Monday, May 28, 2007

Sewing Room

For well over seven years I wrote a column in the voice of a woman from 1898 by the name of "Abigail Bradshaw" for newspapers that ran in syndication throughout 23 states of the USA and in Canada. I thought I would begin to share some of those rather nostalgic columns here in my blog for fun. One came to mind the other day as I finished an ACEO with a vintage sewing theme. (I've posted a picture of it here -- it's up on Ebay for sale right now -- Ebay ID: judiwithani2.) Here's that column in its entirety copyright, Judi Brandow 1999-2007, all rights reserved.

"The Sewing Room"

'No Female Suffrage Yet. -- But something far better and more valuable, a Wilson Sewing-Machine for every wife and mother in the Union, and at the low price of $50 each of the full finished machine. People ask why the Wilson, a leading machine in all respects, can be sold for $50. The answer is easy and direct -- because its proprietors do not belong to a great "ring," whose purpose it is to keep up the price of sewing-machines.' -- ad from Peterson's Magazine, December 1878

February 1898

Greetings from my home to yours. I am sitting at the table in my sewing room, sunlight dancing a step over my shoulder and across the bright patches of the 'Chimney Sweep' quilt top I just finished piecing. I am surrounded by a delightful disarray of crimson, saffron and muted green calico prints, waste threads and cuttings -- a testament to my absorption in the project at hand.

How fortunate I am to possess a room set apart soley as a sewing room. I can make a great creative mess here without affecting the rest of the house. When my darling Edward first suggested turning part of the attic into a sewing room, I balked. It seemed such a dingy, out-ot-the-way hole. But when the windows were cleaned of film, a cozy rag rug laid on the floor, and shelves built to hold my collection of boxes, I settled right in to my lovely little nook.

How carefully I arranged all the hundred-and-one things employed in sewing. Hat and shoe boxes were labeled for such articles as rolls of bias tape, hooks and eyes, laces, stays, and threads. I carefully separated out different colored buttons and strung them onto cords placing them in my button box to enable me to find just the button needed without trouble. An old bureau's drawers were each labeled with the names of family members to provide each with a 'piece drawer' for all that person's mending and sewing needs. Another bureau was hauled into my space with drawers for al the folds of fabric waiting to be cut. One drawer holds bags of all my different colored scraps for quilts.

Because I am forever losing track of where I have placed various sewing accessories, I have found it most useful to employ the old-fashioned 'housewife' my grandmother espouses. It is a charming work-case equipped with pockets for scissors, buttons, thread and thimbles, with cushions attached for needles and pins. Grandmother encouraged me to stuff the cushions with hair saved from my hairbrush. She swears the oils in the hair help to keep needles and pins from rusting, and to this day, my pins have never suffered the complaint.

To save myself from eye strain, my sewing machine is positioned where the light is best in the room. The window over my left shoulder allows just the right amount of light to fall on the machine as I work. Mine is a Singer Treadle. I love polishing the beautiful red, green and gilt scrolled flourishes and lettering on its black cast iron body. Keeping it well-oiled and cleaned assures me it will work when I am ready to sit and sew. There are some who say the sewing machine manufacturers are working on electric models. I say, 'Give me the slow, steady whir of my treadle, the warmth of sunlight on my back the feel of crisp fabric through my fingers and a song to hum in the serenity of my sewing room, and I am content.'

Until next time, believe me to be sincerely yours, Abigail Bradshaw."

And, might I add, I am off to my own sewing room, busy on a tiny altered crazy quilt ACEO size (2.5"x3.5") book! In my next blog post, I'll show some pictures. -- Judi

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

How do you display ACEOs?

As an artist and creator of fiber art altered ACEOs (Art Cards Editions and Originals), I know there are a number of collectors of these miniature works of art measuring just 2.5" x 3.5". Some collectors display one piece at a time on a tiny easel. Others use clear plastic boxes or albums with sleeves to display their collections. You can frame each tiny piece in a small frame, or matte and frame in a larger frame.

If you love altered art, why not do groupings in a shadow box or display case? There are a variety available in the hobby stores. The picture I am including with today's blog shows three of my crazy quilt ACEOs in an 8" x 10" display case with a piece of vintage lace in the background.

I create my ACEOs in series -- each one-of-a-kind, but with themes such as my "Heirloom Flower Series," "Vintage Birds Series," "Heirloom Pet Series," etc. with the collector in mind. Shadow boxes or display cases can be purchased in a variety of sizes that will enable a number of ACEOs to be grouped together in an artistic way. I hope this gives my readers new ideas!


Friday, May 18, 2007

Flower Day!

I ran across something in my 1899 book, Excelsior Writer and Speaker, I thought was intriguing. There is a section in the book entitled, "Promgrammes for Special Occasions" with a special heading of "Programmed for Flower Day." Wow! I never knew that, as a nation, the USA at one time celebrated Flower Day, did you? Reading through that little section was fun -- and it inspired my latest art offerings on Ebay as well. The newest one is titled, "Sing, Sing, it's Spring!" with a little bluebird singing it's heart out in the midst of roses and lace. I thought I would share one of the songs listed for Flower Day (supposed to be sung to the tune of "My Country Tis of Thee"). Then, we can all sing along with the birds. (I am in a singing mood this morning.)

"Let us with nature sing,
And floral tributes bring,
On this glad day;
Violets white and blue,
Daisies and lilies too,
Pansies of purple hue,
And roses gay.

O'er this fair land of ours,
Blossom the golden flowers
In loveliness;
From Maine to Washington,
Wherever smiles the sun,
Their fairy footsteps run
To cheer and bless.

When winter's curtains gray,
From skies are pushed away
By nature's hand;
We gladly welcome you,
Blossoms of red and blue,
Blossoms of every hue,
To our fair land."

Celebrate spring with me and all the terrific flowers it brings!

Monday, May 14, 2007

An Answer for Discontentment

I love pansies . . . and I love their little-known name, "Heartsease." There is a wonderful poetic fable by M.R.P. I discovered in my vintage 1891 book, "Sunday Chat" all about a heart's-ease. . .as a means to answer discontentment so often prevalent in our lives and the secret for happy living. It was the creative spark behind my latest artistic offering on ebay, my small mini quilt shown here. I hope it will lift your spirits today as it has my own in its review.

"Sought the king his garden

When the air was ringing

With the joyous music

That the birds were singing.

When the sun threw westward

Long bright beams of gold,

And the dew was sparkling

On the wold.

Found his plants all drooping

Sullenly and sadly;

Buds and blossoms hung their heads,

Born to bloom so gladly.

When the king demanded

Why in sorrow bent,

There was but one answer --


For the graceful willow

By the fountain weeping,

And the lovely jasmine,

All her perfume keeping,

Answered when he questioned --

Each with envy spoke --

'Ah, because I cannot

Be an oak.'

E'en the elm-tree answered,

Sadly and complaining,

'Ah, because I am not

Bloom and fruitage gaining.

And the vine, down drooping,

Lamentation made

Just because it could not

Cast a shade.

Rose would be a dahlia,

Ferns the flowers copy,

Daisy grow a sunflower,

Heliotrope, a poppy.

Only little Heart's-ease

Looked all glad and bright,

And the king said, wond'ring

At the sight,

'Wherefore, little Heart's-ease,

Art thou not repining?'

And the Heart's-ease answered,

All her gold heart shining,

'Why, when me you planted

'Mong your garden store,

You wanted just a heart's-ease,

Nothing more.'

Do you know the lesson

That the fable's giving?

'Tis the very secret

Of all happy living.

In whatever station

God for you deems best,

Yours to grow and brighten,

His the rest."

Blessings! -- Judi

Saturday, May 12, 2007

I Don't Want to Play in Your Yard

My maternal grandmother was a jewel. She was an artist -- and I know I owe a lot of my artistic/creative genes to her. I'm posting a small picture of her here when she was probably in her 30s. One of my fondest memories of my childhood are of her many quotes and songs she shared with me. One favorite was the 1894 song, "I Don't Want to Play in Your Yard" often sung when I was put out with one of my siblings or cousins for a perceived wrong. Off Grandmother would go. . .

"Once there lived side-by-side, two little maids,
Used to dress just alike, hair down in braids,
Blue gingham pinafores, stockings of red,
Little sunbonnets tied, on each pretty head.

When school was over, secrets they'd tell,
Whispering arm-in-arm, down by the well.
One day a quarrel came, hot tears were shed,
'You can't play in our yard!'
But the other said,

"I don't want to play in your yard,
I don't like you anymore!
You'll be sorry when you see me,
Sliding down our cellar door.
You can't holler down our rain barrel,
You can't climb our apple tree!
I don't want to play in your yard,
If you won't be good to me!'"

That little song came to mind when I discovered a vintage photograph of a little boy playing in a rain barrel. I couldn't help myself! I set right to work and created one of my latest altered mini art crazy quilts. It's up on Ebay right now -- but I thought you might enjoy seeing it and perhaps taking a trip down memory lane to a simpler spring or summer day.

Blessings! Judi

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Fairy Bubbles

My little granddaughter, Chloe, was the flowergirl for my son's wedding this last week. A typical 3-year-old, Chloe is constantly using her imagination.

About a week before the wedding, her mother called with Chloe on the other phone and said, "Chloe, tell your Grandma what you did!" With sobs jerking her little voice, she plaintively answered, "I cutted my hair and my mommy is berry angwy with me."

A hairdresser used a pretty elaborate upsweep of the chopped bangs to hide the "uh-oh" and Chloe looked just like a fairy princess coming down the aisle, dropping petals.

When I saw the image of two fairies riding a bubble carriage drawn by two butterflies, I couldn't help myself. I got right to work on creating my latest ACEO entitled, "Harnessing Bubbles." I included a snippet of one of my favorite poems from 1869, "Bubbles" that I plan to copy and send along with the ACEO to the winning bidder on Ebay.

Monday, May 7, 2007


• Start with 7 random facts/habits about yourself• People who are tagged have to write their 7 things on their blog• Then choose another 7 people to get tagged and list their names• Don't forget to leave them a comment to tell them they have been tagged and to read your blog.

Here are some random facts about me!

1. I sang my first solo at the age of 3.

2. I have brown hair and so does my husband, but 4 of our six sons have red hair.

3. I wrote and published a newspaper column on a nostalgic theme that ran in syndication for 7 years.

4. I once received a $10,000 advance on a series of gift books I wrote that were never published, but I was allowed to keep the advance.

5. I got married at the age of 18, and am still married to the same wonderful man 37 years later (anniversary this month).

6. My great great grandmother had an unusual name, and we still own her "primative" portrait -- the portrait of Silence Luna Day.

7. I can trace my family heritage to George Soule -- the 35th signer of the Mayflower Compact after he reached the shores of what is now Provincetown, Massachusetts in 1620.

I tag:

Kathryn at:
Crystal at:
Chrysti at:
Kathi at:
Jeannine at:
Kelly at:
Sherre at:

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Bicycle Etiquette from 1896

Along with posting my newest artwork -- a miniature 2.5" x 3.5" piece of altered Crazy Quilt Vintage Advertising Art entitled "Cycling -- a Promoter of Health," I offer the following "Few Don'ts for Cyclers" from my 1896 book, Social Etiquette. Enjoy (I'm sure you'll get a laugh or two)!

"Don't try to raise your hat to the passing 'bloomer' until you become an expert in guiding your wheel.

Don't buy a bicycle with down-curve handles. It is impossible to sit erect and hold that kind of handle.

Don't go out on a bicycle wearing a tail coat unless you enjoy making a ridiculous show of yourself.

Don't travel without a jacket or loose wrap, to be worn while resting. A summer cold is a stubborn thing.

Don't allow a taste for a bit of color in your makeup to tempt you to wearing a red or other gay-colored cap.

Don't get off the old gag about 'that tired feeling' every time you stop by the roadside for a little breathing spell.

Don't absent yourself from church to go wheeling, as you and your bicycle are welcome at most houses of worship.

Don't leave your bicycle in the lower hallway of your flat-house for the other tenants to fall over in the dark.

Don't believe the farmer boy who says that it is 'two miles to the next town.' It may be two, four, six or twelve.

Don't be more than an hour passing a given point, although wheeling on a dusty road is honestly conducive to thirst.

Don't smile at the figure others cut astride their wheels, as it is not given you to see yourself as others see you.

Don't coast down a strange hill with a curve at its bottom. There is no telling what you will meet when it is too late.

Don't ride ten miles at a scorching pace, then drink cold water and lie around on the grass, unless you are tired of life.

Don't try to carry your bike downstairs under your arm. Put it on your shoulder, or you will come to distress.

Don't laugh the watchful copper to scorn because your lamp is burning brightly. He can afford to wait his time to laugh.

Don't dress immodestly or in the costume of a track sprinter. Sweaters worn like a Chinaman's blouse are almost indecent.

Don't forget that the modern law of the road requires you to turn out to the right in passing another bicycle or other vehicle."


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