Saturday, January 30, 2010

Experimental Banner

I'm experimenting with a few pictures in Google's Picasa. How's this shop banner? I'm trying it on in the shop for a while... if you have thoughts, feel free to be honest - I want to know if I look fat in these jeans!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Tea Tin, Blue Glass

One year in elementary school, I found a small tea tin. I probably found it in the woods. (Set of 3 vintage tea tins, vintagejudy) Around the same time, I found a piece of cobalt blue glass. It was more of a shard of glass, with sharp edges. (Melted bottle cheese plate, MitchellGlassworks)

Thinking I was pretty smart, I put the glass into the tin. That way, I figured it would be safe, I wouldn't lose it, and I wouldn't cut myself. (Vintage tea tin, sevenpoppies)

I then had the brilliant idea that if the piece of glass spent long enough rattling around in the tin, it might lose its sharp edges and become almost like beach glass. (Reclaimed wine glass, BreadandBadger) Happy with this conclusion, I put the tin in the inside pocket of my jean jacket, and left it there for the whole school year. For the rest of the year, everywhere I went, I clang-clang-clanged. Walking a mile to school, outside at recess, all the way home from school, running in the woods, and weaving around the neighboring houses. (Vintage tea tin, DandelionGirl)
I think we can conclude two things from this childhood experience: 1) I am really cool; 2) I have been collecting and experimenting with junk for a really long time. (Engraved tumblers, daydreemdesigns)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Everyday Extraordinary

Every day on my way to work, I pass this dilapidated old building. The sagging roof always catches my eye, and every day I think, I should stop and take a picture. For several years, I haven't gotten out to take a picture. I knew that I needed to take one soon, though, because the land was rezoned a few years ago, and they will demolish the existing buildings and build a new neighborhood. Yesterday, it was a strange, wet, balmy January morning, with rain off and on. As I approached the sagging roof, I thought to myself, maybe the clouds will be doing something interesting, and I should stop and take a picture... I then thought that the conditions were about right for a rainbow, and before I could even finish the thought, there was a giant rainbow. I had to pull two U-turns to park my car safely, and walk a good ways down the road to get back to the buildings, and by that time, the rainbow had faded away. I took some pictures anyway. As I was finishing up, another rainbow appeared in a different part of the sky. I'm telling you, the weather was strange yesterday. This one was much smaller, and less bright, and through utility lines, but hey, a rainbow is a rainbow. I'm glad I finally got around to stopping to take some pictures. I would have regretted not having some to remember the sagging roof. Because one morning, I will drive to work and it won't be there. And we need to remember to appreciate the little things in our everyday lives that are actually extraodinary.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Banner Monday

I've decided that I am in desperate need of a new shop and blog banner, and probably coordinating business cards and the rest of the works.  I've collected a few shop banners that I admire, and seem to capture the aesthetic of the shop.  I think I like banners that are primarily photographs, with overlaid text.  My current shop banner is birch bark with New Dominion Blues over it, but it isn't great quality.  And while it does capture my aesthetic, it isn't an image of anything I have made or sell in my shop.  Selling both handmade and vintage items complicates the matter a bit. 


Does anyone have any recommendations for a graphic artist who would "feel" what I'm going for?  I could try to do this myself, but I'm willing to pay a professional to get it right.

Sunday, January 24, 2010


Lately industrial decor has been catching my eye. There is something so heartwarming about pieces that once worked hard coming out of retirement to serve again. I pulled together an industrial collection to tickle your fancy.  This factory cart (above) has new life as a coffee table in the restored barn chronicled in the maya*made blog.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Real Estate

I have been quite busy this week with my day job.  I've had little time with the computer, and even less being creative.  Boo.   It looks like the next few weeks will be about the same.  Which is really too bad, because I am really charged up about some of the vintage finds I've made in the last few weeks, and the ideas for handmade items I've had recently.

I have been so busy I haven't even had time to call the electrician about wiring my house for the new kiln, which is probably just as well, because I don't have time to stay home with him to get it done.  I've been out of the office for a few days doing training, and I can't very well take off the other days.

The other sadness I have is that when I am home, I am too tired to work on things, and there is no light to take pictures of things that are ready to go into the shop.  Bad winter lighting combined with working a day job isn't a very good formula for listing new items.

I did want to relay some very important news however.  Last Sunday at Manassas Clay, my pottery teacher asked me if I wanted to take over a new shelf.  The new shelf is easily 4 or 5 times bigger than my old shelf.  I was so very pleased.  This is no small gesture - Fran doesn't just give away good real estate!  Other veteran potters even congratulated me.  My old shelf could barely accommodate my tools, a bag of clay, and 4 or 5 pots.  Every week I struggled with how to fit everything, and sometimes had to take my tool caddy home or borrow space on other shelves.  I don't think I will ever have that problem again, and indeed, my first day with the new shelf, I loaned space to two other students.  I suppose this makes up for the deluge of day job activities.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Renovation Inspiration

A few weeks ago, the Etsy Finds Decor article really stuck with me. Titled A Faithful Restoration, the article provides photos from Alyn Carlson's Flickr photostream detailing the restoration of her home, a converted church. I have been mesmerized by the images of her home, struck by the similarity of her decorating style to what I aspire to, and the complete dissimilarity of the architecture of our homes. For instance, I am likely to never have a fireman's pole in my home. I spent some time thinking about how wonderful it must be to have a home with unique architecture. Though I dearly love my home, and hope to stay here for 30 years or so, part of me does wish that we lived in an old factory, an historic rowhouse, or something with a lot of character. I live in a suburban home that was built in the early 1990s. Part of why we bought this house was its very vanilla interior. We liked the bones of the home, and we knew we would not feel guilty about ripping out the beige carpet, tearing out the laminate counters, and painting the white walls. If we had found a home that someone else had personalized, we would have felt bad removing expensive installations (that we would have paid for in the purchase price as well), or we would have unhappily worked around the choices of another family. The Flickr album of this renovated church also mentioned that this renovation has taken 28 years. So I got to thinking that maybe over the course of 28 years or so, I would be able to fix up my home pretty well, too. And my challenge is something that a lot of folks experience - creating a personal home out of standard, vanilla, suburban house. I decided to embrace what I've got, and renamed my Flick album of home pictures - now Extreme Home Transformation: Suburban Edition. As we slowly personalize and improve our home, I'll still be looking to images of the homes of others to inspire me. Alyn's home is the perfect muse. The rest of this post will feature more pictures of her home, a few pictures from my home to show our similar taste, and some items I found on Etsy that can carry the same inspiration into your home. Someday I will have a lush garden grounded by hardscaping. I've often thought of making a mosaic with broken dishes (or discarded pottery...). I have been known to drag home branches I find to use in decorating my home. I have also extensively documented my fascination with cubbies and drawers and things to put things in. I love the ethereal quality of these birds against this cloudy blue wall. This collection of items reminded me of my home. Bits of nature, remembrances, and letters with wood as a backdrop. Above and below are pictures of my studio. I keep mementos of my childhood, printers blocks, tiny antiques, and stones collected from experiences I want to remember. Below is another vignette from my home - feathers collected from my yard (and one ostrich feather from my feather duster), a basket my mom made, glass rhinoceroses, wood turned vases, and a large printers block G.

I wanted to find an array of items on Etsy that would bring a bit of the special quality of Alyn's home to your home and mine.

Shopping for letters on Etsy yields a number of attractive options, including this large Q printers block from ThreeOldKeys. I grew up with those World Book encyclopedias; they're not small books. This vintage marquee letter N could be leaned up against a wall or in a bookshelf. Find it at VintageEmbellishment. Remind yourself to mind your shop with these ETSY printers blocks from JillRuth. adripofcoffee has this vintage metal T stands alone quite handsomely. everyeskimo's metal J would be perfect in a natural and lettered vignette. I love wooden printers blocks with a wood tone contrasting with the darker background. These are from luckylittledot. This family of owls from onegiftoneworld would be right at home among vintage letters and natural mementos. Shoeforms, like these from everyeskimo, are a small, sculptural way to bring woodgrain and retired vintage into your home. 26olivestreet has a more rustic shoeform option, with less shine but just as much character.
This picture from Alyn's home reminded me of how much I love copper in a kitchen. I have a number of copper accents in my kitchen, and it goes so well with the slate I plan to use in the floors and backsplash. I found a number of copper pieces inspired by these patterned measuring cups above - snatch them up before I do.
I have a copper bowl just like this one from SunnyDayVintage. Mine was covered in green gunk, and was about to be donated when I saved it. A few coats of ketchup later, it was good as new. The person who was going to donate it didn't even recognize it as theirs later.
This set of vintage copper coffee and tea canisters would love to sit on your counter. Unless I buy them from storybookcharm first.
Don't you love the shine on these copper scoops from ModishVintage?
The texture, the shape, and the coiled handle on this copper teapot from SarahAnntiques make me swoon.
LucindaAndJane has this copper coffee maker, sugar and creamer set. I have a mug in hand and am already pulling up a chair.
I don't know that I would be able to decide between chocolate or cheese first for this solid copper fondue pot from GoodEyeVintage.
CometWreckage has this fantastic lidded jello mold that would be an excellent addition to your kitchen decor.
Alyn's home has an array of beautiful furniture, and this library filing cabinet from ShopGreenOwl reminded me of the drawers behind the fireman's pole.
This unique piece from bauerwood also had a special quality (and lovely drawers) that reminded me of all the pieces with drawers I noticed.
Be sure to check out Alyn's Etsy shop, and her blog. I am grateful for the inspiration I have gotten from Alyn's home renovation. I am equally grateful for the realizations that this kind of incredible home doesn't happen overnight, and that while my home isn't starting with unique architectural features, it's no less a home. And I intend to enjoy the journey from suburban house to personalized home.