Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Take a Coffee Break in the Retro Cafe!

I am so excited - we have a new online shop on board!  Introducing - Retro Cafe Art Gallery!

Isn't it funny how things work out?  I have been buying Coffee Break Design items (Retro Cafe's wholesale line) for YEARS, and then I got to meet Kristin, the owner, at CREATE! on Friday (their booth was kiddy-corner from ours on Vendor Night).

I knew a lot of the line already but was overwhelmed with the amount of AMAZING stuff for sale (like the vintage skating stickers I just talked about on Monday!).  Kristin is the heart and soul of the business but she had some great helpers that night too.  I was so impressed with the booth and the merchandise display - couple that with the fact that I've been supporting her business for the last five years and it seemed like a great fit for Ephemeraology!

Here, in Kristin's words, is how she came to Retro Cafe Art Gallery:

Hi all! My name is Kristin Hubick, and I’m a full-time artist, crafter, and owner of Retro Café Art Gallery and Coffee Break Design. The name Retro Café Art Gallery came from my high school dream of opening up a retro inspired coffee shop/art gallery. And while that never happened, the name stuck and took on new meaning in 2004 with a presence on the web. Over the years, the site has grown and continues to grow. On the site you will find many unique art supplies including antique german doll parts, Dresden foils, glass glitter, nichos, jewelry supplies, collage sheets, and of course Coffee Break Design products. The Coffee Break line includes awesome Shrine Kits, Stencils, Acrylic Tags, Incredi-Tape, Vari-tone Ink, Collage-Cut Outs, ATC Frames, and so much more! In addition to running the websites I also sell my handcrafted jewelry at several art & craft shows and boutiques throughout the Midwest (and sometimes beyond). My first jewelry sale was when I was 6 years old. I started making “worry doll” earrings and convinced my mom to put an ad in the back of a craft magazine to sell them. I sold one pair, and to this day I still wonder if my mom was the buyer!

All of this began as a passionate hobby and a far away dream to “do art” full-time. Last December I quit my FT job as an Occupational Therapist to make it a reality, and have not looked back. I work harder than I ever have and certainly more hours, but I love it! Nothing brings me more joy than seeing art created with Retro Café Art Gallery and Coffee Break Design products! I truly appreciate each and every one of our customers, who make the site possible! Be sure to stop by our blog where we often showcase customer and Design Team work. We also love to host giveaways and contests!

There you have it, ladies and gents!  I love stories about how folks have quit their full-time jobs to follow their bliss (I wonder why?).  :D

In honor of Retro Cafe's debut on Ephemeraology, we're going to do a giveaway of our own!  Here's what to do:

  1. Make sure you follow this blog (just hit "follow" on the top in the blue bar)
  2. Make sure you follow Kristin's blog (just hit "follow" on the top in the blue bar)
  3. In the comments below or on my Ephmeraology FB page, let me know what your favorite item is from Retro Cafe Art Gallery (if you subscribe you can also e-mail me)
We'll run the giveaway until Monday at 5 p.m. CDT!  Because it's Labo(u)r Day in the US and Canada, if you're the winner we'll give you until Tuesday at noon CDT to acknowledge that you won.  Otherwise we'll pick a new winner.

And what, pray tell, does the winner receive?  A $25 GIFT CERTIFICATE to Retro Cafe Art Gallery!  WOO HOOOOOO!!!!  :D

But we're going to up the ante a little bit - if the winner also "likes" both Retro Cafe's and my Facebook pages, she'll throw in another fun prize!  :D

I know you're going to love this shop as much as I do - stop by Kristin's blog and give a friendly hello!  :D

Oh, and here are just a few of the pieces I've created using Retro Cafe's products:

"When Doves Converse" ATC (the bird stencil
 is from Coffee Break Design!)
"Et Red" ATC (the woman button is from Coffee Break Design -
I just left the backing on!)

"Guys' Weekend" ATC (the acrylic "guy" buttons
are from Coffee Break Design - I embellished
with black alcohol ink!)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

From the "I Just Love that this Exists" Department

Check out this AMAZING roll of dry cleaning order forms.  Isn't it great?  And up until last Friday, I had no idea such a thing existed.

I got this roll after helping Kim Geiser in her booth at CREATE! in Chicago.  She just gave it to me for my help. How cool is that?  :D

A quick check on Google found that David, one of the original brothers who not only was a partner in the business but who was also a philanthropist and social activist in the Brooklyn area, died in 1937.  The former site of the Kliegman Brothers warehouse, which closed in 1999, was cited in 2009 for being a toxic fume area and required a Superfund clean-up.  Isn't it incredible that we can find this stuff out with minimal effort?  How much microfiche would I have had to look through (and WHERE?) to find this information 20 years ago?  Fascinating.

Judging from the strong logo, lack of zip code and the alpha-numeric phone number I'm going to place this roll somewhere in the Forties or Fifties.  I think anytime after 1960 is too late.  The roll itself is in surprisingly good shape - it was probably sitting in a warehouse for decades.

This is just one of those pieces that makes me smile just looking at it.  I like to imagine the hustle and bustle of a busy dry cleaning business when I see this.

YOU BET I'll be using this in my art!  I could almost do a 6' installation with the amount of tape on this roll!  Stay tuned - when I use it I'll post the finished product here!  :D

Monday, August 29, 2011

Skating Away

Great! Now I've got that Jethro Tull song in my head.  Not that it's a bad thing - it's one of their best.  :D

But I digress!

I grew up in the Seventies.  If there is one "sport" that would define my childhood, it would without a doubt be roller skating.

We were lucky - we had a roller rink fairly close to us.  When my sister Jen and I were in third/fourth grade we would take lessons nearly every Saturday at the Rola-Rena in Green Bay (it's still there!).  We got pretty good at it, too!  We could go backwards, do the scissor-cross move, do twirls - we thought we were very cool.

Image courtesy of Stay at Home Sisters
The apex of our skating came on March 10, 1980 - my dad came home with a brand-new pair of totally awesome skates for each of us!  They were the new tennis shoe-style, like these here.  I very clearly remember roller-skating to Michael Jackson's "Rock with You" in our living room.  

We were trendsetters on the block - soon everyone had a pair!  I think you can guess what a big deal this was if I can remember the day we got them over 30 years later.  :D

But I want to know - does anyone roller skate anymore?  I'm not talking about inline skating - that's different to me.  That seems to be more about fitness than fun.  No, I'm talking about the "couples skate"-type skating.  The kind of skating where you spend the evening at the rink with your friends, just hanging out and having fun skating in a circle.  We have a rink in Fond du Lac, but I've never been.  Maybe I should find a pair of vintage tennis shoe skates and show my town how it's done.  :D

Now, on to the ephemera!  Check out these AMAZING vintage skating stickers that I got from the Coffee Break Design booth at CREATE! on Friday night.  Aren't they wonderful?  I've never seen anything like them.  I got two packs (10 to a pack) and all 20 are different.  Then, as luck would have it, as we were packing up Kim Geiser's booth at the same venue, she showed me this booklet and said, "You need to take this."  Okay!  No need to tell me twice!  :D  How's that for serendipity?

Since I just got these a couple of days ago I haven't made anything with them - yet.  But I will, and I will post it when I'm done!  I can't wait to have fun with these!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Handling the past

I heard the saying the other day, "There's always more of the past."  When you think about it, that's absolutely true!  Every day we pile on yet another day in the ol' history heap.  Most days will be pretty forgettable in the massive scheme of things (I guess that's what they means by "it won't mean a thing in a hundred years.").  :D

I would venture to say that most Ephemeraologists are also history buffs - the two go hand in hand.  But there is some history that's interesting in an ephemeral way but that the US would rather forget.

I'm talking about this kind of stuff.  I found it last night when I was making some ATCs - there was an image I wanted to use and this was on the back side of it.

What is utterly astounding to me is that this piece of sheet music isn't very old at all - I'm going to guess either the Forties or Fifties (It's from a song called "Steamboats on the Mississippi").  Sadly, what we deem insensitive and completely un-PC now was commonplace only 50-60 years ago.  Isn't that hard to believe?

I don't have many articles like this, but I do have a few labels and other various bits.  It is a part of our history, and there have been wonderful articles written about African-American ephemera (in the article I linked to, it mentions the difference between African-American ephemera and Black ephemera.  I think this definitely qualifies for Black ephemera!).  I think it's important for people to remember how things were.  I also think that ephemera is an excellent way for people to learn about how it was Back Then.  But it is a sensitive subject and I won't make art with these items.  If I were a part of the culture I would absolutely make pieces with this stuff.  Heck, I would probably collect it too.  But as it is, it just seems to me that the art would come off as making fun, or trying to be a part of something I'm not.  I would be mortified if I were accused of either.

Here's my question to you:  How do you feel about it?  I would love to hear from a wide variety of folks out there.  Does this offend you?  Or should we pay more attention to it and use it to teach history?

Let me know in the comments below.

Side note:  if this image does offend you, I apologize - that wasn't my intent.  But I do believe it's important to get dialogue going about these types of things so that history doesn't repeat itself.

Thursday, August 25, 2011



No, this isn’t an order – it’s where I am right now.  :D  CREATE! is a fabulous art retreat sponsored by Cloth Paper Scissors and it goes through Friday night.

Okay, how lucky am I – I am here at CREATE! because my fabulous friend and fellow artist Kim Geiser asked me to come along this week to be a classroom helper/driver.  One fantastic bonus to all of this is that I get to meet other wonderful artists and the folks who run Cloth Paper Scissors.

This morning I sat in on Kim’s first class, “This is My Life” collage.  I LOVE this class because it encompasses many things I love:  collage, ephemera and humor.

Here is Kim’s collage – she literally collaged her life.  :D  Her collage includes photos, old labels, newspaper articles, markers, stamps -  it’s packed to the gills with items near and dear to her but also just fun things.  I just love how colorful it is (and any of you reading who know Kim personally know that this fits her to a T).

As you can see, the class was very busy at work collaging their OWN lives!  Kim had eight in her class and they came from all over the country.  What I love is that everyone chose completely different colors!  Pinks, orangey-red, brilliant purple, muted greys and taupes – each student had their own definitive style.  Oh, and for those of you who think you don’t have original ideas – NEVER FEAR.  I am always amazed at the variety of creative spirits out there.  And every person used their ephemera packs in a totally different way.

It also inspired me to think differently about my ephemera as well – yet another bonus of  being able to be a part of this wonderful retreat.  I want to publicly thank Kim Geiser for thinking of me to be her helper – I am so grateful that I’m here and able to be a part of all the fun!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Teenage Dream

Teens.  Tweens.  Teenyboppers.  Youngsters.  So many different names for that particular age group that has a lot of cash and not a lot of responsibility.

But the concept of a "teenager" is a fairly new one.  In the years before the Boomers, there really wasn't a lot of time for most young people between the ages of 12 and 18 to listen to pop music, call their friends on the phone, or obsess over boys and clothes (those two are mainly girl things!).  The teens of the GI generation were dealing with the Depression and in earlier generations most teens were already working or getting married.

Then along came the 1950s and this HUGE group of kids were being born.  Times were prosperous!  GIs wanted their kids to have an easier life - a life of carefree ease.  TV became accessible, rock n' roll happened and the whole world changed.

And the ad agencies took note! This was an untapped market - middle class kids with money for soda, candy, movies, toys and records!  Radio stations played 'colored' music because the teens couldn't get enough!  Clothes, hair, perfume, toiletries - they all wanted in on that youth market.  So new!  So fresh!  So exciting!  I love these ads and brochures.  Fresh-faced teens - is there anything more promising or affirming?  Nothing like happy young adults with their whole lives ahead of them to sell things - even new vitamins!  :D

Suddenly anything "old" seemed out of place.  The culture of youth was beginning.

I love using (vintage) teens in my work, too - they lend an air of fun to any piece!  :D

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

This Just Makes me Happy. :D

See these little things?  I just love 'em.  Right now a chain of grocery stores in Wisconsin is playing a version of Monopoly, sort of how McDonald's does (if you've ever seen or played it).

The idea is - you begin with this "game board" that the cashier gives you.  Every time you buy certain groceries you receive "game pieces", with more being issued the more you spend.  Of course, one gets a lot of the same pieces over and over - it's just like the elusive Park Place in the real game.

I just don't have the patience with games like this; I chalk it up to my cynicism.  I know deep down that I'll never win.  My sister's been playing for months and they FINALLY won two bucks!  That was a big deal.  :D

From an ephemeral standpoint, however, I've already won!  I mean, LOOK at these!  This is the type of thing that's definitely going in the Perpetual Ephemera Depository!  I think 40 years from now this set is going to be LOVED by someone as geeky as I.  I hope they look up this game on whatever the "Internet" will be in 2051 and discover this blog post, and feel the same rush that I do when I discover history on trading stamps or rations.

And come on!  It's grocery store ephemera!  Could it BE any cooler?  I can't wait to make something with these - maybe I will this week, when I'm in Chicago for CREATE!, Cloth Paper Scissors' retreat.  I am helping my friend Kim, who's teaching a workshop there.  I am SO excited and I'm sure I'll have stories!

Not to worry, dear Readers -  I'll be posting as usual all week!  :D

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Green Sheet

Take a look at my new haul - isn't it AWESOME?!

You may be saying to yourself:  "Why do the newspapers look green?  Do I need to adjust my monitor?"

Nope!  I got this wonderful stash of papers from my friend Alyce of our Milwaukee ATC group, who got them from a friend of hers at work (a LOT more, too, so Alyce shared with me!).  They're the part of the Milwaukee Journal called The Green Sheet, which was printed through 1995.  Here is the definition according to Wikipedia:

Remember Sniglets?  :D
The Green Sheet was a four-page section of the Milwaukee Journal printed on green paper. It was published from the 1910s to 1995, containing comics, the crossword puzzle and other games, celebrity news, local human interest stories and bits of ephemera (YAY!  My FAVE word!  - Mel)
The last Green Sheet was published in the March 18, 1995 edition of the Journal, Milwaukee's afternoon newspaper, shortly before it merged with the morning Milwaukee Sentinel, with the features from the Green Sheet being merged into the Sentinel's Good Morning section, and taking that name under the new Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
The Green Sheet continues to hold a special place in the memory of residents in the Milwaukee metropolitan area. A newsletter published by the gubernatorial campaign of Mark Green in 2006 was called the Green Sheet, presumably in homage to the former publication.

The Green Sheet is another casualty of our changing newspaper landscape, even though the change occurred 16 years ago.  That was a hard time in Milwaukee media - from what I hear it got pretty stressful when the rival papers merged.

But what a wonderful trip down memory lane!  Most of these are from the Eighties, but I do have one that I picked up previously from the Forties.  I just love 'em and now that I have more than one I KNOW I'll use them in my artwork - stay tuned.  And thanks so much to my friend Alyce for these beauts - do I have great friends or WHAT?  :D

Friday, August 19, 2011

Sorry, Dear Readers....

To my lovely readers:  this is going to be a short post.  Unfortunately, I've had a pretty bad headache for the last two days.

Aren't headaches the worst?  Apparently these folks think so too!  :D  The only thing I can do when these babies strike is go back to bed.  So that's where I'm going after I write this post.

I do love these ads, though - they crack me up!  You don't often see overacting in advertising anymore, unless you come across those hootful infomercials where someone is trying to make a point.  The "Tater Mitts" ad comes to mind - there are some great facial expressions on that one!

Advertising is so much more subtle now, but to me there's no substitute for these hilarious "headache sufferers".  I can almost see the direction they're taking from the photographer:  "Okay, furrow your brow as much as possible.  No, that's too much.  Now purse your lips slightly.  No, you're not trying to kiss the reader, you just want to show discomfort."  And so on.  :D

I hope you all have a lovely weekend, and when I return on Monday, I hope to look like this:

Thursday, August 18, 2011

An Art Playdate!

To my dear readers - I apologize for not posting yesterday, but I do have a good reason - I had company. :D

My niece Sydney joined us on Tuesday night for a sleepover, and we spent the WHOLE day yesterday making fun art projects!  I've discovered a very fun equation:  old Real Simple magazines + a creative little girl = a super fun day!

The first project we tried, we both quickly realized would take FOREVER.  So we canned it.  We were going to attempt this:
Gorgeous, yes?  It's a vessel made with a blown-up balloon and rolled-up magazine pages.  But when we realized how long it would take to not only roll up the pages but glue them on to the balloon, we both kind of scrapped the idea.  But I saved our work for another day!

Instead of using Sydney as my guinea pig, I decided to go with what I know and what would be fun for her.  And was it ever FUN!

As some of you may know, Ephemeraology is the blog portion of my business.  I also make art from my ephemera, and one of my FAVORITE things to make is my pendants.  So I thought we could make one together!  Here's the cool part - Sydney made her pendant all on her own.  Really, the only things I helped her with were the gluing and rub-on transfer.  She picked out all of the magazine scraps herself and the composition of the pieces was also entirely her own creation.  I'd say she definitely has an eye for color - and like most 8 year-olds, it's all about the pink.  :D

And here's Sydney modeling her creation - doesn't she look FAB?

What a wonderful way to spend a Wednesday afternoon.  :D

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Relics of a Bygone Era

See this drawer full of type?  Yeah, it's mine.  Do I have a "problem"?  Perhaps (especially when you realize that the photo doesn't show the whole drawer).  :D

I LOVE old type!  The wood type, the metal type - it doesn't matter, as long as I can rescue it.

I first got into block type about 5 years ago, when I saw some online.  I had never really encountered it before, which is odd considering I worked at a newspaper.  But by the time I got there, everything was Velox (the first time) or digital (the second time).

There is an antique store about a half-hour away from us that at one point had boxes and boxes of wooden type at first, and later, the lead stuff.  Once the letterpress craze hit, the wooden type was snatched up pretty fast.  It was far easier finding the lead letters and numbers, and LOTS of them!

I've talked about my love of type before, but I never showed you my own stash.  As you can see, I LOVE the numbers and letters.  But a few of the pieces I have are old advertising blocks, which I've stamped out for you to see.

The only drawback to these blocks is that they weren't made to be used by hand - a Linotype machine or letterpress were utilized for these beauts.  If one wants to use them by hand, like I have here, it helps to have a hammer or mallet on hand to tap the block a few times (I think a rubber mallet would work best).  Of course, you can see that the smaller blocks, like the completely awesome UL block and the un-PC Mannington block, work best because they're the easiest to maneuver.  They need a lot of pressure and the bigger blocks require a larger mallet (actually stepping on them, using a large phone book underneath, works too).

I've used the advertising blocks in a few of my pieces and I plan on utilizing them more - gotta keep these babies in rotation!

Monday, August 15, 2011

A Token of my Appreciation

I love tokens.  I have many different kinds - tax tokens, ration tokens, bus tokens (more on those in a later post!)...but I just got these at the La Crosse Antique Center about a week ago.

Aren't they cool?  I love that they're all different colors.  And of course, I have to wonder if the Midway Bar at 163 Copeland Ave. still exists? (Actually, no need to wonder - a quick search and I see that it is now Sloopy's Alma Mater Tavern, which, from what I read in the review, has great burgers!)

There is something so satisfying about tokens - the neat "clicking" sound when you stack them up in your hand, not unlike playing with your poker chips while sitting at the Blackjack table (so I'm told); the fact that they're a little bit of history printed right on the plastic (or in some cases, metal); their size and, in the old ones, their heft (the new ones tend to be a little cheaper plastic).

In the case of these particular tokens, I want to know what the trade would be for - I can only assume drinks, but what kind of trade would 5 cents get you?  When I saw that, I bet that these were from the 50s or 60s - anytime after that, and a nickel off of something would've cost them more to print the token!  I also wonder if perhaps this bar was attached to a motel - a Midway Motel, maybe?

And speaking of tokens, I also have these:

I love these.  I never was able to give them back because I stopped going to The Classic Cut when my good friend and FANTASTIC stylist Dawn Whittaker transferred to Sanopelo, the salon where she currently works (and I'll follow her anywhere!).  If memory serves, when you collected five of these tokens your haircut would be free.

Just holding these, you can feel the difference in weight compared to the bar tokens.  You get the feeling that they may warp if left out in the sun.  But no matter - they're still really cool.

I haven't used either of these in my art yet, but I plan on it!  These are too awesome to be left in a drawer.  The only question is, which side do I use, or will I have to devise a plan so that both sides are visible?  That gives me an idea....stay tuned!  :D

Friday, August 12, 2011

You want HOW MUCH?!?!?

Note from Mel:  This post is a bit of a departure from my normal posts, but I thought it necessary to educate folks about how my art pieces are priced.  Feel free to share this post with anyone you think needs to see it!  :D  Happy Friday!

Pricing art - those of us who have to do it know how hard it is.  One the one hand, the artist wants the piece to sell.  On the other, he or she doesn't want to give it away.  It's one of the most annoying conundrums we artists face and most artists DREAD the task.

I've overheard many people say that someone's art is too expensive.  In this economic climate, some art may be out of reach right now, and that's totally understandable.  What I will try to explain in this note is how art is priced and why.

Time:  I'm a collagist/ephemeraologist.   I spend hours searching for the right pieces to complement my collages.  I absolutely adore my job and I can't believe I get to do this as my career.  But it is still my time, and unlike a 9-5 job, I'll never recuperate that time in my pricing.  But yes, a very minuscule amount of time is factored in to my pricing. 

Materials:  As those of you who regularly read my blog know, I purchase many different items for use in my collages.  These items cost money.  I have to factor my purchases in to my pricing.  Thankfully, the stuff I use isn't too expensive, but it's not free.

Labor:  Most of my collages take between 4-5 hours to create.  Some of my large pieces take between 15-20.  At a job, you get paid a certain amount per hour.  Artists don't have that kind of pay scale - if we did, you'd see our prices far higher than they are.  For example - if I made $10/hour (about minimum wage), those large pieces would start at about $150, not factoring in any of my materials, time, commission or labor (or possibly framing).  

Framing:  When I frame pieces,  I get them professionally framed.  I want them to look their absolute best - if you're going to live with one of my pieces in your home, it should last a lifetime.  But framing costs money.  I have to charge more for my framed pieces because, in order to make a profit, I have to regain my framing costs. 

Commission:  If an artist's work is hanging in a gallery or exhibit space, there is a built-in cost of commission from that venue.  Did you know that galleries or venues normally ask 30-40% for a commission?  Here's an example:  let's say that I have a piece that I want to price at $100 myself.  Now if a gallery or venue wants to display it, I'm going to give them a price of $150.  Why?  Well, at 30% commission I have to charge half again as much because they're taking a third of the price.  Some big-city galleries charge up to FIFTY percent.  All of a sudden, the artist has to double their price because the venue gets half.    

All of these things determine how much my art will cost.  The most important thing to me, of course, is that you like what I do.  I hope you do.  But the next time you ask me why I charge what I charge, I will refer you to this note.  Hopefully this explains a lot.  :D

P.S.  If you're at an exhibit or art sale, it is considered very bad form to ask the artist why they priced their work the way they did.  They definitely have their reasons and most artists AGONIZE over pricing.  If you think it's too expensive, it's best to keep that information to yourself.  Also, an exhibit is not a flea market - NEVER ask if the price can be reduced or discounted.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Recipe for Nostalgia

Recipe for Nostalgia:

1 part index or recipe card
1 part handwriting (preferably cursive); in a pinch, typing will do
1 part coronary-inducing ingredients, like lard
1 part stains

Mix well.  Pour into blog post and let marinate.  Serves 350 (hopefully more!).

Here's something that all of us probably have in our drawers or cupboards somewhere  (or if you don't, then your mom or grandma do for sure) - handwritten or typed recipes!  Seriously - is there anything more nostalgic than those recipes that you knew were used by family members?

Brian and I went to La Crosse (western Wisconsin) this weekend with his family and of course, I hit the antique mall.  There was this HUGE packet of recipes and booklets, all for THREE bucks.  How could I pass that up?  It appears that there was more than one cook or baker that contributed to this huge packet, judging by the handwriting.  Friends, perhaps?  Mother and daughter?  Some kind of recipe club?  Random collected recipes?  As you can see, most are on index cards but there is a "From the kitchen of..." card here and there.  I love those!

And as is the case with most of the stuff I collect/use in my art, I wonder about the origins of the paper - did Myrtle cut it out for her bridge club?  Did Helen need that recipe for a family reunion?  Was Bea on the funeral luncheon committee at church and thought that the "boiled cookie" recipe would be good, as it serves a bazillion people? (Okay, who here besides me thinks that "boiled cookies" sounds pretty gross?)

I do have some recipes from my own family and I hold them very dear.  My dad's is just from a Betty Crocker cookbook but it has his notes on it (in that gorgeous handwriting of his - yes, he wrote the dates of when he made it!) - he LOVED to cook and bake and was really good at it.  My sis gave me this salad recipe a few years back and it's fantastic.  I love the card she used!  And although it's not original, all of us in the family now own the famous French Creme Cake recipe that has been guarded in my family since the Twenties, first made by my Great-Great-Grandma Petry.  My Grammie, who passed away in June, was the real star of that recipe, though.  We have no idea who has the original recipe, with all of the years of use and the inevitable tears and stains, but I'm happy to at least have a copy, which is in my Grammie's handwriting (blurred for its protection - still have to guard it, or at least try!).

But what's to become of these recipes?  Are we going to scan our favorites and toss the rest?  I'll be honest - 99% of the recipes I use come from because of its convenience.  Are we going to see a recipe at a friend's house and write it down for ourselves?  No, we're going to use our camera phones to take a photo of it and then scan it in a file later (or right then if we have an iPad).  I fear that handwritten recipes are just another former ubiquitous item that's being relegated to the dustbin.

Seeing as how I just got these recipes, I haven't used them in my art - yet.  I most certainly will be utilizing them somehow - I'll definitely let you know!  :D

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

So I'd like to know where, you got the notion.....

(If you're wondering if all of my thoughts are actually song lyrics, the answer is yes.  Rock on with your bad self.)  :D

I never understood the word "notion" when applied to these cute little guys - do you?  But since I asked the title question, I'll tell you where I got most of these notions (hint:  it has nothing to do with the 1974 hit "Rock the Boat").  :D

Yesterday I ended my blog post by saying that my sister, nieces and I were going to watch a horse paint - well, we did - and it was AWESOME!

Back in November of last year, I had met Buggs' owner Carol at our FDL Visual Arts member show reception (Carol and Buggs have since joined the group!). My friend Suze had purchased one of Buggs' paintings and raved about this notion that a horse could paint.  When I heard that, I knew that I had devised a neat Christmas gift for my nieces.  I purchased two of Buggs' pendants and with them, included a "gift certificate" for a trip to see Buggs create his masterpieces in person.  We were finally able to sync our busy schedules and yesterday was the culmination of that gift.  It was a truly magical experience and Carol was so gracious to open her home to us.  It's a day that we'll treasure always, for many reasons.

So what does this have to do with these notions?  Well, not only did we have the best time seeing Carol and her horse friends, she gave me this HUGE container FULL of buttons.  F-U-L-L.  She told me that she'd never use them and knew I'd like them.  Isn't that wonderful?

I love buttons, especially on cards.  Actually, I love any notion on cards - snaps, clips, hooks, you name it.  Those mid-century ones are especially rad.  And the bonus?  Check out the awesome vintage price tags I get to add to my collection!  :D

And yes, I've made some art with these carded beauties!  They're SO fun to work with!  :D

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Getting Feedback!

Okay guys, I have to admit something - I'm feeling pretty darn special lately.  :D

It all began last Wednesday, when my new art friend Beth posted a blog article about my "Collage Like an Epehemeraologist" class at Inspire my Life two weeks ago.  I'm happy to report that it was a glowing review (that's her piece, on the left)!  :D

Then today my friend Kara, who also took the class, posted photos of two new collages that she created, inspired by the same class.  Hooray!  :D

I really love showing others how do "take the discarded and make it arted".  I plan on doing more workshops in the future, when my schedule lets up!

In the meantime, I want to personally thank those of you out there who have been inspired by this blog.  Hearing this means the world to me!  I know what I do isn't rocket science but in a small way one does learn about history when dealing with all of this wonderful paper.  Seeing old ads and how things used to be can sometimes trigger change in our world today, even if in small ways.  And let's not discount the fact that sometimes it's just super fun to make art.  :D

My blog post is rather abbreviated because I'm off with my sister and nieces to watch a horse paint.  Nope, that's not a typo; I'm going to see Buggs the horse paint some pictures.  How cool is THAT?  :D

Monday, August 8, 2011

Making Life Easier

You know what fascinates me?  The myriad products developed solely to make cleaning easier.  Sometimes I forget how new this idea is!

My dad was born in 1920.  It's wild to think that his mom was still washing dishes in a basin, probably with Bon Ami and a brush, with VERY hot water.  This was the decade that saw the onset of rubber gloves, but I don't know how ubiquitous they were.

My mom was born in 1946.  By the time she came around, there were TONS more household cleaning products.  No doubt many of these innovations sprang directly from materials developed for the war - like Kleenex.  After that, it wasn't a long road to paper towels (or as my dad liked to call it, "paper toweling"), which must've seemed miraculous back then.  A rag you can throw away?  Sign me up!

I was born in 1968.  My childhood smells of several scents - crayons, cigarettes and Pledge.  I loved it when Mom dusted - I can still conjure that smell on demand.  It was "Lemon" Pledge, but I really don't recall a lemony scent beneath all those chemicals.
Here's another product that was a staple in our house - these Easy Wipes!  I found this package at an estate sale a few months back and I HAD to have them (didn't hurt that it only cost me a quarter!).  We never had a dishrag in the house; it was always these Easy Wipes (or more accurately, it was probably Handi-Wipes, but they're really the same product).  The design on these wipes instantly transported me to 1978.

And how about THIS?  This beaut of a box is a new acquisition - I found it at the Antique Center in La Crosse, where we vacationed with Brian's family over the weekend.  I've never seen anything like it before; supposedly, you tear off about a foot of this "Fling" stuff and place it in  your sink.  There is detergent in this product already, so after the suds are off the product and on your dishes the idea is to magically "fling" the food away.  It was manufactured by Proctor & Gamble and has since been discontinued - judging by the font and packaging I'm going to say late-60s.  Check out the awesome pattern, too!  Here's another classic example of design for design's sake - why put a cool pattern on something that's just going to be thrown away?  DESIGN!  Same goes for paper towels.  I love that!

I am totally going to use these babies in a collage, probably with stitching because both have that awesome fabric-like quality to them.  I've also professed my love of these products in a paper collage - this product was from a French magazine in the 60s: