Monday, November 21, 2011

Vintage Wood Shoemakers' Lasts

Wood shoe mold or shoe last
Vintage shoe forms or shoemakers' lasts make attractive home accents. These wood shoe forms, once used in the production of footwear add an industrial yet organic feel to any design motif. 

Old shoe forms look great in an urban setting and are particularly suitable for a steampunk design style. Despite the seemingly quaint technology, the single last pictured to the right is dated 1959. Many of these shoemakers' molds bear dates, sizes, and the name of a manufacturer. 

Wood shoe lasts were made of a hardwood like maple to maintain shape through constant use. Chemical preservatives helped prevent swelling and shrinking of the wood. 

Shoe form
 Wood shoe lasts were made of a hardwood like maple to maintain shape through constant use. Chemical preservatives helped prevent swelling and shrinking of the wood.

The North East part of the United States was once a major manufacturing hub for footwear. As American production waned, many of these lasts became available in antique and salvage shops, as well as online sites, and can be quite inexpensive to buy.

Before the Industrial Revolution, shoes were commonly made on straight lasts and not intended to fit the right or left foot. Shoes made in this manner obtained a fit through wear. It was not until the mid 1800's that shoe mills commonly made footwear to fit the right or left foot. Today, most shoe lasts are made of plastic.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Make an Easy Landscape Quilt Pillow Cover

Some time ago, I became enamored with landscape quilts. I love landscape art in general and have attempted to paint a few landscapes myself. When I first heard of landscape quilts, I was intrigued. After searching the internet for examples, I was flummoxed. No way could I create something like that, or even understand the complicated skills needed to produce such work! The artistic talent, the sewing skills, and the patience were way beyond my humble capabilities.

So I decided to cheat. I made a pillow, covered on one side with the simplest landscape possible. At Joanne's I found several fabrics that would fit the bill, including one that looked like white birch       bark. 

I made a simple scene - several birch tree trunks in front of a larger forest which I suggested by using a deep green batik as a background. A wavy blue batik became a water feature. A lake!

After washing, ironing, and starching the fabric, I cut the green batik background. Next, I cut a strip of the "water" and sewed them together.

Thinner strips made the birch trunks. I cut the fabric with the slight bark pattern into long strips. I did not cut them perfectly straight, opting for a more natural look.
The edges of the trunks were hemmed with an iron, then  stitched to the background.

Using black embroidery floss, I added some dark shadows to the trunks, as well as some thin, black branches. 

The leaves were embroidered in metallic gold to give the suggestion of leaves catching a glint of sunlight. 

Voila! I made my own little landscape quilt and can honestly say that I am quite pleased with the result. Of course, it doesn't hold a candle to the quilts made by expert artists, but it certainly was fun. Though this project was simple, it gave me a taste of the real thing, and an honest appreciation of and admiration for the people who create those totally fabulous landscape quilts. 

If you want to check out some beautiful landscape quilts, check out Judy Alexander or Bobbie Sullivan.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

I Found My Dream House - Yes I Did

I found my Dream House, really I did. Not the idealized architecturally significant wonder home, or the cottage hidden behind hollyhocks and a white picket fence, but the place that I visited in several dreams. I haven't had that particular dream for some time, so the real one was as abandoned and decrepit as it would be if it was a barely remembered, deserted dream. 

Just like the one I dreamed about, it was an old farm house, two and a half stories, build close to a hill that rose up on the north side. In the dream, I was walking beside the outside walls, down the hill, through dry, sweet smelling weeds. And I can smell the water, wet rocks, and sun shining on grass. 

So, there was the real one, sans the green painted clapboard and brown trim. Paint was a distant memory here. Part of the house was built of logs and the lawn slanted gently  toward the water. A sycamore grew down by the clear, spring fed stream.

Like in the dream, crickets make way for me and silhouetted birds sing in the trees. I hear an oriole and a king fisher. 

A ruin stands nearby, an old kiln that looks like a place in a fairy tale. 

The white paneled door stands open. Do I enter?