5.29.2012

The mighty mason



The mason jar...one of the staples of vintage inspiration...ubiquitous and versatile...I thought that I had seen every possible configuration from storage to light fixture to soap dispenser but on my recent trip, I saw yet one more idea that I had to try myself.  Start with one mason jar...did you know that Classico Pasta Sauce is bottled in Atlas Mason jars...no, the jars aren't vintage...but they are a classic design...which makes them timeless...




Add in one screw top canning band and a piece of hardware cloth.  Even though I had some old canning bands that were rusty and gold colored, I purposely bought new bands because I liked the burnished silver color and thought it worked better for this project...it was only $3.50 for a box of 12 bands & lids...I had plenty of hardware cloth around...available usually in the garden section of Lowe's...its fairly rigid which is ideal for this project.




I cut a section of the hardware cloth with a pair of wire cutters...conforming it to fit inside the canning band.  This pair of wire cutters worked like a charm...that's the beauty of old tools - sturdy and reliable...and one of the best finds at an estate sale...whenever there's a garage or basement at a sale, that's where I head first.  Not only are there interesting treasures for use in my artwork, but I always pick up whatever hand tool I might need - cutters, pliers, rasps, awls, etc.  They usually have wood handles, are better made than current models and have the added bonus of great patina!



I pushed the cut section of hardware cloth inside the band, slightly bowing the wire outward...it fit snug without any adhesive...and will be kept firmly in place once the band is screwed onto the jar.














My mason jar/flower frog vase is complete..I added a stalk of parsley and a few blooms from the garden...


































With the hardware cloth acting as a flower frog, three stems are easily arranged and stay in place to make this simple display...













































Such a simple idea...ideal for summer entertaining...add a few posies to the patio/deck/porch without a lot of fuss...linking up to Mission Possible: The Great Outdoors...plenty of inspiration with plenty of summer time ahead...

5.25.2012

More alike than different


Three weeks ago when I attended the book promotion for The Pulse of Mixed Media, it was interesting to hear the collective responses to several of the questions posed in the book...and that my personal experience mirrored many of these responses.  Though the art is personal, the approach is often universal.  I am not a classically trained artist...I have always have a creative bent and dabbled in some art classes in high school (and even won a city-wide art competition at one time...receiving a set of acrylic paints!) but my scholastic pursuits were of a more serious nature...with the end result to be more "employable".

After 20 years, I returned to art...and though it doesn't pay the mortgage, it does feed the soul.  Once again this year I will be participating in the juried art show, Fresh Paint, here in Everett.  I started working on a few new collages back in January...and then they sat...laid out on my work table...incomplete...direction unknown...



initial start on bird no.3 collage
 



During The Pulse of Mixed Media book event, Leslie Avon Miller talked about how she keeps the paintings that she is working on close by so that she sees them on a regular basis and they can "talk" to her...and it is by this process that she understands the direction of the piece.  This comment resonated with me...I often leave a piece on my work table...where I will see it everyday and "hear" how it needs to be completed.  I also work on several pieces at once...the collages that I started in January are part of a five piece series...and I learned at the book event, that the major of artists profiled in the book, work on several pieces at once...and that they want to work in silence...no background noise/distraction/commotion for me!





After 4+ months of incubation...here is the finished collage of bird no. 3...

I love the graphics from old vintage dictionaries...but this bird is different than the one at the start...he (or is it she?) wasn't facing the right direction so was traded out...kept the brass stencil 3 with the back of the vintage raffle ticket showing thru the opening...

in case you were wondering...the foundation of this piece is a well-loved mini-cutting board...I like the shape...and the fact that its wood so I can attach pieces with nails (the stencil) or drill holes to thread string to tie on items (the feather)...I'm all about using items at hand...I veer away from traditional art supplies...

















A perfectly white feather adds a light touch...





















and the topic of time always seems to creep into my work...evidenced by the old timepiece gear & spring...














So mark your calendars now...Fresh Paint Art Festival, Everett Marina, August 18-19...hope to see you there...

5.22.2012

There's no place like home




I've just returned from a mini-vacation...The Southern Man and I travelled to Virginia to visit family...and to take a little time to unplug and unwind...
and now that I am back home in the Pacific NW, I'm reflecting on how important "home" is...no matter who you are or where you live...

















We spent half of our time in Charlottesville, a small university town where the Southern Man's daughter and husband live...we hung out at the house, walked around town (admiring the cute homes and charming porches...such as the porch I captured in the opening photo) and soaked up the warm sunshine...from observing the backyard chickens, I gathered we were not alone in enjoying the weather and our surroundings...















During our visit, southern man's daughter & husband learned that their offer on a foreclosed house had been accepted...though the housing crisis has had its share of sad stories of loss...it was gratifying to see this young couple's dream of their first home come to life...under a housing boom, they would never would have been able to purchase this 1930's Dutch Colonial...but given the current economic conditions and being in the right place at the right time, they now own their dream home...and all the excitement (and work!) of making it their own special place.



While in Charlottesville, we visited Monticello, the famous home of Thomas Jefferson (or T.J. as locally noted).  Its an incredible estate with nothing less than an incredible man at the center of its creation...it was easy to understand why T.J. relished this retreat and truly felt at home here.
For the flight back to Seattle, I picked up the June issue of House Beautiful magazine at the airport newstand...and saw my vintage-inspired stairwell highlighted as one of 20 Makeover Ideas...their magazine has the perfect tagline -"We believe everyone has a beautiful house in them".  I strongly believe that one's home should be a welcome retreat and a nest in which to find warmth, solace and peace...incorporating simple ideas such as these 20 suggestions will make your house into your home...

As we opened the door to our house and breathed a sigh of contentment, I found comfort in the fact, that though I love to travel and relish all the experiences that come with it...there is no place like home.

5.19.2012

I spy inspiration...




I am always on the lookout for ideas...especially for potential projects...once you get into the habit of thinking "what might be" instead of "what is", there's no turning back...inspiration is everywhere...


One of the best things about working at Lowe's is using my "what might be" radar on all sorts of products...and sometimes I don't know what something is, so the "what might be" knows no limits...
case in point...


One morning I saw these concrete blocks with wires sticking out of them...I thought it was some sort of support packing material for store product...I find out that they are Dobie blocks, which are used to hold rebar in place while setting a concrete foundation...the texture of the concrete block is great and the wires have the tiniest bit of rust forming on them...I buy 10 of them (at 50 cents each!) and take them home at the end of the day.

There is the slightest indentation in the center of the block...my plan is to bend the wire around a glass test tube (which will rest in the indentation) and have a very rustic looking bud vase.

I get to work straightening the wires...they are heavy gauge so this takes a bit of work...I decide to leave the bent ends so there's less chance of gouging a finger on a sharp wire and the bend adds a little flourish.  The dobie blocks come in squares of 9 or 16 blocks...and are broken off according to how many blocks are needed.  I bought several singles and a couple of sets of two.

To form the wire support to hold the glass test tube, I found a metal rod (part of an old curtain rod) the same size in diameter as the glass tubes...I used the metal rod for support as I wrapped the wire. 
I was able to tweak the tension and turns of the wire with a lineman's pliers using the metal tube as the interior support on which to pound - a much more durable material than the glass...and when I was done, I slid out the metal rod and slipped in the glass tube.


To add to the mix, I decided to use two of the blocks for picture holders, turning the wire into concentric circles to hold a photo/tag/card...









All I needed to do now was snip a few flowers from the garden and add a couple of bird tags...






































here's a closeup of the wire support...

























It was the easiest project...and I love the contrast of the rough concrete with the smooth glass...and with the heavy base, I can use these vases out on the patio and the wind won't knock them over...

Linking up to Funky Junk Interiors Saturday Nite Special...mmm...what other ideas can I find for inspiration...
and also linking to Not Just a Housewife, Show Me What Ya Got and Coastal Charms, Nifty Thrifty Tuesday...


5.14.2012

The daily mail


What is it about the daily mail that makes us wait in anticipation...its not as if anything interesting ever arrives...bills, advertising fliers, money solicitations, the occasional magazine...but recently I received a package...and a foreign package at that!



Once I opened the padded envelope, the inside was also wrapped so neatly...the anticipation was building...















A fellow blogger and artist, Carole Reid, had asked for suggestions of a title for her recently completed painting...the winning suggestion would receive a piece of artwork from Carole...after all the suggestions were tallied, Carole combined/edited several of them into the final title...so each of us who contributed to the end result received our prize...



A small original piece of art by Carole...
I immediately scrounged through my pile of frames to find a suitable one...and the framed artwork is resting on my office windowsill for now...I love the colors...and the circles...







































I'm thinking of refreshing our living room...its been 10 years since we moved in...time to move things around...thinking of doing a "wall of art" and this piece will fit right in...I'll be out of town for a bit but plan to tackle this "refreshing" project in early June...stay tuned...

5.11.2012

The power of Pinterest


Pinterest...the power to find inspiration...and to be found...and to give inspiration to others.  I realize that Pinterest has its fans/fanatics as well as those who detract/denigrate the site...but I find it a source of inspiration...a source that is two-fold...


Some of you may remember that during the holidays, I had several projects that used my remaining felted sweater scraps...and after I made felted wool vases, felted wool stockings, and felted wool mitten garlands, I still had scraps left...but much smaller ones. 


www.myrtleandeunice.com



When I spied this pin of these cute chicks, I knew that I found a project to use up those smaller scraps...there's a complete pattern with instructions on the myrtle and eunice blog...to get all the info click here.









I enlarged the pattern (via my scanner and printer) and sewed up three chicks...






































I made the "feet" on the black chick out of rusted wire...still debating on "feet" for the other two...the beak on the blue chick is cut from a vintage raffle ticket...





















And the blue shelf in the picture...made from an old painted board...I used the same technique for making it
as I did for making my little white boxes but stopped once I had three sides nailed together...


































I still have enough pieces left for one or two more chicks...and now I have tiny, tiny scraps of felted wool remaining...what to do with that...?  ideas?

So I have found plenty of inspiration on Pinterest...and others have been inspired by me...it is via Pinterest that HGTV.com saw a picture of my brass stencil lamp and included it as one of 10 ideas to transform your bedroom decor...my lamp is idea #3 in the line-up...read all about it here...

Pinterest...seems to be a two-way street...and because of that, I'll keep pinning...

Linking up to Funky Junk Interiors Saturday Nite Special...did you know that FJ has a special Pinterest board devoted to the highlights from SNS...see it all here...

5.08.2012

Light in the garden

Tucked back in a corner of my garden is this lone yellow poppy...and it just bloomed two days ago...






































Amid all the green and shadows, its casts a yellow light...and brightens my day...

Playing with my photoshop textures...
kk texture "chase" soft light at 100%
layer mask to remove texture from yellow poppy
kk texture "letgo" soft light at 25%
linking up to Kim Klassen's Texture Tuesday...
and for those Beyonders too...

5.06.2012

The Pulse of Mixed Media







































Saturday was one of those occasions when you finally get to connect the blog persona with the actual person...
Seth Apter was in town to promote his new book, The Pulse of Mixed Media, Secrets and Passions of 100 Artists Revealed...and he brought along Donna Watson and Leslie Avon Miller to participate in his talk/demonstration...

Seth started his talk with a snippet from the book...if you give 100 artists the same set of art supplies and told them to create, you would get 100 different pieces of art...it is the soul of the artist that makes the difference...and given this small opportunity to see a part of these three artist souls, I sat in the audience, soaking it up...

After Seth talked about the book and how it evolved/grew/solidified into its current published form (with a second printing already underway), it was show & tell time...


First Donna talked about the influence of her Japanese heritage on her art...her use of rice papers as a basis for her textures in her work and the placement of the pieces that constitute each collage.

It was immensely gratifying to hear her talk about her design process.  Donna's blog, layers, is one of my favorites...always informative, always inspirational...






Next was Leslie, demonstrating a small slice of her technique for building textures and making marks in her work.  Leslie's art is all about the feel and flow of a piece - abstract but yet provocative...
Likewise Leslie's blog - textures, shapes and color, explores these same topics...I knew I liked Leslie's blog from the first time I visited...she has one of my favorite quotes (by Emerson) on her sidebar...








Last was Seth, demonstrating his texture technique as well as some masking tips...Seth's work is also about layering the textures...
with a strong influence of word/type/letter/number motifs














Last night I started reading The Pulse...and today I experimented with a few of the texture tips I picked up from Saturday's demo...I've always used paper layers and transfers in my work to give texture...I've never been much for using paint in the process other than a solid base coat...so it was time to try something new...


I laid down a piece of drywall tape on top of my gray board, painted on the surface with latex paint and pulled up the tape before the paint was dry...and then I immediately laid the tape onto the light blue boards and used my brayer to adhere the remaining paint on the tape surface to the board...I like that one process is the reverse of the other...

















Yes, 100 different artists with 100 different perspectives...but all tied together by one collaborative artistic man...pick up a copy of The Pulse...you won't regret it...

5.03.2012

little white boxes

It seems more than two weeks have passed since I had my afternoon with the Queen of Junk, Shelley Holm...I left off where I was scurrying home to finish up my trio of boxes, squealing with delight over the junk finds and the helpful tips I had acquired...

The original photo of inspiration from Pinterest was really only a jumping off point...the boxes I spied (and have since seen in the current issue of Country Living magazine as well) were made of wood with herb label stenciling on the front and a long black hook at the back of the box to hang it on the wall...I made my boxes out of white peely painted pickets...and then added a single section of old wire garden fencing to the back - ready to hang on the wall or add a vintage vibe if just sitting on a table...





































































Though I had fun styling the boxes in this spring vignette, I anticipate using them as part of my art booth,
holding notecards for display...





























To share a few details...here's a view of the corner construction...



















and a look at attaching the garden fencing to the back...poultry staples were perfect for this...
to see the initial construction steps, click here...




















Can't thank Shelley enough for her help...we're already trying to decide what to make next...
































Linking up to Funky Junk Interiors Saturday Nite Special...always plenty of junk treasures there...

5.01.2012

Remember Mom





Mother's Day is just around the corner...and if you need some help with a little gift...I'm having a Flash Sale at my etsy shop...

A special selection of six different vintage art cards, packaged up and ready to give...















The top photo shows a sample of the gift wrapping in yellow...but you have a choice of yellow, blue, green or pink...tied up with Midori ribbon and tagged for "mom".

And the shipping (USPS Priority Mail) is free if you enter MOTHERSDAY2012 when you place your order...and I'll even mail direct to your mom if you want...what could be easier?!

so get over there now...you know she'll love them...

worth a look...

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