15 July 2012

Traveling Life’s Highways is Documented in Butterfly in the Attic’s Artfire Studio

It may sound strange to some, but there was a time when travel was something the average person was unable to participate in on a regular basis. Flying was expensive and many men and women only saw the world by joining the military.

In fact, it was not until the 1950s that the United States even had a highway system; most people only traveled locally and vehicles were considered a luxury.Then President Dwight D. Eisenhower pushed for the creation of interstate travel. With the opening of the highway system, people began to see the USA in their Chevrolet.

In the early part of the 20th century, most people were limited to travel stories from wealthy neighbors, relatives or employers and if the person was really lucky, they would receive a postcard from some far off exotic land that was probably some place they would never be able to see in person.

Newly married, Colleen (Roush) Cornelius and owner of Butterfly in the Attic has been captivated by travel since she was a little girl growing up in the Midwest. Her dreams of travel were ignited by those postcards from places far and wide with their tinted drawings and places with exotic fruit, like coconuts, from Miami. Vintage art enchanted her and novelty postcards amused her. Her collection of vintage art goes back to her childhood.

“I have been collecting vintage items since I was a child and it started out with my fascination with postcards,” Colleen said. In addition to collecting postcards, she has been working with natural crafts for over 20 years, combining skill, art and items from nature to create her art.

Vintage Linen Postcard - Cluster of Coconuts in Florida - Colorful

“I love working with paper and vintage items. I am relatively new to creating with paper aside from the traditional art of sketching and painting,” Colleen said when asked about her creative endeavors. She not only uses paper in her art, but she incorporates minerals, dried flowers and other items that nature donates to her projects as they both see fit.

Both of Colleen’s grandmothers taught her to crochet, sew and design jewelry and left her with a lot of supplies and freedom. She lends importance to the freedom of creating what she sees in her mind’s eye and her postcards provide some of her inspiration.

Although Colleen is a full-time employee outside of her studio, she is driven to make this her full-time profession. She currently puts in just as many hours creating and working on her business as she does as a manager outside of the studio. She is no stranger to online businesses and had been a vintage seller on eBay while dreaming of taking the step towards selling her art. She would love to sell at festivals, but she is not able to fit the time it takes to do shows into her busy schedule. Her days off are dedicated to creating new items for her studio.

Currently, Colleen is preparing to launch her digital art section in her studio. “It takes a good while to get a good selection done, so I am holding off until I have a complete collection ready before I list it,” she said of selling her artwork.

As part of Colleen’s natural art, she has created some wonderful selections of sachet. Keeping with her love of vintage, she has paired up her sachet packets with vintage and contemporary ornaments or sachet holders to create a timeless gift. The sachet packets can be placed in the holders for a wonderfully natural scent throughout the bedroom or bath.

Handmade Sachet Mix Graceful Swan Pomander

Not only does she provide drawer or dresser top goodies, she has a few that belong in the shower or bath. By letting the water run over the sachet, the scent creates a soothing atmosphere of natural oils and scents.

Handmade Lavender Oatmeal Bath Mix for Sachets


A sachet is also a vintage item by its own right. It was originally a small disposable bag that contained things like flower petals, such as a rose, and placed within a drawer to keep stockings, undergarments and the delicates fresh and lightly scented. It was used in linen drawers to give sheets and towels a pleasant scent. Sachets precluded dryer sheets and other perfumed detergents.

“My vintage items are usually very rare and unique. They make a statement about the era they come from. My handmade items are very high quality and I take my time making them by hand,” Colleen said, adding that she does not have fancy equipment or more than the bare necessities of tools to create her labor of love.

4 Beautiful Romantic Red Rose Gift Tags - Shabby Chic - Handmade

Colleen is currently residing with her new husband in Fresno, California. She is enjoying the lower humidity since it helps her work on her paper crafts without a dehydrator as she did in Wisconsin.

Colleen advises new artists and crafters to enjoy what they do. Although things may take awhile to sell, she contends that at least you can surround yourself with the things you love while waiting.

Colleen would love to learn how to blow glass because the art form takes a tremendous amount of skill and not just everyone can do that particular craft.

Her idea of a perfect day is one where she can just escape into creating without distraction or the need to stop until she is ready. She can be found sipping Jasmine tea in her small, but beautiful Japanese garden when she is not working.

Her admiration for her new husband is both personal and professional. “He is a formally trained and true artist and I love his work,” she said.

Butterfly in the Attic has a little story behind it, which can be found on her blog. The story involves a dark and scary attic and what magic Colleen found there as a child.

Explore travels of your own by visiting Butterfly in the Attic’s Artfire studio.

Follow Colleen on her journeys by following her blog, her twitter, liking her on both her Facebook pages and adding her Artfire studio to your favorites.

Blog:   http://butterflyintheattic.blogspot.com/
FB:     http://fb.com/ButterflysAttic
ETSY:  http://www.postcardsintheattic.etsy.com/


  1. love learning all about our guild members! Wonderful!

  2. Wonderful story and insight to the background of Colleen's work. Thank you so much for the story.
    Lisa :)

  3. Thank you so much for such a beautiful interview. I couldn't have described my passions better myself.

  4. Beautifully crafted items and what sounds like beautiful surroundings to work in too. I now have an excellent mental image of this Guild member; thanks Julie!

  5. Interesting post! I feel a great nostalgia for times past too... love the crocheted items and her attention to detail.

  6. Great story....thanks for sharing!

  7. Enjoyed hearing about the creative life of one of our fellow artist. You have some beautiful pieces, I especially like the red rose gift tags. Best wishes for a successful launch of your new digital art section.

  8. Love those sachet bags. I remember them from my grandmother's dresser and closet and use them in my own house. They are so much better than commercial scents that overpower your nostrils and take over a whole room! This blog has introduced us to such a cool lady! I love learning about guild sisters. Colleen, I think those shabby chic gift tags are wonderful!

  9. What a wonderful post! Have "known" Colleen through the twitter tree we both participate in and have always enjoyed looking at her postcards. They remind me of my Aunt who traveled the world and sent back postcards - I treasured each and every one of them and dreamed about visiting those places. Colleen's postcards bring back that bit of the childhood dreams. It's fabulous getting to know Colleen even better. And congratulations on your new life - may you have many, many years of joy and happiness.

  10. Great interview! I love those gift tags!


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