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With Mill and Leaf, I occasionally go out on private design projects. Most recently, I worked for about 2 months converting a “vanilla box” family room into a collector’s trove of sports and music memorabilia. Near completion, I quickly shot some pictures to share with our readers. Pardon the photo quality…but enjoy the post from my designer’s perspective!

From a young age, this Austin, TX area home owner collected all types of signatures and items that seemed important at the time. From General Patton’s signature on his original Life magazine cover to Elvis and Buddy Holly, even Mickey Mantle and several other sports giants, I never knew what would show up on the list next.

Framed Life Magazine from 1941 signed by General Patton himself!

Framed Life Magazine from 1941 signed by General Patton himself!

Yes there was a list. An Excel with over 200 items sorted by category and person/team with measurements and notes on each item. This list proved invaluable, initially to calculated the largest parts of the collection (in sq inches) and later to sort by frames needed to purchase, etc.

After the initial list was made (of course more items showed up later) I began sketches for the final project sign off.

Here are a couple of the walls I saw at first walk through.

Sofa wall before

Sofa wall before

Doorway to existing bedroom

Doorway to existing bedroom

It became apparent that transforming just one room would be inadequate for the full collection. So we choose to take out the bedroom door and open up the bedroom wall into the main room to combine both spaces. This made a unique opportunity to make the former bedroom into the music bar area and the current family room into the sports den.

The large bar would relocate into the bedroom area, giving ample floor space in the family room. Large plank wood flooring was run throughout the two spaces to keep continuity in the design even though the subject matter changed.

Here’s a look after the wall was out and decor almost finished…

New wall opening and old doorway roomed (was located where ed polo hangs)

New wall opening and old doorway removed (was located where red polo hangs)

 

But I am jumping ahead… let’s back up to the original sketches.

We spent a few hours photographing each item so I could envision how the items related. As an example, the homeowner had worked for Kodak as VP of Sales and Marketing for years. Sponsoring racing drivers and cars was a common event. So he started collecting Jimmy Vassar items (one of the Kodalux drivers.) An authentic racing suit, worn in formula races, trophy replica, signed thank you photos and even a Wheaties box featuring the driver were a few of the items pulled out of storage.

The back of the actual Jimmy Vasser racing suit

The back of the actual Jimmy Vasser racing suit

So the adventure of designing each area, perfect for the items to be displayed began.

Jimmy V on the Wheaties box

Jimmy V on the Wheaties box

 

The sketch out of a portion of the race area where Vasser racing suit would be hung

The sketch out of a portion of the race area where Vasser racing suit would be hung

Specific “bump out” display shelving was designed for certain items in the collection to differentiate them from the mix. The Jimmy Vasser suit would be encased in a type of plexiglass “door” with chrome hinges and handle. This would allow the piece to be swung out into the room to see both sides of the piece.

Racing Suit case on hinges to reveal back

Racing Suit case on hinges to reveal back

The “bump out” areas were textured like the existing walls, but painted a lighter grey than the room walls inside the shelving areas to make them visually stand out. LED lighting was run in strips along the sides of the shelving and LED gimbal recessed can lights (mini spots that tip) were placed at the tops of shelving areas and in wall boxes at the top along the ceiling where displays would mount below.

View of the completed Vasser display area

View of the completed Vasser display area

The plexiglass box with racing suit had an additional plexi layer mounting the poster of Vasser in the Kodalux car and Certificate of Authenticity concerning the suit. This kept the lower portion of the suit (no logos on the legs) from being too non-eventful, also visually balancing out the busy display on the left.

Without belaboring the process, the design continued around the room. For the baseball area, I converted the large valance by recovering and attaching two huge hand stitched baseballs. The many balls, bats cards and collectors magazines were layered by adding a block behind some pieces to hang them out 1.5 inches from the wall so they could layer over a corner of another piece that was flat on the wall. This optimized our scant wall space for such a large collection, while adding a natural design rhythm to the groupings.

Valance before

Large 108 inch window valance before

Baseballs attached to recovered valance. Team collections on right and left wall areas.

Baseballs attached to recovered valance. Team collections on right and left wall areas.

One area of the baseball section featured older items. During the project, they discovered a vintage suit worn by a family member nearly 80 years ago was still with a sister.They managed to procure the piece and I placed it in a protective box with Grandpa’s vintage glove and hankie. This section really echoed the Hall of Fame feel.

With Mantle and Maris on the Life covers and an heirloom baseball uniform, this area became a mini Cooperstown

With Mantle and Maris on the Life covers and a family heirloom baseball uniform, this area became a mini Cooperstown.

Football was also quite the draw, so we incorporated seats at the 50 yard line to watch the game on the TV on the opposite wall.

The field graphic was a shot I had taken years ago when a company outing took my husband and I to a skybox at a Husker game in Lincoln, NE. The photo was first cleaned and skewed in Photoshop, then enlarged to 91 inches and spray mounted to masonite sheeting. Mounting plexiglass over the top made it a more professional looking graphic. Spacing it 1.5 inches off the wall, lights were run behind to give the effect of upward stadium lights at night. A large shelf was added below with additional lighting and a place to prop large signed items. (Cowboys and Oakland Raiders items on the same shelf…hope they behave.) With the wall nearly full, I added a corner unit to make 22″ of wall become 34 on the angle so a 30 inch plexi box with a signed Joe Montana jersey could hang.

Seats at the 50 yard line

Seats at the 50 yard line

Corner custom display for the Joe Montana Jersey

Corner custom display for the Joe Montana Jersey

For music fans who have been patiently waiting for some tunes in this post, here we go.

The bar area was accented with Lone Star, True Grit, Waylon and Willie as well as many other  heartbroken and lonely country stars (like the three Hanks). Again signatures abound. Most could be framed, but a Clint Black signed jacket and actual guitar with Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson’s signatures needed a larger case. So we made the awkward area where the door used to enter the bedroom into a floor to ceiling display area. Every inch of the room was hung with record covers lining the ceiling border.

Edison bulb fixtures and the new Lone Star LED sign layered over a vintage poster keep the bar area interesting

Edison bulb fixtures and the new Lone Star LED sign layered over a vintage poster keep the bar area interesting, while cool and efficient LED spots accent the albums

No respectable bar in the Austin area would miss a collage of the renowned WN

No respectable bar in the Austin area would miss a collage of the renowned WN. The table in the foreground was the owners childhood game table. A collage of old music clippings, Texas map and concert posters under glass hide the original top.

 

Next to Willie are the "Three Hanks." Even the sliding doors were decked out with thin pieces on the left so the closet is still functional.

Next to Willie are the “Three Hanks.” Even the sliding doors were decked out with thin pieces on the right so the closet is still functional.

 

The former room entry area is now an enclosed display case

The former room entry area is now an enclosed display case

 

A bit of "Jail House Rock" and "Riding High" keep the rhythm going

A bit of “Jail House Rock” and “Riding High” keep the rhythm going

 

The Waylon album collection continued over the archway back into the Sports den

The Waylon album collection continued over the archway back into the Sports den

 

No rope accent should be without its glitzy LED light rope partner. This section is filled with Hollywood and wine tasting memorabilia

No rope accent should be without its glitzy LED light rope partner. This section is filled with Hollywood and wine tasting memorabilia

The homeowners tell me they have a great time relaxing in their newly displayed memory rooms. They might be able to charge a cover to offset the design fees! I would… (just kidding). But overall what a fun project for me and a great space for their entertaining hours.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Austin has such a high percentage of artists and musicians within it’s city limits. (Pun intended ACL goers.)

For the WEST Studio Tour, only the Austin area west of I-35 and east of Hwy 360 is considered a viable stop. For the Spring 2014 tour, that equated to 241 stops!

I have to target a few favorites for this blog, but this is just the tip of the iceberg…make it a point to attend the next WEST show!

One of the popular stops is along 2309 Thorton Rd, where several studios nest together.

Fireseed Clay, home to several working potters, always comes through with new and different faces.

Creature peeking from Rick Van Dyke's pot

Creature peeking from Rick Van Dyke’s pot at Fireseed Clay Art Studios

New faces on the tour there included Jennifer Hill and Texadae.

Jennifer Hill's Card featuring a few of her creations

Jennifer Hill’s Card featuring a few of her creations

Nice Jugs Ceramics showing detailed inscribed pottery jugs.

Nice Jugs Ceramics showed detailed inscribed pottery jugs

The Nice Jugs pieces can be ordered to commemorate an event or person in your life. Texadae@gmail.com to order. How fun!

Still in the Thorton Rd studio area, we saw metal, photography, painting, jewelry and wood. A feast for the fine craft connoisseur.

Photography from around the world by Greg Davis

Photography from around the world by Greg Davis

Sandy Muckleroy showed a selection of her incredible metal and wire pieces

Sandy Muckleroy showed a selection of her incredible metal and wire pieces

Amanda Wood featured unique ceramic sculpture

Amanda Wood featured unique ceramic sculpture

Mindy Graber explained her mosaic technique and interesting class format for DIY clients

Mindy Graber explained her mosaic technique and interesting class format for DIY clients

 

One of our stops included a Ridgeview street home with multiple artists.

Talented glass artist Andrea Loomis explained how her pieces can be ordered in custom groupings. In a modern home, this would make quite a presentation along a staircase wall or feature area. Andreas platters could even mount on a ceiling for an incredible effect!

Andrea Loomis_IMG_4625

Malina Cipleu_IMG_4627

Malina Cipleu wearing one of her necklace creations

Malina Cipleu works in both fused glass and polymer clays.
Large and small, wall to necklace, her compositions were
spot on and craftsmanship superb.

Fused glass pieces by Malina Cipleu

Fused glass pieces by Malina Cipleu

One of Austin’s elite historical areas, Hyde Park, also featured several artists.

Denise Fulton opened her home on Avenue H in Hyde Park, showing her own paintings and digital art by Chalda Maloff. Incidentally, Denise’s husband served incredible homemade cheesecake in the kitchen!

Tree paintings by talented painter Denise Fulton

Tree paintings by talented painter Denise Fulton

Digital art by Chalda Maloff

Digital art by Chalda Maloff

Chalda Maloff explained the time consuming process of her digital art. Printed on the back of glass, these incredible fish pieces truly came to life.

Every artist needs patrons to keep the work flowing out of their studio. Any time you get a chance, support your local creative community. Life truly thrives with art inspiring us all.

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