Monday, September 24, 2012

Is It a Time-worn Treasure or a Twisted Tool of Torture?

Just in time for a ghoulish Halloween display, the rusty metal spikes on the device above conjure all sorts of interesting decorating ideas. Cobwebs and hanging spiders or a nice dried arrangement. It does, after all, look a bit like a giant spiked flower frog. Or, for the truly twisted mind, perhaps an impaled scarecrow or Freddie Krueger doll.

This interesting tool is an antique flax comb. The comb itself is about 8 inches across and the spikes are about two inches long. Wicked-looking device, but it would look great mounted above a doorway along with other primitives.

I spied the flax comb this past weekend at Primitive Pickins, a charming, little show featuring primitives and rustic items and at  the home of one of the show's organizers.  It was a smaller show, but had a nice selection furniture and rustic antiques. Take a look at some of the goodies.

The tea-dyed cheesecloth on the front of this antique dresser is a different and interesting look. The lower drawers of the piece have been removed to create open storage behind the cheesecloth curtain.

I thoroughly enjoyed meeting Julie, who picks most of the primitives on display. Three other friends collect the furniture pieces and one of them paints both furniture and some of the accessories.

Julie and her friends host one of these shows about four times a year, rotating host houses for each show. Now that I've discovered them, I'm looking forward to their next event in November.

I came home with this wonderful pie safe door. The rusty patina is just perfect. I'm planning to use it as a fireplace screen for our very outdated-looking fireplace. The plan is to position it on the andirons at  the fireplace opening--after I paint the andirons, which are now brass.

We don't use the fireplace, but have it filled with white twinkle lights which should look mah-velous twinkling through the pie safe's pinholes.

Next weekend, a friend and I are off to the annual Nebraska Junk Jaunt. Advertised as "everything from thimbles to combines," the Junk Jaunt is more than 300 miles of yard sales in more than 20 towns  in three days. Whoo-hoo!

Stay tuned  . . . should be lots of goodies to share with you all.

Make it a great day!
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Friday, September 14, 2012

Turn Over a New Leaf

One of the things I've looked forward to the past few years is decorating with leaves in the fall. I know--kind of a well, duh, moment, isn't it?

There are some very nice artificial leaves and leaf garlands on the market today. In fact, I use some of those. But, I'm talking about also decorating with real leaves from the trees in my yard and neighborhood. You can see dozens of those leaves in my leaf box above.

I've only just begun my fall decorating, but I have incorporated dried and pressed leaves into a few of the spots I've worked on.

It's easy to create a collection of pressed leaves. I select the ones I want from the yard, place each on a sheet of wax paper that I fold over to cover both sides of the leaf. Then I place it in a heavy book and stack other books on top. Drying takes two to three weeks to ensure the leaves don't curl when removed from the press.

As you can see, this method even preserves much of the original color of the leaves. The Japanese maple and the aristocrat pear are most colorful in my yard. But, I like the sturdy shape and the steady nut brown of the bur oak. The color of the various types maple leaves runs the gamut. You can even preserve green leaves.

My other favorite leaves are those on my Franciscan Autumn stoneware. The colors are autumn-like with a touch of whimsy. The bluish leaves create a sense of fun. And, the windy flourishes sweep me away.

Can't wait to see what nature gives me to add to my collection this fall.

Make it a great day!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Sophisticated, Regal, Dapper Halloween Head Gear (and a 'Stache)

Yes, it's still summer. But, I'm ready to decorate for fall and Halloween.

Thought I'd share a quick post about my first Halloween craft project of the season.

I started with these wood charger plates I picked up at an estate sale for $1 each. The wood is beautiful and I suppose some people would shriek in horror at what I'm going to do with them. But, they aren't my style. I saw them for their potential, not their intended use.

Here are three of them in their altered state.

I gave them a coat of light grey paint, transferred the whimsical skull images with the Mod Podge method and distressed them fairly heavily. Then I applied both clear and dark wax to give them a protective covering and to further age them.

They make me smile  . . .

Make it a great day!
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Friday, September 7, 2012

Rusty, Crusty, Divine Treasures

On the main drag of the tiny town of Morrison, Colorado, is a little antique store called El-Mercado. Inside and out, it's overgrown with decades of rust and crust and thousands of treasures. 

El-Mercado has been a fixture in this town of about 500 since the mid-1960s. The store, which is in a 19th century house, is crammed so full that the goodies nearly cover all the windows. Because the lighting conditions inside were so poor, I only took photos outside.

Personally, I don't work with most of these types of items in my projects, but, for me, they're true eye candy anyway. They bring back memories of similar castoffs strewn around the parts graveyard on the far reaches of my grandparents' farm.

I could imagine creative geniuses such as Liz at The Brambleberry Cottage turning many of the treasures here into wonderful masterpieces.

Hey, you looking' at ME?

Directly behind El-Mercado, my husband and I came across this big bruiser munching the leaves of a cottonwood tree directly above a mountain creek. What do you think:  300+ pounds?

And, the name of the creek he dined above? Bear Creek, of course.

Linnie, the proprietor of El-Mercado called in Police Chief Rudy to assess the threat the mammoth guest presented. When we had taken our photos and finally moved on, Rudy and his officers continued to watch and wait for Bubba to descend so he could be tranquilized and moved to a safer place.

A vacation afternoon filled with some of my favorite things. Rust, crust and a big helping of nature.

Make it a great day!
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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Wildfires Blaze a New Appreciation

Since I was a young child, I've vacationed regularly in Colorado. I grew up with Smokey the Bear admonishing that only I can prevent forest fires.

I never took that message lightly. When our family tent-camped throughout Colorado in the '60s, we always took special care with our campfires and paid close attention to the daily fire danger ratings. But, admittedly, after seeing Smokey all those years, the message became like white noise.

My husband and I recently made a much-needed, but short, vacation to Colorado. We took a nice day trip up the Cache la Poudre Canyon west of Fort Collins.

The first thing we noticed was the toll the 2012 drought has taken on the river. While the water flowed swift and strong, in most areas, the banks of the river had expanded noticeably. We could walk further out on the rocks than when we were there two years ago. A black sandy bank was significantly wider than when we last visited.

We weren't too far into the canyon before we started to see signs of the Cache la Poudre Wilderness area fire that had occurred here in June. Most of the fire, known as the High Park fire, occurred within the designated wilderness area, burning more than 80,000 acres before it was 100 percent contained.

You can read more about the High Park fire at Project Wilderness 150 and see an eerie and unsettling photo of the fire taken from the air at night.

The fire, which is thought to have been started by lightning, did reach some areas outside of the designated wilderness, such as this spot near a campground in the Roosevelt National Forest.

Fire can be unpredictable, seeming to have no reason to burn some trees in a stand and jump across others. In numerous spots along the canyon, a couple of charred trees stood surrounded by stately green specimens.

Seeing the devastation is sobering. At the same time, forests generally benefit from occasional low-intensity fires, that clear out much of the dead timber and vegetation, making way for new growth.

The Cache la Poudre canyon now is strewn with signs ranging from handmade gems such as "If you love the Cache la Poudre, thank a firefighter" to the national forest's standard signs such as the one seen above.

Today, I take those messages more seriously than I have since I was a young child who genuinely took Smokey's words to heart.

A Postscript:

Driving any one of the gorgeous river canyons of Colorado never fails to deliver Christmas-morning style surprises and delights.

Roaring water, towering canyon walls, proud pines, quaking aspens, the occasional deer or elk . . . 

And, 'round any curve in the road, those gifts of nature share the gifts spawned by Americans' love of this beautiful, wild, and occasionally treacherous landscape. I'm talking about the wonderful cache of vintage and classic motels and cabins our parents, grandparents and great-grandparents built along the streams and mountainsides in a paradise they clearly loved.

Many of those wonderfully kitschy structures continue to host family gatherings today, as they did in the early days of the previous century. Others, like the Kinikinik Store and cabins shown above stand as a salute to a bygone era even as their owners have gone fishin.'

Make it a great day!
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