Down and Dirty

The demolition of my backyard continues in preparation for building my new art studio and a deck off the back of the house. Here’s the second shed being torn down today.

Backyard demolition in preparation for studio

And here’s what the yard looks like now. It’s mostly dirt, and very bleak looking.

Backyard after demolition

After the construction crew left, I went on an archaeological walk through the dirt and discovered these findings.

Archaeological finds

They appear to be a piece of a ceramic plate, a piece of round clear glass, and a piece of a brown bottle. How did the round glass survive the bulldozers? Probably not Chumash Indian remains, but maybe they have some story to tell.

UPDATE: Upon closer investigation, I see that the round piece is clear plastic, not glass, and I care barely make out these words etched around the edge: UV FILTER 001. It’s 1-1/2 inches in diameter and 1/8-inch thick.

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Construction and Banana Update

The backyard demolition for my art studio started today. Here’s what’s left of the back shed, and the cypress trees blocking the house next door are gone. I’m going to put in Pittosporum Silver Sheen to replace them. The Silver Sheen are a more manageable size and have a pretty, wispy look.

Construction of art studio

Nelson wanted to check out the backhoe after the construction crew was gone for the day.

Nelson checking out construction

In the meantime . . . YES, we do have bananas! Bananas are beginning to emerge from the banana flower. So exciting!

Banana plant

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Serra Cross Ventura

Yesterday my Aunt Caprice, Uncle Allan, and Caprice’s sister Louana drove up from Santa Monica to see my new house. It was great to spend some time with them, and show them a bit of Ventura.

We walked around downtown, and then I took them to see Serra Cross in the hills above City Hall. The large wooden cross was planted on top of a hill overlooking the Buenaventura Mission soon after the mission was founded by Father Serra in 1782. It served as a road sign for travelers in search of the mission.

Serra Cross Ventura

Serra Cross Ventura

The area is now a small park, and the view of the city and the ocean from the cross is amazing.

View of Ventura from Serra Cross

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The Beginning of an Art Studio

Guess what’s here? Say goodbye to the funky old shed and the grass. My contractor is starting work on my art studio this week, beginning with the demolition of one of the sheds and leveling the lot for the concrete foundation. But don’t hold your breath. This project is scheduled to be finished in mid-January! It’s exciting to see it starting to take shape.

Beginning of art studio construction

Beginning of art studio construction

Beginning of art studio construction

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Ullambana Festival at An Lac Temple

There’s a big Ullambana Festival at An Lac Temple today, the Vietnamese Buddhist temple that’s just up the street from me. Of course I had to go check it out and see what was going on!

At Ullambana, it is believed that the souls of the dead can come back to their home and gather with family. The temple is decorated with colorful flags, and lots of people have come for the occasion.

An Lac Temple Ventura

I made a one-minute video of the monks chanting at the festival, to give you the feel of it. If you can’t see the video below, click here to view it in a browser.

An Lac Temple Ventura

The gardens at the temple are lovely – a beautiful place for meditation.

An Lac Temple Ventura

I like that there are so many different cultural groups in this neighborhood. It’s a very special place.

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Dyeing with Eucalyptus and Ironwood

I’m dyeing some cotton yarns with local eucalyptus bark and fallen leaves from Catalina Fernleaf Ironwood trees. The eucalyptus bark is abundant, but I’ve only found six of the ironwood trees here, all in Kimball Park. They’re surrounded by large bottlebrush plants, and it’s very difficult to gather the fallen leaves from under the trees. Being persistent, I pushed my way through the bottlebrush and bees, scratched up my legs, and managed to get enough leaves for a dye bath. I need to find a better source for these leaves. I’m sure the Parks Department doesn’t appreciate me trampling their carefully maintained landscaping.

I started by soaking the leaves and bark in water for a few days.

Natural dyeing eucalyptus and ironwood

Next they were boiled for two hours, and allowed to soak for another day to extract the color.

Natural dyeing eucalyptus and ironwood

I strained the leaves and bark out of the dyes, then added the yarns to soak and later boil.

Natural dyeing eucalyptus and ironwood

And here are the finished yarns, after washing and drying! They’re lighter than I would like, so I added some baking soda to the leftover dye baths, and I’m going to try soaking them again. The baking soda changes the pH of the dye bath, making it more alkaline. Cotton yarns take color better in an alkaline dye bath.

Natural dyeing eucalyptus and ironwood

Natural dyeing eucalyptus and ironwood

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Going Bananas

My banana tree has a flower. It’s weird looking, but I’m pretty sure it’s a flower, and it’s heavy. Maybe bananas soon? I don’t think it’s tropical enough here for bananas, but they used to grow them in Carpenteria, which isn’t too far away. We’ll see what develops!

Banana tree

Banana tree

Banana tree

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Curiosity Killed the Cat

What is Nelson thinking? He screams bloody murder when shoved into a carrier and forced to ride in the car. But leave the car open and unattended, and it becomes an irresistible place to explore. In fact he’s perfectly happy to settle down in there and take a nap. What a nut case!

Nelson in car

Nelson in car

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Finished Woven Scarf

And here is the finished scarf! It’s an experimental project for my rigid heddle weaving group. Our assignment was to weave a scarf using a rigid heddle loom, and I decided to play around with some of my naturally dyed cotton yarns and an asymmetrical plaid.

Scarf woven on rigid heddle loom

Scarf woven on rigid heddle loom

Scarf woven on rigid heddle loomI’m going to ask the group about the edges — how to get the selvedges tight without making them uneven.

My next project is a runner for my dining room take. I’m soaking some eucalyptus bark for a reddish brown dye.

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Let’s Party Like It’s 1954! Event Recap

In today’s newsletter, I give you a recap of the Buenaventura Art Association’s 60th anniversary party including pictures of my 1950s “bad boy” costume. You won’t want to miss this! Click here to see it.

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