Thursday, August 27, 2009

Charmed, I'm Sure

I remain crazy as ever about charm bracelets and am glad other people share my enthusiasm! One of my favorite co-workers, Ms. Caroline, asked me to make up some charm bracelets for her daughter, future daughter-in-law and of course, herself. The requests were black and white and beach-y, turquoises and beach-y and antique brass and neutral for Caroline--who has the tiniest wrist ever--5 3/8"!

You can click on each photo above for a larger view. The squares at the top are actually blue and green mother-of-pearl, a lime-y sort of green, although they look yellow in the picture. Ick. There's some actual turquoise and other natural elements as well as a glass fish and many fun charms.

The antique brass bracelet has brown pearls, brown mother-of-pearl, wood beads, foiled or dichroic beads, resin flowers, picture jasper and lots of brass findings. That's jewelry-speak for "metal accents." The adjustable chain clasp has a brass filigree dragonfly and crystal accent.

The black and white bracelet has some vintage buttons as well as big black and white lace-y glass beads, black and white swirl mother-of-pearl, pearls in silver bead cages, nautical charms and a nautical lobster-style clasp. That's also jewelry-speak for a claw-type clasp that actually has nothing to do per se with the nautical theme, except that this one is shaped like a buouy.

I love making each charm and dangle. They are always so hard to part with. Every time I make a bracelet for someone else, I tell myself I will make one just like it. But I never seen to get around to it. At least I have my pictures to remind myself in case I ever do.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Vintage Goodness Found in Michigan

I have passed through Schoolcraft, Michigan (seen here in a photo from the Kalamazoo Gazette) on US 131 monthly for 15 years, usually at about 6:30 a.m. on Mondays or Tuesdays or about 6 p.m. on Wednesdays or Fridays, all times at which the many antiques shops along Main Street are closed.

Recently I came through on my way home from my office at a decent time on a Friday afternoon and was able to stop at two shops I had been eyeing for years. The red brick shop Abby's (see photo) had a beckoning window display, and I bought the two vintage bathing caps right out of the window. I had one like these when I was about 12, and later in high school when we were required to wear them for swimming lessons during gym class. County Living magazine recently did a feature on beach house decorating and noted bathing caps as a hot collectible.

I also got the household labels book, nearly intact, and a children's book printed on linen and supposedly dating before the Civil War from the owner, as well as the vintage Q-tip box (with Q-tips inside). We talked a lot about antiques because she had many things in her shop that reminded me of not only my childhood but of the years spent working in my brother's antique shop--something I did from about age 12 to 18. So there was a lot of deja vu for me at Abby's.

The other goodies above, including the rubber stamp set, I found on the other side of the street at an antique mall, Norma's, I believe. The cool stamp set in an open case was only $15, a true steal. I also found the vintage medical tins there, the child's paint set, the pink gloves, and several more little treasures to put to use in my altered art and mixed media creations.

There were many more shops. So many goodies, so little time.

Marie Antoinette Mail Art Book and ATCs

The results of lots of hard work by a lot of artists have paid off and come to fruition with the latest fat book by the Marie Antoinette Mail Art group, a private, juried group of 75 artists, of which I am proud to be one.

Rhonda Thomas hosted this lovely 4" x 4" book of all original art by 17 artists, who each made 17 pages, so that everyone would have a finished book. I am treasuring mine. You can see some of the pages above. Mine is the Marie with removeable masquerade mask. More about my hand-painted pages here.

The six artist trading cards are from the same group, a swap in which each person used rubber stamps to create Marie-related images. Other ATC swaps in the MAMA group have included "Marie cuties" and "Big Hair Maries." Still waiting for the spoils of that one to arrive.

I am presently in a charm bracelet round robin with that group: sending bracelets along to eight other people, adding charms as they arrive in my mail. Can't wait to get my finished bracelet back!

And I am also making a Marie torso for Terri Gordon as part of the Marie Halloween swaps going on. I already received my torso from Tristan Robin Blakeman. More about that here. One of my torsos is above as well as my charm bracelet.

So much talent out there!

I received all of these wonderful things recently in swaps with fellow artists, all found on Etsy. The "nurse robot" is by the talented Mike of youneekusername on Etsy. He also sent me another old tin bandaid can filled with the wonderful nuts, bolts, widgets and whatchamacallits you see above. We've been swapping ephemera now for awhile and find we both like old tins, Alice in Wonderland, a little bit of goth/skeletons, etc. Mike sent me a great You Tube video recently that I can totally relate to about freelancing. Check out Mike's robots on Etsy.

The dress on canvas is called Flavia's Dress by the talented Constanza of peregrineblue on Etsy and Flickr. And she's having a fabulous de-stash sale on Etsy in her Boubelina2 shop. Love, love, love her stuff. And love Constanza--met her in person at ZNE Convenzione in 2008. We were in ZNE Artists and Poets together. I absolutely love the dress and wish you could see all the textures and patterns in person. It is outstanding, along with the other goodies I got from Constanza here.

The canvas "Soar" at top is by Julie King also on Etsy. I happened on to her work and asked her if she might be willing to consider a trade. She liked one of my bracelets, and I received this wonderful original. Note the close-up of the neat texture with tissue paper. And such a great message, too! Check out her originals and prints in her shop.

I've also completely updated my own Etsy shop. All of my jewelry can now be found in a brick and mortar store in Ellicott City, Maryland called The Vintage Shoppes. And some of my various handmade creations in crochet, paper clay, papercrafts and altered art/mixed media are in my on-line shop. Check it out at the link in this paragraph and see a mini version at right.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Still Nesting

I finished a couple more projects into the wee hours of Saturday night, or I guess that would actually be the wee hours this morning. I had been saving this last nest, a nice nosegay shape, for quite some time, along with the pearl clusters, which had been part of a ponytail holder. Together with the vintage millinery leaves, old button and piece of a doily, it just seemed to say "wedding." I still have a few more finishing touches to add.

The baby shoe is another one of my pin cushions. I love finding baby shoes at an antique mall, so I can alter them up in some way. It seems nice to preserve something so significant. I always feel sad when I see them for sale, instead of handed down generation to generation. And since I have no plans to alter my children's baby shoes, or my own, it's fun to dress up these vintage finds.

I also made a wire-wrapped primary color bracelet just for fun, with beads I found on a recent trip to Pittsburgh. Not sure if the bracelet will be for me or will go to my Etsy shop, but that moment of reflection seems to be required for everything I make. I always want to keep everything, but that just isn't sensible, considering the amount of stuff I make, as evidenced by this post and the one immediately below.

Lastly, I added some new charms to my most recent "artsy" charm bracelet. The original charms were ones I received at Art and Soul, Portland, in 2008. The newest charms (the ones on the top row), were received in the recent Cloth Paper Scissors magazine charm swap (the geisha, the nicho, the brown clay with turquoise string and the wrapped sheet music). The "Blue Willow"-like teacup is from my art friend Constanza, who is downsizing for an apartment and has tons of cool stuff for sale in her Etsy shop. The leaf and the Art in Ashland charm are from a swap with another art friend, Michelle Geller of Hold Dear. I love my charm bracelets! Every one of them, and every charm, has a story.

I feel a little guilty spending so much time inside--in the basement no less-- making art on beautiful summer days. But, weekends are my only art time, and at 90+ degrees and humid, I don't necessarily think of that as a beautiful summer day--especially when I can see my next-door neighbors enjoying their in-ground swimming pool--while my pool-sized back yard looks like a pool-less football field full of dead or dying grass, shriveling in the heat.

So off to the basement I go. Time to pick up where I left off at midnight. Oh, but if you think I went to bed when the clock struck twelve, silly you. From midnight to 3 a.m. I worked on my novel. I'm 16,000+ words in and feeling good. Please stop by my writing blog. It could use some visitors! Sneak peek of chapter one is way down the road, but it will be there. Sometime.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Got birds? Got nests? Got stuff?

Someone asked me recently how I decide what I am going to make on any given day (read: my weekends). I don't have a very scientific answer. Sometimes, I just know what I'm going to do because of a swap or contest with a deadline looming. I always like to get those out of the way as soon as possible, because I find I create better when I'm not working on something I have to do. I also like to get them in the mail in plenty of time, to avoid last-minute deadline panic. That's no fun nor any good for the creative bone.

Other than that, I do keep an up-to-date list of projects I have to do and want to do. Believe it or not, sometimes I can actually forget an idea I had even with the pieces and parts staring me in the face.

So usually the first thing I do Friday night or Saturday morning is to set up my work table in my studio. I do have a desk as well as a workbench and a "mess room" (cement floor for painting, sink for washing brushes, etc.,). But, what I really like to work on is an old card table covered with a thick old blanket, that I can wipe my hands on if I really feel like it. I pull up my big trash can, task light/floor lamp and my high-back executive (ha-ha, art executive, I guess) chair. I find if I set this up on Friday night, I am a lot more motivated on Saturday morning. I just don't like to keep it set up all the time, because I like my open spaces, and I've been known to crash into things in the dark of the night.

This morning I looked at my list and decided I wanted to make some sweet little bird nests because it had been a long time since I have made any, and the ones I made were sold on my Etsy site. So, time for more.

I got out all my possible bird and nest combinations along with vintage millinery flowers, beads and baubles, sheet music, glitter (lots), tickets, ribbons, wire, old jewelry, glue, twigs/sticks, rhinestones, mushrooms, tulle, and anything else that looked like a possibility.

This resulted in not only lack of space to work but also sensory overload, and I probably wasted and hour or more just admiring my treasures and trying unsuccessfully to put something together.

I decided to spray paint one of the nests blue and silver and sprinkle on white glitter while it was still wet. This allowed me to move a few things to the other room. Slowly I was creating a work space. I glittered up the birds, eggs and tickets and set everything aside to dry. More room to work. Finally, I knew if I just picked a color and started working, things would probably fall into place. And they did, five nests laters.

Now, on to the next project.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Look at all this good STUFF!

So much mail, so little time! Let me try to describe the who, what, when, where, why and how of all this fabulousness, from the top down.
The torso extraordinaire is from Tristan Robin Blakeman in the Marie Antoinette Mail Art group Dress Form Swap. The artist trading cards are from the same group, the Little Marie Cuties swap. I blogged about my submissions here.
The Fasteeth is a treasure from Etsy which I am saving, along with the sprinkler head, Jello mold, insulator, flower frog, knobs and more, for something special. I'll know it when I make it.
The doilies, the miscellaneous below the doilies and the tins all came from my IRL art friend Constanza who is paring down her altered art supplies on Etsy also, having moved into a smaller place. Check out her wonderful offerings of supplies and also finished artwork, like the "Under the Elm Tree" piece in the bottom photo.
In the next to last photo are some treasures I found at Green Oak Antiques, in Rochester, IN. Less than an hour from my home and 31 years in existence, and I had never been there. What's wrong with this scenario?