Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Who the heck is Mother Junker?

"Amy honey, That's a terrible name to use. It sounds too much like something dirty. Whatever you do don't  tell your Father about this" -Alice (AKA - My Mother, age 81)

      So, once again the question keeps coming. What do you mean by "Mother Junker"? Who the heck is Mother Junker"? Aren't you "Butter Beans Antiques"? Answers... I'll explain, I'll explain & YES... Yes I am.

First and most importantly lets address the "white elephant" in the room. While I am known for (putting it mildly) A "bawdy" sense of humor no innuendo is intended or implied. I am a Mother. I am a Junker. Simple as that. As for Butter Beans Antiques, that is my business name, but Mother Junker has been here all along. My hand made creations and assemblage art pieces are made and sold under the "Mother Junker Studios" moniker. Think of Mother Junker as "The crazy old Auntie" of Butter Beans Antiques. Now on to the story of Mother Junker...

I have been in love with the creative process all my life. My Mother was an Artist, so I guess you could say, "it's in my blood". Mom was vigilant about taking me to Saturday morning art classes at The Toledo Museum of Art. My home life being consistently "turbulent", I was never more at home or felt more safe, then on Saturday mornings... Creating & dreaming for a few hours each week, in those musty basement classrooms.

In later years, I studied sculpture at The Toledo Museum of Art under Resident Artist, James Hightower and worked for a summer as an Artist Apprentice learning welding and assisting with large-scale installations. Sculpture still captivates and inspires me and Henry Moore remains my favorite contemporary Artist. I continued my Artistic studies throughout college in both art history and studio courses. It has taken me many years to find my own Artistic voice & medium, but the bells rang loud &clear when I ventured into the world of mixed media collage and assemblage. The freedom and range of possibilities with altered art & collage are endless. It is my therapy, my healing, my heart's song and a great way to connect and communicate with the world around me. A member of the ZNE artisits community since 2006... Mother Junker was proud to be their featured artist in the march 2007 edition of Variazione (

I am the Mother of two Sons. On many days they are the muses for the happiest of my creations. Both of my Sons were adopted at birth. I remain a committed and vocal advocate for the adoption community and am always happy to share the story of our adoption journey. My boys are now 4 and 8 and if you listen carefully, they often express more wisdom & humor about life than many adults I know.

I am also a writer and my first children's book was published in 1996 entitled "All God's Creatures Go To Heaven". I continue to write as part of my art including sentiments, observations and original poetry on many of my mixed media pieces.

      In 1990 I started Butter Beans Antiques & Design. My specialty at the shop has always been taking something old, discarded and mundane and creating a new, beautiful & useful item. Painting vintage finds, rebuilding a broken down treasure, sourcing vintage fabrics for treasured clients and restoring quilts and the memories they embrace for families throughout the country. Mother Junker stems from this desire to re-use, re-cycle and re-create from remnants of the past. Old images, old books, bits, pieces and parts are living in boxes in my barn & studio waiting to be born again as beautiful objects to bring a smile to you, my Patron.


Mother Junker is ageless, delightful and ever so divine... She has always been an Artist and has always lived in my imagination, she is my artsy-fartsy-fairy-God-Mother. Mother Junker usually "wakes up" after everyone else has gone to bed. We work at an old farm table, in my cozy studio, creating whatever whimsical gem Mother J. has dreamed up.

Although she is not visible to the human eye, I have visited her in my dreams. Mother Junker looks just like Bea Arthur but with Bernadette Peters style hair, in a metallic, silvery, peppery grey. She sings like Rosemary Clooney, Laughs like Phyllis Diller, Loves the earth and always smells like fresh baked cinnamon buns. Her sense of humor rivals Lucille Ball and her favorite color is the rainbow. She loves her collection of 1960s, paisley caftans because of the way their bright, billowy sleeves blow in the wind. She lives with an "Auntie Mame" outlook on life and her favorite time of year is always the current season.

Rollin' down the road in her 1940s Ford pick up truck (she changes the oil herself), she dreams of Autumn breezes, Summer beaches, Winter snow angels & Spring gardens. She is full of fascinating stories of exotic travels, humorous happenings and life's lessons learned the hard way. She never misses a garage sale, slows down for a closer look when she spies a dumpster overflowing with an old chair, teakettle or piece of weathered wood. She trolls the neighborhood trash from time to time for little bits and pieces that might just make it into one of our creations.

Mother Junker has raised with love and joy many children, all of whom have grown up to be confident, wonderfully kind adults who each have made the world a better and happier place in one way or another. She has been in love many times... Always with an open heart and mind. Her life is filled with friends that love her whimsical ways and her rabid spontaneity. She is everything the world is not and the world is everything she is not, together they are a great combination.

She encourages me to always eat dessert first, because life is far too short. She knew great fear as a child but became the class clown at 10, a hippie at 17, the life of every party at 21, but an Artist since birth. Desperate for a means to express herself freely... She's a little bit of the best in me and a little bit of the best in you and a little bit of everyone I have ever known. She believes with her heart that all you really need is love. The rest of the stuff in life is just the ketchup. She is a junker, a Mother, a muse, A lover and when needed, a fighter. A friend, a figment and a delightful thing to think about... She is not real but she is REALLY fabulous. She gives me permission to be creative, an Artistic voice whispering encouragement. She challenges me to express the feelings of the moment, to share what lives in my soul... Faith, love, fun and sometimes even fears... Whatever I can fathom. She has made a home in my heart.... OK. Feel better? Yup. Me too. Now that we have that out of the way we can move on... Stay tuned. Namaste.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Beautiful. Vintage. Reclaimed. Recycled. Repurposed. 

      I have tried many times to start blogging about what i do, who i am and the talented, witty, creative cast of characters I share my life with. The short answer is I am a divorced Mother of 2. I am a junker, a fixer, a recycler, a re-purposer, a designer, a writer, a sole proprietor, a lover, a life partner, a friend, an unknown comic, a homemaker, a cook, a taxi service,  a girl Friday... There are a few others I could list, but frankly I'm exhausted. And frankly we just cyber-met,  my life as an "in-shower-rock-&-roll-diva" is TMI at this juncture. 

      My main stumbling block has been that the story is bigger than me and cannot be told on a piece of paper or a brief, digestible blog entry. What I do isn't about me... And the truth is I don't do it alone. It seemed an impossible task to decide where to begin sharing the story.  The solution? I will simply deliver my ramblings just as i deliver my shop and antique show displays... They will be vignettes. "Slice of life" always seemed a bit of a macabre cliche to me... So we'll call them "life vignettes".

     There are a few constants in this crazy, gypsy-esque, "peddler of vintage wares" life that I lead. The first is that change is constant. These pieces that my partner Brad and I find, fix, re-purpose and pour life back into are with us briefly and each has a story. A "before and after"... Life before us and the new life we give each treasure. Hence one of the many reasons to blog. We want to share with you some of the stories, some funny, some historically fascinating but all interesting adventures, in one way or another, of the objects and furnishings we bring to our clients around the country.

      We are not in the "stuff" business. We are in the "people" business. I cringe at sharing this overused cliche but... Wait for it... Wait for it... "It's not about the money". It was and always will be about the people. The money? Sure I need the money, I have 2 young boys to feed, a roof over my head, gas to buy, supplies to purchase; But frankly there are easier and more lucrative ways to just "make money". For example, get a "real job" (as Mom likes to say). You know, the kind in a nice, tidy, warm office where you get one of those "weekly paychecks". I constantly grapple with the fact that yes... Most people my age actually KNOW what they're going to make each week. Well, here's another one of those "constants" I mentioned... I'm not a "desk" kinda gal. While things like health insurance, a paycheck and a bit of financial security seem like welcome luxuries, I am a modern day gypsy. Travel, change, risk, create with my hands, work hard or die. All 5 of those have to be involved or I wither on the vine within minutes. It's true. Crazy sounding but true. I like physical labor. I do not fear change. Life on the edge appeals to me and I love what i do. If I had a dime for every time a friend with one of those cozy desk jobs, a paycheck and health insurance told me how "lucky" I was to do what I do.... Well, I could retire. Sure, I don't feel lucky when I put in a 70 hour week to do a show, drive 3 hours and face a market space under an electric pole that gets struck by lightning and nearly knocks myself and 3 clients on our behinds... Did I mention we were standing in 3 inches of fresh, rain soaked mud? True story. I've got a hundred more of those stories to share but we'll save that for another time. I'm not complaining. It's just part of the business.

      So settle in, grab a cup a joe and enjoy. I want to take you on a journey. We'll have some laughs, I'll share some pictures, some stories and some creative ideas. I hope to provide a place here you might relate to. A place where you might recognize yourself in some of these adventures and I hope you will share your thoughts too. My plan is to share with you at least once a week in the months and years ahead. We can all grow & laugh together and have what I hope to be... A wild ride (Think Thelma & Louise meets American Pickers without the death and murder stuff). Truth is, after all, stranger than fiction. Thanks for stopping by.  "Cyber-see-you soon"... Namaste.