Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Vintage DIY Terra Cotta Gingerbread and more

Family traditions are most important. 
Across the northern Chicago suburbs, I hope some of the several hundreds of terracotta Gingerbread houses in the 1970's-90's I made for craft shows are still lighting and warming homes.


Our village collection is a smattering of those I made, and those purchased for a memory or likeness of something in our lives. We added the slide-in frame that juts out from the buffet, to give us some more village room. The frame has a lid, so the electrical, pond, streets all stay the same now and the whole thing is stored in the garage. Setup is now an couple of hours, instead of days.


 Here is our house...of course not to scale, but certainly a good facsimile, complete with birdfeeder and bath and the tree in front with the lights. One of the four reindeer is left on the roof, and Santa must be down the chimney--because he isn't in the sleigh anymore.


All the terra cotta houses/shops were all made with slabs of red clay--glazed with tinted froth--that was used on the ceramic trees so popular at the time and fired in a kiln. I used chromium green, a yellow, white, pink and blue frosting look and that's all. They were assembled with silicone tub caulk.


I added new houses/shops each year and made special requests, the prices ranged from $20-$50. All were custom decorated with amber windows, little decorations---which have held up pretty well over the years.

Across the street from our house is the sweet house with a front porch and train decorations...it is has the lovely blue roof, and of course, real bottle trees, already 40 years old or so.


Over the years have added a few meaningful pieces for various manufacturers.

Up the street is a Victorian, very close to the one we had in northern Wisconsin. Remember the movie "The Money Pit"---yes that was it--a three-story Victorian with original plumbing a monster oil furnace and a 1/4 of a lot. Only thing missing on this is the listing front porch...LOL.

Here is its lovely--all painted, shingled, roofed and lovely. It's perched on a small hill and all the neighborhood kids are sledding there.

 Here is Snoopy and Woodstock sharing a house with a family pet. (They are vintage from the 1980's, I believe.)


Just west of the Victorian is the Market---the meeting place for carolers...and like all good merchants, the entire place is on SALE, lol.


Across the street in the park is the Municipal tree, and of course our armed forces represented, purchased when my son was in the navy in the early 1990s.


The park has a playground for the kids,


and icefishermen jaw as they fish the pond.  A few kids enjoy a bonfire and roast marshmallows---on the pond, lol. The three-year-old Grand did most of the figure placing...missed that. The ice is a mirror with stain-glasspaint on it, and the snow is just that---snow. It's magic you know. Great-Grandpa stands ont he dock with the fishing gear. Hope he has good luck to stock the Fishmarket.


Across the street from the park is of course the Candy shop---complete with sucker decorations and candy canes. Yellow gumdrops are glazed on the front. You can see the texture of the glaze and the 'icing' dripping. The bicycle built for two must be ours...as we shop for candy for the stockings.

 To the left of the Candy Shop is the main bridge over the stream that feeds the pond...trickling over rocks and piles of snow.


 Also in the center of the village is the church--complete with steeple, glazed cross doors. I didn't tell you all the glaze was applied with squirt bottles for authenticity---and if it dripped, it dripped. The reverend is calleing everyone to 9:00 services ---see on the clock! Some of my lamposts have lost their tops---need to call the city maintenance teams about that!


 You can see the Steeple on the church just to the left of the blue stream.


The Bakery is all yellow and pink, see the cupcake painted on the side. The window is full of decorations, and unlike Chicago there is lots of snow!


 One of my favorite shops is the Mercantile with its flat front and Victorian roofline. Goods spread out on the porch, everything from bread and fruit to animal feed. Santa is busy collecting for the kettle. And kids sledding between the shops.


In the back corner is the Sports Shop, made for my boys in the 1980's as they got older and toy and bakery shops weren't that exciting. Behind is the Deer Grove-a real Forest Preserve near our house. When we moved here in the 1980's, we had deer, possums, pheasants, bull frogs, and a racoon that dragged clams up from the lake to wash in our little pond. I could tell because he left the clam shells smashed on the sidewalk.


When I added floral designer to my resume in the 1990's we purchased this floral shop. It is very reminiscent of my shop BarberryLane in the Volo Antique Mall complex. I was there for 10 years, until my parents needed more care.


We are avid fisher people, so the Bait shop was made for my husband and has tons of miniatures around it. Yes, that is a bobber display and Coke next to it. Lures and worm tins are in the window.
I had so much fun making this one-of-a-kind for my hubby!


For my family history is the FishMarket. My Dad loved this...and the proprietor has quite a fish from right off the boat. The window is full of Fresh Catch---There's always good fishing here.


Now a quick sleighride home, can't you just hear the sleigh bells!


From our Village to yours....Merry Christmas!

Thank you always for stopping by, I will be happy to answer any questions and answer comments.

All the opinions and photographs in this blog are my own, I have not been paid or reimbursed in anyway for my opinions or posts. Please do not use photos without linking back to this blog without my permission. Thank you for your cooperation, Sandi Magle

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Monday, December 21, 2015

Wonderland Express at the Chicago Botanic Gardens

This is my GREEN post for the Holidays!

One of the great pleasures of living near a metropolitan area are cultural attractions. We are members of the Chicago Botanical Gardens in Glencoe, Illinois. The gardens themselves are exstensive and year-long events are always interesting for all ages. One of our annual excursions is to the Wonderland Express, these pictures are from 2013 but we will go next week.

Here is a natural Christmas tree in the tropical room. The Orchids were in full bloom, as we made our way toward the Wonderland Express

If you want to know more... go to Chicago Botanic Gardens.

The hall where normally long lines of ticket holders wait, are decorated by local groups in specific themes. This tree had elves, peacock feathers collected from the garden's peacocks.

I love the gingerbread decor---including all the blue stars for our Jewish Friends Chanukah celebrations. Truly all the exhibits at the gardens are family friendly, young, old and older!

Here is a culinary sampling of of Gingerbread houses in the lobby.  Complete with a Choo-Choo.

I loved the banking of the poinsettias and all the trees...so cute, 

Inside a darkened room....came the sound of choo, choo, choo...and clickety clack of the Wonderland Express weaving it's way overhead, below and all around you-- through forests and prairies, over bridges above ponds and in tunnels through the miniature city. I never did get a picture of any of the the engines...lol, because they appear in and out of the displays, and you hardly know where they are going to show up!

Here and there are all natural materials Chicago landmarks. Everything in these displays are live or were live...everything is REAL GREEN product!

Pardon the pics, but it was a dark room...the snow is a combo of glycerin and soap---and fell continuously throughout our experience and then disappeared. So those dots on your screen are real---FAKE--snow, but natural, lol.

Miniature poinsettias edge the real-life-like forest.

ALL the buildings are built of nuts, pods, bark, wood, grasses and other natural materials. It's really astounding the detail and the natural coloring can still project the concrete jungle of Chicago.

Museum of Science and Industry with the Planetarium to the right...love the crossroads here and all the blooming or about to bloom Kalanchoe.

Museum of Natural History

Here is a distant shot of Navy Pier...here set on a pond instead of into Lake Michigan...Love the pines.

The multiple trains went overhead, all the structures were made of real branches, logs and twigs. The room itself is surface in all wood so the setting was perfect.

The gurgling of the streams and ponds were the substitution for our beautiful lakefront. Here the Lighthouse guards the pond.

Landmark building John Hancock Building built in the 1970's. The X structure allows the building to sway in the wind instead of staying rigid. I have been on the 94th floor when it is in full sway---of almost 20 feet, LOL. You don't feel it, but the curtains hang straight while the building moves around them...weird.

The Chicago Tribune Tower 

The Pilgrim Baptist Church

 Rockefeller Chapel on the University of Chicago Campus

One of the many trestles...overhead. I love the branches and trees lit everywhere.

Here is a great model of the Robie House ==Frank Lloyd Wright, Oak Park. Here you can gather the scale---of the exhibit from the people, which is huge and yet the houses are really in miniature.

The Old Chicago History Museum

 Fourth Presbyterian Church

Old City Hall

Prudential Building---

Old Chicago ---Oak Street

More Old Chicago

 Old Saint Patrick's on Adams

Newberry Library

The Chicago LOOP--buildings are not to scale to each other or geographically correct...left is the water tower, far right the Hancock building.

The Picasso "Lady?" Sculpture from Daley Plaza. She looks much better with blooming Kalanchoe around her than on a bunch of concrete.

Here is the out of scale Water Tower ---the Navy Pier Ferris Wheel, Navy Pier-Crystal Palace and the Michigan avenue Bridge. The Water Tower is one of the only surviving structures from the Chicago Fire in 1871 and is the key anchor on our Magnificent Mile Michigan Avenue shopping district.

Wrigley Building Clock Tower...middle, to the left in back the Marina Towers, to the right the Chicago Board of Trade behind and the Chicago Merchandise Mart in the front right.

Out in the lobby, the theme and overflow continues...just beautiful.

Afterward, one more quick pop into the Tropical room---and I wish you a Merry, Merry, Merry Christmas from a GREEN and red,  Chicago Botanic Gardens, Sandi.

All the opinions and photographs in this blog are my own or I am in possesion of the originals, 
I have not been paid or reimbursed in anyway for my opinions, posts or products used. 
Please do not use my photos without linking back to this blog without my permission. 
Thank you for your cooperation, Sandi Magle

Thanks always for stopping by during this busy season--I appreciate any and all comments and I will try and answer any of your questions.