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Pause and Revitalize #2

Take a moment and inhale slowly. Now exhale. Keep breathing — today will be a good day.

J. K. Rowling, British novelist, screenwriter and film producer (1965 – )
Pause and Revitalize

Annie Dillard, American author (1945 – )
Pause and Revitalize

Confucius, Chinese teacher, editor, politician, and philosopher (551 – 479 BCE)
Act with kindness . . . Confucius copy

To see more Quotes, head over to Iris Abbey’s Pinterest account at https://www.pinterest.com/irisabbey/

Pause and Revitalize #1
I'm restless. Things are calling me away. You will never change - Annie Dillard copy Pause and Revitalize

Ann Marie

Talk-of-the-Town-button-Knick-of-Time

How to Add Share Buttons to Your WordPress Blog

Pink Poodle Painting

Share Buttons on your WordPress blog photos make it simple for readers to place your photos into their social media accounts. The Frizzly plugin lets readers post your images to their Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Frizzly is easy to install and terrifically helpful for sharing.

To show what we mean, just take your cursor and hover over the photo above. Is that great, or what? You may choose to place Pinterest, Facebook and/or Twitter Share Buttons. You also get to decide placement of the icons on the top, middle, or bottom of your image. We chose upper left.

Frizzly is easy to install. Let’s run through a quick How-to using the images provided by Marcin Skrypiec, the developer of Frizzly:

    • Download “Frizzly” — click here
    • Go to your Plugins and add Frizzly
    • Once Frizzly appears on your Dashboard, click on it
    • Click on Button Sets
    • Frizzly Button Sets
  • At the very top of screen, click on the blue button: Add New Button Set Frizzly Button Set
  • Drag the buttons you want to appear on your photos from the right column to the led column and hit Publish

Frizzly Button Set

  • Click on Frizzly on your Dashboard to go back to Frizzly Settings
  • Click on the General tab, click Hover. Save Changes.
  • Click on the Hover tab and go to Position. Decide where you want your buttons to appear: top, middle, bottom; left, middle, right. Save Changes.

We’ll defer to the developer for this next step. Because we installed Frizzly last week, we can’t get back to the exact image. So here’s what Marcin says you will see:

Use the created button set

Choosing the new button set

Now let’s get back to the module where you want to use the button set you just created. If it’s the hover module, go to its settings and choose your newly create button set from the dropdown list (remember it must be published to be visible on that list!). Now you just need to press the Save Changes button on the bottom of the settings page. Mission accomplished – only the buttons you have chosen will be shown when hovering over an image!

We’ve wanted to do something like this for months. Our delight with the ease of Frizzly made us decide to share it immediately.

By the way, the photo shows items for sale in our booth at Avonlea Antiques and Design Gallery. 

Did you find this post insightful? Share it with your friends!

Ann Marie and David

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Pause and Revitalize #1

I’m offering you a moment to pause and revitalize.

Sometime before Christmas I signed up for Melanie Duncan’s The Power of Pinning training  because I needed to learn about Pinterest. I created an account for Iris Abbey and set up my Pinterest boards showcasing our company’s interests.

Of the several boards Melanie recommended, I jumped at her suggestion for a Quotes/Wise Words board to post encouraging — revitalizing — statements.

In my previous life I would print out business-card sized motivational quotes and hand them out to my students. I usually had 3 or 4 available, depending the kind of advice needed.

After posting several quotes designed by others, I realized I could design my favorite quotes using Canva. Easy. Fast forward and I hope to offer a few of these quotes each week, in the hope they offer you strength and grace.

Anaïs Nin, author (1903 – 1977)
I'm restless. Things are calling me away.

Annie Dillard, American author (1945 – )
You will never change - Annie Dillard copy
Anne Lamott, American novelist and non-fiction writer (1954 – )
Hope is not about proving anything . . . Anne Lamott copy

To check out Iris Abbey’s Pinterest account, head over to https://www.pinterest.com/irisabbey/

Ann Marie

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Miniature Christmas House

Someone with infinite patience and love — not I — made this marvelous miniature Christmas house. It comes in a fabric-covered gift box.
Christmas Box of Miniature Room Unopened
Remove the lid and two sides drop down to reveal a warm, cozy scene decorated for Christmas. Fa-la-la. In my story this miniature family has gone to Christmas Eve services while their cocker spaniel stands guard.
Aerial View of Boxed Christmas Scene
I’m astonished by the details that the craftsman put into this unique creation. The upholstered sofa offers plump pillows and a throw blanket. Knitting needles stick out from the green yarn, large throw pillows are tossed on the rug and a gift awaits a lucky recipient. On the coffee table a copy of a Mary Higgins Clark novel lies next to a dried floral arrangement.
Miniature Upholstered Sofa and coffee table
The lights on the Christmas tree in the corner twinkle.
Miniature Christmas Tree
Under this tree — bedecked with angels, musical instruments, stars, snowflakes and flowers — are toys, gifts, and nutcrackers.Miniature Christmas Tree
I Imagine the Miniature Mother placed her fanciest crocheted tablecloth on the parlor table. The Georgian style chairs are upholstered with the same fabric to match the sofa and throw pillows.
Miniature Parlor Table and Chairs
The prominent painting, wreathed in garland, features flowers in a vase. The wallpaper stripes, highlighted with gold lines, add formality and richness to the scene. Soon the clock will chime 7 o’clock in the evening.
Miniature Christmas House
Another piece of art hangs left of the tree — a blue and gold peacock with images of his feathers hovering around him. It’s perched above the teddy bear sitting in a chair.

Miniature Christmas House
This last photo offers a cross view of the home. Look closely to see the crèche on the console table behind the sofa.
Miniature Christmas Scene
Now for the details of our amazing acquisition: David and I found it at an estate sale. When we carried it into Avonlea Antique and Design Gallery, the owner offered to display it on the front counter. People grouped around the Christmas scene and Phil, the Avonlea carpenter, began to take photographs, saying, “I can do that.” I had said that exact statement to David when we found it. It’s one thing to say it and quite another to do it.

But I am delighted that we found this little Christmas treasure.

Thanks for stopping by. Follow us on Iris Abbey’s Facebook page.

Ann Marie and David

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Two Yanks in the Yorkshire Countryside

A month out from our England trip and I’ve got photos of our mini-coach tour into the Yorkshire countryside, ablaze with autumn colors and steeped in history.

Magical Landscapes

This pastoral scene of the River Wharfe drew artists like Turner and poets like Wordsworth during the Romantic Age. Compare the misty photo we snapped with a painting by Turner in the early 1800s. I can’t verify that’s the exact view but it’s close.
River Wharfe, View from Bolton Abbey Yorkshire

Addingham Mill on the Wharfe circa 1815-20 Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775-1851 Manchester City Galleries http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/TW0587
Addingham Mill on the Wharfe circa 1815-20 Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775-1851 Manchester City Galleries, Tate, London, 2015.  http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/TW0587

We stopped at Aysgarth Falls to see the tiered waterfall. Poet Wordsworth and his sister, Dorothy, viewed the falls while awaiting their coach’s change of horses. Of course, Artist Turner sketched the falls.
Aysgarth Falls

Sheep

They’re everywhere. We found a village shop selling local crafts. I scooped up a few ornaments made from the local sheep’s wool.
Yorkshire Sheep Grazing
Yorkshire Sheep
Yorkshire Sheep Ornaments

Quaint Villages

The Yorkshire Dales offered breathtaking rolling hills, stone walls, heather, and charming villages. Lunchtime found us in the village of Reeth, at The Kings Arms.
Reeth, Yorkshire
The Kings Arms , Reeth, Yorkshire
Reeth Lunch David and Ann Marie

Historic Ruins

Jervaulx Abbey, built in the 12th century, served the community until Henry VIII’s reign. Henry, as you may recall, disbanded all Catholic religious orders that refused to accept Anglicanism. The Catholic Church lost its property and assets. Henry’s army attempted to obliterate this particular Cistercian Abbey because its Abbot, the last  Abbot, was actively involved in an uprising against Henry VIII’s decree for the dissolution of the Catholic faith and confiscation of the church’s considerable property and wealth in England.  Today we’re left with the haunting ruins.
Jervaulx Abbey
David sensed a connection with this model of a 5’4″ monk, the average size for the period.
Jervaulx Abbey David and MonkJervaulx Abbey 2
Jervaulx AbbeyJervaulx Abbey
Here’s model of Jervaulx Abbey, only part of it, in its glory before the dissolution.
Jervaulx Abbey

We arrived at Bolton Abbey, another historic structure, as the late  afternoon autumn sun transformed the stone into gold. Alas, another priory that fell during Henry VIII’s reign.
Bolton Abbey, Yorkshire
Bolton Abbey, Yorkshire
Bolton Abbey, YorkshireBolton Abbey, Yorkshire

What a fabulous day — two Yanks exploring the Yorkshire countryside.

I’ll leave you with a parting shot of us modeling our flat caps. Actually, the one I’m showing off is a gift for our son.
Yorkshire flat cap

Read about our stay in the City of York where we explored the York Minster and a Viking Village. There’s also the post on the colorful and varied doors of an English village.

If you liked this post, join us on Facebook.

Ann Marie and David

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MCM Chest Gets a Back at Last

Look what David and Michael brought home! A Mid-Century Modern chest and mirror. No manufacturer’s label, someone’s social security number carved into the wood (I blurred the last numbers), and an old computer punch card.

Soc Sec Number

Jacksonville’s a Navy town and a lot of sailors, officers, and government employees retire here. So, let’s speculate. Come with me back to the 1960s — the height of the Cold War. Maybe someone  — an American spy — bought this chest on a secret mission in Denmark or Sweden. And shipped it home. The punch card provided an address or tracking number; the social security number revealed the individual’s exact identify to his government.
MCM Chest with Mirror

The chest followed our spy into suburban retirement, a gated community. It patiently sat, waiting for us, at an estate sale. I like that scenario.

But this sturdy little guy lacked a back. Here’s how he looked when he came to our home. Who would remove the back? And why? Why replace the back panel with two short mismatched ones?

MCM 3-Drawer Chest with Mirror

With all the drawers out, the breeze just blew through him.

MCM Chest with Mirror

David quickly remedied that situation. He cut a piece of plywood, screwed it in place, and reattached those braces for the mirror.

MCM Chest with Mirror

Here’s the newly affixed panel. The weighty mirror slid right into place. I rotated this photo so the chest and mirror appear upright. Meanwhile, David shellacked the plywood panel but I didn’t get a photo.

MCM 3-Drawer Chest with Mirror

I’d like to introduce you to our dashing MCM chest, all cleaned up and ready for Avonlea Antiques and Design Gallery. I think he’ll look great in an entry hall, but he’s versatile. Update: This beautiful boy sold 20 minutes after he hit the showroom floor.

A quick photography tip: when taking pictures of mirrors, shoot from a low perspective to capture the trees and sky.

MCM 3-Drawer Chest and Mirror

If you enjoy reading about our adventures, sign up for Iris Abbey’s Facebook page.

Ann Marie and David

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Why We Love Doors (And You Should, Too!)

Grab your walking shoes. Let’s stroll through an English village.

David and I spent time in England visiting friends who live in a charming village in the East Midlands. I’ve already posted photos on Facebook but today let’s talk about the doors of this quaint village.

On a casual walk  we began snapping pictures of doors. We didn’t plan this in advance. The colors, door designs, and gardens drew us in. Imagine a crisp autumn afternoon ablaze with color, coupled with brilliant curb appeal.

Autumn Leaves

Some doors fronted the street, with just a single step down to the sidewalk.

Door in English Village
Door in English Village
Door in English Village

Others had stone steps leading up to the door, drawing the visitor forward.

Door in English Village
Door in English Village

Greenery, trimmed to overgrown, adorned some of the doors.

Door in English Village
Black Door
Door in English Village
Door in English Village

Doors overlooking larger yards presented dramatic scenes.

English Garden
House in English Village

Neighborhood children gave us directions to the church and instructed us to pass the “lovely garden,” which turned out to be a Japanese garden complete with a koi pond.
Japanese Garden
Japanese Garden

Pediments perched atop some doors, adding a classical motif as well as modest protection against any rain.
Yard in English Village
Yard in English Village
Yard in English Village
Door in English Village

This front door and its matching red garage door, embraced by stone and brick, makes a dramatic statement:
Door in English Village

Can you spot the honeybee — perhaps a door knocker — on this black door?
Door in English Village

Let’s end our journey in the churchyard, with its own unique passageways.
St. Mary Magdalen
Waltham on the Wolds Churchyard
Waltham on the Wolds Churchyard

Thanks for joining us on our Door Walk through a Leicester village on this glorious day. Read about our other English adventures at York’s Minster and Jorvik, the Viking Village.
Berries

Ann Marie and David

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Travelers in York: the Minster and Vikings

England’s countryside looks like a storybook land, a far cry from Florida. The rolling green hills, the hedgerows, the sheep, the cows, and the narrow roads — we love it.

This post features photos of York. David and I are spending a few days here and I’m excited to share what we’re experiencing. I have two very different places to show you: the York Minister and Jorvik, the Viking village.

York Minster Exterior
The current Minister is 800 years old. Some of its stained glass windows date back to the 12th century.

West Window York Minster

These five lancet windows below are made of green gray glass in geometric designs and commemorates British women who lost their lives in World War 1.

Three Sisters Window York Minster

Here are a few more astonishingly beautiful designs in the Minster:

Madonna and Child York Minster

York Minster

On to Jorvik, the Viking settlement begun in 866 AD. Here’s the young woman who greeted us.

Jorvik

David and I climbed aboard an automated car and wended our way through the village, viewing typical denizens. What added to the experience were the smells at various points of our journey: burning wood, cooking meat, and fish.

Jorvik
Jorvik

Jorvik

Jorvik

We hope you enjoy these photos from our adventures. Has anyone else been to York? We’d love to hear about your visit.

Join us for a walk through an English village and see its stunning curb appeal.

Ann Marie and David

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Farragoz Patina Course: Archangel Michael

Archangel Michael icon

This is my almost-complete Archangel Michael, based on a 13th century Byzantine icon. It needs to dry for a few weeks and then get another layer or two of boiled linseed oil.

Why am I doing this? I’m excited to tell you that I’m enrolled in a fascinating online course, learning how to create patina.

I coveted the Farragoz course for over a year before taking the plunge.

Archangel Michael Module 1

Tania Rossouw of South Africa teaches the Farragoz Patina Projects online course. Students, working at their own pace, learn how to create aged-looking patina from scratch. Going through these steps also bolsters one’s ability and confidence to paint furniture using these techniques.

Take a look at the Farragoz video:

Tania guides students with step-by-step instructions to mix inexpensive milk paints, oil paints, tempera and more. The result, she assures us, is exquisite and unique decor objects.

I’ve got to tell you, gathering the supplies felt like a scavenger hunt: I don’t purchase hydrated lime, boiled linseed oil and other esoteric items on a regular basis. I printed out Tania’s helpful list and the hunt began.

The course consists of six modules that are well-organized and clearly written. Plenty of short videos demonstrate the steps along the way. Here are the six items I’ll be making:

Farragoz Patina Course

Tania’s Archangel Michael is below. Obviously there are variations in every icon. The original icon resides in the Greek Orthodox St. Catherine Monastery in Egypt, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Icon_UseAsReference

My ability to draw is abysmal — I can make a passable stick figure. What I do possess is a good knowledge of art history. Byzantine icons, for example, present figures that tend to float and are elongated. They’re highly symbolic.

Working on my Archangel Michael icon gave me such joy. On the most basic level, I traced the image on a piece of wood, and colored in the lines. But I ground my pigment and mixed each color with boiled linseed oil — and discovered, much to my chagrin, that the drying time isn’t quick. Every step took time and concentration. Each morning I studied my emerging icon in the new day’s light and was amazed.

Part of Archangel Michael’s beauty comes from the cracks in the wood that emerged through layers of oil and milk. I inserted arrows to highlight some of those cracks.

Archangel Michael Byzantine icon

I like how Tania advises students how to distress the piece. Create a story. Imagine your 13th century icon has been stolen several times, buried, and hidden in caves. That kind of trauma takes a toll on a painting.

My distressing looks timid compared to Tania’s icon, but I really pounded my Archangel with a wire brush. David thinks my brush was too small.

Archangel Michael Module 1

The Farragoz blog bursts with patina ideas taken from original ancient sources as well as Tania’s creations. Take a look at some of her patinas and mood boards:

Farragoz Patina

Farragoz pating

Farragoz Mood Board

Farragoz Mood Board

Fabulous, right?

The course costs $150, or $180 if you use the 3-payment method. When I saw the course offered at $99, I jumped on it. Registration allows access to Tania for one year. I can attest to her attention and availability. I had a frantic question and she emailed a reassuring message and suggestions in less than 24 hours.

David and I will be in England on Thursday, so the next Farragoz module will have to wait until our return. I’m eager to begin this clock face. There’s the option of actually turning it into a clock or just leaving the face.

Farragoz Clock Face

We hope to stay in touch while across the pond. Your comments are always appreciated.

Cheerio,

Ann Marie and David

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Removing Water Stains From Painted Upholstery

Take a look at my nightmare — my dark secret that I’m mortified to show you.

Water Stain on Upholstery

Yes, it’s a water stain on the seat of a rather pricy antique chair. My scarlet letter of shame.

Below, we’re looking at a Victorian Renaissance Revival Chair with an Eastlake influence. Built of gorgeous walnut wood, this chair was manufactured around 1870-80.

Iris Abbey

Generally I’m cautious about painting antiques. If I do, I undergo a bit of intense self-examination:

  • Does it have sentimental value?
  • Is the piece tight, with no wobble?
  • What kind of wood was used?
  • How much structural repair is needed?
  • Does the wood have minimal scratches, dings, dents?
  • Does the fabric enhance the piece?
  • Will paint make the piece more appealing in a contemporary home?

My initial, and now silly, problems lay with the fabric and heavy feel to the wood. The fabric was OK but not great and my lackluster upholstery skills deterred me from tackling a project like this.

Victorian Renaissance Revival Chair

Other options? I could paint the entire chair using Annie Sloan’s Old Ochre.

Annie Sloan Chalk Paint Old Ochre

I stirred the paint, measured some out, and cut it with water. Then I grabbed my spray bottle and filled it with water. I’ve discovered that spraying the fabric will help the material absorb the paint instead of allowing it to just sit on top.

The chair looked much better with the fabric painted — and the texture still came through. The photo below shows only 1 coat; I painted 2 coats.

Victorian Renaissance Revival Chair

I worked outside in the shade of our 10×10 tent, noiselessly painting the wood Old Ochre. I can’t remember the reason now, but I had to run a errand. I debated lugging the chair into the house but it’s so heavy and unwieldy. Instead, I pushed it into the center of the tent and took off. I’d be quick.

Rain. A sudden afternoon downpour, so common in Florida summers, over as quickly as it began.

Sturm by Adolf Sätbli
Sturm (Storm). Adolf Stäbli, around 1895

Upon my return I leapt from the car and sprinted (actually more of a jog) to the tent. The damage was already done. Horrified, I stared down at the water stain on the chair’s seat. Towels. My first thought was towels. Maybe with enough towels I could blot the water and limit the damage. If only it were that easy.

Water Stain Damage

I paused to send photos of the stain to Pat Stone-Smith, my Annie Sloan Chalk Paint (ASCP) stockiest at Mid-Life Crisis by the Beach. She, in turn, carried my desperate questions to the national ASCP reps. They advised

  • setting the chair out in the sun to dry (this was the easy part);
  • buying a can of Kilz and spray it on the stained fabric.

As long as I’m sharing my mistakes, here’s another: Since I’d never heard of Kilz, I phoned those nice folks and asked which of their varieties I should purchase. “We don’t guarantee it will work on fabric, so we advise you not to use it.” Oh. Better listen to the experts.

The chair dried quickly but I didn’t touch it for weeks. David finally brushed shellac on the seat cushion, assuring me the paint wouldn’t penetrate. Still I waited, sorrowful.

One bright day I mobilized. I mixed a half-and-half solution of Old Ochre and water. After 2 coats I could still see the water stain. Argh.

Kilz Original Aerosol

As I became increasingly desperate and perhaps a bit unhinged, David bought a can of Kilz. We put plastic and newspaper all over the chair, everywhere except the seat cushion. Then we sprayed a white covering on the Old Ochre and, mercifully, the water stain disappeared. The Kilz created a a white hide but eliminated the stain. I waited several more days.

I put 2 coats of Old Ochre and water on the cushion (4:1 Old Ochre to water) and studied it closely.

I was back in business, as you can see:

Annie Sloan Chalk Paint Old Ochre

 

Out came my stencil. I spooned out a little Louis Blue into a container; next to that I doled out some Aubusson Blue. I didn’t mix the paints. I simply dabbed my stencil brush into Louis Blue, followed by Aubusson Blue (or vice versa), offloaded the paint on a paper toweling, and stenciled.

Annie Sloan Chalk Paint Old Ochre

I waxed the entire chair with Annie Sloan Clear Wax. I lightly applied Dark Wax to the carved areas and, although I generally don’t distress, I gently took several swipes . Here it is in the dappled morning light; the sunlight’s causing a few uneven splotches.

Annie Sloan Chalk Paint Old Ochre

Originally I intended to put him in our booth at Avonlea Antiques and Design Gallery but we’ve both been through a lot, Chair and I. I am keeping this beautiful boy in my living room so I can watch how well the paint, wax, and Kilz interact together. So, all is well.

We love your comments. Do you have any tales of terror with your own projects? Please don’t hesitate to share!

Ann Marie and David
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