Musings from the Moonroom

Thoughts on Art, Inspiration, Creativity and Spirit


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The Belle of Bell Tavern

Earlier this spring I accepted an invitation to participate in an art exhibit, Historic Interpretations: Contemporary Artists Interpret the Historic Collection, at the Peabody Historical Museum. Historic Interpretations challenged artists to choose an historical item from the museum and to reinterpret it in any art medium.  Per the historical society:

“The Society is seeking to remove traditional forms of interpretive practice, leaving the object’s interpretation to the participating artist.”

The historical artifact I chose was a 19th century wallpaper fragment from the Bell Tavern in Danvers, MA.

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After some research, I learned that in 1797 Hannah Webster Foster wrote a novel, The Coquette or, The History of Eliza Wharton, which detailed a much publicized account of a socially elite Connecticut woman’s death in a tavern after giving birth to a stillborn, illegitimate child. Foster’s novel became a statement for women on the issues of individualism, social conformity, social class, and female friendship in the early American republic.

With this information, I was inspired to create The Belle of Bell Tavern.

Using this photo, I sculpted Eliza Wharton from polymer clay.

Eliza Wharton

Eliza Wharton

Here she is, head attached to the body, before going into the oven. (Doesn’t that sound a little sadistic?)

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And then I realized I forgot to give her eyebrows!

BelleofBellTavernBaldHead

Here is The Belle of Bell Tavern completely assembled. I really must order a larger photo cube. Belle is 16″ tall when assembled and these larger pieces don’t fit in a 20″ cube. Below are two shots of her; one in the photo cube and one against a black background.

BelleofBellTavern1

BelleofBellTavern2Black

BelleofBellTavernHead

Belle is attached to an antique wall shelf that I inverted for her skirt. Accompanying her is a handmade journal that opens, a pair of slippers, a suitcase, a gold key, and scrolls of love letters to an unknown beau.

BelleofBellTavernJournal

BelleofBellTavernJournalOpen

The quote attached to her skirt reads: I’ll toll you in if you have need, feed you well, wish you speed. These words hung over the door in front of the Bell Tavern.  From what I’ve learned about Eliza, she was a woman who found herself in a difficult situation, surrounded by friends who criticized her actions and warned her against further wrongdoing. Eliza desired independence and freedom. She wanted to avoid a loveless marriage, to choose a relationship on her own terms, and did not accept the idea of a woman being another person’s personal property.

This piece was great fun to create. Who would’ve thought a simple wallpaper sample could provide so much history.

The exhibit runs August 15-October 18. Opening weekend is August 15, 12:00-7:00 pm and August 16, 12:00-3:00 pm. The exhibit is displayed in two houses, the Osborne-Salata House and the Gideon Foster House. For more information, visit the Peabody Historical Society and Musuem.

To read more about the development of this piece go to this post and this post.


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Consignment Store Finds

So I walk into Silent Partners Consignment in Leominster determined to find an old book for my workshop with Dayle at La Cascade. We need to bring an old book, sans binding and interior pages, in order to recreate our own new book. The idea of destroying any book sends shivers up my spine. Not because I enjoy tearing apart old books but because I cringe at the idea of taking apart an old book.  Somewhere in my past is a librarian, glasses perched at the end of her nose, looking me in the eyes and telling me that books are sacred; that we don’t deface or maim books.

I’m going to some form of book defacing hell for this.

Of course no visit to any antique or consignment store would be complete without walking through the entire store, right?

The search for a book ended just inside the store where I found a fine specimen. And then the real fun began.

This particular store specializes in liquidations and they had stuff all over the place; furniture, old pictures, candlesticks, jewelry. And the items pictured below that came home with me:

Wood Shoe Forms

Wood Shoe Forms

I’ve been looking for wood shoe forms for a while. I was inspired by Susan Valyi who creates awesome sculptures from wood and resin. I wanted something a little smaller than standard adult shoe forms. Here I found a box full of shoe forms in several sizes. I liked this pair because of the heavy string loop used to pull the form out of the shoe. The loop is completely intact and still sturdy. I also like the center hole in the shoe where I imagine inserting copper tubing or a dowel to imitate legs. This piece will take some time to manifest.  The markings on the shoe forms are: E, 11 1/2, (or 11 1/2 E) and 044 on the sides.

Iron Lifters

Iron Lifters

We believe these two pieces are oven burner cover lifters (isn’t that a mouthful!) In other words, these handle-looking pieces were used to lift the burner covers off old stoves so you could light the burner. Of course I looked at them at thought “bodies”!!!! I think some apoxy sculpt is in my future.

And that book I picked up when I walked into the store was replaced by another book I found at the back of the store. I liked the way this one felt in my hands. And it was a little less expensive. At least if I’m going to book defacing hell, I might as well do it over a book that feels good in my hands.


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More Consignment Store Goodies

Last week I started Christine Kane’s Uplevel Your Life Mastery program.  This is an expanded and updated version of her Great Big Dreams e-course that I took in December 2007-February 2008. One area of discussion in the class revolves around getting in touch with tiny delights; those small things that make us happy.

One of my small delights is perusing antique and consignment stores. I think of it as good practice for the workshop I’m taking this summer with Dayle Doroshow in France. One of our field trips during the workshop is to a local flea market. Won’t that be a fun experience!

Below are some of my recent finds.

antiquebrushesdrawerspool

The antique silverware drawer tray was found at Still Life Consignment in Hudson.  The antique brushes and spool were found at Tables to Teapots in Acton. I envision the tray being used as a shadow box and the brushes and spool as forms for a body.

antiquecornershelf

This old corner shelf (turned upside-down in this photo) is destined to be used in my Historical Interpretations exhibit entry. (Earlier blog entries on this exhibit can be found here and here.) This piece also comes from Still Life Consignment.

Antique washboard

Antique washboard

Quills

Quills

The washboard and quills were found last fall at Nestings in Concord. The washboard “spoke” to me the moment I saw it. It was near the floor and leaning against some furniture in a rear display room. As soon as I saw it, a picture came to mind of how it would look it its finished state. I could see a sculpted head and arms. It would either be on a base or hanging on a wall.  My friend Judy was with me and in another part of the store.  I found her, brought her back to see the washboard and described to her the picture in my head. She simply said “I just got chills as you were describing it. You have to buy it.” And so I did.  (Aren’t those fun friends!)  The washboard is about 18″ long. When it is finished it will be the largest piece I’ve created so far.

candlesticksntiebacks

In this last picture are old candlesticks and curtain tie-backs. The antique white tie-backs reminded me of wings. Not sure how I’ll use them…yet.  The tie-backs and assorted small goodies (not pictured and including watch parts, metal thimbles, and rhinestone buttons) were all found at Thoreauly Antiques in Concord.


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Studio Re-do

The last few months I’ve been thinking about re-doing my studio. Some of this was prompted when Libby Mills started her blog series on artist studios. My studio was featured on her blog in June, 2008 and her questions put a little bug in my head about changing my studio. Then the artist studio magazines started to appear in the bookstores. Oh my. I could spend quite a bit of time flipping through those magazines soaking in all the awesome studios.

However, I don’t want another artist’s studio. I want my studio. And what I’ve learned in looking through those magazines is each artist has done something in his or her studio that makes it unique. It might be the color of paint on the walls, a favorite chair, or the decor on the walls.

I want to repaint the walls in my studio this year and I’m thinking about doing just that this summer. Until then, I’ve started rearranging the tables and pulling more stuff out of the closet. As crazy as that might sound, yes, I’m actually pulling stuff out of the closet and putting it into the studio. Part of this has to do with clearing out old stuff that I haven’t used in years or perhaps never used at all. Part of this is reorganizing stuff so I can see it. I’m a great model of “out of sight, out of mind” when it comes to a lot of the supplies I’ve collected.

Here is the previous table layout in the studio which had two tables off the rear wall and one table in the middle of the room.

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And a view of the closet:

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In the new configuration, I moved the table from the middle of the room and placed it short end to short end with one of the tables on the rear wall which expands my work space from 6ft to 12ft. The small 4ft table was placed perpendicular to the 6ft table. This table folds in half and is easily removed to create more floor space.

studiotables

The other change is the wire shelving you see between the two windows and the new, larger clock.

shelving

One of these units was in the studio closet. I bought two more last fall from Target and finally put them together. Now the three shelving units are in the studio which gives me better access to my mixed media supplies. All the container drawers are labeled so I know what is in each one (more or less.) Odd as it may be, I like having all these containers in the open. It feels more like a studio by having easier access to everything. I’ve also put some of the larger items I’ve collected from various antique stores and consignment shops (such as wood candle sticks, a turquoise blue wood spool, and a wood utensil drawer organizer) on the shelves as well. (Can you tell I love perusing antique and consignment stores?)

This rearrangement has also opened up some floor space which wants to be filled with a nice reading chair and perhaps a complimentary pillow. I found a chair at a local consignment shop. I hope to get back to the store in the coming week and make a final decision on whether or not the chair is a good fit.

I’ll post pictures of the goodies that I bought at the antique and consignment shops and if I buy that chair, I’ll share that with you too.