Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Needles and Pins

Throughout history needles have been a necessity. Bone, wood and steel were all fashioned into an object that could be used to sew pieces of cloth, animal skins, beads...into garments and coverings.

Over time pins and needles were carried from one place to another; for a quick repair, an afternoon of sewing and conversation over a quilt, even on the battlefield. Pin keeps, needle holders, pincushions, make-dos all began to be a reflection of one's status, artistic ability, frugalness and expression. A few are shown here to demonstrate the endless variety.

* Bead work needle keep from the Iroquois made for the trade, felt Southern Belle, antique tulip needle kit, tattered silk tomato.

* This antique piece was made by an Old Order Mennonite that migrated North in a covered wagon, in the very early years of the 1800s. The silk, a soft faded brown is in the shape of a tulip, a common Mennonite symbol. All hand stitched, its little wool pages are still holding the needles.

*A mohair pear complete with branch stem by artist Cathy Pendleton of The Cheswick Company.

* Petite German half-doll with lace dress pincushion, Victorian metal shoe, 1920s globe (sawdust filled).

Whether mass-produced or hand-made, they all bring a touch of nostalgia, colour or uniqueness to the sewing table.

Because I live in the "House of Stuff" I'm always looking for different ways to put the goodies and castoffs I collect to use. By spray painting an old brass candelabra silver (complete with mythical dolphins on the base), mounting a silver plate seashell on top and adding bits and bobs from drawers, boxes, the bead store and the dollar store, I have created a new fantasy pin keep.

A few pearl headed pins, silver Abalone thimble, some pearl fairy beads to the wings and a handmade Swarovski crystal tiara complete the theme.

I've named her The Pearl Fairy Make-Do.

And you thought I was lying around in the hammock watching the clouds go by.

Monday, July 14, 2008


Long before it was pipelined from one country to another, trucked from river to city or floated by huge barges to desert communities, water was pumped from wells, fed by springs and brought into the home by bucket.

Years ago before it arrived by simply turning on a tap, water was cherished and used sparingly. Beautiful pitchers and large porcelain bowls were part of one's morning cleansing. Some were simply tin or enamel, all functional in order to wash a face and hands.

I have always loved these useful pieces of the past. Complete sets (bowl, pitcher, cup and toothbrush holder) are highly prized and expensive. Some were floral painted, transferware, stippled or the design part of the mold.

Their beauty still very visible they can be adapted to many uses. Holding towels, catching rainwater, and even a cool place for a kittie to lay on a warm summer day make them a perfect item to collect.

One can only imagine the delicate faces that once looked down into these bowls or the tiny little hands that poured the water from the pitchers.

Perhaps someday my small collection will come in handy, as the water we take for granted becomes priceless.

Monday, July 7, 2008

An Ever Changing Garden

Just like the season itself, the garden evolves over the summer.

The old crabapple tree that was once laden heavy with blossoms now stands as a silent sentry, shading the hostas and bird bath beneath. The early morning sun reflecting off its silvery bark, it waits as the tiny crabapples mature into fruit.

One section of the garden has bright orange day lilies and pink hollyhocks that grow with wild abandon. Drought hardy they reach towards the hot sun waving in the ever so subtle breeze. Members of a true cottage garden they seed themselves every year.

A clematis whose tiny, down facing flowers look like Chinese lanterns, reaching 15 feet along its trellis. It's delicate flowers turn to seed later in the season, supplying tidbits of nourishment to the sparrows that spend the winter.

The potted begonias with their saucer size blooms are near perfection. Deep hues painted on delicate petals lure the butterflies to visit.

The wonderful thing about the garden is tomorrow when I visit it will have changed again, offering more visual feasts, delicate scents, and heart warming sounds.