Monday, March 12, 2012

Did I Poison The Squirrels?

Oh Noes!
I went out to inspect the yard a few days ago and found that most of my peony shoots had been chewed off!  Fricken' squirrels!!!  I was so mad, all I could think of was the beautiful blooms that could have been.  A few days passed and I haven't seen the squirrels in my yard.  Usually there are 3 or 4, my husband feeds them and I try to discourage him.  They started to eat our winter beets and maybe the peony shoots looked like beet greens?  I googled to see if Peonies are poisonous and they are.  Apparently very poisonous if ingested in large amounts.  Maybe the little guys are just sick and vomiting somewhere... I hope they didn't kick the acorn cap.  :(

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Remembering Japan

Remembering Japan
A sunset vigil for Japan, tonight at Golden Gardens in Ballard.  More information on the Artists For Japan blog:

A few pictures from the vigil:
The wonderful people at Kokon Taiko led the procession and ceremony.

 A procession to the tide
The procession with drum beats.

A moment of silence
A moment of silence. Sorry for the blurriness, it was my only shot.

Hello to friends:
Junko Yamamoto, one of the organizers, giving a hug to a friend.

A quiet moment
One last prayer whispered to the sea.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Black & White

What I've been working on
I was recently asked to make a panda crayon that was black and white.  I've tried many times in the past to incorporate different colors onto one crayons.  I would melt one crayon and drip the wax onto another crayon, think candle dipping.  But as soon as I start carving the new layer would just pop off.  The 2 colors never quite "fuse" together.  This was a fun request and I really wanted to make a 2 color crayon.

I played around with a few different methods and found one that works.  I used an inlay-like process to incorporate the 2 colors.  This is the test crayon, I'm currently working on the final crayon for the client.  I'm very excited about this new process... so many new possibility!  I think images with bold graphics would work best. 

B&W Panda!
A close-up of Mr. Panda.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Belated New House Followup Part 3

Scary Bathroom
I think the most satisfying room to remodel was the bathroom.  This was the state of it when we bought our home.  I called it the murder bathroom... it's probably comparable to the Trainspotting bathroom on the yuck factor.  We have 2 bathrooms, but this the main one we use.  It's also the one that our guests uses, so it has to be easy to clean despite daily use.  It's also a small space, about 6'x9' with very little room for storage.  There were some huge challenges to making this a livable and comfortable space.

Scary Bathroom
This small bathroom was made smaller by a divider wall separating the tub and sink.  It also had built-in overhead shelves.  It was a disgusting claustrophobic mess.  We decided to tear everything out and build it from scratch.  The divider wall came down as well as the built-in shelving. 

Tub and wall gone
Bathroom torn up.  Wall boards, tub, toilet and divider walls removed.  I'm sure the walls had soaked up some funk after years of neglect.  I didn't want any bad Juju from anything in that room.

Bathroom Gutted
Our contractor Jeff Ramos did an AMAZING job with this bathroom.  He rebuilt the sub flooring as well.

New tub, new sub floor & hardi-board wall panels installed.  We left the window alone along with the wall panel that it was on.  There's no reason to disturb it.

New tub and floor.  We also moved the left wall out 6" to gain a little more room between the tub and  toilet.

New Bathroom
Tada the newly finished bathroom!  We took out the divider wall and made a half wall to separate the tub and sink.  It gave us a lot more light and also a ledge shelf to put stuff on.  The medicine cabinet and light fixture was left here by the old owner.  It fits in pretty well.  We also removed a section of the wall to the right of the sink, giving us more elbow room and another functional shelf!
The sink, faucet and sink cabinet is from Ikea.  We had absolutely no storage in this bathroom.  This little drawer unit holds everything we need!  It's amazing!  The floating cabinet also gives the illusion of more space.
New Bathroom
This is a very relaxing space to be in.  Many hours are spent here soaking in the tub playing Nintendo DS games! :P

The wall tiles are porcelain subway tiles from Lowes.  It's white with antique white grout... there's a huge debate on what color grout to use with white subway tiles.  I feel it's best to use a color that's slightly darker, but not too dark. You want to retain the tile subway pattern.  A white grout will make your pattern disappear and a dark grout will be too overpowering.  I used antique white grout with the b&w floor tiles too.

Our toilet is a Toto Drake II, with cyclone flushing technology.  OK, sorry for any of you that might be grossed out over toilet talk, but I have to geek out for a moment. This is the best toilet EVER!  It's a bit pricier than most systems you'll find at the box stores, but well worth it.  We've had it for over a year and it has worked flawlessly, every flush.  We don't even have a plunger and haven't needed one.  It's also very "green" having a 1.28 gallon flush.  I did weeks of research after finding this baby.  The people at Toto knows their stuff.  Here's a informational video Toto did to show you how it flushes:

New Bathroom
This is an Ikea Lillangen sink paired with the Godmorgon cabinet.  I like the contemporary feel of the Lillangen and the little accessories it comes with is wonderful as well.  This sink serves as a shelf, soap holder and organizer.  When you're in a tight spot you need every inch to work for you.  We were dead set on having this sink.  We also REALLY needed a cabinet with drawers to keep all of the bathroom stuff... q-tips, hair dryer, brushes & what-have-you.  Our needs really limited our design choices, but it's a fun challenge to have.
While at Ikea we saw the Godmorgon cabinet and knew that it would be perfect for our storage needs.  I stupidly assumed that all Ikea sinks were designed to be paired with Ikea cabinets.  We bought them both and when we went to install the sink realized that the sink was too short for the cabinet!  ARG!  The sink is 16"deep while the cabinet is 20"deep.  We really wanted that sink and we needed that cabinet.  So we had to make it work... Ikea hacking, another favorite activity of mine.

Ikea Sink Hack
We just scooted the sink out by 4" so the edge of the sink meets the edge of the cabinet.  We secured a piece of 2by4 between wall and the sink to build out a ledge that we tiled.  I like the extra depth behind the sink and it gives me an opportunity to add a splash of color.  The metal soap holder comes with the sink!  The faucet is also from Ikea.

Under Sink.  How it's Done
Here is the underside of the sink. I took this during the installation.  You have to drill holes for the sink bracket, it doesn't match up to any pre-drilled holes.  You can also see the 2by4 in the back between the sink and wall.  The green arrow shows that the sink moved forward.
Here are all of my bathroom remodel pics.

A quick recap with images.  Click on them to view large.
Before & After sink
Before & After of the sink.

Before & After bath
Before & After

Sink progress
A closer look at the sink.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Art Crush: Takanori Aiba

Takanori Aiba
This is work from artist Takanori Aiba, my new art crush!  I'm going to write, "Mrs. Diem Aiba" all over my notebook! LOL just kidding!
The amazing detail just blows me away and I love his sense of wonderment.  Masterfully crafted... I just want to sit there and stare at it. 

Takanori Aiba
Another shot without the glass dome.  These are not my pictures. 

Belated New House Followup Part 2

Most of the house looked like this when we bought it.  I believe the previous owner was in the middle of a remodel and ran short on funds?  But later on we found out he had been living here for 15 years.  I think scared off most of the buyers.  We've done a little dry-walling here and there but this job was way over our heads.  We hired a contractor to finish the job.
The picture above is of the attic/upstairs bedroom.  For an attic space it's very roomy, the center is regular ceiling height, about 7'8"- 8' and it slopes to about 4'6" on the sides.

Attic bedroom
Halfway there:
We're still not completely done with the bedroom.  This was a couple of weeks before we moved in.  The drywall was on, electrical finished and some closet space had been framed out.  Our contractor installed bamboo flooring and new windows as well.
I will try to update this post with some finished bedroom pics...  it's a huge mess right now!  We also have a little things to do here and there. 

Main Floor Bedroom
This is the downstairs office/den space.  It used to be a TINY bedroom, about 6'x8' with a closet.  The previous owner had removed the wall and door to this room making it more of an open walk through space.  There's a lot of natural lighting throughout this house, which is very important with our gloomy NW weather. We keep our elliptical machine here along with my paper and fabric storage. 

Halfway there:
This is a shot with the drywall installed and floors getting ready to be sanded.  We worked with Doug of Restoration Hardwood Floors.  He did an excellent job and was willing to work with us on our tight schedule. I will update this with a finished shot as well.  I was hoping to get pics of the house before we moved in so I can show you the work without our stuff in the way.  But that never happened, we still had lingering projects even months after we moved in. 

This is the kitchen before, Ikea cabinets, an old stove, fridge and dishwasher.  Pretty barren, but I guess a single guy lived here.  It seemed like a single guy type kitchen, he did have a lot of spices and energy drink mixes. :P

Kitchen looking the other way.  Notice the big hole in the wall by the fridge.  That used to be the chimney for the furnace?  We tore all of the cabinets out, patched the holes and added more cabinet space.  I reused the Ikea parts, we just bought new facing for them... why waste?

Torn up Kitchen
Right around here is when I'm REALLY HAPPY I'm not doing the job!  This is a pic of the floor guys making patches.  The wall is ripped up for plumbing.

Ikea Kitchen
Here it is mostly done.  This was taken a few weeks after we moved in, still messy from other projects around the house.  The Ikea cabinets are OK, I hate seeing the gaps between the cabinet doors.  They are very functional, customizable and budget friendly.  We still have to replace the old single pane windows... so I can't take any finished shots yet.  This house was a lot of work, but we're happy with it. 

Tomorrow the bathroom! 

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Belated Followup On The New House

As you guys have read on my previous post we're planning to build a studio in the back yard.  I thought I would do some catch-up work on blogging about this new "old" house of ours.  Here's a quick walk through of what my husband and I have done in the last year, with the help of our contractor!

Living Room
The living room when we bought it.  The house was built in 1926?  I believe they did a remodel in the 40's and covered the porch and expanded the living room.  I really like the ceiling detail.  That's Guy abut to jump on the couch and roll around, I couldn't get to him fast enough to stop him.

Living Room 2
My immediate response was to rip up the carpeting.  I despise carpeting, it's so hard to keep clean and horrible for allergies.  Luckily there was fir flooring underneath.  I LOVE fir, it a wood indicative to  the northwest and it has such a nice warm red.  In hind-sight I would have probably re-floored with bamboo.  The floors have been refinished many times and some of the boards are loose.  I didn't want to send this floor to the landfill if it's still serviceable.   Maybe in another 5-10 years we'll put in bamboo.  The good news is, if robbers ever try to break in we'll hear them squeaking before they even set foot in the door! 

I couldn't find any completed flooring shots without all of our stuff in it.  The move-in and remodel schedule was crazy, it was a mad rush... I hardly remember what happened in those weeks.  The living room has shifted a little since this picture was take, but you get the idea of the clutter I'm working with!  This is why I need a studio space.  Although it's not that bad,  20% of that mess had to do with the move and remodel.  Things are much more organized now.

Dinning Room
This was the dining room when we bought it.  A very cozy space, but the paint color and curtains were too dark.  I like a lot of light.

Dining Room
We didn't do much to this space other than repaint and refinish the floors.

The Ex Dinning Room
This is the space now... lots of light, new paint, built in shelves for my books.

Where they live
This is the shelving system I have for my books.  I really like how customizable it can be and moving is a cinch, no need to haul around huge book shelves.  They do require a lot of patching and painting to the wall when you move out.  You can get the hardware system at any home improvement store.  There are rails that screw into the wall and brackets that go into the rails. The shelves are just planks of pine, edged with fir.  I've had these shelves for over 6 years and I'm never going back to having bookcases.  Yes I'm still hang onto paper media.  We have an e-reader but I still like to touch books, especially reference books.
Kitchen, bathroom and more in the next post!

Studio Dreaming

Ivy Shed
I've been day dreaming about building my very own backyard studio.  I've been working from home since 2005 or 2006.  It was just too cost prohibitive to rent a studio when I had no stable income from my art.  I felt like I was just pouring money down the drain.  The above picture is the work of Scott Lewis Landscape Architecture.  It's one of the many inspirational images I've been looking at.  I found it through s blog

Working from home has it's constraints, but it also provides me with a lot of conveniences.  I can work anytime I want to, there's no travel time and I can make a sandwich when I'm hungry!  I mostly work on my dining table or I spread everything out in the living room.  The downside is that I would need to clean up my work space when I have company over, disrupting my flow.  I also get really frustrated at what a huge mess I live in.  It's a constant fight trying to manage the clutter.  My main reason for working from home is to save up money to build a studio.  It has taken years, who knows, it still might take a few more... but at least the planning process has started.

Cabana w/ Decking
Last year we bought our first home with a big yard that's big enough for a proper studio!  I thought it would take a few years of saving up before we could afford to build something, but while cruising Craigslist for a garden shed I saw and ad for the Mighty Cabana!  It's a shed, uninsulated shell, that comes as a kit and you put it together.  There are several sizes... I love the design, great big windows, high ceilings and the price is right.  A 12'x16' cabana kit costs $7520.00, a very reasonable price.  The picture above is what it looks like.

I'm very excited about this design, the company also has insulation upgrades.  There are lots of options to switch things around or upgrade features.  I've talked with the company and they seem like nice folks.  They also connected us with with a past client to get some feedback.  My husband and I are going to visit their client's Cabana this weekend!

I don't know if I'm getting ahead of myself.  I'm trying to not get too excited... There are many concerns and questions still out there.  How is the quality of the building... although it's a kit we're probably going to pay them to put it up.  I don't see a lot of reviews about the company online.  What permits do we need?  Do we have enough money this year?  The headache and excitement builds...

Cabana Interior
Here is an interior shot.  The kit that we're looking at purchasing is 12'x16'.  It has a slant roof, the lower back half has a ceiling height of about 7'8".  The higher front has a ceiling height of about 12'!  The estimate we got with additional insulation (floor, ceiling walls to R13) and a metal roof brings the price tag to about $9000.  Construction costs would be extra.  With our damp weather this will go on pier blocks. 
I'll definitely post updates on the process if we end up building this cabana.  I'll also give you guys a breakdown of costs and what options we went for.