Monday, November 11, 2013

Interior Photography at the Hampton Inn

This week I had the opportunity to go and see a completed project that started over a year ago. The Hampton Inn located in Altoona, PA was being completely remodeled on the interior and the designer, Tammie Beer of HDB Design Group contacted me with the possibility of some local artwork. I was thrilled.
The hotel which was mauve's and pinks before has been transformed with an open floor plan and is decorated in rich reds and oranges and little pops of green. It now has a modern sleek interior with warmth and coziness that is both appealing for the traveling professional and inviting for the family taking a road trip that needs a place to relax.

It was a pleasure to work with HDB Design Group and I very much look forward to working with them in the future. Here are a few interior photographs of the artwork that is on display.

The business center features photography that I actually created right outside of Altoona.

I really enjoyed the computer space being out in the open and not in a dark secluded room.

Monday, October 21, 2013

PPA Grant Recipient Award Ceremony

On Friday October 18, I was honored to attend the PPA check award ceremony as a grant recipient through Pennsylvania Partners in The Arts, for my fine art photography project,
"Enchanted By Simplicity," photographs of old churches on the backroads of Pennsylvania, which is funded through the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. The award ceremony took place about an hour and a half from my home, in "Tionesta Market Village, " in Tionesta, PA.

We were greeted by the lovely ladies from the Elk County Council on The Arts with pretty flowers and fresh baked goodies from the local Warner's Bakery.

My escorts for the event:

And while we waited for $25,000 in grant checks to be distributed to 16 different projects in the lovely rural area of Pennsylvania that we all call home, we couldn't help but smile and feel GROOVY because the 
Max Schang Band was on stage and their entertainment was a reward in and of itself.

Finally, Abbi Peters took the stage and with a beautiful welcome, introduced all of the recipients.

My daughter captured a picture of me, accepting my award and explaining my project,
"Enchanted by Simplicity," to the other recipients and the public. 

This was such a charming way to celebrate the beginning of this project.
Thank you PPA, PCA, ECCOTA and everyone came and supported us.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Art of Burning and Dodging

I started my photography career in a beginner's photography class that was of course black and white with roll film, steel canisters and a wet dark room. Loading the film from the 35mm cartridge onto the reel in the dark perfectly so that the negatives came out clear was a challenge for me and I am glad we no longer have to do that part.

A lot has changed. And a lot of photographer's are happy to set a camera dial to "black and white," happy with the outcome. I am not one of those photographers. I see value in converting the image to black and white, seeking a range of tones, with the ultimate goal to be that a print could not be determined if it were digital or wet dark room printed.

One of the things after converting an image to black and white, (and there are so many beautiful ways to do this) to really complete the image is burning and dodging, even slightly to bring out the white and deepen the blacks.

Below is what we refer to in the wet darkroom as a "work print."
Wilcox Presbyterian Church

This is one area I see similar between the wet darkroom and the digital darkroom. It's important in both processes and I have a sense of humor about the fact that in a world where people think we just push a button and everything looks perfect, the dodging and burning is still an animal all of it's own. In the wet darkroom, trying to use my hands to shape just the right size and area I wanted to dodge and having it be awkward and take a lot of tries and experiment to get it just right. And I find myself working on this black and white church project where most of my subjects are bright white to begin with and many times no clouds in the sky. I need to achieve separation in the tones and instead of awkward hands and counting so many seconds to see of I burned or dodged long enough and then developing, I now have the BIG CIRCLE of a dodge and burn tool.
It may be quicker than the wet darkroom because we don't have to wait for a print to develop to see if it was the right area and amount of time, but I find it just as challenging because unlike my hands that I could shape and feather in area of the print, I am stuck with this circle, which can be made huge or shrunk, but I prefer my hands, it's more organic.

Maybe someday Adobe will come up with a tool where I can "dodge and burn" the image with my hands across my computer screen. For now I will try to appreciate the circle as a tool to help me get where I want.

And by the way, I have come close over the years with the digital prints, but have never seen one actually obtain the quality that the silver halides created in a wet darkroom print.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Enchanted by Simplicity... Awarded a Grant

Enchanted by Simplicity....  a visual exhibition of the charming, old churches along the back roads of Pennsylvania

I am excited to share that my project, "Enchanted by Simplicity," has been chosen to receive a grant by the  Pennsylvania Council on the Arts (PCA), through its Pennsylvania Partners in the Arts (PPA) regional partnership with Elk County Council on the Arts.

I have already started and I am looking forward to sharing my journey with you here on my blog a well as on my facebook page.

I would love to have the project be interactive, so please share my posts and comment as you would like.
Also if you have any old country churches you would like to share or suggest, I welcome it.

St Peters Lutheran Church

Friday, May 10, 2013

Don't Be Afraid of Freight Shipping... An Anvil's Journey

I have been an online seller for many years. My photography either fits into rigid mailers, large flat boxes or tubes. My vintage shop on the other hand poses a variety of situations, sizes and shapes. Up until recently everything has always shipped out US Mail, UPS or FedEx. Then we acquired an anvil.

And not just any anvil, this was a 400 pound Antique Peter Wright Anvil. My father was a blacksmith when I was very small, so we couldn't pass up this find. 

We did lots of research on the history of the piece. All that was left was to figure out how to ship it.
We knew we could offer local pick up, however, this is a very specialized piece and the chances of it going to a collector close were slim in rural Pennsylvania.
We knew we could offer delivery within 300 miles for a fee.
But our buyer was 2000 miles away in another country.
Learning about freight shipping became a high priority. Just down the road a piece from my parents (where we were storing the anvil) is an ABF  terminal. Our plan, to lift the anvil into a Kubota and drive it to ABF.

I first called the customer service number to get a shipping quote. Because we had researched the anvil and the marking made it identifiable as a 400 pound anvil, we knew an estimated weight. They also needed to know what we were shipping it in or on. We decided a pallet. The shipping company needed the dimensions of the pallet as well as the total height, including the anvil. When shipping freight it is YOUR responsibility make sure it is properly packaged and ready for transport. Think about what you will need and include that in your shipping.

We used zip ties to make sure that it would not move. If you are shipping something fragile, a wooden crate can be used on top of your pallet, you can even build one yourself. But because the purpose of an anvil is to get pounded with heavy hammers, we felt secure without a crate.

I made a stop into ABF to introduce myself and find out the logistics of shipping the anvil. I also made my request to deliver it by Kubota. It was so much easier than I expected. They had my shipping quote on the computer and were also able to advise me on what extra things needed to be done since it was going out of country. When shipping freight into Canada, there is a crossing border fee, which is included in the shipping fee. However, there is also a customs fee. A customs BROKER can be arranged to clear the item in Canada. This needs to be arranged before shipping. The broker's name and contact information needs attached to the shipping form. Your customer can choose SELF broker if they want, but it's not always convenient for your customer to have to travel to the customs and do this. Now we were all set to move it.

It was time to let it go. It's important to give your customer an estimated day of delivery when shipping freight. From Pennsylvania to Canada they estimated 5 days.

The finishing touch, lots of plastic wrap to protect and keep our new friend secure and in place and then we watched them load it up.
It arrived on the date that was estimated and we had a very happy customer.
As a lover and seller of vintage, I am no longer afraid of freight shipping.
If the item's value exceeds what you think the shipping will cost, go for it, especially if it is a really special piece like this was.

So when should you use freight? According to American Freight Companies:
"freight is used for those items that, because of their shear volume, size or weight, they cannot be shipped with the Post Office or Parcel shipping companies."

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Penny Dreadfuls for Valentine's Day

Have you ever received or even heard of a Penny Dreadful?
Some people call them vinegar valentine's.
I had never seen one or heard of them, until of all places our ladies small group this morning.
Below are a couple of examples of these (HUMOROUS) Rude, insulting little messages that were sent, sometimes even in stages or parts. To add insult to injury at one point in time the recipient of mail paid the postage~

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Will your Games outlast YOU? Vintage Treasures

I have recently acquired some very vintage - mid century family style games. They are so fun to look at. I love the wooden pieces, colors and decorations on the packages. I started to think about HOW and WHY these games have managed to survive. Not just the game, which is awesome enough, but these individual games that belonged to someone.

This Monopoly game is from 1936. I try to imagine my 95 year old grandmother playing with this set.
Memories being made around the table with family are so important. I wonder when this family put the board game away and there were no younger generations wanting to play with it anymore? It isn't hard for me to figure out why this board, with it's age is still alive and preserved with it's pieces. People were not wasteful. This is after the depression. People understood the value of a dollar. Now a days people would easily keep a game for a couple of years and when a stain or spill is on it, trash it and buy a new one.
 BA HUM BUG to that. In my mind, the marks on the edges where elbows have probably sat, while the player decided their real estate strategy makes it more impressive to me. It's a treasure within a treasure.

I had a set of Pick up Sticks when I was young, but this set it from my parents were little.

I love the colors and the little characters. This is a classic game because you can play with your brother and sister or entertain yourself for hours. It also travels so great. A true American Classic. Portable, lightweight and something that you can continue to challenge yourself with, this is why Pixie Pic Up Stixs are here.

My husbands grandfather was still playing Dominoes at 92 when he died
 (why are dominoes such a classic for men)

This unique set of dominoes is from the 1940s and they are made of wood. The front is the Statue of Liberty.
Another classic game that doesn't fade from fun or need "remade" in another year. As a photographer I spent time photographing inside of a Florida State prison. dominoes and cards were what was on the agenda. They are easy, safe and timeless. And there are so many different ways you can play.
Although if you start a game in prison.... YOU better make sure everyone agrees on the same set of rules.
Just Sayin.....

Which brings me to the ultimate classic

I learned to play canasta with my Grammy before I could read. Poker, solitaire and rummy, I don't think there is an American alive that can honestly say they have not at least heard of all 3.
This set is unique because there is a pack from Japan, Hong Kong and Taiwan. And each card is still with it's original deck. I cannot count how many decks my family has gone through. And isn't it a shame, when 1 cars is gone the deck goes in the trash usually.

I challenge you to rethink all of the games you have at home. Start looking at the marks and wounds and battles of an excitement filled night around the table with family and friends.
How many games made in 2012 do you think will still be completely usable in 2072?

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

4 Years With Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep

It has been 4 years since the first time I took a photography session with
  Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep. When the first session came I had already been signed up as a volunteer for 6 months. I remember going to my knees and praying to God to be my eyes, hands, ears and feet. I did not want to make any mistakes and I wanted to be a servant. 4 years later I still have the same prayer before every session.

I have watched people grieve in so many different ways. There is nothing predictable about personal tragedy and sadness. I never know which sessions will stick with me the hardest and which ones I will be having a dream about months down the road.
The main thing I want to share is that before volunteering I did not have any idea how many miscarriages, infant losses and still births there truly were. People experience this tragic loss everyday. It's so important for people to be able to grieve without feeling embarrassed or ashamed, to know that they are not the only ones who have experienced it and to know that they are not alone without support. I have met women who suffered a loss more than 25 years ago. They still feel the loss, but are even more sad that it was not something that was talked about. Memories about the pregnancy, birth or short life were not something people around them were comfortable talking about.
I think it is very special that we live in a time where people are more free to grieve these losses through photographs,  memento's and custom made art pieces. I  know several parents that have their babies name or footprint tattooed to be permanently close to them, it's a way to express love for the angel they miss so much.

I didn't realize that so many creative people made things just for these parents. Many of them have experienced loss themselves.
CarlyMarie Project Heal through grief has created something that connects people from all around the globe in a beautiful and sharing way through art and social media.

One of the first artists that I found who creates lovely pieces because of grief she experienced is
The Midnight Orange. I have featured her on my blog before. I love the beauty she creates.

Most people want to be there for their friends or family who are experiencing loss. But they find themselves at a loss for what to say. Not acknowledging your family or friends pregnancy and loss is not the way to handle it. Here are some suggestions for helping the bereaved.
And there is a  forum is available on NILMDTS that is free and a wonderful support for parents.
Please share it with those that need it.

If you don't personally know anyone affected by this kind of loss and still feel passionate to help there are so many things you can do. I have a friend who creates matching sets of blankets for me to give to the families. One for baby and one for the parents to sleep with at night. Other local people knit and crochet baby hats and outfits and some people create memory boxes for the parents to keep everything in. 
My favorite thing you can do anywhere anytime is PRAY. Pray for families that they find comfort and healing in knowing they can see their child again someday.
And of course you can donate to NILMDTS.

Faces I have seen, people I have met and angels I have held are permanently in my heart and always will be.
When I had my photography studio I was certain that having someone share the wedding day behind the scenes was the most intimate thing a photographer could share, I was completely wrong.
Photographing for Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep with the families and their babies is the most intimate thing I can imagine on earth. People are at their most vulnerable. Many photographers sign up to volunteer with NILMDTS and cannot continue on, I completely understand that. I believe God has given me the strength to do it and everyone does not have the same calling.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

LOST in Technology handwriting

I have noticed over the years my handwriting has gotten worse and worse. And why should I worry about it? Really? The only thing I ever need to write are notes to teachers for excuses and sign my name on checks (Do many people even do that anymore) My daughter is 8 and her handwriting is pure loveliness. She practices, writes slowly and enjoys the process. She does not have a computer or keyboard yet.

So, who cares?  I did 2 days ago. I found myself in a panic. My printer broke and I needed to print 2 very important letters finished to go out with some photographs. The first day I just did nothing but put the work on hold, I went and looked at printers and realized I didn't know what I wanted. I came home, emailed the letter's to my husband so he could print them. Ahhh Problem solved. Except, he left town for the week and didn't leave them.

Well, back to the old K.I.S.S. Keep it simple stupid light bulb moment. Could I actually pick up a pen and write on that paper? I couldn't believe how long I sat here wondering that. Should I?  shouldn't I? Maybe someone won't think they are very important if it is a handwritten letter without my letterhead above.

Walh Eversharp 14K Gold Black Onyx Fountain Pen Desk Set

Well, I decided it was worse to make these 2  people wait any longer on their pieces because I didn't have a "printer." I grabbed my pen, looked at the prewritten letter on my screen and started to copy it. Then I realized, it's handwritten and some thoughts were just coming naturally, like the pen free flow moving in my hand. WOW I could actually write a letter.

My handwriting is not the best. But I reflected on how many letters my Grammy used to write to people long before computers, how much I cherish the handwritten letters I still have of people that are no longer here.

Frau and Fraeulein Vintage Photo Stones Set of 4

In fact a few years ago on Good Friday, a friend , Connie Bailey was killed by a drunk driver. Connie was  a Creative Memories and Stampin Up consultant, mother of 3 and foster parent. She always told people the importance of using their own handwriting when they journaled in their scrapbooks for their kids to have that to hold onto. And boy was it a special thing she left behind for all of us to see at her memorial. Here is a website dedicated to the handwritten letter, it's history and importance.

If you haven't written in a long time you may get writer's cramp;) Try something small first. You don't have to be FANCY, but you could get a fancy written card and put your own handwritten message inside.

LET me know, how long has it been since you have sat down to write a letter? Will you try?

Friday, March 30, 2012

Qui-Gon Jinn-ger Snaps Star Wars Recipe DIY with my son

So excited when my 11 year old son, Blaze brought home a Star Wars cookbook. At first I thought he only brought it home because he reads, studies and KNOWS all things Star Wars. But he actually wanted to make some of the recipes. It touched my heart. He starts middle school next year and the fact that he wanted to spend some time with me, really meant the world.
We had a lot of fun looking at the ingredients, running to the store and preparing.
He was a little disappointed that this is a roll cookie recipe which meant we needed to let the dough chill before baking, BUT it was great for me because I had to run to Brownie's.
So we got to enjoy the making process 2 days in a row.

So here is a recipe from The Star Wars CookBook II

4 Cups Flour
1 TBS ginger
1 TSP Cinnamon
1 TSP nutmeg
1 TSP salt
1/2 TSP baking soda
2 sticks butter
2/3 cups brown sugar
2 large eggs
2/3 cups molasses
1/4 cup apricot jam (we used fruit preserves, all we could find)
2 TBS powdered sugar

1. In a large bowl mix the flour, sugar, spices, salt and baking soda all together.
2. In a separate bowl, beat the butter and sugar with a mixer until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and beat until creamy. Add half the dry mixture to the butter mixture and beat until well blended. Pour in the molasses and beat until mixed. Scrape down he sides of the mixer bowl and add the remaining dry mixture and mix until well combined.
3.Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour.
4.Preheat oven to 350 Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper (We didn't do this)
5.On a floured surface, roll out the dough 1/4 inch thick with a rolling pin.
6.Cut the cookies into rounds with the cookie cutters. To make the door that Qui-Gon cuts through with his lightsaber, use the largest round cutters, and with a knife, cut small crescent shapes out of the center of half the cookies.
7.Bake for 12-15 minutes
8.While the cookies are baking which the apricot jam and powdered sugar together until smooth
(DOUBLE THE RECIPES for the filling)
9.After the cookies have cooled, spread teaspoon if the filling on 1 cookie and top it with another.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Brownie's Visit Premier Sand Artist Joe Castillo

We may live in a small town, but we are blessed with the opportunities around us.
There is a Penn State Campus right in the center of our town.
 Last week a world renowned artist, Joe Castillo, came to the DuBois Penn State Campus to perform.
He is the Premier Sand Artist of our time.
I watched a clip on Joe's website and knew nothing was keeping me away, but I really wanted to share it with the 9 Brownie's I lead.

I messaged Joe to ask what the topic would be. His art is all storytelling based and there were clips ranging from 911 (which I watched and cried) to the the Passion, just in time for Easter.
I was so surprised when immediately his lovely wife Cindy wrote me back and said that they were not sure which stories would be shown but that Joe would be more than happy to meet the girls and help them earn an art badge.
DuBois 26315

JOE is the guy in the classic beret. He did not disappoint. The girls left so incredibly inspired not only by the art, the sand and the storytelling but by the man himself. I don't know that I have ever met such a successful artist, one that has performed for presidents, kings and dignitaries that is SO humble and left each of the girls feeling like their questions mattered to him.

To describe what Joe does sounds easy, he draws pictures in the sand. But to achieve what he does is far from easy;  for me it was more about the emotion and impact that comes through his fingers in the sand. It is truly a dance being done in the sand, so beautifully that it brings tears to your eyes. It is  projected live on a larger screen with music.
If Joe isn't coming to a place near you (he has a calendar on his website) you can't go wrong investing in a video.
You can purchase DVD's of the different shows Joe does on his website.
There is a great selection of Christian videos that include, The Passion, The Creation, The Christmas Story and The Prodigal Son. I can't wait to share the video we purchased with our pastors.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Vintage Trench Coat the best Feedback I ever received

I have been holding onto the email I received from a lady who purchased this pink vintage trench coat because it made me so happy and I thought it was sweet and very cool.
And one of the reasons it may have been EXTRA cool is because my husband grew up 3000 miles away in the very same SMALL beach town, locals only feeling near San Diego, Point Loma.
Also, my MOM was the model for the fashionable piece so I can share her with you too,
She's cute:)

She said:
"It just came today, and it is AMAZING! I spent the last 7 months in Afghanistan searching the internet for a colored knee-length belted trench coat that wasn't $1500 at burberry. Thank you so much! I will happily be wearing it all over san diego!"

So I thought this was a cool little personal share, got to find this super cool trench coat, had a photo shoot with my mom, connected with a lady 3000 miles away in a tiny town my hubby grew up in and found she had been searching for 1 half way around the world.
It is a SMall Small world:)
More Vintage here

Monday, May 31, 2010

Penny Brown, Nurse, Midwife, Memorialized

Recently my family went to New York, into the Allegany State Park for a geocaching event. The ASP is very close to Salamanca, New York. We are from Pennsylvania so really it is almost over the line.
When we came out of the woods for a donut, we saw on our gps there was another geocache to find in town. so we decided to check it out. We dead ended into an Amazingly Beautiful farm property. We first thought thecache was there but realized half way up the gorgeous drive we had gone to far.
Right outside the gate was a walking path and it was so beautiful out after having rained all day the day before. We hadnt walked very far when we started to notice light blue ribbons tied around trees going down the path. I thought maybe they were planning to cut them for timber. Then we came across a large wooden cross.

As fate would have it the light filtering through the leaves and trees in the spot where this cross sits makes the entire scene magical and enchanting. Purple flowers adorn the cross. I had an immediate feeling come over me that this was something more than just a memorial. Part of me really thought it must be there for a child. On closer look I saw that what was glittering from the trees were pennies, there were pennies at the base of the cross, garland made of pennies and then I saw a little marker that said Penny Brown.
Angels holding babies were at the base and a beautiful cement bench.

The family went on to find the geocache and I stayed back to take it all in and make some photographs of the spot. I was so touched by it and had such a feeling come over me that I needed to know who this was for.
Technology today made that easy for me to start gathering information, even though we were technically on a Indian Reservation. The Seneca Nation with beautiful mountains all around, there is also a state of the art casino a black away and CELL PHONE service with WiFi.
Penny Brown, Salamanca I googled and immediately answers came and so did the reason why this memorial brought on so many real emotions.
On Mother's Day in May of 1999, Penny a nurse and midwife and active citizen of her community was attacked while jogging with her dog and strangled, raped and murdered.
The criminal, 15 year old, Edward Kindt. If his birthday had been 2 months earlier, he would have had at least an additional 16 years to serve before being eligible for parole.

Because her family, friends and community, including elected officials were outraged by the lack of punishment, Penny's Law was written into legislation. It changes the lives for juvenile offenders from 5-9 years to life to a more justice serving sentence of 15-25 years to life.The people of her hometown have made other changes too, by reclaiming the jogging area where Penny lost her life and making it a beautiful place for people to walk, jog and stay active. Remember Penny Brown's life, her family and the sad tragedy that led to her death. If you are visiting Salamanca, visit the memorial and leave a PENNY for Penny to let her family know she is not forgotten.