Saturday, August 22, 2015

Behind the scenes, how I build trees and shrubs.

Well, that title makes me sound like a master tree builder, creating these things for years on end, or is that in my mind alone!

The truth is that my wife and I love going for walks in the forest, the rural countryside, and by the ocean; we are so fortunate on the southern end of Vancouver Island that all of these areas are 5 to 20 minutes away from our home. I love looking at the plants and trees observing how the leaves and branches form as they grow as well as the landscape that they are growing in, so it is only natural that they pop up in the sculptures that I create.


The picture above is a bundle of vintage Made in Japan flower stamens that have been wrapped in tissue. Thirty-five years ago I bought the entire lot of stamens from a craft shop that was going out of business, at 75 cents a bundle that was a deal.


The batch of tissue wrapped stamens are then painted with a base coat of brown acrylic paint.


I sort the stamens into piles of one, two, and three stamens. The piles of two and three stamens are then wrapped in tissue paper and left to dry.


When they are dry they are then painted and left to dry. There is a lot of "Hurry up... and wait" during the creative process.


Wire is then cut into six to eight inch lengths. Each small branch is made up of a group of one, two, and three stamens.


The stems are painted, you can see at the bottom of the picture that I vary the placement of the one, two, or three stamen bundles.


Five stems are then wrapped together to create a larger limb. Several limbs create a tree. I use the branches and limbs to create trees or shrubs of different sizes.


Here are a few of the sculptures that have handmade branches and trees in them.

This decoration "Black Cat Came as a Bush" uses a crown made of leaves to create Black Cat's costume, a small bush with a pumpkin in a nest that is resting on his head.


I have created branch staffs for "ilexander", a holly berry candy container...


and this "Giant Portrait Rattle - Jack Came Dressed as an Autumn Jester".


This was the first tree that I created for one of my sculptures, a candy container and table centrepiece, "Patty, Wayne, and the Party Tree". The 24" tree is meant to be decorated with your personal ornaments.


This "Landscape Rattle - Ambrose and Monty His Parade Lantern" has my first very small tree, it stands 10 3/4" high, as part of the landscape.


I have used three small trees as part of the undergrowth for this sculpture, “Landscape Rattle - William and Timothy and the Toffee Apple”.

Bye for now, I must get into the studio and work.

Friday, July 31, 2015

The EHAG Emporium is open!

Hello!
You came by, I am so glad to see you!


Here is my offering for this months EHAG Emporium, “Landscape rattle, William and Timothy and the toffee apple”.

Timothy loves toffee apples, he also doesn't mind giving his treat to William, one of his many friends. He knows there are so many toffee apples and treats to be had tonight that there is no reason to be greedy.


The barrel rattle that the landscape rests on is 6 1/4" wide and the ground that was built up with tinted composition is roughly 1 3/4" wide. The cardboard cylinder was covered in crushed, hand painted paper before adding the composition ground.

Inside the cylinder is a ½” wide x 1 1/2” high x 6 1/4” long piece of wood filling the centre of the interior, it has been glued in place.

Holes were drilled through the cardboard cylinder into the wood to hold the fence, the three small trees, the two figures, and the vintage turned wooden handle securely place. The handle is 10 ¾” long. Cardboard, painted black, covers each end of the rattle. Screw eyes were inserted in the centre of each end to hold the vintage brass bells. It was then covered with a double layer of black glass glitter. Glue was painted over the glitter to hold it in place when the bells move across the surface.


The three small trees were hand built from vintage florist pips, tissue paper, wire, and painted with acrylic paint. The wooden fence was made from branches from a vintage basket, nailed together with cigar box nails. The basket that Timothy is holding has been aged and distressed with paint.


 The back view shows William’s coat, also called a banyan, it was made from a piece of a vintage man’s scarf edged with black vintage trim. William stands 7 1/2" tall. Timothy’s clown costume was made from a vintage woman’s scarf lined with white silk. Timothy stands 4 3/8” tall.


The grey green composition that was used to make the ground that William and Timothy are standing on was painted with acrylic paint. Once dry, glue was liberally applied to the ground and a mixture of roasted sterilized soil, finely cut hand dyed green, brown, and natural sisal twine was dusted onto the glue.

Sections of vintage vegetal fibre rope, dyed raffia, corn silk, tiny twigs, and the three small handmade trees were glued around William’s feet at the back and in the front.


 This view shows a bit of my hand so that you can get an idea of the scale of the sculpture.

The overall size of the sculpture is 20” high, 8 1/2” wide from bell to bell, and approximately 3” deep.

 This is a sculpture not a children's toy.

I will carefully pack this sculpture to ensure that it arrives safely to your home to become a treasured part of your collection.

This sculpture arrives duty free into the US.

Please contact me at lenbenny@shaw.ca if you wish to purchase this sculpture. I accept Paypal as well as credit cards through Paypal.

Head over to "The EHAG Emporium" and have a look at what others in the group have available for sale.

Don't miss the Ehag Emporium!

I'll say it again...
Don't miss the Ehag Emporium!


There are lots of treats in store for you!
The doors swing open at 6 P.M. Pacific time and 9 P.M. Eastern Time.

See you tonight.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Happy Easter everyone!

Well, I have definitely been absent from my blog for a little while, I haven't posted since Saint Patrick's Day. In that post I mentioned that I had't put out the Saint Patrick's Day items for quite a few years, two weeks ago I realized why that was the case when my wife said that Easter was only two weeks away, it takes a while to unpack, display, and put away everything, plus I like a bit of a break between holiday displays.

Here is this year's Easter display. Compared to last year's display (here) this is minimal. I was going to put out my egg cups but with two large boxes, the ones that hold computer paper, I was overwhelmed and opted for a few that I had purchased this year along with what had been put out last year.

The images are quite large so enjoy perusing the photos.


The full view of this year's display. I decided to hang quite a few of my Easter baskets from the ceiling this year. The lowest hanging baskets have cardboard eggs in them.


 The baskets on the hearth are filled with cardboard eggs The one long basket on the right is holding a pink plastic egg tied with a green ribbon and a clear pink egg with silver glitter embedded in the plastic.


The rabbit tin and the pansy tin are British and would have had toffees in them. I think the small half egg tin is early. The large pink tin with the chicks may be English, I'm not certain because some of the address on the tin has been rubbed off.


I put a long strip of wood on some risers to hold some of the eggcups and assorted decorations on the mantle. I always put out the Mr. and Mrs. Easter Bunny salt and pepper shaker set, they are one of my favourite items.


A chocolate box with a very dapper rabbit wishing the recipient "Easter Greetings". On the mantle are a few  assorted goodies.

Hanging below that is a ceramic plaque from Israel that I purchased one Christmas, it was in a bag of assorted Christmas decorations. It depicts the moment when God is telling Abraham not to sacrifice his son but that He would provide the sacrifice, a ram caught in a thicket, that ram is a reference to Jesus, the Lamb of God. (God had asked Abraham to sacrifice his son, this was a test to see if he trusted God. Abraham kept telling his son that God would provide the sacrifice.)


More eggcups, eggs, and milliner's flowers.


At the far right of the mantle is a bag of some of the first plastic eggs in their plastic mesh bag, a Dresden Easter image of two gold bells and a chick in a Japanese basket, a pink 1960s bunny with chenille feet, paws, and ears, a glittered candy container of a top hat and cane toting chick, with a wooden rabbit in the background.

Check out other Easter blog posts that I have done over the years here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

 Happy Saint Patrick's Day to you! 

I haven't had my Saint Patrick's Day collectables out for quite some time. Most of these items were bought several years ago. Several friends are always on the lookout for items and they have added a few items each year, you know who you are and thank-you very much.


Here is the requisite long shot of the mantle just to give you an idea as to how it looks. Many of the items are small so I have added lots of close-ups for you to look at.


The little pink plastic pig with a shamrock in his mouth is a windup toy. The Irish boy in front of a shamrock, the green top hat, and the leprechaun behind the shamrock are florist vases.

A pack of Reed's St. Patrick's Day paper napkins stand behind the unmarked teacup and saucer. I love that tie, 1940s possibly, and do wear on March 17.

A green silk covered candy box rests in the green top hat vase, in front is a plastic pipe resting on a green Japanese ceramic shoe. To the left of the little plastic Irish doll, one of three, is another chocolate box in the shape of an Irish top hat.


Sheet music, "How Are Things in Glocca Morra" from Finian's Rainbow, stands behind a leprechaun sitting on a rock with a pot of gold at his feet. That leprechaun is rather creepy, I much prefer the other one to his right, your left.


The donkey and the leprechaun were bought by my mum when my mum and dad went to Ireland in the 1960s.


The tankard holds a cardboard fan advertising Shamrock Sunkist Valencias. I was given the Irish flag when I was in Ireland in 1969. Below the fan is a pack of paper plates and another tankard. The tankards were possibly used as vases.


This close-up shows two small shillelaghs, a pin back button, a bottle of Guinness, and a brooch that I think may be papier mache.


The 2 1/2 inch tall bottle of Guiness is a metal cigarette lighter. You hold the silver bottom and pull the bottle up and off to reveal the lighter.


Two cardboard leprechauns stand behind two pixies sitting on a stump; they are over for a visit. The pixies are salt and pepper shakers and the stump is a mustard pot complete with a ceramic spoon, this set belonged to my mum. A small plastic pin is in front of another top hat vase.


Tucked into the top of the vase is another St. Paddy's Day tie. A March angel holding a shamrock stands beside a black ceramic pig. In behind the pig is an unmarked ceramic plate with shamrocks around the rim.

The Irish children are part of a set of items for the table, she is a condiment pot, the boy on front of her is a salt shaker, the boy with the basket is an ashtray, and the boy standing behind him is a toothpick holder.




Here is a close-up the items on the fire place ledge; a green pig to hold your canap├ęs at your Irish cocktail party, another florist vase, a Hallmark table centre piece, lapel pins, and cupcake picks.

The three small shamrocks stuck in the back of the pig are chenille backed with cotton netting; one is plain, one has a cotton pipe in the centre, and the other has a cotton top hat in its centre.

The large chenille shamrock has an embossed paper top hat in its centre; it is on its original backing in the original cellophane package.


More small items, mostly lapel pins. I love the two place cards complete with their place card holders. The little fellow sitting in the oak leaves is actually a Cornish pixie, he stopped by for the festivities.


A small souvenir dish from Ireland sits in front of six antique diecut scraps, to the right is a box of eight four leaf clover coasters.


The green wooden tray holds cards and postcards, go to this link to see the antique cards and to this link to see the postcards.


This series of three smoking leprechauns is interesting as it shows how one design is used over the years and adapted to different manufacturing processes; the first one is painted  plaster, the second one is glazed porcelain, the third one is plastic in its original box.

The last figure is similar but he is holding a basket of shamrocks in his left hand and a single shamrock in his right hand. He is hand painted ceramic. Why antiques dealers call paint cold glaze is beyond me, paint is paint folks.


I picked up this counter top display box about twenty years ago, the box itself is water damaged but the cards are not, go to this link to see the cards that are in the counter top display box. The pig was my mums when she was a child. It is an antique ceramic chia pig, the modelling of the pig is superb.


A set of paper plates stands behind these leprechauns from the late fifties or early sixties, some still have their oval stickers that say, "Made in Japan". The tall doctor leprechaun is a liquor bottle, the back of his head is a stopper with cork that when removed would dispense the medicine; was it Irish whiskey or a green liqueur? In behind him is a green flocked Leprechaun.


Postcards, a wooden plaque and a gift book sit along the top of the fireplace doors, go to this link to see the plaque and other items, and to this link to see the gift book that I have scanned.


I was given this postcard last Christmas, I was stunned when I saw it, the Horse shoe is stamped from thin silver coloured metal, is about 1/8 of an inch deep, and attached to the postcard with four metal brads. It came in a metal frame but I have taken it out to display it. I have an antique Christmas postcard with a small metal Santa and sleigh attached to it but I have never seen a metal decoration this size before, not that I have seen that many of this type of postcard.

Here is one last link for you to check out; there are two images from books that I have scanned but more importantly a recipe for Irish soda bread that I got from a woman in Ireland when I was there. The bread is really good! 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

"The Top O' The Morning To You" - a 1913 gift book

I am not certain that this is a Saint Patrick's Day gift book. The title "The Top O' The Morning To You" by Mabel Dunham Thayer sounds very Irish, in a stereotypical way. It was published in 1913 by P.F. Volland And Company, Chicago. There is no mention of Ireland in the poem but the title is good enough for me.







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