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Sunday, September 2, 2012

Art in Every day Items

The pen & ink drawing above is an example of my love of the art found in every day items.  A stray pattern piece has been repurposed as the canvas for this drawing of a spool.   I've recently listed some sewing-themed gifts because crafty people are often hard to buy for--afterall they're so creative we know they could just make stuff themselves and its a little intimidating!

The functional lines and messages in a pattern are art in of themselves.  I can often tell the maker of a pattern just by the typography used.  And anyone that sews knows that sometimes we spend a lot of time decoding patterns, like a treasure map. 

I want to encourage you to find art around you this week in the every day things of life--are there any that could actually be made into art?   Are you brave enough to try?  I'd love to hear what you've done!

Remember, you don't have to have a degree in the arts to be crafty or artistic.  Experiment, and experiment some more!  Give yourself permission to try (and flop)  at something.  With each  experiment, and all of my flops, I learn something new.  It makes me better at my art.  

Find the art all around you in every day items.  Experiement with materials you love.  And have a wonderfully crafty day!


Sunday, August 5, 2012

Everyday Olympians

Out of obscurity athletes from all over the world are being praised and crowned with honor this week, cheered on and lifted up as contemporary heroes in the 2012 Summer Olympics.   Some of their stories are quite remarkable--overcoming great odds, financial burden and injuries to stand among the best of the best in the world…Hard fought battles with great rewards.

 Noting the fervor of activity surrounding the Olympics has given me pause to consider all the everyday Olympians that are overlooked.   Consider the small business owner who carefully maneuvers daily to ensure the payroll is maintained and the doors are open...they are heroes in small towns.   Or the teacher who could earn twice the wage in an occupation requiring less effort but is passionate about students and learning... they teach our future generations with little thanks.  Or consider the farmer who maintains his small piece of the earth preserving a family tradition in an era of strip malls on prime soil.  Where are the medals for these remarkable persons? 

I love the Olympics as much as the next person...they celebrate the seemingly endless limits of the human body and spirit.   We should also consider our everyday Olympians--those that work hard day after day to make our lives better, who continue time honored work and traditions.  Let's celebrate them as they daily run the race...they are so much of what makes the world great.

Think about it:   Are there persons you feel are undervalued or underappreciated in society?   You may not be able to tackle the whole problem, but is there someway in which your point of view toward these persons might be cause for some action on your part?  

Have a creative day!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Independent Day

I remember as a kid I wanted to do everything myself.  I was very independent.  And I still am.  Dependence on others isn't a bad thing, but I'll confess I don't ask for help for very much.   So as we ponder our freedoms tomorrow we should also ponder from what we would like to be independent of  (spouses and children are exempt, sorry!)  

I would like to be independent of worry, the now & then feelings of defeat, the voice that says "that's impossible!" and independent of  debt and about 50 lbs.  We should wave flags tomorrow and see fireworks and ponder all the ways that we can be free of the things that keep us dependant.  Maybe you want to be off a medication, or to be free of your assorted piles.  Maybe you want to be free of regret or your timidity.   Maybe you want to be free of fear or weeds. Whatever it is, there's only one way to start the freedom: you have to start!   Do something, anything.  Try something else if that doesn't work.   Don't listen to those pesky doubts and don't be easily discouraged--one small step every day til the piles or the pounds or medication is gone.   Be independent on this Independence Day--see every firework and sparkler as my personal message of encouragement to you.  Celebrate freedom and celebrate YOU!


Sunday, July 1, 2012

Craft Wars = Ridiculousness

From my last post you know that I thought the idea of the show Craft Wars on TLC was pretty ridiculous.  And now that I've seen it, its been confirmed: RIDICULOUSNESS!

The reality-show formula of expert panel of judges meets contestants vying for prize, round 1 eliminations, public critiques and ridiculous challenges is still alive and well in Craft Wars.   There is nothing new or clever in this show, the challenges are a bit extreme for the time limits and the judges scold contestants with statements akin to, "everyone knows you can't do THAT!"  I love crafting because there aren't any rules, boxes or norms--its whatever one can achieve however they achieve it.    Hasn't this show boxed in the craft world a bit with such commentary? 

Let's not overlook the commercialism in this 'reality' programming.  Its a marketing heyday for Michaels Craft Stores under the guise of a competition.   You'd never find me on this show!  The contestants are puppets exploited in TLC's quest for ratings.  The title for the show is awful & ratings are achieved by juvenile interviews, contrived drama and matter-of-fact commentary by the judges in a field which is everything but matter-of-fact.  Can we structure a show in a way that might yield true television-worthy moments, candid and meaningful information and real emotions?   And must every reality show have a panel of three judges?  Is that another hard and fast rule I'm not familiar with?

For a show supposedly all about creativity, Craft Wars isn't very creative at all.  A tired reality-show formula and a contrived war premise makes this a flop for me.   

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Craft + War? Really?

The words craft and war seem to be mismatched.  Apparently the American appetite for competitive reality programming isn't satiated enough with Ninja Warriors, The Amazing Race or the Olympics for that matter.  We now need crafting to be a cut throat competitive world?!?

When the concept for Design Star was originally announced it made me bristle a little.  If its one thing I love about true artists and artisans is that they are generous with their time, expertise and materials--exactly contrary to the spirit of the show.  And now television programming introduces us to Craft Wars as a way to find the best crafter in America.  Here's the reality of this not-so-real world-- while there are 'rules' about scale and color and balance etc, in the end, design--and especially crafts--are largely subjective.  Every rule ever established has been broken or replaced with new rules--Black is the new brown, etc.    So why make it an Olympic-sized goal to make crafting of all things so competitive?  It is contrary to spirit of art, creativity and free-flowing ideas. 

One of the reasons I'm creative and crafty is because of the positive feelings I get when using interesting and pretty materials.  I like the feel of fabric in my hands as I glide it through the machine, or the feel of wood as I'm sanding it.   I like the experimentation with and manipulation of materials to make new and interesting things.  If I had someone breathing down my neck, stealing materials and looking to sabotage me, I think the crafting experience might resemble Mozart being swapped for a screaming rocker--peaceful to punk in 3.2 seconds.

So, crafting and war will come together in the newest of competitive reality shows.  I have no doubt that good ideas will be displayed--unfortunately it will be directly alongside some horrible behavior.  Behavior that is contrary to true artists and artisans.   We've made everything else competitive, I guess crafting can't escape the drama.  It makes me wonder what's off limits--food, singing, dancing, variety acts, fashion, interior design, chain saw carving, carpentry, dog sled races, and pageants have all had their day.  What's next?  Competitive parenting?   Cut throat gardening?   Graphic designers one-upping each other in Font Wars?   Why don't networks concentrate on programming that promotes collaboration rather than competition?    Or might this suggestion incite a blog war?

Monday, June 18, 2012

Laudry Bottle Caps, Toilet Paper Rolls, & Tin Foil

I heard that a church was seeking supplies for thier vacation bible school week and at the top of the list were three items-- laundry bottle caps, toilet paper rolls and tin foil. know I couldn't just let that go--I had to know what they were making with these things!   I pondered long and hard, my creative juices were flowing so much I was salivating.  What in the world would they use these items for?   I had ideas! 

I paced, I pondered, I imagined.  Was the bottle cap the head, the toilet paper roll the body and the tin foil the feet for some craft-project creature?   What about planting seeds in the laundry detergent caps, making hobo meals on the grill with the tin foil and making homemade marracas with the paper rolls?   Or perhaps the toilet paper rolls were going to be painted bright colors, strung together with tin foil balls between them for a garland?   Maybe the bottle caps were going to be used as sand castle molds?    Oh boy was I flowing with ideas!  Before the day was out I had thought of a myriad of ideas for the three items and I was quite proud of my crafty self for the follow-through.  When it was all said and done I found out the toilet paper rolls were going to be kindling for the camp fire, the tin foil was for leftovers and the bottle caps were going to be used as paint cups.   My creative bubble was deflated.  Where is the imagination?!  Where is the ingenuity?!   Where are my like-minded crafty peeps!? 

So I'm throwing down the challenge--what crafty things could one make with these three things--I'd love to know your ideas!   I know what you're saying--don't get caught up in her post PMS madness--but just do it--may the (creative) force be with you!


Thursday, June 14, 2012

Frugal Unique Greeting Cards

Anyone who loves fabric, sewing or crafting likely has a bin of  fabric scraps.  If you have a bin you're likely a person who sees possibility and value in these scraps or you would have tossed them.  If you're really a fabric lover you might even see them as precious children in your family of supplies.  (My emotional attachment to fabric is a whole other blog!)

With age, I'm getting more frugal.  I have the notion that I'll never see Social Security benefits, and I figure I must find a way to curb expenses.  Enter the bin of scraps.  

Using my sewing machine, a heavy duty needle and my scraps, I created these frugal and unique greeting cards.  
   Inside the cards you can see the stitching
  Some stitching turns out better than others!

Now, if you're going to try this (and I hope you do!)   here are some tips:

1) Avoid any adhesives under the fabric unless its a very dry, thin type that fully evaporates otherwise it gums up your needle.  Don't use adhesive backed ribbon if you want to stitch through it.
2) Set your stitch length to long or the many tiny needle pricks actually create a perforation and your paper falls away!
3)  Change your needle about every 10 cards or as soon as you feel a drag or your thread starts breaking.
4) Don't be afraid to allow the stitching to be shown on the inside of the card--it definitely shows you've made it by hand!
5) If your machine doesn't give neat stitching on the bottom, simply cut a piece of card stock and glue over the stitching on the inside of the card.
6)  Don't be afraid to gently roll the card as you maneuver it in stitching area of your machine--large cards take a little more finesse but paper can be rolled back to a flat position, so don't stress too much.
7)  You can stitch paper to paper, but it doesn't stay as securely as fabric--every machine is different so I just encourage you to experiment. Avoid glittered papers as they muck up the inside of your machine!
8) If you will mail these, keep embellishments small and flat.

 If you come up with other ideas and tricks, let me know and I'll include them in an updated blog post!

Happy Frugal Card Making! 


Saturday, April 21, 2012

Pinwheels Take 2

Since I've had so many requests, I'm reposting this from last year.
Did you know that whirlygigs, pinwheels, spinny thingys--whatever you call them--are known to date to perhaps as far back as 400 BC? The Chinese believe they are a symbol of turning one's luck around. The Iranians are said to have developed the first vertical windmill in 644 BC to aid with irrigation. By the time the windmill came to Europe in the 1200's the form of the pinwheel is much more recognizable. In Pieter Bruegel's Children's Games of 1560 children are seen with whirlygigs on sticks. Whatever you call them, I don't know anyone that doesn't love the color and spins of a pinwheel!

I've recently starting seeing pinwheels everywhere. Pinwheels galore actually. Since I've always loved them, I made my own garland version above and thought you might want to learn too--so here's my brief pinwheel "how to" lesson--they take some time but I think you'll be pleased--get the kids involved--a perfect summer project! While these don't actually spin, hanging, they look like they could!
Materials Needed For Your Pinwheel Garland
12 inch ruler, pencil, 3- 5 sheets of square paper, spools of ribbon in coordinating colors, large pony beads any color, scissors, hot glue gun, large colorful patterned or plain buttons (1.5 - 2 inch recommended), eyelet set, eyelets
  • Start with a thick piece of colorful square paper that you have previously painted, decorated, stenciled, etc... (I hand painted handmade paper. Handmade paper is key to the textured look above) BUT scrapbooking paper is so incredible these days you'll have no problem finding preprinted papers to use.
  • I used 12 inch paper but that makes these very heavy. I guess I would recommend 9 - 10 inch square--if it's double sided you get a great look!
  • Using a ruler, find the center point of the paper and mark with an x. You'll need a center circle around that x--I used a clear votive cup, centered it over the x and traced--trace lightly with pencil.
  • Now, four cuts need to be made from each corner of the paper to slightly outside of the center circle on the diagonal-- eyeball the cutting if you're good at it or use the ruler to make faint pencil lines.

  • Now you will have four triangle flaps on your paper. In the upper left corner of each triangled section make a small x.
  • Decide which two opposite flaps will be the sides of your pinwheel and dry fit the flaps in place by lining up the x on your flap to the x in the center. With a flap hand held in place, find a good spot for the eyelet to be placed--look in my photo below and you'll see i placed them just slighly behind the center point of the flap. As long as they are in the same place on both sides, it will hang evenly--but no fear, this isn't rocket science and you have some wiggle room--I eyeballed all of mine and never used a ruler!

  • Now, make a small dot where you want the eyelet to go and put your eyelets in now while the flaps are flat--I did mine afterwards and they worked but this will be easier! Now, you don't really need the eyelets--you could simply poke or punch a hole--totally up to you! And if you wanted to reinforce the holes (the purpose of the eyelets) the low tech way, you could also paint or color those round donut-shaped adhesive reinforcement stickers. After the eyelets or holes are in (you need 2 holes for each pinwheel on opposite sides), dry fit again by connecting the x on the flap to the x in the center and see if they look about right. You can manipulate where you put the corner in the center if you need to correct an error of an inch or less--just put it slightly higher or lower on the center x--remember the large center button will hide a lot!
  • Bring each x'd left corner to the center x and hot glue down. Let the glue dry between each subsequent corner being glued down--you don't need a lot of hot glue for it to stick, but you do need to hold them in place while it sets. On the last corner, put a bit of hot glue on the button you've chosen and let that help you secure all the pieces together--hold til it has set.
  • I used pony beads to help secure the ribbons on the insides of my pinwheels--i love using organza ribbon but it would take 20 knots to be thick enough not to go through the eyelet so simply tie the ribbon to the pony bead and feed through the holes--at each end I tied in bunches of coordinating ribbons with a knot.
  • The finished garland in the photo is about 80" long but it hangs best when the ends are between 73 - 75 inches.
  • How long the ribbons will be is up to you--just make them even on the ends and between the pinwheels. The heavier your paper, the shorter your ribbons should be between them or they hang funny.

Have a colorful, spinny, historically creative day!


Sunday, January 22, 2012


What is it to love another fully?   We use the word unconditional as a descriptor for a loving relationship, but I wonder if the word selfless is the better descriptor and the higher path to full communion with another.  In any relationship we will hurt one another, disappoint and be disappointed because when you care for someone it comes with expectations, hopes, needs. To love fully means you are fully invested in the life of another, fully aware of their strengths and weaknesses without exploiting (or reminding them) of either, fully invested in their successes and failures, fully invested in what others think of them, fully invested in the strength of your union, and fully aware of when that union is shaken.  

Single and 43, I will never claim to be an expert in matters of love. Full communion with another for more than a few years has eluded me, but love has not eluded me.   It's easy to love, harder to live out that love. My approach to relationships is often very practical before it is emotional--this is the rational side of my brain at work.   I am almost never attracted to the physical aspect of any man before I am attracted to his brain and his heart.  “What good is the beautiful package if the contents are ugly,” I say in my head.  That's not to say that I don't appreciate physical beauty, but it’s all subjective isn't it?  

I know some women who get upset with men who say they like tall thin women for instance.   That's like getting upset with a man for liking the color green or lasagna or The Rolling Stones. Taste is what it is--a preference.    So no one can get upset with me for liking intellectual, sensitive and articulate men...that is my preference.

Love is the subject of most songs, much art, literature, plays, is pursued with great fervor and paraded with much pomp and circumstance. Americans in particular seem to be in love with love. The wedding industry and greeting card makers alone profit every minute from our love of love. But in the trenches anyone in love knows that love for the sake of love is short term. Selfless love is the kind that lasts and the kind that requires one to first acknowledge that God loves us fully and we did nothing to deserve it. In other words, love starts with humility.  To understand God’s love means we’re more likely to be understanding and accepting of others--it is the higher path, the narrower path and the less traveled, but it makes all the difference. 

I must examine my heart daily—I am not the giving, selfless person I’d love to be and a daily moment before my heavenly cardiologist shows me how clogged my arteries are with the gunk of being earthly minded.

Do it:  Ask God to unclog the arteries of your heart so you can be free flowing in all that He desires for you.

Ponder it: “Age does not protect you from love but love to some extent protects you from age.”    -- Jeanne Moreau