A DIY Faux Weathered Wood Ceiling

My idea for the Tinygami Work Studio is to have the left half of the ceiling bright white as it will be the side I use as a mini photo studio. The walls and ceiling will be plain white and perhaps even part of the floor.

The right side is where my daily work/production area will be. I want it to feel like a private alcove, kind of cozy and comforting, like I’m tucked away from the world when I go there. I guess you could say I’m going for a rustic, Japanese, farmhouse kind of environment.

Since day one as I’ve driven around the Michigan countryside I’ve always been envious of the old barn wood I see on every highway I’ve traversed. How to get that look when I don’t have an old barn to knock down and dismantle to upcycle those gorgeous weathered boards? Make them!

I sifted through a multitude of tutorials on Pinterest and came up with this:

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Since I don’t seem to be 100% back in the swing of blogging (the way I used to be) this tutorial is a little under-imaged but contains all the pertinent info you’ll need to try this project yourself.

In a nut-shell I’d say it was both easy and fun. Since you’re going for a worn and weathered look perfection isn’t a requirement. It’s more like a little slap it on, rub it around, wipe it off kind of  process that is quite forgiving as long as you remember to not create hard start and stop lines with the first coat of stain as they’ll mark the wood with straight lines. In order not to do that I discovered two tricks:

  1. The main one I used on each coat was this: Apply the stain in short 2 foot sections (starting at the right end of the board and moving left) by dragging the foam applicator from right to left so that where the stroke ends you have long streak marks instead of a hard solid edge. When I applied stain to the next section I’d zig-zag the applicator a bit then do the same. I constantly went back to the far right end of each board and would draw the applicator down as far as the last section I’d just stained. This kept the application of the stain nice and even.
  2. On day two I did add a touch of mineral spirits to the foam applicator to apply the ebony which made the stain easier to apply. I don’t know that I had to do this but didn’t want to take any chances since the black-color was so dark.

Supplies:

  1. 29 Pine tongue and groove boards for each half of the ceiling. I purposely looked for the boards with knots, swirls, and patterns that were loaded with character. The “perfect” boards I used for the painted white boards or slipped them back into the pile at the lumber store.
  2. 1 coat of Minwax Jacobean oil-based stain applied with a 5″ foam/sponge applicator and wiped off with a lint-free cloth. Allow to dry at least 24 hours until dry to touch.
  3. 1 coat of Minwax Ebony oil-based stain applied same as step 2.
  4. 1 coat of Minwax Classic Grey oil-based stain applied same as step 2.
  5. I will most likely be using Minwax Clear Brushing Lacquer in the satin finish as my finishing coat because I really want a crystal clear finish, not a topcoat that turns amber over time. ETA: I have now decided I will either leave the wood unfinished or use a finishing wax as I don’t want a shiny surface to the boards. I’d prefer them to look raw and unfinished. Because there is no plumbing in the studio, and during the winter I’ll run heat, and the summer AC I don’t think humidity is going to be a problem as far as moisture damage to the ceiling.

Optional items I used for this project:

  • Rubber gloves. I got the chemical resistant kind at the hardware shop.
  • Foam applicators. I used 6 start to finish. The first color took 3 to, the second color took 2, and the final color only used 1. This was because the more stain that was already on the boards the easier it was to apply.
  • I used 2 lint-free rags total for wiping down the boards. I used the first one until it was so saturated with stain I had to start a second.
  • 3 stir sticks, one for each color of stain.
  • A breathing mask rated to filter out the stain fumes as I was working in a heated garage for 3-4 hours for each color/coat because it’s winter.
  • Paint thinner to clean up.
  • I didn’t until it was too late but I’d say to use lots of cardboard on the floor and at each end of the length of your boards to prevent splatters.

Optional ideas I read about but did not implement:

  • Sand all hard edges before you begin to create a more worn look.
  • Spot sand board edges between colors also to create a more worn and weathered.
  • Beat the boards with random heavy objects to dent and ding them then sand the dents and dings to make them look aged.
  • Use a combination of paint and stain to color your boards.

Some of the many pins I used for inspiration:

Build a Rustic Sofa Table & Make New Wood Look Old on PaperDaisyDesign.com
Wood feature wall on TheRaggedWren.Blogspot.com
MIXED WOOD WALL – EASY & CHEAP DIY on UncookieCutter.com
HOW TO MAKE NEW WOOD LOOK LIKE OLD DISTRESSED BARN BOARDS on RealityDayDream.com
DIY Plywood Plank Floors on CentsationalGirl.com

If you decide to try this and have any questions leave a comment or message me via my website! I’m happy to help if I can.

Oh, and these are the 29 painted white boards. They’re primed then painted with one coat. The second coat will go on after installation. I’ll admit I’m pretty excited to see them all go up!

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A space of my own

I think it would be fair to say that most artists and crafters dream of having their own work studio. A space separate from their living area whether it’s a room, the basement, or even better, completely detached from their home.

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Well, that dream is becoming a reality for this origami artist. Earlier this summer the ground was broken (and graded) to accommodate the 16’x20′ build site where I will have not only a work studio but a screened porch (to protect me from the mosquitos, noseeums, deer fly, and black flies) as well.

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I am fortunate that some of Fred’s friends (now my friends too) are helping Fred with the build. One has come with a tractor and back hoe, professional equipment to finish the concrete for the foundation, and his invaluable expertise. Oscar has made many long trips out to Greenville to burn and oil the wood siding. He will be a Shou Sugi Ban expert by the time he’s done. Scratch that. He already is 🙂 I cannot thank them each of them enough.

The walls went up…

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And then the rafters and roof over the studio area…

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The cedar boards and windows arrived. The cedar smells sooooooo good!

My favorite window is this one…

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It’s a 5′ round window to evoke the “moon” windows and doors in Japan. The round shape is used as a frame to create a vignette through which a beautiful garden view can be enjoyed in all four seasons. It is going into the large square framed area below. Basically, I’ll be sitting right in front of it almost level with the bottom of it because my work area will be on an 18″ high platform which accomplishes two things:

  1. The platform will create storage space beneath it because storage space is hard to come by in the 8’x12′ I’ve designated as my work area.
  2. Because even as I type this I am sitting on the couch as if I’m sitting on the floor, and because I even sit at the dining table in a chair as if I’m sitting on the floor (legs tucked beneath or in front of me) I decided to forego having chairs and simply install a dropped foot well in the platform, like in a Japanese restaurant tatami room. Then if I want to sit upright I can. Having a soft cushion to curl up or sit on instead of a chair will save a lot of space!

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For the exterior we are using a Japanese wood preparation/preservation technique called Shou Sugi Ban (pronounced: show-sue-gē-bawn). Everywhere I’ve read about this technique (aka yakisugi) it is said the treatment leaves the wood fire, moisture, and insect resistant and the benefits can last as long as 85 years. The tung oil can be reapplied as needed to further protect the wood. Fred suggested using cedar shiplap siding vs tongue and groove as most of the tongue and groove is beveled on the side edge and wouldn’t look flat like this.

The steps go like this:

  1. Burn board with a propane tank weed burner – Video on Instagram
  2. Scrubbing off the charred wood with a brush
  3. Rinse board with water
  4. Allow board to dry
  5. Brush board with tung oil and wipe with rag
  6. Allow oil to dry
  7. Repeat step 5

It is labor intensive but the results are beautiful. The burnt wood is dark brown and blackish when the sun isn’t shining directly upon it. With direct sunlight the wood becomes almost metallic looking with a rich organic appearance as the oiled finish highlights the natural wood grain and knots.

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Eventually the brown in the boards will fade to grey the way cedar naturally fades and the blackness will soften as the particles of soot still trapped in the wood grain weather off over time.

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We opted to leave the porch posts, beams, and rafters unburnt to create contrast with the siding. I didn’t want things too matchy-matchy.

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Right now the warm red color of the cedar provides a sharp contrast. I’m looking forward to when it greys and the contrast isn’t so pronounced.

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To date everything I’ve made for ArtPrize the past three years has been made working at this 2’x3’coffee table in the living room with my supplies divided between two upstairs rooms and the basement. It is organized chaos. It will be so nice to have a formal workspace sometime next year 🙂

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But even more important than having my dream studio come to life is that I’ve found a place (The Place) where my creativity isn’t crushed or stifled because of my environment. Instead, or maybe I should say finally, it’s been released in a torrent of ideas brought to fruition.

Above is the pair of Sandhill Cranes that nest in the marsh behind the property I live on. Sometimes they call to each other from the marsh before and as they leave in the morning. When I hear them I rush out to the back deck to watch them fly away for the day.

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It took my whole life, many mistakes, self-reflection, learning how to let go of fear, and a giant leap of faith but I’ve finally found true happiness out here in this beautiful landscape I now call home ❤

Origami Iris Crane

There’s a saying if you don’t like the weather in Michigan, wait 10 minutes. LOL. But in the past week we have had unseasonably bizarre weather. It was 19º (F) out just a week or so ago and a few days later it was 70º (F).

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Yesterday I noticed the new bulbs I purchased at Hollanders last autumn were breaking forth and pushing up through the softened, warmed dirt. “Hmmm” (I thought to myself) “I wonder when the iris’ will make their first appearance?”

 

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Which got me thinking about flowers and the traditional Iris origami model. I’d always wanted to make one and add the yellow beard to the petals but just never got around to it. But last night, just as I was falling asleep, I saw a picture in my head of a dark purple origami crane with finely cut yellow paper attached to the wings, neck, and tail to create the beards. So this morning when I awoke I made it.

I have no doubt the inspiration and gumption to actually make it came from following Cristian Marianciuc (aka icarus.mid.air) on Instagram. Cristian creates the most incredibly creative embellished origami cranes you can possibly imagine. If you’ve never seen his work CLICK HERE to go take a peek, I’ll wait.

I did make a couple of large iris decades ago but none since then. I went on Google to find instructions and took two practice runs (they aren’t very pretty but they are what they are) before creating the final piece.

tinygami-miniature-origami-iris-flower

Gluing the beards, made of finely snipped paper, down was fairly simple.

It kind of made the crane look like a horse with a mane. Or a really funky crane wearing a mohawk. Either way, I loved the way it turned out. I’m always so happy when the pictures in my head are brought to fruition. It’s a very good feeling. This morning I said to Fred “I think my creative mojo is back!” After showing him this piece he agreed.

To show scale (2 5/8″ high) I used a wine cork as my planting medium. So cute! It even stands up on its own. The leaf and stem combination is an original design. It’s true what they say about necessity being the mother of invention.

You can expect to see a field of theses little beauties incorporated into one of my ArtPrize mobiles this fall. I’m very excited to make more of them!

Surprise! It’s a box!

After sending out a dozen or so Tinygami gift boxes I realized there was a perception problem. . . Or is there? I came up with a solution for what I now think may not be a problem at all.

I’d given my tiny boxes cute and clever little names like “Littly Lily Box” and “Bunny Box” when I should have just called them “Accidental Surprise Boxes.”

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My friend Mark calls it “The curse of knowledge” when you assume others know what you know. Turns out unless people had been following my Tinygami Instagram feed or Tinygami Facebook page they most likely weren’t going to realize that the origami box they received was, in fact, a box. I think most assumed it was a display stand and the tiny model on top was a decoration I had sent them.

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The funny thing is that some even took them places to show people, like a dear friend who took hers to work, never realizing the box was filled with tinygamis! I understand how it happens because even though they’re full of miniature origami models everything is so light you can’t tell by weight there is anything in the box.

Think The Tardis effect. The boxes are so small expecting there’s more inside just isn’t the natural conclusion one would jump to. It’s rather fun really. It’s like they’re little magic boxes.

tinygami-inside-miniature-origami-gift-box

And one of the first patrons to my Etsy Shop messaged back to say the person she had me send a filled Bunny Box to as a gift had no idea there were more surprises inside. Which made it all a lot more fun for her to be on the phone and hear the astonishment in her recipient’s voice when she realized the stand was a box and there were more tinygamis yet to be discovered. LOL

So now there will be two options going forward:

  1. People can order their boxes with a small lift that raises the lid and distinguishes the lid from the bottom of the box. I’ll probably make those in contrasting papers as well like in the first photo.
  2. Or, you can order a surprise style box and call or message your recipient after to ask “Did you look inside?”

 

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This photo was posted on Instagram by my friend Shellie after she received her Tinygami gift box 🙂

Because the tinygamis are so small the boxes can be filled with an incredible number of items even though they are only 1″x 1″ or 1/2″ x 1/2″ in diameter. The one that surprised me most was this Little Lily Box. It held 6 tiny origami frogs, a tiny paper heart, an Itty Bitty 3/8″ crane tucked inside a menko to protect the crane, and a fortune cookie style banner with my website address on it. All inside of the 1″x 1″ x 1/2″ box!

What I have learned is regardless of whether people realize they boxes are boxes (or not) the one thing that has been 100% is that they’ve brightened the day of everyone who has received one. Which means a lot to me to know my work is out there in the world making people happy 🙂

If you’re curious you’ll find the boxes and more are now available at my almost complete Etsy Shop.

Packing & shipping

tinygami-miniature-origami-stacie-tamaki

Because some of the miniature origami pieces I create have very delicate points and tips to them (think crane head and tip of tail and frog’s feet) I needed to figure out a way to protect them during shipping once I begin selling them from my Etsy shop.

Then I discovered this Paper Kawaii tutorial that shows how to make a menko, which is a traditional origami fold that can best be described as a very ornate envelope, of sorts. My tinygami pieces will be tucked safely inside the menko then placed in a regular letter envelope to ship them to their new homes.

I’ll be individually photographing each of the above ensembles and will be listing them on Etsy in the coming days.

Very excited to be moving forward! 2016 is going to be a great year 🙂

LowellArts! Artprize: Second Glance 2016

If you missed seeing my miniature origami cranes at ArtPrize 2015 this is your second chance at the “ArtPrize: Second Glance” exhibit currently hosted at LowellArts! King Gallery in downtown Lowell, MI. Exhibition details are at the end of the post.

I have to say I’m very happy and honored to have been invited to exhibit “4000 Culture Cranes,” particularly in a gallery.

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Over the years in California I’d found that there was a certain pretentiousness when some “art establishment” people saw both pictures of my work and my work in person. “Oh, this isn’t fine art” more than one told me, “This is crafts.” Um, ok, but people like it no matter what you label it, I’d think to myself. One person in particular immediately undervalued my work to the point I didn’t want to show it to anyone professional ever again saying in his expert opinion it was worth around $75.00. I’d like to say what they thought didn’t matter to me, but it did. It caused me to think my work didn’t belong in a gallery, that it wasn’t good enough.

Happily, thanks to my two ArtPrize experiences and LowellArts! that misimpression is gone for good. I guess the lesson I’ve learned is to believe in myself even when others don’t. My art is made with so much love and is such a personal part of me, a reflection of who I am, that I’ll admit I’m much more thinned skinned about it than most other aspects about my “self” when it comes to criticism. I know it’s not for everyone, and there will always be critics but (for me) the good news is they will no longer stop me from putting my work out there. I owe those who love and believe in my work (and me) a huge THANK YOU for that.

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I even had custom acrylic display cases made to protect the cranes from dust and damage. I was particularly pleased with how they look in the gallery.

This is just part of the show description on the LowellArts! website:

“This is the third exhibition of this kind to be held at LowellArts!, and gives a great snapshot of artwork by local artists. Artists featured are from: Kentwood, Grand Rapids, East Grand Rapids, Ada, Lowell, Rockford, Comstock Park, and Greenville. 

This is an invitational exhibition, and artists were selected by the LowellArts! Gallery Committee. The committee reviewed over 300 pieces of artwork by artists who fit the geographical criteria – both by visiting works in person during ArtPrize and by utilizing the ArtPrize website.

This is a wonderful opportunity to re-visit artwork, or see for the first time artwork by local artists who worked hard to be prepare for and be a part of ArtPrize 2015. Many great pieces were tucked away in venues less visited by ArtPrize crowds. Or, in hustle and bustle of the event, other great pieces were not admired as long as they should.”

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The 21 featured Artists include: Ann Dyer, Charles Smalligan, Colleen Kole, Colleen O’Rourke, Frank Speyers, Gerard Wood, Jay Constantine, Jeffrey Jan Lende, Jill Risner, Leanne McGann, Margaret Farrell, Maria Joy Lemon, MaryJo Fox Fell, Monica Stegeman, Ron Lichtenstein, Ross Mccrory, Sarah Knill, Stacie Tamaki, Stone Peng, Susan L Anderson.

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ArtPrize: A Second Glance – website
Jan 9-Feb 15, 2016
The LowellArts! King Gallery
149 S. Hudson Street
lowell, MI 49331 – map
Tuesday through Friday 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Saturday: 1:00 PM – 4:00 PM

 

Miniature origami: A unique entry at ArtPrize 2015

I spent the better part of yesterday in Grand Rapids and the better part of this year working on my latest entry for ArtPrize 2015. You can view my ArtPrize profile at this link.

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You may recall that I entered the same competition in 2014. I’ve found it’s the one thing that has motivated me to not only begin producing art but to focus on becoming a full-time working artist able to support myself by earning a living wage.

Last year many ArtPrize visitors encouraged me to make larger cranes if I want to be a serious contender to win the $200,000 cash Grand Prize by receiving the most public votes (large scale works have historically been more successful at this particular competition), but tiny is my thing so I’m sticking with it. Call me a rebel 🙂

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This year my entry is titled “4000 Culture Cranes.” I created 4 mobiles ranging in size from 1/4″ to 3/4″ high. The finished mobiles range from 7″-8″ in diameter and from 24″-36″ in length. Three are comprised of 1000 cranes each while one set (Sadako) ended up with 2000 cranes. LOL Last year the first thing people asked was “How many are there?” so I incorporated the number 4000 into the title. Then, 48 hours before the opening day I decided to deconstruct a set of cranes I’d made years ago and incorporate them into this year’s entry increasing the total but too late to change the title of the piece to 5000 Culture Cranes.

The series is hanging in the front window at the Grand Central Market and Deli.

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It’s located at 57 Monroe Center NW right in the heart of Downtown Grand Rapids and less than a block and a half past the Grand Rapids Art Museum (aka The GRAM) heading east down Monroe Center NW.

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Each mobile is themed after a different Japanese cultural tradition. Two are more readily recognizable and two are less well known. From left to right they are:

  1. Sadako and the 1000 Paper Cranes: World peace
  2. Maneki-neko: Prosperity and good luck cat
  3. Daruma: Goal setting (aka Wish Doll)
  4. Mochibana and Kagami Mochi: New Year decorations both made from the sweet confection mochi

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I’ve created brief photo journals of the build process for each mobile. To challenge myself I decided to try working with air dry clay for the first time. For the larger pieces like the Maneki-cat and the Daruma I used styrofoam to carve base forms then covered them with a thin layer of clay which then had to be painted.

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Other elements were made of paper, wire, and beads. Some of the sushi that surrounds the cat are made of origami and other pieces are sculpted/formed with paper but not technically origami. A lot of prototyping and pattern making was involved for both the sushi and the washi paper doll of Sadako.

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The Daruma and Maneki-cat also required hand-painting fine detail work to the finished sculptures. I don’think I’ve done that type of painting in well over a decade. Was relieved to know it’s (apparently) like riding a bike.

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The 3-D washi paper doll of Sadako was a challenge because I could only find one tutorial online that kind-of showed how it’s done. The designer was generous to share photos of each step but didn’t include size or dimensions of each element so it took a day or two of mocking up the prototype testing each piece over and over until I figured it all out.

Quite a few kids had asked me last year if I was familiar with the story of Sadako and the 1000 Paper Cranes. They had read the book about her so they knew she was a 12 year old girl who suffered radiation poisoning when the atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. Several years later she developed cancer and attempted to fold 1000 cranes so the Gods would grant her single wish to be healthy again. The crane is a symbol of longevity in Japan as a legend says the cranes live for 1000 years. Sadly, Sadako passed away before completing her cranes. The school children of Japan took up a collection to raise money to have a sculpture made of her that stands today in Hiroshima’s Peace Park. I wanted to create a mobile that reflected her story, something with resonance to connect visitors to the cranes in a small way.

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One of the biggest and kind of funny challenges was for the mochibana mobile. A New Year’s decoration the sweet sticky rice confection known as “mochi” is left in its natural white color and some is dyed pink. Small portions are wrapped around willow branches to represent flower blossoms in the winter when there are none. My dilemma? Where to get willow branches. There are MANY huge weeping willow trees all around Western Michigan, but I felt weird knocking on a stranger’s door and asking for some of the tree in their front yard. For months I drove around with willow-envy and was working up my nerve to ask a stranger for some of theirs when a chance visit solved my problem. It turned out my friends have a gigantic weeping willow on their property! Problem solved. The both the kagami and mochibana mochi are also also made of air dry clay.

I can’t convey how happy I am to be creating again. That pushing my limits, trying new things, being able to attend ArtPrize each day to talk to people about my work, it’s all like that Mastercard commerical: Priceless.

I love ArtPrize so much I’m already planning next year’s entry! If you’ve never been to ArtPrize it’s well worth visiting. It’s a fun, and imaginative art experience where you can wander around 3 square miles of Downtown Grand Rapids and view an incredible array of creativity all in public spaces and venues.