Sunday, August 2, 2015

Fun Florida Fences

Pinterest  |  source?
I saw this great balustrade design on Pinterest, and it reminded me that I've been collecting my own photographs of cut-out Florida fences. I think I've accumulated enough to share now.

Mark D. Ruffner  |  2015
I pass this fence at least once a week. It's on an old part of St. Pete Beach known as Pass-A-Grille, Florida. The house is pretty neat, too.

Mark D. Ruffner  |  2015
Here's the gate. The fish in Florida are always smiling.

Mark D. Ruffner  |  2015
These fish are swimming in a school.

Mark D. Ruffner  |  2015
The simplest of white picket fences can be transformed by making only three diagonal cuts on each post.

Mark D. Ruffner  |  2015
Likewise, the posts of this elaborate gingerbread fence are simply the letter "Z," slightly modified.

Mark D. Ruffner  |  2015
I spent a weekend in Key West and saw this distinctive fence there. In Key West, one could form a walking tour just around great fences and porch trim.

Mark D. Ruffner  |  2015  
This was my favorite fence in Key West, and one that's often photographed by tourists. Each cutout insect or animal is an individual design.

Mark D. Ruffner  |  2015
Here's a common Key West fence design, though I photographed this particular fence on St. Pete Beach. I'm sure I've missed a few beauties in my area, and if I do find more, I'll add them to this posting.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Just For Today . . .


For the past several years, I've been sharing monthly from my collection of antique buttons. (If you click on the sidebar icon entitled "Antique Button of the Month," you'll see a gallery of all the buttons I've shared to date.)

Just for today, I want to call your attention to this month's offering. It's my favorite of the lot, and I think it deserves to be seen enlarged. This button, which probably adorned a cloak or cape, measures less than 1¾" in diameter, and for that size has extraordinary detail. I like to think of it as my little Cellini.

Wishing you a Happy August!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Pompeii No.58: Pompeii's Finale

No, I don't mean smoke and ashes. When I say, "Pompeii's Finale," I simply mean that my home mural project has finally come to an end.

Since my last posting. the mural's window plaque has received a gold surface and a Latin inscription. The font is appropriately named Trajan, and the saying translates as, "Know Thyself," wise and profound advice from the ages.

click to enlarge
Here are views of the room as it appears today... 

click to enlarge

click to enlarge

click to enlarge

click to enlarge

click to enlarge

I promised my blogging friend Yvette that I would include a view from the kitchen. It's painted an orange, but I think you could also call it a Pompeian yellow.

Of course there is still work to be done — the Roman grille for the window, a solution to shield the kitchen from view while still allowing easy access, perhaps revised lighting, and then finally, the furnishings. That should be a lot of fun. In the meantime, I'll put away the ladder, the drop cloth and many quarts of paint.

Thanks for viewing!

Friday, July 17, 2015

Pompeii No.57: Window Treatments

If you've been following the many installments of the Pompeii Room's evolution, you might remember that I painted the window frame at the very beginning.

I chose to begin there because it was the first thing that people entering the room would see. But I painted it loosely because I wanted to give a little momentum to the project. At the time, I said I'd return at a later date and add more detail. Well, that time is now.

I began by repainting the entire frame to better match the rest of the room's masonry. Now all the masonry is in the same color family, primarily a Sherwin Williams paint called Sand Dollar.

Here you can see the before and after. The original window frame was a light mustard yellow that I equated with sandstone, and as you can see, I've better delineated the torus that tops the window frame.

click to enlarge
My friend Sandy — who gives excellent critiques — thinks that the cobalt blue plaque makes the frame a little too top heavy, even if it will be getting an inscription. She's made a suggestion that I like, and so that blue will be replaced by my next posting.

You've undoubtedly noticed that in all my images of the Pompeii Room's window, I've masked the actual window with gray. That's because I've been bothered all along by a venetian blind, which quickly destroys the illusion I've been working hard to create.

Greek Revival America  |  Roger G. Kennedy  |  detail of a photograph by Robert Lautman
What I really wanted was a Roman grill like the image above. I drew plans of such a window and even consulted with a fine carpenter who's done other work on the house.
I also looked into the possibility of using industrial grilles.

And then last week, while my house was being tented, I discovered this antique screen, originally hinged as a room divider. If you look closely, you might be able to see that by removing an X'd unit from the bottom of each panel, the fit will be almost perfect. I'm thrilled.

I hope you'll join me for the next installment!

Monday, July 13, 2015

The Reason for a Summer Hiatus

Dear blogging friends,

I haven't posted lately, and one of the reasons has been that my little house was inundated this past month with termites! They swarmed into every room, and there was evidence that they had been in the attic for some time.

So I did quite a bit of logistics to move food, toiletries, vitamins, plants and even a collection of daguerreotypes to other sites. This is what my house looked like over last weekend. I stayed in a lovely spot on the Gulf of Mexico — about 20 minutes away — so any inconvenience ultimately turned into a pleasant vacation for me.

These photographs show how my house is surrounded by Live Oaks, several palm trees, and the ever-present Spanish moss.

Did you ever wonder why the tenting usually has stripes? Each stripe is five feet wide, making it easy for the exterminators to calculate tent size and house area.

We'll get back to Pompei with the next posting.
I hope you'll join me then.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Pompeii No.56: The Tympanum

In Pompeii No. 41, I showed the pediment above the kitchen door thusly, asking my readers whether its interior should be left plain or ornamented. The unanimous response was that the tympanum (properly identified by Jim of The Road to Parnassus) should be ornamented, and so by popular demand, that's the project for this week.

click to enlarge
My first tympanum drafting was "A," but the more I looked at it, the more those leaf scrolls reminded me of a Victorian furniture design. So I redesigned the tympanum as "B," which has a more graceful and authentically Greek feel to it. (The Pompeians were looking to ancient Greece for inspiration.) Incidentally, all parts of the mural have been worked out in tracings like the examples above.
The architectural decoration above is called an akroter, and is found at the apex of gables on classical buildings, especially Greek temples. Within the typical akroter is an element called the palmette, which I'm incorporating into my own design.

Ercolano-Green by Richard Ginori  |
This handsome plate also features palmettes.

click to enlarge

The finished tympanum — a look one doesn't often see above a kitchen door. Thanks to my readers for encouraging me to add it!


Friday, June 5, 2015

Pompeii No.55: An Homage to Piranesi
I decided that my Pompeian mural would not be complete without an homage to one of the most remarkable men of the eighteenth century, Giovanni Battista Piranesi. Piranesi (1720-1778) was born in the then Republic of Venice, and studied with his uncle, who was an engineer specializing in excavation. Perhaps that whetted Giovanni's appetite for the etchings that would make him famous.

Piranesi: The Complete Etchings  |  Luigi Ficacci
At the age of 20, Piranesi went to Rome, studied etching and engraving, and soon produced a series of Roman views that brought him his initial fame. Above is his depiction of the ruins of the forum of Nerva.

Piranesi: The Complete Etchings  |  Luigi Ficacci
Piranesi measured the ruins of Rome, then made beautiful topographic maps, as well as reconstructions of imperial Rome at its height. Above is Piranesi's reconstruction of the Campus Martius, originally a military field dedicated to the god Mars. Below is a another reconstruction of the Campus Martius, perhaps inspired by Piranesi's work.
Piranesi: The Complete Etchings  |  Luigi Ficacci
If that were that not enough, Piranesi recorded countless Roman fragments in multiple compositions like the one above.

The three previous engravings came from this book published by Taschen, and no library of architectural history (or for that matter decorative design) would be complete without it.

click to enlarge
I should add before I go on that Piranesi is also famous for having drawn a series of imagined prisons. They'd fit in nicely with contemporary fantasy art and today's blockbuster movie sets. Piranesi was a most prolific fellow.
When I saw this lovely urn, designed by Piranesi, I thought it would be perfect to place between the living room's ignudi.

As you can see, my own version has a different bottom than the original reference, but one that is also based on a Piranesi design.

Such a substantial urn deserves a plinth, perhaps even one with a commemorative portrait. But who is this? Certainly not Giovanni Battista Piranesi!

It is yours truly. The self-portrait measures approximately three inches high, or about the same size you're seeing it now, if you have a 21.5-inch screen.

click to enlarge
Now the ignudi can contemplate the urn, rather than ogle each other, as they seemed to be doing before. This is a dark corner that abuts a floor-to-ceiling mirror, so it's a little difficult to light properly.

This angled view is actually a truer representation.

And with that, the living room part of the mural is finished. Now I'm going to double back and tweak a couple areas to which I mentioned I would return.

I hope you'll join me for the next stage.