"What one can see out in the sunlight is always less interesting than what is behind a windowpane."

Monday, November 29, 2010

Whoops! Looks Like Santa Lost Something.....

It could have been worse...it could have been his Chestnuts!

Well, we did some decking the halls this past week. Here's my favorite little Adirondack tree we keep in our bedroom.

The only ornaments I decorate this tree with are hand-made ones. Currently, they're all carved by me and wood carving friends.

I used to have needle-felted elves, Santas, and snowmen on this tree, but my daughter Mary claimed them as her own.

One day, this tree will be completely filled with carvings. I like to do one a year for each of my children.

I'm lucky to have other cute little carvings friends have sent me like penguins and Santa faces carved right out of dried branches.

I thought I'd try something totally different this year and decorated my mantle with vintage Knee-Hugger Elves, angels, and flocked Santas!

It was so much fun! After adding greenery and lights, I added all the little guys, peeking out from the greens and sitting on top of the tree branches.

Some are from Ted's grandmother, some are gifts, but most I found thrifting and antiquing.....all for a song.

A few years ago, I hated all the old plastic ornaments and thought they were "tacky." Maybe nostalgia hit me, but I just started collecting them and saw them in a whole new light.

My mom barely remembers having these. As a child, I used to like playing with them. Funny, the things people remember and forget.

It's like I have my own little forest of elves!

I let the kids do most of the tree decorating. They're getting so much better. I used to find 5 ornaments loading down a single branch. And of course, they're little hands could only reach half way up the tree so while the bottom of the tree was packed, the top was bare.

Mary and Nic were given a little 3-foot Christmas tree from their Poppy and Busha. Here they are lugging it into their bedroom to decorate.

Mary taking a break from decorating to eat a big piece of fried chicken and relax with a good book.

Later, Daddy, Nic, and Blue made themselves cozy as well!

Now to focus on the Christmas cookies!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Very Vintage Christmas!

Our good friends (and my children's Honorary Grandparents), Randy and Lois, have been decluttering lately and lucky me - they just went through their piles of Christmas decorations!

After deciding what they wanted to keep, they told me to come over and take what I wanted before they donated it. Here's what I chose.

Lois told me most of these old glass ornaments were from her mother.

Aren't they pretty and so delicate?

When the kids are older, I'd like to decorate my entire tree in nothing but these vintage jewels and other Shiny Brites I have stored away.

Do you see the one on the bottom right? It's actually not old, but is painted to look like a rose. I thought it was bodacious.

These are HUGE! According to Lois, they're also very old.

Two Putz houses with the Japan label still on the bottoms! Some bottle brush wreaths and various newer ornaments. Being Irish, I couldn't resist the Celtic cross.

Wait! There's more! Lookie what I found the past few weeks at various thrift stores, all for a song.

These are the types of goodies Magpie Ethel always seems to score!

Ever since I converted my Dining Room into an Art Room, my mind and eyes (and mind's eye!) are constantly on the look-out for pieces I can work into my folk art.

Pieces I would have looked over before now become the focal point of an amazing idea I have in my head! Now, if only I could fill my studio with the actual finished pieces. But.....they're mostly all still in my head!

I figure at some point to also fill my Etsy Shop with tons of vintage goodies.

The ideas are endless!

I have a real love for miniatures. I especially like to use them as little toys peeking out of Santa's pack and for creating tiny dioramas.

When I found this little village, I figured to resell it on Etsy. But lately, I've been noticing that other artisans have been using each piece to make Christmas ornaments. Loved the idea! My only decision now is whether to break up the set (which is still in its original box and comes with trees and an ice-skating pond) or repurpose them. I think making the ornaments would be SOOOOO much fun and creative....but I hate to break apart a set that's been together for 30 years. Hmmmmm......I'll have to think some more.

I just LOVE the whole process!
The hunt for the old pieces.
Rummaging through thrift stores for unique finds (and super low prices).
Using the found materials as the focal points for my artwork.
Dreaming up ideas.
Choosing different mediums for the perfect combination.
Creating new and unique art.
Recyling something old into something completely fresh and new.
What was once just an idea in my head then becomes a solid, tangible piece of folk art to be enjoyed. Really, how cool is that?!!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Snowmen Shakers for St. Mary's Hospital

As much as I don't want to rush the Fall, I'm starting to think snow!

Our local hospital hosts a Christmas Bazaar that I've been contributing to for the past 3 years. Each year I like to try something different. After the fun I had creating JOL shakers, I thought I'd try some snowmen.

These were made with paper-mache balls that I covered in "Rigid Wrap" and clay to form cheekbones and noses. I then drilled a hole and added dried beans so they could be used as shakers. Some painting and decorating and there ya have it!

The money earned from these will go towards the St. Mary Volunteer Dept. This is a group of women who use their time and talents to make afghans for patients and hand-crochet caps for those who lose their hair to chemotherapy. They also create "dignity blouses" for women who undergo radiation and discreet cushions for women who are sore from having a Lumpectomy or Mastectomy.

While I was totally impressed with the amount of blouses, cushions, afghans, and caps these women spent creating, it was also sad to think about the reason they were all being made. It was heartbreaking to think they'll most likely all get used.

So what do you think? Should I tell the volunteers to make sure and rattle those shakers whenever small children walk by? It may be a dirty trick to get the parents to buy one, but hey, if the child's happy, there's a pretty good bet the parent will be too. Am I right?!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

More Hand-Carved Santa Vintage Spools

The irony of my love affair with carving old wood spools is that they're one of the last things in the world I would ever have used. You see, when it comes to sewing, I have no skills. Despite my best efforts, I still can't even thread a sewing machine!

So, I play the hand I'm dealt. I may not be a seamstress, but I sure can wield a knife!

I'm so grateful to the mind-set of the Depression-era folk. Because of their frugality, the old wood spools were saved from rotting in the landfills, allowing me the joy of repurposing them into Christmas ornaments.

As I chip away, I can't help but wonder about the life of this old spool. Where did it come from? What was it used for? Maybe a young wife used it to help mend a pair of pants for her husband. Or maybe an exasperated mom sewed yet ANOTHER patch onto her son's knee. Could it have been used in a quilting bee?

By the time my kids are old enough to move out on their own, they'll each be handed a box full of handcrafted ornaments to get them started on their very first Christmas. These simple wooden spools may someday be adorning the trees of my great-great-grandchildren. How could that not warm my heart?

There are still plenty of spools to be carved! If you're interested in purchasing any of these, you can do so at my store, Bucks County Folk art, found on Etsy.com.

Lots more blogging to come!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Carving Old Wood Spools

After listening to a beautiful version of "What Child is This?", I was inspired to carve a Nativity scene into an old wood spool. Joseph holds a staff in one hand, while leading Mary on a donkey.

They follow the Star of Bethlehem over the hilly desert.

You can see the silhouette of Bethlehem in the far off distance.

This entire spool is done in "Relief", which is a form of carving pictures in wood. It wasn't easy and I swore I'd never do it again. But now, looking at the finished piece, I may give it another go! (Sold)

Working in mixed media has definitely opened up a whole new world of creative possibilities. After carving and painting Santa's face into an old spool, I added a bottle brush tree that I hand-dyed pink. Then I got to decorate the tree with pretty little beads, Diamond Dust and glitter, and a vintage earring for the tree topper.

Deciding which color to paint the Santas is usually easy. It's like I let the piece tell me what it wants. When I looked at this Santa, it just screamed Burgundy and rust to me. An old button is set on top of the spool and is encircled with a piece of vintage chenille stem. (Sold)

This piece was created for all the "Pinks" out there! (Sold)

This Santa ornament cried out, "Country!"; hence, the Prairie Green paints and gingham tie. He comes complete with beads and a rusty bell. (Sold)

I don't think I've bought a Christmas ornament in years. It's too fun making them!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


Now you have heard of Women's Rights,
And how we've tried to reach new heights.
If we're "all created equal"...
That's us too!


But you will proba ... bly not recall
That it's not been too ... too long at all,
Since we even had the right to
Cast a vote.


Well, sure, some men bowed down and called us "Mrs." (Yeah!)
Let us hang the wash out and wash the dishes, (Huh!)
But when the time rolled around to elect a president...

What did they say, Sister, (What did they say?)

They said, uh, "See ya later, alligator,
And don't forget my ... my mashed potatoes,
'Cause I'm going downtown to cast my vote for president."

Oh, we were suffering until suffrage,
Not a woman here could vote, no matter what age,
Then the 19th Amendment struck down that restrictive rule. (Oh yeah!)

And now we pull down on the lever,
Cast our ballots and we endeavor
To improve our country, state, county, town, and school.

(Tell 'em 'bout it!)

Those pilgrim women who ...
Who braved the boat
Could cook the turkey, but they ...
They could not vote.
Even Betsy Ross who sewed the flag was left behind that first election day.

(What a shame, Sisters!)

Then Susan B. Anthony (Yeah!) and Julia Howe,
(Lucretia!) Lucretia Mott, (and others!) they showed us how;
They carried signs and marched in lines
Until at long last the law was passed.

Oh, we were suffering until suffrage,
Not a woman here could vote, no matter what age,
Then the 19th Amendment struck down that restrictive rule. (Oh yeah!)

And now we pull down on the lever,
Cast our ballots and we endeavor
To improve our country, state, county, town, and school. (Right On! Right On!)

Yes the 19th Amendment
Struck down that restrictive rule. (Right On! Right On!)

Yes the 19th Amendment
Struck down that restrictive rule.
(Yeah, yeah!
Yeah, yeah!
Right on!
We got it now!)

SINCE 1920.........SISTER'S UNITE! VOTE ON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!