Archive for July, 2012

I tend to stick to vintage components for jewellery making,

golden “Snitch” pendant necklaces

(and I have been a bit of a snob about the materials) but I will occasionally pick up some new materials. Mostly they tend to be the practicalities of functional findings, things like clasps and jump-rings. The danger in getting them is looking at the supply catalogues. There are always things in them to tempt me. Planning in advance isn’t the way I tend to work so I’ll generally just pick up a few things that appeal to me and then, hopefully, work them into something down the road. This time, I couldn’t resist some tiny brass wings. I also didn’t have to think very long about what to do with them. I pulled an assortment of gold and yellow beads, of a fairly delicate scale, and then gave each one a pair of the wings to make a flock of little golden Snitches. Each one is on a gold or brass-toned chain and they have a good mix of lengths. (and looks, since the stash is nothing if not varied) The whole flock will come with me to Fanexpo, but a few are in the shop, for now.

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We, like a big chunk of central Canada and the U.S., are in a drought.

blackberry, July 2012

There’s been no rain for most of the past two months. We’re on a well and have been trying to resist using it for watering as long as possible. I’ve been doing survival level watering only on the tomatoes, from the rain barrels. The raspberry hedge is about half the height I’d expect it be at this point in the season. It does make me glad that we didn’t do much in terms of new plantings this year, so most things are well enough established that they seem to be holding up well but I’m not sure how they’ll do if the lack of rain continues. We got lucky on Tuesday night, and a dramatic thunderstorm passed through. It refilled the barrels as well as giving us a good soaking. My blackberries had set a fair bit of fruit and they’ve been pinking up nicely but didn’t start to go black until the rain fell. So far, the few I’ve picked have been very tasty. At least the tomatoes seem to be concentrating their energy on fruit set rather than vegetative growth since they are, as a group, pretty small, but have good numbers of little tomatoes, just waiting for some more regular rain to start plumping out en mass. We can only hope that some more rain clouds come our way.

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I had stepped out of the store, a few minutes ago, to help Mother pick today’s crop

young robin, July 2012

of tomatoes, beans and basil, for our lunch salad. When I went back in, I realized that there was a slightly confused and panicked visitor stuck by the window. With the severe drought, the birds are having a hard time of it and one of the few places there are still edible fruit is on the red currant bush, to the west of the store entrance. (it’s shaded by the shed so it’s currants are still plump, unlike the one in the east lawn, where they have all shrivelled up) Throughout the day, I’ll hear the robins coming and going from it, and this is the first time one’s come in, but I guess this young one went the wrong way and ended up in the store. I was able to shift a few things and then take it back outside. It seems to have been okay for it’s little misadventure, and flew off to the fence with no problems, even if there were a pair of small feathers left behind. Hopefully, this little one will develop a bit better sense of direction as it gets older!

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Sometimes I have to think on some of the supply finds for a while,  to figure out what I want to do with them. A little over a year ago, Mother brought me a bag of vintage architects models. It included a few buildings and things like streetlights, but the bulk of the batch were assorted cars. The styles made it clear that they were from the late sixties or early seventies. In fact, one of the car types is a “fastback” which was the car we had when I was very young. (We had a Fairlane) They are so tiny that I had always had the idea of using them in some sort of jewellery design from the start but it took me a while to figure how I wanted to do it. Eventually I realized I could make a little road for them to be travelling on. I used reclaimed wooden tiles, painted the road on them and then mounted them on a ring base. (I spent way too much time making some miniature rubber stamps for super authenticity on the road markings, but they didn’t work as well as hand-painting them) I’m calling them “Open Road” and people can choose what car/colour combos they want.

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This is another of the altered stuffed animals.

Dino dog, altered stuffed animal

It’s the largest so far. I hadn’t intended to do any this big (not that he’s really all that big, only a little over 1′ long) but the main body is a FAO Schwarz German Shepard that I just couldn’t resist, when I came across him. It turned out to be an exact size match to a Gund frog that I had on hand. The finished piece has much more of a dino look to it than that of a frog-dog. Part of that are the back ridges as well as the side frills. Both were added by me and were done out of some black felt. (how I managed to end up with several colours of good felt in the stash is a bit beyond me but it did come in handy) the tail was also built from the frog plush and completes the whole feel of the beastie.

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When we were planning out the plants for the side of the house driveway I knew that

white roses, July 2012

I wanted to put a rose at the end. They are such a classic, what with the pretty scents, flowers and lovely greenery. The thing is that most roses are so high maintenance that I just can’t be bothered. What I do love however are the old fashioned apothecary roses. They are pretty, even if the blooms are less ornate and shorter lasting than the the long stemmed varieties. They more than make up for it with their hardiness, constant flowering and (very important to me) production of tasty hips. I also like that their thorny shrubiness makes them a great filler/blocker for an edge space. What we choose was one with white flowers, even if it was a bit a trial to track it down. (the pink ones are so much easier to find but I wasn’t prepared to settle since they are so very common) It has a single layer of petals but they are the lovely, pure white I wanted. It was planted last year and the mild winter meant that there was no die-back at all so it’s had a really strong start. (aside from some frost kill on it’s first batch of leaves, but that seems to have done no harm)

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In the latest batch of more traditional masks I also did a pair of peacock ones.  I first tried trimming a mask with peacock feathers, within a year or so of starting to make the masks. At the time I wasn’t too happy with how they looked against the gold leaf and the pieces always felt a bit off to me so I didn’t come back to trying with them for years. Eventually, I also starting playing with gilding some masks with the variegated metal leafs. The busyness of the variation, on top of the lace detailing seemed a bit much and it wasn’t until I thought to pair those masks with the peacock feathers that it all came together. The addition of mixed colours of rhinestones also enhances the whole feel. I guess it’s a case of the fact that, on some level, I do think they border on being a little, well, gaudy. Not that it’s a bad thing, but it’s not typically my first choice of design direction. Considering how positively they’ve been received it goes to show that it’s a style that appeals to a good chunk of people. I guess that is true that occasionally, when something is a bit much, you have to add even more, to make it right.

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When the house was hooked into the new town sewer system,

blueberries, July 2012

we ended up with a large trench that ran along the side of the houses driveway, all the way to the sidewalk. The ground was rough and dug up so it made sense to just go ahead and plant there instead of trying to sod over it. (the clay soil around here is so heavy it was hard to leave a partially worked area alone) Since it was such a large space and with fairly poor ground we decided to stick with shrubs. Of course, I wanted ones that would produce so we went for an assortment of blueberries and then capped it at the end with a rose. Blueberries work best when you have several different varietals mixed together, to allow for easy cross pollination. So far, I think we have something like 7 or 8 planted. (it helps that one of the big bushes we found is one of those 3-in-one where a couple of additional varieties are grafted onto an existing plant) So far, it seems like we do have enough types to keep them happy since there was very good fruit set. They went in last year and also had lots of berries, but we didn’t get any since the birds would eat all of them long before they were ripe enough to pick. Considering that my three cherries as well as all the saskatoon berries have already been taken I decided to take drastic action and netted the blueberries. So far it’s keeping the thieving birds at bay and we’ve actually gotten to taste a few. The problem is that at least one of the local robins has figured out how to duck under the nets and help himself to a snack. We’re going to have to reconfigure the nets to keep the clever little beggar out. They’ve been delicious but clearly, the netting will be a necessity, going forward, if we ever want to get any for ourselves. (and if I have more than a handful of cherries set next year, that tree is getting wrapped too!)

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Some of the things that mother finds, take a bit of research for me to even be sure what

Balinese shadow puppets

they are. These were one of those times I had to do some checking to be sure that they were really what I had first thought. It turns out that they are actual Balinese shadow puppets. Dating them is harder, but it seems most likely that they are somewhere in the 30-50 year age range since they are finely done, and leather with horn and wood fittings but are painted, not gilded. The larger one is god/demon figure while the smaller is one of a trio of brothers, who tend to be comic relief characters. Considering that it’s really only the arms are articulated, I was surprised at how easy it move them in ways that give a sense of life. I could try and frame them, but it seemed a waste, since they couldn’t be played with then.

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I will often go off on these odd little art tangents all on my own, but sometimes

“before” version of the painting

it can be fun to be pushed in a specific direction. I’ve stayed somewhat active in an arts community and every so often there will be some silly project or trade challenges. The most recent one was inspired by Adding Monsters to Thrift Store Paintings. The idea is to add in some interest to some less than exciting “art”. Considering the number of vintage pieces we’ve picked up for their frames, we’ve developed a bit of a collection of less-than-professional and/or dated artworks, now without frames. While they are generally not worth making up new frames for them,

completed altered painting

I find it hard to actually throw them away, so they just sort of…accumulate. It was fun to go through them to select one for modification. This painting was an easy choice since, while the painter had some skill, it was oddly enough coloured, and was also an unexciting enough subject that it wasn’t too likely to find a home as was. It was dated from the seventies so it didn’t have any historical value either. Painting isn’t one of my strengths, so I decided against getting too ambitious about what I planned to do and limited myself to just tentacles that would hint at a Lovecraftian horror, lurking below the waves. My intent was to try and make the finished piece look like it always been that way, so I felt it was pretty successful, if definitely a little creepy.

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