Wednesday, July 3, 2013

My Latest Greatest Tool Find

Recently I had the good fortune of discovering the Troy Antique Mall in Troy, NC, and I was charmed by the hospitality extended to me by the store's owners, Sibyl and Marty Williams.  They were friendly without going overboard, attentive without hovering, and oh so accommodating of my requests to open display after display so that I could drool over the treasures hidden within.

It's my very own World War II Era Metal Stamping Kit

During my visit, I managed to collect quite a few post cards, a vintage tin with textured graphics, and a dime dispenser for Ken.  Then, on my final walk-through, I spotted this beauty in "Case #6".  I was drawn to it like a moth to a flame.  I knew that I had to make it mine.

An Outside View

When I first took the mallet out of the case, my reflex was to test the weight and balance in my hand with a mock striking motion.  I didn't even realize that I'd done it until I'd replaced it, and Sibyl said, "It looks like you've done this before!" 

I hope to become a regular visitor at  The Antique Mall.  I can't imagine passing through Troy again without stopping.  And as for this set, it's found a new home and place of honor in my studio. I'll treasure it for a lifetime, and I've already begun to dream about a new jewelry collection inspired by its history. 

This kit includes individual stamps of the full alphabet,
a mallet, the case, and a specialized anvil.
One side of the anvil was used for
marking spoons, forks, and knives
from the mess kits.
The other side of the anvil was used
for marking meat cans. 
After WWI, dog tags were
no longer hand stamped as the
process was automated.

The letters and random words stamped into the wood
add to the appeal of these tools for me.

The first three letters stamped with my new set.
A nod to my Dad who enlisted in the army
during World War II when he was 17 years old.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

CREATE Mixed Media Artists' Faire Please Join Me!

Please join me on on Friday, July 19th, from 6:00 - 9:00 at the CREATE Mixed Media Artists' Faire at The Doubletree Hotel in Somerset, New Jersey.  I've managed to exceed the legal limit of mixed media art supplies in my possession, and I'll be sharing my extras during this event.  I'll also have a variety of my own work on display for inspiration.

I attended my first CREATE Mixed Media Retreat last year, and I highly recommend it.  It's hard to describe the energy that surrounds you when so many artistic souls gather to share their talents and experiences.  Over 90 classes will be offered this year, and I've already enrolled in two of them myself. 

You'll find more information about this event, and the CREATE Retreats in California and Illinois, on the CREATE Website.  Hope to see you there! 

A small selection of the treasures that I'll be sharing.

Monday, July 1, 2013

The Tools Of My Trade - Honoring My Family History

Hi.  My name is Jean, and I'm addicted to my tools.
A few of my favorites. 
My first set of vintage letter stamps, a variety of texturing tools,
well worn wooden holders, and my all time favorite hammer.

I come by it honestly.  My Dad was a maintenance foreman at J&L Steel in Pittsburgh, and my Grandpap had a collection of ragtag tools that defies the imagination.  Both of them loved their tools, and I'd give anything to spend even an hour with them today in their individual work spaces.

My Dad's workbench in the basement of our house on Highgrove Road was organized to a fault.  Each tool had it's place in pegboard on the walls, and each drawer...especially the tiny plastic ones...were painstakingly organized with the contents clearly labeled on the front.  (Dad was a wiz with his label maker!)  He loved his tools, and he cared for them in a way that allowed them to last for a lifetime.

On the other hand, my Grandpap's basement shop resembled an avalanche overflowing from the top of his workbench to the corners of the room.  I'm sure that he had his own system; but it was lost on the rest of us.  The new tools that my Dad proudly presented to him as holiday gifts were often hidden away and "saved for good".  Instead he worked with a mishmash of salvaged, repaired, and repurposed cast offs, and he seemed to enjoy the challenge of keeping them going.

Today I treasure both approaches to tools and workshop organization.  I love the beauty of a brand new well designed tool, and I also adore the imperfection and history of a well used yard sale find.  I strive for a at least a bit of my Dad's order; but Grandpap's tendency toward repurposing and collecting continues to rear its head.  I'd like to think that my methods honor them both, and I hope that they're proud of my hybrid ways.  Their influence in my daily life continues, both in the workshop and out, and I'm grateful for all that they've taught me.

My favorite hammer is the one that my Dad
used  each day of his life, and now the same is true of me.
I love the feel of it in my hand, and the way that
every mark on it tells a story. 
Perfection is overrated.