Thursday, May 31, 2007

I got an e-mail yesterday that the local quilt shop was closing it's doors. It's a small shop in a small town and I knew that the owners, who are friends, had been struggling to make it support itself. So, I'm not completely surprised, but I'm still sad for them. And for me. It was
nice to have a quilt store so close by (within walking distance if you've got a good pair of tennis shoes) for emergency quilting supplies (yes, there IS such a thing as an emergency quilting purchase!) or just when I wanted to drop by to chat and fondle some new fabric.

I stopped by the shop today to lend some moral support and discovered that everything in the shop was 40% to 50% off, so I ended up lending quite a bit of financial support as well.

I bought three Australian quilt magazines and a book on scrapbook quilting.

Five skeins of wool for knitting scarves, a purse... who knows. Maybe some felting. It was hard to select colors. I had so many colors in my arms I started to drop skeins all over the place. My friends thought I was very amusing. I finally chose to put back the mustard gold, pine green, and odd pinkish brick color yarn back.

Fabric was one yard cuts only. The large piece on the left is a green fairy frost, the middle is two yards of a bee pattern batik (I love bee images since I read The Secret Life of Bees this spring), and another yard of orange batik on the right. I almost didn't notice the lovely FQ six packs on the top of the photo. Same thing as the yarn, I started pulling out packages until my arms were full and then slowly but surely I put packages back in the bin until I was pared down to the "have to have's".

While I was there shopping and visiting, a woman came into the shop saying she was passing through town and was happy to hear that Susanville had a quilt shop.

My friend replied "Not for very long it doesn't."

The customer hestitated at the door and then asked "Well, are you still open for the next half hour?" We all laughed.

The customer was delighted to hear that everything was on sale and started piling up serious stacks of bolts. While she was shopping, my friends the owners and I kept gabbing and we started discussing this local business and that local business which has recently closed down.

The customer paused and asked "Did we arrive just before the entire town disappeared?"

No. We've had a few new shops opening up recently as well, but the town has definitely been shifting in the types of businesses it supports in the last year. It will be interesting to see what changes the rest of the year brings.
I didn't get this fabric at the quilt shop, I got it at Walmart a few weeks ago. But since I'm showing you new fabrics, I thought I'd throw this in as well. It's got these great multi-colored nubby lines in a rough tie-dyed cotton. I bought small amounts of the top three and several yards of the brown at the bottom to possibly use as a curtain or drape.

I had a book to return to the library and found they'd restocked (and raised the prices) of the Book Sale shelves. I still only paid a dollar a book so I can't really complain. I found these four art and design books plus a much larger stack of novels and nonfiction that I posted about over at Beach Treasure.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

I am now totally enamored of old walls. Well, I've always been enamored of old walls, but now I seem to notice them everywhere I go. I was uptown the other day and realized there was all sorts of intriguing architecture that I had only noticed in passing. So today I went back, parked, and wandered around, up the alleys and back down the main street, really seeing things up close and intentional-like.

This looks like it could be in the side of a castle. Nope, just down the alley between an old hotel and a car dealership.

A couple of winters ago we had a big fire uptown. Snow everywhere and yet the entire building went up in flames. There had been an antique business in the building. They'd closed down earlier in the year, moved everything out, but decided to bring some of the merchandise back to take advantage of holiday sales. Sadly it was all still there when it burned. They had the most awe inspiring breakfront and dining room table in dark oak, carved in nature symbols. They had a beautiful green upholstered victorian chair and settee. I couldn't afford any of it but I went in to visit it often. All gone. The shop had old satiny smooth built in cabinets and walls in hard woods and a real tin tile ceiling. Also gone. I wonder if anyone tried to salvage any of the old building bits and pieces? The photo above shows what was exposed on one of the neighboring buildings when the rubble was cleared away. The wall on the other side had just been refinished. I wish I'd managed to take a photo of it before it was recovered in new stucco.

This wall is also on the side of an exposed building from a fire that happened sometime over twelve years ago. I don't know how long before that, I only know it's been a vacant lot as long as we've lived here. There are bushes and trees establishing ground in the space. I wonder why it was painted two colors at one time?

Here's the edge of the same wall. I like the strip of bright blue sky and green leaves, the new bright colors contrasting with the faded colors of history. If you want to get a really good look at the mutable colors and textures in these photos, remember you can click to open them up.

I went out taking photos instead of working on my own walls today. I'm at a NOT FUN stage where it's all about unloading shelves, wandering back and forth from the house to the storage and garage measuring furniture again and again, archeological sites discovered when shelves are moved for the first time in over a decade (okay, this part is kinda fun), scrubbing floors and walls (back to NOT fun again). Wandering around snapping pictures - easier. Although looking at all the textures and colors of the old walls inspires me to get back to creating my own new old walls.

I've got a few more photos but they need to be edited a bit, so I'll save them for another time. In the meantime, if you want to look at even more old walls, I've added a flicker photo box in the sidebar with an "old wall" search.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The brick corner painting is finished. I promised step-by-step photos. This area has low natural light and it's hard to photograph. Without a flash it's dark and you can't see anything even in the middle of the day. With a flash everything appeaers washed out. I did the best I could.

Here's a photo of just the base coat. It's actually not this bright. Imagine it a bit darker and more gold, less yellow.

Next comes a medium gray brown . I mixed it with a glaze, paintbrushed it on and then wet ragged it until it blended and faded into the base coat.

Then I added a second color, a medium terra cotta color in glaze, treated the same way. If you double click on the photo, you can see a bit more detail.

It's nice in person. After I was finished, hubby admitted that he really had no clue what I was up to originally. He came home to the base coat a few days earlier and thought that was the finished result and wondered what all the hullabaloo was about - it just looked like a wall painted yellow. Then he came home to find the topcoats applied and was suitably impressed.

After all that work, it's mostly going to be covered up with shelving. (which is why I'm not particularly worried about that one streak in the bottom corner that's a bit unblended - this was my practice area)

Nothing else to show you for a bit. I've been working on unloading and moving shelves around since then. Even though logic tells us it would be easier to do the whole project in one full sweep (you only have to prepare and clean up once), it's not practical for me to tear the house apart that much, so I'm planning on doing one or two walls at a time. I'll be sure to post photos as I finish each section. I'm currently dismantling the area in the dining room, which means making a decision on another paint color. ARGH!

On a different creative level, I made a couple of necklaces today. Oh, okay. Truth. I selected the beads and my friend Shirley who owns the bead shop actually put the necklaces together while I stood around chatting with her. I gathered up all the materials and she just started putting them together for me. I told her "I was going to at least pretend I was planning on making these myself."

She responded "Don't bother. You're just spoiled." She does. She spoils me. Lucky me.

Here's the first one. It's just a pretty moss agate on a simple cord. I wanted it to be completely basic.

Here's another stone, I think it was called a serpentine or something like that. It was a blend of greens, blues, blacks and grays. The little tear drop on the bottom is a green and black glass bead. Pretty, huh!

I had a very nice gifty day. A goodie box from my mom arrived in the mail today. In it was a bunch of miscellaneous fabrics and old clothes to use the fabric from, and some old doilies and ribbons for craft work. Plus these handmade butterfly magnets. They're made from fussy cut fabric butterflies embellished with plastic wire antennae and glitter. They're lightly padded with a felt back and held together with both glue and a blanket stitch. A small magnet is simply glued in the middle. One of them wouldn't stick. I realized they'd glued the magnet on backwards so I just pulled it off and reglued it. They certainly make the gas heater look a bit less blah in the off season.

I took some pet photos the other day. Check out the adorable fuzzy faces over at Beach Treasure.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

I got my base coat on the first section of wall. I'd post a photo of it but it's, uhm....


I took a couple of photos but the color just doesn't show. I'll work on applying the top colors and wait until I can show you a "Step A", "Step B", "Step C" progression of pictures. I'll show you some photos of a real old wall instead.

I mentioned my friend who is also remodeling - this is her neighbor's front garden. It's a giant hill of stones and a beautiful old retaining wall. With all the rock garden plants blooming, this is the prettiest time of year to view it. It goes on another six feet or so to the right.

I have a retaining wall and steps in my front yard too. Mine are only a fraction of the height and although they are crumbling and cracked, they don't yet have the old world charm these do. Which makes me wonder, at what point does one make a decision to either fix something up or let it age?

When I was in my early twenties, I happened upon an old botanical print at a garage sale. The woman wanted quite a bit for it, I think $5 or something huge like that. Laugh, but $5 was more money back then and more to the point, it was a much bigger percentage of our income. The woman wouldn't come down on the price. It was her grandmother's print and as she explained the history of it, now that she thought about it, she wasn't even sure she wanted to sell it. I quickly handed her the money before she could change her mind.

I don't know what appealed to me more - the beautiful floral print or the aged mat and weathered, cream colored frame. I began to show my new treasure to friends and everyone seemed to agree that it was indeed a beautiful old print. Yet almost to a person each added "But don't you want to reframe it?" (the exception, my mom, who also admires the beauty found in old things)

I already suspected that others didn't necessarily share my love of old things, things worn and with a bit of history showing. I don't think the term "shabby chic" had even been coined yet. Funny how over the years my sense of style has gone from eccentric to mainstream. (At the time I was also teased pretty unmercifully about my odd insistence on organic gardening and my strange use of herbal concoctions. That's me, just ahead of my time!)

I still have the print - wait, let me go take a photo of it for you.... (aren't digital cameras one of the best inventions EVER!?)....

As you can see, I didn't reframe it.

Watching a beautiful room come together on a design show on the HGTV channel tonight, William asked when our house was going to look as stylish as the one on the television. Good question. I boldly answered "Maybe by the end of the summer." Honestly, I answered it more like this - "Maybe by the end of the summer?" - with a question mark at the end of it. An overly optimistic answer, but I'm hoping high expectations will help me persevere.

I'll just keep my eye on the top goal and climb toward it one step at a time.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Just popping in with an update on my painting. I was going to start in on the base coat a couple of days ago but I got sidetracked. My cat Fred got run over by a car. I've been sad and moping. I'm still sad, and sort of mad at the world for infringing on me - or rather, reality for infringing on me - but I also know there's nothing for it but to just keep putting one foot in front of the other.

So. I went out to lunch with a friend who is also doing major redecorating and remodeling. She had some painting technique books for me to borrow and I had the chance to look at them last night. After seeing some of the examples up close in the books, I decided to do a few more sample boards this morning with a better grasp of colors and technique. When they were finished I held them up for William and said "Which one do you like best?"

He's fifteen. He replied "I think they both look stupid."

Sigh. "I'm going for an old wall look. Like we saw in Europe. Only I'm not trying to replicate it exactly."

"Well, then, I guess it worked because neither of them look like an old wall."

I must have looked annoyed or sad at this point because he looked at them a bit longer and added "They look a bit like something you'd see in Mexico."

To his surprise, that cheered me up. Because that means I'm getting the rustic outdoor look I want. And I did make it a pinch more colorful than a real old wall, on purpose. I didn't want it to be too gray or muddy. Which is why it reminds him of Mexican art.

To get the newest effect I liked best, the base coat had to be lighter than what I'd decided to go with earlier, but I'd already bought two quarts of the darker paint. In an effort to salvage using it, instead of going to the store to match the new color, I went to the store and tried to determine what even lighter color I could mix with the paint I already had to come out with the base coat color I now wanted to use. Selected it, had it mixed, bought it, brought it home, mixed a small sample of it fifty/fifty with the old paint and......

Voila! I did it! Or at least close enough for guv'ment work. I also lucked out and found an entire gallon of one of the over paint colors I wanted in the premixed discount pile for only three dollars. Not that I need an entire gallon of it - but it was cheaper than a tiny sample of it at the other store and you never know when I might find a use for the rest of it.

So. The paint is mixed and waiting. Got my painting clothes on. Found a roller and paint tray in the garage - cleaned off the dust. I just put my hair in braids to get it out of the way. And off I go.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The two paints I'd bought yesterday, the light cream and the darker gold, were originally going to be the base and top glaze colors for my wall but by the time they'd dried on the wall I realized that the darker gold was going to be my base color.

This afternoon I went back to the store and selected three possible top colors. Here they are in a glaze applied with a sponge with different top and bottom color combinations. I know, my sponge technique leaves room for improvement, but I was more concerned with seeing how the combinations worked together.

In real life they look more blended than they do in the photo above. The flash accents the contrasts. Here are two photos of another wall that I've attacked, one taken with a flash and one taken without.

It was early evening by the time the paints had dried, so I'll have to see how they look tomorrow in full daylight.

Below, yet another wall sample behind a shelf in the livingroom. I shoved the knicknacks over. This is the gold base with a terra cotta color in glaze over it. I'm really surprised. I had expected a more closely matching color to look the best. But it's the winning combination. It's a little brighter than I had originally expected to go, but I guess that's my funky side wanting it's share of attention. Now all I have to do is get the sponging technique down. I want it to look like an old plaster wall. Anyone have any tips?

I'm going to start right in despite a plan tomorrow, on the brick corner you've seen so much of the last few days. Hopefully I'll find my groove by the time I finish it. That corner will be almost completely covered with bookshelves, so it won't matter. Ultimately it will be turned back into a closet - and someday someone will probably wonder why anyone bothered faux painting the inside of it.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Slowly but surely I'm working on my wall color project. My friend Deirdre used to do paint finishes for a living, so I called her up and she gave me a lot of good advice. Like to go buy a bunch of acrylic craft paints and play with some sample boards before buying any more wall paint. Trying colors at forty four cents a bottle sure beats four to ten dollars for those little sample sizes or, if they didn't have the paint I wanted in a sample size, a full quart.

I painted sample colors a few nights ago and then the next night I tried different "over" colors in a paint glaze mixture.

Today I spent most of the afternoon collecting paint sample cards, trying to find similar colors. When I brought them home, again they looked completely different, although with my experience with the green paints, I got closer to what I expected on the first try. Eventually I found something as close to my favorite color sample as I could get and bought a couple quarts in different shades and some glaze.

My sample wall now has even more colors on it. I have to wait for it to dry before I can tell how dark the new colors will be. I also need to see how it looks tonight by lamplight. So many steps to this project - and I'm only just in the planning stage!!!

While we wait for the paint to dry, you can go read about the treasure hunting I did this morning over on Beach Treasure.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

"... I think this line's mostly filler" - Can you name the source of this song line!?

This post is mostly filler. The day has been eaten up by phone calls and family so I have nothing new to report on my wall color project yet. Just this photo I took the other day, for your viewing enjoyment.

I like shadows. And I've always had a special fondness for this particular type of metal fence. I think of them as "grandmother fences" although I don't know why since as far as I can recall, neither of my grandmothers had a fence like this. Maybe it's more accurate to say I think of them as "old lady fences" probably because they are usually only found around the yards of small old homes well maintained by some gray haired person. Isn't it funny how we build up a sense of identity for something without any intention or plan at all. It just builds itself.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

I'm still working on my painting problems. If you'll recall, I wanted to paint a big U-shaped, three room area green. I'd given color swatches a lot of time and attention and, thinking I'd finally made a decision, ran out last week and bought a quart of paint to try on the wall. Good thing I have experience and didn't run out and buy a couple of gallons, eh?

I've been pretty lucky with past paint selections. I've usually managed to select the right paint on the first or perhaps second try. I did go through three or four colors trying to pick paint for the outside of our house though, at which point I still didn't have it right but decided my last selection was good enough. I still sometimes remember that I wanted a slightly different look, but all in all I've been happy enough with it. That was a green paint too. Hmmmm.

But I'm not willing to settle for something "good enough" for my livingroom, dining room, and kitchen. I spend too much time in these rooms to settle for "good enough". It would probably drive me slowly insane always having to adjust the tint or saturation in my mind every time I looked at my walls.

So. I'm stuck staring at paint cards until my eye balls melt away. At least that's how it felt a few days ago.

That's when I got the clever idea to browse decorating magazines to get a "bigger picture" view of which paints appeal to me. I also went to my favorite home decor store and took a close up look at what colors appealed to me larger amounts. It's one thing to casually browse a decorating magazine, quite another to look through it keeping in mind a specific lesson to be learned. Not only did I get a better sense of exactly what greens I like best, I also learned a lot about the decorating styles I gravitate towards, which was helpful because I had realized several days into the paint selecting that I had two decorating styles that were, if not warring, at least competing to be my favorite child.

It doesn't look like I've been doing much the last few days, driving back to the same stores to gather more paint samples, wandering around the house making rooms look like we're decorating for a guerilla warfare movie, lazing on the couch leafing through dangerously high stacks of magazines. But au contraire! I've been doing a lot! Or rather, I've been learning a lot. And apparently there's no short cut through the hard work of designing.

The exciting news is, I've had one of those lovely light bulb moments and come up with a completely unexpected change of direction that I suspect will solve everything! Well, by everything I mean the lighting problems and dueling design problems in the areas I want to paint. It won't, unfortunately, stop world hunger or prevent war or anything. Sigh. I wish. But it will, I think, fingers crossed, create beauty in one tiny spot in the world.

I won't tell you what my great idea is yet. It's my little secret for another day or two. Although I want to chronicle my efforts here, so I'll have to spill the beans soon. Now I'm off to work on some sample efforts. Stay tuned....

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

When my mom moved, she pared down on a lot of small shelves and cabinets and gave them to me. I used some and those I didn't have space for but were too cute not to keep have been sitting in my wood shed for the last few years. I gave them to Lisa and she spent the last full day of her visit making them into something special. I'm sure she'll want to post pictures of her handiwork on her own blog, Creative Slave, so I won't show too much detail. But aren't they cute? She put on a white primer and then used a paintbrush to do a bit of "spongework".

She finished them off with stencils and cute quotes.

While she worked on her furniture, I spent much of the day painting my interior walls assorted shades of green, trying to find one that would work in each part of a open multi-room area. I put a few photos up of my "camo" walls on Beach Treasure.

Today I still wasn't convinced any of the auditioned greens were right so I went out and bought another quart of something called Pesto. I added it to each of my camo designs and I'm feeling hopeful that this paint is The One. Before I go out and buy it in gallons, I'm gonna sleep on it a day. Or two.

Practically, I have a problem with different lighting situations in different areas. One green seems to work in one area but not the other, another paint works in that area but not the first one. On top of lighting issues, despite the same basic color schemes, trying to pick a green for everything has made me aware that there's actually two different styles in the greater area. The living room leans towards my love of dark, muted colors and a slightly shabby, Bohemian yet traditional style. The kitchen embraces the purer, brighter colors and the artsy, funky side of me.

I don't think the two styles are mutually exclusive. I think the trick is going to be to blend them, at the very least overlap them more in the middle. The question is, since the walls will set the tone for the entire space, which style do I want to have carry the most weight? A green with more gray in it will emphasis the traditional and give a cozy, peaceful look. A lighter, purer color will bring a more contemporary, open energy. I don't think it's possible to find a green that balances exactly in the middle, but I'm looking for something that is as close to both as possible.

Maybe I'll spend the evening looking through a few decorating magazines, see what specific colors are in the rooms I respond to the most.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Why clowns are scary...

Isn't that just the creepiest thing you've ever seen!?

These guys aren't quite as frightening, but they're still a very odd bunch.

They are all from a collection of old circus figurines. I saw them in a museum in Virginia City, Nevada this weekend while visiting the area for a Ghost Tour. I'll post about our adventures some time in the next few days over on Beach Treasure and I'll probably put some of the photos up here as well. I've been busy with family, but I'll try to do it sooner rather than later.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

We stayed home today to quilt. No shopping. No distractions. Rather, no extra distractions. Some were unavoidable. We don't really have anything to show yet. Mostly we sorted out fabrics to use and I helped Lisa figure out the math for her project, a king sized bottle block quilt. That's a lot of blocks, something like 150! So far she's made two blocks.

Here she is cutting out out some background fabric. I sorted out some fabrics for a Halloween block swap but I didn't get much done after that. Mostly I had my arms full.

Oh well. Tomorrow's another day.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

My daughter-in-law and granddaughter are here for a nice long visit and we have all sorts of crafty activities planned for our time together. Today is going to be a quilty day, later this afternoon, so hopefully by tonight or tomorrow we'll have some photos of what we accomplished.

Lisa got a head start on her quilting this morning. I woke up to find them outside, serenely enjoying the gardens, like Impressionist painting. Mother and child - maybe a Cassett? Or since it's a garden scene - Monet?

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Just a few more wee ones I snuck up on with my camera the other day.

What a happy little fellow!

Is she counting her dandelions, or protecting them from the evil gardening prongs?

Hey, uhm, you don't mind if I share this bench, do you?

A fairy Stonehenge?

Happy happy happy! Dance dance dance! Ribbit, ribbit ribbit!

Not sure he wants to brave that tall greenery!

Friday, May 04, 2007

Our weather lately is having multiple personality issues. Theoretically it's spring. Yet one day it's 70 degrees and our doors and windows are all open wide and the next day it's snowing and we've got a fire going in the fireplace! I was folding laundry the other day and found everything from tank tops to thick scarves in the same load. Sheesh.

Today it was gray and windy all day. Despite the cold, our yard was a busy place full of all sorts of interesting characters.