Friday, September 21, 2012

More from the cabin - Squirrel's Nest

I began collecting and refinishing furniture in highschool.  This desk is actually my very first piece of furniture that I purchased and refinished myself.  Now it is located in my little cabin and contains all my souveniers from my travels over the years as well as the dolls that my grandmothers made for me. I think I paid $300 for it which was probably a couple of years savings. This piece has a lot of memories and has been hauled around as I've moved from apartment to apartment and home to home. I think its kind of amazing that I still have it after all these years. We are such a disposable society. My family says I hang on to everything so I guess its not much of a surprise.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Vignettes from Squirrel's Nest

 I have a little "weekend" cabin where I get away called Squirrel's Nest. Over the years I've collected all kinds of "vintage" and antique items to complete the cabin feeling. The clock is hand made from found objects and was part of a fund-raising project. I bid on it and now it sits next to my stone fireplace. I found the bingo game at a junk market and love how the colors all go together next to the wine colored leather sofa I found second-hand.
This is my favorite resting spot in the loft. Its an old iron chaise lounge and the cushion is covered in this lovely rose-patterned fleece. There is a soft and somewhat tattered embroidered pillow of a little dutch girl with her geese. My friend made me a really nice lap blanket and my little angel sits on top of the suitcases I use as a side table which double as storage.
Till next time ....

Monday, July 9, 2012

Primitive cigar box drawers

 Aren't these amazing? I purchased these right out of an old barn that used to be the woodshop of an urban farmer. This guy was descended from one of the original settlors here in the Rockford, IL area. There were some very cool things out of this sale.

These were so dirty and full of dust that I spent a good two days brushing off the dirt and dust and "cleaning" them by rubbing them gently with a pad of fine steel wool.  I was amazed at how the steel wool made the graphics come back to life. Then I waxed them with paste wax both to clean off the remaining dirt and to give them a protective seal. 
 The insides still need some cleaning, but I thought I would leave that to the buyer of these amazing drawers.  Each one has a small wooden knob. Some have been labeled with their content, some have numbers and some have nothing at all.

I could not get the cubby hole unit that they came in -- it was literally built right on the barn wall and we were afraid that taking it down would diminish the integrity of the building (it was in pretty poor shape).

Aren't the graphics great?

I am thinking about building a couple of cubby hole cabinets since I have so many of these drawers. 

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A Sunday at the Farm

My husband's family are generation farmers here in the midwest and, long ago, when they wanted to throw something away that was no longer useful there were not any trash haulers or city garbage pickup. So, there was a spot out somewhere on the back or middle of the acreage (usually a gully or something akin to that) that was used as a dump. It is full of broken glass, pottery, metal, etc. We go out there sometimes to look for useful stuff. I've found old, white, cold cream jars that I've turned into pincushions or candle holders. I've also found old iron items that we have turned into yard art. I have scavenged rusted fencing, barbed wire, bed springs, broken pottery, old bottles, and really aged wood pieces and used them for various projects.

Awhile ago I got this idea in my head to create a "chandelier" for the outdoor terrace by hanging an iron wheel on a tree limb and adding some lanterns for candles. I found a really beautiful piece of iron work which was priced at $300 -- !way out of my price range! Well it was really beautiful and had metal flowers which still had the aged paint on them. A showcase piece but I couldn't part with the cash for it.

So, off to the "pit" we went! Just a little Sunday drive out into the country, bouncing down the dirt path to the center of the property where there is a small stand of trees standing guard over this treasure trove.

As we approached I could tell that there had been some additions to the heap and that summer had added its covering of weeds and grasses to the property. It didn't look good to be able to find what we were after.  A couple of years ago we dug out a set of iron wheels on an axle and dragged that home to add to our garden art. We had left the matching set somewhere in all that growth. So we were hunting where we thought they should be.

We got out of the van and sprayed on the bug protection, then my husband began creating a path through the high grasses for me. We should have brought a machete I thought. Oh, this didn't look too promising! But right away I picked up a nice piece of aged wood and layed that aside to collect on the way back. We walked for a bit to the spot where we thought the wheels should be and couldn't find them so we walked a bit further looking for some uncovered areas to dig down for some jars or whatever we could find.

It was too overgrown and we decided to come back after the frost when the high growth would die back.  Then we spotted our prey! Aha! found the wheels and they were still there and intact.

Ah, they are beautiful. We managed to get one of them free of the axle and dragged it off to the van.

Ah! This is our quarry -- all safe and sound in the van. Isn't she beautiful? and Free -- just the price of the gas, a skinned shin for my husband and a nice drive in the country. This will be beautiful under the oak tree all lit up on a summer's eve.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Patriotic Heart

This little heart was made from some red velvet I bought for 50 cents at my local thrift store. I added the letters cut from a white wool blanket that I felted in the washing machine. The back is cut from burlap fabric to give the piece added texture and the white and blue ribbon finish the whole piece off nicely.

Friday, July 1, 2011

What do I do with these?

So, its garage sale season here in the midwest and I am gaining some new found objects.  I'm going to "do" something with these pieces I just haven't decided what. 

Iron finials -- I found these at about 1/3 their original price at our local hobby shop. They are black with a little gold on them. I don't really like the color so I will probably paint them cream and antique them and then add some paste wax.

Old door handle plates: I found these at a little antique/vintage store.  They are really cool just as they are so I won't do anything to them except maybe brush the dust and dirt off them. I think they will make really great stands for an art piece - I just need to make a frame that gets attached into the hole and then create a piece of art for the frame.


 Iron Stars with a nail on the back:  I originally purchased these to put on a turned post that I wanted to make into a flag stand. I haven't found the turned post yet and might need to buy a new one at the hardware store and make it look old.  The stumbling block is that the new ones are about $40 bucks and I was hoping to find an old one cheap at a yard sale. No luck yet.


Three packages of small mirrors:  I bought these yesterday at my local hobby shop. A few weeks ago I saw an outdoor art piece that had mirrors strung on it and I thought it looked really cool not to mention that it tends to keep the birds away from whatever you hang it near.  So I thought that I would recreate my version using a piece of wood from which to hand a few strands of fishing line and glue the small mirrors back-to-back.  Kinda a mobile of sorts.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

More Birds

Right now I am loving all the bird motifs I see.  I translated that into this beautiful table mat I made from all my recycled wool sweaters, etc. that I have stacks of in my studio.  I love all the textures and this is so bright and cheery that it makes me smile when I see it.  Good for a winter project.  Penny Rugs are my favorite kind of project because they are free-style. No pattern is necessary just let your imagination run. 

Begin with a base - whatever shape you want - rectangle or oval works best.  I made a round penny rug a few years ago and really it is only useful on a round table. I also cut a piece of thin quilt batting to add stability and a little thickness to the piece.

Then add the outer pennies -- these can be round or U-shaped. Try using a bright color on a dark base for contrast. 

Then begin adding the details on the middle. Start with a branch cut from a brown patterned wool piece this doesn't need to be very wide or long as you can piece it together. Add some leaves and a flower or two or three. Cut out a bird or two and fit this onto the branch. Don't sew all these shapes down until you have shifted things around and are satisfied with the look. Add or subtract pieces as needed to fill the length of base.  The rug I made is not very big so I only put one bird in it as the central figure. Then use your embroidery floss to sew everything onto the base and add some decorative stitching for interest.

At this stage I tack the penny edge with some contrasting thread because when I add the backing I am going to stitch around the entire piece which will include the edge. I then add a back to cover all my stitches, remove the thread and finish the whole thing off with a good pressing with an iron and a wet pressing cloth.

Don't worry that your stitches and shapes are not perfect! This is an art form that is "primitive" in its interpretation -- sort of a Grandma Moses, folk art piece.  Sometimes when things are too pristine we become afraid to use them.  So - go ahead! Try it.