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Archive for August, 2014

We get a wide range of art coming in. Some are easy enough to judge,
painting in terms of what they are and relative value while others are more of a challenge. This watercolour has turned out to be one of the most frustrating. Mother found it, terribly badly framed, with no information on it at all. I took it out of it’s acidic mats and ugly frame, hoping to find out more. Taking the mat off revealed a signature, and also showed that it had been glued down to it’s backing board. (*shudders* terrible thing, done in the style of about 100 years ago) I had hoped that knowing the signature would help me find out about the artist, since I find it hard to believe that someone who was working at this level isn’t “known”. Even with the signature, I have yet to be able to find out anything about the artist. Part of it might be the spelling. “O. Schertling” seems the sig most likely but while I’ve tried it and a range of related options, none have come back. Part of it is that it’s hard to tell what exactly the middle, longer letters are. Nothing comes up with the obvious options and I’ve even gone and looked up older styles of both German and Dutch writing to see if that would help, (both were guesses based on the style of the art and the signature) and that has also been a dead-end. It’s become a bit frustrating and I’m pretty much at the point of giving up on finding anything out about them. In the end, I suppose it doesn’t matter much since it is likely one of the pieces we’re going to keep for ourselves, but if anyone has any knowledge about the artist or suggestions on where to look, I’d welcome the help.

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We have a couple of freestanding flower arrangements on bf the property and when I saw this huge butterfly flitting about one I ran off to grab the camera. Luckily, it stuck around long enough for me get some shots. It seemed to not be comfortable with me getting too close so I hung back and used the zoom feature. Going through some websites, it looks like it is a Giant Swallowtail ( Papilio cresphontes ) and from the descriptions of their flight differences, probably a male. The flight movement was much closer to a bird than most other butterflies and he was incredibly flappy about the wings, even while feeding, which made taking the pictures difficult. I really couldn’t get over just how large he was, which shouldn’t be a surprise since they are the largest butterflies native to the region, but I don’t remember ever coming across one before. The marigolds seemed to be what he liked the best and he sampled several ones, on both sides of the planter, before heading off.

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It’s not all that surprising, once I got to look at the antique frame closely, baserestore that it had come apart. Whoever had done the final construction must have gotten distracted since the lower corners were only glued, and not nailed, together. The whole state of the construction is more than a little bit confusing. I have to wonder if it was started by a skilled worker and finished by someone who wasn’t as experienced. It’s just hard to understand why some things were done in the ways they were. It also was clear that it had gone through at least one, if not a couple of rounds of very poorly done “repairs”. I expect that it was fitted with a mirror, (and from that time period, it would have been a heavy one) and when the glue dried out a bit, the weight of the mirror caused it to just pull apart. After that, the broken mirror was likely thrown out and the parts stuffed into an attic to be dealt with at a later date, which never came until it was sold. At least they kept all the pieces together. One of my priorities for the rebuild was make sure that it would be stable, going forward. First thing was to get the base joints stabilized. Not only were they re-glued with the heavy duty framing glue, but I also nailed all the joints together as well. Since there was a high level of filling and re-construction already being done, I was able to nail solidly and then fill and blend the holes. It was also a bit odd that one of the birds had been carefully screwed on, but the other was just glued and it had, unsurprisingly, come off. Getting it back on was simple, but getting the wobbly wings fixed again was a bit more of a challenge. It looked like they had come off at least a couple of times and been nailed back on without much care or consideration. The same thing had been done to the front acanthus leaf of the top pagoda. (which has still not been re-attached in the photo) In both cases, Weldbond that had been dried to a putty consistency provided both a strong and stable fill along with adhering the parts together. (it’s not archival, but then most of this rebuild was not)

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We have tried a really wide assortment of tomato types over the years.

black tomatoes, August 2014

black tomatoes, August 2014

Quite a number have been labelled as “black” and we have pretty much had at least a couple of black cherry tomatoes every year. With that being said, this is the first year we have had truly black ones. They were labelled as an “early black”, but are not moving all that much faster than the rest of the plantings but at least a couple have ripened. Of course, it’s a bit hard to tell how close they are to ripe since the colour doesn’t show much. They do turn an orangish red, on their bottoms, but never get all that soft, so even going with the gentle squeeze test is a bit difficult. The flavour is also a bit closer to a tomatillo than a standard tomato, and didn’t impress the tomato connoisseur, that is my mother so I don’t think we’ll be doing them again next year. While I know that tomatoes are in the same family as eggplants, I never expected to grow ones that had the same colour!

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This was one of my long term projects from the past winter. damaged Quite a while ago I was lucky enough to find this beautiful Roccoco revival mirror. Our best guess as to it’s age is some time from the 1880’s to the early 1920’s. As you can see, it was in four major pieces and there was also a bag of smaller bits. While it was in bits and pieces, at least almost all of them were together. A couple of smaller parts had been lost, but they were ones that I was able to rebuild. (an assortment of sculpting compounds and tools let me do it in a reasonable time frame) A few frames like this are still being made, but they are either very high end reproductions, typically starting in four figures or they’re plastic, so it was wonderful to find a wood one that could be rebuilt like this. While we don’t have a space that it would fit in, I did have a client who I thought it would suit and sent them some pictures of it. Having them confirm they did want it made some of the choices about how to handle the reconstruction easier since we were able to figure out the issues about what sort of mirror it would get and what the final finish would be. With both of those decided, I could move forward with them in mind. The finish was going to be changed and that meant that I could focus on stabilizing and evening the surface, rather than trying to salvage the existing one, a much easier job!

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It’s taken a while but the stuffed toy dog collection dogipide has gotten large enough that I’ve been able to keep up a slow trickle of Cerberus. Making the three-headed dogs means that I end with two extra bodies. In a few, very rare cases, I’ve also been able to find a fourth one of the same species as a completed Cerberus and make a dogipede. Splicing them together was a bit complected, but I do think the overall effect is a success. It also turned out to be a very good shape for cuddling and this one already has found a home! I’ll keep looking for more fourths to make more of this type of cutie.

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We’ve had an assorted set of cast iron and wood benches and chairs garden furniture out on the east lawn for the last few years. They sit in the shade of the large maple tree and provide a comfortable conversation grouping. While it’s pleasant to have them covered by shade, it’s not all that good for the wood. They had finally gotten to the point where I could no longer trust in their stability so it was time for the wood to be replaced. We decided to go with ash, since it is a hardwood and we could get some locally. Since they were going to be dis-assembled, it made sense to clean up and re paint the iron parts as well. They had been a mix of black and a faux verdigris green (that hadn’t been all that well applied) and we wanted to make the whole group more cohesive. I decided to go with a semi-gloss black. It looks sharp, and is also an easy one to do later touch-ups, if needed. The wood was sealed with a marine sealant, but left in it’s natural colour. I’m really happy with how they look now that they’ve been rebuilt. We also finally got the cement tile bases for all of them in position so they won’t sink into the ground. (and Dad will have an easier time with the mowing around them)

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