Saturday, June 30, 2012

Sculptural Fingers • In the Woods

When I first created these sculptures in collage, I loaded in my little red grocery wagon and transported them around Providence setting them up in various urban locations and taking photographs. They are a great installation piece with a comic twist. After David and I cleaned them up and repainted them we decided to do the same in a rural, woodland setting. Here is a selection of the photographs....

Nestled in a bed of ferns....






On the sandy flats in a meandering stream......



And always, time to be a little goofy.....


The mosquitos ended the exploration! We will set them up in a final location in our sculpture glade. The above sites are a little too remote and I think the fingers might disappear.

©2012 Ashbee Design, Marji Roy

Friday, June 29, 2012

Sculptural Fingers • What?

I have a long creative history. Different parts of it resurface from time to time. This post starts back in the college years. During my junior year I created a sculpture out of cast polyester resin that has been on display in our woodlands for most of the past 30 plus years. It is decidedly weird and it has staying power. David and I decided it needed to be refinished and better displayed so we started the project. You won't believe the subject matter and if you drove by my house while we were working on this, you would truly wonder.

The sculpture is a of the tips of five fingers, in a gripping pose but over sized. They are flat white and ghostly. When positioned, they appear to be clawing their way through the surface. We pounded stakes into the yard, balance a finger on each, and after scrubbing off years of grime, we gave them a new coat of paint.









Not your everyday neighborhood view to be sure.  Stay tuned to see our plans for these!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Bookville • Toy Design

Many of you readers are parents and I am sure that you often thought you could design a better toy. When our children were young we thought the same thing and put our creative energies to that goal. During half of the 1980's my husband David and I developed toy ideas which we sold to the to toy companies to produce. It was certainly an interesting experience and we learned it is very difficult to impact the toy industry at all.

Great Aunt Carolyn was recently cleaning out for a move and she still had a complete set of Bookville. Bookville is one of the toys we designed. The concept was hard covered books that opened into houses and other building to create a town. We handcrafted a complete village out of wood and sold the idea several times.  A small toy company produced it in 1985 and it was from this run that Aunt Carolyn sent over the five different designs.


Each book opened, a front panel was slid into slots and its was filed with accessories, including two little people, a vehicle and furniture. Here is the Country Home with the Country Sedan parked in the the driveway. 

The entire set, which was produces by Lakeside in 1985 included a firehouse, barn, gas station, grocery store and a house. If you had all five you could create a village street.


The entire play set came out for the first time with grandson Taylor, now 3 years old, visiting.  He had a great time playing with the set and spent quality time creating scenarios and telling stories.

Our disappointment with Bookville and the American Toy industry is its fixation on cheap is better and plastic is king. Every toy we designed, after being sold to various toy companies and processed through in in house design teams, came out looking like every other toy on the shelf. Bookville was priced at under $5, and disappeared as a concept because of poor construction quality. Taylor did have a lot of fun playing with the set which told me the idea was sound. I just kept the glue gun handy to repair it.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Gramzee Time

We are blessed with a new granddaughter and for a short while her cousin and our 3 year old grandson is visiting Ashbee Hill.  Needless to say Gramzee is very busy doing creative things with a 3 year old. We are building towns, telling stories, making tents, cooking, and exploring the outside world. I do have time for romping in the stream but very little time for blog worthy projects.


But what better way to start summer than looking for frogs!


And making mud pies!


I could do a mud pie tutorial but I do believe everyone can figure that one out with out step-by-step instructions! Enjoy summer for all my northern hemisphere readers. I find myself wondering what winter is like in Australia.

©2012 Ashbee Design, Marji Roy

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Wooden Wall Collage

If you follow my blog you know I love wood. I love working with it, I love it in decor, I use it often.  Today, this post appeared as part of a Houzz article on an initiative in San Francisco to create pockets of nature inside the urban landscape. This wall piece was one of many samples. I love how wood in various forms is used to create a collage. and it reminds me of my branch series all combined into one work of art.


The above panel is created by artists Lisa Lee Benjamin and Kevin Smith. They are part of group called Urban Hedgrow and consider themselves "instigators" working to create public awareness of the environmental processes happening around us.

I see it as a great piece for inspiration.

©2012 Ashbee design, Marji Roy

Friday, June 22, 2012

My Wooden Lunch Box Gets Retired

Back in 1974 I became a school teacher, an art teacher to be more precise. Between that time and today I have been involved in schools in a variety of capacities. The most recent fourteen years have been as the technology coordinator for our local school district. Yesterday I ended my twenty five years in public education. It is time to narrow down my focus from three jobs to only two and running David's sculpture business and my blogging are the two that I am continuing. Both of those will be work-at-home jobs so I am retiring my lunch box.

My lunch box is no ordinary affair. It is extremely special to me and has drawn comments from all my colleagues over the years. My husband, David handcrafted it for me as a surprise Christmas present the second year of our marriage. Today, we happily celebrated our 38th wedding anniversary and I am retiring the 36 year old wooden lunch box.


It is crafted from layers of baltic birch plywood and, although clearly showing signs of wear, still entirely functional all these years later. It has a wooden spring clip to keep it closed and a layered finger joint for a top hinge.


The corners are banged up and the finish shows years of daily use. But is has served me well for a long and wonderful career.


Moving on is bittersweet. It is the right thing for me to do and I am excited by the road ahead, but I will miss so much of what I have left behind.

And I will need to find a new use for my lunch box. It, like my husband, is extremely special.

I have shared this post at the following link parties:



©2012 Ashbee Design, Marji Roy

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Birch Branch Triptych by John Oman

I have been exploring many possibilities with branches this year mostly because we had so much tree damage from the October snowstorm. The supply is plentiful. I do love using branches to bring the outdoors in and have found many ideas in this area that excite me.  I was especially taken by this example that crossed my pinning this week.


It is a triptych of frames highlighting a birch branch. It is created by John Oman and he has a variety of branch concepts for sale in his Etsy shop here. I first saw this one presented in a vertical orientation but when I explored further, I found it for sale on Shabby Apple and it is display in a horizontal orientation.  


I am not sure which I like best but I expect the final wall location can best dictate the direction.

My branch series just keeps growing. If you like incorporating branches in your decor, both in and out of doors be sure to check my theme page on Branches and my Pinterest board as well. I keep adding to them.

Update: The artist, John Oman just sent me an email saying the piece is meant to hang horizontally. Question answered! Visit his shop for some other creative birch tree possibilities.

Previous Posts of Interest • The Branch Series • 2012
©2012 Ashbee Design, Marji Roy


Saturday, June 16, 2012

Daisy Ladder for June

I love the ladder I made last month for our main entry. I shared it with you here along with a tutorial on how you can make your own ladder.  And I explained that I was looking forward to changing the ladder with the seasons. I just wasn't expecting to have to change the flowers so quickly. I had originally planted bright yellow begonias for this dark corner but unfortunately, my begonias immediately started to perish. Within three days they all showed signs of a fungus and now they are in sad shape. This morning I decided it was time for the first new arrangement in the tin pails. I am so very glad I did because now, it looks like this....


I got up early this morning, grabbed a basket and my camera and took a walk. I had noticed that the wild daisies are in full bloom along the road and I thought they would be the perfect June bouquet for my ladder.


I harvested a bunch just as the sun cleared the treetops.  My pickings didn't put a dent into the vast number blooming. I did have to be wary of the poison ivy and had to keep my feet on the road. I pulled my socks up high to avoid exposure. Must have been a humorous site - a little lady, in sneakers with white socks pulled up high out picking daisies!


The begonias were looking pretty sad so I dumped them out. All the leaves had shriveled and fallen off and each new one fell victim to the fungus quickly. Obviously I don't have a green thumb and advice would be appreciated.


I decided to make plastic liners for the tin pails so I could put tape over the top. To make the liners, I repurposed an empty 1 liter soda bottle and sliced it to the perfect height. By putting strips of tape on a liner, the edges of it don't show, and the tape helps hold the flowers up. This is a great aid in arranging wildflowers especially in containers with wide open tops. After crisscrossing 1/2" wide masking tape, I put the plastic liner into the pail and started arranging the daisies along with some ferns and what I am guessing is a wild yarrow as well.


I quickly started hanging them on my ladder because I was losing the sun for photos. This ladder is on the northeast corner of my house and sun reaches it early in the morning only during the longest days of the year. Soon it will be gone for another 11 months. I kept the arrangements a little on the wild side, quick and easy, like the daisies.


By the time all five were done, the sun was already no longer reaching this corner, but that is ok. It is now brightened by five arrangements of white daisies with bright yellow centers. 


Have you built a ladder for your entry yet? Thinking about how to decorate it for the 4th of July? I am!

Previous Posts of Interest:
This project has inspired me to continue exploring ladders in d├ęcor. I collected them ll into a theme page with links to many, many different ways to use ladders in decor
Sharing this post at the following Link Parties:
©2012 Ashbee Design, Marji Roy

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Laundry Project • Fold Down Ironing Board

The fold down ironing board is becoming a challenge for my laundry room redo.  I am looking for input here.  Does anyone have a fold down ironing board? Does it work? Where did you get it? Here are some of the things I am seeing on the Internet.

The first choice below is what is available through most cabinet lines.  It is an ironing board that folds out of the top drawer of a base cabinet.  But it is only in base cabinets of standard depth and mine are not.  My entire wall of cabinets is only 12" deep.


This second image looks most appropriate for my laundry room in concept. My cabinet person and I can't find anything like this so I figure it must be custom made. Have you ever seen something like this for sale? 


The third concept is interesting. It is from a closet company in California.  A little far for me to drop in and see but it looks like it slides up into that tall vertical slot. Any one know of a closet company that offers this - especially the hardware?


The classic design available is this type of design to go against a wall. I would like the board a little longer and would really like just that hardware so I can put it inside our cabinet with a longer board.


Send me along any resources you know of. I'd greatly appreciate it.

Meanwhile, I have continued the back and forth discussions with Cindy at the Design Center East in Willimantic, CT. She is working with me in determining the cabinets that best suit my needs and budget. She sent me another series of plans from the cabinet software. 


We are getting closer. I like the layout of the above wall but the one below still needs some work. I sent in my ideas last night but I don't know the options for each line of cabinets.


Other Laundry Room Redesign Posts:

©2012 Ashbee Design, Marji Roy

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Clothes Pins

The laundry room project continues. I am still working with the Design Center to find the best cabinet solution.  I don't want to pay for custom cabinets so we are trying to find the best solution for my crazy space with out having to pay for modification charges. It is a challenge.  In the mean time here are some ideas I have collected using clothes pins.

I love this simple wreath idea from the Budget Wise Home Blog. I might have to make one for in my laundry. I am getting ahead of myself for sure.

These two beauties in large scale would be fun to have but it looks like they are originally from Pottery Barn and now only available by chance.
And my last link is not at all applicable to the location but absolutely made me smile and is theme appropriate.  I saw this on Design Milk a couple of weeks ago. Early in my blogging life I posted about how I enjoy playing with scale in decor. I think it is a great way to add whimsey with style.

 Bench design by Baldessari e Baldessari of Italy.

Have a great day!

©2012 Ashbee Design, Marji Roy

Monday, June 11, 2012

Book Page Basket • DIY

The pages from old books have become a standard craft supply. As I was doing some of the folded book designs I was reminded of the gum wrapper chains we made as kids. I applied that same idea to book pages. The result is this book page basket made from a repurposed cookie tin and the pages of an old, yellowed paperback book.


I have filled it with yarn balls made from natural colors but I think it would look stunning filed with bright yellow Lemons or brilliantly green limes as well.


I started by cutting the book pages to 8" by 3.5". Any similarly proportioned pages will work.  Book pages are much thicker than gum wrappers so the size of the chain you create is much larger. My original idea had been to make a desk accessory set for pen storage using a variety of tin cans. I found the paper chain was too large so I modified the plan to this basket. The larger cookie tin was better able to visually support the book page chain.

There are many sites with step-by-step instructions on making a chain. Here is a beautifully illustrated diagram from Art Projects for Kids website.

Image via Art Projects for Kids

We Folk Art has a good step-by-step with photographs.

I used the book pages and made two chains, one long enough to go around the rim of my cookie tin, and one long enough to make the handle.


I also spray painted the cookie tin using flat black primer. I wanted it to have no sheen.


I set up in the garage, and as always with spray paint, applied many light coats until it was totally flat black.


Once both the chain and the painting were completed, I heated up the glue gun and glued the first chain to the rim of the cookie tin.  I mounted it high up on the rim so it created a zig-zag top edge.



Again, using hot glue, I glued both ends of the basket handle in place.


My daughter, Amy is visiting so I corralled her into helping me makes some yarns balls out of some old weaving yarns I had.


Here is the final basket, a container to hold more of my ever expanding ball collection!



Previous Posts of Interest:

I am sharing this post at these link parties.  Come visit.


©2012 Ashbee Design, Marji Roy