Thursday, August 12, 2010

The spooky sisters

When I buy old photos and cabinet cards, I try to get them cheap, like maybe a dollar for a cabinet card, certainly not more than $2. But when I saw this photo of two scary sisters on etsy, I knew it was perfect for Halloween projects and I had to have it.

I think I paid $5 (plus shipping) but it makes me smile every time I look at it. Were they just nervous about having their photo taken (as the baby on the right appears to be)? Or were they putting a curse on the photographer? Either way, they are a really spooky pair. I wouldn't want to mess with them on the playground, that's for sure.

I've just scanned in a bunch of old cabinet cards and will be posting them every day or so in groups of two,  so check back often if you're looking for free images. Also check my older posts; there are some scattered through there, too.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Old photos

The only thing better than old photos are old photos that have something written on them that gives you some insight into the people in the picture.

I've been working on a project that's going to involve cutting up some of the cabinet cards I've picked up at flea markets and yard sales over the years, so I'm trying to make sure I have copies of them in the computer so they won't be lost forever.

But I could never cut up the two shown here. "Aunt Clare" is written in pencil below the woman on the left. At the top of the photo it says "Good old days. Them days are gone, but not forgotten." I like to think Aunt Clare wrote that herself when she was an old woman, looking back on how lovely and happy she was in her youth. I think she probably had a happy life.

The woman on the right? I'm not so sure. We do know she was a hard worker. Here's what it says on the back of the photo: "Maid to the children Minnie Zwetch. 45 years in the family. Tetzlaff family." Think about that for a moment: not a nanny, not a babysitter, but a MAID to the children ...

Sometimes I buy cabinet cards more for the artwork on the backs than on the fronts. Here are the backs of those two cards.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Mothers and children

With Mother's Day not too far off, here's a 1921 photo of a somewhat weary looking mother with the three youngest of her five children. She was my grandmother, Ida Ellen Bennington Huffman, of Pine Bank, Pa. Her youngest is my mother, Katherine, born May 9, 1920. The other children are Eva, 6, and Jacob, 4.

On Mother's Day this year, my mother will turn 90. Exactly a week later, on the 16th, my father turns 94. He's thinking he might finally give up driving this year, but can't figure out how he will get to the VFW on poker night.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Oh, yes, we are sale-ing...

Sometimes I hate yard sales; some days I come home empty handed. Today was not one of those days.

I went to one sale that sounded good in the newspaper ad since it said it included old tins, which I collect. I also needed some I could cut up for a class I'll be taking at Art and Soul, making tin collages.

The sellers turned out to be a nice older couple who had cleaned out their attic. They said they had already sold a hundred or more tins but there were still some left.

Most of the pre-1966 tins were $1 and anything newer was 10 cents or a quarter. Why 1966? Because, according to the owner, that's when bar codes came into existence, so it was an easy way to tell which ones were newer reproductions.

He also had a lot of antique bottles (25 cents each) and I cleaned up on those, since I had just used up all my old bottles in a craft project. I had a whole box full of stuff ($5 total), so I drove away happy.

Until I got a couple miles down the road and remembered the folding wire shopping cart I had seen and meant to ask about. I shrugged and kept going, but I kept remembering the cute altered carts with fabric liners I've been seeing photos of in magazines or on people's blogs. That darn cart just kept calling my name. How much could it be? When would I ever find another one? So I turned around and went back.

"I forgot to ask how much you wanted for this," I said, dragging the poor rusty thing over to the old man.

"Oh, 50 cents," he said.

 Sometimes I love yard sales.
Here's one from Flea Market Style magazine. The liner is made from a burlap coffee sack with a border of feedsack fabric and tied on with grommets and cord. You can buy the liners at But I remember seeing photos of a pretty flowered shabby chic one that had flaps that folded down over the top edge and they were made from old doilies or something. I think it might have had an extra pocket on the outside, too. I don't think it will be hard to make.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Almost Garden Party time

 The Garden Party Artist Class is coming soon. The brainchild of Mary Green at Green Paper, it runs throughout the month of April with a dozen pretty spring projects by a dozen different artists. I took the February class and it was a lot of fun. This time I'm back as one of the instructors! You can see details of all the projects here.

One of the fun aspects of the class is all the little freebie projects that are sprinkled in on the days when you don't have a regular project. Last time we got free clip art, instructions for mini projects, information about art-related web sites and much more.

You won't have time to do all the projects but they can be printed out and saved.

Check out the details and if you want to sign up, you can save $10 on the $49 fee by using my code: just abby and me.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Easter Blog Hop

Today's the Blog Hop, where you can see other people's vintage Easter decorations and maybe pick up some free Easter images just by visiting the participating blogs.

You can check it out at:

My contribution is some freebie art, including a couple of unusual postcards I found when I went antiquing earlier this week, including these funny bunnies in a rowboat:

And for something really different, how about these girls in a weird eggshell swing:

I paid $1 for this 1933 pamphlet made of tissue thin paper, so thin that the type from the back side of each page shows through. I wonder how it survived all these years.

Here are two pages from the pamphlet with Easter songs. I thought these would be good backgrounds for an Easter collage:

Friday, March 26, 2010

Some old-fashioned boys

Collage artists seem to love collecting old photos of children, especially little girls. Since we are mostly women, I guess we see ourselves reflected in them somehow. Lately I've been making an effort to add some boys to the mix. Not sure how I'll use them, but I found these two dapper fellows when I went antiquing Wednesday. Feel free to copy them if you like.

The boy with the bow and the ruffles remains nameless but his photo was taken in Jersey City as you can see.

This little fellow has a big name: James Garwood (or possibly Harwood) Closson 3rd, age 2 years. The photo was taken in Philadelphia, June 18, 1899.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

A fun jewelry class

We had a great time on Saturday making pendants at Kecia DeVeney's home/studio in Wall Township, NJ. It was an hour and a half away for me, but it was such a gorgeous day I didn't mind the drive at all. We made pendants using old tintype photos, brass findings, old rhinestones and chandelier crystals and put it all together with solder, glue and resin. What fun!

My pendant is the heart-shaped guy, second row, far right.

It was also fun to see Kecia's home and her artwork, which I'd only seen photos of before. I'll tell  you one thing, that girl knows how to work a flea market...

More info on Kecia's classes:

It's a Garden Party...

I had such a great time taking the February Artist Class run by Mary Green, which featured 12 projects by 12 different artists, that I couldn't resist proposing a project of my own. The new Artist Class, with a Garden Party theme, will run throughout the month of April. My project will be an altered antique bottle with pretty paper flowers. You can get $10 off the price by mentioning my code: justabbyandme

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Enough already ...

Love this photo, stolen today from the web site of my old employer, The Press of Atlantic City. This is the main entrance to Wildwood's beach and boardwalk, complete with numerous colorful concrete beach balls.

We had a lull for a couple hours this afternoon but the snow picked up around 3 p.m. and is coming down thick and fast again. It's expected to end around 8 or 9 tonight.

Art & Dolls Gone Wild

I belong to a private Facebook group called Art & Dolls Gone Wild. But if there's anything wild about this group, it's the dollmakers themselves. There are eight people in the group, and we divided into two groups of four for a collaborative art project, which we started a few months ago and are just finishing up.

Each of us made a doll head, then mailed it to the next person on the list. That person added a body and sent it to the next person, who added arms and legs. The fourth person added finishing touches and sent the completed doll back to the person who made the head.

My head was pretty basic -- an old wooden block, decoupaged with a photo of a really shabby old doll head, some rub-on letters, a bottle cap crown. The next person added a body made from a rusty old trowel.  The next person added strips of metal for arms and a nutcracker for legs. Finishing touches included a skirt of pen points, some copper pennies with a green patina and polymer clay hands and feet. During her journey, she even acquired a name: Dolly.

Not all the dolls are finished yet, but we're already talking about our next project.  What a fun, creative group of women.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

And more on the way?

This was my back yard when I got up  Thursday morning.  Looking pretty and melting fast. The next storm is due to arrive  Friday night  and could be up to two feet, or so they say. This winter has been the snowiest in many years at the Jersey shore.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Crafts on a snowy day

I had planned to try to get to Michael's on Saturday before the snow started, but I spent too much of the morning puttering around on the computer. I took a shower and got dressed and when I came downstairs, I found the snow was here and the ground was already covered.

So instead, I burrowed into my craft room and tried to finish a few projects. I recently read Anna Corba's "Vintage Paper Crafts." What an inspiration! She collages on everything: notebook covers, old bottles, glass candle holders.

Pictured here are two dollar-store notebooks I altered. One is one of those speckled black and white composition books -- you know the ones; it cost $1. The other is the same size but made of all recycled paper with a plainer paper cover; it was $1.50.

I stuck with the black and white theme for the composition book, but it was more work because it had so much type on the inside covers that needed to be covered up (class schedule blanks, and measurement tables). So I ended up collaging inside both covers, too, also with a French/Paris theme. But it was three times more work.

The inside of the other one was pretty clean; it just needed one small photo to cover up some type on the inside front cover. If I go back for more notebooks, I guess I'll spend the extra 50 cents.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Be my Valentine

Red and pink, shiny silver, sparkly glitter, glass hearts. Valentine's Day is coming, and I've been scrambling to finish some jewelry for the store. Maybe I'll throw a few on my etsy site, too. My favorites are the small round glass pendants with a red heart and old text in the background. I have one I wear year-round.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

New beginnings

Here's a photo, taken around this time last year, just inside the front door of the Maple Tree gift shop in Seaville, NJ. It is literally just around the corner from my house, and I often refer to it as my home away from home.

The first time I called Rosie, the owner, to introduce myself, I told her, "You know, I can see your back door from my kitchen window." It just seemed like fate that I should get involved in this shop.

Since it opened less than two years ago, Rosie and the Maple Tree have gradually become a bigger and bigger part of my life. When it opened, I was making crafts for three or four other stores. Most of my output now goes to the Maple Tree. (Those are my Queen of Hearts dolls in the photo.) I work there occasionally, I teach classes there, I stop by to say hi to Rosie if I'm driving by (I was going to say 'in the neighborhood,' but I'm always in the neighborhood).

So much can happen in two years. In that time, I lost my 'significant other,' Pete. Rosie found out she had cervical cancer; she just recently finished her treatment. On the business side, the economy took a nose dive. But through it all, the Maple Tree has continued to thrive.

Today I stopped by to talk to Rosie about new classes and new crafts and new plans for the new year. She said she recently cleaned her craft room at home. She gave away some stuff and threw out tons more. It might be, she admitted, the most wasteful thing she's ever done, but also the most liberating. "I needed a new beginning," she said.

That's the great thing about this time of year. You can throw out the old and plan for the new. We all need a new beginning.