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

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Valentine Finds & Free Images

Today was Valentine's Day at the Barn! Come, let me share with you my finds and some vintage Valentines for you!

In the middle of the heap is a really large Valentine Tree. I plan on repainting the wrought iron a shabby white and hanging Valentines from it.

Vintage hearts are so pretty, but so hard to come by inexpensively. I got this beauty for $3.50!

This extra-large heart will be perfect for filling with Valentine goodies for Mary. She's a girlie-girl and loves all types of ribbons and lace.

For $1.50, I figured I could use the plastic flowers from this heart for other projects. But if Mary sees it, she'll probably take it as her own.

I'm pretty sure this a reproduction, but I loved the graphics and often use tins for storage. For 50 cents, who am I to complain?!

Puffy glittered-golden hearts to decorate the Valentine tree - 25 cents each.

For 50 cents, a box of Snoopy Valentines for Mary and Nicolai.

What luck! I had been searching for an oval-shaped picture frame for a while now. At $1.50, score!

This was my biggest surprise of them all - packs of vintage, unused Valentines for 50cents each! Each pack contained 4-5 Valentines! And the fun was not knowing what was inside until I got home.

Here they are! I picked out the cutest ones for you to use for your own art projects. Enjoy!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Preserving the Past in Bucks County

One thing I admire about Bucks County is its commitment to preserving American history. A couple weeks ago, Ted and I took the kids to visit the Moravian Tile Works.

During the early 1900s, Henry Chapman Mercer became interested in making pottery. After experimenting with various techniques, he created the Moravian Tile Works, to manufacture decorative tile. Deeply influenced by the ideas of the Arts & Crafts movement, Mercer sought to duplicate both traditional designs and traditional manufacturing techniques. His pottery soon began to win prizes at exhibitions, and the company was profitable almost from the start.

Come along, and I'll take you on a tour of this amazing castle-like factory.

Besides the Tile Works, Henry Mercer also opened a museum in his own name, which is packed with turn-of-the-century instruments and every day tools. Part of this vast collection is displayed on the walls of the Tile Works.

At the beginning of the tour, we watched a 15 minute video explaining the life and works of Henry Mercer. Then, we got to take a self-guided tour, which I prefer because we can walk and talk at our own pace.

I'm sure I'll embarrass Ted by writing this, but not only are his eyes a beautiful ice-blue, they're also as sharp as an eagle's. He spotted this bird's nest through a little window tucked away next to the fireplace.

I kept expecting to see Indian Jones swinging by on a whip! Now that definitely would have added to the tour. *wink*

Ted took this from a balcony up above to try and give some perspective on the size of this room.

The pottery set against the tall window makes for a scrumptious alcove.

The fun part about walking around the castle is not knowing what's around each corner.

Here's an old kiln once used to make the tiles.

We could even walk on the balcony outside. It must have been a beautiful place to work.

Turning around a corner, we came to this hall! OOOOOO!!! What's down here?!

The tour lead us to the bottom of the basement where tons of clay was stacked. It was cold. I wouldn't want to work down in that area for too long!

Some pretty scary equipment!

We met two artisans who demonstrated how they carved and glazed the tiles. I had to shake off my regrets of not going to art school.

If you're ever in the Doylestown area of Bucks County, I promise you will NOT be disappointed spending some time visiting this piece of history.

Hope you enjoyed the tour!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Magnetic Memory Board Tutorial

Today was my first attempt at making a magnetic memory board and I'm very happy with the results. I took pictures along the way so you could make one too!

First, decide how you want to frame your board, if at all. After searching countless thrift and craft stores, I finally decided to just take the picture frame off my own bedroom wall. Shhhh....don't tell Ted. He doesn't know yet!

Next, a trip to Lowes was in order. I bought a 24 x 30 piece of galvanized steel. Very important: Make sure it's NOT aluminum. Magnets will not stick to aluminum. While there, you may also want to either buy your own tin cutters or ask if they'll cut it down for you to size. Also, be very careful. Once the metal has been cut, it's very sharp.

I had two choices. I could either just cover this and have a huge magnetic board in Mary's room or put it in the frame I pilfered from my bedroom. Although the idea of her having more space was tempting, I chose the frame. It's much prettier and at 22 1/2" x 18", it's still a good size, yet wouldn't overwhelm the room.

Using a permanent marker, cut out the size needed (I just traced the cardboard backing that was already in my frame).

While researching how to make these, one tutorial used just scissors to cut the steel. This person must have had an extremely flimsy sheet because I could just about cut it with the snippers.

Surprise, surprise. Mary picked the color pink for her board. After spray painting it, I lightly sanded it and distressed it with Walnut Ink. This was very faint though. Mary doesn't like the distressed look. But, a little shabby chic never hurt anyone!

Next, choosing a fabric. Would Mary like a spring green to complement the pink or a pale pink to enhance the frame? Do I even need to ask?

Make sure to iron it!

With steel, both sides are magnetic, so it doesn't matter which side you choose for the front. Using Aileen's Tacky Glue, I attached the fabric to the sheet.

Then I made sure to pull it very tight and fold it on the back. I kept it together using double-sided tape, but I'm sure hot glue would work just as well. It doesn't matter that this part doesn't look pretty. What matters is that the front is taut to prevent bubbles.

Almost finished....

Maybe I was getting carried away, but I thought it needed a teeny weeny bit more texture so I added white lace.

What makes this even more special is that the kids made bottle cap magnets, using images from old children's books. There's even a picture of Mary in one.

It'll probably be another month or so before the attic is finally finished being renovated, but when it is, we'll be ready!

The only difficult part about this project was cutting the steel, but it was still doable and worth it in the long run. I still have almost half the steel left over to make smaller boards and I finally got to use some of my pretty toile that's just been sitting in a cabinet. And I love that the kids' bottlecap magnets are part of this project too. If you've got any questions about this project, just send me a line and I'll be happy to help.

Happy Crafting!