Record Time

Step 1: Find a friend! I found Kimberley, she’s my go-to crafting buddy. If you have a friend named Kimberley, use her too. Go to your local thrift shop and find cake molds, bowls, or anything circular that is oven safe over 300 Degrees Fahrenheit. Our bowls were only $1.99. This object will be used to mold your record bowl.

Step 2: Continue shopping at your local Goodwill, or thrift shop to find inexpensive records. Ours were $0.99 each, however many places sell classical albums for $0.25 a pop. Be warned! Sometimes the most AWESOME covers actually have the least attractive records inside. Don’t judge a book (or record) by it’s cover. The inside is what counts (in life, and in record shopping), so open the package and the sleeve and see what the record inside has to offer. This is what will be on display in the end product.

Step 3: Preheat your oven to 250-300 Degrees Fahrenheit. Wipe down your record so it does not have extraneous dust – this will melt into the bowl. Make sure the record is dry. Place your record centered on an oven proof bowl. Place in the oven for no more than five minutes (it starts to let off toxic gas if left in too long) at a time. Open a window and ventilate. At five minutes (but sometimes sooner, use oven light to check if corners are dropping, melting, and bending) take out of the oven using oven mitts! Safety first! Remain calm! Don’t fret!

Step 4: As soon as you take the record out of the oven (it will be hot) work quickly (less than 20-30 seconds) to shape the object. You can use the bowl as a mold, and press the record inside. You can also roll the record as you would when making a megaphone out of paper (lower left hand corner). If you are sculpturally inspired, you can even freehand mold the record into different shapes, or stamp the melted vinyl with pattern. If an object is not folding or forming to your liking, place it in the oven to soften it again for another minute or so. The vinyl cools and dries EXTREMELY quickly – usually in under a minute.

Step 5: Place and show off your object. Here I am planning on using the bowl to hold candy near my bar! Kimberley is using her rolled record (in the previous image) as a sconce or a plant holder mounted to the wall. These bowls can be used as planters because of the hole in the middle makes automatic drainage! Since the item is so inexpensive to make, and takes such a short amount of time to form (some would say RECORD TIME, har har), I would recommend making a ton of them and giving them away to people you love as “just because” presents! What a unique and retro way to decorate.

P.S. All photographs by me.


An Artist’s Dwelling (6)

Roxa Smith was born and raised in Caracas, Venezuela (yummy Arepas). She came to the US in her teens and attended Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, earning a degree in Art History and German in 1984 with a minor in Visual Arts. In 1987, she received a Graduate Certificate in the Fine Arts from the University of California, Santa Cruz. She now lives in and works in New York City and is represented by George Billis Gallery NY and George Billis Gallery LA.. Roxa has exhibited nationally and internationally.  Her painting focus on mostly empty interiors, wherein the remnants of a family or place remain regardless of human portraits. She is currently an English as a Second Language (ESL) Instructor at Baruch College- Continuing and Professional Studies (CAPS). Her interests include cooking, biking, traveling, education, and India. To buy some of her works and prints directly online, go HERE.

Roxa Smith, Green Couch, 36”x45” oil on canvas, 2009

Roxa Smith, Continuity, 2011, oil on canvas, 30 x 40 inches

Smith explains her series, Interiors, “The spaces we inhabit or visit each take on an individual character and sensibility in our minds, a memory of the time we passed there, of the company we shared. These voyeuristic paintings depict actual places, recalling their essence without seeking to faithfully recreate them. The intimate scale in this ongoing series of gouache on wood portraits, often only 5 by 7 inches, invites the viewer to enter the room, to experience the narrative quality within the quiet space, devoid of people, yet evocative and teeming with life.” Her use of light, color, shadow, and angle is extremely unique. Her images are intimate and a little lonely. Don’t you just want to dive in to the realistic depth of the painting and take up residence on her canvases?

Roxa Smith, Pillow Heaven, 30″x40″ oil on canvas, 2010

Roxa Smith, The Piano Room, 2010, oil on canvas, 30 x 40 inches

Roxa Smith, La Cocina Azul, 2009, oil on canvas 45 x 36 inches

“In these interiors and exteriors, I strive to capture and then distill fleeting moments in time and seek to illuminate the “spirit” of a space. The images are often devoid of people yet evocative and teeming with life, intended not to purely document a place but rather to portray its essence. I concentrate on the architectural details, source of light, and complex patterns within a composition. The isolation and juxtaposition of these elements creates a picture that is anything but a straightforward view…”, continues Smith in her motivation for another series, Interiors and Landscapes. I love the fact that her images often feature a room within a room. The art on a wall captures and directly reflects a captured moment in space, a moment that is ephemeral. This concept of magic realism reminds me of  another native South American – Argentinian, Jorge Luis Borges, who writes, “You have wakened not out of sleep, but into a prior dream, and that dream lies within another, and so on, to infinity, which is the number of grains of sand.” What is life but an image within an image, a dream within a dream? Borges believed that reality is not always based on probability, and so Smith’s paintings remind me of the weird and fanciful aspects of interiors. Sorry for the esoteric mind bend but, it just goes to show you how deeply Smith’s paintings make me think and feel.

The above paintings are equal parts traditional, eclectic, and culturally inspired. Rooms that remind me of Roxa Smith’s oeuvre, and her use of pattern, juxtaposition, and unexpected color:

Room designed by Vintage Renewal from Idledale, Co., image found HERE.

Back Bay Apartment, Boston by Nirmada Interior Design, image found HERE.
This eclectic, print-filled room from Better Homes & Gardens, HERE. 
Neon pink fridge, Latin American flair, Mosaics, and that yellow wall!  Image via Big Chill, HERE.
The two-room 40 Winks hotel in Stepney Green, London, UK. Images found HERE.
This patterned filled workspace courtesy of Absolutely Beautiful Things, HERE.
Image found via Anthropologie, HERE.
Image of Hotel Thoumieux in Paris, France found HERE.
Shop by the Numbers: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 /
I understand that not everyone can live in such a BRIGHT and multifarious room so, like in Smith’s paintings, it is enough to just contemplate the type of people that fill a space. My mind has been attacked and invaded by color and pattern lately; I promise I will calm down the rooms in the next few posts!
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Trunk Show

A trunk, also known as a traveling chest, is a type of luggage that was historically used for extended periods of time and long stays away from home. The trunks travelled with individuals to such places as boarding schools and trips abroad. Whereas chests have been traditionally used as storage containers, trunks were created in more rugged materials, with more divots, hardware, and nails, to withstand rougher wear. Even though trunks have been around for thousands of years (in China, but also elsewhere), the most common styles recognized hail from the late 18th century to the early 20th. Since trunks were so heavy, they were often not carried by the owner or traveler, but usually by servants via its handles. Trunks have been replaced by lighter and cheaper suitcases. These newer forms of luggage also have heels allowing the item to become more easily mobile.

The Louis Vuitton “Library Trunk”. In 1923, Louis Vuitton created a trunk for books, the use of which was not exclusive for travel but also for at home. Many well-known writers joined the bibliophiles and collectors acquiring these trunks, including Ernest Hemingway and Françoise Sagan.

Trunks can be wood based (usually pine) or metal based. The trunks can also come in a bevy of styles including steamers (or flat-tops), hat-trunks, barrel-staves, bevel-tops, wardrobes, and dome-tops. Victorian trunks are especially prized because of the intricate customization and compartments held within each piece. Trunks from the Victorian era had complex tray systems, hat boxes, coin purses, and hidden compartments. Those trunks were sometimes also decorated for lady owners with chromolithographs of flowers, village scenes, initials, and other personalizations.

The home of Jon and Paige Ashcroft via DesignSponge, HERE. 

Trunk via Restoration Hardware as part of the travel inspired “Richards Metal Trunk Series”. 

Whereas a CHEST was actually created to be a piece of furniture, TRUNKS were not. It is only recently that they have been used as coffee tables, side tables, and decorative storage. I have not one, but FIVE vintage trunks in my apartment – three are stacked as a decorative accent. One is in my living room as an end table that stores books and blankets. The other is my board game cupboard! I found my trunks at vintage stores for around $50-200 each. If you don’t feel like lugging (literally) your luggage back from a store – try Etsy! Your vitange trunk is filled with history; think about all the places your trunk as gone and secrets it has hidden. One particularly amazing Etsy shop called SalvageShack creates pet beds, tables, and shelving from old luggage.

This trunk stack becomes a high table for the entryway. Designed by Ron Marvin in San Francisco. 

This French inspired room, complete with pewter accents, and nailed hardware on the trunk is extremely romantic. Image from Traditional Home found HERE.

Modern, masculine, and somehow with a minimal desert vibe. Image by Birdhouse Interior Design Consulting in Omaha, NE.

Ornate, busy, western, and yet awesome -like visiting your quirky Great Aunt Madge. Image by by Period Homes, Inc. from Fort Worth, TX.

Like living inside a rustic boarding school. Image by Alicia via Houzz.

When in doubt, spray paint your trunk white! This gives the object a sculptural look. Image via a Beach Cottage.

Via The Foundary.

The perfect accent. It allows a new home to have a “lived-in-old-home vibe”. Image via Desire to Inspire.

A French, provincial, country cottage! Not one, but TWO trunks in the photo. Image found HERE.

Vintage Luxe meets Liberace meets Versailles. Image via Gypsy House Designs.

This is the Vuitton trunk in the library of US fashion designer, Tommy Hilfiger’s house in Greenwich, Connecticutt. If it’s good enough for Tommy, it’s good enough for me. Image found via Fashionphile, HERE.

Trunks don’t have to be rustic. By softening the color palette, the one above is pastel, feminine, modern, breezy, and warm. Photograph by Jon Day via House to Home, HERE.

In the end, I love the idea of reinventing an object’s use. A trunk would obsolete had it not been for creative designers and homeowners. Now it is functional again in the 21st century! Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!