CACTI

September 15th, 2011

My cacti are all screwed up.

I hate plants.

How is it possible to constantly kill every living thing that comes into this house? Finally got a fiddle leaf fig tree – immediately dead. My terrariums? Mostly dead. My sansevieria? Dead. You see – everything living is dead.

Well, except for these two.

They’re OK.

But seriously, screw you cacti. Please stop suddenly drooping and turning brown and being all temperamental.

What’s wrong with you? Depressed? Thirsty? Bored? You got fungus? I neglected you like the instructions said to. We live in the damn desert – this is your home! YOU COME FROM HERE. You should be loving this.

I give up on cacti and plants and greenery in general (even though I’ve always dreamt that the house would be filled up with sculptural plants). They just keep committing suicide…or I’m murdering them. It’s a 50/50 chance.

DAMMIT.

In my plant fantasy, I imagine my cacti reaching the sort of grand heights and mythic health that Maurizio Zucchi’s have. This is ‘effing plant pornography. These pictures are mocking me and my stupid plant failure. Also, that entire interior? You know, pretty much PERFECTION on every single level. Dammit.

(you’ve probably seen these images from Ideat Magazine-June 2011 via iiiinspired).

Mocking me.

Bastards.

FIREPLACE

September 13th, 2011

A little while back Laure and I went through her storage and pulled out a few portfolios filled with large scale photos she had taken during art school. We framed one great landscape for her bedroom and it looked so crazy amazing that she graciously let me borrow this softly colored desk shot so I could have a big ‘ol framed photo as well.

I hung it and looked at it and then texted her a picture of everything installed.

While it’s a great piece, we both agreed that it was being completely overpowered by the fireplace. Off to another spot with you!

The area above the fireplace has been an ongoing struggle, with many unsatisfactory incarnations including these – HEREHERE - HERE.

The problem is scale.

Our ceilings are a standard 8′ tall, but the fireplace rides pretty high on the wall allowing for a mere 37″ of white space above the mantel. Two thin windows flank the fireplace on either side and their top moldings create a weird invisible horizontal line across the wall. When anything hangs near or above this strange visual trickery the ceiling begins to feel really low, while conversely, the art appears to be hung way too high.

Then there’s that mantel.

Blech.

Overly fussy and completely under-scaled, this has been one of those “I’ll get to it projects” that never seemed to be gotten to. All I’ve ever imagined doing was installing a simple but chunkier wood mantel over the top of this thing. Something boxy, something easy to build, something budget friendly.

Excuse my terrible photoshopping, but a solution as simple as this uncomplicated wood box would be better scaled and suited for the fireplace mantle, easily constructed and pretty cheap materials-wise.

Screw it. Why not go all change crazy and paint the brick a lighter color like a soft gray/almost white. Or go slightly less nuttier and paint the thing a true black.

(I’m leaning lighter – if for no other reason than to shake things up)

Over the mantle art-wise is still an issue. I’ve hunted for the perfect long and lean piece to snuggle up into that strangely proportioned spot and have come up with ZERO things after almost four years of searching. Time to DIY.

Surprise surprise. I can’t afford a Stella or a Judd or any blue chippy art. I mean, I wish I could – that would be INCREDIBLE – but I can’t even find an affordable no-name modernist abstract painting or mid century fiber art wall hanging, let alone ANYTHING that’s both famous and super long and lean.

Making some fauxart has long been a noodle in my brain (and something I have done before). Why not. Faking it is fun.

I’ve been mocking up a few different (easily made) options – but SHOCKER – this long/thin composition isn’t widely popular with artists whose work I dig. Or really any artists. ‘Cause it’s weird.

Firstly, a fake Ed Ruscha, well actually it’s from his art book THEN & NOW. I don’t know, it’s not a favorite – I just always liked that project and this typography. Plus this would be so easy to make.

Next idea was a fake Matthew Brannon. I always liked his larger scale installations – like the Whitney limply coiled eel, a reoccurring motif in his work. It’s the right scale and I love an eel.

Otherwise, most of the artist’s work that I love looks awkward as hell squished into a format like this or is too labor intensive for my quick and dirty faker style. I though I could pretty easily pull-off something text based like a Weiner or a Holzer or a Shrigley or a Nauman or even a Baldessari – but nothing felt quite right (even though I love me some Weiner).

I’ll always remember this story a teacher once told me about going to another rather famous artists studio. He was admiring all the Jasper Johns and Warhols (or things equally blue chippy) and asked about the pieces. “Oh those? They’re all fakes – I just made them. Come on, I can’t afford that shit.”

Mantel first, forgery later, methinks.

THRIFTY!

September 6th, 2011

I still thrift. All the time. I swear.

It’s been about three months since any thrifty action has seen this blog.

BUT, the master bedroom has been begging me for a tall dresser for months now. Finding the right piece has been wickedly difficult considering it had to be both the right scale and cost. Guideline-wise, it had to be vintage (DUH) with a basic no-fuss design that slanted Danish. The curse of thrift shopping  is: if you’re needing something specific, you’re never going to find it.

I gave up hope, getting by with the wrong credenza in the meantime. Recently, during some local thrifting rounds, I spotted a complete bedroom set that included this simple but incredibly dry looking highboy. In it’s entirety, the set appeared abused and neglected for the last sixty year and cried out for the old vintage wood regimen. Luckily, the set was being sold piecemeal, making it easy to grab the highboy and nightstands and jet off.

Not to digress, but when I’m thrifting with folks or get emails from folks with thrifting dilemmas, their biggest challenge is usually just looking past the ugly florescent lights, piles of garbage and disorderliness of the place to spot potential. This dresser looked so depressing, so cheap and soooo gross in the store, but wood – good wood? Wood loves to be prettied up and treated right.

Spending the time and putting in the effort of sanding everything with fine steel wool, slopping on a couple coats of Danish oil and hand rubbing a final finish of Howards Feed N’ Wax, returns the luster and richness to wood that appeared derelict and shabby at best.

Of course this dresser is still vintage.

Over the last sixty years it’s been used and misused. Vintage wear and tear goes with the thrifty territory, but I prefer to live with furniture that’s been well used and developed an understandable patina. This way, instead of fearfully living with a perfect museum piece, you can knock stuff around and use pieces day in and day out without getting heartbroken if something gets dinged or nicked.

Case in point, the left side of the dresser has a large gouge from a careless handler dragging against something pointy. Sometimes, you can’t sand down very far when attempting to remove a big gouge. Most vintage furniture is finished with veneer, and that veneer is usually too thin to handle aggressive sanding.

In this situation, instead of freaking out and throwing every fill and repair trick at the damage (to just have the scratch continue to show up), a basic oiling helps minimize most of the damage. Vintage actually looking vintage is fine by me.

For most of the restoration, I didn’t spot markings that could help determine the dresser’s provenance. Not till after futzing with the base did this little blue MADE IN SWEDEN stamp pop up. At this point, I had pretty much assumed the set must have been American made and designed by some company in the states.

Those sneaky Swedes. Being all coy about marking stuff.

BEFORE & AFTER

Hey now.

Sexy time.

Of course this looks stunning framed by the weed infested backyard.

BUT…

Perfect-o for the bedroom.