Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Happy Canada Day!

The following 12 1950's/60's social studies readers book covers are from a set 16 titles. It is the people that make up a country.

Happy Canada Day everyone!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Hand Painted Japanese Rice Paper for the Fireworks Shadow Box

I suppose you could call this post a bit of a tutorial, that is without giving a complete step by step process!

I use acrylic paint to paint the paper. I brought down a selection of paints that had been premixed for other projects, this is a great way of using up old paint.

The shadow box is in the background. I decided to attach wire mesh to the outside of the shadow box and then wire the fireworks to the mesh. The back and sides have been painted with the same paint that will used as an undercoat on the paper.

Our trusty garden work table, the remains of a picnic table that I disliked very much has been turned into a work station. I grabbed a piece of coreplast plastic to lay the paper on while I painted it. Once it is painted it has to be carefully lifted so that it won't stick to the plastic; then set on the table to dry. When the paint is dry then the other side is painted.

This long sheet of paper was the remains of a roll of heavier weight rice paper. This paper is so much easier to handle when wet than the lighter weight rice paper.

These small sections of ricepaper were from a pad of paper for brush painting. The paper was a little thin and would easily tear when it was wet.

The finished long sheet of rice paper. Both sides were painted with the undercoat of olive/khaki green. Once the paper was dry I dripped and daubed autumn leaf colours onto the paper, then blending them with a large brush and a sea sponge.

I didn't mention but that green paint was created quite a while ago for this sculpture. I wanted a generic packing crate paper green. I used some of my jars of paint from previous sculptures to create the colour. I ended up with quite a lot more than needed but most of it was used for this project.

This shows the base colour and the finished strip of paper with the variegated autumn leaf colours; both sides were painted. When the individual leaf is cut from the paper it will have the colours of an autumn leaf.  I will cut the paper into long strips of small leaf shapes that will then be crushed, opened up, and then wound around the wire stems holding the fireworks in position around the frame. I want to hide the wires but also add background interest and suggest the time of year that the fireworks will be used.

I much prefer using hand-painted papers because they are sturdier so they will not crush or tear as easily as crepe-papier. The paper colour is permanent and will not fade; something that I have noticed to my horror with very early items I had made many years ago when I used crepe-papier.

The party horn that the snowman is holding has a yellow painted paper frill and circles punched from painted paper to create the design on the body of the horn. The rose, green tutfs and yellow coils at the base of the rose are all painted paper as well.

This pickle's Hallowe'en party hat was created from hand painted papers and a large antique paper fastener. Buy him here in my Etsy shop.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

I have been away from my blog but look at what I am working on!

I have some very large vintage Italian metal frames. The only rectangular frame was used to create "The Magic Shop". The other three oval frames have been sitting in my studio with the sides and back attached, each ready to house the next creation.

This antique engraving as well as some other examples posted here have been the inspiration for the shadow boxes. I like the idea of a 3D portrait that spills out of the frame.

Last October I did a blog post about fireworks and Hallowe'en. Growing up in Victoria, B.C. on the West Coast of Canada, fireworks were Hallowe'en, as well as trick or treating.


I then followed it with a review about Mark Flemings wonderful book "Firework Art", and saw the above advertisement for Well's fireworks. A wreath of fireworks around the outside of the frame would be wonderful. The interior would house the founder of the fireworks company, to be called the "Oh My Stars Fireworks Manufacturing Company".

Many years ago I created some fireworks for a Hallowe'en window. I was so pleased with the end product that I kept them. They have been used in displays in the last few years; I have also used them at home mixed in with my vintage Hallowe'en items. These fireworks were the inspiration for the smaller versions. Mark Fleming's book "Firework Art" was also invaluable.

My wife, Trish, went to Toronto for 5 weeks to help our daughter before and after she had their second child, a baby boy. I moved all of the materials to make the fireworks down to the dining room table. I had figured that this would be a relatively quick project, it wasn't, but it was certainly a lot of fun, sometimes a little tedious but fun none the less.

Three different sizes of tubes were made from paper, some would be used for a Roman candle style of firework and some would be cut to smaller lengths to create other styles of firework such as pinwheels.

My stash of cardboard tubes and the smaller cylinders that I had made were turned into fancy fireworks. Cones of various sizes became fountains. Card was used to make box shaped fireworks.

Hand marbled papers, vintage wallpapers, vintage wrapping papers, antique paper tapes, hand-painted papers, as well as contemporary Japanese papers were used to cover the outsides of the fireworks. I did not want to create labels for them with names but suggest an idea as to the effects that each firework would produce.

A small sample of some finished fireworks; pinwheels, sky rockets, Roman candles and fountains.

These firecrackers took quite a while to build.  Once I started to build them I decided to make two other sizes, each size was a different colour of patterned paper. In the picture below you can see the finished hank. Creating the hank of firecrackers was a feat in itself. As I wrapped the firecracker wicks together to create the hank they would start to unravel as it got longer. The same thing happened with the second different wrapping attempt. The third time was much better but I did decide to use glue to make certain that the little darling would not try and spite me again!

Here are the finished fireworks. I have made, I hope, more than I will need as this will allow me to pick and choose shapes and colours. I want a very full wreath of fireworks around the frame, after all this is advertising the "Oh My Stars Fireworks Manufacturing Company" located on the outskirts of Jollity Village.

A collector friend saw the fireworks and wants buy some for her Hallowe'en collection, so any unused fireworks may find a home with her.

And just in case you weren't aware that I LOVE fireworks and the old graphics here is one last blog post to have a look at.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Some of my vintage Easter decorations


I decided to put out a nice big selection of my Easter decorations this year. We don't have a lot of space for displaying everything so usually it is just the mantle that gets decorated. Babies and toddlers definitely limit where things can be displayed. This year my wife is in Toronto for an extended visit with our daughter and her family helping with their brand new baby boy... I wish that I was there!

All of the images are fairly large so that you can see the items quite easily, just click on them for a better look.

As you can see all of the fun items are at the level that a child would love to get their little fingers into and rightly so these are childhood toys. This picture shows the left side of the display, the Easter baskets on the hearth, cardboard eggs in baskets, toys, decorations, and vases... I love it!

Here is a closer look at the items on the two trees. The trees were made from some branches that I built out of wire and painted cotton batting. I have used them over the years in window displays as well as at home. The narrow necked vases were filled with marble sand and then the branches stuck in the neck opening and then topped off with more sand. Vintage cellophane Easter grass hides the messiness of the neck opening. The sand is important, it gives a heavy base to stop the tree from toppling over.

Here is a close-up of the items at the base of the trees. The rabbit that is hanging from the tree is a box or little girl's purse from Japan.

This side view of the trees gives you a better look at the hanging cardboard eggs.

This is the view as you sit in the stuffed chair looking at the mantle.

The side table beside the stuffed chair has two metal baskets filled with cardboard eggs. A clear glass rabbit jelly mould rests on the table in front of them. Flip the top of the plastic eggs and the chick's head pops up making a tiny squeak as it emerges.

Of all of the cardboard eggs this is my favourite one. It is double sided and tells a humorous story. I have never come across another example like this.

Here is the mantle display, the close-up images are below. I didn't get fancy around the mirror, I kind of wish that I had, but time was short.

The bird standing by its nest is made of glue and sawdust I believe; I had to repair the section of the body where one of the legs enters the body and saw what it was made of. The nest is made of rattan woven with strips of loofa. It is standing on a base of cork tree bark. I bought this in the 1990's just after Christmas for around $1.75. The price may be wrong but it was not much more. The ribbon is still attached to it that held the chocolate egg in the nest. There is a foil tag that says, "Fry" on it, most likely Fry's chocolate but I could be wrong.

I have a few of my egg cups on display in amongst the rabbit candy containers.

The tall goofy looking buck toothed rabbit is English made of wired foam rubber. I wouldn't move the arms now to reposition it as I would possibly break off an arm or leg!

Two antique chocolate moulds stand in front of a white plastic rabbit, an advertising bank for Wamsutta Mills.

The centre of the mantle is a little less congested! The purple and yellow textile with hand-painted wisteria blossoms is a tea cosy. It is flanked on either side by two 1960's chocolate boxes. Standing in front of the tea cosy are two ceramic figurines marked Japan on the bottom that remind me of 1950's Italian fashion photography.

Centred between the figurines is one of my favourite items, this salt and pepper shaker set. The hand-painted detail is delightful. The heads are the salt and pepper shakers, lift one out, use it, place it back, and the head nods back and forth. Like I said this is one of my favourite items.

The plaque that is hanging under the mantle was in a bag of Christmas items that I purchased several years ago. It is made in Israel and depicts the moment that God tells Abraham not to sacrifice his son but that He would supply a lamb. Abraham looked up and saw a ram caught in the thicket. I forgot to mention that God had asked Abraham to sacrifice his only son as a test to see if he trusted God and would obey Him.

Genesis 22 verse 15 The angel of the Lord called to Abraham from heaven a second time 16 and said, “I swear by myself, declares theLord, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, 18 and through your offspring[b] all nations on earth will be blessed,[c] because you have obeyed me.”

Jesus was the lamb that God provided mankind. Just like Christmas Jesus is the reason for the season! HAHAHA!!!! and I love all of the silly bunnies, chicks, and other decorations that have nothing to do with Easter but are such a delight to see.

I picked up these two jadite rabbits this year. Tucked in between them is the head of a rabbit covered in multi-coloured chenille. It was my mum's I think and all that is left is the head, I wish that I had the body to go with it, it would have been a wonderful piece.

The brown chenille rabbit with the red coat is another one of my favourite pieces. Who am I kidding I have more than "quite a few" favourite pieces! The blue rabbit pulling the pink cart was mine as a child. The celluloid friction toy "Easter on Parade" I bought in the early 1980's for $7.50, that was a lot of money back then, especially for a young family on a tight budget.

This shows the right side of the hearth and the raised display areas. The cardboard box in the shape of a train that is filled with the original plastic Easter eggs is from Australia, it was produced in the early 1960s I believe. The very realistic baby chick eggcup beside it looks contemporary but is marked Japan on the bottom, I think that it may be from the 1960s as well but I am not certain about that.

The metal Easter half egg is early I believe but again I have never seen one before and do not have a date for it. The rabbit jumping over the red mushrooms is a florist vase or planter. The chicks standing between the egg shells are a salt and pepper set. The little ceramic rabbit beside the basket would have held a chocolate egg or a group of eggs but afterwards I don't know what the use would be as it is to large to be used for an eggcup.

I stuck the chenille chick floral pick in behind the little rabbit girl hand puppet so that it looks like she is holding it. I really like the florist vase with the little girl sitting on the fence as the blue bird looks at her singing merrily she reminds me of my wife.

The label on the plastic eggs on the wall says "A Lido Toy.  LOOK!  Eggs snap open and closed for easy filling. PLASTIC Easter Eggs." These are possibly some of the first plastic Easter eggs, the wording and the graphic presentation suggest this. The reverse is printed in French so it is obviously a Canadian item.

The gold foil duck and chick I purchased at a florist wholesaler in the early 1990s, I liked them and thought that they were interesting.

The three purple tulips are joined at the top of the stems just under the flower petls and form a vase with three openings.

And now down to the hearth. I have collected vintage Easter baskets over the years, I haven't seen any for at least ten years now. Most of these baskets are Japanese. The early Japanese Easter baskets are made of wood veneer, bamboo was used later and still is in use today. Bamboo is stronger and less likely to break, you can see that some of the handles on the veneer baskets have broken.

The dark baskets in the background are from the 1950s.

I have several halves of cardboard eggs. The other half may have gone missing over the years before I purchased it or possibly not. Chocolatiers would purchase the cardboard eggs and then use each half separately filling the half with chocolates and candy then possibly wrapping it in cellophane or a fancy ribbon. The cost of one egg would serve as a container for two items for sale on their counters.

The large box of chenille chicks may have been sold from the box along with the rest of the trinkets to create an Easter basket or it may have come from a candy store. I have no idea of the original store that it came from but it is fun to imagine a scenario around an almost full box of pastel chicks. Oh, I bought it from an incredible antique store that had tons of holiday items in stock. Unfortunately it is long gone, even the building has been demolished.

Lots of cardboard eggs and candy tins. I am not certain of the age of the egg shaped candy tin. The purple tin with the pansies is a British toffee tin. The pale blue tin with rabbit playing the violin is marked "Hong Kong" on the back.

In the centre of the cluster of baskets and other doodahs on the hearth I have tried to give some semblance of order with this tidy bit of a display. The rabbit wearing an Easter bonnet is a British toffee tin.In front of it are two hard plastic cake toppers. Two baskets flank it on either side filled with more chenille chicks, roosters, and rabbits. The yellow ceramic rabbit would have been filled with candies and chocolates. A pulp cardboard rabbit is on either side, they are identical except one is white and the other pink.

And that as they say is that! I have other blog posts showing Easter cards, postcards, egg dye packets, and a recipe for Hot Cross Buns. Click here, here, here, here, here, and here.
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