Monday, December 27, 2010

300 years of chairs and more

We have officially broken the record for December snowfall surpassing the old record from 1969- a little over 33 inches and the possibility of more this week. Everyone everywhere seems to be having extreme weather this year. On one particularly snowy day we spent time at the Art Institute in Minneapolis to view two visiting exhibits. The first one was 300 years of chairs- this one is an 19th century leather upholstered example. Both the seat and the back are the warmest caramel color and look so soft ( of course I couldn't touch it!)
This 20th century one is made from one piece of laminated birch plywood- a couple of simple cuts, steamed and molded to shape.
It was made in 1934 (seems more contemporary!) and because it has no joins it was touted as being perfect for tropical regions - no joints popping.
This woven plywood chair is a Frank Gehry piece made in 1992.
This one is so delicate looking and had very pretty inlaid designs. I think this one was a late 18th century piece.
The one below is, of course, from Texas. Interesting but not very comfortable looking.
This one is an early English made chair made entirely for metal. Intricate designs and even the tufted upholstery look seat is metal.
And this last chair is made from an array of stuffed toys. Imagine how much fun kids would have with this one!
The other 'on loan' exhibit was a Native American collection. It was beautiful! Unfortunately, I couldn't take photos in this show ( I took one before I was asked to put the camera away), but I could take photos of the permanent collection.
There were lots of these intricate woven baskets- it is amazing the materials they used. Everything from pine needles and grasses to moose hairs and split plant roots and stems.
The flowers on these mocassins are made from dyed moose hair.
The bead work is incredible! You may not be able to tell from the photos but the entire surface is covered in beads- not just the flowers.
Aren't they beautiful! And so inspiring!
Lots of examples of silver and turquoise jewelry:
The Institute is a fantastic place to spend the afternoon, but definitely too large to see everything in one day; In fact, I usually get lost in the maze of galleries. There are some things I have to try and see each time we go and one of these is the Veiled Lady.
When we would come here as kids my aunt and mom would always search this one out- the delicacy and transparency of the veil worked in marble always leaves me intrigued. It is an Italian piece made in 1860.
A carved trunk that I couldn't resist.
And finally the Dale Chihuly glass sculpture hanging in the entrance. Every piece is hand blown and then was assembled and suspended on site. This piece is huge! So there is my day at the Institute.
I picked up a map this time and plan on plotting out future visits so I can explore some of the areas I tend to miss. I completely missed the textile exhibits! That's top on the list for next time. Hope you enjoyed the tour!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

needlework magazine

I did a little thrift store shopping this week before the big snow storm blew in and found this perfect magazine rack. The green color matches the green toile print wallpaper in my dining room. Speaking of magazines, I thought I would share some pages in another of my collection of vintage mags. This one is Home Arts needlecraft, October 1935- in the midst of the Depression.My mother was 1 year old and my dad was 3. Both sets of grandparents were raising kids ( my mom's family-4 kids, my dad's- 9 kids) on farms in northern Minnesota.
I love the art work in these old mags- and they can be quite amusing. Apparently only one guy makes the grade based on his brand of cigs.
Here we have a nice pattern for a chair set, mat, and table runner all done in applique and embroidery. The instructions are included elsewhere.
For the bedroom we have patchwork quilts done with floral applique. I wish this had been shown in color- the 1930's combinations are so fun.
And now for the dining room- gorgeous cutwork linens. It says these were done in buttonhole stitch in blue, green, gold,and orchid. I have done some cutwork and believe me it is time consuming.
Let's not forget a recipe page- these were all recipes using oysters- Creamed, Scalloped, Stew, and Bisque. I am not an oyster fan so I would have been disappointed these were the only recipes.
A little decorative stitching project to liven up the living room:
And, of course the fashion pages:I love the styles of the 30's, on this page I'm partial to the apron pattern.
And here's a few patterns for stepping out.The sizing is so odd, they are listed as 'years', such as "designed for 16,18,and 20 years".
The 'stove of your dreams' is a beautiful porcelain enamel combination coal and wood burning range. I like the look of these and have thought about buying one and having it converted.
And now for a contest- a chance to win $25 for first place with 22 more chances to win anywhere from $15 to $2.50. During those years that was probably pretty good. Plus, the first place winner also got a 9x12 Axminster rug awarded for 'promptness'. Just in case you needed a little help they give you some examples of words you could use- 'base', 'vase', 'ace', 'space', 'lace', 'face', etc.
And for all you ladies who can get 6 of your friends and neighbors to subscribe to Needlecraft magazine- you will be rewarded with this One and Only Shirley Temple doll. This would have been a big deal- I have pictures of my Mom and aunt at this time with those sausage curls: they endured frequent sessions of having their hair twisted up in rags to achieve this look.
Here are economical stamped linens ready to be assembled and embroidered. You can order any number of squares and stitch them together to make larger tablecloths.Prices range from .25 to.39 cents.
And now for some of the needlework I have finished . These pincushions are part of an order going to the shop in California.
I particularly like this one in shades of Flamingo pink and Orange sherbet.

And these eyeglass cases have been sent to the shop in Alaska. I have a few more to fill before Christmas and then hope to work on stockpiling so I don't always feel so rushed.
Hope you enjoyed the brief jaunt through 1935!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

holiday odds and ends

Very busy lately trying to get ready for the Holidays while also getting orders shipped. I put the tree up this weekend and dug out all the ornaments. The snow really came down on Friday night so it looked very festive. I had visions of a tree full of colorful old fashioned birds- the kind with the feathery tails- but this is not what I have been seeing in the shops. If only I had stocked up a couple of years ago when that was all I saw! I have also been doing a little baking- trying out recipes. First up is one of my all time favorites:
Gingerbread. I thought I might try a maple butter sauce on it, or a lemon sauce.
I froze a lot of fruit this summer and fall including blackberries. On a recipe search I found this blackberry bread pudding using a Challah loaf. It was delicious! This I will definitely make again.
What really turned out nicely and which I served at Thanksgiving (along with a pumpkin pie, of course) is this cranberry pecan bundt cake. The sour cream in it made it very moist.

As for projects, my pound of lavender from Mountain Rose Herbs has arrived and I will be making sachets. These I have sold on etsy and will relist. I'm also planning to do some embroidered ones. The next two weeks will be a bit more shopping, wrapping, and then baking. Can't wait to be done!
This post is linked to Metamorphosis Monday/Deck the Halls,, or click on the icon on the sidebar. Enjoy the Holiday decorations!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thanksgiving done, on to Christmas

Thanksgiving is done, it's cold and snowy; time to think about Christmas. It was a great weekend to visit the 'Hall of Trees' at the arboretum- six large trees in the great hall decorated with handmade ornaments made from natural materials. I am an avid collector of natural materials, I'm always picking up pinecones, seedheads,leaves, and flowers when we go for a walk and now I have lots of ideas.
These little box cottages are simply made, covered in paper or birch bark and decorated with seeds, dried flowers,twigs, and the seedheads of ornamental grasses for the 'thatch' roof.
These looked like large flowers on the tree and are dyed or painted corn husks.
A couple more little cottages- I like the curly dried leaves on this one's roof.

This one below uses my favorite material- lightly pink tinged maple 'whirlygig' seeds.
They make such perfect little shingles.
Each tree is a little different, but all unlit- they didn't seem to need lights.
One tree had fanciful 'bugs' and 'butterflies' made from leaves and flowers and then varnished so they were shiny.

It's hard to tell in the photos but grass seed heads form the bodies and the leaves are multiple wings.
The one below uses a dried chili pepper for the body.
They are so pretty even if you can't see the 'insect' in them.
Some were just a simple bouquet of dried flowers sprayed with shellac- so pretty.
Nestled in the branches were little gift boxes decorated with shellacked leaves and flowers. This would be beautiful on gifts under the tree.
This butterfly was gorgeous!
Of course the arboretum is the perfect place to gather all these materials. Our long Fall lulled me into thinking I had lots of time to do a little foraging myself- I had my eye on some really big magnolia leaves- but then the snow hit and I missed my chance. Next year I will be prepared.
This idea for packages was one of my favorites.
Another great idea was the dried and painted milk weed pods coupled with a pinecone to form a poinsettia.
A couple more pretty little 'bugs':

Dried berries attached to a pinecone:
A corn husk doll:
Pumpkin seeds varnished to a shine :
This little plane made from a corn cob is so cute:
These milkweed pod poinsettias have been lightly painted a pinkish red:

A little birch bark and seed star:
Candy canes from dried and pressed flowers:

The garlands on this tree are made from the feathery heads of ornamental grasses:
Dried seed heads:
and more grass heads formed into star shapes with a little square of mirror in the center for sparkle:

A very tall, very snowy white looking tree:
All in all a very inspiring display!