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!


  1. You are making remarkable progress with Villa del Vigneto, Marjorie and your new picture frames and your new/ old tiled floor are just the ticket for this Beloved Country home.
    The history of "the family" is taking shape in a wonderfully expressive way which is why it is such a pleasure to leave the cares of life behind, and stop by for visit with you here. :D


    1. Hi, Elizabeth - Thanks so much for visiting the Villa del Vigneto. Yes, I think the family history, with its assorted characters, is beginning to take shape. Various personalities are emerging from the shadows, allowing me to get acquainted step by small step. I'm trying to work at a leisurely pace, but this project does seem to move along faster than I expected. I'm excited to see what changes April may bring!

  2. Me gustan mucho los avances que vas haciendo en la casa,los marcos,los cuadros.los suelos...todo va definiendo el "espíritu" de la casa y de sus habitantes,poco a poco va cobrando vida y adquiriendo personalidad!

    1. Hello, Pilar - I appreciate your nice comments on the progress of the Villa del Vigneto. I'm beginning to get a sense of the family members in the villa - and of their predecessors. Theirs is a long history, belonging both to the original generations of farmers who lived in the house and to the families who have enjoyed the quiet villa retreat. It will be interesting to follow the development of this history as the construction on the villa progresses! Thanks for stopping by.

  3. Hi Marjorie! It all looks wonderfully aged and settled.... just as it should for an old "Villa"! I love the fact that there are so many hard to see halls and corners to this house.... it adds so much to the realism! I really look forward to seeing the glimpse down that long black highway... er hallway with the artwork on the walls and the urn at the end! It sounds so Serene and Classical.... orderly and purposeful but lovely at the same time! The frames you made for the "art" are very well done for the purpose they serve... I should try that for some of the frames I will eventually need in my Castle.... I love creative use of raw materials! I am glad to hear that Spring is thinking of finding you.... we still are wrestling with Winter who won't go away! And I completely sympathize with your enjoyment of the slow process of the building.... I love that too! (Must be why I am never finishing things...!) :)Your work is wonderful to see as usual, and I always look forward to an update!

    1. Hi, Betsy - As always, I appreciate your lovely comments on the villa's progress. I'm having a good time with all the halls and walls and just-glimpsed corners in this house; I'm always going around peering through the windows to see what I can see in the rooms beyond! This is a fun project; I'm glad that you understand my tendency to drag my feet a little in order to prolong the pleasure!

  4. Love the floor the villa is coming along nicely

    1. Hi - Thanks so much for stopping by the Villa del Vigneto! I'm glad you like the floors - I've enjoyed making the tiles and laying them, even though it takes a LONG time! And there are still a few more to go!

  5. Your picture frames, especially the second frame, are amazing! I love them: I know they are tiny details but the grapes on the urn and the beads on the frame are my favorite things in this post!

    1. Hi, Lori - Well, I for one am happy that you pay attention to those small details! I'm a detail person too, so I appreciate your taking notice of the grapes on the urn and the beads on the frame. Thanks for taking the time to make your "detailed" comments!

  6. Hello Marjorie,
    More wonderful work! I adore the urn that you transformed. It will be a great detail in the hallway and I think it is a great way to cut the highway! Once again your framing is beautiful and I just love your tiles. the texture is terrific. I am glad the build is taking shape and can't wait to see more.
    Big hug

    1. Hello, Giac - Thanks for stopping by the Villa del Vigneto! I'm happy that you like the "roadblock" urn! That was a fun thing to make, as were the frames - all sort of experiments, but they will serve a necessary purpose. I have three rooms yet to tile, so I think I'll be painting and cutting tiles for some time to come - it's amazing to see how many I need! (And how much patience I need!)

  7. Great job on the picture frames! The "tile" floor is going to look great once it is all done - I know that is a lot work. Keep up the good work.

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