THE STORY OF A MANTEL

A friend cleans out old buildings and sells the metal for a living.  As you might guess, he is also a collector.  You never know what he will be up to.  A real one of a kind person, he is gruff on the outside and an artist on the inside.  He has commissioned Glenn and me for several works of art.

He called us the other day saying that he had some old windows for me.  We jumped in the truck.  Came home with windows and the following: an old mantel with gorgeous texture.

IMG_20150922_161530840

We recently had a kitchen fireplace mantel accident and hoped this would work as a replacement.  It did not.  We worked on it anyway.  I took off all paint that was flaking off, intending to preserve the rest.

IMG_20150922_161536470

A long slit on the backside of one of the columns needed repair.

IMG_20150925_111650111

A simple box made the base for the column.  All that was needed was to nail them in place.

IMG_20150925_111819884

IMG_20150925_111824852

As a piece was sufficiently sanded, layers of varnish were applied.

IMG_20150925_111850991_HDR

This board, which supports the top shelf of the mantel had its original moulding.  Glenn had to recreate the rest.

IMG_20150925_111914916

Good that he didn’t have to recreate details the way this old mantel was made in the first place.

IMG_20150930_140919160

Here the mantel is reconstructed, with new moulding at the right and left of the opening, and a new (old) board chosen to connect the columns.  We brought the mantel into the kitchen to compare the two openings.  Not a match in any way, we had to hesitate for a second.  We already have one fake mantel in a bedroom, used with a big mirror over it to expand the room, and two fireplaces, each with two faces, in the round, so to speak.  All but the one in the kitchen have a hearth, so this kind of mantel cannot be used.  What to do?

IMG_20151010_111930041

Our bed angles to the middle of our big bedroom.  It faces two windows so we can watch our birds.  The large head of the bed partially blocks off vision into the room, provided by a set of French doors.  This would be a perfect place for this mantel, but there wasn’t enough of it.  The mattress and wire are flat out ugly.  The mantle needed something more.

IMG_20151010_140755487

Glenn glued together two boards he rescued years ago from an old wooden boxcar.

IMG_20151013_142011547

He found two more old boards, one for a shelf, and another board for the top of the mantle to make it weightier visually.

IMG_20151013_142017419

He cut the second shelf board to account for moulding.  It adds a nice bit of interest.

IMG_20151013_142027555

The edge of this board had some writing on it.  We preserved it with varnish.

IMG_20151013_142032176

IMG_20151014_094539868

Voila!  Would love to put more stuff on the very top of the mantel, but the cats are finding this place very inviting.  Pretend you don’t see that wire.  It’s gone now!

Advertisements

EXPORT THE LOVE

We are the go-to people for certain kinds of stuff: a clearinghouse of a sort.  Crap in, crap out.  Our friends know this.  They turn us on to available stuff, and sometimes get things from us.  It is a free flowing dance.

My friend and colleague had a special problem with the building code in a small city near here, and his home shares our aesthetics.  He wanted a new garage, but the code said he could only renovate as the old grandfathered garage was too close to the property line.  The only garage that could be where his stood was THAT garage.

Larry_Jean_old garage

So the plan is to save the siding and the special details below the roof that makes it Craftsman style, eliminate the bad parts of the interior structure, and reinstall the old siding and details.  There you have it; an old/new garage that passes the code. He needed windows from us, and we were thrilled to provide them.  We have an ass of old wooden windows given to us by various people because they know that windows are my current raw material.

IMG_0074

He came bearing pizza and took two six-paned windows larger than the originals, plus two six-paned smaller windows to install in the front and back of the garage just under the apex of the roof line.  That is a slight change from the original garage, but one has to live dangerously!

image2

He was disappointed during the destruction phase that there was more damage to the structure than he had thought.  He wasn’t able to save any of the original bones, but did save the cement pad.   Above are three walls framed out, with larger spaces created to handle the bigger six-paned windows.

image2 (1)

Here headers yawn out to frame the front facade and serve as a base for the roof structure.

larry

Due to the insect damage and rot, there was only enough siding to cover the front face of the garage.  Love the way the addition of the small window makes the building look like it has more than one story.  Perfect little detail.  These windows are hinged and can be opened for ventilation.

unnamed

The side view of the garage shows a nice contrast in materials with the upright separating the two areas.  The two windows on the sides of the garage are not the ones we donated; they turned out to be squarish rather than square, so they will do something else at some time in the future, I am sure.

Larry extended the roof ends with brackets to match the two other buildings on their land. Electrical work still needs to be finished, and a system for the doors created.  No small task!

Building for his home is not all that Larry can do.  He digs far deeper into the trash heap to create his sculpture.  You must see his work by clicking http://larrymerriman.wix.com/art

AT LAST

1-shower 1

Today is the day.  After a year of looking at the unfinished mess of a shower in our new bathroom, grouting in earnest starts.  Why so delinquent with this effort?  A year ago, I knew what the result would look like.  And it was what was projected.  So I lost interest.

An argument can be made that an artist makes her work simply to see the end result.  And to kind of lift one’s leg to the nearest tree.  Prove that she has been in the area.

1-shower 2

It is impossible to photograph this shower, as you cannot get far enough away from it.  The prone position doesn’t help much.  Most of the lady on the left was grouted a long time ago.

1-shower leg

After the shower floor, just grouted  today, I will take a charcoal grout and apply it around the dark lines defining the bodies.  It is already done in the lady to the left in the previous picture.

1-shower corner

And the horizon lines on each panel will be charcoal.  Simple, elementary, rudimentary.

1-shower three

Of course, all my materials are free, save for the tile mortar and grout.  The white tiles above are remnants of an old project of Glenn’s.  The little glass tiles in the two inch space were bravely saved for me by a designer, from a construction worker who was pitching them.  I cringe to think of all the waste in the world!

1-shower floor

Above is today’s work, and no more can be done until this dries.  This shower base is made of portland cement, is carefully sculpted down to the drain from each wall.  This tile is porcelain and not having a wet saw to cut it, I simply broke the tile near the drain and filled in.  These floors require a lot of finesse.  I hate that big line in the center left.

1-piazza

Gorgeous today, and considering my drying shower base, I am going to work on the piazza.

HELPING OLD LAWN GLIDERS GLIDE

Sometimes you cannot see the forest for the trees.  Having two mid-century two person sized lawn gliders made by the same manufacturer, I was comparing them yesterday.  One is my very first glider.  It was free.  It was at the “solid waste disposal site” we use, and the worker helped me load it into my station wagon (at another time, there was a fine one already up in the metal container and the workers said they were not allowed to pluck anything out that was already in; what a disappointment!).

1-aqua glider

After its rescue, I took the glider straight to a welding place down the road from here as it was wonky and would not glide.  See the dark elements under the closer armrest?  Those were fabricated for me at the welding shop (no welding was actually done, they probably simply did the job with pity for my ignorance).

1-elements

These elements are rusty now and this glider has always been on a covered porch.  The elements are still strong however, and are attached to the frame with screws and nuts.

1-good side

What occurred to me last night was the fact that there were two original gliding elements on this glider.  Above is what the original elements look like.  They are not a solid piece of steel as the replacements are, they are like a constructed tube, which has been flattened.

1-seam

1-newest love seat

Compared to my first glider acquisition, this lawn glider was more expensive, but still a great deal.  The elements facilitating the gliding have all been replaced, and all are aluminum.  A more expensive fix.

1-aluminum elements

1-wing nut

NATURAL PARTNERS

We have masses of dead cedar in our woods, in various stages from just dead to very dead.  And we also have lots of deer.  Turns out cedars and deer are one of nature’s juxtapositions:  if you have deer, you are going to need lots of cedar to keep them out of your gardens.

1-cedar tree

It is amazing how light and how strong cedar is.  With the right engineering, a protective pyramid can be built around bushes and young trees that deer can’t leave alone.

1-onnnnnnnnnn

I have taken to placing cedar not only as a screen, but am trying to interfere with the deers’  footing down below.  On the back of this circle branches with mean short limbs are pointing up.  The red bush is nandina which deer do not eat, but behind it is a snowball bush, which they love.  The snowball looks very shabby and lifeless this time of year, but it will be magnificent in the spring.

1-better cedar

1-cedat group

So all manner of cedar branches are helpful, and cost nothing.    I know that is a pine to the right.  It was just so straight, and it will be helpful as a base.  True, it will disintegrate before the cedar, but all these gardens have to be refreshed every year or so.  The deer knock the branches out of place.

1-azaleas

Gardens like this are spotted along the sandy driveway with woods on either side.  They have either azaleas (very small now) or loropetalum in them.  Some of these gardens do not get enough sun.   The size of the bushes vary dramatically.  These gardens do not need pyramids as the deer don’t eat loropetalum, and only rarely bother azaleas ( there is some crunching now and again).

1-loro

The loropetalum are full of buds here.

1-big branch

1-another garden

I painstakingly worked to propagate 12 slips of pyracantha last summer.   It wasn’t going well.  Ended up buying a small one, which is now protected by a pyramid of cedar.  Only one of my slips survived and it was doing sooooo well once it was placed in the ground.   The deer had not discovered it yet, and I was hoping that the new little garden where it lives would remain undiscovered to them.  NOT!

1-jail

I had to resort to a milk crate for its protection.  A tiny pyramid simply would not do.  That bad deer ate three inches of its hard fought four inches!

PRESERVING OLD HISTORIES

1-old furniture

We have three old desks and none of them have their drawers.  The drawer is the weakest link probably because it is the only moving part.   The desk above was found in an old barn in 1974 when Glenn bought his first house in the foothills of the Ozarks.  The sellers were going into a nursing home then.  The core of the house he bought was then over a hundred years, so this desk could be really old.  I love the tapering of the legs and the different colors applied to that taper (yes, there are two). These legs look like Siamese cats to me.

It has a coat of many colors and like a lot of little tables, ended up in the barn or garage to hold paint cans or something similar.  This pair however has a new life on our front porch.  Knocking excess paint of easily, they were clear coated with a surface that protects and shines and cleans up easily.  It also intensifies the remaining color.

1-stars

Would love to know who drew these stars!

1-finished furniture

A family could live on our front porch.  A family DID live on our front porch.  The magnificent porches found in the Old South which I value highly,  were actually a symbol of the poverty and the need to move outdoors in summer to try and deal with the intense heat.

The porch is so big that we have three seating areas.  We had Thanksgiving dinner on the porch three years ago (check back to my masthead for the blog and see a partial image of that).  Our back porch originally was this big as well: forty feet by eight feet, but a laundry was put in later, reducing its size by one third.

1-b

1-front of house

A lazy, shabby old lady this house is, built in 1939:  same as “The Wizard of Oz“, “Dark Victory“, and of course, “Gone with the Wind“.  Great year.

AM I A TRAVEL AGENT?

Back at home in SC, this picture from yesterday, travel day, seems like a dream.

1-snow

A bad dream.  But the holiday trip to the Midwest was the finest of bad dreams.  The snow and ice we experienced was like this:  beautiful, untouched and viewed from inside our car which was going at normal speed.  What I most love about snow is how it reveals the forest floor, which one can never see in the summer.  Ice defines the lines of the branches of deciduous trees, snow fills out the big shapes of the evergreens, and traces the forest floor.  Defined by snow and ice, the whole forest makes a fantasy-like sense.  In the summer, the woods are deep and spongy like one alive but unreadable shape.

We all know about last winter.  Here in SC, where we live with the most marginal of heat sources (gas log, occasional space heater) it was all so marvelous.  We could be outside all winter.  Making soup in the kitchen was enough to get warm (having lived without real heat for 7-8?? years, I now understand about making soup, washing dishes just after dinner [think 1945]; it makes so much warm sense).  Eating soup was enough to get warm.

1-horses

Contrast this picture above with the Midwestern winter; they were taken the same day.  My daughter’s two horses have a visit with the mother and grandmother of one.  They have warm sunshine and grass to eat.  Nice little vacation for two horses from Virginia.

1-garretts tree

Yesterday was Garrett’s sixteenth birthday, and we planted this little magnolia in celebration of that.  We have so many trees that stay green all winter here.

1-new tee-pee

It is also warm enough to finish the construction of our third tee-pee which protects certain bushes and trees from the deer.  I feel so lucky to have so much cedar, dead and alive, on our acreage.  It is beautiful and can do so many jobs.

1-two finished

This winter is not over of course, but here we are not seeing much difference from the moderation of last winter.

OUTDOOR SHOWER

I have wanted an outdoor shower for at least two decades after using one in a home on the Hudson River in upper New York state.  It was a fabulous experience with lush gardens all around and a deep back yard ending far out, trees small in perspective at the sunny river.  Much later now, finally one is going in here.

The white area at the bottom of the middle post supporting the deck is this:

While we are not looking out to the Hudson River here, we can create a fabulous shower experience.  The first picture above was taken from the woods.  Although we took out a lot of trees to facilitate the new bedroom, we still have acres between this area and the nearest neighbor.

The crescent shaped shower bottom is a remainder of an old porch we had to destroy to make the new room.  I had tiled it.  Our builder placed it where we wanted the outdoor shower.  Glenn then took his tractor and sculpted the whole area the way we wanted it for water drainage.  So lucky here in South Carolina, between the sand hills and the low country, we have much sand in our soil, and no ground freeze in the winter.  When laying bricks for various projects, you simply have to level them, throw sand on them and wash it down, do this many times, and the bricks are good.

I wanted a slight angle to the path up to the shower, and also wanted to use some of the broken brick that we have.  Starting in the basket weave pattern, as the angle cut in to the shape, the basket  weave drops out and eccentrically placed bricks take over.

Plantings around the bricks do a good job to help secure them.  Papyrus is being planted around the shower base which will grow up high in the same months we would want to use it.  Beyond them, coming towards the foreground of the picture, I am going to plant ginger lilies which get very tall and very fragrant for a good part of the summer.  They will provide great coverage and a great fragrance.

See the grid that is leaning against the deck?  After all other elements of the garden are in, we will position it for coverage and place a wisteria vine we have waiting on it, offering more coverage and wonderful purple flowers for part of the summer.  Wisteria is a real fast grower.

The basket weave pattern was started at the bottom of the steps and created a pad on the ground of about three feet by six feet.  Making a right angle, another three by six rectangle was made before the walk turned back on itself, creating a space for a bush in the vacant space near the deck.  The basket weave pattern is simply an alternation of two bricks placed up and down, and then two bricks placed side to side.  Then you repeat this.

The curved edge of the pathway will cut in and interfere with the basket weave and that is my plan.  This curve was drawn out using parts of broken bricks.  I want to use them, but use them intelligently.  As the curve draws in, less basket weave will be able to fit in, and the broken bricks will take over.

Here you can see how the basketweave pattern is disintegrating and the eccentric bricks are taking over.

I am going to add more partial bricks around the shower base to make it a little bigger, and then start planting more papyrus.

THOUGHTS ABOUT GROUT

Working at the pool for the last couple of days, I have been thinking about what grout can do for a mosaic image.

I am using bright white grout now.  It looks great around the pool at this point, but we will see how it ages and maybe curb our enthusiasm!   I decided that in all areas, the grout will either get whiter near the edge of the pool, or at least a lighter shade of what is being used in more intensely colored areas.  That has been done in the area of the horseshoes and the acuba plant forms in the image above.

Also at the very edge of the pool I will use white cement paint to continue the white up to the edge of the liner.  Not wanting to interfere with changing the liner in years to come, the grouted edge stops well short.

The tile in the ground area of the design is getting subtly darker as it migrates towards the foreground in the picture above.  Therefore, the grouted white lines will be more readable there than in the lighter areas.  I want that to happen: for me, color and value must always be changing.

Additionally, I am experimenting with using totally different grout colors within the prickly pear leaves.  They were grouted first, and the white grout added later.  I am looking for a kind of approximated painterly line where the two grouts merge and have not succeeded with that yet.

In the piece above, done a couple of years ago, my changing color and value philosophy gave me fits.  My idea was that in the center of this piece, the grout would be midnight blue.  As it worked towards each side, it would get yellower, finally being the yellow of the tile surrounding this rug (but before it would get yellow, it would be greenish, thanks to color theory).   I wanted the tile rug to have dark drama, but also wanted the lines in the big yellow area around the rug to disappear.  If midnight blue had been used for the area around the mosaic, the bold lines against the yellowy tile would fight with the mosaic image.

Looking at the central area of the piece when the grout application was first finished ( a rectangle bounded by two arrows),  it looks as though there is a haze caused by not wiping the grout well on either side of an area which has the  darkest grout.  The problem here was not my failure to wipe and therefore causing a haze on the tile, the problem was color theory!  The tile being on the yellow/gold side, and the midnight blue grout having a handful of yellow/ivory thrown in, created a complimentary color situation in that area that read as “haze”.  It was absolutely confounding!

The first of the three pictures above shows the ungrouted problematic rectangle.  The second is a detail of the rectangle after it has been grouted according to my plans.  You can see that the center of the shape is clear, the edges of the shape are clear, but between the two, where I was mixing the two colors, a strange effect is happening.  It looks hazy, but is not.

In the last of the three pictures, the problem has been solved by using only midnight blue throughout that entire rectangle.  It reads fine and is not confusing considering that the rest of the mosaic contains grout which is gradating from blue to yellowish.  Experience is a great teacher.

SCORE!

I paid more for this group from my local flea market than any other old glider and chairs.  Still it wasn’t near the prices on the web, or our nearest big city, Atlanta.

This glider has been on the front porch for years.  This and the new one were made by the same manufacturer but feature different patterns.  The gliding devices are  identical, and the heaviness of the metal used is greater than other gliders we have here.  On the edges of the arms of these gliders the metal has been folded against itself to make them much stronger.

The whole group of four was in such good shape.  Lately I have been rising to a new consciousness about these rusty surfaces.  Was it only last weekend when we found three chairs in a dumpster?

This chair is finished now, and waiting for clear coat.  Did some research yesterday, and am going to put auto body clear coat on this (and all of them, if it works) to preserve the colors and lines.  A couple days ago we realized this chair is aluminum, save for the tubing.  This is the only aluminum example we have.

Because of my newthink we hauled the group into the greenhouse which is not used for much during the summer.  Some of the rust on the  back sides of these chairs is deep.  That will be scraped off, and the rest preserved.


The support elements for the glider body have been replaced on this one, as the picture reveals.  These must be the weak link in this style.  Years ago when finding the one now on my front porch (at the “solid waste disposal site” as we call them in South Carolina) of course it was free, but had to pay 25.00 to a local welder to fabricate one gliding element.  Still a heck of a deal!