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Good morning!  Ok.  24 more hours then The BIG THAW is on!  Yessssss.   🙂  This morning we’re talkin’ with Anna Low from Purplebean Bindery whose journals, sketchbooks and more are functional, colorful and affordable.  Check it out!
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Anna Low from Purplebean Bindery

How did you start making books?

I bound my first book in kindergarden but the obsessive binding really started in college with a great book arts class. I started working my way through all of the bookbinding instructions I could find and had to give away my little book experiments to make room for more. It’s grown from there into a nice ‘job’. I love making functional art. Every book I make is different and I think of all of them as collaborations between myself and whomever the book goes home with. I like that a hand-bound blank book might inspire someone to fill it’s pages with amazing sketches or writing…or something completely banal in a colorful cover.

Funhouse Blank Journal


What kind of goodies can our customers expect to see at your table at The BIG THAW?

I’ve got all kinds of funky and colorful goodies for The BIG THAW. I’ll have my customary Buttonhole Journals – nice books for journaling, list making, note taking, general musings. I love this binding because it’s both decorative and the books lay open flat. The binding also allows for lots of decorative paper and embellishments, so the books are cheery and user friendly. This winter (it was a long winter) I’ve been a recycling fiend in the studio, so I’ll also have a nice stack of books made with reused material, including some old school flash cards that I’m in love with and manilla paper that still smells of grammar school.

A Selection of Purplebean Notebooks

What textures/colors inspire you most?

One of the reasons I keep making books is because there is so much cool paper and fabric out there. I love colorful. But I also love black and white. And cheesy kitsch. It’s hard to narrow it down. I guess I should say, the next beautiful piece of paper is the one that inspires me the most?


What’s your favorite thing about Spring in Maine?

I love winter and snow but this year I’ve been antsy, antsy for mother nature’s big thaw. I love spring in Maine because it means gardening season is ON. I’ve got my veggie seeds started inside, I prowl the yard for signs of the bulbs I planned last fall, and if I owned a hair drier I’d be using it to melt the last chunk of dirty snow under the lilac. I also love that all the windows are open because 55° feels warm.

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Right on, right on!  55 DOES feel warm and hopefully we’ll feel that tomorrow, Saturday April 16th, the day of The BIG THAW Arts, Crafts and Vintage Sale.  10am-4pm at Mayo Street Arts Center, 10 Mayo St. in Portland’s East End (off Cumberland Ave between Franklin and Washington).  Look out for the signs!  Can’t wait.  🙂

Now we're talking!


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Oh. My. God. Allsey has the best stuff, ever!

The BIG THAW:  What vintage goodies and repurposed jewelry are you stocking up on for The BIG THAW?
Allsey:  I once managed an antique shop and collected some unique items through that experience and also caught a serious vintage collecting bug, which continues to this day. At the show, I’ll be bringing vintage handbags, all kinds of jewelry with repurposed vintage findings/charms and lots of kitschy goodies collected over the years.

 

It's the simple things in life, according to Jen from Allsey

 


TBT:  What inspires the creation of your work?  A lot of it seems funny, sweet, nostalgic.  Where do you get your inspiration?

A:  I grew up in the DC area, but my dad is originally from Westbrook and we always came to visit my grandparents in the summer here in Maine. My favorite memory is visiting the Lobster Shack at Two Lights with my family, which I still do as often as I can. My biggest inspiration is the wonderful circle of quirky family and friends that loves to just laugh and have fun, thus my obsession with all things that elicit a smile. Life is too darn short not to surround yourself with goofiness, giggles and not taking things so seriously.  I was also lucky to be a child of the 70s and let’s face it, there was some really kitschy stuff developed from that decade, but wonderful simple pleasures. I remember watching Romper Room, digging through my cereal box for that latest plastic toy and watching my mom buy Avon. With everything going so fast these days, often we forget the experience of just experiencing things. Collecting vintage is such a reminder of slowing it down a bit and remembering that playing Parcheesi and listening to an old radio is way more fun than that latest digital application.

Kitsch from Allsey


TBT:  What do you do in the spring time to celebrate the yearly thaw?
A:  I am fortunate to have some space to garden in but unfortunately lack the green thumb. However, I still try my best and try to look like I know what I’m doing by digging holes, planting seeds and throwing mulch down. Sometimes, things actually do grow; it’s always a surprise, especially since I usually can’t remember what I planted where. Also, last spring, I started an archaeology dig so to speak down by the banks of the Saco River where there once was an old farm (where I live), so now that the snow cover is receding I’m back down there carefully unearthing interesting treasures. Some I’ll be bringing to the show, you’ll have to come and see what I found!

Excellent Machinery from Allsey

 

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Buried treasure by the Saco River??  Yes, we will be there to see what you’ve found.  Once I had a friend whose mother worked at a place that had an old carriage house out back and we would always find utensils, medicine bottles, etc. in the sand.  So cool!  You, too, can come see what Allsey found by the banks of the Saco River, and get an up-close look at all these awesome wares (mostly the little kid at the top of this article) at The BIG THAW Arts, Crafts and Vintage Sale on Saturday, April 16th, 10am-4pm at 10 Mayo Street (Mayo Street Arts Center) in Portland.  Hurrah!

 

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Clutch by Boom Chick-a-Boom

Oh my goodness!  Only four days left for us to create, stock up and pack up for The BIG THAW.  We can’t wait to see you all there – in the meantime, a little goodness from Molly Angie at Boom Chick-a-Boom:

 

Red Booties by Boom Chick-a-Boom

We caught up with Boom Chick-a-Boom tonight and were dying to know what was in store for her shop at The BIG THAW.  Molly’s been cranking out oh-so-soft baby booties, handmade printed baby hats, and linen tops and skirts for the ladies.  The baby hats are a collaboration between Angie and her friend, Kim Teret, who supplied the drawings.

 

Baby Hats by Boom Chick-a-Boom

When we asked what inspired her work, Molly said “My son, Javi, who is 19 months old. Also, all the beautiful fabrics at Z Fabrics.”  Yes!  We love Z Fabrics on Congress St., too, and are always amazed they can fit so many awesome fabrics in to one little shop.  And the our kids’ ability to teach us is endless, they keep it fresh and always hilarious!

While the weather gets warmer and warmer we asked Molly what she was looking forward to unpacking for her summer wardrobe:  “T-Shirts, for sure.

We’re with you on that one, lady!

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The BIG THAW Arts, Crafts and Vintage Sale will take place from 10am to 4pm at the Mayo Street Arts Center at 10 Mayo St. in Portland, ME.  We look forward to seeing you there!


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Set of 3 Beachcombing Photos - by Quercus Design

Hey, readers!  Wouldn’t it be great to RSVP to The BIG THAW now so our vendors can get all excited to see you?  Visit our Facebook event page here.

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Jenn Boohers of Quercus Design joins us today for an email-interview we shared.  We love Jenn’s meticulous arrangements, stark white backgrounds and turning the artifacts of the ocean and woodlands in Maine in to contemporary art!

20"x20" Sand Dollar by Quercus Design

The BIG THAW:  How did you hear about The BIG THAW?  What made you want to apply?

Quercus Design: I first heard about the Big Thaw in an etsy team forum thread about craft fairs in Maine. I had never done a fair, although I’ve been to plenty, and was doing research to see what was involved. When the Big Thaw was proposed I realized that the timing was perfect, before all the summer craziness starts, and what could be better than a fair full of team mates from etsy? I’m really looking forward to meeting everyone!

 

8"x8" Beachcombing Series No. 28 by Quercus Design

TBT:  Your photography combines contemporary art with rustic, Maine subject matter with a fresh, clean aesthetic.  How did you arrive on this process?

QD: I’m 43, so there’s a range of experience packed into things I make. I’ve been an artist all my life, and I come from a family of artists, doctors and scientists. It’s hard to say which images are more deeply ingrained, my mother at her microscope, my father at his computer (back in the days of tape drives!) or my grandmother in front of her easel. I’ve been a landscape architect for about fifteen years, myself, which has been a very satisfying way to blend sculpture and engineering. Along the way I studied art history, historic preservation, sculpture, and Japanese. And I live in a National Park on an island!

All of that got mixed together last winter when I decided I had run out of room and needed to sell off my enormous collection of sea glass on etsy. I started taking pictures for listings, and got caught up in arranging the pieces in huge grids. It was playful, but very very intense, and all sorts of things I’ve learned over the years pop up in these images. Everything from negative space to Linnean nomenclature! I wasn’t a photographer at that point, and had to learn about lighting and cameras quickly as I became more and more obsessed with taking these pictures. I googled everything! I learned an awful lot on Flickr, too. Those early photos are a little embarrassing, but I keep them up on my Flickr page so other people can learn the way I did. I’m very very grateful to the online community! I still consider myself more of an artist-who-takes-pictures since my technical skills haven’t quite caught up to my ambition. They’re getting there, though!

Beachcombing Series No. 17, 8"x10" by Quercus Design

TBT:  What items are you stocking up on to sell at The BIG THAW?
QD: I’ve got half a dozen images printed extra-large (20×20 or 20×24) that look fabulous, and I can’t wait to see them up. Check out the enormous sand dollar! I’m bringing a lot of 8×8 and 8x10s, as they are more affordable and are very popular in my etsy shop. And of course I’m bringing a good stock of my postcards.

8"x10" Golden Leaves by Quercus Design

TBT:  What do you love most about Spring in Maine?

QD: Winter is frozen, to me it is the smell of snow. I know it’s spring when I wake up one day and smell DIRT! It’s the most wonderful smell, because it promises everything else that follows – snowdrops and crocuses and that bright chartreuse new grass…

Oh, and Peeps. I sure do love me some Peeps!
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Mmmm, we love ’em too, Jenn!  And with The BIG THAW Arts, Crafts and Vintage sale just one week before Easter you can throw handmade, local goodies in the basket with those Peeps!  The BIG THAW will be held on Saturday, April 16th at Mayo Street Arts Center (10 Mayo St) in Portland from 10am-4pm.   We look forward to seeing you there!

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