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!

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!

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


Vintage Friday again!

Here are some old photos I scanned to use in the introduction for my artist’s talk tomorrow evening at the Modern Materials exhibition opening weekend.

Modern Materials: The Art of the Quilt
[Artspace] at Untitled
1 NE 3rd Street, Oklahoma City, OK 73104
Hours: Tues – Fri: 10am-6pm, Sat: 10am-4pm
July 10 – August 29, 2009
Opening Reception July 10 at 5 pm
Artist’s talk by Pam RuBert, July 11 at 6:30 pm

Yes, that me in the brown cat-eye glasses:


And the blue cat-eye glasses….


Apparently, even as a child I couldn’t get away from large cartoon characters……



and showed an early interest in technology.


and as my mom always said, had fat knees.

Today we are also crating up one of Russ’s 7’x7′ neon sculptures to deliver to the Spiva Art Center on the way to the other show. His show, Brave Art, opens next week at the Spiva, so I’ll be posting more about that installation as soon as we get back from Modern Materials. Gotta run — have a great weekend, and hope to see some of you at the reception tonight!

Vintage Friday

buttermilk_pancakes.jpg Long ago I told Paper Dolls for Boys that I would post vintage photos on Fridays, but I really haven’t got that many great vintage photos.

I do however have a nice collection of mid-century cookbooks — many I found when I bought two big boxes of old papers at an auction. They appear to be the entire 1950-60’s Home Economics classroom files of a woman named Frances, and are full of leaflets and brochures about choosing silverware, how to use a deep freeze, bug sprays, dieting, and more.

I love looking at these old cookbooks, finding a lot of humor and inspiration for my work from the drawings and advertising copy in these retro pieces of domestic history.

So Tracy, I hope you won’t mind if I post some of these instead of photos. For some more inspiration from retro graphics, check out my Flickr set here and the Flickr group mid-century illustrated.

Update: I almost forgot to post these, here are some folks who actually did the photos:
Los Angeles is My Beat

Laughing Living and Loving in Austin
A Jen Too Many
and  be sure to check out the hula hoops on

Help for high waters

It’s hard to take a photo of your own ankles. I finally did this one by sitting down on the floor. Do they still call them high-waters? These aren’t capris, just petites with an extra P which also means cold ankles in winter.

December brought lots of painting deadlines, but also the realization that my paint pants were too short. So I found some vintage ribbon in a box and sewed it on the bottom. Surprisingly the ribbon didn’t shrink after washing, but the yarn on the back was getting snagged, so I added a lining.

vintage_hiwaters2.jpg This quicky project turned out so fun, I’m hoping to add little bits of trim and embellishment to other old clothes. My friend Emmie makes custom art clothes, but not being so ambitious I think the embellishment route might be better for me.

Emmie also took me to Margie Pearl’s where I saw some vintage trims that I loved but didn’t buy. Now that I know what to do with the stuff, I’ll have to make a return trip.

Update: I probably got the idea for this from reading a post on Jeanne Williamson’s blog about altering a pair of capris with trim. Also Emmie asked why I didn’t just buy longer pants and hem them. The answer – I’m pretty bad at measuring, so hemming usually results in lopsided pants. Beauty of the vintage trim method – no measuring!


No, I haven’t taken up smoking…


…but I’ve been collecting retro melamine ashtrays that make great brush/water holders for painting. And they come in great colors (I have bigger yellow and green ones at my studio.)


This is a small one, which is good for travel, especially on a boat where your brushes might roll overboard. The watercolor pencils roll also, but at least they float when they hit the water, so you have time to dive in and retrieve them.


Also for travel, I like using old watercolor tins to carry small brushes. They work better than anything new I can find, and add a nice flavor to the process.