Saturday, July 31, 2010

Where Women Create

The bright cover of Where Women Create, Issue #8, Fall 2010

Last March I received a few mysterious emails from someone telling me "The deadline for your article is April 1"... Huh? Who is this? Is this spam? What are you talking about? I ignored it. Then came another email and another. The 'deadline' was moved around a week or two and suddenly I realized I better respond to this email. I wrote: "Whoever you are, what are you talking about?" It seems I had been chosen as one of the nine ladies bring featured in the Fall issue of Where Women Create. When asked to be in a magazine, I am used to a phone call from an editor months in advance and the usual meticulous planning to get the store or my home prepared. In this case, it really came out of nowhere.

This particular issue was designed to introduce some of the guest speakers and panelists who would be at the Creative Connection Event happening September 16 in Minneapolis (of which I am one.) I came really close to turning down this magazine's offer because I was leaving for the Round Top, Texas Antique Show in 10 days. I was especially stressed because they wanted to shoot my 'studio', office and store (hence the title of the magazine) but only one of these areas was camera ready. Studio? I didn't really have one! My stuff was thrown in a room like most of you probably. And camera ready? Hardly. Also, because of the last minute scheduling the editor, Jo Packham could not make it in to art direct and trusted me to handle the shoot on my own. Because of this I was thrilled Jo agreed with my suggestion to ask my friend Elizabeth Maxson from St. Louis to shoot my spread.

The book project that introduced me to Jo.

WWC was a book first, then became a seasonal magazine launched by editor Jo Packham. Jo has a long history of publishing along with a few years in retail. I first crossed paths with her in 2001 when she called me at my first store in downtown KC to tell me she liked a Christmas window I had done. She asked if I could duplicate it inside my home for a book her daughter was writing with Sterling Publishing titled Vintage Christmas Crafts. After working out some details I agreed and she allowed me and my employee Nicole (also a professional photographer) to handle it all on our own. So in February 2002 Nicole and I locked ourselves in my home for two days as I staged, styled, art directed and wrote 15 pages for the book. When it came out I was thrilled with the results and to this day it is still one of my favorite spreads on my home.

Above, the window display Jo had seen in my shop window in 2001
that I recreated in my home for Vintage Christmas Crafts.

My current WWC editorial has a story or two behind it. For a week I transformed the shops dusty, junky, paint splattered cubby of a backroom into my 'studio'. Yes I had always wanted to clean it up and make it more organized and workable but procrastination is my middle name. (Nothing like a photo shoot to get your mojo going). I hunted for the right work table which I had needed all along, rearranged the shelving and tools so I could actually move around the room, exchanged the plastic storage tubs for photo worthy wooden crates and took all my collections out of hiding that deserved to be featured. I lined the walls with Curious Sofa stenciled plywood we take to antique shows, made labels for the storage crates, hung pennants I had made with our name from years ago, found an old vintage tool chest to organize our tools- and then the styling started.

The studio 'Before!' Pretty tragic huh?

My portrait left with a fabulous old lamp I found at Leftovers;
the workroom, right, with all the projects piled high:
an old postcard I collected hanging over my desk.

Another angle of the workroom they did not use.

I also had to redo my office a bit which has had so many makeovers in the last five years, I simply had to find its true identity. Months before the photo shoot I hung this brick wallpaper and found my new favorite utility desk. I haphazardly wired another 75 crystals on the chandelier and used these metal milk crates for my daily in-out boxes. The giant frame over my desk was a $10 plastic framed picture with a scenic 1970's waterwheel! I decoupaged dictionary pages all over it and now use it as a bulletin board- but there is nothing on it but the old postcard shown on page 66. Once I edit, I really edit! When the shoot finally came around I only cleaned my office up a bit and took out some of the bits and baubles I use to fix jewelry and design our advertising. Pearl is usually asleep at my feet, under my desk.

In the workroom tons of crates and boxes of stuff I had hidden were brought out
to decorate the space; below the milk crates in my office for filing.

By the time Elizabeth arrived to shoot the photos, I was p-o-o-p-e-d. All I had the energy for was walking her around and pointing, "I see a shot here, try and shoot this, and this might be good...." That was about it. I trusted her to highlight the good stuff and do her thing as I stayed in my office most of the day and worked on the store. The next day, as she was sleeping on my couch, I had to sneak off at 6 a.m.. to catch a plane for Austin on my way to Round Top. I still had not seen any pictures! She shot Amy Barickman (also featured in this issue) on Sunday and returned to my shop to shoot more of the store on Monday before she headed home.

In my office I make and repair jewelry from trays of findings; postcards and advertising
I have designed for the store; lower left a trophy my staff had engraved for me on
our first anniversary at the new store.

While in Round Top I was buried in the wilderness staying on a ranch so I could not communicate to see how everything was coming along with my article. On day five of the trip my friend Carol and I drove a UHaul home and somewhere outside of Waco I get a phone call from WWC asking, "Where is your copy for the story because it is due today?" I freaked out. "What!!?" I was driving and had no internet connection on my laptop and was stressed over meeting their deadline. The text was finished but I could not send it. So for the next 500 miles, poor Carol put up with me stopping in every major town along I-35, searching for a Starbucks or anyplace with free wireless so I could email the article I had written. 16 hours later we made it home.

For summer I designed this paper awning behind our counter from a beauty contest photo;
the store sign and metal sofa reflecting in the window; our vintage necklaces hanging on roe deer antlers.

I finally emailed the article off and waited to see the pictures. Once Elizabeth sent the photos WWC allowed us to choose our favorites and write captions for them. They also wanted a project shot to go with my story. This sent me in a spin as I am not much of a 'project' kind of gal- especially when I am under a deadline and featured in a national magazine. But I had an idea to construct topiaries made out of assorted vintage silver. (pitchers, creamers, cookie cutters, trophy parts, silverware, etc.) I had Elizabeth shoot this idea in the making and then when it was completed I shot the finished product, but they didn't use it. Weeks after I thought the entire article had been put to bed, I get another casual email telling me they need a 'new' project from me in two days. I freaked out again, not knowing what the heck I would do and as we emailed back and forth, I fought tooth and nail not understanding why they even needed that kind of thing from me. So we negotiated on using the milk crates as my 'project'. The preparation for this article was so overwhelming considering the time frame and my trip... I just wanted it finished. I don't think Jo was too happy with me and I can't help believe she got even with my stubborness by not putting my name on the cover! Ha- Touche!

My office: Elizabeth suggested we hang the old tattered
dress from a make-shift wire hanger.

About a month had past and I finally received a proof of my spread in the mail. After reviewing it I asked them to swap a couple of pictures and after more emails, we worked some things out but I was still not sure how the copy would read or how they would edit my story. When I got the magazine in the mail I was so pleased with my spread. Elizabeth's photos, along with the colors chosen for the layout, worked beautifully. Although it is certainly neutral and maybe a bit dull to some I loved the tone and flow of the spread. In fact, I think the entire issue is one of their best. It offers a wide variety of artists from all kinds of mediums as well as different styles of studios. And most of us will be at a magazine signing at the Creative Connection event September 16.

All of us at the shop especially liked this bedding photo because it shows the size
of the store which is usually hard to depict.

The photo above right was one of Elizabeth's (and my) favorites but the magazine didn't want to use it saying it looked "like an interior design magazine." I fought hard for her to keep it in saying "my store is where I create!" The bottom right photo I begged for too as there were not any kitchen antiques used in spread.

Now for some extras not shown in the magazine:
Here is the questionnaire they sent me:
1. We will need a FAVORITE QUOTE from you.
“You have been given such extraordinary gifts, how can you expect to lead an ordinary life?” -from the movie ‘Little Women’.

2. Give us your tip for success.
Design your life first, then design your business to fit your life.

3. What is your favorite place in all the world?
A cabin on the lake in the middle of nowhere.

4. What can you not go a single day without?
Visual stimulation.

5. What is your guiltiest pleasure?
Being still.

6. What is more than a gift?

7. It all started when?
I picked up my first magazine.

8. What inspires you to create?
Seeing someone else do something extraordinary.

9. What is art in your everyday?
Finding good design in whatever my eyes land on.

10. The endless hours you spend creating are made better only by?
No deadline, an endless budget, lots of manpower and good catering.

11. Who inspires you most to be better than you are?
My amazing group of girlfriends.

12. What do you pack to pursue your dreams and what do you leave behind?
I pack determination. I leave behind my routine.

13. What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?
Become invisible in the workrooms of my favorite designers.

Choose a color palette for us to design your layout around:
And below are some photos we did not use:

Organized chaos! A wide shot of the workroom.

A boudoir doll left and shadow box art designed by my deceased friend Lynn Steely.

Part of the many cigar boxes I have collected over time.

I admit it: These crates were totally rigged for the shoot.

Pearl under my feet as always. They wanted to use this shot but I felt she has had enough press!

Some trinkets piled in an old tackle box I have.

The infamous 'project' they decided not to use. This idea came from trying to think of something to put in the urns outside our store. I was so tired of dying plants!

The primitive hanger Elizabeth suggested I make.

I rarely go to Estate Sales but 20 years ago I wandered into one on the final day. It was virtually empty but when I slid a closet door open this little dress was hanging there. I nearly died! It is so fabulous. Dull green and threadbare with the aged lace. I have drug it around with me from loft to apartment to shop. A Hallmark photographer shot a beautiful image of it and told me all the film came out with a glow in the center of the dress. Something he could not figure out but now he believes it is haunted!

A few photos from my collection of men.

The trinkets I make and repair jewelry from.

This is me, all day, every day, staring at the screen.

A necklace I made for the shoot. That is my mom and dad's wedding picture and my birthday is the 17th.

How many muffin tins have we all seen filled with charms?

Our rolls of labels for gift wrap.

As much as I loved this shot I did not want to show bunnies and wreaths in my spread. Some things are better to not advertise!!

Our bedding folded in these fabulous Egyptian armoires.

A wider image of the living room.

An old iron chandelier for sale.

My friend Amy is also featured in this issue. She is having a book signing at Curious Sofa September 4th. See us both at the Creative Connection!

And dear Elizabeth (who was also featured on the May cover of WWC) who busted her tail to shoot the stories for Amy and I. Thank you honey!

Pick up a copy today or wait for our new online store (coming soon!). We will sell them there too.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Lost in Transition

Just in, this vintage glass lamp with gathered shade.
The concrete cherub wears one of our crystal cluster necklaces.

The slow passage from July into August is a bit baffling for me as a retailer. When it is still 95 degrees outside its hard for me to start selling wreaths and pumpkins or begin burning our harvest scented candles. (Not that all of that hasn't been arriving, mind you.) The back room is filling fast with fourth quarter merriment and just today I designed our Halloween postcard. Working weeks and months ahead of certain holidays is customary but it can also leave the current season in the dust.

I love it when I find these old quilts made from mens suiting.
It's a bit rough around the edges but would make for great pillows!

Painted black table with delicate legs.

If this rusted metal lamp doesn't sell right away, it will be
a great centerpiece for our Fall decor.

Framed lettering.

This summer I have been working non-stop on preparing our new website with online shopping. I knew it would be a long battle and was nearly certain I could make the August 1 deadline because I started preparing in May! But as usual it was more work than I had expected. One minute I want it to be perfect then lately, at 3:00 a.m. I decide, "This is good enough..." I won't go into the angst over the design (I hope you like the change and understand the simplicity) or the product (some things are in the store, some are not) the categories (mostly things that are easy to ship) and if every picture and description is clear and accurate. Oh well, stand by. I'll send up a flare when its ready.

This giant copper lined concave mirror would be perfect for most entryways.

Stacking baskets with enamel letters.

Had to have it! I am crazy about this vintage lamp with chain link design and silver shade.

This week the newest issue of Where Women Create hits the stand and we have a great spread featuring the store, my office and our workroom (look for Amy Butler on the cover). I'll post some images from it in a few days. In the meantime, take a look at some of the new goods we just got in and please try to make it in this week for one last look at our Summer, waiting for Fall.

Set of four vintage florals.

Hand painted German boudoir dolls (from my personal collection.)

I am not usually a fan of chenille but this has a simple
graphic design- and in great shape too.

Beautiful millinery flowers under a Florentine cloche.

Halloween Open House, August 27-29!!!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Falling Star

Is it just me or is this seasons HGTV Design Star the worst thing to come along in the design world since plastic slipcovers? What is going on here?!! Last night's show just about did me in so I had to post something about it. If you are like me you cannot help but watch and underneath the internal screams ask yourself, "what would I have done?"

Tonight's challenge was to design an apartment in a new Trump Plaza complex. Anyone within arms reach of a paint chip should already know this means your design better be good, it better be glam and it better be finished! Now when I say finished I do not mean the paint better be dry I mean pulled together. Rugs, window treatments, art, furniture, objects, style... that's what design is! It seems no one told this bunch.

To add the proverbial prime-time twist to this task they give each contestant their inspiration for the makeover: a New York souvenir or landmark to design their room around. Already I smell disaster because past episodes have shown this team has no imagination. Here is an example of past projects:

The white box challenge. I think I would have walked off the show
if I had been a judge after seeing this.

A patio challenge: One hot mess is all I can say.

Designing a room from a floral bouquet: How many colors
of blue can one room have?

Now for this weeks episode:
The Inspiration: The New York Skyline

How they expressed it:

The Inspiration: Times Square

How they expressed it: (no, I am not kidding!)

A large Times Square mural and glistening globe lights to remember
dropping the ball on New Years Eve.

Inspiration: The New York Taxi Cab
How they expressed it:

(what is not shown: a tiny cab toy under glass!)

WHY DIDN'T THEY DO SOMETHING LIKE THIS?I love seeing this style of black and white floor with a more modern twist
rather than using the typical check.

The touch of turquoise was just right to break up the black and yellow palette.

Inspiration: The Statue of Liberty
Here is what they did:
Yes, this is the after picture!

Can you imagine using this image and building the room around it
using patina colors like Liberty herself? Oh, the possibilities!

While researching this post I see I am not alone in my angst over this show. The HGTV website, chat rooms and blog have been inundated with negative comments about this series. Each week the judges try to find something positive to say to the contestants about their hideous designs when I am screaming from the couch, "There is nothing good to say!" Where is the Simon Cowell judge to tell these clowns they don't have a clue?! I was excited to see Mark Burnett had taken over the production but I am not sure he is in charge of the tasks, the casting or the judges. All I know is Donald Trump Jr. finally told the contestants what they should have heard from day one, "I am tearing out what you did as we speak." Now that's good TV!