Saturday, February 17, 2018

Backyard Project: Gabion Baskets on the Guest Patio

Sammy constructing gabion baskets along the edges of the guest patio.

They arrived as flat panels that he joined with spiralled lengths of steel.

He placed a steel rod across the centre middle of every basket...

 ..twisting the ends to tie them in place.

Previously he had leveled the ground and spread a foundation of coarse sand.

Next step - filling the baskets.

Sammy was very clever putting pieces of broken pavers in the bottom before adding the stones. It is a great way to dispose of waste cement and have it serve a purpose.

Sammy put the first layer of stones in all of the baskets. 
Now it is my turn to fill them to the top. It is the perfect job after spending several hours sitting in front of the computer screeen.




Saturday, February 10, 2018

Backyard Project: Winter Activities While Waiting for Warmer Days

The last of the flowers bloomed through late fall.

A pleasant surprise was to see the Russian Tea plant flowering in the cooler late fall weather.

We  kept squirrel-busy cutting and storing firewood a few steps away from the fireplace.

The off-cut, untreated, paint-free construction wood had been cut to fit the fire box. We stacked it in a satisfying pile under the propagation table. With plenty of firewood, we looked forward to the cold weather and sitting in front of a fire.

This winter we had a number of significant snowfalls, something that doesn't happen every year.

The cherry tree while still in full leaf and under the Douglas-fir canopy was sheltered from an early snowfall.

The exposed young medlar tree couldn't cope with the wet snow weight. It and the other fruit trees had to be staked.

We took several trips out to Vancouver Island's west coast to enjoy the wild weather.

And now the soil is stirring and the new growth has started.
It feels like it has been a short winter and the garden is enticing me outside more often these days.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Opening Night - 'Colour: A Personal Response' at Place des Arts, Coquitlam

Sarah and I are so looking forward to the January 12 opening reception for our exhibition 'Colour: A Personal Response' at Places des Arts, 1120 Brunette Ave, Coquitlam. 7 to 9 pm.
Two other exhibitions will be opening the same night:
'Lyrical Expressions', abstract acrylic and oil works by Jane Appleby
'Balance*', abstract fibre works by Mardell Rampton
We are looking forward to meeting up with friends and to connecting with new people.
If you can't make it to the opening we hope you can get in to see the exhibitions sometime over the month they are on - January 12 to February 10th, 2018.



Monday, January 8, 2018

'Colour: A Personal Response' Exhibition is Hung in Place des Arts, Coquitlam

Sarah McLaren and my 'Colour: A Personal Response' exhibition is on the road again.
The day before we loaded up the car...it was really full...

...and caught the first ferry the next morning.

We drove through Vancouver's persistent rain to Place des Arts Art Centre and Music School in Coquitlam. Conveniently there was dry underground parking with an elevator beside the entrance. It didn't take long to unload the car and get the work up to the main floor.

We laid sheets on the ground against all of the walls where our work would be hung. As we unpacked each work we placed it according to our layout plan.

There are 3 galleries in Place des Arts. We had been assigned the light-filled Atrium Gallery, much to our delight because it suits our body of work's concept so well.


Marziya and Jimmy are Place des Arts student volunteers who were ready to do anything needed. Once Sarah and I had decided on putting the 3D parts on plinths under glass, Marziya and Jimmy got to work putting them in position and removing the plexiglass covers.

The took on the challenge to assemble the colour cards on turntables which tested their colour wheel knowledge.

Then they replaced the covers.

The turntables full of colour cards and the framed collection are presented differently this time around because of the nature of the gallery space. The Atrium is a multifunctional largely unsupervised space used for musical events, dinners, a waiting room for parents and siblings while children attend classes, a meeting space... All of the small 3D items need to be protected which makes them no longer interactive but still interesting for people to look at.

Marziya cleans every single mark off the covers.

Challen and Joseph are a volunteer team that has worked together for 2 years hanging all Place des Arts exhibitions according to the Canadian National Art Gallery standards.

And they are good.

They hung every work perfectly and with well-rehearsed speed.
Don't you love the way their t-shirts match the artwork?

View from the upper level as we were about to leave. 
Sarah and I left the staff, Bali, Josephine and Lidia, to spend the rest of the week making and mounting labels, adjusting lighting and setting up the gift shop. Sarah and I return to the galley on Friday for the official opening which is going to be fun - Friday, January 12, 7 - 9 pm.

We reloaded the car with the empty boxes...


...and caught the next ferry back to Victoria.
All of the Place des Arts staff were so helpful and supportive things went smoothly and we were home again by early evening very happy with the way the day had gone. 
Do check out Sarah's blog to get her take on the day here


Friday, December 29, 2017

Backyard Project: Pattern Language #167 Six-foot Balcony


Lifting and stacking pavers for reuse in reworked walkways and sitting areas.
Pattern Language #167 Six-foot Balconies, verandahs, terraces, porches, and arcades along the building edge or halfway into it.
The Problem: 'Balconies and porches which are less than six feet deep are hardly ever used.' Pattern Language, p. 782.

Here is the 4-foot deep original guest bedroom patio. The pavers are 1 foot by 2 feet in size. It is not a walkway either because it doesn't lead anywhere. According to the Pattern Language, it wasn't used as a patio because nowhere was it at least 6 feet deep. 
'Balconies and porches are often made very small to save money; but when they are too small, they might just as well not be there. A balcony is first used properly when there is enough room for 2 or 3 people to sit in a small group with room to stretch their legs, and room for a small table where they can set down glasses cups, and the newspaper. No balcony works if it is so narrow that people have to sit in a row facing outward.' p. 783.

Arial view of what is left of the original guest room patio after construction trenches were dug and the river stone garden bed was removed. 


We had reworked some other paved areas to make the walkways more obvious by reducing their width. This one is now 4 feet wide instead of being staggered up to 6 feet wide. This gave us extra pavers to work with elsewhere and a bonus garden bed (yet to be developed).

The new guest room patio is now 6 and a half feet deep and 14 feet wide. The Pattern Language has found 'almost no balconies which are more than 6 feet deep are not used.'  It is going to be interesting to see if this reconfigured patio will be used.

The original patio was hardly inviting. Pattern Language explains why it was not a popular place to stop a while.
'Two other features of a balcony make a difference in the degree to which people will use it: its enclosure and its recession into the building. As far as enclosure goes, we have noticed that among the deeper balconies, it is those with half-open enclosures around them - columns, wooden slats, rose-covered trellises - which are used most. Apparently, the partial privacy given by a half-open screen makes people more comfortable.' p. 783.
Sitting out on this original patio one would feel exposed and vulnerable with the forest on one side and the dark underside of the balcony on the other. The flat wall of the house offers no protection or comfort. These are situational feelings humans still carry with them from hunter/gatherer days.

'Enclose the balcony with a low wall - sitting wall (coming), heavy columns (check - 6" x 6" cedar posts), and half open walls or screens (check - Propagation Room wall). Keep it open toward the south (partial check - it faces south but looks to a large cedar fence made of slats that will be covered in vines, while the east view is out to the forest). p. 784. 
The new patio will not be recessed into the original house but the addition of the Propagation Room has visually extended the building envelop and now gives the feeling of being tucked into a corner of the house.
Here's hoping we got enough of the Pattern Language # 167 incorporated into the design to make this patio a welcoming place for our guests to hang out on while offering privacy, protection and a view.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Backyard Report: Reconstruction of the Guest Room Patio

Through the sliding gate, outside the deer fence...

...is where the guest room patio will be reconstructed. There used to be a narrow paved area with a river stone covered garden bed against the house.

The area is next to Gunilla's Garden, a semi-cultivated native plant garden functioning as a transition to the forest zone. 

The Propagation Room wall and sliding gate are part of the deer barrier making the guest room patio open to the forest, browsing deer and the many other animals that live here.

The first task in the guest room patio reconstruction is to move all of the river stone out of the way but not too far away because the stone will be reused. 
Ron lays down the ubiquitous blue tarpaulin to hold the stones.

Ariel view from the balcony above. 
We have saved all of the pavers left over from modifying the walkways along the back and west sides of the house. We would like to be able to reconstruct this patio without having to buy more pavers, following a permaculture principle of using what you have.

The stone moving task in progress.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Green Shed Activity: New Singer Sewing Machine and 40 Meters Khadi Fabric

I got a new sewing machine for my birthday. 
It is a Heavy Duty Singer that can sew thick and fast.

Image result for bernina 830 record
My new Bernina 780 is not up to sewing thick layers of fabric, something I have had to accept after giving away my 40-year-old Bernina 830 Record which could handle everything I gave it.
The Bernina 830 Record is known as a workhorse. I did 4 years of City and Guilds courses on this simple, non-computerised machine. 

Ron has been getting a hard time from his buddies about giving me a machine so I can once again do canvas repairs on his boat, something I couldn't do after I got the Bernina 780. This Singer can sew 3 thicknesses of canvas but I haven't tested it to its needle breaking limits yet.
It comes with a needle threader, a thread cutter, 18 built-in stitches, 2 different buttonholes, can be threaded for a twin needle and the feed dogs can be dropped for free motion work.
All this for $149!

I won't tell you how much this baby cost. It was a graduation present after I completed a BA (Hons) Embroidered Textiles.
The Bernina 780 is an amazing machine but it does have some problems the company has not fixed and they have stopped making this model. It is so highly computerised it self-corrects the tension even when I want a loopy stitch. I can't work cable stitch using thick threads in the bobbin because it self-corrects. 
My new birthday Singer can make loopy stitches and it sews fast.

40 meters of lightweight fabric just washed.
I bought this Indian, handwoven cotton cloth from a favourite shop, Knotty by Nature Fibres,  here in Victoria. 

It is a jacquard woven, light-weight, narrow cloth that I think would qualify as Indian khadi cloth.

I ironed the 40 metres while still damp and while binge-watching Vikings. 

At this stage, I have no idea what I will do with 40 meters of fine white cloth. It is all washed, ironed, folded and put away in the Green Shed to wait out the 'Percolation' stage.