November 21, 2013

Autumn in the Studio

View of the Glitch in Time Studio-- androidography

I finally get around to cleaning and organizing the roll-top desk

Back during the summer when I was doing my last-minute participation in the Where Bloggers Create 2013 blog party hosted by  Karen Valentine at My Desert Cottage I promised to do a tour of the antique oak roll-top desk which graces the office end of my studio. At the time, I presented a photo of it with the roll-top closed to conceal the extreme case of untidiness beneath.

Roll-top desk-- oak with c-style roll
Cleaning and organizing it has been on my list of To-Dos ever since, but instead of getting better, the clutter situation just kept growing worse. I bought some more clear plastic cases with a view to sorting the heaping basket of beads, possible bead projects, unused beadclass kits, and begun but never completed projects residing in the middle of the desk. I still did not get to it though, and the mess only grew.
Clutter on Oak roll-top desk

Since I usually kept it closed anyway, it was easy to just keep letting the heap of papers, boxes, beads and other strange objects hidden beneath, grow. Aside from the mess, I also most often keep it closed to prevent the cats from making it into another place to sleep. I spend a great deal of time cleaning up cat hair as it is, and do not relish it amongst the nooks and crannies of my desk. One of our cats, Qetesh, also happens to be an inveterate magpie. She likes shinys, tubes of beads or pieces of jewelry, in fact any kind of bauble, especially if it will roll when pushed off of something.

Qetesh-- Bead cat

Though to outward appearance, she is fat, lazy, amiable and innocent, experience has long since taught me not to leave things where she can get to them easily. When we moved this past year, I found a treasure trove of seed bead tubes, larger beads and metal findings hidden away beneath furniture and in out of the way corners of the basement where my former workspace was.

Since it had been a good while between thorough dustings, and now that summer is over and the yard is not being quite so demanding, I no longer had that excuse for my neglect. The time had come. I started sorting through the contents of my desk top. The basket of beads have been organized into raw materials or set aside if they were indeed part of projects I want to finish. Bead bags and containers are put away. The earring cards I had printed but not cut apart are finished and ready for use; however, the pendants I started before breaking my wrist last spring are still waiting to be soldered. Other bits and pieces found places, either in the desk or in other appropriate places around the studio. At some point, I had emptied most of the top of the desk, so I pulled everything remaining out in order to oil and polish the wood.

Empty desk-- drawers, nooks and cubbies
Picture of the back of desk with it's interesting cubbies and drawers.
I have, in the past couple of months, done a bit of research into the desk's possible origins. I cannot be absolutely certain, but it is nearly identical to photos I found of roll-top desks manufactured by the Derby and Kilmer  Co.
The Derby Desk Company was established in Boston in 1870 but moved to Somerville, Massachusetts in the 1880s. By the time this print was made, about 1912, the company was described by the Somerville Board of Trade as "the largest manufacturing industry in the world devoted exclusively to the manufacture of office furniture. Occupying ten acres of floor space, it has made and sold over two million desks, and designed special and artistic furniture for the principal banks, libraries, public institutions, and corporations throughout the United States."

Though the resemblance it bears to their products is undeniable, I can find no definite mark of manufacture. The key-plate on the front of the roll-top should identify it, but it does not appear to be the original and is blank.

Key plate on front of roll-top desk.
The locking mechanism on the bottom is missing altogether. If there were ever keys, I do not have them. My father purchased this desk at least twenty years ago and paid about $700.00. As far as I can determine, its present worth could fall anywhere between one and two thousand dollars. It is not in pristine condition, but very good, and it is constucted from solid oak rather than the more common veneered wood. The joins are dovetailed throughout. All of the original drawers, handles, and dividers are present and in good shape.

Key plate on front of roll-top desk.
Photos and catalogs put the age of this desk at about 100 years. An expert would have to be consulted for a more detailed analysis. However, I just love my desk. The warm glow of the wood— the solidity and the history of this piece of furniture—is reason enough to love it. There is so much character in this desk's style and shape, that I feel privileged just getting to use it.

Roll-top desk-- top shelf

Roll-top desk drawers

This desk is very deep. The drawers seem to go back almost forever. The file drawer has wooden dividers. There is an almost hidden compartment behind it. The shallow drawers all have adjustable dividers as well, and the center drawer is large and roomy.

Cubby drawers

I wanted to show a more detailed photo of the drawers from the top cubby. They are very much like scoops. I think they were probably sized for index card type files, but I am not sure. I finally made labels for them. It is my intent to eventually label and organize everything in my studio.

Roll-top desk-- cleaned and organized

Though I am not sure how long this pristine state will last, here is a photo of my lovely and beloved desk, cleaned and organized. It will be nice to have a clear work surface for the time being.  Now, I can start to think about doing something with the pile of unsorted lace, fabric and thrifted Christmas items at the other end of the room.

I will close this post with a picture of the old-fashioned bell that sits on top of my desk. It is not an antique, though all of the other items that show up in this photo are. I actually found it at World Market, and though I seldom buy anything like that new, I had to have it for the desk. Like clerks everywhere, I may or may not respond to its ring.

Have a great day and better week. Until next time...

November 5, 2013

Barn Party 2013

All Hallows Barn Party
Welcome to the after-party post. Another family event out at The House is over and soon to be packed away. Till next year, I think. If Spirit is willing, we will probably do it again and make it a yearly event. I have already promised my young grand-nephew that this will be so. As with any social event, we had near disasters and things that went awry. We learned a lot and will certainly do some things differently next year. We missed those who could not attend, and there were others, thought of at the last minute, that I should have invited. I will do better next year. And since it is already slated, the date can be set even farther ahead for those who need to adjust schedules.

As a first effort, I am all and all pleased though. I know that I was exhausted, but still had a great deal (perhaps more than I should) of fun. I think that everyone had a good time. I was sad that neither of my locally residing sisters could come—one because of work and the other a scheduling conflict, but it was so much fun having all four of my children, their own children, my nephew and his family, and the various friends and significant others who did attend. Costumes ran the gamut from funny to frightening. We had pirates, ninjas, cartoon characters and a goddess; a flapper, a kitty, two wizards, one mostly conventional and the other techno, and perhaps my favorite, a "bag" of Jelly Belly jelly beans.

Costume Collage

Rainbow in the eastern sky just before sunset.The day of the party, with the typical fickleness of weather when plans have been laid, was blustery and wet. After a week of Florida sunshine and unseasonably warm weather, a front was moving through. My hair in rollers, I balanced an umbrella while I made the numerous trips between house and barn required in preparation for the party. Though we maintained the optimistic outlook that it was nearly over all day, the periodic rain and drizzle continued right up until about a half hour before the party was scheduled to begin. As my daughter and her husband arrived and began setting up their tent in the back yard, the clouds parted. I came walking out of the barn in time to see everyone pointing up at the sky. As the sun was beginning to set in the west, the eastern sky was alight with a sparkling rainbow. We accepted it as an omen and a blessing.

Decorated rice crispie bars.

It was an evening of many more treats than tricks. We were busy baking and preparing food for two days before the party, and everyone who attended contributed goodies of their own. I was, as I always am before a celebration, worried that there wouldn't be enough food. My nephew assures me that this is a family trait. We always end up with way too much.
ghostly smores brownies

There were enough baked goods left, even after I sent everyone home with trays, to feed an army. My kitchen counter still looks like a Halloween bakery display. You can find links to the recipes for the cookies, brownies and rice crispie bars pictured here on the All-Hallows Board of my Pinterest  account, as well as all sorts of party, costume and decorating ideas. This site really pulls together content from so many fine bloggers and other websites that you would never find otherwise. It really streamlines planning an event of almost any kind. 

Pumpkin Cookies and Witches Fingers

Besides the sweets, we also had slider sandwiches, chicken wings, stuffed peppers, meatballs, spinach dip in a hollowed bread loaf, layered tortilla salad, and too many other things to list. For beverages we had everything from a punch bowl on the buffet table with spooky cranberry juice frozen hands floating in it, to a large caldron (tub)  filled with ice, sodas, bottled water, apple juice and beer. One daughter made her signature sangria, and the other brought jello shots. There was even a small mason jar of apple pie moonshine made by my nephew. Something for everyone.

Halloween Buffet Table

Aside from eating and drinking, there was much else going on. I had outdoor lights on all around the house, but still there were plenty of spooky shadows. The children dashed around the yard as though it were daylight. All of them were wielding glow sticks and wearing glowy necklaces for ease of location, and their happy laughter echoed through the night. There was a scavenger hunt for them. We found out that the seven and eight year olds are smarter than most of us adults. My son had put together a string of charming rhyming clues to help them locate various treasures around the barn, and the speed with which they progressed from one to another absolutely floored us. Though they are fiercely competitive, we made sure that this game was a team effort and that there were prizes for all involved. There was also a costume contest, and though again, we had prizes for all the children, I did learn another valuable lesson. We voted for costumes, and next time I will count ballots in private. My small granddaughter and grand-nephew, being intensely excited, hung over my shoulder as I counted. Though they did not begrudge her, they were both upset that the youngest among them, with the charming appeal that toddlers have, had gotten all the children contest votes. Though they were both mollified by the location of a couple of "lost" ballots with their names, and gift bags, I wont let that happen again.

Geoff the Skeleton

I did finish the fire pit in the back yard, but after a day of rain, we did not expect to have a bonfire. However, as it turned out, there was a canvas bag of firewood that had been laid aside in the garage after we moved in, and forgotten. With some newspaper and dry wood to use, as well as a more autumnal evening than those we had previously, most of the lawn chairs in the barn were moved around the fire, and inner-children emerged left and right when folks began roasting marshmallows.

Witch refreshment room.

As I end this post, I just want to thank all those who attended and contributed to such a wonderful evening. It was great fun. I think together we managed to light up the Darkness for another year, and though the walls between worlds might have thinned, they held. Love and Joy and Light will do that.


I hope that all who read this enjoy the photos and description of our All Hallows Party. Halloween is for many of us the beginning of the busy and hopefully joyous holiday season. If we can all remember to eat and drink in moderation, to keep our expectations realistic, and to just relax rather than trying to do and be everything, it can be a wonderful season indeed.

Blessings to you...

Thank you to Bree and Larry for the Photos. Usually, the photos in this blog are my own, but I was too busy to get much in the way of pictures Saturday night, so I had some help :)

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