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.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Birds as Finials

Last month I shopped at my favorite local flea market -- The Pec Thing -- which is a two-day event held in the county fair grounds. Among my finds were a bunch of small birds. We have bird feeders outside our kitchen window and watch them all the time, so why not bring them inside too.  One of my lamps was a little naked and so I decided to spruce it up by adding a bird to the plain finial that was on top.  The bird had a small hole in the bottom which perfectly accomodated the finial. I used my fav glue (e6000) and voila! it was done.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Red, White and Blue -- A Patriotic Summer

I will be posting some treasures that center around a "patriotic" theme for our summer fun.  A few days ago my friend Renie Gile at "JustASecond Antiques" on Main Street asked me to help her get set up for the holiday. I created this burlap banner for her shop. It turned out really nice. It is 17 feet long and is made up of individual triangle flags onto which I've stenciled a letter. It says "God Bless America". Because Renie's shop is tiny we had to string it around the ceiling. I think the whole effect is really nice with the red and blue chandeliers in the ceiling and the nicely made birdhouse too.

Renie's blog is found at http://www.justasecondbuzz.blogspot.com/.  You can see the other red, white and blue vintage and new decorative items there. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

These last few days in the garden have been busy! Moving, dividing, removing, repositioning, pruning, etc.  I've also been filling pots and window boxes with new annuals for early color. Thought I would share a few lovely pictures.

This section of the garden is right next to the hose and all the other more utilitarian things needed in the garden -- the ubiquitous "side yard" that seems to get neglected. It needed a little something and I came across these two chinese style pots that never get used because they don't have drainage holes in the bottom. I also had the bottom of an old fountain that never seemed to work right. It is a copper bowl with an inner portion and the outer rim. So, I pulled out an old water pump, some decorative rocks and voila! an instant fountain that gives the little spot just the right ambience. And no $$ were spent here!

This is one of my prized possessions and I take it inside during the winter and pull it out in the spring. My father made this bird house and I brought it with me when I moved. It is the only one I have left as all the others have broken or rotted into pieces.  Last year it was occupied by some nesting nuthatches. It hangs with the potted geranium in the branches of our dying smoke tree that I won't let my husband cut down because it is just so handy for this purpose.

A table scape I created out of an iron "nest" piece I picked up at a yard sale, a plate onto which I layed some moss from the garden and a concrete cardinal. I added some flowers for the picture. It serves a purpose -- covering the umbrella hole in the table.

This beautiful lady was created years ago by my mother. She is plaster and I carted her all the way from California. She occupies my "blue" garden, so named because it is inhabited by her and all the flowers in the space are blue.  Every year I spray her a couple of time with a water sealer so that she will continue to stand. She's weathered just great and really looks like an old sculpture!

A blue pot from the "blue" garden filled with blue and white flowers.
Part of the limestone rock wall with its spring covering of violets and other foliage.  The delphiniums will be showing their blue flowers in a couple of months.
The juniper that is draping itself quite nicely over the limestone wall. We put in 80 ton of limestone to terrace the gardens.

This is one of the last blooms on the magnolia. She was spectacular this year and sits next to a yellow forsythia bush. The two compliment each other and create really spectacular show of blossoms.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Melange Vintage

I collect vintage parts -- still useable and have life left in them as something other than their original purpose. These candles are a melange of different "parts".  The beautiful glass globes came from a lamp that needed to be rewired and onto which I put some fabric lampshades. The globes were in my closet that I keep all my candles in and I originally thought they might fit into some vintage glass candlesticks but did not. The wood turnings were from a different project and they were not very stable as candlesticks so I cut some scrap lumber to add to the bottom of the turnings. Then we (my husband is my collaborator) cut a groove in the top of the turning to insert the glass globe and because I didn't want them to fall out and break I used my trusty E-6000 glue to permanently attach the glass.  The wood was painted my favorite shade of black. I have been playing around with fabric and making rosettes and since I am nuts about burlap right now I added burlap "ribbon" to the rosette. The result is elegant and very inexpensive. I cannot even say exactly how much the whole candle cost but probably not more than $10.00.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Vintage Pincushion

Have you discovered the small planter-type containers and wondered what to do with them? They make great containers for things like toothpicks but I really like them for pincushions. Here is an easter container from Fanny Farmer: I created a pincushion using some vintage fabric.

Friday, May 6, 2011

vintage sale

This is the fabulous Churchill's Grove garage sale weekend. Over 70 homes open their garages and sell.  I am having a "not your usual garage sale" sale.  Over the last two months I have been refurbishing, repurposing tag sale finds and creating something "new".  Here is just a sampling of what is available.
I love all the burlap and garden ornaments I managed to collect. 
Here you see a "desk" table that I gave a coat of paint and some new knobs.  Some of my vintage tablecloths are also for sale.

Shown is the sewing machine that I repurposed into a lamp.  It is stunning as a one-of-a-kind piece of America's past.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Experimenting with fabric flowers and shells

I created this wreath while playing around with burlap and an old grapevine wreath that came from a long ago project. I read about making these fabric roses and had a piece of muslin left over from another project plus a couple of jars of shells that I brought back from a trip to the ocean. I just added the use of my trusty glue gun and away we went. A morning well spent!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Mod Podge and Candle Lamps


I found these candle lamps at a tag sale and thought I could make something unique with them. I started with tissue paper and covered the glass globes using my fav medium - Mod Podge. Then I stamped some of my tissue paper with birds and vines using my favorite brown ink. Birds are such a huge motif and remind me of my garden right now (my birds are all nesting and getting their families started). I dressed each glass globe with an antique key and some burlap ribbon secured with a vintage shell button.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Vintage Inspiration

The vibrant colors and clean, graphic design of Vera Neuman serves as inspiration! Here are a couple of my favorites.

Purple Iris

Monday, April 25, 2011

Fabulous Sewing Cabinet Find

I found this sewing cabinet in the back of a garage sale (it was complete when I found it and I dismantled it before I thought to snap a pic). Imagine my complete surprise to see a $10 price ticket on it! I didn't even open it before I bought it.  When I got it home I realized that it had a sewing machine inside. So I took it all apart and it is in OK condition. The decals on the machine are faded on the front but are pretty clear and bright on the back.  Some of the drawers are missing their decorations but they are not broken and the frames are intact.  The top veneer is popping up so it will not be good to refinish.  But the iron base is in fantastic shape with the treadle still working. 
As far as I can research "new companion" was a magazine and these machines were given away as prizes for selling subscriptions to the magazine.

The drawers are missing some of their pull details.

The top is in pretty rough shape.

The decals on the back of the machine are still pretty bright. But the front is faded. The rest of it is pretty rusty. I cleaned it up -- not too much because I like the vintage look of the whole. I kept the machine in the wooden base and the metal pan underneath so that it has a base to sit on.  I reattached the leather on the wheel.  Then I rubbed some paste wax over the whole of it. The wax cleaned up the machine and brought out the remaining detail while giving it a little polish.  I thought I would make a lamp base out of it.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A New Use for Sewing Pattern Tissue Paper

This is a tabletop mannequin which had a cloth cover. The cover was dirty from use. So, I removed the cover and used some old tissue sewing patterns to cover the mannequin.  In the process I discovered that it dried in this beautiful taupe color which is so elegant and neutral. I added some of my grandmother's costume jewelry for the picture.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Beautiful Easter Card - Something Old Made New

I created this Easter card for my mother using a vintage postcard, fabric, vintage buttons, lace and a scripture for the back side. Inside I loaded some lavender buds so that the card can be used as a drawer sachet. The postcard is sewn onto the lace and fabric on three sides so that it forms a pocket for some little treasures. Inside the pocket is a glassine bag with some pressed pansy flowers and another verse sewn onto a piece of lace. I can hardly wait to hear from my mother whether she likes it. I know I would.