My Monster Easel

Some of my most treasured possessions are things that people have made me. A scarf from my niece, a quilt from my Mom, paintings from my Mother-in-law, an intricately wood burned Ouija from a friend, a drawing from my nephew…the list goes on. I’m lucky to have family and friends that love to make things, and better yet, love to give them away.
One of these treasured possessions is my monster easel. It was built for me by my father-in-law Alvin. In true Al “Go big or Go Home” style, it’s a monster. Over 9ft tall, it holds multiple canvasses up to 8ft tall on both sides. Today, I wheeled the big boy out to work on a few drawings.

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Speaking of things I treasure, finally finished Emma’s bench this weekend. It wasn’t up ten minutes before Scrappy the crow crapped on her face. Thanks Scrappy. Asshole. Scrappy is the crow that I nursed back to health a couple years back. He used to fly in the house to steal Emma’s food from her bowl. He still comes to hang out every summer, now with his mate. I’ll post a photo of him one of these days. Probably a photo of him being an asshole.

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It was a perfect weekend to work outside in the sun. Millie found a sweet shady spot to cool down.
Hmm seems to be a dog theme today.

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Chapter One – The Great Renovation

It may have appeared as though Derek and I dropped off the face of the earth sometime this past year. Rest assured, we have just been wholly preoccupied with what is now referred to in hushed tones as “The Great Renovation of 2016” or “The Renovation to End All Renovations”. It has been all-consuming and exhausting, driven by obsession bordering on madness, and has left time for little else. And now…dare I say…we’re done? No, I’d best not, that’s just begging for trouble.

As you may already know, Derek and I bought our first house in 2013, beside the beach in Roberts Creek. It’s a lovely spot, and has been a dream come true after many years of renting.

carpetThe house was about 1000 sq ft, and badly in need of some attention. It came with 30 year old, stained and peeling kitchen cupboards, some creative wiring and the infamous blue carpet that you will be all too familiar with if you’ve ever been a guest here. The blue carpet has endured decades of use with different families, children and pets before we finally finished it off. Daily tracking in sand and dirt, muddy paws from the garden, one incontinent senior dog, 2 new puppies were more than our carpet cleaner could handle. Gross. Why, yes it was.

We tackled our first, smaller renos in our first year here. The first stage of our workshop and the bathroom reno. (old blog post here) The bathroom was a surprise, high-priority item when we realized that the base of the toilet was leaking into the floor which of course was made of particle board and not plywood. Surprise! The swelling of the particleboard caused the toilet to recline further and further back each day. I fondly referred to it as “The Lazyboy”.

These first renos gave us a good idea of what to expect for time and cost as we started planning for the Big One. Even so, it was a daunting project to take on.

The first stage of drawing up the architectural diagrams, floor-plans and elevations and planning all the interior finishings, was actually a lot of fun. That’s because the project was still imaginary in my head at that point, and imaginary projects are easy and don’t cost anything. That all changed.

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I think it was when the concrete boom truck showed up in the driveway that I realized, “Oh shit, this is actually happening in real life” and “Who’s in charge here and how is it that I was allowed to make these decisions like I’m an actual adult?”

We have hired Laurie Lacovetsky of Sound Construction with his capable crew, Scott and Andy for all our renos and we’ve never regretted it. They are hard working and knowledgeable with great attention to detail. pour1Progress went very quickly on the back extension to the house and workshop and within a few months they were tearing up the inside.
It was a colder than normal winter this year when our drywall and insulation was removed from the walls and ceiling, and our kitchen torn out. It was then, with impeccable timing, our dryer gave out.

Here are a few photos from December:

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The dismantled kitchen and new cabinets piled up in the living room, our wet clothes hanging from makeshift clotheslines, but best of all, no blue carpet. In hindsight, it might have been a good idea to move out during this part.

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Once the main renovations were done, we did much of the finishing work, wood trim, painting etc. ourselves to save cost, and to be honest, because I enjoy using power tools. This kept us greatly occupied for many months.

Fast forward a few more months, we have no more blue carpet, and lots of cool before and after photos. I think it was worth it. What do you think?

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counter1P1070023Beautiful concrete counters by Julien of La Cote Concrete and Maple counter by Christian of Lafor Wood Products. Why yes, that is a plumbed in beer tap in the above photo, on the left. Also on the left, a cutting board I made from cherry wood from a tree we cut down in the back yard.

In the photo below, the pebble floor beside the patio door is mostly sourced from the beach and is a great way to hide the dirt that the pups track in every day. The cedar panel along the front of my desk came from a cedar tree we took down in the back of our house. The center of the tree was split and rotten but there was still plenty of perfectly good wood that we have used throughout the house.

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New Guest Room

 

Chapter Two – The Pub

When I was a wee lass, perhaps 5 or 6 years old, my family took us for a camping trip in the English country side. The English weather lived up to its good name. It rained the entire time and the field was muddy. Before long, my wonderful father suggested the brilliant idea of taking me to a nearby pub. I realize now that it was probably at the request of my Mother, to get me out of her hair so that she could get the tent set up. (Thanks Mum) However, at the time, I just thought my Dad wanted to take me on a great adventure.
My memory of that pub is as keen as if I was there yesterday. The worn wooden bar top, darts and snooker tables, footy on the telly, and the stench of stale beer soaked carpets …. in other words….paradise! I was perched up on a tall bar stool and given a strongbow to sip. Oh what heavenly nectar, sweet as a hummingbird’s kiss! I was done with camping, this was what life was all about.
It made an indelible mark on my young mind and since then, it’s been my lifelong dream to have my own private pub in my own house.
Well, now we do, complete with plumbed in kegs. Here’s Derek pouring a pint:

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The Bartender is in the house! Our bar stools are shown here in progress. More about that project below.

It includes a 9ft long custom maple bar top which has been in the works for a while.
It started about 8 years ago when in Reimer hardwood I came across a 9 ft, 2 inch thick by 14 inch flawless slab of maple. I decided that one day it would be our bar top. We lugged it around for several years before we made it here. With the kitchen reno designed, we realized that the maple slab fit the bar area perfectly – almost like it was meant to be.

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We cut the map of Roberts Creek into the surface with the CNC. The top is made with tinted epoxy in about 8 pours – a tricky process.

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Derek built a glycol cooled beer tower out of heavy steel tubing plumbed with food safe lines. (Of course he did)
The beer taps are the next project. They will be cut from maple and walnut, one for each beer style.

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Today, I’m putting the last coat of finish on the 2 final bar stools. These feature four rather cheery local scenes (Georgia strait, Elphinstone, Granville Street and the unforgettable Vancouver Skyline) The beautiful stool legs were created by the incredibly talented Kelly Backs (our local blacksmith). treeblacksmith.com

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Chapter Three – The Workshop

Last but not least, the workshop. There is still much to do here, window trim and much of the finishing and counter-tops etc. However I thought I’d post a photo of the new extension.

I’ll post more photos as we finish more.

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That’s my workbench that Derek built from the old bowling lane wood. (Thanks Honey) Also on the right you can see our old kitchen cabinets re-purposed and spray-painted red and black.

Also a few shots of the landscaping . The garden got pretty torn up during the renovation but you wouldn’t know it now!

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Table Refinishing Project

Our lives have been taken over by puppies and renos for the last few months. Not much time for fun projects.  I managed to get in the shop this week for a super quick project. Started out as an old vintage singer sewing stool that came with a sewing machine that our friend Laurie gave us a while back. (Thank-you!!) I forgot to take a before shot but I did find a photo of the same stool for the before/after. I painted the base, replaced the top and did a little wood burning design on top. Pretty happy with how it turned out.

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3D Printed Lamps

Finally getting around to posting these lamps. We are going through some pretty major renos this year including our kitchen with a bar area. (Yes, of course it’s going to have plumbed in beer taps, did you really need to ask?) We’ll also be installing hanging pendant lights over the bar top and I’d been thinking about 3D printing our own. This year we were involved in an art show as well as the Synchronicity Festival and I made the lamps my project. Designing these shades is super fun and addictive. I’ve probably made around 20 designs. These are the 3 we chose to show.

The left hand one is printed from wood filament, the center from copper filament and the right from PLA plastic. They’re all printed on Derek’s first 3D printer. That printer is probably 5 years old now and still going strong!

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I think we will be going with a series of 3 of the PLA shades for the bar top. I’ll post a photo once the renos are done.

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Derek designed and built another 3D printer for the shows which we will post about in the next week or so. It’s a powder bed printer. He is currently working on his 3rd printer. Hopefully it will be finished in the next couple of months.