Friday, January 21, 2011

Alphabet Soup ...

Love Letters by Ellen McHale

The creative process is an interesting thing.  You start out making one thing and the next thing you know you are off in a million different directions.  I have been thinking about doing a series using letters or the alphabet as my inspiration. First, I needed to come up with my alphabet and see how the letters felt to me.

Paste paper alphabet by Ellen McHale
I cut my individual letters out of my paste paper supply.  As beautiful as the paste paper alone was - I really wanted to add a bit more oomph so I embellished the paste paper with my white pen for some added interest. 

Paste Paper Letters in Letter Tray

Once my paste paper alphabet was completed I let them sit for awhile on my desk in a tray.  I started to think about how and where I would use them.  Perhaps on a new piece of artwork or maybe they might make their way onto a new product.  It was time to come up with some samples or a prototype of sorts to see how they might look.  

Love Letters paper weight

With Valentine's Day just around the corner I came up with my Love Letters piece and thought that it would look lovely under a piece of french crystal.  A new paper weight was born - maybe just for me or maybe for someone I love.

W Monogram

E Monogram

I began to randomly place my E initial and my husband's W initial on some of my vintage letters to see how they might look. It got me thinking about some frames that I had found last year at Restoration Hardware. They have been sitting on a shelf without anything in them as of yet ...

W and E monogram on vintage map

I printed out our monograms on decal paper and smoothed them over some vintage maps that I shrunk down to size.  The monogram decal ended up looking like a watercolor wash an effect that I wasn't expecting but ended up loving ...

Monograms in Restoration Hardware frames

The frames alone were lovely and sculptural.  With the monogram on the vintage map the frames are now fantastic.  They will be going upstairs to decorate the top of our armoire in the bedroom.

Monogrammed Hand Towel

I've got monogram on my mind so why not a hand towel or a tea towel or some great linen napkins?  The wheels are really turning now ... 

Butcher Apron

I've been working on a prototype for a line of aprons for Nelley Kelley 2011.  This "alphabet" day has given me the motivational boost that I've been in search of.  I decide to take some of my flour sack fabric and finally commit to making my apron sample.  The E monogram is just what I need to dress it up until my Nelley Kelley fabric line comes in.  I love this apron - no bib - perfect length.  I'm excited and you will be too when you see some of the fabrics that it will come in ...

Nelley Kelley Fabric coming soon ...

Here is a little sneak peek of one of the Nelley Kelley fabrics coming this Spring.  Won't this look great on my butcher apron?  
So you've got a little glimpse into my erratic creative process.  One thing begets another but that is just the way I like it.  There is nothing like a snow day in New England to pull one out of a creative slumber.   
See you next week with some vintage finds that I'm sure you'll love ...


Friday, January 14, 2011

Let there be light ...

Vintage Candlestick
We needed some more light in our bedroom now that the short days of winter have gobbled up the late afternoon sunlight.  In an effort to continue with my quest to "shop" at home for things I need - my gaze landed upon a vintage candlestick that I've had in our home for the past 10 years or so.  I really don't use it for candles instead, I love it for it's chippy paint and it's curvy lines.  It looked like the perfect base for my bedroom lamp ... so a new home project was born just in time for the big snow storm.

Candlestick now wired as lamp

I brought my candlestick down to my local hardware store to see if this candlestick could easily be converted to a lamp.  Here in Concord, I am so lucky to be able to bounce ideas off of Scott Vanderhoof of Vanderhoof's Hardware Store.  His store has been a mainstay in historic Concord for 100 years and is still owned by the same family.  I got to know Scott when he was kind enough to talk me through cutting some antique tins that I had found and wanted to use for some of my artwork.  Since then, I pop into the store from time to time to discuss some of the projects that I'm working on and Scott helps steer me in the right direction in terms of supplies needed.  Today was all about lamps and Scott was more than willing to help me create a lamp out of my vintage candlestick.  You can buy lamp conversion kits in your local hardware store or lamp store if you want to tackle this project on your own.  

Scott Vanderhoof of Vanderhoof's Hardware Store

This is Scott holding a vintage tin that I gave him to say thank you for all of his help.  It depicts his ancestors - in front of Vanderhoof's Hardware Store circa 1900. 

My new lamp!

The fun part was finding the perfect shade for my brand new lamp.  I settled on a cream colored burlap drum shade from Pottery Barn.  It had the right mix of vintage and modern that I was looking for. I can't wait to put it in the bedroom.

My one-of-a-kind bedroom lamp!

I just love the look of my new lamp.  It makes great use of something that I had hanging around my home and now it is no longer just decorative but utilitarian to boot!  It makes this little corner of the bedroom warm, inviting and finished!  

If you are looking for a quick project like mine ... look around your home and try to see your objects in a different "light".  Perhaps you have something there that you love that could be put to good use in a different way.  Tables, benches, trays, candlesticks and baskets can easily transform themselves into beautiful and unique bars, lamps, bookshelves and seats if you only know how to look at them differently.

see you next week,

Friday, January 7, 2011

Reorganize, Redecorate, Repurpose

My reading pile for 2011
Happy New Year!  I most often celebrate the New Year by reorganizing our house and my studio.  It's the feeling of starting fresh with a sense of purpose that I'm seeking when I'm hauling out the tree and begging my husband to move just one more piece of furniture for me.  After the excess of the holidays, it is rather nice to have things more spare and pared down.  Removing the clutter frees you up to so much possibility and that is a great way to go into the new year  ...

Even the bookcases get reorganized!
I start by moving all my decorative objects into one room where I can assess what stays and what goes.  By moving your objects into one space, you get to see the objects in a different light and are more open to using in them in a unique way.  The fun for me is to shop in my own "store" and find forgotten things that can be repurposed.  In my bookcases, I've used vintage tins, pottery, small oil paintings and even glass bakery cloches to add dimension to my books.

Books that inspire hope
Books are used as decorative items throughout my home as well.  They look beautiful piled up on a side table or on the floor beside a favorite chair. Rotate your books seasonally - here I've put out books to inspire me throughout the cold winter.  It's fun to curl up with a cup of tea and dream of the garden in the Spring.

Our Living Room 
You would never believe that this picture was taken after 2 feet of snow fell outside.  The sun was streaming in and we just finished decluttering.  It looked like a breathe of fresh air.  It was time to move on to my studio - I have to admit that I was dreading tackling that area!  At least I know that I have a place to come for a respite.

String and Tape get a home
The same organizational philosophy holds true for even our most messy spaces.  Put it all in a pile in the middle and decide what stays and what goes.  Once you've pared down to the essentials then "shop" your stuff.  Remember to reuse, repurpose and recycle!  Here I've used a vintage menu holder to corral my everyday twines and tapes.

Bits and Bobs in Jars
Art and Craft supplies can overwhelm you very quickly.  You need to develop some storage solutions that keep them neat and organized but also keeps them visible so you are not buying the same items over and over. I have found that clear glass jars work best for my smallest items.  I have them in every shape and size and have them stacked on an old rack that I can wheel over to my work table when I'm ready to create.  

Even my desk gets the 2011 clean-up treatment
The last stop on my clean-up spree is my desk area.  It is usually covered with all my "to do" piles and is generally one big mess.  I don't like sitting there because it can be a claustrophobic nightmare.  So I apply my clean-up principles.  The desk is wiped clean and only things that are needed and make me happy go back on it.  I run to the hardware store to have a piece of plexiglass cut to fit the desk.  I line the desk with some beautiful vintage papers that I've been saving and then place the plexiglass on top. Voila - instantly my desk becomes a work of art in itself!  Some pretty bowls, a lovely paperweight, a vintage toast stand for my notebooks and cards and even one of my vintage glove molds add some character and joy to my work space.  Now this is looking like a space to get creative in ...

Inspiration Board
Now that clutter has been banished and I'm at peace again with my surroundings - I can begin to dream about what comes next.  Happy New Year to you all - I hope this inspires you to reorganize just a little space in your home or office.  I guarantee that it will open up a big space in your creative mind.

see you next week,