Saturday, October 26, 2013

Pebble Mosaic

Ever since my BFF CathyO introduced me to this book, I became obsessed with the art of pebble mosaic.

From this book, I headed to the internet to collect more info, and of course started a Pinterest board.  I discovered that I really LOVE the work of Jeffrey Bale.
 Portland garden designer and artist Jeffrey Bale. Mosaic border.
 So there are basically 2 techniques for building a pebble mosaic.  I call them the "wet" and the "dry" methods.

For the dry method, you lay out your pattern in dry mortar mix, then fill in with more dry mortar mix before wetting the whole thing down.  Here is a good tutorial from This Old House.

For the wet method, you mix the mortar to a pudding texture, and place the stones into the wet mix, then let it cure.  This is the approach we used for all of the following attempts...

Pebble Mosaic - first attempt

So Dean had the foresight to suggest we try the first one out in a not so conspicuous place.  This was a smart move because it did not come out very good, but I learned a few things.

We chose this spot in the back near the clothes line and decided to make a pad for standing on while hanging the clothes.  So here is our set-up and below is the prepared spot.

I had all my pebbles sorted.  Here are some that I used.

Granite chips

Glass from the craft store

Yellow pebbles collected from Gay Head Beach on Martha's Vineyard probably about 15 years ago!

Some red stones that I found on the property

Black stones from the craft store

Dean mixes the mortar.

We mixed and poured the entire load of mortar all at once and I started laying in the stones.

And here it is covered so that it will cure slowly.

So here's what I learned from this project:

   1.  Don't mix all the mortar at once.  It starts to set in about 40 minutes which is not enough time to get all the stones in.  Jeffrey Bale recommends mixing only one bag at a time...
   2.  Make sure you have enough stones!  I thought that I had MORE than enough, but came up short.

Here's what it looks like today.

Second Pebble Mosaic attempt

For our next attempt, we decided to build a step for the "man door" of the garage.

Did you know that the small door that a person enters ( as opposed to the big ass doors used for cars and machinery to enter) is called a "man" door???  But I digress...

For this one, we built a wood frame for the form.

Instead of mixing all the mortar at once, we mixed just one bag at a time, and this worked much better.

Rather than going for a specific design, on this one, I built the design more organically working from left to right and using the shapes of the stones to dictate the layout.

Here's what it looks like today.

And a couple of close-ups.

Third Attempt Pebble Mosaic - La Piece de Resistance!

Way before we started experimenting with the above projects, it had been our intention to put a pebble mosaic at the top of the outdoor stairs.

I had started collecting stones a long time before we actually started on this one.

I had an idea of an image that I wanted to do, and because it is such a large space, and I wanted to work out the design, I started with having Dean build a sandbox in which we marked out a template, and I actually laid out the entire design first.  

Many of you who have visited us saw this in process, and then saw it sitting there (for a long time) waiting to be installed.

We thought the installation might take more than one day, so we decided to wait to have at least 2 days of good weather before getting to work.  Also, we did not want to do it during the high heat of summer and risk having the mortar dry out too quickly.

But finally the day came - and starting fairly early in the morning, with our excellent teamwork - Dean mixing the mortar, and me laying the stones - we were able to get it done in just one full day...

A word about our new "supervisor".  I think that most everyone knows by now that Pumpernickel left us in June of this year.  About one month ago we adopted Angela - a 12 year old cocker spaniel/chihuahua mix (we think...) who was in need of a home.  Here she steps into the supervisor role...

Periodically, when a section was laid out, we put down a piece of plywood, and use our body weight to tamp it down and level it.

I started out working from right to left, but quickly realized that I wanted to work from the bottom up, so switched gears after this section.

 We are using this rigid foam insulation to keep the work from drying out while in process.

 Almost done!
 This is back-breaking work.

Hosing it down.

And then we used a soft brush to even out the surface and clean the mortar residue from the stones.

And here it is covered with plastic to cure for a week or so...

And here is the result.  I am pretty happy with it.  It is not perfect - some of the stones sunk in too far and got lost.  And the moon in the upper right did not come out the way I had it originally laid out in the template.  But there will NOT be a re-do on this project.

Stepping Stones

We have quite a few bags of mortar mix (and lots of stones) left over, so we are in the process of constructing some 15x15 stepping stones to incorporate in front of the porch area.  Here is the first one we did.

So that's it for this special pebble mosaic edition of MHHB!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Locker Project

Well hello there! 

Sorry I have been away from the blog for so long.  But do not interpret this to mean that we are not still working away at things. 

Sometimes I have to choose between working on projects or blogging about working on projects, and lately I have been choosing the former.

So this post is about one project that came about as a solution to the problem of what to do with Dean's dirty-but-not-dirty-enough-for-the-laundry-but-too-dirty-to-put-away clothes.  For a long, long time they tended to be piled on the floor and a chair in the living room, unless we had company, and then they went someplace else.

I follow a few home d├ęcor blogs and was seeing that lockers - yes old school & industrial lockers - are on trend in the interior design world, and decided this might work as a solution.  Easy to use - just hang clothes on hooks- and it would not take up too much space in the living room.  And it HAS to be in the living room because that's where the clothes come off, and it would be too much to have to carry them to another room!

So, I pinned a few on Pinterest.

Then I went looking for one, but could not find any that were affordable...

So, I had this old door that I had picked up on the side of the road a while back.  It was an over sized cabinet door, and it became the inspiration to build our own locker.

Here we go. 

It started with building a box.  We used a bunch of scrap wood for this.

We HAD to invest in this new wood-working tool that makes a nifty recess for a screw in order to build the frame for the box.

When we were designing the locker, I had the idea that we could fashion an area at the bottom to house the sub woofer for our TV's sound system.  I envisioned a metal mesh panel so the sound could get out.
I got to learn how to use this metal shear to cut the mesh.

And here I am installing the mesh panel in the box.

Once the box was built, it was time to put on a finish.  I again turned to the internet and Pinterest for inspiration and decided I wanted to try this technique of covering it with aluminum foil.  What?  Yes - aluminum foil! 

Actually, even before we built the box, this was my plan, which is why we could get away with using really un-pretty scrap plywood for the structure.

I used wall paper paste to adhere the foil.  Here I am working on the door.

I put the foil on with the dull side out.  I was going for an aged metal look and did not want it to be too shiny.

I used a brayer to roll out the bubbles and smooth it down.

Once the entire unit was covered with foil, I used a metallic glaze to give it an even more aged metal look.  Then I applied a few coats of polyurethane in a satin finish to add a layer of protection so hopefully the foil doesn't get all beat up.
Next it was time for hardware.
Dean had a long section of piano hinge - good thing he saves things!  He cut it into 3 hinges and drilled some holes.
Then we got busy installing them.

I wanted to use casters on the locker - partly for ease of moving, but also for that cool industrial look.  I purchased these on eBay, and put them on. 
But we quickly realized that they made the unit too tall, and we feared that the added weight of the door would make it tip over.  So sadly, I had to take them off.  But they DID look very cool for a moment!
I had some cabinet pulls that I had gotten from a free-cycler, and I used a couple of them on the door.  I was given some brass coat hooks from my BFF CathyO, and used these on the inside.
And it's working!  Look how happy he is to put his jeans on a hook...

And it looks nice in the living room.

There you have it.
I will try not to be a stranger, and post soon about some of the other things we have accomplished this summer.