Friday, 13 May 2016

"VILLA LEONE" - a.k.a. the Willowcrest or "have patio will travel"

after writing my last post about my decision to add the front patio, I began to work on it.  
After a MAJOR FAIL with making individual tiles, I opted for a more "convenient" method and used scrapbook paper.  
I made several photocopies of the tile that I decided to use, glued it onto some posterboard and  cut it to the size required for the patio surface. 
I aged the paper using a variety of chalk pastels and metallic eyeshadows.  This idea came from Mara's FABULOUS blog-
Anyway, after the paper was glued I scribed the grout lines with a ball stylus, and glued it over the entire surface of the patio, aged it and sealed it. 

I was pretty happy about the way it turned out, and I played around with it and tried out some more ideas as how to finish it.
Using the kit patio supports I extended them out to the edge of the deck and secured them with masking tape to see if I liked it. I hoped that I might get inspired and a location for this house would somehow miraculously present itself.  
This arrangement gave me a covered patio as well as another one above and lots of wrought iron which I love.  So do I like it?

It was looking to me sorta NEW ORLEANS-ish 

which is okay, but since I didn't think I wanted something 'New Orleans-ish', I tried something else.

Perhaps this house wished to be more formal? What about BRICK?
( a whole lot of work, and what if I didn't like it? ) 
 I photocopied sheets of brickwork and taped them to the front wall; was this what I was looking for? 

 To me it looked very British and I'd already done an English Cottage, not to mention that a ton of brick-WORK did NOT appeal to (very lazy) me!

So I was Back to square ONE

Then by chance I found my inspiration ( photo below) from a magazine. YES! this might be the right ticket! 

 sorry that it's sideways :(( 
This is a home in GERMANY.
There are several thing that I liked about it as it had some of the same elements as the Willowcrest which I thought I could translate (easily?) into miniature, however it is not the warm climate I'd made the patio for. 

I spent a couple of weeks wasting my time trying to make 
 some progress on the body of the Willowcrest using this German house as a guide.  And even after several layers of paint and plaster, I couldn't seem to get any further.  I ran out of patience as well as all of my wall putty, at exactly the same time.  
My visit to Germany was a BUST! 

 this Willowcrest build was going nowhere.

So last week, my friend Janine called to chat just before she and her hubby left for Australia, and she asked me how things were going with the doll's house.  "grrrrr- NOT GOOD," I replied, 
" I can't seem to settle on a location or a style that I'm happy with, (not to mention no working title)." I can't remember if I actually said that last bit in parenthesis or not, however I'm certain that I was thinking it!  
So Janine says to me, that she always thought that the house looked to her like it should be in a vineyard; which set me thinking....  I LIKED her idea! and I could even use my own grape tutorial for the vineyard!
I knew that I'd wanted this house somewhere warm; AND the Napa Valley in California was a very good place for a patio... (hahaha 

so how in the world did it end up in Italy?

Well, I'll tell you how-
I was in the Home Depot picking up some more patching putty to finish the exterior walls of my new Californian villa, and found myself looking through their variety of wood trims.  I found a length of dentil moulding that resembled carved blocks, and later when I tried it against the house, the Willowcrest suddenly LEAPED across theAtlantic Ocean and plunked itself down in the middle of Venice! 
and that's the truth! 
So for the next 7 days I worked well into the wee hours, measuring twice (and cutting 5 times), adding and subtracting (already glued down) wood trims; layering more cement with my fingers and sanding plaster in the middle of the night and painting, Painting and even MORE PAINTING! 
(it never ends!!!
It was while looking through a box of junk waiting for the paint to dry, that I found a lion's head that I had previously faux finished and which I thought would be the perfect embelllishment for the front of my new Italian Villa.  Once I applied it I knew that I'd also FINALLY found my working title for the Willowcrest-

Since I had this marvelous book in my library, I used it as a reference guide for most of the architectural features.

 the lion, as it happens, is also the symbol of the city of Venice
( sweeeeeet )
Things were looking up! 
This is the Victorian front door that I had purchased at Ross's Treasure house, a local miniature store.  I love the transom but decided that the peak at the top needed to go.
I also added some extra embellishments to the door frame and found a lion's head door knocker which I had originally meant to use on Green Dolphin Street.  

At this stage I had entirely re-cemented the house, and to put me in the mood to paint, I began to listen to Italian Opera.
I never expected to like it, but now I'm hooked on arias by Handel,Vivaldi and Nicola Porpora!

In the following photos I want you to see the different stages to date, of Villa Leone.  Even when I think I know what to do, I don't.  I changed my mind about the color and the surface texture, the position of the doors and windows as well as the ornamentation.  I had to keep referring to the book on Venetian Gardens since I know NOTHING first hand about Venice, so please forgive my obvious mistakes- here they are...

The book shows security wrought iron on just about every window, so I had to see what kind of effect I would be getting using the plastic fencing that I had on hand.  Adding it gives a more continental feel to the structure.

This is the side with the kitchen and the staircase.  And at this point I realized that wooden door and window frames were incorrect.  To "MEDUSA" them, I used wall patch mixed with craft sand to re-surface the wooden frames and turn them into stone.  The area above the kitchen will eventually be roofed with terra cotta tiles.

When I reached this stage, I began to HATE what I was doing to this house!
I couldn't get the color right and I didn't like the look of the front door frame either, and the patio was not working with anything!  And as soon as I aged the walls, the yellow looked filthy and the house was close to re-locating itself once again.  

I was feeling tired and quite discouraged.  
NO, I'm NOT very HAPPY with what I see here.
The visual weight of the house is not right, and by the way, just what is that tree supposed to be growing in?

so I reversed the color blocks and ditched the tree.

And added more painted wood trim and then took it off again-
(Is it just me, or does it look a bit Greek to you too?) 

I was trying to mix a soft terra cotta for the new color and it turned out to be peach-
and I hate Peach! ><

Just as I snapped this photo the temporary balcony fell off in protest.
I guess it doesn't like peach either!
(More painting)
As of Friday May 13th; 
I couldn't stand the peach so I made it orange.  I also reinstated the wood trims which I had previously removed. :/
I sanded down the front door frame and made it darker for added definition, and affixed extra plaster ornamentations over the doors and under the window.  I don't know if you've noticed but the windows have also been turned upside down.   

When I repainted the second floor,  I intentionally left some of the cement exposed so that the walls had the appearance of worn /peeling paint.  The front entry will have stairs and the wall will be screened for privacy, but now I have a problem.  I am having serious doubts about the front patio. I am considering relocating the entire patio to the left side of the house so that the water can come right up to the front of the house or with just enough room for a narrow boardwalk. Which means that I would have to secure the french doors and rethink the front drop all over again ( sigh)... This is what happens when you move from the California wine country where a front patio is quite appropriate, and onto a canal where it isn't.
Ahhh me....  

Last night I began testing the size for the new front balcony. It is much smaller than what I had originally intended and more Venetian, but then NOTHING about this house is what (or where) I had thought it would be. 

Detail of the front window

This is the right side of the villa.   There is a ton of work yet to
do.  My plans were to lay tiles the entire length of this side but that was before we moved to Italy

The Juliet balcony needs a railing, as well as supports. I found that I had to watch the Franco Zeffirelli movie "Romeo and Juliet", which I didn't know was based on a true story.... 
Mamma Mia!
the things that you can find out doing this hobby are truly educational! :D

This is my favorite side of the villa.  Although the bottom of the house is yet unfinished, I look at this wall and right away I can feel as though I am transported to somewhere in the Mediterranean!
In the photo below I have placed a scrap of tile paper so I can get the feel for the future tile roof over the kitchen.

I might install a flower planter under the staircase window.  

Detail of some of the stonework

and some of the missing paint.

Today I started aging the walls.  This arena is always a danger for me because I often get too carried away when it comes to adding grime as you've already seen, however I've noticed that there is a LOT of age and decay low on the facades of many Venetian homes, so although I'll try not to go too crazy, in this city the MORE age the better!

The french doors currently have temporary inserts installed and no glass either, since I'm still auditioning other options.
( in case you were wondering) 

These stairs, are only stand-in's
Ahh, at last you have come the end of you've visit.
I apologize that it took so long to get here
however, I don't know WHAT you'll find the next time you come by. Perhaps by then, this house will have said " arriva darchi baby" and flown back to California with the patio it came with. 

 I'm hoping to persuade it to stay put in Venice, since 
I'm actually enjoying this challenge; having traveled this far.