Forks, knives & spoons - oh my!

Normally when you think of silverware, you consider them to be used as eating utensils...but what about all of those orphaned forks, knives & spoons that are worn out or bent...what happens to them...well, let me tell you...

As many of you know, I have a fascination with metal...and with things that people would normally throw away.  I decided to make a lamp with the shade composed of silverware...here's how I did it...

Gathering up the raw materials

Old brass lamps abound at the thrift stores - ugly but very sturdy.  The wooden base will give more height and heft to the lamp.  I drilled four holes in the bottom lip of the lamp and screwed it onto the wooden base.

Metal lamp shade skeleton - I ripped off the stained silk covering to leave the bare bones.  I liked the straight sides.  I thought about leaving the silk wrapped edges...but only for a moment...ripped that off too.

Old silverware - can't say enough good things about it!  The old patterns and designs are incredible and the weight of each piece feels so much better in your hand than flimsy modern metal.  A couple of years ago, we swapped out our everyday silverware for an eclectic mix of old silver and silverplate.  Every piece is different so nothing matches and I run it through the dishwasher.  When a tine gets bent or too much silver rubs off from the back of a spoon, I pick up another random piece at any yard sale...and the discarded piece joins the mob waiting to be re-made!

Prepping the materials

I've said it before and I'll say it again...Priming is always a good idea.  (I must be getting through with my hosanna anthem because I actually have had two friends say to me that they knew they should prime...but didn't...next time!)  Especially with metal, primer will help to grab onto the metal and then grab onto the paint.  I primed the lamp base and then spray painted it a dark oil-rubbed bronze color.

My idea for this project involved having each piece of silverware hang from a length of wire...so I needed a hole drilled in each piece.  Purchasing a drill bit specific for metal simplified the process; clamping each piece of silverware to a wooden board ensured accurate (and safe!) hole placement.

Now I needed to put it all together...stay tuned for the next installment...


a word for today

can't help but be bombarded with news of the world...japan, libya, and even wisconsin...this is my mosaic for monday...

I've continued my obsession with mosaics - this time I used Picasa but edited the mosaic in Picnik.  See plenty more of Mosaic Monday at Little Red House.


Spring green

Do you notice how the first green that appears in spring is so crisp and vibrant?  Or maybe it just looks that way since it has been so gray and drab for many months that any hint of color stands out!  What I like best about spring blooming...fresh flowers in the house that I can cut from my own yard.

Hellebores are one of my sister's favorite flowers - she planted quite a few in my garden...they are one of the first flowers to bloom in late winter/early spring, thus their alias name of Lenten Rose.  They are in the back of the garden (in the shade) so I can barely see them from my kitchen window...thought it would be better to cut a few for the house so I could appreciate their striking color combos up close.

Daffodils are always a shot of sunshine yellow-
they communicate instant spring!
I'm submitting two final photos for the Color Inspiration Series at Kim Klassen's Inspiration Studio blog - the series winds up on March 27...visit her site and see all the color for yourself!


But wait- there's more...

Yesterday's post talked about collections/obsessions...as I was snapping pics around the house, I took a few photos of my sewing collections.  Collecting sewing supplies and paraphernalia is on-going passion of mine...but this recent obsession with designing photo mosaics may be getting out of control!  Can't seem to help myself - I must make a mosaic of whatever catches me eye!

Enjoy today's creation - and make sure you check out the other mosaics at Mosaic Monday sponsored by Little Red House.



The Altered Page, the blog of multi-media, NYC-based artist Seth Apter is one of my favorite sites.  He runs a regular on-going post called The Pulse -- The State of the Art -- a survey in words and pictures of the online artist community.  Over the past 4 years nearly 150 artists have answered a list of questions which make up The Pulse.  The current project, called Collectors Edition, is the fifth installment in which artists share their favorite collection or obsession.

To wrap up this project, Seth invited other artists to share their collections/obsessions...how could I resist!

Birds...Clocks...Rusty Metal...these are my obsessions, er...I mean, collections.  All three of these things influence my art and are constant themes in my work.  A look around my studio & home captures several inspirational images...

And in the end, the three inspirations collide into one
multi-media collage...
Bird's Life by Amy Duncan

Please visit The Altered Page to see the collections of other artists and how it inspires their art!



Today is St. Pat's Day - so let's celebrate the green...but a different type of green...
I've always been concerned about the environment - I remember the first Earth Day in 1970 - I studied ecology and environmental sciences in college - recycling/reusing has always been a way of life for me.   So here's three new eco-ideas that I wanted to share with you...

A blog-
Reading the current issue of Where Women Create, introduced me to Ronnie Citron-Fink and her blog, econesting.  I love that term...my home is my nest and I want to live responsibly in it.  Ronnie writes for several publications and her blog is a compilation of her articles as well as other day-to-day insights.

 A book -
I recently bought the cookbook Urban Pantry by Amy Pennington, published by Skipstone Press (the same publishers who published my book, The Salvage Studio.  Skipstone is a publishing off-shoot of The Mountaineers Books that focuses on environmental/sustainable living topics). 

Amy provides guidance (and a hefty serving of recipes) on what to stock in your pantry so you can easily cook up a tasty, wholesome meal in minutes.   With a nod to Meatless Monday, I made the Cumin Black Bean Pot with Cabbage - it was easy, nutritious and economical - a winner on all counts!  All I added was homemade cornbread and dinner was complete...Peanut Soba noodles are next on the list to try...

A package-
I've become more conscientious of product packaging - especially if it can't be recycled.  I had been packaging my greeting cards in clear cellophane sleeves - and even though the material is coded "5" for recycling, at least in my community, "5" goes in the garbage can.  I re-designed my packaging so that I use recycled materials (old book pages) that can be recycled again once the package of cards is opened.  To see my complete line of greeting cards for sale, click on my page of collage stationery.

What eco-friendly ideas have you discovered lately...do tell!


I is for Inspire

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I'm trying to stretch my creativity, especially in regard to photography.  I recently joined Kim Klassen's Inspiration Studio to both learn from others as well as participate.

There are themes posted, inviting members to share their interpretation via a Flickr photo sharing group.  The current theme is Color...something that has been in short supply in the Northwest...yes, there is green grass and the daffodils are poking their heads out but it is still so gray (and wet!)  I immediately thought of a photo I took last summer in my backyard garden that summed up color for me...

I'm honored that my photo is being highlighted on The Inspiration Studio blog today.  There are so many wonderful submissions...I encourage you to join...and participate in the joy of color!


Mosaic Monday

I'm participating in Mosaic Monday again, hosted by Little Red House.  Last week I used Picnik and BigHugeLabs to make my mosaics; this week I used Picasa.  As opposed to the other two programs, Picasa is downloaded onto your computer, giving you more options in your collage mosaic design  - you can get all the info at www.picasa.com

"Metal Madness" shows my obsession with all things of old metal.

"Pearly Whites" profiles soft hues and gentle curves.

Be sure to check out all the other Monday Mosaics at Little Red House - you'll be inspired!


Books...and their parts

Books...I have lots of them...old, falling apart books...books that survived a fire or a flood...books with wonderful illustrations... books with beautiful binding and covers.  The books pictured above are a stack of old Reader's Digest books - I picked up a huge box of these old volumes with beautiful patterned covers for free at an estate sale...I removed the covers to make journals...and then bound the remainders with jute twine for display.

photo from Ballard Designs catalog

Recently I saw in the Ballard Designs catalog that they are selling such bound books...mmm, what a concept!

As I was cleaning up my studio, I compiled quite a stack of book covers - most from a fire-damaged set of 1908 encyclopedias that were falling apart.  I decided that I would make garden journals with these remains...so here is the process I followed...

Step 1 - gathering materials

Here's a book cover separated into two halves - I don't use the center spine piece (which will most likely be incorporated into a future collage).  I use two mat board strips to make the book hinge.  The journal paper is any combination of paper scraps found in my studio.

Step 2 - embellishing the covers

I comprised a collage on the front and back book covers.  I also lined the inside of each cover with a page from a vintage dictionary.  The above photo shows the layout of the covers with the mat board hinges.

Step 3 - constructing the hinge

The hinge is made by attaching the mat board to the book cover, leaving a 1/8" gap so the covers can open and close.  Commonly, book binding tape would be used for this step but I found this indestructible reinforced tape at the Boeing warehouse/surplus store which is ideal - its strong but very lightweight.  I tape the front portions and then turn it over to tape up the inside.

an aside - The Boeing warehouse/surplus store shut down a couple of years ago...I miss it...it was the perfect place to get all that stuff you didn't need but found a use for.  I first picked up a roll of this tape five years ago...when I visited the warehouse right before they closed, I bought several rolls of this tape to see me through many years of bookbinding!

step 3 and one half

The completed hinges - the book covers are a tad thicker than the mat board so there's a little unevenness but the strong tape holds it all together.  I burnish the edges to ensure a tight seal.

Step 4 - the inside pages

I like to use a variety of papers for the inside pages - this assortment combines old school-ruled paper with dictionary pages, unbleached writing paper and a few numbered page dividers.  In past projects, I've included wallpaper samples, music sheets and even paper bags (which are great for storing small bits in your journal).

Step 5 - putting it together

I used to hand-stitch my journals using the Japanese bookbinding stitch.  I don't remember the exact eureka moment, but one day it occurred to me to use pronged paper fasteners instead...maybe it was seeing the two-hole legal punch in The Southern Man's office...its so much easier to construct your journal this way...and the biggest plus is that you can add/subtract/rearrange your pages whenever you want.

Step 6 - the finale

Here's my completed journal...I've colored the binding tape with a bit of gray crayon to dull down the white.

another aside...children's crayons are one of my favorite art tools - they really get short shrift!  They come in a variety of colors, are inexpensive and add a textural element that I really like...I encourage you to try it out yourself and re-discover how much you enjoy coloring!

I'll be making quite a number of these journals, in all different designs, for my space at Faded Elegance.  I'm also thinking it would be fun to offer a workshop...I'll keep you posted on both accounts!


A diversion from matters at hand...

I've been working on my taxes...its not a fun job...I know if I kept a better system it might be easier...thank god for Turbo Tax!

Today I received the first issue of Souvenir so it was an excellent diversion from my mounds of paper.  Souvenir is an online "lifestyle gazette" from Heather Bullard.  Heather is one of the forces behind the latest Flea Market Style Magazine and is quite a jill-of-all-trades...photographer, stylist, designer, junker, you name it. 

I quickly breezed through the gazette just to get a feel for it - the photography is incredible!  Lots of great spring inspiration which is much needed around here...still too much gray and not enough green.

Souvenir will be published 4 times a year - and its free - all you have to do is sign up at Heather's blog to get your copy...http://heatherbullard.typepad.com

Back to crunching numbers...my prime motivation in finishing my taxes is that I'm actually getting a refund back this year...oh, and the fact that I want to read Souvenir from beginning to end...


Mosaic Monday

I've been exploring several artistic/inspiration blogs lately...looking for avenues to expand my creativity.  Came across Little Red House (via Jill Ruth & Co. blog) and her on-going theme of Mosaic Monday.  It's an easy project - just link up your photo montage to provide inspiration to others.

I played with several different themes and with two different programs - Picnik and BigHugeLabs...each use your uploaded photos to create the mosaic of your choice.  There are pluses and minuses of each program...I like that you can add text and adjust the width between photos with Picnik...with BigHugeLabs, I like that there is a diversity in layout choices - all the photos do not have to be the same size.

Here's what I came up with...

in Picnik...

and in BigHugeLabs...

Pop over to Little Red House and get yourself some mosaic inspiration!


Preserving memories

We all have them...a box of old photos, a drawer with ticket stubs and dated birthday cards, a yellowed envelope with a faded address...mementos of past events.

What to do with them...how to save them...what's important...who will care...when will I have the time...

I have been working on a project for a friend over the last couple of months...she had lots of "stuff" that she wanted preserved somehow...would I be willing to make a collage using her "stuff"...it certainly seemed right up my alley...I said yes.

There was a lot of stuff...just sorting through all of it took some time.  And as I sorted, I developed a plan...it wasn't going to be possible to have just one collage...so instead I opted for several collages, each with its own mini-theme and composition.  The finished collages could all be hung together or in whatever groupings the friend wanted.

As is my style, I've been incorporating more than just paper into the collages...I think that there's more depth and interest when other objects are included...
I encourage you to take out those old photos and dig up those dated birthday cards and do something with them...it doesn't need to be a grand work of  art.  As I was sorting through the piles of my friend's stuff, I found it made sense to organize by theme and by color.  You can't go wrong if you use at least one of these elements as a commonality - form, function, color or theme.  Then put your collage together...I used inexpensive canvas frames for the foundation and primarily used Elmer's glue as the adhesive.

But why wait until you have a boxful of memories...start today with an art journal that blends your everyday ephemera with your thoughts and reflections in the present moment.  I've recently picked up a copy of The Journal Junkies Workshop/Visual Ammunition for the Art Addict by Eric M. Scott and David R. Modler.  Its a very basic approach to starting a daily journal that marries the visual image with the written expression - and you don't need to be an artist - you just need to be yourself.

worth a look...

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