Christmas Pared Down Just a Little Bit

Every year I try to have some fun with the Christmas décor. Make a few little changes, tweaks, and sometimes something entirely different. This year we’re going for the latter. Usually, about a week before Christmas we go down to the basement and bring up the tree and all the decorations and pretty well put up every single piece of décor we’ve got, somewhere.  And we do have a lot of decor.  As I’ve written before about our Abundant Christmases, you can collect a lot if everything is secondhand!  This year we decided to pare it down just a little bit.

Christmas Bird Cage

This year I happened to have a tall bamboo birdcage out in the corner of the living room. When the season rolled around enough people had suggested we decorate it that we decided, why not?

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We dropped some lights inside it and decorated with lots of tiny and mid size vintage glass balls. With some birds on top and a bit of mistletoe for greenery it looks quite festive.

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And of course, this year I did put out my Santa collection, but that too ended up just a bit pared down. Couldn’t leave out the Grumpy Santas

grumpieswmOr the Gumby ones and a few other odd but happy ones.

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So there it is. Almost all the decorating is done. Ok, the mistletoe may be replaced with some other greenery on top of the new “tree”. It will probably be put in the doorway, still needing some greenery, in order to catch a quick kiss from those coming in the door.

Now to do Baking! But even there, for once, I think I’ll cut back too. The mince tarts for sure and maybe some cookies, but all in all maybe I’ll spend more time in my studio than the kitchen this year.

And the ChrisMoose, a hand made gift many years ago from Will’s mum, will always be up for Christmas, just to remember her by.

 We hope everyone has the Best Christmas Ever!!

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Creating Strip Quilted Cozies with Men’s Striped Shirts

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Ok, I admit it, I do like stripes. I like it in fabric, in drawings, whatever. I recalled seeing some quilts done in men’s shirt fabric and really liked the look created when doing strip quilting.

Luckily, when it came time to create a new tea cosy, it just happened that I had a couple of striped shirts that Will didn’t want anymore in my fabric stash. Then, in a recent shopping trip to the Thrift store, I lucked out finding a striking red and yellow striped blouse.

Next, it was just setting some time aside to create some strips of stripes going every which way and basically, sewing them together creatively.  And I do mean creatively, not accurately, since I tend to be a bit of a slap dash sewer. But I just happen to like that look, so it’s ok.

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I figured, since Will has recently gotten himself a coffee press, might as well make a coffee cosy too. I think we’re both pretty happy with the results.  And yes, that is Queen Victoria poking out behind the tea cosy.  Well, the Brits do like tea, so where else would you put her?

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Showing off some Student Mosaics

Every now and then, it’s nice to show off the work done by the students who take my mosaic classes. Shelley, who had always wanted to do something in mosaic, brought along her friend Vicki. Both were a lot of fun to teach and said they wouldn’t mind me showing their mosaics on my blog.

Although neither of them had a definite project in mind, they were ready to try anything. The type of mosaic I teach is Pique Assiette, basically made from thrift dishes. The shopping class was where they found their projects. Both found wicker tables that just needed Will to cut out a plywood top for.

Shelley's Mosaic Table

Shelley’s Mosaic Table

Shelley found lots of floral dishes that were in colors that all worked well together, but worried that it would all look too busy. Vicki, on the other hand, wasn’t sure about a few black plates with white stripes found in the Bibles for Missions Thrift store. As luck would have it, she then found some great old vintage dishes at home in green. And somehow, as I assured them it would, all of it came together beautifully.

Shelley’s colors and flowers when mixed together with floral bits and solid colors created an overall summery pattern and Vicki’s white striped plates totally worked perfectly and echoed the white wicker table she found.

Mosaic has a way of doing that.

Vicki's Mosaic Table

Vicki’s Mosaic Table

 

 

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We have a new online shop!

new-prancer-tileWe’ve just opened up a shop of our designs on Zazzle, which is a great service out of California. They offer really good quality products and we’re kind of excited to get our work out there.

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Posted now are just a few Christmas items, with our original designs on cards and ornaments.  We’re planning to add more items to our gallery as we go along.  So if you’re looking for something fun and a bit unusual, you might find it here.  We’d also love to hear your comments.  BTW our watermark won’t show on our cards, that’s just so you’ll be able to find us on Pinterest and anywhere else these images end up online.

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A Deco Style Magazine Table Gets a Facelift

Roxy-beforewmRoxy-front-3quarterwmThis little magazine table with its waterfall top and deco style handle grabbed our attention at a garage sale. It was a bit worse for wear and looked like someone had tried to refurbish it and given up.

But we saw possibilities and quickly scooped it up and stowed it away in our little station wagon. You can’t beat a small station wagon for garage sailing. Just fold those seats down and you’ve got lots of room for hauling all sorts of good stuff home.

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In fact, speaking of cars, the style of the table brought to mind cars of the 50’s, some with two colors. Lovely rounded cars with curved chrome details, in colors like two tones of green or maybe black and pink. Whatever happened to painting cars with two tones? So much more interesting to look at than all these gray cars you see. Our car is gray and I keep looking at it and wishing I could change it. But I digress. Back to the little table.

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Will liked the two tone paint idea and chose a lovely soft almost mint green and black. The body became the mint green. The magazine holders and the contrasting veneer on the top, he painted black.

And then, just to give it a bit more pizzaz, a touch of orange to echo the rounded elements. And now that the little table had a whole new look, we gave it a new name too…. “Roxy”. Roxy will be featured on our online shop on Diggit right here in Victoria.

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A Bedside Table, appropriately titled, “Night Flyer”

This little night table is next in our series of upcycled furniture pieces. As we’ve gone on our Saturday garage sailing travels this summer we’ve found some lovely bits of furniture.

Bits that we are slowly and carefully applying our version of artistry to. This little night table started out as a rather plain black night table.

Black side Table Before

Black side table transformed
Will wandered around it for some time, waiting to find out what to do with it, or as he said, what the table told him it wanted. Finally, he decided that it wanted to be black and white. So the stripes on the drawer appeared.

Black side striped drawer
From that point on, it became a 3D painting. And not just on the drawer front as on the Green Night Table. The whole table became a painting where collaged bits appeared, and sanding down to the old colors to bring out it’s history and a bit of texture too.

Black side table painted top

Black side table painted interior

I rather like what sanding brought out in the legs, myself. The final flourish was the black and white drawer pull, oversized but with a definite sense of humour.

Night Flyer Table drawer pull

And yes, it does have a title, also after long deliberation. It’s called “Night Flyer”. Appropriate, don’t you think, for a night table?  This table, along with other art furniture we’ve made is now listed for sale on Diggit, a local online sales site.

"Night Flyer" Table By Will Bushell

“Night Flyer” Table By Will Bushell

 

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How I arted up a Garden Gnome

Ok, I admit it.  I bought a garden gnome at a garage sale last summer.  Will shook his head, he could not believe I actually paid for it and brought it home.  It was, I must also admit, really awful.  Made out of resin which had cracked, the paint job on it was an attempt to repair a fading mess.  It was dirty and covered in pine needles.  And then it sat on our deck all winter because, although I meant to repaint, it I hadn’t decided quite how….yet.    Until today, when it all clicked, out of the blue or pink as you can see.

gnome-landscape

OK, I also admit that this inspired paint job was not without a bit of inspiration from another artist.    One in Italy, of all places, with a web site called The Good Machinery,  that I happened to see and of course, Pin, on Pinterest.  And what this artist did with little plastic toys was, I thought, pure genius.   Well I thought so…..

So here it is,  my garden gnome, inspired by,  but after all, totally reinvented and refurbished by me.  And it was fun too.  He did need something to hold and in another inspired moment, I fitted him with a solar garden light.  I think he’s going to fit right in.

gnome-close-up

 

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The Rescue of the Little Magazine Stand

I wish I had a “before” photo of this little magazine stand. Somehow, when I decided to start on it, taking photos was not on my mind. The table started out as a piece of furniture found at a garage sale, one of those projects people start, don’t finish and want to get out site.

 

The sides that held the magazines were missing, the table itself was stripped, badly. And there it sat, sort of forlorn really, almost waiting for a new start. We talk these days about “rescue dogs”, but that day I felt like I needed to rescue this little table. So I brought it home.

Magazine Table with mosaic top

The first thing I decided it needed was a mosaic on the top.  And luckily, Will made it so easy by routing out most of top to create an area to put mosaic in, so that it would be flush with the top.  I chose happy colors for the mosaic. 

Mosaic top detail

The next problem was to create new sides for holding the magazines. We looked up the styles, we pondered, we threw some ideas around, but none seemed to work.     Then one day I just happened to notice an old wall display shelf, one of those odd ones with little turned spindles between the shelves and we basically cut in half and created two whole new sides for the little table.

Side view

In fact the holes that the spindles went through originally, were added to, to become a design element of circles which we carried on with the round wooden feet, made from wooden balls found at a lumber store.

mosaic table with red drawer

Then it was just a matter of choosing colors. Black with punchy little red round feet just struck me as the answer. Which led to the little red balls on the ends of the new spindles to carry on the theme.

All in all, it has been rescued, reborn and re-created. It looks so much happier than that forlorn little table in the driveway. It almost needs a name. Will says, “How about CoCo? That’s sort of a round and happy name.” So CoCo it is. Now that it’s been rescued, it really needs a new home.  It’s now on our new shop on Diggit.

mosaic table front view

 

 

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The Story of the Little Green Night Table

Almost everything creative that we do has some connection to recycling. My mosaics are made from recycled or as Will likes to say “upcycled” dishes and ornaments.

Will uses a lot of collage in his work using all sorts of found ephemera from old photos to just bits and pieces. We live this great life of searching for good used “stuff” to re-use, for our art, for our home and almost everything else. And now we are doing something with furniture. Such was the case with this little night table, found ages ago, waiting for an idea, a vision, of what it was to become.

I happened to say to Will, sort of offhandedly actually, “Why don’t you paint something on the front?” and walked away.

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When I came back this is the abstract that he’d painted. We both loved it and then I sort of picked up the colors and finished it off.  

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It’s a little different, with a more contemporary feel.   I like the fact that the inside of the drawer is this lovely bright orange. The painting is done in such a way that it’ll gradually age and get that shabby artsy look.

 

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This little table got us excited about doing lots more…. and somehow we started to find more and more bits and pieces of old furniture to work on. We’ve actually been stockpiling it I’m afraid to say. And as we can get to each piece, we’ve been having some creative fun re “newing” them. This piece is now up on a site here in Victoria called Diggit where we’ve got our own little online shop and we’ll be adding more soon.

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Revisiting the Mosaic in Our Old Kitchen

We recently went on a short trip back to Calgary for a big family get together and while we were there, we did what no one should do. We drove by the old house.

Well, you know you shouldn’t do it, you know that the house will not be the same lovely house you worked on for years. You know, from past experience, that the person who bought it, will not take care of it like you did. And you know what? They really didn’t. It looked wrecked.

Which left me wondering about the kitchen and the mosaic backsplash we made there. Was it still up? What it destroyed by someone who didn’t appreciate the work I put into it? Well better not to know eh?

 

kitchen-mosaic

But it made me find the old photos of the backsplash. Taken back in the pre-digital camera days. Should have taken so many more photos, but in those days you worried about wasting film. How I love digital now!

Kitchen Backsplash

The backsplash was made in situ, over a long hot Calgary summer. Something I’d never do now. Having to take everything out of the way to cook a few times a day really interrupts the flow of work.

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No, now I’d make it in the studio and transfer it into place, glued down on board and screwed onto the wall and then grouted. But I love this mosaic still. If we’d stayed I doubt I would have tired of it.

kitchen mosaic

The design itself was one of those ideas that just strikes you and you must do it. A “river” of blue tile flowing thru an abstract landscape. The tiles were sometimes bits of accidentally broken dishes from the set we used every day so it was what is called a Pique assiette mosaic. The kids never had to worry about breaking a dish, they knew mom would eventually use it in a mosaic.  Hope you enjoy it as much as we did. Oh well, we don’t have that house anymore, which, by the way, had a wonderful studio we built just for us too, now made into another suite by the new owners. And we don’t have the lovely kitchen but we have the photos and the memories. And I’m still very pleased with the design of my very first mosaic backsplash.

 

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