Saturday, July 31, 2010

Last day of July already? This month has flown by, probably the result of being so busy both at home and at work (see previous post). Despite my busy life, I can't get through summer without some great books. In addition to Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert, pictured above, this month I read:
  • A Year by the Sea by Joan Anderson
  • The Middle Place by Kelly Corrigan
  • Mockingbird by Katherine Erskine
  • Fortune's Magic Farm by Suzanne Selfors
  • Technically it's not my fault by John Grandits
  • Blue Lipstick by John Grandits
Eat Pray Love and A Year by the Sea both happened to be about women on their own for a full year, reconnecting with themselves and getting back on track. I enjoyed them both. The Middle Place was also quite enjoyable and uplifting, despite the fight against cancer by both the author and her lovable father. The last four books in the list are categorized as children's books and run the gamut from middle grade books to Young Adult books. I think Mockingbird was probably the most well written and moving of the group. It's written from the point of view of a ten-year-old girl with Asperger's syndrome, who has lost both her mother (to cancer) and her older brother (to a random shooting). I know, doesn't sound very appealing, does it? But because you see everything from the girl's point of view, it's almost like experiencing what it's like to have Asperger's, to overload on sensory perceptions, to be unable to interpret others' facial expressions, to learn to use manners and feel empathy for others. It's on the "suggested summer reading list" for the middle school for our district, which is why I read it, and I can see why.
The final two books by John Grandits are Concrete Poems, poems that have physical shape on the page. These books in particular are great for the middle school readers (I have two in the house!) because they are funny, hip, accurate portrayals of this age group and their lives and thoughts. One is written from the point of view of an 11-year old boy, the other from the point of view of his older sister. Both my middle schoolers loved them and finished them in an evening.
Seeing and reading John Grandits' poems has given me some inspiration for my sketchbook. I'm pretty sure I want to include both words and pictures in my book, so illustrated poems or concrete poems would be perfect. I'd love to actually make poem collages, which would be a fusion of a poem and an illustration. I have even written 2 or 3 I'm sure would work for this format. The next question I have to answer for myself is Paper or Fabric? Do I want to keep the book as it is and create collages with paint, paper, and glue, foregoing the stitching? Or do I want to make pages out of fabric, so I can incorporate a little more texture and add stitch? If I do, will I hand-write the words, stitch them, stamp them, or what? Somethings to ponder...

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Weekend catch-up

I haven't blogged in a whole week, so this post will be a smattering of a lot of things to help catch up. I'm bringing up so many topics, I hope it all makes sense!
July used to be my favorite month of the year, way back when I was a teacher and it was really our only full month of vacation. I relished the long, hot days when I would lose track of the time and date, and we didn't have to keep to any schedule at all, but could entertain ourselves at the beach or zoo or mall on a whim. Now that I work at a busy library, July has become one of the most hectic months of the year, with a lot of chauffering the girls to one place or another. The last two weeks, they were at a camp that ended at 1 pm so I had to leave work to pick them up, drive them home, and then go back to work. The next few weeks should be a little easier; at least I'll be able to eat my lunch sitting still, rather than driving and eating at the same time!
In the midst of all the busyness of making lunches, dropping off, picking up, cooking dinner, and getting ready for the next day, here are some of the projects we've working on. My middle daughter's 12th birthday is coming up next month and she would like a bedroom of her own (who wouldn't?). My generous and thoughtful husband who is always trying to keep everyone happy, graciously offered up his downstairs office, pictured above. He's been hard at work trying to organize all our paperwork and find places for all his guy stuff. I've been trying to help by clearing out some of the girl stuff that has taken over our downstairs craft and family room areas. It's very slow going. We have lots of games that we don't use as much as as we used to, and I really need to be more willing to Let Things Go, something I don't enjoy doing. It's a work in progress.
Meanwhile, we are trying to keep Cassie from grabbing stuff off the floor and playing keep-away with us. Here she is asking for forgiveness. Of course, we always forgive her in about 5 seconds - who could resist those big brown eyes?

In an effort to find smart, efficient, inexpensive storage solutions for us, I picked up the Summer 2010 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors' Studios magazine. I am looking forward to poring over the pages and being inspired to make my creative area and our whole home more neat and organized. I also bought myself some new pens in an effort to stimulate some ideas on the sketchbook front; I am still mulling over how I will approach the Sketchbook Project I joined in May. I think I am narrowing it down and may soon be able to make my final choices and actually start making some art in the book!
Here is a shot of the reversible bag my oldest daughter stitched up last week in her Fashion Design and sewing camp at our local BOCES. Isn't it great? I'll keep it in the car, so I'll always have a reusable bag for quick trips to the store. Also, the bracelet she's wearing is made of soda can tab tops. I showed this technique to the ten girls in my jewelry-making class at the library this week. Isn't it cool? A nice up-cycled project! (Find out how to make your own by clicking here.)

As part of my clearing out, I'm trying to get things off my worktable. This plain, solid t-shirt has been hanging around waiting for some decoration. As a quick one-day craft, I decided to applique on the little singing bird and heart song bubble. My daughter asked me to add the words, and I debated over whether to stitch them on or use markers or paint. I played with various options, and then ended up smudging some of the words, so it didn't turn out as perfect as I hoped. I still have another plain shirt; maybe I'll try again later this week...
Here is a sneak peek at the beginning of my next project... another thing I hope to get to this week.
And here is another big home project that's been in the works for almost a year and will soon be coming to closure. We've been talking about adding a second sink to this bathroom. It's taken me 11 months to research the options for a tile floor, vanity cabinet and top, mirror, and lighting. Saturday I ordered everything and it should be delivered and installed in the next month to six weeks. Hooray!

Finally, here is how I finished off the weekend: a mojito with some fresh home-grown mint...

... and a bowl of fresh berries over chocolate shortcake and covered with whipped cream!
Now I'll sit back and watch "The Next Food Network Star" ! (It's the only show I watch consistently; I'm not sure why - I cook only enough to get by and would never aspire to host a cooking show, but for some reason, I enjoy watching them!)

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Another one finished!

Here is another piece that's been laying around on my worktable waiting for closure! Two of my biggest flaws are indecisiveness and perfectionism - not conducive to getting projects finished quickly! Usually, as in this case, I get to a point when I just want it to be DONE so I buckle down and make the final decisions with whatever materials I have and make up my mind to be happy with the results.
I had a lot of fun embellishing this one, as you can see! I found some lovely seashells, beads, and buttons in shades of purple, as well as yarn and metallic thread. The seahorse was a threadsketch I created at a workshop with Jane Davila way back in February (you can see it's beginnings here). I've been wanting to incorporate it into a larger piece since then, and now it's finally complete! What do you think?

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Bleeding Hearts

Here is my latest finished piece, "Bleeding Hearts" (I posted the very beginning of the piece here). I love these old-fashioned flowers and wanted to create something that looked nostalgic and antique. After the initial printing of leaves and stamping, I did a little hand and machine stitching. I accented the paint with metallic ink, paint, and paintsticks. I edged it with a natural-toned crocheted lace, couched on the stems, and added the flowers strung on thin copper wire. There are a few things I would do differently a second time, but all in all, I'm happy with it. And I'm happy to have another UFO finally finished. I'm ready to get working on the next one, because I have so many new things I want to start!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Monday, July 5, 2010

Postcard received!

Here is the cool postcard I received from Lynda Howells of the UK! It was cheerfully waiting for me when I returned home from vacation. I like the way she included clocks from both Grand Central Station and from the Hampton Watch Company to signify our personal time zones. That, and the phrase "Time and time again" kind of link us together in a relative way, don't you think? I'll hang it in my studio!
And now that I'm home, maybe I can find some TIME to get down there and finish something!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Stepping back in time

Here are some images from our visit to Colonial Williamsburg, VA on Wednesday. It was lovely to walk amid the period buildings and see horse-drawn carriages and people dressed as they did in the 18th century.

I realized recently that I particularly like the look of gates, especially garden gates, and I photographed many of the simple wooden gates that are everywhere. Here are a few of my favorite shots:

As you can see from the photos, it wasn't a blazing hot day, lucky for us, but the pictures are a little flat due to the lack of sunlight and shadows. The previous day was blazing hot and we spent it cooling our heels at a water park!

There are many people dressed in period clothing re-enacting events from Revolutionary times, and here is George Washington on his white horse! He gave a short speech before his historic march and victory in Yorktown, and was cheered along by many shouts of "huzzah!"
Yes, our vacation has been a lot of fun and a nice change of scenery. In addition to our great
day at Colonial Williamsburg, we got to spend more time with my parents, played mini-golf, ate
ice cream at the Dairy Queen, and spent a hot summer day splashing at the water park. Of course, there have been many bumps along the way, like the dead car battery which we had to replace, and the "swimmer's ear" recurring for my daughter (and the hour we spent at the pharmacy!) but I'm trying to "Accentuate the Positive" and only remember the good stuff! We return home for the holiday weekend, just in time to collect ourselves for the busy month of July that's ahead. It's hard to believe the year is half over already! Happy Independence Day, everyone!