Thursday, April 28, 2011

It is that time again ...

antique clocks 
If it's May then it must be time for the Brimfield Antique Show!  For some people April showers bring May flowers but for me, the warm days of May tell me that it is time to dust off my shopping cart and head out to Brimfield in search of some treasure!

vintage spools

Almost anything can be found at the Brimfield Antique Show.  Some people say that if you can't find it here then you are not going to find it anywhere!  Brimfield is the largest antique market in the country.  It features approximately 6000 dealers in over 23 fields.  There is something for everyone here and you don't need a purse filled with cash to enjoy yourself either.  The people watching alone is worth the drive but don't stop just at people watching come out to search for fine antiques or vintage ephemera - it really is a "must-do" at least once!

Silhouette of Woman

Silhouette of Man
I have found some of my most treasured pieces in the fields of Brimfield especially if you go with an idea of what you want for your home.  For first timers,  the scope of the show can be completely overwhelming.  Where do you look first?  How do you navigate the endless booths of things? It is easy - really.  Before you set out for Brimfield, take stock of your decorating needs.  In a small notebook write down your wish list of items you hope to find.  Make notations of size constraints or color choices that appeal to you. With this notebook in hand, you will be able to expertly navigate through the stuff that you want versus the stuff that is not on your list.  It is like putting blinders on a horse - you have to get to your destination without all the distraction and maybe you will be rewarded with those antique his and her silhouettes that you've been coveting!

antique urns and candlesticks

Bring cash (a lot or a little) it makes the difference between a good deal and a great deal.  You can use a credit card at most booths but cash is definitely king and helps you in the bargaining department.  You need cash for parking and for food.  Most of the fields are free admission with the exception of some of the more popular fields like J & J which draws a crowd looking for fine antiques.  Many dealers are at this field bright and early to get some of the best deals of the day.  And speaking of dealers - don't dress like one!  Dress in casual, comfortable and scruffy clothes and that might just get you a better price break.

egg basket

One of my all time favorite finds did not cost an arm and a leg.  It was my vintage egg basket that I use for EVERYTHING!  It is one of my favorite photo props and when it is not working in the studio, it holds my lemons in the kitchen.  When it is collapsed - it makes the most beautiful piece of wall art that you could imagine.  Hard working - indeed!  Don't overlook the small things because they just might become your favorite thing of all.  Remember that once you bring your treasure home, the item will take on a completely different look as it nestles in to your home decor.

trays and urns

Did you know that many of your favorite stores and catalogs find their props at the Brimfield show?  They do.  The next time Pottery Barn's catalog appears in your mail box pay close attention to the props that they use throughout the pages.  Better yet - look at their products and you will find that many of their items have been "inspired" by vintage objects found at shows just like Brimfield.  Why not go out and get inspired yourself?  Create your own look and your own vibe - it is easy, fun and can be done inexpensively.


Many of us are drawn to items that have a patina.  Old and crusty is not going away!  It can be used in your home whether you decorate in a traditional manner or in a contemporary manner.  You only need to  let your imagination go - a wire or wicker basket can be made into a wonderful lighting accessory.  Salvaged sconces without their wiring can make the most beautiful candle holders.  Ladders of all sizes and shapes look great indoors as side tables or magazine/ blanket racks.  

little bunny

Garden statuary of all sizes abounds at the show as does vintage ephemera like letters, postcards and maps.  Beautiful handwriting makes gorgeous artwork for your wall - put it in a frame and voila - instant art.

antique stools

Another favorite photo prop of mine are these little stools.  I use them throughout my home to hold books and little vignettes.  They look great under sofa tables for a shot of texture and look great on top of tables to hold flowers or platters of food.  

100 year old urns from Turkey
Great Stuff by Paul has a booth at the show.  It is one of my favorite stops for antique urns (I collect them).  You will find a booth that features whatever you collect - I am sure of it.  One of my favorite things to do is to see just what makes other people excited.  What do they gravitate to and what is their must have item?  You will see some of the funniest things/treasures sticking out of people's baskets.  To each his own - that is just about the joy of it all.  

garden treasure

Grab a friend or two or twelve and head on out to The Brimfield Antique Show the week of May 10-15.  
Our group grows each year.  We meet at a local spot and caravan out to the show.  Each of us takes off in a different direction and then we all meet up for lunch at a designated spot to discuss our finds.  We have had more laughs and more fun during this time and what better way to spend a day?

I hope to see you there ~

Friday, April 8, 2011

Solar Art: my blue period

Sun Art by Ellen McHale

Solar prints, sunlight art, sun prints, cyanotypes are all ways to describe the process of capturing shadows on light sensitive paper.  Its like taking a photograph but without a camera and the image captured is a shadow of the object that you placed on the paper.  This is a fabulous way to create some spectacular artwork for your home and it is relatively easy to do.

Sun Art Paper

You need to purchase some Sun Art paper to begin.  It is relatively inexpensive and can be found at your local art and hobby supply store like Dabblers in Concord or even Amazon.  It is sold in many sizes so let your imagination be your guide. 

Nature's Artwork: Ferns

Gather some stems or ferns from your garden. I chose to clip a few fern leaves from my indoor house plant.  I pressed them in a heavy book overnight just so the leaves would lay flat.

Ferns ready for their Close-Up

With a tweezer, carefully position your ferns on the cyanotype paper.  You will need to lay the paper on some cardboard or in this case -  I used my cutting board.  Once you are happy with your arrangement, place a piece of acrylic (it usually comes with the kit) over your leaves and paper.  Bring your board out into the sunshine and let Mother Nature do the work.  Once the paper fades to a very light blue (1-5 minutes) bring your set up back into the house.

Bath Time!

Again with the tweezer, pick up the paper and place it in a tray of tepid water.  I squirted a few drops of lemon juice into the water because it will turn the paper a deeper shade of blue once it is dry.  Submerge your print for a minute or rinse under running water and then lay your paper on some paper towels to dry.

Repeat the process

While your paper is drying, why not try another arrangement of ferns?  It is so easy to do and most kits come with multiple sheets of cyanotype paper.  

Solar Art

Once your prints have dried, you will need to press them in or under a heavy book overnight.  Now it's time to think about how you plan to display your new artwork.  

3 Ferns by Ellen McHale

2 Ferns by Ellen McHale

Floating Ferns by Ellen McHale

How you choose to display your artwork is important.  Whether your artwork is made by a master artist, your child or yourself - all can be made into an "important" work of art by the way you choose to display or treat that piece of art.    In this case, I mounted my solar prints onto carefully torn water color paper.  I signed and titled each print with a white pen.  You will notice in my prints that there are water blobs that seem to float in the frame - I find that magical and I want to highlight those little imperfections.  
I chose frames from West Elm that were clean-lined.  These frames actually came with artwork in them but I removed the prints that were inside and placed my own original work into the floating glass and was more than pleased with the results.

An Original by Me!

The art looks fresh and modern and I couldn't wait to find a place to hang it.  Give it a try - you may just find that your original works of art deserve to be on display.

See you next week,