Monday, February 3, 2020

Sugarplum Studio.....

Shedding A Little Light.....

Some of you, Dear Readers, might recognize this picture as it was the setting of Last Year's Christmas Card, but that is not why I am showing it here now. It is simply a way of showing you the challenges I face with Lighting my own Studio in order to get good pictures of my projects. This room I call my large studio is really meant to be the living room in my small house, but I have it set up as the dining room because it is the only room big enough for the dining table and the hutch (which is off to the right in this picture). And a "dining room" in my life has always ended up being where I work because the table begs to be used! And after a while it just becomes my studio and I no longer pretend to have a "dining" room! And because this house is an older house with limited electrical fixtures... the only "overhead" light in this room is the candelabra you see... yes, it really is only candles! I have one old table lamp on the table and one old standing lamp that can be repositioned depending on where I am working. I also have a couple of old clamp lamps which sometimes are used to add light to dark corners... but they are tricky to manage as they sometimes un-clamp themselves in dramatic ways. I have one small point of use table lamp for the cutting mat work area to ensure good light in close detail work. And that is pretty much it for the light in my studio! As you can see, it is dark in all the corners and the "pool" of light under the standing lamp is the primary available light. And at this time of year, while the days are lengthening noticeably, it is still dark in the evenings when I might want to take photos of my work progress. So I hope you will understand, many of my photos are just not well lit... but I might only have that picture to show my "progress".

And I have been making some progress!
The "stone" floor of the Sugarplum Studio got a coat of primer.

And then I painted the first coat of color....
 a light gray that I use all the time.

I also started to position the rafters,
(which you can barely see overhead)
 but they are not attached as they will just get in the way
 while I am working on the floor and walls.

Here you can see I am testing some paneling options...
I have had these panels for years and there are just enough for this project!
 I will be using a different color on them.
And you can also see that the Sugarplum kit is a Small kit!
The main room here is only 9 inches deep  and 14 inches wide.
(Hmm... I just realized those dimensions 
are similar to my RL studio room dimensions!)

But the first task needing to be finished is the stone floor!
I began painting the dark gray into all the cracks
 and adding some "brushing" of  dark texture on the stones.

Again, these are the same two grays I have used for years
 to make the "stones" in my projects... the Castle in particular.
And I realized that I have a natural tendency to think stones are gray...
 rather than yellow-ish or red-ish or brown-ish..... 
because the rocks in New England are mostly
 gray slate and gray granite.
(I wonder what color the stones are where you live?)
Next I started to dab on bits of ocher and red oxide and burnt umber
 to create some variance in the "gray" of my stones.
(This picture is terrible... ! )
But you can see I was very rough and random with the dabbing.

Then I began with the next layer of gray... the lighter gray again.
This time I dry-brushed it lightly over the whole stone
 and then used paper towel to smear it and remove excess paint.
 I didn't want the light gray to completely cover the under colors.
I have only done the stones in the left hand corner in this shot.

I think this shot is slightly better....
You can see that the gray paint is changing the tones, 
making them more uniform and lighter.

The stones on the left half have been done here.... not yet on the right.

Here the stones have all been "grayed" ... 
(but the lighting is terrible!)

That's much better!
I am not going to over-work these stones Dear Readers,
 because it is only a small floor which will probably have a carpet
 and be hidden by the furnishings too. 
But I wanted a relatively uniform look
 to the stones and a over-all gray-ish tone.
And  because I am planning on using grout with this floor,
 next I added the first of several coats of varnish to seal the paper surface.

Of course, it makes the stones look way too glossy.
But I am fairly confident that the grout will scuff up the glossy surface
 and it is better to add enough protection 
for the paper "stones" before trying to grout them.

And that's as far as I got, Dear Readers, 
working on the Sugarplum Studio floor. 
But I feel as though I'm finally making a little progress... 
And I hope I have shed enough light for you to see it!


  1. Hello Betsy, I would wish to have assembled so many projects already. I am still working on my first and only room, and even that goes at a snails pace. :-)

    I like the way you have decorated the floor. The combination of colours looks very good. A great result.

    You asked about the colour of the rocks where we live. in the West of the Netherlands there is virtualy no bedrock or rocks to speak of. It is all sand and clay, and peat and such soft soils. Their colours range from soft yellows to blackish brown and from silvery grey to dark led grey of the seaclay.

  2. Out here the stones are many-colored, mostly not gray. Reddish, tan, even greenish. Some are volcanic in origin. Everything is influenced by the sandy-colored semi-desert. It amuses me that you spend a lot of time worrying about the exact coloring of a surface you will only see a small part of in the finished product!
    Carry on. Love,

  3. Betsy I am so excited to see the Sugarplum in your hands again! You are bringing the stones alive with all the shading and layers! The floor is going to be marvelous! Getting to see a peek of the beams and the paneling makes me imagine a warm fire crackling in the fireplace. I am so looking forward to seeing how this wonderful idea progresses!
    How I wish I could send my handy hubs over to help you improve your lighting issue. If only we weren't on opposite coasts! I ended up replacing the bulbs in my regular fixture with bright LED's. It helped a lot, but I find even with extra task lighting at times it's not enough or the right kind. Always a challenge but you do a wonderful job in spite of it!

  4. Hi Betsy! Great to see that you've made some progress, thank you for sharing with us how you've "build up" your stone floor. The result is great!
    Huibrecht answered your question: we don't have rocks here, in The Netherlands, but in my region in the East, we have mostly sandy soil, no rocks at all.
    Hugs, Ilona

  5. Has conseguido un suelo de piedras muy real y bonito!! Las piedras tienen una combinación de colores muy agradable.

  6. Hi Betsy! Ukraine stands on a granite plateau. Gray granite. Your gender looks very real! Good result!

  7. We have what we call Jerusalem stones here, their color is kind of rosy beige. These stones are used more for walls and pavements than for floors. I like your grey stones very much and the floor looks fabulous.
    Hugs, Drora

  8. Your stone floor is fantastic and the color is perfect.

  9. Whenever you and your brushes come together miracles do happen! Your floor turned out awesome with fantastic color shading. About your question - around here in Northern Germany it's the same as with our friends from the Netherlands. My home state being surrounded by two Seas is flat and in no way rocky.

    Regarding your very limited lighting possibilities I really must say that you're doing a fantastic job with your pictures. Anyhow, do you have daylight LED lamps (bulbs)? If not I would really recommend to get some for your lamps, according to me this is really a difference.


  10. Adequate lighting is always an issue for me too Betsy, especially at this dark time of year, however you are still making magic and producing the most Amazing creations even under challenging limitations.
    Your stone floor looks Simply Wonderful so keep going now that you're on a roll, because I'm LOVING what I'm seeing! :D