Friday, February 26, 2016

Bringing In Spring-Sewing New Pillows and Curtains To Brighten up Spaces

New pillows
I should be outside working in the gardens, but I have just had this urge to sew to brighten up and add color to a few of the rooms in the house.
It all started when I took the grand kids shopping at Toys R Us for a little treat.  After they picked out a little something from Grandma and Grandpa, I spied the new Joann's store in the same shopping center.  They were willing and so very good, so off I went to look at yarns for knitting and passed by the fabric.  I love upholstery weight fabrics.  Without even thinking I picked out about 6 different prints that were all mixed and matching in similar colors-my favorite colors, aqua blue, yellows, golds. (I am sorry to say all my photos came out dark.  The dining room and living room are both very bright rooms with lots of windows so it was hard to get my phone to adjust to the bring light.  So colors aren't showing their best-sorry)
Old pillows on windowseat

Miss Mash of colors and styles

Annie Seeing What I Am Dowing
 On my phone I have the Joann's app, so I quickly checked it out and I had a 50% and a 40% coupon AND the fabric was on sale anyways.
Sewing the Pillow
I didn't really have a specific plan, I just knew that the pillows in the dining room were looking a little worn from use.  And I roughly knew how much I would need to make pillows.  There was one yellow print fabric I really liked, it was already 50% off, so I asked for whatever was left on the bolt, about 11 yards.  I figured I would use it someplace, sometime.  Isn't that what all crafters think???
It was a week or so later, that I pulled them all out and placed them on the window seat to assess colors.  I remembered I had originally wanted to use this gold/greenish linen fabric for the main seat cushion so I dug that out of my fabrics to mix into the assortment.  I had purchased that linen fabric about a year ago and never got around to doing the project.
Old Pillows
I pulled off all the old pillow covers; washed and dried the pillow forms and started to work.  Several different shapes and sizes of the pillow forms helped to fit the amounts of fabrics I had purchased.  Since I know myself, and that I would not keep these pillow cases for eternity, I decided against putting in zippers.  For about 3 days, I would sew a few hours in the morning, pin up the openings at the end to hand sew them closed while watching TV in the evening.

Before I knew it, they were all sewn and finished.

Should I tell you a secret?  Family knows.  The window seat is used primarily by - Bella, my long haired German Shepard.  She started going up there since she was a puppy to gaze out the window to see who is in her driveway.  Annie will go there only when they are left at home in the house so I know they both end up there to look out the window waiting for us to return.  How do I know?  Smashed pillows and nose mess on the windows!!!  OMG, what we all think is OK with our animals.  Years and years ago, when our dogs, were-well, dogs, left mainly outside to be guard dogs and because they wanted to be outside.  Hard to imagine that now.   Not that way for the last 15+ years though.  So instead of training them NOT to sit on the window seat, I thought it actually fairly cute of Bella, she looked so comfortable all 96 pounds of her, with her head propped up on the pillows and her nose pressed against the window.
Well, now the truth is out, I needed to change the pillows not only to get away from blacks, golds, solids; but to get rid of the "dog smell" and dirt from Bella.  
After I finished up with all the pillows, I still had this special yellow floral print that I ended up buying to actually make the 6' cushion out of, but left the original cushion in place..
I walked into the living room and noticed that the front windows could use some color and change also.  I wasn't sure if I had enough, but knew it might be close.  I got finished with making the 3rd panel and measured out the 4th one and it is 3 feet short!!!  The exact size I used on the pillows I made out of it for the window seat.  I should have done the panels first, but oh well.  It will mean another trip to Joann's and who knows, I just may see some other fabric I like.
I forgot to mention, while at Joann's I ended up purchasing some cotton yarn in great colors to crochet some mess market bags.  These will be used as examples for my next Windmill Farm class.  I want to make up several shapes and sizes for people to see what can be done with a ball of cotton yarn.  

Interested in that class?  Facebook, email or call us here at Windmill Farm, I hope to schedule the class real soon.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

McCoy and Bauer Pottery Re-visited

Occasionally I question myself,  why am I writing this blog???  Does anyone even care?  I know I love reading other people's blogs, but am I providing any information, any substance, any enjoyment to readers?  I truly hope so as I have enjoyed it for these 6 years.
I checked back on my viewing stats and see that the most visited post by people, that have the most views, is my post about my collection of McCoy and Bauer pottery.  So I decided to share some more photos of them and tell you a little about what I know.
I can't remember actually my first piece, I recall that old pottery mixing bowls were always something I would have in my kitchen.  In the days when you could find them easily in the gold rush community where we lived for over 30 years.  Mostly under a dollar.  Batter bowls, I call them were a great find, you will see a ringed Bauer Batter Bowl on the top shelf of this cabinet.  I had 2 of them.  I will tell you the story of why I only have one on the shelf later.
This little batter bowl isn't the same aqua or green as other bowls, but I just love the small size.  See the small chip for flea/flick mark on the edge?  Look how dark and stained the mark is, that chip has been on that bowl for many, many years.  Whatever kitchen I had over the years of moving, I would rotate out colors to front and center that went with the decorating theme at the time. A few yellow, some white.  It didn't matter the marking on the bottom, many are not marked as you see.  Some are USA, but the look of the old clay and the feel of them is what made me take them home.

But then I started loving vases.  Aqua vases, some dealers on line and in stores call them green, but I always consider them aqua.  If they are on the blues and greens, I crowd them in the shelves closetest to their color.  Here is another vase with a large chip, sad but it doesn't bother me, it shows use and love.

 These sizes and designs are interesting.  They probably held Camellias, most people in the time of this pottery (1930s-50s) used "frogs" at the bottom of these vases to hold up flowers.
These are called jardinieres.  I have a few large ones on top of the cabinet where I keep them all, but this is a smaller one.  It is my belief they probably held plants, rather than flowers although they also could be used for flowers. See the McCoy mark?  And the embossing is so fabulous, could be water lilys. You notice the feet on the bottom.  It probably had a matching dish to hold the water which I don't have.

Sometimes you hit the bonanza.  Many years ago, we had a fishing cabin on the Scott River in Siskiyou County.  Downtown was a new shop co-op type shop and someone who had collected pottery had a booth.  Every time in the summer we went to the cabin, I had to stop.  Most were chipped as I am sure that was why the dealer weeded out her own collection, but still I always was excited to find a few pieces in my colors. Price tag still on this sugar container.

What causes a person to want to collect?  I know for me, it is the form, the quality, the color the feeling you get when you hold it.  In my collection, I have many items with the gloss glaze, but my favorite, favorite is the "matte finish".  It feels like silk when you touch it.

There is a specific name for the McCoy pottery below, but sorry I can"t remember it.  They have a distinct feel, shape and design.  I have about 5 of them, normally small vases with very elaborate floral or bird designs.  And the color is always more towards green than blue/aqua. 
There are many, many books on the subject of pottery and McCoy/Bauer ware pottery.  I have these two books in my library that helped me in the beginning to identify and date my pieces.
 And what happens in all collections is sometimes you can't pass something up because of the shape, color or price.  I like yellow and a few of my past kitchens in my life were yellow, so I have a few yellow USA/McCoy vases.
 And of course, same is true of the white pottery.  Who can pass up a pottery vase for a few dollars just because it might be white!!!
This is what the old pottery clay well worn bottom looks like, but no marks.  These will sell for considerably less money than the items with potter marks.
I can't talk about my pottery collection without saying something about the cabinet that holds all the aqua pieces.  I had the pottery pieces going long before the cabinet.  But up at the cabin one weekend, I went to a farm sale and this cabinet was in their shed.  The doors were not found, sadly because a piece of them showed the top and bottom doors were tongue/groove (T&G) pattern of wood.  But for $20 it went home with me and was up in the cabin for several years until we had space to take it home one trip.  I was told it was in an 1880s drug store downtown Etna for many years and the yellow section held the pharmacy names or the word drugs. Thank goodness it was never painted over or paint stripped off.  Isn't it a perfect piece to hold all my pottery?  

 OH, and the large aqua batter bowl story I mentioned?  Well they are my most favorite, favorite, most prized items.  I actually had 3 of them, signed Bauer, perfect shape.  They weren't on the top shelf at the time, but in the bottom.  We had company and a member of the family/company went to get something to put vegetables into to help with a meal and picked those two bowls and dropped them.  Yes, dropped them, chipped one terribly and broke the other one completely.  He had no idea about what they were, didn't actually have any like for antiques, he just saw them as "bowls".  I could have cried, I did later.  What can you say, what can you do?  Where would someone try and replace them? When I heard the crash, I remember saying NOT THE BATTER BOWLS!!!   It may sound wierd, but I really thought differently afterwards about my pottery items.  Use them, enjoy them, don't over protect and keep them in a museum environment.

So I give you my collection to see and enjoy-a 2nd time.  As you can see, it is out for viewing every day, I walk past it in my diningroom all the time and my eyes always go to it.  They do collect dust, but I use various ones all the time for my flower arrangements, use the bowls for food, use the jardineres for plants.  I love, cherish and enjoy touching the beautiful patina. The aqua color is so versitle, it seems that no matter what color flower, branch, or plant I put in them, they all blend and match so well.
I hope you enjoyed reading about my collection of pottery and hope you leave a comment to let me know my writing on the blog isn't a waste of my time away from looking for more pottery!!!

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Chickens With Friends, One Loner Truly Free Ranger Chicken

I love watching and observing chickens.  They have a whole "village" composition.  
Right now, I do not have a rooster, so a dominant chicken of the flock, an older Barred Rock, is in charge.  She is first to the new food put out; she puts all the newest chickens in their order of who gets to hang out with whom near the main group. She decides if you are "in" yet to that group or "out".  You never know until she leaves you alone, or makes a harsh sound with a swift peck on the head.
I find that generally, there is the high school group hanging out together.  Ones that are "juveniles" and not quite in the "in" group of the older ones, if you know what I mean!!
They find areas of their free range area interesting that the older chickens don't care about and don't like to wonder too, too far away from the security of the hen house and closed in area.  And they never like being by themselves, they HAVE to be together all the time.
As soon as the chickens are let out, the older group of hens, possibly the senior citizen group find the best dust piles to spend some time covering themselves in a fine dust.  
Later, there is a favorite sunny and warm spot on the lawn, edging gravel, that a group lays on-do you think to ease those aching bones??? Sometimes I see them extend out a wing and a leg to get every inch of their feathers in the warm early sun.
It doesn't take long for a few to find some interesting spots of damp leaves to find some good bugs.  
And then there is the loner, the one who doesn't care to be in any group at all.  Mine is an older Buff Orphington.  She is happy to find a way to get out and go out into the back gardens and spend the day out there foraging all by herself.  It bothers me because she is very vulnerable by herself, not to be alerted by an over head hawk or the fox that lives in the back corner of our property next to the water ditch.
During the day, she will sometimes go out to the front lawn to check out that spot for anything interesting to eat or under the big sycamore tree where I still haven't had time to rake up its big leaves from fall.
And during this last year, she spends about 1/3 of her time sleeping outside her fenced in area, at night in the hen house.  That is really troublesome.  I have to really pay attention to count hen heads at night-I have 3 Buff Orphingtons left from an original 8 I got in 2009. So she is a senior citizen hen and she may be not only a loner, but maybe, should I dare say it??  Loosing it as a normal chicken???  Maybe she thinks she is a dog now or that she can fly, which she can't because I clip their wings.  Or maybe she just enjoys the freedom to do what she wants to do; to be off quiet all by herself to explore the big world I have allowed my chickens to live in.  
All I know is she likes who she is, she likes being alone, she is happiest not confined to time tables like the rest of the flock; she is a loner, a truly,free ranging chicken.  A hen that is doing her own thing. She is not easily lead by the group that likes the dust piles; she doesn't go with the group to the sun tan booth on the rocks; and she doesn't like staying close to the shelter of the water, nest boxes, and the juveniles running here and there, chatting chatting all the time.
I guess we all have our personalities, our friends, what we would like to do with our day, the freedom to explore.
Have a great hen day whatever you choose~~