Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Don't be conventional in decorating!’ Category

“In order for a woman to write fiction  she needs money and a room of her own.”  Virginia Woolf

While I agree that financial resources are necessary to pursue any of the arts—at least to provide the basics for living and supplies for one’s craft—I disagree with Virginia Woolf on the matter of “a room of her own”.  For many years I wrote (some fiction, and a lot of everything else) in various places around the home—starting with a kitchen corner counter where I sat on a stool and wrote for 2 hours most every afternoon while dinner simmered or baked, and our small children tumbled and bumbled around me.

From the kitchen, I graduated to a writing desk in the corner of our master bedroom.  Then came some interim years where I did have a spare hobby room in the home, and now I’ve happily returned to a desk in the master bedroom.  In this same bedroom we have a generous window sill and table for houseplants, and 2 work surfaces where I can paint and build collages.  A second desk with shelves and drawers holds painting supplies, along with 3 commodious stacking units of plastic drawers from HOME DEPOT. 

A room of one’s own can be a few square feet in most any multi purpose room.  Private space can be managed most anywhere, when we enjoy planning and accommodating our working needs to whatever is available.  It’s amazing how much furniture (and how many objects!) can be efficiently and attractively crammed into a given area, when one is willing (and in my case, eager) to be creative and somewhat “far out”.  I’ve always loved arranging my home in ways that would make most conventional “interior decorating” gurus shudder—just as I thrive on decorating with stuff that the conventional folks would take to the dump, or toss out to the curb. 

The main challenge with private space is to create an area where projects may be left out while in process.  The drawback of working at a kitchen counter or dining room table is obvious; the writer or artist must clean up his or her act in order to prepare and serve a meal.  One artist said she was happy to finally move her art space out of the kitchen, because she was tired of getting peanut butter on her brushes.

I subscribe to art magazines and enjoy gazing at the spacious studios where professional artists work.  But I simply do not covet these studios one teeny bit.  The professional artist who hangs his work in galleries frequently does large renderings.  Gallery displays— especially of oil paintings but also of acrylics, water media, and collages—tend to measure out in feet rather than inches.  

At this point, I have not been motivated to “work big”.  My largest pieces are 11″ x 14″, matted and mounted in 12″ x 16″ frames.   The above pictured card table could accommodate a larger support, and will—if I ever decide to expand my paintings.  I’d simply have to move my palette and brushes somewhere else for the duration.  Meanwhile, smaller works are fun! 

Our entire 4 room condo (plus 2 bathrooms and great storage areas) could be called a “studio”.  A corner of our living room has been turned into a fiber arts studio, pictured below.  ↓

Joe’s den is his “sports viewing studio”, and it is his computer area as well.  There 2 things on earth which Joe and I cannot share:  1) a toothbrush and 2) a computer.  Joe and I each have our own cyberspace.  He has a recliner chair in his den, so it’s also a “napping studio”.

Then there is a “music studio”, in another part of our living room. ↓

And finally, you might call the houseplant areas (3 places around our home) “horticulture studios”—or maybe conservatories.  Here is one of our conservatory/horticulture studios. ↓

Whether for writing, making art, reading, sipping tea, or just sitting and zoning out, every person needs a “studio space”—even if it’s only one small table and a chair in a corner of a room.  Private space!  🙂

Margaret L. Been, ©2011

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Our daughter, Laura, made this whiligig at a workshop near her home in Washington State.  The beauty is a composite of treasures culled from rummage and estate sales in her area.

——————————————————————————–

Those of us who enjoy junking are NEVER BORED—and we’ll probably never be tempted to go off the deep end financially with our passion for collecting, because the stuff we prefer doesn’t normally cost that much. 

The items we love best are those which many folks disregard, discard, and even look down their noses at.  These people don’t get it.  They’re missing a huge chunk of abundant living to be found in foraging garage sales, scrap yards, and curbsides!

Now that rummage season is in full swing, our joy cups run over on a regular basis.  We come home from a morning of foraging renewed, refreshed, and super charged with creative ideas as to where we will place, or how we will use, our newly acquired treasure.  One thing is certain:  where junkers are concerned, there are no two homes alike.  Our decor is highly individual.  It can be simulated, but never cloned!

In celebration of junk, junk, wonderful junk, here are some outdoor shots of our comfy little condo where Joe and I live contentedly with loads of junk:

↑  The small blue granite pitcher peeking out of the Hosta is mounted on an upside down lamp base from one of those derelict “Made in China” lamps which, after 2 years of use, tend to become electrically unsafe.  The base (hidden in the photo) was too pretty to discard, so I cut off its cord and glued my vintage blue pitcher on its bottom.  Behind the pitcher is a broken, circa 1930 plate.  I never discard broken china or pottery, as it can always find a pleasant home among my garden or house plants.

And observe the old watering can, complete with its “rose” on the spout.  These are pricey now, as most everyone wants an old watering can.  Fortunately, I found mine years ago.  🙂

 ↑   A saxophone playing frog leans against the bird feeder, with our mutant Bleeding Heart providing a background.  Froggie was actually a new purchase, a gift from our daughter Laura. 

Note the Virginia Creeper creeping up the trellis—one of my all time favorite vines, also called Woodbine or Englemann Ivy.  It’s indestructable in our northern climate.  More damaged pottery rests on a handmade-by-Joe bench on the right as you view the photo.

↑  A closer look reveals the frog’s companions:  a bunny and a skull from the Southwest, reminiscent of artist Georgia O’Keeffe.

↑  The hangy thingy next to the hummer feeder was assembled by a local artist who has a business called FUNKY FINDS.

You can see the tops of a couple of old screens.  Screens and shutters with chipped, peeling paint are always welcome—indoors or out.  One can never get enough of those!

↑  Here is our patio, right off the living room so that we savor a year ’round indoor/outdoor atmosphere.  The patio is the setting for many lazy spring, summer, and autumn days spent sipping iced tea, reading, snoozing, and cloud gazing.  The patio faces east, so that we can sun bathe in the morning and rest in the afternoon shade. 

This picture was taken in a downpour.  The card table gets covered with a lovely vintage cloth on sunny days.  It also serves as a place for my art equipment and afternoons of sketching and painting.

The smashing antique croquet set was a rummage sale treasure which cost $5.00.  It has all its mallets, balls, and arches—with an old rag tied to each arch.  We can take the croquet set up the berm to the park, just a few yards away, for killer games.

————————————————————————–

In closing, here is one of my most precious photos of our grandsons, Nathaniel and Joelly, with their creation from their finds from a junk yard near our up north home.  Nathaniel is the driver of this unique vehicle.  I’m not sure what Joelly is doing with the stick—I think it’s a car window cleaner.  ↓

Upon all the evidence, I rest my case!  Junk is wonderful! 

Margaret L. Been, ©2011

Read Full Post »

Last evening I had a BDN.  That’s “Bad Disc Night”—not “disc” as in computers, boom boxes, or DVD players, but discs in the lumbar region of my body.

Joe and I like to go to bed early with our books and George Winston.  George is not actually present in person in our home, but we have 3 and 1/2 hours of him on our IPOD mounted on a boom box.  We play all kinds of music in the daytime—from opera, to requiems, to symphonies, and Celtic harp.  But at night only that poet of the piano, George Winston, will do.

Last night even George, my achey/bakey (a flannel bag filled with feed corn and heated in the microwave), and my prescription pain medication were no help.  Bad discs!

I was studying a newly purchased book:  ART MAKING, COLLECTIONS & OBSESSIONS, by Lynne Perella.  This book, packed with pictures and inspiring text, contains “An Intimate Exploration of the Mixed-Media Work and Collections of 35 Artists.”

I read, viewed, and savored page after page of wonderfully funky stuff—shelves and boxes crammed full of tantalizing junk, plus art and unique groupings fashioned from junk by imaginative minds with skillful hands.  But even the delectable contents of my book, in tandem with the above-mentioned remedies, couldn’t tame those bothersome lumbar discs.

The book finally catapulted me out of bed and into the living room.  Suddenly I just had to create something—a little vignette on the coffee table by one of our sofas.  I gathered odds and ends, puttered, and voila:  the above table laden with some of my (many!) favorite things.

From left to right behind the platter of shells you will see:  the corners of two 1917 nature books with gorgeous watercolor illustrations given to me by a precious friend, Georgian, who married my Dad when he was a 95 year old widower; a watercolor sketch of Joe fishing, quickly done by me as I sat behind him in the boat while dipping my paintbrush in the lake; a Cheerios® mug containing not cereal, but rather a baby jade plant; and my watercolor rendition of a wolf cub howling his heart out.

On the mirrored platter you will find:  a variety of Atlantic Ocean shells and some coral; a 1920s crystal door knob; an elegant little notebook given to me by our daughter, Judy; a battery operated tea light in a green glass votive dish; a piece of tattered lace; and (left front) a diminutive, ornately framed photo of my two sisters when they were young—Ardis who was 8 years older than I, and Shirley, the sister who died before I was born.

After creating this scenario of beauty, and surveying my personal “art making” with much satisfaction, I went back to bed and also to sleep—raging discs notwithstanding,  

Margaret L. Been, ©2011

Read Full Post »

A few years back my KOVEL”S ANTIQUE COLLECTOR’S NEWSLETTER told of a study at the University of Iowa which indicated that collectors have damaged frontal lobes. 

Actually, I think the study focused on folks who save decades of empty cereal boxes, plastic refrigerator dishes, and stacks of newspapers.  Those of us who collect English teapots, Teddy bears, and vintage kitchen kitsch may be exempt from such a dire (and seemingly ridiculous) judgment.

Nonetheless, those of us who do enjoy our collections find the “damaged frontal lobe” diagnosis to be hilarious.  If we are “damaged”, so be it.  We are contented, adventuresome, and never bored!

Environment may play a part in our hobbies and activities, but genes are also involved.  My parents were collectors.  However, their tastes were a bit more limited (and perhaps more refined?) than mine.  I have taken the gene thing to a new level. 

One of my nephews and a daughter share the collector’s gene with me—as well as at least one granddaughter.  More grandchildren may surface as they become mature adults.  Even I was once a minimalist, until something snapped in my early thirties and I never looked back!  It takes maturity to discover exactly whom we are and what rings our chimes!

Another, similar gene has been passed down in my family:  the passion for creating way out, funky stuff.  The Brits, who love to turn verbs into adjectives, call people like us, “makey”.  Would the “experts” at the U. of Iowa determine that we eccentric makeys have damaged frontal lobes as well?  It seems that collecting and eclectic creating are related, at least in my experience!

The first truly makey person I know of in my family was my Aunt Lois, although there must have been pioneers before her.  Aunt Lois was born in 1900.   I’ve blogged about her before, and I probably will again as she was a true mover and shaker in my life.  I think of her nearly every day!

Lois’s funky spirit first went on display when her husband taught at Berea College in Kentucky, and she immersed herself in mountain arts and crafts.  From there, Lois and her husband moved to California.  Need I say more than that?

I only saw Lois a few times in my life, in the 1930s and 40s, when she would return to Wisconsin for a visit and breeze in wearing the most interesting hand-made costumes.  Maya Angelou has called such garb “get-ups”.  My Aunt Lois was the Queen of the Get-ups.

I found Lois to be inspiring and wonderful.—not only her shawls, capes, and hats, but her entire persona.  She was full of smiles and excited descriptions of whatever craft she was into at the time.  She eschewed patterns and rules in her art.  Lois was an original.  Although not a hippie in lifestyle, she had that free creative spirit which would explode in wild, wonderful color generations later—the very wild, wonderful color that permeates my life and home.

I’m pleased to carry the Lois gene, and I have a niece in Colorado who has the gene as well.  I don’t think my niece ever met Lois, but the makey stamp is there—plain as the words I’m keyboarding at this very moment.

Among many other skills, my niece is a decoupage artist.  Here is a sample of her work, photographed in her Western home:

It just occurred to me that the makey gene has been passed from aunt to niece, and then again from aunt to niece.  I wonder what Aunt Lois’s aunt was like!  I’d like to see an MRI image of her frontal lobes!

Margaret L. Been, ©2011

Read Full Post »

Back in 1993, Joe and I went abroad for our first and probably last time.  We spent 17 days traveling back roads of England, Scotland, and Wales—in a rented car which Joe drove on the “wrong” side of the road.

We stayed at sheep farms and small town inns, and it was wonderful.  Touring the British countryside had long been my desire, and we were not disappointed.  Adventure and beauty greeted us around every bend, and we were not in the least bit tempted to venture into a city . . . .

. . . . except for on the last day.  Scheduled to fly back to the U.S. from Gatwick, which is 30 miles or so out of London, we spent our last night at a farm near Dorking.  We decided to ride the commuter train from that village into London, where we planned to transfer from Victoria Station to Paddington Station and (hopefully) buy a Paddington Bear to take home as a souvenir.

The train ride into London was fascinating, as the track ran through the back yards and alleys of old—I mean OLD!—neighborhoods.  From the windows, we saw one consistent sight in even the tiniest city yards:  carefully tended, interesting plots with funky “art” and a sweet little potting shed in the corner of most every garden.

How the Brits love their gardens!  I was totally captivated by the concept of a LITTLE garden.  At the time we lived on acreage, and I had very unruly gardens scattered hither and thither—plots which I couldn’t begin to manage.  The idea of a tiny garden right outside one’s door got planted then and there in my head, where it has remained dormant until just 2 weeks ago.

Now in our small condo, I’m enjoying a tiny garden plot alongside our patio—with about as much space as the gardens we saw where the train ran along the back yards of London.  Bleeding hearts, chives, tulips, and a couple of hardy rose bushes had already been planted here, and I am dividing and adding.  By the end of May, I hope to have an English garden packed with perennials spilling over each other in quest of the morning sunlight, and then relaxing side by side in the afternoon shade.

On clear days, I toss colorful fabric and a Southwestern Indian rug over patio chairs—and my Teddies go out to bask in the sun.  Sometimes Paddington Bear goes out too, although when this photo was taken he was “still sleeping” so I left him inside.

Incidently, there were no Paddington Bears at Paddington Station.  I got my Paddington Bear at K-Mart, in Waukesha, Wisconsin.  Go figure!  🙂

Margaret L. Been—All Rights Reserved

Read Full Post »

Indeed, it is SPRING!  My heart pulsates to the music of cardinels, redwings, robins, mourning doves, sandhill cranes, Canada geese, and other skyward signs of the season.

There is another sign—or rather a plethora of SIGNS—which soon will pop up in yards all over the little communities in our vicinity.  They may vary in wording—RUMMAGE SALE, GARAGE SALE, ESTATE SALE, YARD SALE, or whatever.  But these signs all mean the same thing:  absolute, abject BLISS!

I think some folks endowed with a sense of humor cackled when Joe and I moved to a condo last fall, after we had lived in fairly roomy houses for over fifty years of our marriage.  “HA,” these individuals reasoned.  “Now she’ll have to stop collecting!”

Well I am having the last “HA”.  We had scarcely unpacked our 280 moving cartons last fall when we discovered that we were smack dab in prime rummage country, and we dug right in—always coming home from a Saturday morning foray with one more thing to stick in a bare spot somewhere. 

Now we are relishing the realization that rummages will resume, any moment now.  There is alway room for more STUFF—somewhere, somehow!  I call it “uncondo-ing the condo”. 

Sometimes I don’t know which I enjoy most—the treasure hunts resulting in adding fresh decor to our home, or the raised eyebrows and eye rolling of those folks who “just don’t get it”.  When people unversed in the joy of junking visit our home, they look perplexed—even distressed. 

But most fun of all, are those few individuals who “do get it”.  They may be practically strangers in terms of longevitiy of friendship, but something snaps when they enter our home.  These kindred spirits move quietly from room to room, wall to wall, and corner to corner—studying every detail with intense interest.  Appreciation and a sense of freedom are written on their faces. 

Appreciative visitors experience THE GREAT AHA as they wander through our home as if it were a museum.  They know that, when it comes to interior decorating, “MORE IS MORE”. 

There is a nasty word out there, for those of us who love rummaging and junking.  We are called “hoarders”.  Never mind.  We are a mighty army of individuals who find beauty in things that the trendy folks cast off.  We are a brigade of non-materialistic “materialists” who value things for their sentimental implications, memories evoked, funki-ness, and unsung beauty rather than for their status or price.  You will not find the latest and most fashionable in our homes (or on our bodies, for that matter).  But you will find the most fun in our lives—as expressed in our homes and personalities. 

We are never bored—always alive to whatever we see, hear, smell, touch, or imagine.  We are an esoteric sorority and fraternity bonded by our enjoyment of stuff.  We share a priceless gift of creating beautiful arrangements comprised of whatever the trendy people throw away.

Maybe we collectors are hoarders:  hoarders of dreams, memories, and fun.  Hoarders of pizzazz and panache unearthed in everyday life!  Hoarders of quality of life!  But unlike the quintessential hoarder in fact and fiction, we junkers are hoarders who share!  We love to share our home, our stuff, and our joie de vie with whomever will slow down long enough to appreciate! 

So here’s to my “sisters and brothers” in JUNK:  Karen, Betty, Judy, Alicia, Sandy, Barbara, Julie, Andy, and countless others.  Here’s to author/photographer Mary Randolph Carter and her wonderful junk books which keep me vicariously and happily junking even in winter. 

ANY MOMENT NOW!  🙂

Margaret L. Been—All Rights Reserved

Read Full Post »