Instagram and the Final Stage

It has been well over a year since I stopped posting on Instagram, but I have decided to give it another go. Why? Well, things are getting busy! After such a long wait, I am finally, finally, finally able to get stuck into the cladding of my house! I am back on site and the plumbing and wiring that had to be completed is done, meaning this past week I have begun to install the insulation and interior cladding, commencing the final stage of the build! 

Even better, for the first time throughout this project, I am no longer relying on anyone else to get the job done, and that feels so. damn. good. 

When your project is of such a small scale, it is always considered a novelty. People are interested in working on it, but as something they will ‘get around to’. It won’t bring in the big bucks and it won’t take up much time, so it can fit in around more important jobs. I understand this! I really do! (And don’t get me wrong, I am super pleased with the work of both my plumber and electrician). However, a house build is a series of steps, and certain stages must be complete before the next can commence. Therefore when ‘next week’ stretches into ‘next month’ and so on, the timeline really begins to stretch out, not at all helped by my polite assurances of ‘no rush’ or ‘at your convenience.’ But all that is behind me and it is so nice to kick into gear after chugging along for so long. Seeing the transformation as each piece of ply is attached, is quite a thrill. 

I certainly will continue to post here, but for me, a blog post is like a slow cooked dinner. Instagram? A packet of two minute noodles. It can take me hours to put together a blog post, and at the moment, (unless I am particularly struck with inspiration), Instagram will be my go-to, leaving me to spend more time on the house. 

If you’re on instagram, and you’re interested in keeping up with the day-to-day, you can find me by searching @fiona_fkm. Otherwise, here is a peek at what’s been happening over the last week.

The Summer That Came and Went

It surprises me that my last post was back in November, particularly considering this means that Summer has come and gone, and we are now looking forward to Autumn, (well, at least I am). Yet, at the same time so much has happened since then, that an absence of three months adds up. For one, in December I returned to Melbourne, temporarily leaving the Tiny House build behind, to help my parents move out from our family home and into a new place in the country.

As many well know, packing up 25 years of accumulated stuff is no small feat, yet I rather enjoyed the process, even if the cleaning and inspections were a little less enjoyable. Happily, our home caught the eye of a young couple, and it is our hope that they will love it as we did.  As for our new property, we’ve been settled here a fortnight now and I think it’s just about perfect! Being so occupied, I have scarcely thought about my Tiny House, and it is, by far, the longest period I have gone without working on it, but within a fortnight I will be returning to SA to get stuck back into the last stage and hopefully by Winter, it will be moving here to its next location. Fingers crossed!

In between moving, we have had Christmas and birthdays, and my sister and I caught up on all we had missed on Netflix last year, (priorities, right?). As a result, it’s been a creatively inspiring period! With an ever growing list of ‘Things I’d Love to Make’, I have finally made a space on here to share some of those pieces, a new page titled Portfolio. (It sounds more impressive and official than it is because it’s mainly just stuff I make ‘for fun’.) Click here if you’re interested!

Speaking of inspiration, thanks to Christmas, I have acquired some new additions for my personal library! (Not a ‘real’ library but it does sound more exciting). I have finally enjoyed reading Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, a book I have been meaning to read ever since watching the show with my sister back in 2019. I was delighted with the copy I was gifted as it is handsomely illustrated, attractively presented AND with a good size font. I cannot stand overly large fonts. It proved to be a brilliant read.

Another book I thoroughly enjoyed this Summer was A Clock of Stars by Francesca Gibbons. It may be a Young Adult book but, between you and me, this is becoming one of my favourite categories of books. They can be just so surprisingly good. Adventurous, imaginative, never too bleak, and at their heart, worthy lessons, but neatly weaved in so they don’t whack you over the head with their merit. Familiar moralities for adults, but always a good reminder. Oh, and A Clock of Stars is delightfully illustrated by Chris Riddell. Seriously, I would have gobbled this book up when I was young.

(Whilst we are talking about YA books, I will throw in recommendations for The Nevermoor Series and Children of Blood and Bone, from the series Legacy of Orisha.)

I also received a copy of Kate Young’s The Little Library Cookbook. This is such a sweet recipe book! Utterly up my alley, Kate Young creates dishes inspired by her favourite books. Each recipe is introduced with a quote where the food is mentioned, followed by an explanation of her own memories of the book and dish. It covers a wide array of books and recipes and it is always a thrill when you come across a personal favourite.

This last book was something of an investment, but fortunately it proved to be money well spent because I devoured it in days and am eagerly re-reading it. The book is titled Handmade in Japan and, just as it sounds, it captures numerous of traditional Japanese crafts, alongside interviews with the makers and masters. It is beautifully illustrated with photographs of the creations in all stages, captured by Irwin Wong. Unable to purchase the book in-person, I was worried the array of crafts may be limited. Fortunately, this concern was unnecessary because it is covers a generous number of various creators from metal work to textiles. This book proved hugely inspiring to me, their precision, dedication, eye for detail and taste is something I could only ever aspire to, but it truly motivates me to ensure all I create is to the very best of my ability, and to push myself to improve with every piece. I can see myself revisiting this book countless times.

Aside from books, television has proven to be the unexpected inspiration this Summer. Not usually one for committing to television series, I have recently discovered the joy, (and tragedy), of K-Drama. A dabbler of K-Pop, one of the first things I watched upon my return to Melbourne, and therefore to a reliable internet connection, was BLACKPINK’s documentary. It was GREAT, I enjoyed it so much that I watched it twice. I just get so inspired by their work ethic! Following this, a handful of K-Drama recommendations appeared in my Netflix’s  homepage and lead to the impulse selection of Hotel Del Luna.

Ok. So, I LOVED this show. This will forever be the show that I watched as our belongings and furniture was packed up and removed for storage, and soon replaced with that of the stylists for the sale inspections. Sitting on a couch far more comfortable than anything that has ever graced our loungeroom, with mood lighting from a trendy lamp that definitely wasn’t ours, I savoured watching half an episode every night or so, (the episodes can stretch from 73 – 94 minutes!), and am pleased that it shall remain one of the final memories of our home. Perhaps thanks to this sentimental association, on a number of occasions I may have pronounced it to be ‘the best show I have ever watched!’ That said, this does not mean this is a recommendation for everyone. For one it is listed as swoon worthy, quirky and heartfelt. (Not exactly the coolest selection of adjectives). This declaration also comes from someone whose favourite show was once Merlin. Nonetheless it is beautifully filmed, balances humour with grief exceptionally well and honestly just offers something a little different- especially if, like me, you’re new to k-dramas. Since this discovery, my Netflix homepage is awash with recommended Korean films and shows, which introduced me to Rookie Historian Goo Hae-Ryung, another show I have grown very fond of, if not quite to the same degree. Yes, it’s a bit daggy, but it is highly amusing at times and is just a good light watch, though it certainly has become more serious as I close in on the final episodes!

Now, I have just scrolled up to re-read what I have written, only to notice that apparently I had FAR more to say than I first thought, and perhaps it’s more than time to wind up the earnest babble. I will finish up by noting that as a result of all the above I have been inspired to begin dabbling with a new creative project. Something that combines small scale woodworking and pushes me to improve my small-scale painting abilities. There’s a clue in the photo above and I shall reveal more soon enough, but it’s nice to do something a little more feminine for once- especially, if it means drawing inspiration from all I love.

Oh, I almost forgot! More excitingly than everything I had said, I have FINALLY polished up my Pinterest account and it is looking slick! In fact, it has become my favourite space on the internet. There is such a greater capacity for organisation since I first started using it that it is just so darn satisfying.

The Disguise of a Dragon

It’s completely cliché, but books, film and music are my favourite things in the WORLD. (I mean, family and food are great, but that’s somewhat a given). It is this trio that have fed my imagination and creativity for as long as I can remember, not to mention, offering refuge from a world that can be somewhat mediocre at times. Nearly everything I make is influenced, even if imperceptibly, by a favourite book or film, and the building and making are almost always powered by music. Illustration is one of the offshoots from these loves, and it is this that has sparked my most recent project.

I think my sister introduced me to Natalie Andrewson’s work about a year or so ago, and for this I am most appreciative because I just love, love, love so much of her work. Her illustrations remind me of the movies and stories that filled my childhood, (and adulthood), and consequently, I never weary of them. (I suspect we share similar tastes, for Natalie has created illustrations inspired by Harry Potter, has produced as entire graphic novel of The Nutcracker, once commented that she was listening to the 2005 Pride and Prejudice film soundtrack whilst working, and if her Spotify playlist is anything to judge by, enjoys Hayao Miyazaki, The Last Jedi and LOTR. All I can say, A KINDRED SPIRIT!) As I am sure you have guessed by now, the print featured in today’s post is by the great artist herself; bringing us, in a very roundabout way, to the fuse box excitingly installed by my electrician last week! (Bear with me, all will make sense in a moment.)

Yes! I now have a working fuse box (and power in that power point you can see below!), though its placement is rather front and centre, pretty much the first thing you look at when you enter through the front door. This raised the question of how I wanted to conceal this rather ordinary white box? Due to it’s position, I figured it wouldn’t be a bad idea to build around it something of a stop-and-drop space, a little unit with dividers and hooks. A spot where I could place the things I use every day i.e.; phone, drink bottle, wallet etc, with the circuit breakers to be accessed via a small timber door. Yet when it came to the making of the piece, I wasn’t particularly thrilled with the idea of building another hinged door. I was in the mood to continue with a little more window work, after the success of my last project. It was then that I had the superior idea of replacing the unexceptional timber door, with a sliding pane of acrylic, a frame for a piece of art! Happily, I had the perfect picture for the job, ‘Summer Dragon’ by Natalie Andrewson. Now it is this beautiful Risograph print that greets you as you enter my wee home.

The build of the little wall unit was pretty breezy. I had some dressed 7mm WRC which I had been saving for something special, and so these lengths I used for the horizontals, and I’ve plenty of offcuts from the windows, making up the verticals. The panes of acrylic for the door and side openings were offcuts from the interior window, installed into small channels, cut using the table saw. As a result, the unit it is exceptionally light weight. (And, if you are wondering, that masking tape works a charm for holding pieces together as you’re waiting for glue to dry.)

As typical it’s not quite complete, but since taking the above photos, I’ve given it a sand and a rub of oil.  I am super pleased with this piece, but honestly, that is 95% thanks to the brilliant Risograph print. 

Let There Be Light

The most recent addition this week was one of those uncommon but brilliant projects that are small in effort but big in reward! The idea was to take advantage of the skylight just outside the entrance by installing an interior window above the door way to allow in a little extra daylight. As I didn’t want to fuss around with cutting glass to this unconventional shape, I bought myself a sheet of acrylic and cut it to size with my jigsaw.  I used some Western Red Cedar for the frame so it matches my exterior windows and installed the pane by channelling a groove along the four edges. Easy peasy! Almost suspiciously so.

A Tiny Taste of Exciting Things to Come

Since the beginning of September, I have been, (slightly impatiently,) awaiting the arrival of an order of 7mm plywood; the cladding for the ceiling and walls of my home. As the hold-up has prevented any substantial progress, I have found myself with no excuse but to commence some of the ‘finishing’ work on the pieces I have built this year.  Sanding, gluing, staining, etc. All my favourite things. -_- However, as I raided my offcuts for suitable pieces for edging/moulding, I discovered half a sheet of 7mm ply in my stock, giving me the idea that I could have a go at cladding the small skylight. Much more exciting. 

Using leftover Foilboard, I insulated the supporting steel boxes, of both skylights, and attached the strips of cladding with tek screws- fun, fun, fun! (Though I suspect the ceiling is going to be anything but).  Despite not having enough plywood to finish even this small task, it did give me a taste of the next step, a glimpse of the transformation the house is soon to face! (Hopefully!!The exercise also decided how I will hide the screw heads and ply sheet joins. Win! 

In the below photos you can see me playing around with some ideas for the moulding, (nothing too fancy as I am limited to the table saw). I’ve narrowed it down to two similar-but-slightly-different designs, but once all has been painted I am hoping either will look pretty neat! Opinions welcome!

The Dining Table

Though I frequently post incomplete pieces on here, this one is particularly rough. Essentially, it’s a mock-up of a mock-up, but one I am most excited about. It is also one of the final pieces of the puzzle. Finally, I have made a start on the Dining Table.

This has been left to last for a couple of reasons, but the biggest problem I had was I didn’t believe I had much space for one. I had been picturing a table, which would double as my desk, that would have to pack down to fit at the end of the Murphy bed, a space only 100mm wide. It was going to have to be a darn slim table, only functional when it had been unfolded. Not ideal, but better than nothing. It was only last week that I realised I had a rather perfect sized gap between the couch and the kitchen counter. A space I hadn’t considered, with the exception that if I was going to need a fan or a heater it could sit there out of the way. It didn’t take long to decide that would not be the best use of this spot.

I had always been keen on the Ikea NORDEN Gateleg table but it’s rather chunky, and even now wouldn’t fit, but now that I had a bit more space, there was no reason I couldn’t build my own. With a bit of research, I found two DIY gateleg tables with instructions, the first a sewing table using pocket holes and scrap wood, the other a handsomely crafted piece of furniture with drawbored mortise and tenon joinery. Opposite ends of the spectrum, both time wise and expense wise. Knowing I would have to make adjustments to suit my own scale, yet uncertain on the exact dimensions, I decided I would start with the first design, made from pine and ply. This would be relatively speedy and allow for mistakes and change of mind, and will be the table that I can road test. Once I am happy that it will comfortably seat five, function as both a desk and dining table, prove to be easy to move around and use, and free from any other issues, I shall invest my time into building the final piece with nice timber and slick joinery, as per the second method. A sensible plan! More excitingly, it means I get to pretend to have a dining table so much sooner, which is what this afternoon was all about. 

Yesterday I cut the pieces for the centre base and the first gateleg, and this afternoon I assembled the sections and had a play. I don’t currently have any plywood pieces large enough for the tabletop, but I found an offcut that was almost the right size, at least big enough to give a good indication of what the table could be. I also didn’t have enough hinges, hence the single gateleg for now. Despite it’s humble state I was quickly using it as a desk even though the table top was only sitting in place- a promising start! You may have to use your imagination a little, but these photos capture the general construction of the piece.