Saturday, December 27, 2008

A Holiday Table Project

I found a number of these small metal wreaths at an antiques and collectibles market the Saturday after Thanksgiving. No one was quite sure what their original purpose had been. I loved their white-washed gold, and I puchased five, immediately knowing how I would use them. The day before had been a holiday for me and instead of spending the early morning hours among shoppers, I had lounged in bed with a cup of coffee, watching HGTV Christmas decorating specials. It seemed that every holiday vignette had the chairs decorated as beautifully as the tabletop, and this was my inspiration when I saw the wreaths.
I gathered sparkly ribbon, a cream-colored cardstock and a damask print scrapbook paper, alphabet stamps from a vintage set, gold metallic ink, gold DMC thread and a circle die cutter. I punched out cardstock circles, stamped them with each family member's initial, and glued them to the scrapbook paper circles. I rubbed the edges over the gold stamp pad to gild them. I puched a hole in the circles with a large needle, threaded them and brought that thread up through the ribbon and knotted it. The metallic thread did not hold the knots well, so I put a drop of glue on each knot to secure it. The wreaths were suspended by the ribbon. I tied the ribbon into a bow and kept it from slipping when the chairs were moved by placing a small peel-and-stick glue dot underneath.
The wreath place markers were a pretty new addition to our holiday table, and even the three guys admired them!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Long Time Gone

My poor
blog has
been sorely
of late because
somehow, in this terrible
economy, I have been blessed with a full-time job. For the first time in nearly 20 years, I am not a stay-at-home mom or a mom with a part-time job chosen to fit around her children's schedules, but a full-time, salaried employee with all the responsibilities that go with that, and it has been a bit overwhelming. Between the 40+ hours a week, the need to play catch-up with my computer skills after hours, and to find a professional wardrobe, many other things have been pushed into the background, including my blog. I am back to blogging, however, and I will learn to balance everything as so many others do. Gone are my thrift store Wednesdays, but I will never completely abandon the vintage treasure hunt. I found this rusty tin and Czechoslovakian bracelet for a couple of dollars each at a great new Goodwill store.
This elegantly chippy Italian magazine holder was a curbside find. It will make a nice place for scrapbook paper or perhaps all those wonderful Somerset publications that keep appearing at my bookstore. The first issue of Where Women Create was stunning and inspiring. Congratualtions to everyone who had a hand in creating it, and to everyone who was featured there.
And, I did take a minute or two to drape Madame with a beribboned lace piece that someone must have begun putting together as part of a camisole or nightgown, but never finished. It was stuffed in a $2 bag of lace at a thrift store. I think this bit of frippery makes her look more like a Mademoiselle, don't you? I also picked up the latest issue of Artful Blogging and was so happy to see Tiffany's Show Me Your Form featured there. I had a great time participating in that blog challenge. And now I'm off with my real life dress form, my daugher, who has a fitting for a dress she will be modeling in a charity fashion show.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Isn't She Lovely?

For the past few months, I've been admiring the antique fashion plates featured in various magazine articles. When I ran across this 1842 hand-colored plate from a publication called The Artist on a recent trip to Minnesota I couldn't resist starting my own collection. Her wistful expression, pearl-draped hair and pretty pink dress were all wonderful, but the blue paisley shawl draped over the railing was the detail I couldn't resist. (Click on any of my photos to see more detail.) I found my fashion plate at Auntie M's (how perfect for a Kansas girl!) in Hopkins, Minnesota. In a previous blog I raved about another shop in Hopkins called Blake Antiques, and this town has definitely become a destination for me as we go back and forth to my son's college town. Hopkins' main street has some great old architecture and wonderful antique stores. If you have the chance to visit Auntie M's don't miss the lower lever. The basement booth where I bought this image (and several other items) was wonderful--full of vintage items perfect for collage, crafting and collecting. Here are the covers of a little French fashion book I'm working on. I was inspired to start it after reading Sandra Evertson's article Album d' enchantillon in the Summer 2008 issue of Somerset Life. I don't have an extensive collection of vintage textiles, but I was intrigued by the idea of playing with vintage fashion images, snips of old trim and lace and bits of ephemera. I have a few pages started, but as I'm new to collage, I'm in a "hunting and gathering" mode for this project so I can layer each page with as many pretty things as possible. While I was working in my studio this afternoon, I had the pleasure of listening online to a live radio broadcast of my son doing color commentary for his university's women's soccer game. This was a wonderful broadcasting opportunity for a freshman, and that kind of opportunity is why he's attending a school so far away from home. We miss him a lot, but we're so proud he has the courage to follow his dreams.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Scarlet Letters

This is the latest addition to my small sampler collection. I usually don't even look at samplers on ebay because my budget is pretty small and I hate being outbid! This one had a very low starting bid and no one else even bid against me. What luck! The really old samplers are silk on linen. After 1840, the number of samplers being stitched and their quality declined. Later samplers were more likely to be stitched like this one, with wool on a coarse open weave canvas. Many wool samplers fell victim to moths, but this one seems to have fared well. My new sampler, with its ornate letters, is similar to one in the book that got me interested in collecting samplers. It's called a Sampler of Alphabets and I just happened across it on a remainder table one day years ago. I found the samplers so breathtaking that I bought the book and began my study of this form of needlework. At one time, I maintained a website about samplers and co-founded a sampler guild here in Kansas City. I have also been lucky enough to study samplers in the archives of several museums and to attend a sampler symposium in Colonial Williamsburg. I'm not as active with them now, but I still love samplers. Here's a French sampler I own. The red and white combination was quite popular in that country. Unfortunately, someone washed this and the red binding bled, causing the linen to be stained. It's always ill-advised to wash old needlework because the dyes were not colorfast. Here's the sampler with a similar one in the book. And here's a different kind of red and white sampler--a knitting sampler. M really put herself through the paces practicing all kinds of techniques. (You can click on any photo to see more detail.) In a previous post, I showed you my favorite sampler which I thought had been stitched by a girl named Martha Lord. Now I know much more about it thanks to Susan at Miss Maddie's. Susan is a vintage textile appraiser in Canada. She did some research and was so kind to share it with me. A twelve-year old Martha Rod appears in the 1841 census of Raleigh Parish, Essex , England. This is exactly the right age for a samplermaker-- so her name was probably Martha Elen Rod and the word Lord was a religious reference which was very common in samplers. Susan also found a listing for a Hanker's Hall that was a branch of the Monmouthshire and Glamorganshire Banking Company listed in 1852. So now I know more about the stitcher and the building she chose to memorialize. Thanks, Susan!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

These are the days...

I'm a Saturday's child and, as predicted by the old rhyme, you'll find me working hard for a living many days of the week, but recently Wednesdays became a set day off for me. I couldn't be happier, because Wednesday also happens to be one of the days the retirement home thrift store is open. Unfortunately, it's a popular day with the antique dealers, too. Don't get me wrong, I really like antique dealers. I sold vintage wares once and I'd love to again. It's just that, unlike the residents who are looking for a nice blouse or the employees who seem to favor kitchen items, the dealers are like me--they're looking for the old stuff. I have realized, though, that now that I'm not buying for resale, we aren't really competing that much. Now, I mostly buy for my little vignettes and for collage, and I'm sure the nice volunteer ladies who bag my purchases find some of my choices curious. These are some of my recent finds. Even at $2.75, it's a pretty ugly pile isn't it? But look closer. Oh sure, the button jar had lots of big, brown and boring and a good number of gold and gaudies, but all of these beauties were in there too. I waited until I got home to sort through them, but while I was waiting in the drive-thru at Starbuck's I amused myself just turning the jar round and round to try to see what was inside. Those mother of pearl buttons are so tiny they must be baby buttons and those funky green ones remind me of Tic-Tacs (Go ahead and tease me, Cami--I know colored buttons always seen to remind me of candy). The pages of the old watercolor paper pad were very yellowed-- just perfect for me! Look how beautifully these images from Sandra Evertson's Les Mode Francaises tag and sachet project printed up (Somerset Life, Spring 2008, pages 96 and 97). Sandra also used brads as an embellishment and gave a recipe for tarnishing them. For a quarter, I got a box of brads already darkened with age and perfect for the project. Now I just need the right fabric to make the sachet bags. (For now, you'll just have to trust me that the green file box will look better when I get done with it. ) I do buy some things that are pretty from the start. You can see I already turned the little gold and white tiered stand into a ribbon holder. This grouping (without the ribbon) was just $5.50 (and there's a second set of the blue and white dishes not shown.) According to the old rhyme, Wednesday's child is full of woe--maybe she should come shopping with me!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Show Me Your Form Party

Tiffany at Shabby Scraps came up with the wonderful idea of a party to show off our dress forms. I love the button she designed for the event, too. You can see it on my sidebar, but be sure to stop by her blog to see the original as well as the list of the 50 or so bloggers participating. Wonder who's under the lovely lace in my photo? She'll remove her wrap and join the party when you click {here}.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

My Favorite Thing

Cindy, who has the beautiful blog, My Romantic Home, has invited us to share our favorite thing. This sampler, which was stitched in 1840, is definitely it! I collect antique textiles, and especially samplers, and this is the oldest piece I have. Did you know these were stitched as part of a girl or young woman's education? There are certain things sampler collectors look for in a piece and this one has just about every one of them. There are trumpeting angels and a female figure, which are overshadowed by a huge butterfly. This lack of perspective in sampler art is common and gives them a folksy or whimsical feel. There are birds and trees and flowers. There's a verse--it's a version of one which was stitched frequently-- and the sampler is signed and dated by the stitcher. (You can click on the photos for more detail.) There is also a wonderful building with its name stitched underneath. It could be the girl's school, a prominent building in her hometown or possibly even her home. The sampler is probably English, but at this point in time I have been unable to document that. When I purchased this sampler about 10 years ago, I reframed it myself using museum-quality archival materials because I want it to last another 168 years. Thanks for letting me share something so precious to me with you, and I look forward to seeing your favorite thing!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

My Imperfect (but mostly pleasant) Life

Getting the craft store ready for inventory had really been cutting into my fun time. I had to work a lot of extra hours, miss the bloggers' craft day at Karla's cottage and even work on my birthday. I did have one free day to drive out to Greenwood, Missouri with my daughter, however. This little town has a number of antique shops, and I especially love it in the fall when it's all decked out in pumpkins and corn stalks. There's a lot of focus on primitives here and those fall decorations really seem to complement them. Unfortunately, on this summer day, the tea room in the antique mall was closed for vacation. My daughter and I love eating there (great sweet potato fries) so that put a definite kink in our plans. It was also unusual to see a number of empty booths in the antique mall. I did find a couple of little things across the street at the Greenwood Mercantile. Here's a Rit dye rack I bought. This is just a piece of one (3 tiers, 6 colors to a tier) as I've seen a larger one in a local antique mall with the full range of colors. I always look at it longingly when I go to that mall, but it's too pricey and too big for the space I have, so I was happy to find this little piece. A few of the dividers were broken or missing, but I replaced them with bamboo skewers soaked in leftover wood stain and cut to length. I've had fun trying to match up items to the dye colors stamped on the rack and I think it will look good when I get it filled up with ribbons and such. I've also seen one filled with old millinery flowers in Kaari Meng's book The French-Inspired Home. I also picked up this vanilla box. I like old graphics and have been looking for some vintage blue and white packaging since I saw Debbie Dusenberry of Curious Sofa mix it in with her blue and white transferware in the January 2008 issue of Country Living. I also spent one evening at an auction that I've started to attend regularly since Beth introduced me to it. I got this Blue Willow condiment set for just $3 because the salt shaker is missing. There's a complete one on ebay for more than $230. That's one of the nice things about imperfection-- it's affordable. As Beth said, you never know when I might run across a match for the missing piece and I've actually had this kind of thing happen to me. Years after I purchased an empty Delft tool rack, I found matching tools minus their rack---in Greenwood! I also got this really tall jar (I seem to be into these lately) for $4 and there's not a thing wrong with it. The exact same thing sells for $24.99 where I work, so it was worth staying late at the auction to bid on it. Have you ever been to an auction? I was a bit wary of them because I thought I'd accidentally bid on something I didn't want or lose my common sense and pay way too much for something because I got into a bidding war, but those things haven't happened. The auctioneers and their spotters make eye contact with the bidders so it would be pretty tough to bid without meaning to. I find myself getting very relaxed by the auctioneer's patter (each one has his own style) until they hold up something I want to bid on and then I get a rush of adrenaline. The spotters at this auction are so friendly, bringing boxes and newspaper to you with your item if you didn't come prepared to wrap it and these guys are just plain comedic when they model the merchandise-- fur pieces and rhinestone necklaces never looked so good.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

What's Under the Cloche? (3)

A while ago I picked up a couple of spool knitters at my favorite thrift store for a quarter each. They reminded me of the ones I had as a kid and I liked how they were such opposites --one tall, thin and black, the other short, plump and ivory. They sat on my craft table with no purpose, but caught my eye when I was creating a panel, all in blacks and creams, for the Birds and Bonnets Swap. I thought the three would look good together under my cloche. Last night I recreated the swap panel. I began putting together the vignette this morning, knowing I wanted the display to be strictly black and all shades of vintage white. Some dried twigs called wintercress, found on clearance at Michael's for $1, made a tree background for the the bird and filled out the top of the cloche. As usual, I used a vintage pin-style flower frog as a base, anchoring the twigs in it and propping up the panel on it. I draped yellowed lace, another thrift store find, from the black spool and pinned a leftover scrap of coffee-died polka dot ribbon to the white one. I cut a circle from black and ivory damask scrapbook paper to ground the display and scattered vintage buttons over it. So tell me, what's under your cloche?

Friday, July 4, 2008

My French Dress Form

Madame arrived a few days ago, rather unceremoniously, in a cardboard box by way of New Jersey. Like so many bloggers before me I set out to antique her French form, using the instructions from Heather Bullard published in the April 2008 issue of Romantic Homes. Here she is in her natural state in the back yard. I thought it would be easiest to paint the form upright, so I left it on the wood base, but because I'm a sloppy painter, I put the base inside of a garbage bag and secured it to the metal pole with masking tape. The form was first sprayed with Kilz white primer and then painted with Valspar interior flat finish paint in the color Churchill Hotel Wheat using a foam brush. Then Valspar's antiquing glaze in a color called Asphaltum was watered down and ragged on. (The paint and glaze were purchased at Lowe's.) To me, this glaze appeared very grey in the bottle and I was a bit worried, but the company website described it as a deep brown and I was happy with the way it looked over the paint. Like Heather, I ordered the dress form with a black base. (I picked an ebay "buy it now" seller after searching with the words "dress forms". There were a number of form sizes and styles, base finishes and price points to choose from.) I sanded the base and neck cap to age them a little and then rubbed them with a less watered-down solution of the antiquing glaze. I had the most trouble with the neck stamp. I stamped, painted over the stamp, and then re-stamped it several times because the image was blurry. I finally realized I was using a dye-based stamp pad and that the dye was, to borrow a term from the textile world, fugitive--it was running. I used my handy Michael's online coupon, purchased a pigment-based ink pad and was happy with the result. The stamp I used is from a collection called French Mail by Crafty Secrets Clear Art Stamps and was also purchased "buy it now" from an ebay seller. (Yes, I'm an impatient crafter!) Since my studio has a lot of sewing collectibles, I began Madame's decoration with a needlecase necklace I've had for years. Now on I'm on the lookout for more thrift and antique store necklaces, pearls, chains, pins and who knows what else to adorn her.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

What's Under the Cloche? (2)

Now that June is racing toward July, I decided it was time to get a summer vignette under the cloche. I based this display around a little souvenir booklet I purchased on our recent trip to Minnesota. I am always drawn to personal papers that have fallen out of the family line, but I think this one really struck a chord with me because my oldest son had just graduated from high school the week before and were were traveling to register him for college. This little booklet celebrates the end of the school year with a number of poems with one comparing education to a ship and another that's just plain honest: "My pupils 'tis the close of school, Vacation days have come. And you're released from task and rule, And lessons' weary hum." The inner pages are all professionally printed, with one reading "with best wishes from your teacher 1908". Another lists the location as Elm Dale Township, Morrison County, Minnesota; the teacher as Nellie Sullivan (is that her picture pasted to the cover?); and a listing of students including five Nelsons, five Johnsons and eight Andersons--fifty-three students in all. To back the souvenir booklet, a 25 cent thrift store flag took a quick tea bath to knock down the new look a bit and then was anchored in a vintage pin frog. Some antique store stars cluster around it, repeating the stars and stripes theme and perhaps suggesting star pupils. A swirl of vintage rick rack adds a festive touch. To make the bottom of the cloche more interesting, I photocopied and cut a circle from a page in a beautiful old book I own that was copyrighted in the late 1800's and is titled Real Penwork Self Instructor in Penmanship. So, what's under your cloche this summer?

Friday, June 13, 2008

Tea and Creativity

On Monday, I visited my retirement home thrift store and found these two apothecary jars for $2.25 for the pair. (The tall one holds little bits of shell that I thought might be interesting for mosaic. I know--they're tiny and I'm crazy!) On Tuesday, I attended a blogger tea party at Karla's and met Shawn and Marilyn who live nearby and Becca from Ohio who was passing through on a trip to Colorado. It was a beautiful afternoon and we had a good time chatting out on the patio and touring Karla's studio. (I think it's fascinating to get a peek into another person's creative space.) The sweet little bottle in the middle of the photo was a party favor Karla made for all of us. The colored pearls I bought in Des Moines immediately found a home there. On Wednesday, I met up with Beth at an auction. Although I didn't come home with anything this time it was fun to peek over Beth's shoulder and see what her box lots contained. You don't have to live around here to have the same experience--she has a very entertaining two-part box lot "reveal" on her blog, so head on over there next. I did play around with the colored pearls and the pincushion. Originally, I thought I'd do a variety of flower designs using all of the colors but I ended up with a swag and just the blue and creamy white pearls (my colorways are so predictable). I'm not sure this design will be the end result and I can't decide if I should keep the stained, vintage fabric, or if I should cover it over with something cleaner. For the time being, it does look pretty on the old Singer.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Bliss at Blake Antiques

I found my bliss behind these green doors at Blake Antiques in Hopkins, Minnesota. This is a unique and wonderful antique store. The selection of merchandise was outstanding, and all of the booths and cases were beautifully arranged. There wasn't a Beanie Baby in sight and there was smooth jazz playing instead of that oldies soundtrack that so many antique malls seem compelled to play. In a lower area, there was a large inventory of vintage wedding dresses and accessories and a library of reference books. There were at least a dozen things I wanted, including a beautiful old chatelaine that was over $1,000, but this pretty blue sewing basket won my heart and was affordable. There were some very nice vintage sewing tools that came with it, too. I also couldn't walk away without this paper doll who is lovely in soft green. Just look at all of the beautiful ribbonwork in her basket of posies. And her blonde waves and rosebud red lips are too cute! I found this celluloid pincushion basket and the pearls in a Des Moines antique mall. I plan to make an arrangement of pearl flowers on top of the pincushion. I'll show you the results if it works out. The rusty miniature tools-- not old, just charming-- were $1.99 at a Goodwill in Minnesota and I thought they'd be fun for a Spring vignette. I also purchased the orphaned blue lustreware teapcup for 49 cents. I'll pass along a few bargain finds, too. If you have a Big Lots in your area, they are getting some nice things in their scrapbooking aisle. I love the vintage letter shapes of K & Company's Twinkle Type and at $4 it's cheaper there than where I work using my employee discount. The Inkadinkado Stamps were another find there at $4. I've noticed their selection does vary by store, but isn't that always the way with bargain shopping? And finally, if you're a fan of cloches or Anna Griffin stamps and punches, a number of them have been put on clearance at Michael's. Happy summer shopping--wherever it takes you!