Sunday, March 27, 2011
The need to Spring clean came upon me like an expectant mother this weekend. Maybe it was just my determination to bring on Spring in a much needed way here in VT, or maybe it was my inner clock that is in rhythm with nature that knows it really is Spring no matter what the thermometer says (26). Believing with all my being that I could hasten Spring along I marched off to the market and gathered a few lovely natural cleaning supplies and aromatherapy mists to make the task all the more inviting. There is something sacred in the ritual of Spring cleaning, stripping one's interior environment down to the bare bones to start anew. A blank canvas. This allows you to see once again what structure you have in creating a good foundation of furniture and fundamentals. I honor those bones in this post, the furniture, accessories and every day objects that lay the foundation for the revolving and evolving assemblages and designs I create.
local food coop, a handful in a bowl to christen the bathroom and some to bake in lemon cornmeal scones, or something fabulous from my favorite cooking blog 101cookbooks.com, yum. Note to self, purchase Heidi's new cookbook coming out April 5, Super Natural Every Day!
tea by Pukka Herbs. They make amazing blends like this Chamomile and Vanilla and Three Ginger, my favorite with ginger, galangal and tumeric and you'll want the packaging as wallpaper, trust me.
Dr. Bronner's lavender castile soap it felt clean and velvety and the room smelled amazing. Going through books and old day planners I found bits and pieces of thoughts and letters to myself that read a year or two later make crystal clear sense with the perspective of time and growth. I'll have to tackle the inside of the armoire another day.....I can't wait to finish the entire house and spritz the rooms with a lovely Energy and Air Cleanser mist by Vermont Wild Hill Soap and Herbals.
Buddha and I are happy.
Posted by Melinda Johns at 8:30 PM
Monday, March 21, 2011
Gentle color, a term I read recently in an interiors magazine. I like this reference to color and also the use of gentle color in my own living spaces. I've always loved the well worn colors of old wall paper, posters peeling off a bulletin board from sun and rain, a cotton tapestry that has been washed and dried in the sun to reveal a faded gem, a former image of what it was but a subtler more beautiful print, ancient frescos and painted buildings of a European city street, faded jeans and driftwood. I love to see the use of vivid color in an interior, friends have homes with intense red entryways, cerulean blue kitchen cabinets, saturated yellow walls, I ooh and ahh and feel the vibrancy. I often wished that I could live with such color and even suspected that I simply lacked confidence in how to orchestrate bold color. But, in truth, I am at home and peace in my spaces that quietly invite a conversation between wood finishes, faded paint , fabrics and textiles, paintings inspired by nature and objects from nature. A quiet meditation.
Posted by Melinda Johns at 5:23 PM
Saturday, March 19, 2011
I'm addicted to the color turquoise. It is the color that catches my eye and my breath, the Mediterranean, the dome of an Italian or Greek church, a robin's egg. I love the word turquoise, the way it looks and sounds. I'm not sure when this began but I think probably with my grandmother, my mother's mother, who loved her turquoise rings and jewelry as most grandmothers do their diamonds and pearls. She was a bit off the beaten path, an artist and designer in her own right. Turquoise has become a signature accent in my home and in my accessories and wardrobe. Just the other day I ordered a pair of turquoise wedges that look more like an upholstered chair or sofa that I'd love to have than a pair of shoes, but at $39 it's ok if I live with them and look at them and never wear them. I would love to paint a room turquoise or try this wallpaper from Anthropologie but I haven't mustered the courage to do so, yet. Maybe I need to channel some from my grandmother who would definitely have worn the shoes.
Here are some turquoise sightings around my home. An assemblage in turquoise including my favorite vintage brocade bag by designer Claudia Venon and knitted scarf by artist and Etsy fav
Jude Bond, My prize possession from childhood, a pair of my mother's custom made riding boots, My dear friend Amanda arriving for annual French Brunch adorned by my turquoise door and her turquoise shoes, Turquoise floral mugs by my potter friend Jeremy Ayers, A paper turquoise print star, Iconic turquoise Tiffany's jewelry box, and the inspiration of it all, a string of turquoise beads. Enjoy!
Posted by Melinda Johns at 8:55 PM
Thursday, March 17, 2011
I love objects with a history, time worn pieces that tell a story of those who came before or the weathered poetry of nature. I started out thinking that I would make a tableau of a table setting and then starting taking photos of things that were in my open dining room/living room. When I was finished and took stock of the photos I was compelled to find a unifying theme among them and then I realized that these three objects/arrangements were a simple trilogy in white, wood and worn metals, each with a beautiful patina. I love this passage by Crispin Sartwell from his book The Art of Living :Aesthetics of the Ordinary in World Spiritual Traditions, "So the patina is in part the emerging of the nature of the material: its self-expression. The way an object makes a patina is a Zen discipline, a long process or apprenticeship by which the object comes to be itself, or comes to settle into itself. The nature of the material emerges into visibility in its patina. Thus, we might think of patina as a kind of truth, or integrity, or honesty of an object: its surface reflects its depths: it expresses on its surface its real nature and history.
Posted by Melinda Johns at 7:35 PM
Sunday, March 13, 2011
My dining room table is the center of the universe in my home. It serves as a place to gather for a delicious meal with family or friends and a creative work station.
This table came in to my life when I found it out on the street next to my house with a sign on it that said "free". For me it was like the Gods had dropped it from the sky and I was meant at that very moment to discover it and make it mine. I couldn't, in all good conscience, take that table and give nothing so I negotiated a price with my neighbor who wouldn't take more than $6 for it. So I paid her $6. It is small, or more appropriately, petite with gorgeous carved spindle legs on casters and a skirted top, both of which were originally married to other halves. I instantly fell in love. I knew immediately that I would paint it and all of the mismatched parts would unite to make a proper table. I moved it directly in to my studio at a time that I was beginning to make a space for myself not knowing that it would eventually become my dining table perfect for my own small living space. That table must have come to me for a reason to help me prepare for a major transition. It is adorned in one of my favorite colors, chartreuse green. My favorite times around this table are spent in joyous conversation with my two near grown children sharing good food and plenty of laughter.
Posted by Melinda Johns at 9:44 AM
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
It's always an adventure to live in VT in the winter. This morning, after a near record breaking snow storm yesterday, I jumped in to the shower, my transition between yoga and work, to find a chilly reception. No hot water. Determined to 'take a shower' I put several layers of clothes back on to stay warm while I proceeded to boil pots of water. A European, or more appropriately a New England 19th century bath was my only option.
As I waited for water to boil, I went back in to the bathroom and decided to curate my soap collection. I know that may sound strange but I have a thing for soaps, soap boxes and wrappings and colors and I need to see them. No putting them away in a closet for me. I display my soaps like a shrine in a Mexican tin glass front box, found at a local flea market, that I lined with decorative paper. I take my soap seriously. It has to be natural, no perfumes or dyes, and full of rich organic ingredients that sound like something I'd rather be eating than bathing with, like olive oil, cinnamon and coconut. I want to be transported through my sense of smell when I'm in the shower, to other places, like warm tropical islands. This is an essential part of the mind game that I play with myself to get me through the winter.
While I was busy arranging soap and preparing for a cold sink bath I was transported through memory to a trip to England 20 years ago when I arrived at a friend's house in Kenilworth. After hours of travel in taxis, planes, trains and double decker bus to meet up with her I wanted a hot bath to wash away the day. I noticed the look of concern that crossed her face and that of her mother but I had no reference for it so I proceeded to the bathroom to take a bath. After filling the tub a couple of inches the water went ice cold. I sat there in those two inches of water and almost cried. My friend, who had spent some time in the states, understood that I might be struggling with the circumstances and had already 'put on the kettle'. What followed for the next 20 mins or more was a bustling parade of mother and daughter running up and down the stairs to deliver me kettles and pots of hot water, as if I were the queen, to give me the proper American bath that I took for granted every day. This was one of my first experiences with what we term today as 'cultural competency'. I was young and it never occurred to me that a hot bath was a luxury to some and entire families living on the dole never indulged in such pleasure. Needless to say that was the only tub bath I had for an entire month while traveing through England and France and it's now a romantic memory that I cherish of a carefree time. Thanks to that snow storm that shut down my hot water heater I got to walk down my memory lane and remember a very special time in my life.
Armed with my essential oil bee pollen soap and my Rosa Mosqueta facial cleanser I bravely marched back to the kitchen and took my sink bath in total puritan fashion,
just before the gas service man knocked at my kitchen door.
Posted by Melinda Johns at 3:49 PM
Monday, March 7, 2011
Today I awoke to 14" of fresh snow and a quiet hush at dawn with no traffic in sight. Simple peace. Better yet, a day off of work to stay home and play, no guilt, thank you Mayor Kiss!
After trudging through the back yard with snow well up over my knees to check on the gas vent, I retreated back to the warmth of the fire and my interior spaces that make me happy and serene. My internal environment is like a close friend to me, living with the objects, furniture and personal mementos that I love and seem to love me back,at least in the way they make me feel, a good exchange of energy. My small space reminds me that you don't need lots of square footage just loving attention to details, working with what you have. My focus today is on my open kitchen cupboard that needed spiffing up with arrangements that balance colors and textures. Sometimes there are hidden rewards in de-installing a space before changing it, like the chocolate bar that I found behind dishes that I hadn't used for a while!
Sunday, March 6, 2011
I've finally come to accept the simple fact that I am an arranger of objects. This is what I do. This is what gives me great pleasure and quite possibly is the closest thing to church, a spiritual experience, that I can measure. An action that draws life energy through me, transcends time and place, immersed in the creative spirit.
I began arranging objects as a child, collecting treasures on walks in the woods, from yard sales and flea markets on Saturday mornings with my mother. I would spend hours in my room arranging and rearranging visual tableaux vivants , a world of my own, with joy and happiness. I've come full circle in immersing myself again in this childlike imaginitive play simply for the joy of it.
My project, to keep me focused and remembering the importance of doing what you love, no matter how seemingly insignificant:
365 days of visual tableau playing with arrangements of objects that inspire me.
One a day, like a vitamin, for good health.
Here I go.......
Posted by Melinda Johns at 1:42 PM
Here is a tableau of found objects and ones created by me. Part of a lovely snowy Sunday, spent by the fire, baking lemon cornmeal lavender breakfast cake, cooking white bean and escarole soup, hanging with my kitty, chopping wood, listening to TED podcasts for inspiration, and pouring over design magazines, one of my favorite past times!
Posted by Melinda Johns at 9:00 AM