Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Styling and Photographing For Instagram

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Hi everyone! Here in the Willamette Valley of Oregon, the flowers are in full bloom almost everywhere you look. And that means an endless supply of ideas for photographing them starts tugging at my brain.

Today I'm sharing three recent iPhone images, all involving styling flowers together with tea. Styling is a challenging skill to acquire, but it can be an enjoyable and mindful activity, especially when the subject matter is one you enjoy. And I happen to enjoy both flowers, and tea!

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Still life photography can be a photographers best friend - it's just you, your camera, and a few objects. You are free to arrange and rearrange your subject matter, trying a variety of layouts, without interruption or worry about being judged. And if you are using a phone camera, which has no manually variable adjustments, your main concentration is on lighting and composition.

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For me, photographing tea and flowers came about rather serendipitously. Discovering the supportive community on Instagram, learning the art of flatlay composition, acquiring a new obsession with collecting vintage teacups, and opening an Etsy teacup shop, has all been a fun, challenging, and fortuitous journey of discovery!

Thanks for looking friends!


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Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Vintage Finds: Berggren Kitchen Tile

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Hi Friends! Of all the blog posts I've shared thus far, one of the more popular ones is about the home wares made by the Berggren Shelton Trayner company.

Design Spotlight: Vintage Berggren Ceramic Wall Hangings outlines the history of the company and talks about how Audrey and Arthur Berggren specialized in designing their gift and home ware products in the traditional Swedish folk style known as 'Dalmalningar'. I also featured three of my own vintage Berggren decorative wall hangings as examples of that style, and shared a Pinterest board of their unique and lovely products.

On a recent stroll through one of my favorite charity shops I found yet another vintage Berggren ceramic tile, pictured above, and it reminded me of how fond collectors are of the rich bright colors and whimsical floral motifs found in Dalmalningar art.

So in honor of all the Berggren fans, as well as those who appreciate Swedish folk styles in general, not only am I sharing this tile (which, by the way, says "Flowers leave part of their fragrance on the hands which bestow them"), but I've also updated my Pinterest board with even more images of Berggren home wares.

Enjoy!

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Friday, May 5, 2017

DIY: Foraged Spring Wreath

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Hi everyone! It's been awhile since I made a seasonal wreath to share with you. The idea for the wreath I'm showing you today has been bumping around in my mind for a very long time, but it required spring seasonal flowers. And now that Spring is in full bloom here in the Willamette Valley of Oregon, I was able to finally make the idea a reality. Happy Spring!

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I am fortunate in that I live where there are plenty of wild and cultivated flowers of all kinds in my neighborhood. They're growing in alleyways, on walking paths or overflowing into curb areas. I also have a generous neighbor who shares floral clippings from her yard with me.

For this wreath, I gathered ivy, magnolia and muscari, which is also known as grape hyacinth; of course, you may use any combination of your own preferred foraged flowers. The only 'rule' I set for myself is that my wreath would have just three floral elements. I like my wreaths to be simple statement pieces.

To make this easy wreath, you'll need:

  • a 12" natural wreath form (I purchased mine at a craft store and use it over and over)
  • a single vine of ivy - 24" in length
  • 2 -3 magnolia flowers
  • handful of muscari
  • 24" of 3/4" ribbon
  • junky scissors
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Wrap the ivy around your wreath front to back. I wound mine onto about one-half of the wreath form - from roughly 7 o'clock to 2 o' clock, preferring to leave some open space. Tuck and wedge the ivy into any crevices until it's secure. Repeat with the ribbon, alternating it between the ivy, and then tuck it in place.

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I examined the magnolia flowers carefully, decided on a composition, and these became the focal point. (I chose two flowers that were in different stages of bloom and one bud) Once you have formulated your own pleasing configuration, tuck them into the bottom middle of the wreath. Lastly, place muscari sprigs in sporadic places around the wreath.

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And that's it!

I hung my wreath at our front entryway and added a pair of vintage love bird plaques that were a recent charity shop find. Can't resist a vintage bird anything...

Thanks for reading and I hope you will consider making your own Foraged Spring Wreath!

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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Kawaii Corner - Inarco Frog Planter

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Hi Friends! It's been awhile since I shared a fun, lovable "kawaii" (Japanese concept of cute, particularly cute animals) vintage collectable. This big-eyed, smiling happy frog, with its proper salutational hat-tipping gesture, was manufactured and hand-painted by the Inarco Company in Japan some fifty or sixty years ago. It has been hanging around our house for quite some time, and although it gets carefully shifted from one place to another, it never ceases to put a smile on the faces of whomever it meets.

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Although pipe smoking has been long out of fashion, our aquatic companion is, even in our modern times, considered to be very smartly dressed in a pink waistcoat, accessorized with a jaunty yellow straw hat and black bow tie.

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From those lovable big protruding eyes...

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to those slap-happy webbed feet...

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the cuteness factor, or "kawaii", is irresistible. I'm sure we will be delighting in our frog friend's imaginary antics for many more years to come.

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Thanks for being here. See you again soon on Kawaii Corner!


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Sunday, April 16, 2017

Hand Ink-Stamped Easter Eggs

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Hi Friends! I spent some time this weekend making ink stamped Easter eggs. The front cover of this month's Martha Stewart Living magazine features some perfectly hand ink-stamped eggs. Also featured in this issue are simple, fun polka dot eggs made with paint and daubers, and beautiful decoupaged eggs using paper doilies. 

The ink-stamped eggs looked interesting, I thought. I have a boat load of scrap-booking supplies, including various colored inks and cute stamps like the bird pictured here, so it was an easy choice.

My eggs are not perfect, but it was a relaxing, enjoyable, quiet activity.

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Thanks for looking!


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Thursday, April 13, 2017

Spring Art Show - Hypnos Somnambulate

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The dark wintry gray days in this cloud-covered valley are nearly over. With the appearance of crocuses, daffodils and muscari in the garden, and cherry, plum and magnolia blossoms bursting forth all over our town, we are in the midst of rejoicing at the end of an unusually cold wet winter.

Not only is it still cold and dark, but the grayness that prevails day after day and month after month here in the Northwest, is taxing on the mind and on the creative spirit. It's as if the haze in the atmosphere becomes a metaphor for fuzzy thinking and mental obscurity. Attempting to stay awake past five p.m. and finding the initiative to accomplish a series of expressive tasks often becomes a major undertaking. The one thing that motivated me over these past several weeks though, was knowing the opportunity to feature a piece of my artwork at The New Zone's 'Zone 4 All Community Showcase' was at hand, and I had better get busy.

Sculptural art forms are fascinating, especially when experienced first hand. I still fondly remember the first time I experienced this kind of work by a famous master - the graceful ballet dancers of Edgar Degas, at a retrospective of his work at the Art Institute of Chicago. And more recently, here in Eugene, the University of Oregon's Museum of Art exhibited a male nude sculpture by Auguste Rodin that must have been about 10 feet tall!

Besides viewing sculpture in person, I also enjoy taking a tour through vintage art history books, looking for images to use in collage. The image I cut from the book in the upper left hand corner in the above picture, 'The Art of Classical Greece', is a bronze head of Hypnos, the god of sleep. Being a bird lover, the fact that there are wings on at least one side of his head intrigued me. 

Although Hypnos is a classical Greek god, this particular sculptural piece is a Roman copy, found at Civitella d'Arna in Italy, dating to about the fourth century BC. Apparently, three dimensional representations of Hypnos are unusual. Hypnos is often portrayed with poppies and sleep inducing herbs, so I decided it was appropriate to reunite Hynos with a bouquet of poppies. According to Google Arts & Culture, "Hypnos' wings allowed him to move swiftly over land and sea, and to fan the foreheads of the weary until they fell asleep."

The antique swiveling frame is itself a work of art. The glass was missing when I purchased it at the charity shop, but it was easily replaced by a local frame store, Vistra Framing & Gallery, for a minimal cost. The frame appears to be handmade from wood that has been painted brown with gold highlights added. It is a bit warped, but it does stand upright without wobbling. We'll just say it's skewed condition adds a certain vintage charm to the work!

Once the weather warms up, I plan on painting our living room (white, of course!) and will display my collage on the piano there, along with some vintage hardback books, and a few Japanese ceramic figurines. Now, if it would just stop raining!



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Thursday, March 30, 2017

#collectandstyle - March Monthly Favorite

#collectandstyle, Instagrammer Jesse Lauzon, enamelware pots, floral enamelware pots

As collectors of antique and vintage home wares, we can all relate to that little voice in our heads that we fight with - should I or shouldn't I? Do I need it, or do I just want it? A compulsion that wells up in our minds and lingers, especially if we've seen a particular item and passed it up. We always seem to know later the same day, or maybe by the next day, whether or not we will be going back to see if that particular gem is still there, on the shelf, waiting for us.

Our #collectandstyle Monthly Favorite for the month of March, Jesse Lauzon, feels no shame in sharing these kinds of collecting stories, and he does so with a great amount of humor. You will definitely recognize yourself, and laugh!

Take as an example, the caption he published with the image he took of his colorful vintage enamelware pots, shown above:

"These happy vintage enamelware pots are just the sort of thing that end up in my car when I'm not looking. Sometimes, when I look in the backseat, another one is sitting there - all smiles - and it gives me a little wave...'Hey there. Home please.' It's roadtrip time again and we're off to buy all the antiques. Well, maybe not 'all.' But 'most.' "

And Jesse allows us a glimpse into his own should I/shouldn't I dilemma, as played out in a story he shared more recently about some gorgeous new antique transfer ware plates:

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"I'm a sucker for a set. (I know. Not news). So when I spied a stack of eight transfer-trimmed plates this past weekend for about the price of a pizza, it was on. In the interest of feigning restraint, I did the whole 'should I / shouldn't I' thing which is an old trick designed to make me think I am reasonable. (Spoiler: I am not). In the end, I bought the plates (shocking). Because 'reasonable' is overrated. And so is restraint. Not overrated? Eight transfer-trimmed plates. Yes. Also not overrated? #IronstoneWednesdays - see you there."

But what really made me laugh was the story Jesse told us about his 'rules' for collecting when he showed us these gorgeous McCoy pottery pieces:

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"When I first started collecting vintage McCoy pottery, I made a few rules for myself just so that I wouldn't get carried away. (Spoiler alert: I got carried away)

Rule number one: only aqua green.

Rule number two: no duplicates.
Rule number three: only flower pots.


I quickly discovered that my rules were bad. And boring. And so I broke them. A lot.


These Nelson McCoy Butterfly pieces are exactly why I broke my own rules. I mean please. Those forms, that creamy white - gah. I have broken all three of my McCoy collecting rules in this pic alone.


Also: ask me if I'm sorry."


I'm guessing all of you collectors out there reading this can relate to this amassing-lovable-objects kind of predicament. It's so funny how we can keep moving the goal post on ourselves. It appears that the collecting bug within us is strong and even a bit boisterous or rebellious!


But in all seriousness, just this small glimpse into Jesse's world of beautiful objects from bygone eras has me imagining his home to be a stunningly styled, comfortable place where having a sense of humor is a guiding principle. After all, on Jesse's Instagram account, he states he is "crazy for good finds, good people, good food and the good life." I believe him.


If you'd like to join in on some Instagram fun with Jesse, he hosts not one, not two, but three different hashtag projects. Check out #ViValaVignetteTuesday and, as you may have noticed above, #IronstoneWednesdays, and #thursdaytrays. I just might be joining in also.


Thank you for joining me for another edition of #collectandstyle Monthly Favorite. See you next time!



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