Let me repeat myself. You do the math. Seriously, I need help. I mentioned last night that I was working on the grunt work of starting a few pieces. One of them is a game board, a checker board to be precise. What was I thinking? The board I’m working on is a wooden circular table top from the home improvement store. So in the same time-honored tradition of trying to fit a square peg in a round hole, I was trying to figure out where the center of the circle was in order to draw a square. Now as we have discussed in the past, I suck at math. Really, really, horribly suck at math. Yes, I can add, subtract, multiply and even divide, but that’s where I draw the line. I remember algebra and geometry, I still have nightmares, and I distinctly recall thinking, “Why are they making us learn this stuff? I will never need it. It serves no purpose in my life.” I was mistaken. I majored in interior design for a time. Something I have been passionate about as long as I can remember. Then I hit blueprint drawing. Yikes! I switched my major to graphic design and advertising. I never measure anything. So here is the circle sitting in front of me. How to find the middle? You put an album (remember those?) in the middle, eyeball it, sort of kind of measure around it, and trace the shape with a pencil. Sounds simple doesn’t it? Not so much. I spent about a half hour on one side, gave up, flipped it over and started over on the other side. Then came the division of the square into sixty-four evenly sized squares. Nine times. Again I repeat myself, nine times. I finally grabbed another tabletop I had done a few years back, one where I apparently still had some amount of brain function. I used some vellum paper, placed it over the existing checker board and marked the lines. Then after several minutes of professional eyeballing, I managed to finish it. This of course took way longer than I would have liked. My posted picture is a work in progress. I am liking it already. Finished piece tomorrow (promise!) As for the base, you are invited to the marriage of two oddball pieces tomorrow when all will be revealed. I’m not sure if you can tell, but I am again using some Martha Stewart Pearl paint. Beautiful on the unfinished wood. More math tomorrow. I have to figure out the center to attach the post. I think I feel a nightmare coming on…
I read somewhere yesterday that an optimist is someone who starts a diet on Thanksgiving. I think we all know by now that I’m not exactly an optimist, although I’m not really a pessimist either, more of a realist. My reality is that the black cloud that has been hanging over my head needs to take a hike. (And I need to lose ten pounds) We actually had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I thought about what I wrote last night. I think I need to just put this year behind me and focus on next year. (Because it has to be better than this one!) Good things ahead.
I did prep work today for some projects I need to get done for my upcoming shows. Cutting papers for decoupage, sanding, and priming. Nothing is ready to post for tonight that would give any idea of what the finished product will be, so instead I decided to post a photo of an older project. I have a lot of odds and ends. Sometimes inspiration strikes. I had an old standing lamp base, and an old ceiling fixture that needed repair. I soldered the two together to make a single piece. I didn’t want to use it as a lamp, but rather as a plant stand. I removed all the electrical wires, added candles and succulents. I have to admit even I was impressed with my results.
Happy Thanksgiving. I hope you all have much to be thankful for. Despite my “woe is me” moment last night, I realize I have much to be thankful for. I’m keeping it short tonight. The year is coming to a close. It’s been a tough one. There were of course good things. Jessica’s wedding, and having our families join together to celebrate our daughter move to the next phase of her life. Brian seems to have figured out a plan for his life, and despite some aches and pains, Dan and I seem to be in decent health. We are down on our luck, but doing better than so many others. I am anxious for the new year, and hope to have much more to be thankful for in the year to come. Finally, to those I love, don’t ever doubt for a moment how thankful I am for you.
Too much cooking, too much eating, not enough sleep, I’m off to seek my pillow.
I thought a lot about what to write this evening. The night before Thanksgiving, except I’m not feeling very thankful. It’s been several months since Dan lost his job. It has been a roller coaster of feelings around here, but there’s nothing like the beginning of the holiday season to bring emotion to the surface. I really struggled at the grocery store today. This time a year ago I was shopping for food to donate to the food pantry. Don’t get me wrong, we are nowhere near that kind of problem, but it hit me hard that our life has changed so much inside this past year. I think I took a lot for granted. Not the people in my life. I make a point of telling and showing them how much they mean to me. I did however, take for granted that Dan would always have a job, that we would always be OK. So for now my plan is to focus on what’s right in our life. We love each other, we have good kids, we have a wonderful new son-in-law, who makes our daughter very happy, our families are for the most part doing well, and we have some really wonderful friends. I also have a couple of children in my life who have had tragedy strike their lives much too soon. Focus. Focus on what is good in life, focus on what is important, focus on what you have not what you don’t have. Tomorrow I will be grateful to be with the person I love most in this world, there are far too many people who don’t have even that.
My project for tonight is an ornament, but not a Christmas one. It is for Emily. Tomorrow she will be five. She loves mermaids, so a mermaid it is. Also a box to put it in, another of my painted soap boxes. Emily is one more reason to be grateful tomorrow.
It’s just after 8:30 Tuesday evening. I’m sure many people who read my regular ramblings think, “Oh, she is posting early tonight.” I guess in a way that’s true, but in reality it is the end of a fourteen plus hour day. It’s getting near crunch time for my upcoming shows, as well as trying to sell on etsy, and in our local wineries. I’m pushing myself as hard as I can to produce as much as I can, but I care so much about what I do, and the quality of what I produce, that I am not getting as much done as I’d like. That being said, with what I have already sold, and the two Dan left with winery gift shop managers, I have made 98 pieces. I didn’t want to fill my blog with photos of fairies every day, but I’m so tired that I am putting up some of what I did today. I just don’t have an ounce of creativity left in me right now, and my back is killing me from hunching over my work all day. The good news is that Dan brought my “wine fairies” to the wineries today and two of them are considering carrying my item. Dan has been saying for years that I should be supporting him because of how talented I am. I never had the confidence to really try. Now as we find ourselves in a not so great situation I am feeling like I need to push myself. I am finally at a point in my life when I feel like it’s OK to say that I’m good at something. Of course that doesn’t mean I had enough courage to bring my own stuff into the wineries, Dan as always stepped up to the plate. We will know next week if we are in. It could be a fantastic opportunity. I know I shamelessly promoted my esty site here a few days back, but I came up with what I think is a brilliant idea. You know all those wine corks you save from special occasions? I’m turning them into keepsake ornaments. I advertised on my etsy site for people to send me their wine corks with info about their special event and I will turn it into an ornament accompanied by a tag conveying the info. In the process I am recycling corks. Recycling is never a bad thing.
Its been four and a half years since Dan and I were in Paris, and there isn’t a day that goes by when we don’t dream of going back. We talk about the trip often, it was for our twentieth wedding anniversary. We couldn’t afford a honeymoon when we got married. Next June we will celebrate our twenty-fifth anniversary, and the plan had always been to go back to France for it. With our current financial situation, and a new business (hopefully) in our future, that seems unlikely. But we can dream, and plan, and we do. We spend time talking about the places we didn’t get to, the places we would like to return to, and our ultimate dream, which would be to take a boat leisurely down the Seine, and explore the villages along the way. Dan is an Air Force brat, has traveled the world extensively. I have spent some time in three countries aside from France, but for both of us France is the place to calls to us both. Dan speaks of moving there, I’d love to, but I’d never move away from my kids. (I realize they will move away from me, but I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it) If we had gone to Paris on our honeymoon when we were young and first married, I believe we would be living there now. So for now all I can do is sit with the one I love, and share a dream, and sometimes paint a picture.
One of the pleasures of living in Southern California are the November days. Today was a beautiful day. The kind of day that can lift a mood, just the kind of day I needed. Dan and I walked for about forty-five minutes this morning, and it was…painful. OK, I don’t mean to ruin the lovely picture I just painted, but I’m getting old. If you are older you will understand, if you are younger, beware! Every single injury I ever incurred in my life is coming back to haunt me. If you know me then you know that there are quite a few injuries to feel. I won’t bore you to death with the list, but it does bring to mind an “only Me” story. Ten and a half years ago we were preparing our home in Illinois to sell in order to move here. I was painting in the powder room, Dan repairing something in the living room. He was hammering, I don’t recall what, but the vibration was bad enough to knock the mirror off the bathroom wall. It landed on my ankle, my Achilles Tendon to be exact. There are no words to describe the pain. I have given birth to two children, naturally, no drugs, nothing, this pain was right up there with pushing a human being out. It instantly swelled and turned black. Fortunately my tendon didn’t snap. About a year ago my doc looked at it and said I have atrophy of my tendon. Atrophy. A lovely word, right up there with decrepit. Words that begin to appear as you age, like my all time most hated “ma’am. The ankle pain comes and goes when it chooses, and today it chose to visit. I try not to let these things get to me. I own a hospital supply closet (it also happens to be where we keep our clothes), I have every imaginable wrap, brace, elastic bandage, and splint. I also own three canes and three sets of crutches. One was mine, the other two were left on my doorstep by not so funny neighbors when they moved. I grab the corresponding brace or bandage, for the corresponding ailing body part and off I go. I refuse to give in. For the last few days we have seen an elderly woman pushing a walker, the kind with a seat attached, near our house. The kind I keep pointing out to Dan that I will need some day. She was even out there in the rain. I want to be her. I want to be that old and still walking and giving it my all.
A little creativity in the kitchen tonight as well. A Devil’s Food cupcake with a Dulce de Leche butter-cream, drizzled with dark chocolate ganache, and topped with a caramel and chocolate dipped pretzel. Just one of the many treats we hope to have in our cafe.
Here I go again, sitting here at ten o’clock writing my blog with blurry eyes. Another long day of working on my fairies. I did sell a few which is of course the point of all of this, but I have this weird thing going on in my head. I had a goal in mind of how many I wanted to have for the show on December 7th. I have been working towards that number, but then I sell one, or two, or as it turns out this week, seven, I find myself thinking I won’t have enough. As I said, the point of all of it is to sell them. I guess my worry is that I won’t have enough physically to put out at the show. I still have thirteen days to work on them, and of course I don’t have to put them up on etsy, I could just save them for the show, but what if I don’t sell as much at the show as I’d like? Do you see how my brain works? I am easily my own worst nightmare. I’m like one of my cats chasing my tail. Any way I make money these days is good enough. I have to admit I am enjoying them, and it does make me happy to sell them. I need to go to bed. Speaking of my cats…last night Mia made an appearance. Tonight it is Sophie. Every time I sit down to work she sits at my feet waiting. For what? For me to amuse her with something. Its my duty as her human. As always I obey, a piece of string, her favorite.
I’m still struggling to make that time for art. I may be sticking to pen and ink for the immediate future. Tonight I began to think about our business. I can’t wait to get in the space and go to work. I can’t believe how many people feel the need to point out to us that it will be very hard work. We know that, we are hard workers, and I actually love it. The closer we get to making it a reality, the more nervous I get, but I can’t wait to hang our sign that says “Open for business”. I began working on our sign some months ago and haven’t finished it. I need to pull it out after Christmas and get it completed. It is a rather large wood burning project. I want to put our personal touch on everything in the place. Tonight just a little sign to spur us on. I can’t wait until I can hang one for real.
I surrender. The glitter has won. My house is beginning to look a little like Santa’s Workshop. Actually due to my bad knees I’ve lost an inch in height, I believe I am beginning to look like an elf. We had a friend come over for dinner tonight, as she walked in the door and gave me a hug I warned her, “The glitter, it will get you”. She laughed and told me that there was glitter outside the front door. I was so worried about Dan going for his job interview the other day sparkling, I actually brought in the wet/dry vac to get as much of it up as I could. Even my cats are glittered. Of course in Mia’s case it’s because she has some strange need to sit in the middle of my supplies. We keep catching her digging through my boxes looking for little objects to run off with.
I’m working as hard as I can to produce as much as I can in a very short amount of time. I’m sure everyone knows by now how much I appreciate my husband. Once again I need to praise him. He made lunch both yesterday and today, and dinner both nights so that I could get my work done. He also sat this afternoon and painted forty little wooden heads for me, painted on their eyes, painted enough hands and feet to match, and traced and cut out the body base. Once again, wonderful! Thank you, thank you, thank you. Oh, and tonight he mentions that we need to go to the Farmer’s Market in the morning so he can buy me flowers. What can I say, I am the luckiest woman in the world.
Needless to say, (so why am I saying it?) my blog/project is taking a serious backseat these days. I am trying to get to it earlier in the day but stuff just keeps coming up. I even gave thought to putting this project on hiatus, but I know the reality is that if I do that there is a good chance I’ll never come back. My friend suggested I post fairies. Not every night. We are still of course working towards our business. I have more ideas than I have time for in terms of marketing and advertising. Tonight because my day ran late, I did one more book-plate. This one I really like. I really don’t have anything planned for tomorrow other than work. I have a couple of half done projects to get back to. I’d like to have at least one completed for tomorrow night.
I’m waiting again. This time it’s not for someone, but for something. I’m trying a new technique, something I’ve been wanting to try for a while. It involves transferring a photo copy of a picture onto wood. I’m not even sure if it will work. The directions call for a laser printer, I have an ink jet. The wood used in the directions I found was unfinished, mine is painted. Finally, it is supposed to set for 24 hours. Who has that much time? I have to admit that there are a lot of places in my life where I am just plain scared, or completely intimidated. If you read my stuff regularly you also know that it is also an issue in my work, except for a couple of places, in those I’m fearless. One is in design. Give me a room to redo and I am a very happy girl. My passion for interior design goes back to my Barbie days. The other thing is craft projects. I can pretty much see it and do it. That being said, if I don’t follow the directions, or I rush things, or I don’t wait the recommended twenty-four hours…you get what you wait for. The photo is printed with the image reversed. Mod Podge is painted on the wood, and then the photo is pressed down using a Brayer, the back of a spoon, or in my case my finger. Wait twenty-four hours, dampen the photo and gently rub off the paper. The image should remain on the wood. My project didn’t turn out where I wanted it to be, but it turned out enough for me to see the possibility. Tomorrow I’ll try again. I won’t be posting the results until Saturday, twenty-four hours later! I’m posting as promised my warts and all projects. My failed project to follow. I do however have another little creature to post. Inspired by myself, a fairy artist.
The second photo is when I wet the paper and the photo began to reveal itself. Notice the lower right corner, I had dampened the entire piece but when I began to rub the paper off I could see that it was too soon. Did I stop? Of course not. As you can see by the third photo, if I had actually waited the twenty-four hours it might have been really cool. Then again since I didn’t start with an unfinished piece, maybe not. Tomorrow I may actually follow the directions. What a novel idea.