Monday, November 7, 2011

Are We Crazy?

Why is it when we are overwhelmed we take on even more? That was our conversation as my friend Cheryl and I drove home from The Depot last week.

We had a brainstorm a couple of weeks ago that in addition to our own spaces at the antique mall that we should combine efforts and co-own a booth. Realizing that the time is upon us when we could really get a good start during the big shopping season that is quickly approaching we spoke up and asked if there were any available spaces.

The wait was short and in less than a week we had a space if we wanted it...if we were up to a little challenge.

Here is our challenge....what the heck?

Our first reaction was to laugh...and then on the way home...oh my!  What do we do besides gut it? The shelves are really sturdy although awkward, and there is no back wall on our side. The side wall on the right hasn't been finished and well, ugh! it's just a mess!

We had really hoped that we could maybe just paint and move in since we are both incredibly busy right now. Why don't these situations arise in the slow months? The location is even better than our other spaces and they are great, so we really do want to keep it. 

Over the weekend I tried to find ways to utilize the shelves thinking of all sorts of things that Rick just laughed at...I'm trying not to get him involved because we are renovating our kitchen finally, and he's still working a crazy work schedule.

So stay we go again...another booth...but a booth unlike any we've seen there. That's why we are doing this...crazy or's opening mid/late November.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Work Table Wednesday...Spray Paint Texturing

It has been my privilege for the last couple of weeks to be a mentor to a wonderful young artist while she worked on her senior graduation project. 

Krista and Me
Krista chose to learn about the art of grafiti and for her product she painted a grafiti mural. I was amazed at how she was able to get in her zone and paint while I snapped away with my camera. This is something hard for seasoned artists to learn to do and for some of us we just never even attempt it.

I was able to document most of the process and I just finished looking over all of the photos. I didn't know just how much could be achieved with spray paints. I wanted to show you the technique she used that was my favorite.

Experimenting with layering, and negative and positive spaces.
Okay, now to the start the real deal.
Watch closely.


Are you blown away yet?  I think this would be a great advertisement for Valspar spray paints!

So, I will cut to the chase and show you the almost finished product.

 I can't reveal the finished piece yet because she hasn't presented it but, you get the idea. 

I watched in awe these past couple of weeks as Krista learned to control the flow of the spray and to manipulate drips and dribbles for the effects she was after. 

I will never look at spray paint the same again! 

Have any of you been to San Francisco and seen the street art? That was her inspiration. I am so proud of her!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Work Table Wednesday

Lots on the worktable this week...and it looks like it will stay that way for many weeks to come. Yay!

I have two worktables in the my studio these days. The large 8' x 8' upstairs in the actual studio space and a new to me old metal porch set that I got at an auction for $2. One of the best deals ever!

Have I mentioned I LOVE my studio? I really do. I know I am very fortunate to have such a great place to work. A few weeks ago, I decided to take back some work space downstairs in the shop, rearranged, moved in the table and set up an area for making candles and other projects I wouldn't want to work on upstairs for some reason or another. It makes a nice display piece too when I'm not using it for a work table.

The new work table area
It used to look like this back there
I made my first batch of Holiday soy candles yesterday...Pumpkin Souffle.  It was so nice to have everything in one place and not have to mess up my kitchen and dining room. The studio and shop smell like Thanksgiving Day. Yum!

My brother-in-law, the plumber, got us this old farm sink and Rick built the base.  I'm using an enamel table top as a back splash until I find another use for it.  The shelf above is an old green chippy locker door.

I'm using found objects as candle containers this season. Can't wait to show you how cute! 

 Upstairs, on the big table are three file boxes awaiting embellishments. They are the same file boxes from the Container Store that I used on the last keepsake box project.

Such a nice box to start with!

Two boxes are for little boys and the other one obviously is for a little girl. I've shopped for papers and other embellishments and now I have to get busy piecing it all together. I'm still looking for what I want to use for feet.

For a boy with navy and other blues and red as an accent

For a boy with classy Ralph Lauren type patterns

For a girl with a bold floral and polka dots

I should be pretty far along by next Wednesday and hopefully they will already begin to look like the keepsake boxes they are meant to be. Stop by for Work Table Wednesday next week and see.

So, back to the work table(s). What are you working on this week?

Monday, October 24, 2011

This is Going to Work!

It's the most beautiful time of year for me and the most busy time of year as well as we gear up for the upcoming holiday seasons. To add to the mix, we've added a new element back into our lives here at the Ranch...homeschooling.

I say, back into our lives because if you've followed me since the beginning you may remember that when Sam entered 9th grade he wanted to go to the beautiful new state of the art public school down the road with his friends and at the same time I got the notion that it would be the ideal time to start this new business and chapter in my life.

I've purposely chosen not to say anything much for the last month because I needed to deal with my feelings about it all.  The decision came about quickly and then again, it has been a long time coming....

We had homeschooled so long that we had forgotten how well it was working for Sam and our family as a whole. It only took a couple of years to realize that no matter how new and beautiful, how state of the art, and how great the teachers are, or sports programs are that most public schools will never be equipped to teach kids that are right brained learners or any other learning style that is not traditional. That's just the way it is.

For two years, I watched Sam's self confidence level decline at a steady pace. From the beginning weeks in high school he was labeled by some of his teachers as  "lazy, unfocused, unorganized, talkative, and unable to concentrate, sit still or comprehend information",  all the while saying he was a "good kid, respectful and sweet".

On the other hand, when report cards came home, comments from the teachers in the hands-on classes such as Auto Tech were more positive...."good student, gives 100 percent, works hard".

I've had many personal, phone and email conversations with teachers over the last two years trying to find solutions we all could live with. By far the simplest was a deal struck up between Sam and one of his teachers....sending in a bag of her favorite candy for a 100 test score to bring up his overall average....honestly, I kid you not!

 For the most part the teachers are doing the best they can in a world of standardized tests and requirements from the state. I feel for them. I could have been one of glad I took a different road!

Since making the decision to homeschool again, the blog has had to take a backseat. First, there were the homeschool legal forms to take care of, then public school release forms which came with personal judgements from well meaning administration and friends, then curriculum to find and purchase, and a new schedule here on the homefront to plan and try to adhere to....just a lot to deal with.

Today, things have settled. Curriculum is in place and going very well. Our family feels like family again.  None of us realized how stifled Sam felt until we noticed an almost immediate change in his attitude. It's answered prayer for sure!

I wanted to share a couple things with you today as I get back on track with the blog and all that goes with it...

I've been reading a new blog that I believe you will love Fieldstone Hill Design . She also is a homeschool mom and is redoing her office as a combination school room/office. It's really wonderful and her blog is most inspiring.

Homeschool room by Fieldstone Hill Design
Our homeschool room also used to be a shared space in my studio...high school is different. School now takes place wherever, and whenever. There aren't so many supplies or need for a black board or more than one bookshelf. He's happy on the sofa with his books and laptop...or in the shop building a motor for his go cart project or at the gym continuing his weight lifting class...and best of, he drives! This is going to work!

And lastly, a video that I love..that really says a lot about how we should nurture our children's interests and talents regardless of the opinion of the public education system or our family or friends...just sayin! 

Animal School

Do you  homeschool? Have you ever considered? North Carolina is one of the easiest and best states to homeschool in. We are so very fortunate!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Outside the Box

Lots going on this fall here at the ranch...more unexpected surprises...we are once again homeschooling. Yay! More about that maybe later...but, I will go ahead and say it's all good!

It's been busier than ever this past month, but too, I've taken many days off to spend with Erin. I love having flexibility, but it can also be exhausting! I can't believe this is our last week together before she goes back to Oklahoma. Boo and Hiss! 

I have managed to finish a couple of small commissions....

This is one that I got as a result of my Etsy's a keepsake box for a new baby girl that will house her drawings, awards, lovies and maybe a love letter or two...

It started with this great file box the customer sent me from The Container Store. It's sturdy cardboard, heavy enough to keep it's shape under the glue, paper, paint and polycrylic....and boy was it fun to make! 

The name and birth date is painted on vintage sheet music and I did a collage-like treatment with papers, acrylic paint and ribbon for added interest.

This is actually a print of the original piece on top of the box. I was afraid that the vintage paper would be too fragile for actual use, even with the poly finish. I'm really glad now that I invested in a good fine art printer earlier in the year and most recently a new scanner. The print looks identical to the original and sturdy to boot! Because it's printed with archival inks there was no worry of the ink smearing under the polycrylic.

I'm including the original piece in the order as a gift to the buyer for her scrapbook or maybe even for framing.

As with all of my boxes, I like to embellish the insides a little too...the paper on the bottom of this one hides the wooden dowels that attach the ball feet to the bottom of the box.

The ribbon on the top and bottom is a sheer brown organza. I didn't realize it was sheer when I bought it and it was a very pleasant surprise effect. I love when that happens!

I decided on stripes because of the size of the box compared to the size of the decorative papers I use. The box is the largest I've done to date...16 3/4" x 13 3/4" x 10 5/8 h. The papers are 12" x 12". The stripes allowed me to piece the papers without showing seams...experience I've gained over all the years hanging wallpaper. I'm thinking if I do any more large boxes I may use wallpaper...or maybe that I think about it, it reminds me of back in the eighty's when I worked for a designer and we made dozens of paisley shaped boxes and covered them with wallpaper. Ugh!

I am happy with how it turned out and hope the buyer is just as happy with it! 

This one is the clock box that I showed you the beginnings of a while back sometime in August. It's also a commission and I believe I remember hearing that it would be for stamps and envelopes on her desk. It's a 7" square paper mache box, the smallest I've found to work with the clock kits I have.

This isn't the new owner's trophy, but it would be a nice way to preserve some of them I think. Looking at the top, it makes me wish I had done a little something more to the's hand painted by the way.

It's pretty all the way around with two different papers, the floral ribbon and nickel tacks.

The embossed pink paper gives the appearance of tooled leather don't you think? When I found it I couldn't wait to use it! Now, I can't wait to use it again.

I'd like to decorate for fall and Halloween around here this week. If October goes by as fast as September did, we won't get to enjoy our Halloween decorations for very long. Got yours out yet?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Booth...again.

The booth....seems like that's all I've been talking about on the blog for weeks is...the booth. It's probably because that's all I've been working on and finally we've taken our first installment down to The Depot at Gibson Mill  for the booth. I don't know why I even bothered to make a floor plan because I had to make changes first thing...but that's okay, it turned out fine. I hope there will be bare spots when I return with more things this week anyway!

Like in our shop at home, I tried to have areas of similar items, which is a challenge in a 10' x 10' space. This month, we are featuring all of our pitchers and creamers on the tiered unit on the left just as you enter the booth.

From the shop, we took out the entire side wall of treasures for little girls and ladies of all ages, including the matching vanity and chair, jewelry, dresser accessories and some vintage clothing, hats and some really, really cute evening purses.

I'm excited beyond measure to have a concrete floor to showcase my floorcloths! I normally have to hang them and no one knows they are rugs if they aren't familiar with floorcloths. Now, I just hope people will go ahead and walk on them. The one in the back is a 4'x6' and took over two weeks to complete and the one in front is a 2.5' x 3' and took nearly a week. There is a lot of preparation work before the art ever goes on them and then there are 6 coats of poly applied for go ahead and walk on's perfectly safe. I've been making them for almost 23 years and I have it down to a science. About the only way to damage them is to fold them or place them on a carpet instead of a hard floor.

I should have gotten more pictures of the side walls, but I Erin was ready to go, bless her heart for helping me all day, and we had much to load back onto the truck before we could head home.

I hope you can get to Concord soon and visit not just my booth but the other 500+. I see something each trip that I need! Really!

Next week I promise to talk about something besides the booth! See you then.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


I've managed to keep my promise and post every Wednesday for three or four in a row now. This is working!

...Since last week we've spent every minute being productive and honestly, I am glad this week is a regular  schedule.

Last Friday we made our annual trek up to Hillsville, Va for the big flea market.  This is the first year in 18 that I didn't find anything I couldn't live without. I came home with 2 sets of salt and pepper shakers, a pair of drawer pulls and a pitcher that wasn't even old...and something else I know,but can't recall. 

By early afternoon it was miserably hot and then it stormed on us about the time I finally found some things I was interested in for the shop. We waited it out for a while but most of the vendors kept their things covered up in case another storm rolled through so we packed up as well and left. All in all it was a fun day even though we didn't come home with anything for resell.

Saturday, we picked up Erin at the airport. She was easy to spot coming out the door..looking like Taylor Swift in her cute little dress and cowboy boots. She looks so much like Taylor that when she meets people that's usually one of the first things they notice about her. 

 Do you see any resemblance? 

Also, on Saturday, Rick started building sections of our Depot booth here at home. By about 8 pm he had most everything ready and I put a coat of primer on the side wall to save me some drying time on Sunday. Long day to say the least! He built everything possible here but of course, there were a few minor changes when we got to Concord on Sunday afternoon.

We had lots of help carrying in the loads of materials and tools. Two of Sam's friends went with us and saved Rick many steps throughout the five hours we were there. We had one wall already in our space and had to add another side and a back.

10' x 10' gets a little crowded with 5 people in it...thank goodness for the media room! Oh, and Sam is the tall one there talking to his dad who is the one that looks like his patience is running low.

The side went up quickly but someone (me) forgot to add the column into the plan and our measurements were about a foot off so here was when we (husband) had to recalculate a few things. OOPS. Sorry honey.

 The color was a last minute decision...but I like it. Rick was out the door on his way to Lowes Saturday morning and I couldn't find my paint swatches in the heap of stuff on my desk where they I had to mix up something from my acrylics in the 60 seconds before he left...all while on the phone. It's all good. Right?

Monday morning was again spent building parts and pieces for the booth. About 1pm we had everything  loaded and was headed to Concord in the rain to finish. I took advantage of the muscle power and got the mantle moved in too!

The idea is a saloon front...I'm not sure why I came up with that but it's just what stuck once it came to me...and something had to stick quick! The swinging doors are actually a headboard...could you tell?

 For some reason, we had some miscommunication between designer and our roof started a little higher than planned, but what could I say, but thank you!!!! It's perfect. It still resembles an old saloon front I think.

Rick worked incredibly hard for three days with only one day off between his 15+ days straight, crazy work schedule he is pulling right now. I couldn't have done anything like this without him! Tuesday began another 15 and he seemed to be happy as he got into his truck to leave. Hmmm?

...And the buggy wheel...that I hope my Daddy doesn't really want back since he saw how much they were selling for in Hillsville on Friday. Remember, if you've been reading my blog since the beginning, that he gave me four of them. The little shelf above it is for our marketing materials...and Sam said for candy. That may not be a bad idea.

Okay, I have work to do so I can get this booth filled up! I will see you back here next Wednesday with photos of stuff inside. I hope you have a good week until then.