Sunday, June 22, 2014

Make What Ya Brung, Iowa, 2014--The Lord of the Tusk

Make What Ya Brung are gatherings of artist to create whatever moves them as opposed to a formal class.  These gatherings are the brain child of myself and Kelley Clarke.  They also serve as a reminder of the good old days at Valley Ridge Art Studio where most of the Make What Ya Brungers first met each other.

This Make What Ya Brung was organized by Jenny Gringer Richards.  It was held at Solstead retreat center which is west of Iowa City.  The forces gather from Thursday the 5th of June until Sunday the 8th.

Here is my journey:

Prior to departure, I was pretty particular in deciding what I was going to work on during Make What Ya Brung.  I was busy cleaning my basement (still!!!) and was putting away things I had purchased at the flea markets and Highway 40 sales I had hit a week earlier (see previous blogs).  I found a round board I had purchased at Home Depot that I always wanted to do something with.  I also found a lamp base that would add a parallel oval to the piece.

I knew how I wanted to attach things after I laid everything out so I decided to drill some holes on the drill press to save time and effort in Iowa.  After marking the edges for a later effect, I went ahead and did something I really advocate.  I drilled holes for the bolts that would serve two functions:  holding an item to the board but, more importantly, provide the means to hang this on the wall when it is done.  I have found thinking of this as the first thing to do saves a lot of pain later.

To that I added holes for various objects including the last minute elephant tusk purchase from Shawano's flea market (see previous post about junkin' with my Mommy).  I drilled a hole through the tusk with trepidation as I had no idea what was going to happen.  What actually happened was it drilled through like butter and I was all set.

On Thursday the 5th I found myself at the Traditional Pancake House in Milwaukee for my traditional 5-Star breakfast, a combo of eggs, pancakes, French toast, sausage and bacon.  I timed my breakfast so that after I finished it, I had a short ride down Edgerton Avenue to Adoration Lutheran Church and their rummage sale.  Here I picked up some tacks with numbers and three locks for $1.  GAME ON!!!!

A short ride later I was a Oklahoma Avenue Lutheran Church for their rummage where I bagged two sets of small wooden fences, a metal baking dish, a giant wooden protractor, and bag of plastic people and--a vintage wood potty seat.  All for $10!

On the way out of town I stopped at one more rummage sale where I picked two paper mache wall hangings that have two human faces and a lion on each.  These should paint up pretty cool.

I left Milwaukee on the blue highway number 36 and in Wind Lake I hit the Bethlehem Lutheran Church rummage sale making me three for three.  Here I go a fish scaler, a gauge, and a lens for $1.

Eventually I caught Highway 11 out of Burlington and began to head west.  My only rummage stopped was in Footville where at the Resale shop I bought two square pieces of plywood for $4. 

You never really know what you are going to see on America's blue highways:

I got to Iowa City and my hotel by 4:15 p.m.  After dumping off my stuff, I set out for Solstead.  Once again Make What Ya Brung appears to be an event center killer.  During the run of our stay we found out that the place is closing and going up for sale for something like $650,000 for the 80 acres and three buildings.  Below you can see a shot of the house on the property which overlooks a little pond.  Not bad digs if you can afford the price tag.

The tasks included laying plastic on the floors and over the tables.  Kelley was nice enough to get tables for those of us who could not bring our own.

I found Kelley Clarke (and her Mommy), Lynn Overman, Jenny, Carolyn and Cindy Stamp setting up a space in the barn.

After I unloaded my van, I dumped all my stuff in my spot.  Then I organized it and even had time to add some nails to the side of the board. 

Then it was off to dinner.  After a short car ride, the merry artists found out themselves at Bob's Your Uncle in Iowa City for dinner.  Then it was back to the hotels for some sleep in anticipation of the kickoff tomorrow. 

Mileage:  335
Dollars:  $19.50

Friday the 6th I agreed to meet Kelley and Lynn for breakfast at the Bluebird Diner.  I got to the downtown Iowa City area early so I went walking around and took some photographs. Downtown Iowa City is covered with statutes of this guy:  Herky, the University of Iowa Hawkeye mascot.  The event is called Herky on Parade 2.

The funny thing is that Kelley saw me walk past the front of the restaurant as they had also arrived early.  But there is no catching me when I am focused on shooting images.  However, I was exactly on time at the diner door when it was all said and done.

The Bluebird is a funky little diner.  We had a great breakfast and a fun time as well.  Across the street are two cool places to shop (but more about that later).

I took the blue highway 6 straight out of Iowa City rather than the big Federal Highway.  Not only did I see more Iowa but I was able to stop at an Ace Hardware where I picked up some Dap, a caulk gun and some E6000.

Back at Solstice, it was time for the Friday workout.  We were able to work all day in the barn because Jenny had arranged to have lunches catered.  The caterer was great and so were the sandwiches.

I had added the nails in the board last night so I would be able to work on adding top layer elements right away this morning.  First on was the lamp base and then the two candle reflectors onto the bolts that will also serve as the picture hangers in the back.

A first layer of paint on the lamp base got the color started.  Then the typewriter keys got screwed into the board.  

I added the backdrop for a Guadalupe to which I added a belt buckle and then painted those up.  After adding them to the lamp base I overlaid a piece of screen.

A brass figure head was wired to the screen.  To that I added an eye and some beads for a necklace.  Then a coat of dap for texture and I was pretty much done for the day on Friday.  No point in watching dap dry.  

Kelley want to take some of us junkin', so around 3:00 p.m. we broke out of the studio and headed back to Iowa City.  While we were organizing cars, I found another Herky in Kelley, Lynn and Ann Renee's hotel parking lot.  

When we were back in Iowa City we found ourselves across the street from the Bluebird Cafe and shopping two stores:  Decorum and Artifacts.  

Decorum was run by two cool guys who had skulls.  I mean, skulls for sale, not their skulls.  Although I could have bought their skulls but they would have been too hard to clean.  Not only did I get seven (seven!!!) muskrat skulls but Kelley let me buy the Visible Man box off the half price shelf to which I added a little bronze urn to my take.  Total cha-ching:  $77.25.

Then it was into Artifacts which was run by a real cool lady.  I bought a vintage metal wheel thingee, a spool for the upcoming Michael de Meng wand class, 2 drawer pulls and a metal comb.  Total cha-ching:  $32.  

Iowa City was having its annual Art Fest so we headed downtown to where the art (and the food) was located in tents on blocked off streets in the downtown area. We were joined by Cindy at this point and we were no sooner out of the car and into the local Dick Blick.  We do not have a Dick Blick where I live but I wish we did--what a nice art store.  I bought some Kroma Crackle for a ridiculous low price in comparison to what I payed to own it shipped to my house.

The local performance center where Jenny and her friend are going to have an exhibition

As we walked around the art fair, I bought a print of a little bear dude in a pedal car and a acrylic painting of a dude's teeth to help support the local economy ($50ish).    

Cindy took off so Lynn, Ann Renee, Kelley and I headed over to a sports bar to get something to eat.  Then we wandered back to the Art Fair with the intent of seeing the Indigo Girls. was only 7:30 p.m. and the girls were not going on until 9:00 p.m.  Two other factors were the stinking hot night and the fact that we appeared to be the only people who did not bring chairs.

So we bagged it and tagged it and went back to our hotels.  

Total mileage:  68
Total cha-ching:  $159.25.  

On Saturday, June 7th, I was up at 6:15 a.m. Today's breakfast was scheduled for an IHOP where I met Cris Smith, Kelley, Lynn and Ann Renee.  We received the worst service in the world which we attributed to the fact that they appeared to only have one waitress in the whole joint.  

Once back at Solstice, it was a day of workshop with a catered lunch again.

The first step was to paint the dap with Annie Sloan's Emperor Red chalk paint--a paint and color that I have totally fallen in love with.  

Step two today was to attached the god's arms.  After letting those set enough to be solid, I painted them up.

I brought two Asian-looking plastic wall hangings to add more texture to the backdrop.  Those went on next.  

On its own, I painted the elephant tusk adornment then attached it through the third bolt.  Another arm and hand went on that bolt.  Another belt buckle was attached above the typewriter keys.  

And so, we have, The Lord of the Tusk.  

To everyones utter amazement, I actually finished this project by Saturday night.  

We had a cool experience for dinner on Saturday night.  Jenny arranged for us to go to Geyer Pizza and Flower Center which sounds a lot more formal than it was.  This is a hobby farm where everyone once in awhile they fire up a pizza oven and feed 150-200 neighbors.  For us, the host fed us a farm dinner in a little shed that was one of the more unique eating experiences that I have ever had.  We also were visited by a cool scrawny cat that had no name.  

We returned to the workshop to work late Saturday night but I was back in the hotel by 10:15 p.m.

Mileage:  62
Total cha-ching:  $0

Sunday, June 8th, I was up at 6:00 a.m. in order to be ready for today's big event.  In fact, I must have been so excited because I do not remember where I ate breakfast.  What I do remember is that I was going to meet Kelley, Lynn, Ann Renee and Cris to head over to the first ever Iowa City Flea-tique.

As far as I was concerned, the Flea-tique was Fan-tastic.  Here is my take:

2 ft. tall plastic King Kong, $10
Wood pagoda, $10
Bobbin, $2
Scoop, $2
Tins (4), $4
Drawer pulls (52!), $20
Box shaped like a coffin, $9
Doggie on-off light switch, $5
Wood award figure, $2
Clock, $2
Baby shoes, $4
Bait tin, $1
Metal frame, $1
Tin mirror, $5
Coat hanger, $10
Metal stand, $1
Metal strainer, $1
Costume jewelry (6), $4

Lunch at the workshop and cleaning up filled up the rest of my Sunday.  

Today we did two special things.  The first was to recognize that the next weekend Tom Goodman was going to be "officially" wed.  Kelley had us all make a bouquet of flowers in our chosen style.  We surprised him at lunch with this gift.  

Kelley also thought it would be cool to do a "Herky" like project and gave each of us a bowling pin.  Under terms of full disclosure, I only managed to get my bowling pin dapped up but here is what everyone else's pin looked like on Sunday.  

By 3:15 p.m. I was ready to head home.  These good byes are always hard as everyone really enjoys being in each other's company.

The area had received a great deal of rain while we were there.  I took off from Solstice and decided to head down one of the farm roads to the highway.  All the roads around Solstice are gravel covered as was this one until I crested a hill and the gravel ran out just as I plunged down the hill.  The hill was nothing but mud and the skidding, swerving descent down the hill was darn right terrifying.  When my van reached the bottom, I was sitting cross-wide in the mud.  As I looked the direction I was going to go, all I could see was mud going back up hill and another car stuck hubcap deep in the mud at the bottom of that descent.  

So, having 40+ years of driving experience in Wisconsin snow, I worked the van around to head back in the direction I had come.  I planted my tires in the muddy furrows that I had made in the road and dropped the van a gear.  Then it was up and back down, up and back down, up and back down for about 20 minutes until I finally crested the muddy slope and was back on gravel.  The van was covered in mud everywhere including the windows. 

But, I was free!!!!!  Five and one half hours later I was safe at home.

Mileage:  329
Total cha-ching:  $93

Here is a photo of all my goodies from this trip.

Total mileage for the trip:  794
Total cha-ching:  $271.75

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Junkin', May 2014, Part Two

Here is the plan for a second round of junkin' this month.  Leave on Wednesday the 28th of May to head for the Old National Highway, now Highway 40, that stretches from Baltimore west to St. Louis.  The idea is to junk a national rummage sale and then be back in Chicago on Sunday the 1st of June to pick Denice up at O'Hare Airport from her trip to Italy.

Then I checked the weather.  Thunderstorms were going to occur all day Wednesday and Thursday right through the corridor so I made a decision and stayed home to clean my basement (more on that subject in an upcoming post).

Thursday, May 29th

Today I left the house at 2:00 p.m. to head south for the rummage sale.  Normally on adventures like this I like to drive the blue highways but today it is all about getting there for tomorrow.  So I took the highways south until I reached Litchfield, IL, where because I was tired and checked into a Holiday Inn Express.  One of my goals is not to eat in any chains so I drove out of the hotel in search of a local establishment.  I drove just two blocks and found myself on Route 66.  Right on that street was The Ariston Cafe--an original restaurant where all the furniture and counters in the place are from the 1960s--where I had all you can eat fried chicken.

Total miles for the day: 329
Total purchases:  $0

Friday, May 30th

Today I was up at 6:30 a.m. and breakfasted at the hotel in order to be ready to get to Highway 40 and start junkin'.  Here is where it all falls apart today.  If you go to the website for this national sale, the impression is given that the national rummage sale is on Highway 40 and that it starts on Wednesday.  Not in Illinois.  In fact, I drive from St. Louis, Missouri, to the Illinois border without seeing any evidence of any rummage sales.  (However, driving the National Highway was entertaining.)

At this sign, I looked down and found a rusty piece of metal that I thought was pretty cool.

Cumberland County Covered Bridge

When I reached Terre Haute, Indiana, five hours later, the time changed and I lost an hour.  The good news is that I found my first rummage sale where for $1 I bought a bracket, a faucet handle and a pulley.

Oddly, this little purchase complete recharges me for junkin' and suddenly, it is GAME ON!!!!!

The rest of the afternoon I purchased

4 lamp bases, $5
Wood block stamp, $2
Mirror (for the frame), $5
2 candle holders, $2
Costume jewelry, .50c
Box shaped like a book, $3

While I will say that the state of Indiana is more in the spirit of the national sale, I am not really happy.  I need to decide what to do about this so I decide at this point to drive through Indianapolis and all the way to Dublin which is supposedly the birth place of the Highway 40 rummage sale.  Along the way, I see little to make me happy about the state of this sale.  One thing I did note for tomorrow as I blew past the few sales I saw--it looked like most of the folks are going to stay open until the sun goes down.

Eventually I reach Richmond, Indiana, on the Ohio border, where I check into a Best Western.  I am tired, crabby and not in a good mood to go searching for local color.  I settle for a steak at a Texas Roadhouse and head to bed, hoping for better things tomorrow.

Total miles for the day: 329
Total purchases:  $18.50

Saturday, May 31st

I woke up at 6:30 a.m. this morning and had breakfast in the hotel lobby.  When I returned to my room, my day took a radical change.

I began to pass a kidney stone.


I am a pro at kidney stones.  I have passed them multiple times, usually under morphine.  Once I spent three days in a hospital in Omaha, Nebraska, and Denice had to come fetch me.  Obviously, this is not going to happen this time because she is in Italy.

The first symptom is blood in my urine.  After sitting for two hours on the toilet in various levels of pain, after vacating things from my body out of both ends, I had to make a decision to either suffer, call 911 or man up and drive to the hospital.  I was already packed anyway so I got out of the hotel.

To my great surprise, I felt less in pain when I got in the seat of the van.  So, I decided to drive home--if I was going to be in a hospital it might as well be in Milwaukee.  I hit Highway 70 north and was not 2 miles down the highway when the bouncing of the van had me in the worst pain of all.  So I turned around and head back down the highway.  One of the nice things about a GPS is you can just ask it to find the closest hospital and it picked Reid Hospital in Richmond.  That was the good news.  The bad news was it was up the highway where I had been heading.  So, I had to turn around again.  Eventually, I made it to the exit for the hospital only to find the traffic backed up because of a bicycle race.

By this time, I am in big trouble.  The pain is incredible and I am desperate.  So I dive down a service access road to the hospital and wind my way around to the emergency entrance.  I seriously considered just pulling up to the door and asking for help but the parking lot was empty so I parked and walked in.

Ironically, the guy in front of me is checking in with a kidney stone.  When the counter person hears what I have today, he yells to the ER nurse, "We got another one!"  My pain is so bad it is hard to get out my wallet, answer the questions sensibly, and stand up without being all twisted like a pretzel.  You know those pain charts they have where you normal face is "0" and the scrunched up face is "10?"  My face was set to "11."  The nurse finally said, "We better find you a chair."

Here is the weird part.  Once in the chair, the nurse put the blood pressure cuff on my arm.  As soon as she pumped up the pressure, my pain stopped.  Completely.  Like a switch was flipped.

Now I know there is no scientific reason why this happened, just telling the facts.  I did get an ER room, gowned up, a visit from the doctor, and a shot.  The shot was in my thigh and it was to relax my ureter.  That led to the joke, "I always have r-e-s-p-e-c-t for ureter."  Then, after a trip to the men's room, I was the proud father of a baby boy stone.

Pain free, assured the drugs would not affect my driving and happy as a clam, I am released from the ER at Reid at 11:00 a.m.


Now I have a decision to make.  It is 11:00 a.m. and I could go home or continue to junk.

I junk.

As I return to Highway 40, one thing is evident.  The good news is that Saturday is the day if you are going to rummage.  The bad news is that Highway 40 is just a glorified rummage sale.  When I did the 127, I junked the Kentucky corridor and it was amazing.  Every large clear space was used to house vintage dealers and you could junk a lot for quite awhile before moving down the highway.  The Highway 40 is not the 127.  Instead, it is driving from one house to another so there is a lot of getting in and getting out of the van.  After awhile, I decided to skip quite a few of the houses (clothes) and visit the more rural barn and farm establishments. Ironically, I did eventually reach Dublin (the heart of the sale) but blew right through town.  By this time I had learned that stopping at any of the "antique"stores was not going to get me anywhere--stuff was priced like antiques and the stores were too large to wander through on a day where it was all about being on the highway.  The other weird thing was I got to Dublin about 3:00 p.m. and the residents of the town were shutting down their stalls.  Weird.

And then, I found a farm having a sale that held the one of the coolest barn cars ever:  a Challenger painted in John Deere colors.

Here is my take for the day:

6 wings, $3.25
Box shaped like a coffin, $1.50
Sconce, $1
Amish figurine, .75c
7 cherubs, $4
2 music box carousels, $5
decorative wall hanging, .10c
Cup of nails with numbers on them, $2
Jar of barn nails, .50c
2 metal crosses, $8
Chinese emperor statute, $5
Box of stuff (metal piece, round metal medallions, frame, pulleys and metal numbers), $2
A metal crank, a doorknob, and three round metal shapes, $1
3 tiny printers blocks, $3

At 5:30 p.m., I reached Greenfield, Indiana.  I have traveled 58 miles in 6 1/2 hours on Highway 40 today after passing a kidney stone and I am pooped.  Did I have fun?  Yes.  Would I do the Highway 40 again--No!  While I had a blast driving the National Highway (and might do that again), I could have spent more money and bought more things by spending a few hours at a good flea market like Elkhorn or Cedarburg.

I decide at this time I am awake and well enough to just go home and sleep in my own bed tonight.  I gas up, get some road food, and hit the highway.  Driving west means I gain an hour back but it will be about five hours to get home.  And that is exactly what I did.

Total miles for the day: 365
Total purchases:  $37.10

Total miles for the trip:  1,086
Total purchases:  $55.60