THE QUEEN OF HEARTS PROJECT

Hi there! I have a new project to share with you guys! My friend and fellow artist Kellee Wynne has organized The Queen of Hearts Project (#queenofheartsproject over on Instagram)-a creative collaboration to benefit the Joyful Heart Foundation, a charity whose mission is to end domestic violence. Each of the 12 artists participating created an original work using the Queen of Hearts playing card. These 12 pieces are being made into fine art print sets, available for pre-sale for $20 starting today-just head over to Kellee's site to order!  Besides buying a set, you can help us spread the word by altering your own card and tagging @kelleewynnestudios and the hashtag #queenofheartsproject. We'd love to see what you come up with!

I decided to give my card a little indigold treatment-just couldn't help myself ;) If I had some free time I might have just made a whole set-the tiny format is so fun and challenging!

I love seeing how each artist made it her own-the set is going to be fab. Thanks to Kellee for pulling this together!

ARTIST FEATURE | MARY O'MALLEY

Through the wonders of Instagram rabbit-holing (its a thing) I stumbled across an artist I whose work I have known for a long time but whom I hadn't connected with in years. I am so thrilled to have rediscovered the art of Mary O'Malley, a New Hampshire based fine artist I was introduced to in my art consulting days. Her work became a favorite and I'm pretty sure I tried to spec it on ALL THE THINGS for a couple of years while there. Who can blame me? Mary expertly wields gouache and metallic inks to create her mind-blowingly intricate work that reimagines seemingly familiar themes of nature, architecture, decorative arts. In her words:

"I draw and paint flowers, insects, birds and other things in intricate tangles resembling bouquets and chandeliers. My work begins with a fascination with nature combined with an obsession with ornamentation and decoration. I draw inspiration from many sources-botanical illustration, Hindu and Islamic art and architecture, decorative arts, and fractal geometry. Flora and fauna, obsessive patterning, and a Baroque sensibility come together to create a new world of hybrid chandeliers, psychedelic altars, curious bouquets, and imagined landscapes."

Ink and Indigo Artist Feature | Mary O Malley

I love how she plays with color; working from subtle almost monochromatic palettes to eye poppingly bright contrasting tones. There is such a great range of work-dig in and check out her full portfolio portion of her site, I can hardly do it justice here. She offers many of her pieces as prints (and even tattoos!) in her online shop.  Her work is included in Bloom- a gorgeous show opening this weekend at Walker Contemporary in Vermont. She is also working on an adult coloring book in collaboration with photographer David J. Bookbinder, check out a sneak peek here

I have seen her work in person and the detail is just incredible. She shares lots of process shots on Instagram that really help you appreciate how intricate the pieces are. 

You can (and should) find and follow Mary all over the web to see whats new and next for her:

www.maryomalleyart.com

Instagram:  @maryomalleyart

Facebook: www.facebook.com/maryomalleyart

Twitter: @maryomalleyart

Shop: www.etsy.com/shop/maryomalleyart

Big thanks to Mary for allowing me to share her work here!

A Creative Challenge | #100daysofinkandindigo

Have you heard of the #100dayproject? Its an Instagram based make-a-long project originated by the The Great Discontent & Elle Luna. As The Great Discontent describes it:

"a celebration of process that encourages everyone to participate in 100 days of making. The great surrender is the process; showing up day after day is the goal. For the100-Day Project, it’s not about fetishizing finished products—it’s about the process." 

illustration by Elle Luna

illustration by Elle Luna

Consider it a call to create, join on a little journey with a larger community, and a challenge to stick with something through to the end. For me, creating everyday is not the challenge-thats kind of ingrained in who I am.  I, however, have major shiny object syndrome and am easily distracted with new projects so the DAILY part will probably be whats hard for me. I'm thinking the added accountability of announcing the project and having a community cheering me on will make it fun and finish-able. 

When trying to thing of what would be manageable and satisfying for 100 days my mind wandered over to these deep blue pigment and paper pieces I've been playing with. They're so immediate and a little unpredictable-something kind of different for me. I spent a few days last week getting paper torn down and painted (pigmented? video here ) and I've got 100 6"x6" beauties ready! I am going to create ink drawing overlays daily on each one. This may have also been an excuse to justify purchasing a bunch of inks to play with. Ha! A few of them I might have to leave as is-the compositions are so beautiful on their own! How AMAZING will it be to have a whole wall of them?! That alone is enough to keep me motivated!! 

ink and indigo, pigment paintings for the100dayproject.jpg

 

Check out Elle Luna's instagram for more info-and let me know if you join! I want to see what you're up to! I will be tagging all of mine with #100daysofinkandindigo over on Instagram so follow along there!

 

 

THE WORKING CREATIVE | TO COMMISSION OR NOT TO COMMISSION?

So you have a client who loves your work and wants to you to create a special new piece, just for them. Exciting! Or maybe a consultant wants to include your work on a fun new hotel project...but they really need a BIG piece, in a whole different color scheme, and they'll need it fast. Great! It sounds like there is a market for commissioning your work. But where to start? I have had so many questions from other artists about taking commission work-how to go about it, price it, what are the expectations, challenges, rewards, etc. Most of my work is commissioned based, meaning I have had lots of opportunities to learn about what makes a commission successful and would love to share a bit of that for my fellow artists. 

CONSIDERING COMMISSION WORK:

If you enjoy creating something with a specific customer in mind, would consider working outside your existing range of sizes, colors, etc, and are comfortable opening your art process up to client input and feedback; commission work could be a great part of your portfolio. Not all artists are comfortable working in this way and THAT IS OKAY! Knowing your strengths, limitations, and where you want to focus your energies and work is important . 

The main requirement of an artist considering this type of work is that they be great communicators. Clear communication is absolutely key to successful commissions. Let's talk a bit about some of what should be considered for commission work so that you can decide if it is something you are interested in.

ART + DESIGN DIRECTION:

With custom work often comes additional expectations from clients that they have design input or can request specifics on format, size, etc. How much or how little you want to open yourself up to this sort of direction is totally up to you and should be carefully considered at the outset of your project. Establishing a clear policy ahead of time that your client can reference will help educate them about how you work and save you time and hassle down the line. If you are going to take design direction take care to get it all in writing in advance of starting your project. Will you be referencing previous work, color swatches, or including specific materials? Are you open to providing progress shots for feedback? Include any and all of those details with as many reference visuals as possible in the commission agreement.

SKETCHES, MOCKUPS, SAMPLES, COLOR SWATCHES

Depending on the type of client, some commission projects may require additional materials to get the project approved and in motion. This is less common when working with a private collector but is pretty common when working with designers and consulting firms. The scale and budget of the commission will often dictate what type of sample is required.

A small, hand drawn sketch for a potential custom painting.

A small, hand drawn sketch for a potential custom painting.


More straightforward work that is based on existing pieces can often simply be tweaked in photoshop or accomplished with a quick sketch. Scaled drawings are invaluable for this type of work. I use a good old fashioned architect's scale most of the time, but definitely utilize Photoshop or Illustrator when applicable. 

Sometimes a sketch is quick and simple, and just helps to clarify concepts and details for the client.

Sometimes a sketch is quick and simple, and just helps to clarify concepts and details for the client.

I have found my Pantone book to be invaluable to make certain my client and I are on the same page for custom colors. Sherwin Williams paint swatches are another common color reference tool I have been asked to use. I like creating color swatches that I cut in half, so I can retain one set for my records and can provide them with the other.

This sculpture sample included a color swatches of the range of colors the client requested for the project. I kept half and sent the other to the client. 

This sculpture sample included a color swatches of the range of colors the client requested for the project. I kept half and sent the other to the client. 

Many artists charge additional fees for mockups, especially if the client will be keeping the physical sample. If the materials are something I have to custom order, I will often charge for materials and shipping but not mark my costs up.  If possible I don't charge for the sample but require it be returned to me after review. This has helped me create a sort of sample bank, a great resource to have on hand to sell concepts and get additional work later down the line. 

Small portion of my sample stash

Small portion of my sample stash

I like to think of this part of the process not as a hassle or barrier to getting a project underway but as a way of communicating clearly with my client, providing top notch service, and it gives me extra confidence that the commission process will move forward smoothly and successfully. 

PRICING, PAYMENT TERMS, DEPOSITS, KILL FEE:

Establishing general pricing guidelines for commission work is a great idea. I have worked with a number of artists who charge 10-20% more than their standard prices for commission work. What you charge will be specific to your work and should reflect the additional time and energy taken up with custom work. Many times a client will have a set budget and that can help guide you to what can be achieved at that price point. Regardless of how you arrive at your price it should be clearly communicated and agreed upon with the client ahead of starting the project. 

Once you have established a price for the commission you need to nail down the particulars of getting paid. Specify the form of payment accepted ahead of time. Never start a commission without at least a 50% non refundable deposit. This gives you some protection from the possibility that a client could decide they don't like the finished piece and don't want to pay for it and deters people who aren't taking your work seriously. Sometimes a "kill fee" is written into a commission agreement, which is a fee that the client agrees pay if they decide to cancel the project once its underway. A timetable for payment should be included in your terms. Something along the lines of "50% deposit to start work, balance due upon completion of artwork" is common. I have found it is a good policy not to release completed work without final payment. 

Consider packing and shipping costs for the commission-will they be included in the price, billed separately, or arranged and handled entirely by the client end? Those costs add up quickly, and it is important to determine what makes the most sense for your work and your client.

TIMELINE

Every project should have a set date for completion clearly communicated with the client and included in the commission agreement. Consider your entire work load and set realistic deadlines. Honor agreed upon deadlines-when in doubt the old adage "under promise, over deliver" is a good one. Clients are always happy to see their completed piece earlier than expected!

GET TO IT!

If communication and expectations are clear and professional the commission process is likely to go smoothly, and you will have a happy client and a fabulous piece of art to add to your portfolio when the project is completed. There is a lot to consider for commission work but don't let this intimidate you if you are interested in the work! Commissions have allowed me to have my art included in collections all over the world, to form relationships with many talented, fabulous, art loving people, and have been a steady source of income.

Have any questions about commission work? Burning questions for a working artist you want answered? Hit me up! I'm happy to give you my input.

 

 

STUDIO SCENES | HOT WAX + SHINY METAL

Metallic accents have turned into a theme of sorts this year-popping up in my sculptural work as well as my paintings. For my recent commission of three 48"x48" panels for a hospitality project I opted to work with my favorite medium at the moment: encaustic. The concept for the look of the pieces was very minimal-l felt like encaustic added depth and texture that really elevated the pieces. After some failed experimenting I developed a sort of inlay technique to apply the gold metal leaf and gold encaustic. I traced and carved out 1" circles, painted the area with metal leaf sizing, let it set, then applied the leaf. I gently fused the area with a torch, then scraped away the excess leaf. I then filled in over the leafed area with un-tinted encaustic, sealing it with a gentle fusing. More scraping, fusing and buffing to get the surface even, and I am pretty happy with the effect. There will be definitely be lots more exploring metallics and encaustics in the studio soon! 

Here are a few images of the completed pieces. My place is lacking in 12' open wall space to show them side to side as they will be installed onsite.  Hoping to have proper installation shots when they are installed at their new home in a hotel outside of Chicago! Bon voyage lovelies!

 

Interested in my encaustic work or other commission work? Contact me at emily@inkandindigo.com, I'd love to chat!

 

 

 

 

ARTIST FEATURE | LAURA STENNETT

Stumbling across new art is endlessly thrilling, it was always my favorite part of consulting and the feeling never. gets. old. I was recently introduced to the fluid and familiar-yet-foreign landscapes and abstracts by artist Laura Stennett. She mixes acrylic, watercolor, ink, pen, and various other media to create her abstract representations of landscapes in Texas and the Western US, and her memories and experiences within them. I love how the undulating lines and layers almost feel like the bands of quartz within an agate or a cutaway drawing of the Earth's crust. Simultaneously earthy and ethereal. 

Feeling inspired by her mix of mediums, quiet yet confident mark making, and the vibrant palette. Looking forward to following her work!

THE WORKING CREATIVE | CREATIVE CONSULTING

Well hello again! I have been radio silent on here but busy at home and in the studio. I have 6 paintings (3 encaustic on panel & 3 acrylic on canvas), and 1 large clay wall sculpture in the works. Lots of work, lots of fun, and lots of neglecting of everything that's not art making. 

And there's something else I'm really excited about! I recently joined a group of creatives organized by artist and all-around great human Emily Jeffords. She and I met at ALT Summit a couple of years ago and I have so enjoyed following along as she creates, grows her business, and creates community. Girl is GIFTED and so, so kind. A couple of weeks ago she hosted a series of Periscope chats on her painting to print process. I had only seen a couple of other Periscopes but the format was surprisingly appealing and interactive and hers were so informative. I love this sort of sharing of knowledge, especially among creatives. Anyhoo-there were a few people asking Art Consulting questions within this creative group and I offered to hop on Periscope to do a little chat about what the heck Art Consulting is, how to work with Consultants, and other random tidbits from an insider's perspective to this little slice of the art and design world in which I've been immersed for the last decade or so. I was really nervous and awkward as all hell but it was AWESOME. So many artists reached out to say it was helpful and inspiring and sent me their portfolios to review.  

I have long joked that I hold so much useless art business info in my brain-I always kind of felt like it was so specific that no one I knew really needed it. CUE THE INTERWEBS. Obviously the people are out there, I just needed to reach them! I am realizing this is totally not useless to other artists and my mind is spinning with how much more I have to share, other art insider folks I could tap for expertise, how this info could be shared online or in workshops....I'm stoked! My experience in art consulting, art licensing, print, and production combined with my years as an artist who works within these realms could be of value to folks in my field and I'm excited to explore just how to offer Creative Consulting services and information. 

In the meantime keep an eye here in the WAYS TO WORK series for future posts with behind-the-scenes info and discussions about the business (+more) of art. I am @inkandindigo on Periscope and would love for you to join me there. 

Are there any burning questions you have for someone in my field? Do you need feedback on your portfolio? Hit me up here, I'd love to help and possibly cover some of them in the future! 

STUDIO SCENES | BLACK + GOLD + GRAPHIC GOODNESS

The most recent commission in the studio brought the opportunity to do something a little different from the abstract encaustic pieces and landscapes I've been working with lately. A rich, velvety, painted black background with metallic gold abstract design overlay was just the break I needed from the painterly world I've been in. Repetitive, graphic, abstract forms are my jam-this piece has a lot of the elements you'd find again and again in my notebooks of doodles. A few images of the process below:


Something a little cosmic glam about this piece, which felt kinda perfect for the week we said goodbye to Bowie. My daughter's preschool had a Bowie Dance Party on Friday to celebrate his life. How beautiful is that? 

Excerpt from the Bowie book created for the preschoolers, image from the Turning Sun School Instagram  

Excerpt from the Bowie book created for the preschoolers, image from the Turning Sun School Instagram

 

This piece made me really happy and seemed to appeal to a lot of folks I shared it with so I am inspired to make more soon. Lots of shiny, happy things coming out of the studio in 2016! 

 

Our 50's Ranch Renovation | Backsplash Inspo

Trying to decide on tile for our backsplash-I'm finding it surprisingly hard to commit!  I love the classic, all white tile with white grout like the image below. I pulled an image of this kitchen out of a magazine years ago, then discovered I had also pinned it more than once, and then found it AGAIN in kitchen design magazine I had when we were about to start our remodel. It clearly spoke to me and obviously influenced the design of our kitchen overall. I feel like a classic approach like this will look good forever.  

I like how this beautiful kitchen (featured in Aussie mag Inside Out) is a bit funkier while still simple, graphic, and modern. I wonder if installation would be a pain though...

For a while I thought I wanted to do a really bold, graphic, encaustic tile behind the stove. I love the black and white cement tiles like in this LA eatery, Gracias Madre featured on Decor8 a while back. I still love this look, but its a LOTTA look and a big commitment design-wise. 

And then there is this gorgeousness. Perhaps my favorite kitchen, ever. I stumbled across it on photographer Jason Varney's Instagram feed last year and it was exactly what I had had in my mind for my dream scenario, which is to use Heath Ceramics tiles. I love the pattern behind the stove- I think they used the Little Diamond Mix from the Dwell line. Its a strong design without overwhelming the space. The simple offset square tiles (I believe they would be from their Classic Field line) along the counter are modern and timeless. Perfection. 

As of now I've only found 2 samples I like in visits to 3 different local tile stores. And I'm not really that crazy about the finish on them, they are pretty shiny in person. I'm always surprised how hard SIMPLE is to find in home design and decor places. Anyway-I taped them up this morning to see how they look. Kind of impossible to tell here but they are a warm white and light charcoal. We're living on the edge here people, I know.  Quick, someone come decide this nonsense for me! I'm pretty sure my poor mom is over hearing about my tile deliberations. ;)

 

Our 50's Ranch Renovation | 2016 Kitchen Punch List

Our little 56' brick ranch has a lot of the charms people associate with the style and era, and plenty of the hassles of an older home. Its been a great house for us and our little fam, but we've put a ton of work into it already. When we bought it back in 2011 it was a foreclosure, and had sat for at least a year on the market. I remember when I first walked in to this house, and was struck that it wasn't 1. disgusting, 2. tiny, 3.completely out of our budget. We had been looking for a house for months and pretty much everything in our range was either a hot mess of a "flip" or a house that has subsequently bulldozed and built into a McMansion but that we would have had zero budget to change or improve. We got a great deal on this place but knew from the beginning that we would eventually need to gut the kitchen and start from scratch, among the many other improvements that would need to be made. I had visions of vaulted ceilings, and opened floor plan, skylights, bigger windows, and a freshy fresh new kitchen. 

KITCHEN: BEFORE

KITCHEN: BEFORE

KITCHEN: RENOVATION PROGRESS

KITCHEN: RENOVATION PROGRESS

Fast forward a few years, a few babies, and a couple of rounds of DIY and professional renovations and our main living space is MUCH improved! The biggest change is of course the kitchen. It was a sad, dark, space completely lacking in storage and counters with gross, damaged old linoleum flooring. Now I've got a spot for everything, great work surfaces, tons of light (natural and overhead) and refinished hardwoods. I have been dragging my feet on the last few things needed in the kitchen. One of my goals for 2016 is to complete this punch list so I can call the kitchen/dining/living areas DONE. 

KITCHEN: AFTER

KITCHEN: AFTER

Here goes:

Backsplash: This is the most expensive and labor intensive item left on our list. A year into our new kitchen and I can see why a backsplash matters; spatters and spots are all over the paint behind the counters, and no amount of scrubbing is going to keep them clean. I have dreams of a Heath Ceramics backsplash but might have to settle for something less spendy. I know I want something with a matte finish and am probably going to keep it white or light. I have a ton of inspiration images I'll share here soon. 

Pendant Lights Over the Sink: This is just me being fussy but I had to use some off the rack Home Depot faux "industrial" style lights because the pendants I really wanted wouldn't arrive in time for the final inspection, when all lighting must be in place and operable. They are totally fine, but just not the look I wanted and the detailing on them is kinda cheesy. I will probably replace with these beauties from Cedar and Moss or something similar.

Re-painting Toe-Kicks: Well, this is an annoying one. The contractor installed the toe-kick and had his painting crew paint them with the same paint used on the trim in the adjoining areas. I think it must have needed an oil based rather than latex paint though, as the paint is just rubbing off with every cleaning. I think it might be easier to just replace the toe-kick all together than try to properly remove the paint and re-do, but we will have to test and see. 

Open Wood Cabinet for Above Fridge: I have plans to build an open wood box to mount to the underside of the cabinet above the fridge. This will make it look a little more integrated and make it more useful for storage. We have a stack of oak in the basement and should be able to knock this out relatively easily.

Wood Putty and Detail Work on Hood Vent Enclosure: We had to get creative to come up with an enclosure for the hood vent pipe and decided to use the oak used for our open shelving and ceiling beam trim. We never quite finished this project, it still needs puttying and detail work. I may be a giant dork but the screw holes and gaps totally bug me. 

New Bar Stools: These 3 stools are such a silly point of contention in this house. I bought them at Marshall's for about $50 each after looking everywhere for something that would work within our budget and coming up with nada. They are a great height and I love the look and overall think they are fine. David hates them. He claims they are too tippy for kids (its yet to be a problem, but I'll give him that they aren't as sturdy as something with 4 legs), they are uncomfortable (not terrible, but definitely not the most comfy), and he would rather have something with a back. So far the only things I like are way too $$$ so I'm on the lookout at estate sales. 

So thats the bulk of it! Not much, really, but you'd be surprised how hard it is just to get this kind of stuff done around here! I have been working on sorting photos and notes from our renovation and plan to chronicle some of it here. I spent literally countless hours researching kitchen renovations, toying with the IKEA kitchen planner, and generally obsessing about the process so it would be nice to pass on at least a little of that info! We also have lots of additional plans that we hope to carry out as time and budget allows, so I'll be adding posts about those too. 

 

SUNDAY NOTES + RECENT FAVS

The weeks leading up to the holidays takes on a whole new kind of busyness when you have 3 children. This week was chock full of obligations, events, festivities, and errands of all kinds. The next 2 weeks are going to be blissfully open. We don't travel for holidays and the girls are out of school so we are planning to adventure around ATL, hanging with friends, family, and neighbors, making crafts and food, and probably watching more telly than is usually acceptable. 

Succulents from a local spot, homemade cookies with woodburned tags, and homemade soy candles for teacher's gifts.

Succulents from a local spot, homemade cookies with woodburned tags, and homemade soy candles for teacher's gifts.

We did manage to squeeze in some holiday crafting. I made Fiona a stocking from a sample weaving from my college days and added some felted elements and a little clay bird bling. My sis in law and I tried our hand at soy candles. I think ours will be on the VERY subtle on the scents but we had fun experimenting and we are going to do some more soon using more essential oils this time. I created a couple of water-less snow globes as examples for a project I hosted in Nila's kindergarten class this week. I love these things so hard! I want to make a million more. 

handmade stocking for Fiona

handmade stocking for Fiona

our snow globe DIY project

our snow globe DIY project

 

We are trying to plan our Christmas day. I am leaning towards brunch but if we do dinner I might just recreate this entire menu again, its pretty much flawless and I love that includes shopping lists and daily "to-do" checklists. I really want to try my hand at a bûche de noël this year. I've been saving a few ideas and recipes for different versions to my eats board on Pinterest. I have always wanted to try and make one, I think the girls would really get a kick out of it. 

detail of my most recent commissioned pieces

detail of my most recent commissioned pieces

I am finishing up embellishing on a few pieces for my most recent commission. I was able to complete the large scale, abstracted landscape diptych for the same job and am really, really happy with the results. I won't be able to post full images here until they are installed at the hotel. The timing wasn't great but I am happy I took on something challenging and different for me. A good way to finish out the work year. I don't have any orders currently on my schedule for the break so I am hoping to continue work on my abstract encaustic series, work up some clay samples for a new sculptural wall concept, and probably knit or stitch away at some handwork. 

Oh! This dude got his first 2 teeth peeking through this week! Happy, happy. 

Julian at 7 months, extra drooly teething boy!

Julian at 7 months, extra drooly teething boy!

 

RECENT FAVS:

Sweet Peach Sweet Spots: My friend Pam of Sweet Peach has her finger on the pulse of all things cool, design-oriented, tasty, and crafty coming out of the South. She's been releasing her Sweet Spots papers around town for a couple of years and they are an amazing resource if you're looking for the best shops, eats, and happenings in our area. I LOVE that she included Buford Hwy in this issue. There is so much delicious international food there I have yet to discover! Just grabbed a hard copy at the Grant Park Farmer's Market this morning to have on hand for when folks come to town and I forget all the cool stuff there is to do around here. 

The Microbiome Diet: Ok, ok... first let me say normally I'm not a diet type, but had become frustrated with some stubborn postpartum weight (baby #3 is no joke!) & overall health and was struggling with what to do about it.  This book was referred to me by a craniosacral therapist who helped sort out some gnarly back pain I was dealing with for months. It gives some great info and guidelines about the connection between gut health and overall health and a plan to get the gut back in check. I've been following the first part of the plan for a little over 2 weeks and have lost more than 6 pounds, so theres that. 

We Quit Sugar: Have you ever seen the Katering Show? When I told my aunt about the above she sent me this. Pretty hilarious!

R&F Pigment Sticks: I originally purchased these to use with my encaustics, since the oils can be used to color the wax. For my most recent commission I used them solo for the first time, directly on wood artist panels. They are really great to work with-they have a very buttery texture and dreamy application. I worked them directly with my fingers, as well as with brushes and rags. They are spendy but seem to go pretty far. 

Kathryn Clark Craftivist Quilts : I've followed Kathryn for some time and really admire her quilts that use fibers to map out crises both here in our country and in the larger global landscape. Her work gives a tactile, intimate way of relating to issues that can seem too large to fathom. I enjoyed this Creative Live interview that reveals more about the thoughts and processes behind her beautiful, complex works. 

 

 

THRIFTER'S PARADISE

Oh, Atlanta (well, Decatur if you're local and know the difference). Our traffic may suck, our politics may be questionable, and culturally we are still playing catch-up to most other major cities but Y'ALL. I think we might be in a thrifters paradise. I have within a 5 mile radius of my home at least 15 thrift shops. They range from the crusty, disorganized messes to the well laid out, higher end shops. The junky ones have my heart. The thrill of the hunt is always just minutes from my home. My sister lived in Portland for years and would just flip out when we'd go thrifting on her visits. She would do a total wardrobe stock for her boys in 2 trips to the thrifts here. Apparently super hipster cities like Portland get totally picked over. Kudos to us for not being too cool for our own good.

So many of my favorite finds are on display on the open shelves in our kitchen; ceramic bowls, canisters, and dishes, baskets, Catherine Holm bowls, wooden spoons. 

So many of my favorite finds are on display on the open shelves in our kitchen; ceramic bowls, canisters, and dishes, baskets, Catherine Holm bowls, wooden spoons. 

The near entirety of my children's wardrobes are thrifted. Most of their toys and books. Most of my book purchases in the last few years. Accent tables. Lamps. Ceramics, Cookware (looking at you, 3 different Le Creuset pieces). Fabric. Sewing supplies. Yarn. Textiles. Art. If you look at any one corner of my house, I would guess at least 60% of it is secondhand. 

A totally insane find at a recent estate sale. Two vintage LeCreuset pots for $10. 

A totally insane find at a recent estate sale. Two vintage LeCreuset pots for $10. 

More recently I'm starting to hit up some incredible estate sales. The route from our house to our girls' school winds past a big, ambling neighborhood filled with lovely 50's ranches and 60's split levels situated on large lots with tons of trees and lots of character. For whatever reason I think of it as kind of the more grown up version of our hood. As the original residents in the hood are aging out of their homes ESTATE SALE signs keep popping up on the edges of the neighborhood. So hard not to at least take a peek when I'm going right by ;) 

Love these little wooden spoons, tiny ceramic planters, and woven basket from an estate sale. All are used daily!

Love these little wooden spoons, tiny ceramic planters, and woven basket from an estate sale. All are used daily!

I went to one such sale this week. The house itself was a time capsule from the 50's, original paneling, kitchen, mod fireplace, etc. These folks seemed to be so well read, cultured, and travelled. Awesome collections of books, music, art, textiles, leather goods, ceramics, baskets from all over the world. I was seriously in heaven. I had both Fiona and Julian with me (nutter) but still managed to find some things I will treasure forever. The hand cut and painted metal ornaments are so funky and fun and already on the tree. I will have to do a whole post gushing about the vintage textiles I found but here are a couple of images of the 2 Japanese indigo pieces I scored. One is kind of like a caftan and the other is the most beautiful kimono.

Giving it some thought, I am realizing this thrifting habit is a really huge part of our lifestyle. I just can't bring myself to buy new for the things I know are waiting for me at the thrift. A big part of it is obviously financial but I am also keenly aware of the larger implications of human consumption. Its daunting to look at the aisles and aisles of nearly new THINGS basically discarded and not think we've all kind of lost our sense. Beside all that this is in my blood; I come from a long line of collectors, crunchy folk, and spendthrifts. 

This 7x10 ft vintage Egyptian wool rug was $75 through a local estate sale website. 

This 7x10 ft vintage Egyptian wool rug was $75 through a local estate sale website. 

So many of my favorite things, things I use nearly every day have come from these spots.  My love for the vintage, the funky, the handcrafted is almost always satisfied within the jumbled shelves, the dusty corners, the cobwebbed closets.  There is something so satisfying to me in the cyclical pattern created when we buy secondhand. What feels so fresh and relevant to me now was that way for someone else 60 years ago. Everything old is new again.

One of the new LeCreuset pots getting put to use for cranberry sauce this Thanksgiving. 

One of the new LeCreuset pots getting put to use for cranberry sauce this Thanksgiving. 

Are you a thrifter? Let me know if you live close by, I'll dish on some of my favorite spots. Just don't let me see you snagging the good stuff before I get there!