First Steps

Today was a day to plan the future. We spent today on the hunt for a possible business location. It’s harder than you might imagine. There is a lot at stake here, and finding the right spot is essential. The entire process of opening a business is both exciting and terrifying. It is however a dream that I have had for many years. Now it is a dream that must become a reality if we want to find a way to earn a living. That may sound melodramatic but at our age people seem to view us as too old to be of any use. Dan has had his age come up repeatedly in interview after interview, and has been asked more than once if he can “keep up”. One of my friends has a husband just a few years older than us who has been out of work. He is a hardworking man who knows his business. He is also in excellent shape. He continues to play softball with his sons and their friends who are in their twenties. He recently had the opportunity to pick up some part-time work. The young man who was interviewing him for the job actually asked if at his age he could still climb a ladder. Trust me this man does not look his age, and looks in much better shape than your average thirty year old. My sister lost her job in December. She is one of the hardest working women I know, and she can run rings around people half her age. She was turned down for a job because the interviewer was concerned about how much longer she could work. She is only fifty-three. As we move forward in this business I will be going out of my way to look for the kind of mature responsible employees that my sister and our friend are. There’s a lot we can teach some younger workers about how things need to be done.

I have an upcycled project for tonight, but as so often happens I forget to take the “before” shots. (I guess I’m getting old.) An old cabinet door front that has been given new life as a shadow box. I left the door as it was found, just a little cleaning, and built a box to attach to the back. I gave it one shelf right in the middle. On the bottom I added another small vintage wooden shelf. I painted the interior in a dark maroon. The perfect place to display some of my pottery.

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Oops!

At the show, and the fact that I have time to write tonight’s post should give you some inclination of how it’s going. Not a customer in sight, this despite the fact that I am between an exit door coffee/ice cream stand. I was assured that this was a successful show in the past, but not for me. Oh wait, I did make one sale, an adorable little girl came by and was looking longingly at one of my zombie ornaments so I sold it to her for a dollar. What can I say? I’m a sucker for kids. It’s really disappointing. We didn’t get to bed until nearly twelve thirty, got up at six fifteen, and have now been standing on my feet since about eight fifteen this morning, it’s currently 12:27 Pacific Coast time, two and a half hours left to go. I know I’m in the wrong place, if you were to look around me you would see quite frankly momentous amounts of crap. I’m talking manufactured merchandise, the toilet paper cover crafting that I abhor, and a lady trying to sell massages. An “art show” it’s not. I try not to judge the work of others, but I know that my work is heads above what I’m seeing. I always swear I’ll never do another one of these school shows, but I thought maybe I could add a little to the family finances. I’ve gotten several comments on my work, “Beautiful!”, “You’re so talented.”, etc., but no one seems to want to pay the price. My pieces are always marked less than they are worth (insert lack of self-esteem here), but still people don’t seem to want to buy them. It’s hard, I’m tired, I’ve worked really hard for nearly a month, and I just wanted to succeed a little. I need to learn from this, and discover where I belong. I need to find better shows. I’m not sure how, but I guess a little internet investigating is in order. As for today, I can’t wait to go home and get off my feet. Tomorrow everything will go on etsy. I probably should have done that in the first place.

It is much later in the day, 7:15 in fact.The earlier blog was posted by accident…oops, from Dan’s iPad. So the result of all my hard work? $68 Whoopee!!! After five hours of standing on my feet, weeks and weeks of hard work. We took my meager earning and went out to dinner. Our feet hurt, I was understandably upset, and we were hungry. No new art to post tonight but some I haven’t posted yet. Taking the night off. I deserve it.IMG_6551 IMG_6549 IMG_6548 IMG_6547 IMG_6546 IMG_6545 IMG_6544

Nothing to choose from right?

One For The Money

Every now and then I can pick up a small side job, or a craft show that brings a little money into our house. These days any extra cash is welcome here. I have a dear friend who has in the last few months thrown a little work my way. She has found projects around her home that she has asked me to update, or refinish. I really appreciate the business. Last year I painted a mantel shelf for her. A few weeks ago she asked me to paint a table to match. The table is my art project for today, I’ve spent the better part of today perfecting the finish. I unfortunately didn’t take a “before” photo, but if you can imagine it in its original form it was brown, non-distinctive wood. A few coats of polyurethane and it’s finished.

I haven’t really picked up my regular paintbrush in a bit. As things here at home have gotten down to the wire I’m feeling very stressed. I haven’t felt like painting. It’s honestly been a struggle to work at all in the last few days. I have so much on my mind, hesitant to hope with Dan’s job opportunity, adjusting to Brian moving out, and daily issues with my aging father. I need to figure out a way to relax and let my mind wander, and recharge my creativity. There are a few things in my life that always cheer me up. Three of them are my cats. One of them is always near getting in my way while I work. Whether its to sit on me, to sit on the paper I’m working on, or making a bed in my drop-cloth so I can’t move it, they always make me smile.

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One Man’s Trash

Some time ago on this blog I wrote about my Dad and myself and how we “saved” things. I referred to us by the name my Mom gave us which was Sanford and Daughter. This morning I was watching CBS Sunday Morning, the news and human interest story program. On one of the segments there was a piece about hoarders, it is now a diagnosed mental disorder. I didn’t even have to turn my head, I knew Dan was smiling behind the newspaper, particularly when it came to the woman who saves the metal holder off the top of Chinese takeout containers because, “You’ll never know what you can use them for.” Famous last words. Words I have spoken so much, much more than you can imagine. My “Artistic Fridge” that I am in the process of cleaning out is filled with lots and lots of  “I can use this for something” fragments. In my defense I actually do use some of these pieces from time to time, but I will admit there are probably more pieces than I will ever get to. People with this disorder have anxiety when separating from their things. It apparently runs in families. Funny since I referred to my daughter as “Sanford and Granddaughter”only yesterday . It made me sad to see how difficult it was for some of the people on the show, but also made me realize that maybe I really need to look at all the stuff, the fragments, the pieces of things I have kept. I certainly think I may have just a touch of this disorder, or harkening back to another post about Myra and Emma (the ladies who rewarded us neighborhood children with candy for picking up trash), it may just be that I can’t stand to see waste, or see something perfectly usable end up in a landfill. Could it possibly be The Boxcar Children? The books by Gertrude Chandler Warner that so enthralled me as a child? All that said, I’m ninety percent finished with the first of my window projects. An old window, scrap plywood, left over fabric, and vintage hooks. In other words, garbage. Bits and pieces given new life in something quite useful and pretty.

I’ve again leaned the window against a mirror for the center. There are three small hooks on the bottom for hanging jewelry or keys, and one larger hook on the side.Tomorrow we attempt to cut the mirror once again.2 23 14 (2)

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Superstitious

I’ve never been to see a psychic. I’d like to say it’s because I don’t believe in psychics, but the truth is that I’m not sure if I believe in them, and I know myself. I have a very active imagination, and as I have mentioned more than once in past posts, I’m Irish. (If you happened to have not read it, it means glass not full, nor empty, because the glass is shattered on the floor.) I’ve always been afraid that if I heard something that wasn’t good I’d obsess. (I’m also phenomenally good at obsessing.) It would rule my life, no matter how much I would try to convince myself that it was nonsense there would be that little corner of my mind that would poke its nasty self into my every waking moment. It’s much the same with superstition. We’ve had a rough year, and the disappointments, bad luck, and struggles continue and seem to have no end. (Dan does have a promising job interview on Tuesday, but I’m honestly afraid to be hopeful.) In the last few days I’ve been writing about the never-ending window projects. I left them alone yesterday, I needed a break. Today with fresh eyes I went back to work on one of them. This would be the larger of the two that I intend to turn into sort of a jewelry/mirror/memo center. A place where you can check hair or makeup, choose your necklace, and read your to do list before you have to run out the door. I coated four of the triangular shapes with magnetic paint, and then on top of that a few coats of chalkboard paint. The two side panels will allow for tucked in memos, I plan on covering them tomorrow and adding ribbon detail, and finally the center, which will become a mirror. Except this, I bought a door mirror to cut to fit the center. I’ve never cut glass. I watched a YouTube video which of course made me an instant expert.  I broke a piece off. Seven years bad luck. Then Dan came in. He has cut glass, successfully, but not this time. Four breaks. So basically right now we are looking at another thirty-five years of bad luck. (Openly groveling for all reading this to wish me good karma.) Do I believe in the superstition of seven years of bad luck for a broken mirror? Seven years times five? Not to mention we have to try again tomorrow!!! I’d like to say no…but there is that nasty little corner of my mind….

So here is what’s happening so far…IMG_5625

I leaned the window against a mirror in my guest room. (Notice the magnet) Still much to do, but I think you get the idea…

…to be continued.

Just Ask Me

The window saga continues. I won’t bore you with the details…until tomorrow.

My work of art tonight is a gift for a friend, and while the subject of my blog tonight is about asking, my friend didn’t ask for this gift. I love to do things for people. I truly enjoy giving of my talents to others. As I told Dan earlier this evening, if I weren’t me, but knew me, I’d ask me to do things for me. Got that? I have many talents and am more than happy to make, or paint, or draw, anything for those I care about. Several months ago I created a piece of altered art that I recently brought out to hang in my hallway. Theresa was here and saw it, and admired it greatly. I had made this particular piece on a board that we had left over from a project years ago. I had another nearly identical piece of the same wood. I sent her a message today asking which bible verse it was that she liked. Proverbs 3:5-6. Using a photograph of a small statue I have in my bedroom as my angel, and some photos of Calla Lilies taken in a graveyard in Richmond, I created “Deum benedicite”, “God bless” in Latin. In several areas I secured the pieces so that it is three-dimensional. There are stenciled areas in copper, silver, and gold. The proverb is printed on vellum, which when sprayed with polyurethane becomes almost translucent.

In these last trying months of our life, Dan and I have been blessed to have much love and support from our friends and family. In time I plan to do a little something for all to show our appreciation. Theresa has been the sister that I don’t have here in California, as mine are in Chicago. Her family is like my family. Just the first of many, many gifts to say, “Thank you.”2 19 14

So Many Projects, So Little Time

After a very hard days worth of work, I again find myself with no photos to post. I made some progress today on two of my projects from yesterday, and then just to add to my workload I added one more piece. I have a children’s rocking chair that I picked up years ago. It’s missing the seat and needed to be repainted. Dan cut a new piece of wood for the seat which I will be upholstering tomorrow. I have also decided to paint on the fabric for the seat. Not sure what as of yet, but I’m thinking some kind of vintage children’s illustration. My window project from last night is also still a work in progress. It is a very old window and needed to glued and nailed in a number of places. Dan took care of that for me as well, but it took a while to fix and then to dry so that also bleeds into tomorrow. I picked up my posters to add to the other window only to discover that neither will work. I have to revisit it in the morning and choose another photograph to use. I did work on a table that I am refinishing for a friend, and painted two chairs and a table for Brian’s new place, and reupholstered those seats. No wonder I’m exhausted. So although I worked for several hours today on a multitude of pieces I have no finished projects as of yet. Hopefully all of our work today will pay off when everything is finished tomorrow.

I will share instead a little something I did here at home, something that I love, but unfortunately can’t travel with me when I leave. It’s a mural on the wall in my butler’s pantry. A watercolor of the original idea, and then the completed wall. I took a dead space in our house and I think turned it into something special.IMG_5565

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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

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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