FAIRE: for daydreamers

I recently exhibited at the Arts on the Avenue fine arts and crafts festival in West Reading, PA.  Prepping for my first show was a lot of work for which I earned comparatively little money, but I can’t wait to do it again. Faire market stall The event was also the public debut of FAIRE: for daydreamers.  “Faire” is not only a quaint word for marketplace but also the French verb meaning, “to make.”  It seems the perfect title for an outlet where I share and sell my creations and collections—namely, my fine art paintings and prints, handcrafted and hand painted decorative pieces, and winsome found objects.

Right now, FAIRE is a market stall, but I’ve plans to launch an online shoppe this fall. If you’d like to receive an announcement when faireshoppe.com launches, or news of upcoming exhibits, donnez moi votre email addresse, s’il vous plait.

Faire market stall with Erica Vinskie Many thanks to my father, Larry Vinskie, for taking these photographs, and to my husband for building my display!

Cherry Blossoms and Peonies: A Cherished Celebration

This weekend my family gathered to celebrate the 61st wedding anniversary of my Uncle Jack and Aunt Mary (her chosen anglicized name; her given name is Kazuko).  The pair married in 1953 in Sasebo, Nagasaki Prefecture, Japan, where my uncle was stationed with the U.S. Naval Fleet during the Korean War.  My aunt, I believe, worked at the naval base commissary.

It has long troubled me how much of my aunt’s cultural heritage she was forced to abjure in order to join American society in the years following WWII.  I suppose she did it for love.  Nevertheless, when my uncle asked how she wanted to celebrate their anniversary, she said she’d like to go for sushi.  Nothing if not generous (and witty, kind, caring, and a great Polka dancer), my uncle invited the whole family.  Into this mirthful celebration of their life and love, we infused symbols of Aunt Mary’s Japanese heritage and their beginnings as a couple. This floral arrangement of peonies from the garden and crafted paper cherry blossoms was my contribution.

Cherry Blossoms & Peonies


Paper cherry blossoms

To create these tissue paper cherry blossoms, I loosely followed the instructions here: DIY Cherry Blossoms – Creations by Kara

Cherry Blossoms & Peonies

Aunt Mary and Uncle Jack on their 61st wedding anniversary at the Pearl Sushi Bar, Mohegan Sun Poconos Casino & Resort.

Living the Creative Life with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint

I didn’t want to let two whole months go by between blog posts, but here it is, glorious mid-May.

I would like to blame my lapse on my new job, but it’s only part-time, and so that is only part of the problem.

Mostly, I’ve been experiencing a strong compulsion to stay off of the computer and get back to basics.  After years of creating almost exclusively in two-digital-dimensions, I suddenly can’t keep my hands off of my paints, my brushes, my furniture, my fabrics, and all things tactile.

Even as I type this, I’m dying to get out from behind this backlit monitor screen and out into the early evening sunlight.  The true colors are calling me.

But I’ve a few new pieces to show, so I might as well get on with it. Henrietta Nightstand Detail

I salvaged this nightstand for $12 at a flea market back in February.  The embossed carving inspired me, but the original dark mahogany stain did not.  (As usual, I neglected to take a “before” shot.)  So I opted for painting rather than restoring (oh, and painting is so much more fun!)

I used (primarily) Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Henrietta.  One $11.95 sample pot was more than enough for this small project (and traveling 30 minutes to buy it at a specialty boutique was worth it).

This paint has been called the “best in the world.”  I can attest that it is the best I’ve ever used on wood furniture.  Though I did sand and clean this piece, these steps are not necessary when using Annie Sloan Chalk Paint.  Neither is priming.  The paint covers incredibly well (only one coat was needed) and dries almost instantly to a chalky vintage finish.

I rubbed a little of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Duck Egg Blue along the embossed carving and on the hardware, which gave it a weathered-copper patina.  I also painted the inside of the drawer and the underneath of the piece in blue. Henrietta Nightstand - Open Drawer

I heard that Annie Sloan’s finishing wax can run $30 a pot here in the States (she’s based in the UK), so instead, I took my chances with Miss Mustard Seed Furniture Wax, which I purchased for $20 on Etsy.  Not only did Miss Mustard Seed’s Furniture Wax give the piece a ravishing finish, its luscious texture and pleasing fragrance made it a joy to work with.

To the opaque wax, I mixed two drops of chocolate brown and two drops of dark gray acrylic pigment.  Vigorously rubbing the wax in and then lightly buffing away the excess gave the piece that delicately dingy, genuinely vintage look I wanted.  A little distressing along the edges also didn’t hurt.

This sweet, sturdy, and serviceable piece is now for sale.  If you’re interested, shoot me a message.

Henrietta Nightstand



Upcycled Door Decoration for the Season of Lent

To mark the season of Lent, I created this front door decoration using, as a base, a ragtag twig wreath I purchased over a year ago at the Salvation Army for all of $0.97.  I wove in elements from my woodland Christmas tree, which I only recently (and shamefully) disassembled.  The purple Beautyberry twigs symbolize Christ’s passion and the verdant green Spanish moss is a reminder that spring will come, eventually. Repurposed Lenten Wreath

My Woodland Christmas Tree

This year, I kept my vintage 50s and 60s glass baubles in their boxes, and created the woodland-themed Christmas tree that has occupied my imagination for some time now. (I grew up in the woods. Woodland themes are imprinted on my brain.) Woodland Christmas Tree in the Daylight The beauty of this tree is that many of the decorative elements were found in my backyard, including purple Beautyberry branches and an abandoned bird’s nest.  I discovered a few more pieces around the house, for example, dried pink larkspur and blue globe thistle left over from my 2010 wedding and bundles of twigs that served as decorations at a birthday party.  Finally, I picked up dried mushroom ornaments at my local florist shop and ornamental birds, spanish moss, and winter berries (didn’t want to hack at the bush in the backyard) at the big box craft store, spending less than $40 total.

Details of Woodland Christmas Tree For this project, the less full and more spindly the tree, the better, since the decorations can get lost amidst the greenery of a full tree.  These trees are often the ones that nobody else wants, so make an offer.  My husband got this one for only $15.

Sadly, these photos do not do justice to how beautiful this tree actually looks in our living room, morning and night, or how much interest it has both up close and from afar.

Woodland Christmas Tree at Dusk

Detail of Woodland Tree


DIY (and Husband Approved) Decorative Stencil Art

I happened to marry a man who has opinions about decor—opinions that occasionally conflict with my own.  So when we both agreed that an elegant Redouté botanical print that belonged to his mother would look good on our living room wall, up it went.  But I was a little uneasy.  A mass-produced print, matted and behind glass, can sap a space of intimacy.  (I think of chain hotel art.)  Also, these nineteenth c. botanic illustrations were intended to be anatomically literal.  I wanted to pair it with something frameless, conceptual, and with some texture.  So I created the custom arrangement on left using gold acrylic paint and a laser cut stencil, both purchased at my big box craft store for less than $20.  I began by taping three pre-fab 8×10″ art canvases together vertically along their backs.  I then mixed the blue color for the background (using the acrylics I always have on hand) and quickly applied it with a mini-roller.  Once dry, I taped my stencil down and used a sponge brush to dab on the Liquitex acrylic paint in Light Gold.  I applied two coats of the gold, allowing the paint to well up at the edges of the stencil pattern.  This created a raised-edge, embossed texture.

Materials used in creating stencil art On the wall, I hung the arrangement so its center aligned with the center of the botanical print.  When I hung the print, I used the old eye-level rule that states that the center of any art work or installation should hang at approximately 57″ from the floor.  To achieve this, measure 57″ from your floor and mark your wall with a pencil.  Then measure the height of the work you are hanging and divide by two.  Use that number to measure up from your pencil mark and determine where the top of the work should be positioned.

I chose the blue seafoam background color of the arrangement to complement the sofa and the damask pattern to correspond to the throw pillows. Any color scheme or oversized pattern can work for this project.  Also, while I happened to find a damask stencil that I liked, any pattern can be made into a stencil using an inexpensive stencil making kit available at your arts and crafts store.

As for the Mister’s assessment, he let me know that he really likes how the gold paint draws together the other gold accents in the room.  Success!

Ghosts of Autumn: A Work in Progress

It’s been too long since I’ve posted something new here. Among a swirl of other tasks, I’ve been trying to finish up this large-scale decorative painting, Ghosts of Autumn, before another autumn is past. This is acrylic on plywood measuring about 4’x2′. I intend it for a large (currently) blank wall in our living room.

White birches are ubiquitous in the Anthracite Coal Regions, most especially on the huge culm banks (i.e., minor mountains of coal dust and slag left over from pit mining). There was a grove of white birches in the woods behind my childhood home that always felt hallowed, as if the trees were themselves ghosts of bygone generations. I went there on many gray fall evenings for comfort and connection.

I’m considering adding gold leaf to the background in the manner of Eastern Orthodox iconography. I will post the finished work, but my muse is presently so weak and frail from lack of nurturing, she stammers and falters.