General Store Inspiration: Mercantile Interior Photo Tour

Inspired_Barn_General_Store_TourIf you’ve seen my workshop studio, Inspired Barn, in magazines, online, or in person, it’s likely pretty obvious where my number-one inspiration comes from- early general stores and mercantiles.Inspired_Barn_General_Store_Tour_02

Photo courtesy of Captain Simos Returns.

I’ve long been attracted to photographs showcasing proud shopkeepers and customers  posed within tidy, well-stocked emporiums that stocked everything from overalls and tobacco to fabrics and soaps.Inspired_Barn_General_Store_Tour_01

Photo courtesy of Dean Joseph Fine Art and Antiques.

Counters, shelves, cases, drawers and bins filled with neatly arranged and stacked goods, much of which was packaged and labeled with the most excellent design and typography. With over 20 years as a career graphic designer specializing in branding and packaging– that’s definitely my thing.

suttercreekold18So imagine my pure delight to happened upon the Monteverde General Merchants store in Sutter Creek, California a couple of years ago. Started in 1898, this store is now a museum of many of the original relics of the past.Inspired_Barn_General_Store_Tour_49x Most everything is still neatly stacked and stored as a window into Gold Country’s past and remains spectacular inspiration for the present.Inspired_Barn_General_Store_Tour_49 Much of the store’s merchandise dates back to the early 20th century, with a few current items from the early ’70s that the late Rose Monteverde left on the shelves in hopes of the store one day becoming a museum.Inspired_Barn_General_Store_Tour_45 If you happen to be in Sutter Creek, simply call the phone number on the sign taped to the front window and a nice gentleman will walk down from his nearby home to open it up for you to explore.Inspired_Barn_General_Store_Tour_07I toured this magnificent general store with my husband and my camera and just came across these stored photos the other day. So whether you’re into vintage-inspired graphic design, good ol’ vintage goods, or simply love to organize stuff, I hope you’ll enjoy my personal photo tour of the Monteverde General Store.

Inspired_Barn_General_Store_Tour_03Sunbrite Cleanser, stockings, and shoe repair. Inspired_Barn_General_Store_Tour_04Double paper roll dispenser No. 1.Inspired_Barn_General_Store_Tour_05Counter glass case filled with confections. Inspired_Barn_General_Store_Tour_06Union Farm and Garden Tools broom and tool handles display. Inspired_Barn_General_Store_Tour_10General store shelves food items.Inspired_Barn_General_Store_Tour_08Inspired_Barn_General_Store_Tour_09  Soap and soap packaging. Inspired_Barn_General_Store_Tour_11Canned fruits, mason jars, caps and rings.Inspired_Barn_General_Store_Tour_12 Cigars, cigar boxes, tobacco goods. Bird food & supplies.Inspired_Barn_General_Store_Tour_13The general store scale.Inspired_Barn_General_Store_Tour_15Inspired_Barn_General_Store_Tour_39Bins, drawers and shelves. Inspired_Barn_General_Store_Tour_40Beautiful vintage hardware.Inspired_Barn_General_Store_Tour_16The storekeeper’s nook. Inspired_Barn_General_Store_Tour_29 Handwritten store ledgers.Inspired_Barn_General_Store_Tour_33 Inspired_Barn_General_Store_Tour_34Inspired_Barn_General_Store_Tour_17Double paper roll dispenser No. 2. Inspired_Barn_General_Store_Tour_18 Inspired_Barn_General_Store_Tour_19 Fuller brand linseed oil barrel.Inspired_Barn_General_Store_Tour_20 Mooreknit children’s hose.Inspired_Barn_General_Store_Tour_21The haberdashery section of the store featuring silk satin tafeta and cotton tatting thread.Inspired_Barn_General_Store_Tour_22J&P Coats embroidery and Royal Society crochet cotton threads.Inspired_Barn_General_Store_Tour_23Dennison Gummed Labels.Inspired_Barn_General_Store_Tour_24The library.Inspired_Barn_General_Store_Tour_25Boxes and crates, printed and stenciled.Inspired_Barn_General_Store_Tour_26Children’s rubber boots, and shoe thread.Inspired_Barn_General_Store_Tour_27Clothing: Men’s dress, work and sleep shirts.Inspired_Barn_General_Store_Tour_28Seidlitz Powder.Inspired_Barn_General_Store_Tour_30Fontana’s Semolina plain noodles, wide. Inspired_Barn_General_Store_Tour_31Schrader’s Insecticide Powder. Inspired_Barn_General_Store_Tour_36Roach poison.
Medicinal herbs: Sanicle. Elmo Cucumber Cream.   Inspired_Barn_General_Store_Tour_37 Par, Palmolive, Crystal White, P and G, and 20 Mule Team soaps.Inspired_Barn_General_Store_Tour_38Vintage jar examples.Inspired_Barn_General_Store_Tour_41Juan de Fuca and Londres cigar boxesInspired_Barn_General_Store_Tour_42 Store receipt pad.Inspired_Barn_General_Store_Tour_43Notary embosser. Inspired_Barn_General_Store_Tour_44 Double paper roll dispenser No. 1.Inspired_Barn_General_Store_Tour_47Trupak mixed bird food. Inspired_Barn_General_Store_Tour_48Shelby hardware hinge.Inspired_Barn_General_Store_Tour_46I’m looking forward to visiting again.

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Inspired Barn Video Production

Last November I began talks with F+W, a Content + eCommerce Company, about creating an exciting new series of Inspired Barn craft video episodes and accompanying kits. The projects would feature home décor projects, with videos and kits made available online through their Interweave Store. I’ve always known that videos would be the very best way to demonstrate steps for recreating my original projects. And F+W being a reputable media company well versed in the craft and hobby industry, of course I said YES! Though I’ve never done video, I’d been building up my courage and was ready to take a big step outside of my comfort zone, beyond the safety of the written word of blogs, books and social media, and smack dab into the camera lights, warts and all.Cathe_Holden_Washi_PlaqueAnd so it began…months of planning, scheming, creating, sourcing, writing, even designing custom product, all in preparation for a three-day shoot in April. Though I rarely make new year resolutions, I did for 2015 and it was to keep focused. Unfortunately, that meant putting many things on the back burner, including consistent blog posts, replying to all emails, scheduling in-studio workshops, and more. I went into a sort of creative lock-down to make sure I gave this endeavor my full attention.Cathe-Holden-Shoot-01 April finally came and last week the most amazing, talented, and FUN group of people descended upon our property, taking over my barn, rearranging furniture, setting up equipment, manipulating light, and pulling props. It was spectacular. From Colorado came the Vice President of Interweave, the Products and Promotions editor, and an Executive Producer/Director. From central and northern California came the camera and sound crew, and the hair, makeup and wardrobe stylist.Cathe-Holden-Shoot-02With three different cameras shooting most of the time, there was about 35 hours of footage created that will edited down to about 4.5 hours of the very best parts, into a total of six step-by-step DIY projects.Cathe-Holden-Shoot-06 Several of the video projects utilize beautiful vintage ephemera images from my paper collection, and a variety of vintage-style decorative and typographic stencils that I designed, all to be included with the accompanying kits.Cathe-Holden-Shoot-07I’m very proud of the projects themselves and quality of the kit contents, and so very impressed by the professionalism and talents of the entire video production crew. As of now, the first Inspired Barn home décor project episode in the series should release in late July 2015, with subsequent episodes releasing thereafter and on into November. Of course I’ll keep you updated on all of it.

Photo credits: Kevin Mazzier and Tim Davis


Cathe_Holden_Washi_Plaque_CUWashi Tape Flower Plaque: To create a customizable sign similar to that shown here, simply paint a wooden plaque with black chalkboard paint, and attach an arrangement of handmade Washi tape flowers, leaves, and a bow by following my simple Washi tape flower instructions. TIP: Don’t have access to flower stamens? I made most of mine shown here by folding 2-inch pieces of cotton covered wire, then painting and dragging the ends through tiny puddles of black, white, or yellow acrylic paint, dusting some with white glitter.

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Vintage-Style Egg Co. Stencil Kitchen Art

I’ve become a bit obsessed with stencils- designing and cutting my own on a Silhouette Cameo. I have a list a mile long of creative ideas I plan to try with them. I’m also experimenting with stencil tools when not spraying paint or ink, such as pouncers, sponges, and stencil brushes, including a couple of antique railroad stencil brushes I picked up at an antiques store that work beautifully on flat hard surfaces!Today I pulled out one of my 48 by 40 brand small pallet canvas and went to work on a decorative piece for our kitchen trying out a basic craft store stencil brush. I painted one of my layered designs using a stencil cut from a plastic scrapbook paper hanging file folder opened flat and trimmed to 12″ x 20″ and fed into the Silhouette on a 12″ x 24″ cutting mat. I used repositionable spray adhesive on the back of each stencil.Cathe-Holden-Stencil-Pallet-09I added another “Market Goods” stencil cut off along the bottom. Once all paint was dry, I sanded the surface a bit to distress the paint. I then added some metal pieces from around the studio using vintage hardware.Cathe-Holden-Stencil-Pallet-02 I didn’t screw the small tool tags in all the way, so they hang loose from the wood.To finish the corners of the canvas I used vintage aluminum plant labels, bent in half, hammered on with nails, and banged up a bit with the mallet side of my hammer.Cathe-Holden-Stencil-Pallet-04This project, from stencil cutting to hanging, was completed in about two hours. I hung it over the stove on the tile backsplash using Command Strips.Here are a few fun facts related to this project:

  • My sign was designed to coordinate with the farmhouse decor of our newly remodeled kitchen boasting concrete countertops, an 8-foot windmill blade structure, and patchwork maple wood floors.
  • B. D. Holden is my 19 year-old son, Bennett Drew Holden. (He may or may not approve of me using his name for my sign. I’m taking my chances.)
  • Bennett worked over a year recently at a local egg farm collecting, sorting, and washing eggs, and maintaining ranch property. (He is currently in college studying to be a firefighter, working intern & sleeper shifts at Gold Ridge Fire Dept. in Sebastopol, California, and a lifeguard at the nearby Coast Guard Base.)
  • Petaluma, our beloved town, has long been known as the “World’s Egg Basket”.
  • There’s actually an egg related controversy currently happening in Petaluma right now!

But back to the topic at hand…I’d REALLY like to know your creative thoughts on stencils and stencilling:

  • Have you used stencils?
  • How- with what tools and medium?
  • What for- papercrafting, mixed media, home decor, furniture embellishing, other?
  • What kind of stencils or stencil products would you like to see on the market?

Please share in the comments below.

Small speech bubble9 Comments | Posted in Home Decor, mixed media, Stencilling, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , ,
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