Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Next up, Noggins!

Phew! What a busy couple of weeks we have had here at Squirrel HQ. The shed (er, studio) is really starting to come together, and although there is still much to do, it really is time that I got back to the day job and did some painting. But first, time for a little browse, and some window shopping. 
Of course, you may immediately think that I have been off searching for gorgeous new bits and bobs for the studio or for my work box. Well, I might have had a quick peek at Craig Young's  exquisite, handmade brass and enamel painting palettes, but at £250, I could buy the insulation for that. Indeed. And speaking of insulation, that is what will be up next for Squirrel HQ. Boring yes, but necessary unless I want to freeze to my easel during the long, bleak winter months of dear old Blighty. Of course, as with most things there is a plethora of choice when it comes to keeping the warmth in. The mind boggles at foil covered foam boards, fibreglass wrapped in a long bag and even for the green and eco minded amongst us, sheep's wool on a roll. Oh yes, for all pockets, there is a solution.

Anyway, work on the studio has had to take a bit of a breather while the bank balance recovers from the shock and I get some painting done. Of course, the workers need a break too, I can't expect the elder statesmen of the family (Mum and Dad), to work themselves to a frazzle, so it was back home for them last week, and back to work for 'Husband' this week. As the shed will eventually be a space for me, I feel duty bound to keep on going where I can, so it will be fixing in the 'noggins' next for me.

Def. noggin. nogging, (Eng.Aus). noun. A short piece of timber set between two joists or rafters to make them rigid.

Every bit helps.
using leftover timber to cut the noggins

Noggin anyone?
Here is the said item, and a vital brace between two joists it is too.
These will get fixed at intervals across the whole floor.  

A little light reading.
The DIY catalogue is surprisingly addictive.

Just now it feels like progress has really slowed down, but if I can keep on doing bits here and there, it will all come together. Eventually.

Friday, 23 August 2013

Terrific at Two

Another year and another Happy Birthday to Squirrel. Yes, it'll be two tomorrow and I love to note the day just as I would any other birthday. Well, it is a milestone and yet again I am delighted by the number of new visitors and friends who have had a browse through the Squirrel Archives, and pop by to see the updates. Through good times and bad, it has been so lovely to share all the comings and goings here, and I have met so many more lovely, like minded folk. Here's to more jolly times ahead.
Since this time last year, so much has happened. The graduation with Distinction from the SBA in April really got things off to a good start and since then there have been exhibitions, classes and all manner of new opportunities. So exciting, and just now I am working on projects such as the new website, which should be up and running soon, and some workshop classes. So watch this space.
Since we got the shed refurbishment started, I have had little time for work, but now we have had to take a bit of a break from that project, it's back to the day job. There is plenty to do, with the SBA pieces to get ready for exhibition as well as the ISBA brambles to get finished by November, so it looks like I will have a busy few months ahead. Thank you to everyone for your loyal, continued support, it is always much appreciated.  

The underlay for the roof going on,
and a coat of wood preservative
Happy Birthday Squirrel

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

No Idle Hands Here

With the bare bones of the refurbishment of the shed into a studio well under way, it was time for a well earned rest. We had all been working so hard for eight days solid since last Saturday, that it was time to take a breather and take a break. Taking time to look back over what we have actually achieved in the time we had.
I am so proud of all my family for really pulling together and working as a team to make some serious progress. Old floor and roof off; walls pulled in and straightened; back wall lifted and straightened and new foundations, floor joists, roof struts and panels in place, it really has been some going. Somehow, the bruises, bumps, cuts, grazes and aches all feel worth it.
Of course, with any building, the 'skeleton' is only really the beginning, it's what's inside that really makes a home and this is where the fun begins. But as time and funds allow, this will have to wait a little bit. The windows and doors may have to wait a bit too, so just now we will give a bit of TLC to the existing ones, just to make things a bit more secure. Still, with the new floor to put down and insulation to on the walls to install this week, there is plenty to keep us all going.

Under all this lot are the newly installed floor joists.
The foundation is a series of footings, arranged under
the joists as supports.
Built on a base of hard-core, bricks and a damp proof course, all
cemented firmly in place.
To give a sort of 'sprung' feel to the floor, some pieces of the old roofing felt
has been placed just under the joists.
Good to see it can take all that weight.

Ah, electrics.
Here is the power house behind Squirrel HQ.
Armoured cable is a must for an outdoor power job,
but this is located underground.
This neat little consumer unit means the sockets, lights and
other functions can be located on separate ring circuits.
Already being used for the job, the first double socket.
This will all be moved later into cupboards and along the skirting. 

More on the roof.
These boards will help add extra stability to the thinner roof sheets.
When the felt goes on, these will be covered.

The right tools for the job.
With a cordless drill, screwdriver and a couple of these nifty clamps,
most of the work has been made a lot easier  


Friday, 16 August 2013

It's Not a Shed!

No indeed, not any more. In the last few days work has been done at a lightning speed and I now have that much wanted straight and sturdy roof over my head. Hurrah. With the original roof off, it was time to start fitting up the new 'A' frames. of course, these all had to be made, all 16 of them.  
'Husband' doing what he does best, demolishing stuff. 

Getting the 'A' frames made.
How many to go? 

And it's up.
The first of many of the frames gets put into place.

On such an old building, getting a straight line from anywhere was almost impossible. The back of the shed had actually fallen away and was leaning away from the rest of the building. Before work on the roof could begin, the whole building had to be pulled back into place. This job was back breaking stuff all round, and with a selection of car jacks, the walls began to straighten. There were times here, when we thought the whole thing would collapse.

Making slow progress.
The middle frame gives an idea of the distances
needed to keep an even line.

All present and correct.
A regiment of 'A' frames.

At the end of a hard day, all of the 'A' frames were up and straight and beginning to give the tired old building a lift. Thinking  about how the roof used to look, this is probably the straightest the shed has been in about 20 years, or more.
Another day, another job on the roof. This time it was using massive sheets of OSB boarding to give the structure of the roof stability and shape. The covering of underlay and shingle felt goes on top.

here we go again, the first one.

Again, the walls of the shed gave us no help at all as although pulled into place are still a little misaligned. This will have to be the way it is, sort of as the floor will also help bring the place true again.
Good to see another use for my old garden picnic table.
'Husband' utilises a unique carrying method.

Er, who's who up there.
Dad and 'Husband'

One more to go Dad.
'Husband' is actually on the roof balancing on the boards
while fitting the last pieces together

And from the outside,
there it is.
A bit of a trim here and there is all it needs 

Oops, what about that gap there.
Well, it's not a disaster, just a little shove is all it needed.

 What's next? Well floor joists.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

More Than a Little Makeover

Well, as you can see, work has begun on transforming, 'The Garden Shed of Epic Proportions' into Sketchbook Squirrel's new HQ. Just now there is no floor, no roof and no door for that matter, but it's all been jolly good fun ripping and tearing the old and rotten wood and giving this once useful and, in it's way rather endearing old ship lap building a new lease of life. Make do and mend as they say. 

Before the real work began.
It takes a lot of imagination to see how this will turn out.
Double width doors with double 3/4 length windows
should really maximise the light.

Without a floor, but the original door can be seen
 in the left hand corner,
and the original waxed lining paper is still on the walls.
Inside is big enough for a few students to come for workshops.

No longer a roof over our heads.
Peeling back the years.
here's the original roof covering.
So different to what we have nowadays  
Of course, common sense would say, just tear the whole thing down and get a sparkly new cabin built. Well, yes but have you seen how much they cost! My goodness, I had a quote for a new log cabin built to the same size that was going to set me back about £9,000. I don't know about you, but thought that was a little excessive. So, with carpentry skills care of Dad and a small budget set aside, it's the DIY option for me. 
The old shed does have it's charms. It dates back to somewhere in the 1940s and we believe that the garden was not it's original destination, there is evidence to suggest this building had a prior use and has a second door in the back that doesn't match the front. As was so often the case back then, old buildings could be bought and moved to new locations. Just now, there are loads of  Victorian signal boxes that have been decommissioned and are being sold off, with some survivors being given Listed Status. Hmmm, now one of those would make a lovely summer house.  

Friday, 9 August 2013

Home Again

Home again, and it's always lovely when you get that first night's sleep back in your own bed. Holidays are always great fun and a time for some well needed rest, relaxation and a change of pace and scene. Of course, when you get back, there is the catching up with messages, a huge pile of post blocking the front door and, the washing! On my return, there were also some lovely surprises. A cheque for some sales at Rum's Eg gallery, a request for workshop classes and some money back on my car tax. Happy days.  
Work, is awaiting me of course and there is much to do on the ISBA alphabet piece. Having started the blackberry blossoms before leaving for my holiday, the fruits are now forming on the plants in the garden. Still undecided about adding some fruit to the composition, the leaves will keep me busy in the meantime.

Back to that reminder of what I am meant to be doing.

Plenty of photos of the real thing should help me to fill in the gaps
where the plants have withered a bit in the heat.
Memories of Scotland are still with me in my sketchbook and having taken loads of photos of some thistles, the idea for my next piece is coming together. Thumbnails here we come again.

Starting the foxglove sketch.

And finished



Friday, 2 August 2013

Leaving the Glen, (and a few last surprises)

Well, all good things must come to an end, and we are enjoying the last day of our time here in beautiful Perthshire, Scotland. It has been a truly wonderful couple of weeks and it looks like the weather (and those irritating little midges) have been on our side right 'till the very end. Even though I have been coming to this glen for most of my life, it still has the ability to surprise and delight.

Beautiful Glenlyon

A delightful little carved squirrel

Even in one of the remotest stretches of the glen,
the cheery Asda delivery man
makes sure the supplies get through.
One of these poor guys was cut-off in one
of the glens for four
days in the snow last year.
Lots of photos of the local flora, (and fauna) have given me loads of ideas for new pieces, especially the thistle. A real Scottish thistle is a thing of beauty and I hope I can do it justice on paper. The sketchbook hasn't been utilised as much as I had hoped as I have been enjoying the outdoors far too much and will even be coming home with something of a sun tan! Quite extraordinary.

One to tackle,
the Scottish Thistle

Beautiful shades of green

Whilst preparing dinner, I spotted this tiny little fellow just by
the kitchen door.
So quick, I couldn't get the clearest of shots, this is in fact, a shrew.
My first ever sighting of one.

Plump, velvety and well fed, the shrew spent quite a long time
snuffling and rootling around for food before
scuttling into a nearby burrow.

And off he goes, as do we.
Time to head for home.