A New Stage for Mr Brown’s Pig

Mr Brown’s Pig is the performance name of Chris Brown, a committed storyteller, puppeteer and musician. He has been an inspiration to me for many years now, and I was delighted when he asked me to remake the framework and playboard of his puppet stage.

The dimensions and hinged folding design were to remain the same so that he could continue to use it in the same manner as the previous one, but he wanted it to be constructed sturdily enough to last the next twenty years. As he transports it by strapping it to the roof rack of his car, it is clearly subjected to a fair amount of wear and tear, and this durability requirement needed suitable consideration.

It was my opinion that the original stage had become rickety because the wooden frame had only been butt jointed and screwed together, and there was a lack of sufficient bracing. Also, I noticed that the hinges that allowed it to fold up were not particularly robust.

The answer was straight forward; cut decent sized mitred braces to support every right angle join, and to cut a shallow mortice and tenon for every joint, before gluing and screwing them from the reverse side into place.

I sourced some lovely brass hinges, which although were slightly too wide, were easy enough to trim to size with an angle grinder.

The playboard on the original stage was made from laminated MDF which  unsurprisingly was looking pretty tatty. I chose to use a piece of locally grown hemlock. I let it sit in my workshop for a month or so and then cut it to size, planed it smooth and rounded the edges with a router. We wanted to darken it as much as possible so it’s finished with a dark oak coloured wax.

The result is a robust frame and shiny playboard that should stand the test of time, and allow Mr Brown’s Pig to continue performing his excellent puppet shows for many years to come.

Ikigai

IKIGAI; Ink, acrylic and graphite powder on a found canvas in a frame made from pallet wood.

According to the book by Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles, ‘Ikigai’ is The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life. They write that ‘It is a concept, which roughly translates as “the happiness of always being busy”.’

Apparently, our ikigai is hidden deep inside of each of us, and finding it requires a patient search. According to those born on Okinawa, the Japanese island with the most centenarians in the world, our ikigai is the reason we get up in the morning.

When the authors of the book interviewed 100 of the eldest members of the Okinawa community (all of whom were over 100 years old) they discovered that every single one of them keep, tended and eat from their own vegetable garden and drink green tea on a daily basis. Some of their other statements on their secret to a long and happy life are;

  1. Don’t worry
  2. Cultivate good habits
  3. Nurture your friendships every day
  4. Live an unhurried life
  5. Be optimistic

Well, it all sounds like good advice to me and it is a book that I thoroughly recomend reading. I’m off to make a pot of green tea! (Without rushing, before I go to work!!!)

The Zen of Property Maintenance

All houses need looking after. Property Maintenance is just as important (if not more so), as building new ones.

Over time, for various reasons, properties are subject to wear and tear and if not attended to, they will deteriorate, and one of the key factors that can cause major damage is water leaks.


Whether it’s a leaking waste pipe under a bath, a cracked tile on a roof, crumbling grout in a shower or worn out silicone around a sink, if it’s exposed to water, the water will find a way through.

Once it’s through, and then builds up over time, water can cause all sorts of expensive problems; wooden floors will rot, plasterboard walls will turn to mush and concrete will crumble. I write this from plenty of first hand experience, having been working with Jewell Plumbing and Property Maintenance Ltd. on a regular basis since April 2016 (that’s long enough to do a degree).

So what is Property Maintenance and why is it so important?

Well, I can tell you one thing it generally is, and that’s grotty work, particularly when water has been leaking, undiscovered, for a period of time. Despite having been part of a team that have refurbished numerous bathrooms and kitchens, I never cease to be surprised at how much damage a small water leak can cause. It’s ironic really; water is massively important to us in so many ways. We use it to drink, cook with, wash in and to transport heat around our homes. But if it gets into places it shouldn’t be, it can quickly create a massive mess!

The skill set required to repair the damage to property, during a refurbishment is extensive, and includes;

Controlled demolition; ripping out the old stuff (this is particularly grotty work!).

Carpentry; rebuilding floors, walls, box work, doorways, skirting boards and kitchens.

Dry lining; plaster boarding stud walls, ceilings and box work.

Plastering; Creating a durable, flat, paintable finish on walls and ceilings.

Decorating, Tiling, Electrical and Gas engineering and very importantly, Plumbing.

This is not a complete list, but I hope to use it to help explain why I have titled this post ‘The Zen of Property Maintenance‘; The true nature of a house is that over time, it will need looking after in order for it to remain pleasant. And problems, particularly water leaks, are better found and rectified, sooner rather than later. If a person wants to work efficiently, doing property maintenance, they will benefit from a broad, practical skill set, excellent problem solving skills and a knowledge of materials, both modern and traditional.

It is important to be intuitive, as not all problems have a straight forward solution, and if one is not calm and focused, the already grotty work only becomes harder. Meditate on it if you like.

Can you imagine what it’s going to take to look after your house? Maybe you’ve already noticed a wet patch in the ceiling and are wondering what to do about it. I certainly recommend doing something as if there is a problem, the damage is probably only going to get worse and more expensive to repair over time. If you feel like tackling it yourself and have any questions about how to proceed I am happy to help if I can.

Or, If you live in the Bristol area and want some help maintaining your property, then I highly recommend you check out Jewell Plumbing and Property Maintenance’s website; www.jppm.ltd

They deal with small problems fast, which will save you money, and can also handle complete property refurbishments. To demonstrate the range of work
Jewell Plumbing and Property Maintenance have experience in, I have included the following photo gallery, that shows various stages of work from some of their projects, that I have been involved in.

Want to find out more? Click here to get to the jppm.ltd website.

Installing a box section

 

Installing Box Section and Loo

At work recently we built a little section to box in some bathroom pipework and support a new sink, vanity unit and loo. We built a wooden frame work, as close to the pipes as possible, to free up the maximum amount of space in the small ensuite. Then we covered the wooden frame in plasterboard, pastered it, painted it, put in the loo and sink and finished off with some skirting boards.

Painting the battlements

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It’s not every day I find myself painting battlements above a pointed arch, but that’s what I was doing yesterday.

Today I freed open some painted shut (and one of them siliconed shut) sash windows, without mutilating the the frames. Then I chiseled away the paint above the bottom window, and then sanded the exposed wood and oiled it so it could open and shut smoothly.

Mist Coat Roller Arm

Check out the state of my arm, it looks like I’m turning into an abominable snowman. Fortunately, this was not the case. On this particular job, I have been helping a builder, whose name is Geoff, to modernise the previously rather ugly, concrete ceilings in a flat in Clifton.

I’ve never done anything like this before, and so found the process intersting. It’s fairly straight forward really;

Evenly spaced wooden battens are screwed to the ceiling into predrilled holes with rawl plugs in them. Then plasterboards are screwed to wooden battens. To hold the 2.4m by 1.2m boards in place while we attached them properly, we made 2 T shaped frames from some extra wooden battens that reached to the ceiling. After as many whole boards as possible were put up, we measured and cut the rest to fit the spaces left over. Once this was done in each room, and remembering to cut a hole in the plasterboard for the lights to be reconnected by an electrician, a webbed tape called scrim was stuck over all the places where the plasterboard met plasterboard and over any points there were small gaps in between the wall.

Geoff then plastered all the ceilings, which he does a fantastic job of! How he does it, I don’t know, but they end up shiney and blemish free and painting them is a breeze. The mist coat is emulsion paint mixed with water, (this is the reason so much liquid sprays of the roller!) I think the idea being that the fresh plaster and plasterboard soak up the watery mix and this helps to achieve a better finish when the next coat of emulsion goes on.

Anyway, after that we redecorated the whole of the flat, and are just going to finish off glossing the woodwork tomorrow. It’s going to look lovely.

Tula’s Flames

Tula and I had great time today spray painting this yellow army onto the red wall in her bedroom.

We had designed the idea ages ago but we’ve only just got the respirators we need to spray indoors. I say we, Tula did the designing, I just assisted the artistic process. 

Tula Iis very pleased with the result and so she should be, and very importantly, I’m very pleased to be able to say that the filters in the gas masks did an excellent job of filtering out the nasty propelant gases we would otherwise be breathing in. A flaming success and headache free.

Ladybird Lampshade.

It had got to that point when our bathroom ceiling needed a lick of paint, so while I was at it I jazzed up the previously cream and rather dusty lampshade.

I sprayed it blue, cut a lady bird stencil and sprayed that on and then added a bit of greenery with some acrylic paint and a brush. Maybe I’ll add a few flowers too.

I wonder what else I can rejuvenate around the house?

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