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Archive for May, 2012

One part of the supply stash that I haven’t been using much is the mother-of-pearl buttons.

framed vintage button collage, dark

I love finding them and the collection has been slowly growing for several years but aside from a few jewellery pieces, they’ve mostly been waiting for me to figure out how to use them. Over the winter, my mother scored a beautiful pair of small antique oval frames and they inspired me to actually start using the buttons. I sorted through the stash to pull out an assortment of the most interesting and beautiful ones in the more standard pale tones as well as the lovely grey/brown/pink range that I had a surprising number of. (most seem to have been from a specific type of shell) Then I cut some pieces of vintage linen and mounted them to matboard. (the cloth had become badly discoloured along it’s fold lines, but the pieces I needed were small enough that I could cut around the marks)

framed vintage mother of pearl buttons

Then it was a matter of arranging the buttons in a pleasing pattern. I tended to start with a few of the largest buttons and then worked my way out until each group was a rough oval that matched the shapes of the frames. I also wanted to make sure that each group was a similar weight and scale. Once they both were laid out, I then carefully attached each button and then put them together. I was also lucky enough to have some vintage glass on hand, so it matches the period of the frames. (likely somewhere in the 1870’s) The finished pieces will work well as a pair but it’s just as likely that they will find homes separately.

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Along with the group of rhinestones brooch sets there was another type of pin/earring

vintage German wire-wrapped brooch set

set that we had also found. They are a combination of wire-wrapping and thread work. We have a small group of flower brooches, each with matching earrings. The edges of each petal were shaped in wire that was then wrapped in a spiral with another piece of wire. The spiralled wire creates even spaces that are then used to allow coloured thread to be strung over and fill each petal and leaf and still be held in place. I’m not sure if the wire is actually sterling of it’s just plated. Either is possible since the value of silver has only spiked in the last couple of years. There appears to be some sort of sealant that the pieces were dipped in or sprayed with. It protects and stabilizes the thread and keeps the silver from tarnishing, but it’s chipped/worn in a few spots on the wire, so you can see a little bit of discolouration. One of the nice aspects of this method is that the pins are very light, for their size. They weigh easily half as much as a similar sized standard costume jewellery pin. I’m not sure exactly when they were done, but the colours tend to make me think they are probably from the early 80’s. As for marks, the ones I could find was a “Germany” on the earring clips. The style is distinct enough that they won’t appeal to everyone, but I’m sure someone will love them and appreciate how well their first owner cared for them.

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The garden space is still growing. Last year we put in a new flower bed around,

bachelor buttons, May 2012

and under, the store’s sign. It was both to create a bit more colour and interest over there as well as to reduce the amounts of grass Dad has to mow (especially in that area, since it was very fiddly to try and move the mower around the various obstacles). Part of it was done fairly early in the season and then the rest was filled in a bit later with some plants from a local charity group. They have a sale of donated plants every spring and it’s a great way to hardy, heirloom and local perennials. The sale only runs for a few weeks and then they clear out the left-overs which are often more-than-a-little sad looking by then. Considering the size of the bed, we picked up a number of plants and figured it was worth the gamble. They got put in just before we had the drought last summer. They were watered, but probably not as often as they would have liked. They all survived, even if they didn’t look all that spectacular. I guess they were putting all their energy away for this year because we’ve had impressive growth so far. They came up strong and are already larger than I had expected them to get until next year (so some splitting is going to have happen next spring). The most spectacular has been the Bachelor Buttons. It’s become a huge patch and is covered in flowers!

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I knew it was a bad idea for me to get started on modding the stuffed animals.

conjoined rat twins altered stuffed animal

It’s like an addiction, I can’t stop! At least I’ve managed to stick to ones that aren’t very large, (mostly in the Beanie Baby sized range) so at least I can tell myself that they aren’t taking up too much room. The other problem is that I fall in love with each one and am tempted to keep them all for myself, but that won’t end anywhere good. So, I’ve put a few out in the shop. I’m not sure if people will think they’re cute or if they’ll be horrified, but I’ll just have to wait and see. Some are fairly simple, like this little two-headed rat. I never expected to end up with a matched pair of stuffies, but I had already used the body of one rat for another piece when I came across a second one. From there, it was a bit of an automatic decision to go for the conjoined twins. (although, making sure that both heads were centred and sitting properly was a bit more fiddly to do than I had hoped,

oxen-giraffe altered stuffed animal

but it worked out) This one is a mishmash of a bull and a giraffe with a pair of little wings. I actually think this version shows off the cute little oxen’s face quite a bit better than the original. He has a very hopeful expression, hopeful that someone will take him home!

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The mask inspirations come from all over the place.  It’s not as if there is ever a shortage of ideas popping up, but I do try and select ones that I think might appeal to at least a couple of potential groups. I’d had the concept of actually trying something along the lines of a “superhero” mask for some time but didn’t want to do any to the common ones since there are far to many of then around already. I’d also wanted to try a larger sample of a new finish. We’d come across some fine glass beads in both clear and red. I’d used the clear ones embedded into paint for my Air mask but wanted to see how the red worked. So, for the space around the eye-holes, I used a purple base paint and then covered it with the fine beads. The result is a fine, shimmery finish that flashes and glows between a range of reds and purples, pretty much exactly like the copper/brown material I’ve been using for the Copper Birds. Overall, it has a great Superheroesque shape to the mask while also having some bright, colourful, but not too garish, POP to the finish. (even if did hedge my bets and toned the overall feel by edging it a more subdued, antiqued silver gilt) If it’s still around, it’ll come with me to Toronto Fan Expo in august, since I’ll be a vendor there. I’m sure it can find someone there who it will suit.

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Some pieces of art just have a presence to them that tells you they are the work  of a major artist. I may not always know much about that particular person, but you can tell when the work rises above the average. This was one of those pieces. It was in a terrible frame. The glass was dirty and the mat acidic but it still shone. The style of the art very much had the feel of the Group of Seven but the name wasn’t one of them and it appeared to have been a bit later. After doing some research I discovered that the artist, Isabel Cleland, is fairly well known, there is even a book of her works published. This particular print is a lithograph and has two different colours of ink. (from what I could find, she did quite a number of mono-colour prints so this is a bit more rare) While there was some burn damaged, from the acidic mat, it didn’t make much sense for us to have it treated by a conservator. The mat had been far enough out from the image that I could bring the new mat in to cover it. (the new archival mats and backing will buffer any of that leeches back out, so they should keep it stable) Considering that it’s new owner might choose to invest in having it cleaned up, it’s mounted using a set of archival corner mounts, so it can be removed, treated and then replaced with minimal fuss. The frame is the end of the 100-year reclaimed molding I had picked up for stock. I love it’s slightly distressed look and the soft green/grey tones work perfectly with the art.

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I know that they really are a weed, but I do have a weakness for the forget-me-nots.  When we moved in they had completely overrun the currant bed, in the east lawn, as well as the sunny area to the south of the giant spruce nearby. The last couple of years have had us working on cleaning up that bed, and that meant being pretty harsh about yanking them out. It’s been clear how much the daffodils and other bulbs appreciate the lessened competition, as they are flowering much better every year. The thing is, the forget-me-nots really popped up strongly this spring, even with the erratic weather, and I just couldn’t bring myself to pull them all. They are just so sweet and cheery. (and Mother hates to see us remove any sort of flowering plant, even if it is a weed, dandelions being the only exception) So, we decided to leave them for now, to enjoy the flowers and we’ll wait to clean them out until they’re not so decorative. Shallow, I know, but some gardening decisions really are just all about the pretty.

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This is another of the vintage rhinestone brooch sets It’s a bit different in both the shape of the main stones. Their diamond shape isn’t something I’ve seen very often. It’s also a bit odd that they aren’t foiled but have the open-back settings that you usually only see on real stones. The other neat thing about this set is that there is a second pair of earrings for it. I’m not sure that both were original to it or if there former owner really wanted a second option. I suspect they may have been made, just to go with the brooch since the bottom bead, on the dangle, echoes the shape of the diamond stones, but is not an exact match. They also tie to the pin by having the lovely “Aurora Borealis ” finish in a coordinating green range. The dangle clips do give a different feel to the set so I can see why she might have had them made. I could have split them up, but I hate to break up sets, so they’ll stay as a group.

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One of the problems with a store as tiny as this one is that it can be hard to fit in all the great finds.  We’ve always got things being put aside for later and sometimes I’ll lose track of where something got stuffed. A while ago, we got a wonderful group of vintage rhinestone brooches. They were not only in great shape but they also still had their earrings. I was excited and planned to list them on-line as well as offer them in the shop. The thing is that they got put aside since I always like to include the measurements in any listing. Then we forgot about them. Oops! Anyway, when I stumbled back upon them last week I knew it was time to get them out in the shop and up on-line. They’ve been photographed and listed in the Artfire shop. This one is a pretty pink set. The flowers are painted as well as having the central rhinestones in an eye-popping hot pink!

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lost eggs

This spring has had quite a bit of wild and unpredictable weather.  We’ve also had several bouts of high winds. We also know that we have several types of birds that nest around here and it looks like at least one pair didn’t build well enough for the nest to handle the weather. I’d been out, at the east end of the store and noticed what looked like some eggs on the ground. It turns out they were eggs, and they must have been dumped when the nest fell out of the tree. I didn’t see the nest, but Dad mentioned he had found one and cleaned it up the day before. The colour made it clear they weren’t from any of the pairs of robins, and given their size, it was fairly easy to do some quick research and figure out that they are most likely mourning dove eggs. Last year, we had at least one pair nest in that same tree, and they managed to successfully bring up a chick, but it looks like they, or whoever moved in this year, weren’t as lucky. I’m not sure if they will try again, move on to another spot, or if that’s it for their breeding attempts this year.

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