AT LAST

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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!

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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.

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

CONSTRUCTION WORKER BLUES

Or having to live by weather.com.  We have had weeks of rain.  Some days, blasts came around about every ninety minutes.  People were getting downright cranky.  We were tired of feeling limp.  Moist.

We were lucky on the fourth of July.  We were #79 in the Peach Festival parade in Gilbert, SC.

lee and glenn, virginia and ed

There was a slight sprinkle just as we pulled into line, and then nothing for about six hours.  Best day we had had in about two weeks and as it turned out, for days later as well.  The farmer on my running route cannot get all his crops in.  I asked him if he had ever had this trouble before, and he said about twenty years ago they did.  Pretty unusual weather.

Work at the pool had been suspended.  Makes no sense to lay tile, or grout already laid tile,  if rain is going to blast in and wash the work away, or worse, wash the thin set or grout into the pool itself.  The rains have been accompanied by big winds.  This has not been a fun summer weather pattern!

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Great waves of tile are now pushing towards one another, and being unified by grout.  Finally, bare sharp edges are being hidden from feet.  Now that the weather is better,  the pool is becoming a safer place.  Thank you,  Ra.

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I am excited about the crawling white line within the screen printed tile which circles at a distance the terra cotta rug.  Wish that I had more of it, but, as almost always, the tile is a remnant given to me at the end of some other project.

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Work from this morning; done well  before the predicted “isolated” thunderstorm.

(SUMMER) IS HERE

Slaving in the sun at the pool is in order once again.

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The work from last year did not encounter any problems in the pool deck.  This year that cannot be avoided.  Taking up the work just at the deadly looking crack in the deck, Glenn said he needed about six inches on either side to smooth it out with a grinder.  I left that space and went on working so he could do the grinding at his leisure.  Just beyond that start point came a “section” line that the contractor left, and special acrylic stones are being put along that line.  Have done that all along.  They are then grouted over.  These lines are natural places for movement, and we encourage that movement to happen here.

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In the cast shadow above, you can see that one of the four Yuccas at the pool is blooming.  They do it in pairs every year, and alternate years.  Have no idea why.

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So.  This cement deck is huge.  In terms of connecting its design with the already tiled wall, the gardens all around, the pool equipment all around, a designer would say to emphasize something, and do it in the language already being used.  The collection of cement planters which have been acquired through the years are already doing that.  But this pool is a busy place with all the frenzy of tile.

Decided to record the cast shadows of the pots and Yucca at about 3:30 PM by tracing them on the cement deck.  Tile in that area will be darker than the deck, providing visual relief from all the activity and add drama to each side of the pool steps.  The shadows will be correct only once a day:  wonder how the constructed shadow will interact with the physical one as it moves.  Will be fun to observe.

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Above contains a close-up of the little acrylic stones used in the contractor’s expansion cracks.  They will be grouted over with the rest of the tile.  Also, you can see the shadow cast by the bannister leading down into the pool.  Going to make a sundial out of that shadow, and visually record  several points and the time of day.  Fun!

CUBIST FACE

Wish all customers were like Mike.  He gives me interesting venues in which to work:  bathrooms, outdoor showers, kitchens.  Glenn once did a Lascaux-like painting in a different part of his bathroom from where my arrowhead mosaic is.  Mike is the most unusual art collector in my experience.  And whether it is conscious or not, he totally understands the tailoring of one’s living space for personal pleasure and needs.

He excavates and recycles buildings, and finds lots of great stuff as a by-product.  If he likes the stuff, he pairs the items with rocks and has piles of these sculptures around his acreage.  If he doesn’t care for the stuff, he gives it away.  Like to me.  The other day an old leather basket in which farriers carry nails (or used to).

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Do what you want.  I don’t care.  And as he says these words, he moves his body further away as if his being too much in the conversation will spoil my ideas.

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So now Mike wants to save a tree.  Glenn cleaned out the wound, packed with with appropriate patch cement, leaving a picture plane for a cubist face.

The face starts on the kitchen table.

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And undergoes changes on the kitchen table.

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Now to get it transferred to the tree and grouted where it will undergo still more changes.   The glass tile and broken glass in the profile image on the right will shine when car headlights hit it.

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NEW WORK ON THE LADIES

I want approximation with these ladies of the shower.   They should look “drawn” with a wary hand.  Like a graphite drawing where several lines, one over another “estimate” the contours  (a contour line is one that describes a three dimensional shape) of the shape, with grout I want to create that same kind of energy.  Make sense?

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A fairly big space has been left between the ground and the figure when laying the broken tile.  This space will define the contours of the figure.  So these places where the lines are wider, grout will gather and make a bigger statement than those between all the tiny pieces of tile. To further carry this idea, a darker and shinier tile was applied at the edges of the figure.

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This shower is not any easier to photograph now than it was last summer when this big project started!

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Above white grout has been applied to some of the ground area behind the figure and to the shower edging of white tile.   The horizon line has been left along with the edges of the figure to take a darker grout.  The trunk and torso of lady number one has been treated with terra cotta colored grout.  So close to the tile color, it makes for a more solid figure in contrast to the ground which now has a network of white lines within it.

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This charcoal grout application is the one that will make the big difference in the work, and give it the simple primitive drawing like quality.   Thankfully it is working as expected.

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Today was the beginning of the real fun.  Months of thinking is proving out.  The strange thing about this is it has become a matter of principle to me never to take a shower inside.  Not so my husband; he says he has always wanted to take a shower with three ladies!

Related Articles:

“Making Art Is Hard”  (leemalerich@wordpress.com)

“Detail Work”  (leemalerich@wordpress.com)

“Progress on the Shower”  (leemalerich@wordpress.com)

“In Progress”  (leemalerich@wordpress.com)

PARDON MY CRASS COMMERCIALISM

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Glenn’s fine custom railings, long and short.  The short one is just amazing in its three dimensional aspect.

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Seen from the image above, the porch had a vacant space filled now by “moi”;  broken tile and found objects including metal dogs and hands, in a recycled wooden window frame.  All stuff from the flea market, or otherwise headed for the landfill.  The aqua lines are broken tempered glass.

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Art for the patio and porch.  You can have one too.   See the dog, just above the bottom of the window frame?

FOR THE NEW BEDROOM

I have done this twice.  Below is one example:  a little passage of color in an otherwise woody and neutral set of rooms.

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Color is in my collection of objects (mainly orange and green) set off by a sweet little cabinet bought for five dollars at our local flea market. Removing paint on some things is preferable to adding it.  Remove it, reveal older color layers, and then apply a glossy finish to reinforce the idea that this surface is intentional,  not simply neglected.

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The first step was to straighten the faces, re-glue and clamp.  After drying,  some of the orange paint was removed with an electric sander to reveal the other colors in the cabinet’s history.  The whole process took maybe two hours.

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Last weekend we bought this little table for ten dollars.  Yesterday I knocked the project out. The table had many paint layers and was very flaky.  The table top is tongue and groove, and Glenn had to fit the puzzle back together.  Much of the table is put together with pegs and did not need much structural work.

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The flaky paint was easily removed with the electric sander.  Then I concentrated on the edges of the legs, revealing a darker incarnation.  These lines define the legs nicely.  There is a beaded edge along the base supporting the tabletop, and the paint was removed from that detail as well.  Also, the rounded pegs holding the legs to the base lost their white color.

I think this little table must have been in someone’s garage for use in paint projects.  When we got it, the top was a s**t brown.  Underneath was a rich red.  White drips were superficial and in masses on the top.  They sanded off very easily as did some of the brown.  The table top got richer and richer.  What I noticed then was the shadow of words from a newspaper printed on the red parts, underneath the brown.  By this time there was an even smooth surface, and I decided to leave the words.  Some are readable, some not.  All part of the history.

It is so much fun to do this!  Told my husband that a little business could be created here, and he said yeah.  Which one of these things could you sell?

Just around the corner from this table, my ladies of the shower are moving towards completion, slowly.

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MAKING ART IS HARD

Having lost focus on my big walk-in shower as life rolled a bowling ball towards my perfectly established pins, I have to trick  myself to get working.  If the weather is fine outside, the job is more like bribery than tricking.  True, in this life with little artificial temperature modification it is most important to do any job at the time that the weather is most suitable.

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Above is the message one has to fight.  Usually, not too hard, if the project interested you in the first place.  I had a friend who used to talk about getting through the “hateful part” of creating—that first twenty minutes (for her) of work where she was disgusted with what she was doing, until the rhythm snapped around and she figured out where in the paragraph of imagery that she had left off.

So Lady #1 is almost finished on the left wall of the shower which is about eight feet by four feet.  Her hair is made of marbles, and hopefully the rows in which they were planted will show up better with grout.  Except for the head, she is outlined with a slightly darker value of tile.  Those two white lines to the left of the head in the blue are the ends of an antler, placed at the shower to hold robes.  Even though we have no shower door, they will not get wet.

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The second figure, holding hands with the first is starting to materialize.  Color is slowly shifting as well.  She is pinker but duller than the first.

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For me, and this is true in my embroidery work and tile work, color is most beautiful when it is gradated from one value to another.  Or one color to another, in a systematic way.

Of course, the tile in this shower is waste.  That is the biggest “given” that dominates the project. Yesterday I found some small dark tiles that my sister used to cover her brick fireplace.  Cut off from the grid that one uses to apply them in the normal way, they are making great outlines for figures two and three.

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This figure has one arm that looks like Popeye from the old cartoon.  One has to look at how the shape of the arm cuts into the ground space behind it to appreciate its strange dimensions.

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IN PROGRESS

This shower of ours is cavernous,  almost  impossible to photograph well, and is eating a lot of tile.   Each of the three walls are about eight feet by four feet.  It exists within the composition of the bathroom so that getting away from it to photograph it cannot be done, unless shooting through a window could be accomplished.  Haven’t tried that yet.

With the size of these ladies, and my need to use what I have not not buy more, the plan for the shower is changing.  For one thing, the terra cotta colored tile used in this first figure was stored outside for some time.  When some of the tile is hit with a hammer to break, it does not do so cleanly.  It fractures into layers.  This tile doesn’t have integrity and cannot be used.  Therefore, the three ladies will now be different colors, but that new reality will be fun for me.  I love it when structural or material problems foster new compositional solutions.   In two areas in the shower,  two figures’ bodies melt into one another.  So the colors will too.

At the upper right in the image above, the left arm of the lady currently in progress turns into the right arm of the lady on the next panel.

In creating the areas of hair for the figures, art history is the influence.  Kouros figures are standing male youths, made by the Greeks to represent the ideal.  They can be grave markers.  Kouros figures show influence from when the ancient Greek world mixed and interacted with the Egyptians.  Many of the Kouros figures have Egyptian looking wigs, and those wigs are the influence for my ladies here.  BTW, there was a female Kore figure.  They are not near as important as the male, and they are clothed.  It was the men, then and for a long long time that were the symbol of perfection.

The wig on the shower figure’s head is going to be made of cat eye marbles.  The orange elements seen here are spacers to hold the marbles away from the line of marbles beneath.  That way, not only will the wigs have lines of rounded elements, but fairly even dark grouted lines between them.

PRACTICAL ADDITION TO THE OUTDOOR SHOWER

It is November 4, and we still are using the new outdoor shower.  Or Glenn is.  I have run into logistical problems.  OK, so Glenn has no hair.  I do.  We both have to shave in the shower, Glenn less than me ( he has to get rid of the odd late bloomer).  Glenn does not have to shampoo.  So, women do more stuff in the shower than men, most of the time.

Mud is created in the new gardens around the shower when it is on.  I cannot sit in mud and tend to my legs.  It just seems so wrong.   And we need a way to store shower stuff outside so it cannot be seen.

An old Mexican made window pot placed under the bench will do a great job containing and hiding shower stuff.

Of course, tile will have to be put on bench, maybe words this time?  And see the blank area on the shower bottom next to the bench? That is a perfect cement plane and tile can be added there too.  Visually the bench and that part of the shower bottom could interact.
In the first picture above, the papyrus and ginger lilies transplanted earlier this summer are doing well, but are only a shadow of what they will be.  The ginger lilies are blooming!  They never had before; they were in another garden and had too much shade for their needs.  I already cannot wait for spring to come.