Monday, September 29, 2014

An Experiment

I found some 8 x 11 canvas wrapped frames on sale for pennies and thought I would try an experiment with my photography. Above, you see the canvas wrapped frame and one of my photos, printed at Staples on plain paper, ink jetted for only 39 cents. In the can is some clear Acrylic Varnish.

I brushed a heavy coat of varnish on the canvas and on the printed surface of the printed page. I took great care to place the photo squarely on the canvas and even more care to push any bubbles and wrinkles out. Like hanging wallpaper, I suppose.

In this photo, you see a different print and this time I used an off-white pure acrylic paint. Same method.

Here is a photo I transferred to a piece of particle board with varnish. There are too many distress marks on it and the darkness of the board took clarity away from the photo. I will not do this method again.

But I got ahead of myself. After applying the photo with the paint or varnish, I let it dry over night. The next day I moistened the photo paper and gently rolled the paper off the back of the photo. Fingers work best for this. The ink (photo) transferred onto the canvas and was fixed in place in the dry acrylic after having been dissolved by the wet acrylic. In the above photo you can see that I am about 1/3 done removing the moistened soft paper.

There are a few distress marks but it is unavoidable. It adds character and makes the photo look old.

This one turned out the best.

When they were dry, I put a protective coat of satin varnish on them to seal in the ink and 'fix' the photo.

Next, I went to my wood pile and found some Pine branches from my latest prunings that were a bit longer and wider than the canvas.
I cut out 1/4 of each branch to accommodate the depth of the canvas frame and then cut the pieces to length.

I now have one frame and two photos. I could not find 4 more suitable sticks. Not quite sure which photo to frame permanently, but probably the Sunflower.
I am trying to come up with some other ideas on how to frame these canvas boards because the prints are 8 x 11 and the frames are a wee bit bigger than that. Ideally, I would like to wrap the photo around the edge of the canvas and just hang it that way, but now I have a small unprinted border each time I transfer a photo.
Does anybody have any ideas?

Saturday, September 27, 2014

New Cabinets

We used to paint more kitchen cabinets but have become reluctant since paint technology took a turn to 'green'. The old enamel base primers would eat into the old finish and a minimum of preparation was required. Now the primers are acrylic and degreasing and cleanliness are an absolute must, even then, adhesion of the paint is questionable under hard use. We experimented with different primers and top coats and came up with a method but it requires about 6 weeks of curing time before it no longer chips away easily.

We consented to try a set two weeks ago and after much work and great care, it turned out well. The old medium oak cabinets made the kitchen dated and dark. It was totally transformed with the new finish. We also consented to installing new hardware, a must anyway to prevent fingernail and jewellery contact for the first few months. But, it also added a very nice decorative touch.

Putting on the last drawer and door pulls and knobs was a pleasure after all the tedious painting. The customers were ecstatic about their 'new' kitchen. Now we wait for the call backs and the touch-ups even though I did lecture for twenty minutes about how to protect the paint for the next six weeks.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Fancy, But Hard Work

When I am given an address and very little else, I do not know what to expect when I go to look at a potential job, so it is always an new adventure. This customer got my name from Su Casa Designs where Andy told the customer that I was 'the best'. That is a hard billing to live up to.
The house turned out to be the monstrosity at the entry gate to Pepin Brook Estates, an exclusive winery estate subdivision.
The customer quizzed me about my experience and emphasized that he did not care about price, only that I do a good job.

We did the easy job first, the feature wall in the daughter's bedroom. I have worked with this German designed product before and it was the quickest easiest work I had done in months. Oh, and it looked fantastic.

Then it was on to the very heavy 54" wide commercial grade vinyl that went above the wainscoting in the dining room. Reverse hang, overlap and double cut, and take every piece sequentially off the big roll. I am beginning to hate this type of wall covering. Because of the horizontal pattern and the vertical seams, the plan was to hang two panels and then get the homeowner's approval to carry on or not.

We got approval when the customer could not find the seam even though he knew where it was. (In the above photo I have not double cut the seam yet, so it is quite obvious) And then the going got tough. The pattern match was tough, yet critical. The material was so stiff and unyielding that I was damaging the surface when I put my straight guide against it for trimming. It dulled the knife after a few cuts and I was continually snapping new blades.

Because the ceilings were 10' tall, I spent the rest of the day on the ladder.

Not much wall area, but each piece was a challenge.

It was not just random stripes that had to line up, but there was match to the pattern.

When the material, which is made of vinyl, is stiff and inflexible, I use a heat gun which almost melts the material so I can push it into the corners easily for trimming. This, of course, dries out the adhesive rapidly, which means I have to work very quickly and accurately.

Finally, the last piece. The customer was not home when we were done so he called later in the evening and actually delivered payment to my door. Nice. However, he said that he and wife noticed a big green spot on the wallpaper, about where my head is in the above photo. I dismissed his comment as we did not see any such thing in the daylight. I told him that more than likely what he was seeing was a glow coming from one of the baubles on his fancy chandelier. I told him to call me in the morning, when the lights were off and the daylight was streaming into the room, if there was still a green spot. He never did call.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

A Designer's Home

When I was first contacted about this job and was told who it was for, I was a bit nervous but I have always been up to a challenge. I was taken by a 'middle man' to the penthouse suite at Summit Point on the Lake where I was introduced to the owner, one of the most well known businessmen in town. He was friendly and put me at ease and after showing me what he wanted, I consented to doing the job. The wallpaper was discovered in an Architectural magazine and the customer searched the internet for three months to track down this paper and order it. It came from China and had no English labelling or instructions.  Thanks to a bit of experimentation and plenty of experience, I got 'the hang of it' (pun intended) and in a few hours we completed the job, three crooked outside rounded corners and all.
It truly did look fabulous in this setting and with his intentions of surrounding the wall nook with fancy black trim and mirrors. He and his wife watched us work almost the whole time. We exchanges stories, talked about people who had worked for him that we knew, and generally really 'hit it off'. When we were done, he gave me tip on top of my fee and put my name and number in his phone so that next time he would not have to go through the 'middle man'. I almost felt like I had made a new friend.
PS His famous architectural and design firm designed Summit Point.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Yarrow Job

Repainting a house that was a home to young children always results in a lot of preparation and repairs. You can see by the many patches on the walls of this house in Yarrow that there was much damage that had to be addressed before painting could proceed. We changed up the colour scheme from medium and dark earth tones to light and airy grays and off whites. All the doors and trim as well as all the walls required painting and it was a big job in a big house. This room was the only dark colour we worked with in this house, the boys room that went from a dark caramel to a royal blue. The contrast to the doors and trim was stunning!

"Oh, and by the way, could you please paint this rail?" It was a very detailed and labour intensive job. The mother of the owner offered to tape the black metal spindles and we reluctantly agreed. When we pulled the tape after three coats over a natural wood finish, we were surprised at what a good job she had done. The day after we put the last coat on, the cleaning people marked up the soft paint on the top rail. Grrrr!

A photo of the boy's royal blue room after it was finished. Another big job, with a happy customer, under our belts.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Ice Caves

That tiny glacier, or snow bank, in the distance became more intriguing as we approached it. There was an opening with a small stream pouring out from under the snow and as we followed the channel, we discovered the ice cave. Here is Liam and Keith, entering and as long as you could see the entry, Liam was OK with it.

Here you can see the look of apprehension as the water is dripping and it is bit darker back here. The wonderful blue green glow in the background is the light filtering through the ice.

The smooth, hard, gentle undulations of the surface were icy cold and wet, giving us a great relief from the outside temperature of 28 C. It was a mysterious and intriguing place to be as the water dripped and the branches of the cave spread outward.

Here is Nate in the back of the cave where it was very dark and only the camera flash gave light. The walls look pillowy soft but they were as hard as nails so we were not concerned about a cave-in.

Here are the boys exiting the cave and ending their most excellent adventure. We got wet and cold so welcomed the hot sun as we returned to the trail.

Monday, September 15, 2014

A Day At Baker

The weather this summer has been phenomenal and we realised that it will soon be back to dismal weather, so we decided to do  family outing. We skipped our usual Sunday morning church and attended services in the worlds most spectacular cathedral, Heather Meadows above the Mt. Baker ski area. I am not a world traveller, but I have been to a few places and this is by far the most spectacular place one can get to with relative ease. It had been many years since we last hiked here, and it was even more spectacular than we had remembered.

The scale is deceptive, until you start hiking into this bowl. In a few weeks this will be covered in snow and by next spring could be under 25 or more feet of snow and ice. Note the 'little' snow bank in the center of the photo because my next post will be about what we found there. It is not a little snow bank at all.

busylizzy enjoying the warm sunshine, invigoratingly fresh air, and spectacular views.

My three grandsons, Nathan, Liam, and Chad. It was so great to spend a day with them and enjoy together the sights and the trails.

Mid day picnic time in the alpine setting with chipmunks darting about for crumbs, the hot sun on our backs, and a home made blackberry pie. Can it get better?

Liam had been under the weather just the day before, having to spend part of the day in bed. He was totally recovered and hiked like a trooper, not once complaining about the length or steepness of the trails. What a fun kid! He will be 6 in a few days.
Next post, I will show you the bonus we found which was the highlight of our day.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Teacher's Strike

I have grown weary of the teacher's strike even though I am not a teacher, nor do I have kids that are not going to school. As a matter of fact, all of my grandkids attend private school so this dispute really does not have any effect on anyone in our family.
I have three things to say about the strike that I have not heard anyone say, and believe me, I have listened to this ongoing war from day one.
1. The labour contract that the government illegally 'tore up' is before the courts. Neither side wants to give in until they see what the court decision is. So we have some blaming the government, some blaming the teachers, and who knows, soon some might blame the kids. Here is a fresh take.
Blame the courts! Everyone knows how slow they are in making decisions. Here we have a critical decision that is holding up education all across the province and you would think that the litigators and judges could just burn some midnight oil and get this thing done. I have not heard a single commentator suggest this. Do we just take for granted that the courts are slow and that they have to be so?
2. Having recently read Bill Vanderzalm's autobiography, I have a better understanding about how things work in government and all things that have to do with government. Our government is made up of people who have foibles and faults and it is usually a secret know to only a few that there are personal vendettas and personal agendas going on behind the scenes. This could possibly be the case here. Wielding power, and harbouring hatred for someone, is a bad combination and it would appear to me that because the two sides are so entrenched that there might be some personal conflicts going on here.  
3. And you don't hear this because it is politically incorrect. Nobody is holding a gun to a teacher's head and making him or her be a teacher. We live in a free country with great opportunity all around us. If you do not like the pay, change careers. If it really is the case that you were born to teach and as you say, it is about the quality of education and class size, and class make-up, join the staff at a private school where you will get lower pay, but you will not have to strike and you will get to do the thing you were called to do, teach kids.
I can say this because I too belonged to a union at one time. They went on strike for more pay and less work, something I totally did not agree with. I soon quit the best paying job I ever had and changed my direction in life. It can be done.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Early Morning On The Lake

    The light is starting to filter into the dark bedroom and it is time to end a night of tossing and turning. The temperature dropped to 32 C by 3 am and now at 6 am it is down to 26 C. Stepping out onto the cooler deck, and then down to the water, is a relief from the hot bedroom and the drone of fans.
      With camera in hand, I indulge in my daily ritual of waiting for the sun to rise in anticipation of taking a unique photo.  It will take a while yet, so I go back to the kitchen and make a cup of coffee. It will be the coolest part of the day and coffee will not be so appealing later in the heat of the day.
      I make myself comfortable at the beach and wait. I watch and I listen and begin to realise that there is a lot going on at this early hour. There is only a breath of wind, hardly enough to break the calm demeanour of the surface of the lake. I am surprised to see the family of Mergansers swim past me without breaking their stride. They are not scooting forward with their heads under the water as they do some mornings, a strange and entertaining antic that these birds are known for.  They are swimming in perfect formation and eventually disappear around the other side of the boat.
      I am startled by a large fish jumping out of the water with a loud splash, not more than twenty feet away. He is one of the lucky ones who is still alive as the heat wave has taken a toll on the newly added sockeye salmon, leaving a half dozen dead ones on the beach by the end of each day.
     Out of the bay to the north I hear a ski boat. What a perfect time of day to water ski, with no wind, and calm smooth water! It is only one boat, and at a distance, so it does not disturb the peaceful morning as I thought it would. I patiently watch as the boat's wake slowly but surely makes its way toward my beach. As the rhythmic waves break onto shore, I am delighted to see the angle of the light casts diamond like reflections along one small stretch of shoreline.
     The light is getting stronger and I know from yesterday exactly where the sun will break over the eastern shore. There is little colour in the sky this morning which is surprising because of all the smoke from the forest fires to the south. It must have drifted away overnight.
     In the corner of my vision I see a Kingfisher land in the Willow tree to my right. These are very shy birds and as long he does not sense my presence, I may just get a photo. Before I can raise my camera, he darts out of the tree and like a rocket hits the water about 50 ft. out. He struggles to the surface after having gone right under, and flaps his way back to the tree. Again I slowly raise my camera. Again he rockets out of the tree and this time he comes up with  a two inch minnow in his beak. I can just see enough of him on his perch to see that he is struggling to angle the fish the right way so he can swallow it. And then down it goes. Seconds later, he is diving into the water again, and again comes up with a small fish. This time he flies off with the fish wiggling in the clutches of his beak, no doubt going to a nest where he will be breakfast for the youngsters.
     I did not get the photo but was rewarded with a rare experience, like when the big owl flew out of the night and onto our windsock pole only the previous evening. It was only a few feet from where we were sitting on the sundeck just after dark. We froze and I debated about getting my camera, but before I could make a move, he whispered off into the night as suddenly and as silently as he had come.
      And now the sun is just breaking over the mountain ridge, a slit of brilliant light throwing diffused rosy light to the underside of the scattered clouds above Anarchist Mountain. By now the resident Sparrow family is busy feeding its young and there is constant chirping. The quails are scurrying in and out of the hedge row, snatching a cool drink from the drip irrigation. A fisherman's boat has anchored not too far away and I hear muffled voices as they set up for another morning of fishing. In the distance I hear the chatter of a sprinkler system beginning its day's work.  And there is a faint barking of a dog, the sound of a motorcycle gearing down as it approaches the border station, and is that a baby I hear softly crying? The world of Oroville is waking and coming to life.
    The sun is now fully up and I can feel its heat already.  It will be another warm one unless those towering cumulus clouds in the south develop into a storm. We have no devices standing by on our vacations so I do not know the weather forecast, nor do I care to hear it. I am taking life one day at a time, and one hour at a time, savouring the moment, drinking in the beauty and the experience. The more deeply I can impress these images into my mind, the more vivid will be the memories in the coming dark winter months.
   Many before me have, and many after me will, experience these same pleasures. To observe, to really watch and listen, and then to remember, is a gift to treasure. Memories sustain us through difficult times as we transport ourselves back in time when all was peaceful, calm, and all was right in the world.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Belly Up

Over the last few years, Osoyoos Lake has been stocked with salmon. Apparently it has been a success as we witnessed almost daily the fishermen, a few hundred yards off our beach, hooting and hollering as they reeled in another one.
Unfortunately, the lake temperature is rather on the warm side and these fish get quite stressed as the this happens.
Every morning there were three or four of these otherwise healthy looking fish, about 14 inches long, floating dead on the beach. One could always see a half dozen off shore as well. The inland seagulls were overwhelmed and something they would usually relish, became too much of a good thing. They got picky and plucked the eyes out only, leaving the carcass to drift to shore. I buried many of them under the trees and every one was sightless, so to speak. Too bad, really, because they looked good enough to throw on the BBQ.

Friday, September 5, 2014

In America

When in Oroville WA. we enjoy our evening walks as the day cools down. There is always something interesting to see so I never go without my camera. Above is a derelict fire hydrant sitting in the middle of nowhere. It is not well maintained so I doubt it works. A fire hydrant in the desert is a bit of a contradiction, but there may have been buildings near by at one time.

Our neighbours to the north had an outdoor party at sunset one evening and I thought the silhouettes were kind of cool. They are one of two American neighbours that we have in a large community in our bay.

And, of course, Americans drape the flag over just about anything. I like the look of their flag and I greatly admire their patriotism.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Beavers and Berries

We travel Highway 3 (Hope Princeton) quite often and I never tire of the variety and the beauty. We used to rush through it in the old days, but now I am rarely in a hurry and we love to stop at our favourite places, and occasionally a new spot. Just east of the Manning Park Lodge there is a road side attraction called Beaver Pond. It has been many years since we stopped and explored here. It is a small meadow that was flooded many years ago when the beavers decided to build a dam here. Not much changes over the years, but this time, in mid August mind you, we discovered a bumper crop of ripe succulent Saskatoon berries.

These berries are not all that uncommon in the interior, but by August they are usually done, with only dry raisons left on the branches. We ate our fill and were happy to have been rewarded with more than a Beaver Dam.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

B&W Trees

I have blogged about this paper and this house before. The customer loves this paper so much she has now had us put it in her hall gallery, the kids bedroom and now in the powder room. It is without a doubt one of the nicest papers I have ever worked with and contacted the manufacturer in England and told them so.

When the product is trouble free, the job goes quickly even when the walls are not plum. The pattern is forgiving and it practically hangs itself.

The light fixture was removed and the wires pushed inside the wall because there was some indecision as to where the lights would go after the vanity and mirror were installed. We had our own bright lights and I did not have to go around much except the plumbing pipes and the toilet. 

I love part day jobs like this that turn out really well. Again, a very satisfied customer.