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.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Felt United 2011

I finished my piece for Felt United...sort of. I still need to tweak the hanging system. I really don't like the fussy finishing work of getting a piece ready to display. If I had loads of money I would turn the pieces over to someone else to figure that part out. In fact, one of the things I didn't like about working with pastels was trying to get the pieces matted and framed without getting the pastel dust everywhere or smudging the image. I am just not careful/patient enough. That is not a good reason to give up on using a medium. Thankfully not all my felt pieces are hard to prepare for display.
Here are the photos I submitted to Felt United. I wound up pinning the piece to a board to take these shots.

I spent Felt United day, Oct. 1st 2011, at my friend Joei's house having a felt-a-thon. I was supposed to teach my Felted Landscape class at the West Hartford Art League that weekend but it got canceled...again. (Since it looked like only 1 of 8 workshops was actually going to run there I am trying not to take it personally. Happily the workshop I am teaching at the end of the month at Halcyon Yarn in Bath, Maine is full.)  I had spent so much time on my piece for Felt United, especially doing the stitching, that all I wanted do at Joei's was to play felt. I do like stitching but my finger tips were sore; and I like felting more. I had bought a lot of new fabrics at JoAnn's (damn those clearance sales!) that I wanted to sample, but first I wanted to use up all the left over scraps from my leaves. I don't usually use red so I figured I would just take the cut pieces, throw them on some wool and felt it like a real abstract. Here is the crazy layout.

As I felted it the black base fibers came up though the red (as I hoped it would) and toned down everything nicely. So nice that I decided to shape it into a little clutch that I just need to stitch on the sides and add a button.
Uh-oh...more stitching!

So on to my fabric sampling...first I tried this embroidered netting.

Then I did these samples which may get made into cuffs...yep, more to stitch.

 Lastly I sampled several different fabrics in one piece.

And of course Joei and I did a lot of talking, laughing, eating, and drinking.
It was a great way to celebrate Felt United.