Tuesday, November 29, 2011

In A Woman's Handbag

Since we have been having more unusually warm weather I have been working more on my project of emptying boxes that were stored in the garage. Some of the boxes contain things other than just books and papers. In one of the boxes I opened this weekend was a woman's handbag. The box was one of the moving boxes that was packed back in the late 50's when my great uncle moved from Flushing, NY up to Grand Isle, VT. The box was then brought down here to CT in the late 90's. It had never been unpacked. So this handbag would have belonged to my great aunt Lou, whom I never met.
Here you can see some of the contents of the box. That thing with an old fashioned telephone dial is a neat phone number file. You dial the first letter of the name of the person you want to call and the thing opens to that page.
And here is a closer look at the hand bag. Could my great aunt have been the woman with the alligator purse that we used to sing about?
On the inside of the bag is this interesting second purse frame attached to the big one. It pivots and has two extra pockets but it is not attached at the bottom so the main compartment is not split in two.

I found it interesting how many different thoughts and feelings looking through the items in this purse generated. First, as with any of the small boxes or fat envelopes I find, there is the feeling of excitement wondering what treasures I will find within. But then came a kind of feeling like I was violating some unwritten rule. A woman's hand bag is so personal. I almost felt like a kind of voyeur, especially since this woman was a stranger, a relative that I had never met and hardly ever heard much about. And what I had heard was not very flattering. My impression of her was that she was someone who really cared a lot about material things.
One of the things that struck me was how little things have changed over time in terms of what women carry with them. I laughed out loud when I found something that most women have in their purses...
yes, it is the crumpled, possibly used, tissue! How many of us have been so thankful for that tissue on various trips to a public restroom.
One of the tissues had been used by the woman to blot her lipstick. There were several different tubes hiding in the bottom of the purse. I really like the slim oval one.
And of course to go with the lipstick there are compacts
Many times the bottom of a woman's purse also holds some sort of jewelry...often a broken piece such at this elephant which I believe came off of an earring.
Of course there was some change, though not many of us still carry mercury head dimes. There were things to fix her hair, like combs, hairpins, ribbons, and hairnets. Buttons, safety pins, mirrors, key chains, pens, a ruler to measure things, and many pieces of paper.
There were a couple of things that I don't think you will find in many hand bags now, I don't even know what two of them are.
I recognize the garter and the button hook, and I know that is a bolt but even Dad didn't know what it was for. And that brass thing winds so that the shaft with the point is hidden in the tube. I almost cut myself when I twisted the darn thing. Dad didn't know what that was for either, so I decided it was for self-defense since that thing is so sharp!
There was also this cool souvenir from Rigi Kulm. It is a note pad made of celluloid with a tiny pencil on a string. There are still notes on some of the celluloid pages.
But I have to admit that my impression of my great aunt was not much changed when I really looked at some of the scraps of paper. Most of them were ads from newspapers of things she wanted to buy.
I wonder what kind of impression the belongings in my own purse would make on a stranger 60 years from now.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Back to my own felting.

My last two posts make it seem like I have not done any felting lately. I have done a bit. I did a landscape for the Granby Land Trust art show. Here are some photos of its progression.

 And here it is mounted. I didn't get in the show this year but I don't mind. Since I got an award in the show last year I already feel that my work has been acknowledged, and I know that what matters most is what I feel about the piece. And I am happy with it.


 Last weekend I was lucky to have two of my friends come to stay with me. It was the weekend of both a guild meeting and the Fiber Festival of New England. Both events were going to be held in my area so Cher Benda and Joei both came to stay at D&D's B&B. It was so much fun! We worked on the guild flower vine on Friday night while we gabbed. Then on Sat. Joei and I skipped the meeting to go to the fiber festival since we both wanted to buy fleeces and we wanted first pickings. Cher went to the guild events. I wish I could have done both but Cher filled us in on what Joei and I missed. On Sunday we went to the business meeting for the guild since I feel that that is really the most important part of our participation. Many members just seem to want the benefits of being guild members without wanting to contribute to the less fun parts of the organization. We have 110 members but only average about 30 people at a business meeting. I don't feel like I do as much as I could for the organization but I do try to contribute and not just use the benefits. Ok...off that soapbox!
Joei and I bought lots of goodies at the fiber show. We came home with lots of glorious, sheepy, smelly, greasy wool that we washed and then sampled. We ooh-ed and ah-ed over the staples in this Romney hogget. Though we did not know what a hogget was at the time (as a former drudge for Merriam-Webster I will leave you to look it up!).

Here is my personal haul. BAA-BAA Black Sheep, Have you any wool?
I am thinking of curtains for my room, hats, rugs...so many ideas, so much fleece...so little time. I did get them all washed and sampled and I am quite happy with my purchases.
I one of the things I love about dealing with raw fleece is feeling connected to the animal that grew these wonderful fibers and supporting local farmers....though I know at the prices we paid the farmers are not really seeing any monetary gain.
This week I spent some time laying out the background for a new piece for the guild's Creation Myth exhibit. Our first show is scheduled to open in January at the Lower Adirondack Regional Arts Council. I am depicting a primordial soup for which I had previously made some of the creatures.

And last but not least please check out this years Felt United exhibit that is now online. There is some really stunning felt and photography there and it is a great way to get a sense of feltmaking in the rest of the world. The founders of Felt United; Cynthia Renolds and Elis Vermeulen, are amazing to me and I hope someday to be able to meet them both.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Another Great Landscape Class and October Snow???

Editor's Note:  I had started writing this post last week when our power came back on. Unfortunately it went off again and I am just now able to finish and post. It was wild to come back from a trip to Maine where I was able to walk in shirt sleeves (with no snow in sight) to see this...
and then come home to Connecticut to see this...
I had missed the crazy October Nor'easter which devastated our state.

Another Great Landscape Class

This past weekend I was up in Bath, Maine teaching another felt landscape class. The class was held at Halcyon Yarn, a huge yarn store which has a great classroom and a wonderful staff. It was such a pleasure teaching there and I had a fantastic time staying with my friends Marianne and Gar DuBois. Diane S.; another guild member and one of the students in the class also stayed with us as well. We all had such a good time talking about common interests that we were almost late to the class one morning! Felters make the best friends!
They also make great students. Here are photos of the pieces as they progressed during the two days. 
Here is Diana's...
She was loving making those circles.
 Wet felted and...
after needle felting.
Here is Kendra's piece.






Diane had used her photo as an inspiration for two other images, one done with quilting and one done with paper collage. Here is a photo of all four images.
 Several of the students were not done with the needle felting but I think they look pretty pleased with their results so far.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

'The Great Barn Clean-out'

I have been very busy, but not with felting. For a long time we have been discussing what to do with our large barn since it was really starting to deteriorate. 
The roof has been leaking and last year it developed 'skylights'.
It is amazing that it did not cave in last winter when we had so much snow that roofs were collapsing on all types of buildings. We thought it would be prudent to deal with all the STUFF in the barn before it fell since dealing with all the STUFF was not going to be a fun task anyway; and another winter quickly approaches.
I got the ball rolling by organizing a family work party and we had a big dumpster brought in. But before the work day I needed to make room in the garage for the things that normally are kept in a garage. That meant finally dealing with all the boxes of books that came down from my grandfather's house in Vermont and got put into said garage. I had told my mother I would take care of them when we brought them here, and that was over 10 years ago, so this meant facing up to a neglected responsibility.  It also meant seeing the damage that my neglect allowed to happen. But rather than indulge my guilt I tried to concentrate on the fun part of the task. It was like a treasure hunt to me. Here are some of the finds...
 First edition of Gone with the Wind, photo albums,
 many post cards and even an album of them,

 a bible with a pressed nose gay, a program from a confirmation and photos of the owner; a great Aunt,
along with a scroll that is her confirmation certificate; written in German though the church was in Brooklyn, NY,
 a couple of beautiful leather binders from my grandmother's trip to Mexico, which I believe was made to bring her embezzler brother back to face justice ;)
  a leather bound book embossed with these wonderful insects,
and a portrait of my grandmother.
 Not all of the boxes contained just books, one box had Grandpa's old movies, an ancient suitcase held bottles and hurricane lamps...
and one box had an old negligee and lace curtains.
Sadly, there was also mold, mouse 'stuff', silverfish; all the nasties that love dark, damp places. Here is a photo of some of those boxes in the workroom, aka my tent.
Some of the most interesting things are the old letters, receipts, programs, and other ephemera. Here is a letter mentioning the birth of one of my sisters, a menu from a 1930 dinner with Admiral Byrd, and an eyeglass wipe from my great grandfather's optometry business which reads "A Batavia girl stood on a soap box, Selling the new style of wrist clocks, But her eyes were so red, The young ladies all said, You better get glasses of Wilcox" Dr. D. E. Wilcox, Batavia N.Y.
It is going to take me a long time to go through all this paper STUFF. I am thinking that I may write a post just about the books as some of the subjects and titles are just too good not to share.
Dealing with the barn STUFF was whole nuther kettle of fish. It was an incredible mix of things from so many different eras and some of it did not belong to either Dad or me. And it was all jumbled together...
Here too there were many interesting things. Such as this cement mixer,
a church pew,
a spinning wheel?
but the most asked about item was this...
which was a float in a parade...a replica of the first church/meeting house in town. I wonder how many folks in America have old parade floats in their outbuildings.
 Now part of the reason we have all this STUFF is that my folks are/were very creative people who grew up in the depression era. They are/were also rather concerned about the environment. Thus everything might have another use. I confess that I am the same way. For example, I saw these and HAD to keep them to try using them for dyeing.

 There were many odd things that went into my pile of 'keepers'.
Thankfully, the weather for the Great Barn Clean-out was gorgeous and a large bunch of the family joined in the fun. We separated the STUFF into piles such as scrap metal...(Dad has taken four loads so far and made enough to pay for the dumpster!!!)

  Notice this pile included the proverbial kitchen sink...
Some of the STUFF was going to be kept for possible tag sale or other re-purposing. That meant we needed a place to store STUFF other than the barn.  We talked about renting a POD but instead we re-purposed one of the items that had been in the barn...
  A gutted RV trailer makes a nice alternate storage area. I envied the crew that got to demolish the inside of this thing.
At the end of the day we wound up with a fairly empty barn...
but the yard looked like something you would expect to find 'down in the holler',
 complete with chickens and a car up on jacks!
I was actually glad that we had rain later that week so I did do some felting but that is for the next post.