Tuesday, October 21, 2014


I am passionately in love with acorns so imagine my joy when George and I went biking last weekend at Miami Whitewater.  We were pulling over at the picnic table about halfway around the loop and I could hardly ride my bike through the grass there were so many acorns.  And not just any old acorns, but beautiful, big acorns with bulging, ruddy bellies and crazy, hairy caps!

Of course I immediately started collecting them and placing them on the table.  George knows me so well he, without saying a word, started helping me and before we knew it we had quite a nice selection. 

When you get down to it and really start looking at acorns you realize that each one is like a unique work of art.  I love the way the smooth skin of the nut contrasts with the rough texture on the caps.  And when I saw the acorn below I thought that it had really let its hair down and was being its wonderful, wild self.  Such joy and freedom in those wiry locks!  A beautiful exemplar laying right in front of me. Who knew I had so much to learn from an acorn? 

(click images to enlarge)

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Vent Haven Museum

A couple weeks ago my friend Frank invited me to go with him to the Vent Haven Museum in Ft. Mitchell, Kentucky.  I had never heard of it but Frank told me it was a “puppet” museum” and someone had told him it was really interesting.  And it did not disappoint!

When you walk in the front door you are greeted by the staring eyes of hundreds of ventriloquist figures of every shape, size and color.  The museum has three main buildings and houses more than 800 figures.

The collection was started by Mr. William Shakespeare Berger who purchased his first figure in 1910 (for more museum history click here).  Some of the figures were quite old and the curator, Lisa Sweasy, had an interesting story for every figure.  Some figures had mouths that barely opened while others had moving eyes, ears, mouths, and hair.  And some even smoked and spit!

I was also struck by the diversity of construction and materials.  There were figures made of wood, plastic, fabric, paper mâché, and leather.  On some puppets the mouth hinge was made of leather which made a perfect substitute for skin and hid the mouth hinge completely.  And I loved to see the craft and ingenuity that went into the dolls.  The monkey in the middle below had pin pong balls for eyes.

During the tour we were allowed to try our hand at working two of the figures.  Below you can see Frank made friends with the chimp.

The above head and the figure below were two of my favorites in the museum.  There was something so kind about both of them.  It is amazing how emotive some of the faces were and easy to imagine the personalities that might come from each one.

I never realized how much ventriloquism has been a part of our culture.  As part of the tour we got to see a few video clips and it brought back memories of watching Jay Johnson on Soap make his food talk.  I also remembered watching “Lamb Chop” the sock puppet on the Carol Burnett show.

If you live in Cincinnati or are visiting the area I highly suggest taking the hour and a half tour.  The museum is open from May through September.  You have to make an appointment ahead of time but it is well worth it.  The collection is fascinating and the tour interesting and informative.  Although I am not a ventriloquist or puppeteer, I loved seeing the craftsmanship and detail in this amazing collection.

(Please note:  Permission to take and publish these photos was asked for and received from the Vent Haven Museum.  These images are copyrighted.  Do not use without permission from me or Vent Haven.  Thank you.)

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Springfield Antique Extravaganza

A few weekends ago my mom and I attended the Springfield Antique Extravaganza and had a wonderful time.  It was a perfect day for the show and we woke up early to avoid the traffic.  I love the feeling of anticipation when we first arrive and start our journey through all the booths.  You never know what you are going to find! 

My mom has a passion for pigs (metal flying ones) and a weakness for dishes and serving-ware. And I have a fondness for all things rusty and metal, or old wood with chipping paint.  Plus I love to see collections of things where the forms repeat.  For me the extravaganza is a visual feast and this was the first time I had a cell phone with a camera! 

The photo above was taken in one of my favorite booths.  I loved  the green flower frogs and the way they held up these amazing vintage post cards.  My mom bought me one and now I regret I didn't buy the one in the photo.  But that is the way of the market...if you don't buy it right then chances are that you will never see it again. 

I also have a collection of vintage industrial wood bobbins so when I saw this booth I was overwhelmed.  The colors and texture of some of these bobbins were amazing.  It was hard to leave this booth empty-handed but having the camera allowed me to collect images instead of bobbins and that was lighter on my checkbook and my arm.

The photo above was taken in another favorite booth that sells mostly Asian artifacts...some new and some old.  I love the aged wood and chipping paint.  And my next door neighbor collects religious icons so I had to photograph the saints in the photo below for him.

As you can see below I had my fill of yummy repetition.  The bottom left image looks like rotting gourds but was actually a bin full of very old antique drawer pulls.  I'm not sure who would buy them in that state but I thought their corroded, dimpled bodies were awesome!

And how can you not fall in love with these vintage toys?  The expressive eye and giant plastic mouth on that pelican were too much.  Plus I love the face on Kriss Kricket and I can only imagine how cute he would be when his little arms move up and down as he rolls.

On my drive home that weekend I also accomplished something I had been wanting to do for years.  I finally stopped to photograph this giant steer wearing a bolo hat that is halfway between Dayton and Cincinnati.  Every time I see this bull I think, "you should stop and photograph him because he is awesome."  So I finally pulled over and took his photo.  I always wonder why he is tethered by the side of the highway.  I don't know what his story is but it makes me happy to see him every time I pass.  So if you are ever on Route 42 keep an eye out for this big bull...you can't miss him.

At the end of the day I came home with one vintage postcard, a flower frog, some vintage trim, two dozen blue-green blown-out chicken eggs, a stack of pumpkins, one ruddy-red mum, lots of photos and a beautiful day with my mom.  All in all a very good extravaganza!