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Friday, February 25, 2022

Art Deco Artwork

I just got involved in a really funny roundabout story. You know how that happens to me???

And it involves a piece of art deco artwork.... 

AND a loom that I re-tied, restrung, and set up for weaving at the Iron County Museum in Caspian Michigan, years ago when we were there doing our Loomatic Demos during the Ferrous Frolics.....

How do the two connect? 

Well that is a story:

Last night on the Facebook Group for Growing up in Iron County Michigan, someone posted this art deco picture and said it was a piece of artwork they had gotten from a friend, and they're wondering if anybody knew the artist. It had been hanging in the Cloverland Hotel and Bar in Iron River, Michigan before it got torn down in 2008. I recognized it immediately because I'm the one who put the paint on it! 

There were originally four art deco pieces with layers of like plywood or masonite board to give them a 3 dimensional look. They were made by some other artist years ago, and the hotel bar had four of them mounted on the walls. 

But they were all muted tones of tans, beiges and sandy tones and very dim and dull. When Willie Beckman, a friend of my dad's, bought the bar and hotel in the 1970s, he wanted them brightened up to show up better in the darkness of the bar. So he hired my mom and I to get a bunch of acrylic paints and paint over what was there; adding details and brightening them up. Yes, in garish bright 1970s "modern" colors.

So that's what we did. 

Now... almost 50 years later, here is the post from Facebook that this lady ended up with one of them and wanted to know more. She grew up in the area but moved away and lives now down in North Carolina.

I posted last night that I'M THE ONE that added the colorful painting onto it, over the top surfaces of what was already there. My mom and I were in the bar for 3 or 4 days set up with the lights and paints and brushes and we added color and details to all four of them, while they were still of course mounted to the walls. Willie let us drink all of the soda we wanted from behind the bar while we were painting. I think one day he brought us lunch from a local restaurant nearby. 

My mom and I always got into a bunch of crazy things didn't we? We were paid to do it and it was a fun job, besides it was creative and artsy. I think we got $20 per piece, and there were four in total. Easy money back in the 70's.

The owner of the artwork then responded to me privately, on Faecbook Messenger, and we started writing back and forth. She was talking about being an artist herself and doing painting. She wanted to know if I continued on being an artist because I had sent her some other things I had done as a teen in the area.

I had painted a Mexican man leaning back on a cactus taking a seista and a donkey with big baskets on his sides on two big 4x8 wall panels at The Dinner Bell Restaurant in the next block over from the hotel. They had Mexican food there and wanted motifs resembling Mexico painted on the sides of their building each side of the doorway. I wish I had a pic of them after I did those. We went past them every day and never thought to take a picture.  

But Willie, the hotel owner, saw them....  and that is how we got the job to paint the ones in the hotel bar.  

Another teen artistry thing I did was a contest--- I would paint on local business windows for the big U.P Championship Rodeo every year, competing against my mom and Fran Everson. Lol We usually won first second or third places. 

I also painted three big cartoon horses on the barn out at the Pellizaro riding stables and got 30 free horse rides. That's how I ended up helping being a trail guide at the horse stables because after 30 rides, I knew all of the horses and I would help out with big groups that would come on the trails.  I was such a horse nut. I wish I had a pic of the barn I painted, but instead I only got pics of myself with the horses! 


Back to the story:

Anyhow, I told her no, I don't paint as much anymore but I am a fiber artist and I do weaving and spinning and quilting. I sent her some pictures of the fiber stuff I do. 

It turns out her mother was an old Finlander weaver in the Iron River area, and she still has rugs from her mother, including a 15 ft long traditional Finlander one. And she said how her mom was a 100% Finlander and she had learned from her grandmother. 

Then----- she said after her mom passed away, her mom's old loom got donated to the Iron County Historical Museum in Caspian, Michigan! 

Guess what? That's the loom that my sister and I helped to restore, restring, and thread up and get it ready to weave for demonstration of a display loom inside of the museum!!!

Now, these photos are from the days before I owned a digital camera, in the early 2000's.  I would video tape with a HUGE VHS camcorder, and then plug it in and play it back on my computer, taking screen shots.  So they are blurry.  But it was the best we could do back then 20 years ago. 

Here is the loom we restored that had belonged to the person I was corresponding with. 

 What a small world!!!!


While I was digging around in my files, I came across more photos of our days doing our Loomatic Demos at the Iron County Historical Museum. The yearly festival was called "The Ferrous Frolics" with Ferrous meaning Iron... because the museum was located on an old Iron Mine. Many historic local buildings and even the church were moved to the museum grounds.


My sister, I and a few friends called ourselves The Loomatic Workshop.  We would take over the Johnson cabin, and display our wares, set up our looms and spinning wheels and demonstrate for the weekend.  

We were allowed to sell our items, and we dressed up like pioneer women to do our demonstrations.  That is me in my mop cap, at the spinning wheel.

At times throughout the day, the other reenactors would light off a canon!   They also demonstrated black smithing, baking and cooking in one of the cabins and offered horse and carriage rides throughout the grounds. 

My sister Linda was good at hawking our wares,
getting people to buy our handmade items. 

We could set up displays and talked to the visitors about how women made their family's clothing, spun wool for knitting socks and hats, and how hard life was in the cabins during the winters in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. 

Loomatic Lisa weaving by the daylight from the window in the cabin, just like women did all those many years ago. Taking advantage of the daylight and not wasting lamp oil in the darker evening hours.

When the day wore on, it got hot and steamy in the cabin. Loomatic Lisa set up a table loom outside, and our daughter Heather was winding bobbins for her shuttles. 

It was a good time for us to get together, and we did it year after year.

It would sometimes get hot in the cabin, so I set up the spinning wheel outside. It also attracted more visitors to come and see what we were up to. 

I know the pics are blurry, but we sure had fun. We did this for 9 or 10 years, demonstrating and setting up our wares.  We got bigger and bigger and started erecting two big 20x10 canopies in the later years and selling a lot more of our items.  

All things must come to an end.... the museum started putting more advertising and energy to a NEW event called The Rum Rebellion Festival that took place the weekend before the Ferrous Frolics.  More board members were excited about the new event, and more funds were directed to advertising and volunteer help.  As for the poor Ferrous Frolics, the attendance waned and  both the locals and the out of town visitors came to the first event at the museum, and didn't bother to come back for the second.  So we didn't bother to travel that far and set up anymore for such low numbers. 


Anyhow.... back to the Cloverland Hotel and Bar.  

Through the rest of the discussions on the Facebook group, I learned that later the bar was taken over by new owners (on land contract) who stripped it of the art deco designs, even the huge etched mirror from behind the bar.  Things were tossed in the basement during the remodel.  Later those folks failed at the business, (they even had strippers in there for a while)  and they moved on. The bar was taken back by the previous owners, but the historic things were long gone. The building had not been taken care of and by 2008 it was slated for demolition.  That is when someone somehow managed to get the one piece of artwork for the gal down in North Carolina... right before it was torn down. 

This is how I remembered it back in the 1970's

Sadly, this is all that remains today:


Monday, February 14, 2022

Happy Valentine's Day! Eggs and Darts

After 13 days, we finally felt good enough to get out and about. We're not totally over this crud yet, but at least we are feeling better. Steve said he is 80%! 

We were able to make a run down to Home Depot and pick up the trim to start on the top of the beadboard and quarter round for the baseboard in the kitchen. They were 8 ft long pieces so we are able to haul them in the Saturn, wedged in from the front to the rear and closing the back hatch. That is a lot easier than hauling out our trailer on a snowy day to pick up trim wood.

It's called "Egg and Dart" plate rail trim.  The pattern matches the vintage "Egg and Dart" our home has above all of the windows and doorways.

Of course, old houses are never level, even, or square! As we started on the first piece of trim, we realized the plaster wall bulged out too far in one spot and did not allow the piece of trim to set flat and flush against the wall. I remembered something I had seen on one of the HGTV shows where they actually cut away part of the plaster wall to get a piece of trim to fit. So that's just what we did!

After drawing a line, Steve used the little oscillating cutting tool and I held the end of the Shop-Vac nearby to catch most of the mess. It worked perfectly! Now that piece of trim could be recessed flat on the wall and nailed into place.

Steve started nailing the bottom trim around where the bead board meets the top edge of the existing old baseboard. This is where we put a narrow piece of quarter round and then I got down on my hands and knees and painted it all the way around the room. It looks so much better, more neatly finished by just adding a little piece of trim.

I painted the first two coats on the upper trim of the "egg and dart" plate rail. Steve cut all of the pieces to size while I took care of painting them on the island.  It's a lot easier to paint trim first, rather than once it's up and on the wall. I used a little brush and was able to get in the tiny little grooves and cracks of the egg and dart design.  While we were letting it dry, we finished the baseboard.

Here is the profile view shape of this trim the top has a groove for a plate rail and the bottom has a notch cut out that sets right over the rough edges of the beadboard. This is a sideways shot, but at least you can see the end detail.

Using his battery powered finishing nailer, he was able to tack tack tack the pieces up into place. Then we used a little bit of spackle to fill in all of the tiny nail holes and any gaps were filled with caulking. Again, the uneven wall makes things difficult but we sure made it look as good as we could. Once all of the spackling and caulk were dry, then I could give it a one more coat of paint to finish it off.

I really like how it sets it off along the top trim of the beadboard. I think it came out pretty neat considering that we had a crooked old wall to deal with???

I took some brighter pictures today as the sunlight was streaming in. We pushed the cabinet back into place and now this room is complete.

Here is one of those wide-angle shots that kind of distorts the view, but now this is the whole southern wall of our kitchen has beadboard on it, and then it goes around to the eastern wall. (Those are the new windows we replaced last summer).

The big cabinet is an upcycled old cabinet that we added some beadboard into the recessed panels of the doors and on both of the sides. It's amazing how much extra pantry space that allows us to have in the kitchen. It contains my big Nesco roaster, my Mix Master, the crock pot, our blender, our food processor, a waffle iron, and any overflow dry goods or canned goods that don't fit in the regular cabinets on the other side of the room.

On the other side of the room, the island and the ends of the cabinets also have beadboard highlighting them. This kind of ties it all together and makes the room coordinate both sides.  Excuse the painting supplies still stacked on the island.

Now that the beadboard in the kitchen is done, NEXT is the master bathroom!!!  Stay tuned.


We got a little bit of snow the other morning. Even though it was going to be a warm day and the snow is starting to melt on the road, Steve wanted to get out and snow blow away the bank that the snow plow left behind. It was wet and heavy.  Otherwise, the temperatures were dropping down to below zero at night and that thing would freeze solid. Then we would have a hump at the end of the driveway for the rest of the winter.

While the sunshine was streaming in, I took another picture of my beautiful amaryllis bulbs. I can't believe these gorgeous blooms are just evolving and opening up and lasting so long. It's already been over two weeks and there are more stalks are coming up with more blooms.


Yes, today is Valentine's Day, the day for lovers and sweethearts. We dropped off little red bags over by the grandchildren's houses so they could have some treats. 

ON EDIT:  some of the little ones enjoying their treats, pics sent over to us this evening:

We are enjoying our Valentine's present to each other, our pretty cozy nice fireplace. Not only does it help with the heat bills, but it's also beautiful to look at and so comforting in the evenings if we sit in the living room and read or listen to music.

I think it was a pretty smart investment, made a nice improvement to the house, and it was also a very romantic gift to each other.

The sun is still out this late afternoon, actually quite strongly yet as I write this. It's already 4:30 and we are having daylight running later into the evenings. A sure sign that spring is on its way. 

Someone here in town saw a robin this week and took a picture of it! It's way too soon for robins to be back yet, I think that one got a little confused? Although we have some warm temperatures coming this week, there is still plenty of winter left for us here in Wisconsin.


During the Super Bowl last night I kept myself busy cutting strips of a bedspread for my newest rug.  These are vintage white chenille bedspreads given to me by my old neighbor Charlotte.   The Super Bowl was a bit boring. I wanted the Bengals to win. Oh well.  I loved the commercials, especially the one with the goats from Disney Plus... and the one with Arnold was a hoot too. 

I already wove up one of these Caterpillar Rugs with the help of little Claire, the youngest granddaughter.  I wrote about that a few blogs back.   Here she is helping me: 

I delivered the first rug to Charlotte as a surprise gift.  She has it proudly laid next to her bed for her toes to touch first thing in the morning.

Now I am going to weave up the second bedspread into a rug to put up for sale in my Etsy store.  It makes a GREAT baby shower gift when combined with the book The Very Hungry Caterpillar.  It will soon be listed in the store for sale.

I started the header section with bright colorful cotton yarns.  Then I inlay the little knit caterpillars as I weave the rug with the white chenille fabric strips. 

It sure is cute,
 and it makes me smile.

Time to get supper going,

so I will post this now.

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

A Romantic Valentine's Fireplace

After twenty-five years, Steve and I have reached the point where we now decide to buy a mutual gift together to celebrate our holidays. Much like at Christmas, when we purchased the tankless water heater, which is something we both wanted. That was our Christmas present to ourselves.

Well, the next holiday coming up is Valentine's Day. There was something we had wanted for the house, and Steve suggested that we consider it our Valentine's Day present to each other! It's not very sexy, but it COULD be.....

In our living room we have a big brick fireplace. We have long ago blocked off the chimney and made sure that it is no longer accessible from outside.We did not want to go through the expense of relining an entire chimney flue for something that we really weren't even going to use.

In the fireplace opening, a while back we placed a natural gas vent-free stand-alone fireplace unit from Charmglow. With the pretty screen in front of it, you really don't even see what is in the fireplace opening. Just the beautiful flames flickering against the curly cues on the brown mesh screen. It's very soothing and relaxing, plus it takes the chill out on a cold morning. It's supplements the central heating and is a comforting and yet practical way while adding ambience to the room.  Here is the pretty screen:

The only problem with the older natural gas fireplace that we had installed is that it was "manual". We had to reach down inside, and reach underneath the back edge to push the igniter or to control the temperature knob settings. We had to reach down below underneath for a switch for the blower.  And reaching way down underneath was achieved by laying on the floor to turn on and off the gas at the main valve. Although it worked, it wasn't all that fun to operate.

Now, to those "purists" to say the only fire is a real wood fire, I beg to differ. We get enough wood fires when we're camping. Keep in mind, our experiences in the past have led us to enjoy a gas log fireplace instead of woodburning type.

I grew up in a home that was heated solely by wood in a big old wood stove. That meant all of us children helping to haul wood, chop wood, stack wood, and keep the fire going at home, around the clock.  This was in the dead of winter in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  Stoking the fire every few hours was a necessity, not a pleasure. It was not fun. Plus cleaning out the wood stove, bringing out the ashes, dumping them in the back garden, and then cleaning up the mess is a whole other process that needed to be done.  Cautious use and dangers of a chimney fire were always present in the back of the mind.

After I grew up, and had a home of my own, I had a wood burning fireplace. It was not the main source of heat, but it was nice to have on cold winter nights.  Again it meant hauling firewood, starting fires, keeping it going and not being able to close off the damper until the fire went out. That meant sucking the room heat back OUT of the room and have it go up the chimney before the fire was completely out. That was not fun. And did I mention cleaning up the ashes?  There was always the issue of bugs coming in the house with the firewood. Having to clean up the soot every once in a while because smoke would puff back into the room when it was windy. I would have soot on the bricks, the wall, the mantle, etc. Not fun.

When we built our log house out on the river, again we had a wood burning fireplace. Then again the same stuff of hauling in wood, maintaining the fire and cleaning it up afterwards. Steve did most of that, and it was not fun.

After 50+ years of this, I think our days of messing with the real woodburning log fireplaces are done. 

When we moved to the house in Chilton, we had a faux electric fireplace. We installed a natural gas log fireplace kit into the opening.  From then on we really appreciated the ease of having natural gas logs instead of a real wood burning fireplace! 

When we bought the house here in Oconto, we knew that there was was a real wood burning fireplace but the chimney was of questionable quality. Sooo blocking it off and putting in a gas log unit made the most sense for us. Even if it wasn't the easiest to use, we were glad to have something in the opening.  We also have a nice gas log unit down in the She Shed that we use during fall, winter and spring to heat the space.  Although they have electric blowers to help move the heat, both of the fireplaces can operate without any electrical power if need be. Perfect solution in a power outage due to storm or other mishap, our pipes won't freeze and we wouldn't have to leave our home.

Steve's Valentine gift suggestion was to replace it with another similar fireplace, but this time with a remote control! That's just what we did. We ordered it from our local Tractor Supply Company that had it shipped directly to the store a couple miles away from us. We did a curbside pickup where they carted it right out the door to our waiting vehicle.

So here we are, posing with our new Valentine's Day gift to each other. We are finally feeling about 1/2 to 3/4 of the way better from last week's sickness that we could finally get up some energy and decided to start the installation.  Not too bad for a couple of sickos?

Here is the older fireplace fully operating with pretty flames flickering. Once the installation of the new one is done, we will sell the old one on Marketplace. Somebody else will be able to use it. Our decorative screen is removed to take a good pic to sell it.

Yesterday, Steve opened up the box and started assembling the new fireplace. He was mounting the legs on and we were reading through the directions. Imagine that, a man reading directions? The old one is pulled forward out of the fireplace opening, so we could start disassembling that one at the same time.

He worked on it for a while and then we decided to take a break. He had all the tools assembled and ready to go. We vacuumed out the fireplace opening before installing the new one. Then we kind of ran out of energy. So it sat like this in the living room overnight. Nobody says we have to rush rush rush and get it done in one day. Although, when we were both feeling better, that's exactly what we would have done.

Bright and early this morning, Steve was feeling better, so we decided to tackle the rest of the installation. Step-by-step--- everything was correctly switched over, the new blower unit installed, and the settings all correctly adjusted for the space.

One of the best features on this new unit, which is made by ProCom instead of Charmglow, is that the controls are right up front underneath a little flap door. This is similar to the one that we have down in the she shed. It makes the controls much more accessible than the other one that we had.

Now it was time
 to put the pretty fireplace screen 
back in front of the unit. 

Once this is on, all I want is some nice flickering flames and warmth and heat coming into the room. Plus now having a remote control is great to handle it all.  P.S. I got the screen from Wayfair last year.

We'll look at that. It fits perfectly in the same spot it did before and you really don't notice anything has changed at all in the room. But we know now with a flick of the remote, we can be enjoying the flames and heat and warmth of the new fireplace, just much easier than before.  

No wood to haul.
No bugs.
 No ashes.
No soot. 

We toasted to our new gift to each other,
a few days early for Valentines.


Since I had so much energy today and I've been recouping from being ill, I decided to get out my grandmother's big old Singer sewing machine and set it up on the desk in the office. Of my five sewing machines, this is the only one that will sew through a triple folded hem on my hand-woven rugs.

It was nice to sit at the desk with the beautiful blooms over my shoulder from the amaryllis plant. I'm now enjoying four large stalks full of blooms and more to come. One website I read said the blooms can last from 30 to 60 days! 

I fold over the hems twice and clip them into place so I am sewing through three layers of woven header material. It's nice at the desk to have all this space to move the rug around while I sew on the hems. I used to do this on the dining room table and had to move everything out of the way.  Since I repurposed these two end tables into a desk for the office, it's made a nice area to set up the sewing machine for the occasional times I need to hem a rug or two or three...

This machine from 1942 just goes and goes and goes
a real work horse.

The weather outside has warmed up nicely and we were almost to 40 degrees today. 40 and February in Wisconsin is a pretty nice day. 

For supper we were actually grilling outside because it's so nice and warm. Of course, we ate inside. Our appetites are coming back and we enjoyed some freshly grilled hamburgers tonight.

We don't need to be fancy,

just comfortable.