Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Transformation - a Victorian Bedroom

My project this week is repairing wall cracks and skim coat plaster in the north bedroom. Here are some recent before and after photos. This is a large 17 x 13.5 north facing upstairs bedroom--which is not quite so private. The bedroom is street side.

The little round holes you see in the walls between the windows are ports where insulation was blown into the walls. The house is well insulated now, and new storms and screens added in October 2007. We heat with wood, and have a backup natural gas furnace. When the wood fire dies out each morning--the natural gas furnace kicks in. The upstairs is actually warm and comfortable in the winter.
Last night I photographed the three north facing windows. It gives you an idea of what the first the wall crack repair and first skim coat of plaster looks like. The new ceiling dry wall was installed first. Durabond and web tape to cover insulation port holes and every hairline wall crack, then allowed to dry thoroughly--then spits of durabond crumbs are scraped clean from the walls. A day later the skim coat plastering begins, then sanding, then a second coat of hand troweled plaster, and more sanding.
The bedroom entrance door is shown here. To the left of the door you can see the southwest corner of the room where there is a half chimney--noted by the hole in the wall where a wood burning heating stove once sat.

Here's yesterday's photo, showing crack repairs, half chimney hole patched a couple of times, and first skim coat of plaster.
Today I'm on the ladder with a mask scraping plaster spits and ridges of plaster from the walls, then and a light sanding, and ready for the second skim coat of plaster. Jon said he'd come help me today, and plaster the nail holes in the new drywall ceiling, and second sanding of taped joints.
I'd like to finished the wall and ceiling plaster this week and prime the ceiling and walls with Zinzer 1-2-3 before the weekend. Wish me luck. I'm almost 60 years old, and my oh my--going up and down the ladder really bothers my left hip.
Here are more before and after "work in progress" of the northeast corner (same view).
The plastering and sanding work is relaxing to me and gives me time to think about a wall color for the room.
Right now, I'm lost--I just can't settle on a color. I think what I need to do is take a "road trip" to find a bolt of drapery fabric to dress the 3 windows. Most of the time I find fabric first, then the wall color seems to fall into place.
I'm open to comments about color for the room. Any suggestions? Remember this--in the evening you'll be able to see the room color prominently from the street. My dining room is red, and from the street in the evening, it casts a beautiful warm glow. I'm leaning toward repeating the red dining room color in the bedroom. But, I'm afraid my Mom will make a comment about "red light district". Ha. Ha.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Our Christmas Story (True Story)

Hi friends. Linda here. I want to tell you about our strange and wonderful Christmas almost 40 years ago. Every year I think about Christmas 1970. It was the year my16 year old brother Jamie died in an auto accident almost two months before Christmas. We were trying our best to get through Christmas, then there was a miracle.

There was a family--the Porterfields--who were having a tough Christmas too. We learned their father was in the hospital and their situation suddenly felt as sad as our own. Through tears, my mother Lorraine and father Gale boxed up Jamie's clothes to give to the Porterfields who had boys about my brother's age.

Then, my mother had an idea! She decided we'd go get groceries for us and the Porterfields. Mom filled two carts with identical items for a great Christmas dinner. After we loaded the station wagon with groceries we ran over to Walgreens and purchased toys and gifts, wrapping paper, bows, scissors, and tape. We wrapped gifts as fast as we could in the station wagon, because the sun was starting to fade.

It was dark outside when we arrived at the Porterfield's house, and we were suddenly struck with stage fright. How would we approach the house? What would we say? We'd had such a fun day shopping for groceries and gifts. The day was joyful and a welcomed departure from the grief of the last 6 weeks. Finally, I volunteered to go up to the house and knock on the door.

Sweet Mrs. Porterfield greeted me at the door. I told her who I was, and I explained we'd lost our brother recently, and we were having a difficult time. I told her we brought Jamie's clothes for her boys, and if she would do us the honor of accepting some treats for Christmas. She smiled just like Donna Reed, and said yes, of course--please come in. I waived and smiled to the rest of our family sitting in the station wagon. My family emerged from the car, single file, each one carrying gifts and groceries up to the house.

Mrs. Porterfield made coffee in the kitchen, and then she took out a kitchen chair and climbed up and reached high up in the kitchen cabinet. There, she produced a plate of cookies--obviously ones she'd made and saving for her family for Christmas.

I know, I know. We put Mrs. Porterfield on the spot. But, how wonderful of her to see past all of our fumbling words and good intentions bringing gifts. Thank you Mrs. Porterfield. Thank you for helping us get through Christmas. I think about you and your family every Christmas.

The Miracle:
After Jamie died, after our first Christmas without Jamie, my mother decided she'd donate a Christmas tree to the church each year, and bake cookies, and host a tree trimming party for the youth group. My mother repeated this Christmas party in memory of Jamie for 20 years. Then my Mom started having trouble with her heart. She said she'd prayed and prayed for a sign that it was ok to give up the "20 year tradition of Christmas tree trimming party". She simply couldn't do it anymore but felt guilty. Then . . . she got her sign.

Christmas Eve at Church
We had a visiting minister for Christmas Eve service. He began his sermon by telling a story of a family who suddenly lost their son in an accident just before Christmas. And in their grief they reached out to another family who was having a difficult Christmas as their father was in the hospital. At one point, the minister said, "it was their first Christmas without Jamie". We were shocked, just shocked.

I think everyone in our little church (our little own of 200 people) were shocked as this minister told "our Christmas story". He did not know our town! He did not know our family! Mom said at first she thought someone was playing a joke and she didn't appreciate it one bit. Then she said, I came to my senses sitting there in church and I smiled . . . I had the sign I was looking for.

In case you are wondering, because I sure was wondering . . . yes, some of the congregation told the minister that the story he spoke about happened right here in this town to a family sitting in the congretation. The minister couldn't believe it either . . . to him, it was just story he'd heard or read about.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Bird's Eye View of a Victorian Kitchen

Here is our kitchen. There are three doors in the kitchen To the left is the summer kitchen, and to the right is the dining room. I'm standing in the downstairs bathroom door adjacent to the kitchen. I've been standing on a ladder washing down wood work. I thought it was an interesting view, so I stopped to take a couple photographs.

Beside's being a Bird's Eye View of the Kitchen, it's also a Bat's Eye View of the Kitchen! Let me explain. Friday night we had a bat in the house, and Jon stood in the kitchen while the bat went round and round and round, and finally the broom caught up with the bat! We think the bat may have been in the Christmas tree we bought!

The doorway trim on the eight ft. high doors is original, and also this great hutch is original w/ original hardware. The drawers slide back and forth between the kitchen and the dining room.
DH Jon hates stainless steel, and he was dead set against a white kitchen, otherwise as he explained I could have anything I want when we built the kitchen. Hmmmmm, and I fell for that logic too. In the end I'm glad we followed Jon's idea for the warm cinnamon birch cabinets. Certainly easier to get past the everyday finger prints, that's for sure.

The kitchen is small 13' 8" by 15' 3". But it works well for us. The two-drawer dishwasher is excellent! Very convenient, and extremely quiet.

The drop leaf tall table serves double duty as a prep island. I want to comment about the paint color--its called Aged Photo. It is actually the color of coffee with a bit of cream. The photo makes its look like a mustard color--and that's a false read.

All the baseboards, door hardware and trim are all original 1893 throughout the house.

Here's another view of the original hutch--about 15" deep, plus the wall depth. There is another set doors on the dining room side.

Here are a couple of photographs without the flash and with the larger ceiling light "off".

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Shimmering Olive Green Tablescape in My Red Dining Room

It's Christmas. I'm decorating a bit here and there. The historical society is coming over Sunday for a party.
A couple of years ago I found this beautiful shimmering olive fabric. Last weekend I decided to make a table cloth out of it. I put the cloth on the table, making adjustments side to side, length to length, placed a few pins. Then I folded up the fabric and cut it with the cutting wheel and self healing board.

Next I grabbed the serger and serged the edges of the fabric. I flipped the serged edges and
sewed a simple stitch to finish the hem.
The leftover fabric I serged and hemmed also, and used it in the center of the table. The fabric front & back makes a nice two-toned effect.
I took down the autumn wreaths I was decorating with this fall, and re-used them in this tablescape. I placed my favorite four birdies on the table, and sprinkle the perimeter with jingle bells.
By the way, the only reason I remembered I had this shimmering olive fabric was---I ran across olive colored tapered candles in Kmart, and immediately thought of the fabric I had stashed. Ain't life fun?

The candelabra was a great find at Beth's--my favorite vintage shop in Auroraville, WI. It's a bit of a ways to drive--by my goodness--she's got neat stuff there. I'm going to get her to come over sometime and lay some of her decorating talent on my house--cause she's da bomb!

Pieces of China Inspire Me to Paint

I really love the transferware (birthday present to myself). Although I admit I use that line far too often. On the subject of transferware I don't know much about it, other than I like it. Mom gave me the beautiful amber colored candlesticks, and the vintage parrot bottle opener. I found the transfer ware at The Galesburg Antique's Mall. I especially like the teapot/cup container on the left.

Here's a little better view of the parrot--I think it belonged to Grandma Eva.
Pieces or parts of this will end up being subjects in a still life.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Progress on the Art Studio

I'm excited about the art studio--its coming right along. If you look on the left hand side you'll see a 12' section of stud wall that has no batting. The 12' wall will be removed next spring and an 8' x 12' dormer will be added. There will be a matching 8' x 12' dormer on the right as well.

We haven't quite made the decision yet between building an elevator, or building stairs to the studio. We'll see what happpens in the spring. In the meantime, we have a hole cut in the floor and access the studio with a ladder.

This weekend we insulated the ceiling, walls, and installed vapor barrier. Pictured here is my friend Pam, also an artist--who came to help us install insulation. Burrrrr, it was really cold here in Wisconsin today.

Later, Jon joined us, and the three of us finished the ceiling quickly. Jon stapled one side, Pam the other, and I was in the middle with the wide broom as the deadman, holding the batting up in place. We worked together like a three-piece suit.

White Rose

Here's a detail from one of my paintings . . . of white roses . . . I chose one single white rose in honor of our little baby love Mitchell who passed away Nov 25. He was two months old. My sister's first little grandbaby. My sister wrote, though his life was ever so short, he showed all of us what courage was . . . and he brought us together.

Painting: "The Violin" - from start to finish

These images are scans from photographs of a painting I did twenty five years ago. I moved to Wisconsin 27 years ago, so that's how I remember the age of the painting. I sold it to a couple who lives in Appleton, WI.
I thought you'd like to see how I start and finish a painting.

Cherries & Pears - Painting on Furniture

A number of years ago Jon and I built some tables - I had it in my mind to paint fruit on a couple of the tables. Here is the result. Cherries and Pears.

I didn't have anything to look at while painting the fruit--everything from memory, hence the reality that all the leaves end up looking the same. Nonetheless, I sold the table and enjoyed the experiment. My friend Pam bought the table. It is five ft. long, and 18 inches deep. A nice foyer table.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Vintage Pieces Found

The doilie is from my sister in law Robin's collection--a gift. The tissue box handpainted by my mother Lorraine. The rocks--picked up in our yard by my mother Lorraine--one rock had a perfect thumb print--making a great worry stone, and another rock shaped like a heart. The bell I found at an antiques shop in Poisippi, WI. I think you'll see some of these items in the future (painted in a still life).

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Building the Garage - Next: Wiring and Insulation

The windows and passage doors are installed. Waiting for more than a month for overhead doors to be installed (the only thing we contracted-out).
Looking at the north end of the studio, and below a view of the south end of the studio.

DH Jon installed a 6ft. wide balcony off the back of the south end of the studio and installed french doors. The air pulls nicely through the long room. If you can imagine, 8x 8' dormers will be installed on both sides of the long room.
Winter is closing in now, so Jon will wait until spring to add the dormers. In the meantime, we'll set the boxes, pull the wiring, and insulate the walls, up to the areas where the dormers will begin and end.

The balcony isn't huge, but big enough for a couple of chairs and a railing of course. Below is the view from the balcony.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Grandma Eva's Phone

This is my grandmother Eva's telephone. The phone sat on her desk in the hallway between the kitchen and living room. Her phone number was Dickens 35-123.

I remember one afternoon toward the end of her life. I listened while she dialed the Orpheum Theatre and asked for assistance when her car pulled up in front of the theatre in 15 minutes. I was driving her to see "Love Story". I knew there would be a long line, but grandma was way ahead of me--she had it all figured out.

Sure enough when we arrived at the theatre the usher walked up to my car, opened the door, and escorted grandma to her seat. I parked the car and returned to the theatre. Much to my surprise the usher was there waiting for me at the entrance. I had my money ready, and he handed me the ticket stubs. Then, he took me to my seat next to grandma. Wow, what service. The movie was great. We both cried.

P.S. - the beginner's spell book in the photograph is just a spoof, a prop I bought for Halloween decoration.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

More Paintings

This painting hangs in my dining room. I painted it in 1988. I remember working on it in my basement studio. Man that was a really small studio, but somehow we managed to squeeze-in 6 to 8 easels for students. My students were the greatest. So far, I guess I've only shown you still life paintings-but at my studio we painted a variety of subjects including landscapes, seascapes, wildlife, flowers . . . I remember each and everyone of my students and their beautiful work. Golly we had fun!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Looking At My Old Work

I found a photograph of an oil painting I did a million years ago. I have no idea when I painted it. Its called "Old Books" I told DH Jon this morning, I'm really getting excited about opening my art studio. I can't hardly wait until I get an opportunity to sit down again at the easel. That will be next year--as the studio is far from finished.

Its been more than 15 years since I taught oil painting or did any commission work. Nonetheless, I know I can still make the magic happen, and what I learned over the years didn't run out of the end of my toes.

My studio will officially open for classes in the spring of 2011. Won't you join me? If you've never painted but always wanted to learn, you'll have the time of your life at my studio. I guarantee it!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Living Through A Whole House Restoration

We are into our third year of restoration. I've shown you photos of family members who gave a helping hand during our journey. And now, I've decided to include a photo of me, working on the old Victorian. Usually, I'm the camera man. I've taken hundreds of before and after photos of our journey into restoration land. This house and our work is a dream come true.

When we made our first "walk-thru" in the house, I sure didn't think it would take this long to bring this old house around. However, I'm glad it is taking some time. Along the way I've had a chance to research the two families who lived here before us, and the stories are remarkable and inspire us to continue. Each year I proclaim we'll have this wrapped up in one more year, then the year comes and goes. We make progress, but move at a snail's pace on most projects. If you love old houses like we do, you'll understand how we feel. We are the custodians of the Wrolstad-Quien home. It is an honor to work on this house.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Happy Halloween - Decorating

While treasure hunting, I found some wire mesh hanging baskets to recycle. I turned the cone shaped baskets upside down, and positioned halloween masks. I'll add some mini lights this evening. In the mix of things is a garden porcelain pan (not really cleaned since gathering the last of the tomatoes, green peppers from the garden). Jon harvested two wheelbarrows of squash: butter nut, acorn, and hubbard.
Below is the mail box at the east porch (summer kitchen door). I've had it for many years, and it was found in the garage at my parent's home. I don't know its origin (what ancester had it on their house). The squares design appears on the reproduction hardware in my kitchen. I've repeated the design in the kitchen cabinet glass panels.
Wreaths are usually expensive. But in this case I made 3 of them on the cheap. I found two flower bouquets and cut the bouquets apart, rewired flowers and leaves to inexpensive ready to decorate wreaths. A nice wreath at each of the 3 entrances for about $10 each.

Dad and Mom both worked on their share of screen doors for this old house. I believe Dad worked on the one shown here. Afterwards, he installed new black screening. Doesn't look like a 116 year old door, does it? But, it is!
Above is the east entrance (summer kitchen door). Jon rebuilt the railing July '09. Right now, I have a tub of spindles for the front porch--salvaging them to rebuild and reassemble for the front of the house.
The tub of spindles (about 3-4 dozen) Mom and I picked off aligatored paint, repaired and sanded while she was here in September for a week. Some of the spindles Jon used chemical stripper.
Some of the spindles we pieced back together with carpenter's wood glue. It worked very well. Quite a few spindles I dug out soft wafer like wood from the top of the bulb of the spindle. Carefully I added wood filler and allowed to dry. Then again, add more wood filler until the bulb was rounded, then lots of hand sanding to smooth. This activity in September resulted in a sprained thumb for me. It is still sore as heck.
Jon's cousin Lloyd shaped (milled) the two piece horizontal railings, and the remaining straight pieces are 2 x 2. We're leaving the step railing as is--because its probably been there for the last 50 years--works just fine--and no particular need to deconstruct it.

Above is a wooden box Jon found in the barn. It says, Scandinavia Co-Op Mercantile Co., Scandinavia, WI. (That's our little town, population 350). Also pictured is Jon's favorite brown rocking chair--picked up at an auction for $30. I recovered the cushion with some colored indian corn chaneille fabric.

Building the Two Story Garage - more photos

Jon had some help yesterday from Eric. They positioned and secured the rafters for the second story roof. This morning Jon lifted the 4 x 8 sheets of OSB sheeting to the rafters.
I journeyed to the back of the garage and climbed up the ladder to snap a photo of the second floor studio.

Above is a view of the roughed in studio. In the middle of the 12 x 48' studio will be a five foot corridor to the right, and opening for the stairs to the left of the corridor. The stairs will reach the second floor by means of a west end dormer (not yet built). The dormer second floor landing will make a "u" turn and enter the upstairs studio. There will be a matching east dormer at the five foot corridor. I can see it in my mind, however, it will be next spring before the dormers are built. Winter is coming on too fast, and Jon is conscentrating on getting the roof on, windows and doors installed, and wrap second floor with Tyvek.

Jon lifts OSB sheets to roof line to install.

Jon putting bucket in position near the roof line to unload the OSB sheet.

At the base of the bucket you can see the brackets Jon welded to hold the OSB boards while making the lift.
He slides the sheet into position. After the first lift, Jon came into the house for a break, and said he's decided to change his approach on positioning OSB board.