Wednesday, July 30, 2008

On the road again...to central Ohio



Every time I go someplace new, it becomes my new favorite place. But, this latest road trip to the hills of central Ohio may retain top billing indefinitely. The Midwest and my home of Indiana get plenty of flack about corn, flatness and rednecks, but if you shy away from Ohio Amish Country for those reasons, it would be a shame.
My trip began in Dresden, just east of Columbus in Muskingum County. Any basket collector of any sort will tell you stories about Dresden as the home of Longaberger Baskets. These handmade, maple-splinted baskets were first made at the turn of the century (that would be the early 1900s) to transport fired and unfired pieces of pottery to and from the kilns in central Ohio, where famous potteries like Roseville got their start. One particular basket-maker, J.W. Longaberger, lived in Dresden and made baskets for a supplemental income and for family use. This craft and the town of Dresden had all but died in 1972 when one of JW's 12 children, Dave Longaberger, decided to re-start the family business.
It's a long and colorful rags-to-riches family story, but suffice to say, the company is in it's third generation of Longabergers with a massive plant just outside Dresden and a basket-shaped corporate office in Newark, Ohio, both of which make for interesting tours, whether you are a basket lover or not.
I was able to stay at my favorite B&B, The Pines of Dresden http://www.thepinesofdresden.com/, formerly known as Hemlock House. Owners Marin and Allison have done a terrific job in two years of bringing the four-plus bedroom in-town farmhouse back to its B&B heydays, when former owners Tom and Jean Elliott greeted guests with homemade muffins, a lazy cat or two, and lovely colonial furnishings. Marin, so-named for his mother's love of Marin County, California, is an outstanding gourmet cook. He whips up breakfast for the guests and special dinners by request. Allison, once Miss Teen USA, is as sweet as her title suggests. I've stayed other places in Dresden, so I can highly recommend The Pines.
Just up the road in any direction is plenty to do. To the south near Zanesville, you can find pottery outlets and an annual pottery festival. West is Frazeysburg, Newark and on to Columbus, a thoroughly modern big city with a hip, downtown vibe. There are many amazing restaurants from which to choose, but Haiku Poetic Food and Art at 800 North High Street, won over my palate and my heart with its charming casual outside dining. Heading east is Coshocton, a former canal town with its historic Roscoe Village. You can ride a horse-drawn canal boat and hear stories about this mode of travel which ended around 1913 with the advent of the railroad. Also in Coshocton is Raven's Glenn, known as 'Ohio's Crown Jewel Of Wineries,' located on the banks of the Tuscarawas River. There is a tasting room, a Tuscan style Italian restaurant with a Sunday champagne brunch buffet, a gift shop, and a full service banquet facility.
Day two took me north to Millersburg and along the winding Rt. 83, I spotted this excellent Mail Pouch barn. It looked as if it had been painted yesterday. I had to stop and turn around to get the shot but felt if I didn't it might fade away before next time like so many other barnside signs. What always amazes me about this part of Ohio is how hilly it really is. Most of Ohio is flat like the rest of the Midwest, but in this central section there are steep hills with amazing views. It is a real workout for walkers and cyclists. It's also a tricky drive in the winter.
In Millersburg in Holmes County I had a nice strip steak at the Millersburg Hotel and then went ga-ga in the evening over all the antiques shops that I couldn't get into. Things close early in these parts, even in the summer and on the weekends, so do your homework before you go. One store, however, made up for all the rest. That was 55 West & Co., a huge, multi-level old downtown building filled to the brim with antiques and salvage- a gazillion vintage finds waiting to be re-purposed, just as the owner was doing by gluing colorful Bakelite and rhinestone jewelry to large, plate-glass mirrors. I scored the finds above for the whopping total of $12 and would have dragged more home if my co-worker had not been patiently tagging along. There were old typewriters, old door knobs, wooden sewing drawers, minks, boas, vintage hankies and more, all artfully arranged. I definitely plan to go back. A truck would come in handy.
The heart of Holmes County is the US' largest Amish settlement outside of Lancaster, PA. The little towns of Berlin, Walnut Creek, Charm, Mount Hope, Winesburg and in the next county east the town of Sugar Creek offer a dizzying amount of craft stores, Amish restaurants, quilt shops, B&Bs, cheese shops and furniture stores. Watch out for the buggies on the road. This is not a re-enactment. Just driving by the pretty farms and taking in the 'view for miles' from the tops of the hills will give you a glimpse into this modest lifestyle. The shops are packed in side-by-side along the main and side streets, so allow plenty of time for looking and save time for a slice of Lemon-Blueberry pie at Der Dutchman Restaurant in Walnut Creek.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

More Marie, Anyone?






Just in case it's not enough that I have a gorgeous new blog banner from Kris Hurst http://krislhurst.blogspot.com/ in my favorite shades of Marie Antoinette, I also have a multi-book review of Marie A biographies that premiered here http://vintageindie.typepad.com/vintage_indie/2008/07/summer-reads--.html Friday on Vintage Indie http://www.vintageindie.typepad.com/. I decided I might as well write reviews of all the biographies I have just finished in my research for an article for Mary Ann McKeating's http://firstborn.wordpress.com/ new zine coming out this fall. My article for that explores why Marie Antoinette serves as a muse for so many artists. Not me, of course. No. Not me.
Hmmm....maybe that's why I just completed two more Marie Antoinette paper mache art dolls. I had enough supplies left over from my other blue toile version (Marie is credited with starting the whole toile fabric craze), and I had been wanting to make one with the famous icons of a ship or cake, which she was said to have worn in her hair as one of many elaborate poufs or hats she had created. Angela Hoffman http://geminiangelsart.blogspot.com/ came to the rescue with not only a ship but also a cake. A little spray paint, and voila! They were Marie-ready. Meanwhile, Sherry Smyth, http://espritdart.blogspot.com/another Shabby Sister design team member http://www.shabbycottagestudio.com/ came to the rescue during Etsy's Trading Tuesdays with another paper mache bust. We swapped for a pair of my glass tulip bead earrings from my etsy shop http://www.hpsgsmith.etsy.com/, and everyone is happy! Now, which one to send to Mary Ann for our Marie swap??
Mary Ann's sister Jo http://labouroflovex3.blogspot.com/ is now hosting a Marie-themed itty bitty book page swap, so of course I am up for that. And, of course I will need some cool Marie stamps from Catherine Moore of Character Constructions http://www.characterconstructions.com/. So do you!
The paper-covered box with the vintage china doll head is for china-doll-head-box swap with Mica of Garboodles Soup http://garboodles.blogspot.com/ who makes the sweetest paper mache boxes, pinkeeps, figurines and also sock monkeys. I can't wait to see what she has made for me!
Don't forget to dial your internet to blogtalk radio Wednesday to hear my interview on Diva Craft Lounge http://www.divacraftlounge.com/. I'm very excited to chat with 'The Diva'!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Cha Cha Cha! Lucky Me, Attending CHA





How lucky I was to attend the International Craft and Hobby Association's summer trade show Saturday in Rosemont, IL! I represented Hannah Grey Curiosities and Dry Goods as a member of their design team. The show had 400 vendors in four exhibition halls with over 5,000 attendees expected. This is the trade show for manufacturers and distributors to unveil their latest products to buyers for large and small scrapbook and craft stores.
While buyers for Michael's and Archiver's attend, so did the owner of my own local stamp store, Jan Biehl of Stamp-N-Toys in the tiny town of North Webster, IN. I even managed to run into Lisa Dawson, a fellow ZNE  Art member and owner of Your ATC Store.
The show was both overwhelming and frustrating- everything is for show only; nothing is for sale. Samples were few and far between, but I did come home with a few paper samples, including two packs designed by my friend Angela Hoffman of Gemini Angel's Art for Dream Street Papers. There were some amazing new products, a million and one paper patterns and rubber stamps, and I thoroughly enjoyed the F+W Media booth where some of the latest and greatest altered art books were on display. I got to see the lovely yet-to-be-released book from Kellie Rae Roberts called Taking Flight as well as blog friend Jean Yates' new book, Links.
I also was lucky enough to get to the F+W booth just in time for the free book/book signing by Traci Bautista of Collage Unleashed, which I had already studied with the ZNE Book Club earlier this year. I brought Traci greetings from Shoshannah, Mike and Heather, owners of Hannah Grey, and from another fellow Californian, the ubiquitous Miss Vicky. I later sat down with Traci at the Duncan booth to make a collage with her new papers and decoupage medium, which is already being sold at Jo Ann Fabric's (look for Traci's picture on the bottle). I'll be taking a class from Traci this October at Art and Soul, Portland, when I attend with blog bud Michelle Geller of  Hold Dear. So excited for all that!
While I was sitting at Duncan, trying to give my feet and arms a break (from schlepping my heavy bags of catalogs), I was chattering away with Jennifer before I even realized it was Jennifer Perkins of DIY TV fame and of the upcoming book The Naughty Secretary Club: The Working Girl's Guide to Handmade Jewelry.
I also got to meet Danielle Forsgren of Diva Craft Lounge at the Unity Stamp Booth. Danielle will be interviewing me July 30 on Blog Talk Radio at 3:05 pm EST, so it was great to meet her in person! She's a new Blythe collector as well.
My last burst of rubbing elbows with the famous and published- outside of staring at Tim Holtz up close- was chatting with Claudine Hellmuth, she of many books and a Martha Stewart show appearance, at the Ranger booth. Claudine has an exciting new line of products coming out, including 12 x 12 adhesive canvas paper, her own line of paints and a multi-purpose mixed medium, which she was demo-ing.
All-in-all, it was a day of mixed media and altered art heaven!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

I am Such a Sap!






Some people cry at old movies (dumb!). Some people cry when their children graduate (I'm happy for them!). Now, show me an Avon bottle from my childhood, and pass the Kleenex. A little Saturday junking (I know, I'm seeing a pattern, too), and now my nose is all red. It only took two dollars and twenty-five cents to turn on my faucet, and that wasn't even because the price was right! It's just so fun when you see things you've completely forgotten and/or things you think you'll never see again. So, I guess it was happy tears. No worries, we're not talking sobbing or anything, I was just a little (okay, a lot) misty-eyed over this stuff from my little foray today.
As you can see from the top photo- a bad scan of a bad Polaroid (you know, the rip, shake, wait & peel. Oh dear, I'm feeling weepy!)- I learned my pack rat skills early. This is not just a girl with her perfume bottles. No, this is a 10-year-old with her Avon collectibles in the heyday of about 1970. See that glass key in the foreground? A perfume/cologne bottle shaped like a key with a screw-on gold plastic lid? I traded that one little thing for a child's roll top desk shortly after this picture was taken. Oh yeah. I could wheel and deal with the best of them. Maybe the dealers thought a 10-year-old collector/brat was cute-who knows.
My parents were older- I was the late-baby-boom surprise I alluded to in my Fiestaware article (sniff) below- so when I came along they were already collecting and appreciating the value of the stuff from their childhoods in the 1920s and 1930s. They passed this "gene" also to my three brothers who collected everything from model cars, Hollywood memorabilia, whiskey decanters and so much more. All three of them had displays wherever they lived, and one brother opened an antiques shop in about 1971. But I digress; this is about me.
So, it was only natural when tagging along to flea markets and antiques shops that I'd find something to latch onto as well. Avon was just one of my many collections. This was not new Avon from the Avon Lady. This was Avon from the 1950s-1960s that was already being bought and sold on the secondary market. I have no real idea why it was so popular in the early 1970s or why it brought the exorbitant prices that it did. No doubt it was just the post-war age of consumption. Don't we all remember eagerly buying those Apollo 13 glasses at the Shell station? Remember getting a better price on your tumblers with a fill-up? Never mind the price for a gallon in 1970; I can't even bear to type it.
I looked for Avon back then at garage sales. I probably made some trades with my little friends who just thought they had an empty bubble bath container. I also collected porcelain bisque animals, beaded purses (a la Gibson girls-what 10-year-old knows what a Gibson Girl was?), Coca Cola memorabilia, old dolls; I think I went through a salt-and-pepper-set phase. I can't even remember what all I fancied because my interests would change from month to month. I'm pretty sure I also went through a turquoise/Indian jewelry phase and a vintage clothing phase. I know I talked my way into getting a fabulous movie costume dress with tons of black and gold bugle beads and ostrich feathers that allegedly had belonged to Sonia Henie. I don't even think anyone my age remembers she was a famous ice skater and actress. Not only am I a sap; I am a weirdo. I have just discovered that.
Back to Avon. Front and center in the Polaroid is a pink doll head with a white "straw" (plastic) hat with a vinyl ribbon and choker. That's Miss Lollypop: a glass perfume bottle covered with a vinyl or rubber overlay. You can see her better in the vintage Avon ad below me. I had all of the items pictured in the ad. I had forgotten about all these, because I remember "growing up," moving off to college and taking a HUGE load of my Avon to drop at Goodwill because the bottom had fallen out of that fad. That was about 1978-1980, and I remember distinctly thinking that Avon was not only un-cool but that anyone who collected it was a hillbilly, geek or sap. I can say that, because I was once the geek and am now the sap.
So what do I spy today in a little antiques shop that I almost didn't go into because it had had a "going out of business" sign in the window for months? Yes, on last-day-minus-two, I found not only Miss Lollypop for $2.00 but in a box of 25-cent misc with a sign also offering up the contents at "six-for-a-dollar," I found in its original package an Avon "It's A Small World" figurine that is just minty. What a great quarter spent that was! Not only is it mint ("mint" being a relative term because no one still cares about Avon anymore), but it is the "Miss France" one from the set of eight or so of the also rubber-covered glass bottles that were made to represent Disney's new It's a Small World Ride from Epcot circa 1972. Tres chic! I don't know whom I love more, Miss Lollypop or Miss France! I am just so sappily-excited.
There were a few other treasures, all in the $1 range today, including a 1955 copy of Ideals magazine-the children issue. Gorgeous full-color photos of babies and puppies (sniff) abound, sweet little poems about childhood, even the subscription card is still bound in. I remember my grandmother (who was born in 1899) occasionally having a copy of Ideals. There were holiday issues and I'm not sure what else. They even seemed vintage-y at the time they were produced. They were magazines that were perfect-bound, so that would translate to today's mooks and zines. There was also Ideals-related merchandise back then because I distinctly remember round tin cans with Ideals pictures reproduced on them. I imagine they contained candy or nuts.
Besides the Mattel Baby Beans paper dolls (also $1) in the photo above, you can see some spools I found, one wound with some great lace. I also got a $1 doll dress of unknown but mass-produced origin and a small (about 5") porcelain bisque doll for $2.50. I promptly cut her apart, because her head was dangling anyway. Her limbs will make one project and the head likely another.
The final tear-jerker, and this was a big one, was a single box of dollhouse furniture marked "Petite Princess by Ideal." It first caught my eye with the grandfather clock on the box as I thought I could use it in some Marie Antoinette altered art vignette or possibly even in my Blythe doll settings, although those are pretty contemporary-contemporary being the greatest generation heyday of the totally funky 1960s and 1970s, never mind what year Tom Brokaw thinks is the GG.
When I opened the box, which still had the $1.39 price tag on it, out came not only the clock, but a Chinese folding room screen and more importantly, a little color catalog of all the Petite Princess furniture. My sappy little walk down memory lane started on page one with a jolt, as I realized this was exactly the dollhouse furniture I had had as a child. I never knew the name of it, or I probably did, but still don't remember knowing that. I had been thinking of this furniture just this year in conjunction with my Blythe interest, but without knowing the name, I had never been able to search for it.
This was not just any dollhouse furniture. It was exquisite, French Provincial furniture made with the finest satins, velvets, brocades and more with attention to tiny detail. There were chandeliers, gilt-framed art, a grand piano, a fainting couch, a bed worthy of Miss Marie with a satin neck roll. I could go on, but anyone who wants to weep along can just Google it. It was considered expensive in its time of about 1964-1968, so the $1.39 on the box made me wonder if that was really what my parents considered expensive back then. I would have thought that was maybe just "my childhood," but after Googling and Ebaying and learning all I could tonight, I found other collectors who remember it as expensive, detailed, well-made, etc., also.
I shed a tear or two remembering the fun of going to the big city of Indianapolis on the weekends with my parents and our poodle Pepe in tow, to shop at one of the first malls in the state. That particular mall, which was two floors and open-air then, had a most wonderful department store with a huge toy department. I believe it was Weiler's, but it could have been Wasson's or William H. Block's. They were all there. One also had in the center of the store a diner-in-the-round or short-order grill with turquoise leather-covered round barstools.
If my sappiness isn't affecting my memory, I believe the store had an attached but separate cottage-like building that opened every fall as Santa's workshop. It was here that I got my Petite Princess dollhouse furniture for my metal dollhouse. In fact, I don't remember it ever being bought anywhere else. I had the most exquisite dollhouse, and I could lie on my stomach on my white shag rug and just fiddle with it for hours. I do not remember what I did for play. I don't think I re-arranged the furniture much; I was a sort of OCD little brat who kept it all "just so." I distinctly remember having a tantrum at the very advanced age of 10 or 11 because one of my six-year-old nephews had trashed my dollhouse. "Trashed" meant "re-arranging-in-a-messy-way" to me, not actually destroying.
So what would someone so enamored of these treasures do at the hip old age of 19? Well, besides finding my antiques-loving family quite weird by then, I also apparently felt I would never have need or desire for such a thing as a dollhouse again. I very unceremoniously flung it, with some animosity I think, into a Goodwill dumpster. I remember hearing the crash. I have no idea what I was feeling at the time. I do remember thinking at the sound that it might not be resale-able at Goodwill. If this does not explain fully why I got all blubbery in the antiques mall today, I don't know what will. This should also tell you I was oh, so happy with my treasures today. Thank goodness some things do come around again. Hopefully, I will have the good sense to pass my edited collections down to my children, who will quite possibly then fling them into a dumpster or donation box. But, that's okay. I understand.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Blogger To Blogger, Passing on the Love


Receiving a blog award from a friend who is also a fellow artist and a fellow artist who is also a friend is extra special, especially when that award is bestowed by none other than the uber talented Lisa Kettell http://faerieenchantment.blogspot.com/ of The Faerie Zine. Lisa has so many irons sizzling in the art fire, I can barely keep up. And, when the award bestowed is for good blogging, and it comes from a fellow blogger, that is truly a compliment. We may not all compete in the true sense of the word, but certainly we share much of the same audience of readers. Never has a more supportive place been found than that special cyberspace spot where my fellow artists, bloggers, writers and friends gather, hopping from blog to blog. And although we can't and don't get to each and every daily, it is always a welcome stop when we do. So, thanks, Lisa, and in the spirit of the award, I am to pass it on to at least seven inspiring bloggers, so here I go.
1. Linda of Adventures of Molli http://adventuresofmolli.blogspot.com/. She was one of the early bloggers in the Blythe world, and if it weren't for her, I'm not sure I would have found my blogging muse. Her blog is like a Disney movie, so sweet and entertaining, with sneaky adult (not X just grown-up) humor popping up to suprise you.
2. Joanne of Ad Libitum http://joannethiemehuffman.typepad.com/, also of the snarky adult highbrow art humor I love, and she is a faithful visitor and commentor to other's blogs.
3. The Paper Crown Queen Blog http://papercrownqueenblog.blogspot.com/. I don't even know whom this is, and I love it!
4. Art and Blythe friend Maija http://www.maigirlz.typepad.com/, who sent me to #3, so I've got to thank her. We're going to have a Marie A debate any day now.
5. Jo's Labour of Love http://labouroflovex3.blogspot.com/ . This is Mary Ann's http://firstborn.wordpress.com/ sister's new blog, which is off to a fine start.
6. Mica http://garboodles.blogspot.com/ from ZNE and Etsy, with the most incredible work. So glad I found her via Angelahttp://geminiangelsart.blogspot.com/. Mica and I have a swap coming up, and I am so excited!
7. And Gail Schmidt from Shabby Cottage Studio.com http://www.shabbycottagestudio.com/ whose design team I am on, and who has the most wonderful shops and blogs - that's right, plural on both, so here's a plug to her new art challenge (with prizes!) blog at Mind Wide Open http://mind-wideopen.blogspot.com/. Everyone is free to play here!
Did you notice how I snuck 10 in there? Follow these links. You won't be disappointed.

Friday, July 4, 2008

My Marie Antoinette Craze Continues






When the peach curly feather arrived from Dale of Sea Dream Studio http://www.seadreamstudio.net/, I knew it was finally time to pull out my wire, wood and paper mache dress forms and start creating. I'd already made three Marie Antoinette figures: one for Lisa of The Faerie Zine http://faerieenchantment.blogspot.com/, one for Cyndi http://dragonflysdreamz.blogspot.com/ of FrstyFrlk for The Faerie Zine costume swap,
and one "maybe" for me, which I futilely sent to Somerset Studio http://www.stampington.com/ in hopes of publication.
But, I had tons of brocade, passementerie, ribbon, lace, silk flowers, little birds, vintage jewels and gems, German glass glitter, French text and more, all of which were crying out to be used. Having just finished reading my fourth Marie Antoinette biography this summer, the latest by her lady-in-waiting Madame Campan, written in 1823, I was more than ready for the task. In fact, Caroline Weber's The Queen of Fashion has so much sartorial imagery in it, I don't know how one could help but create after reading it.
So, last night's result was four Maries "quatre Maries, quatre reines," whatever you want to call them; they kept me at it from about 7 p.m. to nearly 4 a.m., but once I got going I was in the mode. French mode that is, and conveniently "mode" means "fashion" in French. Tre's bien!
I just listed three of these in my etsy shop http://www.hpsgsmith.etsy.com/ in case you, too, would like to own a mini Marie. The blue and white toile is headed for the delightful Mary Ann of Follow Your Bliss http://firstborn.wordpress.com/ for our "Marie Swap." I'll be writing an art vs. history article on Marie for Mary Ann's first zine, due out this fall. Bon soir.
By the way, did you know one reason the French treasury was depleted, which brought on the infamous French revolution and The Reign of Terror, was that the French government under Louis XVI, Marie's husband, had sent great amounts of money and munitions to help "our side" in the American Revolution. It wasn't that the French king was so much in favor of revolt, or even democracy, but the French were happy to support any side that was against England. They (the French and English/England) quickly made up, however, and English imports poured into France, which did not help that economy on its collision course with the destiny of the revolution.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

My Life in Fiestaware


Click here http://vintageindie.typepad.com/vintage_indie/2008/07/history-influen.html to read my Fourth of July reminiscing about vintage Fiesta dinnerware for Vintage Indie.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Come See the Stars at ZNE Convenzione


The first-ever ZNE Convenzione http://www.znecon.com/ promises to be out of this world, and how can it not be, in a town with the sweet name of Pleasanton? After meeting ZNE founder Chelise Stroud-Hery http://www.chelise.typepad.com/ at the ZNE Castle in the Meadow event last month, I am more excited than ever to see her suceed at putting this together. And succeed she will, because again, how can she not, with an unbelievable lineup, including Michele Beschen http://blog.couragetocreate.com/ of HGTV/DIY Channel's 'B Original,' the artist SARK, musician Jon Troast, and unbelievable teachers like Lisa Kaus http://lisakaus.blogspot.com/, Kari Ramstrom http://artsymama.blogspot.com/, Chrysti Hydeck http://www.artbychrysti.wordpress.com/and more, all descending on Plesanton Aug. 22-24, 2008.
Some of you know I will be taking a class there from Bernie Berlin, she of the no-kill animal rescue and shelter, A Place to Bark http://aplacetobark.blogspot.com/. I'll be showing her the auction copy of the fund raiser/book my Yahoo! group Arte du Blythe http://www.groups.yahoo.com/group/Arte_du_Blythe made to sell for her and asking her to autograph the winner's copy. Bernie's also the same "she" of the book, Artist Trading Card Workshop, an eye candy volume and the 'bible' on ATCs.
I am also terribly excited because not only do I get to meet the inimitable Miss Vicky http://www.cut-it-up.com/ of Cut-it-Up store/book/web fame but I get to hang out with her at her home. I'll also be meeting fellow Hoosier artist Kris Hubick http://www.retrocafeart.com/, but we had to travel cross-c0untry to get that accomplished!
There's so much more going on than what I've said here. In fact, and you can be assured I'll be mentioning it again and again and again, but there is also a gallery showing of ZNE member works and I'm in! Yippee. "Let them Eat Crow" is off being framed so that it can be shipped to sunny CA posthaste. There's also a documentary screening of the 1000 Journals project and a private showing of never-before-seen works from Claudine Hellmuth http://www.claudinehellmuth.com/. And the best news? Well, two great things: it is not too late to register and registration is already open for 2009 http://www.znecon.com/. Go. Now!