Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Brimfield Sightings and Best of Flea Market Style Feature

A couple weeks ago, I went to the Brimfield Flea Market which is only about an hour from our farm. I have been going to this flea market for years and I look forward to it. I go by myself so I can shop as fast or slow as I like. I usually go on Friday because that is the day the J&J Show opens. This show used to be the high end field of all the different fields that open during the week. Unfortunately it has gone a bit down hill and the quality isn't as great. But it is still a fun and inspiring day. After I run through J & J, I head over to a few of the other fields that opened earlier in the week but still have vendors present.

Here are some photos I snapped of things I liked - but didn't buy. Do you see a theme? I do - pattern, ceramics, and sheep. It's what I am into at this moment in time. 

When I got home that afternoon, I found the newest copy of Best of Flea Market Style Magazine in my mailbox. 

And you guessed it - there was our house! 

This is a publication by Meredith and is a twice yearly magazine that is only available at newstands or at Barnes and Noble, possibly Walmart and Target and places they sell magazines. The pictures were taken by Rikki Snyder for Country Home but since Meredith owns Country Home and owns the photos outright, they could write another article about our farmhouse. 

I'd say this house is getting a bit too much exposure! Oh well - I guess I'll take it and be thankful for it. Here is the end page of the magazine with a photo of our porch with my oil paintings. I like the quote from Thomas Edison

"To invent you need a good imagination and a pile of junk."

The next Brimfield Antique Show/Flea Market is July 11 to 16. Information here. People travel from all over the world to visit this show. I'm so lucky to live close. 

Hope you all are having a good week. 

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Printed Linen + Crewel Embroidery Project

This summer I am teaching 3 different weekend Creative Retreats here at our farm. You can read about the retreats here. This year I have made the option of coming for only one day - not two days - as an experiment. I already have several people signed up for the Two Day Retreats but there is still room for more students.

On July 29th, I am teaching a class called Fabric Printing and Decorative Embroidery. I've been working on a project to share with the class while I am at the Farmers Markets. It is exactly what the students will be doing. 

First I printed the linen fabric with different sizes of circles in brown fabric paint. 

I am treated each circle differently adding different embroidery stitches to the fabric. It is a fun project to do and something that is easily totable and easy to pick up and put down if interruptions happen. 

Here are the different circles I have stitched. 

At the class this summer on July 29th, we will be printing our own fabric design in the morning. In the afternoon, we will be adding embroidery to our designs. You can see what students did last year here. More info about all the classes I am teaching is here

Each of my stitched circles is a little different. They are small and it is easy to experiment with different stitches. I love this kind of stitching because it is improvisational and free and easy. It's also a great way to play with color. 

I use my linen fabric (available on my website here) and 100% crewel wool which is also available on my website

I also have a similar PATTERN AND KIT available on my website here. Check it out. The pattern is available as a PDF download for $13 here. The kit is available for $46 here. Makes a great project for summer stitching. Crewel is the perfect project to take with you anywhere this summer. 

Hope to see some of you here at the farm this summer! Have a great weekend. 

I'll be at Webs Tent Sale today from 10 to 5. 

Friday, May 19, 2017

Clay Sunflowers in Process

I've had an idea floating in my head for a while - sunflowers made out of clay. One afternoon, I sat down and sculpted two sunflowers in clay. One I set on a tile made of clay and the other was just a loose shape. I got some pottery plaster and after a bunch of watching videos on YouTube, I got up the nerve to mix up the plaster and made two molds of the clay pieces. To do this, the clay has to be wet. I coated the sunflower clay pieces with mineral oil and then poured the plaster on top of them. You have to have a form around each piece of clay to contain the plaster. I used some plastic boxes I had. The plaster forms around the clay and once it is set - I pulled the clay out and the sunflower shape was set into the plaster. Unfortunately I didn't take photos of the process because it was all so messy and I didn't want to add a camera into the mix. The plaster should set for an hour to be totally firm. I know this because my first try broke when I was taking it out of the plastic box and I had to start again. 

Once the molds were dry - this took a week for the plaster to dry because it was cold and humid - I was able to test them out. I was able to take photos of that process. 

Here is the sunflower tile mold.

Here is the clay being packed into the mold. 

Here is the clay when it is all leveled off. 

When the clay starts to shrink - the moisture gets absorbed into the plaster mold - it is easy to pull the molded piece out of the mold. Using some tools, I cleaned the messy bits off. My mold isn't perfect but it is a start. 

Here you can see the tile and the mold. This is going to be more of a decorative wall tile because it isn't flat so nothing could sit on it. I use a grey clay that dries white. 

Here is the smaller sunflower which I have a plan for where it will be used in my home. Would make a nice paperweight too. 

My plan is to make a few more of each mold and then play with the painting, color, and decoration of each sunflower. Stay tuned. 

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Spring is Springing

Finally I've had a chance to take some photos and sit down to write a post here! All before spring slips away. Thank goodness. I've been trying to find time but life has been busy. This blog has always been a document of the life on our farm and although it is all repetitious year after year, I still find the changing seasons something worth sharing with all of you. So today - lots of pretty pictures of what it looks like here at Leyden Glen Farm in western Massachusetts on a gorgeous spring day. I hope you enjoy them. 

It's been a lovely spring this year. In fact one of the loveliest springs in memory. Often it goes from winter to summer in a matter of days with high temps in the 80's and 90s. Not this year. There have been plenty of days in the 50's and 60's. I'm not a fan of extreme heat so I have been enjoying the days. We've had just the right amount of rain and the drought which we experienced last year seems to have subsided. It's still too chilly to have the windows open.

We have been moving sheep out of the barns to pastures near and far. Lots of picking up and moving fence for The Farmer, loading sheep into the trailer and moving them out. Most of the lambs have been weaned - except for the little ones who were born late to yearling ewes. They are growing big. Haying will start next week. Another farm season beginning. It all seems to go so fast. Probably because we are busy. Summer farmer's markets have begun. It's nice to see customers who we haven't seen since last November and to hear how their winters have gone. 

The spring colors have been electric. There is still a lot of chartreuse because the leaves aren't fully out yet. The orchard started blooming this week and today I finally got a chance to take a nice walk in it. You can smell the blooms and it is intoxicating. 

I checked the little pond and the tadpoles have hatched. They skittered under the mud when I walked too close. 

The sheep are happy the leaves are coming out so there is a bit of shade for them. It's nice to have animals back outside our farmhouse and to listen to them baaaaahing to each other. (In the winter the sheep live about five miles from our house in barns we built many years ago before we bought this farmhouse.)

The birds have been singing every morning and all day long. A robin has made its next on one of the pilasters on the pergola just outside my studio. Every time I walk outside, she flits away. I hope she hatches some little ones. 

We're in the waning days of Julia's days at the local regional high school. She will be graduating in a few weeks. I can't believe how fast it all has gone. Today we had a meeting with her support team at school to update her IEP so that it will go with her wherever she goes until she is 22. Next week we are going to the local community college to check it out and meet some folks. New adventures for her and her Mom and Dad. 

I've been working on some ceramics and some embroidery. I'll share that work in a couple days. This week is the first Brimfield Flea Market of the season so I'll be heading there tomorrow to look around. 

I hope your spring is going well. 

Monday, May 01, 2017

Daffodils and Memories

It's May Day everyone. Happy May Day!

The daffodils and narcissus are blooming here at the farm. Over the years, I have planted different kinds so now I have a nice collection of different blooms. Some have petered out but others keep multiplying. I love tulips but so do the deer and the sheep so I go for daffs and narcissus. 

Every year, I pick a bundle of daffodils and place them in this turquoise vase. I look forward to this arrangement each year. The yellow flowers are picked up by the relief flowers of the vase. I don't know anything about the vase but I love it and am glad the cats haven't broken it yet. 

When the daffodils bloom, they remind me of my Dad who was an incredible gardener. He loved all flowers and was always bringing them in the house or to his office the brighten up the reception area of his business. In his wallet, he carried this poem by William Wordsworth. Every season when the daffodils bloom, I think of Daddy and read the poem again. 

The Daffodils 
By William Wordsworth (1804) 

I wandered lonely as a cloud 
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
 In such a jocund company: I gazed - and gazed - but little thought 
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
 Which is the bliss of solitude; 
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

Have a great week everyone! 

For those of you who have been waiting - I have just updated my website and opened up the ONE DAY OPTIONS FOR THIS YEAR'S CLASSES. CHECK IT OUT HERE. Feel free to send any questions you might have.