Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy 2011 Everyone!

 Happy New Year! 
Two 1920's bridge tallies and two 1960's paper party plates.

 2011 will be a wonderful year for you! 

 Grab it with gusto and don't let go no matter what the circumstances. 

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Better late than never - The major window display.

I have photographed this window three times and each time there was so much reflection that they were unusable. My son has a polarizing filter for his camera and when he was out last night he took these photographs of the window for me. Thank-you so much Mike. This is the large window display that I did for Hillside Shopping Centre. I have shown you the other window displays in this post and this post.

I thought that you may like to see some of the props that made their way into the big window display.

This urn is about 24" tall and was an extremely ugly reddy/yellowy/beigy colour. The colour, besides being ugly, did not work with anything else in the display. I liked the shape and now it fits into the colour scheme. Black and white with evergreens are the predominant colours and accented with a variety of golds, silvers, and red.

Spray paint works wonders to unify everything. I used several golds and silver when I sprayed each article. One item had more of one colour in it than the others so that it looked different but the overall look was unified.

That black candle holder was on top of the tallest column when I was putting the window together. I hadn't fastened it to the column, forgot it was there, moved the column slightly, it came crashing to the floor. One arm was broken in two places and was unrepairable. I reassembled the candelabra, it now has the centre candle holder with an arm on either side. I think it looks a lot better. Mike, said that it was too busy before and looks better. I totally agree.

I picked up two of these lamps at a Salvation Army Thrift store, they were $19.95 each. I took both of them apart. The bases have been used as very ornate candle holders. One of the metal shades along with the parts from a very old floor lamp have been turned into my version of a Venetian parade lantern. I wonder what kind and colour of fabric was inside that shade? The lamps were made in Spain. For some reason I think the colour was red. If anyone knows for certain I am curious to find out.

Here is a front and back view of the "cocktail" dress in progress. I used a hardware cloth base and wove the evergreen branches into the wire. The back of the dress is where the two edges of the hardware cloth join. It was lightly wired together so that I could remove it from the bust form.

Mike took this image with his fish-eye lens. I liked it and decided to include it.

This is what the window really looks like. I had about three weeks to come up with this window as well as the other windows that you have already seen. It was a very hectic but very rewarding time. I went with this theme because I had the columns, the trees, the wreaths, and the milk glass already on hand. The rest of the props I found at the Salvation Army and my favourite secondhand store, Jacklin Trading Post.

Here is the finished cocktail dress. I saw the 10" disco ball at Superstore and liked the juxtaposition with the vintage and antique items. Nothing says party like a disco ball! In the background on the left hand side you can see the Venetian parade lantern resting up against a column, it has been securely wired in place.

I had hoped to post this before Christmas to give everyone some ideas for decorating, well... Happy New Year! If you have a group of milk glass or clear glass fill it with polyester batting, sprinkle some snow on top, drape some mini lights behind the glassware with or without polyester snow on top of them and you have a very fast and festive decoration for the mantle or buffet. You could use this for a New Years Eve party.

Another view from the side. The candelabra on top of the large column is the one that I knocked to the floor.

Here is a close-up view of the Venetian parade lantern that I created from various lamp parts.

The black and white tile floor pulled everything together. I created it with thin glossy card, loosely spray painting the pieces that were the black tiles.

That urn in the background looks so much nicer now that it is white, it ties in with the milk glass vessels.

There is the base from the Spanish lamp, it makes a very ornate candelabra. All of the candles had to be made from either cardboard tubes or plastic pipe spray painted white. If I had used real candles there is always the possibility of them getting too warm and then bending off to one side. Those are the little things that the general public are not aware of but take time to make.

There we have it it. I didn't have it ready to show for Christmas but it is still the holiday season.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Victoria Christmas Window Displays

I was so busy before Christmas that I didn't have time to do a few of the posts that I wanted to. I am going to catch up with my posts before the New Year is here.

Sadly, the large department stores in Victoria don't do Christmas windows any more. They are all in shopping centres and the large display windows are not there. The Hudson's Bay Company has cut right back to just presenting the merchandise to the customer. The escalator well has about four large windows in it that in years past had some beautiful displays but this year there was a printed backdrop of paneled walls with two manikins standing in front of it. Sears was a bit better but not much.

Some of the more interesting Christmas windows are found in the independent stores.

This very simple but interesting window is at Fan Tan Gallery in Chinatown. Sorry for the reflection in this and some of the other photographs, it does make for an interesting image though.


This is not exactly a window display but I liked it so much I had to include it. Opus Art Supplies have a series of very small windows and this wreath made from used paint tubes and the odd Christmas bauble was the only item in one of the small windows. I love it!

I must get a lens that gets rid of the reflections. Lets call this an "art" shot. Roberta's Hats has this very festive window.

I had forgotten about the Rook and Rose florist shop. It is tucked into a very small foyer with stairs to the first floor on the right hand side of the shop. Despite the very small size, their presentation, flowers, and accessories for sale are top notch.

This evergreen wreath with three clocks hanging from the bottom of the wreath is on the other side of the entrance to the shop.

A friend of mine's wife and daughter opened a women's accessory boutique called Violette. He designed the interior for the store and now does the window displays. He said his daughter has the idea and he puts it together. No matter, his display work is excellent.

These two window displays are for a vintage clothing store called The Patch. The window with the red trim is on the right side of the store entrance while the black trimmed window is on the left. There is very little depth in the windows that look directly into the store but they do a great job with what they have. It is very simple and straight forward with the holiday colour coming from the choice of clothing used in the display.

This large dramatic window display is for the guess store in The Bay Centre.

There were other stores that unfortunately I did not get a chance to photograph but there is always next year.


The blog post "Hello! I am back in the land of Blog." showed close-up views of the windows that I did for Suzanne's. The mall was so busy that I couldn't take a long shot of them to put them into context. Here are both sides of the store. Oh, that white cage around last manikin in the photo above is a reflection!


Please remember that these windows are "damage control windows", they are there so that a vast empty store is not the focal point in centre court. Suzanne's, the store that the merchandise came from, were very pleased with them. The clothing in the windows sold extremely well.

Have a wonderful and relaxing week.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas one and all!


Santa is no longer taking requests at the malls, he has headed back to the North Pole ready to deliver his gifts to everyone. NORAD has been very helpful over the years and provided on the spot sightings as Santa travels around the world. Click here to follow Santa around the world as well as to see where he has been.

  MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!!!  

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Little Tour of My Brain, Part 22 - Rupert Annuals

Last April I did a blog post about some foil numbers that I picked up at Paperchase in London many years ago. You can read it here. Each letter had a British inspiration to go with it. Number seven was the Rupert Annuals. Here are some of the annuals that I have collected over the years. I didn't realize that a lot of my posts over the last couple of years have so much in common with the spirit of the Rupert Annuals, they really have been an inspiration to my work. Throughout this post I will have links to previous posts that tie in with each of the images that I have chosen.


Every year at Christmas beginning in 1936 a new annual is published. The front and back of this annual is from the 1960 edtion.

I love fireworks and I love an artists depiction of the exploding fireworks as well as his/her interpretation of the fireworks casings. Guy Fawkes Day is on the fifth of November and has made an appearance in one of the annuals. The very first "a little tour of my brain" blog post was about fireworks. This illustration is from the 1958 annual.

The covers of the annuals have characters and situations from the stories appearing in a vignette. This is the cover of the 1958 Rupert Annual.

The 1984 annual has this page of the residents of Nutwood where Rupert and his family live. We are in the 21st century but Rupert resides in the 1930's. This literary and artistic device gives way to some great mechanical inventions, almost "Kiddy Steam Punk". Besides these characters Rupert visits Father Christmas, the imps of Spring and Autumn, Jack Frost, mermaids and mermen and other creatures under the sea, as well a host of other characters from around the world on a regular basis.

The way that I think about the characters that I create has been greatly influenced by the annuals. They are from an ongoing cast and their interaction is very important to the pieces I create. I know and understand who they are and what they will do and say.

This 1976 Rupert annual shows an airship with a flying saucer styled structure hanging underneath it. Rupert is always dressed in his yellow and black trousers with a red sweater.

After each story are games, puzzles and activities. This 1972 annual has a game with pictures of leaves and their corresponding fruits or nuts that you must match.

The British picnic, this time held on tropical shores. There are two cakes, jam tarts, and fresh fruit, all to be washed down with hot tea. There are two posts about pastries for you to check out - Cakes, Cookies, and Pastries and Cakes and Pastries - Inspiration Results.

This annual is from 1975. Rupert often goes to exotic locales in his adventures. The clever device of having Rupert perpetually in the 1930's makes the locales that much more exotic. You may want to check out another post that I did in the little tour of my brain series called "Far Off Places".

The conjurer and his daughter, Tigerlily, live in a Japanese pagoda in Nutwood. This illustration is from the 1976 edition. I love stage magicians so much that I did four posts about them - Le Plus Grand Cabaret Du Monde, Magic Apparatus, and Stage MagiciansKellarThurston, andStage Magicians, Assorted Posters

This cover is for the 1974 Rupert Annual. A perfectly normal winter day in Nutwood; snow on the ground, everyone making snowmen, Gregory the guinea pig on a sled flying beside Jack Frost to see His Majesty King Frost in his palace in the clouds.

Every issue has an origami design for children or their parents to fold from a square sheet of paper. The directions for this paper water lily design appeared in the 1958 edition.

The King of the Birds also lives in a castle in the clouds. Rupert has visited him in various stories. This is the 1977 cover for the Rupert Annual.

I know I have used this phrase before but I love paper crowns, party hats and noisemakers. The illustrations for this story appeared in the 1978 edition of the annual. Visit my post about party hats and noisemakers here.

The costumes for the characters are wonderful. The attention to detail is another of the characteristics that draw me to these books. The landscape in this 1978 annual and all of the annuals is realistic. The fantasy is grounded in the real world.

This illustration from the 1978 Rupert Annual shows fairground rides at a funfair. There are three posts that I did earlier this year about fairground rides and architecture - Wowie Zowie! Carters Steam FairMidway Rides at Centreville Amusement ParkFairground Architecture and Midway Rides and one post about country fairs, Country Fairs, Metchosin Days, and the J-O-Lity Fair.

The endpapers of the annuals are as interesting as the rest of the book. This is from the 1976 Rupert Annual.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Hello! I am back in the land of Blog.

We have been shopping and are still not finished. We still have baking to do. I did soak the Christmas cakes again with more liquor. Unfortunately the mincemeat will be made but will have to be used for next year as it has to mature. The liquid that is used is brandy and the longer it keeps the better it gets! We will be using store bought mincemeat this year but I will fortify it with a little extra liquor.

The last week of October I was contacted by a shopping centre that I occasionally do work for asking me to do some Christmas displays. I asked when they wanted them by and the response was "last week". Normally there is a lead up time for Christmas work. I had five separate displays to get ready in about three weeks.

This is a small display for what they refer to as "The Curio Cabinet". They wanted it to tie in with the Visit Santa area in the centre court. I love the lettering that I used for the North Pole sign, it's called Tilt-A-Whirl. The candy canes are made from cardboard tubes that I have collected over the years with florist ribbons wrapped around them. They were then wrapped in cellophane. Other cardboard shapes were wrapped in pieces of dollar store plastic tablecloths and cellophane, tied off with wired mylar ribbon.

This area is the gift wrap area housed in an empty store. They wanted people to be aware that Christmas is coming and that this is the place to bring your gifts to have them wrapped. I love the colours that the cheap dollar store table cloths come in. The counter and the large cardboard boxes are all wrapped in the colourful gaudiness of these plastic pieces of happiness. How is that over the top flowery speech, but where else can you get such instant beautiful colours?

"Please Mum" is a store in the shopping centre that sells children's cloths. They were pleased as punch to have their clothing displayed in this empty window by the children's play area. In January this will be boarded over and torn down for the beginnings of the major expansion that the shopping centre will be undergoing.

After ten days I changed the cloths on the mannikins. The mall had all of these pointsetta plants, snow flake, and pine branch in storage from a previous Visit Santa display. I used some of the batting that is used for the Visit Santa area and finished it off with some gift boxes from the store because there was no signage available. The window is simple and very eye catching. You don't have to fill a window with merchandise.

Last Thursday, December 16th to be exact, I got a frantic call from the marketing manager asking me to come in and do some damage control. A shop that was leaving in January ended up going into receivership and had vacated the premises. This was in the very visible centre court area. Fortunately all of the fixtures and manikins were left behind.

I went to Suzanne's, the shop that was going into this area in the new year and gathered merchandise to crate the displays. This photo and the following one are on one side of the store.

I put together seven groups of clothing and gathered up a bunch of necklaces and hand bags and headed down to the store.

There were two posters available to use so I grabbed those as well.

This photo and the following one are on the other side of the store.

These two displays as well as the previous two displays are side by side. I probably should have taken a long shot of the entire window but it was a very busy Saturday afternoon when I finally finished the displays.

The front store entrance had hoarding up and the shopping centre will be putting graphics on it telling of the new store to be there in January. Beside the front entrance was this one small area that I put this bust form in. I used bracelets and necklaces, as well as a few well placed straight pins, to hold the scarves in place because there were no brooches in the shop for sale.

I will do a separate post about the big window display. The photos didn't turn out so they have to be redone. I am also going to show some of the other Christmas windows in Victoria. The small independent stores do some very nice displays. Department store windows no longer seem to be important at Christmas. The bottom line dictates that it doesn't pay.

Don't forget to visit SpookyTimeJingles if you haven't been there already. My blog and website links were posted but I forgot to put a contact link on my guest artist page. If you would like to purchase ilexander or any of the other pieces contact me at lenbenny@shaw.ca.

Pierre is ready for the Christmas party with his hat and party horn. His head is hollow so lots of treats can be placed inside.

 Miles is a candy container ornament. Treats can be put in his head as well a his pumpkin treat pail.
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