Alone Again, Naturally

I’m a little out of sorts this evening. Jessica and her husband, John came for dinner tonight. I wanted to have a nice “moving out” celebration for Brian. It’s a big move for him, and as excited as he is, it is equally hard for me. When you have your babies you don’t really think about the day they will leave, and they will, it’s the way it is, as it should be. When he came over tonight he was really tired, he and his roommates had their first gathering last night, so I’m pretty sure he didn’t sleep. Dan told me that Brian was going to spend the night here, that he was too tired to go to his new place. I didn’t say anything, but I was thrilled. In the end he went back to his place taking just a little piece of my heart with him. I’ll adjust, it will take time as it did when Jessica moved out. Your kids are your everything. It comes to a point when you don’t remember life without them, and then suddenly they are grown and moving out. Now begins the true rediscovery of self, still a mother, always a worrier, but now mothering and worrying from afar, and figuring out my place in the world once again. I think thanks to this blog/project I have a good head start.

I have a not quite finished project for tonight. I started working on old piece I had, a long narrow vanity mirror. I bought it several years ago at an antique store. It was painted red when I bought it, a dull flat paint, but I loved the floral detail at the ends. I’ve been meaning to do something with it for years. I painted it cream earlier today, and then I went back with a little distressing. Tomorrow I want to add a little antique glaze and silver leaf. As for the mirror, I discovered a process a few years ago in distressing mirror. Through a happy accident I ended up removing all of the mirror in one section. I added a photo from France behind it and loved how it looked. I wanted to do something similar here. I removed the mirrored surface in the center of this long rectangular mirror in an oval shape. It isn’t perfect, it wasn’t meant to be. I started out with another French photo but wasn’t achieving the look I wanted. I had some new photos that I took of the dried bridesmaid bouquets from Jessica’s wedding. Just what I needed. I printed the photo on vellum, I love the translucent quality of it. I wrapped the piece of cardboard under it in a piece of white paper. When you print on vellum and use white beneath the colors really pop. The flowers look like live flowers beneath the glass. A few finishing touches in the morning and it will be ready for etsy. I love it, but I can’t keep everything. (At least that’s what I keep telling myself!)2 9 14

Life Changes

We had big changes here today, our son Brian has moved out.  We are now officially Empty Nesters. It’s a strange feeling knowing that he won’t live here anymore, it will definitely take some time to adjust. I’ve spent twenty-three years seeing him daily, and worrying about him continually. Of course the worry won’t ever go away, I am of course a mother, but I will miss him terribly. I did request an occasional text message so that I know he is OK. It seems silly since he will only be living fifteen minutes away, but he is still my baby. It does of course mean that I might be able to steal some storage space for my supplies.

We spent most of today trying to escape our noisy house, hopefully by tomorrow the bathroom floor and dining room ceiling will have dried. We spent time at Starbucks, the library the grocery store, and the home improvement store, basically anywhere that was less noisy than here. As for tonight, we are holed up in our bedroom with the door closed. It is the quietest spot in the house. It’s been a rough week, I’m more than happy for it to be coming to an end.

After days of not feeling so creative today was a good day. I pulled out my Sculpey and ended up creating some really nice pieces. I’m working on another of my small art boxes and came up with an idea for the cover. In keeping with my romantic themed art boxes, I created a piece to glue to the top of the box. I used a cookie cutter to cut out a Sculpey heart that I attached to a flat piece of the same clay. Once those were secured together I added a metal keyhole, and then I embellished it with very small handcrafted details. After the piece was baked I used my favorite paints for crafts, the Martha Stewart line, this time in metallic. I used the same paints to paint the cardboard box. The piece is really coming out nice. I needed to create another piece to cover the inside of the hole in the box cover. I’m not sure which yet I’ll use, but I created two pieces to choose from. I really love how these pieces came out, as did Dan. Its nice when he has a reaction to something I’ve done. He’s used to me messing around with stuff and showing him what I’ve come up with. He always likes what I do, but every now and then I get a really great reaction and it means a lot.2 7 14

2 7 14 (1)

2 7 14 (3)

2 7 14 (2)

The Death Of Imagination

A little bit of a somber post tonight, and for me out of the ordinary social commentary. Dan and I had a discussion this morning while walking, it was about imagination. The topic was inspired by my search for supplies provided by Mother Nature to add to my ever-growing ideas for the fairies I make. Not long ago I was asked by a friend how I get my ideas, and what inspires me. I touched on it a bit here in the blog. Then the other night a new friend asked why I make fairies, again I said that I’m not really sure. This morning as we walked along and I treasure hunted, I think I figured some of those answers out. I honestly don’t have any idea where much of what I do, or the inspiration for the projects come from except to say that they are from my imagination, and I believe that much of that comes from my childhood. We spent several years living next to the elevated train tracks in Chicago. Under the tracks there was nothing but empty space, weeds and occasionally trash.There was also an empty lot directly across the street. We played under those tracks and in that empty lot. We played house and pioneers amongst other things. We gathered sticks and rocks, and anything we “imagined” to be something else. We came home from school and played “school”. We read books voraciously, and added color to the black and white line drawings of coloring books. All of that activity spurred the growth of more imagination, and if you were like me and born with the drive to create it was fuel for the future. Several years ago my son commented that Dan and I must have been really bored growing up because we had no video games. I said, “We used our imagination.”  No there were no video games, no DVDs, and television was limited to the three major networks and a local channel. No one was telling us how to play, no one was putting the ideas in our heads. Violence on television wasn’t the realistic gore of today, unless of course we had on the evening news in which case we watched the war in Vietnam in our living rooms. There is so much trash filling our kids heads, so much “celebrity”, it isn’t reality. Sometimes I am shocked at how little class people show, how they debase themselves for their fifteen minutes of fame, it sends out the wrong message to everyone who watches it. My childish brain was full of scenarios of my own creation, and I didn’t have to grow up before I was ready. So much of what I do is born of the kind of childhood I had. Fairies? “The Fairy Who Didn’t Believe In Children” by Marjorie Barrows, a story I loved. I wonder how much time kids these days get to pretend to be something other than who they are, if they even know how. How much time is being spent with a good book in hand instead of an I Pad, or a video game controller? Who will write the next great fairy tale, the one that will last for generations?  We hear so much talk about what skills kids need to learn in school to be competitive in the future, I think maybe we need to add to the curriculum, a class titled “Imagination”, no books, no video, a room full of sticks and empty boxes, and inventiveness. Just imagine what could happen.

Last night I was juggling three projects. Tonight I’m down to one. I’ve put my suitcase box idea off for a day in order to cook something special for Dan for Superbowl Sunday. I focused on finishing the keyhole box, and I am again very pleased with my results. Instead of painting over the metal finish I added a scan of one of my vintage French postcards, and then on the other side I decoupaged a beautiful photo I took a few years ago. It is of a bouquet of dried roses and hydrangea. The photos are just beautiful and I’ve used them on several projects. One more vintage postcard, and the glue and burning metal technique for the back.

Just to make your mouths water “imagine” this: Korean Barbeque Short-rib Tacos, creamy homemade guacamole, a chipolte mayo coleslaw, and a lemon Sriracha aioli, and sesame seed, on small appetizer size corn tortillas. Amazing. Probably the best thing I’ve ever cooked. I think great cooks have a gift for inventiveness too.

A reminder of the front that I posted last night…IMG_5328

…The interior of the finished box.IMG_5343

A side viewIMG_5342

Just one more to add a picture to your imagination…my tacosIMG_5334

Under Lock And Key

Onto more of art of a different kind. As I near the final stretch of this three hundred sixty-five day project I haven’t used nearly enough of the supplies in my studio, which as I pointed out a few weeks ago was the inspiration for this project. I have several cigar boxes that I bought without having a project in mind. I also have quite a bit of hardware. Old drawer handles, knobs, light switch plates, etc. I seem to be on a roll with the lock and key designs. I have a fascination with vintage locks and keys. It makes me wonder if it has anything to do with that love of hiding as a kid, or the more likely cause, my horrific claustrophobia. I got locked in a bathroom when I was five, big old wooden door with old-fashioned key lock. It seemed like an eternity before my Uncle Johnny climbed through a second floor window to rescue me. I think it may have contributed to some control issues as well. I’m OK as long as I have the control, or the key. It’s funny how you can have these moments when you remember something in your life that takes you back, and you can realize as an adult how it contributed to the person you have become. I would consider myself a very introspective person, I like to analyze the who’s and why’s of myself and other people.

The cigar box I used today is wood, I managed through a lot of trial and error to cut a hole big enough to set a vintage keyhole into. Once I had managed to get the hole into the box I covered the front in some vintage wallpaper and added a little bit of copper leaf. The inside of the lid is a quandary for me at the moment, how to cover the hole in the inside of the lid but allow the keyhole to remain open. As for what else will occur with the box remains to be seen. I’m just not sure where I want to go with this one. As for last night’s project, my altered art piece, I have a piece I want to add to it that I can’t find at the moment, hopefully tomorrow. I’ll post photo of the finished project when I have it completed.1 30

Daily Detours

Despite my best efforts my daily life continues to get in the way of my art. I start each day with the best of intention, but there always seems to be things that get in the way. I had intended to continue work on my cabinet door project but never found the time to sit down and paint. I’m not complaining, I spent my day being quite productive from a two-hour hike this morning, a little house cleaning, and a wonderful afternoon baking and cooking with my nine-year old friend Gabby. We made banana muffins, and frozen fruit pops from a children’s cookbook I bought her for Christmas, made soup for my family and for my lovely Theresa who is very under the weather. There was also forty-five minutes on the phone with my eighty-one year old Dad, who was trying to explain to me how he wants me to make a house for two little figurines that I gave him years ago that resemble my children. I’m still not sure what he wants, but he is going to send them to me and I’ll come up with something. So here it is past seven in the evening and I am searching for a project. I did start a watercolor painting, at least the rough sketch, but it is a gift for someone so I can’t use it until Friday because it’s a surprise. I do have another small upcycling project in my bag of tricks, so that may be it for tonight…

Three hours later…I’m back with a finished??? project. I question the finished part because I’m not sure if I am happy or finished. It’s late, I dragged my feet on this one. Honestly, I didn’t feel like working tonight, but I made myself do it. I was afraid that I took one night off it would turn into two, or three. This project has given me so much, but I still struggle with the day-to-day of making time for art. I’m worried about giving up on myself. When this year is up I most likely won’t be writing every day, but I hope to be working every day.

Tonight a hat stand. An old wooden spindle, two pieces of craft wood, and some paint. I upholstered the top and trimmed it out. Not sure I like the trim, but it’s late, and I’m too tired to make decisions.IMG_3954



Orphans Of Another Kind

Last night I brought out one of the “orphans”, my half done works of art. There are however other “children” lurking in the corners of the studio. I have mentioned that I’m a little A.D.D. in the art department. I start many other projects that I am completely interested in at the moment, but then my attention gets drawn to a different project and I forget all about the first one. Many of these orphans happen to be furniture pieces. Always with the idea of resale in mind. I have more of these projects than I care to say. Pieces that fill my garage and even my garden in hopes of one day finding a new home. I have chosen to adopt one of them as my project for today, and possibly tomorrow. It’s an old drop leaf table I bought a few years ago. One of the reasons I haven’t finished it as of yet is that I kept changing my mind on how I wanted to paint it. I have finally decided to paint it like an old hand painted Victorian plate. I have a small collection of these beautiful antique plates, some of them are exquisite. One of my favorites has both Violets and Hydrangea on it, which just happen to be amongst my favorite flowers. I thought if the top were down it would be a beautiful piece of art on its own. I still have some work to complete on it, but I think I’ve finally hit on what I want to do. The base of the table is still painted from another incarnation, but the top is well on its way to where I want it to be. I want to get it finished tomorrow. There are way too many unfinished art projects cluttering up my house and my head. New year, time to clean up the clutter, and more importantly time to make some money.IMG_3565



Taking Things A Step Further

Feeling so much better today. My feet are beginning to forgive me, and my knees are almost back to their daily pain instead of the almost intolerable aches of yesterday. Have I mentioned that they creak? If you’ve ever seen the old Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella television production starring Lesley Anne Warren you will understand. One of the ugly step sisters (as if it weren’t bad enough that she was ugly) had creaking knees that made noise, that’s me. My days of sneaking up on people are over, I sound as though I click castanets when I climb the stairs. Most days its just part of my life, some days are like yesterday when I start picking out which Rascal I want to drive. I’ve become accustomed to the pain. My doctor tore her A.C.L. a few years ago. When she saw me she said I was the first person she thought of, and then she told me she sold her two-story house and bought a ranch style home because she now had a bad knee. I called her a wimp. I probably go up and down our stairs a minimum of a dozen times a day. I’m stubborn, I refuse to give up.

Today was a day that I was up and down more than twenty times while working on my project. I am so happy with the results of the glue and burning technique that I am anxious to see where it can go next. I went into the studio to see what I had to play with. I had purchased a couple of four-dollar mirrors from Ikea. They are unfinished wood and a terrific surface for painting or decoupage. Originally I had planned to just burn the glue right on there, but then I remembered that I had some Anaglypta wallpaper. It is wallpaper that is embossed. (Created by Thomas Palmer and introduced in 1887. Thank you for the history lesson!) I’ve used it for covering hat boxes before. I have a couple of rolls from my Dad, one of the advantages of being the artistic daughter of a house painter is that there is some pretty cool stuff lying around. One of the rolls has a Fleur-de-lis pattern on it. I glued it to the surface of the wood frame and then added another coat of glue on top. Then I burnt it. Very cool, looks like tin ceiling tile. I added my usual metallic paint treatment to it. I loved how it looked but it seemed ordinary to me. Up the stairs again. I have a box of metal odds and ends. Old drawer handles, door plates, keys, springs, etc…thanks again Dad. I figured there had to be something I could add. I toyed with the idea of adding something to hang stuff on, like necklaces, but it seemed impractical. One of the drawer handles stood out so I glued it to the top. Still not enough. Back up to see what else was there. I dumped the box out. At the bottom was a piece from a very old candelabra that sits in my room. It had fallen over and a piece broke off. I saved it because I save everything. That’s when I decided to add it to the front of the mirror to turn it into a mirrored sconce. The addition of two other vintage drawer handle pieces to brace the candle cup were a great addition. It isn’t fully completed. I may or may not add some paint to the metal pieces, and I have some soldering to do tomorrow, but it looks so amazing I hot glued the pieces enough to put it together for a photo tonight.1 3 14 (2)


1 3 14 (3)

1 3 14 (4)

1 3 14 (5)

1 3 14 (1)

1 3 14 (6)

Has Anyone Seen My…?

Maybe it has to do with all the balls I’m juggling in the air these days, but I seem to be losing my mind just a wee bit. For example, twice in the last week I have gone in search of my glasses only to find them attached to my body. I hang them on the front of my shirt, I’ve done so for years, yet somehow these days that little fact seems to be slipping my mind. I do have a very long history of losing my car, and I mean losing it everywhere. Church, the grocery store, the mall, so much in fact that I now have particular spots that I use just so I know where to look. A while back I wandered aimlessly through a store lot searching for my pickup. I was just about convinced it had been stolen. I had been looking for a good ten minutes. I finally called Dan, who after he stopped laughing, reminded me that I had driven his car. Which by the way I had walked past at least three times in the search for my own vehicle. I’m obviously not a stupid woman. Look what I can do. I also solve the New York Times crossword puzzle every morning. I’d say I have about a seventy-five percent average on finishing it alone, seventy-six to one hundred if I bug the crap out of Dan. So obviously I remember some things. He was making fun of my latest glasses mishap today, referring to me as the absent-minded professor. I am of course getting older, and I have a lot on my mind, but I’m beginning to wonder if some glitter hasn’t made its way into my brain. Or maybe it has to do that as an older woman I have learned to prioritize what matters to me, pushing little details to the side. (That sounds good doesn’t it?) I can still tell the men in my life, Dan and Brian, where every single thing they can’t find in this house is at. It seems that my bad memory only has to do with myself. That would make sense since I usually put myself last. So to sum it all up, I’m forgetting things because:

A.  I am trying to do too much

B.  I am absentminded

C. I have glitter on my brain

D. I’m older

E. I put myself last

F. All of the above?

Actually I have decided that it because for the first time in my life I am devoting every waking moment to creativity. My house is falling down around me, and right now I don’t really care. I am motivated and determined, and have had in recent weeks some new-found confidence in my work. The things that are important to me are always on my mind. My family, my kids, and most of all Dan, but for the first time in my life I’m beginning to see the glimmer of a dream for myself, and if that means I lose a few things along the way…well, except I really do need those glasses.

For tonight a little “upcycling”. A vintage box that I found in OK shape. I’m giving it a touch of nostalgia. One of my photos from Paris changed to black and white and then computer colorized, decoupaged to the top. Inside copies of some of my collection of vintage French postcards, and a small mirror. I have a few finishing touches to complete, but the glue on the mirror needs to dry so those will wait until tomorrow.  I’m pretty happy with the finished product.IMG_2729





Shining A Little Light On The Future

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.lamp 026lamp 027lamp 043

Hello, I’m Brian’s Mother

As I said the other evening, I am always honest in my blog writing. Full disclosure here. The very funny remark I attributed to my son last night about glitter being the herpes of craft supplies, should actually be attributed to the very funny Jim Gaffigan. When I told my son tonight that I had quoted him in my blog he was horrified. First because he said if I had told him I was going to quote him he would have told me the line was from Mr. Gaffigan, but I think even more so because I am exposing his secret to the world. Yes, he has a mother. When Brian was a little boy he was very attached to me. So much so in fact that Dan thought Brian didn’t like him. How quickly things change. By the time he was nine Brian was distancing himself from me. How I missed those cuddles with my little boy. It was in those years that the head bob began. This was Brian’s way of allowing me to kiss him. I’m not exactly sure when he passed me in height, but as soon as he did he began the practice of bowing down just enough for me to kiss the top of his head. I had spent years doing an annual art project with Jessica’s class. Brian stopped me by the fourth grade. Things have improved in the last few years. My little boy is now a man. He still doesn’t seem to want his friends to know I exist, but he has grown a little more affectionate with me. About a year or so ago I did him a favor. I don’t even remember what. What I do remember is that when he came over to hug me in thanks, I freaked. It had been so long since he came near me I wasn’t sure what was going on, I could say so much more, but I know without a doubt that he won’t be happy with the little bit of him that I have exposed here. All in love my son

I spent my day making fairies once again, so another ghost of projects past. I took an old flatware box and gutted it. Turned it into a box for pretty writing materials for a friend. She loved it. Hopefully tomorrow I can get back to some art that is just for me.

Acrylic paint projects (16)

Acrylic paint projects (17)

Acrylic paint projects (67)

Acrylic paint projects (2)

Acrylic paint projects (7)