Sunday, September 11, 2016

A re-post from my blog:

Although this is not a serious or controversial blog, it IS a personal journal of sorts, and I can't let the day go by without pausing for a moment to remember that day and thank God I didn't lose any loved ones. I was in London with my oldest nephew (for his high school graduation trip) when we started to hear that something had happened - via talk on the street, a canceled performance (because it was USA-related), and an eerie photo of a single WTC tower with smoke pouring from it. It wasn't until we returned to our hotel later that day that the whole shocking series of events was played on TV before our uncomprehending eyes. We had several days left of our vacation, so the delayed flights home didn't affect us. In fact, we flew home the first day planes were allowed back over U.S. airspace. When we landed in Pittsburgh, the passengers gave the pilots a round of applause and we were greeted by airport personnel as if WE had done something heroic.

And maybe we had. We got on those first planes and returned to our homes and lived our lives, because that's what the living must do to honor the departed.
If you have any thoughts or memories of that day, please feel free to share them here.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Rochester, MN

I drove to Rochester, Minnesota today with my friend, Joanne. She hadn't been there in many years, and I don't remember ever visiting as an adult. We had the AAA guidebook that listed a few sites we wanted to see, but many of them were closed on Tuesdays. Luckily, we stopped to look around the grounds of Plummer House, and the tour trolley was just pulling in. We were able to board and buy our tickets for the 90-minute ride. It was a fun and informative tour. (These photos were all taken from the bus; I was sitting by a large open window.)

The Mayo Medical School in front with the bell tower of the Plummer Building behind it. The Plummer Building includes the original offices of William J and Charles H Mayo.

The entrance to the Mayo Clinic looks like that of an elegant hotel.

Silver Lake

Assisi Heights Spirituality Center and residence of the Sisters of Saint Francis.

We weren't able to stop, but were told that anyone can book a private room for a retreat: no phones, no TV.

This is a working convent and chapel. The sisters helped start the first hospital in Rochester.

A little slice if Italy, no?

150-year-old George Stoppel Farmstead. Another place to tour when we return.

Mayowood Mansion,  home to three generations of the Mayo family.


One of the over-100-years old homes of the "Pill Hill" National Residential Historic District.

The end of our trolley tour at Plummer House of the Arts. 49-room mansion built by Dr. Henry S. Plummer, one of the founding doctors of the Mayo Clinic, and an architect himself.

The house wasn't open that day, but the grounds were, so we took a short walk.

After lunch at the Canadian Honker restaurant (so-named for the Canadian geese that never migrate from the area), we walked across the street to Saint Mary's Hospital to check out the chapel. Old front doors of hospital (above).

Drawing of original building. It is a "campus" now: all part of the Mayo Clinic system.

The Chapel. It has a basilica floor plan with aisles.

Painting on the arch.
That was it for the day. Well worth the trip even without tours of the separate buildings.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

My May-Session Architecture Workshop

I just finished a 3-week class at the University of Minnesota as part of my Bachelor of Design Architecture (BDA) degree. Those of us in the program have our choice of many 2, 3-, or 4-credit workshops to fulfill our requirements. Some are classroom/computer/research and others are design/build. This class was the latter type, and even though I could have had the summer off after Spring semester ended, I thought three weeks would go by fast. It did. But, this was the most physically demanding course I have taken so far. 

We spent one week in the classroom, learning about brick and concrete, presenting some research we did and taking a field trip to Lakewood Cemetery to sketch.

From their website: "The Memorial Chapel at Lakewood is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and serves as the architectural focal point of the cemetery. The building was designed by prominent Minneapolis architect Harry Wild Jones and was modeled after the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, Turkey." It was completed in 1910. I didn't take any outside photos because there was a repair man in the front door.

Inside, tens of thousands of tiles (my hand for scale) were used to create the beautiful mosaics.

The newer mausoleum and columbarium was "constructed in 1965, and is a Modernist style structure designed by Detroit architects Harley, Ellington, Cowan and Stirton".

This is the chapel. I did most of the drawing below during class time.

The last two weeks of the class were spent at the BAC: Bricklayer and Allied Craftsworkers training center in New Hope. Our first assignment was to design our own concrete block. Since the theme of our project was a ruins park, we decided to design an old-looking block, like those limestone bases of Minneapolis mill buildings from 100 years ago.

I measured 1.5-inch intervals across a 4-foot piece of Masonite and snapped chalk lines. Korynn is clamping a straightedge to the board so we can guide a circular saw every 3". The other lines were randomly cut with a jigsaw. I did cut at least one wavy line myself. Then we clamped the pieces and cut the 8-foot lengths down to match our block size.

We made one long form with 4 sections so that we could try an 18" block and three other standard lengths. Below - the Masonite strips fitted into our form very tightly. No need to glue them together: just a top strip of plywood to keep them in place.

Korynn and Zong brushing all surfaces of our form with a "bond break" solution so that the concrete will not stick to the plywood or the Masonite. I did some of this as well.

The form with the third side attached (below). Joe, our BAC instructor, helped us scoop the concrete into the form and showed us how to use the vibrator to eliminate air bubbles.

Our four block sizes almost ready to set overnight.

The next day, I was the first one to check on our block, and saw it had set and had pulled away from the Masonite. Good! That means it isn't sticking.

But, there was some sticking, and the loose strips of Masonite were a bit hard to pull out. We know this is an experiment. 

The final result was actually quite beautiful, appearing more like old limestone than it would have if the Masonite had made an impression with every 3/16" layer! 

And here are the new-old blocks at the base of our mock-up as Zong and Alyssia begin the first course of block.

More tomorrow.

Monday, June 06, 2016

Two Butterfly Dream Cards

These cards were both made for graduating family members. Card #1 features a die cut window with a flurry of butterflies in rainbow colors and a printed sentiment.

I used the same die cut window on Card #2, but started with a base of designer cardstock from DCWV. The butterflies were punched in two sizes and hand colored just a bit.

In both cards, I adhered the butterflies on one side only - to give dimension.