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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Intermediate Work : The Pavement Part B

June 24th - July 25th 2013

Well, health issues cleared up somewhat with the help of steroids as usual.  Course work became intense the first week of July along with weaning myself off the steroids which led to overeating.  And high temps here in Italy led to overheating.....  Anyway, a month later I can post my second phase of the pavement.

As per my previous posts, I had done some research as to how I wanted this pavement to look more or less.  Keeping in theme with my ryokan being run by bohemians (smile) and therefore a bit rustic and 60’s experimentation, the pavement out front had to be equally unkept.  I wanted mismatching sizes and stone colors along with lots of moss and grass growing up between the pavement stones.  I found my inspiration.  So, I started painting.

Inspiration for the front courtyard. 
Rought idea of moss between the stones and shale like chipped stones

Sidewalk which will be at the back of t he house.
First off, I quickly colored the back sidewalk area.  That will be finished later once the whole house is installed.  It will be pretty filthy and perhaps a small fenced area behind the sidewalk.  Definately overgrown low trees or something.  But that can come later.

Then, to the stones.  I chose two shades of brown and one of grey for the stones.  I knew I would mix back in all three on top of each other later with lots of water but to start I needed some intense color to get a sense of the overall look.  So, I painted away for quite a while.  I left the spaces in between unpainted as I was going to add the grass like material in there anyway so I wasn’t too concerned with that part.
Once completed, I started washing in the other stone colors on top of the painted ones.  This gave a little more depth and dirtiness to the stones.
First passage of painting the stones different browns and grey.

Before adding more color and wash.....

...same area after adding in a color wash.

Once that was done, I broke out the “grass”.  Basically, it’s ground down green granular material.  I had sacks of it when my son was working on his train layout.  So I used that to fill in between the stones.  It took quite a while since I had to use a small spout glue dispenser and then a toothpick to spread the glue into the grooves as well as clean off the stones where it spilled over.  After some experimentation in pressing the grass into the grooves with tools then finally (the best way) with my fingers, I then had to sand it down slightly as the grassed areas couldn’t interfere with the opening of the lower floors kitchen and spa rooms.  I may have to still adjust later once the house is actually installed.  I can’t know if the rooms will open until the house is installed on top of the pavement.  We shall see.
Different grass materials, glue, toothpick and small spatula.

Sprinkling in the material to fill the spaces between stones.

I also added a few details with a fine pencil where the color shading on the stones suggested sort of slate cracked areas.  I think it will give the stones a bit more 3D effect.
Some penciled details to give the stones a shale look.
Once this was done, I turned my attention to filling the open areas in front of the paved area.  I left it open as I liked the idea of being able to add some variety instead of having the entire board filled with paving stones (boring).  Again, I turned to leftover materials from the train layout.  There was some “static grass” in the landscaping kit.  I had no clue what the hell that was so of course, did some research.
Amazingly, I found that there is a system of grass application using static electricity.  All very cool stuff!  You basically sprinkle the static grass fibers and then using a small static tool you lift them up so they stand straight on the board (more or less).  I discovered also that this tool was very pricey and there was no way I could spend that kind of money.  (Although I did find a way to make one using a tennis racket like bug zapper.  That cracked me up as I have two of these in my house!! I could conceivably do it.)  Also because the area I need to decorate is very small I couldn’t see spending any money on this.  But I did find another method using something called a “puffer bottle”.  Once I saw the bottle, I was sure I could make THAT at least!  So, I did.

I just used an old relish bottle (fitting color) and drilled and cleaned the top of the bottle with holes to puff the grass out on the board.  Shaking the bottle creates quite a bit of static on its own and limiting the amount of glue to control globs etc. did the trick.  I think it’s a pretty economic and efficient method to applying the grass.  I didn’t have as much throw away as I thought I would.  And I’m pleased with the result.  After I actually get the house on its base, I will probably go back into the grass with some moss like materials I found (on sale) in a home furnishing store.  It will make the grass areas a  little more realistic.  The left side of the pavement will be covered instead with some sheet grass which I purchased off DHE.  I'd like to make a tiny garden there.
Recycling a bottle - cutting holes in the top for spinkling.

Widening the opening.
Relish bottle now full of static grass ready for puffing.

First application.  Pretty full.

Side view showing how the bottle does help the grass fibers to stand up a little more than normally would.

After the glue dried.

The final stage of the pavement was varnishing the stones and grass in between.  My varnish (which is around 2 years old at this point) finally clumped up to no return.  So I went out and bought some decoupage gloss varnish.  It’s not water soluble so that is an annoyance but it’s a gel so it fills the spaces nicely.  Plus it gives the overall wet look to the stones. Two hands were necessary as the wood just absorbs the gel.  But it did the job.
Finished static and granular grass.  Secondary grass will be done later.

Finished varnished and drying.  Ready for the house!

The next and final step is drilling holes and screwing the pavement into the table.  Then transfering the house on top of it.  That may take a few days as I'm going to have to empty the house of its more fragile contents.  But nearly there.....