Sunday, March 09, 2014

Kitchen artwork

Our kitchen, with the travertine tile and stainless appliances - could easily look a little sterile.  This week, I've been adding all kinds of personal touches with artworks that we've collected.  Yesterday, I took everything down and finally painted the ceiling a fresh coat, and the walls got the final coat of green.  Other than a few major details -- like soapstone counter tops and replacing a window and door, the kitchen is close to finished.  All the colorful artwork makes it a cheerful and happy place:

First of all, I got the seat cushion covered.  I am about 90 percent happy with it - I might take it off, put a layer of batting over the foam (I bought it but thought I wouldn't need it).  

Wow, the table looks like it's skewed in this picture - it's perfectly straight.

On this wall, where there was previously a door, I hung some of my many many many Chinese checkerboards.  Above them is a mosaic snake that I made for my classroom when I still lived and taught in Indiana.  He's a fun art piece and I enjoy seeing him here!

On the window wall, I have one of two masks (the other one is on the other side of the window) that I made while teaching a unit on masks. I like making art with my students.   Below that is a great cat collage I bought while at a conference in Florida.

The color is a bit off in this picture -- but this is the other mask to the right of the window.  I also hung my awesome little kit-kat clock, and beside it are two of my small paintings from my dear friend Doris who passed about 8 or 9 years ago. 

Below the mask is an image from Lynda Barry's work - I printed it on transparency and then hand colored it in from the back.  It's in a vintage frame I found at a garage sale.

Above the ugly air-conditioner window, I hung three lizards.  The one on the left is a Mexcian carving I bought while at a conference in New Orleans, where Dale and I went to a street sale.  The one on the right was a gift from a student while I was teaching in Indiana.  The one in the center is one I bought in Pismo Beach.

Over the kitchen door, we hung a set of cow horns that were mounted by a friend who has a ranch in Colorado.  We were glad to find a place for these, they're fun but not the kind of thing you can just put anywhere! 

I hung a curtain I made from fabric strips over the window.  I made this for the first house we rented here in California - it was in the bathroom there, but I love how fun it is.

Under the clock are the small portraits of Persephone.  Don't worry, I'm working on a set of Mercury paintings, too.

Over the greenhouse window is a ceramic replica I made of one of my very favorite pieces of Medieval art -- the Magi Asleep by Giselbertus. 

The angel is waking the three magi (who are all sleeping in the same bed!), and pointing out the star.  Her single finger waking the king at the top, whose eyes have popped open -- I love this piece and am glad to have it in a place I can see it all the time. 
So - we are still waiting to find the perfect door (at the perfect price), order a window and buy countertops, but the kitchen is very liveable and lively.

In the meantime, while I was painting and hanging artwork, Dale was skim coating the fireplace --

We started off by putting a board that will act as a bit of a "mini-mantel" - a divider between the wall and the fireplace below.

We bought a hilti-gun (actually, the cheaper, hammer activated piece) that uses a .22 caliber shell to shoot nails into mortar.  We got sick of drilling anchors, and this tool works super well (and super loudly).  

Then Dale coated the part above with a bonding agent, then mixed up a mixture of plaster and cement.  He did one coat, and it dried faster than he had expected, and had time to put another coat on yesterday.  This morning, he's doing a finish coat and cleaning up the corner.  It looks really dark right now, but as it dries, it'll lighten then we'll see if we need to add a skim coat of plaster, although the way it's looking right now, it might just be fine as it with primer and paint.

Eventually, we want to retile the brick below - a nice ledger stone perhaps, but for now I am just going to paint it with the same paint I've used on the cabinets, so it will all blend together. I need to get a new fireplace cover that fits, and it will look super nice.  This has been one of those problem spots in the room - it was from the first minute we saw the house, but I think between all the cabinets, and smooth-coating the top, we might have actually managed to minimize this space so it works for us.

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