Action – next project!

Alright, I admit that budding rhubarb has absolutely nothing to do with this post, but none of the actual pictures are any good to use for a headline. Also, it offers a glimmer of hope, new life, even for this old ragged building. Just LOOK at this! It’s grim, isn’t it?

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Thankfully, Daylesford has very little termite action, mostly the ”good” kind which cleans up wet wood only and leaves the dry behind. Here in my old garden building they seem to have had a good time. I am wondering how much is affected, how on earth is the roof staying on if it’s all like this?

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No need to worry though, I will make it great. This is why I am ripping off the lining, so I can see what lies behind. The present lining is a mix of all kinds of chipboard and MDF and masonite, sometimes all three put together in an inch thick layer of offcut sizes like a patchwork. Maybe whoever put it together originally worked somewhere you got free material? Alarmingly, the plasterboard ceiling to this part sounds like it is the home to a large animal. I strongly suspect possums judging by the smell. When I rip off the plasterboard, will I get a possum on my head? Likely. I will carry an umbrella and have someone on standby for amusing action pictures as I get ripped to shreds by angry marsupials.

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The wood I replace will be something which does not get affected by termites, such as cypress or treated pine. I love ripping out rotting material, even if it looks worse to start off with. I am in for a good time obviously!

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There are some odd materials used, like this round post set in concrete which in turn supports a stud. Behind the lining below I found a door. There is a bench next to it which I thought I could remove, but no. It is SET IN CONCRETE. Really. Set in the floor itself. Who does that?

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Miniature landscape, again…

Seems I can’t get enough. I am now in the process of making my biggest landscape yet, 1,4m wide, 1,5m deep and 1,2m high. It will be attached on the outside of a viewless window, creating an illusion of something else altogether. Maybe a hint of Norway in the autumn? I made the base in two sections, otherwise they would not fit through doorways. I glued primed canvas to the walls, bending the corners slightly so as not to get sharp ”sky corners”. It will all make sense soon.

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Next I started to build up the landscape. I needed a lot of height, so mountains are the way to go. Boxes and chicken wire, covered in papier mache. The angled sticks are there to keep the front half square, as there is no back or front to that piece it is a little unstable until installed. fjord 26

I nailed the chickenwire as much as I could into place. The chickenwire is old and recycled, hence bits of leaf and grass!

fjord 25The basic shape is starting to appear. I am not really controlling it, just kind of letting it happen. I am aiming for a coastline with an island in the foreground, with lots of interesting detail. fjord 1I am painting the sky in oils, it is still waiting for more work but has to dry between layers. I can see now that I should have made the corners even more turned, but at least there is not a sharp edge. Too late! Never mind.

To make the rock, I mixed some old lumpy cement with water and Aquadhere (ordinary wood glue) and slapped it on. You could also use old tile glue, or similar. Things people have in their sheds… Here, I have also started making the bases for a couple of houses and bridges.fjord 54

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Looks like a load of rubbish so far, but wait! In order to give the rock some interest, I painted with the tiniest bit of paint on a dry brush. Just brush down with white for highlights, rub in some green and yellow for moss and lichen. A little brown maybe. Then, I painted on some wood glue and  sprinkled on some powdery modelling substances made to resemble grass, soil, or a combination.

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I am planning where the water will run down the rock, and laying down some mossy green in anticipation.

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The little house on the island is nearly done. The house is a plastic kit which I painted, rendered the chimney with caulking, and sprinkled on a grass roof. It had no windows so I put on cardboard shutters, giving the illusion that it has, hopefully.

fjord 50fjord4fjord11I have since removed the bird on the chimney and added smoke instead.

The grass roof is made with static grass and a Noch applicator. You can buy electric applicators for around $300 or so, but this works really well enough for my needs. Put some ”grass” in the bottle, shake for static, and puff it out on a bed of Aquadhere. It will land in the glue and set upright, more or less. When it’s dry, vacuum and the grass which landed where there is no glue will disappear. I use it on the ground too. Sometimes I sprinkle some earth powder on top to tone it down a bit.

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Here is another grass roof, with added longer bits from an old paintbrush head. I roughed the roof up a bit, was too smooth and even. Needs weeds and things.fjord 13

The trees are made from recycled copper wire. They are really easy to make. You can buy ready trees of all kinds, but I didn’t want anything readymade if I could do it myself. The houses, people, animals and fences are my limit. Trees? Piece of cake. Some cables have copper inside them, others not. This is why it is a good idea for recycling stations to strip all mechanical objects of metals. Why put copper into landfill when it can be reused? And they do. The local tip here in Daylesford has people stripping metal from things, sorting and making rather a neat job of it.

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Birches in autumn, yellow! The gravel is earthpowder and cooking salt. The stonewall is actual stones from the laneway outside my house, caulking and paint. The plastic house I fought with a lot, it was just so horribly plastic. I weathered the roof, rendered the walls, stuck flowerboxes and lupins and climbers all over it. Finished with an overhanging tree.fjord 48

It has a barn and a woodshed. The lupins are tiny pieces of wire, covered with superglue and flocking, painted. I have to admit that I am having a lot of fun, almost sorry that I am close to finishing.

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The pine trees are the easiest. I have seen people make extremely realistic and laborious trees, but these are fine for my scene. Wooden skewer, steel wool, fragment of scourer to act as a stopper.fjord 34

Spraypaint the trees black. fjord 35

Spray with glue, sprinkle with turf. I use a mix of green and soil colour to get lighter and darker trees. Products from Woodland Scenics. So useful for many things.

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To plant the tree, I hand drill with a fat screw. The cement gets much too hard to push a tree through.fjord 39Ready for planting. The back half has over 50 pines, haven’t counted the front.

fjord 46Hooray! My packet of Noch horse riders arrived in the post. I am also going to get a spring of seals, a brace of deer and a gang of moose. And a rowing boat. And And And… No, that should do it.fjord 40Nicely made figures, but why does that girl have to hold her arms up? At first I thought I would put a bear in her path so she would have a real reason. Then I considered cutting her arms off and regluing them in a down position but then I decided to just let it be. They are so far in the background. People are going to see trail riders, and not think more about it.fjord 32

I put some stairs and a cliff hanging path on one of the mountains. The birds are so small they are really a bit of a waste of time. I held one with the tweezers, and PING it flew away into the room, never to be seen again. The rest I held less tightly.

Making heather is easy. Just a dab of paint brushed on some clumpy foliage, I bought a bag. It lasts and lasts, good for many things. Treated lichen is great too.

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Made a couple of bridges from planks out of thin cardboard (cereal box is ideal), glued and painted on masonite. Or thick card. Whatever. Just Right!

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Though I had squirted some acrylic gloss medium for water dribbles here and there, I also wanted some water which flowed away from the rockface, like this:fjord 55

This was surprisingly easy. I squeezed out some ordinary silicon on grease proof paper, moved it around a bit with a toothpick, added tiny bits of white, also with the toothpick and let it set.fjord 59

Peel it off and glue in place, add a little silicon around it to make some water action happen. Bits of white paint work well for froth and foam.fjord 57fjord 56fjord 60

That is all I am going to do for now, will give it a rest and work on something else for a whil. It will be quite a long time before I can install it, but I don’t mind doing detail first and bigger things later. I once built a house which I started making from the inside of a two bedroom apartment. French doors, ceiling paintings, details galore. It all came to use eventually, and by then it was a pleasant thing to be able to add detail so effortlessly. I have absolutely loved making this view, if you feel in any way inspired, I can wholeheartedly recommend making one!

 

 

Hello Possums! The boat is done.

Because I have the benefit of being 12 inside yet with the decision making capacities of someone WAY older, if I feel the urge to have a boat in the garden then I can! Hooray! See the older Boat post if you like, here’s a recap picture: Actual boat and the general plan.

It was in worse nick than I had hoped for. Here is the floor once I ripped it out. When I tried to scrape the old paint I was actually scraping away the boat itself. There’s no denying it, this will always be a fragile friend.

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Once the floor was gone I could see the sleepers I had rested the boat on. I covered the whole lot with weedmat, byebye ivy! Water will still be able to run through the weedmat. Then I used three lengths of sturdy treated pine and nailed them down. The well itself is 1,8 metres long, it is a deceptively large boat really.

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From here it was a simple thing to screw down some decking. Just a little fiddly as each board has to be slightly longer than the next (and angled) as the well is shaped from narrow to wide. The thing in the middle is to take the centre support for the seat which will come soon.

monets boat 7On On the outside I attached braces to the sleepers to keep the boat steady. New seat, some new ply on top of the old, some fibreglass work  which is a delight, like papier mache for outdoors but HARD to get right, I am settling for strong and not pretty. The whole job is a bit rough really, but I feel there are limits to how much money and effort I am prepared to put on something essentially quite derelict.

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Monet’s boat would not be that if it didn’t have a hut at one end.

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I also made an awning in very thin plywood to keep most of the leaves out. As for durability, the whole boat is made from that stuff so I guess it will last for as long as the boat will.

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The possums play pirates in the boat at night. Or something. It became an obvious name! It is no longer Monet’s boat, but Dame Edna Everage’s.

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Room with(out) a view

What do you do with a wall without views? You paint some, of course. The ones in the picture above are just that. I find we see what we are expecting to see, so at a quick glance you simply assume these are real views through actual windows.

First, this was just a blank wall, no views, not even a window. I want views, however, and there are none behind the wall so I painted some on masonite.

fake view15Then I nailed my pictures to the wall. If you want to do your own, there’s info on how to paint a simple, fast and reasonably convincing landscape  further down. You could use a photo too, but I prefer paintings.

Add some strips of wood to rest the window on.

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Screw window into place. Looking better by the minute!

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Add timber to build up the right levels, then stick on some architrave to match the rest of the room.

fake view17Fill and paint.

HOW TO PAINT EASY GARDEN VIEWS

To make my views I used masonite, rough side up. Five coats of gesso first, goes on quickly and primes the thirsty masonite wonderfully well.  Do not use undercoat, not good enough!fake view10I paint in oils, which is slow to dry between coats but nice to work with. First I roughed in where the sky will be. I used White, Payne’s Grey and Ultramarine mixed in with some medium to make the paint flow.

fake view11I was aiming for a sky which portrays no special season, just a dull plain sky. Fortunately you can’t see much sky from the real windows either so you will not be able to make a too obvious comparison, hopefully. It is all leaf.fake view12Next I blocked in the green mass. I used Black and Viridian, more medium. I didn’t mix on my palette, rather on the painting itself. Swirl and splash, rough and lively! Here are the two, they are the same, just bad light. The green mass has lots of variety in shade, but again, bad pic loses the detail.

fake view6fake view5The treetrunks are next, for this first layer I used Black and Vandyke Brown. Let it dry before adding leaves, or it will be a mess.      fake view7Add leaves of whatever kind, I am using the same leaves which are seen through the real windows.

fake view8I also added some flowers, this spot is so dark nothing would bloom there in real life but anything is possible in paint! If you want something, paint it. Oil makes flower painting a breeze. Just load a brush with paint and dab it on. It will look like a flower all by itself. I tend not to mix too much on the palette, but add more than one colour to the brush and it just does its flower thing.fake view2A crop of berries, not related to the tree itself but that’s ok.

fake view3Hydrangeas! Or something white and fluffy anyway.

fake viewWhen the paint has dried, you can add more shape and shade to the leaves and the whole scene. Keep building the layers until you are happy. Veins on leaves are good but certainly not necessary. You could go super realistic, or just give a general idea.fake view4Done.

A miner’s couch for the Pip

I am gathering furniture for the next seating place at the Pip, hoping to have it ready before summer but who knows? Could just as well be ready next year, or next week. It is a good idea in my mind to get your essentials ready for when you need them. I bought this old miner’s couch, probably cedar, from a woman in Glenlyon. So lucky, I usually have to travel for hours to pick up my finds. It is a bit rough though, in original condition apart from a replaced leg. The wire base is full of dirt, and what seems to be entwined chicken feathers.

miners couch 6miners couch 1Nine happy hours of hand sanding lots of fiddly bits. The old cracked varnish comes off easily enough. Sigh.

miners couch 4The wire base has an interesting construction, you can tension it if it has gone slack by turning these bolts.

miners couch5The old owner said that ”the spring base has hay stuck to it” but no, it is most definitely feathers. I freed them with tweezers and pliers and the last hour of daylight, as I had a final test of just how far my patience would stretch. Finally, I gave it a coat of Danish Oil which brought out the wood colour beautifully. This is a most wonderful product, so easy and pleasant to use and smells divine. If you are into furniture oils as a perfume, anyway…   The mattress just needs the final touch of a cushion or two, that will have to wait until final placement. Hooray!

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Plant markers

I have been wanting plant markers for ages, but only after buying a curry plant yesterday did I actually do it. The curry plant is not the most interesting looking of shrubs, and would rarely be recognised for what it is unless I added a label. The second hand shop down the road furnished me with a gang of spoons (still need more!). I dipped them in white oilpaint and stuck them in my fence to drip dry.

plant markersSo far, so good. I dropped one in the paint tin and had to fish it out with sticks and very painty slippy fingers. It is the one stuck in the ground. Very difficult. It is not as homogenous looking as the others, probably the best one really. Then it started raining and oilpaint in the rain is NOT a good idea as it pocks. Now I had to bring them inside in a hurry and it’s not easy to find homes for sticky drippy spoons. Recommendation: check the forecast. I had a perfect finish, now no more. Here is my dropped spoon.

plant markers 3Some permanent marker and the job is done. When I planted my apple trees I chose them for their names, don’t you think King of Pippins is a great choice for Queensberry Pip? And by the way, the Curry plant, Helichrysum italicum, is a herb. It has a subtle flavour reminiscent of curry and can be used however you like, but best with mild foods like eggs, potatoes, fish or yoghurt. Chop leaves finely.

Someone gave me a boat!

I have a neighbour of the best kind who knows everyone. When he saw me drawing a plan which called for an old boat he said he knew someone who might have a spare broken boat. They did! And not only that, they actually gave it to me. My neighbour now found himself facing my need to get said boat home, and he has a truck… This is what happens when you have a truck, people want you to put things on it.

In the front garden is a spot just behind the willow tree, tucked in behind hedges and ivy. No one goes there, as there is nothing to see or do. This is about to change! Presenting… My boat. A real beauty! It even has a mast, albeit not attached. The plan is to make something in the style of Monet’s boat, his floating studio which had a striped awning and a little hut at the back. Mine is smaller but I think I can achieve the general idea.

douard-manet-claude-monet-and-his-wife-in-his-floating-studio-1874Mine is remarkably similar… Graceful, I’d say. It’s had a good run of being on the water and now it is time for a new purpose.

monets boatmonets boat 4It even has a mast, but how to attach it puzzles me. This is the hole which clearly is meant for the mast, but how? It has to  get down deeper than a centimetre, surely.

monets boat 3  It is in rather poor condition. I pushed on the bow (that’s the pointy front of a boat) and it crumbled against my weight. Also, the bottom is totally gone. This is really not a problem for me, as I plan to lay a new wooden floor. But what will I attach it too? Is it all as bad as the floor and the sides and and and? The only good wood you can see here is the sleeper it is resting on.

monets boat 2For now it can sit and wait, could be a good spring time project. I drew some rough guidelines just in case I feel the need to go to the hardware sometime soon. I will do a new post when I have something to show, but it will take some time. Just too excited for now not to show the boat as it is!monets boat 5