Monday, June 6, 2016

Arthur Meighen Public School - A Sad Case of Architectural Euthanasia.

St Marys Collegiate Institute - 1884
Image Courtesy of the St. Marys Museum
It's official, in April the Town of St Marys granted a demolition permit to the owners of the old Arthur Meighen Public School - a sad case of architectural euthanasia.

In 1875, a beautifully designed Italian Renaissance style school, then named St Marys Collegiate Institute, was erected at the top of Water Street North, Unfortunately, through no fault of its own, this gem did not age gracefully. The sad reality is that the school's slow and painful death started many decades ago, with people in positions of authority having no vision, and no appreciation of its historic and architectural worth. One doesn't need to be a heritage conservationist, a historian or an architect to recognize the value of this building when first built. Aside from its obvious beauty, the fact that one of Canada's prime ministers sat at its desks should be reason enough. Wasn't this a place of knowledge after all? Where were its advocates when the destruction started and the first of its many abysmal additions took form? Each like tumorous growths defacing and deforming the once elegant building into a grotesque lump of bricks, it attracts no sympathy. The final insults now come through acts of vandalism committed by clueless, aimless, aggressive teens. But then, why would they care about this school when generations before them did not? Children learn by example.

Past the point of saving, the school will soon be put out of its misery. Let's make sure that what replaces it isn't akin to Frankenstein's monster.

Arthur Meighen Public School - 2012
South side of the Arthur Meighen Public School - 2016
The South side of the school where one of the gables with its oil-de-boeuf window is still visible.
Note the huge spruces, very likely two of the same ones seen as young trees in the 1884 shot.

As Scott Sidler of the The Craftsman Blog said so well in his post on Practical Preservation
"Apathy Kills".


Saturday, May 14, 2016

Spring 2016

The Dusty Victorian, Spring 2016
Gardening is hard work. It's hard on the back, the hands and the knees. Why do I summit myself to such abuse? Because the rewards are so easy on the eyes, it's therapy, meditation and it heals my soul.

Here is my reward for last autumn's hard work.

Now for the work that will reward me later. For Mother's Day, instead of flowers, I asked Brian and Astrid to get me plants that will reward us long term. We've had so much success with our raspberry hedge that I wanted another fruit-bearing bush. I chose this jostaberry, which is a cross between a black currant and a gooseberry. I will let you know how that turns out.


I also received a wonderful variety to plant in my kitchen garden: tomatoes, herbs,
broccoli, beans and peppers.


My kitchen garden patch is ready to go.
Happy planting, everyone.


Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Paper Peony Tutorial - Happy Easter!



Although peonies are not a spring flower, they are one of my favourites with their abundant show of petals and lemony sweet scent. With Easter coming soon, I made these paper peonies using paper stock from an old art book. The books I use for crafts are damaged library discards or old vintage books a step away from the recycling bin, but any recycled paper will do.
This easy tutorial is only a guideline, your own personal choices for sizes and shapes of petals are strongly encouraged.

You will need: Paper stock, Wire, Ribbon, Glue Gun, Scissors

*Cut 5 different sizes of petals with different scallops at the tips + a 6th (optional) one that is smaller for finishing off the part under the flower. Each size of petals should be repeated 6 times. You might not use all 6, but have them ready in case you do.
*Cut a band of paper and fringe it to form the stamens.

Shape a little loop at one end of the wire, put a drop of glue on it and wrap the band of stamens around the end of the wire. Add a drop of glue every so often as you go along.

Using one blade of your scissors, curl the tip of each petals.


Cut the petal down the centre approximately half way, put a drop of glue and over lap the two corners to form a dart.


This will create a gentle curve and give your flower a natural appearance.Repeat this process to all your petals. 


Starting with the smallest petals (#1), glue each one around the stamen making sure
to slightly overlap them.


Repeat the same process with petals #2 to #5.





This is what the underside of your flower should look like.


Optional - Add petals #6, glued so they curve in the opposite direction.


This is what it should look like. If you use these flowers for a wreath, I would skip the last step as these petals would serve no aesthetic purposes and would only be a nuisance.



Finish it off by tying a knot around the wire using a piece of ribbon and glue it in place. 


Voila! This flower ended up measuring 7" across.


For this flower, I used images of portrait paintings.


This one has images of the virgin Mary.


In this example, I used a combination of both images and text,


and for this flower, I selected images depicting 18th century notables.


With pointy and narrow petals all curled inwards, this flower resembled a chrysanthemum.



Wishing you a lovely Easter celebration and a flowery springtime.