Showing posts from January, 2014

Needed: A Pep Talk, A Hug, and A Beer.

... not how things look at our house I'm taking a quick break from working on our bathroom, to eat a bite of lunch, and to send out a plea for a positive word. Our dear friend Erica arrives for a week-long visit tonight.  Robb and I have been trying to get our bathroom tidied, but even after a week with my head wedged beside the toilet, I don't think it looks appreciably better.  It looks different, sure.  Instead of looking like a wreck, it looks like a construction site. Today is about the prettiest day imaginable, and I've spent the entire time in the bathroom. Please send sympathy, and beer.

Off Colored Joke

I wish you all were my neighbors do that I could invite you over. I'd serve you a tasty beverage, and then we would all cram into my bathroom to laugh at the horribly, terribly wrong color I picked for the tileboard.  Thank goodness we only painted the door, before coming to our senses.  The door, for those wondering, is the color of radioactive salmon flesh. 

At Work, and At Home...

... At home, I'm trying to make old construction look a bit fresher.  I'm still slogging away at the tile-resurfacing project.  It's slow going because the tape cannot be applied to wet surfaces.  I've been listening to a lot of podcasts, because the work can be a bit mind-numbing. And meanwhile, at work, we're finding ways to make brand new construction look historic.  This is meant to represent and exploded view of an interior of a two story New Orleans home, dating from the 1830s.  It's hard to see in this photograph, but we've done all sorts of scenic paint tricks to get the house to look "lived in" rather than looking like some scenery that was just installed onstage last week. This show will travel to Yale Rep later in the year, so if you happen to be in New Haven you can see it then. It all seems very Sisyphean to me: making old stuff look new at home, and making new stuff look old at work. 

Re-Surfacing Plaster Tile Board

... I don't think my previous photos really showed the condition of the plaster tile board in our bathroom.  Most of it is in remarkably good condition.  But the parts that are bad, are really bad. Luckily, I have a lot of experience repairing this sort of thing. I'm taping around individual "tiles" so as to maintain the grooves in the plaster that represents "grout line."  Then I'm applying an ever-so-thin coating of schmoo, which is a mixture made of joint compound, white latex paint, and white glue.  I'm smoothing it on with a rubbery kitchen spatula. It's not difficult work. But it can be a bit tedious.  Because of the need to mask, I can't do all of the wall in one pass.  And, of course, I have to wait for each section to dry before I can stick masking tape on it. Robb and I can't believe we put up with the squalor in our bathroom for so long.  And, of course, things look way worse now than when we started.

Meanwhile, Back in the Bathroom...

... After a weekend of scraping Robb and I have gotten most of the scabby paint off of our walls.  I hate to think how many hours I spent, picking paint out of the sculpted spaces between our plaster "tiles."  If I hadn't become an artist, I might have made a career as a dental hygienist.  Or art conservator.  Or something. The next phase of the project is patching the plaster "tiles" that have been damaged.  I'm using a mixture that I affectionately call "schmoo."  We use a variety of schmoos in scenic painting, to create or eradicate textures.  In this case, I'm using a recipe of joint compound, white latex paint, and flexible white glue.  I'm taping off individual tiles, and applying the schmoo with a soft kitchen spatula.  I'm applying an incredibly thin layer, as smoothly as I can manage.  Robb will sand my repaired tiles tomorrow while I'm at work, and hopefully this layer of schmoo will go a long way tow

Orchard Invitation -- Scion Exchange!

.... If you live in the Bay Area, and are interested in growing backyard fruit, you should join me next Saturday at the California Rare Fruit Growers annual Scion Exchange .  There will be classes on grafting fruit trees, and more varieties of graft-able fruitwood than you could possibly imagine. The goal of the Scion Exchange are twofold.  First, people generously share favorite, locally grown fruit with interested neighbors.  Secondly, rare fruits are kept in production, hopefully saving them from extinction. Generosity and conservation.  What could be more noble than that? It only costs four bucks, and it might just improve your opinion of humans.  Saturday, January 18, 2014 12 noon to 3:00 PM Ed Roberts Campus, 3075 Adeline Street, in Berkeley located next to the Ashby BART station

The "Kill Me, Now" Phase of a Project...

... Spending a beautiful Saturday with one's body wedged under a bathtub, scraping away disgusting old paint can be a slog. Likewise, scraping paint from the wall behind the toilet Robb and I have scraped off two particularly revolting layers of peeling pink paint, as well as extremely tenacious brick red and dark brown.  The trick is to keep the final tan layer as intact as possible, because directly under that is the delicate plaster "tile" which is easily damaged. This is dirty, unpleasant work.  We're trying to keep a good attitude, and reminding ourselves how much better things will look when we're done. Trying, but not always succeeding.

Just call me "Grace."

... Regular blog readers know that I manage a large theatrical scene-painting studio.  We paint massive scenery, and to keep projects flowing, we try to have everything on wheels.  Work tables are on wheels, and we use all manner of rolling storage carts, and dollies.  The other day, Gena got the idea to set up her chair on top of a rolling furniture-mover's dolly.  I saw the stool balanced on top of the dolly, and promptly vetoed her innovation, because balancing an already rickety chair on a small wheeled platform seemed like a recipe for disaster.  (What I did not do was return the dolly to its storage rack -- also on wheels -- in the adjoining room.) The studio, being housed in a large cinder-block room, "eats" sound.  If I'm not pointing my face directly at the person I'm trying to talk to, there's not a chance they'll hear what I'm telling them. So yesterday, I was talking to Gena, telling her what we needed to to before the end of the d

New Year's Day: Face Down, On The Bathroom Floor.

... I'm not a superstitious person, but I do have this idea that whatever one does on New Year's Day sets the tone for the rest of the year. Last year, I barely celebrated New Year's Eve, because I had to go into work at 8am, to work on a show that we'd all fallen out of love with.  I have a particular memory of spending far too much time shinnied up a telephone pole laboriously sanding down the wood, so that the actor who would be climbing that pole wouldn't get splinters.  Yup. This year, I spent the better part of New Year's Day with my face on the bathroom floor, scraping paint off of our 1925 plaster tile-board.  And you know what?  I was really happy to be doing it. We're removing a terrible layer of peeling pink latex paint. Under that are various layers of oil paint -- more pink, then brick red, then dark green.  Finally there's a very strong layer of tan paint, and under that is the plaster tile board.  We're trying to end ou

plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose

... It's New Year's Day, and I'm spending the morning on the bathroom floor with my head wedged under the sink. Seems like old times, doesn't it? I'm restoring my vintage bathroom.  What did you think I was talking about?   Geez.  What a bunch of weirdos you all are.....