Saturday, June 25, 2011
Monday, June 20, 2011
Visit the paper Ghost Cat HERE to see the original cutie kitty from our "Haunted Hollows" series.
Thursday, June 16, 2011
Sam is joining the summer crowd in our Etsy shop -- see them HERE in Cordwood Cabin's "Cabin Crafts" lineup.
Monday, June 13, 2011
Thursday, June 9, 2011
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
Simple stripes run jaggedly down her faded white blouse; white stars are faintly visible on the raggedy strips of blue that help form her skirts.
See her HERE in our Etsy shop summer lineup!
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Some of Cordwood Cabin's artists and other online writers have published articles on creating unique gift tags for birthdays, holidays, and other special occasions. Clicke HERE and HERE for a wide array of ideas and HERE for unique patterns involving vintage paper and craft materials, as well as recommendations for paper doll gift tags, including the celebrated Dolly Dingle images so popular in paper doll reproductions.
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Perhaps the book-turned-film story The Eyes of the Amarylis explains it best, but the ship's figurehead holds a certain amount of fascination as a piece of art. From the rough trident-wielding figure dredged from the depths in a Nancy Drew novel to the weatherbeaten but lovely lady in Master and Commander, I can't help but envy the skill that creates these works of art -- and wish I possessed a little of it myself.
Sotheby's auctions and other high-end antique sales include figureheads, many in the form of busts or reduced to parts by age and retirement (often the figurehead was made with removable parts, to prevent storms and battles from breaking off limbs or decorations). View this recent bust, complete with large crack, fetching a sizeable price; for even the damage of weather and age cannot erase the elaborate detail in her gown and features, as well as the expressive nature of her face.
Modern carvers reproduce some of the most popular designs, including the ever-present mermaid, the "Jenny Lind" images which graced the fronts of ships, and a few unusual choices (soldiers, mythic figures, even gentlemen) which are seldom immortalized in romantic reminiscience on the art form. While their work is not inexpensive, the reason why is apparent when one surveys the obvious effort put into each block of wood. Some are elegant, some are comic, some are downright bawdy -- but the beauty of a handcarved image, the detail in the face of these antique figures, is unmistakeably charming.
While company-made reproductions are often available in resin or fiberglass, true romantics will always prefer the wood -- for the sheer knowledge that age, weather, and experience will leave their prints in the grain of the wood and the paint peeling from the surface -- or at least could, if they could bear to let it out of doors.
Monday, May 9, 2011
My first -- and favorite -- brush with her work was Robert Louis Stevenson's A Child's Garden of Verses. The 1940's and 1920's edition are still hanging about in the house, complete with the unforgettable illustrations for "The Land of Counterpane" and "Bed by Day" among others. Smith's pen sketched out black and white illustrations and bold color images for The Water Babies, At the Back of the North Wind, Heidi, as well as classic fairy stories such as Cinderella and Red Riding Hood.
Like Parrish, Wyeth, and other celebrated illustrators, her work was varied in terms of design and publishing source -- some wonderful examples are included in the Little Big Book illustrated series today.
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
Some artists devise their own, using kaleidoscopes made with removable turning ends for color and pattern variety. Sizing cardboard end tubes to fit, equipped with plastic end caps and transparent tissue to allow the light to filger and the mirrors to distort the images. Color confetti, marbleized tissue, and other resources create the patterns and images for distortion.
The challenge of creating a new endpiece for a kaleidoscope is worth the trouble for artists fascinated by unique projects. For others, the charm of a simple plastic toy with a firmly-attached endpiece for turning will be more than enough to please.
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
But for many artists, the paper pattern is still the beloved choice. The feel of soft tissue designs, newspaper cutouts, and old-fashioned paper packets is as much a part of the sewing experience as scissors snipping through fabric layers. Even the option of digital doesn't tempt them away from the retail pattern racks or yard sale treasures from long-ago collections.
Many digital designers try to recreate the details of the paper pattern as much as possible: including original cover art, instructions, and other images from vintage packets. Transforming the paper medium into digital files and CD-ROM images helps keep the preserve the images and make the artwork available for an audience beyond collectors -- even if the traditional paper ensemble is less available.
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Over the years, they wore out and disappeared, prompting me to look for a similar set online -- and discover just how wildly collectible these little guys had become. Inspired by wooden ornaments of German make, they ranged from sophisiticated, brightly-colored artisan pieces to dime-store miniatures like the ones I remembered best. Lot after lot on Ebay vanished for high prices; and even after I acquired a set, a few extras needed "made over" to resemble the originals from my childhood.
A little paint, a little glue, and a little TLC for long years in storage transformed them into an impressive collection of wee wooden folk for a vintage-style tree.
Friday, April 15, 2011
Last Christmas, a box full of paper mache birds with wings stretched in flight and rough-shaped bodies of tropical breeds, all for a future holiday tree display.
One of Izannah Walker's Sculpted Dolls
Since then, I've sculpted a doll's head and limbs in a sort of rough Izannah Walker style; and drawn up sketches for busts resembling classic marble and vintage ceramics. The key is patience and time -- especially since the hobby requires coating the living room in newspaper and vinyl tablecloths, mixing large portions of flour paste and newspaper (plus boiling for a smooth and elaborate project). For some reason I keep to the floor instead of sensibly sitting at the table for these things.
Monday, April 11, 2011
Catch up with the latest details HERE and celebrate the popularity of Charlotte Bronte's gothic romance alongside its oh-so-famous literary cousins.
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
A simple pastry dough will let you make all sorts of sweet treats, perfect for putting together a platter for a breakfast party. Martha Stewart features several tempting recipes, including a few for simple pastry doughs -- in comparison to the sometimes-complicated grand, buttery folds of delicate French recipes.
It's hard to choose a favorite, but in a word: cream cheese strawberry bear claws. Unbeatably good when you're craving the sweetest and semi-elaborate of the pastry world.
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
We keeps dozens on hand of any kind for jellymaking, preserves, and canning; but others, with a more special appearance, are confined to display purposes. A shelf in the kitchen is crowded with pale blue glass and clear glass with beautiful embellishments. Used for containing dried herbs or displaying wild flowers -- any means of showing off their beautiful form.
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
busy. First, the garden, second, the new orchard, third, the "maintenance" made necessary by property expansion (including a little clearing work to remove tangled dead branches to make room for a nut grove).
In between, not as many artistic endeavors have taken place, although a few new glass balloon ornaments were sketched out ... and a few new ideas for the 2011 Christmas line were discussed. Halloween, of course, is always a must, but the ideas for it are somewhat special, requiring a lot more thought than a traditional Uncle Sam for Fourth of July.
We've also made plans to develop a few recipes inspired by some of our favorite seasonal and holiday treats, as well as launch a few new surprises, so this year promises to be busy!
Sunday, February 13, 2011
Saturday, February 5, 2011
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
Thursday, January 27, 2011
Monday, January 24, 2011
The Christmas edition is a standard in our house, but the all-year-round edition is fast becoming a new favorite. Venture outside the generic menu with item-specific cookbooks from Martha Media, including the cupcakes volume and the classic pies and tarts (don't skimp -- order both the new and the old edition, which contains both rustic and elaborate desserts made from simple ingredients).
Friday, January 21, 2011
He will be much missed by family, his house companions George and Ginger, and his arch-enemy from the outdoors, Poppy the Cat -- with whom he spent many an hour on the lookout for unknown cats sneaking in by the back garden fence. Alas, his last goal of catching his own bird remained to the last.
Farewell, old friend.
Monday, January 17, 2011
We've got a short list of ideas on what the next year holds for the Cabin in terms of homestead improvements ... of course, the challenge is actually carrying them out (especially in these tough economic times). Drum roll, please ....
1) The Greenhouse: yes, we've wanted this in the past ... and got as far as revamping the potting shed. But now we're talking an actual structure of glass, capable of wintertime flowers, small exotic trees, and veggies for the off-season. We've got the glass, now all we need is time and willpower. We want at least a sketch and a piece of property selected, if not an actual frame in the works...
2) The Smokehouse: we've been talking about this one for years, too. The ability to cure hams, make bacon, and even experiment with beef or venison using the techniques of our ancestors (and some modern food safety measures made since the good ol' days). For the pride of doing it ourselves, as well as some tasty results.
3) The Drying House: The little stone building and wood-burning stove are just waiting for a few finishing steps to be a haven for drying flowers, fruit, and other small items. Right now, it just serves as a stone wall for propping up chicory stalks. But soon, maybe it will actually get a little tin roof and an actual drying space framed up.
4) The Orchard: Fruit and nut trees desperately need replanted after the harsh ice storm of a few years ago. Now that the ground has been cleared of stumps, we're ready for the new trees to be installed. From cherry and apple to pear and plum, we're weighing all the different kinds of fruit and nut trees that promise long-term harvests.
5) Tree Lots: We've been meaning to clear a little space for cultivating some trees, especially light, fast-growing woods meant for crafts, like basswood. Plus some ornamental favorites, like maples and Osage orange shrubs for landscaping and whimsy.
6) The Junk Pile: Everybody has one, but ours includes a small outdoor lot which houses leftover fencing and scrap metal. It was originally meant as a temporary storage site full of odds and ends with useful or creative appeal ... but it's time to weed out some of the less useful items and store the others for future use.
That's it for now -- although I'm sure we'll think of other things to add by the first of the year. Hopefully, we'll have some actual progress to report before the next round of New Year's Resolution are made.