Saturday, April 30, 2011

Fern Fancy

I love ferns. I love how they unfurl and then extend out into elegant fronds.  I find them extremely photogenic and use them as a subject often.  Just yesterday morning I ran outside as the sun was cresting the hill and shining down on the ferns in my garden.  Here are some shots from that photo shoot and some from previous excursions. I see personalities in them.




Life of the Party


©2011 Ashbee Design, Marji Roy

Friday, April 29, 2011

Wanderings • Boston • Jamaica Plain

Living creatively requires collecting inspirations. I collect them from many resources and try to regularly attend unusual and interesting events with that goal in mind. Yesterday David and I traveled to Boston for just such an event. We wanted to attend the opening of an art show called "Move Me" at the Axiom Gallery in Jamaica Plain. But first we met up with our daughter Karen for dinner. It was raining, and she texted that she was waiting in a hat shop nearby. What a delightful experience. Salmagundi doesn't yet have a website but it is worth a visit. The shop had over 7000 hats of all types and styles. Some like this beautiful extravaganza modeled by Karen were designed by the owners.

We then had an enjoyable early dinner at VeeVee's. Creative, good food but what caught my eye was they too are using tree buds for decor. I did a post here a few days ago on my similar approach. Theirs were dogwood getting set to bloom but they looked stunning against an orange wall.

We then meandered over to Axiom Gallery for the opening of Moves Me, a collection of work by five kinetic artists - Chris Fitch, Arthur Ganson, Tom Haney, Steve Hollinger and Erica von Schilgen. Those that follow this blog will know that kinetic sculpture is part of the life blood here at Ashbee Design and I'll be writing more about this show over on David's Wood That Works Blog soon. Here are a few images from the show to provide a sampling.

Karen winding No More Bad Dreams by Erica von Schigen

Detail of No More Bad Dreams by Erica von Schigen

Looking into Falling by Chris Fitch

Detail of Machine for Softening Hard Hearts by Arthur Ganson

At an outing such as this I bring along a camera and I take pictures for my inspiration journal. These aren't necessarily artistic photographs but they serve as reminders for me of ideas that sparked my creative side.

Have you gone on any creative wanderings recently?

©2011 Ashbee Design, Marji Roy

Wanderings - Somerville Open Studios

Does your community have an Artists' Open Studio weekend?  If so check it out.  It is a great resource for inspiration and adding to one's own collection of wonderful things. This weekend, April 30-May 1, 2011 is open studio weekend in Somerville, MA. We attended last year and were amazed at the number of open artists' studio in a very small area.  Below is a photo of the map for this year's event. Each orange dot is another studio.  

It is a great way to spend a weekend day.
Click on this link to get a downloadable map to view.
Click here to get more information about Somerville Open Studio.

©2011 Ashbee Design, Marji Roy

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Art in the Bathroom? Absolutely!

I have always enjoyed decorating the bathroom. Not only is it the smallest room in the house (my house anyway) which makes it the easiest to change, but people often study the bathroom decor more so than other locations. And, if you follow my blog you'll find this as no surprise, I often choose my artwork from the contemporary craft world.  My downstairs bathroom has three works acquired through craft shows.

I have two pressings by Maggie Lake from Vermont Botanicals. I have visited her booth often over the years and my favorite natural pressing is of the fiddlehead ferns.  I will be doing a series of posts on ferns because I do find them to be a wonderful design inspiration. I especially like this arrangement constructed of dried and pressed ferns.  Each one is different but the composition is always playful. Seeing the dancing ferns always makes me smile.

On an opposite wall I have the California horsehair composition. What I love about these is the combination of the interesting frame proportions combined with Maggie's incredible sense of composition in arranging the dried plants. Visit her website to see more. I specially like (but don't yet own) the Jack-in-the Pulpits.  

On a different wall in my bathroom I have a trapunto quilting completed in simple, unbleached muslin.  It is a meaningful composition of a mom holding a child's small hand. The entire subject is carefully displayed using only a simple thread line and a little stuffing. I acquired this years ago long before I started keeping track of the artists that crafted my collection. I would give credits and include a link but I have not seen this craftperson at a show in many years. I will give credit if anyone can identify it. It came into my life at about the time my daughters' hands were this size and always reminds me of the joys of being a young mother.

Bathrooms are impossible to photograph because the can be so tiny. Mine is no exception.  David and I built our house in 1978 on a very limited budget. Although it is a creative structure, we were practical about things like bathrooms. I make mine special through the decor, not the room. Here is the current look, painted a fern green with oak and wood accents, and including the Vermont Botanical pressings and, of course, more balls!

Previous Posts of Interest:

©2011 Ashbee Design, Marji Roy

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Tree Buds

The trees are budding throughout southern New England and we all welcome the unfolding spring. We see pockets of red haze for the maple trees interspersed with green fuzz for the other varieties.  Have you ever looked at tree buds closely? Try looking trough the lens of a camera. Here a few photos I took this morning.

And then, this afternoon I decided to pick some of the red buds for a centerpiece with an oriental twist.  The challenge is most of the tree buds are too high.  By backing up the pick up truck and standing in the bed with a pair of long handles clippers I was able to harvest a bunch. I arranged them in a new handcrafted vase I got from Touchstone Pottery at the recent Paradise City Craft Fair in Marlborough, MA.

Here they are in a clear Crate and Barrel vase combined with two candles in the sunroom.

I combined it with a stone tower on a woven mat for the dining table.   It created a very contemporary centerpiece and I love the essence.

Now I get to see how long before the buds drop.

©2011 Ashbee Design, Marji Roy

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Pinch to Grow an Inch

This absolutely made me smile.

I would love to add this to my sculpture garden.  It might help me stick to the diet!

It is created by Turkish sculptor Uysal Mehmet Ali and is installed at the Parc de Chaudfontaine in Belguim.

Previous Posts of Interest:
• Truly Big
• Some Fun Size Finds
• More Fun With Size
• Size Matters

©2011 Ashbee Design, Marji Roy

Monday, April 25, 2011

Desktop Beauties

One's workspace is very personal - especially if you work at home and love your job. I am always looking for desk accessories, storage units, small shelves, etc. I want them to be unique, beautiful, highly functional and affordable. I went Ohhhhhh! when this set appeared on Apartment Therapy recently.

So sculptural you have to look twice to understand what they are. These are created by Singgih Kartono and available through Curiosityshoppeonline. The series also includes a magnifying glass and wooden radio. All beautiful.

©2011 Ashbee Design, Marji Roy

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter

Enjoy the Day!

My Easter centerpiece includes naturalized daffodils from our woods, hand decorated eggs, and a bunny all placed on a daffodil runner made by my Mom. Miss you, Mom. I think you would have loved blogging.

©2011 Ashbee Design, Marji Roy

Saturday, April 23, 2011

A week of Birch Design

This will be my last post on the the use of birch bark pattern as a design theme.  I have just two more decorative accessories that fit my qualifications of being well designed and using the birch tree theme.

First is this cheese board. It is handcrafted in ceramics by Brenda Holzke and available online from Napa General Store. Great Gift!

The last is a set on hand painted ceramic tiles.  These can be purchased individually or in groups, or framed.  They are by Dy Witt and available as a framed print from FineArtAmerica online. I'd like access to the original tiles.

©2011 Ashbee Design, Marji Roy

Friday, April 22, 2011

Spring and Family

I have been watching my front garden hoping the ferns would grow again and I am rejoicing because they have returned.  Thursday morning the sun was shining and so I took advantage of it to take some photographs.  

Using a camera to focus on the little things has been a source of creativity and inspiration.  Today I am experiencing the importance of family in many significant ways. The photo I took yesterday of a family of ferns clustered, growing, unfolding, supporting speaks to me on many different levels.

Remember to give those you love a hug today and every day.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Birch Trees in Quilts and Fiber Arts

The contrasting nature of birch bark has been used in fiber arts as well as other contemporary crafts.  Here are links to quilters that have captured the glory of birch trees in their work.  I am especially taken with the color combination and angled composition of this first one by Carrie Hedstrom.

This quilt by Terry Aske has an entirely different effect because of the colors and fabrics chosen. 
Terry Aske Starry Winter Night

Black, white, red and gray are a recurring color theme for birch tree quilts.   I like the combination and am thinking of adding red accents in my application with the real birch tree I will harvest.  Here are two others that are a little more abstract.

BlackWhite and Red by Moonlighting Quilts

My last entry is of Birch Fabric available from Blank Quilting.  I share this in case it inspires you to create something in the birch tree theme.

Post update added Feb. 24, 2012:
Loving the branch and tree theme?  I did too. I just completed an in-depth series of blog posts on decorating using the branch and tree theme.  Check it the overview with links to all posts here. Branch Inspirations 

And here are links to two posts I did on a birch branch centerpiece here and here.

Previous Posts of Interest:

©2011 Ashbee Design, Marji Roy

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Batik Birch Trees

I love the beautiful effect created through the batik process. Artist Carolyn Doe explains it as "an ancient technique of using wax and dyes to create designs on fabric". The nature of the technique keeps the results fluid and natural.  Here are four soft, subtle and truly beautiful original batik paintings on silk of birch landscapes by Carolyn.

I love the blended colors so similar to water color. They are available at her shop on Etsy.

Previous Posts of Interest:

©Ashbee Design, Marji Roy

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Birch Inspired Ceramics

I had to search deep down into the Google listing and adjust my terms to find stunning examples of handcrafted ceramics that are inspired by the natural beauty of birch bark. There are an over abundance of tacky items created with birch bark as well so it took more patience but it was worth it. I found some exceptional examples.

First is the work of Lenni Lampi at Birch Pottery. The work captures the texture and sculptural aspects of a peeling birch tree. The pieces are created by combining a variety of wheel thrown and hand building techniques. Visit the Birch Pottery website to see many more examples.

The work is available for sale through her Etsy Site or through the Artful Home website.

I was also impressed with the clay work of Sonia Sehil especially her bark series. She works in a cooperative clay studio called Clayspace in Brooklyn, NY and also has a shop on Etsy although there currently aren't any bark pieces shown there. 

In a totally different vein is the work of Liu Qingyuan displayed on the online gallery of Galleria Pangea. This is classic wheel thrown black pottery onto which the artist adds a contemporary birch inspired design.

And finally here is a hand-built pottery collection by dbOHome that uses impressions of birch bark to create a subtle texture in porcelain.  

This is another natural theme that one could selectively scatter through a home to add continuity of design.

Previous Posts of Interest:

©Ashbee Design, Marji Roy

Monday, April 18, 2011

Birch Bark as a theme

There is something special about the white and black of birch bark. It can bridge design styles from rustic to contemporary.  As I work through my ideas on using the possibilities provided by the downed birch tree I thought I'd share some of the inspiring finds simple searches have turned up. Today on the walls........

It is a common theme in wall decals.........

And it has been used in some gorgeous wall paper designs.....

Coles & Sons via Hello Outlaw

Adding your own hand painted birch trees is the topic of a DIY project over at

Previous Posts of Interest:

©2011 Ashbee Design, Marji Roy

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Birch Bonanza

Inspiration has been right in front of me and I missed it until I saw this post on Apartment Therapy, "Bringing the Outdoors In".

Photo credit: Pure Style Home

Photo credit: Elle Decor

Last year a majestic white birch was blown over in a field near our home.  It is sitting there rotting. However I think it will provide material for several ideas I have bouncing around in my head. Here is the material. How should I use it? Thoughts?

©2011 Ashbee Design, Marji Roy