Sunday, December 30, 2012

Sunburn and serenity

The relentlessly sunny and warm weather continues. It could be described as pleasant beachgoing weather and the front veranda has been getting a proper workout. The chink of champagne flutes was heard.  The term 'clement' springs to mind. Ah, the serenity.
Yesterday, on one of our extended scavenges, I managed to get my nose sunburned - I was focussed on the 100 year old glazed oregon windows we'd found, apparently, and not on staying out of the sun. It was one of those cases where you had to sit on the things to stop other people grabbing them, even after they were paid for.

Luckily, I have hoarded some of the best anti-burn ointment ever, and by today, no remnant of red.  What is this magic cream, you ask?  I'd tell you but then I'd have to kill you.  It's been removed from sale for a couple of years now, but I made sure I kept a small stash.  When my son fell against the pot-belly stove at 3, I put it on his hand, no scar remains.  When my friend's son accidentally walked on some hot coals as a toddler, she put it on his feet, no trace of scarring.  When a teenager was badly sunburned - (Don't forget your sunblock - yes, Mum - riiiight )  I used it to almost instantaneously take away pain and redness and it worked. (I should point out that this was not just one tube of the stuff but many over many years, and that I did let them suffer with the sunburn for a wee while first, to remind them that I'm always right.)  

I don't know why it was removed from sale but I do know I don't have very much left and it's carefully stashed, because the stuff on sale now simply doesn't work nearly as well.  Perhaps it's like some glue I saw, which says on the pack that 'residents of California are warned that this product may cause cancer'.  Luckily, I don't live in California. And my nose won't peel.

And the Oregon windows?  We're thinking cabinet doors and picture frames.  In case you were wondering.

I suppose I should thank those who gave and were given electronic readers for Christmas, as there has been a solid flow of good secondhand books to gather.  I've tried to intersperse the shallower but gripping crime fiction with some mind-improving fare and have ranged from Krakatoa to LA to London just this week.  All grist for the front veranda and I've enjoyed my Christmas gift of the New Artisans.

The Christmas tree has been demolished and stashed in a suitcase.  Market wares have been reduced greatly in number and stashed away.  A bit of spring cleaning (better late than never) is in progress.
I've put away the winter clothes and installed the summer wardrobe within easy reach. I left some jumpers out because - well, I live here.  I'm an optimist but not a fool.

I've commenced experimenting with some new things and today's was a birdbath, made using a white glass platter, part of a light fitting, a metal bird and some metal rod.  It looks nice in the garden and so far seems to be doing the job.  Work on the trunk from Fremantle is scheduled, although not too much is really needed.  I have new Christmas gift drawing books to fill, projects to work on, fish to draw, charts to draw them on and jewellery to experiment with.

I have to go back to work on Wednesday.  Damn.  I don't have time for that.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Ho.Ho. Ho.

With the hot carrot-scented breath of a reindeer on the back of my neck, I note that the Big Day is drawing closer, and closer, at speed.

The presents are wrapped and under the tree. Said tree is decorated.  Reindeer are good to go.

The mice are preparing for a quiet one tomorrow night, Christmas eve.  They shall not stir.
I've had a peaceful few weeks between markets, and managed to complete some new models, some of which sold from the kitchen table or shared photos, and didn't even make it to the second market. 

I posted some pics on Pinterest and kind people have repinned or liked them.  This is good.  (I'm still just a tad surprised when other people like my work and a teeny bit nervous about going too public with my babies.)

Pinterest itself has communicated with me, as these websites tend to.  They sent me an email, entitled 'Pins you will love'.  Sadly, I did not love them.  I mean, hey, they were quite nice pins in their own rights but I was not thrilled, excited or amazed by them.  Perhaps the email should say 'Pins you might kinda like'.  I've seen other stuff I did -well - love/like a lot/find interesting.  But these were not they.  I guess Pinterest hasn't worked out all of my secrets just yet.  I shall maintain my air of mystery a wee while longer.  Call me Mata Hari.

I have only about 10 days of leave left before I'm forced to return to the pit of despair to continue earning to subsidise my foibles.  When the little dog looks sad as I leave for work, I tell him brusquely that I am working to buy his (upmarket) dog food.  He saves his energy by snoozing, that he may rejoice at my return.  This is as it should be. I'm certainly rejoicing on my return, especially when the longer daylight hours mean that I can garden, or work, or sit and read outside.

All the saleable goods and display items have returned home from their temporary market home and been stashed in their storage spots.  I noticed it took two trips to deliver the goods to market and only one to come home, so it must be a positive outcome. 

This also means that I'm free to play with new ideas and designs for a little while.  I also need to do quite a bit more tidying, stashing and even - gasps from the audience - tossing out/giving away.

The idea has left me quite lightheaded.  I think I'll need a little lay down while I think about it.

Merry Christmas, all.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Beatles, Santa, and the Jacaranda tree

I love Jacaranda season.  Possibly best tree ever.  The grass under this one was a purple carpet.  The 'trees drop leaves and must be removed' crowd must hate this one.

They have no souls.

'Twas the week before Christmas...' and everywhere, panic sets in.  Because I've been on hols, and busy with markets and making and generally staying out of the shops (other than the opshops, of course), it came as a BIG surprise when I had to go into town this week.  Good grief.  Everyone has that wild-eyed possessed poodle look.  You've had a year, people, is it really a surprise?  

Santa came to me early this year, in the form of the best day's garage saling and tip shopping for about 6 months. (Don't get excited,the Albany tip shop was as disappointing as ever).  The measure of the perfect day is when the owner at the last garage sale will take all the coin left in your purse, for the pile of stuff that no-one else is likely to want because it's 3pm and they have just about had enough.  I came home with no coins in the purse but some oh-so-good stuff, tired, broke, but happy.

But seriously, is there such a huge market for rusty washers that the lady was nervous about taking $2 less than the asking price?  I thought I was the only one who likes them...  Apparently, so does her husband.  Anyway, they're mine now.

There are quite a few 'befores' this week, even though there are a lot of almost 'afters'.  Some new models are awaiting final paint and varnish/sealer.  I made myself leave them to dry properly overnight, after I  stabbed myself in the finger with my pocket knife attempting a complex manoeuvre.  I took it as a signal that I was over-tired and possibly over-excited.

I've acquired 6 antique cricket stumps, the ones with the copper banding and the seriously pointy bit at the other end.  I'm not an expert but I'm led to believe that 6 is a complete set, and these are very early 1900's. The challenge: to do something 'arty' with them that reflects what they are without looking 'sporty'. Or kitsch. Bad kitsch, as opposed to good kitsch, of course.  It's a fine line.

I'm probably going to need someone to cut some stainless steel for me for that one. 

I'm loving the 1962 Readers Digest, the carved deer head and the stack of New Yorker magazines.

 The wooden cheese box, which was stuffed with wooden handled chisels.  The pilot from the radio-controlled plane. The big wooden wheel (no, I don't know, so don't ask.)  

The Beatles cheeseboard.  
Why the Beatles? Look at the pics closely.


Monday, December 10, 2012

My tin sign says 'today' today

Week 1.  Post market recovery.  

Somewhere between breakfast and morning tea on day 1- hey, how about participating in a vintage and handmade market?  Frantic stocktake.  Finds stuff everywhere, even some unmounted drawings. Stuff in drawers, behind other things. In two weeks. Yeah, why not?

Note to self: think these things through.

Of course, being the maker and acquirer that I am, it doesn't take deep excavation to find more stock. 

So today was spent finding and making, framing and mounting prints and drawings.  With breaks for walking the hound and drinking tea on the veranda - although I actually gave up on the last cup because the ever-blasting wind blew leaves into my cup and had a good shot at blowing the biscuit off my plate.

Some steampunk airships are midway done.  More mounted chessmen - including one who shall be named 'chuck' because his base is partially the chuck from a drill which I found, with several other exciting bits, at the local salvage yard.(Along with a tin sign which says, rather concisely 'today'.)

There's considerable progress on a model of a boy in a boat, however it's proving quite complex and unlikely to be finished in time.  After last weekend my lounge room is bereft of adornment (to a point) and that one may stay with me for a while before I let it go.

In between: put more soil on the potatoes; planted more lettuces and Chandler strawberries; noted that the never-fail parsnips are living up to their name; idly pondered how one human being will possibly be able to consume that much rhubarb; basked in the (temporarily) tidy and comparatively minimalist lounge room; gave the Dyson (garage sale, of course) some new filters before a thorough workout; played with the puppy; slept late a couple of times; cruised the op shops, garage sales, tip shop and salvage yard; and continued to wonder why those men from the gas company are all over town digging holes in footpaths and verges, looking thoughtfully at them and then filling them in.

One could be forgiven for thinking that they don't know where anything is, but I was a bit worried when they dug the same hole in the neighbour's verge twice, two weeks apart.  What could have changed?  Or could they not recall what they saw the first time, what with all the excitement and all. Those pipes can be tricky if you don't keep an eye on them.

Now I have 30 Bad Alice bags to fold, label, bag and price so I can pack them into a vintage suitcase to take to market.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Aching eyelids and inspiration

Everything aches, even my eyelids individually ache.  That was the 4 day extravaganza that was Summer Street, Xmas 2012. As you can see, not everyone was as excited as perhaps they could be. There's always great consternation at home when I start loading suitcases, and when I take furniture with me? He was somewhat tense. Apparently staying in the trailer was the best option.

Wow, great venue, lots of light and windows, fantastic people, great products and lovely displays.  I won't put up too many photos because there are lots of really good ones available here and here.

Thanks to everybody for being so clever, making, bringing and buying such beautiful wares, getting along with each other and helping out.  

It was great to meet so many people, catch up with old friends, and talk to them about our work.  

Summer Street has been running for about 25 years now, and people who came with their parents are now bringing their kids to shop handmade and vintage.  Even in a relatively small place like Albany, I only see lots of people once or twice a year and it's great to catch up. 

I was able to make myself let go of some gorgeous vintage suitcases, a coffee table and a chair to new homes, as part of my personal 'be able to see the floor at home' strategy.  Of course, an emergency trip to the tip shop saw me drag home a fabulous old trunk with an upholstered top earlier in the week - stuff goes out, stuff comes in.  I can't help myself.  The trunk says "D R Guest Fremantle" and the bottom was lined with the West Australian newspaper from 1961. What should I use to re-upholster the top? I have a stash of fabric in a vintage suitcase, somewhere.

I overheard someone say that they found Summer Street to be 'inspiring' - and that's what a good artisan market should be.  It's the highest praise I can think of.

Special personal thanks to the kind gentleman who gave me his store of survey charts and maps, to be drawn on.  I can hardly wait to get to have a really good look at them.  How exciting! I also have lots of ideas for new projects and can hardly wait to get started - as soon as I've cleaned the newly found floor.

Now where was that vacuum cleaner?

Monday, November 26, 2012

'Tis the season (almost)...

I've decided that as window washers go, I'm a really good jewellery maker.  We spent a large part of the afternoon cleaning the windows of the ex-restaurant which is to be the venue for our annual vintage and handmade market. My friend and fellow stall-holder Sam came with me to pick up the keys and let the sunshine in, which we did - eventually. I have new and enormous respect for those people you see effortlessly squeegeeing in curvy shapes and leaving nary a smear or streak.  Scratch 'window cleaner' from my list of alternate professions and George Formby from my playlist.

While we scrubbed the urban cocktail of oil, grease, salt and dust (baked in the afternoon sun for 3 months till crispy) we chatted about the joy of 'curating' an art market. We talked about the dreaded 'stall creep' (where you get crowded by the person next to you, who wants to expand into your space - especially if you are 10 minutes late); market etiquette generally; and the gazillion little things that make a market happen.

Events like this don't randomly spring into being: there are 1000 jobs to be done and decisions to be made before the doors open, expenses to be incurred (and underwritten).  Posters and ads have to be designed and produced; ads written and booked (and paid for); venues found and organised; local councils appeased (even though the zoning is correct); stall holders invited, encouraged, vetted and sometimes rejected; furniture moved; finances and credit card facilities maintained and organised; cleaning (before and after) to be organised or in this case, done; the many different needs of participants juggled (working hours, space, times, allergies and alliances); and so on and so on and so on.

To provide a successful event, none of the above is cheap, yet everyone wants to pay the absolute minimum for their space.  The big places where costs can be reduced are, of course, venue and advertising.  If you want a few hours in all weather in a park, on the off chance someone will come by (and buy), then invest your $5 and take your chances.  If you want a good venue, in a CBD location, then you advertise - as does any business. Run of paper advertising (that's the ads NOT in the classifieds) isn't cheap but good ads will yield serious traffic.  Some radio advertising is really good, provided the right people are listening and I use a small, truly local outfit with a large listener base in the right demographic. Like anything else, you basically get out of it what you put in: invest correctly and reap the rewards.

You can't guarantee that people will buy.  That's up to the sellers and their stock. But provide a quality product at a reasonable price, and people will buy, provided you sell it to them.  It means hours of standing on your feet, engaging the customer, smiling till your face aches....working hard. And don't even talk about display, merchandising, promotion.  Or who will pay for the toilet paper and hand towels (and for that matter, the lightglobe in the loo).

So here's a big thank you to Sam, for giving up her Sunday afternoon and getting her hands dirty (literally). I suspect she's not considering a career in semi-professional squeegee-based services, either.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Ransacked chic is the new new.

Well strictly speaking, old is the new new, but it's only 2 weeks till my main Xmas market, so my house is less a home than a loosely co-ordinated pile of - OMG.  If someone actually broke in they'd have an attack of deja vu or think it was Groundhog Day. I'm trying to sell myself on the 'ransacked chic' style of homemaking.  This was the last week for actual making (apart from a couple of special commissions I'm working on) so that now I can tidy up, price, display, record, package and pack.

Note to self:  buy tomorrow - milk, eggs, self-discipline.
I did work on the trunk table I had planned - there was a bit of restorative work before the whole leg thing could happen.  I like the outcome. Not entirely sure I can part with it now.....I shall be strong. Annotate note to self: skip the eggs and double the self-discipline.

I did locate the kitchen bench and I'm pretty sure there is a kitchen table under there somewhere. Small patches of floor are emerging, slowly.

I still have some original drawings to frame and pack, and some Christmas cards to work on. Do I really need ALL those vintage items? 

It's going to be OK, because I made a list. It's a very long list and I only crossed 2 things off but there's a whole 2 weeks to go. I may have to resort to Plan B, which is really just Plan A with an element of panic.

I had my eyes tested and ordered new glasses this week.  I was about 6 months overdue, but still have the eyesight of a woman 3 weeks younger than me.  The nice man cleaned my existing glasses while I was there and wow - a new perspective - detail!  I've ordered nice new round frames, to replace my current round frames  (I'm obsessed with round frames).  They should be ready in a couple of days. I suspect I may be able to see dust I've been ignoring for quite a while...

Where did I leave that note?


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Einstein said, amongst many other pithy things, that creativity is the residue of time wasted.  If that's so, then I've wasted a lot of time....I spent a long time today photographing things I've been making because it's that market time of year again.  There are a lot of things.

I open a drawer and  discover a little collection of things I've put aside...and completely forgotten about.  Kind of like Christmas, but every day.  Ridiculously, I panic every year that I won't have enough stuff.  I do, I promise you.  I have enough stuff.  Really.  Truckloads.

The house is really full about now, festooned with bright shiny vintage jewellery, stacked with framed drawings and prints, and all the vintage bits and bobs that I can bring myself to let go.  Some things, which I mean to take to a market, are harder to let go of than others.  A while ago, I found some 1930's Australian matchbox labels.  No worries, methinks, this would look nice in a little frame...and so it does.  A bit too nice - I propped it up to photograph it and it looks so good just there...damn.  Luckily, there were others.

Of course the cataloguing of work uncovers unfinished and intended projects - I have a collection of  pics of the girlchild since she was quite small, I mount them on 8"x8" blocks.  Some are more elaborate than others - handcoloured black and white pics, and so on.  They are testament to a child who wholeheartedly embraced the 'selfie' at a very young age. I finished these two today, to add to the wall.

Even worse, is the dreaded new and bright idea...I was working on something new at about one this morning - sleep is for the weak and the uninspired - or those who are not completely obsessed.

There's also the need to display items for sale - I have trunks of that stuff too.   I saw this on Friday and thought it would come in useful.  It was covered with butterfly stickers and needed some TLC but it's come up quite nicely.  I'll just put it with the others.

We also finally unloaded the big workbench I bought a couple of months ago.  It's big.  It's gorgeous.  I totally have no room for it.  The wood on the top is all hand cut and still has the marks of the saw. I love it.

I'll make room, somewhere.