Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Little French Fashion Book Progresses...A Bit

Finally...the time and the sunlight to get some photographs of the slow progress I've made on the little French fashion book. I added some beads that are aqua-lined-with-copper to the velvet trim on the cover. The ribbons that tie the book together are vintage seam binding from Beth's Etsy shop and a brown ribbon with teal undertones from an amazing shop in Parkville, Missouri called Florilegium.

I finally finished the first page, which is a celebration of my one of my favorite motifs...the paisley. Antique store finds include tiny jet buttons, a lace applique and what seems to be a homemade French thread card. I tried a new technique for this page, using my printer/copier and freezer paper to transfer an antique embroidery pattern from a book on to a strip of muslin. There are four more pages of this book in progress and I am about to start an altered book project that I'll also share as I go. You can always click on the photographs to see the details.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

A Masked Ball Swap

Stacey of Flotsam & Jetsam sent out an invitation to join her Masked Ball Swap. I loved the idea of putting a fashionable spin on the Halloween theme so I joined in. My partner was Amy who lives in California. She doesn't have a blog but you can see some of her paper creations here. Her package was full of fun things: jars of Halloween candy whose lids were topped with a toad and a rat, painted party horns and a pumpkin pie candle, a fancy little coffin box topped with my monogram and filled with treats and an orange striped billard ball--unlucky number 13! All wonderful, but I was really wowed by the cigar box ballroom she created for me. That's the cover above and below you get a peek inside. Amy added beautiful glitter details to the belles' costumes and surrounded them with tiny pumpkins, a bat and a cat. Don't you just love the girl on the swing?

For Amy, I covered a box with flocked damask for the body and black and silver stripes for the lid. I embellished a butterfly mask to decorate the top.

I created a couple of tags in the ball theme and wrapped fancy trims around them to use in future projects. A vintage box discovered in Minnesota did hold a dark secret...a vintage heart-shaped perfume bottle with a keyhole design. I filled it with black glitter and tied a silver ribbon and a little black key just under the cap. A rhinestone shoe pin from Victorian Trading Company was added as a keepsake of that imaginary night of dancing and intrigue.

The swap was a lot of fun and I'd like to thank Stacey for proposing it and Amy for being such a generous and creative partner.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Paper Trail

What did I do with my summer? Well, apparently I gathered a lot of paper. I made three trips to Minnesota and was able to visit Hopkins and its wonderful main street full of antique shops two of the times. That's where I found this journal which is full of blank, nicely yellowed ledger pages. Love that cover! The graphics on the green card, which I've read is a lotto card, were also appealing and were found at the same shop, Auntie M's.

These papers are destined for French-inspired projects, although the little 4 o'clock tea menu is from a Chicago restaurant called The Blackstone. Lobster salad, brandied peaches and Blackstone nectar anyone? This came from the Old Summit Country Antiques Show which will be back in town next weekend.(For a sneek peak at one dealer's offerings, visit Beth.) The tiny DuBarry book was found in Hopkins, also at Auntie M's. That beautiful French date book page in the background was purchased from Mary at Green Paper. Now you know my sources and a bit about my summer!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Something Old

Most Saturday mornings I stop by my favorite thrift store which is located in a retirement community. I seldom walk away empty handed because--and I don't know how to put this politely--old people have old things. I never know what I am going to find, but I'm sure to get advice from the community residents who serve as volunteer staff on how to carry, clean and use the items I've purchased. Sometimes though, my cashier just shakes her head ever so slightly and I know she's wondering why I would want that old thing. Here are some of my recent finds.


None of these cameos are fine or valubable; in fact, all but one are button covers. For just a dollar, though, I have a great stash for future paper and fabric projects.

Lace Collars

I ran across a group of these for just 50 cents each. The lace trim at the bottom of the photo was separated from the collar and will become part of my little French fashion book. Do you suppose it was the same person who jazzed up her plain blouses with these and the cameo button covers?

Tools and Craft Supplies

No lightweight plastic here. Older tools are made of sturdy metal and wood that has developed a nice patina. Even the brads have a wonderful tarnish that only age can bring and were just a few cents more than the original price. I have found some big pieces for the studio recently, too. A relatively new printer/scanner/copier was just $15. It was out of black ink, but there was a brand new black cartridge still in the box and right beside it for just $1. Another favorite find is a pair of storage cubes. I have to take back what I said about no plastic, because these are made of plastic, but an old plastic that is incredibly heavy and has yellowed to the color of French ivory. They're perfect for scrapbook-size sheets of paper and there were two of them to stack in a corner of the closet for just $3 each. Have I convinced you to grab the phone book and start calling the retirement communities in your town?

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Secondhand Books and Surprises

I recently purchased a secondhand book because of the charming little pieces of art published in it. This sketch of the ballerina Marie Taglioni is my favorite. She was the first to dance on point and the artist commented, "She danced quite beautifully, quite as if she flew in the air, so gracefully and lightly."
This pretty-in-pink portrait of a musician was done by the same artist, who lived during the 1800's. Can you guess who the artist is?
This portrait is entitled "Mifs Victoire Conroy from nature" and is dated December 1836. Any last guesses? The artist of these three pieces is none other than Queen Victoria (The Sketchbook of Queen Victoria by Marina Warner). For some reason, it really surprised me that Queen Victoria was such a good artist. I know that young women of that era were expected to have "accomplishments" such as drawing, playing music and sewing, but somehow these light, pastel pieces don't seem like they would have been created by the woman who looked somewhat dark and dowdy in her later-in-life portraits.
And here's another surprising piece of art, also found in a second-hand book. This is a collage, from a series on Queen Elizabeth, by Gloria Vanderbilt (Gloria Vanderbilt Book of Collage). It fascinated me that a fashion designer and a woman of such wealth would choose to make her art out of scraps of humble materials like gingham fabric, paper doilies and tin foil. You can see another one of the Queen Elizabeth pieces at David Duncan Antiques. I'd love to hear about your secondhand book finds.

Friday, June 19, 2009

All Things Marie

Have you seen Marie from Somerset? It's filled with gorgeous art inspired by Marie Antoinette. It must have made quite an impact on me, because I seem to be finding her image all over the place, and somtimes bringing the item home. Like this box from an antique mall in Des Moines.
Or this tiny notepad from Barnes & Noble (tucked in a watered silk bag found in an antique store in Hopkins, Minnesota.)
But my favorite item has to be this piece, which now adorns my dress form. It has the sacred heart emblazened with flames and Marie's cipher. I found this a couple of weekends ago at an antique show here in the Kansas City area. The dealer's tag had no clues about the piece--I just recognized the cipher from seeing it used in several of the Marie magazine art pieces. Now, I'm reading Queen of Fashion (What Marie Antoinette Wore to the Revolution) by Caroline Weber. Has the tragic French queen inspired you?

Friday, April 10, 2009

Good Things Come to Those Who Blog

If you have visited a few blogs or picked up a copy of Artful Blogging, you are sure to have read wonderful stories of friendships, collaborations and acts of kindness and sharing that have occurred as a result of these electronic pages. In the short time I've been blogging, I've already met some very welcoming and supportive people, but a recent post brought a whole new kind of surprise. Stacey, an antiques dealer in North Carolina, saw one of the tags I had done for a swap and wondered if I would be willing to make one for her in exchange for some vintage ephemera. Of course, I was flattered that someone would want one of my tags, but I also jumped at the chance for an exchange because I love seeing what vintage treasures turn up in other cities. These are the beautiful things that Stacey sent me. The two sheets of embossed die cuts are from Germany and are pre-WWII. They have a great patina that new pieces can't match. In the background, you'll see an 1872 issue of Peterson's magazine that is filled with great text, art and needlework projects. Stacey asked what kind of ephemera I liked and I mentioned I would love to have items I could incorporate into the little French fashion book I am working on. She thoughtfully chose items with that in mind-- the belt buckle was even made in France. Stacey sells her antiques at Booth 41 in the Gresham Lake Antique Mall, in Raleigh, NC and through Ruby Lane online. Stop by her blog Flotsam and Jetsam to meet her and visit her Etsy store sweettea16. Last time I looked, she still had some of those wonderful German die cuts available.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

My Puppy Valentines

What a delight it has been to participate in the Puppy Love Tag Book Swap. Karla, who was our hostess, created covers for more than 50 of us who wanted to swap and put the books together with ribbons and charms. My cover has what I think of as one of Karla's signatures--a pleated ruffle made from vintage paper. And look at the cute little Scottie dog charm. It reminds me of third grade, when a boy who liked gave me the prize from his box of Cracker Jacks. Ah, young love! Here's a look at how six of the swappers celebrated the theme with paper, glue and creativity!
Debe Leon wowed me with her clever combination of cheesecloth, crepe paper, flocked hearts and a vintage valentine image , but those tiny dog bones dotting the red and white baker's twine really pulled at my heartstrings
Robin chose a vintage photo with dogs that look a bit like my terriers. How important it is to claim things with the word "mine" when you are young. Robin expressed this so beautifully by adding the hand-stitched sentiment to this wonderful image.
Don't you love the concentration this boy is putting into expressing his affection for a girl while his faithful pup waits for his attention? Amy Wald added a sweet crepe paper ruffle stitched with Valentine's Day red to finish her tag.
Like me, Carrie Witherite, chose an image of a white dog sitting on a pink pillow. I love the Victorian feeling she created for this tag has with rose wallpaper and layers of green velvet ribbon, pink rickrack and delicate lace.
Debra Ganas picked a cute vintage image to show that no matter what language we use to say the word love, the meaning is the same everywhere--we don't want to leave the one we l0ve behind. The striped scalloped circle pulls the words and the image together and adds a playful toch.
I know this tag's maker--it's Shawn. I met her and her cute little daughter at Karla's blogger tea party. The deeper colors and wistful image she chose to portray that old-fashioned phrase "Be Still My Heart" are just perfect.
Valentine's Day may be over, but thanks to Karla and all of these talented women, I have lovely, lasting memories of it.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Pups are in the Mail!

My posh pink pups are on their way to Karla's for the Puppy Love Tag Book Swap. I was pretty pleased with how they turned out, but I wish I'd learn to do broader strokes of layering and less fussy detail. I seem to get hung up on things like making the tiniest slit in a paper bird's beak so it can be glued under and over a bit of lace so it looks as though the bird is acutally holding the lace in its mouth.
In this case, I was quite taken by the tombourine this trade card dog was holding. I really got caught up in turning it into an "instrument of love". I cut away the original advertising and sandwiched tiny, free-floating punched paper hearts between the paper pup, pink vellum and a background paper. That tested my cutting and gluing skills! Then I handstitched through those three layers to attach gold sequins and beads to highlight the three tombourine jingles. For the life of me, I can't figure out how one person, making six little tags with such teeny details can make such a mess! There were sequins, beads, snips of paper and bits of trim everywhere! It was a jumble of everything I had considered and everything I had used. This morning the studio straighten-up began--but only after an inspiring hour spent with the new issue of Where Women Create.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Puppy Love in Progress

Here's a sneak peek at some of the pretties I'm putting together for Karla's Puppy Love tag swap. I'm going very pink and gold with this one. I hope your weekend is a creative one.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

A Good Weekend

What makes a good weekend? For me, it starts on Friday night listening to my son do color for a college hockey game on a far-away Minnesota radio station that streams over the internet and into my laptop, which was literally on my lap so I could hear every word. (This is when I really love technology!) Then on Saturday, having a few hours to myself to visit an antique show, a thrift store and a couple of craft stores. I guess I wasn't in a spendy mood because I didn't come home with much, but I did find a vintage trade card that will be the inspiration for my tags for Karla's Puppy Love Swap and that made me happy. Perhaps the sweetest part was Sunday morning, lounging in bed for awhile with a cup of coffee and all these beautiful magazines from Somerset. I have had a weakness for magazines since I was a kid (anyone remember Jack & Jill?), but I don't think any publisher has consisently awed me the way Somerset has. The new Somerset In Love is so pretty and I can't wait to see Marie. Eventually, I pulled myself out of bed and started working on those tags because you just can't read these magazines for long without being inspired to go make something beautiful yourself.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Light the Lamp

During a recent visit to a thrift store, which had been squeezed between other family errands, one of my teenage sons said, "Look, Mom," and pointed to a high shelf. He had spotted a pair of lamps with figurines that looked just like the people in the toile patterns I love. The man was missing a hand, but the woman appeared intact down to the tiny, sculpted roses in her apron.
At first glance, I thought the lamb's leg was broken, but it was just tucked under. The figurine and base certainly needed some cleaning, but the price was so right!
I spent about an hour cleaning the lamp with a damp terry dish towel and Q-tips. (Some old things have a patina, but others are just plain dirty!) It cleaned up beautifully--no permanent stains, just a lot of dust. I found a silky shade for $7.99 at Tuesday Morning, and for safety's sake, I will probably rewire it. I've heard it's a pretty simple DIY project with a kit from the hardware store, so I may even try it myself this time instead of asking my husband to to it.
In hockey, when you "light the lamp" it means you scored. For those of you who don't have a family of hockey players like I do, the phrase comes from the red light behind the net that is lit up when a goal is scored. I think I should be able to borrow that phrase for this vintage score, don't you?

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Here's to 2009!

Wishing all of you a wonderful new year...filled with the old!