Friday, January 25, 2013

Trash to treasure: a gorgeous junky picture frame

This little project is actually not finished. But I love it so much, I just have to share it! 

In 2008, our home on Des Moines' north side was destroyed in flooding. The city purchased the house and property from us shortly afterwards, and demolished it. In the few years since, we've occasionally driven past the site. Sometimes, we get out of the car and walk around - I'm not entirely sure why, but it seems to bring a little comfort at times when we get to reminiscing about the loss. 

On one such visit, we noted that someone had dumped a truckload of junk in our old backyard. This little cupboard door was calling my name, and I plucked it from the middle of the pile to study it. 

I absolutely love the worn texture - it reminds me of linen fabric or linen-finish paper. 

I knew for sure I wanted to make some sort of picture frame, but I didn't have any particular shots in mind when I first picked the little door out of the junk pile. It wasn't until we saw Stephanie's beautiful senior pictures (taken by Des Moines photographer Randy Shebek) that I knew I had just the right images to complement this frame. 

(all photos of Stephanie are by Randy Shebek, Great Life Photography)

Mr. Piglet helped me repair the cupboard door - I nailed the frame pieces back together and he glued and clamped them to make sure they would stay in place. He dug through his own stash to find a couple of nails that looked appropriately weathered - "You don't want new nails in there, they'll look out of place," he said. (I LOVE that he had the same vision for this project!)  

Once it was all dry,  I selected two 5x7 pictures - one with a very distinctive natural element, the stone, to complement the textured wood, and one with some color in the background to draw attention. 

I added a piece of vintage lace in one corner as a background element, and created depth by stacking two pieces of foam core board, smaller than the right-hand photograph, and attaching that photo to the "riser" created by the foam core. Note the shadow cast by the "raised" picture, in the photo below.

To finish, I am on the hunt for a used Scrabble game so I can spell out either Steph's name or a word or two to describe her with the tiles. And I'm still thinking about what, if anything, belongs in that lower left corner. I'll post a follow up when I finally get it complete, but it's already one of my new favorite pieces in the house because it uses three of my favorite elements: weathered junk, bits of vintage finery, and my amazing daughter! 

I'm linking my junky picture frame to Donna's fabulous Saturday Night Special Party at Funky Junk Interiors. So much beautiful junk, so little time! 

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A rosy cozy and a killer piller

Just sharing a couple of sewing projects I completed this week... I have a third but I think it needs a little something more so I don't consider it finished yet. More on that one soon! 
First up is this soft, cuddly sweater pillow that I attempted to whip up one night this week, and ended up running my finger through the sewing machine - OUCH!! 
Turns out, trying to stitch over this bulky knit is harder than one thinks it's going to be: the "tines" of my presser foot kept getting hooked in the knit, so I had to run my fingers very close to the needle to keep the knit pressed down so the foot would run smoothly. And in the process, ended up getting my finger directly under the needle. In and out, all the way through, one time. 
A little cold water, a little peroxide, a little pressure... and all is better. As for the pillow - well it's not quite square but it's cute nonetheless, and super-soft. 
The second project is a sweet floral "cozy" that I made from a finished standard pillow sham, to fit over the scanner/printer that sits on my work table in the mom-cave. I mean, let's face it: a shiny black plastic printer just doesn't look "shabby," or cottagey, or romantic at all. 
I had a reversible cozy I'd made many years ago for a desktop copier, but it wasn't quite the right size. This pretty sham from Mainstays - a thrifting find at 99 cents - was perfect for this project. I didn't even deconstruct it; I just boxed the corners of the finished sham and called it good. 

I'm sharing this week's projects at Donna's Saturday Night Special at Funky Junk Interiors! I'm also sharing  at Jill's A Round Tuit party - because, these projects have been on my to-do list for awhile! 
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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Vintage Thingie Thursday - Nippon Saucers

I've been on a mission to re-do the "Mom-cave" this past week - I do have a few remaining small projects, but one of the things I came across while cleaning/organizing was a set of five of these sweet little saucers. Two of the five were displayed in my grandmother's home for many decades - I'm not sure when she acquired them - and the remainder were in storage there. Two of them have some fairly noticeable flaws, and I'm now happily displaying three of them on my little restyled knick-knack shelf.

Based on the backstamp, I learned that they were a product of the Te-Oh China Company in Japan, and are examples of hand-painted Nippon ware produced between 1891-1921. 

"Nippon" is (or was) the Japanese pronunciation of that country's name. Beginning in 1891 the US's McKinley Tariff Act required that all imported products bear the name of the country of origin. So, the word "Nippon" appeared on pieces imported from Japan beginning that year. Then, in 1921, the rules were amended to state that the name of the country of origin must be stated in English. Because the name Nippon was determined to be a Japanese word, its use was dis-allowed so imports after 1921 were marked "Japan" or "made in Japan."  

Along with the Te-Oh backstamp (which was a fairly common mark found on Nippon pieces), the translucence of these tiny plates is another indicator that they are delicate, authentic Nippon.

So is the use of gold edging and the raised dots and lines on parts of the design, although much real Nippon is actually more elaborate in design. 

I am so happy to be displaying these delicate saucers - and am amazed that they could be anywhere from 92 to 122 years old! 

I'm sharing my pretty Nippon saucers at Suzanne's fabulous link party, Vintage Thingie Thursday!

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Monday, January 21, 2013

Celebrating Tabletop Tuesday!

I thought I would take you on a little tour of the top of my barrister bookcase in celebration of the 150th Tabletop Tuesday over at Marty's wonderful blog, A Stroll Thru Life. I've recently been working on a re-do in this little third bedroom, affectionately known as the Mom-cave, so hopefully soon I'll be able to share the whole thing. 

The bookcase is literally a treasure-trove for me... it's among the pieces I inherited from my grandmother, and I've filled it with all manner of pretty thrifty finds and vintage family pieces. I really like the layered, "collected" look when displaying these kinds of pieces - it makes me happy to know that wherever my eye lands in the display, I'll be looking at something that's been handed down, or acquired through a happy thrifting expedition. 

At this end of the top shelf are a beautiful blue glass vase found while thrifting...

...a blown-glass pumpkin won in a Facebook comment contest...

...and a pretty peacock figure that was a gift from my husband. 

Moving along you can catch a glimpse of my framed Blue Jay (it's the To/From tag off of a larger gift bag!)...

... ivory scrolly heart... 

... a little salt-clay salamander made by my daughter when she was little... 

...and of course a framed photo of my beautiful girl - she's 19 now and a freshman in college! 

I have a lot of blue pieces for some reason and tried to weave them throughout the display rather than grouping them together in a clump. In the next section I've layered a blue bird bud vase that was painted by my mother-in-law (along with a couple strands of blue, pearl, and silver beads)...  

...and a blue glass vase on which I painted a little Bible verse and some soft blue and white roses. 

I've also recently become smitten with what I call "courting couples," shown here on a fabulous green lamp base (it's obviously no longer a lamp - I just love the shape and design of it!)... 

...a sweet figurine...

...and a miniature teacup. 

At the end of the row we are back to blue with a beautiful Depression Glass banana bowl in the Moon & Stars pattern, a gift from my mother-in-law. 

Finally, on the wall above all of these pieces is a lovely landscape painting I found while thrifting. It's in a thrifted wooden frame that I painted in the ivory accent color I've used throughout my re-done room.  

So that's my tabletop tour - congratulations, Marty, on 150 weeks of one of my favorite blog link parties! Here's to many more Tabletop Tuesdays

More soon,

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Sunday, January 20, 2013

No no no no n- well, okay

Have you ever got "stuck" with something on Ebay because people were bidding against you and darn it - you just weren't going to let them have it cheap?

No? Maybe it's just me... 

Anyway, recently while scouring a flea market I came upon a Christmas tree figurine from Precious Moments that plays "Silent Night." Now I am not a fan of Precious Moments figures - I do not collect them, I don't even particularly like them. 

But I saw this tree, and the color palette was soft and "shabby," if you know what I mean. And I thought, maybe I could just collect one piece of Precious Moments - a piece that doesn't depict the big-headed, teardrop-eyed children that just don't appeal to me. 

(The photo above is courtesy of PJ's Precious Collectibles on Ebay - who by the way is a wonderful seller of Precious Moments figures if you are looking to buy them.)

But the asking price was $25, and this was a thrifting trip, and that was just too much money.

So I came home and looked it up on Ebay, and watched a few auctions. And while I was surfing Ebay, I came upon this little piece: a little car with a Christmas Tree tied to the top, and a worrisome little puppy anxiously looking out the car window. 

It wasn't $25, and it featured free shipping. And, seriously, I really thought it was adorable. So - against every fiber of my being, I bid on a Precious Moments figurine. 

And was immediately out-bid. Well!, I huffed. Not about to let someone snatch this out from under me so cheaply, I entered a maximum bid just to be sure that the other bidder wouldn't get such a grand bargain. Only this time, I became the high bidder at $15. And over the next few days, I stayed there, wondering if someone would come along to outbid me. To save me from myself. 

They never did. 

I did use my penance time wisely, by researching the piece I had bid on. I learned it is part of a Christmas Village series called Sugar Town, pieces for which were manufactured in the mid-80's through mid-90's. I decided that it didn't really make sense to own just a car from an entire Christmas Village, and that if I won the auction, I would need one more piece to put with it so at least I would have a little scene. 

The Sugar Town series is not short on pieces - I narrowed my options down to something under $10, which meant I would get a mailbox, railroad crossing sign, fire hydrant, split-rail fence, or other small item to suggest that the car was part of a larger universe. 

The day I won the auction for the car (at $15 with free shipping), I also did a "buy it now" for the split-rail fence ($9.75 with free shipping). 

So if you are doing the math, you have just realized that I spent $25 on Ebay on two pieces of something I do not collect, all because I did not want to spend $25 at the thrift store on something I do not collect. 

Fortunately, my pieces arrived safely (both on the same day!) and they really are adorable. 

I still do not collect Precious Moments, but now I have two pieces. 

Maybe I need the little lighted Sugar Town Chapel, so that Sam the Puppy has a reason to be driving his little car.  

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