Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Canvas Project: Day 90

If you've been a reader of my blog, you'll recall that I embarked on a project with my friend, Vicki, which we've dubbed the Canvas Project. Well, on August 30 I hit day 90. Here's a close-up of my canvas from a bit of a wonky angle:

Stay tuned for the next update.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Fun Junk: Piles of Old Stuff

I belong to several Yahoo group art listservs and these are ways I stay connected to other artists and what they’re doing. Earlier in the month someone posted a message about a shop in Olympia. Here is the message:

Hello all, I just got back from an outdoor antique show in Alameda California and met Nancy. She is from Olympia, WA and has a shop located at 3644 Mud Bay Road, open on Fridays only from 10-6 phone number is 360-259-1796. Her paper says PILES OF OLD STUFF and she isn’t kidding. Great stuff with great prices. She is working on a web site. If you are in her neighborhood on a Friday – stop in. Marie

Well, I made SURE I was in her neighborhood last Friday while I was in Washington visiting and staying with my daughter for a week. So on Friday, with Mapquest directions in hand, my dear husband drove me to FUN JUNK (yes, that is the name of the shop, not just the title for this blog post). It was fun. And there were piles of old stuff. Everywhere. And it was the kind of old stuff that I simply love.

And this is where I insert a very large swear word (**&%%$**!!*@@*!) because I learned a very valuable lesson about erasing photos from my camera and ALL of the photos I took of this fantabulous shop are now erased. I am so blasted mad . . . I now return to my post (sans photos of the shop and with a wild headache of frustration):

My best buy was a Tupperware bin of old moon-shaped metal gauges with words like “amperes” and “radio frequency” printed on them (and stamped with numbers on the unfinished side). I discovered these in the back room (marked “Overflow”) and ambled out to ask for a price. Nancy said they were 50 cents each, paused, then added, “Unless you want a deal.” I shuffled back into the room, then popped right back out and asked, “What kind of deal?” Nancy said I could have the whole container for $10. Sold! Most of these little beauties are still in their original wrappers! My thought is what a great item to use in my visual journaling class (a halo, perhaps?) or as part of a goody bag trade at Art and Soul, or . . . . my mind is twirling.

As for the rest of the stuff, it was really wonderful, lots of old tags (such as brass cow tags - $10 each), watch parts, typewriter keys, yikes almighty, it was a splendid array of vintage findings. My only complaint is that a lot of it wasn’t marked and I asked a few times for prices, but I finally just piled my things on the counter and crossed my fingers that I hadn’t spent $200 or something like that. My total didn’t come anywhere near that, but I did feel that the prices weren’t “great.” They were priced “fair” for a store, but they were not bargains. However, in terms of variety and uniqueness, it was a fantastic shop and I would heartily recommend that if you ever find yourself in Olympia, Washington on a Friday, it is worth the stop. I plan to return.

The booty:

I still can't believe I deleted all of the photos - the shop was like an old-fashioned hardward store with bins and drawers of goodies everywhere . . . let it go, let it go, breathe, breathe . . .

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Summer Yard

With Labor Day fast approaching, I wanted to take a time out to record what my lovely backyard looks like in the waning days of summer. As many of you know, we live above my husband's law office, which is an old 1906 home in the heart of Salem. Our "backyard" is postage stamp sized and years ago we put in river rock rather than grass (there is grass in the front). I love the low maintenance of the rock and it has been fun to sprinkle pots around the perimeter of the yard. Walk with me on a tour of our mini backyard:

Ahhh, if only I had a hammock!

Discovery: A Real Gem in Dufur, Oregon!

We just returned from a weekend trip to Dufur, Oregon. The cause for the trip was a family wedding, which was a lovely outside summer affair. My dilemma is how I want to approach this post . . . travelogue of our trip? Talk about the sumptuous lattes we had at the dog river coffee company in Hood River (they use Stumptown coffee, our favorite, and their ice cubes are made from coffee!)? Highlight the wedding? Or, focus on where we stayed? I do believe I will focus on the grand 1907 Balch Hotel in tiny little Dufur.

Come along with me as I take you on a tour.

First, when we entered the hotel, I was struck by the artwork hanging on the walls. I didn't even get the name of the artist, but I loved the simplicty of the pieces. Here is one of my favorites:

As I began my roaming, I walked up the staircase located at the entrance of the hotel. All of the doors to the rooms were open so I could peek into each room. One of the first rooms I spied was a massage room! Now we're talkin'!

I continued my meandering down the second floor hallway. Each room was decorated uniquely: rugs, lamps, bed covers, and pieces of antique furniture. Here's a sampling of one of the rooms:

On one of the second floor walls I spied on old electric meter. According to the Balch Hotel website:

When electricity came to Dufur Valley, the two places that had it were the Balch Hotel and the lumber yard. They each shared it for 12 hours. The lumber mill had electricity during 12 hours of daylight, the Balch during the second 12 hours!

On another wall there was the original fire hose attached up near the ceiling:

My roaming eventually led me to the third floor, where I discovered more distinctly and creatively decorated rooms. The suite where we got to stay was located on the third floor (with a view of Mt. Hood). Amenities included a canopy king bed, a Jazcuzzi tub, and AIR CONDITIONING. This was an important feature because the day we were in Dufur it got to 108 degrees! Our room:

Back on the first floor, I discovered a lovely sitting room off of the main lobby (I didn't even take a picture of the main lobby! What's wrong with me?). Anyway, here is the sitting room where you could borrow a book or pull out a game to play:

Outside, the grounds were lovely. We ate breakfast on this grassy area in one corner of the yard:

In the very back of the property, I discovered the original outhouse and smokehouse:

This is the resident doggy, Kahlua:

And these are the gracious proprietors, Jeff and Samantha Irwin, standing in the their light and airy dining room:

Okay, okay, I can't help myself (but you already knew that). Here's a photo from the wedding:

And a photo of the cute little flower girl who had run out of rose petals by the time she reached the aisle:

And how can you resist this photo of Dad and daughter. Mike's a real cowboy:

And a sweet little girl at the reception, all tuckered out:

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

"By the Sea" Fat Book

What's a Fat Book? you may be asking. Also known as a "Chunky Book," it is a collaborative art book where artists sign up to make original pages (the pages can be photocopied once an original background is created), then the pages are embellished with charms, doodads, whatchamacallits, and fibers. Some artists add pop-ups, others add cut-outs - there are no limits on what an artist can create but the word is: the chunkier the better! Once the pages are completed, they are compiled and put into book form so that each participant has a page created by each of the artists involved.

How I got involved in this particular Fat Book exchange involves Art and Soul (worth a look at the website if you aren't already familiar with this grand event), an artist's retreat held annually in various locations around the United States. The Portland Art and Soul Retreat will be held in October of this year and the theme is "By the Sea." For the "By the Sea" Fat Book, Marian is serving as the "hostess" of the swap. As the hostess, Marian set up a Yahoo group, a database of participants, and received a small "swap fee" of $12 from each participant. When pages are complete, they are sent to Marian, where she gathers them all up, divides them, and binds them. For this swap, each artist had to make 60 (SIXTY) pages! Here's my process:

I began by using a background I created in a class I took at Sitka in May, 2008, Abstract Watermedia Extravaganza. The page resembled water, so I used a section of that for my base.

I then found a woman wearing a vintage bathing suit and glued her to the watery paper.

I also wanted to add some sort of definition from the dictionary, so I found the word "sea born," which means: 1. born in or of the sea: as, Aphrodite, the sea-born goddess. 2. produced by or originating in the sea. This definition was glued to the base of the page.

The "original" background:

Next, I made my 4x4-inch copies (I actually made my original 4x8 so that I could simply fold the images in half to be at the required 4x4 size). I took my original piece of art, which consisted of my watercolor background, vintage bathing beauty, and dictionary word, and made my way across town to the local Office Max. They copied the original onto cardstock paper, then I spent the next hour using their large paper cutter to cut the photocopies down to size. When I got home, I simply folded each of the images in half using a bone folder.

Here are my "ladies" cut and folded:

I was then ready to add some embellishments. I purchased some great paper from loose ends, a wonderful resource for fibers, paper and natural elements. The paper I used was net-like and I cut a small section from the roll for each of my "ladies." After gluing on the netting, I added some little plastic swirls (purchased from Stampin' Cat Studio), making it look like the net had captured pieces of color from the sea. Of course, I had to add a shell to each net, and a sprinkle of fairy dust. Here are my ladies with their nets and captured bits.

But I wasn't finished with the netting and found objects, my "ladies" needed more. I punched a hole, added an eyelet, then threaded a bundle of fibers through each hole and tied it off. Viola! Texture, color, and an eye-catching piece hanging and dangling out from my page. It was now complete. Here are my "ladies" in their rows:

But wait, we were asked that the back of our page not be left blank, so in addition to the blue watercolor paper background, I added a glassine envelope, shown here:

The envelope was for holding a little card I made with my name, web site, blog, and home city/state. I added my favorite words at the bottom: Be Bold.

Now my "ladies" were complete and ready to be mailed.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A New Portland Haunt

Last Saturday afternoon Howard and I were out tootling about in Portland. We were on a mission to find a particular Radio Shack in North Portland, but weren’t going the most direct route, which was to our advantage. As we were driving down N. Denver Avenue, both Howard and I spied a little shop, Kenton Antiques and Collectibles. “Want to stop?” Howard generously offered. “You bet,” I replied. He circled around the block and parked, joining me in the adventure of discovery by going into the store with me. “Yowsa!” I mentally cried upon entering the store. It was one of those winding, intriguing stores with fingers going in all directions. Howard was asking the store’s owner, Susan, about the architecture of some of the local houses we had seen in the neighborhood as I began to roam around, my eyes wide (and my mouth probably open a bit – but no drooling, at least I don’t think I was drooling). Howard eventually settled into the bookstore portion of the store with a book on the local history of Kenton. A side note: my grandfather was a mailman in Portland for over 30 years and many of those years he worked out of the Kenton Post Office, so there were some sweet memories tied up in the area we were visiting.

I’m making this blog post not only because the antique store was clean, nicely organized, lots of kitsch, and not too expensive, but also because it had a fabulous collection of ephemera in the back portion of the store. I told Susan upon emerging from the back room that I could spend a day there. Her reply was, “Some people do.” I can see why. There were not only magazines arranged topically, but also photographs, bins of ephemera by topic, letters, post cards - you get the idea. My kind of store.

A special note for Laura: they had vintage Cub and Boy Scout magazines in the back room!

Here is a little photo walking tour of the store, the “back room,” and the bookstore portion of the shop.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Portland Field Trip

What a perfectly splendid day I had yesterday! Several of my former Artist’s Way participants (and now friends) have been asking me to conduct a field trip to Portland – yesterday was the day! Four women had originally signed up, but two had to drop out at the last minute, which left three of us: Susan, Destree, and myself. Susan and Destree arrived right on time at 9:00 am and we were on our way, pretty giddy with excitement (at least I was, from the looks in the photo!).

First stop, I’ve Been Framed, an art shop in SE Portland that sells art supplies at reduced prices.

We all made a few purchases, then back in the car for the short drive to Knittin’ Kitten, an ecclectic little shop on N.E. Glisan.

After purchasing several notions and trinkets, we were on our way for the add-on, special treat "I can't believe this is happening" event of the day. A little back-story is warranted here. I belong to a Yahoo group, Art and Soul, and a few days ago a Portland artist made a post that she had too much assemblage pieces, was downsizing, wanting to get rid of some of her “stuff,” and would anyone be interested. Hello?!? Are you kidding? I contacted the artist, Nikki Blackwood (Nikki no longer maintains her blog, but I've done a link to her old site so you can get an idea of what a superstar artist she is), and indicated that a small group of us would love to come by and take advantage of her generous offer. She told us to come anytime, she would be home all day on Thursday. And arrive we did, into a very beautiful old quintessential Portland neighborhood. I snapped a photo of Nikki’s house as we pulled up (after I parked, of course, but barely, that's why the photo is a tad blurry - I was just too darned excited!).

Nikki greeted us at the door and invited us into her home, er, art gallery! I didn’t get any photos inside the house, it felt too much like an invasion of privacy (if you go to her blog, you can get some peeks), but let me see if I can describe what we found. First of all, Nikki was so gracious and took us throughout her home, showing us pieces of art she had created
(she was recently a featured artist in two books I purchased: True Vision and 1,000 Artist Journal Pages, as well as pieces made by many local artists and artists who regularly teach at Art and Soul: LK Ludwig, Leighanna Light, Michael deMeng, and Misty Mawn (to name a few). Nikki shared her beautifully embellished art journals, invited us to see her assemblage pieces, and took us into her jam-packed, breath-taking art studio. She even showed us artwork in her bedroom, for Pete’s sake. Man, oh, man, the three of us had eyes that were bulging with inspiration (and a wee bit of envy on my part). After our tour, Nikki showed us the way to her garage, where smack dab in the middle was a long table loaded with assemblage goodies. She gave us each a paper grocery bag and invited us to take whatever we wanted (and we didn't even knock each other over in our frenzy to fill our bags!). In return, she asked us to make a “donation,” whatever we wanted, with the money going toward art workshops she was offering to the neighborhood kids. What? I want to be a neighborhood kid!!

We drooled and grunted as we filled our bags, FILLED OUR BAGS, paid up, thanked Nikki for her generosity and warmth, and then hit the road famished and ready for lunch. The agenda called for Laughing Planet food on N. Mississippi, where we were able to dine outside and enjoy the warming summer sun. Smooth, creamy, sensual lattes were purchased next door at the Blue Gardenia, and then we set off on foot for the short walk to the ReBuilding Center (of Our United Villages). I found a couple of drawers I was after, a bit of colorful screening, and a tile with the number “2.” Back into the car for the short trip over to N. Williams Avenue and into the always fabulous SCRAP. Again, we all came away with a bag of goodies. Last up, collage, a local neighborhood art store jam-packed and crammed with art goodness.

We were in the car and on the road for our return to Salem by 4:30 and instead of being mired in traffic congestion, we sailed right through the heart of Portland and made it back to Salem by shortly after 5:30 pm.


Here are the goodies I got from all of the stores:

Here are the goodies from Nikki’s:

Here are all the goodies from yesterday:

Here are the goodies in my studio, waiting to be put away (yikes!):

I better go make something!