Category Archives: Foundations

Adventures in the historic restoration of Maison Steinbuchel’ stories of the families who lived here and the convergence into the 21st century

red slate

The First Annual Shameless Self-Promotion Of Maison Steinbuchel Products

“I’ve said it before, and by gosh, I’ll say it again — don’t be afraid to toot your own horn.”― Emlyn Chand
Warning Shameless Promotion Below!
ShamelessYou know by now from my BLOG posts, that I have an on-line ETSY shop.  This is primarily where I market items I re-purpose from vintage materials.  This the Giving Found Materials Fresh Form and Purpose side of this website.  The other is the Giving Lost Stories A Voice BLOG content.  
Most of these materials come from the restoration and re-habing of historic homes.  We are careful to reuse all we can in the homes themselves.  However, inevitably materials and found objects remain after.  I find even the most obscure object can be remade – usually.
At the moment, there are thirty-five or so unique, one-of-a-kind

Shamelessitems I know you need!

 

  • It’s gift time!
  • It’s decorating time!
and my master packager-shipper is standing by to whisk these off to you in record time.
Shameless Reasons To Purchase Here
ShamelessDoes it help to know that the proceeds of these products go into the restoration maintenance fund for Maison Steinbuchel?  The idea is, if the material itself cannot be reused in the project then the proceeds from a sale can.
It helps to know that when you order multiple items, they are packaged and shipped as one to save on shipping?  We refund any and all overage on the calculated shipping done via the ETSY process and charge nothing for handling.
The fact that there is NO SALES TAX ?  In many cases that off-sets shipping.
Did I mention unique?  Handmade? One-of-a-kind?Shameless
Usually a story accompanies the product including information on where materials came from and how the re-purpose was done.  These are reflected in the description of each item but if you have questions I am glad to answer.
Examples of the products are pictured, but there are many more items in my shop.
and happy shopping from the comfort of your home.
Is there an item you particularly like? Please let me know by posting in the comments below OR in my ETSY shop simply make it a “favorite”.  

Signs For The Times – Love and Joy

Words are but the signs of ideas. – Samuel Johnson
signsThese days we seem to enjoy having signs with quotes, sayings or words hanging on our walls to remind us of what we desire.  What inspires us.  What we want to focus on.  Keeping these before our eyes can serve to counteract the other forces that seek to distract us from what we truly desire.
Those forces are many:
  • the media –  broadcast, internet and radio – even satellite
  • social media, CDs, MP3s and 4s, podcasts, vimeo and Giffys
  • family, friends and colleagues
  • even the voice (I hope only one) inside our head
Some we allow, even choose.  Others are imposed upon us to one degree or another.  Filter out the things we need and want from the other stuff is a full time job!
The Purpose Of A Sign
Signs are for pointing us to a destination or to serve as an:
whose presence or occurrence indicates the probable presence or occurrence of something else.   So signs are important to keep us on track.
Signs And Simplicity
I have to admit, I am not one to hang signs on the walls of my home.  The main reason is they just don’t fit the decor of our historic Richardsonian Victorian home. The other is, I use my electronic devices to keep inspirational words, pictures, quotes and even scripture at hand wherever I am.  Simple and convenient.
Signs For Fun And Smiles
In preparation for the coming holidays, I got inspired with some vintage pallet wood, wood signsfragments, milk paint and fabric.  I found myself making some signs.  It was fun, but I do not have a place to put them.  So here they are.
Oh yes, they are for sale.  Just click on the photos for details on how to Buy Now.

Let me know what you think in the comments below

What Wreaths and Frames Add To Your Life

Bridges become frames for looking at the world around us. – Bruce Jackson
 Special seasons and events, like the approaching holidays, bring out equally special decor.  Floral arrangements, seasonal colors and items that represent memories of past celebrations are displayed. They are combined with updated items that are more than simple visual beauty.  They serve to pull special times from the past into this new celebration.
Two familiar forms support various vignettes:  the wreath and the frame.  Over the past few years they have become somewhat interchangeable in application.  But before demonstrating what I am referring to, lets explore the roots of these two forms.
Frames , Wreaths and Smiling Etrucstians
The word wreath comes from Middle English wrethe and from Old English writha, band.  Wreaths have a long and distinguished history, going back to the ancient  Etruscan 
civilization in Southern Europe.  I learned about this people when visiting the Vatican Museum in 1985.  One comment about this civilization that was borne out in the  artifacts is that:   “these must have been a happy peoples, as most representations show them smiling.” My husband and I got a giggle out of that as we looked over the various paintings and statues of these “smiling Etruscans”.
Wreaths came to be used as crowns representing various levels of honor, rank or even rule.  When placed on the final resting place of a loved one, it represents devotion for a life that has passed from this earth.  Today we use wreaths as decoration but in many cases represent an eternal presence in our celebrations.
Frames Function

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Leftovers In Madagascar

BUY NOW

“Don’t make excuses for not working – make things with the time, space and materials you have, right now” – Austin Kleon – Steal like an artist
 madagascar
madagascar In August 1993 I was assigned to a team of four to conduct a civil aviation assessment of the country of Madagascar’s aviation system.  The United States FAA had been invited, via the US Ambassador, by the Malagasy authorities to conduct this review.
These assessments are done on a reimbursable basis when it is
determined we can offer expertise not available through another channel.  It was a two week trip including travel to and from the assignment, so the majority of our time in country was spent taking care
of business.
We did, however, have a few hours to take in sights here and there (yes, I got to see lemurs in the wild).  One side trip was a trip over lunch break to the large local outdoor market along L’ Avenue de l’Independance.  It was massive.  We found some treasures to

bring back as gifts and remembrances.  As we walked back from the market, there were stray vendors along the street with their wares spread out on the ground.

Thrift Madagascar Style

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Lath and Porcelain – Leftovers From the Attic

lath

What do we plant when we plant the tree?
We plant the houses for you and me.
We plant the rafters, the shingles, the floors,
We plant the studding, the lath, the doors,
The beams  and siding, all parts that be;
We plant the house when we plant the tree.
by the American author, Henry Abbey (1842-1911)
 The second verse of the Poem “What do we Plant?” reminds one of the value of reusing, re-purposing and re-cycling.  These actions honor the source of such things, some element of creation provided the needed ingredient for some aspect of life on earth.  It also reminds me that second and third uses are honorable as well.  It helps make the process of rehabbing and restoring a house more palatable. Believe me, one needs all the help one can get in the midst of the dirt, demo and tedium that follows the initial dream and vision.
The Backstory
We purchased a couple of properties next to our historic house some years ago.  We were not looking to get into the business of being landlords, but when the homes went up for sale, the likelihood they would become rentals was high, so we bought them in order to be the ones choosing our neighbors.  When one of the homes was vacated we began readying it to rent again.  Partway through the process, we decided to rehab it for us to move into so that the historic restoration of our home could proceed without our having to live in the mess and inevitable mayhem.

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The Practicality, Mystery and Beauty of An Attic

attics“As the years pass, I keep thinking that our greatest lack today is attics.  Modern homes never have them, with the result that young people live only in their own generation, feeling no intimate connection with the past.  Their roots will go deeper if their homes have attics?”

from “More Than Petticoats” – the chapter on Maude Frazier, an early Nevada educator

When we were house hunting in anticipation of our move from California to Kansas, I made a list of features I wanted in a house.  One of those was amble space for a proper library for my husband’s bibliophile habit.  We also wanted a home with some history and character.  We were weary of So Cal subdivisions, one story, no basement, no character houses.  It was all so, well, boring!
Our time in Europe had awakened my Kansas need for the character and history of an older home.  Our Realtor understood, and scoped out homes in the older “classic” neighborhoods of Wichita.   She did find it curious that before the kitchen and bath decor or number of bedrooms we headed for the basement and/or attic.  We needed serious space for this library.
Early Attic Dreams
The house I grew up was a two story frame with the second story almost attics like.attics

It had a real attic but it was not usable for anything other than getting to the flat part of the roof.  I was only up there once or twice since it had to be accessed with a ladder from the upstairs hallway, but sleeping among the gables in my second story bedroom brings back cozy memories.

The vision of a proper third floor library, a retreat among books drew us in.  When we first looked at the historic home we eventually purchased, it was the attic that clinched the deal.  My husband’s books still rest in boxes up there, patiently waiting for the home they have been promised.  We have a vision, and even plans drawn up, but other necessary steps seem to extend the path as we travel toward that dream library in the sky.

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A Red Slate Roof Lives On! How You Can Own A Piece

  • In 1995 the red slate roof of our historic home was redone.  It was a massive job.  We learned a lot about historic restoration projects in the process  and much detail about the structure of our home.  The slate originally came from Vermont as did the slate for this project.  Apparently that is the only place it is found.

The project included replacing:

  • red painted black slate that had been substituted in a patch job in the 1970s.
  • broken and badly weathered slate.  Even though slate has a very long life, it does get brittle, chip and flakes over the years.  In this case over 100 years of Kansas wind, hail and even some abuse from walking on the roof had taken its toll.
  • the valleys, flashing, yankee guttering and downspouts.  We learned that water runoff from slate is corrosive to galvanized metal.  Since one of a roof’s function is to shed water and keep the structure and its inhabitants dry, it was interesting to find out the chemistry behind water run off.  This was one of the design flaws in the original construction of the house as over the years the runoff had corroded the galvanized valleys, gutters and downspouts, causing all kinds of issues.
  • and/or reinforcing rafters and ceiling joists.  Slate is heavy, 1,200 LBS per square.  Although our home was built with yellow pine dimensional 2 x 4s on 12 inch centers, the 12 12 pitch roof had spread the attic rafters enough to need attention.
  • and re-stacking the three chimneys (there are four fireplaces and a couple of free standing stoves)
  • the soffets, reparing the gables and then painting.
Re-Cycling First
We reused more than half of the original slate which was used on the north side of the house.  It was cleaned up, re-cut and relaid.  The new slate was used on the south side.  That meant that over 12 square of used Vermont red slate was left over after the project was complete.  We didn’t want to just toss it in the landfill, so it was stacked at the back of our property.
What To Do With Used Red Slate

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Imagine – The Value in Leftovers

 

I enjoy re-doing and re-making things.  I always have.  Using leftovers, taking what is on hand and making something useful again:

Things that began life as one thing are “up-cycled” into a new life.  So where did this tendency come from?
The Why
For me, some came out of necessity.  Using and reusing was a way of life in the world I grew up in.
  • Dad, an auto salvage operator took old cars apart.  They were scrapped out for usable parts and metal.   Some parts were refurbished and resold, others just reused as is on another vehicle.
  • Clothes were re-done and handed down.  If they were too worn out, the cloth was remade into quilts, comforters or some other useful item (remember cloth dust rags?).leftovers
  • Mom composted in the garden and turned grass clippings and leaves into flower beds (no pesticides were used!).
Today, it is called being “green” by recycling, up-cycling and re-purposing.  For us it was being practical and frugal.  We were not poor, we just conserved cash for what only cash could buy avoiding the waste of things and time.  In my small town there was retail, but not the Walmart kind of retail.  Many things had to be acquired through mail order catalogs or we made the occasional shopping trip to “the city”.
The DNA
In addition, there was my grand-parents farm where nothing was wasted.  Even what did go into the trash was used as fuel for the stove.  Paper, bits of wood and anything that would burn would make it into the incinerator.  Along with some of the methods used by my parents, my grand-parent’s cows, pigs and chickens ate, in addition to their regular feed, vegetable and fruit scraps.  The dogs and barn cats  were glad recipients of meat scraps and bones (after they were boiled for broth, of course).  Bailing wire was the all purpose duct-tape for farm machinery (until a proper repair could be made).  Well, you get the idea.
New Is Good Too!
At the same time, I do not consider myself “cheap”.  I enjoy nice new things.  I have some of the finest Irish China, French and German crystal and German flatware there is.  We only use it a few times a year and I do not feel one bit guilty about it.  None-the-less, that thing in me that is profoundly satisfied when an old object is remade and given new life is undeniable.  Aside from the practical aspects, there is actually a deeper root to all of this.
Divine Leftovers
It is found in the two stories of multiplying loaves and fishes as told in the Gospels*.  In both cases after the multiplication had occurred and everyone had eaten their fill, Jesus had the leftovers gathered up and collected.  Why would the Son of God who had just multiplied food do that?  To show off?  Not really in his nature.  To give a sign to the disciples of God’s ability to provide?  Perhaps.  The answer is in the text:  Jesus said:  “Gather up that which remains so that nothing is lost.”  Jesus did not want to waste the leftovers!  Wow, what a concept.  God, who created everything, does not waste, even leftover bread and fish.

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The Denim Collection – The Diverse Life of a French Fabric

“When in doubt, wear denim” – unknown
“I’ll never throw away my blue jeans.” –  Susan Ford
                        denim denim
I like denim.  I am glad that denim has burst well beyond its original hard-working, sturdy, cowboy, country ranch realm and into all things blue.  In fashion and decorating is it considered a neutral, like gray, black and the beiges.
I wear a lot of denim.  Even more since I “retired” and work from my home.  Over the years, between my husband and I, I have amassed a  lot of used denim that has gone beyond its wearable stage, yet seeds of  life remain.  In this state it has almost endless possibilities.
Where Did It Come From?
denimA bit of research revealed that The name “denim” comes from the name of a sturdy fabric called “Serge de Nîmes”, initially made in Nîmes, France, hence “de Nîmes” – “denim”.  Who would have thought.  Perhaps that is why Yves Saint Laurent said:  “I wish I had invented blue jeans. They have expression, modesty, sex appeal,

 

Denim Diversity
In the W.B. Allistion House, the “little house” we are about to finish rehabbing, I am using denim as the accent fabric for the attic decor.  No, it is not a country theme, but this fabric compliments the warm vintage wood tones and soft blue gray color pallet I am going with. This will be a home office space for both my husband and I, as well as a library and media space.
denimI want a soft, relaxing, creative air, that is gender neutral.  We will be living in this house while renovations of the “big house”, Maison Steinbuchel. take place.  It will serve as a retreat from activity, decisions and, yes, the stress, this project may bring.  It will eventually serve as a guest house on the property.
simplicity – all I hope for in my clothes.”
 “Denim Is a  Way  of Life”
denimIn addition to wearing and decorating with denim, I make stuff.  There is a section of my on-line shop named “The Denim Collection”, that features these products.  Here are some examples.  The photos have links that will provide details on how they were made, what

denimwent into the item and its creative origin.

You could make some of these things yourself, but you have enough to do.   I have already done the hard work!
The Holidays are on their way.
Which Item do you favor?  Let me know in the comments below.  Don’t forget to subscribe!
 

Chance Encounters, Connections and History

encounters

Recently while my husband was blowing off our sidewalks, he spotted a gentleman looking over our house from the curb.  This is not an uncommon occurrence, since the house, even in its current “need for a redo state”, is quite striking.  A conversation was begun that lasted, again not uncommonly, for a while. Chance encounters making connections.
It turns out this man had known Dorothy Elisabeth Steinbuchel Wilson Gouldner in her later years as a neighbor.  He was currently reading her book, A Living Gravestone, about the family and the house.  We do not have a house number – this would not have been a part of its original decor – so he wanted to ensure he had the right location.
We shared stories and information and told him of the research I was doing to update and even validate the information in the book.  The Foundations pillar of this BLOG is devoted primarily to that endeavor along with a place to share progress on the historic restoration  when it begins in earnest.
Encounters With New Details
The visitor said Elisabeth was very proud of that book.  In addition, he mentioned that Olive Ann Beech’s daughter helped her to get it to publication.   Hummmm, a detail I was unaware of before, since there is no mention of this in the book by way of  acknowledgment.  I am aware, however, from the book The Barnstormer and the Lady, that Elisabeth’s brother-in-law, Rene Goulnder was Walter Beech’s personal physician.  His signature is on Mr. Beech’s death certificate. Thus the probable connection.

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