Posté le 02/04/2010 at 13:47

Juan-les-Pins, August 9th 1945.

Encore une carte postale de Juan-les-Pins... Graphiquement, cette photo n'apporte pas grand chose, le piqué n'est pas fameux, et la colorisation a masqué beaucoup de détails.

Non, c'est plutôt son verso qui est intéressant : la carte a été envoyée par le Lieutenant J. Robinson, un soldat américain alors en poste dans la région, à ses parents à Baltimore (Maryland).

Et la date fait froid dans le dos : le cachet du service postal de l'US Army indique 9 Août 1945.
Ce même jour, le bombardier Bockscar (nose art ci-contre) largue la bombe atomique Fat Man sur Nagasaki, faisant instantanément 30.000 morts, et bien plus encore ensuite par effet des radiations...

La guerre en Europe n'est alors finie que depuis 3 mois, et le Japon capitulera dans 6 jours.
Du coup, le texte prend une autre saveur :
"Dearest Folks,
Am having the time of my life just looking at the beautiful nights of the Riviera.
Hope to be home soon. Only wish that you could share this wonderful place with me.
Your loving son,
Évidemment, ce soldat ignorait ce qui se tramait à l'autre bout du monde, et quand bien même, la censure de l'armée vérifiait le contenu de tous les courriers.
Au même moment, Tsutomu Yamaguchi était à Nagasaki, à quelques kilomètres de l'hypocentre de l'explosion. Trois jours plus tôt, il était aussi à Hiroshima pour affaires... Il a survécu aux 2 bombes ; il est décédé il y a quelques mois, en Janvier dernier.

La bombe de type Fat Man a été par la suite testée sur l'atoll de Bikini, qui a donné son nom au maillot de bain dont je vous parlais récemment, et qui avait été commercialisé avec le slogan : "Le bikini, la première bombe anatomique" (sic)...
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Posté le 30/11/2009 at 17:35

Terrace Project : Bamboo containers

Bamboo containers
Large garden containers aren't easy to find, and really expensive... Additionnaly, I wanted mines to be high enough for the bamboos to settle correctly, while not too wide, and more than 3.20 meters long!

So I built them from scratch, based on an idea found on On Sketchup, I adapted the plan to my dimensions, trying to optimize the cuts in my boards and struts ; if you're interested, you'll find my Sketchup plan here.
So, I've made two identical containers, measuring 163cm long per 42cm wide.
The sides are made of autoclaved pine weather-boards, 179x14.5cm, 2cm thick. You can use it just like you would paneling, the boards fitting into each other. The "strip" of the last (top) board is removed with a circular saw, for aesthetic reasons (use a plane block and sandpaper for finishing) ; that strip is then glued into the bottom groove, for enhanced solidity and to avoid moist getting in there. The boards are glued with polyurethane wood glue and clamped using ratchet straps, while waiting for the glue to set.
The bottom of the containers is made out of 18mm thick OSB ; that's a purely economic choice, 9 euros for both, it's a real bargain! It would have cost arround 60 euros in plywood... OSB is far from being as solid as plywood, but here, with less than 30cm between each bottom supports, it will be more than enough. In the other hand, OSB is very sensitive to moisture/humidity, you must protect it. Three layers of wood surface coating (inside and outside), along with the inside tarpaulin, should do the job.
All reinforcements and uprights are made of 70x32mm autoclaved pine struts. These are the very same struts I used for the decks.
I used a stock of 4x40mm. stainless Torx screws I bought by mistake (not the right dimension) for the decks. Since I had 500 of them, I did not hesitate in the number of sreews during assembly, to make sure it will remain solid though time : 175 screws per container! icone smiley laugh
The bamboos are not planted yet, I was late and I believe I will wait till next spring to install them.
Phew! Yet another thing done! icone smiley wink

Edit 24/06/2010 :

By Internet Magic, we already are on next spring!
So, end of May, Blue Toad is on duty again to fetch 6 containers filled with 160 to 180cm high bamboos. I felt like I was inventing green tuning in my car. icone smiley wink
So, finally, here is the result of my bamboo containers... I must say I'm quite impressed by the speed at which these guys grow, almost 40 centimeters the first 2 weeks after I installed them!
The 4 wire you can see in the front of the containers are for lights, they'll be hidden by the couch.
Bamboo containers... Check!
By the way, good to see that my design inspired other realisations : here on Zep's blog! (french only)

Edit 05/05/2015 :

This article is the most read on ShamWerks, and I'm often asked how are my bamboo container doing now.
So, 5 years later, here's a quick update! icone smiley wink

Below are a few pictures of my containers as they are today :
In short : everything's fine! icone smiley smile
For those of you who feared the bamboo roots would pierce through the wooden containers, here's the proof they're doing just fine. The left one just got a bit of a billow because of the roots pressure (about 3cm measured in the middle), but no sign of weakness, crack or leak.
The bamboos are now about 3 meters high.

If I had to do it all over again, I'd change the tarp : that el cheapo one doesn't handle humidity too well, I should rather have installed one of those heavy duty root barriers, which would have kept it water-tightness (the objective being to protect the wood from humidity). Or maybe, simply brush a few coats of tar in there.
The OSB bottom is doing fine too, giving no signs of fatigue ; thinking about it, I should probably have gone with the more expensive plywood anyway, just for my peace of mind.

The coating looks perfect. It was V33 brand "8 years warranty", a really good product, I'd gladly use it again. Well, to be fair, the containers are quite protected from wind and sun ; the wooden panels behind them received the same coating, but being more exposed, they don't look as pristine.

I finally replaced the originally halogen lights by LED ones ; Halogen got too hot, and front glass broke all the time because of thermal shock with humidity... No more problem with LEDs that barely heat at all - and draw much less power!

So, that's it for this update! I'll keep you informed about the evolution of these containers in a couple of years from now! icone smiley laugh

Edit 05/09/2017 :

I had to make two additional bamboo containers! The article is here, go check it out! icone smiley wink
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Posté le 25/11/2009 at 01:44

Miss Bikini 1956

Ok, just to celebrate (again) the 100.000th hit on ShamWerks, you deserve another pin-up.

But not just any pin-up! This is actually yet-another-vintage-postcard from Juan-les-Pins in the 50's (and prepare yourself to see more of these, I've got a dozen of'em to scan!)...

The card travel in June 57 (post office stamp) ; therefore we can conjecture that the picture was taken the previous season, i.e. in 1956.
And believe me, bikini swimsuits like this one, in '56, there shouldn't have that many ; you can tell so looking at the guy on her left hand side, turning his head like an owl... icone smiley laugh

There could be an explanation : that very same year, the movie "Et Dieu créa la Femme" ("And God created Woman"), is which Brigitte Bardot caused quite a scandal by appearing in a bikini for the first time on screen ; consequently, every young girl wanted to get the same small swimsuit for themselves...
Hell of an era, uh? icone smiley wink

[Place the picture was taken as seen in Google Streetview]
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Posté le 17/11/2009 at 19:38

Terrace Project : Japanese Garden Tsuboniwa Chaniwa

Tsuboniwa Chaniwa
Second step of the Terrace Project, setting up a small japanese garden...

Since I only had a few square meters, I chose a tsuboniwa-style garden ("courtyard garden") was necessary. These are very small gardens, integrated into closed spaces insides habitations and temples, using the same constitutive elements as their big-brothers : the chaniwa ("tea garden") and the karesensui ("dry garden", usually named "Zen garden" in occident).
This one will be kind of a reduced version of a "tea garden". These gardens are leading to the little house where takes place the ceremony of... tea, you guessed it right. icone smiley wink

Here we go! First step, cutting off the concrete tiles to get a nice round shape. It's easier than it looks actually, using an angle grinder with a segmented diamond disc. You just want to go slowly, tracing the cut line on both sides of the tile, then cutting half-way through only (don't try cutting all the way through, you'd block the disc).
Then I put the two big trees that will structure the whole set.

The chaniwa gives me the opportunity to integrate Japanese mapple trees, a tree that I really like a lot, which leaves turn bright red at the autumn.
The taller one is anAcer Palmatum Matsumurae while the smaller one is an Acer Palmatum Dissectum (one can recognize it thanks to its dissected leaves). Mapple trees do not like the clay-ish soil of my garden, therefore I gave them a mix of peaty soil, leaf mould and sand, which they seem to appreciate.

Thanks, by the way, to "Blue Toad", my '88 mk.II Rabbit, that has transported absolutely everything possible those past few years... icone smiley wink
Next, putting in place the tank for the closed-circuit fountain. It's a tsukubai ; traditionally, the stone basin (chozubachi) is here to allow one to perform his ablutions right before arriving to the tea house. And since the basin is low, it makes everyone, whatever their social rank, putting a knee to the ground, though prompting to humility. Well, in my case, I only wanted to hear the water flowing noise! icone smiley laugh
In the other hand, I did not want the shishi-odoshi made famous by the movie Kill Bill (remember, the fight between Lucy Liù and Uma Thurman in a Japanese garden : that was the bamboo fountain making a regular tocking noise) : too noisy, I only want a tiny whisper of water flow, not giving my neighbors a reason to call the cops... Traditionally, it was supposed to scare away the deers, but well, they are pretty seldom in my neighborhood these days. icone smiley wink
For the tank, I used a plastic storage box. Plus, its hadles holes are nice overflow security : in case of rain, the tank won't be overflowed, the water will get out through those holes. The tank is surrounded with stones, gravels and sand, to drain the water away. Beware of the spiky stones anyway, I've broken the bottom of two boxes before I actually could put it in place correctly!
A small aquarium pump pushed the water into the bamboo spout, it flows into the sink, overflows into the tank below... Circuit closed.

Next on the list are the plants.

On the ground, some Helexine (creeping plant originating from Corsica, with very small leaves, looks like moss), some Adiantum Fragrans around the tsukubai, and a fern behind the three stones.

These three stones are yet another traditional element of a japanese garden, named sanzoniwagumi, "Buddhist triad stone ", the biggest one representing Buddha.

The naked soil is first covered with geotextile fabric, to avoid unwanted wild grass to grow.

Above, a layer of Carrare white marble pebbles : a bit too shiny at the beginning, but it tend to take a nice patina through time.

At the foot of the maple trees, and of the basin, black slate flakes bring in some contrast.
Here is the result in August, i.e. two month after the original setup : all the plants look fine, the Adiantum Fragrans have exploded,the helexine is creeping away covering everything (I'll have to keep an eye on it), the granite basin got some patina.
The lantern is a ceramic model bought in a garden centre ; it's not the cutest ever, but it will do fine until I find a nicer one (not easy in such a small size)...
Same thing for the basin : I originally wanted something more natural (evoking Noguchi's fountain at the NYC Metropolitan museum), that one will stay here until I find the perfect one.
Even I'm more than satisfied with the result, it's not really a "Japanese" garden, but more a "Japanese-inspired" one. I've tried as hard as possible to follow the rules and codes of a traditional Japanese garden (whereas adapting it with the local plants and available space), but I'm very far from the look and feel of the masters in that art!
Anyway, I won't stay at that point, a "cloud-shaped" boxtree will come later behind the angle of the building, the whole set up will be harmonized, the rest of the garden will be landscaped as well... To be continued, so.

I've read a lot on the subject before I actually stepped in, studying the different options... If you're interested, I highly recommend the following web sites (all in French, sorry guys, just watch the pictures!) :
  • Fuji-Jardins, made by a true enthusiast, it's complete, detailled, pleasant to read, and, last but tnot least, graphically superb.
  • Erik Borja's garden is one of the references in this domain, and his website is brilliant.
  • Fullhouse-Niwa, a blog following the creation of a Japanese garden, from its "soul-less square of soil" to the final small piece of Japan.
That's all folks... I'm off, I'm going back to my terrace for some meditation. icone smiley wink
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Posté le 12/11/2009 at 23:40

100.000 Hits : Chris Sanders Tribute!


100.000 Hits on ShamWerks since its opening in October 1998... Well, OK, 100.000 hits in 11 years of presence on the Interweb, that's not that much. icone smiley wink
But hey! That's a milestone anyway!

To celebrate that, 2 pin-ups, this time out of the magic pencil of Chris Sanders. His name doesn't ring a bell? He's the creator of Lilo et Stitch, of which I'm kind of fan!
The Pin-ups are extracts from his sketchbooks (limited editions, signed the author, of which I'm a proud owner!)
Read Kiskaloo, kinda Calvin & Hobbes with a creepy touch... And pin-ups. icone smiley laugh

By the way, go have a look at the latest DreamWorks production : How to train your Dragon, realisation by Chris Sanders!

That probably explains the likeness between Stitch and that Dragon... On screens for Spring 2010!

That's all for today... Thanks to all of you for your regular visits, messages...See ya!
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