A Tale of Two Journeys

It had for many years been the dream of a DF to visit the country of her ancestors, the Ukraine. The opportunity arose this year when she was invited to join her Ukrainian immigrant friends on a visit to their homeland. Flights were booked, accommodations arranged and their three week journey began early in June.

My excitement for DF couldn’t have been greater and I am looking forward to hearing all about her adventures. Hopefully, she has taken hundreds of photos and kept a travel journal. Since I had just embarked on a journey of my own (making books), I thought she might like a “traveller’s notebook” style journal to encourage and help her along. There are dozens of ideas and tutorials available on Youtube about making travel journals, so after watching a few, I came up with the following.

The folio-style journal cover was made from an old hanging file folder covered with Tim Holtz’ “Eclectic Elements” fabric, chosen because of the map print.

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I added a Sizzix die cut to the inside cover for holding ticket stubs, stamps and other such snippets.

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Using cardstock and tea-dyed papers, I made three insert booklets. These were held in journal cover using elastic binding in a Midori style. I couldn’t stop  myself from inserting travel related quotes on several pages.

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Finally, I included a tag or two which DF could write on or use as book marks.Travel_journal-6

To my fellow Canadians: Happy Canada Day!

The Weekend We Had a Break From the Rain

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Following a string of rainy spring weekends, the sun finally broke through and the temperatures warmed to more seasonal levels. It was a fortunate change for the one hundred fifty artisans who had committed to an outdoor show. There had been so much rainfall the day before, the event closed two hours earlier than advertised.

The craft market had been set up on the grounds of a local winery. To reach the allocated parking areas, one had to drive over some muddy tracks and then walk back over them  to join the line of people at the entrance.

Wandering from booth to booth, I noticed  a strong trend amongst the crafters towards upcycled, repurposed and eco-friendly craft.

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Notably from past shows fewer crafters were selling jewellery, woodcrafts and hand painted signs. However, there was one who did offer hand painted signs which really caught my attention because the merchandise was being offered inside a reclaimed vintage travel trailer. What a lovely idea!

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But they weren’t alone at this show with such an ingenious use of an old trailer. The second trailer offered vintage -look clothing for women and children. I took a few moments to speak with the lovely couple who owned this trailer. The woman who sewed all the items told me that she scoured thrift shops and flea markets to find the fabric used to make her “housewife dresses” and other wares. Such a clever use of discarded tablecloths and sheets.

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I was sorely tempted to purchase one of the housewife dresses but the one in fabric I liked was too small and would have taken most of the cash I had brought with me.

There were quite a number of booths offering hand made clothing sewn with natural fibre, particularly linen which is my favourite to wear in summer.

Two very popular booths at this show sold glasses of wine. I suppose that wasn’t surprising, since this show was being held at a winery.

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Tips: Bring  enough cash with you when visiting a craft show. Although ATM’s are available extra fees are charged for the service.

Also wear comfortable, weatherproof footwear.

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Everyone seemed happy to enjoy the sunshine.

Crafting a Souvenir

Following our field trip to Graycliff I wanted to make a  souvenir/ gift for DC who initially had suggested the trip. Amongst the photos  taken were a few that included him which could have just been emailed, but I wanted to do something different.

Software was used to make the photos look  faded and vintage  before being  printed  on glossy paper. With inspiration from Youtuber Nik the Booksmith,  I proceeded with the next part of the project. She generously offered a “Polaroid” template to download. I printed several copies on glossy cardstock. The centres of each “Polaroid frame” had to be cut out with an Xacto knife.

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After gluing the frames to the photos they were added  to a small booklet which I had made from cardstock. It included space for DC to write his memories of the day.

Using Kraft cardstock, glue, string, brads, and a paper punch I crafted  a “folio” type folder  to mail the photo booklet to DC.

I happened to have a rubber stamp with a favourite travel quote which I stamped onto the back :

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It wasn’t exactly an apt quote since we had a destination in mind, but we did have a few detours along the road to Graycliff, so I guess one could say we “got lost”, if only for a few moments.

This project turned out to be only the first step on my journey to altered books.

Return From Respite, A Field Trip, Found Inspiration

It has been quite a respite from blogging, but not from creative endeavours. My current creative interest, oddly enough, arose from a field trip we took one blustery day last October.

We crossed the border from Canada and drove the hour or so it took to reach our destination, Graycliff,  Derby, New York. Graycliff was the summer home designed by Frank Lloyd Wright for the Darwin Martin family of Buffalo,  New York. It was built from 1926 -1931 atop a sixty foot cliff on the south shore of Lake Erie  and has been restored and opened to public tours.  While I am not a fan of Wright’s architecture, my taste being “English Cottage/Shabby Chic”, I can appreciate how his designs incorporated the environment where they  were built. Since Frank Lloyd Wright also totally controlled all aspects of building from landscape design to interior decor and furniture, I know that I could never have worked with him!Graycliff-1

Our tour began outside  the visitor centre/gift shop at the front of the property. We encountered rain, hail and sunshine in the few minutes while our docent introduced history of the property before leading us to the main house. It was pointed out to us that when approaching the house, windows on the ground floor allowed one to see completely through to the lake at the rear. The water feature at the main entrance was designed to be a tribute to Lake Erie. water_feature-1

The foyer  branched into a sun room on the left, living room on the right and staircase directly ahead. Graycliff-2 We climbed the stairs to the second floor where bedrooms with ensuite baths were arranged off a window walled gallery along the length of the house. Several of the bedrooms opened onto terraces that availed lovely views of the lake.

I was excited to see bathtubs identical to our bathtub at home, (built-in, not clawfoot).Graycliff-7

At the far end of the second floor we descended a narrow staircase to the service areas of the house. There we found a butler’s pantry that led

into  Mrs. Martin’s flower arranging room. The windows here provided abundant light for Mrs. Martin, who was practically blind, to enjoy her flowers. In fact Wright purposely designed this entire house to incorporate as much natural light as possible because of Mrs. Martin’s diminished eyesight. The work counter was situated directly in front of windows and featured a double sink. Of all the rooms we saw,  this  was my favourite.Graycliff-10

The kitchen was located at the back of the flower arranging room. It was a spacious area that featured a porcelain sink, a  cooking range, and a  substantial refrigerator. Refrigerators were quite a novelty appliance in the 1920’s when  ice-boxes were more commonly available.

We left the service area of the house passing back through the flower arranging room into the low ceilinged dining room, followed by the living room, a fern room and the side porch.

We concluded the tour outside of the main house.

Throughout the hour and half of the tour, the docent was passionate about the history and restoration efforts at Graycliff and shared her knowledge with warmth and humour. I highly recommend a visit to this property if you find yourself in western New York, USA.

In trying to create a memento using photos from this field trip I discovered a new passion: altered books, but that’s a story for another day.

Romancing the Old

Living in an old house is not everyone’s “cup of tea”. However, I cannot ever remember wanting to live any where else but. I suppose  that is why one of my favourite things to do through the years has been to “go antiquing” with MH. Antique shops, flea markets, lawn sales and even auction sales have been the source of so many things that fill this old house and make it our home.

Quite often we meander through the country side, no destination in mind, dogs firmly safety-harnessed in the back seat, lunch packed in the cooler, with hopes of discovering a new source for our indulgence in all things “old”. There is something about the smell of old wood and paper and fabric and pottery and metal that gets my heart thumping with anticipation. We have both been around long enough that much of the wares offered cause us to exclaim “Oh, I remember this!” or “My grandma had one of these!” Sometimes we have no idea what we are looking at, but the shop keeper usually is very obliging and so we learn something new, as well. Once in awhile we find “just the thing” to cram into another nook and cranny of this old house.

A few summers ago I was thrilled to find an old treadle sewing machine very much like the one I remember seeing in my grandma’s house when I was young. It was in rough shape, but the price was right and I had fantasies of restoring it to its former glory and actually use it to sew with. That hasn’t happened yet, but it certainly fills an unused  space in our dining room acting as a lamp table. The truth is that when I first set it up, the belt broke and I haven’t replaced it. ( I think belt breaking might happen often as I saw 100m rolls of it for sale on Amazon!) I have no idea how to thread the machine either, but found a manual on the internet, which I have bookmarked for the day I do get the machine working. Women who actually used a treadle machine must have had great legs, too, because even without the belt, I pretend-sewed to see what it was like, and it took a lot of muscle!

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White Family Rotary Machine – Canadian edition early 1900’s

The White brand treadle machines were made from the 1880’s up to the second World War. They were known for their beautiful cabinets and the odd fact that the hand wheel had a backwards rotation.

Have you, dear reader, experienced the thrill of sewing with a treadle sewing machine?