Monday, April 30, 2012

Stating my Case(s)


I can't believe it's taken me this long to get to one of my favorite items in my (ever-growing) collection - needle cases!

I love everything about these - the subject matter, the colors, the form/function duality, the size - what can I say?  They bring me joy.  :)

I began collecting these guys about 12 years ago.  The first one I ever got was this Red Owl specimen of loveliness.  Red Owl and I go way back; indeed, my mom says my first words were "Owie Owl" (is it any wonder that I have a fondness for vintage supermarkets?).  I found it at an estate sale here in Fond du Lac, back when there was a company that staged them at least once a month.  I believe it cost me two bucks, which was a steal even in 2000.  If you're not aware of the Red Owl chain, they began in Minnesota and spread to other parts of the Midwest.  Incidentally, one of the last two remaining Red Owls is located right in my hometown of Green Bay - Mason's Red Owl, which is probably the one where my parents shopped.  It opened in 1969 and is one of the smallest full-service grocery stores in the nation.  How's that for cool?  :D

This next case was a gift from my friend Carolyn - I love mini die-cuts, so this is right up my alley.  It's just so perfect, isn't it?  Incidentally, the company who's advertised on this case, Gambles-Skogmo, were the original owners of the Red Owl franchise!  I didn't know that until doing research for this post!  How's that for a coinky-dink?  The company also owned other stores, like Women's World, Snyder Drug (more on that chain after the jump), and Leath Furniture, which was a downtown Fond du Lac institution until 2006.

And in yet ANOTHER circle-of-life turn of events, we come to this Walgreen needle case, which I just picked up last weekend at the estate sale I attended.  I bought it not only for my collection, but because my brother in-law Mike is a pharmacist there and thought he might like to see it.  Here comes the circle-of-life part - Walgreen (which is now called Walgreens, as we all know) bought out the Snyder Drug chain back in 2010!  So in essence, all three of these needle cases I've talked about today have some ties to the same company, Gambles-Skogmo!  Amazing!!  G-d bless the Internet!

Also included in my collection are this wonderful A&P case; this awesome Kresge case, which I specifically bought online because of my love of the K-Mart family of stores (Kresge, Jupiter and K-Mart); and a "Happy Home" case, which could be anywhere from the 40s-60s, according to some accounts I read online.  It's a very common needle case (made in Japan, I believe), but I love it nonetheless.

I have a Food Fair needle case as well, but it's buried in one of my piles o' ephemera somewhere.  It'll resurface just when I've given up hope of ever finding it again.  :)

Friday, April 27, 2012

A Fun Evening

...Or I suppose you could call this a continuation of yesterday's post, whereby I reveal all of the trash-to-treasure projects I made for last night's "Upcycled Art" seminar!  :D

To recap, for those of you who may not have read yesterday's post:  all week long I'd been preparing for last evening's seminar, making easy and free (or cheap) projects out of items we all have laying about the house.  Well, last night was the culmination of those projects!  I had about 14 people attend, which was a really nice number - not too big, not too small.  My wonderful husby Brian was there too, helping me out if I needed it (he is quite a guy, that Brian; I am one lucky lady!).  Some of my friends came to see me, which is always so affirming when you see friendly faces in the crowd, but there were others that came who seemed to be very interested in the idea of taking garbage and turning it into something useful.  I love it when that happens and I appreciate that these folks took time out of their busy schedules to pay me a visit.  :)

Okay!  I'll get to the projects now!

I broke down my talk by item - if you read yesterday's post you've already seen the luminaria that I made with a plastic bag and heat gun, but I also showed some "plastic fabric" that I made with bags and fusible webbing.  You probably picked out that there's a Target bag, but I also made an "abstract" using a "Have a nice day!" bag:


I'll be using this for various projects in the future!  I like how it turned out.

Next, I focused on the various uses for newspaper.  Here's the project I created using that newspaper yarn I talked about in a previous post:


All I did was coil it and glue the coils to a canvas.  This project was a little time-consuming, but I like it!  I used a tiny bit of paint on some of the coils but other than that, it's exactly how it came off of the skein.  This project could be very easily replicated by taking strips of newspaper and rolling it up, and it would cost nothing to create.  I got the idea here.

Okay!  Onto wine stuff.  I like wine.  :)  And I like all of the things that you can create with the elements of a wine bottle!  Take, for example, the labels - as you probably already know I love labels of any kind, and wine labels are usually beautifuly designed.  So of course, I collage with them!  Here is a VERY simple collaged picture frame using some of my favorite labels:


It was pure serendipity that the labels I chose just happened to "match".  I love it when that happens!  :D

There is another part of the wine bottle that is equally useful - the cork!  Here are the little stamps I created using a simple image and an X-Acto knife:


As you can see, I'm no master carver.  But I had fun and if I used actual carving tools, the stamps probably would've turned out better.  Still, I'm happy with the fact that you can tell what they are (or if you can't, it's a tree, water fowl of some kind, and a cluster of stars).  :D

Last up was my segment on using TP rolls in artwork.  Sounds cheesy, doesn't it?  But check out what the lowly TP roll can do when flattened and cut into "petals":


SO easy.  All I did was take a 6x6" canvas, attach some scrapbook paper, and arrange the TP "petals", which I painted inside and out using plain old acrylic paint.  (And if you think this is cool, wait 'til I get some photos of my sister's HUGE installation using nothing but TP rolls and a huge canvas.  It's really impressive and awesome!)  This whole project cost me about $3 - and that's including the canvas!

So there you have it.  That was my seminar in a nutshell.  I hope you enjoyed the projects as much as I liked creating them!  :D








Thursday, April 26, 2012

Taking my Motto to the Next Level

For nearly two years now (my blog's anniversary is May 6!), I've been extolling the virtues of "taking the discarded and making it arted".  A somewhat awkward motto, perhaps, but hey - it rhymes and it does explain the gist of what I do.  :)

If you're a regular reader of my blog then you already know that most of the "discarded" items whereof I speak are of a mid-century vintage, and so completely cool that I can't believe anyone would throw them out in the first place (like my old Life magazines, trading stamp booklets, old coupons, European stick pins, etc.).

If I am to fully embrace my motto, however, then shouldn't I take myself literally?  I'm talking full-on trash here, guys.  If my motto includes the word "discarded", shouldn't that automatically include honest-to-goodness garbage?

It does now!  :D

If you follow my page for my Web site (melkolstad.com) on Facebook, then you're probably already aware that I'm teaching a seminar tonight about "upcycled" art.  The library had contacted Fond du Lac Visual Arts and asked if anyone would be interested in teaching this seminar for Money Smart Week. I jumped at the chance because a). It's a great way to meet local folks and b). it embodies everything I do.  I'm really excited about the class and I've been creating upcycled items all week in preparation, stuff that may be a little different than what I normally do.  It has cranked up my creative side in a very positive way by forcing me to stray from my comfort zone to find projects that are quick, easy and free (or cheap).  Here's a votive holder that I created with nothing but a mold (in this case, a mason jar),  a plastic bag, and a heat gun.  VOILA!


With the advent of those battery-operated tea lights, a plastic bag luminaria is indeed possible.  Imagine 20 or more of these lining a walkway!  And it would cost absolutely nothing, thanks to all of those shopping bags you have stuffed underneath your sink.  I have to give credit where it's due - this wonderful Web site is where I got the idea.

I'm also going to show projects using upcycled toilet paper rolls, newspaper, wine corks and labels, and construction items.  You may have already seen my recent post, "Constructing an Idea", where I showed  what had recently blown into my yard.  Well, here's the finished piece that I created using that stuff: 

"Blew in Blue", available on melkolstad.com

I'm really proud of this piece.  Aside from the background of school paper and grid paper that I already had plus a couple of extras, everything else is either trash, or bits from cardboard boxes that were about to be recycled. All of the items that I had mentioned in the post are here, along with a bank flyer I found in a field by our house, a DQ bag image (the woman in the lower right) and the wrapper to a roll of TP that I unwrapped at our condo in the Dells.  I added the block print of a map and the rub-on transfers last.  I'm bringing it tonight to emphasize that ANYTHING can be used in art!  :D

Wish me luck!







Wednesday, April 25, 2012

I'm Bringing "Needn't" Back....

Yep, let Justin Timberlake bring back the sexy - all I want is to breathe life into some dying words!  :D

You may call this sacrilege, but it's time for me to take inventory of all of my vintage magazines.  I have obscene amounts, and I keep getting them from my wonderful friends, so it's time to take a long look at the ones I've had for a while and make room for the new (old) issues.  As my friend Nicci says, "You can't have everything - where would you put it?".  Exactly.  And maybe I can make a couple of bucks in the meantime - I'm going to sell them at our upcoming rummage sale!

Of course, in the filtering process, I can't just throw them on a pile and be done with it!  No, I have to skim every one of these to make sure I'm not going to sell any that have the "perfect' ad in them!  Heaven forbid!  This wouldn't be so bad if I stopped there, but I find myself re-reading these magazines as well.

Here's what I've discovered:  If our advertising is any gauge of the state of our intelligence, we're in deep doo-doo.


Not only can we not be bothered by a lot of copy in our ads these days, but it seems that advertisers have "dumbed down" the verbiage.  Which brings me to my pressing question - whatever happened to "needn't"?

It's a great word!  And because we like to shorten everything now, you'd think that it would be perfect!  Take the great A&P ad featuring their version of Betty Crocker, Ann Page (above).  She's telling us that "Fine foods needn't be expensive."  Right on, Ann!  Isn't that also far easier than saying, "Good food (because we wouldn't say "fine" these days, either) doesn't need to be expensive"?  By saying it our "modern" way, we've wasted six characters!  In our 140-character universe, that's prime real estate.

Here's a fantastic ad for Falstaff from 1968, and another great word that would save some space - "slake"!  Where did "slake" go?  Say it a couple of times, just to warm it up before the workout.  Doesn't that sound great?  By substituting "slake" for "quench", we just saved one more letter.  Plus, it's WAY more fun to say!  And it rhymes with so many more words!

What say, Ephemeraologists!  Should we start a new collection - a collection of forgotten words?  I would LOVE to see images of vintage ads that contain a word that we haven't heard in a while.  You can post your images right on the Ephemeraology Facebook page.  If you don't do Facebook, share a link to the image in the comments below.

Let's start a vocabulary revolution!  :D

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

This is the KING!

Oh, how I love my trading stamps.  You may be tired of hearing about them, as I've exclaimed my love here, here, and here.  But here's a new booklet I got when I was in Wisconsin Dells - and it came with some surprises!

In one of the locked cases of this particular antique mall, there was a stack of about 10 of these Kingsbury booklets.  I was very interested, as: a) It's a trading stamp booklet; b) I had never seen this one before; and c) Kingsbury was a local beer, brewed right in Sheboygan (about 35 miles due east of Fondy).  I asked to see the pile, because I wanted my pick of the litter to ensure that I wasn't missing the best one of the bunch.

Well, I found the best one of the bunch!  It's in pretty decent shape, and there are two full and one partially filled sheets.  But there was something else -


A MAJOR bonus of 11 beer labels tucked in the back of the booklet!

Not only are these labels for Kingsbury, but for Braumeister and Blatz as well.  All of the labels are for these breweries' bock products, which is a beer that was usually the first drawn from the vats in the spring and is stronger than most other beers.  Also, all three breweries were a division of G. Heileman Brewing Co. out of La Crosse, but who also had plants in Sheboygan (I didn't know this!  I learned something new!).  The booklet and the labels are probably from 1963-1974, since Kingsbury was bought out by G. Heileman in 1963 and 1974 was the last year that Kingsbury was made.  However, Miller bought the near-beer portion of Kingsbury and still produces it, according to Wikipedia.


I love the cartoon lion in the booklet, and I always love a little extra something thrown in for free!  Score-o-rama!  :D

Monday, April 23, 2012

Carbon-dating Myself!

Here's another of those obsolete "conveniences" that make me smile - carbon paper!

I've spoke of my love of mid-century typing paraphernalia before, but I don't believe I expounded on the virtues of this glorious stuff, which I now get all to myself because really - who messes with carbon paper anymore?

This past weekend I attended another Gibson Girls estate sale - this time, in the adorable little town of Kiel, Wisconsin (cutest downtown EVER!).  I don't know the exact details of who lived there but I'm going to guess that it was an elderly widow, judging by the decor and the lack of any male presence save a couple of 1970s sport coats in one of the closets and some fly-fishing tackle in the garage.

This woman enjoyed crafts of all kinds, from rug-hooking to sewing.  I went on the third-to-last day of the sale and was amazed to find this unopened packet of dressmakers' carbon paper just laying there, waiting for me to snap it up.  An added bonus?  I paid a QUARTER for it!  :D

WOO HOO!  It contains all of the good colors, too - white, yellow, blue and red!  I already have all of these colors from another set of carbon paper that I got at yet another estate sale a few years back, but I'm trying to amass a nice quantity because I don't know how much longer I'll be seeing these types of things at sales.  Carbon paper, at least the typing kind (which I have a few boxes of already), predates my work life by at least two decades, if not three.  I've always had a copy machine available to me, thank the gods!

I also have some Saral transfer paper that I got at an art supply store (and it's AMAZING), but of course it doesn't hold the same allure as the vintage stuff.

I am actually in the process of doing a project with tracing paper, but I can't show it to you just yet; it's part of the Detritus Project that I'm doing for our library (incidentally, you can catch post #4 tomorrow!).  But I've also used it in my collages in the past.  Here's an ATC that I did a couple of years ago using some of my carbon paper - the woman was actually a design on the "Old Town" carbon paper that I just traced with the paper itself!


Friday, April 20, 2012

A Tack-y Post

Hee hee!  So terribly sorry for the pun.  On second thought, nope!  I'm not!  :D

I just had to share with you one of the cutest things I've ever seen - so naturally, I had to have some for my very own!

I am in love with these.  I got them at an online shop called Tiny Things are Cute, and this product certainly lives up to that name!

SO tiny - maybe 1/4" wide?  Maybe?
The description on the site says that these are vintage map tacks.  They are as close to perfection as durable ephemera can get - they're vintage, they're numbered, they're colorful....and they're tiny.  I am absolutely going to be using these in collages and assemblages!  I'll probably pop off the pin portion and just use the plastic part, but that's the good part anyway!

I'm inspired - I think I'll make something today!  Stay tuned - and have a fantastic weekend, everyone!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Safety, Courtesy, Dependability

Did you ever see a bit of ephemera that was so full of wonderful design that it made your heart skip a beat?  I got that feeling when I came across this Milwaukee Transit Guide Map:


Isn't it DREAMY??  Firstly, it falls into my favorite time period - late 40s-early 50s (1953, to be exact!).  The color is eye-catching, and the friendly bus driver - of course it's a white male for this time period - is reassuring and dependable (Heaven forbid a woman drive a bus!  Why, she'd crash it the first day!).


What really cracks me up is the "Rates of Fare" portion - in Milwaukee, which at this point was a booming metropolis, one could obtain a weekly pass for TWO BUCKS.  Cash fare was only 15 cents.  Yes, yes, I know that this was in keeping with how much folks made for the time period, which was around $4000/year.  But that in and of itself sounds quaint, doesn't it?  (Side note:  My dad, who was born in 1920, told me once that his first house he owned, in 1946, cost $1500, with a mortgage payment of $35/month, and the yearly property taxes were $50.  *SIGH*)

Here's the true beauty of the brochure - the MAP.  Because this was one of the items I bought in Wisconsin Dells last weekend, I showed it to my in-laws when Brian and I returned to the condo where we were staying.  Brian and his dad are big map people, and they both noticed right away that there are none of the major thoroughfares that exist today (for those of you who live in our area - notice the lack of Interstate 94 and Hwys 41 and 43!).  The biggest highway back then is one of the least traveled today - Hwy 175, which still runs through our Main Street here in Fond du Lac (remember when all highways traveled right through towns?).

Aside from the map logistics, aren't those colors just marvelous?  I am really torn with this map - on the one hand, it's a great piece of Milwaukee history and I admire it for that, but on the other hand I see all of those tiny red and yellow squares and I envision a super-cool collage or tiny bit for a pendant.  What to do?

Readers, I need your help on this - let's do an informal poll!  I'll put it up on Facebook if you'd like to follow along.  If you don't use Facebook, you can answer here, too.  Here's the question:

Say you bought this map because you loved it.  But it also contains many bits of collagey goodness.  Would you:

 A. Keep the map intact - it's a delicious slice of Milwaukee history!
B.  Use if for collages - it's only paper, after all!
C.  Save the cover and the back, and go to town on the rest

Thanks in advance for your help!  :D


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Careless Smoking Habits

A very good Wednesday to all of you!  I'm back from my "vacation" (a very monstrous headache took me down yesterday).

Okay!  We're back on track.  I promised more show n' tell from my antiquing excursions this past weekend - well, here's something I found that I couldn't resist:


Talk about a relic from days gone by!  It's a stack of "Careless Smoking Habits" notices that would've gone on the back of hotel doors.  I'm going to put these from the 1960s, or maybe the late 50s.  There was obviously just cause for this notice, and maybe this was one of the first signs of more people becoming aware of the dangers of smoking (if not to oneself, then at least to property).

I love that the fine for damaging property is between $50 and $250!  That wouldn't even buy you a room service dinner today.  (Maybe I'm exaggerating - a little!)  And as much as I'm of the belief that "if it's legal, then it should be legal everywhere", I must admit - having nearly every hotel room smoke-free is delightful.  There's nothing worse than entering a hotel room that reeks of stale cigarettes!

I got a lot of fourteen of these beauts - 13 white and one pink.  You bet your sweet bippy I'm going to use one of these as a background for a snarky collage!  What'll I do with the other 13?  One never knows....but for $3 for the entire lot, I may just have to use these for giveaways!  Stay tuned!  :D


Monday, April 16, 2012

Blog Fodder!

Happy Monday, everyone!  I hope you all had delightful weekends.  :D

If you read Friday's post, then you already knew that I spent the weekend in Wisconsin Dells.  It was a blast!  Not only did we stay at a super-cool condo with Brian's relatives, but Brian and I visited many antique malls and shops (poor Brian).  :D  I found lots of wonderful items - in other words, "blog fodder" (which, incidentally, my friend Nicci and I thought would be a great band name).

I love it when I find interesting, inexpensive things!  I know many of you also experience this feeling when you visit antique or "junque" shops - there's a label, or letters, or something odd that's a dollar - how can you NOT pick it up?  The problems start when you find 100 of these little gems.  Thankfully, that didn't happen this weekend (it could've, but it didn't).

I'll be posting new stuff all week, but today I wanted to show you one of the most interesting items I got over the weekend:


I love this.  Wasn't I just lamenting that I didn't have much in the way of items in Hebrew?  I almost didn't see it - it was buried beneath some old appliance brochures in a dark corner in the back of the first antique mall we visited.  The colors caught my eye first, then the "Sunbrite" logo, which is cool in its own right.  But when I saw that it was in Hebrew?  I had to have it (click on the photo to see it larger).  I've never seen anything like this before!  I suppose if I were to go searching through shops in New York (or Tel Aviv) I might find more, but even online there's not much in the way of vintage Hebrew anything (and if there is, it's quite expensive).  I'll admit that I spent more on this label than I usually do, but I also know that if I hadn't purchased it I would be sitting here, writing you about "the one that got away".  I don't regret the purchase in the slightest, but I don't know if I can use it just yet.

Judging from the fonts used, I'm going to make an educated guess that this label is from the 30s or 40s.  Chief Rabbi Solomon Jaffe of New York has lent his seal of approval; this is obviously before the "K" or "Pareve" logo was created to signify that an item is kosher (neutral).  Unfortunately, I can't read anything else besides the weight and the Swift labeling.  Does anyone else reading know Hebrew?

Friday, April 13, 2012

Mel's in the Dells!

No, I'm not talking about the farmer kind - I'm talking about the Waterpark Capital of the World!  :D

If you're unfamiliar with Wisconsin Dells, it's an area about 50 miles north of Madison (Lake Delton).  It began as a tourist destination because of the sheer beauty of the place; it grew exponentially because of all of the unused land.  When I was a kid (about 10-15 years after this brochure was printed), all that the Dells had for kids to do was the Tommy Bartlett Water Show and some magician (sorry, illusionist) whose name escapes me.  When I was in high school, the first water park made its debut - Noah's Ark, and it's still there.  According to my 14- and 12 year-old nieces, it's awesome.

Now, however, the Dells has EXPLODED with resorts - and in order for them to compete, almost all of them have these behemoth indoor water parks.  That's where we're headed this weekend.  I've never stayed at one of these and I probably wouldn't if we weren't going to be with Brian's niece and nephew.  Looking at the PDF online, though - wowie!  This place has seven restaurants, a spa, two 9-hole mini golf courses - all indoors!  Sounds like it's going to be a hoot.

You probably guessed this already, but even though I could probably snag a ton of new ephemera, I'm a sucker for the old stuff.  From the brochure, above, to the vintage postcards - you can see why people flocked there.  It is gorgeous, especially in the summer.  I've taken a tour of the Upper Dells before and the scenery is wonderful.  Lake Delton is a man-made lake and in the summer of 2008, was completely drained due to massive flooding that occurred.  Whole houses were taken with it, and the road completely washed away.  That was a bad tourism year for the Dells, and it was the year right before the Recession.  Thankfully, everything is back to normal and it once again resembles the old postcards.


There are also LOTS of antique stores in the Dells area and Brian and I are hitting those first - WOO HOO!  Wish me luck - hopefully I'll have some fun new ephemera to show you next week!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

A Mish-mosh of Ephemera Goodness

SURPRISE!  I'll bet you thought I'd be talking about the Titanic today, didn't you?  Nope.  I personally don't have any Titanic ephemera - if I did, I'd be rich and ironically sailing around the world right now.  :D

No, today I thought I'd talk about a hodge-podge of stuff.  A mish-mosh, if you will.  A veritable potpourri of ephemera goodness.  :D


First up - this "Nature Guide from Grape-Nuts".  It's actually put out by Rand McNally, and it's from 1985 - much more current that I imagined (from the cover, I would've guessed about 1973).  Aside from the cover there is no mention whatsoever of Grape-Nuts, so I'm going to guess that this little guide was either included in the box or you sent in boxtops and got it by mail.  It has some great illustrations and information about various wildlife reserves in the Eastern part of the country.  There are also some colorful maps in the back.  I got it at the AAUW book sale last month for 50 cents.  Oh, yeah - this baby's gettin' cut.  :D




Next on this very random list is this very vintage Standard Textbook of Cosmetology - this edition was put out by the Milwaukee College of Beauty Culture, Inc.  I love that it's local!  I found it at Half Price Books in Appleton (the same place where I found this).  I have the 1963 printing, but it was first written in 1938.  What's hysterical about it (and was probably already hysterical when the students in 1963 were reading it) is the fact that they didn't bother updating the illustrations!  This hairstyle was already 25 years old then, which would be like a textbook today containing a "big hair" spiral perm style from 1987!  Of course, this is all fine with me, because I love these illustrations.  This book was a major score.


On to the Shameless Plug portion of the post - I have finally created a Facebook page for my Web site!  Yes, there is now a melkolstad.com Facebook page.  If you like what you see, could you click on through and "like" it?  I would be ever so grateful to you, my faithful readers!  :D


Okay!  Last, but most certainly NOT least, is this INCREDIBLE press that my wonderful dad in-law made for me.  Isn't it wonderful?  There's literally one ton(ne) of pressure in this baby! It was created using a plan from one of my favorite books, Trash to Treasure Papermaking, by Arnold Grummer (mine is even autographed!  :D)  I wanted it mainly for making handmade paper (it'll be a coup when I'm teaching classes!), but I can also use it for doing letterpress-style prints and collages.  It'll also come in very handy when I'm confronted with vintage paper that's been rolled up for the last 60 years - if this baby doesn't flatten it out, I don't know what will!  Am I a lucky lady, or WHAT?

So there you have it - a wonderfully arbitrary collection of items (except for the press - I just got it yesterday and had to share it with you!).  You may now resume drooling over various ship-related ephemera.  :D




Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Tee Time!

It's golf season here in Wisconsin!  Or, at least it was back in March, when the temps soared into the 80s!  Now that we're back to normal, you still see the die hards out there but it'll be another month before it's back in full swing (hey!  I just made a pun!).  :D

My brother in-law Mike is a huge golfer.  He's been into the sport since high school, at least.  It must be nice to have that kind of coordination.  :D  He likes all aspects of the sport - the exercise, the precision, the clothes - and the collecting.  He's got a custom golf ball case where he stores golf balls commemorating various courses he's played and special games of which he's been a part.  It's a pretty extensive collection!


Here's a little golf item that I don't think he collects - place markers!  I love these little guys!  I found them at the Fox Valley Antique Mall a while back.  These
are one of those items that has it all - vintage (ish), tiny, and contains advertising.  One wonders if the person who owned these worked at or owned Hennes Trucking, as this seems to be the dominant marker.  There are also a few here for Citgo and Shell gas - the Shell one looks to be pretty old but Citgo as a brand has only been around since 1965, when it changed its name from Cities Service.  There are also some other trucking-type markers, but my favorites are the Yellow Pages ones!  I also love the Bank of Luxemburg and Hyland House Supper Club markers (incidentally, Bank of Luxemburg and the Hyland House both still exist!).

I've already used one of those Yellow Pages markers in an ATC - I just snipped off the back.  I would love to make a tiny collage of a gas station and use either the Shell or Citgo markers as the "sign" - ooh!  Inspiration strikes!  :D

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Love your Library!

Hooray!  It's National Library Week this week!

Seriously - who doesn't love the library?  I've exclaimed my love for our library before, but this year there are, at least for me, a ton more reasons why the library is the place to be.

Circulation desk created entirely of books - by Lindsey Bovinet,
Susan Fiebig and Trista Holz.  Photo by Brian Kolstad.
In the past year, a new branch of the Fond du Lac Public Library has opened - and our art co-op, Fond du Lac Visual Arts, has been quite involved with it.  Back in December, we unveiled the circulation desk, which is made entirely of books that were going to be discarded (talk about "taking the discarded and making it arted"!).  Two of our members, Susan Fiebig and  Trista Holz, plus Susan's partner Lindsey Bovinet (he made the desk frame) created this amazing piece of functional art, one of only a handful of its kind in the whole world.  I love it and I think it's a masterpiece.  Fond du Lac should be very proud of this creation!

Jill Quillian, Library Director Ken Hall, and Yours Truly with
the donor "plaque" that Jill and I created.  Photo by Brian
Kolstad.
Around the time of the unveiling, there was talk of creating a donor "plaque" that would mirrror the desk - sort of a cohesive permanent art installation.  I volunteered to create the frame and Jill Quillian, who is an amazingly talented calligrapher, agreed to do the lettering.  VOILA!!  Here's how that turned out!  For the frame, I attached book spines around the entire perimeter (I LOVE using old book pieces in my work!).  The book spines came from none other than The Paper Flea Market (thanks Trina!).  You can see Jill's beautiful work and once again, Lindsey Bovinet lent his woodworking skills for the wood frame.  Gallery & Frame Shop, where I do all of my framing, donated the glass and hardware for this piece.  It was dedicated just last week!  :D

The "Library as Incubator Project" logo designed by Rebecca Light
Another wonderful library-related thing that's occurred this year is my involvement with The Library as Incubator Project.  What a coup this has been!  I am SO glad I took the plunge in January and filled out an artist's application to be featured.  It has led me to so much more!  Since January I have created two "kits"; I've curated a Pinterest board featuring my favorite collage books; and I've been a guest blogger about my Detritus Project for our library (whereby I take all of the "stuff" that the librarians find in returned books and make a collage from it - Part 3 is up today and it's VERY dramatic!).  This collaboration has been one of the most fulfilling partnerships I've formed since becoming a full-time artist.  These talented women get it.  They understand the importance of using our libraries to nurture artists.  I couldn't be more thrilled to be a part of it.

If you haven't visited your local library in a while, give it a try.  You'll be glad you did.  :D


Monday, April 9, 2012

Unattainable Ephemera

What a wonderful weekend!  Nearly the entire time was spent with family from both sides.  It was like a springtime Christmas, which is rare because we normally don't celebrate Easter with my side of the family.  But my mom's birthday coincided this year, so we melded the two together.

At least for me, family visits are rejuvenating.  After my family left on Saturday evening, I was still basking in our time together when I went back to my computer to check my e-mails and Facebook pages. It was then that I discovered something that changed my weekend - the newly available 1940 Census.

Well, actually, it was the 1940 Census that prompted me to join archives.com, a subscription-based genealogy site.  SO many folks are trying to access the census right now that's it's virtually impossible to see what you want to see.  I'll try again in about a month.  :D


When I titled this post, I was really talking about these papers that maybe aren't ephemeral at all; the census is an official government process, so those handwritten sheets were never meant to be thrown away, or even to be seen by the public.  But the fact that they're paper, and they're handwritten, make them so prone to damage or loss.  That's what I meant by ephemeral.  Thankfully, now that these census sheets are going digital, we'll never lose them.


Maybe I'm wrong, but I have a sneaking suspicion that most Ephemeraologists are also genealogy buffs.  It's all about personal history, isn't it, and how certain artifacts pertain to our own lives.  It's fun to find "clues" as to how our ancestors lived, and the ephemeral items they left behind.

And oh, did I find clues!  Of all of the wonderful documents I found this past weekend, here is the coolest:


It's the census sheet containing my dad's maternal grandparents.  I had an out-of-body experience when I saw this, because I never imagined I'd ever obtain any information about them, ever.  My dad was much older than my mom (26 years older, to be exact), so every generation is skewed up a notch.  My dad was born in 1920, so his parents were born in the 1890's. These folks I'm talking about here - Onesime (pronounced Own-a-zeem) and Mathilda Morin, were born in the 1850s-60s.  They were French Canadian (not surprising when you hear those names!), but I never knew my great-grandfather was actually born in the U.S., in Massachusetts, not Quebec like we all previously thought.  My dad never talked about his extended family, and I regret not asking more questions.  Now it's up to me to piece together the puzzle (the Morins are the second-to-last family on the sheet, if you'd like to see for yourself).

As much as I'm thrilled to see this amazing piece of history, I long to see it in person, to feel that paper and smell it.  To absorb it.  Digital documents are a wonderful, wonderful invention, but they'll never replace the real thing.  :)


Friday, April 6, 2012

Happy Easter!

Good morning (or afternoon, depending where you live!), dear readers!

This is going to be a short post today - I have MUCH to do before family arrives for our Easter (and my Mommy's birthday!) celebrations!

We are fortunate once again to have the lunar cycles in sync so that our Christian and Jewish friends can celebrate at the same time!  I love it when no one feels excluded.  On that note, have a very enjoyable Easter brunch or Passover seder.  I've been a part of both festivities in my lifetime and they're both wonderful for different reasons (Easter for the food, Passover for the discussion).  :D

I'll be back on Monday with a full post - until then, Happy Easter and/or Good Pesach, or just plain ol' "Happy Weekend" for those of you who celebrate neither holiday.  :D

P.S.  If I had any Passover ephemera, I would've used it here too but alas - it's extremely hard to find.  So I'll leave you with this Hebrew Bazooka bubble gum wrapper (you may remember it from my post back in October) - it's Kosher and Passover-safe! :D

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Personal Success

This past weekend I got to do something that I truly love to do - go to one of my beloved Gibson Girls estate sales in Sheboygan (Wisconsin)!

I have spoken of my love for these sales many times before, I know.  I can't help it!  There is nothing else like these sales in our area.  They're very well organized and professional.  And I would be lying if I said I didn't enjoy the voyeuristic aspect of seeing the inside of some lovely homes.

Such was the case on Sunday!  The sale was at the home of a 94 year-old woman who had passed away.  She and her late husband had the home built in 1954.  And wouldn't you know it - the gentleman who built the house was actually at the sale the same time I was!  His wife and I had a lovely chat about the wonderful layout of the home.  I love it when that kind of stuff happens.  The builder was also quite elderly - I'd say in his late 80s.

By the time I got there (the second to last day of the sale), everything had been pretty well picked over.  But it was also 75% off, so beggars can't be choosers.  :D  I managed to find a few neat things, this pocket library being one of them:


Oh, I am a SUCKER for little books tucked into a "library"!  It all started with my teeny-tiny Maurice Sendak Nutshell Library.  I loved it so much!  And nearly 40 years later, nothing's changed!  :D

When I showed Brian this library we got to discussing how things like this will probably never be printed again. It would be available online or in a video format, but (in my opinion, anyway) no publisher is going to bother with these types of informative series anymore.  The overall feeling, at least in the media, is that the tide is shifting to e-everything - why have books cluttering up your house when you can have your whole library on one e-reader? (Really.  DO NOT get me started on this subject.)

Granted, some of the books in the series are already outdated, especially my favorite: "How to be Effective on the Telephone".  Given the atrocious telephone manners of most people these days, you'd think we'd actually need this booklet the most!  But most companies just assume that one knows how to conduct themselves in a professional manner on the phone (au contraire, but I digress).  The illustrations are MARVELOUS, aren't they?  :D  And I just noticed this time stamp in the back of the book:  "Received, 1964 Dec 17 City Compt. Sheboygan, Wis.  Bonus!


One thing all of the books have in common are these little perforated cards in the middle of the book.  I don't think these books were ever read, because all of the cards are intact and the little envelope that's supposed to hold the cards for you when you're on the road is still in each of the books!  In some cases, the business reply envelope is also included!  Another bonus!


Because these books are work-related, all of the illustrations are male dominant (this set was printed in 1964, after all!).  I don't have a lot of "manly" ephemera, so this is great!  I can't wait to play around with the books.  Yep, these are going to be used.  :D


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Constructing an Idea

I know it's springtime, but holy moly!  The wind has been INSANE this year.  And not just this season; we've had crazy wind for the past 12 month period.

I mentioned the wind in this post last week, but that was before out next-door neighbors put in their new roof.  Nearly everyone on our block, including moi, has had to get a new roof in the last year or so (we put ours in almost exactly one year ago today).  Turns out the "environmentally friendly" shingles that were used on our newly-built homes in 2002 are not so hot at keeping out the elements.  What a shame that what was supposed to help the environment will just wind up in a landfilll somewhere.

What happens when you combine construction with wind?  You get a whole lot of these guys floating around your lawn:


I believe these were wrapped around the shingle packages. I actually kept some of these last year, when they were working on our own roof, but tossed them when I couldn't think of a way to use them.  This was also part of that same single package, I believe:


But this year, I have an idea, which was furthered by this find a couple of days later:


This may be from the shingle bundles, or some other aspect of the roof, but I'm pretty sure it was part of the construction that day.  I love the color!

And to further my process, I also found this piece of plastic, tangled in our rose bushes:


A-HA!  Now my thoughts are really taking shape!  I definitely have a color scheme.

I'm a big fan of this style of collage (this particular collage was created by William Dole).  I don't know exactly how this is going to turn out, but I'll be using this type of abstract collage as my guide.

Isn't it wonderful when you can construct something for FREE?  I'm just sorry my neighbors had to build a new roof for this to happen.  :)