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Archive for November, 2011

We’ve just had the first snow fall of the season and, for the rest of the winter, we will be open “by appointment” during the week. I’ll typically be in the shop, since there are always things to work on, but it’ll be a good idea to phone or drop me an email, if you’re planning on stopping in, so I can be sure to be around. Saturdays and Sundays, we’ll be open our usual times.

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Over the summer, as part of a Regresty challenge,

large Iron Angel

I made a few little ornaments out a rusty nails and some feathers. During the garden prep that revealed the nails, we also pulled out a chunk of cast iron that appears to be a leg from an iron stove. The shape was perfect for it to be made into a larger version of the “Iron Angel”. Considering the larger scale, I went with using full feathers, only slightly trimmed. (and I was lucky to have just enough feathers left from the group of free-range goose to complete this project) Each one was wired separately and then five were combined, on each side, to make a pair of “wings”. To keep the wings stable, as well as to give a solid piece which to attach to the leg, the whole group was woven/braided together before being glued to the back. The halo was made from an Edwardian brass curtain loop that was also wired. To make it stable for table-top display, (and also so it will not mark anything it’s put on) the bottom was covered in a soft, salvaged black leather. The leather also covers the small support wedge on the back. I haven’t quite decided what to do with it, but it was a fun concept to explore!

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The other fun part of the watch/clock haul was a bunch of “new” watch cases.

Moon quote collage in antique watch case

I’ve only had a couple of the antique pocket watch cases come my way in the past and all had been used in making little mini collages. (and all of those had found homes) As soon as I got my hands on some new ones, I jumped right into making a new group. The beautiful moon illustration was found in one of the book remnants I use as supplies. The image was the perfect size to fill the back of one of the smaller, thinner cases. I painted it with watercolours and then went with a Mark Twain quote: “Everybody is a moon and has a dark side which he never to shows to anybody.” It is written in black script on some of the translucent faux vellum, so it doesn’t fully break the lines of the drawing. A tiny, rough sun face in silver (to represent our better selves) is the only raised detail. The size is such, and the loop is intact, so that it could be worn as a pendant or simply displayed. All my other case pieces sold before I could even think about listing them on-line, but, since we’re in the off-season here, I may try and get this batch up in the etsy shop.

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While Mother does most of our hunting, there are times where I get to take part.

assorted antique watch faces

Mostly, I tend to focus on the supply end. While she is great at finding finished things, the wide range of bits and pieces that I end up using for my various art projects makes it harder for her to pick those. A couple of weeks ago, there was a local auction where they were selling off the stash from an elderly clock/watch collector who was also a jeweller. (apparently, he ended up with everything when a 100+ year old jewellery store was emptied) Considering the vast amount of watch and clocks bits that were on offer, it was a case where I had to be there in person to choose stuff. It was an exhausting and tense day at the auction but I came home with an amazing stash of things. The most exciting things, at least for me, were a large number of enamelled watch faces. I love using them for jewellery pieces but had almost run out. Now I have enough that I can work a few into some masks and will probably offer some for sale!

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Sweet potatoes!

This spring we had a sweet potato sitting on the counter that

homegrown fingerling yams

grew an impressive set of sprouts. The shoots looked healthy and the rest of it wasn’t all that shrivelled so I cut that end off and then we cooked it. There was some extra room in the centre of one of the tomato beds so I popped the shoot end into the ground, just to see what would happen. It seemed happy enough, over the summer. The plant never got all that big, but it sent out a bunch of trailing vines and didn’t appear to harass it’s tomato neighbours, so we left it alone. The vines had died when we got our first hard frost, but we realised that, if we wanted to dig it up, it had to be soon, since the ground will likely freeze this coming week. What we found when it was excavated was a big bunch of small tubers, most being around the size of a medium carrot. The overall volume was close to two of it’s parent root. (before cutting off the sprout end) Each piece had to be peeled separately, but the skin was very thin and a regular vegetable peeler worked fine. The flavour was mild, but good. Not a bad turn-out for a random planting gamble! (I’m trying to decide if I should pop a few of the smallest pieces back into the ground and see if they grow into single, large tubers next year)

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penguin jug?

There are some pieces that appear to me to have a very specific look

vintage black pottery jug

that may or may not have been the intention of the original makers. (it’s marked as “Royal Haeger, USA RG-42”, but I didn’t find much information about the company) This jug is one. All I can see when I look at it is an Emperor penguin. I’m not sure if it’s the colour or the shape of the spout and body that so perfectly evoke “penguin” for me but something does. It’s a piece of mid-century American pottery, so I tend to doubt that the penguiness was planned but who knows, maybe it was.

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Raspberry smoothie

We’ve just cut down the raspberry canes for this year.

fresh raspberry smoothie

The mild weather meant that we did our last pick this week. The root borer is also still a problem but we’ve been trying to use a range of non-chemical methods of control. So far, they are holding the bugs back a bit. We’ve still had about a 20-30% cane loss, but even that leaves us with a more-than-generous crop this year. The amounts are higher than last year and we got enough that not only has mother been good for her breakfasts but we’ve been able to even make a few rounds of smoothies. We have a high power blender, (I think it technically is a “whole fruit” juicer, in that it will completely pulverize any thing that goes into it) and it lets us make some really tasty drinks. I’m not too specific about getting amounts exact but it doesn’t seem to be all that vital with smoothies. (and you always have to adjust up or down, depending on how many servings you need) This one uses: one very large apple, a cup or two of fresh raspberries, yogurt (I prefer a vanilla flavoured, fat-free one), ice, a small amount of sugar-free ginger ale. Then a long enough run in the blender to make sure both the ice and apple are fully pulverized, pour and serve. You can also convert this to a alcoholic beverage by adding any fruit flavoured booze of your choice. It’s been a great way to use the slightly bitter seasons end berries.

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Last night we went and saw Jesus Christ Superstar.

t-shirts in the festival shop

It’s one of my favourite musicals and was on the top of my “must-see” list for this season. Considering how high my expectations were it was a wonderful experience to have them exceeded. It wasn’t hard to see why this production will be going to Broadway, and I’m sure it will do very well there too. (it’s been playing to sold-out houses all season) The costuming was modern in style and had a great urban vibe. The staging was industrial, but very innovative and I hope that they will be booked in a venue where that aspect of it will be able to be maintained. Josh Young as Judas, was once again a knock-out performer. Lee Siegel, as Simon and Marcus Nance, as Caiaphas also both made striking impressions. (if it had not been a live show, I doubt I would have believed that Nance’s glorious bass was real) The only disappointment was that Brent Carver’s part was filled by his understudy. Not that the performance was lacking, not knowing of the replacement, I wouldn’t have questioned the casting choice. It’s just that I typically like Carver’s work, but have yet to see him in a part where he really had to perform at full power, and was looking forward to seeing/hearing him in “Trial before Pilate”. I’m so glad we were able to get out and see this cast and production, before they head off to Broadway. We all agreed that there is good chance that we’ll end up losing the big chunk of the Stratford talent to the big apple, for at least a few years, but hopefully we’ll get a purchasable recording out it!

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My love of vintage items and finding ways to reclaim/reuse things also extends to clothing.

motorcycle jacket with moon "tattoo" design

Most true vintage doesn’t fit, but I get lucky on occasion. While I was living in Toronto, I found a black leather biker jacket that has turned out to be a really useful piece of clothing. For a long time now it’s been the transition coat that gets me through spring/fall since it’s comfortable for temperatures between 12 to -2ish. Decorating it has been a long term project and I finally got around to an addition I’d been wanting to do for a couple of years. In 2009, the Festival had a production of Midsummer Night’s dream where all the fairies were dressed in eighties punk. Oberon was wearing a very similar jacket and the back was painted with a tribal-tattoo style moon. This past week, I got organized enough to do my own version. After deciding the final size, I drew it out on craft paper and then cut it into a stencil. The pattern was lightly transferred and then I went over it again to make sure the edges were clean and it was evenly filled in. I’m really happy with how it came out, and glad I went ahead and did it, even if I was a bit stressed about risking such a well-loved item!

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