Monday, April 30, 2012

Words of Wisdom: Riley


I think I've seen every movie with the word princess in the title.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


Here's the thing about creativity: if you want the Muse to show up for work every day (and I do), sometimes you've got to give her the afternoon off.  Let her sit in the back yard looking at pretty books or drawing silly things that are never intended to see the light of day.  My ancestors would call it "lollygagging;" however, I've learned that if you demand daily effort from the Muse without feeding her anything or letting her rest, she eventually coughs, coughs again, and keels over.

That's why I was delighted to find  Paris Flea Market: World Design by Herbert Ypma.  It's full of eye candy, pretty colors, and unusual collections.  Even though it was written in 1996, the homes featured in it are so unique and so quintessentially Parisian that they still look fresh and interesting today.  Let's face it -- the French are way ahead of us in the style department.

I'm also having a great time with Julie Nutting's Collage Couture.  The book shows you how to draw fashion figures and then create their clothing using collage techniques.  There are lots of mixed-media projects to try.  You know me: I'll probably learn a couple of techniques and then go off on my own and do what I want with them -- which pretty much explains in a nutshell why I got on my teachers' nerves when I was in school -- but it's a lot of fun.  It's like playing with paper dolls all over again.

There are also a couple of blogs that never fail to inspire me to be more creative and try new things.  One of them is Rhinestone Armadillo, written by Laura who is the wife of a totally hot guy, the mother of an adorable little girl (with another on the way), and she's a super-talented artist.  She's also gorgeous.  Wait a minute, why do I like her again?  (Ha.  I kid.)  She's always posting delicious looking meals, pictures of sewing and art projects, cute pictures of her daughter, and things that interest her.  I always leave her blog feeling inspired to live more creatively.

Photo: Hivenn

Another blog that always inspires me is by Elizabeth over at Hivenn.  She takes photos with actual film and then converts them to a digital format for her blog, so you already know she's a lot more patient and clever than I am.  Elizabeth is a lovely young woman living near London in the UK, and she always chooses the most interesting places to photograph.  She also takes lots photos of herself and her friends in all kinds of great outfits and with amazing makeup effects.  Her photos always inspire me to look more closely at the beauty of the world around me.

And finally, I can always count on Street Art Utopia to provide creative inspiration along with a big dose of humor (check out the Hipster Trap).  This website features photos of street art of all different styles from all over the world.

These are some of the things that help me when the Muse gets that tired, overworked feeling.  What inspires you?

Sunday, April 22, 2012


Oh, how I wish I'd been the creative person to come up with this idea.  Crafting with Cat Hair is exactly what it sounds like: a book about making felted and handsewn crafts out of cat hair.  I'm not saying I want to make any of these things; rather, I wish I were the person who wrote this book and is marketing it to a cat-loving public.  Think it's not selling?  Think again.  I found it featured prominently on the New Nonfiction shelf at my local library.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Kitschy Vintage Style

I found this little gem at a Kiwanis yard sale in Sandwich, MA on the way back from visiting Mosees in Barnstable, the shop that carries my handmade jewelry.  It was selling for $2 and I couldn't resist its kitschy vintage style.

There is something about the word authentic followed by Bermuda limbo dancers in quotation marks that makes me laugh.  Obviously its authenticity made it much more valuable as a souvenir.

The hallmark on the back is from Weatherby Hanley, a British pottery that according to my online research was founded in 1891 and closed in 2000.  They did a big souvenir and commemorative business in their heyday, so there are lots of vintage Weatherby Hanley giftware items with Queen Elizabeth's face on them available on Ebay and Etsy.

I think I'm going to use my little "pin dish" as it was intended -- as a spot to plunk my jewelry when I take it off. Yes, I own a jewelry box (two in fact), but somehow a few pieces land on my dresser anyway, especially if I'm tired or talking on the phone when I take them off.  Admit it, you do the same thing.

I've discovered that organizational systems are all well and fine as long as they conform to how I will actually use them.  Sometimes a little creativity is required.  Since I finally faced facts and placed a dish near the door as a spot to drop my keys, I've never had to search for them again.  Not even once.

Friday, April 13, 2012

New This Week at Sow's Ear Jewelry

It's non-stop creativity here at Old Maid HQ, and I've never been so happy to get out of bed in the mornings.

I've got a few new items in the shop this week, plus I've spent some time revamping photos for a few items already in stock. As time goes on, I learn more about photographing jewelry and I get a better idea of how I want the shop to look, so I review older listings to see how I can improve them.

I made one of these bracelets for myself a couple of weeks ago.  I love wearing it and have received lots of compliments, so I made a few styles to put in the shop.  I'm definitely going to make a some more for myself, too.  I really like how they look grouped together.

My sister Rachel bought a pair of these quite some time ago and I'm finally getting some into the shop.  Those are fancy chrome-plated lock washers that are used on motorcycles.  Very shiny!  This pair is 3 inches long from the top of the silvertone ear wire. 

This is the same style in a smaller (2 inch long) size.  Did you know they keep the chrome-plated fasteners under lock and key at the hardware store?  Neither did I, but they do.  I always feel like I'm asking to view the crown jewels when I have the case opened.

This is one of the pairs I've had in the shop for a while but I shot some new photos.  They are the same style and size as the previous earrings, but made from reclaimed zinc washers with a pretty matte patina.  I really like the contrast of the matte and shiny finish.
 Visit Sow's Ear Jewelry on Etsy for more information on these and other great designs!

Monday, April 09, 2012

Extra! Extra! Read All About It!

I have some exciting news!  My jewelry is being carried at a shop called Mosees on Main Street in Barnstable, MA!  The owner contacted me after seeing my Etsy shop and asked if I'd like to include my work in her store.  After I finished jumping around the room squealing "Omigod!  Omigod!  Omigod!"  I emailed back that yes, that would be very nice.

I'm cool like that.

My mom and I took a ride to Cape Cod last Saturday to see the shop.  The owner, Maura Hempstead, is just lovely.  Super nice and friendly, she has a great eye and has filled her shop with gorgeous handmade clothing, gifts, and accessories.  She tells me there is lots more to come as the season progresses.

Here is my jewelry with my artist bio on the card above.  I was so excited to see it that I couldn't think straight.  I did refrain from jumping around and squealing "Omigod!" so that's something.

Next time you head to Cape Cod, stop by Mosees at 3261 Main Street in Barnstable.  You can find some really terrific and unique things there.

Friday, April 06, 2012

What I'm Watching: Top Hat


I've become a little obsessed lately with the movie Top Hat.  I got it from Netflix last week and over the course of three evenings I watched the movie twice along with all the special features. 

Top Hat has a basic movie musical plot: boy meets girl and falls in love at first sight.  Girl thinks he's a little too full of himself.  Boy pursues girl.  There is a case of mistaken identity and shenanigans ensue.  Boy gets girl in the end.  There is lots of singing and dancing along the way.

Top Hat was released in 1935 as a cheerful diversion for movie audiences during the Depression.  Seventy-seven years later, when modern life gets a little too crazy I want to dive into this movie and pull it in after me.

Who wouldn't want to live in a beautiful Art Deco apartment like this one?  Gorgeous clean lines, but not too modern and sparse... I love it.  Never mind that my apartment is like a lab for a creative mad scientist and tends to have things like teddy bears wearing do-rags lying around.  I like the idea of it even if I would mess up the execution.

Wouldn't it be nice to have a gentleman show up at my door dressed like this?  The gentlemen who come to my house generally show up in Timberland boots and drop clumps of mud on my floors.  Not that I'm mentioning any names.

The fashions for the women in this movie are nothing to sneeze at, either.

Well, this dress is the exception.  When Ginger first appeared in this, I wondered why a woman with such a lovely figure would want to look like Big Bird. Until I saw it move.  I stand corrected.

Of course, Ginger gets an amazing Art Deco apartment of her own.  I want that bed.  I need that bed.  I just know the quilted part is a lustrous silver satin.  Don't tell me it's anything different, Gentle Readers.  I hate it when we disagree.

More Art Deco gorgeousness.  I love everything about this picture: the elevator doors, Ginger's metallic dress with a sparkly jacket, and how cute and stylish Fred looks.  Who could resist falling in love with that guy?

In a film series noted for its Big White Sets, this is probably the ultimate -- an Art Deco version of Venice.  Isn't it beautiful?  I know Venice never looked like this.  I don't just want to live in the past, my friends.  I want to live in the fictional past. 

Images:  (A really cool vintage style blog.)

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Signs of Spring: 2012 Edition

Upon my return to the Ocean State, I was delighted to discover that spring had sprung.  Trees have flowers on them and the daffodils are dancing happily.  I also found a bird nesting in my mailbox.  I have no idea what kind it is -- it's a tiny buff-and-brown thing that makes a heckuva racket from the tree across the yard if I stand on my front steps too long.  I've only seen him fly out of the mailbox once, but the nest seems to be well-kept and tidy, so I assume he's living there full time.  Or she.

I don't think the mailman likes the new arrangement much, but he'll get over it.

My friends who live in warmer parts of the country might not understand how I can get so excited by green grass and some early spring flowers, but let me tell you: spring in New England can break your heart.  It can be cold and rainy well into June.  Western Rhode Island woke up to a sprinkling of snow this past Sunday.  Snow!  In April -- and no, this is not a belated April Fool's joke.

Thank goodness I live in an area that tends to be a little more temperate than other parts of the state.  If I'd awakened to snow on Sunday morning, I'd have been cranky indeed. And none of us want that.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Dept of Home Economics: Saving Money on Breakfast

When did breakfast cereal -- even the kind you have to make the effort to cook -- get to be so expensive?  That's what I wanted to know the last time I went shopping for steel cut oats.  Find out how I saved big over at My Life In Food: A Culinary "Art" Journal.

Monday, April 02, 2012

Tucson 2012: Pima Air & Space Museum

I said "Give me some sexy hip action," and by golly, she did.

On one of the days during my trip to Tucson, AZ, we visited the Pima Air & Space Museum to see an exhibit featuring airplane parts and other flight-related things that had been decorated by local artists.  The BFF was excited to see a Waco biplane from the 1930s that was very similar to one she flew in with her highschool sweetheart.  She's led a very interesting life.

The Pima Air and Space Museum covers 80 acres, with 5 hangars and a boneyard with over 300 aircraft including John F. Kennedy's Air Force One.  You used to be able to take a tour of it, but the museum had to stop allowing it because people kept breaking off pieces to keep as souvenirs.  For real.

In the Dorothy Finley Space Gallery, you can see the mockup of the interior of the Apollo 13 capsule that was used in the Apollo 13 movie and lots of other cool things.  I enjoyed walking through the gallery and thinking back to when I was a kid in school and the teachers would wheel televisions into the classrooms so we could watch lunar launches and splashdowns.  Yes, Gentle Readers, I am really that old.

For you kids out there, monkeys were sent up in spaceships before people were to find out what the physical effects of space travel would be.  Unfortunately, my research on Wikipedia indicates that most of them died.  This piece honoring the brave monkeys of the early days of space exploration was painted by a local artist and is part of the exhibit in the main hangar.

But on to happier topics.  Isn't this pretty?  I love the finial glued on the top that completely transforms what looks like it might have been a bomb casing.

More cool thingamajigs.  I loved how each piece was unique to the artist who made it. 

This is another section of the same grouping.

Even I know this is the front part of an airplane.  I really loved the layers of print on this one. 

Bonus photo of the cute little Miss Baby Bird!

We ended up seeing only a fraction of what the museum had to offer because we had an infant and a nonagenarian with us.  But honestly, I don't think you can see all 80 acres in one day anyway.  I definitely want to go back the next time I'm in Tucson.