Friday, May 26, 2017

From Sandwich Wraps to Glamping Hats

Today's blog is brought to you by a block of bees wax. This hat, modeled by Pam, comes later in the tale.

The story begins with these bees wax fabric food wraps.  I got them from my friend, Elisabeth Bailey, the locally famous cook book author.  If, like me, you lose sleep over plastic in the ocean, and are always looking for alternatives to disposable plastic, then you should contact Elisabeth and buy a pack of six for $28.  You can message her on her Facebook Page.

You could use them to wrap up goodies from Rose Bay Scratch Baking, who are at the Lunenburg Farmers Market every second week. Best cranberry muffins ever.

 I have been using them to wrap bits of cheese.  The wax coating allows the fabric to hold the shape of whatever you wrap it around.

You might look at one of these wraps and say, "Cool beans"....and think no more on it.  But for me, these little wraps inspired a whole new obsession.  Now instead of losing sleep over plastic in the ocean I am losing sleep over the possibilities of waxed fabric.

Actually, this obsession with waxed fabric began when I saw these adorable waxed canvas bags in the window of Luvly in Lunenburg, last summer.  They are made by the Antigonish Bag Company.
Thinking that waxed canvas would make a great hat, I went about searching the internet to see where I could buy this fabric.  I didn't have much luck. But one year later, when I laid my hands on Elisabeth's food wraps  it occurred to me that one makes waxed canvas. Aaaahhhh....a total V8 moment.

So, then I started watching Youtube videos to learn how to wax canvas and this led me to all kinds of red neck survivalist videos.  Really quite entertaining.  Basically, you melt beeswax, or any other kind of wax mixed with oil and paint it on the fabric.  Then you take a heat gun and melt the mixture into the fabric.  I haven't tried it yet, but I did get to the part where I buy 7 pounds of bees wax from my neighbour, Jason.

Holy Queen Bee, does this stuff ever smell strong!  It's a wonderful, sweet smell in small doses, but 7 pounds of it in my little studio smells like an Avon convention.  I had to wrap it in plastic bags.  Oh, the irony of it all.

Well, back to the hat.  I bought some cotton canvas, hand dyed it my favourite colour and designed a new cloche hat.  It's quite practical without being waxed, but for the next round I will go all the way.  Once the hat is waxed it will be totally waterproof.
I'm not sure if you are with me on this image, but I see this as a survivalist flapper cloche.... or Glamping hat.  I mean, why not?  It is a rugged canvas hat, but it just happens to be beautiful. I know of no law that says you can't be glamorous while being chased up a tree by a bear.
I'm particularly excited by this little rose.

I learned to make the rose from this book, circa 1925, from The Woman's Institute of Domestic Arts and Sciences, Scranton, Pennsylvania.  I'm pretty sure my sister-in-law, Amy, got me this book some time ago.

As we speak, I am dying a batch of canvas, periwinkle blue.  You can be sure that I will let you know how my next hat, fully waxed,  turns out.

 In other news....there is life beyond the walls of my studio.  Last Sunday morning I happened to be walking Lego while this beautiful tall ship, carrying the students from Class Afloat, was entering the harbour.  The Bluenose was there to greet her. So much fun to hear the two schooners talking to each other.
I was standing next to one other local woman and we talked of what a gift it is to live in a town where this sort of thing happens all the time.

To be honest, I'm not really a festivities kind of gal.  Mostly I love to work in my garden.  (Finally found some Rugosa transplants to start a hedge)

And make pretty hats in my studio.  But I do love knowing that all these grand things are happening here and every once in a while I roll down the hill and join the party.
If, however, you need to escape the hustle and bustle of a lively Lunenburg summer weekend, then come on up the hill a few blocks and come visit me in my studio at the back of town.  If you time your visit right there will be strawberries....or raspberries....or blueberries..... but always hats.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Hats, Rainbows, Sunsets and Breaking up with Facebook

What a week it's been.   I made hats, I sold hats, I received heartwarming messages from happy customers, gardened, walked my dog, talked to the man and the boy and, oh yeah...I broke up with Facebook.

 After years of screaming at my screen, I decided to take control. I'm tired of a world that steals my ability to read a book,  think, work and like people.  I'll still use it to share my blogs and I'll glance over the latest gossip, but I'm going to reclaim my long form life. It's been about a week and I can't tell you how much happier I am without it.

But enough about that.  Let's talk about Beautiful Jamie, instead. These photos are courtesy of Eyes on Windsor.  Jamie participates in the annual Tweed ride, in Windsor, Ontario.

She asked me to make this hat for her to match her handmade vest.  I love everything about her outfit and am completely covetous of her boots.  Her man is also dashing, but really, you can't compete with Jamie.

Speaking of wonderful customers.  This is Amy, in Michigan.  A true starlet.  I think this is Amy's fourth, maybe fifth Hat Junkie hat. It's really been so much fun for me to develop long distance relationships with my customers.  The ability to connect with people far away is the sunny side of the internet.

Connecting to people near by is also a sunny thing.  And what better place to chat with my neighbours and tourists alike than at The Lunenburg Farmers Market.  You can find me there every Thursday morning from 8-12.  In my humble opinion (which is not really that humble) we have one of  the best Farmers Markets in Nova Scotia. It has everything.  Two large bakeries, several smaller ones, a coffee roaster,  two butchers, cheese makers, two hatters, artists, a knife sharpener, two florists, painters, a potter, sometimes a weaver, a wood worker, maple syrup, honey, jams and Kimchi, and now Danette from Seadog Bags will be back next week.  You see what I mean? It's simply amazing.
 Beautiful Sydney walked by my booth yesterday and this hat literally jumped on her head.  Really, I'm not making that up.  It jumped off the mannequin onto her head and they lived happily ever after.

Although I think that everyone should come to Lunenburg and prance around this pretty town, I know that life sometimes gets in the way.  So, if you live in Halifax, I just shipped a batch of Suitcase Sally hats to Lady Luck Boutique.  They now have two stores, one in The Hydrostone Market and one in Dartmouth.  I'll also be doing a Trunk show in the Hydrostone store on June 3rd. (Don't worry, I'll remind you.)

I'll leave you with two Lunenburg shots from this week.  Sometimes you can just tell that the sky is about to show off.  I saw this one coming and ran out the door, phone in hand, screaming, "I'm off to chase the sunset.  Be back soon."  I was right.

This one I owe to Tony.  I was in a cranky mood when Tony beckoned from outside.  I shook my head... No.  
He nodded his head.... Yes.  We repeated this a couple times and then I relented.  I was rewarded by a double rainbow.  Hard to stay cranky for long around these parts.  

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Learning from Maud Lewis

Yesterday Tony and I went to see the movie, Maudie, about Maud Lewis' life.  For those of you who are not familiar with Maud Lewis, she was a very well known Folk Artist who worked from her tiny home in Nova Scotia before tiny homes were trendy and before folk art was cool. 

This morning I woke up still moved by the film and I realized it is very much because I love everything her work and life stands for and in some ways I could see my own artistic journey reflected in her life. 

 So, about these pictures here.  Obviously they are not by Maud Lewis.  I painted this little table when I was in my twenties.  I painted tons of stuff in my twenties.  This is the only thing I still have because I had it in my mind that I would keep this table for my own child.  You can see that years later my own child added stickers and I believe a robot doodle.

When I was 22, I was a dancer and I had a pretty nasty back injury.  I had to have surgery and it took me 6 months to be able to properly walk again.  Fortunately, right before my back gave out I met my first husband, Evzen.  We are still great friends.  

I had spent my whole life dancing and had never considered doing anything else, so when I found myself injured there was a period where I couldn't see a way forward. 

Evzen worked as an illustrator, so there was always paint lying around. With nothing else to do, I would pick up his brushes and play.  I had zero skill.  But Evzen really encouraged me to keep painting.  He liked the charm of my zero skill painting.   I painted on anything in front of me, all our furniture, walls, whatever.  We started going to the flea market and buying old furniture.  I would paint it and then we would have weekly yard sales.  I would sell each piece for about $30. They always sold.    I remember this chair that I had covered with flowers.  It had not occured to me to first paint the chair before adding the flowers, so after I had spent days painting the flowers, I carefully painted around them.  Took forever.  I sold it to a woman in a Mercedes who beat me down on the price.

I am not comparing my primitive painting to Maud Lewis, but her story really brought back the time in my life where I first learned the joy of creating with my hands and I also learned that if you put love into what you are doing, people will be drawn to it regardless of your skill.   My back did heal very well and I was able to dance again, but I never stopped making thing. 

It was around 4 years after first picking up a paint brush that I walked into a hat shop and made the connection that hats were also made by hand.  I was smitten.  I didn't know how to sew, but how hard could it be?   My first hats were crooked and primitive and charming.  I set up a homemade hat rack on the street and sold my hats for $30 a piece.  I was amazed that people bought them, but as long as people kept buying them I kept making them.

 I have always been enamoured with vintage hankies, embroidery, quilts and all other simple acts of beauty.   The world is filled with women like Maud Lewis.  Women who have quietly made pretty things just because they love to.   

Hat making is no exception.  While off in Paris, there were milliners making hats for aristocrats, simultaneously some woman in rural Nova Scotia was plaiting yellow birch shavings and hand sewing the finished braid into hats for women in her community.  Folk milliners, using whatever was at hand.   These women of the past are the ones I most identify with. 

If you haven't seen Maudie, please go.  I hope she inspires you to go ahead and put beauty into the world.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Heidi Jirotka, BP (Brilliant Photographer)

Every year or two I get together with my favourite photographer, Heidi Jirotka, and we spend the day frolicking.  It has been a time honoured ritual since 2012. Heidi's website is being updated right now, but you can find her on Facebook by clicking HERE.

The photo below is from our very first photo shoot.

We always have so much fun working together.  Heidi has this huge grin on her face while she takes photos.  I asked her about this and she admits that she can't help herself.  Well, that kind of happiness is contagious and it shows in the photos.

  I think of our meetings as play dates.

I just let the artist do her work.  The minute she gets that camera in her hands she starts directing.  Oh, go here, put your left hand here, big toe you think you could twist your knee behind your shoulder, tilt your head slightly and stand on your elbow?

 Every photo shoot we go somewhere new to play.  This time we headed to Blue Rocks, just a hop skip and a jump from Lunenburg.  That place is a photographer's dream.  Since it was off season, we took some liberties with locations.  My apologies if any of these buildings happen to belong to you.  We stayed on the outside, I promise.

I firmly believe that you should wear the hat that represents the day you wish to have.

Really,  I'm a very serious person...Heidi just brings this out in me.

Silly of me to be holding this map because I had no desire to go anywhere.

I know...lots of pictures, right?  This is actually just a tiny portion.  Even after four hours, Heidi kept seeing one more great shot.
My beautiful bike.

Newsboy cap in the pines.  Hey, did I mention that the fabric for my newsboy caps is woven right here in Lunenburg by Double Whale Handwoven Designs?

I'll leave you with this one.  I adore this little shanty, owned by Jenny from Jenny Jib.

These days it's easy to be a photographer, but if you are looking for an artist I can't recommend Heidi enough.   She's guaranteed to make you smile.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Mom's Buy and Sell in Lunenburg

Nova Scotia is a bit of a snowy place right now and what with endless school cancellations and general shack wackiness, you might be looking to hop on a plane and head south.  But if that option is not available to you, there is another cure.  Come take a day trip to Lunenburg.

I'd be lying if I told you that Lunenburg escaped the last two consecutive blizzards.  This here is my own house and I'm happy to report that we did manage to dig our way out.

A few years ago you would have had a hard time finding an open shop in February, but times are a changin' and now, even on Sundays, there are beautiful shops open where you can find a dose of colour.
Mom's Buy and Sell on Linclon St.  is really more than a shop.  It's an emporium.  The space is huge and you could easily spend a couple of hours getting lost in beautiful vintage rugs, textiles, clothing, furniture, and everything you didn't know you needed until you saw it. these vintage rolling pins...

...or this antique clothes wringer....

...or all this fun vintage jewelry....

or some milk paint for that Do it yourself project that you have been contemplating for the last 20 years.

The snow clearing crew is hard at work, so that when and if you find your way out of Mom's Buy and Sell, you can walk a couple block down to Montague st. and....

Have a great cup of coffee at No. 9.    

Lots of other shops in town are now open, too. Hope you can make it.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Lunenburg Winter

Lunenburg in the winter is really a pretty good place to be. When the leaves and flowers are gone, the sky and the colourful buildings will sustain you until spring.

Pretty much every morning starts with a walk through the cemetary.  I love these two trees.  I think of them as an old married couple.

Beautiful St. John's Anglican Church.  Home to plenty of beautiful music.  The inside is as beautiful as the outside.

The entire town is a hill, so there are so many places to see the roof tops.  I love going into people's houses and looking our their windows.  A different perspective from every house.

Lincoln st. Not seen in this photo is the very patient dog who wonders why its human stops so many times and doesn't even bother to sniff anything.

Every once in a while I leave town.  Well, I crossed the town line.  This photo was taken in Garden lots which is one step past Lunenburg.  (25 minute walk from my home.)

There's something geometrical going on here.

I have been walking through this town for over eight years and there is not a day that I don't see something new.