Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Queen of Nostalgia has the Rattle!

"The Queen of Nostalgia" has won my "Portrait Rattle - Dancing by the Light of the Harvest Moon". Black Cat will love having his rattle residing with "The Queen". He was wondering if he could refer to her as "Queenie". All I could say was to check with "The Queen of Nostalgia" but I'm sure she wouldn't mind.

Thank-you Kristen. Oh, and Black Cat says "Hi Queenie!"

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Thanksgiving in Canada and my ebay listings

Thanksgiving arrives in Canada on October 12th. Over a week ago I did this display in the cast iron urn by the front door. When I wrote about squash, gourds and pumpkins I had said that if I had room that I would grow all kinds of them. This small bounty of gourds and one small flat Chinese pumpkin were all volunteers from the compost. I had tossed out some old dried gourds that were quite a few years old and was so surprised when various vines started to appear in the compost and around the garden.

This year I decided to use two very old spades that belonged to my grandfather and a lantern to create a garden vignette. The handgrip and handle for each spade is carved from one piece of wood. The lantern was in my parent’s basement and I have no idea who it belonged to or where it came from. Vintage garden tools are so beautiful. They speak of the everyday life of ordinary families. Tucked in amongst the gourds to give a bit of height and added interest are old flowerpots. I chose ones that had interesting moss and chips on them. There are also broken pots in there as well. I wanted the whole display to look like it could have been a vignette from an afternoon's work in the garden.

I did a large Thanksgiving display in the hall entrance last Tuesday. After Thanksgiving it will be turned into a Hallowe'en display. We live on a busy road and at the end of a 200 foot driveway on a panhandle lot so there are no trick or treaters that come to the door. I do miss that part but I decorate inside the house for friends to see and for me.

My next blog entry will be a step by step of how I put it together. I hope that it will inspire you. I used to do display work and love it. I have also given workshops on merchandise presentation and display so if anyone wants me to give a workshop just send me a note.

Don't forget to check out my ebay sales that are going on right now. They will be ending today so get over there and have a look. Click here to go there!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A Little Tour of My Brain, Part - 9 - Country Fairs, Metchosin Days, and the J-O-Lity Fair

I love fall fairs. Most of the fairs that are around are very big and very commercial not that a fall fair isn't about business it is. Maybe what I like about a fall fair is nostalgia. There is a large fair in Saanich that we used to go to before it moved to bigger and better premises. We haven't been since it moved to its new location. I would like to see it but we never get around to it. One reason that we may not go there is this wonderful small fair in Metchosin called Metchosin Days and it is free. It takes place on the first Sunday after Labour Day.

There are lots of farmers selling local produce displayed in beautiful mounds on the tables and piled high in baskets.

Yellow and red tomatoes simply presented in brown paper bags in front of a wooden box filled with yellow and red peppers of all sizes, shapes and heat intensities.

There bags of salad greens and edible flowers. Every sort of squash imaginable is available.

I love squash, gourds, and pumpkins, as you know. The colours and shapes are so beautiful and they taste great as well.

There are even squash so large that it will take several people or one very strong person to carry it around the fair for the day showing it off like a giant Kewpy doll for all to see.

There are flowers from nurseries, farms, and home gardens for sale.

The international students from Pearson College of the Pacific are there in their traditional costumes. Some of them are very exotic and some are jeans and tee shirts. The choir performs, various dancers dance, and individual musicians perform.

Throughout the day there is other entertainment on the stage as well.

The Morris Dancers perform both the men and the women.

This is the Midway. It costs 25 cents for a trip once around the perimeter of the fair. There are two tractors that run all day long never stopping and each ride is always full.

The lamb is roasting all day getting ready for the dinner that can be purchased in advance for about $15.00 a person. Closer to dinnertime the salmon is cooked for those that prefer salmon.

One year we stayed for the dinner and it was delicious. All of the cakes and pies from the baking contest are used for dessert.

Sea Bluff Farm was at the fair demonstrating an old winnowing machine. I may have the name of the machine wrong but what it did was separate the wheat from the chaff.

Royal Bay Bakery was there demonstrating a Cobb oven and handing out free samples; a 2" scone made from organic wheat. We had a scone each that was flavoured with fresh fennel seed I think and it was delicious. Later after our tour of the stalls we went back and had a second sample blackberry this time and just as delicious.

There are breads, cakes, pies, and very large cookies for sale.

Highland Jams had a large variety of jams and jellies for sale to go with those hearty breads.

The Metchosin Volunteer Fire Department always has a "training course" for kids. The kids have to carry a small section of hose a small distance and "rescue" a dummy. After that they get to hold the fire hose, the fireman in behind holding it with them and then "put out the flames" of the burning house. The water knocks down the flames and the fire is out. I wonder how many kids grow up and want to be a fireman?

We have never come across a country fair similar to Metchosin Days. It is very relaxed with a very distinct sense of community.

I mention the J-O-Lity Fair quite often when I talk about the Hallowe'en ornaments, noisemakers and figures. You can see that the Metchosin Days fair has been a major inspiration for the J-O-Lity Fair. As time goes by and more items are made the J-O-Lity (Jack-O-Lantern) Fair becomes much more concrete and real. It is already very real for me, I hope that it is becoming more real for you.

At the end of the fair is the J-O-Lity Fair Costume Ball. Pierre, pictured here, has arrived at the ball dressed as a Persian Scribe. He is up for sale on ebay right now. Click here to go to his page on ebay.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

New Items up for Sale on ebay

I hope the hunt for Ethel the wandering witch is going well. She never did come back and I have no idea where she is.

I mention Ethel for two reasons, the first reason is so that you will keep hunting for her (do tell your friends) and ultimately find her and the second reason is to thank her. I was so busy when she came by that I didn't tell her that she or rather the game of trying to find her was how the "Portrait Rattles" came about. I had forgotten all about the "The Hunt for you know who" and I needed a prize to donate. I had one day to make, photograph, and submit my donation! I didn't have anything! I was looking in a box of small cylinders that I have collected over the years and found 11 small rings of cardboard 2 1/2" across and 1/4" deep that had something such as ribbon wrapped around them. They have been there for quite a while so I don't know what they were used for. I decided to make a miniature party rattle. Well I did and the rest is, as they say, history.

I have listed six on ebay as well as two candy container ornaments. For those of you that are observant you may have noticed that there are 7 in the picture. A friend saw them and bought "Jack and the Giant Floral Bombshell". Hallowe'en in British Columbia, Canada is the only time that fireworks are available for sale. The powers that be are trying to stop the practice unfortunately but the reasons are valid I suppose.

The term "Portrait Rattle" came about as I was making them. I remembered about the itinerant artists that would travel about and paint portraits for people. I also thought about the European tradition of painting miniature portraits on thin sheets of ivory. These portraits are truly beautiful. That is how the idea of a miniature party rattle depicting a favourite event from one of my clients came about. Some of the rattles are made for my clients as gifts to a friend or relative. The rattle will then depict that person as my client sees them. I make two of the rattles one for the client and one to sell.

There are two candy container/ornaments for sale as well. The one at the bottom of the picture is called "The Persian Scribe". The other one is called "Eager Anticipation". It looks like he is wearing a hula skirt but he isn't. That is the bottom half of the tassel he is resting on. Next time I will be more careful when take the picture!

Just click here and you can go directly to my ebay sales page.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Ethel is Not Here

Keep looking she isn't here. Click on the image above and it will take you back to EHAG.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

EHAG - Search for the Wandering Witch.

Ethel was just by to remind me to let everyone know that she will be out and about from September 21st to the 25th. I told her that I was going to do just that and not to worry, in fact I have been getting last minute pictures together for some postings. I have been at my computer more or less all day dressed in my black pants, orange tee shirt and orange socks, topped off with my brown shirt the colour of a dried autumn leaf.

"I like it," was her response, "you look like a pumpkin!"

"I am loosing weight!"

We both laughed and then she was off to remind everyone else about this coming weeks goings on.

When midnight comes along click on this sign to start your hunt. You had better go now I have a lot to get ready. Happy hunting everyone, I hope you find Ethel.

I almost forgot this is my donation showing the front and the back. It is a miniature portrait rattle called "Dancing by the Light of the Harvest Moon". Black Cat has the original rattle. That's him dancing with some autumn leaves. I always make two of the rattles one for my client, this time Black Cat, and one for me to sell or in this case give away. Bye now, I must get to work.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Another sneak peek...

I am trying to be diligent. I want to get more work done. I want to get 2 or 3 posts on my blog a week. I want to...

These last few weeks feel like I am in a dream running and running but just not getting anywhere. I am working, really I am. And just to prove the point here is a sample of some small Hallowe'en rattles that I am working on. They are about 5 3/4" long/high. Long if you measure it lying down and high if you measure it standing up. Some will be sold as is and others I will use in larger pieces. Each one is different. These are the cat rattles and one man in the moon rattle.

I also have 5 pumpkin rattles that I am working on as well. Well I must get back to work.

Friday, September 11, 2009

A Little Late...

On August 21 I received an email that I was officially a member of EHAG. I had wanted to post a thank-you to all of the artists at EHAG for inviting me to become a member but as this post shows I didn't. Better late than never, so here goes, "Thank-you everyone at EHAG, I am so happy to be a part of the group."

Thursday, September 10, 2009

"A Little Tour of My Brain, Part 8 - Vintage Children's Text Books"

In honour of back to school my brain tour is about vintage children's textbooks. Years ago we came across some old textbooks at a recycling depot. They had arrived there when the depot had opened and we were the first people that had asked if they had any old textbooks. We had to climb up a stack of boxes about 4' high and over to the back wall about 20'. There were at least 10 boxes of old textbooks. After going through all of the boxes we had a cardboard box full of books. When we went to pay for them I asked the fellow how much did we owe. He said to make an offer. Thinking that all I could afford at the time was $5.00 I offered that amount. He responded with "Oh that's too much, how about $2.00." We paid him and that began our collection of vintage textbooks.

These three illustrations are from "The F-U-N Book", first published in 1923. This is the thirtieth printing - 1952. Maud and Miska Petersham are the husband and wife team that did the illustrations for this textbook. They illustrated many beautiful children’s books throughout their career.

I love the absurd silliness of a musical duck wearing shoes and socks. She is made a little more serious and respectable with her medieval headdress. The mixing of different costume time lines makes this illustration comic and approachable. This is pure fantasy, not just an historical representation of an era.

A bird's nest is his castle! The attention to detail is delightful.

These three rabbits are more realistically drawn than most of the children's illustrations of today. The costume detail is wonderful. Modern illustration tends more toward a cartooned style. That is a very general statement. There are some beautiful children’s book illustrators, but more about them at another time.

The following two illustrations and the end papers are from "The Work-Play Books, Make and Make- Believe", published in 1937 with illustrations by George M. Richards.

Fairy-tale couture creates some very interesting designs. Borrowing here and there gives this little elf dashing flair.

The comic absurdity of the expressions on the lady riding the horse and the horse itself coupled with the giant feet is great.

The end papers of the textbook are quite soiled, but I have managed to put together a composite image so that you can see it uninterrupted. Click on the image for a better look.

This illustration and the following one are from the "Canadian Children's Own Readers" series. This book is titled "Friends - A Primer" and is illustrated by Marguerite Davis. There is no publishing date on it, but it appears to be from the late 1920's or the early 1930's.

There is a joyous sense of childhood depicted in the illustrations.

These beautifully executed drawings are from "Early Journeys in Science", published in 1931. In the preface they note that all of the illustrations are scientifically correct. The artist is not named but almost all of the illustrations are signed, very unusual for a primary textbook. All of the illustrations are great but I like the serious although humorous writing about the fly and the lovely illustration of the breakfast crawling with flies!

This last illustration is from the "Canadian Work-Play Books, Round the Year", published in 1938. All of the illustrations are by A. Gladys Peck. Hooray for the circus, I almost put this illustration in the post about the circus.