Archive for August, 2010

We’ve just had a bunch of new stuff arrive at the store! It’s a line of hand-made soaps, candles, and a few more other great types of things.

Magical Dream furniture polish

They’re made locally by Tammy Murray and have given the shop a lovely, light bit of scent. (mother and I both have trouble tolerating commercial air fresheners, but the fragrance from her products is mild and natural so we’re both able to enjoy having them around!) The pictures are of two of my favorite items. She has a selection of handcrafted furniture polish made with beeswax and olive oil, in these pretty tins. (she also conveniently offers lint-free cloths that are perfect for applying the polish of your choice)

Magical Dreams soy candle in cup

I’m going to get some for myself, but I’m just having a hard time picking between the Citrus Mist and Northern Pine scents. The other is one of her scented soy candles in a tin mug. It comes with a matching lid so you can easily control how much of the fragrance you want to experience. Her prices are also really reasonable so I think they make a great addition to our range of items.

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Actually, I’m not really supportive of trying that. What I do like to use are the crystals from vintage chandeliers and just finished a pair of jewellry sets using some.

vintage crystal necklace and earring set

I have a group of ones that are in a beautiful deep purple. Each drop has two parts, the large tear-shape and a smaller, almost round piece that sits on top. The tear only has the single piercing on the top and the small one has two, on top and bottom. What I’ve done is to make the large tear-drop the focal point in a necklace and used a pair of the small ones to create matching earrings. The strand of the necklace is made of fluorite, silver and black glass beads. I wanted the fluorite because it has such a lovely range of colours in it, including the exact purple of the crystals. The silver and black were included to set off the stone colours and add drama to the design. I kept back two beads of the fluorite, carefully selected so they would have the right colour variation in each one, and crafted them into dangles that hang off the bottom of the earrings. The end result is a pretty little jewellry set that will co-ordinate with a wide assortment of clothing colours and styles. It’s fully modern and has all the easy care and wearablity  that come with that, but still has a bit of vintage charm. It’s also taking something that no longer fulfills the use it was created for and giving a whole new purpose, which is something I love doing.

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This is one of the (far too many) projects I’ve had underway this summer. I already had an “Open” sign that hangs on the bottom of the main shop sign,

A-frame "Open" sign

but it’s not terribly large. Actually the main one isn’t all that big either. It has the company name in nice big letters but the lower line, with details about what we carry is too small to be readable for drivers-by unless it’s stop-and-go. As a result, we wanted something more visible that says what we have. I also wanted something that would make it super clear when we’re open and be a bit less likely to be blocked by things like parked cars. The best solution is naturally the standard A-frame sign, easy to set-up and take-down as well as move. We could have gone out and bought a standard one, but I wanted something a bit more personal. “Open” is the most important part of it, so I made that as large and easy to read as possible. The rest of the lines were calculated to their best possible fit so the whole space would be used. The font is a modified version of a 14th century English one. I hand-drew each line and then made stencils of them so both sides would be the same. The words were traced, using the stencils and then hand-painted on. The white background was chosen both for visibility and to match our existing sign. The dark green lettering is the same colour as the building. I would have liked to have completed it a bit earlier in the summer, but at least it’s out now!

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In Memoriam: Pauline Emery

Late last week, mother got home from a sudden trip. She was attending the memorial service for a family friend, Pauline Emery. I would have liked to go with her, but someone

Pauline and Paul 1983

had to be here to keep the shop running. Pauline’s death was sudden and unexpected and we all found it to be a terrible shock. It got me thinking about all those things we never get around to saying to the people that have been part of our lives. The parentals had been friends with her, and eventually her husband John, for over 35 years. People talk about the “village” it takes to raise a child and she was part of mine. She was a teacher, but had been a friend long before I ever was in one of her classes. As a creative person herself, she was always really supportive of my early artistic experiments. She showed me that art can always be part of your life and not to let the learning process defeat you. You have to learn techniques, so you’re not going to start out with masterpieces and that often, the value can be in the enjoyment of the process, so do what you want to. She was also was the first to give me a job. ( and it took a special sort of person to trust my 12-year-old self with her first born child ) She was an artist, teacher, parent, mentor and friend and I never told her how much I valued having her in my life. So go out and make a phone call, email, write a letter or visit in person and share your feelings with the people who have mattered to you because we don’t know how much time any of us has.

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on the verge

Construction continues, at least a little. They just keep disappearing! The workers will show up on random days and things will get moved forward, also apparently

new verge of highway in Shakespeare, August 2010

at random, for a day or so and then they will mysteriously vanish for another week or two. What finally got finished over the past couple of days is the re-asphalting of the verge along our side of the street. That space is one of the few public parking areas in town, with the other being the lot on the opposite side of the highway. The sidewalks got put in a while ago and they did get the entrance to our parking lot done right after, but the verge had been left as gravel. They had also not done the whole stretch of entry/exit to the public parking area, so everyone over there had to deal with just having a gravel ramp for the better part of a month. Now that both areas have been finished the hamlet finally has lots of usable parking again, just in time for the end of the summer. Oh well, at least I can hope that we’ll have a bit less dust being blown about as a result. The next thing is for them to come back and do the landscape restoration on our side of the sidewalk, but who knows when that will get done. I’d like to put in a few plants to beautify the end of the new path, but there’s no point before they clean it up so I’m hoping it will be finished before the snow flies!

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A little while ago I finally managed to get my hands on a group of vintage vacuum tubes. My main interest had been as materials for some more Steampunk pieces.

Steampunk mask with black leather and vacuum tubes, "Radiohead"

If I’d only scored a small group then I would have saved them for use in jewellry, but I ended up with a large enough number that I feel free to use them on some masks. (we actually have so many that I’ve listed them as supplies in the Etsy shop) I finally finished the first one incorporating some and got it listed on Etsy yesterday.  I’m calling it “Radiohead“. Having a few to choose from meant that I was able to do a graduated headdress effect around the outer edge. I went with a distressed piece of salvaged black leather for the surface and ran the existing seam down the front of the face. The eyes are edged with some metal bit I found at a surplus shop and have no idea how they are supposed to be used. One of the surprising benefits of going with them around the eyes is that they force the front into a shape that will allow for glasses to be worn under it! (I think you’d want to go with some sort of face stocking, so as not to distract from the look of it) It’s been remarked on frequently, while I’ve had it sitting out in progress in the shop so I should be surprised that it was picked as the “Daily Steampunk” item on the Handmadeartistsforum, within minutes for my getting it listed. I have no idea how it was found so quickly, but I’m not complaining.

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Almost all of the cool new DM Dzigns moldings that I got in have been used for custom orders but I couldn’t resist taking some for one of my own pieces.

Anubis photo in frame

Well, I mean it’s still for sale, but it’s one of my own black and white photos. It’s part of a project I’ve been working on in fits and starts for about 15 years. (yes, yes, one of these days I’ll get it finished, or I’ll die.)  The headpiece and costume are not my own work, but were made by pair of friends who are a professional prop maker/actor combo. The piece is a fairly high contrast print of the Egyptian god Anubis. (light reflection on the glass is both washing out the photo and mat as well as making them appear more blue than either are. Both are “pure” grey)  It was printed using my own enlarger and the image was fully created in person. By that, I mean that there was no photo-shopping or darkroom alteration of the image. The mat is a dark grey. The frame is DM’s “small skully”

detail of frame

with the silver top. I really liked the silver with the silver greys in the picture. (silver or black frames are pretty much the only things I like to put on true black and white’s) Anubis was the God of Death and Judgment so I had to put this molding around it. The stacked and jumbled bones make it look like an ossuary. I know it’s going to have to wait to find the perfect person for it so I may even go ahead and add it to our Etsy store, but shipping would be a bit high.

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surprise glads

We’re still adding things to the grounds. Bit by bit, we’re changing grass to garden. The thing is, sometimes we’re not exactly sure what’s gone in where. This lovely gladiola is one

gladiola flower, August 2010

of those cases. We had picked up a few bulbs last year and they went into the ground very late and we had pretty low expectations of their survival. (our expectations were so low, we forgot about them) When they poked their heads up this spring, due to the leaf shape, we thought they were more of the many irises we have in the front yard. In the interest of spreading the irises around, a few got moved into a new bed in the east lawn, in front of the giant fir tree. It turns out that they were actually some of the glads! We figured it out when they put up their flower stalks, and what pretty flowers they are. I’m actually more surprised by them managing to flower in their first year then by where they ended up. We’ll probably end up moving them because I think they need a place with more support for their tall stalks, (this years are a bit puny) in the long term.

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Just across the street from the store is the Brew Garden Cafe. They make amazingly tasty food and bevies, so I was thrilled to see them get some love from a local foodie, and the article is also full of some beautiful photos of what you can order. You can also check out their site directly so you can plan your lunch in advance! (although they seem to be having some formating problems. Not to worry, I keep a copy of their menu on hand)

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One of things that I try to keep at least one in stock at all times are antique typewriters. They appeal to me a couple of different ways. They make striking display pieces

vintage Underwood typewriter

and can add a bit of bit of retro or Steampunk (depending on their age) style to a space, just by being themselves. I’m also into them for supplies, although I can’t bring myself to take them apart for the keys, which is what typically happens. (if someones going to do that to any of the ones we’ve had here then I don’t want to know!) I also love that, often after a bit of work, you can also use them! What I didn’t know much about was the history of the typewriter. I could tell rough ages, but that was about it. A little while ago a gentleman named Martin Howard stopped in and we got talking about the typewriters. (I actually had two on hand at that point) It turns out that he specializes in collecting all sorts of the earliest forms! For about the first 20 years or so there was no standard style and they came in a really wide ranges of types. Many worked in, what we would now consider to be, some strange ways. He has a pretty amazing gallery of his collection at his site. It’s been a great way for me (and Mother, the hunter) to find out how to recognize one of these really early typewriter styles. I can only hope that we’ll come across one but, for the moment, I’m fine with this lovely vintage Underwood that just arrived at the shop.

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