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Archive for April, 2009

Max and Oscar

Max and Oscar

I had a customer come in and he asked if the masks had been used in actual plays. He wanted to know if they all were specific characters. I had to tell him that, while I often have some idea about character concept when I make them, none had been based on a specific role. The thing is, I think that “Max” and “Oscar” really should have their own story. Now all we have to do is find a writer who agrees with me…

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Introducing…

While the store is showing work from me and my parents we are also carrying stuff from a number of other Ontario artists. I’ll be trying to give them all a bit of an introduction here over the next couple of weeks. Dave is one of the photographers who’s work will be in the gallery. He works in digital and mostly colour and I especially love his flower studies. This is the link to his blog and it has a range of his shots. Check out all the pretty pictures! Here it is

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When my mom is out on the hunt she always keeps an eye out for art supplies. I like trying out a broad a range of techniques and methods because you never know when they might be what you need to get the perfect effect on a project. Since she doesn’t always know what I might want or need she’ll often pick stuff up on spec if the price is right. This weekend she found a box that she noticed had some books and equipment for making linoleum prints. 100_5992The box had lots of junk in it but there were some community class manuals on print-making and tools for cutting linoleum. There was also this set of cuts that someone had done. The artist mounted only one to a wood block and I’m guessing she used it to make some Christmas cards. The style of the prints, the look of the books and the colours she used make me think they were done in the 60’s or 70’s. I’m tempted to try and make some prints of the little violet, it’s just so cute! I’ll resist because I think the period colours are part of the charm and I don’t want to damage that. We’ll probably just bundle them all together with the book and sell them as a set. Hopefully they’ll find a good home.

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Spring surprise

daffodils

daffodils

Every new place comes with surprises. We had only ever seen the property in the fall and winter so it was great to find bunches of white and yellow daffodils coming up in one of the beds. A few hyacinths are appearing as well. We’re pretty sure that the bush they surround is a currant, but only time will tell.

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In the corner

The issue of framing display space was a crucial one. All the needed equipment fit just fine into the upstairs workshop but the main store level was difficult. The store is one room, around 18′ by 20′ total, (plus the covered porch, but that space can’t be used all the time.) so I couldn’t take much more than about four feet out from one corner for frame samples. I also wanted to be able to easily transport a wide range of samples since I’m offering on-call frame consulting both for clients and designers. Considering how varied peoples framing needs can be I really wanted to be able to provide a great selection. Dad and I were able to come up, and construct, a hanging system that gives me the equivalent of about thirty linear feet of floor-to-ceiling samples. (we’re still waiting for some more samples to arrive so it’s not filled to capacity. Yet.) The panels are easy to remove and transport so I can bring a lot of choice to any out-calls I’m making.

the sample corner

the sample corner

There was also enough room that I could display the range of stunning handmade, historically accurate frame corners we offer. They are oversized and mother calls them “eye-candy”, so they had go up where they would shine. The only thing in the open space between the pillars and the back wall unit is an antique oval table that I inherited. It’s our consultation space and work table. There’s nothing underneath, both to show off the beautiful turned legs and keep the space looking open. The oval shape means it’s easy to move around even though the space is small. I’m still working on the matboard sample display, but I expect to have that done in the next couple of weeks, well before our May 24th weekend Gala opening.

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The next design challenge was how to display all our different wares. With only two windows it made sense to use them as the focal point for the work of our glass artists. (I’ll give them their own intro post later!)

The store windows

The store windows

Combinations of chains and hooks allowed me to hang both their fused glass vintage windows and their stained glass work so that their beauty shows. There was already a built-in shelf under the windows that let me display the smaller glass pieces where they still get great natural light. Mirrors, on the walls directly around the windows, reflect and are immune to UV damage. I had already decided not to use slat wall so typical store brackets and shelves were not an option. I also didn’t like the idea of modern glass cases. A large wooden display cabinet fit very well against the side wall. We left the doors off and filled the shelves with assorted collectibles. The top was just the right height to hold some more pieces. There is a support beam with two pillars that bisects the room. It only has about six feet of clearance below it so we wanted to restrict traffic underneath as much as possible. case21Luckily, a wood and glass jewellery display case fit in nicely and left just enough room for an assortment of handmade cards. (more about those later too) I painted the bottom of the case to match the floor and it blends in well. A smaller antique case sits on one corner. The “office” desk, a rounded-front china cabinet and a drop-leaf table filled in most of the room we had left except for directly opposite the door. My mother worked her usual magic (we’ve joked for years that she opens dimensional portals to find the things she does) and discovered a beautiful oak and glass case. I’d put its age between 100 and 150 years. I think the top glass piece was replaced a long time ago but the mirrors on the back and the rest of the glass looks to be original. It was very dirty and a bit wobbly but with a through cleaning and stabilization of the joints and it looked great. With regular doses of lemon oil the finish is starting to glow again.case31

The only other issue to resolve was how to make a frame sample space when you only have about four feet out from a corner.

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I knew if we were going to be able to have the kind of store we wanted there were going to have to be a huge improvement in the look of the place but we didn’t want to make any major structural changes. The first thing we had to do was clean. Everything got washed, the floor, the walls, the ceiling. The ceiling was a problem. The bottom edge of the exposed girders were only seven feet high, at the lowest point of the slope. (and it did vary about half a foot!) The brown wood of the upper-level sub floor was showing along with all of furnace ducting and lighting wires. The lighting was utilitarian box fluorescents that came down another half foot. I considered trying to put in some sort of tiled ceiling that wouldn’t cost us much more height below the girders but it still seemed liked it would feel too low. (and be too low, with light fixtures) We already knew that we were going to have to paint the walls white. While I generally hate to ever paint actual wood, the foot wide boards that made up the walls were too rough and too brown for any art to look good against them. We decided to carry the white on up and paint everything. I’d seen it done, over the years in several cottages for, I expect, the same reasons. We took down the old fixtures and replaced them with multi-light ones that fit up between the girders so there is a much head-room retained as possible. The old fixtures were donated to the Habitat for Humanity Restore in Stratford. (a great cause with stores that help the environment as well!) The Restore was also were I was thrilled to find enough of a metal moulding that makes up the top part of my art hanging system. (it’s shaped like a J and you attach it at the top of the wall and then hook rods with movable clips on it. Art is then hung on the clips. It’s very easy to both hang and move pieces around and you don’t have to have slat wall or holes!) The floor was then painted a beachy dark grey and crisp white baseboard put in. Now all that was left was the fun part of putting it all together!

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