page (3−3÷4″ high x 5″ wide plus a 78″ gut­ter) and cut a bunch of page blanks. Then I could fig­ure out the dimen­sions of the cut­aways (1−1÷4″ square) and take them out of the full size pages. Except the lit­tle tiny one at the front. I just cut that one on it’s own.

PS Yes, I real­ize that there are no decent pic­tures of recent work on THMC. I’ll fix that soon.

edit­ed 25.june.2008 to cor­rect image links

Yellow Walls

The painters are done and I have reclaimed my space.

yellow studio walls

The move out and back into the stu­dio was almost pain­less. Prob­a­bly because I had recent­ly reor­ga­nized all the crap and there had not been much time for cruft to accu­mu­late. My office is anoth­er sto­ry.

edit­ed 25.june.2008 to cor­rect image links

Family Photographs — It’s All Grist for the Mill

I’ve been col­lect­ing up the old pho­to albums and sort­ing the pic­tures. There are a num­ber that I’d like to use in the col­lages. But of course I don’t want to glue up my only copy of great-grandmother’s por­trait so… It’s time to get scan­ning. I’ll leave the has­sles of get­ting an elder­ly scan­ner to talk to any of the new­er com­put­ers. It’s all con­nect­ed now and that’s all what counts. I start­ed with the pho­tos that the MiL put togeth­er in a frame for my hus­band. They’ve been sit­ting on the wall for too long and the col­or ones (50’s — 70’s) have fad­ed bad­ly. picture frame with jim’s family photos We had won­dered who some of the peo­ple in the old­er pic­tures were and hoped that iden­ti­fy­ing infor­ma­tion was on the backs of the pho­tos. Of course it was. Yeay Emmy! back of photos left sideback of the photos right side I got the pic­tures out and start­ed scan­ning them. I did a few at 600 dpi but it was tor­tu­ous­ly slow so I switched to 300 dpi. I think it’s suf­fi­cient for what I need. Now that the pic­tures are stored away from light (and oth­er evils) I can go back and res­can at high­er res­o­lu­tions if I want to. TBC edit­ed 25.june.2008 to cor­rect image links

Birdfeeder Design and a Good Use of Website Animation

I’m a fan of bird­feed­ers and clever prod­uct design. The Architect’s Bird­feed­er, designed by Doug Patt Pratt, is good look­ing and an intrigu­ing engi­neer­ing solu­tion.

architect’s birdfeeder

The key fea­ture — it ships like flat-pack fur­ni­ture but bet­ter because it goes togeth­er with­out that nasty cheap lit­tle hex wrench thing.

The ani­ma­tion of the assem­bly of the bird­feed­er on the home page of the site is bril­liant.

  • It takes up only part of the page — good for those on slow con­nec­tions as you can start using the page before the ani­ma­tion fin­ish­es load­ing.
  • It offers infor­ma­tion about the prod­uct that can best (per­haps only) be com­mu­ni­cat­ed using ani­ma­tion.
  • There’s very lit­tle excess infor­ma­tion in the ani­ma­tion. Just a lit­tle sparkle toward the end of the assem­bly on the hang­ing wire. Very effec­tive in sig­nal­ing the end of the process.

I first saw this in one of my RSS feeds (can’t find it again — drat) and I’m hop­ing that I can get one. Though with the pub­lic­i­ty I wouldn’t be sur­prised to find that they are sold out. I’m not sure how well it will work in the ridicu­lous amount of rain we get here in the win­ter but as a sum­mer feed­er feed­er it’s going to be aces.

Purple is a Good Thing

Took an uphol­stery class at Pacif­ic Fab­rics over the week­end. I want to make new cush­ions for the porch fur­ni­ture.

purple is good!

pur­ple is good!

The result of about 5 hours of work is this love­ly and quite use­less cush­ion. I like the drip effect of the stripes and dots.

It’s not as hard as I thought but not easy either. Most­ly I end up with an aching back.

Stenciling a Three Panel Screen

In order to hide the backs of a num­ber of mon­i­tors and com­put­ers in Jim’s office we put up a cheap three pan­el screen.

the screen in jim's office

the screen in jim’s office

It’s very bor­ing thing. But… the pan­els are white “can­vas” and that means they don’t have to stay bor­ing. So I final­ly found a sten­cil that I want­ed to use in a new book “Sten­cil Me In


The birds on the right — crows! The orig­i­nal is only 8 inch­es tall and the screens are 60 inch­es — fill­ing them up with crows would be very busy. So… time to make the lit­tle crows into big crows. I have a scan­ner and Pho­to­shop and a print­er, and a lot of tape. And they are — 18 inch­es tall now.

enlarged stencil

enlarged sten­cil

Next to make a sten­cil. I used an old mani­la file fold­er. (You can still see the label if you look close­ly.) By tap­ing the enlarged sten­cil pat­tern over the top and cut­ting very care­ful­ly with an exac­to knife — two fresh blades — I end­ed up with a decent sten­cil.

Then I got out the lin­seed oil and rubbed it into the paper. It takes along time to cov­er the fold­er even­ly. Not too much (that would be gloopy) and not too lit­tle (that would be splotchy.) It took 24 hours for the sten­cil to dry enough that it wouldn’t bleed oil on the fab­ric.

oiling the stencil

oil­ing the sten­cil

Next up — the actu­al apply­ing of paint!

Stenciling a Three Panel Screen, Part II

More on the screen for Jim’s office.

Once the sten­cil had had chance to dry I took the fab­ric pan­els off the screen (yeay vel­cro.) I didn’t do any prep work on the fab­ric  —  poly(?) can­vas. The paint will stick well enough and I don’t expect to try to wash the pan­els. By the time they’re dirty I’ll be bored with them and want to do some­thing else.

To hold the fab­ric steady I clipped it to the thick foam core boards that I use to stretch water­col­or paper. I mea­sured for a rough place­ment for the image and then eye­balled the fine align­ment.

I used brown paint (oil bar) and a large sten­cil brush. Because the sten­cil was paper coat­ed with lin­seed oil I couldn’t use the repo­si­tion­able adhe­sive that I use on plas­tic sten­cils. I used a lit­tle tape in each cor­ner and then worked care­ful­ly hold­ing the lit­tle tabs and bits down with my fin­gers as I paint­ed. It’s messy and a lit­tle slow but worked quite well.

Here’s one of the pan­els fin­ished and propped up for dry­ing.

single panel

sin­gle pan­el

I had planned to use two images on each screen. One fac­ing each direc­tion. So I start­ed with the two crows fac­ing left. Two pan­els have the crows in the top half and one has the crow in the bot­tom half. Then I would clean the sten­cil and flip it for the rest.

Oil paint takes a while to dry and I need­ed the flat space­back in my stu­dio so I hung the pan­els back on the screen. Fig­ur­ing that I’d take them down lat­er this week and do the rest of the sten­cil­ing.

panels drying

pan­els dry­ing

Oh nev­er mind — FINISHED!

And here’s my cel­e­bra­to­ry drink.



Lil­let over ice and orange slices. The ice cubes are shaped like stars!

Feeling Nesty — Part I

Today we declared a scav­enger hunt day. We have a list of things we’d like to have for the house but haven’t found just the right one yet.

We were wild­ly suc­cess­ful.

two finds in the scavenger hunt today!

two finds in the scav­enger hunt today!

Our last gaze­bo was destroyed by the snow last win­ter. We final­ly found a gazebo/screen house that was small enough for the spot between the sal­ad gar­den and the house.

It comes in a long thin box.

amazingly compact

amaz­ing­ly com­pact

The last one was a right roy­al b* to put up. Oth­er than not being able to find one of the parts (we didn’t look hard enough) this one was pret­ty dang easy.

all ready for the table and chairs.

all ready for the table and chairs.

We have anoth­er find in the oth­er big box but right now it’s time to make some sup­per.

New Tools, Continuing Upholstry and No More Room

I got tools from Rio Grande this after­noon.

new tools

new tools

Clock­wise from the top. Ring man­drel — very pleased with the qual­i­ty and heft. Par­al­lel pli­ers — thank you Sarah L. for get­ting me addict­ed to those expen­sive lit­tle dears. Raw hide mal­let for bang­ing on met­al. Ring clamp for hold­ing onto things and not sand­ing my fin­gers, and a pair of tiny pointy snips for get­ting into tight spaces.

But there is no way that I’ll be doing any work at the bench for the next cou­ple of days.

there's a bench under there somewhere

there’s a bench under there some­where

I have to fin­ish the patio fur­ni­ture cush­ions first. (They are gonna be great!)

new cushions in the making

new cush­ions in the mak­ing