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Seattle has a water world all its own, brimming with ocean life and numerous shipping and sailing vessels. Look a bit closer though, and you will find a lifestyle choice of island living accessible by ferry rides through Puget Sound. Vashon Island, WA is strictly dependent on ferry transportation as NO roads or bridges connect this beautiful land mass to civilization. With just over 10,000 residents in roughly 37 sq miles of area, it is not densely populated with anything but trees! Each spring and fall, art seekers hop on the ferry to get a glimpse of the beautiful scenery, local culture and great food during the Vashon Island Art Studio Tour. Once off the boat, you enter the true NW Pacific life.

Ferry to Vashon Island

Ferry to Vashon Island

 

Driving off the ferry, armed with my cell phone listing the initial studio address, this year’s May 2014 discovery began.  We quickly learned each artist’s studio stop had descriptive brochures with a handy map of the full tour.

Toward the north end of the island, we visited painter Kristen Reitz-Green’s studio. Quaintly situated in a the Green barn behind her home, we were delighted with her incredible pet portraits and all her original oil paintings.

Off to the barn

Off to the barn

 

Kristen Reitz-Green art barn

Kristen Reitz-Green art barn

Kristen explained her life long love of the arts which included a long professional career as a symphony french horn player. Eventually she stepped out of the lime light and into great painting light to truly hone a new craft.

Kristen Reitz-Green with a few of her "friends"

Kristen Reitz-Green with a few of her “friends”

More of Kristen's incredible oils

More of Kristen’s incredible oils

Kristen pointed out a few studios we would not want to miss, so we headed to the nearby shoreline studio of GRB Bells. As a true nature lover, the entrance to this functional jewelry studio was half the fun!

Heading down to the shoreline entrance of GRB Bells

Heading down to the shoreline entrance of GRB Bells

What a view of the Sound!

What a view of the Sound!

 

Gordon Barnett, after receiving a BFA in painting in the late 60’s, learned jewelry making had a bit more income potential. After a decade of casting, he tried his first bell. So many thankful patrons are glad he did!

Sterling silver bells hand made by Gordon Barnett, each one with a unique ring.

Sterling silver bells hand made by Gordon Barnett, each one with a unique ring.

Back in the car, we headed once more through the tree lined roads, stopping at the Hardware Store Restaurant for some incredible clam chowder and fish tacos. YUM!

Ready to take on more sights, we headed far down the island to The Marjesira Inn. Originally opened in 1904, you can still envision the docking of a steamship at the wharf unloading the original guests. Still working as a two room available B&B,  owner/occupant Jacqui Lown treated us to a large sample of her paintings and prints in the drawing room, and upstairs in the historically rich inn.

Overnight accommodations at The Marjesira Inn are a live history lesson on the island

Overnight accommodations are a live history lesson on the island

If contemporary art combined with the rugged NW scenery is appealing to you, check out the work of Gunter Reimnitz. We ventured up the walk seeing Gunter’s huge pieces in the yard of the three artist Reimnitz Studio which also featured Hartmut and Ilse Reimnitz (Gunter’s parents.) We joked with Gunter that he probably did not stand a chance at another career with two artists as parents. But his work is so fresh and fun, you can see he keenly loves his career.

Steel artist Gunter Reimnitz with a few of this year's flock

Steel artist Gunter Reimnitz with a few of this year’s flock

Detailed ravens meticulously cut in steel by Gunter Reimnitz

Detailed ravens meticulously cut in steel by Gunter Reimnitz

Ilse Reimnitz was also on hand with stunning contemporary monotype prints as well as her watercolors and art cards.

Ilse Reimnitz contemporary monotype prints

Ilse Reimnitz contemporary monotype prints

Hartmut Reimnitz is an incredibly talented oil artist as well, with several pieces displayed. If you ever get a chance to see this families pieces in person, don’t miss it!

Hartmut Reimnitz can make a simple scene spectacular in oil

Hartmut Reimnitz can make a simple scene spectacular in oil

Before getting back on the ferry, we stopped in a group show in the Grange Hall on the top of the island. One memorable artist, Marcia McKenzie, is known for her batik technique on rice paper. Quite the nice lady as well as a creative talent!

Artist Marcia McKenzie is popular for her roosters, but a talent at other motifs as well

Artist Marcia McKenzie is popular for her roosters, but a talent at other motifs as well

Between the fresh air, back road navigating and good food, what the Vashon Island Art Studio Tour lacked in number of artists, (just 23 stops,) it more than made up for in original content and atmosphere. Thanks to our Seattle native (and my son) Nate Otto for keeping a hand on the wheel while I soaked up the scenery!

If you happen to ferry out to Vashon when the tour is not in progress, stop in The Heron’s Nest in the center of the island on Vashon Hwy. It is loaded with the work of over 100 artists from the island with 60% of the proceeds going directly to the artists and 40% benefiting the local arts. In such a picturesque setting, we hope to see the Vashon arts community thrive!

Heron's Nest Vashon Island is filled with great local artists' talents

Heron’s Nest Vashon Island is filled with great local artists’ talents

 

 

Texas Clay Festival

In the fast paced cyber world that has reached all of us in some form or another, a day of escape to Gruene, TX for the Texas Clay Festival was just what the doctor ordered! The artists, all talented clay workers, showcased the best Texas has to offer in this medium. In addition to their well priced booth products, many gave live demonstrations in several venues throughout the day.

Randy Brodnax finishing a piece with ferric chloride spray after live firing.

Randy Brodnax finishing a piece with ferric chloride spray after live firing.

Randy Brodnax collected quite a crowd as he pulled hot pieces from his onsite gas fired kiln. Pieces were selling “hot off the press,” with one especially “hot” item – three legged frogs.

THis lucky frog made it through the firing into a trash can with newspaper reduction process.

This lucky frog made it through the firing into a trash can with newspaper reduction process.

Movement, composition and texture were very strong in many of the artisans pieces. Here are a few favorites:

Massive sculpture by JoLea Arcidiaco , gifted sculpture from San Antonio, TX

Massive sculpture by JoLea Arcidiaco, gifted sculpture from San Antonio, TX

Round Rock, TX artist "Shika" had some incredible vases and teapots.

Round Rock, TX artist “Shika” had some incredible vases and tea pots

Abstract art plates by Ron Boling, self-proclaimed "rakooster" from New Braunfels, TX

Abstract art plates by Ron Boling, self-proclaimed “rakooster” from New Braunfels, TX

Creative dinnerware was an easy find. Kym Owens, Vietnam orphan, adopted as a baby, grew up in Lubbuck, TX. Also a classically trained dancer, she can be found at teaching at Sunset Canyon Pottery in Austin.

Creative dinnerware was an easy find. Kym Owens, Vietnam orphan, adopted as a baby, grew up in Lubbuck, TX. Also a classically trained dancer, she can be found teaching at Sunset Canyon Pottery in Austin.

Clay shard enhanced skulls were selling quickly from Jessica Battes both. This artist lives/teaches ceramics in San Antonio, TX

Clay shard enhanced skulls were selling quickly from Jessica Battes booth. This artist lives/teaches ceramics in San Antonio, TX

Prepared to be inspired! Artist studio tours throughout the U.S., you can help get caught up with artistic inspiration. Even if you are not an artist yourself, or shopping for quality art work,  the unique homes and studio spaces may inspire you to pick up a remodeling hammer in your own space.

The April-May 2013 WEST studio tour featured west side Austin artists within 178 individual stops. Each stop had one or more artist featured, so the two weekend show was impossible to view in it’s entirety within the time frame. However, we managed to squeeze in about two dozen artists. A few inspiring images follow:

Love the gargoyles in this creative landscape. We knew a clay artist lived nearby…

Landscape outside the Patricia Meheriuk clay studio

Followed the path signs on well used easels to talented Brigitte Edery’s studio:

Follow the signs

Follow the signs

The creative use of an L-shaped lot, with only a small amount of street contact in Austin, TX, worked well for a studio/home combo for Diana Seidel. The small home near the street was converted into a quaint potter’s studio. The larger open back of the lot was used to build a new home.

Diana Seidel's customized studio in front of her Austin home.

Diana Seidel’s customized studio in front of her Austin home.

 

Entrance to Melissa Grimes home/studio was inspiring. The inside space allowed for three secluded porches that wrapped around the home for a welcoming entrance, a well lit studio and private eat-in porch. Grimes noted the turn of the century home was “pulled” into the Austin neighborhood. Detailed preservation but also some added interior features make the structure comfortable and workable.

Art-Studio-Melissa-Grimes

Melissa Grimes home/studio in Austin, TX

 

Many artists use their creative energy both inside and outside their properties. Stephanie Bradley, artist/realtor saw a diamond in the rough in her central Austin home. The rough, disheveled yard was converted into a storybook walk to additional studio space in the garage.

Yard work constantly in progress at Artist Stephanie Bradley's home

Yard work constantly in progress at Artist Stephanie Bradley’s home

 

For many of the artists on the tour, we were allowed a rare glimpse of work in progress. Across the alley from the Austin Art Garage, we were allowed into the inner sanctum of Austin artist Joel Ganucheau. Not every painter has an easel!

Studio wall of Joel Ganucheau's space

Studio wall of Joel Ganucheau’s space

So get online and do a Google search for “art studio tours” followed by the name of your city. The drive and inspiration is incredible, as well as meeting the artists in person. Understanding their perspective may change your perspective entirely on what to purchase for your space. Or you might be inspired to get your own studio started!

 

 

 

Ash in the Past

Over a year ago, Todd Van Duren’s pottery workshop, behind his home, literally went up in flames. But many of his fellow potter’s in the Austin, TX area came to his aid the next few days to sort through the ashes. Not only were many finished pieces saved, but the artist says the glazes took on incredible colors and patinas resulting from the high temperature “firing.” 80% of the salvaged pots sold fairly quickly to discerning collectors that realized this one-time opportunity.

As the sort/salvage on the burnt out structure progressed, the roof tin from the old studio was kept and later used to work as siding when rebuilding began. During the recent WEST Studio Tour in Austin (April and May 2013) we saw the new workspace. The interior was still waiting on wall board, but the exterior proudly shows off the burned tin as a tribute to the assistance of his fellow artists.

Todd Van Duren clay studio with tin reclaimed from earlier fire.

New Todd Van Duren clay studio with tin reclaimed from earlier fire.

Van Duren continues to work on his “housing projects,” slab built structures made entirely of clay.

Slab home - clay - by artist Todd Van Duren, Austin, TX

Slab home – clay – by artist Todd Van Duren, Austin, TX

The new studio has lots of light and entirely new wiring.  Note to ANY artist considering a garage remodel into an art studio: Check your wiring thoroughly. The in wall wiring Todd had not replaced in his space caused the studio destroying fire. And don’t forget to insure any structure that is part of your creative business!

Artist’s minds don’t stop being creative just because they are out of their studios. The artistic eye of Sarah Bork in Austin, TX is always on the look out for her “daily image.” Bork made a commitment to do a full year of iPhone photos with a daily piece placed on “calendars” drawn on her home walls. In addition to using the iPhone to take all the photography, she found editing apps that allowed her to manage any contrast and brightness issues she could detect on the spot. The nearly completed year was on display in her home during the West Studio Tour held in Austin (April and May 2013). Kudos to Sarah for sticking to the daily plan, but also showing her amazing photographic eye in such an accessible method.

iPhone shots daily by Sarah Bork - Austin, TX

iPhone shots daily by Sarah Bork – Austin, TX

Love the look of reclaimed wood tables? Try your hand at building your own. Select rough planks from a salvage yard or possibly a nearby old farmstead (check with the owner first!)
Sand off the planks and lay them on a flat surface (like a concrete floor) to see where they join together nicely.

If you own woodworking tools, use a table saw to rip off rough edges on chosen boards. Then run the fresh cut thin edges on a planer. The larger faces of each board can be run through a planer, or left rough for creative interest.

With all boards prepped, mark a line at the 1/3, 1/2 and 2/3 dimension on the top of the reclaimed wood boards. Where these marks hit on each board, use a biscuit joiner to make slits for biscuits to join the boards.
Buscuit joiner

When you are satisfied with the dry fit of the biscuits between the planks, glue up all the seams to make one flat table top. Clamp and let dry over night.

Add hairpin legs underneath and enjoy! (Shopping for hairpin legs? Go to http://hairpinlegs.com)

Enjoy your unique table design!

recailmed wood coffee table

Image source: http://www.etsy.com/listing/104636169/coffee-table-reclaimed-wood-salvaged

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From an original spelling (no “B” in Thumprints) to original style, we love the new introductions from Thumprints lighting collection.

To get to know brand designer Allison Davis a bit better, we asked her a few questions about her line.

Allison-Davis

Here is a glimpse into her design aesthetic and a few exciting new products.

Mill and Leaf: What are your earliest design memories in any medium?

Allison: I started making lamps by going to antique stores and finding unusual objects.  I made them out of candle sticks, boxes, blown glass, wine bottle etc.  You can make a lamp out of just about anything, which is what makes them such fun accessories!!

Mill and Leaf: What excites you about working with lighting, in particular, as a designer?

Allison: I am not sure why I got into lighting, but I still have several unusual lamps that I picked out for my high school bedroom, so I have always been intrigued by unique lighting.  Lighting is an important part of every room, and lamps can simply serve the functional purpose of lighting, or become an artistic focal point of a room. When designing lamps for the line, I focus on creating pieces of functional art – “lamps as distinctive as your thumprint”.

Mill and Leaf: What art style, either current or historical, is a favorite…and why?

Allison: I like abstract art and bright colors.  I am also drawn to sculpture and three dimensional design. Thumprints lamps are artistically-styled, and often “sculpted” from a single object or form, and combine textures, shapes, colors and materials, all of which I attribute to my love of abstract art and sculpture.

Nandina-Table-Lamp

Mill and Leaf: Any especially interesting fact/feature concerning your company or products  that you would like to share.

Allison: All of Thumprints 2012 introductions are Made in the USA.  We are proud to support American manufacturing!

Sounds like you found your calling Allison. We are happy to share your innovative designs with our customers!

Tiger's-Eye-Table-Lamp

If you have a love for great interior design, you may have come across a furniture piece that “just speaks” to you. I had such a moment in a reproduction furniture showroom at the High Point, NC Furniture show this past fall.

The entire showroom was filled with historically detailed, quality crafted pieces. Hand rubbed finishes, impeccable details, solid wood with old world construction. (You know, the type of furniture built to last 100 years.)

About 3/4ths of the way through the showroom, I came across this beautiful oak floor cabinet.

88906_alt1

The weight of the iron doors as I folded them back, the latches and louvers, solid oak feel all made me linger. But I knew I was in love, when after viewing thousands of pieces at the show, this cabinet still stuck in my mind on the airplane home.

I started fantasizing all the places it would fit in a home. Library shelving, sure, but kitchen storage, dining room cabinet, media storage… This was a piece that could bring classic furniture styling to even a modern or transitionally designed space. Definitely the furniture piece everyone would want at any estate sale or auction house if it were the original antique, this one was a classic.

Well, you get the idea… hopefully you have at least one piece in your home or “dream home” that has the same effect on you!

Backsplash Uncorked

Searching this week on great ways to incorporate an interesting over-the-range tile backsplash idea with stacked stone tile, I came across this interesting article in Houzz.com. A creative DIY project included wine corks in a backsplash.


In my humble opinion, the corks will eventually reduce in size in a dry climate or possibly expand with kitchen steam or humidity. I think the color variation is great though, so may try to recreate with colored tiles instead.

With everyone’s focus on environmentally friendly ways of living, we were thrilled to find these recycled natural fiber area rugs.

Recycled over-dyed natural fiber area rugs

Recycled over-dyed natural fiber area rugs

Natural wool area rugs are given new life with an entire soak in earth-friendly dyes. The range of colors used on these rugs is astounding. Dark classic tones to bright moderns give the renewed area rugs a vintage feel. These 9′ x 12′ room sized over-dyed rugs range in price from $8,000 to $15,000. But one of a kind finds like this are art works in and of themselves.

Recycled natural fiber area rugs

Ecofriendly dyes provide broad range of color

Pair these area rugs with vintage decor or modern designer pieces. Either way, you’ll know your design choice leaves less impact on Mother Earth and more design appeal in your home.