Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Art of Clutter

My  husband calls me a "hoarder" which I adamantly deny.  Not only can you easily walk through my house, everything is usually put away in it's place, be it a cupboard, closet, or box.  Now, it is true that the cupboards, closets and boxes are numerous, and are stuffed to the gills, however, I am not a hoarder.

One thing I am supposed to be (besides a vintage seller and blogger) is an artist.  I am trying to get myself back into the swing of creating, so am happy to show a recently completed piece here (see top pic).  My medium is "mixed" and although I left for art school doing highly detailed technical drawings, I graduated cutting, pasting and building in much the same way I enjoyed working on creative projects in my youth!  I see this as a credit, not a criticism of my undergraduate school, The School of Visual Arts.  I loved the place, had wonderful professors, met fantastic friends and was truly inspired and encouraged. 

It is precisely because I work in collage and mixed media that I have so many things tucked away for years in my studio. I especially enjoy working with old objects with great graphics, patina and history, so, if I find something good, I squirrel it away!


 One of the things I liked about this recent piece I completed, is that I used a number of items in it that I had had for years.  I had these objects rattling around in my brain with regard to how they'd be used, but, I let them all come together with this piece.  The vintage spinning game board, tin litho tambourine, even the chinese game (which I purchased "new" in 1985 and is now "vintage!") have been hanging around just waiting to be used.  Here, they meld perfectly.  I also decided to snap pics as I put this project together.  I do not usually document my process, so I thought it was about time.  Above you can see how I begin: I basically go through everything I own, pull out anything and everything that I think might work in the piece, and start laying things out to see how they work together.

Actually beginning to glue objects down is the hardest step of all!  Once I get going though, I typically work pretty fast.

This project involved a lot of carpentry - cutting, drilling, clamping, screwing, and nailing! - here I am clamping the bottom section into place to make sure it lines up the way I want it before painting it.


Many steps, waiting, consideration and clutter is involved while the whole thing is in process.

More clamping of the final, painted section to the board.   (The nozzles are weight for gluing.)

...and once again...the final piece!  This will be included in a juried show in Pawtucket, Rhode Island that runs through September and October.  I'll post the details and link here when I have them.  If you wish to see more of my work, click here

Related to this artwork, and, the fact that I have collected many, many items over the years is this 1950's writing book.  I knew I wanted to use some images that related to children in school learning to write.  I thought I had something somewhere, and, sure enough, in between two old geography books on the shelf was this little gem.

 Dating to 1954, this book from Whitman had everything I was looking for plus more!  The lessons were perfect, and, because certain pages were relevant to the message of the art, I used even more than I'd originally anticipated.  Also, I love the fact that the book was completed.  The actual child's writing in graphite added a quality I would not have been able to duplicate with my own hand.


I snapped some photos as I flipped through the book as I wanted to be able to share them here with you!


 Ted gets such great "boy" gifts that are classically 1950's!

 While dutiful daughter Betty runs womanly errands to the store for mom.

At least it does show Ted helping out mom too!

Classic roles and imagery for sure - but perfect for my project!  I hope you enjoyed this little tour of the art, the clutter, the process and the writing book. 


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Industrial Awakening

Ok, so, if you read this blog regularly (which of course would be easier if I posted more regularly!) you might recall that last spring (sigh, yes, it was really that long ago) I posted about a trip to the Flea and was excited to have found this pair of Lyons Industrial chairs for $30 for the pair:

I had high hopes for the chairs as part of our kitchen remodel project and although it took 15 months to follow-through, I am pleased to share the results!

As part of our kitchen remodel - which is part 1930's, part industrial in style - we had been eyeing Lyons Industrial chairs for the project.  We liked the industrial aesthetic, and they were related to, but, much more affordable than, the vintage chairs seen all over the design magazines of late (see example below).

Love these but they retail for $250 - $350 new; the distressed versions above on the higher end!  And good luck finding them truly vintage.
As luck would have it, I found this pair of the Lyons chairs at a flea market last spring.  We had not necessarily planned to paint them, and had planned to just order then in gunmetal color.  Finding them second-hand however, a little roughed up, gave use the courage to paint them, and just look at how they came out!

One of the reasons it took so long to get these into the kitchen was because we custom-built the table so that the chairs would just perfectly slide beneath it and stay just below the surface of it so that the "table" can continue to function as a primary counter/work surface in the kitchen.  (Note: the slate top will be replaced with something slightly larger and with rounded corners on the open side once we have the funds.  For now, this one works.)

So now, for the first time since moving into this house five summers ago, we can actually sit and eat in the kitchen!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

1940's Kem-Tone Color Chart

I was looking for something earlier today and in a pile of papers came across this tri-fold brochure from Kem-Tone.  I have NO IDEA where it came from or how long I have owned it so do not even ask.  All I know is that I have seen a lot of buzz about authentic color choices for mid-century homes of late, especially on the great Retro Renovation Site and Facebook pages.  That got me thinking that I should get this scanned and up on the blog so that it can stay here as an on-line resource.  I am guessing this dates to the 1940's (Kem-Tone was first offered in 1941) because of the hair styles and clothing styles of the women on the front and the back (not shown - yet!) of the pamphlet.  It is not dated, but, a code suggests 1944 may be possible. If you want to read more about the origins of this product, click here.

I have uploaded this large enough so that you should be able to click then click again to zoom and read it easily.  Also, feel free to download as needed/appropriate.  I do not own the image, it is owned by Kem-Tone.

Monday, August 8, 2011

A New England Summer Road Trip

About a month ago, my friend Janet and I were invited to a one-of-a-kind event in Vermont.  Her niece, a vintage-lover herself, had wowed the judges at a Shelburne Museum fund-raising event with her spectacular vintage hat. The prize for such distinction?  A private gallery tour for she and a group of friends to the Fashion Exhibit currently on display!

That's the winning hat on the left!
The invitation included not only the tour, but, hanging out with a fantastic group of women before and after the event.  The catch?  Everyone had to wear vintage.  Wait?  What's the catch?

A road trip from Rhode Island to the coast of Lake Champlain in Vermont was planned forthwith, and, we decided to make the best of the five hour drive.  We left early enough so that we drove for a couple of hours before stopping for breakfast with the locals at a little place just outside of Manchester, New Hampshire.  Luckily for us, we grabbed the last table, ate a fab breakfast and had time to take a walk through the little farmer's market nearby before heading back on the road.  Evidently they grow a lot of garlic in the area, and the market was full of it!  (I probably should not admit this, but I'd never seen garlic with the stalks on before.)

The market was at a former railroad station.  I had to pose for a goofy tourist pic - I am on the campaign trail here - VOTE FOR VINTAGE!


Janet and I both gravitated towards these spectacular handmade soaps immediately.  Not only were they beautiful and smelled wonderful, but, the woman selling them (who also makes them of course!), Sheryl, was a delight!  We spoke to her a bit and bought a bunch of soaps. (Only problem - which to choose?)  You can buy them too and you do not even have to travel to New Hampshire.  Just visit her shop on-line at Clayton's Way Farm Soaps.    (and a big PS: If these soaps are the secret to Sheryl's looks I am using them DAILY!)


The local shelter had a table set up and these three pups for adoption!  Holy cuteness!  If we had not been headed to Vermont I do not think I could have left without one!  Do not fear though, one of the three had already been adopted by 8:30 that morning and I doubt the other two would stay at the shelter for long.


After the market we hit the road again; heading north up Route 89.  After a while we realized we were both thirsty, so, seeing a gas station not far from an exit ramp, we pulled off for some bottled water.  Wait?  What was that we saw?  A sign for an Estate Sale pointing down the road from the gas station.  We got our water and headed sign-ward.

That's Janet booking it into the sale ahead of me... Ok, I admit it, I made her walk ahead of me for this shot.  What excitement!


Every time I look at that top picture I think to myself  "Wait, did I look at that?"  I love sales like these, don't you?  Stuff everywhere, most priced but not necessarily organized.  We dove in with gusto!

As with most good estate sales, it had a little bit of everything.  From large, unusual and beautiful pieces of furniture, like this art-deco styled curved glass cabinet....

...to a box of unopened cans of paint that looked like they'd been in storage since 1967.


What did I find?  Oh, just this little Heywood Wakefield side table/cabinet for $15, that's all.  (happy dance).  The pegs to hold the adjustable shelf are with it, I had simply removed them all as we were getting ready to pack this into the trunk. 




What else?  An instant collection of 1950's game boards (for the shop), 1966 Twister, some vintage game pieces for my collages and the perfect "Strangers on a Train" eyeglasses, complete with one lens cracked.  Creepy or what?  These are going in the shop.  Someone will replace the glass, and, that mid-century abstract patterned eyeglass case is killer!  For all above?  $3. 

Janet looking the stylish urbanite in her vintage 1970's caftan in the Vermont countryside!


You might think we were done at this point, BUT, au contraire!  After that little set-up you saw in the first pics, there was an entire barn of stuff across the street!

Truthfully, the barn was more interesting than full, but, what a treat to just be able to walk inside a gorgeous Vermont barn like this!  Look at those rafters!  Oh, and that three-piece rattan set in the foreground?  $25 for all.  Thankfully we did not have my Jeep or I would have been cramming  it inside and making Janet ride on the roof rack.


The barn did not disappoint when it came to great "stuff" to look at.  One item of note: this mid-century deco-styled Whitman's Chocolates store display.  How does this even get to a barn in the Vermont countryside?  You gotta love an estate sale!


The barns are more carefully crafted than the birdhouses in this neck of the woods but they each have their beauty and their charms.  So, with our loot in hand, we gleefully head back towards the highway until....

Yup, I got pulled over for speeding.  In my defense, it was a rural area that transitioned into a thickly settled area right after coming over a hill where a speed trap was waiting.  In my post-estate finds exuberance, I was a little lead-footed.  I tried to be as polite as possible (and not let the officer see that we were documenting the event for the blog) and thankfully, I got a warning.  Phew!


Once we we ditched the coppers, it was a short drive to our hotel in Burlington.  We showered, changed and zipped up to Shelburne to meet our hostess and the rest of the women who had been invited on the tour.  All were dressed in fantastic vintage and vintage-inspired outfits!  Even the two women who were each in their 9th month of pregnancy dressed to the nines; one even managed to find a true vintage dress for the occasion!  Here is the group walking through the endlessly beautiful grounds of the Shelburne Museum to the exhibit gallery.

Some of you may have already seen this dress posted on Facebook when I found it for my friend Janet.  It fit her perfectly and really shows off her curves!  Doesn't she look great with all her matching accessories?  Vintage fabulous!

I chose a 1960's ensemble so that I could wear my resurrected chiffon dress (thought I'd ruined it but saved it!) with an Evelyn Varon hat I'd bought from another Etsy seller last year and had not yet had a chance to wear.  Coupled with my cherry red 1960's bag from Savers, I was ready to go!  (I went with contemporary shoes because the day required too much walking for risk of pain...)


I could not take photos inside the exhibit hall, but, here we are heading into the building with our guide.  If you wish to read all about it and see some pics from the inside, click here.  For you fashionistas, one especially nice section of the exhibit revolved around seven antique bodices that were given to FIT students as part of a competition to see who could design the remaining ensemble to match the bodice.  Each was given a budget of $300 and the finalists selected were all on display in the exhibit.  For more details, read here

Here is the complete group of women who participated in the tour.  Our hostess is in front in the Hawaiian dress and killer red t-straps!  What fun I had meeting these women.  They all seemed to be very friendly that day, I wonder how they will feel about me once they see I've plastered their lovely faces and pregnant bellies all over the web?





This crowd does not take a bad picture!  The docents were beside themselves that the pregnant women turned down the shuttle-bus ride, but, we were all enjoying the breezes and fresh air at this lovely location.


Next we were off to the Inn at Shelburne Farms for over-priced drinks and lively conversation on the lawn overlooking Lake Champlain.  Seriously, does it get better than this?

Several of us were able to stay for dinner. We were seated in this elegant dining hall at the inn, the former agricultural estate and summer residence of one of the Vanderbilts, with grounds designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and now a place on the National Historic Register.  The food served here still originates from the active farms on the property.  To read more about the history of the place, click here.


Me and Janet; the road trip partners in crime.


The next morning we returned for brunch with Janet's niece, our hostess who arranged the whole trip.  We were able to walk through the gardens and appreciate the beauty of this location one more time before heading homeward.


To break up the drive home, we stopped at a large antiques mall in Quechee, Vermont.  It is located right near the gorge and is a great destination if you are in the area.  There is also a wonderful Farmer's Diner at the same location.  We'd planned to eat lunch there but were both too full from brunch!

Just love this photo.

(Tay, this is for you!)

I really wanted this Irwin Whizzer Fan in the box - great graphics!
There were many many things at the mall I would have liked to buy, but, I limited myself to only three things.  An antique Japanese print for my husband (put away to be framed before Christmas) and two 1940's brooches for the shop.



Janet agreed to stop by and surprise some of my family in Vermont who live very close to Quechee.  They were good sports about us dropping in unannounced, but, I am not sure how much their good nature will last when they see I have plastered their photos all over the web as well.  We'll see....

Janet took a photo of all of us - so great to see everyone!

A gorgeous quilt in-progress by my cousin Jeannie...

A quick pat of the dog and we were on the road again....
After a fun but short visit we were back on the road for the long drive home.  What fun we had in a short period of time!  Thank you to Kimberly for putting everything together and Janet for putting up with me!

A stunning quilt made by my cousin Judy.

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