Category Archives: antiques

Vintage Beauty

There’s something about antique, vintage and otherwise imperfect surfaces that I just love.  Worn, distressed, rusted, aged – these are all wonderful adjectives in my world.  I suppose part of the allure is the instant sense of history that’s conveyed when you see a piece that’s somehow distressed.  And though many artists and crafters regularly use techniques intended to mimic the aged and distressed look (myself included), there’s nothing like the real thing.  That’s why I nearly swoon when I visit antique stores like the ones over in Old Towne Orange, and I was smitten with so many pieces when I stopped by for a little browsing a few weekends ago.  If I didn’t have a finite amount of space and a limited budget I would’ve been buying things left and right!

I only purchased a few things, but really enjoyed all the eye candy.  (The last two photos, below, show what I bought)  I snapped a few iPhone photos of things that made my eyes happy, and hope you enjoy seeing these items as well.  The first of the two photos is a detail shot of the item in question, and the second is a wider shot.


While in the first store I saw a Penny Rug for the first time.  Made up of hundreds of hand-cut circles of felt and thousands of stitches, I was blown away by how much time and effort must’ve gone into this piece.  Penny Rugs aren’t actually used as rugs – they’re more like table runners or decorative coverings for other home furnishings.  I was intrigued by what I learned about Penny Rugs on Wikipedia, but probably won’t get around to making my own – and this $79 version was definitely out of my price range!


This yearbook from the 1930’s had a beautifully embossed cover and spine.  So lovely!


I love the floral motif on this silver platter, and even think the tarnish is pretty!


I’m not a girly-girl, and am generally not drawn to this shade of pink, but this feathered hat was such a delightful ball of fluff that I couldn’t resist trying it on!


Ooh, yum.  The rust-colored, mottled surface of this mirror is fantastic.


This set of rusted drawers is so incredibly cool, I was barely able to make myself walk away!  If only I had more space and $200 to spend on one piece of art supply storage!!


What’s with the bronzed baby shoe?  The last time I visited the shops in Old Towne Orange I was with my friends A.T. and A.C., and we saw bronzed baby shoes.  I knew they’d been popular back in the day, but we wondered aloud – what possessed folks to bronze baby shoes anyway?  I’ve seen a few pairs since then, and they’ve kind of been growing on me.  So, when I saw this one shoe – and it was marked down – I indulged my weird bronzed baby shoe interest.  The shoe is engraved across the top, and says Beverly  with a date of 12-30-46.  So sweet, and interesting too – Beverly is near to my mom’s age.  Do you suppose the date is when Beverly was born, or the date she took her first steps?

My purchases for the day:

3 vintage photos featuring babies – originally $2 each, they were marked down to $1
1 other vintage photo (upper right) – $1.50
Small striped shell (center) – 50 cents
Bronzed baby shoe – originally $12, marked down to $6

Total: $11 plus tax – a bargain for a day’s entertainment and some fun items for my creative stash!

What types of things do you like to shop and window shop for, dear readers?  Do you collect vintage photos and vintage buttons like me, or have another kind of collection?  Please fill me in…

Warm regards,

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DIY: Vintage Button Wall Display


Back in 2005 I visited New York City, and shopped at an open air flea market.  While I was there I found and bought a few bulky and ridiculously inexpensive vintage pieces.  One was an old ledger, and one was a wooden tray originally used to hold the letters/type from a printing press.  I found these items early in the day, and unintentionally drove hubby crazy as I lugged these two clunky items around Manhattan for the rest of the day.  I think the wooden tray was $2, which was a steal, and I was thrilled to have found such wonderful items so cheap!

Somewhere along the way I decided the tray would make a great display for some of my vintage buttons.  I probably thought of this project at least four years ago, and recently sat down to make my vision a reality. Finally.  Better late than never though, and I knew it was just a matter of time before I put this cool piece of print history to good use!



  • Wooden print type tray (consider looking for a modern alternative to this vintage piece at your local craft store if you’re not into vintage)
  • Pop-Up Glue Dots
  • Wire Cutters
  • Buttons

Button Selection

I have a box full of vintage buttons – I started collecting around ten years ago – and started this project by sorting through them.  I decided to do one row of each color, of eight different colors, and looked for buttons that were a good representation of the variety in my collection.  I chose mostly one-of-a-kind buttons, meaning that I only had one of them in my stash.  If there were three or more of a button I didn’t use them, since I tend to use either three or four of a particular button in my collages.


Each little niche was labeled with a paper letter when I purchased the tray, dating back to its original use, and I opted to keep the labels on and preserve that bit of history as well.


1. Select the buttons you’d like to display.  I used one button per spot.
2. Cut the shanks off the backs of any buttons that have them.  I used wire cutters to remove the buttons’ shanks, whether the shank was metal or plastic.
3. Lay the buttons out in the grid, shifting buttons as needed until you’re pleased with the layout.
4. Attach each button to the grid with a Pop-Up Glue Dot, being sure to press the button down firmly.
5. Attach a hanger of some sort to the back of the wooden tray – like a sawtooth – and then hang on the wall.

This project is easy and versatile.  Not only can you customize the colors and patterns you display in your grid, you can take buttons out and put new ones in once it’s been hung.  The glue dots hold firm, but should allow you to pull a button out if you find a “new” button you’d like to display later on.


Please let me know if you have any questions, and feel free to comment!

Warm regards,

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Repurposed Vintage Train Case


Look – my new “art supplies on the go” case!  I used to have my art supply basics in a huge Ziplock bag, and would put that bag inside a larger tote when I attended art classes or creative gatherings, but I definitely needed an upgrade.  Sure, my old bag was easy to transport and functional, but it lacked style and charm.  I began thinking of a vintage train case as a potential candidate for my upgrade, and found the perfect case the weekend before last while antiquing with friends.  Originally $22.00, it was on sale and my total was $18.96 with tax.  This was more than I’d wanted to pay, but when I checked eBay I found it was reasonably priced when compared to similar pieces and I saved on shipping by buying locally.


Though the case could easily be decoupaged, I’ve opted to keep the blue exterior plain, and just dressed up the handle.  I DID decoupage the inside though.  The interior’s bottom and sides looked a bit “undesirable”, so I used vintage ledger paper to cover over the makeup stains.  This ledger paper was a fab choice because of the vintage feel and the tiny blue lines running across the pages.  These lines tie in to the case’s blue exterior without being super matchy-matchy.  An added bonus of the decoupaged interior is that the inside surfaces are now sealed and protected.  That said, if I happen to spill ink or some other art supply inside who cares?  After all, it IS an art case!


Vintage Train Case interior – before.  The interior was intact but stained, and a vigorous cleaning didn’t help.


Vintage Train Case Interior – after.  So much better, don’t you think?


The front side of the tag…


The back side of the tag, which includes my business cards…

Curious about this case’s transformation process?  Here are the steps:

  1. Clean the case – inside and out.  I used 409, paper towels, and an old toothbrush to clean up the somewhat dingy case.  The old toothbrush worked really well in the nooks and crannies.
  2. Cut pieces of paper to line the case with.  I used vintage ledger paper, but you might use tissue paper, magazine pages, wrapping paper, or another thin decorative paper.
  3. Apply the paper to the interior using a decoupage medium like Mod Podge or water-soluble Minwax Polycrylic.  First, adhere the paper pieces to the case’s interior and let that dry completely. Next, apply two or three coats of sealer on top of your paper to protect the paper’s surface.  Be sure to allow each coat to dry completely before applying the next coat.
  4. Attach a custom luggage tag with your contact information on the handle.  This will make it easy to identify the piece as yours, and easier for the case to be returned to you should it become lost. I used a business card, watercolor paper, vintage ledger paper, glassine, a carved cork stamp, masking tape, and vintage buttons to make my custom tag.
  5. Enjoy!  I can hardly wait to take my new art supplies case on its first outing.  I won’t be taking the train on my trip, but I’ll be hitting the road on Sunday and am really looking forward to transporting my art supplies in style!

Please let me know if you have any questions, dear readers.  Oh, and please post a comment and share if you’ve converted an unconventional bag into something you carry on your artful outings.  I’d love to hear about it and am sure my other readers would, too!

Warm regards,

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Antiquing (& Eating) in Old Towne Orange


Antiquing in Old Towne Orange, California is one of my favorite ways to spend a day.  The thrill of the hunt is part of the fun, and there’s a “foodie” aspect, too.  In addition to having several antique stores, this little area is also home to several wonderful places to eat.  So if you like to gaze at goodies from the past and grab some great grub, you’ll definitely enjoy a trip to Old Towne Orange.  I snapped some photos with my trusty iPhone on a recent trip – please scroll down to see images of things that caught my eye versus what I actually purchased.


My Perfect Schedule


I like to start looking through the stores around 10 a.m.  I break for lunch at one of the nearby restaurants around noon, and then continue shopping until sensory overload sets in.  Sensory overload is a very real danger when shopping in antique stores because they cram stuff into every nook and cranny!  I don’t usually eat lunch and dinner in the area, but if you’re coming from out of town and want to make a day of it, you could easily eat two great meals at two different restauruants.


Antiques Galore


Let me clarify something: When I go antiquing I’m not looking for stately wooden furniture or Depression-era glassware.  Those kinds of things are certainly lovely, but they’re not my thing. First of all, my budget is too small, and I’m actually looking for smaller things size-wise, too.  I’m usually searching for unique little bits and bobs I can use in my art: vintage buttons and other trims, vintage photos, and things like handkerchiefs.

The stores I visit generally have a good mix of merchandise though. Bigger pieces for those looking to decorate their home, and smaller pieces for people like me who are looking to embellish a collage.


First – things I liked, but didn’t buy:

Image at top – I love vintage ornaments, and they looked great in the glass bowl.



The green on this dish brought Ireland to mind.



I love this rich, velvet hat – but not the $45 selling price.



The baker and the silver lover in me adore this pan.  Unfortunately, the price was unappetizing.



My Grandma Neva loved owls, and I do, too…



This skirt was lovely, but at nearly $80 it wasn’t a great fit.



You know you’ve reached “a certain age” when you start seeing toys from your childhood in antique stores!



This beauty is a vintage footwarmer, used in the early days of automobiling.  I love the contrast of the green velvet and the metal…


Here’s what I did buy:


This book of Practical Arithmetic was a bargain at $1.  It will be perfect for collage and is already partially disassembled!



I love vintage photos, and purchased five black and white photos for $1 each.  Here are two of the images I chose  – the class photos go well with my book!

Total spent: $6.00, plus tax




With so many restaurants to enjoy, it can be tough to decide where to dine.  Here’s a brief list of some of my favorite restaurants:

Watson’s Drugs & Soda Fountain – Watson’s has been a fixture in Old Towne Orange since 1899. Not only do they have a soda fountain/dining area that serves up delicious food and desserts, they also have a small drugstore that sells some “old school” candies you might not have seen for years.  The meals are good (including breakfast), but I really go to Watson’s for sweets: shakes, root beer floats, banana splits, pie.  Everything I’ve had is good – the difficult part is choosing what to order!

Renata’s Cafe Italiano – This Italian restaurant has great food.  I love their lasagna, garlic bread, and house dressing!

Bruxie – This is a new addition to my favorite list. They serve waffle sandwiches – both savory and sweet.  Yum!  I’ve only eaten at Bruxie once thus far, but will definitely be going back.

I can vouch for the following:
Savory: Bruxie Burger, and the Smoked Salmon & Dill Cream Waffle
Sweet: Lemon Cream & Berries Waffle, and Soft Serve Frozen Custard
Salty: Fries

*Note: Bruxie is very popular and is likely to have a (potentially long) line, so don’t wait until you’re starving to head over.


I invite you to post a comment and share your favorite antiquing locations – please be sure to include your favorite nearby restaurants!

Warm regards,

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My Week in Cambria, California


As you may recall, I spent a week in Cambria last month.  After a crazy and stressful start to the year it was a much-needed break, and I’m so thankful I was able to recharge my batteries in such a beautiful place.  Though I really just needed some down time, I was also very productive creatively.  I completed three art projects, redlined my novel draft, took tons of photos, and enjoyed some local attractions.  Nice!

If you’re not familiar with Cambria, it’s a small coastal town in Central California.  North of San Luis Obispo and south of Monterey, Cambria’s slogan “Pines by the Sea” is very appropriate.  The scenery is gorgeous, and pine trees do abound.  The scenery in and around Cambria is an incredibly beautiful combination of mountain, country, and beach-y elements.  It’s heavenly!

Cambria is a quiet town with population under 7,000, so if you’re into nightlife and a fast-paced vibe you’ll need to go elsewhere.  However, if you’re looking to relax, slow down, and enjoy a gorgeous piece of California, Cambria is for you.  Cambria may be a two-day destination for many, but if you’re an artist or a nature lover, the way I am, you’ll be able to pass a happy week – or more – in this charming town.

The Beach

I went to the beach nearly every day, and took photos as far north as San Simeon Cove. Moonstone Beach is my favorite, though.  With gorgeous beaches and wildlife (I saw birds, seals, and ground squirrels), it’s a real treat.  I made sure to visit Moonstone Beach for a sunset, and wasn’t disappointed.  It was stunning! (The photo at the very top of this post was taken at Moonstone Beach)


San Simeon Cove



San Simeon Pier



Rock formations at Moonstone Beach



Sunset at Moonstone Beach



Cambria is full of darling shops, and makes for a great day or two of shopping if you’re interested in some retail therapy.  Some of the stores I shopped at included:

Red Moose Cookie Company – Yum! Their “Cinnful” cookies and “Naughty Rods” are particularly fabulous.  I also liked and purchased the “Oh Joy” cookies.

A Matter of Taste – a great store for foodies

All the antique stores in town! I found two great vintage photos, including one of an incredibly dirty and rumpled little girl.  Most of the people in old-time portraits look carefully primped and dressed, so she piqued my interest.  Price? $1, so I had to adopt her!

*Bonus shopping experience: I was lucky enough to be in town for the big, twice-yearly thrift store event put on by Community Presbyterian Church, and got a bag full of art supplies (and two framed pieces of art) for $13 – major score!  Some of the things I bought (like fabric squares & playing cards) will be included in the art supply kits for this fall’s art journaling class.  I think finding inexpensive supplies for my students made me happiest of all!



There are several great places to eat in Cambria, but two of my favorites are definitely Robin’s and the Sea Chest Oyster Bar & Restaurant.

Robin’s Salmon Bisque is scrumptious, and so was the garlic bread and Lemon Poppyseed Cheesecake.


When I went to the Sea Chest for dinner I had some oysters, calamari (the best calamari I’ve ever had – the Sea Chest is the only place I’ll eat calamari), and garlic bread.  So good!




In addition to the wildlife along the coast, I saw horses and cows (in the hills outside town), deer, a wild turkey, tree squirrels, woodpeckers and egrets.  Though I live in the city I think I’m a country girl at heart, so seeing all these critters was a real treat for me!  Many of the trees in Cambria were draped with a soft green moss, and I was bewitched by the sight.


A ground squirrel at Moonstone Beach



A flower I photographed at the local nursery



One of the moss-draped trees


Hearst Castle

I didn’t go to Heart Castle during this visit, but fondly remember my visit in 1998 and definitely recommend a visit. I hope to get there again on a future visit, as there are different tours and hubby and I only saw a small little bit of the property.

I did see some of the Hearst’s “residents” on this trip, though – I saw five zebras on the Hearst acreage as I zoomed past on Highway 1.  What beautiful animals…

I hope you’ve enjoyed this peek at some of my photos from Cambria.  Please let me know if you have any questions – at present I personally answer each and every comment posted and would be happy to hear from you.

Warm regards,

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Artful Ingredients: Artistic Probabilities for 2011

I love to collect odds and ends to use in my art.  I have a moderate-sized stash of goodies on hand at all times, and always keep an eye out for new artistic possibilities.  I’m an equal opportunity collector, too.  I’m not just interested in new or expensive items.  I’m just as likely to select something inexpensive or otherwise destined for the trash.  Whether something cost $30 or nothing at all, it’s all treasure to me.

I’ve been plotting and planning lately, and have written down my goal for this year.  I’ve also chose some materials I’d like to use – one way or another – in upcoming art projects and I’d like to share them with you.  Here are some of the materials I’m planning on using in my artwork in 2011:

Plastic netting


This would have been trash, had I not rescued it.  Originally holding produce and sealed noodles, these pieces of netting now have almost limitless potential.

Caran d’Ache water-soluble crayons


I love working with these glorious sticks of color!  It’s time to pick them up again…

Embroidery hoop & thread


I’ve purchased a book teaching and illustrating embroidery stitches, and plan to learn at least one stitch per month this year.

Joss paper


There are many types of joss paper.  I love this orange and metallic gold combo!



I have some of these oh-so-old photos in my vintage photo collection, and they’re calling to me.

Glass tube-y electrical components


I don’t know exactly what these are, but I knew I had to buy some for my artwork!

Cabinet cards


These photos would like to come out and play as well!  I reserve the right to use different images, but will make use of cabinet cards in 2011.

Wooden sewing box


This is one my pricier purchases; it was around $30 at an antique store in Missouri.  It’s suuuuuuper cool though – trust me.  The way it opens and can be displayed is so unique!

Mailing pouch


These express mail pouches are virtually indestructible, and I’ve wanted to make something with one for a while now.  2011 is the year that function and form will meet.

Metal muffin cup


Most people would’ve eaten the muffin this cup held and then thrown the pleated cup away.  I’m not most people.  This piece of metal will live again in my art!

Please keep an eye out for these materials in my artwork in the upcoming months.  Their inclusion may be subtle, so it will take a keen eye, but they’ll appear.  I hope you’ve enjoyed this peek into my Artful Ingredients…

Warm regards,

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My Christmas-y Cubicle


By day I do administrative work for a company that’s blissfully close to where I live.  And though my creative side sometimes screams to be let out when I’m doing work that’s decidedly uncreative, I’m lucky because this company that I’m thankful to work for holds special events from time to time. For example, they hosted a Halloween contest and I put my creativity to work by creating a costume that was both industry-related and fun.  December’s creativity opportunity is a holiday decorating contest, and I had a great time decorating my cubicle!

Moving Beyond Beige

Many of my co-workers are content to keep their cubicle relatively anonymous-looking year round.  Some do little to personalize their workspace except for posting a family photo or two.  Not me!  My non-holiday décor includes a colorful tapestry hung on the back wall, framed nature photos, plants, one of my half marathon medals, and family photos.  It’s definitely different than many of the cubicles that surround it, which isn’t surprising given there’s an artist in-residence.

My holiday decorations are different as well.  Searching for a theme, I struck creative gold when I decided to use my stash of vintage items to decorate.  Armed with a small tree, evergreen garland, lights, and vintage goodies, I decorated one day last week, and am very happy with the results.  I’ve received many compliments from co-workers, too, which is a nice bonus.  I may or may not win the contest – regardless, I’m enjoying my festive cubicle!



Here are some of the vintage elements I used to decorate: black and white photos, vintage postcards, other correspondence (including a small envelope that had been sent through the mail), metal molds, ribbon, spools of thread, and handkerchiefs.  I used Clipiola paperclips to attach the photos, postcards, and correspondence to the tree and garland, and the star atop the tree was purchased for a song at a thrift store in Lincoln, Kansas last year.





These photos are proof that even a small beige cubicle can look festive, beautiful, and unique.  Thank you for taking a peek at my handiwork!  I hope you’re enjoying your weekend…

Warm regards,

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Exploring Inspiration – Volume 1


Inspiration is often an elusive thing, and I find it interesting to track the progression from initial inspiration to a finished piece – with my own work, and with the work of others.  I thought I’d share this collage, Dissect, as an example of how one element – one material – can inspire an entire piece of art.

I created this collage early last year, when I was emerging from an artistic drought.  I knew spending time in nature would help restore my creative spirit, and headed to a nearby park that has extensive hiking trails.  Once there, armed with my camera and some plastic bags, I walked the trails to see what would catch my eye.  I gathered a few feathers and a stone or two, but the prize of the day was this odd-looking thing that looked like a cross between a pod and a loofah.  It reminded me of a heart, and I knew it would make a compelling central image for a collage.


From there I decided to take a peek inside, inside myself that is, which I like to do from time to time.  I dissected my heart, figuratively, and created this collage based on what was inside.  Once I knew what aspects I wanted to visually manifest, I dipped into my cache of art supplies.  Here are some of the materials I used, in addition to the found pod:

Base board – the base is thick cardboard, a slightly damage book cover
Background paper, crumpled
A page from a vintage ledger
Masking Tape (for the edge/border of the collage)
Metal tape
Glue dots
Small vellum envelopes
Vintage sheet music
Other ephemera/personal bits
Vintage letter stamps
Metallic rub-ons
Silver tray (I chose this as a frame for the heart, partly because it had a kind of clinical feel – like a tray that might be found in a laboratory)


Assembly took a few hours, and voila!  Dissection complete!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this quick peek into my creative process. Inspiration will be the topic of some future blog posts, when I’ll share how other pieces of art or writing took seed then bloomed into their finished state.

Warm regards,

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These Are a Few of My Favorite Things…

I have quite a stash of art supplies.  I’m a lucky girl!  I’ve pared things back in the past few years, but many wonderful things remain.  Some of my supplies are new, packaged and a bit more generic – things like cardstock, adhesives, canvases, or pens.  Others are more unique and a bit more eclectic:

Cabinet cards and other vintage photos



Aged lace and other trims



Bottles of old glitter and sequins


Vintage handkerchiefs


Oh, and buttons.  I love vintage buttons!



It’s these “one-of-a-kind/you’ll NEVER find this again” things that are so hard to pass up.  Especially the vintage photos.  I want to adopt all these orphans of yesteryear.  However, I try not to buy things that are too pricey, so I’m constantly weighing want versus really want!  I find many of my unique supplies at thrift stores, swap meets, and antiques stores, and love ferreting out a bargain – don’t you?  There’s nothing better than getting something you are certain to buy for a great price!

While I’m trying to keep my supply stash within bounds, I’ll always have several “favorite things” on-hand. You never know when inspiration will strike, and I like to have a good selection of things to pull from when the planets of creativity align!

Warm regards,

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