Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Becoming Solvent

I love scrounging for treasure, and often these treasures have been bound up by well intentioned folks with horrible cello tape. Or perhaps, decades old masking tape. What cleans the residue?

I start out simple...a warm water bath with a drop of dish soap.
If that doesn't cut it,
my cleanser of choice...Simple Green

Nice fresh scent, earth friendly and concentrated so that you can dilute it depending on the job. Full strength will tackle oily dirt.

Another product that I love is an orange peel based solvent, CitraSolv that absolutely removes grease pen or glue residue from glass, metal or wood. However, you must be very careful using it on any resin or plastic based product as it will dissolve the finish as well as the offending stain. I've ruined an antique lacquered canister.

Today's little cleaning project was an acrylic desk organizer that had cellophane adhesive that would not budge. I finally resorted to vegetable oil on a soft cloth and a whole lot of elbow grease.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

In 28 Minutes I Will be Restored

I have been dragging around all day.
Too much rich food last night.
A funeral this morning.
Running ragged, I'm not complaining really, shipping, shopping, tipping.

There is a group of people assembling for the Restorative Yoga that I teach on Thursday nights.
In 24 minutes, I will be honing in to what it is I've been unable to feel all day.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Warm Blue

We are here in Minnesota, under a shifting, eight inch blanket of snow.

Richard had moved some furniture around in Caroline's bedroom, aka Studio B. I took advantage of all the ambient, white light to shoot some new items for the shop that will post tomorrow. The warm blue walls are a nice respite to all the holly dazzle color of the season. I remember going three rounds on the paint for her room, continuing to add black and orange pigment.
The first picture of the Frankoma urn was taken in Studio A, our bedroom. The walls are painted buff biege but often take a blue cast in digital photography.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Many thanks.

Unexpectedly, a happy thanksgiving.
This was the first year that my daughter was not able to join us.
But...Ione was in fine form.
Brother Ted helped with the gravy,
Richard read our fortunes
and my son taught me how to play Texas hold'em.

And the leaves fell strategically on the divot in the pumpkin pie.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Always a Bridesmaid...

The 1950's vintage prom dresses that I found in at an estate sale are finally getting their just deserts.
I've taken over my daughter's bedroom for a studio. The natural light can be variable. My little Cannon Power Shot A80 serviceable but not great. And my vintage dress form, just too darn big for most of the pieces I own. We salvaged the old, bead-board closet door this summer and it makes a nice foil to the blue walls. The light is good today, so I gotta get crackin'. I hope to have these frothy delights in the shop tonight!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Forsythia Confused

Minnesota is known for its intemperate climate.
This year, we had a cold summer, a glorious September, and October was non-existent.
This past week we had a respite with record days of 60 degrees plus.

A lot of chores got done.
Four dead elms were taken down and stacked for firewood...
thank you Tony Soboda and Ben Husby.
Two piles of rotting railroad ties were hauled to the recycler...
thank you Ben Hauger.
Richard finished the mulch project and replanted the ornamental grasses. While I was out, doing clean-up, I noticed a spot of bright yellow in the midst of all the grey/brown splendor.

Given a warm hand, there's still a little juice in the old stems.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Supported Backbend

Stop what you are doing.
Forget that the light is receding in your studio and that you might get just one more photo shot for the shop.
Don't suck boxelder bugs or set another mouse trap.
Remember, the light is receding.

Walk one thousand yards up the path to the field.
Find a hay bale.
Big and round is preferable to the the small, squarish variety.

Plant your feet about two feet in front of your hips.
Lean back into the bale.
Begin to walk your feet closer to your hips.
Breathe into the low back and allow your arms and shoulders to open.
Open your eyes to the impenetrable blue above you.
Let the big, round totally support you.

Bring your gaze back to the receding light and say out loud what you are ready to be done with...it may surprise you.

You can find the highest hillock and do a few sun salutations to the receding west light. Drop back to wheel, or an imagined wheel.
When you come back, crack open a Newcastle Brown Ale that your partner, who doesn't drink, stocked in the frig. You may find a half eaten jar of Milwaukee's Best Bread and Butter pickles. Eat some. Blog.
Now, go back to the obvious.

Monday, November 2, 2009

A Place of Her Own

One of the art directors made a bold move and fulfilled a dream. This mid-summer, she signed a lease on a dedicated studio space in a wonderful part of northeast Minneapolis. Last week, the 4 musketeers minus one(we missed you, Judy) christened the space.
Having a successful design career and working from a home office has advantages and disadvantages. It can be smart from an economic and time management angle.
It can be a great challenge juggling work and family responsibility while at home. But, nests empty.
Focus changes.
For a trained artist, it may be time to take the "art director" out of the equation, and explore the artist, the painter, the calligrapher, the photographer, and the eight-year-old girl with her own clubhouse.

Becky's space is in the Casket Arts Building in northeast Minneapolis, and she is with good company.
She has been invited to exhibit work from neighboring artists. But the paint is barely dry on the wall. She and her supportive husband Scott, did a gorgeous job with the north wall. They used a kraft paper brown base, and added a pearlized wash over top that is a perfect foil for the rose couch.

The day we were there, I took pics of the space, the floor with its three kinds of wood,
the view, the hutch/liquor cabinet and the taboret/rolling buffet.
She has graciously invited us to come back often to sketch and kabitz.
There are some great common areas I am dying to use as backdrop for vintage clothing photos.

The easel is set.
And her father's oils have been transferred to jars.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Premiere Edition of new Stylmagazine.com

A couple of months ago I received a inquiry from the publisher of a new print and on-line design magazine for permission to use the cottage chic sconces from my previous post in a feature article.

I've had a first glimpse today and I am blown away with the quality of the design and content.
Celebrate the indie life and life in style...

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Side Tracked

I've listed a pair of wonderful marble and alabaster console lamps Seems like lamps have become a new passion for me, and on the very hot list at etsy.

First image courtesy of countryliving.com

Check out the 1920's style sconces or the gooseneck executive desk lamp currently in the shop. The pair of candlewick milk glass sold immediately.

When I used to go to do my research with a twelve volume set of Funk and Wagnall I remember getting sidetracked...but at least it was in the confines of 300 black and white pages. The internet has compounded that a gazillion times...so please excuse or appreciate the last photo courtesy of urbangraceinteriors blogspot. But isn't it the height of cottage chic?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Etsy Vintage Gift Guide

I guess it is still golf season...Patty Berg set of woods featured in etsy's vintage gift guide.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Green to Gold

It's what's happening as I look all around me.
A glorious September is mellowing to a golden October...much needed rain has preserved the green.
Tonight, our first frost is forecast.
Green to gold to crimson.

After months of trying to snag a spot on the etsy treasury, I unexpectedly found an opening in the wee, small hours of the morning. I panicked when the window popped open and prompted me to type in a title to secure the spot. With nothing in particular in my semi-conscious state, I typed...knowing that I could not edit the title. I perked up after reviewing some favorite items; in the end, only one made the final cut. Several hours later, I am exhausted but pleased with my first attempt. Good luck to the featured sellers.

green to gold treasury

Friday, October 2, 2009

She's a Rainbow

This mid-summer I found a wonderful treasure trove of vintage prom gowns, cocktail dresses and lingerie from the early 1940's through 1970's.

I have held off listing these beauties in the etsy store, looking for the perfect environment and the perfect model.
My vintage dress form may have to do, though I know there is nothing like a fresh, young, animated model to make the garment sing.
Stay tuned.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Survival Kit

Home from roughing it.
Found another dear friend in the painful and confusing state that comes from separation after a long marriage.

Here's my top ten items in the Survival Kit.

1) Valerian root capsules and Sleepy Time Tea by Celestial Seasonings
Sleep deprivation is the worst.

2) Lavender bath salts and body lotion

3) Square breathing
Place your hands on your abdomen, inhale for the count of four and allow your belly to rise up to meet your hands. Pause for the count of four. Exhale for the count of four and allow your belly to soften. Pause for four.

4) No Enemies Within, by Dawna Markova PHD One of the few books on self-excavation that I held on to after seven years of recovery.

5) the word YES
Yes to good faith offers from friends and family for legal, financial and emotional help. There will be time later to say "yes" for requests to increase your workload, volunteer, babysit, etc...remember this is survival mode.

6) the word NO
No to both the well-intentioned and ill probings of friends and family for "the story".

7) dark eyeglasses

8) a journal

9) a bicycle ride in unfamiliar territory

10) a small, white dog to act as respirator, blotter, confidant

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

It's not a Clam Bake

Somethin' good is simmering over the campfire.

While on vacation at the Presque Island campground, inside Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, I found a woman inspecting one of the many fallen trees. "Mushrooming?" She nodded yes, but didn't offer more. Later, I found a little more gumption, which isn't all that hard for me to find, and approached her campsite. She produced a hard fungus as big around as my two fists. "Horse-hoof mushrooms...to brew for a tea. My husband has gout and drinks it three times a day. My sisters in Korea can't wait for me to send it. My name is Song."

She told me how to look for the smooth white underbelly, avoiding older, wormier specimens. A fallen behemoth birch right next to our campsite was loaded. (to get an idea of the size of these huge trees, see our two room tent to the right of the fallen birch) Now I've picked a few wild morels but I have a healthy respect for fungi...so I consulted her again.

The fungus are very hard and woody with no stem. You kind of have to press downward to release them and you still end of with a lot of bark attached. The larger ones are broken into smaller pieces and then brewed for about 45 minutes in a pot of water, until the mushrooms impart a golden brown color to the tea. We let it cool, and ran it through a sieve. Did I tell you it is BITTER! That's an understatement, and I couldn't choke it down until it had been mixed with some cranberry juice.

I got little over a half gallon of tea. When Song returned to my camp, offering homegrown tomatoes, she said that the extra mushroom could be blanched and then frozen for future use, reusing to make the tea up to 3 times before discarding. She also offered a smaller vermilion gem, the Reishi mushroom, that grows on pine trees.

Back in civilization, I researched the Tinder Polypore, as it is commonly known.

More about the campground:
400 year old hemlock and deciduous forest.
Great rustic camping.
A "Polish" bath in Lake Superior. Richard heard later that the same weekend folks were surfing Duluth shoreline.
Refraining from sleeping in my cooking clothes yielded no black bears in camp.
We camped 5 nights, hiked, biked, ate like kings and returned home rested and restored...let the lovin' begin.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Before I Go...Sunflowers

from my good friend, Deanna.


I have far too many email accounts. All told, over a dozen.
I am supposed to be getting ready for a long awaited week's camping trip to the Porkies in Upper Michigan. I should be stripping the vegetable garden and stripping the bed.

Instead, I spent over two hours with online support, trying to configure an auto reply for my email.
The problem: four accounts with comcast with variations on the same theme. Then there's the gmail and aol accounts.

Ah, vacation mode...
I project myself into tomorrow evening, dozing around the campfire, bear repellent jangling at my side. The only book packed is the bhagavad gita. No cell service, no internet; unplugged for an entire week. It's a little scary but I am up for the challenge.

This is an automated reply
I will be out of the office until September 18th
when I will respond to your email.

thanks, Barb

Friday, September 4, 2009

Prop Resource

In a former life, I was well paid and in demand as an art director.
The economic turn-down and the advance of graphic technology has greatly affected my business. It has taken me many months of work, research, experimentation, and teeth gnashing to find the best of my former job in my new job as a virtual shopkeeper. And I am just at the beginning of the learning curve.

With vintage items, discovering a diamond in the rough is part of the fun. Presenting it in an environment that is appealing to a potential buyer, demands all the skills I have honed in regard to propping, lighting and sequencing. I am a photographer hobbyist, but have been privileged to work with some of the best. Product accuracy is essential to building good faith with buyers. And people respond to creative descriptions. You can call a vintage pink nightie a vintage pink nightie...or you can call it a Baby Doll Pink Cotton Candy Sticky Sweet Vintage Peignoir Set. I have many improvements to make in my clothing photos. There is nothing like a live, animated and fresh young model to make a 50-year old frock swing.

Last month, I decided to rekindle some of my contacts, with offerings from my etsy shop, in a format that made sense to prop stylists and designers. I have made one potential sale and have gotten alot of positive feedback. My aim is to send out new offerings every two weeks.

here are the images:

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Pink Slipped...a Slippery Slope

I have been teaching yoga at a corporate location for the last six months. The number of participants had been steadily increasing up until June when there were weighty layoffs. At the beginning of August, I was informed in a rather impersonal email that my services were no longer needed. Apparently, the fitness provider that had hired me as a subcontractor, had lost the account. I was confident that my reputation had preceded me with good grace to the new provider. It had, however I was told that my pay rate was substantially higher than usual...

"Calling Suze Orman, Suze Orman"...from a TV program in a hotel room in Raleigh NC, Suze's #4 Precept stuck in my head..."Ladies, you are not on sale!"

Months ago I held firm with my rate...then I renegotiated to a lower rate. This time I held firm and I lost the gig. I taught my last class today, brought in fresh garden veggies for the participants, and skipped out with a smile on my face. I am confident that the income will be recouped. I've added another class Thursday nights, and my body is grateful that it can recoup. I will devote that 2 hours per week to my prop resource promotion or the etsy shop. Or more frequent blogs.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Your Biggest Fan

My sweet little Handybreeze mid-century electric fan was featured on etsy's front page...
Keep Cool!

Monday, August 17, 2009