Friday, February 27, 2009

You can't save everything in this world. but you can make it worth it's living

It seems to be the way lately that whenever I take some things outside to be photographed (which is nearly everyday thanks to my listing approximately 254,304 things on eBay) our little white kitty feels the need to help. Generally her favourite way of doing this is to spread her hair all over everything, and insist that my hands would be better put to use patting her than arranging some boring old earrings on a bit of old wood.

As well as become an eBay freak, I started making some more covered notebooks- making a dint in my sizable 'old book bits' collection.

The cover for this one is from a great 1950s book which is designed to teach women how to be charming, graceful, pretty- but also how to educate yourself, what kind of sports a lady can play, and other general things we all seemed to need to be able to do back then in order to be real women. It's so charmingly out-of-date and filled with great pictures of lanky, buck-toothed farm girls becoming swan-necked belles. Hilarious in an eye-rolling kind of way.

I love the book pages I used to seal the end papers on this first covered book- from a 19th century novel that was falling to pieces. The paper is like bible pages, the letterpress so heavily indented you can run your finger over the page and feel it like braille; the ink so dark that the print shows through the other side. It has the sweetest tiny little illustrations at the end of every chapter.

Using books in collage is an interesting game. I grew up in a house full of books, my father is an avid collector and my mother is a librarian- it's taken me years to get up the moxy to take a blade to a book! I started with cheap 60s paperbacks and slowly worked up from there.

There are a few good 'excuses' for taking a book apart and I admit that not all books I find end up murdered- some of them I just can't bring myself to ruin! But some are easy to kill- falling apart, extremely boring in subject but lovely of cover, born into the world as ten cent trash...then there are books you can convince yourself you're ridding the world of by slicing their spine.

One great example is a book I bought last week at the thrift. I wanted it mostly for it's time ravaged and embossed cover but the subject was interesting too; it was about tigers. It was only upon getting home and reading it properly did I realise it was about shooting tigers. Lovely. The cover came off and the rest when in the bin, hunting trophy photographs and all.

1. "Lovely", 2. cover of my book 'voices', 3. Vintage Sheet Music Stack, 4. new inspiration in my studio, 5. L'école de médecine vétérinaire, 6. Grace, 7. Love is here, 8. Untitled, 9. Ancient Pages

It's a similar situation with lace, textiles, buttons... some of them are so old and you think to yourself that there are collectors out there ready with a wallet full of cash for these things. But probably more so than books, lace buttons and fabrics need to be used. It's their purpose in life to be crafted into something. I find using vintage and antique things in art to be one of the best ways of appreciating old things. Just because something is old doesn't make it precious or valuable, especially if it's worn out or run down or otherwise decrepit (just the way I like 'em). My way of concentrating my material gathering on the broken and decayed is a way of re-using what the collectors don't want, and in using it to make art I hope to teach people how to see the beauty unnoticed.

An old book with a lovely cover can be bought by someone and end up on their dusty shelf, might never be read, never be touched, just another slab of paper resting on a stretch of wood. But take it apart, layer it in art, hang it on the it not better used? It has a purpose again- the object has become more than it's information, and perhaps in it's transfiguration from everyday object to art object, even gained in value. Why do we put such stock in these old things? Is art more valuable when the book itself was a valuable thing? Could I charge more for a covered notebook I make if I used a first edition Agatha Christie?

Interesting question. And I do have one too...

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Cheap and dirty love

While pottering around on the internet the other night Allan (house mate) managed to discover that there's an antique shop just around the corner from us! So we all piled in the car this afternoon and tootled off to have a look see.

While there I discovered something- things ain't what they were. It was a lovely shop that we'll go back to again and again, but both Jane and I had trouble finding something we wanted to buy, reasonable price tag or not.

It used to be that I'd walk into a place and have some sort of apoplexy because everything is so wonderful. Nowadays it just seems like a bunch of old tat; the other problem is that what I like has become popular and it's all far too expensive! Either way (or both ways) it just seems like the meat has gone out of the hunt, now you really have to carve your way through the jungle to find anything worthwhile. In other words, what I need is a good hard junking. It's been so long since I've come back from a day out hunting with armfuls of brilliant things.

Anyway- I did buy something. A copy of 'Sunday At Home', a compendium of magazines printed in the Victorian period when good Christian souls weren't allowed to do anything on Sunday (apart from church obviously) that remotely resembled work, you just had to sit and behave yourself. And read- preferably something religious.

It's in quite bad condition- very faded and a little grubby, the covers have come off and the decorative spine has long gone. The pages are worn around the edge and some of them have come free. I love it.

And for the princely sum of $3. I'm not sure what I'll do with it yet- possibly use the covers on a covered notebook project and use the pages in paper packs. It's still perfectly usable as a book, but I like to elevate it's purpose beyond that and I'll never read it, let's be honest.

I also have far too many things laying about that really ought to be in the shop. Massive update time!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

All them modern things

A little trip to IKEA yesterday. I could spend all day there- not much in the way of decayed glamour and 'Dickensian bohemia', but OH so clean and organised! I'm worried I'm becoming anal in my old age- I bought more refrigerator containers than I thought I'd ever need in life- my ideal 'fridge scene' is just shelves of neatly stacked boxes, each stating what's in them with a nice little label.

Everything so fresh and well-kept, no stray tomatoes finding their way into the back of the shelf and hiding there. No more hap-hazard piles of random packaging, screaming it's unattractive graphics. I get anal about packaging, that much I'm sure of and am happy about. I'll happily spend a dollar more on something that has a better label than it's identical product brother. Take this bottle of Camp pure maple syrup for example:

I don't care that it's the most expensive- I'm paying to look at it as well as eat it!

Anyway- what was I saying? Oh yes, IKEA. We were wandering around when we happened upon a room half-done (going up rather than coming down I hope) which had the most wonderful wallpaper:

I'm so in love with it! It's called woods by Cole and Son, who have a wonderful selection of modern and traditional wallpapers.

In searching for the image I came across a beautiful blog, Desire to Inspire. So clean and organised, just like IKEA! Further from there I discovered the work of Aimee Herring...

I have no idea who this chap is, but he's very dashing! Why aren't there more dashing chaps like this about the place?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Guts and Glory

It's been a while since I did an inspiration post, so here's a few artists and things that are making my heart beat faster right now.

I've linked to Crystal's blog in an entry before, but I neglected to show you something she makes that is so exquisite: spine brooches! I almost wish I weren't saving hard so I could buy them all! Her shop is here.

Lisa Kokin creates wonderful mixed media books, sculptures and installations using paper, buttons and mixed media, but my favourite are her sewn antique photographs:

...on her site she says "I sit in my studio and speculate about the nature of the photographed people’s lives. I will, of course, never know the truth, so I feel it is my job to give them new lives and rescue them from the obscurity they would be headed for were it not for me, humble servant of the arts."

This image is so inspiring:

....I'd love to create some simple cuffs that echo this worn-out glory.

And finally, this poster:

...sound advice, and something that- yet again- makes me wish I didn't need to save my money right now. Especially as the thrift shop coughed up yet another gorgeous pair of shoes in my size...delightful black, leather, shin-high steampunk boots with side buttons....oh dear. I really ought to stop going into the thrift shop.


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

two lovely treasuries...

Let's grow old together... by the amazing shavingkitsuppplies, who makes the most wonderful brooches (amongst other gorgeousness) -I've been meaning to show them off to you for some time!

Giant Cicada Muslin Grunge Brooch

There are some new things in the shop today:

...and I've become rather fond of taking random shots of the studio.

here's hoping you don't mind. :)

Sunday, February 8, 2009

On the up...

Front page treasury today!

(screenshot by poppylove herself.)

A beautiful selection of lovely plum and pepper coloured things from the delightful poppylove- who makes lovely confectionery-like treats...these Moroccan lace earrings are making my mouth water, you could almost slip them in your mouth and taste rasberries. Probably better to hang them from your ears though. :)

I'm not in the treasury any more by the look of it; I was on as a reserve. How does reserve work? When something sells you slip in, and you're replaced when you sell? I don't know! At any rate, it's still wonderful. Thank you to those of you who were kind enough to write and let me know.

I've been updating the shop again today- a framed box assemblage that's been sitting around forever and a day, and a lovely trinket scattered wrist cuff with a gorgeous confimation medallion I've had trouble letting go of!

The tiny fragment of red cotton from it's original mounting (click the picture to see) just floors me with delight. I am so attached to these things...

There's more to come later, so many tattered treasures who have all had their picture taken and are lined up like good soldiers on my desk, waiting for my mind to concentrate for more than 5 minutes and list them.

The weather today was wonderful, just to brag- half the temperature as yesterday. At one point I had to trade my skirt for pants, because I was cold. Rejoice! In celebration, have a random shot of the work table.

My friend Phoebe gave me these red transferware teacups for Christmas, I love them to bits! (They have saucers too.) The scissors are thrifted find- I should post images of my scissor collection one day, there's quite a few and I use them all. I collect Union jacks as well...what do you collect?

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Studio Still lives

46 degrees Celcius- that's how high the sun climbed today. That's 114oF.

Due to this volcanic episode, the majority of my afternoon was spent laying around in the bathtub reading Bleak House. And by 'laying around' I mean crammed into a porcelain bread bin with water almost covering half of me- why are tubs of this century made for midgets?

The cool change came through in the evening though, with much rejoicing- and my brain came back online. I finished a wrist cuff and best of all for you, took some pictures of my new studio space!

It's the corner of my bedroom technically- I haven't found much hampering in going from having a whole room to spread out in down to a corner; it's really amazing the way I can cram my 16 metric tonnes of earthly craft possessions in any size room, tardis-style.

I'm piling everything on view- because I'm the kind of person who forgets she has something if she can't see it all the time. So far I've not finished unpacking everything, there will likely be a lot more stuff; every time I turn around there's an unpacked box grinning at me from the floor. I haven't even hung pictures yet!

All these tins, boxes and containers hold secret things to be incorporated into my craft- Victorian buttons, war-time hook and eye fasteners, shells from African shores, 1930s fur hooks...

Here are a couple of works-in-progress...I'm almost sure 'follow me' is done, there's just something missing. It will sit quietly on my desk until the perfect part presents itself.

And one last thing- in what is perhaps the most inopportune moment for me to suddenly need to spend too much money, I found the most wonderful pair of vintage pumps at the thrift shop last week- in my size! Do you know how hard it is to find nice shoes in my size? It does not happen.

What is even more rare is that I found a pair of 'spice boots' 5 minutes later- two pairs of shoes in the same day! They're a little bit like these but with wide straps instead of laces, and no fur. They make me feel like a Spice girl Jedi, they're utterly ridiculous, very comfortable and I sort of love them. Why do we find wonderful things right at times when we really can't afford them?

I'm saving for England...I'm saving for England...

Friday, February 6, 2009

Back in the saddle

Update in the shop- Love in Idleness

Despite the heat of the Australian summer still riding high in the saddle, I've been trying to work on some things about the house- getting my new bedroom all set up (pictures coming) and work desk under control so I can start making things again. I haven't made any art for over 2 weeks now, it's starting to feel like I'm living a different life. I like the life where I'm making things. :)

I've given up trying to learn the new camera until the weather is cooler and I can get a more level head! I'm back on my old camera now, there was a memory card in the discount bin at the supermarket last week- perfect timing really as the card I was using is at Death's door- you can't get more than 1 image on it before it's full. And that's a small image! Now I can take over 300 of the really giant size!

Finished pieces (finished long ago!) ready for the shop- these will all be listed in the next few days. New stuff- yay!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Laces of the Upper Kingdom

The Sun King gave us good grace today, coming under the 30 degree Celsius mark. I was to move a trailer load of furniture but Dad's car decided it wanted to overheat instead, so we've put it off till tomorrow.

So I took the day as a 'spare' and went into town for a little thrifting. The highlight of the haul was a ravaged old book from the 40s on human physiology. It looks to be a re-print from an earlier time, but it has lots of wonderful pictures that I can utilise in a project or two I have in mind.

I love the way the whole book is starting to decompose- this is what like best about books, when they've been scribbled on and read and bent back and repaired and broken again; they stop becoming a practical item designed to hold information and start becoming objects. Like a mummy suddenly re-discovered, this book frittered page scrap and binding dust to the wind when I opened it to examine the origami folds on it's tattered brown paper wrapper.

I also found a large bunch of deep crimson red feather roses (fake flowers made from feathers, they're creepy and beautiful), vintage lace and doilies to dye, a fantastic Denby casserole dish without the slightest imperfection and a teeny tiny gold and silver heart charm.

Additionally there was also two bags of vintage nana hankies- there are some really gorgeous pieces in there and I'll devote a post to it when I've moved house. I've started collecting vintage handkerchiefs lately, their cotton is so soft from washing and washing and folding, hidden in pockets and used over and over. They're perfect for lining things.