Model landscape much later

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Have finally made it to installing the landscape I started in November over a year ago. No rush. A lesson I have now learnt is not to make it so big that I can’t reach the back wall without climbing into it. Or at least make more room in the centre so I have somewhere to stand. As it were I had to crouch with a toe on each side of a little island, feeling like Gulliver. ”…the said Man-Mountain shall have a daily allowance of meat and drink sufficient for the support of 1728 of our subjects.” Man-Mountain! That’s me.

The landscape is in two halves which had to be joined and finished (still not done with that) and then given a ceiling of clear stiff plastic. I gave it two layers of plastic with wadded insulation inbetween, creating a flat sky which could still be cleaned from the outside. But when I looked at it from the inside it looked too square, with visible edges so I glued wispy bits of insulation hanging down. This worked very well, and to my surprise catches the daylight in surprising ways, like this:

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So why this landscape and is there a point? Good question. I was given a round window from someone and could think of no better use for it than to build a large landscape in a wall, lit from above by daylight and lamplight by night. Just realise the actual window is not in the shot, it will come later. No, there is not much point apart from the fact that it is a peaceful scene where little of note happens. You can look at it for some time and discover detail, people, animals, houses. It is purely for pleasure.

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My next problem is going to be the framing, but no rush here either. The year is young.

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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!

 

 

More tiled Ortelius

The bathroom will now be a place where you can lie and journey to places which indeed exist but not in our time. A time when Papua New Guinea was massively out of proportion, when ships were firing cannons at each other (oh, wait, they still do), when the Suez Canal had not yet been dug, and strange sea creatures surrounded Iceland. Magellan had just failed to return on his journey on the Victoria, pictured below. Or rather, the Victoria returned with all the information, but Magellan himself didn’t. You can’t have everything. The imagined coastline of Terra Australis in yellow underneath the Victoria, which connected with Tierra del Fuego in South America. Of course.

maptiles5iceland iceland2 iceland3There are explanaitons covering Iceland and it is needed. Such a complex place, with danger in volcanoes, poral bears on icefloes, animals which will kill you if you eat them, glaciers, seacows. Rudimentary knowledge of latin helps here. Pour more hot water in the bath, the perpetual nives is making me cold!

And no, I haven’t made any of it up. It is all a gridded copy of Abraham Ortelius maps, with maybe just a little rearranging of ships to fit, and cropping. The little fat thing with horns below, for instance. I take no responsibility, blame Ortelius. It is possible that I am repeating myself, I have written about the maps before and it will probably not be the last time either.

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Bath & hall

I have been busy. Also, I have been excruciatingly slow, but in the end, I think it was worth it. I now only have a few minor things to do before the bathtub is complete. For now, here is a tiny preview. The gargoyle spout is a glazed ceramic head I have named Mr Tumnus, because he really does look like him. I made three heads when I was on the go, one was particularily fetching and rather looked like President Nixon. He actually exploded in the kiln during firing, breaking a number of things as he went. When you fire handbuilt stuff, any air bubbles trapped in the dried clay can have that effect. Shattering with violence. So, no Nixon for me. The third is installed in the wall of the library as the exit point for the speaking tube, below. bathtub3The speaking tube caused me massive trouble. The pipes are laid under the floor and once it is in, it is in and can’t be changed without enormous trouble. Too much trouble. Hence, I have been standing in the hardware plumbing department speaking into different pipes asking the staff ”Can you hear better with this? Or this?” I have had no answers. In the end I went with polypipe of maybe an inch diameter. Que sera. Well, it is now in and I can declare that it works, but you have to speak up. Your voice will appear in the library, sounding like you are sitting in a padded box.

speaking tubeI had guests test it. You can say things like ”GIVE ME ANOTHER DRINK” or even ”TURN THE RECORD OVER”. There is a turntable just outside the wall, as I will soon demonstrate. The tiles are copies of Ortelius maps, with the gargoyle sitting right on the text for Terra Australis and its vague, loosely imagined coastline. Can’t get enough maps, especially medieval ones. bathtub4I am also thrilled to have a new lamp in operation. Wiring! Plumbing! The bliss of a modern world, even if the tiled maps date back to the 1500’s. bathtub2Here is where the record player sound will come. The recordplayer was a gift from a friend, along with the vinyl collection. Hence it is a little one sided but I might add to it in time. Gloria Gaynor! Village People! Can’t stop the music… The other side of this wall is a little hallway, where I have now built a shelf for things like Gloria Gaynor, Inez Jacobsen wellies (do go for a walk in the rain) and my father’s fez which he aquired in Egypt many years ago.hall3Since we have now left the bathroom for the hall, here is the butler who is most helpful with your every wish, as long as that wish is to hold your umbrella. Today I bought him a hat, but he will graciously let you borrow it. His name is James, after a friend with whom he has a resemblance. Incidentally, the very same friend who gave me the records. hall2Close up of his hand. I carved it out of construction pine, 90×45 and stuck a hinge at the elbow.

butler1I went hat shopping at Upstairs at Alpha, which is on Vincent Street. They sell new and vintage, mixed. Always something exciting to find. The bowler was not enough, I also picked up the black and white number below. Stylish, handsome! Maybe even a little suave. hallWhilst I was building the shelves, I also added a little seat where the kindling basket can live. Cushions from Sweden. hall4

A miniature landscape version 2

Fast forward several months from whenever I posted the image of pinetrees stuck in foam. I am done with the miniatures for now. I have a built in set of old metal lockers in the bathroom. There are three, two are landscapes, sort of. The third locker is just for general storage. Bath salts. There is a plexiglass cover at the front of the landscapes.

miniature 7Here is the top landscape, hard to see and needs a better picture really. The rock is sitting in a pool of resin resembling water, reflecting the dalmatian. Clouds are 3D. They are really not very great at all, but I have thrown my hands in the air at this miniature now and am leaving it alone. Here they are.

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They are painted in the background, and fluffy in the air. Well, that was the idea anyway. Basically I just teased out some insulation and glued it into place.

The second miniature I have put a lot of glorious time into. I loved every minute.

miniature 1My initial idea was to place a tiny white dog on a bald rock, turning his back on the audience. Tall dark trees, a light covering of snow. Solitary, but not lonely. As it turned out, I came across some tiny sheep and used them instead so now the point is entirely lost. It is sheep, looking into the frozen waterfall. Means whatever you want it to mean. Cold sheep?

miniature 4miniature 2The frozen waterfall. It is really layers of squeezed on acrylic gloss medium. I want to cover the world in acrylic gloss medium. Well, nothing could be further from the truth but it provided me with hours of amusement.

miniature 5Here we can see how tiny the sheep are. I had to use tweezers to get them there.

There are some astounding artists who spend their time doing this kind of thing. These were my first attempts and I am hooked. Have a look at the art of Thomas Doyle, for instance. Disconcerting, amazing.

Ceiling paintings

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Your ceilings are an opportunity for decoration. There is a lot of space up there, unfettered by windows and doors. Since it is hard to paint upside down, you can do it the easy way and paint on boards which you glue and screw when they are finished. Fit lights as normal if you like, just drill a hole and thread the wire through.

Here I am, painting a ceiling for the Pip. It will be of Ferdinand von Mueller bringing conifers to the Botanic Gardens, an event which happened in the 1800s. I like storytelling through images. Look at the little wombat on my left. She is a tiny story on her own.

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It was just having a little look at what was happening… I painted these on thin MDF (about the only tine I will use MDF). I have tried canvas in the past, and kind of wallpapered it up. Not so good, problems with bubbles and unevenness, since you can’t stretch it. You could draw on paper and glue it up too I suppose, anything goes. I put a couple of coats of gesso on first, then I paint with artist’s oils.

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painting20This is what my scetches look like. Very loose, more like ideas really. The rest happens on the painting itself. It I was to do a detailed sketch I would already be sick of it before painting it, and the element of surprise which I need will be gone, depriving me of pleasure. This is pretty much how I do most things, a loose idea in my head and then I work it through as I am doing it.

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Starting a different one. The long bits on the left are to extend my cornices, making them more impressive. No, I don’t stencil. I find it just as quick to paint straight on, and give me the bonus of a general unevenness which is something I always strive for. I have looked very hard at Albert Pictor for my borders and general style. He was a medieval church painter and pearl embroiderer in Sweden, and he did borders JUST like these. Being a church painter, he also filled all the wall space with stories.

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Starting a fill of greeny-yellowy tendrils, with leaves and exotic blooms. Yes, I have changed clothes, twice now. It takes a little while to do a ceiling like this, I usually keep several things on the go as you have to wait for oilpaint to dry or you put your hand in it.

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I have roughly scetched out the tendrils in pencil. I use a coloured art pencil as a lead one will dissolve and smudge into the oilpaint, leaving it dirty looking.

painting9The nuances and colour shifts in the paint are very simple to achieve. Simply squeeze out a little of three colours or so, along with a little medium (dilutes the paint), Put some on your brush without mixing with any great intention, go back for more, brush it out, repeat. Every time you go back for more the paint gives you a little different look for those strokes as you brush them out. Oil blends easily.

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The ground looks far more yellow in the photo than in real life. The men are two gold panners having a conversation. What about? Gold, of course. I attached the tendrils to the ground next to the miners, to grow out from them and take flight in their fancy gold dreams

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Here is another one, again with the same borders. Though I vary the insides, I feel it gives greater cohesion to maintain a similarity of theme. I have changed clothes again, and appear to have lost my hat. What’s the inside of this one? Who knows! I do round ones too, for more images head to the permanent page of ”the art” in the menu.

You need help putting them up if there is wiring to pull through. I can do them by myself unless they are very big and if there is no wiring, but usually there is a central ceiling light to navigate around.

Use liquid nails or similar building adhesive, have a long stick handy with a cloth at the top end to jam the painting to the floor with and work fast.