Sunday, May 29, 2011

Clamshells, Papier Mache' and the Bucket List

Do you remember the Papier Mache' Giant Clamshell I made and showed you last summer?  I was trying to develop a new mixture that made newsprint turn into something resembling modeling clay - only it wasn't.  And I wanted it to be hard and "sandable" but not brittle when it dried.  I came up with a mix that I loved, and here's a photo of my finished Giant Clamshell:

With the exception of the shells used for the base and inside the Clam Shell, the rest was my "Paper Clay".  Life intervened and I had to drop that little experiment, but I'm dying to get back to finishing the four others that I had started, all different sizes. 

This morning, I found this photo at Hooked on Houses:

As you will see from her link, she found this at Caron's Beach House.

Now, do you think that as soon as I finish this renovation, I will be finishing those Clam Shells, or what??

Paint Before Granite, (and everything else) Part Two

 I finally got a corner to plug up the computer, so here is an update on the renovation, and a repeat warning...paint everything before you install the granite! My beautiful granite made it through unscathed, but it made for a lot more work for the paint crew.  Don't know why it got scheduled like that.

Ot was a tough week for the contractors, but by Friday night, things were turning the corner - Just look at where we were on Tuesday:

Check out all the plastic and blankets covering my granite!

Since the painters were spraying the cabinets, even the ceiling was wrapped, with a curtain of plastic between the kitchen and living room.  And, a carpet of plastic on the floor.
Although the plastic was VERY thin, somehow it was strong enough to last until Thursday night, even with plumbers, painters, carpenters and everyone else walking all over it.  By Friday night, this is how parts of the kitchen looked minus the plastic:

New dishwasher, up and running.
 Look at my favorite thing of all, my new High/Low Kitchen Sink and Bridge Faucet!  I'm in love with this and wash everything by hand, just to get to play with it!

Is it possible to be in love with a Faucet, for crying out loud?
  The hardest day of all was Wednesday, at 93 degrees outside, not much cooler than that inside, since all the doors were open for the workers.  The people in the bathroom drew the short straws...

Everyone, even the painters, were working in here - it was chaos.
 But just look at what they accomplished by Friday night:

Gorgeous tile work by the crew from Wilmington.

So Tuesday we resume, and hopefully I'll be able to show you finished rooms by Friday!  Off to the beach for some sun-time! 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Linking Surtex, the National Stationery Show and the Garment District

I've finally found a computer to use for a few minutes - thank heavens for the Public Library System!   Now I can tell you about the Garment District and how it all links completely back to Surtex, Surface Design, and the National Stationery Show.

The morning after walking the shows, I headed out to 38th and 39th streets to check out the New York Garment District.  The most surprising thing is that many of the shops were already open at 8:00, so I plunged right in...

Take a look at the juicy things I found at Pacific Trimmings:

There  were aisles and aisles of Buttons!
And zippers, the likes of which I have never seen:

These are Riri Zippers, and I find them to be absolutely Drool Worthy...
There was a complete wall of ribbons...

Thankfully, I'm not captivated by ribbons like I was a year ago - otherwise I would have wasted  precious time staring  at this wall and designing "Ribbon Things" on the fly.

The aisles and aisles of Buttons in small boxes that went from floor to ceiling were what just overwhelmed me and made me sigh to the person sweeping escapee buttons off the floor, "I'll have to come back when I know what I really need, because what I really want is ALL of these".  He nodded sagely, and continued to sweep for a few moments.  Resting his broom, he looked me in the eye and said, "You need to bring your patterns and any materials you are already working with; otherwise you will not be happy with your purchases."  Sound advice for a starry-eyed tourist who was living the dream, if only for a few hours.  He probably gives that same advice several times a day.

I walked around the Garment District and visited many shops, and the thing that kept reverberating inside me was that all this three-dimensional texture was the same two-dimensional texture that I had looked at the day before.  Only this time, the lines, dots, curly-cues and color combinations I saw at Surtex were now on fabrics, zippers, buttons, and a million other things that were probably produced thousands of miles away...all from drawings just a few blocks down the street.  Isn't it fabulous to be able to imagine something and then make it happen?

I can hardly wait to have my design time back - as soon as the Beach Cottage Renovation is finished, I am diving into my studio, and may miss the Summer altogether!  Speaking of which, as soon as the painters, electricians, plumbers, carpenters, tile and granite folks are gone, I'll hook the computer back up and show you the Renovation photos. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Paint Before Granite...Always!

I have sooo much to tell you, but we still don't have the office set back up here at the Beach Cottage. There's more to report on about Surtex and the National Stationery Show, and the Garment District - not to mention what I've learned about not putting new granite and a thoroughly energetic painter in the same room together!

Hopefully we'll be able to set up a workspace tomorrow afternoon - my fingers will fly across a REAL keyboard. Many photos to come!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

What I Learned At Surtex and The National Stationery Show

  I've mulled over this blog for a couple of days now, still reverberating from the sights and energy that swirled through the Javits Center - trying to get it all down to a nutshell.  It just isn't that simple. 

Having never walked this show, I was acutely aware that I should not approach the artist's booth unless invited - I kept my "Artist" badge front and center as I began walking the perimeter aisles.  Before I had even gotten to the end of the first aisle, I had been greeted with smiles and nods from several artists...I guess because after all, they were in my shoes at some time in their lives!   This is the first artist I met:

Julie Britton of Lillie and Julie
She's from Chattanooga - not far from me - and had a charming booth with wall sized posters of her work.  You can see her art at this link:   and read about how her Grandmother Lillie inspired her.  Love those power-house Grandmothers!  When I checked back in with her later, she was happy to report that she had made some promising contacts, even though this was only her first time to show at Surtex.

Then around the corner, I was drawn to the images and crisp colors in Laurie Wisbrun's booth:
Laurie Wisbrun

 She invited me to chat for a minute, and we quickly got to the fact that she is authoring a book that every Neophyte fabric designer is going to want to have:  The Complete Guide to Designing and Printing Fabric that you can preview here:  I WILL be buying that book, as soon as it hits the shelves this Fall.  Laurie confirmed that I have to crack down and learn Illustrator, and revealed that she is getting tutored in Photoshop by her Father.  Goes to show, you can NEVER stop learning and teaching yourself new tricks.

Booth after booth of Fab art, the result of many long hours of hard work.

 I walked every aisle, and met more artists, and I'm here to tell you that there is no subject that isn't covered by the Surtex artists.  You could really see the individual styles, even when they dealt with the same subject.  I was just floored by the more graphic styles shown...simply beautiful colors and combinations.

After lunch, I walked most of the National Stationery Show, and just when I was getting blurry-eyed  I happened upon the booth for We R Memory Keepers, and met the dynamo who was giving demonstrations of their Cinch Book Binder, one Stephanie Coleman.  Good heavens.  That woman is AMAZING!  No matter what was thrown at her, she had the answer - all the while binding books, demonstrating new products, zooming around the booth to grab samples, and making it all look so simple.  I walked away a half-hour later with orders for most of their products, and can hardly wait to get them!  I'm dreaming of hand-bound books with my designs, both fabric and paper!

But, back to the recap - here is my take on all of this:  There are thousands of really good surface design artists out there.  Thousands.  And with the economy the way it still is, I think that for a new artist to get picked up by any major company is a very slim chance.  Buyers are looking for proven sellers, designs that are backed by known artists who have years of experience in surface design, and the street-wise knowledge that comes from having been "out there".  I just didn't feel like the newbies were getting that much attention at this show...and although the buyers may have really wanted new blood, they are constrained by what the general public is actually plunking down money for.  I may be wrong, but that's what it felt like.

So, a long "Thinking Walk" back to the hotel for a nap, under NYC "low ceiling" skies:

And then, a lovely dinner at Ai Fiori on 5th Avenue, with their renowned Lamb Chops:

Followed by a night-time shopping trip to Lord and Taylor!  I love New York City!  Tomorrow, I'll tell you what I found while exploring the amazing shops in the Garment District.


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

New York Style

Back from New York, and sooo much to tell you!  We hit the ground running on Sunday afternoon, and landed right in the middle of the Hell's Kitchen 9th Avenue Food Festival, a delightful intro that really showed the neighborhood NYC Style that I love so much.  There was Opera on the street:

And lots of pets who were very happy to be at the Festival with their Humans:

Waiting to score snacks.

Clearly an Opera lover - she cocked her head on high notes, and closed her eyes in pleasure.

A little shy, but her Human was very protective...
Our favorite of the day was the DJ who was selling CD's from his booth, but had the crowd rocking with him all afternoon - I've never seen such a diverse group of people spontaneously jump into a street dance!

He's the one in the green shirt - and he was GOOD.   

 I did some shopping, of course-

And then it was time to browse some of the neighborhood grocery stores - I wish I could get my food here; it is all so fresh, so beautifully presented.  So lucky, you New York people!

An amazing array of Olive Oils, and this was only one wall!
Hundreds of Cheeses, stacked so pretty.

And, of course, the standard New York Deli buffet that we dove into:

This is only one row of offerings...there were four separate aisles of food, from cold to hot. Yummy!
 After a hot shower and fresh clothes, we headed out to Sushi Samba on Park, and reveled in Fusion Sushi, New York style! 

Now I know where Chef Mark at Shallotte Cattle Barn got his inspiration for the Cattle Barn Roll!
Sublime.  Happy Campers.  Next post: Surtex and the National Stationery Show!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Beach Cottage Renovation - Half Way!

I'm so excited by the progress made this week - just look at my new stairs!

 No more clumsy man-handling of the vacuum, no more worn path up the middle!  These will get a clear coat, just like the floor.  We'll see how slippery they are - could be a runner has to be put in place, but I hope not.

And, look at my new peninsula and cabinets:

The new vent hood is just visible over to the upper right - when the HVAC guys hooked it up, they stated that it would, indeed, lift the hair on my head when I turn it on.  That is just so perfect for the seared tuna, crab boils, grilled whatever, and flash-sauteed mahi-mahi that will continue to get cooked in this kitchen.  Only now, the whole house won't smell like dinner for 12 hours!

The refrigerator nook is finished except for the doors and painting...

There will be a pantry on the right hand side, and a pull-out pantry on the upper left.  Lots of storage.

See how the refrigerator is just inching over, trying to sneak into her new room?  She's going to be SO HAPPY there, no more grease splattering on her from the stove.  And, I settled on my paint colors, and wound up with a Valspar collection for the whole house - yummy sea oat, sand, and puffy white cloud colors.  Should be great with the new black Kitchen Island:

Got this at: before I sold the store.

Monday, the floor should be finished in husband's office (no more carpet there, either), and the cabinets should be installed in the bathroom.  I took a picture in there, but it is still a jumble of studs and exposed plumbing.  I'm so excited, though!

Now, I'm off to New York to the Surtex Market - here is a link so you can see what it is all about:  

and also the National Stationery Show:

so that I can check out what everyone is doing in the textile, paper goods, and home accent design arena.  Not to mention a little sight-seeing, eating fabulous food, and shopping.  I'll report when I get back!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Fusion Sushi in Shallotte, NC

Several months ago, Jack approached my husband about leasing the vacant restaurant space next door to my fabric shoppe.  Being the foodies that we are, we were intensely interested in his menu plan.  With expressive waves of his big arms, he described a plan of good steaks, great salad bar, home-made salad dressings, seafood and chicken.  Along with the usual frills that get added in along the way.  Sounded pretty good.

The months went by, the deal was done, and a construction crew moved in with jack-hammers, drills and saws.  They demolished the previous restaurant's decor, but Jack had a vision.  One day, standing gleefully in the midst of the utter chaos he had created, he revealed that part of his vision was to install a tiny Sushi Bar on one end of the expansive bar.  In unison, we slapped hands to foreheads, moaning, "Jack, what are you THINKING?"  He watched our reaction with the aplomb that we are now very familiar with - and means you should consider whatever deed he is contemplating to be...done.

So, Friday night we drug our renovation/road-trip fatigued selves over to his newly finished restaurant, The Shallotte Cattle Barn, and settled in at the bar.  We really just wanted wine, food, and bed.
 You can click on the link to see his menu - but NOT the sushi menu, because that wasn't resolved by the time he opened.  I admit that we thought to ourselves, "Told you so!"

Revived by a few sips of wine and Jack's cheerful hello, we slowly became aware of the hubbub at the far end of the bar.  It centered around the tiny Sushi Bar, where an American Sushi Chef wielded his tools with precision and a certain snappiness that spoke to confidence. 

 My interest piqued, I asked for the sushi menu.  I saw immediately that the style was Fusion, and I do mean Fusion.  Happily, I ordered the Cattle Barn Roll - I think that's what it was called, and nearly swooned at first bite.  It was composed of real Back-Fin Crab Meat, crunchy fresh Asparagus (locally grown), wrapped up in rare Bison, and drizzled with traditional spicy Japanese mayo.  Simply amazing.

Last night, I drug my husband back over there to really get into the Sushi Menu, and snagged the seat nearest to the chef.  I went Omakase instead of ordering off the menu, and the party started.  First, a clear chilled Cucumber Soup that tasted like Spring - unbelievably refreshing.  Then, a Ceviche with Yellow Tail, served in four black Japanese soup spoons lined up on a white tray.  A Shrimp Pickle was next, and then this:

I don't know what this was, except for the Tuna, Tobiko, Wasabe Tobiko, crunchy Asparagus, and thin sliced fresh Jalapeno Pepper, but it was fabulous.  After that, we rolled right on into Poke - if you've ever been to Hawaii you know about this - and it was potentially the best Poke I've ever had.  And I've had a lot.  I couldn't help myself, I had to have one more of those Cattle Barn Rolls, but couldn't eat but a couple of bites before I had to pack leftovers up in a take-out box.  Happy tummy.

Decor that includes Cattle Horns alongside Japanese Fans, a menu that runs from juicy Steaks to Hawaiian Poke and Fusion Sushi.  I guess we can call that one for Jack!


Thursday, May 5, 2011

Consider Twice, Cut Once...Thanks, Mom!

When I was three, my Mom & Dad gave me a tiny, crank-wheel sewing machine for Christmas.  My Mom was always sewing up a storm on her Singer Sewing Machine, and I was perpetually underfoot, begging her to let me at it.  So they bought me that little pink machine, and the lessons began.  The first thing she taught me was to consider my finished piece in my mind - "see" it in my imagination made up and totally done, and then work backwards to figure out how to cut and assemble my material.  

Those lessons have been invaluable, and have followed me all through life - not just for sewing, but for anything that has to be brought out of my imagination and turned into a real object.  Watching the cabinet crew working today, I realized that they work the same way...they study the space something has to fit into, visualize the finished room, and then after measuring and pondering some more, they cut and assemble.  Here they are in action:

They HAVE to figure out how to trim out these windows without using "trim".
 We're replacing 28 year-old wallpaper (Ugh) with bead board, and the space is too small to put a slice of bead board in.  And, it has to look good when they're finished.  Check out Daniel with the tape:

Then, whispering the measurement to himself, and holding the picture in his mind, he races down to the saw to cut out a part of the pattern:

This work station only works when it's not raining!
 I can assure you that when he comes back with this piece, it will fit perfectly.

In the bathroom, the same thing happened this morning as another team member started to build our new linen closet and vanity:

You probably can't see it, but his tongue is sticking out to help in concentrating...
He's working in the chaos of the old bedroom, but he can already "see" the linen closet installed in the bathroom, where there are only cut wires, partial plumbing stubs, and old insulation right now.

It REALLY makes me want to get back to my studio and make something - and it REALLY makes me remember my Mom as Mother's Day approaches.  What a great teacher she was, to pass that tricky but powerful lesson on to me.  Thanks, Mom!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Apologies to Marley and Lockyer

Good Heavens - I was racing so fast to get last night's post done so I could jump in bed, that I made a mistake, and it wasn't just a Type-O!

This photo was tagged "Heather and Lockyear" - where the heck did HEATHER come from?  My apologies.  

Image is from MARLEY and LOCKYER
You should go over and check out this blog, it is beautiful:

Now, I can go back to work.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Deciding Against Oil Rubbed Bronze

As you can see, I am FULL BORE trying to get this job under control so that I can go back to Atlanta and dance with my husband, cutting table, sewing machine and rude geese while the guys make our Beach Cottage beautiful and cozy.  Hopefully in our absence.

For the last 24 hours, I've been hot on the trail of Cabinet and Door Hardware, and I do mean hot.  After looking at images and samples until my brain blurred, I realized what was wrong with the Oil Rubbed Bronze that I have loved so much, for so many years...  It's too dark for my new warm white cabinets.  Take a look at these images:

Image from Decor Pad
 Do you see how these drawer pulls look like Black Polka Dots??  The pristine finish on the cabinets is simply jarred by the splots of black from the ORB knobs.

Now look at this:

 Image from Heather and Lockyear
See how the cabinets are quietly wearing their hardware instead of the hardware wearing them?  That's what I'm talking about.  They are in the groove together, dancing in perfect harmony.

I finally realized that although I truly love the look and feel of any aged metal, it doesn't belong in my light and bright Beach Cottage.  

The funny thing was, when I put my hand on the front door knob of WB Properties to leave their office today, I was happy to see my hand grasping what looked liked an ancient, reclaimed metal knob.  Only it wasn't.  It was an Oil Rubbed Bronze knob that the dark patina had partially worn off of, leaving a mottled, copperish finish that looked like it belonged on a Factory Door!  So lovely, but... our Beach Cottage isn't an old factory... Love that, but it isn't.  So.  Done.


The Magic of a Two-By-Four

I'm always amazed at what sliced pine trees and little steel needles can do...

Here are some shots of what the artisans of wood did yesterday at our Beach Cottage!

This will be our new BIGGER closet.

This used to be our closet - it'll be much better as a soaking tub!
I'm headed down to the basement in a minute, but first must settle on the finish for the new door hardware.  I wanted Oil Rubbed Bronze (of course), but I don't know about that now.  Here is a photo of the door I've selected to replace all the doors inside the Cottage:

I LOVE this door, and it needs just the right hardware.  This morning I'm really into vintage white porcelain knobs, but there is the issue of the construction budget...

Down to the basement I go!


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