Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Found It: Oklahoma City

So...I had a great time at the Oklahoma City Festival of the Arts last week!  The week flew by (with the exception of the first day of the festival--Tuesday--when the high was 41 degrees and dropped throughout the day...let's forget about that one). 

I'm always interested in the architecture and visual evolution of the cities I visit, and OKC is no exception.  The dichotomy of new and old, shiny and weather-worn, was very prevalent there.  I really want to go back when I can take my bike and have time to pedal around town.  It's funny, since I use discarded vinyl in my work, that I'm so drawn to hand-painted signs that vinyl technology has nearly obliterated.  Conveniently, NPR's Talk of the Nation had a segment on this very topic today.

Here are a few shots from my way out of town the day after the show...

I drove by this everyday on my way to the show, on Robinson.

Love the wrench used as the I here.

I just noticed the dollar sign used for the dot in "bargain"...I should do that more.

South of downtown.

West of downtown.

On Park Place, north of downtown...abandoned.
Looking north.  Basically sums up the downtown area.  Old vs. new.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Found It: Old School Shirt

This little gem was hiding somewhere at mom and dad's house.  I don't think it's ever been worn--what a shame, to let that 100% nylon sit idle all these years.  Straight from the 1960s (mom and dad graduated in '69), I can proudly proclaim my Wellsvillian roots to the world in a hip new-old fashion.
Fashion show!

Look at that proud Eagle, struttin' his stuff like only a sweater-wearing avian can.
I wore this running all over the Johnson County side of the KC metro area doing errands because I'M GOING TO OKLAHOMA CITY ON MONDAY!!! I got called up from the waitlist and will be spending six days at the Oklahoma City Festival of the Arts.  It's a great event, with 5,000 volunteers and delicious food.  So my house is in chaos...like my studio leaked out into the rest of the rooms.  Can't wait to tell y'all about it.  (I fall into an Okie twang immediately when I'm down there, so I thought I'd just go ahead and start early.)

Here's a pretty good depiction of my brain right now:
Have to do ALL THE THINGS.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Found It: Garden Decor

I've found lots of cool planters and outdoorsy decoration on my picking adventures. 

Let me share.
For plants or a nice flower vase/centerpiece.

Hang it!  For birds or plants or pixies or gnomes.

Someone in Texas purchased this before Easter...
perhaps for an Easter basket to collect eggs?  I hope.

It's incredible how well some of this stuff cleans up after decades in the dirt.

This has sold, but I love the old oil pitcher.  I hope it's donning someone's window sill with wild flowers.

You can see all the cool home decor items I've listed so far in The Retro Ranch's Etsy shop.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Made It: Dot Clocks

One of the easiest ways to use up my multitude of vinyl scraps is to make dot clocks.  It's not the easiest thing on my scissors callus, but that's the cost of your craft, I guess. 

I began by putting them in one of my original designs, the dino clock.  They added a nice rocky flavor and some much needed extra color.

4 x 4 mini dino clock
And then I thought, well, let's just throw these guys all over the place!

12 x 12 Yellow Super Dots clock
 Why not double those dots up and make a giant clock?

30" round...I added the color after the silver-only dots didn't sell after a year.
 And I do like a less random pattern once in a while.

8 x 8 Blue Dots Pattern
 Did you say TRIPLE up those dots?  Will do.

Bright and cheery 6 x 18 clock

And this is the before...if I'm organized, which I'm getting better about:

Like candy.
Dots: making people happy since the beginning of time.  (Not a pun!)

See more on my Etsy page or website!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Found It: Christmas Box

Inside an old envelope, that was in an old locker full of tools, that was in a falling-down shed, that is on a farm, sometimes you can find the most unusual things.  Sometimes they're just funny or sweet.  It never ceases to amaze me that the papers I find aren't just completely rotten or worm-eaten. 

So, in this envelope,

Mid-sized manila envelope.

there was a box

Cheerio cards by Cassino Studios in Salem, Mass.
And in the box was a Christmas card to my great grandparents from December 1942.

Their last name is misspelled.
I don't know who these people are, nor can I make out that last name, but they must have met them in California the summer they left to pick fruit.  Luckily, they didn't sell their farm and came back to Kansas when it became obvious that line of work wasn't profitable.
Wow, look how dressed up they got for their Xmas card picture!
I didn't know people had not-perfect handwriting back then. 
Makes me feel better about my lack of penmanship.

Both my great aunts worked for the telephone company, hence the Ma Bell swag everywhere.  Inside this envelope are some naughty jokes and cartoons that must have gone around during the Christmas party.  Too risque to share.  Honesty.

And for fun, a bunch of Christmas tags were in here, too.  Because, why not?  "The Friendship Book" is a collection of poems by various artists, maybe given as a gift at the party (my own narrative here), and there are some other poems copied into it, too, in pencil.  Kinda sweet.  Copywrite 1934 by the Cassino Co. with a pencil-written note dated 1936.

It's all jumbled together, and that's ok.  The thrill of the hunt! I'm not sure if I'll put the tags on my Etsy page or not, but I have time to think about it. 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Making It: Big Clock

So I worked on a big clock today.  Twenty-four by twenty-four inches.  The aluminum signs came with some weird discoloration on the surface, so I couldn't use my normal sanded technique on all of them this time.  That forced me to find large enough pieces of vinyl scrap to cover the blank for a background and not screw it up in process, which can be hard with only two hands and no tail.  (Monkeys use their tails for this kind of thing, I'm pretty sure.  It's like an extra hand, right?)
I decided to go with a shimmery navy blue with white Orzos.  Maybe it will match someone's curtains.

Cut and weeded out...ready for placement.
Pretty far into the process...took me as long to do this much as the last three inches.
Action shot...yes, that is Elliot and E.T. helping me out.

That shelf o' vinyl up there is about a third of my stock.

Sorry about the blurriness...but this is the finished face. 
Hopefully next week I can get some decent photos of the completed giant clocks.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Clocks in Progress

In preparation for a call off the waitlist for a six-day show in a couple weeks, I've been working on padding my inventory.  Last week I got my 24 x 24 inch aluminum blanks and some 6 x 18s, so I dove into cutting...So.Much.Cutting. 

This is as organized as I get.
With the biggies I get to play around with proportion, which is fun, but it's hard to decide on colors sometimes.  A giant rainbow clock is a big commitment for a person...doesn't necessarily match the curtains.  But all I can do is make something I like and hope someone else likes it, too.

Cut too many hot colors and got to use the leftovers on a smaller clock.

Playing around with a simple shape is one of my favorite things.

Keeping my fingers crossed for this show!  If I don't make the trek to the Oklahoma City Festival of the Arts, I will at least have a bunch of stuff for my scheduled shows this summer.  Better to be prepared and disappointed than unprepared and stressed out.  I'll be stressed out either way, though, don't worry.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Made It: Poppy Clocks

I've always been a fan of The Poppy.  Even before it was cool, you guys.  My grandpa (I think? That's how it is in my head and I'm not changing it.) planted a little poppy patch way before I was around next to the garden out on the farm.  Those two weeks a year they bloom is a magical time that I never really appreciated until I moved away and went to school.  You can't pick a poppy and keep it inside because it goes straight to Wilty Town.  I think that's why the image of the poppy has gotten to be so popular--as a great philosopher once said, "Take a picture--it'll last longer!"

I ended up making the simplest poppy form for my clocks, and they were a hit!  Everyone knew exactly what they were, except, ironically, the owner of the flower shop where I worked.  ("I like the tulip clock."  ....uh.)  Also, I can make them short or tall, and use up my multitude of scrap vinyl, which is kind of the point anyway.

6 x 18 inch poppy clocks

12 x 6 inch poppy clocks

6 x 30 inch poppy clocks

Even though I have used this design for years and I'm kind of addicted to the Orzo technique right now, I think I'll always come back to this simple, happy flower.  It reminds me of Grandpa, Kansas, and the land I love. 

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Friday's Farm Finds

Friday's weather was beautiful, finally, and, although I should be focusing on making work for a big big show I'm hoping I get called off the waiting list for in a couple weeks, I decided I just had to go picking. Soon the mosquitos, ticks, wasps, bees, and snakes are going to come out with a vengence, not to mention the poison ivy. Even though I've been taught a thing or two by that angry, itchy mistress, being able to recognize her isn't one of them.
So, I hit four of the seven shed/barns, and found some good stuff. This week was mostly about coffee cans, but there was a good showing by pulleys, glass bottles, building components, and a few family letters.

Super farm fresh coffee cans with lots of dirt and age, wooden boxes and weights in the shape of pine cones (what?), and this really cool replacement shift handle with a picture of a cool lady in it, probably one of my great aunts.

There is so much more from this trip, but I'm going to wait to parse it out. Gotta pick my battles. Next week is about making!

Friday, April 5, 2013


Tomorrow--well, later today, I guess--I'll be heading down to the farm for some fresh pickin' and sandwiches with mom.  Saturday I'll be at 147th and Metcalf for a Meet the Vendor event at Mommyshop so show off some of my new Orzo clocks and candles.  So, obviously, I'm thinking about that instead of sleeping.

Here's my satellite office.  The breakroom is amazing.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Found It: LaVada TV Tray

While picking through the dirty, webby, animal-trodden, wasp-infested sheds, a person can come along a really awesome find occasionally.  For years I looked at the shed (stay tuned for those images in a week or two) and only ever ventured into the first few feet.  I knew there was an opening in the back that held old windows.  Well, it held windows, and then some...

Look at this freaking tray!  I LOVE IT.  I found three, with two stands and another stand that held the whole set.  It's in great shape, especially if you consider its 30+ years just hanging out in an open-air shed in the crazy climate that is Kansas.  A little corrosion makes it legit.  Check it out on Etsy.  I'm a little worried about the shipping, as I'm going to have to make a box and wrap the hell out of it, but if someone really wants it they'll shell out the dough, right?

I'm going to keep one, because, well, this job has to have some perks.  The great W glasses on top are a gift from my sister from way back when I first lived on my own.  There are eight of those glasses, so this perfect entertaining set is coming together, slowly, over the course of years.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Made It: Mini Orzo Clock in Turquoise, Blue, and Green on Yellow

Thought I'd share a little bit about my process, since I get asked about 4 million times a show how I paint these things.  NOT PAINT.  Vinyl is a foreign material to most people.  I take scraps, cut the vinyl in whatever shape I want (this time it's the Orzo!), peel back the negative space, and then pick up that little sliver with my blade and add it to my background, which is vinyl on aluminum in the case of a clock. 

Starts here:

Then I put the vinyl on the aluminum (it's a peel and stick thing) and it's a blank slate, which can be a little scary sometimes:

Then I start adding the colored Orzos:

And on...

And on...


Then I cut the excess vinyl from the sides of the aluminum and the pre-drilled hole for the clock mechanism in the middle:

....And....TA-DA!  Finito.

Hopefully, then, this little clock will make someone happy and they will purchase it.  I'll have this at the Mommyshop this weekend, and also on Etsy right away. 

Hope that makes sense.