Friday, December 1, 2017

All Walled In


I didn't get as much done in November as I had thought I would, but I did finish one thing, and it was a good stopping point. I hope I'll have time in December to finish another thing. Do I sound as though I'm trying to drag this thing out as long as possible? That's because there isn't much more to do before I'll have to start the roof work. So - yes - I'm dragging and dragging and dragging!





When I was ready to start building the low wall in front of Villa del Vigneto, I searched through my huge stash of styrofoam to find pieces of the right size. And Lo and Behold! I found the original wall pieces that I had measured, cut, and stuccoed exactly two years ago. I was working in the garage at that time, racing to get all the villa pieces prepared before the weather grew too cold. I knew that I wouldn't need the wall pieces for many months, so I set them aside to save time. And I forgot all about them. It was a great surprise to come across the pieces; they were finished except for requiring a light sanding.



When I set up the wall for a dry fit, I realized right away that the wall would be too high. There's only a very narrow space between the house and the wall - due to that ONE very unfortunate mistake that I made in my early measurements. That mistake meant that I had to subtract an inch from the already too narrow space. So the wall that wouldn't have appeared too high in a wider space seemed way too high now. That ONE mistake has come back to haunt me repeatedly! I cut off a strip from the bottom of the wall to lower it a bit. I also added a piece of styrofoam for a gate post. (Although I'm wondering if a gate post is still called a gate post if there's no actual gate. I'm going to refer to them as gate posts for the time being.)



 Both front entrance gate posts are cut.



I hadn't originally planned to have the loggia gate, but I cut it in as an afterthought and added more gate posts.



An overall view with all the wall pieces and the gate posts in place.



I made quite a mess cutting styrofoam for the gate post caps - it was hard to get a size that looked right.



 Finally, I have all the wall, gate post, and cap pieces that I need.



All the wall pieces have been re-stuccoed and sanded and are ready to paint.



 The base coat of paint has been applied. The wall is the same color as the villa walls.



I've done some aging on the wall pieces.



I hammered in the support nails for the wall. I had the nails in place previously, but I kept scratching my hands on them, so I pulled most of them out and covered the remaining ones with protective styrofoam bits.



The wall has been mounted on the glue-covered nails. 



The wall seemed too smooth, so I added some swipes of joint compound for more texture.



I aged the wall a little more. 



I cut thin pieces of styrofoam for the capstones on the wall, then applied a thin layer of joint compound. These pieces are ready for a light sanding.



 I painted on a base coat of Deep Taupe...



...and finished with a "stone" color palette: washes of Cableknit Gray, Bleached Sand, White, and Trail Tan.



I cut 2" lengths of the strips to make individual stones. You may notice that the stones are narrower than the original strips. I had planned for the capstones to have a slight overhang, but I decided that didn't look right and used too much space. I cut down the styrofoam pieces to make the stones the same width as the wall. Of course, then I had to re-touch the paint.



All the stones and capstones have been glued in place.



 A closer view of the stones.



The wall looked so plain that I impulsively decided to embellish the capstones with moss. (Model railroad landscaping material - "Coarse Turf.") I spread glue along some of the crevices and stones, then pressed on the "moss" with my fingers.



 I applied moss to the entire wall...



 ...and to the loggia floor.



 While I waited for the glue to dry for the moss, I spread a liberal layer of glue on the narrow path between the wall and the house in preparation for an application of gravel. 



 Then I sprinkled a generous layer of gravel over the glue on the path and pressed the gravel down firmly. This is a view from the west end of the villa.



This view looks from the loggia toward the west end.
When the glue for the moss had dried, I carefully swept all the excess moss from the wall and the loggia, leaving only the moss that had adhered to the glue.



And only then, when the moss was quite permanently glued on, did I recognize a major oversight. (Not a mistake, mind you; just an oversight!) My impulsiveness was entirely to blame. Before I built the wall, I knew three things about moss: a rolling stone gathers none; it (supposedly) grows on the north side of trees; it grows in shaded, moist areas. Well, the stones on the villa's wall aren't rolling, but the front of the villa faces south - full sun and little moisture. I did some belated research, and now I know a few more things about moss. One encouraging thing that I know is that at least one variety of moss can tolerate almost full sun if it is kept moist enough. Perhaps I can persuade one of the villa's inhabitants to go out and mist the moss on a daily basis. Otherwise, there isn't much that can be done, short of turning the house around to face north, or tearing out all the moss. But I like the moss! So I may do nothing. If all my (belated) research is correct, the moss is likely to die out soon anyway. Bummer! 



Villa del Vigneto with its completed (and temporary?) mossy wall.


Although my experience with the mossy wall left me less than satisfied, I'm going to just let it be for a while and see whether a satisfactory solution presents itself. Meanwhile, some interesting jobs remain to be done, and I'm excited to get on with them, even though "miniature" time will be tight this month. Thank you for visiting Villa del Vigneto!


 WISHING YOU A JOYFUL DECEMBER AND A MERRY CHRISTMAS!

24 comments:

  1. Hi Marjorie! I understand your dilemma about the moss.... I was thinking that very thing when I thought about the probable climate at the Villa! But all is not lost!!! Creeping thyme and other low-growing "mossy" plants love the hot arid cracks and gravelly places!!! Just call it self-seeded thyme ....even oregano will behave that way even though it's leaves are larger. I think it looks very appropriate to the design and I think the courtyard looks particularly lovely with the "thyme" growing in the cracks! As for preparing the walls and forgetting... that is the best sort of surprise when you find them again.... provided you find them in "time"! LOL! I know how you feel about dragging your feet.... take your Time and let it happen when you are ready.... it will be more fun then! Meanwhile.... the Holiday Season has its demands! I am enjoying seeing the exterior of the Villa take shape! Keep up the great work! :)

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    1. Hi, Betsy - I am so appreciative of your encouraging suggestions for the villa's "mossy" wall; you offered a perfect solution! I can't believe that I stuck the moss on that wall, knowing full well (somewhere in my subconscious) that it couldn't live there! I've been looking at images of creeping thyme, and it does look very similar to moss - and the tiny flowers make it even better. The conversion will make a good December project - one that I'm looking forward to with great relief! Thank you!!
      Marjorie

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  2. The wall adds a lovely feel to the project, and I really like the stone effect you've achieved! Don't worry about the moss. It adds depth and realism in any climate. With our emerging climate changes, rather than an "oversight", it may just be a visionary! :O)
    Merry Christmas!
    Jodi

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    1. Hello, Jodi - Thanks for your input on the villa wall. I like your comment about adding depth - that's what I was striving for when I added the moss, even though I may have missed on the realism part! I agree with you on the effects our
      changing climate may have - perhaps at some later time I'll need to add ferns along the wall! However, for now I plan to turn the moss into creeping thyme, which may have a better survival rate at this point. (I know as little about creeping thyme as I know about moss, but this time I'll do some research sooner rather than later!)
      Marjorie

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  3. Hello Marjorie!
    What an entertaining post which I thoroughly enjoyed reading! :D
    I LOVE your walls and the fact that you pre-made them, forgot about them and then found them again, was forward thinking as well as being Serendipitous.
    I had to chuckle about the moss though, because it crossed my mind as well that it was perhaps too hot and dry for it to grow, however, if push comes to shove you could always turn it into CREEPING THYME by adding some oh so tiny white or purple "flowers" to it and BADA BING! BADA BOOM! no moss no fuss :D

    Merry Christmas Marjorie!

    elizabeth

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    1. I just read Betsy's comment and realized that the 2 of us are on the same page about the Creeping Thyme! :D

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    2. Hi, Elizabeth - What a nice coincidence that you and Betsy both recognized my "mossy mess-up" and both had the same solution to offer! I'm excited about the transformation from moss to creeping thyme, and so thankful that the problem can be solved before the moss-cum-thyme dies out! Thank you for your lovely comments on my post - and for offering a great solution to the moss problem!
      Marjorie

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  4. Hi Marjorie! Thank you for showing each step of the work in detail. This is very instructive and useful. I have never done a territory around the house and I have a few questions. Is the house open? How do you open it by having a yard in front of the house? The yard has no protection against dust. My real house is very dusty and this problem worries me very much. How do you protect the open area from dust? Thank you! Hugs, Julia

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    1. Hi, Julia - Thanks for visiting Villa del Vigneto. I'll try to answer your questions regarding protection from dust. The villa is open to the outside through the large front arches; front windows and doors are only implied. All my houses are built with open fronts and solid, closed backs. I'm fortunate that my real house has very little dust in the basement family room where three of my mini houses are located. (The main level gets much dustier!) So I suppose there's no good way to protect the house from dust. I dust the interiors of the miniature houses only occasionally. (Perhaps I should say rarely!) That takes a long time, but I'd rather dust the mini houses than my real house at any time! The interiors of the mini houses really don't show the dust as much as the larger surfaces of my real house. If you look at the older blog posts of my French Farmhouse and the Adobe House, you can see that I've used the same technique of open fronts, closed backs, and a walled-in yard or courtyard around part of the exterior. (I'm sorry that I haven't learned to create a link to these posts, but you can find them in the archives of my blog.) Dust has never been a big problem in any of the houses. (Unless maybe my eyesight isn't as sharp as it used to be!) I hope my answer has been helpful, and I hope that you'll consider having a yard or courtyard area around your miniature house. It's such fun to do - and certainly expands the size of a house nicely. Let me know if you have further questions; I hope I've been of some help.
      Marjorie

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    2. Thank you, Marjorie! I'm grateful that you spent a lot of time answering me. I think that this is individual and depends on the area in which you live. We mostly have a steppe around, there is little forest, so the dust flies and flies :) I only had one open rumbox and had to dismantle it due to dust, everything inside was very dirty. With pleasure I will continue to follow your construction. Hugs, Julia

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  5. I love your work, Marjorie! Your creative thinking, which you reveal to us as you go, makes your entire project so interesting. Thinking through your errors is a hoot! Your houses are jewels! They need to grace some museums so more people can enjoy them.

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    1. Hi, Gretchen - You say such nice things! I'm happy that you've taken the time to read my blog - and I'm so glad that you appreciate my errors. (There's a huge scope for your appreciation!) Thank you for the lovely comments - please visit Villa del Vigneto again at any time.
      Marjorie

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  6. Fantástico trabajo Majorie y más viendo el paso a paso que nos muestras. Dejar un trabajo un tiempo pasa lo de tus paredes pero encontrarlo de nuevo es fantástico para retomar con más ímpetu el trabajo . Me he sonreído al leer tu documentación sobre el musgo,se ve como planificas tu Villa, al mínimo detalle, no se si será lo correcto pero te ha quedado genial, yo no lo tocaría, me encanta el resultado.
    Viene un mes complicado para trabajar en mini, así que disfruta de estas fiestas, un beso:-)

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    1. Hello, Rosa Maria - I appreciate your nice comments! Yes, finding those completed wall pieces that I had forgotten about was such a good thing - and it saved me much time! I think I've solved the moss problem, with the help of Betsy from "Daydreamer" and Elizabeth from "Studio E." I can change the moss to Creeping Thyme, which is very similar to moss in appearance, but very different in required habitat! So I'll have the best of both worlds! If you like the moss, I think you'll also like the thyme. It won't look much different, but I'll be more comfortable with the thyme. (Knowing that I'm not responsible for killing off the moss!) Thank you for visiting Villa del Vigneto!
      Marjorie

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  7. It looks very realistic. I like the moss between the stones .... like in real life: o)

    I admire your creativity and love your house!!!

    Merry christmas to you!

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  8. Hello, Sigrid - Thank you for stopping by Villa del Vigneto and leaving such nice comments! I've always loved mossy areas, especially around stones, so I was probably a bit too eager to grow some on the villa wall. But there will soon be a transformation from moss, which needs shade and water, to Creeping Thyme, which loves sun and dry heat, but will look almost the same. Thank goodness that problem found a solution! Please visit the villa again anytime.
    Marjorie

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  9. Me gusta el aspecto que tiene la villa ahora,con el muro y las losetas de piedra,por el musgo,no te preocupes,hay otras plantas rastreras,muy semejantes,que crecen a pleno sol,por lo que su colocación entre las piedras,es buena idea y le aporta un poco de color!!!
    Besos.

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    1. Hello, Pilar - Thank you for your nice comments on Villa del Vigneto and for your advice about creeping plants other than moss. It's a good idea and a perfect solution to the "mossy" problem; why didn't I think of that myself? I appreciate your interest and your input.
      Marjorie

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  10. Hello Marjorie,
    The wall is fantastic. I love the courtyard feel it creates and the capstones finish it beautifully and you have aged it really well. The moss was just the perfect touch. Could there not be large tree in front of the villa that create just enough shade to allow the moss to grow. Can you go over the moss with brown paint to make it look like the moss grew during the winter and then started drying up when the sun was strong? I know the feeling of wanting everything to be perfect and correct, the fact that my breakfast room faces north west still creeps up in my mind from time to time, but I think it is important to remember that our miniatures are dreams we materialize and a little artistic freedom to get the right effect is, in my mind, not a bad thing.
    However you decide to handle it, I think it looks amazing.
    Big hug
    Giac

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    1. Hello, Giac - Your comments are always so comforting and encouraging! Thank you for your suggested solutions for the moss "problem." Although it may not be such a problem after all, since several others have offered suggestions as well. I love your philosophy of "artistic freedom to get the right effect." I need to remember that the next time (and there will be a next time!) I get in a dither about "realism." Thanks for helping me look at things from a proper perspective!
      Marjorie

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  11. The walls look great and the stonework on top made them even better. The moss is a nice touch, it really gives it a sense of realism. You are in the home stretch now!

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    1. Hi, Troy - I appreciate your comments about the villa's wall. That moss had me concerned for a bit, but I do like the fact that it seems to age the wall a little. The moss will soon be turned into creeping thyme, but I think the effect will be the same. You're right that I'm in the home stretch - only a couple of things to do before I start laying the hundreds and hundreds of roof tiles! (That's sort of good news and sort of bad news!) Thanks for visiting Villa del Vigneto!

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  12. Lovely, as always! I like the moss (or creeping Thyme if you add little flowers as others suggest)! It adds a little detail touch that really makes the house appear lived in and real! Now you just need some critters (birds? Cat? Goat?) to be nibbling on that vegetation! Lol

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    1. Hi, Lori - Thanks for your creeping thyme suggestion. Others have suggested that - am I the only one who isn't familiar with creeping thyme???? But what a great idea! I also love your idea about the critters. I have a favorite coffee mug that depicts several cats lolling about on a sunny, vine-covered wall - I think that's what I'll aim for! Now to herd in some cats! Thanks for stopping by, Lori.
      Marjorie

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I'd love to hear your comments!