Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Yellow Art Studio

I thought it would take 1-2 days, and it ended up taking 4 full days to paint my art studio. I needed to spackle holes in the concrete and fill in a few cracks which meant 3 layers of paint in some places.   It was so worth it!  "Frosted Lemon" paint brightens things up and at least looks warmer even though it's still a basement.

Another homeschooling family just took 4 full boxes of materials I cleared out in order to make room for my glass supplies.  It felt good to pass on the blessing of free curriculum materials - and it feels even better to have more space to work.

Friday, May 22, 2009

My first mosaic

It's amazing how things can evolve and come full circle.  As I move things around and clear out clutter, I am also finding all kinds of things that I am repurposing for my life now.  And yet they are absolutely perfect.

The rocking chair in my art studio is the same one in my nursery as a child, the same one I sat in and rocked out in as a teen, nursed my own babies in, and now pause and reflect in my art studio.

I also found the junior high paper mosaic I did using hole punch dots of construction paper - it's a copy of Renoir's Little Girl with a Watering Can.  I'm not sure if that's it's official name, but that's what I call the painting in my mind.  Renoir was my favorite artist as a child, and still one that speaks to my heart.  Still my all time favorite.  Pierre August Renoir was a French Impressionist.  I took 5 years of french because of him! Come to think of it my middle son's name is Augustus.  Humm.
My grandparents framed that picture and put it up in their guest bedroom for many years, and as they passed on I now have the picture, framed in their yellow metal (or is it plastic?) frame.   It doesn't matter.  I'm keeping it - it reminds me of them, and I have it up in my art studio across from my soldering station.   I would never have imagined it would be up in my art studio when I was an adult.  

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Mosaics, Stained Glass, and Life

I just read an excellent quote in "Mosaic Techniques and Traditions" by Sonia King.  She says that the most valuable lesson she can teach her students is how to solve the problem of a difficult piece.  Isn't that like life?  We get to a difficult piece and get stuck.

In mosaics she says the problem is usually a choice/anomaly a few pieces back that was off, and it builds from there.  It's a ripple effect.  Go back and fix it at the source and the problem solves itself.  Valuable information for doing a mosaic, thoughtful information next time I hit something "off" in my life.

One thing I love about stained glass is the ability to piece it together like a jigsaw puzzle, only I'm the one creating it which gives me control.  Yes, I like to be the one in control of my life.  That fits.  

Friday, May 15, 2009

Crayon Play

We finally did it.  My middle son has been asking me for years to make our own crayons. Then in our circle time we read about cooperation - and they had a project to make your own "stained glass" with wax paper.  The boys really wanted to do it, and we had old broken crayons on hand so we plunged right in.  Do you have any idea how big of a mess three boys (and a mom) can make peeling crayon wrappers and shaving crayons??   Doing THREE projects at once...

Project 1 - Making crayons
We made gingerbread crayons out of a mold I picked up at a garage sale.  The mold is really thin, so I feared they may be too thin, but the gingerbread people looked so cute we all wanted to try.  D and G's came out okay, B's broke as I got it out so we had to melt it again.  Came out worse.  So he then made "muffin crayons" in the muffin tin.

Project 2 - Crayon candle
G had to make the whole thing into a science experiment, of course, and his crayon had a string out of the head so he could melt it like a candle.  We did that outside on foil and it worked pretty good.

Project 3 - Wax paper stained glass
We grated crayon shavings onto wax paper, and then I went down to iron them between 2 rags.  It took forever, and I found as I stood there I was exhausted.  The day before I had a sore throat, and suddenly my sore throat was back.  After my third trip down to iron in the basement it was time to organize the clean up - it was past lunch time.

It was fun, it was too much at once - although the mess was consolidated to one day, and it did foster cooperation between us as we worked together.  However it was too much for my health.  It did remind me of the joy of teaching GymArt at Gymboree a few years ago.

Yesterday, I also baked tiles, G helped me divide them, and I took pictures for etsy.  We finally had nice sunny weather.  Moderation is my word for today.  I listed my first stained glass on etsy!   Yeah.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Creative Composting

Just looks like a trash can, right?  Nope, it's my compost bin.
I'm a creative composter.  This means I don't obsess with doing it right...I just do it. And I don't use a fancy expensive composter either, just a homemade version that works.

Just in case you are not an organic gardener, or a gardener at all, composting is the key to a successful organic garden. So I take great pride in saving anything that can go into my compost pile.  Right now, I even have a book dedicated to composting checked out from the library.

I've been composting for years, and my favorite advice is still the simplest - from Paul James the Gardening Guy on HGTV.  Throw plants, non-diseased plant debris, fruit and veggie leavings, egg shells in - occasionally layer it with dirt, leaves, manure, or newspaper clippings.  That's it, really.  Nature has been "composting" for years.  Go into any forest and look down, and you will see great compost.  

When adding kitchen scraps bury them under clippings.
Paul did give more elaborate directions if you want faster or neater compost, but you can't beat the basics. Today I dumped a full garbage can full of compost into holes I dug in my garden.  It's amazing to watch the process - our pumpkins are still recognizable but now just orangish mush.   All the rain made for a very wet compost pile which means it was very "hot".  This is good because it kills bad things, but it smelled because it was too wet.  Good and bad, mixed together.  Often what we get when we are creative.

Compost bin blends right in with this ugly area.
My garbage can was made following Paul's directions: take a trash can (black draws heat if you can find a black trash can), and drill holes in the top and down the sides every few inches for circulation.  I keep my compost can in the corner by my a/c unit where it's out of my way but accessible.  It's that easy!  Buy a trash can, grab a drill, and give it a try.  I drilled the holes down 4 sides of the bin, but when I do my next one, I'll do it down 6 or 8 sides instead for more aeration.  Let me know how it works for you.

Drill holes down the side and on the bottom
Holes, and natural cracking, allows water in 

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Hurray for digital photography

Photography is not normally my form of creativity, but my new Canon Powershot makes taking pictures a real pleasure.  It's pixels were so many Etsy couldn't take the initial batch of photos, but I've learned how to adjust the camera.

There's a shot of one of the necklaces it would take.  I'm pretty pleased with the detail.
It's the one on textured paper.   The one on the wood table is from an earlier session - with better natural light available and more pixels.  Can't really tell a difference from here.

I'm going to go put up my feet now and watch Rick Steve's Europe with my husband and son.  The Swiss mountains are just breathtaking - talk about encouraging creativity!  Wow.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Etsy shop up

This entry reminds me alot of yesterday.  I got my first item up on etsy, sort of.  Really it is up: there's a picture, description and price.  However, all the great pictures I took yesterday with my brand new camera are "too big" and wouldn't upload.   I tried several things on iphoto to make it smaller, and it didn't work.  I thought I followed the directions, but obviously I'm missing something.

Sigh.  Yesterday I got stuck uploading them to the computer because I didn't have the camera in playback mode.  Yeah, problem solved.  On to the next one - how to make them a size etsy will accept.  Bummer.

On the other hand, we had a great day at Homeschool Day at the library.  We created a zen garden with our coop (sand, plastic fork, gravel, and paper plate).   I love learning and creating combined!

When we got home I got some time in the art studio, and I soldered the red tulip panel.  I love the simplicity and elegance of the design.   I also worked on the purple crocus panel I am fitting together like a jigsaw puzzle.  That's what it reminds me of - solving a jigsaw puzzle.  Only if a puzzle piece doesn't fit you can't just grind off the piece to make it fit.   LOL

Waiting for Shawn to come home for date night, the boys are watching a video while they wait to go to grandma and grandpa's.  Hurray for living close to grandparents.