A Local Arts & Crafts Find

The Arts & Crafts era has always been my favorite.  Over the years I’ve gathered little things here and there that capture the lines, colors, weight and labor of that period.  I also get the occasional Arts & Crafts book.

A couple of weeks back I went to an estate sale and found this rather interesting chair.  It was $90.


Heavy and with a nice old leather seat, it was low to the ground and very comfortable.  You can’t see the size but it has a slightly wider and deeper seat than most arm chairs.  There were also interesting curves…the seat back curves down, and the arms have the little extra curved pieces.

Oregon Chair Co. Arts & Crafts ChairIt is in rather rough shape surface-wise.  It has been varnished and that is chipping away, but it is really solid.  It does not creak anywhere…

Here’s what really got me excited though!  When I flipped over the seat to look at the underside, I saw this label.

a&cchair3There was a company in Oregon called the Oregon Chair Company and I did find a little write-up about it in the book Arts & Crafts of the Pacific Northwest.  I also found a little obit piece about it’s founder, Arthur Kingsley.

He spent his early life in his native state, where he acquired a common school education and when yet a lad in years he began providing for his own support as an employe of the Flint & Pere Marquette Railroad. He spent a few years in that connection and then became an employe of the Grand Ledge Chair Company, with which he remained for a period of eight years. At length, having acquired comprehensive knowledge of every phase of the business he determind to start out independently and leaving Michigan in the summer of 1906 he came to Portland, where he organized the Oregon Chair Company. He was the pioneer in this field and up to this time all trade of the kind had been conducted with eastern firms, so that Mr. Kingsley had to overcome custom and prejudice in establishing his business. He persevered, however, and his industry, determination, fair and honorable methods and his progressiveness at length brought their reward, and today the business of the Oregon Chair Company stands as a monument to the energy and ability of Mr. Kingsley.


Oregon Chair Company


Aside from these couple of write-ups, and two historic photos from Oregon State, I can’t seem to find much else. I am intrigued with this company if anyone knows more?




36th Portland Int’l Film Festival starts!


PIFF 36 is here!  The opening night film was a great start to the festival –

You should see Blancanieves when it comes your way –  a Spanish version of the Grimm fairy tale Snow White…with bullfighting at its core. Set in the 20s, this b/w silent film has gorgeous cinematography and a moving score.   It was Spain’s submission for Best Foreign Film.   This little piece of art was directed by Pablo Berger.

Deep Thoughts from the Underground

view looking up to street level through sidewalk bricksI took this picture when I was in Seattle’s underground.  The purple squares are the little glass bricks that everyone at street level is walking on.  And underneath?  Ferns! That little bit of light is enough for them to take root and grow.  It is strange to think they know nothing of the enormity of things on the other side of the glass.

Just imagine what one of those ferns would think if liberated to the Olympic Peninsula? Would it be thrilled to be surrounded by Jurassic plants and trees or would it miss the underground where it never gets frostbitten or nibbled on by deer?  I sometimes see this picture and I think “poor ferns!” and other times I think that they’ve got a pretty sweet thing going.

Farm to Fork in Parkdale, Oregon

delicious pear growing at Kiyokawa Family Orchards


Last Saturday I got to finally see what the Farm to Fork experience is all about.  We drove about 2 hours to Parkdale, Oregon, just beyond Hood River where we met up with my brother and his wife.

The evening started around 3:30 with a little wine and taking in the surroundings.

You three look great! (Joe, Shawn, Mt.Hood)


We then took off on a tour of the farm.  Kiyokawa Family Orchards has an amazing variety of apples and pears which we snacked on a little as we learned about the history of the farm and the local farming community (which is made up of some of Oregon’s hippest farmers for sure).

There were about 160 people this evening which made for one very long table :)  Pass me the butter?  And at the way far end Conde Nast was there taking photos.  It didn’t hurt that the great weather and setting sun gave us all warm honey glows.

view from the end of the table – you can’t even see the other side!


The food was amazing – all from the chef at Celilo in Hood River. There was a colorful salad with baby beets, and watermelon – the watermelon had been vacuum packed earlier which compacted the watermelon, concentrating the flavor. There was a sophisticated ‘b.l.t’ made from little cherry tomatoes, smoked pork belly, greens and bread crumbs.  The main course of pork shoulder was cooked sooo perfectly.

This was my first time to a Farm to Fork event, but it certainly won’t be my last!  Their year is winding down, but here’s the link should you want to try it out next year: Farm to Fork .  I can only speak for the Hood River one, but I hear the others are fantastic too!  Have you been to one?

Signing Artwork and Prints – Who Knew??

As I’ve improved in my botanical work, I’ve been curious about how I might eventually create prints or cards from some of my works.  A couple of months back, I completed a botanical that I thought would be a good one to use in exploring this next step.

When I finished my picture, I signed it and sent it off to be scanned and to get a couple of giclee prints made which I’d hoped to eventually gift or sell.

The good great news is that I actually SOLD a print…and to someone who wasn’t a friend or relative.

What I didn’t know at the time was that there were many other steps that I should have thought through before I started selling prints. Here are a couple of things I learned…

Think about how you’re signing your original.  Do you want your signature to be bold or discreet on the original.  Are you going to sign the print too? Are you signing it in a way that would make a second signature look redundant?

beet with wrong signature

I not only signed my original in a not too discreet way…but also way off to the side.  I’m not sure why I did that! And when it came to the print, I didn’t sign it.  I didn’t know that you should. But had I signed it, I think it might have looked a little redundant.

2. If you are making prints, particularly giclee prints, are there a limited number of prints you’ll make?  You should think about that. Giclee prints are not just ‘copies’ of the original.

I didn’t even think about the numbering I see on prints  (“1/250” for example).  The numbering tells the buyer how many are out there or expected to be out there.  It would have been nice to give my buyer print number 1!  But I didn’t even sign the print, let alone number it.

My botanical instructor, Jeanne Debons, has helped me understand print numbering a bit more. You can order prints as you need them, but you need to keep track of what number you are on.  If I had done prints that were, say, in a series of 25, and I reached number 25, that’s it!  It wouldn’t be right for me to start another ‘series’ of the same print. Having said that…if you really think it will sell, don’t limit your series to something small like 25.  Maybe make them x of 250 or x of 500 🙂

So…I redid the signature on the original in a more discreet place.

beet with better signature

…got the original rescanned, and got new giclee prints made. I will sign and number my prints going forward, starting with #2 because I’m going to track down my first buyer and give her a ‘correct’ #1 print! And I know that my work is still improving, so I’m going to limit this beet series to 50.

I am sure there are still many other points I’ve yet to consider, but this is a learning experience for me and I welcome your feedback!

And here’s the beet!

golden beet

beta Vulgaris

You Tell Me…


We got a new (slightly used) border collie mix a few months back…about the time I last posted. Her name is Polly, and she’s amazing!

More than one person has told me that she looks like Scrat from Ice Age. You tell me…

Scout passed away one day last summer (acute arrhythmia). We miss her and talk about her often. We’re also very glad to have a new friend in the house.

pencils down…for a minute

I have been loving exploring colored pencils and learning more about how, when used correctly, they can give an illustration that watercolor look. I love this because I’VE ALWAYS HATED working with watercolor. It’s the most unforgiving medium I know of.
After looking at a lot of botanicals though, I see that watercolor is the medium of choice. Hmm…
Last weekend I decided to face two of my fears head on – driving in the snow alone all of the way over the hill to Bend, Oregon (fear #1) to attend a two-day botanical painting workshop in watercolor (fear #2).
The snow was a cake walk, and the workshop was a blast! Jeanne Debons is a botanical artist and instructor who lives in Bend. One of the classes she leads is a two-day workshop in the fundamentals of botanical painting in watercolor.
I attended the class with three others – all at varying skill levels, but all well above me. No problemo – I was there to learn 🙂
Jeanne started me on a reintroduction to painting shapes – spheres, cones and rods…enough to learn how to shade, and ‘move paint around’.

painting shapes

First thing I learned:
I learned that not only is it OK for watercolors to touch one another (I always thought that was a no-no), but that layering the color is what gives depth and luminosity to a painting. (maybe this is just so for botanicals – not sure).
Once I practiced a bit I moved on to my piece! A pepper. I had to sketch it, and then use that sketch as a base for a more detailed picture showing the shading. Then that piece was what I referred to as I painted. My pepper started out pretty lame though.
Second thing I learned:
Paintings go through a phase Jeanne calls adolescence. In this phase paintings look awkward, and you often want to pitch it, but they’ll grow out of this phase as you continue working with them.. An earlier me would have thought this concept hokey, but I saw it firsthand and its true! The eggplant in the first pic up top is still in its adolescent phase.

Painting a pepper

I worked on my little pepper for the rest of day 1 and a LOT of day 2. Sure enough – it started to come together. It’s not a perfect pepper, but I learned a lot in painting it.

Here’s my pepper after about 2 hours.

pepper after about 2 hours work

and here’s the same pepper after about 4 or hours:

pepper after about 4-5 hours work

The third thing I learned was:

I came home and continued practicing. This little tangerine has taken me three days!

watercolor tangerine

Evolution of my colored pencil swatches

My early attempts at color matching were done by holding pencils up to the flower or plant that I was drawing, leaning in close and then closing one eye to get the most accurate read possible. What I thought was color matching was really just guessing… So I read about using color swatches – I know! Duh!

On a swatch I drew the pencil light to hard to see the full range of a color. That along with the name/number of the color created the swatch.

colored pencil swatch - combined

pencil swatch the 'old' way

An artist friend of mine helped me see that this swatch, while an improvement over eyeballing it, still wasn’t ideal because on my swatch the colors were too close together and so each color was influencing the one butted up next to it. Also, how was I to add colors to my swatch as I got more pencils? Hmm…

So now the new swatch looks like this:

individual color swatches

color swatches the 'new' way

These new swatches still show the same information for each pencil but, being individual cards, they can be seen without their neighboring color interfering. This swatch can also be added to easily with each new pencil I get! Much better!

color swatch on key chain

color swatch success!

Thanksgiving Bagel Feast!

This is our second year of a new tradition – bagels, cream cheese, lox and capers for Thanksgiving breakfast. This breakfast creates no mess in the kitchen, few dishes and full bellies to hold us until dinner (we’re lunch skippers on this day…).
Yesterday I did all of my shopping a little late and 😦 the bagel store was already closed. Oh no! I would have to make bagels. So much for not messing up the kitchen. I found a good recipe on food.com – The Real New York Bagel Recipe and followed it pretty well.

NY Bagels (makes a dozen)

Last night I made a sponge which sits for 2 hours until you get little bubbles in the dough (tells you its rising). I used 1 tsp active dry yeast, 4 cups bread flour and 2 cups water…. I waited for 2 hours…no bubbles…another half hour…no bubbles…another….hmm. Turns out you need to ‘activate’ active dry yeast in a little warm water. Once its a little frothy you can use it.
I tossed the first batch and started again.
New York Bagels- take 2!
This sponge looked much better – so active!

bagel sponge

bagel sponge

Next I put it in the stand mixer and put 3 more cups of bread flour, another 1/2 tsp of yeast (activated – fool me once!), 2 tsp salt and a Tbsp of brown sugar (other recipes as for malt…but this was the only recipe that called for something already in my house – just to give you some insight into my recipe selection process process).

After 5 minutes of mixing, I chopped it into 12 pieces and then covered with plastic wrap again to let the dough recover from being thrown about.
twelve pieces of dough

Half an hour later I took each piece and poked a hole in the middle of it and twirled it around my index finger like a little finger hula hoop. Voila – it looks like a bagel!
bagel dough rings
I let the little rings rest up again and stuck the whole thing in the fridge until this morning.

Today this went sooo fast! I boiled water with 1 Tbsp baking soda and dropped these doughy bagels in the water for 2-3 minutes (flipping them halfway thru). They got all puffy and wow!
puffy boiled bagel

Next they all went on a cookie sheet and baked at 450 for something like 30 minutes. Well, the recipe said 5 minutes…then another 5-10 minutes…but mine took much longer bit longer because I was opening the door way too often for the oven to stay hot).

Bad over door habits and rookie yeast move aside, the kitchen now has this tangy, doughy smell, the windows are steamed up, and we have bagels!
New York bagels

botanical art for beginners

I got hooked on colored pencils on my last vacation. I painted a red onion and was surprised at how well the color came out even though I’d blended a bazillion colors together. This wouldn’t happen with paint. With paint, too many colors always turns into mud.
I looked around online for some instruction and found the amazing Ann Swan. She’s not only a great botanical artist, but she also describes her craft in a way that a novice like myself can digest.
I read the articles on her website and purchased her book, Botanical Portraits with Colored Pencils.
I spent the day today drawing my neighbors rose hip plant. This took me about 4 hours total.

1. asked the neighbor if i could pick these rose hips. I can’t really draw from a photo as well as I can from a real plant. Photos lack something – depth? not sure what it is – but when I draw from a photo it looks flat.



2. did a loose sketch. this was hard because with botanical art I guess you’re supposed to try to draw things true to size. There are probably exceptions to that, but I’m new to this so I don’t know all the rules.

rosehip sketch

first sketch of rosehips

3. shaded with grey colored pencils. I had no idea this was a step! apparently it’s a very important one. I’m new to this, ok? Don’t roll your eyes.

shaded rosehips

first layer is grey shading

4. layer colored pencil over this now… wowza. shading in grey first made such a difference!

shading rosehip leaves

shading with greens...

shadign rosehips red

...and reds...

5. after I colored in the rest I used a blending pencil. its like a colored pencil with no color. it smushes the colored pencil into the paper more so that it looks, well, blended. it is supposed to look more like paint when you do this…but mine looks like pencil still. I’m sure there’s something I’m not understanding about that step…but I was still happy with the outcome – Rosehips Neighborus

neighbors rosehips