Tag Archives: crafty

Pulp, Non-fiction

I have a tendency to take up a different artsy-craftsy thing each winter. (Although I believe the knitting lasted for three Winters.) I’ve tried oil painting, weaving, knitting, lye soap making, glycerine soap making, wine making, twig art, bath salts, all sorts of things. I’d say about half of these end up being successful enough that I’ll sell the stuff at Etsy.com and/or enter craft shows. (Made quite a few bucks, actually.)

I’ve always admired that handmade, chunky paper you see here and there.

So, I wanted to try “artisan” paper making. I wouldn’t exactly use the word “artisan” to describe the light grey stuff I made today, but colors can be changed. Fact is, it worked. Here’s another fact – It also makes a right and proper mess. Pulpy. Even by hand, it’s still made from pulp. You can imagine.

You have to grind everything down to pulp first – and that’s not even half the mess – but I like that I can use 100% recycled whatever-paper-I-have-around, as long as it’s not slick and shiny. And yep, the paper really is made one sheet at a time. (No wonder it’s expensive when I see it in the stores.) Below is a shot of today’s finished product. This was previously junk mail, old newspapers, and spent garden flowers. (Those are bits of leaves and purple violas mixed in.)

It folds fine, and I was able to write on it with no problem. Neato, huh? I’m going to look into some things I can turn it into – blank journals and such. I figure if I eventually decide I’d like to do some craft shows, I need more that just a pile of weird looking petal paper.

It seriously lightens as it dries! You can dry it several ways – the easiest of which is just letting it sit – but no matter which way you dry it, it takes quite a while. Below is a shot of a wet piece next to a dry piece.

I’ll have to build a frame and deckle to a more standard size. The main tools you use – the frame, screen, and deckle – are sort of like silk screen equipment. The sheets pictured are about 8×10, because I just threw some makeshift tools together quick out of old picture frames.

First stop is making something a little more attractive and testing colors. Any ideas other than journals and plain ol’ stacks of the stuff?



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Poulet Palace Renovation Day

And I do mean day!

I took down last year’s old wooden Franken-pen, which had been cobbled together over the seasons. Started as a fence, gained a ramshackle roof, ended up covered on one side because it was so ugly. That’s it in the picture below, hanging off the side of the chicken coop, behind the cabin. So, anyhow, I tore down the enclosure, and moved the coop. Took all day, but it’s done.

Pretty ugly back there. Plus, if I move the coop and pen, I’ll have more room on this side.

It didn’t give up easy – took about two hours to get to this point – but it’s coming down.

The pen is gone! And the only way to move the coop is by the tilt-flip-and-spin method. Notice the boards I put underneath as sliders. I also have it propped up on a cement block, because it’s so heavy, I can only lift it a little at a time.

Meanwhile … well, they had to go somewhere. The girls camped out in the cabin. Let’s just say there was plenty of mess, but nothing I can’t clean up. More mess than I wanted, but not as much as I thought there would be.

I think we can safely cross “wire fence building” off the list of things I have a talent for.

But now, they have full sun and plenty of grass!

The old pen, reduced to a pile of boards.

Now, doesn’t that look better? I have so much more room over here now!

And I continued the rock garden border right to their door. This will be awesome once I get some perennials planted on either side. Doesn’t every palace deserve a grand entrance?


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Everything Old is New Again

Who recorded that old song? Peter Allen, maybe?

I’ve always wanted a wooden Adirondack chair. Except, they run $100 and up. Uh-huh. For a chair. An outside chair. Yeah, $100 for a chair is not exactly in the budget. However …

I was helping my neighbor build a porch onto her cabin yesterday. I noticed three seriously rotted Adirondack chairs on her junk pile. Says I, “I wonder if there are enough parts there  to rebuild one decent chair?” As a matter of fact, one chair had much less rot than the others. After bashing two of them apart, I found enough parts to repair the “good” one. Armed with my screw gun, nails, a hammer, a wire brush, two sanding blocks, and a few cans of “Classic Brown” satin spray paint, here’s the play-by-play.

Here’s One Arm Sally upon her arrival. I’ve already bashed off two of the rotten seat slats and replaced those. This is going to be a lot of wire brushing, sanding, and patching!

One of the other chairs had a decent spare arm, but it had a split through part of it. I filled the split with wood putty, carefully attached it back together with brads, and let it sit overnight to dry. The next morning, I sanded it down pretty-as-pie and attached the new arm.

Clean, sanded, and ready for paint! Now if only we could get some sunshine, so I can get the spray cans out! I tested the color on the dry part, but I need some sun to dry out the bare wood.

Hey, looka that! Not bad for say, three hours or so of work. There’s a good amount of rot on the bottom of the main rails, but the patches will last a season or two before I have to toss it or do a major overhaul.

Sweet ride! You have a great day too!


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Cottage Conceptions

For those that are coming to the story late, I asked all my blog friends and readers to send me their idea of an awesome cottage. (I’m thinking of building on my own.) Readers here at The Pines are a pretty neat group, so I suspect that we’re going to have a virtual mini-encyclopedia of cabin and cottage designs here!

And it’s good for our blogs! Keep the cottage pics, links, and comments coming! I’ll post the links here, we’ll have a bit of a chat about them, and we’ll have a right proper Link Fest. Not a blogger? Play along anyway! Pass it on! I’d love it if you’d mention it on your blog or to friends – the more pics and links, the better!

* * *

Now, Tricollie, she’s a lady after my own heart. I could live in just about anything as long as I had one of these. Truth be told, when I was jotting a thing or two down, I actually bumped out the walls of the bathroom and took space from the bedroom, so I could accomodate a real tub. Had a link issue, but this is the sort of thing we were talking about.

Lynne at The Blue Door Blog (love that house of hers!) suggested Strawbale building. If you’re not familiar, it works like this – A foundation is built, straw bales are stacked as walls (and fortified/tied with rebar or otherwise), then plastered hard with a natural Earth plaster.

Strawbale is a relative of Cob – mud/clay building. There was a time, Awesome Lynne, when I had every book published on all this. Went to a workshop! But, with our visibility, short build season, and a potential codes battle, I decided I didn’t have it in me. Love ’em though.

Allie from over at Good Things Challenge sent me a wonderful link! (She has a neat gardening post up, currently.) They’re planning on doing the Owner/Builder thing too, and made me aware of their go-to site, Country Plans. Via the link, I’m sending you to a particular cottage – because the construction photos were so good, they made me feel better!

Kathy sent me the link to these little cottages in Oregon. They’re absolute gems – looking at the photos of these gorgeous little things is like walking through an art gallery. Makes me wish we had more decent salvage from tearing down the junky house last Summer. (There was really nothing except some logs and lumber I saved.)

Vicki at Havenwood sent me this wonderful link. If you’re a follower of natural building methods or interesting cottages, you’ve probably seen this house. Friends and I have always called it The Hobbit House. I had somehow forgotten about it! I couldn’t do something like this around here, but it’s enough for me just to look at the thing. It’s amazing. Also, an awesome debunking on Vicki’s part – this photo circulates pretty frequently, but no one ever gives the link or location. Thanks!

Joanna at Boonedocks Wilcox is tugging at my heart strings! Oh, how I would love to build a cordwood house. I want one bad! You can likely tell from my favorite photo – they’re stacked and mortared hardwood. Two big issues for me though – I’ve never known a cordwood house that didn’t leak, and you really have to stay on top of tuck pointing the joints. There’s constant shrinking and expanding of the wood, so there’s constant pointing work. But I want one! It would be pretty safe to say that a cordwood house is my heart’s desire. I’ve studied them pretty hard, for several months last year actually. Maybe Joanna has convinced me to take another look.

To Sandy, I have to just plain say, “Thanks.” Hers are the kind of comments that make me feel like I’m not alone in all this. Sandy and her husband built their own house (over three years), and left a really lovely comment about the this-that-and-the-other thing when building for yourself. Thanks again, Sandy.

The Mac is a neighbor, they built their own home, and we share a Zodiac Sign. So it didn’t surprise me when the nicities she said I needed were exactly the things I have discovered it would be nice to have – 2×6 exterior wall, mud room, metal roof so the snow sheds itself, lots of windows! Mac also points us to the ultimate clearing house for those interested in building smaller – The Tiny House Design Blog. It wonderful. The author collects information in all types of tiny houses, and posts them for our edification on the blog.

John over at Adirondack Almanack suggests a great book (I love this stuff) called “How to Build Cabins, Lodges, and Bungalows,” a “straightforward manual details the construction process from foundation to roof, including chapters on porches, fireplaces, and furnishings.” Might be able to inter-library this one to check it out before I order one. Pretty neat – It’s been constantly reprinted. Awesome.

OldLadyMac sent me an awesome link – Shelter Kit. This is the sort of thing I love – I wouldn’t buy a kit house, mostly because … well, I don’t know why. I just wouldn’t. However, these kit house websites usually offer tons of information, and this one is a whopper. Lots of great photos, floorplans, photos. Awesome site.

Blessing the Elements send me word of a site I had never seen before – Natural Home Magazine. I think of it as more of an “inspiration site,” and frankly, I think that’s one of the most valuable components of this whole building-your-own-home enterprise. I always like to say – Take tons of time planning and dreaming, and enjoy yourself! This is a great site for that. Good reading here! Fun. Reads like a magazine. I found information here on Tiny Houses, Cob Houses, and all sorts of neat stuff. Read a great article about the 280 square foot cottage pictured.

* * *

So, where does this put me? Maybe a few soft decisions have been made. I now know that we will be either building a standard construction framed cottage, or a cordwood cottage. I know both methods. I understand them. It’s important that I feel comfortable. I’m going to go back to look at my cordwood reading again.

After looking at more photos, I know that I positively need to do a simple “Alpine” or “English Country” thing. They feel right. I tried real hard to look at other styles, but I can’t wrap my mind around putting a non-rustic cottage amidst my spruces and pines.  I really believe that in the best of worlds, the home is part of the landscaping, part of a whole. I believe that ideally, the property is one piece, not several varied components.

At the mention of all this, my mind naturally wandering towards tree and perennial planting this Spring. There’s going to be a lot of that going on soon! I do a lot of planting around here – counteracting whoever stripped the lot clean 100 years ago. I have an endless supply of free White Pines and Lupins. Wouldn’t a little cordwood cottage look awesome among a property filled with those?

While we’re in a stream-of-conciousness mood –  I found a cottage name at natural Home Magazine that I really like. “Quietude.” Isn’t that cool?


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The Museum Giveaway

I have a museum (of sorts) on the side of my chicken pen. And I want you to guess what’s in it. 

Since I’m not knitting this year, and since I have a few delicate winter scarves left over from past holidays, and since most of my followers are ladies, and since I’d rather someone were wearing the things (aside from a storage bin) … Well, you can see where this is going. A blog giveaway. Trendy/crafty of me, no? Awesome.

1. You have to be a girl. Because they’re girly scarves and all.

2. Make sure you fill out the comment forms with an email and such. Or, ya know, I can’t contact you if you win.

3. If you don’t know the specific name of a thing, no big. Specific names and technical terms are not required. Just what each item “is.”

Here’s a pic of my Chicken House Fence Museum. These are all things that we found in, underneath, or on the old house while we were tearing it down. First person to leave a comment here correctly identifying all six items (two of them are the same thing) will be the proud new owner of a nice, light, super soft alpaca blend loose-weave scarf, and a navy blue alpaca blend scarflette done in the same type of fiber. No real theme to the items in the museum, just that they’re fairly old and were all found in the house and foundation. You can click on the pic to enbiggen it. 

Have fun, don’t give away your answers until you’re sure you want to guess, and feel free to pass on giveaway to other bloggers – the more the merrier!


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Anatomy of a Chicken House

Sorry folks. Had a few bad internet days there. The good news is that the internet is back, and my camera is fixed.

Big doings around here this week! We had our first frost, I’m well into my Fall prep, and … the chickens are coming Wednesday morning! Plenty to post about this week, and I have some awesome pics to show you throughout. Today, I covered the new patches of grass with some extra straw I had, and it totally feels and looks like Fall around here. However, in celebration of my avian arrivals on Wednesday morn, today is about their new home. A few folks asked how I put the thing together. Here ’tis – Anatomy of a Chicken House.







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I am the Egg Man

They are the egg men.
I am the walrus, goo goo g’joob.

000_1614Further progress on the Chicken Ranch – just a few tweaks left. The door, mainly. And a few patches. And some plexiglass. It’s awesome! Now I have to begin making space for a chicken yard around it. A chicken rancher’s work is never done.

I wouldn’t say I would do things differently. However, working with super-tough 100 year old vintage roughcut board has its drawbacks. Tough stuff. I may be finished with it in a day or two, which is what I wanted. (Actually, I wanted to be done by last Saturday, but clearly, that didn’t happen.) Anyhow, she’s all closed in, except for the door.

000_1616The interior of this comfortable, spacious chicken chalet is made from 100-year-old vintage pine. The living area features luxury nesting boxes for four, a huge (by chicken standards) window facing the Southwest, upgraded perches for six, and an extra egg door on the North side. Nesting boxes feature a terrific view of the wattle fence and gardens. Truly a luxury poulet pied-à-terre. Don’t let this terrific deal get away! Room and board is free in exchange for eggs.

I started the fence for the run on Sunday night – wood with poultry wire attached. Almost done. Sorta looks neat. Matches the hen house. Now all I need is a door and some chickens. I’ll visit the feed store to find some local leads Monday eve!



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