Saturday, July 26, 2014

Basket Lover

Pearl loves baskets as much as I do. I find her sitting in this vintage Native American black ash basket all of the time. It was probably made in the Great Lakes area and features double swing handles with a "pig tail" loop hinge.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Pretty as a Picture

So I don't even like tomatoes (at least a raw tomato), but boy were these pretty at the Tower Grove farmers market.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

McCoy Icicle Planter

I have never seen one of these before. It is a McCoy planter in a pattern called "icicle" or "icicle drip". The icicle part of the planter is unglazed, so contrasts with the shiny blue base. I saw it at an antique shop and passed it by at first. I couldn't stop thinking about it, so had to go back the next day. Fortunately it was still there. I thought it was the perfect planter for a succulent, so it now resides on a shelf in my bathroom, where it looks great with the blue tile on the walls.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Wool Felting and Dying

As many of you may know, I love to search for thrift store wool blazers and sweaters. I felt the wool in my washing machine (careful, you can clog your drains with a wool hairball doing this) and then use it for various craft projects. I used to search and search to find cool colors, until one day the light bulb went off and I realized I could just dye light colors myself. Duh?
 Dying some chartreuse. Green is my favorite color.
 Here is the wool after dying and drying. I was sooooo happy with how the color turned out.
Besides green, I also dyed some purple, yellow and orange. Though the orange didn't work very well. I am not sure why as I used that same dye before with great results.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Gypsy Caravan

A t-shirt I saw at the Gypsy Caravan.
Every Memorial Day St. Louis hosts a huge flea market called the Gypsy Caravan. The location has changed over the years as has the size of the event. For the past quite a few years the flea market has been located on the campus of UMSL (University of Missouri-St. Louis). The vendors were spread over two parking lots and a parking garage. This year it moved way out to the Family Arena in St. Charles, MO. This was a horrible decision on the part of the organizers. There is only one narrow road coming into the venue and the parking was almost nonexistent. Fortunately for us we had purchased early bird wrist bands so we could shop two hours before the general public. Since we arrived at 6:30 in the morning we parked right up by the entrance.

In anticipation of some great shopping this year I purchased a collapsible wagon. This was a great move so that we could keep our hands free to dig for treasures. Unfortunately we didn't take into consideration that we would need to park the big ole wagon somewhere while we shopped. It wasn't a big deal while we were touring the outside vendors (though the isles were much narrower this year).

While a two hour head start sounds like a lot of time we usually are only able to make it through about 2/3rds of the outside vendors before the general public starts flooding in. By this time we already had our wagon full with a hanging tomato plant being held until we headed to the car.

Besides the outside vendors that are setup on the parking lot there are "inside" vendors that are, I guess, supposed to be the nicer vendors. Honestly I can't tell a whole to of difference, between the vendors in the two locations, but they they tend to be more of the glassware vendors and nicer antiques. We always do that section last since the thought is that these vendors are going to be a little more expensive. Well, this year the inside vendors were smushed onto the floor of the Family Arena. There was absolutely no room to move. We made it down the first isle with the wagon and I almost lost my mind. We just decided to park the wagon, but even without it we could barely make it down the rows. It was just a mess. I felt terrible for the inside vendors and shoppers just moved with the flow of the crowd and really weren't even looking at the wares.

We had fun and founds some treasures. The line of cars trying to get into the place as we left stretched all the way back to the interstate. The Gypsy Caravan Facebook page was blowing up with dissatisfied shoppers or people who gave up and went home before they even got in.

Here are some photos of my finds.
I didn't buy these, but there were a lot of them and they were cool looking.
Scored these cool splatterware lunch trays. I have no idea what I am going to do with them, but they were cheap. I normally only buy a couple of finds like this and kick myself later for not getting more. So this time I went ahead and picked up 10.
I have a thing for bottle brush trees, so jumped when I saw these. My favorites are the ones with fruit or other things decorating them. Of course I couldn't pass up a vintage plastic spaceman. I have this craft idea for small vintage ceramic planters/egg cups, so keep picking them up if they are cheap enough. Of course I have yet to do anything with them.
Ok, so I couldn't pass these up. They were only a buck a piece, so I bought all of them. They came with a free extra roll of tape, so that was an added bonus.
I always need more blending tool handles (it's a stamping/scrapbooking thing) and a whole bag of them for five bucks was too good to pass up.
OK, so I didn't buy this. It was just so freaky that I had to take a picture of it.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

John C. Campbell Folk School - JoAnn Kelly Catsos - 2014

Well another week at the John C. Campbell Folk School has come and gone. Fortunately the memories and the baskets that I wove while I was there remain. Like last year, this class with JoAnn Kelly Catsos, was another exploration in miniature basket weaving. Now one thing you need to understand there is a difference between weaving small baskets and weaving miniatures. While the overall size of the basket can be the same the proportions of the materials is completely different.

The baskets I was making were true scaled down versions of their larger counter parts. The two main baskets I wanted to weave were both woven on an approximately 3"x4" rectangular mold. I had made larger versions of both basket, a Shaker tatting basket and a Shaker wood chip basket, with JoAnn a few years earlier. Since the mold I was making was about 40% smaller than the original mold I used I simply used pencil, paper and a calculator to determine the size the uprights and weavers needed to be. I did the same for the rims, handles and lashers.

Most of the students in the class wove baskets that JoAnn had designed and figured out all the material sizes and weights, and made the molds, rims and handles in a nice neat kit form. Of course, since I was designing my own basket I also had to make all my own parts as well, which included making jigs to bend the handles and rims over. I ended up making the mold twice just to make sure I was happy with the shape and the handle form twice since the first time I completely screwed up the measurements.

Even though these baskets are really small they have the same number of uprights and the same number of rows, they are all just way smaller than the "regular" size baskets. So, it took just as long to weave these as it did to make their big brothers. This is the mini Shaker wood chip basket.

 This is the mini Shaker tatting basket. Tatting baskets already have small weavers and lots of uprights. The uprights are 1/8" wide and the weavers are 1/32" black ash.

 I wove both baskets in tandem. This is the wood chip after drying, leveling and with the uprights turned down.

While I could make the tatting basket ahead of time, I wasn't sure how big the tiny side handles needed to be though. So, I had to whittle these out of thick white ash growth rings. I had to make a sample one to figure out the shaping. While the originals were flattened across the top, I simply couldn't carve these thin enough to make that shape while them still having any strength.

Of course I couldn't just make two baskets, I had to start another one. This was a 2 1/2" Shaker quadrafoil tub. Fortunately I started this basket one evening when there was only one other person in the studio. I really needed quiet and total concentration to work on this basket start. Once I had a few rows put in I could let it rest for the evening and finish it the next day.

The larger wood chip basket was actually a half-scale version of a larger antique Shaker basket, so while this mini is half-scale of the large, it is actually quarter-scale of the original antique basket.

The mini tatting basket is a half-scale version since the larger one I made was actual size of a traditional Shaker tatting.

Like the weaving, the lashing of these baskets was surprisingly time consuming. Ultimately it took me two days to make each of these baskets, which was how long it took to make the larger versions.

My finished 2 1/2" black ash Shaker quadrafoil tub.

While this 1" Shaker cathead basket was the smallest I made, it was actually the easiest. JoAnn's materials are the best, so everything went together so nicely.

Everyone was all smiles after a week of weaving. I just wish that there could have been another week spent there. I so did not want to have to go back to the real world.

My four miniature black ash baskets. These were some of the most challenging baskets I have made, but definitely some of the most rewarding. Now I can't wait to go back to the John C. Campbell Folk School to do it all over again.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

2014 Eric Taylor Workshop

Eric Taylor will be back in St. Louis again this May to teach two great classes. Eric Taylor has been making traditional baskets and Shaker boxes since 1983. His love for working with wood and the black ash trees inspired him to experiment further in the art which lead to creating his own contemporary designs that combined the elements of the Shaker and Nantucket baskets. Eric has taught the art of basketry, nationally, for over twenty years.

Saturday and Sunday,  May 10 and 11, 2014
9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Cottage Organizer
11" L x 9" W x 5" H

The Cottage Organizer is woven of brown ash with a cherry base, rims and dividers with integrated handle. This beautiful basket, is great for many uses, from sorting letters to dinnerware.



Smith River Creel
9.5" L x 7.5" W x 7" H

You don’t have to fly fish to love the Smith River Creel. This functional, yet decorative, basket is woven of brown ash with cherry runners and latch, and features adjustable leather straps.

Monday and Tuesday,  May 12 and 13, 2014
9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Cottage Gardener
15" L x 10" W x 10" H  (4" w/o handle)

New for 2014, the Cottage Gardener is woven of brown ash with cherry handle, rims and skates. The skates are not only decorative, they also act to lift the basket and give it a firm stature.

Class fees include all materials, handouts and use of mold, weaving stand and tools

Contact: Tony Stubblefield
if you would like to receive registration information