Inspiration from down under

I love it when I hear that I have inspired someone - have received lots of feedback on my posting about using rain gutters in my studio for organizing - thanks so much!  The best comment though came from Australian Tamarah of Shabby Vintage Junk fame...
....hahahahaha....I was CHANNELING you the other day when I was out in the Hard Rubbish....I saw some GORGEOUS old guttering....All chippy white....I scooped it up quick smart to use as a prop on my stall at the Market....I'm going to put little vases of lavender in it....If I have my WITS about me tomorrow I'll take a pic for you....!

Tamarah did take some photos and sent them off to me...but alas no shot of the gutters...but look at this stuff...

most of it found free on the side of the road...

I love this Aussie concept of hard rubbish...from what I can discern, people have the option to put such stuff out in the trash...and one way or another (!) it is gone.  In my town, if it doesn't fit into the 32gal trash can, they ain't picking it up...and though I have left "free" items on the curb from time to time, I don't see this happening on a regular basis.  Seems like a good recycling trend to me!

And if you haven't checked out the Shabby Vintage Junk blog, you must...never knew one woman could be so enthusiastic about junk - I love it!


The Weekly Fluff

Its been a while since I've posted a Weekly Fluff...with the holidays and all that commotion, I didn't always have a chance to look around at Faded Elegance and share my impressions of what was new and/or interesting at the store.
So this week when I was at Faded Elegance, fluffing my spot, I looked around...there was a preponderance of pink...I guess February 14 is just around the corner...
Faded Elegance
Historic Downtown Snohomish


Flowers with flair

Last Saturday I travelled over to Whidbey Island - its one of several islands in Puget Sound with close proximity to Seattle - yet a world away.  I was meeting up with Tracy Taylor Huffman, owner/floral designer of FarmHouse Flowers.  Tracy had heard about me from a mutual friend (thank you Wendy!) and wanted to see my artwork.  After running a successful floral business from her home, she was ready to take the leap and open up a storefront on First Street in Langley.  She wants her shop to be a combination of flowers, interesting art, unique antique finds and charming gifts - all with a laid back/european artisan feel.

I'm happy to say that you will be able to find a fine selection of my collage stationery as well as my original multi-media collage art at her new shop.

There are two important aspects of Tracy and her business that appealed to me (aside from her vivacious personality and Texas charm!)...first, she promotes the use of seasonal flowers/greenery in her bouquets -using what's local and in season...second, all of her bouquets are arranged in recycled/reused vases & containers.  In her small shop, there was a cute display of all sorts of milkglass vases on top of the floral cooler.  I love that she is incorporating these two aspects into her business - very eco-smart!

I'm working with Tracy on designing floral note enclosures that are more interesting and distinctive than the ones you usually find (you know the ones...have a sorry-looking rose with the script writing "thinking of you"!).  I look forward to my next trip over to Whidbey...

FarmHouse Flowers
220 First Street
Langley, Whidbey Island
all photos from Farmhouse Flowers blog


Getting in shape, part two

As I posted earlier, I was making progress on getting my studio (& my office) back in shape, but it was a big task...
I had to call in reinforcements!  My artist friend, Wendy Lee Lynds, is also an organizing wizard with her company, D'Clutter Bunny.  I bribed her to come help me - lucky for me, it didn't take much!

an aside...alas, the tale of the poor starving artist is true...most of my artist friends have other jobs - one is an art/math teacher, one is an optician, one is a picture framer, etc, etc, etc...its tough to make a living as an artist and so we squeeze it in, during those minutes (or god bless hours!) when all hell isn't breaking loose!

Before Wendy arrived, I had cleared off my work table - only to be left with a mound of stuff that needed to be stored...I looked around for what I could use.  In my closet, I had a stack of plastic shoe boxes, all holding shoes from my previous life, i.e., professional shoes.  I had held on to them, thinking that if I had to re-enter the professional world, I would have the wardrobe still at hand...its been over 10 years...I'm not going back...I emptied out the boxes and donated the shoes to Goodwill.  (ok- I confess - I kept the calfskin black heels and the woven Italian leather loafers.)  Now I had 8 boxes to store art supplies.
Wendy suggested that we sort through all the paper  - wisely she commented that it would be hard to know what kind of storage would be needed until I figured out what/how much I would be storing.  So we began...textured paper, paper with text, cardboard & substrate, patterned paper, maps, magazine clippings, how-to instructions or ideas, etc, etc, etc...  Wendy also commented that its gonna get worse before it gets better...
There were two breakthroughs -
1 - I can see (and walk unobstructed!) the floor of my studio.
2 - I removed the chair from my office which was a pile-magnet.  In its place, I made a worktable so that projects-in-progress can live here rather than on the dining room table.  The work table is a happy marriage between two interesting metal pieces - the rusty metal base on casters has a crank that lowers and raises the tabletop...this is perfect for me since I like to stand and work at counter height when I am constructing collages...even more perfect was the fact that the metal base was free at an estate sale.  The table top is stainless steel - easy to keep clean.  I picked it up at a yard sale years ago...I always knew I would find the ideal use for it.  On one end I attached a vintage towel rack - great for hanging a damp rag to clean up sticky messes.
I love the patina of the crank handle - it has been well-used and now it will be well-loved.  Back to organizing...the piles are whittling down...


Back from the Continent

With the holidays behind us for another year, it was time to totally refresh my space at Faded Elegance.  My theme for this vignette is "Back from the Continent" - imagine being back home after travelling to Europe for the holidays...time to rest and reflect on the memories...


"Back from the Continent" will run until late February - hope you will stop by and check it out!


And the winners are...

First of all, thank you to all who left a comment and wished me well on my first blog anniversary - for that all of you are winners and will receive a packet of 4 note cards with my signature clock collage photo. 

Please send your snail mail address to me at amy_duncan@yahoo.com so I can get those cards out posthaste.

Now the drumroll...for those of you who left a comment and are/became a follower...
the winner of the book, Where Women Create Book of Inspiration is...
Ellen, who is a jewelry artist in the Pacific NW- see more info at her blog, Limelight Designs.

and the winner of my original clock collage artwork is...
Bonnie Rose, an unbelievably prolific and talented artist from North Dakota.  See more of her work at her blog, A Life Unrehearsed.
Thanks again to all who participated!
And to non-followers and non-commenters - I appreciate your support as well - I know you are reading and hopefully I am inspiring you!


Substitutions allowed

It was time for dinner...since we plan out a rough menu for the week, I knew that I'd be making Orecchiette with Spicy Sausage and Broccoli Rabe - a great recipe from Everyday Italian by Giada DeLaurentiis.  I love all the Giada cookbooks - simple recipes that are easy to make and taste fantastic!

As I gather up ingredients, I find I don't have everything the recipe calls for...no problem.
Instead of broccoli rabe, I had kale.
Instead of parmesan cheese, I had blue.

Instead of orecchiette, I had farfalle. 
I always have garlic in the house.

Calvin enjoys eating the kale stems - anything green & crunchy is a treat for him.

Dinner is served.  Instead of red wine, I have white.

Instead of stressing that I didn't have the right ingredients, I had substitutions.  Cooking/Art - sometimes with a little creativity and a change in plans, you can have a great outcome.

And if you haven't entered my anniversary giveaway, there's still time...all the details are HERE!


Getting back in shape

It was time to get back in shape...I don't mean me (though I could use some of that too)...I mean my art studio...it was neglected all of last year...I just kept throwing stuff in piles and when those got too big, I just piled stuff on the floor...it was not a pretty picture (and so this is why there is no "before" shot!)  I vowed to get my space under control for the start of the new year.

Working in multi-media collage means that I have a little bit of a lot things and have to have some plan for keeping the chaos at a minimal.  Though I haven't tackled every nook & cranny, I did manage to make enough progress to see the light ahead.

Ribbon and fibers are a fetish of mine - to keep them under control, I devised this storage system made from plastic rain gutters.

The plastic gutters come in 8' lengths and can be cut with a hack saw; caps snap on each end and hide your saw marks.  The brackets to hold the gutter in place are simply screwed onto the wall and the gutter fits snugly into the bracket - its easy and economical storage!  Remember to use your level when hanging the brackets so that everything lines up straight and even!

Underneath the two rows of ribbon gutters, I hung two shoe caddies from IKEA.  Using cup hooks made installation a breeze.  I like the neutral color and the ability to fill the caddies with all sorts of odds & edds but still have everything in sight.

Wallpaper books are a treasure trove of color and texture but a bear to store - heavy and clumsy, they never seem to stay put anywhere!  I had several milk carton bins that I stacked on the opposite wall to store picture frames and metal findings.  With one bin leftover, it was the perfect size to corral those big bears and fit just right on the lower shelf of my work table.

Further along this long wall of my studio I hung two large boards - one a whiteboard for sketching out ideas and compiling lists, the other, a corkboard, serves as an inspiration canvas.

Though I haven't completed my studio transformation, as anyone knows who tries to get back into shape...it didn't get out of shape in a day, so getting back into shape will take time...but I'm on the way to recovery...or at least, better organization!
I'm linking this project to WhisperWood Cottage's 1st Project of the Year party - get all the details on how to link up yourself plus see many inspiring projects by clicking the button below.  And don't forget to enter my Anniversary giveway by clicking here.

WhisperWood Cottage


Happy Anniversary!

It's been one year ago today that I decided to jump in and write a blog.  For me, its been an online artist journal where I can share what I'm working on as well as what inspires me...and in the process hopefully inspire others.
It has been a rewarding experience...it has cultivated my writing skills, sharpened my photography eye (which still needs more work!) and focused my intentions on what I want my art to represent.  And, most unexpectedly, it has exposed me to a community of talented and caring individuals who likewise are expressing themselves through this relatively new phenomena known as blogging.

So in honor of my first year anniversary, I'm a having a giveaway...
First - for everyone who leaves a comment (along with an email address if your blogger profile doesn't list one) you will receive a set of my art photography note cards with my signature motif of clocks.

For those who leave a comment and become a follower (or if you are already a follower just mention this in your comment), not only will you get the set of note cards but you will be entered into a drawing to receive a copy of Where Women Create Book of Inspiration.  This book provides a look at the studios of 23 talented women, providing insight into the creative process and the surroundings that envelope each artist.  In that I have received so much inspiration from my year of blogging, I wanted to pass along a guidebook to inspire others.

But wait there's more - there will be a second drawing and the recipient will receive this original piece of artwork created by me as detailed in my posting here.
I'll pick the winners next Sunday, January 16th so you have until midnight Saturday, January 15 to leave your comments and become a follower...and thanks for your support!


Unexpected delight

While out and about with the holiday shopping crowds, I spied this magazine among the racks at Borders...at first I thought it was a parody of those high-end lifestyle magazines...but as I looked closer, it was the real thing...

Garden & Gun magazine's tagline is the Soul of the South - the people, the places, the food, the music, the art that celebrates all things Southern.  Now the reason why I was even drawn to pick up this publication is that the plan here is to move south in the next two years...and I don't mean moving to Portland!

My partner in crime, Monty, is a southern guy...and wants to return to his roots.  Me, I'm a northern gal...and though I love to visit Wisconsin now and then, I have no desire to move back...nothing against the people or the place...I'm a weenie now and can't tolerate temperatures below 30 degrees!  Before I met Monty, I had never been to Florida.  Over the years, we have travelled to Florida, Georgia and North Carolina for family events and I have seen a fair share of the area driving around all three states...and I liked what I saw.  So when the topic of retirement came up (for him, not for me - I'll be working forever!) and he said he wanted to move south, that sounded like as good a plan as any to me.

We bought a copy of the magazine, took it home and read it cover to cover - interesting stories, great writing, wonderful photography.  My favorite article was their Made in the South Awards - "twenty remarkable entrepreneurs who are keeping things local, small-batch, and made-to-last".  Two winners really appealed to me -
Red Bird Ink with their letterpress stationery

and Star Provisions Furniture with their salvaged wood farm tables.

Needless to say, we subscribed and look forward to discovering what the good life has to offer south of the Mason/Dixon line.  To pique your interest, visit their website at Gardenandgun.com.  
all images in this post courtesy of Garden & Gun website.


A clean slate

After putting away the holiday decorations, I feel that I need things to be more uncluttered...but I also did not want to take a lot of time re-arranging everything...so I re-used elements of my christmas decor in a pared down manner for the winter months ahead.

I took out the silver sprayed poppyheads & the pheasant feathers from my "christmas tree".  First I lightened up the front hallway - poppyheads in a clear glass vase, simple sewing items to complete the picture.

I like the shimmer of the silver paint in the afternoon winter light.

In the dining room where the "tree" was, I kept the bird theme - I replaced colored glass ornaments with bird feathers in the tall glass vases.  A special highlight for the vintage bluebird game card; my sister gave me this set of Parker Brothers Game of Birds for christmas- each and every card is a treasure!

My copy of John Burrough's Birds and Bees completes the setting.

Next its on to my studio space in the basement - its been neglected for over a year - I really need to get a better system for organizing all my odds/ends/leftovers/snippets/just plain junk so I can let the creativity flow and not be stymied by..."now where did I put _____ (fill in the blank with the item you have been looking for but have yet to find and which drives you crazy and just intensifies your search to no avail)"
Amy over at Whisperwood Cottage is having a link-up starting on January 11 with "First Project of the Year"  I think my studio space organization qualifies...but I need to get started!  Find all the details on the link-up at her site -  time for me to get busy!
WhisperWood Cottage

worth a look...

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