This chair is proving to have amazingly strong bones once the excess paint has been removed to reveal its more subtle painted history.

Most of the rust on the bent tubular legs was very superficial.  It could be brushed or shaved off with the rest of the excess paint.  If this area is going to be weak, it will be at the stress points for the tube, where it bends, or where it is attached to the body of the chair.

All four connections to the body of the chair have rust like this.  It is heavier than anywhere else, but not so bad as to effect the strength or the structure.  I want to separate the two pieces so a protective layer of poly can be applied.

How to do this?  My resident expert says that one would use two pairs of vice grips, and usually the rusty nut and bolt will break.  This is what you want.  Then you can clean up the rust and insert a new nut and bolt.

Above is an example of weakening steel to the point of breakage.  More than once one of us has slowly floated ground-ward as weakening chairs finally bit the dust.

Above is a different chair that has been repaired.  My husband used a high speed wire brush on an angle grinder to clean out all the weak rusty areas.  With an oxy-acetylene welder, he took replacement steel in a flat sheet, and welded the new into place.  He said that the act of using the welder will identify and destroy more of the rust not seen before.  The heat of the welding will help you curve the plane of steel into the necessary tube shape.  The final step is to apply something like Rustoleum to the new section to assure that what happened in the weather before will not happen again.

And remember those holes.  I am going to add some to all my chairs that don’t have them.  Water is the enemy!


First time I ever did this was with my friend Betsy;  we were looking for tile in a dumpster outside a commercial tile establishment.  Cannot remember if we asked permission or not.  Maybe it was a Saturday, and they were closed.  As it turns out, much of what was gleaned was very usable and important in my house renovation and to this day is still being used.  Marble that I have used for thresholds, counter tops and window sills came from this source.  In addition, the tile store had ground some of the excess marble from a job into about half inch sized chunks and put it in the beds around the building where they had bushes.  Trying to create a new market, I guess.

Anyway we filled our cars (or my car), it was amazingly hot, and we were amazingly dirty, but it did not stop us from going down the road and having a big lunch at Ruby Tuesday’s.  What the hell.

Yesterday morning my friend Catherine sent me a text saying that there were three old metal lawn chairs in a dumpster in her neighborhood.  She lives about 45 minutes away from here, but we were already at the flea market which is 15 minutes closer.  We decided to skip the cheap stuff and go for the free stuff.  It was so easy, and the new vistas were very refreshing.  She lives in the horse country of SC where the fences and the live oaks are so beautiful.

Glenn hauls himself in.  It is very clean thank goodness and has not rained in the past couple of days, which is unusual for this summer.  Along with the chairs, a waffled mattress pad was in there to be used to transport them!  Love it when that happens.

Gold!  We found three in this dumpster.  They are in average shape, but have been thickly painted over and over.  The paint is peeling off in large dense chunks.  They will not subscribe to my theory that objects should show their history.  These are going to have to be cleaned up as anyone using them would ruin their clothes.

We also picked up some old dinette chairs that the same friend wanted to pitch.  They were in much better shape than imagined.

Spent an hour or so with a toothbrush and improved the chairs mightily.  Will do the same with chrome polish, the kind we used to use on rusty bike wheels, and move further towards perfection!


Yesterday I was required to do a short succinct job to keep the other construction workers working on our bedroom addition.   This  is a very big deal if you are the customer of construction workers.  Any wrinkle in any plan can put you way behind.  I am sure these guys love this:  my husband just rips things out and redoes their work on the weekend, and after they leave EARLY on Friday.  I tell him to let me know when they drive up Monday morning because to be elsewhere is my choice for that scene!

First of all, the  workers laid down this cement board on the plywood flooring without using thin set and not using the prescribed amount of screws, which is six inches apart around the perimeter and eight inches apart within.  Knowing they were wrong, I took up the cement board.  I relaid it with thin set and also took care of the seam between the two pieces of cement board with a plastic grid and more thin set under and over it. The wood you see will also be covered with cement board, and it is the boundary for the shower, which is behind it, to the right.

Today they were going to build shelving for the bathroom, and one of those units will rest on this tiled area.  That was the reason for the hurry.  So the above picture shows the area, about four by five that had to be re-boarded, and then tiled yesterday, and grouted this morning before the workers arrived.  Grout is pretty forgiving after about a half hour.

I first thought I would use some fine tiles that a friend had found on the street and presented to me at just the right time, almost as if the universe were offering them.  They proved not to be such a good choice.  Part of the bunch was porcelain and we don’t have a wet saw.  Rummaging around, these remnants from my husband’s former house came to the top of the mix.  They are typical white four by fours almost exclusively used in bathrooms.  When I looked at these, and then at our urinal/basin, they were great together.  Very industrial looking, and the rest of the bathroom will work in concert.

Having the right tools to cut this tile, which is organized in groups of sixteen with latex in between, it was an easy job to  tailor the tiles to fit my space.  After the workers left for the day, I applied another layer of thin set and laid the tile.

Here is the finished job, yet ungrouted.  The darker lines are the only ones that will take the grout.  I didn’t even have to rush this morning to finish the job.  I can grout later after the shelves are finished.

I broke many rules when laying this tile, but sometimes you have to.  It is like making art:  there are rules, and they need to be followed by the inexperienced.  BUT sometimes you have to intelligently create some new rules and follow them for the best outcome.  The dark area in the foreground is our pecan flooring.  The merging of these two surfaces has to be perfect, and perfectly aligned.  Normally, one starts to lay tile in the middle of a floor, and works out to the walls, leaving partial tiles that have to be cut near the walls.  Here, like the perfect middle of a big tiled floor, the perfect part has to be that union of wood and tile.  So I started the laying on that edge.  And since the construction is very square, the edge to the right fell into place as well.  The cut tiles are to the left and the back edges, and they will be covered by shelf and baseboard.  Some time you can get away with stuff!


The work going on with the new room addition sucks the day away often, but yesterday there was time to work at the pool.  Do you see the tiny elements which are stuck down into the expansion joints in the cement?  They are waste, and I have used this stuff for various reasons, aesthetic and not,  for years.

When these little man-made elements are tumbled into these shapes, they are worthless.  They start out looking like something else, spend their little lives in a huge tumbler with manufactured tools, helping to remove the unwanted harsh edges, and are dispensed with and thrown away by industry when they look like this.  I often use these shapes in mosaics, and in the pool here, they have been inserted in the joints so that the grout used will not have to cover more space than is recommended.

Years ago, when the big house was first moved here and under renovation, the old windows had to go.  I went to the big box store  to purchase eight windows for part of the house, and stumbled upon a wonderful thing.  Someone had returned seven custom windows and they very nearly fit my needs.  And they were priced at fifty dollars each!  They were not standard sizes.  I snapped them up, and what you see above is how some of the windows were made to fit.  My contractor inserted cement board in this space, and along with marble pieces, little garden pot feet (bought a bunch of these years ago for five cents apiece), and my amazing WASTE, the bargain windows worked fine!

Look closely and you can see another joint filled by these shapes dividing the crescent shape and the acuba plant shape. This area is yesterday’s work.  My grout color is getting to be a deeper and deeper brick color (through mixing grout colors) as the tile becomes redder and redder.

At the top of this picture is the deck area that I am tackling next.  There is papyrus in the garden next to the studio which is pretty much obscured visually by the yucca in the foreground,  and I feel like making lines to reflect it in the composition.


Here is where work is taking place today, although this image is from a couple of days ago.  The reddish area under the iron gate is grouted and a small part of the area with the glass horseshoes.  In an earlier post, I stated that the pool wall area was a sort of sketchbook;  the deck is turning out to be much the same.  There are natural dividers in the deck created when it was poured and I seem to be relating to those separations as different canvases.

I am interested in reflecting the plants in the gardens around the deck in the tile compositions.  A goal as well is to use the same grout in the different tile compositions and to unify contrasting patterns.  In the case of the horseshoe area,  would that big space be more interesting with subtly different grout colors used within it? But my major interest is, and one that has not been accomplished yet,  is the idea of “approximation” (my term).  I want to make mosaics look more like paintings and not be as static as they usually are with grout color not being local to a shape.  I want grout color to kind of  “shadow” a shape, but not define it.  I want the shapes to look like ghosts.

Above is the plant and the image on the deck, without grout.

This morning this leaf was grouted with color used elsewhere.  I did not try to get this color grout in every space at the perimeter of the leaf.  I want to let another color “play” on that edge and let the shape look more approximated and painterly.  We’ll see how that works.

The image above records today’s grouting and also other elements that are used to relate different compositions together:  the red pieces within the horseshoes on the left, and the occurrence of larger differently colored shapes in the composition.  Not taking the grout used today all the way to the perimeter of the pool,   I am going to leave that vacant for a while and think about one unique color to circle the pool only.


A personal seminal event occurred in NYC years ago when traveling with my friend Clay.  We went to a commercial gallery associated with the Whitney, and on the back wall they had installed metal outdoor roofing.  OMG, it was one of those moments where you worry about not having had that experience because it looms so important in your life story.

Since then, and that was the eighties,  old fashioned metal roofing has been used in traditional or nontraditional ways on every building I have built or refurbished.  It is such a statement about southern culture.   Above is Glenn’s sculpture studio in the new barn.  He brought this old roofing from his acreage in Missouri, so installed here is part of his old homestead in his new space.  You can see a bit of the actual tin roof that covers the whole barn at the top of the image.

This is the entry to my old studio, now more of a guest house, and this building is also covered in and out, with metal roofing.  Below, we are under this porch roof, and looking out to the “big” house, which is glowing under its tin roof.

When my daughter was about seventeen, the two of us installed the ceiling tin in the guest house.  What a job, cutting and drilling above our heads.

At the table above are two examples of aluminum side chairs from WWII.  They are light as a feather and were made for use in submarines.  They introduce my other cheap metal love,  aluminum, especially “hammered”.  Below, Glenn’s latest piece stands in silhouette along with a couple of my camera-shy mosaics.  The ceiling illuminates the window to one of the gardens.

Don’t get me going about the aforementioned hammered aluminum, or old chrome tubed dinette sets.  We will be here forever.

Synchronicity:  As I write this post, the building supply company’s truck just drove up with the metal roofing for our new addition.  Isn’t it grand when actual life is like a strange movie? And the movie is about tin roofs?


The construction crew was nice enough to finish yesterday so we could have the evening to place the windows that are going across the back wall and bathroom of our new bedroom.

Originally, we thought some big windows would be included here, but a bit of homogeneity in the design was required.  Our contractor, who has worked with me on several projects, and is learning to love the unusual and the recycled, came up with a fine idea yesterday that we are going to implement.  For his idea, we will use the big windows that we rejected here.

Above, the windows are laid out the way they will stretch across the back wall.  To the left will be a glass door, which is missing here.

Here is the back wall showing the organization:  three rectangular piled at the left,  and six squares to the right.  The squares will have different divisions and alternate.  These are some of the same windows that we used for the barn a couple of years ago.

We used a recovered door for the entrance to the studio part of the barn.  We have two fine matched pairs for the new bedroom closets.

Glenn bought some bamboo a while back and I have been taught to be afraid of it.  It can get out of hand.  Just coming in from the real experience of seeing how uncovered our new bathroom will be with its windows, it will go in tomorrow.  I don’t think that simple pine trees will be enough cover!


It is about time to move outside.  Especially this winter, as the gods have been kind to us, everything is starting to pop.  This is the time I begin to really itch to create art in the gardens on our little plot of land.

My husband has been crazy loving “Downton Abbey” with the rest of the country.  Since he is new in proximity to North Carolina, here in SC, we went to”Biltmore”, the Vanderbilt estate in Asheville last Saturday so he could see more of the same kind of addictive “dreamland” that we look for on that mini series.

In starting to renovate my farmhouse, the downstairs, the servant area of Biltmore was the influence for my master bathroom.  At Vanderbilt, the downstairs is very utilitarian, but very solid.  I loved all the old tile.  Redesigning their black and white combination to dark green, yellow and white was because of the tile I had.  In this first image, tile is being laid on the far wall which is also part of the shower stall.  The imbedded tile painting is Japanese, and something my mother bought when we were there in the fifties.

The four by four white bathroom tiles are some of the only tiles in the house actually purchased. I was given the yellow, so that was one reason I chose this pattern. These tiles were cheap enough, eleven cents apiece, and created the clean, white, simple look that the downstairs servant area in Biltmore had.

To the right of the room is the stair stepped shower area.  It mirrors the great fireplace in the kitchen outside the bedroom suite.  Amazingly, no shower door is needed.  The vanity structure was made for about five dollars worth of time from my contractor guy, and we used two legs which were purchased at the flea.  The sink insert was about 78 dollars at Lowe’s.

The mirror is missing in this picture.  I bought an old one and added a detail of old mock stone triangles.  There are some of these same triangles used within the interior of the shower.

I stole a flower during that same visit to Biltmore years ago.  At that point, as a new gardener, the type was a mystery to me.  It was a little shoot that was growing up in the line of the sidewalk that is created for cracking.  I took it, spit on it to give it water, and wrapped it up.

It turned out to be “upright verbina” and I babied that plant for years.  One spring it simply did not come up.  I had run into upright verbina before.  Many years ago, I created a batik with this plant as the subject, and traded it to a friend for a ring.  I loved the spaces between the stems.  My piece favored this work by Mondrian, where we see his interest is in between the branches of the tree, as well as the simple lines of the tree it self.

This year in the formal gardens between the Biltmore house proper and the very upscale greenhouse where I first saw the mass of upright verbina, now tulips are planted. Near the walls of this garden,  there are these fabulous bushes with great lines and amazing color in the late winter. 

This is called “Midwinter Blaze Dogwood” and will be a big bush when mature.  During the winter, this is what you see.  Upon exiting Biltmore, we passed by a little nursery on the grounds.  We stopped to see if we could buy any Midwinter Blaze, and the manager said that they could be very difficult to find.  She said they were copyrighted as is the Knockout Rose.  Searching on the web the next day, there were plenty for sale.  We bought four for April delivery.  I know just where to put them.