Thursday, November 13, 2008

Crafty cleanup and Sewing projects

Yesterday, I reorganized my craft/fabric closet and used 10 magazine holders from IKEA to consolidate the huge piles taking over my craft room and bedroom. I love these cardboard magazine holders - they work so hard and you can make them so pretty with fabric or collage.

There is still a lack of space to put the magazine holders, but it's a step toward functionality. The fabric is folded, papers are sorted (and now stacked and stashed), Halloween fabric is in a vintage suitcase, scraps are bagged somewhat neatly, did some labeling, some recycling. Overall a very productive day!

The crazy quilt pillow cover is coming along nicely and I've actually made a dent in my mending and alterations pile. Somerset Altered Couture magazine is a dangerous thing. I want to completely transform my wardrobe after looking at all the yummy artistic clothes embellished with fabric and lace and ... So my pink jeans are in process, which might inspire a change in hair color. Intriguing! Or maybe my hair stripe will be dyed to match our upcoming holiday picture outfits - deep blue to go with the midnight blue velvet/satin and beaded black lace dress I'm making.

It must be the chill in the air, maybe the rain, (who knows, who cares?!) that's inspiring me to get so many projects going. Or maybe it's just a manic pre-holiday phase. My creative juices are surging!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Halloween Happenings and Christmas Thoughts

My most favorite holiday is Halloween. As a child I'm sure it was Christmas, but now that I'm on the parent end of the giving, it's just not as much fun. Stress, consumerism, and lies have taken a lot of my Christmas spirit away and getting it back is a work in progress. I am really struggling to find ways to make Christmas/Yule/Winter Solstice a meaningful holiday for our family and create traditions that speak to our values: creativity and environmentalism, music, food, family and friends.

Halloween doesn't cause me the same existential stress. I am not conflicted by its pagan origins and consumerism, because I have found ways to make them meaningful for me. We try to throw our biggest party of the year, every year is the goal. The house is completely transformed inside and out. On one level, just because it's totally cool. I love the look, and I get to relive my high school wanna-be Goth desires. As an adult, laughing and celebrating in the face of death, fear, monsters, and all the inexplicable horrors of life seems valuable.

Most of the decorations usually stay up until Thanksgiving, and this year is the same. But instead of completely switching gears to Christmas stuff I'm still working on Halloween projects.

Projects include: hemming my homemade linens, making new pillow covers, dressing my white witch doll, black lace lampshades, the"potions" cabinet, finishing the miniature witches' cottage... And that is hardly a complete list.

Is it possible that this could be the crafting niche I've been looking for? Maybe.

Monday, September 8, 2008

First eggs . . .

September always feels like a new year for me. I guess from so many years of being a student. Things are starting up and there is a sense of fulfillment and anticipation. My chickens have laid their first eggs. It is so cool! Jesse, my lovely big GIRL, laid it right in front of me. "Look at me, I'm a hen, don't send me away or eat me!" The bottom three eggs, the first three, I blew out to save. I made scrambled eggs for lunch. Amazingly delicious! The rest will be made into deviled eggs.

Tomatoes, red and luscious, are waiting to be made into sweet chili sauce. Fall and winter seeds are sprouting, mustard greens and onions. And the roses are still blooming away.

Maybe today is a magical day.

Friday, June 6, 2008

On my mind . . .

Just finished reading Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. Wow! I loved it and found her journey from pain and depression to be so inspiring, but . . . How many of us have the means to make an amazing, transformative physical and spiritual journey? How can I transform my interior life without "a huge effort?" As I write the answer comes, because you can't transform WITHOUT effort. Think of chickens hatching, caterpillars in their cocoons (Aeryn found one the other day) - all transformation requires work of some kind.

So, then the question is what do I need to do and where do I want to be? Art and gardens, chicks and beauty, kids, hubby, money. . . The seeds of a holistic life are there, some scattered and parched, but I think I've made some progress and I have learned so much (facts, info, goals, striving, planning, frustration, small successes). But still, there is a core of anger and discontent, and the occasional lapse into "Oh, I should just suck it up and get a real job!" Depression lurks, waiting for the weak moment to derail my self-esteem.

The outward pieces of a sustainable, artistic life need a stronger core of WHAT? Peace, balance, acceptance (a goal and a problem for me, it seems), God, spirit, selflessness, meditation.

What will work for me?

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Projects incomplete...

With so many projects in the queue, it is hard to imagine adding something else, but serendipity, chance, coincidence and fate sometimes gives you what you ask for before you're ready. Gosh, sounds like I'm talking about something really important. . . a new job (or a job), a baby, adoption, but it is nothing that big. It's .....


The local kindergarten usually hatches eggs and I happened to be in the classroom for art stuff when the chicks were almost ready to return to the feed store. After my several questions and obvious interest, Mrs. T asked, "Deborah, would you like to take the chickens home?" And, well, how could I say no? So I am now the proud chicken mama of 2 one and a half month-old Rhode Island Reds, named by the kids, "Jesse" and "Lacey." But Lacey might be a rooster, so I've been calling it "Stripey No Name," so we don't get too attached. Yeah, right.

But, two chickens don't make a flock, so trip to the feed store for supplies ended up with two more chicks: another Rhode Island Red (RIR) with the highly original name of "Little Red" and an Araucana with the most beautiful pale feathers named "Sweetie," however, sweetie she apparently is not.

The new chicks and old are now getting along nicely in their brooder box - a large Rubbermaid bin with my compost screen over top. They occasionally "free range" in my craft room/studio and the big girls have been out on the deck. So, a new project is building the girls a coop and attached run in the backyard.

My end goal is three hens, fresh eggs, bug eaters and high-powered compost. But I really love having the chicks around. They really do have personalities and they are so funny. It is also a miracle to see their amazing instinctive behaviors- grooming, foraging, interacting. There is so much to learn from every living creature. Pictures soon.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Spring is flying in ...

Spring break is here. Not that it means a vacation for a stay-at-home, work-at-home, procrastinate-at-home mom like me. I have been involved in some big projects - ripping out carpet, painting floors, painting moldings and doors, cutting holes in the ceiling ("Well, honey, I guess I really do need a skylight there now.") All for my craft room, which I am trying to revamp into my studio.

Here are some before pictures:

I am trying to create a space that is inspiring and easy to work in. My main problem is a lack of space so I have had to seriously edit my supplies and collections. I've moved miniatures to the garage, items to alter are boxed and labeled in the garage as well. I added a shelf for tools near my desk to help keep my work surface cleaner.

Light - painting the floor (brown and cream checkerboard diamond), white trim work, adding 2 lights
(from my Gram's house) and 2 tube skylights (need to buy these) should make a huge difference. The ceiling is a pale blue and the walls are creamy white.

Fabric- my storage closet definitely needs some softening and coverage, same with my sewing table. As much as I would love to go looking for something totally fabulous and new, I will use what I have. The top contender is a wide pink and white stripe with floral overlay- very girly and Victorian. Second choice is French blue toile, which has been in my bedroom and living room. Third choice is red and cream floral and toile which was in my craft room in New York, so I'm really not too into it. The first has the compelling factor of never being used. Poor lonely fabric.

My time however is split between this project and my garden. Yesterday was spent starting seeds and laying out new beds. In Oregon, you've got to get out while the soil is not too sopping wet, so today, which looks beautiful, will be another garden day.

Let's hop to it.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Craft - making the world a prettier and better place?

"Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might" Ecclesiastes 9:10

I first discovered this quote on a cross-stitch sampler and it has always stuck with me. I have no great knowledge of the Bible or scripture, so my interpretation is personal. As an artist/crafter and former academic, the quality of "by hand" is extremely important to me. There is just so much more connection to the world and the people around us who make the products that fill our lives. Take this pair of earrings: unique, one-of-a-kind, beautiful (if I do say so myself, and I should since I made them - sorry NFS).

Components: ear wires, headpins, metal spacer beads, amazonite beads, seed beads, plastic beads and glass beads, and plastic backers since I am horrendous about only losing the earrings that I adore. Tools: needlenose pliers, chainnose pliers, wire cutters, metal file, nylon jaw pliers. Sources: garage sales, large chain craft stores-Joann's and Michaels, hardware stores -Home Depot, independent bead shops, my favorite local place is Bodacious Beads in Hillsboro, Oregon. Time: about an hour and a half, not including shopping and percolating of the idea.

As an artisan selling these as one of a kind earrings with gemstone and recycled materials, I might realistically expect $25-45, if I had an established name I might actually make a profit by asking $45-65. Of course, I do have to pay retail for my supplies which does greatly affect my material cost and admittedly I am not doing production work so I work very hard to make each piece an original which greatly increases my time.

Now. . . what if I go to the Fred Meyer, Target or the mall? What would I reasonably expect to pay for a pair of earrings? Given that the materials are wholesale, production items, with the possibility of assembly line work, most likely shipped from overseas, how much is the person who designed the earrings earning and then how much is the person physically creating the earrings earning?

I don't have the answers, seriously, I'm not an economist or whatever. But it makes me think. . . can the artisan who is making the majority of jewelry I've bought in my life be making a living wage in decent working conditions?

Do I now make most of my own jewelry so my conscience is clean or am I really helping by being part of the handmade movement? Or do I make my own jewelry so I can bliss out in the process and then revel in my sense of accomplishment? Doing it with all my might.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Learning curve technology rant

Wah, Wah, Wah! Woe is me! All this blogging stuff is too hard. Just kidding! Jeesh! But the learning curve is a bitch for someone as technologically lazy as I am. I don't have anything against technology. I used to know how to maintain my PowerBook (I am a dinosaur, I know, give me a break already) but then I got married to a techie and now I am spoiled. The only problem is he works too damn much and I don't know how to do didly squat anymore.

I am waiting for the real deal . . . a super, simple little chip in my head that lets me have it all, absolutely seemlessly integrated into my life. Will I be the first in line for this humanity-altering technology? Hell no! I'll let all the uber-techies work out the bugs first while crossing my fingers and half-assedly preparing for a potential takeover by mental cyborgs. I'm lazy, not crazy.

There was a story about this in Science Fiction and Fantasy Magazine, I think, several (ok, at least ten) years ago. This type of technology created a completely new stage of human evolution. Haves, have-nots, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer . . . So, what's my point? We can't put the genie back in the bottle, and we shouldn't. But seriously, how many cell conversations are totally asinine? Our intellect seems to be less important than our ringtones. We need to catch up and use our gadgets and our minds to do the harder, more important stuff.

I could be talking about politics, world peace, hunger or disease here, but my thoughts are smaller, more localized. I am striving for balance between all the contradictory fragments of the technological world. I can converse with strangers around the world if I choose, but I want to pick a tomato from my own garden, walk my children to school. For me, a life completely focused on one thing, although it seems enviable at times, does not feel possible. The world is just too vast, there is so much to learn. . . like how to post images with my text. . .

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

New Year, new obsessions

Finally, I am here . . . ready to share my wacky life with the world, whoever would like to join me on this journey - welcome! Since it is a New Year, my resolution is Time Management. I know it sounds horribly vague, but it really is the symptom and cure for many of my persistent problems.

"I don't have enough (or ANY) time to make art, I have too many projects, I can't keep up with the laundry. . . Spelling words? Who has time to cook healthy meals? Exercise!? Spirituality!? Gardening!? Couple time?"

Honestly, life is complicated and we have so many choices facing us everyday. Right now I really should be folding laundry, BUT . . . I need to tell you how addicted I am to my daughter's American Girl doll, Nellie. So cute. . . the clothes, the shoes, the doll doesn't scream when I brush her hair or stick a pin in her (oops!). Damn you, Santa!
Of course, being me, short on cash and high on ambition, I have to make Nellie's clothes and since we are going to Bend next week for a winter vacation, Nellie needs a coat- black velvet with faux zebra trim, an ice skating outfit and warm pants, a sweater and a blue velvet hat.
I have already made Nellie a nightgown of white printed cotton and yellow lace trim with matching felt slippers and a funky gray turtleneck dress. She has her main outfit with the accessories and the cheerleading outfit from American Girl. My daughter, A, has told me that Nellie's favorite color is blue. Good to know! And my niece, C, swears that she saw Nellie breathe, "For real."
My poor boy, E! Or maybe he is lucky to miss out on this doll madness.