Monday, February 25, 2013

Dressed to Impress!

I'm not sure whether its my total fascination with the
incredible period attire worn by the cast of Downton Abbey,
or the "oh so chic" fashion paraded on the Red Carpet these
last weeks that have me longing to have a reason to play
 "dress up" myself. 
 Wouldn't all of us ladies love just once to be
draped in something sparkly from Harry Winston?
Or the chance to don a hat like my favorite resident dowager,
Since the likelihood of either one of those happening is quite
 slim for me, I have to fill that impulse in other ways.
One can always count on Pinterest to check out the latest in
fashion trends. But I especially love seeing all of the altered
vintage dress mannequins that show up from time to time. 
They are truly inspirational!  So much in fact, that I just had
to do one for myself.
The first challenge was to find a mannequinn I could afford. 
 I literally drooled over the ones I saw at the Paris flea market
 a couple of years ago. 
 But alas, they were not in my budget~ nor
 would they have fit in my luggage!
Luck was with me however this past fall when I spied one at
a county antique fair.  Madge (thats her name~) probably came
from a department store in the 1950's~ which is considered an
 antique these days by some standards (though certainly not
mine!), and she had seen better days for sure.
However, I recognized a "diamond in the rough" and knew with
a little spackling & duct tape, she could be "Red Carpet"

If only it took that to get me ready these days! Oh well!
With Phase 1 of "project Madge" completed, I could move
quickly to the fun part.  I decoupaged her bust with old
book pages & inferma, and began assembling paper
flowers from coffee filters for her ball gown.
Using an antique hoop skirt from the 1860's
( yes- I know you must have one lying around your house
as well!  Mine was leftover from a project I had
done for Nashville's Cheekwood several years ago~), tulle
and the paper flowers, I was able to construct a fairly decent
bustle skirt.
To complete her ensemble, I wrapped the shoulders in a
vintage fur caplet, added a little bling...and of course,
a crown...
and voila!
Madge was ready for her closeup!

I must take this opportunity to present a few of the dress
 forms that inspired me so. Unfortunately, Madge takes
a backseat to many of these creative beauties...
I can only dream about owning one of these

Love these book pages!


Cher at the Oscars?
This one just knocks me out!

Look closely... this is a Christmas tree!

Must shamelessly copy this idea!


Simply amazing!
And this next one is actually a cake!
This next dress form looks like someone has pilfered
Dame Violet's dressing table!
Oh, to live in an era where dress forms & dressing
tables were a way of life!
But for now, I have my Madge to "dress up" a
corner of my studio.
And, its almost time for her spring wardrobe!
Dame Violet would be proud.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Its the Little Things

 Recently, a very astute friend of mine remarked that I seemed
to enjoy making smaller items more than my larger full sized figures.
Until then, I really had not given it much thought~
but indeed, she is quite right.
 My love affair with tiny things began long ago when I was in the
Fifth Grade (and that WAS long ago!).  Our assignment was to create
a poetry notebook, complete with illustrations for each poem.
Digging through the endless poetry books in our school library, I came
across a volumn of poetry that had been illustrated by
Joan Walsh Anglund.
I became completely enthralled by her artwork~
tiny little ink drawings of cherub-cheeked children with two little eyes.
Illustrations that begged for one to look closely so as not to miss her tiny
a little snail making its way through the tall grass, a robin pulling up an
inch worm to feed her little babies high up in a tree,
butterflies, teacups & kittens placed just so in her pictures.
Miss Anglund's first little book,
A Friend is Someone Who Likes You,
was published in 1958 and was followed by dozens more little books
such as:
Love is a Special Way of Feeling &
What Color is Love?
I connected with her artwork, and soon I was lining my bedroom walls
with her beguiling drawings.
It wasn't long before I began painting my own little
Joan Walsh Anglund pictures (imitatation is the best form of
flattery!) and determined that I too would one day become an
illustrator of children's books.
My fascination with her work continued in high school.
I think every important event that happened in my life during
those four years were dutifully recorded in my Joan Walsh Anglund
calendars (which I still have~). Years later, when my sons were born,
their nursery walls were decorated with my hand-painted cut outs
of the characters I had so loved way back when.
The very first antique I ever purchased was also a "little thing."
I loved going antiquing with my mother~
usually it was just to window shop.  But on one particular outing,
I spied a tiny little vase that I just had to have~
and luckily, I had the 3 or 4 dollars I needed to purchase it.

My first little antique...

I have no idea what drew me to the tiny vase,
but I was thrilled with my purchase and have continued to collect
them over the years.  Today, I proudly display them all in an antique
 "Chocolate Box" from Holland that I received as a wedding present.

My husband's grandmother, the elegant Caroline Ball,
loved "pretty little things" as well. 
 The entrance hall of her beautiful home was lined with glass
 display cabinets that showcased a massive collection of
crystal paperweights.

She also loved collecting tiny boxes.
Her living room was filled with dainty "eye candy"~
porcelain French Limoges & enameled  Halcyon boxes from
London literally spilled onto every table.
Today, we are fortunate to have several of these beautiful little
treasures and thanks to my husband & my family,
I have my own "Momsie" table in my living room
filled with my own "eye candy".

 "Little things" play a big part in my work.
In fact, my favorite part of any project comes when I can sit
back & begin to add what I think of as the fun part~
or adding the details.  At this point, I get to rifle through
my stash of "stuff" and find the perfect way to make my project
special. For that reason, my studio is filled with a vast array of
little things: jewelry, toys, doll clothes & accessories, ribbons,
millenary...the list goes on. I never know exactly what the
"end product" will be, but I credit Joan Walsh Anglund's art
with teaching me the importance of little things, and the difference
they can make to one's work.

Please enjoy a few of my favorite little things from my studio:


Little things fire my imagination and make all things possible...
teacups become homes for elves & fairies~

Vintage dime store animals can go to birthday parties...

Little boxes can be "royally" altered...

Of course, my favorite little things are
little boys...
little things are infinitely the most important.

Thank you for visiting my blog!
You can always find "little things" for sale in my Etsy Shoppe
including the adorable "dressing table" gift box.

I was

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Wanted: A Good Old-Fashioned Snow!

Mind you, I am not the jealous kind.
But the mere mention of a good old-fashioned blizzard in
the Northeast makes me pea-green with envy!!
I live in Tennessee where we can clock on an egg timer
how quickly the weather will change.
One moment its freezing cold-
the next moment it's 70 degrees and my daffodils & poor
cherry trees are starting to bloom!
I have watched snowstorms march across the Kentucky
counties just to the north of us,
as well watched them smugly slide as far south as Birmingham
and Atlanta.
But alas, here in Middle Tennessee- nary a flake!
When I was growing up, we had tons of snow!
You could always tell when it had snowed during the night
because it was so very quiet in the morning....
and the smell of my mother's pancakes were heavenly!
But, the biggest thrill for my sisters & I was waiting for my Daddy
 to come home early so he could take us sledding.
He would pile as many neighborhood kids as he could into the back
of our station wagon, and off to the park we would go.
We would sled well into the early evening when we would
make a bonfire at the top of the hill.
The landscape literally glowed from the light of the snow,
and if we were lucky, we'd have a little moonlight.
My mom always had hot chocolate waiting for everybody
 when we finally came home.
Then we'd eagerly listen to the radio to see if school was to be cancelled
the following day.
If so... we'd do it all over again!
So, as I have perused the 10 day weather forcast and dismally
discovered there is NO snow in our forseeable future,
I have decided to make my own
"little blizzard" with the help of some of my papier mache
snowmen & women.
They're not as cold as the real thing...
but infinitely cuter!

Well, thank you for allowing me to share some very sweet
memories with you.
My sled ( the same one we've been using for about 50 years!)
hangs ready in our garage- just in case
I wake up to a very quiet morning...
and the smell of pancakes.
Here's wishing all us Middle Tennesseans
A White Winter!