Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Mother's Day cuties!

Opening night of the Chicago show at Curly Tale Fine Arts went very well!  Thanks to everyone who came!  Hopefully I'll have photos to show you soon.  But until then...onto the next fun and exciting thing!  A little Mother's Day trio that has been patiently waiting to make their debut!  These pretty little gals are all currently listed in my Etsy shop.  If you love your mom, you know what to do!  ;-)

Monday, April 22, 2013

Gallery Show in Chicago!!

 Whoo hoo!  What a show this will be!!  Curly Tale Fine Art in Chicago is hosting a duel gallery show of my work along with the fabulous work of Faryn Davis from Fern Works, who creates amazing and ethereal paintings, sculpture and jewelery.  I will be showing a large collection of every day pieces that I am quite proud of.  I've been working quite diligently for more than a month on many wonderful and unusually large new pieces.  Along with every day favorites, such as animals, moon men, animal children, and other popular figures, I created many one of kind pieces that I just love.  I hope you'll come check it out!!

 My favorite thing to make?  Animal riders with unique vintage bases. 

 Whoo whooo...

 Some new animals, girls, and many multi-figure pieces.

 Large ladies that really make a statement.

 And the whole crew from Alice in Wonderland!

These are just some of my favorites that you'll see at the show, which opens this Friday and runs through the end of May.  If you're in the Chicago area, please stop by and take a peek!!  :)

Thursday, April 18, 2013


 Things are really starting to grow around here!!!  In the dining room, all the dry beans I planted are really coming to life.  Chick peas, kidney beans, lima beans, pinto beans... 

 And my favorite and proving to be the most robust so far...black beans!

 I've been doing a lot outside as well.  The weather is really warming up and I'm picking up where I left off last fall with my rock wall garden.  I finished the wall itself last year, but all winter long it's been just floating there by itself...looking just a bit off.  So yesterday I picked up some rocks on the edge of one of my dad's fields and brought them home and started arranging them as a border to the gardens flanking either side of the wall.  One side garden has perennials that I planted last year, while the other side garden is still half filled with crab grass, but will house zinnias, maybe strawberries, and more perrennials. 

 I planted the top of the walls last week with onions and parsley on one side and oregano, poppies, and wildflowers on the other.  More herbs and flowers will be going in as the weather warms up even more.

 I also started my vegetable garden last week...digging trenches and building raised beds.  I mulched the walking paths with oak leaves and they are very comfortable to kneel in while planting or weeding.  The entire garden won't be raised rows like this, but it made sense to do the middle section where I can keep things tidy.  On one end of the garden I'll plant mostly dry beans, and on the other will be potatoes, tomatoes, and peppers.  Other veggies will get tucked in here and there.

 I thought the radishes would come up first...but look who beat them!  The lettuce!  Grow little guys grow!  I want to eat you!  ;)

 I left the spinach patch from last fall where it was and incorporated it into a row.  It's getting bigger, slowly but surely!  I also left the oak leaves that blew in between the plants.  Ready made mulch to keep the weeds down!

 I ordered a bunch of plants and trees from Gurney's that will be arriving soon, but since those trees will basically be tiny sticks, and Gurney's doesn't ship pears to NY for some reason, I decided to go out and buy a pair of larger pear trees at the local nursery and planted them near the vegetable garden.  They are semi-dwarf, so they'll only get about 15 feets high and won't be in danger of shading the veggies out one day.  Plus, I have grafting stock from a friend's orchard for two more varieties that I hope to graft onto these trees soon.  If all goes well on that front, I'll have Red Bartlett, Summercrisp, Bosch, and Seckle.  Who doesn't love variety?

 I kind of started a compost pile last year, but after reading more about composting, I think I need to clean up my act a bit more and do a better job at it.  Pretty soon I'll form this mess into two neat piles.  One to add on to this year, and the other leave and let do it's thing.

 Another project I started on this week is to transform the underside of the front porch into a potting shed.  The first step...get rid of this junk!  We have 4 gas cans.  I have no idea how that happened!

 The second step...dig out the dirt.  A steep slope of loose, sandy dirt was placed under the porch after the foundation was poured and really makes it impossible to use that space for anything.  I've started digging it all out.  I should wait for help, because it's a lot of dirt, but I'm far too impatient.

I filled the back of my truck twice so far.  Who needs the gym!  And there are plenty of areas around the yard that could use the extra fill.

 While I'm going 'round the yard, I wanted to show you my favorite tree.  We lived in the house for a year before I even noticed it...lol.  It has very long, very sharp thorns covering every branch.  But what's more interesting...

 Are the clusters of thorns growing on it's trunk.  They look like sea urchins clinging to the sides!  It looks like something that should be in a remote tropical jungle somewhere.  But it's not.  It's called a honey locust and it's known as the world hardest tree to climb.  lol

I thought I only had one on my property, but low and behold, I was clearing out a little bit of brush from under the big oak tree and I found it's baby!!  It's about three feet tall and has smaller, but still sharp thorns of it's own.  Yay!

 Last but not least...the chickies!!  They are only about 10 days old now, but they are really growing fast!  They have actual feathers now in addition to the fluff and are rather trusting of me at this point.  They are still living in the studio, in a box that they will soon out grow.

Peep peep!!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Look Who's Here!

 Look who has arrived here finally!  Five little chickies!  All of whom are surprisingly good models.  They are Buff Orphington chicks.  I chose this breed partially because they are mild tempered and good mother's, but mainly because they have super fluffy butts!  Call me weird, but I love fluffy chicken rears!  They look like they're wearing old timey pantaloons.  These girls will be reddish colored when they're all grown up.  And in a few more weeks, the Araucana's will arrive....those are the ones that lay colored eggs (pink, blue, green, etc.)

For now the chickie's are living in my studio, which means the kitties are not allowed in...which Sophie is quite disgruntled by.  Oh well...safety first!  Part of me never wants these girls to grow up, while another part of me can't wait to start collecting eggs!  :) 

Peep Peep!!

Thursday, April 4, 2013


I'm playing a bit of hooky from the studio today to play around with some seeds and later this afternoon to do some yard work outside (it's the first warm day in a while!).  My mom and I did the majority of the seeds last week (tomatoes, herbs, more peppers, etc.) and they are sitting on her patio window sill, which is much more sunny than mine!

This morning I planted mostly lots of jalapeno peppers, some basil, oregano, and beans.  I used wrapping paper tubes I saved from Christmas and some toilet paper tubes as well to hold the seed starting mix.  I cut up a cereal box for the labels and used an old baking sheet and cake pan to hold them. 

I'm experimenting this year with dry beans.  I bought these from the grocery store because they don't really sell many types of dry beans at the nurseries around here (mostly black eyed peas and cow peas...whatever cow peas are).  I got a bag of black beans, pinto beans, dark red kidney beans and a mixed bag.  Dry beans need a long growing season (according to the internet), which we don't really have here...but I know it can still be done just under the wire if they're planted early enough.  You usually aren't supposed to start beans indoors, but I'm just experimenting to see if they even sprout and will plant more outdoors as well if they do. 

I know what some of these beans are, but not all.  Maybe someone out there knows what the mysterious ones are?  Starting from the top left and working right and then clockwise, there are:  black eyed peas, butterbeans???, chick peas, some kind of white bean...maybe navy??, some kind of red and tan marbled bean, lima, pinto, a weird white bean with orange spot, really curious as to what this is, black beans, dark red kidney, and light red kidney.  I eat a TON of beans...so I hope these work out!

I also am planting some cotton seeds just for fun.  We definitely don't have a long enough growing season here in our zone 5a upstate New York, but I can grow it just for fun and see what happens.  My cousin who lives in Texas collected spilled cotton from a field and sent it to me...thanks McKenzie!!

Grow seeds grow!!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

My New Mantel!

 A few months ago, before I started working on the bathrooms, I built us a new mantel for the reading room.  The majority of it went up in one day and I got the glass shelves cut for it less than a week later, but it sat after that for a while...still not quite complete.  I used mostly old molding Ben and I got from an Architectural Salvage place, including the brackets that "hold up" the actual mantel board (they used to be spindles for a porch).  The old wood had such interesting patina and we couldn't decide whether to paint it all, paint just some of it, or not paint it at all.  

Here's what it looked like with no paint and before I added the scroll-y brackets and upsidedown finials for the spindles.  Looking at it now, I'm glad we painted it...it looks so unfinished.  I did leave the chipping white wood as is though and we need to add some color or pattern onto the brown board behind the shelves. 

BUT...Here's what it looked before when we bought the house....
I'm not sure what the original mantel (the one that was built with the house) for this fireplace looked like, but it wasn't this.  The other two fireplaces have their original stone mantels.  This fireplace also has a useful, but awkward looking pair of cubbies above it.  I believe they added these during the renovation right before we bought the house, but I'm not sure.  It would be great if there was another skinny cubby on the other side to make it symmetrical, but the wall isn't deep enough on that side.  Ben and I brainstormed for over a year trying to figure out how to fix that visual conundrum.  We were planning on replacing the mantel itself with an old found mantel of normal proportions...until it finally dawned on me.  A floor to ceiling mantel! 

 And as for that skinny lone side cubby?  I made a hidden door so I could store my prized feather tree and other doodads while not on display.  It's the perfect size!

 I kept these two elements in their original state.  They may get painted one day when we get tired of the contrast, we'll see.

The decorative bracket is from home depot...boring I know, but I didn't want to wait until I found the perfect piece while treasure hunting.  The majority of the rest of the wood was very carefully chosen from salvage or found in our basement.  With my measuring tape in hand and my plans all drawn out and my thinking cap on, it took about three hours to pick out all the materials and cost about $50. 

The glass was definitely much pricier, but I needed it thick so it would support lots of doodads...mostly Ben's camera collection.  The whole mantel and shelving wound up still costing less than the smaller beat up mantels at the salvage place that were all the wrong size anyway...and much much much cheaper than a new one.  Score!

 I thought this Anthropologie wallpaper would fit nicely as a backdrop to the shelves, but Ben nixed it.  I guess it's plain particle board (also salvaged) for now!

 And this cute little mantel accessory was picked out of the dumpster at the auction house last weekend.  I think it's a draft horse, but who knows. 

I hope you like my new and still evolving mantel as much as we do!  :)