Opening the doors to my studio 11/8 and 9

DSC04849Why does an artist make original art?  I mean, really…when there are lovely patterns to follow and kits to be assembled, books to be read, movies to watch and friends to be seen..???  Especially someone like me who makes my “living” 40 hours a week in another way, why do I feel compelled—and, yes, driven—to express myself through making my original art trumping all other forms of entertainment?  It’s this need to get the ideas out of my psyche to be shared (much like this blogging has become).

And so I am opening the doors to the space where I express myself—my studio, my workshop, my inner sanctum, my absent-minded-professor space—to share my processes with you.  I hope to be actual working on something during this time so you can see how I do what I do but will also have LOADS of artwork hanging to show you (some will be for sale) and I am doing some interior design staging of my expanded studio space into the house demonstrating how art & color can enhance a room.

Please stop by Saturday or Sunday November 8th and 9th, 2014 between 10 and 5 to have a look and say hi.  I am open during the state-wide NH Open Doors week-end so many of my fellow artisans in Canterbury will also be open. CLICK HERE to print out a Canterbury driving itinerary I put together for you.  I hope to see some new faces!!

12 Cogswell Hill Road; Canterbury, New Hampshire

Sat/Sun Nov. 8 & 9   TEN O’CLOCK – FIVE O’CLOCK


DSC04852DSC04554DSC04553DSC04507water series 2Jonquils at Seayellow_spice

Old House rehab 4; choosing interior colors

IMG_1055It’s hard to choose interior paint color for a multi-windowed open-concept house when each area has a different light exposure. The color changes in each direction.  We were fortunate that the previous owners of our old house had freshly painted most of the walls a lively cream color with touches of red, yellow and blue undertones making it work everywhere.1:2 and 1:2But other paint colors did not work.  Here is how we backed out those tones to get what we wanted in each windowed area.

Gray and white appliancesRULE OF THUMB: when choosing paint color for a room, start with a focal point object (a rug, an artwork, etc) and coordinate your wall colors to that.  For the downstairs adjoining rooms—since this a rental house where people will have their own objects and we needed to stay neutral—we pulled color tones from the appliances and fixtures that would coordinate with that existing lively cream.  Neutral gray, cool white and warm gray stainless & brushed nickel.

The kitchen at one end of this open space gets north light which has a blue cast to it making all this even more cool toned while the adjoining living/family/dining room also gets northwest light (icy yellow) also with one window that gets filtered southern light (warm yellow).

The wainscot accent to the Half and Half in the living room was painted Navajo White, a normally neutral warm beige.  But the blue-yellow light in that room emphasized its olive green undertones [the presence of raw sienna in the tint] making it really clash with the gray color scheme.

DSC05729 We envisioned a warm putty gray…we loved the color swatch at the bottom but it looked dark and charcoal in the room.  IMG_1056So we tried the other lighter swatches to the left but they looked stark and colorless.  Believe it or not, the swatch on the furthest right ended up looking like the swatch on the bottom once on the wall in that room.  Adding the blue-yellow light to it grayed the color.color swatches living roomCream WaveIMG_1012We had pictured this putty color on the walls in the kitchen but with the blue north light Cream Wave looked too dark and too gray; Half and Half “reads” similarly to the wainscot at the opposite end of this open space.  The blue northern light toned out the yellow in the paint leaving it gray like we wanted.

Half and Half in the upstairs of the house continued to look wonderful.  In the shadowy spaces it looked darker but still lively due to the red, yellow and blue components.  But in the upstairs bath with a south-facing skylight, the warm yellow light made Half and Half look peach. We settled on French White, a cooled down slightly taupey color to go with the new counter tops (see before and after in a later post.)IMG_1058


  • When your swatch looks to gray or dull, step by step until it looks right choose other colors that are more yellow progressing to peach to counteract what the light does in that space.
  • When a color looks too bright, step by step until it looks right choose other colors that are more muted and grayed to counteract the strong light in that space.
  • View your swatches at 3 times during the day, morning, noon and evening.  Light is most yellow at noon and cooler at opposite ends of the day.


Change of season creative inspirations

fall pumpkin:pepper; janebalshaw.comIts fall and the gardens are winding down here at my country home and studio.  This time of year is always settling to me as though the plants and I have run a long, hot race through summer and now we can rest on our laurels.  Artistic inspiration always comes.  Here is what I am thinking…

hydrangea:nasturium; janebalshaw.comThe color of the end-of-season hydrangea and heirloom nasturium makes me want to get back to my hand appliqueing in similar tones.  I am making a baltimore album type quilt a little bit at a time, year by year.DSC05864

The gray bark of the maple trees is inspiring me to finally do something with the wood grained fabric I painted last year.  Maybe I will get something created with it for Open Studio next month.wood grained fabric;

HOW TO: Apply a thin coat of textile paint to your paint board, run a wood-graining tool through it then very carefully lay either wet/rung-out cotton fabric [like above] or dry fabric on top of the paint.  Roll a brayer on the fabric to “print it” with the paint below.  Pull off carefully and let dry.  Set paint with heat, wash and iron.

Although my rose geranium is still lush, it may freeze soon so I have clipped some stems of it and made starts already for next years planting.  I make gorgeous rose geranium tinctures to use in my summer facials.  Clip a tip off your geranium and pull off the lower leaves.  Prepare a pot of good soil by moistening it with water and poke a hole down the center of the soil (I use the handle of a wooden spoon.)  Dip the stem into powdered Growth Hormone and insert stem into hole.  Press dirt around it.  It will root where you pulled the leaves off and grow into another full sized plant.geranium starts;

I pulled down the worn out vegetable plants at the back door to clean up the entrance to my studio collecting the last bits.  David dug up the potatoes out of the compost pile.  I think I will make my stuffed pepper dish.   Maybe an au gratin of potato with some rosemary on another day.fall harvest; janebalshaw.comEven the bees are slowing down enough for a photograph.  Columbus Day week-end is always a good bench-mark for closing her down and buttoning it up.  Enjoy your close to this season!zinia:dalia;


Old House rehab 3; uncovering the layers

DSC05797They say “if walls could talk”…ours sure did!!!  We have spent most of our creative energies this past month tearing out the damaged layers of floors and opening up walls for repairs on our old-house rehab project.  The surprises we found unveiled the story of the house and the people who lived there by the details they left behind.

The old cast iron pipes were leaking in the cellar and we suspected a leak in the plumbing stack that was located in and around the laundry/living room wall.   As a result it became necessary to cut into the walls.  What we found was an original interior lath wall with Horsehair Plaster and wall paper circa 1875, followed by a layer of newspaper insulation and some exterior boards circa 1922 followed by the current interior layer of sheet rock with paint then wall paper then paint again. That’s a lot of personal touches!

“Horsehair plaster” is a wall finishing plaster that contains some animal hair to reinforce its composition. Not always horse hair, sometimes it was bovine or other animal hair incorporated, and was used from early colonial construction up until around 1950.  The patterning on the wall paper over this plaster is consistent with colonial era period block prints, however since the house was not built then, it is likely that this is a Colonial Revival paper dating somewhere between 1876 and 1900 which is the correct time period for when this house was built.DSC05802

Newspapers used as insulation tell us that the exterior wall was created somewhere around 1922.  DSC05800DSC05799DSC05798

When we removed a coat rack off this interior/exterior/interior wall, a bit of wall paper was hiding beneath.  (The papered wall was painted over without removing the rack.)  Judging from its patterning and color-way I would guess that this was applied in the late 1950s or 1960’s.  Is that when the wall became interior again?DSC05785

Wall paper found in the adjoining room under kitchen cabinets show a modern era “country” print that coordinates well with the stripe.  1960?DSC05740A scrap of plaid paper found beneath the country print in the kitchen could be circa 1890-1910 when brown plaids were very popular.  It seems to coordinate a bit with the horsehair plaster paper so perhaps they were hung at the same time.  OR maybe it is a 1950’s retro print hung before the country print??plaid & block print;

We removed the dated, paneled wainscot to reveal wood wall boards; early plywood.  Our cottage rental built-in 1964 used this same wall board so seems to confirm the thought I concluded based on the wallpaper; this new interior room was probably built-in 1950/1960. Check out the pink-beige paint under the yellow paint with cream over all.  Cotton fiber foundation insulation.DSC05782 The floors torn up in the laundry room gave use plenty of space to access the pipes in the very shallow cellar.DSC05784DSC05783

This is some of what we found buried in this little cellar crawl space.  A cast iron fireplace clean-out door and a clothes pin circa 1920.  When this was a back yard prior to the addition the items were probably just thrown out there.cellar finds;

The wall was torn out in the living room so we could get to those interior pipes. This gave us a peek into the ceiling.

When ever someone puts up a drop ceiling we suspect it was the cheaters way out of dealing with the falling plaster of the original ceiling.  It was.  Since this is a “rehabilitation” project and not a “renovation” we are keeping the drop-ceiling.  To remove it would mean removing the paneled areas on the walls because it doesn’t go all the way up.  The domino effect would mean then repairing lath and re-plastering (VERY expensive) or tearing out all original lath/plaster and replacing with modern sheet rock (VERY time-consuming and a complete gut job).  Personally?  I like the layers of history, funky as it may be.  Lots of souls lived here.DSC05849

ABOVE: New 2×4 false ceiling with panels dropped down below the original falling plaster ceiling (the crumbling gray area) as we suspected.  Interestingly, the walls of the upper floor are suspended by chain tied into the roof rafters; we saw the chains in several locations. The lower floor walls do not support the upstairs.

Straightening out the sagging floors meant lifting out the floor boards in various areas of the house to add more joists.  When lifting out the floor in one of the upstairs bedrooms we uncovered a Victorian era heater “vent”.  The cast iron painted vent was installed in the ceiling, (that was covered over with the modern dropped one), its brass tunnel directed the rising heat from the lower living areas up through the floor/ceiling construction to release through the decorative solid brass plate in the floor of the upstairs bedroom.  The plate has fan blades to adjust the heat flow.DSC05806

This has been lots of fun dirty work but the best is yet to come.  As I am posting this we are far into the final transformation so stay tuned!

Old House rehab 2; completing the exterior

IMG_1036color gradations with plantsThrough stops and starts working against mother nature’s autumn time clock, the exterior of our little house project is completed.  That before & after computer mock-up I did really helped me plan my colors with the plant material, purchasing at the end of the season while trying to imagine their blooms at other times of the year.  Except for the hydrangea around the corner of the house and the burgundy leaves of the Purple Emperor stone croft, all plant color is imaginary right now showing off against that magenta door and those sage green shutters.

Rule of thumb when planning groups of color – whether combining plants or quilt blocks or home interior accents, choose your favorite 2 or 3 colors then use their varying shades of light and dark to produce richness, depth and interest.  Matchy-matchy color schemes with each item the same exact color ends up looking a bit cartoon-like and more commercialized.

Plant material collage


  • Scraped off paint on all woodwork – garage door and 2 porches.
  • Sanded, washed, painted with oil primer then finished with 2 top coats of latex paint on all woodwork. (NOTE: you must use an oil-based alkyd paint primer on old wood.  It’s natural browning bleeds through latex paints.)
  • Sanded, washed and painted front and back doors with 2 coats of paint.
  • Wire brushed, washed and painted both sets of concrete stairs with new gray concrete paint.
  • Installed shutters.
  • Installed vinyl lattice at each side of driveway.
  • Sprayed to kill all over-growth weed material.
  • Pulled out killed weed material, turned over & amended soil with processed cow manure (“processed” means heated to a high temperature to kill all weed seeds.)
  • Removed worn out and dislodged landscape cloth.
  • Planted and mulched new beds


Old house rehab; part 1

collageCreativity expresses itself in many ways and one of the ways that David and I have expressed ourselves over the years is in rehabilitating houses; old ones in particular.  We are drawn to their stories, love reinforcing the layers of history they contain, are excited with the creative how-to problem solving – AND it’s something fun we can do together. :) 

We have a new project to end our summer with.  The oral history of this sweet New Englander begins in the late 1800’s when it was built alongside 3 other similar houses on Beacon Street in Concord, NH.  I always wondered why there were so many of this style of house dotting the city areas of this and other states.  A little research told me that this style of house, with the front gable design, was made possible with pre-cut timbers suddenly available by the advent of lumber yards.  Due to the new railroads, transport of these timbers to cities was made easy and thus the lumber yard was born.  The “pre-fab” Starter house of the day, this style was a design from around 1850 through the first of the 1900’s.  The “ranch” style house took over as the next Starter style.

Oral history says, around 1900 the city of Concord decided that it wanted to build another fire house right where these houses stood.  So in 1900, each of these 4 homes were pulled by oxen up the street and around the corner to be deposited into this quiet little cul de sac.  Brick foundations were built then clad with long granite slabs and the houses were just set upon them.  Crazy what those guys could engineer back then!!

Our house still has some of its original features but also gives a nod to its updates through the years; some 1930’s touches, some 1960’s touches…garrish 1970’s paint colors and the 1980’s drop-in-fixtures look.  In the vein of re-habilitation (not restoration) we have a motto of letting the house be what it is and not forcing it to be something else.  We will focus on the 1900 – 1940 era letting those touches remain and reenforcing that style with replacements for later era worn out stuff that we will strip out.

Here is my artist’s rendering before and after of how we will change the front of the house, phase one.  Watch for the continuing posts of how the house is coming along.  The house will be for rent sometime in October.  

DSC05715mock up 3Shutters in sage green with accent panels here and there; plus a bold plum front door. ..and loose the red steps.  What do you think?

Images of water and First Friday fodder! 8/1

water series 2This Friday from 5-8PM, in conjuction with the First Friday art gallery openings here in Portsmouth, I am showing my newest collection of artworks at the Shapley Townhouse in Strawbery Banke.  All water themed, they might be fodder for your own inspirations!  Please come and share some light refreshments with me; 454 Court St.

Above; “Ripples and Rivulets” 22″x24″.  Hand painted and hand dyed cotton fabric, machine pieced, machine and hand quilted, hand appliqued.  Stretched quilt.

Quilt Floating on the Surface

Above; “Floating on the Surface”  30″ x 32″.  Hand printed/painted cotton, machine pieced, machine and hand quilted, hand appliqued.  Stretched quilt.

quilt, Piscataqua from the other side

Above; “Piscataqua from the Other Side” 16″ x 22″.  Hand painted and dyed cotton, machine pieced, machine quilted.  Stretched quilt.

Painting, On a Clear Day

Above; “A Clear Day” and “Another Clear Day” 12″ x 12″.  Hot glue and acrylic on canvas.

See these and many other works hanging in the halls outside my business Euchlora now through September.  454 Court Street, Portsmouth.  603-491-7305