Tuesday, January 31, 2012

It's Always SUCH a Project: Collage Mirror; This Weekend's DuPage Expo; Reading List


A few years ago, we were asked to create several collage projects for a customer using distressed mirrors. However, the mirrors we used were newer, so creating the distressed finish ended up being a project in and of itself. Even after lots of scraping, I still never got quite the feel that I wanted. The mirrors looked scratched off, not time-worn. So I was excited to find an article in Somerset Home for creating collage mirrors -- their secret was stripper instead of scraping. Ah-ha!

As luck would have it, Joe found a "green" stripper at our little hardware store, and it worked great! Just spray a little on the back of your mirror and wait a few minutes. Note -- the can says wait a few HOURS, but I think that will take everything off your mirror, so keep an eye on it.

Wipe most of the stripper off with paper towel, then go back over with a scraper until you have the right amount of silver removed. "Right" is up to you, depending on the look you want. Once you feel satisfied,

then lightly wash the back of the mirror to removed excess stripper, dry and clean the glass back and front with Windex.

Now you are ready to collage the back. We used a bunch of handwriting scraps, but vintage photos or prints would work well, too. Or whatever else you decide to try. We used spray adhesive to adhere our scraps, but the article calls for Mod-Podge. The choice is yours, but I think the spray is much quicker. Once you have everything attached, turn the project over and check for gaps. I was surprised the first couple of times thinking I had covered everything, only to find many small blank spaces once I turned the mirror over.

When you are finished, cover the back with poster board and return to frame. Voila! Finis!


Don't forget this weekend is the last DUPAGE EXPO of the season! Join us Saturday and Sunday at the DuPage Expo Center in St. Charles, Illinois. And be sure to print the coupon below for half-off regular admission. Thanks, Zurko Promotions!

We've got a great load planned, including new furniture and smalls, plus lots of chalks and graphics. Details are just a click away on our show sidebar. See you there!


It generally tales a lot to get me excited about a cookbook, but it was love at first sight when I saw this one at Anthro back in the fall. The photos are amazing, and the recipes seem really intriguing. And not super complicated. Can't wait to try it. Check it out when you get the chance!

Working on Etsy today, while Joe and Matt are busy at the studio, getting the DuPage Expo load together. I'll be down there tomorrow, while Joe's out shopping. Can't wait to see what I finds. I'll post some Midland photos this week on Facebook. Keep checking back. xo

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Half-Off General Admission at SATURDAY's Wheaton Antique Market; It's Always Such a Project: Just Give It a Turn; Midland Update; Reading List


Have you ever gotten to the market just a little too late and there it is. Plastered right on the thing you wouldn't have to think twice about buying -- a big, red SOLD tag. Uggh. Well, this Saturday's Wheaton (IL) Antique Market can be your secret weapon against such disaster. Because the show is just one day and a little bit smaller, it doesn't attract the crowds that its bigger sisters do. But you can be a savvy insider!

Just print this coupon for HALF-OFF GENERAL ADMISSION and get on in there first! Need more info? Just click the link on our show sidebar to go to Zurko Promotions and learn all you need to know. And don't forget, there is early buy from 6 to 8 a.m. See you Saturday.


I have to admit that I wasn't too excited when Joe came back from a buying trip with 5 of these glass cubes in tow. For some reason, filling containers just isn't my forte. After a couple of failed attempts, I remembered something I learned in art class long ago -- when all else fails, squint or turn. We'll talk about squint another time. Turn was today's hero!

Sometimes, the key to a creative solution is just to turn the piece in a different direction -- on its side maybe, or in this case, upside down. Joe cut some simple bases and voila -- mini-show cases! Check out our friend Rosemary's little turn-around on her blog for another idea along this same line. Have a project you'd like to share? Leave a comment and tell us all about it!


Wow! Things were hoppin' last Saturday at Midland in Indy, and the staff reports that it's been a daily occurrence. Yeah! Popular sentiment says that it's due to the upcoming Superbowl. Hmmm. Maybe I will have to become a football fan, after all.


I just finished Ann Voskamp's "One Thousand Gifts," which was a birthday present last year from one of my favorite cousins. Beautifully written, it would be a good companion to the "Happiness Project." Following a friend's suggestion, Voskamp begins a listing of every "gifts," small moments of happiness that might be easily overlooked. Her simple list yields some amazing results. Definitely recommended. What's on your nightstand?

I've decided that I may have to limit myself to one post a week, if I'm going to keep up with all my New Year's blogging goals. I've really had a great time visiting blogs, so I think I'm on the right track. I've started just going down our blog roll, visiting those sites and the sites they like. Just a few to share from last week's visit to Blue Cardinal: Dietlind Wolf, Something's Hiding in Here, Constant Gatherer. Happy reading! xo

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Second Installment: Everything's SUCH a Project, Grayslake Report, More to Read, Random Thoughts

I was tickled to get such a nice response to our new feature, Everything's SUCH a Project. Yeah!! Sounds like everyone loves to get creative. So here's another idea, similar to the last but somewhat easier. Joe and I, and I know many of you, love the industrial look. Whenever boxes of mold patterns are available at a reasonable price, we always snap them up:

Many times, these molds are terrific just displayed on their own as little pieces of art. But they also make terrific bases for any number of projects. Case in point, these funky Valentine photo holders. One of my favorite guilty pleasures is thrifting, and I always scoop up wire clip stands when I see them. So just combine the two, molds plus wires. A little drilling, a little glue, and you have it! You can also make the holders from 16 to 18 gauge wire, if you have a hard time finding them ready to go.

Nice thing about these, too, is that while they are great for the holiday, they can be used any time. That's my favorite kind of decoration!


Many thanks to all who came out to support the Grayslake (IL) Antique Market over the weekend. I don't know if you noticed, but our look has been a little different at the last few shows. A little more urban, a little more funky. We've been having fun with it, and the response has been positive. We decided at the beginning of last year that we need to cast our product net a little wider, so shopping some different venues has resulted in some new looks for us. Stay tuned
for more!


I am just finishing Suzanne Collins' YA novel, "The Hunger Games." What a page turner. It kind of makes "Lord of the Flies" seem quaint. The premise is that in the not too distant future, North America as we know it no longer exists. It has been resettled into Panem, a wealthy central city supported by 12 impoverished outlying districts. In retaliation for a failed rebellion, the districts are required every year to choose 1 boy and 1 girl by lottery. The contestants come to the capital, are fed, groomed and trained, then turned loose in an arena to fight to the death on live television. Chilling. Shirley Jackson times 24. But the story also asks some larger questions. Give it a try.


I will only be posting once this week. No show, but getting appointment stuff ready, plus Midland and Mishawaka. Still trying to catch up from the holidays, too. Yikes. On the cyber front, I had a great time last week visiting some blog followed by our pal, JoAn Babb. Check out her favorites when you have a minute and share some of yours. More cyber news to come. Have a great week. xo

Thursday, January 5, 2012

"Everything's SUCH a PROJECT," plus Grayslake Preview and Coupon

Another blogging resolution for the new year is to share more about the projects we love to create. We are planning to make "It's Always SUCH a PROJECT" a regular feature. I'm not sure how the creative process works for you, but would love it if you'd share a comment and tell me. For me, it generally starts with an awesome group of parts, like those pictured below.

We bought this box of partially dismantled vintage store displays at Allegan last summer. I already used some of the parts this fall, but wanted to come up with a project for some of what remained.

Problem was, we were missing some critical pieces to actually get the parts to work together again -- some things needed bases, others needed dowels or connectors. It was Joe, Argos Hardware and our scrap metal pile to the rescue, with the happy result pictured below. Our vintage stands are now ready for photos, memos or some other little lovely.

Be sure to come see them in person this weekend at the Grayslake Antique Market. We've got a great load planned with lots of new furniture and smalls, plus tons of containers -- seems like everyone is all for getting reorganized this time of year! Be sure to print out the coupon below for half-off your regular admission too! Many thanks to Zurko Promotions for continuing this popular blogging perk. If you need more information, click the link on our show sidebar.

Yet another blogging resolution was to include more book titles, as we always get lost of feedback on what we're reading. I don't think I used this one last year, but it was my favorite book for 2011:

It's the story of researcher from Minnesota's journey to find a lost colleague. While that might not sound very compelling, all I can say is READ IT for yourself! It is beautifully written. Totally convincing. So what's on your night stand? Do tell. xo

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Something Special

One thing I like about the start of a new year is writing goals. Yes, I am just that geeky. I also enjoy making lists and crossing things off, but that is another story. One of my goals for this year is to be a better citizen in the blogging universe. One way I'm going to try and do this is visiting other blogs more consistently, leaving comments and sharing links. And I have a great link for you today -- something really special!

But before I share it with you, take a look at this lovely graphic, just one of many pages from a book I bought at last month's Expo Show. I framed a bunch of them for this past weekend; while working with them, I was surprised to see that this beautiful writing was actually part of a tutorial (circa 1890) for BLACKBOARD WRITING! Wow. The link I want to share with you is the website of Dana Tanamachi, a contemporary graphic designer and customer chalk letterer from Brooklyn, New York. Ms. Tanamachi specializes in chalkboard art -- everything comes full circle! You are really in for a treat. Be sure to watch one of the time-lapse videos of her creating a piece. It is simply amazing! Many thanks to my pal Glenda Goins, Mishawaka Antiques, for sharing the link with me.

So how was your New Year? We had a great show at the DuPage Expo Center. Zurkos reported that it was their BIGGEST gate to date for this event. Many thanks to all who came out to support the show. Today, I am off to restock at Mishawaka and then shop for Grayslake. We got 12 inches of snow last night, so that should make things more interesting! Check back later this week, both here and on Facebook, to see what's new. xo