Sunday, March 9, 2014

Grain Sacks, and Powder Boxes, and Mosaics, Oh My!



Hello Bloggie Friends,

I've really been M.I.A. lately I know.  This full time job stuff keeps you busy.  PLUS, I've been indulging my creative side by doing a few projects.  I have had this awesome utilitarian stool in my stash for a good long while, waiting for me to "GETAROUNDTOIT" to recover it.  I took a scrap from one of my favorite herringbone weave antique German grain sacks and I stenciled it with a very cool design; it looks a whole lot like my grain sacks that have the original tar stencils on them.  I finished it off with some black belt webbing which, to my eye, made the whole thing just pop.  It is good and sturdy as well as beautiful.  I'm hoping to get it listed in my Etsy shop, Elegant Farmhouse, this afternoon, but my husband keeps eyeballing it.  I told him if he had the money, he could have it, but he didn't bite! I'm really proud of the way it turned out.


I also made one more powder box using the last of the small amount of antique blue silk fabric that I had. I also dolled up the puff that came with the old French powder box used as a base.  This one was a really nice size and it did make it to the other Etsy shop, The French Laundry, and it sold recently.   It was a hard one to let go of, but I keep reminding myself that this is how I can continue do this little sideline-move stuff in, move stuff out, make it, sell it.  True that...


Finally, the biggest reason I have been out of touch lately:  I finished a mosaic self-portrait which I started 3 1/2 years ago and never finished.  I took a class from the amazing mosaic artist, Carol Shelkin, and after 2 1/2 days, I had finished only the eyes and part of the nose.  Coming off the high of the class, I went home and worked a while longer (several hours) and got the rest of the nose and the mouth done.  Then, I lost my momentum and there she sat for years, mocking me every time I walked by.  Reminding me that she had been abandoned mid-work.  I got a little boost after the first of the year by getting some cleaning and organizing done at my house in the month of January, so I felt good about that and decided that it was time to commit myself to making a stab at finishing the self portrait.  I worked on it a little every day after work and some weekends for about 3 weeks.  It went faster than I anticipated since I think hair and clothes and backgrounds aren't nearly as intense as facial features and by golly, here is the finished product.  I am very pleased with it and would actually like to do more mosaic portraits.  Up until now, I have never done anything realistic.  I didn't think I could do it, but I guess maybe I can if I'm willing to develop my craft and take the time to practice.  We'll see...

This is shown with the photo I used to create the mosaic.  Not bad, if I do say so.  I'm not sure I like the light grout in the hair area-it needed grout to fill in the gaps as I wasn't able to work as tight as I perhaps should have.  I may go back with some darker grout before all is said and done.

Okay, so that's what I've been up to besides blogging.  How about you?  Do you have any unfinished projects that have been gnawing at you that you've finally put to rest?   I have WAY too many, so I hope to make some progress on that front this year and hopefully report back.


Until next time,
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Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Scoop on Antique Ribbon Work Powder Boxes



Hello Friends in Blogland,

When I first started my blog back in 2008 I believe it was, I had the intention of doing more "show and tell" of the collections I have and of things that I like.  I've done a  FEW of those types of posts, but not many.  I decided that this week,  it was time that I dedicated a post to a subset of one of my favorite THINGS in the world, antique ribbon work.  Today, I want to share my collection of powder and rouge boxes.  No fabulous ribbon work pieces are easy to find, but these little treasures do seem to be around a bit more often than others, presumably because they were small and easy to display on a vanity table for a little dose of pretty and they were also useful as they held cosmetics.  For these reasons, I presume, we do occasionally come across some of these lovelies.  Never enough, but some. (SMILE)  The piece at the top of the post is actually a glass powder box that has been covered in fabric and metallic lace as well as a beautiful seated porcelain figure.  These glass bases are a bit more rare and this is the only one like it that I have.  She is a bit tatty, but considering her age, she is still pretty darn fine. 



More commonly, these boxes are cardboard that has been covered in fabric and metallic net and then the beautiful silk ribbon flowers which in all but the tiny one at the bottom in the picture above were little lengths of rosettes that were purchased by the yard just like you would have purchased lace or other embellishments. I have know people who have managed to find cards of this rosette trim which was never used.  I have turned appropriately green with envy and then purchased a yard or two from them for much money.  This no doubt made us both happy. This little quintet of boxes are all small with the large one in the middle being just about 1 3/4 inches in diameter.  The marquis shaped one is a very unusual size and I am not sure what it was used for but the others are rouge boxes (we call it "blush" or "blusher" these days) with the exception of the largest one-it is a small powder box.  I know this because when open, it has a mirror in the lid and a cake of face powder is still in it.  The one on the left has a cake of red rouge and a well used puff. 


I have a couple of powder boxes done in this fashion.  Still cardboard underneath, but a short box, sometimes only tall enough for a puff.  In the case of the one above and the one below, the puff is attached to the lid. Neither one has the metallic trim, but they make generous use of silk or rayon ribbon to create the ruffles. I love the heavily eyelashed face on the bottom one!


Below are three which I would consider large pieces.  The one at the top stands a good 3 inches tall.  Each has a powder puff inside made of swansdown.  These pieces are difficult to find and when you do, you will pay a handsome sum for them but if these are your THING, you will find a way to make them yours, just as I did because there is something about them that just makes your heart sing.


Below is piece that is rare as hen's teeth.  It is a triple powder box which sort of reminds me of a wedding cake.  The top section holds a powder cake and a puff, the center a rouge cake, and in the bottom, and large powder puff.  It is an exceptional piece and will, as they say, have to be pried from my cold dead hands.  Hopefully not anytime soon!


These are a few more of the powder boxes in the middle size range.  They are really pretty, especially the one closest to the camera as it has a bouquet of little silk flowers on the top rather than just the rosette trim.


In the more unusual category are these double powder boxes below.  The one on the left has a little strap.  Could have been carried by milady or perhaps just hung on the wall by the vanity.  Again, these are far more rare and the ribbon work on the tops is particularly lovely.


These each have a mirror in the top and their little powder puffs-one for rouge, one for face powder.


This larger beauty may have been for talcum powder.  It is still super full of loose powder which I keep saying I'm going to toss every time I open it and get a nose full of 90 year old powder, but the fact that it has survived this long has kept me from doing so thus far.  This one is special because its condition is excellent and due to the fact that it is topped with a very lovely piece of French Normandy lace which is not the norm. 


Finally, I wanted to share with you my own take on fancy powder boxes.  These 3 have been lovingly created by me from vintage powder boxes and all antique materials.  I sold one very similar to the one on the left in my Etsy shop The French Laundry this last year and just recently made one for myself.  The blue one was originally for sale, but when she got taken for a test drive in my bedroom with the other girls...well, let's just say she begged to stay, at least for a little while.  As I have stated before, it is an occupational hazard when you deal in and create things that you love.  Sometimes, they just don't make it to the shop. The last one did though.  She's a beautiful oval shape (very unusual for a powder box).



If you love antique ribbon work, I highly recommend the book "The Artful Ribbon" by Candace Kling. She not only shares techniques on how to create your own flowers from ribbon, but it has lots of great historical information as well as pictures from private collections that are utterly breathtaking. In the meantime, I hope you have enjoyed your little visit to my part of Blogland and I hope to see you again sometime.

P.S.  I have some price reductions in my shop, so you might want to take a peek when you have a chance.

Sharing with :
Shabbilicious Friday 
Feathered Nest Friday

Until next time,
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Sunday, January 5, 2014

Happy Birthday to The French Laundry




Hello Blogger Friends,

I can't believe that a year has gone by since I first opened my Etsy shop, The French Laundry, but as of January 6, it will be a full year.  It was a great 2013 and I am looking forward to bringing you more beautiful treasures in 2014.  I'm still trying to find my way around balancing shopkeeping and working full time, but it is getting a bit easier.  I'm challenging myself to get more organized and stop hoarding (well, maybe just cut back on the hoarding :-) I am, after all, a collector myself ).  I also have a few small home projects/purchases to do this year, so the income from the shop becomes even more important.  With all of that in mind, I'd like to offer a little "Happy Birthday" gift to you in honor of my first year in business.  Just stop by The French Laundry from now until midnight tomorrow (1/6/14) and enter HAPPYBIRTHDAY20 at checkout to receive 20% off on all purchases over $20.  Now that Christmas is over, it is a good time for you to pick up that special something you've been wanting for yourself at a special price.

Until next time,

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Thursday, December 12, 2013

Time in the Studio...



Hi Bloggie Friends,

Christmas time is almost upon us.  Yikes!  I am so incredibly behind.  One reason is I've been spending more time in my studio which is a good thing.  I made these pretty little altered boxes which hold what I am calling prayer ribbons/bookmarks.

Each one is different.  I altered the boxes which were vintage pharmacy boxes with vintage wallpaper and antique paper, lace on some, ribbons on others, a beautiful image of either Mary or Mary and Jesus, and, of course, a little glitter. Finally, a special word was added.

The medals came from France and the beads are all vintage from my stock of treasures.

The crinkle on the ribbon part is intentional.  Hope people "get" that. WINK...




These little pretties are available in my Etsy shop Elegant Farmhouse and would make a great gift for either yourself or someone else.  Hope all is merry and bright wherever you are.

Sharing with Feathered Nest Friday.

Until next time,

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Friday, November 15, 2013

Beautiful Prayer Shrines


Just a quick little check in to let you know there are more beautiful prayer shrines up in my Etsy shop Elegant Farmhouse.  These are SO pretty with their French Nordic influence and antique materials. They would make a great gift for yourself or someone special.  My pictures do not do them justice.  These are my original designs and each one is one of a kind, created with love and much attention to every detail.












Until next time,
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Friday, October 4, 2013

A Petite French Theater of Dreams



Hi Blogger Friends,

Today I'm sharing a project that  I have wanted to do forever.  I had seen a few little miniature theaters out in cyberspace and always thought it would be fun to make one.  I guess I always figured I'd construct one with found hardware, spindles, etcetera, but when I found this jewelry box at my neighbor's yard sale late this summer, I knew that I had found my theater.  All I had to do was give her a makeover and we'd be good to go. Sorry for the crummy "before" picture.  I apparently was too excited to get started painting to bother making sure my camera settings were right!  It was very pretty, but I had envisioned a white theater, so out came the Annie Sloan's chalk paint in Old White.


I gave her a good coat, leaving a little gold peeking through here and there.  I then lightly sanded some areas, giving a little distressed look.  A coat of clear wax was followed by some VERY judiciously placed dark wax in the areas I wanted to age a bit more.  The detailing was so pretty, it wasn't too difficult to make it sing.  I LOVE the way it turned out.




Some beautiful lace curtains seemed appropriate for a Theater of Dreams...I wanted to evoke a sense of ethereal beauty where the audience would get lost in the magic of the performance.


Mon petit théâtre des reves (theater of dreams)...


In MY dreams, a chandelier illuminating the stage was a must.  I raided my stash of crystals and wire and came up with a design that I found pleasing.  A little twist here, a little bend there and VOILA!  A petite chandelier to go with my petite stage...


The back needed to have a little pizazz, so a vintage page from a French encyclopedia did the trick.


The addition of a couple of beautiful mademoiselles to dance on my stage was the finishing touch. Of course, they had to be dolled up a little more with some layering, artist chalks, and glitter.  Much better...


Fairy wings or butterfly wings...what do you think?  Or should I say, what would you see in YOUR dreams?





I hope you enjoyed seeing my little project.  I look forward to peeking in on you and see what projects you've been up to.   I just went out this evening and clipped all of my roses since we are supposed to have our first hard freeze tonight.  BRRRR!!!

Sharing with Blissful Whites Wednesday
                      Be Inspired Friday
                      Feathered Nest Friday
                      What's It Wednesday

Until next time,


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