Sunday, January 30, 2011

Tips for the Happy Homemaker

Several years ago, I created this collage about homemaking. I clipped "helpful hints" from an old Betty Crocker cookbook. I used to think these words of advice were so outdated, such perfect examples of Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique expectations for women. Now that I am older, I find these quotes charming and insightful.

  Betty's party advice is honest and simple. There is no mention of Martha Stewart's notion of "entertaining" guests or finding the correct cocktail glasses. Instead, Betty speaks of "welcoming" and "gathering".

 Though it may seem silly to remember little stories to share at mealtime, it also speaks to the importance of cherishing this family ritual. Rituals do not simply exist. They require on-going effort.

Although it won't change my life, adding a dash of cologne and simple earrings before breakfast does make me feel better.

Now, go put on an apron and bake some cookies. Yes, Break and Bake cookies count.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Make Time Smile, The Movie

My first how-to film.

Follow along as I show you how to create a collage clock face.

Peanut in Pink

This is my hound dog, Peanut. I know. She is gorgeous.
She is a Bassefab. Part Basset. Part Fabulous.

I created this portrait from a photograph. I printed it onto muslin using my inkjet printer. I added paint, adhered it to a canvas, then added more paint. The whole process was really quite easy. If you'd like more instructions or have specific questions about the technique, leave me a comment and I will be glad to walk you through the process.  

Until then, I completely understand if you need to simply sit and stare at the beauty of Peanut.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Queen Kitchenita

This is Queen Kitchenita. She graces the wall next to my pantry. 
She was created to cover an old, ill-placed phone jack. 
With a sharpie, my kids and I write our kitchen wishes around her head.

Oh Queen Kitchenita, grant us yummy meals, fresh fruit, tart apples, juicy steaks, crisp heads of lettuce, snappy carrots, ice cream that never melts, pasta that is perfectly al dente!
We also ask for nice guests who like everything we serve, children who are never picky, 
and a dog to keep the floor clean.

Anyone with a sharpie can add a wish to Queen Kitchenita's portrait.
I created Queen Kitchenita by painting a vibrant cartoon of a woman, then covering the whole thing with a piece of blank pattern tissue. The light brown color and the wrinkles in the paper gave the piece an ancient-treasure-just-found-in-an-attic look. I added some metallic tissue paper accents, painted the background gold, and gave it a top coat of gloss medium. 
Then I used the black sharpie for accents and wishes.

Silly. I know. But fun.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Jury Duty Day

I am on a list. A list of favorite people to call for jury duty. 

Later this morning I will ride the train downtown and walk to the courthouse and sit in a big room full of strangers and hopefully hear that I am excused. 
A long day of waiting means two things. 
1) I will want to eat constantly and 
2) I will have lots of time to let my mind wander (if I can keep it off food.) 

I plan to help the wandering by bringing my sketchbook and lots of pens. 
It could be a great day of making plans and answering questions like "what's next?" 

Or it could be a frustrating day of thinking about Cheetos from the vending machine.

My jury duty day is done. I was excused at noon!
While buying my train ticket, I got very lucky and met a nice woman who works for the same school system. We even know some of the same people. We rode the train together and walked the blustery morning streets of Atlanta to find the courthouse.
While waiting, I met another nice woman who lives in my neighborhood.
She knows my dog and likes to craft too.
I love small world connections.
All is good.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Little Bit of News

I've got to share my news. 

I am a finalist in two Cloth Paper Scissors Magazine contests. Earlier this month, I submitted pieces to their 2012 Calendar Contest and their "Stenciled Garden" reader challenge. CPS has selected 21 finalists for the calendar and will select 13 winners. I am not sure about the plans for the stenciled pieces. Keeping my toes crossed.
Now back to work.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

5 Minutes of Clean House

 This moment won't last, but I will enjoy it for now. My house is clean. 
With two children and a dog, this clean moment is fleeting. 
The housework cycle will continue.  
I could get discouraged. I usually do. But not at this moment.

I googled housekeeping quotes and most of them are what I expected; sarcastic humor masking complaint. But I found a few that made me smile.

I am thankful for a lawn that needs mowing, windows that need cleaning and gutters that need fixing because it means I have a home.... I am thankful for the piles of laundry and ironing because it means my loved ones are nearby.  ~Nancie J. Carmody

I got the blues thinking of the future, so I left off and made some marmalade.  It's amazing how it cheers one up to shred oranges and scrub the floor.  ~D.H. Lawrence

I'm going to try to remember D.H. the next time I am scrubbing something.

Friday, January 21, 2011

8 is Great

When I was 8, one of my favorite books was a Valentine's Day book by Tomie DePaola.

I am sure I bought it with a sweaty handful of change at the Scholastic Book Fair. I looked through that book all year long and dreamed about little parties I might have with my friends. We would make Valentines and eat cookies and make dough necklaces and play heart-themed games. We would look just like Tomie DePaola kids.

Although my mom did a stellar job of keeping my sister and me entertained with crafts and cookies and dough projects, we never got around to having a Valentine's Day party.
Over thirty years later, my 8 year old daughter picked this book out of a stack of someone's discards. I am delighted that she too is in love with this book. She too dreams of the little Tomie DePaola Valentine's Day celebration.
In the spirit of Tomie DePaola, we had our own little Valentine's Day craft time. We made felt heart pins. Her joy was a thrill to see.

Thanks Tomie!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Adding Shapes to Layers

Collage update: Shapes have appeared. 
I am going to call this piece "Relics."

The free online dictionary defines relic: 
Something that has survived the passage of time, 
especially an object or custom whose original culture has disappeared.

What do you see? 
Belt Buckle?
Seed Pod?
Erector Set Piece?
Hair Pin?

Where were these relics found? 
Under a couch cushion? 
In a vacuum bag? 
On another planet? 
In the dirt 100 years from now?

And who found them?

"Try as you will, you cannot annihilate that eternal relic of the human heart, love."
Victor Hugo

I am going to sit with the piece for a while. Not sure if it is done yet. 
It doesn't feel done. Not sure what needs to happen next.

So we sit and look at each other for a while.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Balancing the Stack

How we hold on.

Sometimes I'll do almost anything to keep everything in its place.

The result?

So what does the shiny red circle represent?

Perhaps it is the part worth keeping.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Changing Shapes

I repeatedly use these cardboard shapes as stencils in my paintings and collages. A few weeks ago, I decided to convert them into collage pieces themselves. I started by covering the pieces in old textbook pages, sheet music, or maps.

Today I will begin adding layers over the paper. First step, a light coat of gesso.

This is my favorite shape. I don't know what it is. Perhaps a piece of metal from an obsolete machine. Perhaps a pod from an extinct plant. I just like the curves. 
I like it so much, I did one piece using only this shape. 

Stay tuned for evolving shapes.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Snow Day Number 2

Day 2 snowed in. This rarely happens in Atlanta. Starting to feel a little cagey. 
Had a little trouble focusing today. Some of the highlights...

1) Made another valentine. Put it in my shop.

2) Used up a pack of recipe cards. I stitched lots of different shapes and cut them out for later collage projects. I just need to add paint and more paper bits to turn these into clock faces or other images.

3) Made a nice discovery. Ghirardelli chocolate bags make really cool metallic accent pieces when sewn (and they smell good.)

Don't these sewn pieces look like painted tin? 

Just learned we will be home again tomorrow. Squirrelly alert.

Monday, January 10, 2011

CraMWO Project #6: Make a Valentine

A snowy day. Kids out of school. Just feeling like a Valentine today. 

This one is about 3 inches high and has a little bit of stuffing in it. 

I think I will stick it in my Etsy shop. 

If no one buys it, perhaps I will just keep it for days when I am feeling low. 

Hey, I like you.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Clocks and Lists

Sometimes I feel like my life is pulled along by clock ticks and the flutter of to-do lists found floating alongside the used tissues and old sticks of gum inside my purse.

I find myself feeling frustrated and angry at helpless bystanders (a.k.a. family members and dog).
Today I just stopped being angry and accepted the responsibility. I went to the store. I folded 345 white tube socks. I cooked two meals. I burned one meal. We ate it anyway. I cleaned up the dishes.

And here I am at the end of the day. Happy. Relaxed. Organized. 
Maybe clocks and lists are not so bad after all.

(These photos are from a quilt I completed a few years ago called, "It's Not What I Expected.")

Saturday, January 8, 2011

I Love Electricity

I love electricity.
Yesterday afternoon, the power was out for a few hours. I think a tree fell on a line in my neighborhood. I sat alone and thought, 
I want to open the refrigerator, watch tv, take a hot shower with all the lights on, turn up the heat, listen to music, surf the net, print photos, do laundry, read with good light, sew, run the dishwasher, use my hot glue gun, iron, cook, bake, make toast, microwave some potatoes, and blend up a smoothie.

There was no sound. The machines were all quiet.

I felt very lonely.
The quiet crept in.
Even the dog knew something was  up.

But just as I was about to get blue, the power kicked back on. The room was flooded with yellow light. The microwave beeped and the refrigerator started to hum. 
And my world started spinning again.

In celebration, I created a collage ode to my washing machine. I needed to create something for a Cloth Paper Scissors Magazine reader challenge involving a flower stencil, so I decided to use that stencil on my washing machine collage.

... time to get back to my laundry.