Craft "studio"

>> Monday, April 21, 2008

Please excuse my blossoming branch fixation. This one seems to have all its blossoms now and is starting to grow leaves! The ceramic planter was a birthday gift from my lovely friend Jaimie, it has a bird on one side.

I still haven't got a craft or art studio for real, but our living/dining room is definitely starting to look like one. I painted the china cabinet that I use to store my fabric and I this is how it turned out: As I mentioned in a previous post I just couldn't decide about painting it but the wood really didn't have a great finish and it created a dark corner in the room. Painting it white really made such a difference in how bright the room feels.The only difficult part is having the patience to do all the priming and painting of all the nooks and crannies and of course the mullions (ie. decorative thin piece of wood behind the glass) in the glass doors. It's fairly simple, it just requires extra work. You use a putty knife to gently pry out the quarter round strips of wood around the edges that hold the mullions in place. They are held in place by small nails (which you can use again when replacing them). Then you can take out the glass and paint all the pieces before reassembling.

When you pry out the strips of wood be very careful since they are quite thin and can break easily. Someone had broken two at some point and the pieces were held in place with wood glue. It's not difficult to remove them just by wiggling the putty knife, and then I used a little bit of wood glue to reattach the pieces.

Here's a detail of the tins I have on top of the cabinet. I was noticed that Amy Butler has the same vintage tin as the tomato red and white one I have in front here! I saw it in a magazine article about her, and in the Midwest Modern book photographed on her desk. It's so familiar to me now it was funny to see it in someone else's house. I thought it was expensive when I bought it but couldn't resist the design. The bottom says "W. & R. Jacob & Co. (L-Pool) Ltd. Biscuit Manufacturers Liverpool, England. Manufactured in England". I wish cookies still came in nice tins like this.Here's another tip, by the way. That tin was a bit grubby, and while I like things to have their vintage patina, this one actually cleaned up very nicely with gentle application of one of those mr. clean magic erasers. It took dark marks off that I thought were permanent - without removing the original paint. Of course I'd be very careful if it's a special vintage tin that you have.

And finally I have a "new" sewing machine! This one came from Goodwill and I took a chance because I didn't know much about it. But I've been using one from the 1940s and thought I should upgrade to one from the 60s at least. The main difference is it can do reverse and zig-zag.It's a Singer Fashion Mate 217. I find the beige/grey colour sort of elegant and I didn't want a modern machine. I'd like to do something about the bottom casing though, which is in rough shape. It's kind of green paper covering plywood. Not as nicely made as the old wooden cases. But the machine has turned out very well, love the zig-zagging, and it's very quiet and like the old one I have it's a real workhorse and can sew through many layers of heavy material easily. The only downside that I can tell so far is that it weighs 33 pounds.



My birthday was on Saturday and was a perfect day for it, so warm and sunny we had my birthday breakfast (including cupcake!) on the deck.
The "tablecloth" was a big piece of Cath Kidston fabric which I later turned into an actual tablecloth and also this tote:
While I feel I should write some thoughtful reflections on the past year, or the year to come, I'm not really up for that, so I'm just going to mention some of my favourite presents that are also recommendations.

1. Box set of the wonderful British comedy show Black Books. I'd only seen a glimpse of it before, but it's so funny and has that perfect kind of humour that makes you realize you've been taking everything too seriously. Featuring the brilliant and oddly lovable Dylan Moran (seen recently in Run Fatboy Run, also wonderful) and this episode has a small bit with Martin Freeman (you know, Tim from The Office and Arthur Dent).

2. A few lovely things from Cath Kidston such as this adorable clothespin bag:3. "once" cd. When they won their Oscars Marketa Irglova was cut off, but after the commercials they fixed their mistake and she had her acceptance speech. I loved that. The music is so good and perfect to listen to while you sew your new Cath Kidston tote on a sunny birthday day.
4. The book Lotta Prints: How to Print Anything, from Potatoes to Linoleum I think I'm not the only on who loves anything Lotta, so enough said. I'm also recently spied the new Amy Butler book Midwest Modern which I'm planning to get next. (I'm not allowed to buy things right before my birthday which is when I saw it.)

In blossoming branches news, the Forsythia bloomed in time for my birthday (and has even more blooms now) and is very pretty:
The cherry branches are taking a little longer, they looked like this on Saturday:
But now of course they look like the picture at the top of this post. It's been fascinating watching the buds grow day by day.

So this year was altogether a lovely birthday. It was one of those days when you feel so content and you realize what a happy home you have and don't want to change a thing.

p.s. in case you're wondering, yes I did paint my china (fabric) cabinet and I'm glad I did, so I'll post about that next.



>> Tuesday, April 15, 2008

These Siberian squill (Scilla siberica) are our first flowers!

First of all, judging from all the shoots coming up in our gardens it's springtime and the bulbs are growing! Also we're pleased to see that the little lilac tree we planted in the fall is getting some buds. Relieved to see it survived after being buried in about 17 feet of snow this winter...

Also, for the first time, I have finally brought branches inside to force the blooms. I've seen it in magazines and they are always stunning but I haven't managed it until now. I think it has something to do with having a house and our own garden. But the branches on the left are from our parent's house (my in-laws), they're cherry tree branches. The branches on the right are from our own Forsythia.

So this is a reminder, now is the time to bring some branches in! Of course I will post pictures once ours bloom. I have several vases all over the house. And two tips:

1. woody branches should be cut at the bottom in an "x" so that they can draw up water more easily

2. the branches will turn the water a golden brown colour so you might want to use a coloured vase. I don't really mind about it, plus I have lots of branches and had to use all the vases we had.

Hope you have a happy Spring.



>> Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Lately I've been getting kind of obsessed with wallpaper. I've looked in paint & wallpaper shops, online and of course on ebay. I love vintage wallpaper but that's mainly because I love vintage design, not authentic old wallpaper specifically. Many of the modern designs these days are gorgeous and I do like those as well.

The main inspiration has been seeing wallpaper in magazines and decorating books. I was haunted by a magazine photo featuring Neisha Crosland's "anemone" paper and finally found out whose design it was. I also notice wallpaper in movies occasionally. I could not believe how gorgeous the silvery bird and branch wallpapered bedroom in Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day was. (Which incidentally was an adorable movie with many of my favourite actors.) And finally my friend Jaimie used an inspiringly gorgeous modern floral paper in her newly renovated kitchen, and another friend, Andrea, papered her bathroom in anthropologie "Blossom" paper and it looked so perfect.

While searching around I found a few sites I really like. Plus Jaimie (who works at Canadian House & Home) sent me some fab links, such as ferm living, walnut wallpaper, and Thibaut (very traditional). I found one site that will mail you samples and it seems like a very practical (and affordable) way to buy wallpaper. I bought a few samples and it really does make a difference if you can see them in person.

the secretaries with new (vintage) bentwood chair - needs repainting!

I'd love to paper some walls but I think wallpaper is more personal than paint, and it might be hard to leave behind if we sold the house (+ effort + expense). Which we might do in a few years. I keep flip-flopping on that, because the more work we do the more lovable our house becomes, but it does have certain aspects that are limiting - such as its size. So we probably won't be here for many years. But who knows. See? Flip-flopping.
So I decided the best way to indulge the wallpaper fixation was to decorate a cabinet. And I found some lovely vintage paper on ebay. It has a lattice pattern (which I love) and flowers (which I love) and the colour scheme is fresh with light green and lots of white. It's a bit on the sweet side but I'm ok with that. Luckily when it arrived it was even nicer than in the photos. Vintage paper is a bit fragile so when cutting it I recommend a fresh blade and doing the cuts slowly.
I was planning to line the inside of the fabric cabinet, and I still may but I'm not sure about painting it still.. In the meantime I was thinking that the secretary desks are just a bit too cluttered-looking for the front room (which serves so many purposes). So I've added the wallpaper to their doors and it's just what they needed. Well I think so anyway. Now if only I could wallpaper my ugly printer and scanner. I'll have to make some sort of enclosed shelf for those...


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