Monday, June 19, 2017

Meet Lil Stella

Well, almost 6 weeks later, we got her back and it was worth the wait. They did such great work, made us a custom rock guard and some other things that were really above and beyond. Her name is Lil Stella, which is my two Grandmothers names, both of whom gave me such wonderful camping memories growing up. I thought I'd share a few pictures from my camping youth in dedication to them.

This is Grandma Stella fishing, which she loved so much (once my Grandpa managed to talk her into trying it!).  We usually camped at Eagle Lake, which has amazing trout. My younger brother and sister and I are below in our tent there.

 This is my Grandma Lil, with me and my sister Michelle in front of the Prowler.  So many happy memories camping all over California in that 5th Wheel with she and our Grandpa.

We're going camping next weekend, I'll post my final "after" pics then as I haven't had a chance to get the inside back in order. It's been well over a hundred degrees here for the last few days - it was like an oven in there.

I have almost no art to show for myself, although I did complete one necklace, below, and started more this past weekend. I used to make mosaics, and still have tubs of broken vintage dishes, and I had the idea to do a tiny mosaic inside of a bezel. 

We also were doing yard work in preparation for getting the trailer back, as our backyard had become a construction zone.

Here's the yard spruced up and ready for Lil Stella to come home.

And lastly, I'd been very focused on caring for our 11 year old Basset Hound Claymore, who most of you have seen before in prior posts.  He'd been rapidly declining for a while and we lost him a couple of weeks ago.  I don't need to say more about how hard it's been, any of you dog lovers out there understand, but I wanted to post a last picture of my precious boy, doing one of his favorite things.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Ready or Not - Vintage Trailer Rally

We signed up for a vintage trailer rally months ago (you have to sign up right away to even get into them) and we assumed we'd be all done by then.  Well, unforeseen issues and a very wet winter meant that up until the last minute we weren't even sure we'd be able to pull her, much less have her completely done.  But we'd paid our money and weren't getting it back, and I'm a stubborn girl, so we went.  We had the rock guard in front taped down so it wouldn't rattle around, and there are bungee cords around the propane tank, and clearly she needs a paint job - hubby said we looked distinctly Beverley Hillbillies, but I was still excited to actually be camping in her (in spite of the fact that we hooked the water up and it began pouring out from under the sink - no running water for us!)

A Vintage Trailer Rally is essentially a bunch of vintage trailer owners camping together, touring each other's trailers, and having events like potlucks, and in our case a Mexican street party with a Mariachi band, Food Trucks and a Pinata making contest. Everyone was SO nice, and so happy to offer info, and knowledge and talk about their trailers.

Many people have vintage vehicles as well.

This event took place near Bodega Bay, so we spent one day at the beach.

Mario can't resist meeting new dogs - especially such a handsome bulldog.

This was an amazing lion we saw on the way, and had to stop and take pictures.

We're taking canned ham to be painted Saturday - not sure how long they have to have her, but once it's all done I'll take some final "after" pics - I can't wait!

Monday, April 10, 2017

Curtains and Faucet and Floor - Oh My!

It's been a productive couple of weekends on the Canned Ham front, at least in terms of work on the inside.  Electrical issues have prevented us from verifying we can actually pull it yet, however!  But - back to what I CAN control...  Last weekend curtains were finished and hung, and the new faucet installed. 

The curtains are all from old grain sacks, except the one over the sink, as it's too long, so I used the upholstery fabric there. The faucet - you wouldn't believe how exciting to have that installed!  The old one was a little nasty pitted thing that no longer turned, but we weren't sure we were going to be able to replace it. I had hopefully bought a replacement I loved, but was afraid I was dreaming. My poor hubby spent most of a weekend trying to remove the old one (crusted into place for more than 50 years) - by having to awkwardly reach underneath and around the sink where he couldn't see what he was doing, with his head shoved at a crazy angle against the counter. After multiple trips to Home Depot for different kinds of wrenches and lots of frustration, he finally got it off.  Then we had to figure out how to make the new one work.  When it was finally installed and water came out of it, I felt like crying with joy.

All that over this little thing, but I've never loved a faucet so much!  This last weekend, while my poor husband spent hours trying to figure out our electrical issue, I installed a new floor. Here's the original- pitted, cracked hideous old linoleum.

  And here's the after.  Not traditional for a vintage trailer, for sure, but then again that ship sailed long ago!  I love it, and it should hold up really well against dog nails etc.

During a rain break I was trying to get my studio a little organized, it was like a jewelry supply bomb went off in there.  I started thinking that it'd be nice to have a travel art kit to keep in the trailer, and I couldn't resist making it one with some character, as god knows I've got the supplies sitting around. I used the container from an old spice tin set - I just took out the little individual tins that I keep buttons and things in.  

  An old watercolor tin and a couple of old Lucky Strike cigarette tins fit perfectly.

It was fun to put together - we'll see if I actually use it!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The Saga of the Seats

I think it was 2 posts ago that I said I was finally getting my seats from the trailer back from the upholsterer that day.  Then it was going to be the next day.  And then I couldn't get hold of him for over 3 WEEKS! He's been going through a lot of drama so at first I wasn't too worried, but then when he continued not returning calls I really started wondering if I'd ever see my seats again. I finally tracked down his home address and left a note on his door.  He called the next day and what a relief that was.  Another week of telling me every day that I'd get them the next day, he finally delivered them to my house last Friday.  What a relief, and he did such a good job too, I gotta say I was worried the right fabric would even be on them at that point!

Below is what they looked like before - I kept them the same style, with the combination of leather and fabric, but I can honestly say I don't miss that orange and brown!

We also replaced the paneling next to the seats in front (under the big window in the top picture) with one of the aluminum panels we replaced from the top of the trailer. We turned it around and used the back of it and I really like how it turned out.

From that same piece of old aluminum I had Mario cut out the original faded Aloha logo. That's the brand of this trailer - the company was originally located in Aloha Oregon. I decided to frame it along with the original receipt for the trailer from 1962 and a picture of my friend Val and her brother in front of the trailer and their old car when they were little - such a precious picture. I covered the frame in leftover wood from the inside paneling I did and will hang it in there. I just love having this history of our trailer.

Monday, February 27, 2017


I finally have something exciting to show you on the trailer!  One of the first things I knew I wanted to do was put reclaimed wood on at least part of the walls. I've had the wood for months and it's the part of the design that I've been most excited about doing - and it's done!  

We still need to put up trim at the top, but aside from that this part of the project is done - what a good feeling to make progress that is actually visually exciting.  As good as it felt to get the roof done, there was never this kind of moment where you step back and say "WHAT a difference".  Here's a "before" picture.

 This is the other side. I love these old porcelain lights we got on our trip to Murphy's last Fall - something else I've been really excited about having installed, and I just love them against the wood.

I've gotten a little jewelry made as well, still having fun with it. 

 And lastly, a couple of weeks ago I was visiting my parents a couple of hours North and we had a break in rain and took a drive to see a waterfall and the Shasta Dam, which fortunately isn't having any issues like the Oroville Dam is a few hours South. Thought I'd share a few pics.

Such a gorgeous valley, but not sure I'd want to live directly beneath the dam - standing in the same spot for these two pics - just taken at different angles!

The whole valley would be under water if it broke - but still, looking at it standing over you every day....  It's been a long time since water has needed to be released from the dam like this.

SO much water flowing down from the mountains, with all the rain we've had.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Surfacing, and a creative detour

Surfacing, as in from under water. We've been in a terrible drought here for years, until this winter when it's seems like we've done all our catching up from those years within a couple of months.  And it seems as though every weekend has been rainy - something I've absolutely craved in recent years and have still loved this year except that it meant that we made no progress on the trailer for months.  But, like a miracle, the rain stopped last Friday and gave us a sunny weekend, and canned ham now has a completely installed roof!

If you look close you can see that shiny white aluminum on the front as it comes down to meet the window - yes, the window, not the tarp that covered that hole since last September!  It's not much progress to show you in a picture, but it felt like we were never going to get to this point, so it does feel good.  Now we can start working on the inside together, which will be much more satisfying.  

On the creative front, in spite of always telling myself I'd never give in to the temptation to start making jewelry, I've gone and done it. Over the years I've made a few pieces, because I'd run across something that inspired me to make a piece of jewelry from it, but it's only been a few.  But then I saw a metalsmithing class Stephanie Lee was offering on Jeanne Oliver's ning site, and couldn't resist.  So I've been playing with sheet metal and solder and wire and pipe and have been really enjoying it. Here's a few things I've made.

This is the first piece I made, a bracelet for my niece's birthday. All hand formed and soldered - labor intensive but fun, and amazingly took almost the whole 5 feet of sterling silver wire that I'd bought.

My first successful bezel made with cut copper pipe, sheet metal and a somewhat tricky soldering technique.  I only ruined two before I managed this one, so not too bad, and I had fun making it into a necklace.

A couple of larger bezels, the one on the left is a little heavy as the gear inside the resin was already heavy on it's own. But it fit so perfectly...

A hand-formed brass chain.  A good couch project while watching TV, although it was a little rough on the fingers.

This is a birthday present for my sister. The green beads are crocheted, a technique I also really enjoyed. Her birthday is this weekend, so she's forbidden to look at my blog until next week (I'll know if you look Michelle!)

Tomorrow is a big day - I'm supposed to be getting the newly upholstered bench seats from the trailer back.  Stay tuned!

Friday, January 27, 2017

The Pooh Tragedy

I have always been a Winnie the Pooh girl, for as long as I can remember. A.A. Milne Winnie the Pooh, not so much the Disneyfied version. The sweetness and innocence, the absolute distillation of childhood.  I used to be a bit of a collector, and many years ago, my Mom found a wonderful, very old early version of a Winnie the Pooh.  It was expensive and I know she spent more than she should have been spending on it, but she was so proud to give it to me and it was precious to me.  

Fast forward a year or so, and I'm walking into my living room and notice a sea of some kind of stuffing all over my living room.  As I get closer I realize with dawning horror that it's my Pooh, based on little pieces of fabric and a decapitated head. My Corgi is lucky he survived it without being out on the street.  I was DEVASTATED, I so clearly remember being on my hands and knees picking up all the bits, just sobbing, thinking about how he had survived and been loved by different children for decades until he ended up with me, and how could I ever tell my Mom?  It took me months...

Pooh was put in a bag and over the years my friend and I talked about sewing him a new body, but it never happened, I knew I wouldn't be happy with a Frankenstein Pooh.  But then, before Christmas my friend and I were shopping in a wonderful vintage store in Roseville called Tumbleweed & Co, and I happened to see this guy.

An admittedly strange looking fellow, but what struck me was how similar his body was to my Pooh, and I suddenly had the idea of putting my Pooh head on this body.  So I got him home and realized that his head was held on with about 6 hand stitches - I was not the first to have this idea!  So I found my bag of Pooh and this is what it looked like.

Their arms are exactly the same, clearly they were made around the same time. The new body's legs and feet are a little bigger, but close enough for me. So after some painting and stitching, after almost 20 years I have my Pooh back.  He may be sporting corduroys now, but fashions do change!

I've forbidden my Mom to read my blog right now, as I want to surprise her. It's good to have him back!