Saturday, April 1, 2017

Going My Way on the Long Black Highway

It's possible that I'm obsessed with the back hallway in the Villa del Vigneto. One of my sons-in-law is an art teacher in Lincoln, and he also has a popular local band called the Mezcal Brothers. Gerardo is a talented songwriter, and one of his songs is entitled "Long Black Highway." Well, every time - EVERY TIME - that I look down the villa's back hallway, that song starts thrumming in my head. Except that the lyrics change to "Long Black Hallway." So I've redoubled my efforts to make sure the hallway doesn't give the impression of being a "Long Black Highway!"

I decided that a pottery urn on a pedestal might work as a "roadblock" at the end of that long, black hallway. I shaped a lidded urn from Sculpey.

I added some grape vines and leaves to further the vineyard theme of the Villa del Vigneto.

I don't remember what my original color choice was meant to be; I probably had a good reason to paint the urn white.

But it may not have been a very good reason, since the urn ended up with almost the same terra cotta finish as the original Sculpey, although it may be somewhat rosier.

The finished urn is a bit lumpy and bumpy, but it sits straight and secure on its pedestal and calls out, "STOP!" whenever the eye encounters it down that long, black highway. (Oops; I meant hallway.)

Pictures! The hallway needs more pictures, but since they will be viewed only from the side instead of straight on, I wanted substantial frames that won't hang too flat against the wall. I assembled several frames from materials that I had on hand, cut to fit prints that I found in my villa stash.

This frame was made from pieces of wood with a twisted pattern. I glued some "embellishment" on the four corners.

This tall panel will hang on one side of the hallway not far from the bedroom door.
It measures approximately 3" x 5 3/4".

This rectangular frame is about 3 1/2" x 4 1/2". 

I added a piece of beaded trim from my box of sewing remnants. 

And a generous application of metallic gold paint turned it into a fat frame!

I layered two different sizes of wood strips for this oblong frame, which measures 2" x 5 1/2". Brass corner pieces added some ornate detail.

A mixture of brass and gold paint was applied; the finished result also involved a little aging process.

And two more pictures are ready to add to the Camouflage Collection. (Also known as the Great Highway Disguise.)

 It's time to take a detour off that Long Black Highway and tend to some wall-raising business. The wall on the left (number six, but who's counting!) overlooks the villa's entrance courtyard below and extends all the way to the back of the villa. Looking through the center bedroom door, you can just glimpse an arched doorway that leads to the stair landing from the short hallway outside the bedroom. This short hallway connects to the long one.

 Shown above is the view of the same wall from the back hallway. The arched doorway is on the right, leading to the stair landing.

 Now that the sixth wall is in place, you can see that it forms the short hallway outside the center bedroom. I had just enough left-over tile pieces to cover this floor in the same way that I tiled the long hallway.

The tiled short hallway seen from the center bedroom door.

The seventh wall to go up is the dividing wall between the east and the center bedrooms.

 The front extension of this wall overlooks the loggia below.

Now that there are two separate bedrooms, tiling the floors was the next step. Except that first I needed to make the tiles! I laid out the first batch of cork coasters and applied various color washes at random. I painted batches of coasters until there were no more on hand.

 I made these tiles in the same way as those for the downstairs rooms. Since the coasters have slightly rounded corners, I had to trim away the round edges, which meant that I could cut only 9 tiles (1" square) from each coaster instead of the 16 that I had hoped for - but on the other hand, I was left with many useful scraps! 

 I measured and marked the coasters, cut off the scrap pieces, and cut the 1" tiles. The cork cuts easily with scissors.

 I tiled the floor in the small east bedroom first. I marked the center of the floor, drew four straight lines as a guide, and laid rows of tiles, starting from the center point. 

 I added more rows, using the previous rows as my guidelines.

 And done! (Almost.)

 I aged the tiles with a dry-brush application of Spice Brown paint and some Taupe eyeshadow.

 And finally, applied a light coat of satin varnish to add a little depth. And now - Finished!

 So on to the center bedroom. (Which, by the way, I will be so happy to give a real name, based on a dominant color, or an occupant, or any other factor besides location!) I needed an extra guideline in this room, since there is a jutting angle.

 And the tiles go on, row by row.

 Until finished...

and aged...

and varnished - and Done! 

This bedroom floor isn't as even as the others; I know that's entirely due to the age and settlement of the house over all the years and can't be helped. Perhaps the uneven tiles add to the character of the villa, as laugh lines or worry lines define the human character. This house has been well used and well loved, and has "settled" into its own bones as it reaches a great age. 

Another month, another blog post! Time is moving fast, but I'm thankful that my progress on the Villa del Vigneto is moving at a slower pace. I'm enjoying this project too much to hurry it along!
March went on its way with quiet days of mizzle and drizzle, and spring is taking its time in getting established. But surely April will soon burst forth with bud and blossom and sunshine and warmth. I can't wait!