Feb 6 2013

New Hobby

I have a terrible habit of acquiring hobbies, each of which becomes a bit of an obsession, and my latest is no exception.



This dollhouse was a present to my grandmother in the late 1980s, and was met at first with grumpiness from my grandfather who thought it was too big, and it’s not like hobbies were in short supply for my grams either (yes, it’s a family trait)  However, in no time we found him spending hour after hour in their basement, the dollhouse becoming as much his hobby as hers, and eventually leading to a tripling in size of the original kit.  The arrival of the dollhouse coincided with his retirement, and the combination was a perfect fit.  The kit portion was the left hand side up to the tower.  The entire portion to the right of the tower was an addition designed and executed by my gramps.

The house was electrified and fully finished, with wood floors, working windows, and wallpaper in every room.  Unfortunately, the combination of time and a somewhat damp basement led to many repairs being needed. After a stay with my sister who began the process of removing damaged wood and starting the redo and update of the electrical, I have inherited the house and continued its rehab.

The first project I tackled was to reclaim as much of the oak flooring as possible and use it to redo the wraparound porch.  The porch was stripped, and oak planks were fitted and laid down one at a time, stained, varnished, and trimmed with quarter round and maple cap trim along the front edge.  The same stain was used on some of the exterior details, such as the shutters and railings, giving a bit more contrast to the exterior.




As my wonderful sister has pointed out, this latest hobby is either perfect for me, or truly dangerous.  It feeds all of those perfectionist tendencies, takes countless hours of creating, and has no end in sight…  I’m going with “perfect” for me.


Sep 30 2011

Autumn is here?!

It’s amazing how quickly the end of summer went by; full of art shows, family, and project after project partially crossed off the to-do list.  Now as I sit here sipping a warm latte at my favorite cafe with the wind and rain outside making it clear that summer is over I realize that the busy holiday season is going to be here before I know it.  Halloween is just around the corner, and with it come pumpkins and frankenbots and ghosts.  I’ll be making lots of new work in the upcoming weeks, and soon you’ll be able to find them in my etsy shop, so stay tuned!

Feb 10 2011

Card Catalog Time Travel

Thanks to the U of M selling off their remaining card catalogs, I have a genuine (huge and heavy) piece of history in my studio.  There are 4 drawers of science, two more of science fiction, 6 drawers of sculpture, and everything else between science and sw.  My intent is to use the 96 drawers for art supply storage…. so far I have emptied out less than a dozen.  The cards are being put to good use, as tags, thank you cards, signage at my art show booths, and paper crafting supplies.

Late last night I opened another drawer and began flipping through, getting lost in another world.  The titles and dates alone were fascinating.  One in particular, “A Scripture-Line of Time” written by Beverly Thomas in 1684 made me want to dig deeper.  Over 300 years ago, people were already trying to reconcile what science was teaching us with what they wanted to believe.

Of course, after showing my ulotrichous the card, he stated the obvious – let’s see if we can find the book!… and here it is, digitized by google from the U of M collection.  Ain’t technology great?

Mar 20 2010

As the Walls Go Up

Picking up where we left off:   we have the foundation of a better studio, and now it’s time for walls.  Most days I woke to the sound of builders building, each day adding a wall, putting in a big beam, or making holes for windows.  Watching the process was fascinating, our drawings coming to life.  At this point, I think the photos will tell a better story than words, so drumroll please…..

our first wall! a building with walls and stairs and, well, not everything yet.

So that’s it!  At least from the outside, minus a couple finishing details (the balcony railing and decking).  As you can see, the studio has been an adventure from short sleeves to winter coats.  And although not quite done yet, I’ve moved in and begun the exciting task of organizing and setting up my space.  Check back again soon to see the inside.  It’s like my own (not so) little tree house!

Mar 9 2010

Chapter 2- Foundation for a Better Studio

Now that you are a little acquainted with the back story, let’s continue on.  It was the summer of 2008…

As I admitted in my previous post, instead of DIY, our studio was going to be DIYWLALOWFOWC.  For those not in the know, that stands for do-it-yourself-with-lots-and-lots-of-work-for-our-wonderful-contractor.  (As a side note, if you are anywhere near the Ann Arbor or Toledo areas, hire Peter J. Kane.  You will not regret it.)  In July of 2008 our shed came down, and the project sort of officially started.

The more we thought about what we wanted to do next, the more we realized that we wanted some professional advice to minimize those “oh I wish we thought about that” moments after the money was spent.  With my husband’s work at the Ann Arbor District Library, he went to the architect who designed two of the libraries new branches, Carl Luckenbach for advice.  Looking for a suggestion as to who we should go to, imagine our surprise and delight when they took the (incredibly small scale compared to their normal work) job!!  Let’s see, we said we wanted a two car garage, with “geek room” in the back, with stairs to the studio above, lots of natural light, a modern look, and a site plan that would best use the land we had and tie in with our existing home.  Check, check, check, check, check, and check!

And now on to the exciting part.  We broke ground in the spring of 2009.

So that’s it!  It’s mid summer, our hands are sore from check writing already, and we have a little more firsthand experience with the slow bureaucracy of city government than we would like, but it is more than worth it. Our dream is becoming reality, and just standing in the dirt gives us goosebumps.

Check back soon for the next installment:  As the Walls Go Up.

Feb 8 2010

What’s all this talk of a new studio?!

There are no signs of autumn.  In fact, there aren’t that many signs of winter right now other than the cold, and snow from a recent storm that posed the all important question:  should I leave the dog poo because it’ll all be buried again soon anyway, or does that mean I should go chisel it out of my yard so it doesn’t all get buried only to be rediscovered when the snow melts?

Ahem, so on to what I was going to share with you… the studio project.  For those who follow me on twitter or facebook, you’ve probably been wondering…. where are the pictures?!  Well, the long wait is over, but like any storyteller, I wouldn’t want to reveal everything at once.  I’ll start at the beginning, and maybe string you along for a little bit.  Spoiler alert, it’s a happy ending.

Chapter 1: the Beginnings

We have been in our Ann Arbor home since the summer of 1999, and when we bought this fixer upper there was an interesting (ramshackle) garage on our property.  The wood was rotting, the roof leaked and was more than a little in need of reinforcement, oh, and you couldn’t get a car in without scraping off the entire bottom.  It was all good though.  Over the years it held our yard tools, bikes, home improvement yuk between trips to the dump, and each winter this endearingly decrepit structure became home to some fortunate wild animal.  Every year was going to be the year it collapsed, every heavy storm brought with it the thought that we would have a good excuse to build our studio.  And then, a decade later, the shed was still standing.

Time to take matters in to our own hands (or that of our wonderful contractor, since, over the course of those 10 years, we also found that diy is not all it’s cracked up to be.)

In memorium, the Shed ?-July 2009.  RIP.

And so the digging began.  Oh, wait!  Pictures!

What?  You were expecting to see my new studio?  Patience, my fine feathered (or not, I do not discriminate) friends.  Come back for Chapter 2 – The Foundation for a Better Studio.