Kitchen inspired Stitching

For all my foodie friends out there, here’s a food art alert. I haven’t been blogging lately because I’m focused on developing some new work for a show themed on Food.

High-brow, low-brow, you know I love both kinds of food. So there will be some junk food, some fine dining, and the usual cast of aliens, animals and impossible hairstyles thrown in for good measure.

For inspiration, I’ve been studying my retro cookbook collection and recently acquired another 1961 gem by Peter Pauper Press, illustrated by Ruth McCrea – the same team that published Simple Hawaiian Cookery that I blogged about on Thanksgiving.

When I looked through my previous work, it surprised me how many quilts had food or kitchens in them. So it seemed natural to agree to do a show based on food. However it’s not set in a typical gallery setting, so I’m having fun experimenting with new color schemes, sizes, and techniques.

More coming soon as this show opens in mid-June. If you’re local (Springfield, MO) and want an invite, email me your mailing address. If you’re local and into art and food (and yoga), you may already be on my list.





Lunch Table Set

Auctions are a great place to get art supplies, and I especially like industrial auctions. It’s usually dirty, noisy, and sometimes too many smokers show up, but it’s a chance to poke around in factories and other places you wouldn’t ordinarily be allowed. It’s also a  social event, you often see some of the same characters. Plus there’s usually donuts, hot dogs, and hot chocolate at the concession trailer.

This week’s auction I nicknamed the Mod Table auction. It was at a stretch limousine factory — which means metal, metal-working tools, sewing machines, bundles of leather, big bolts of vinyl and foam, velcro, spray adhesive, seat belts….. The company is moving all their operations to Ohio (without offering any of their local employees jobs which seems pretty crummy, I might add) and liquidating the entire factory.

Sometimes there’s a bonus at industrial auctions. If there happens to be some retro furniture, it usually sells a whole lot cheaper than it would at an antique auction, because industrial bidders aren’t interested in that sort of thing.

The contents of the lunch room in the factory were on the list to sell. I thought these chairs were sort of cool-looking — maybe from the 70’s? They are really strong, waterproof, and stack. I thought if they went cheap enough, they might be good for a party at the studio, or maybe I could donate them to the Creamery Arts Center because I thought they’d be good for kids’ art workshops.

The tables seemed sort of ugly and odd though. But the wooden tops would be great work surfaces or could be recycled.

Bidding started. The auctioneer offered them at $50 per table. No bites. $25 per table. Not a nibble. $10 per table. Nothing.

There was a lot of more important stuff to auction, so he decided to offer the whole set of 5 tables and 40 chairs for one price and move on.

But no bidders at $100, $50, or $25. So the whole Lunch Table Set sold for $5.

When it was time move everything to an already stuffed trailer and truck, there was a little surprise.

The tables we had bought were not the tables that we thought we had bought.

We had actually bought 12 tables, 40 chairs and a whole lot of wood for $5.

And guess what, the tables stack too!

Fun with Old Family Photos

My mom’s birthday is coming up, so I recruited the help of my brothers and cousin for a little party.

So my cousin Debbie sent me old photo albums, and Chris scanned a lot of old slides…

and I put together a cartoon birthday invitation using Comic Life by plasq.

I love this program! It’s so fun to use, it makes funny cartoon noises when you delete things or stretch your photos.

Happy Birthday Mom!

Knitting and Vintage Labels

What is it about snow that makes me want to knit??

Honestly, I don’t think about it for a year, then when the snow flakes start to fly, I’m digging around in the closet looking for some old project to resurrect.

I guess I started this scarf one or two years ago. It’s a way to use up all your odds and ends by knitting a scarf on the long side on circular knitting needles. Just use a different yarn for each row, and leave the beginning and end long to make the fringe.

I don’t have the original instructions, but by counting stitches, there are 175 stitches that I must have cast onto the circular needles.

It turned out pretty good, for having no plan and only working sporadically when it happens to snow. After the photo, I decided to even up the the fringe, so I trimmed it with scissors. Now I just have to wrap it, and it’ll be a great gift.

Last time my mom came through the studio, she said this pink dress on the mannequin was something special in its day, so after the photo, I checked the label.

There was an interview on NPR the other day about the movie, “A Single Man.” Haven’t seen it, but Colin Firth was talking about how the director Tom Ford, had custom labels sewn into Colin’s suit. Not because it would be seen, but because of how it made Colin become emersed in his role.

I love looking at old labels inside clothes, especially clothes that belong to my family….don’t know where this is going except that the hat has a label too,

and guess what — So does the mannequin!

Traveling Watercolors and Vintage Paintboxes

Here’s a fun little project using watercolor paints. I bought a traveler’s water color set last year made by Winsor & Newton. The paints are good, but I hated the box — it was all plastic, too fat, and yet there was no real room inside for anything but the half-paint pans, which although were form fitted in more plastic, still always stuck to the lid when I opened the box.

The vintage paint box below is one I found somewhere (probably Ebay). Since it came to me empty of contents, I had been using it to carry paint brushes.

So I took the Winsor Newton paints out of the plastic box and put them into the vintage tin. And there’s still room for a real size paint brush and a pen! The paints slid around though when I tried to wet them, so I used a hot glue gun to stick them in place. Russ, the glue gun pro in the house, told me I needed to warm the metal of the box first, for the hot glue to really stick. So actually he warmed the tin over the stove, then the glue gun worked it’s magic.

Now I can even add some colors to the palette — I think I’d like to add a few more, and you can order or buy the little pans of paint from online or good art stores.

Here’s another vintage box I thought about using, but the corners are too sharp, and the shape is wrong. I like the long paint box because it’s flatter and about the same length as my moleskein sketchbook, so they are easy to stack together and slide into my purse.

It’s still cute though, and look inside — it only cost $.29 at S.S. Kresge Co. back in who knows when!

Thanksgiving with Vintage & Community Cookbooks

hawaiian-cookbook-coverIt’s that time of year (and rare) when I drag out all the cookbooks and pore over them. This Hawaiian cookbook is a little gem that I inherited. It’s only about 4″ x 7″ so it’s sweet to hold. The book was published by Peter Pauper Press in the 60’s with “decorations” (I assume the mean the beautiful wood-block print illustrations) by Ruth McCrea.  I love her simple forms and use of only three colors, leaving the background of the paper bare to make the fourth color. I’ve collected an assortment of retro cooking-related graphics (one story here) that I look at for inspiration, you can see some of them in my Flickr set (click thumbnails to enlarge.)

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“Friendship feeds the soul
As food nourishes body,
Food for both are here.”
from the Richmond-Shimada Sister Cities Friendship Cookbook

Recently I was giving a First and Calvary cookbook for my birthday. The cookbook committee had smartly put an index by author in the back, and soon I realized it was great fun to look up people I know and compare their personality to their recipes.vintage-cookbooks

I have several vintage church and community cookbooks, some added from my grandmother’s collection after she passed. I especially like the west coast ones that usually have large, some almost half the book, Asian and Japanese sections.

The small green one is the most stained. “Our Treasured Recipes” from the Wesley United Methodist San Jose Church is one of my favorites, and where I learned many mochi and manju (Japanese sweet bean cakes) recipes when I decided to learn to cook something not easily found in the Midwest —  breaking my general rule of thumb to not cook recipes with more ingredients or instructions than will fit on a 3″ x 5″ card.

rountree-cookbookMost of these cookbooks were designed with a typewriter (remember those?) and it’s fun to see the name of the person and their style of instructions. Sometimes I find notes someone has handwritten into the margins, or an auxiliary recipe or clipping tucked in between pages. Do you have any old dog-eared, coffee-stained, and beloved cookbooks that you pull out every year?

p.s. Just found this old school cookbook from the neighborhood and had to add the back cover. I wish I knew who J.W. was, because I really love his/her? drawing — looks like someone’s making a turkey on the Titanic!

The Love-Bug (car) Ring for Vintage Stuff Friday

Okay, I know I missed Friday. But I got absorbed in a Slam Poetry Workshop at the Missouri Literary Festival on Friday, so I didn’t post this little car-ring I’ve been wanting to show you.

I got it an a little shop in Mexico near our hotel when we were there last March. At first the guy who owns the shop wasn’t very friendly, but I was fascinated by his collection of retro, vintage and antique silver jewelry. (I’m not sure if those terms overlap, so just threw them all in there to be sure.)

car-ring-store-signAnyway, he had lots of really old-looking stuff, some stuff that looked like the 40’s, some that looked like the 60’s… Since most of the charms, bracelets and rings were small, everything was in cases and we had to ask him to get each one out. As our enthusiasm for the pieces showed, he started to tell us about the dates and histories of the different styles and how it related to Mexican history.

When I found this little Volkswagon bug ring, he said, “Oh yeah, there were lots of those made because we were all driving them in those days.” I’d never seen a ring like this — the little car slides around the ring which I think is so clever!


The Power of Tag Clouds and Vintage Photo Friday


I used to think that tag clouds were silly, but now I’m starting see what they can do if you tag your blog posts.

Yesterday a reporter from the St. Louis Beacon called me to ask questions for a story she’s writing about Quilt National 2009 that’s opening soon at the Foundry Art Centre in St. Charles, MO — I think the opening reception is September 25.

Since “Paris-Wish You Were Hair” is in QN this year, she was asking some questions about how I made the Wish You Were Hair series of quilts. So I worked on the blog, adding thumbnail photos and tags to my posts related to the series.

Because I wanted to send her this link by email:

If you click on that, you’ll see an archive list of posts over the past year about that series. Cool, huh? It would be great if all my posts were tagged, but now I’ll have to go back and do more. So my tag cloud will be changing shape and emphasis as I get more caught up, so it will be interesting to see how it changes over in the sidebar on the right.

What does all this have to do with baby in a carriage? Nothing really, except Donna shamed me into posting another vintage photo. Stuff’s happening so quickly around here I need to start posting more and faster — we’ve got video to edit of Japanese Taiko drums and a Japanese artist making a PaMdora out of candy, Spike’s new book Quilting Art: Inspiration from 20 Contemporary Quilters just came in the mail, and Mary’s show “Stitch Me a Story” opens this weekend!

I can’t keep up!

Vintage Photo Friday – Capri motel sign

This has to be the best motel sign that I’ve seen in the midwest. Capri_motel_signDuring the week of installing Russ’s neon show in Joplin and this week of de-installation, I’ve unintentionally explored many routes in and out of town. By far, my favorite route is old Main heading towards I-44, because of all the old buildings and funky signs on Main. At the edge of town on the way to the interstate, there is this car-stopper.

Capri_motel_sign2You probably won’t realize how huge this thing is until I show you the motel next to it.

It has old pieces of neon hanging off of it. Wonder if any of it still lights up? There’s more neon signs that say things like “cocktails” (of course) on the bar at the front the hotel, but I couldn’t get around the Miller Lite beer streamers to get a good photo.

What do I love about this? The fonts for one thing. Would love to trace those letters and use them in a design. And the funky retro shapes.Capri_motel_exit_sign

Even the little Exit and Entrance signs are funky. You can also just see a the edge of an abandoned swimming pool on the hillside down from the sign. What a place this must have been in it’s heyday.

Vintage Photo Friday

Once I took this class jointly taught by a poet and a photographer. The class was called “image and text” and we did all sorts of interesting projects that I should write up, because they could be the starting inspiration for others too.

oldphoto-dandyguy.jpgOne project was to find an old photograph or series of photos that you didn’t know anything about and write a story. I’ve sort of collected some old photos that seem story-like to me, although I have written any about these yet. So you’re welcome to use them for inspiration and make up your own stories.

This dandy-looking guy gets more interesting when you find he’s part of a group of tiny photos with krinkle-cut edges. Not sure what these fellows are up to, but I think they’re wearing makeup.


Then there’s this strange contraption. Is it a boat? Is it a truck? Is it a boat-truck? Or maybe it’s an ark.


This guy gets more interesting when you turn the photo over. I think it says, “What do you think of our Sunday best. Everyone does it like this on the day of rest & it’s all right too.”


Here’s some other Vintage Photo Friday links:

Paper Dolls for Boys

Pineapples and Artichokes

My Own Crafty Wonderland

A Jen Too Many



Cheetah Velour