Friday, November 29, 2013

Bonus -- A Cabin Christmas

As previously discussed, the Christmas windows are never usually our favorites.  Mainly because we have parameters that are set by someone other than ourselves.  We're not divas -- we promise.  It's just that we like to challenge ourselves to approach each window differently, and make every one special in its own way.  But with the Christmas window, we know that the tree goes there, there must be presents under it, and it needs to look "rich and full".  (Don't ask.)  But it also needs to feel a certain bit of tradition, coziness, and usually, a fair amount of sparkle.

Well, we skipped the sparkle this year.

This year we decided to do a New England cabin/camping/fishing theme, based on our love of Rock Hudson's movie, Man's Favorite Sport?.  Made in 1964, Rock is a published fishing expert who actually doesn't know how to fish.  He works at Abercrombie and Fitch, and when his boss enters him into a fishing tournament, he gets outfitted with all of the coolest gear.  It's a feast for Blackbird eyes between the sets, clothes, and camping gear!

Our other inspiration was my obsession with Hudson Bay blankets.  I wish I could have stacks and stacks of them.  I recently found a red Pendleton one at an antique shop, and I thought the other Blackbird was going to have to drag me out of the store.  I wanted that blanket to live with me -- and since I couldn't afford it, I almost decided to just stay there and live with it.  It was a red Hudson Bay blanket, people!  And made by Pendleton!

Anyway, we used the stripes and the colors as a jumping off point for the rest of the window.  We found a great wrapping paper with trees that made for an interesting background, but wasn't overpowering.  We had the brilliant idea to make our own ornaments -- it's expensive to buy new ornaments every year, but it's very limiting to use the same ones over and over.  So we went to a thrift shop, bought some ugly 1980s glass balls, and spray painted them in green and cream.  We then painted the cream ones with Hudson Bay stripes.  The tree needed a garland, so we made a traditional paper chain, but updated it by using brown craft paper cardstock, and making the loops a little skinny and more delicate.  We made wooden plaques with animal figures cut out of scrapbook paper, and little wooden house cutouts got painted with houndstooth and plaid patterns.  We raided the fishing section at a discount store, and got all kinds of brightly colored lures and spinners.

We created the artwork on the fireplace mantel with a spare canvas we had at the house, found at a thrift shop for $1 and stashed away for something like this.  Several layers of cream paint went down first, and then we taped off stripes and painted them the Hudson Bay colors.  We needed a few more decorations, so we made a wooden plaque with a deer cutout in bright scrapbook paper, a string art monogram, and a lovely scrapbook paper covered wreath with handmade paper feathers.

The presents under the tree were themed as well.  We included fishing gear, toy boats, a tiny folding sling chair with a teddy bear, a vintage plaid flannel shirt, flashlights, and a sled.

We had been stashing away cabin merchandise because we knew we wanted to do a cabin window.  And we love the way it turned out.  Rock Hudson would be proud!

As a final note, we also decided to make our window charitable for the holiday season.  Collector's Antique Mall is hosting a food drive, and we've donated 50 handmade ornaments that coordinate with the window.  While supplies last, for every 5 cans of food you donate, you can pick out one of our ornaments to take home with you.  It starts today, November 29, 2013.


Thursday, November 28, 2013

On the Radar -- Botanica Mania

Traditional botanical illustrations are a classic.  And we can appreciate a classic.  However...what we really love is when classic becomes modern, especially by presenting the classics in a new or unexpected way.  The Blackbird girls love fun design, and the best new take on classic botanicals is to make it fun, whether by color, context, or through surprise.

The first example we fell in love with is some of the newer pieces from our favorite potter, Leanne Pizio.  We talked about her sgraffito pottery in this Junk Love post.  We don't own a piece like this -- yet -- but don't worry, we will. We love the color, and we also dig the playfulness of the hand carving -- it's not traditional, by any means.  It feels modern.

The we started seeing vintage botanical pull down charts in Country Living and Martha Stewart.  We love pull down charts, but we're more fans of the map and medical variety.  Educational tools as art is always modern, and we had never really though of charts with flora --

from The Impatient Gardener, here.
From Bonnie and Bell on Etsy, here.

They are dynamic, but pull down charts are expensive.  You can get the same feel with a vintage or reproduction print.  This example has great colors, and it's under $10!  Plus, I also liked how this print was displayed on a vintage clipboard -- it's quirky, and you could easily change it out with the seasons or with your mood.  Imagine a whole line of them along your wall:

From BonnBonn on Etsy, here.

This is more traditional, but I think the large scale and bright colors of this one makes it fresh:

From here.

And what about using color photocopies of prints as wallpaper?  This is stunning!

And if you want to wear your botanical print, check out these vintage goodies:

From Crush Vintage on Etsy, here.
From wildfellhallvintage on Etsy, here.

Or carry a 1970s botanical needlepoint handbag, available from our shop, here!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Turkey Time

I once showed up to a Thanksgiving costume party dressed as an Indian. I was the only one sporting braided pigtails and beads in a sea of starched black and white. I'm pretty sure we used this pattern:

When my fully pilgrim-ized second grade teacher asked me why I didn't dress like a pilgrim as she had requested, I rolled my eyes and said "How else will the pilgrims get corn for Thanksgiving if there aren't any Indians?" [I have a thing about corn.] How could somebody persecute an Indian at a Thanksgiving party? (Ha.) So for the majority of my childhood, I had a sort of anti-pilgrim thing. But really, how can you hate on pilgrims that look like this, especially when they have a Native American pal with really cool pants?
Gurley candles, Etsy

At Thanksgiving, I have always loved turkeys the most, though. Nothing excited me more in elementary school than painting my hand, pressing it firmly on thick construction paper, and making the world's cutest turkey out of it. Or cutting bright construction paper feathers and gluing them to a vaguely bird-shaped blob provided by my teacher. As an adult, I like cowboy turkeys:

 And turkeys in hats:

 And turkeys who tell jokes:

Turkeys and funny violence:


And you know I can't resist turkeys driving a giant ear of corn!

Ahhh! Corn. And turkey! I can smell Thanksgiving already.