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.
There 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.
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. The 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.
I 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. I 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. Here 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.Since 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. Close up of his hand. I carved it out of construction pine, 90×45 and stuck a hinge at the elbow.
I 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. Whilst I was building the shelves, I also added a little seat where the kindling basket can live. Cushions from Sweden.
This is what I am working on at the moment, can’t wait to see the space finished. There are several medieval maps done in tiles as an overglazing. I have copied a selection of Ortelius maps, there is one of Magellan’s final voyage in the ”Victoria” (pictured, see Terra Australis on the bottom, connecting with South America. Note how huge PNG is!), one of the Kingdom of Valencia (Spain, really), and one of the north of France with the Channel. Nearly forgot Iceland, it is full of seamonsters, volcanoes, monasteries and polar bears on icefloes. Due to the awkward shape of that wall I had to split Iceland in two, and put one half above the other. The carved wood is a part of an old fireplace surround, and the coppar is the last bit of the hot water tank I ripped apart for the kitchen floor details. The masking tape is my own, and won’t be a feature for long. I imagine candles instead reflecting a flickering glow in the warmth of the coppar. Or maybe the masking tape is JUST the finishing feature the room demands!
I should probably say that the tiles are painted with an overglaze, then baked on, then reassembled (I number them on the back). It works best on low grade tiles, as really expensive glazing on tiles will be less receptive to the overglazing. It is just too much fun to do. I want the whole world! Give me a bigger room… I bought seven square metres of matte white tiles on ebay, they are high quality but fine to use for the purpose. If you are uncertain of what tiles to use, should you fancy giving it a go yourself, buy one of each tile available, paint and bake, then see which tile worked best. I can show you the products I use, can even give a workshop if you wish. I think that for maps, a matte finish is the most convincing.