Friday, October 28, 2011

The Magpie's Workshop

We snuck in a beautiful, sunny day here after several days of grey and rain, and just before--if the weather reports prove correct--SNOW tomorrow night!  I was writing in my workshop and couldn't resist the lovely sunlight.  Out came my camera, and I shot a few glimpses of where I work each day.     

One look at these photos will help explain the name of this blog.  I am a magpie through and through, collecting baubles and other interesting bits to use in craft projects, for creative gift-wrapping, or just to display.  I buy up old jars of buttons and beads at flea markets and old keys wherever I can find them.  Those old milk bottles in the top photo are from local dairies, and I use them to hold my knitting needles and antique clay marbles.  In the photo below, you'll see a few of the keys in my collection, framed by a vintage sea-glass mosaic frame that I bought twenty-five years ago in a junk shop.  In true magpie style, I've left some space to add more keys!  The beautiful little watercolor of a lighthouse beneath the keys is by my high school art teacher, Sandra Crabtree.      

Here's a close-up of one of those keys and that lovely frame.

My workshop steps up and out onto a pretty sunporch on the other side of that door.  In the photo below, Dill is doing his best to ignore me while the watering-can bird seems ready for his close-up.

One corner of my little porch.  The wooden E is an antiques shop find.  I adore letters!  

My workshop also doubles as a guest room, but I like to use the little iron and brass bed for doing some serious creative thinking . . . a.k.a naps.  The print above the bed is by the fabulous Maia Larkin.  The two watercolors at top and bottom above the table are by my dear friend and brilliant painter Nancy Nichols.  That wonderful bear, Theodore, was my mother's when she was a baby.

My collecting habits include things like artists' paintboxes, old paintbrushes, and sets of vintage colored pencils.  You can still find many of these things for a song at flea markets.  The painted cabinet in the background below was a very, very beat-up medicine cabinet that I bought for almost nothing and then painted with wildflowers.  It's now a curio cabinet on my work table.  Next to that number 40 is a stack of vintage French embroidery-floss cards.  I tell you, nothing escapes this magpie's eye.

My bookshelves contain books, of course, but also favorite items, like my miniature Gashlycrumb Tinies lunchbox, which I bought at the Edward Gorey House on Cape Cod. If you have never been to that wonderful little museum dedicated to the late artist's amazing work and collections (he was a magpie, too), I can't recommend it enough!

Last, but not least, a handful of fab buttons.  I use them for everything: to top packages, to make jewelry, to glue onto magnets . . . you name it.  If I can sew it or tie it or glue it onto something, I will use it!

My workshop is where I go to create, to write, and to work on photos, but most importantly, it's where I go to dream.  Most of my best ideas are formed here amid my magpie treasures with the sunlight streaming in through the bamboo blinds.  How about you?  Where do you go to create and dream?  What place inspires you most?


  1. I go to a similar room facing out to the back of my house. My room is sometime used also as a guest room for one in a bed such as yours. My grandfathers desk sits in this room and many little treasures too. Theirs a shelf for my camera equipment and a shelf for papers, plus a chair for my cat, Joey, to snooze beside me as I dream.

  2. Ah, Marilyn, it sounds perfect! My cats always sleep beside me when I'm working, too. In fact, that's exactly what they're doing as I type this! :)

  3. what a lovely room you've made, full of treasures and peace . i understand your collecting ways, seeing something and knowing you want to bring it home to the others. your key collection takes me back to my mother's collection when i was a child....little groupings of them all around the house. and grandmother gave me a tin of old buttons that her grandmother had given her....a practical gift in 1920s prince edward island.
    my studio sprawls through a little frame house with fabric and paper and painting claiming different rooms. it's very work related....while my special treasures stay at home.
    i could ramble on with you....your workshop room is divine! and so beautifully photographed. thank you for the tour...

  4. A gorgeous workspace and beautiful collections you have! There's something very comforting in collecting old items--the mystery, the history, or that sense of satisfaction of restoring something long abandoned--and displaying them with such affection and art, as you have done.

    I like to surround myself will old pieces, too. I have lots of antiques and old jewelry, and other trinkets in jars. Much of the more precious items have been stored for safety (while the children are still young), but whatever I can keep out for the eye to behold, I do!

  5. Well this was lovely to behold.

    Even I,a non creative crafter, could make something of beauty in that room.

    Is it snowing?

    xo jane

  6. Dearest Gigi,

    Guess what I loved most? Theodore, the bear from your Mama when she was a baby... Incredible! That he's living a life now in-between all your magpie treasures, unreal.
    You are a happy person that loves cats and light as much as I do. My favorite room is our veranda where the light is plenty. The kitchen bay window is also a bright and lovely area but not so much for dreaming and creating... The veranda is perfect for reading and for any handwork with sun on your hands.
    This was a very happy and bubbly post, thanks for sharing it.
    Love to you and a lovely Sunday.


  7. Your Magpie Workshop is so full of delights, Gigi! Such pretty attention to details and decorations...*sigh*...I would love to sit there with Dill and watch everything. :o) My little studio room is my haven to create and dream in. I'm with Virginia Woolf in women needing to have rooms of their own. My room is my favorite in the house. ;o) Happy Weekend, my friend ((HUGS))

  8. Your place is lovely and charming!


  9. I love your place of inspiration and creation! Perhaps I never get anything accomplished because I need a less messy place to work in:)

  10. Oh, I love this post. I love glimpses of your magpie's nest and all its treasures. I have a sparkle room, but most often, you'll find me out in the middle of the living room with Jeffrey in the kitchen and Sloane on the floor nearby.

  11. i love my little room, with it's soon to be hidden murphy bed, my old government issue oak disk, lovingly refinished, beautiful light. how lucky we are.

  12. Gorgeous!! Gorgeous workshop, and gorgeous photos. It makes me want to come visit.

    A workshop/studio post is on the cards over at mine too, so I'll share and compare. We are so similar! :-D

    C x x

  13. I would love to hang out in your workshop. It's absolutely beautiful and inspiring. Photos are gorgeous. Hope all is well!

  14. This is so lovely. I am going to have to go back for another look and take my time; it is all beautiful and I adore your collections.

  15. GIgi! I just stumbled across this and saw my Pirate's Daughter...what a lovely surprise!! It looks beautiful there. Thanks for making me smile today! xo

  16. Salut, I've just found your blog via Sande and really like all those lovely pictures of your creative space. I guess I get my inspiration through people, nature, in museums, books, magazines...and at my lttle desk ;-) Love from London xo

  17. Gigi... Your workshop is everything I imagined and more.... Just wonderful.... xv

  18. oh. jealous, jealous, but in a good way - lol! my space is a jumbled mess and that's probably a metaphor for my life lately, and this gives me a bit of motivation to clean and sort. (but don't hold me to that!) love this. it's wonderful.

  19. I love all of the trinkets you've collected and especially how you have them displayed. Beautiful photographs!

  20. Your blog brings me joy! Love your place of inspiration and creation!


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