Monday, December 27, 2010

For God's Sake who invited the Athiest to Christmas Dinner?

Before I even go into this- I hesitated sharing for a number of reasons, one being the three posts about vehicular whining- let me tell you that all in all my real Christmas with my family was a good one. Everything went well and anything that was awry I was able to sweep under the rug. Kind of.

So we all have something in our family closet, right? Divorced parents remarried to bimbo's or bimbette's. The funny uncle. The Aunt who used to be an Uncle. Well, right now my sister thinks she's an Athiest who celebrates Pagan holidays but not regular ones. Fine and Dandy. I really don't care about your religion as long as you are not asking me to drink the purple kool-aid or chicken blood. And ever since we made that pact a few years ago where in I promised to never help her out/screw up her life again- my life has been easier.

I needed her to watch the kids over Christmas break and asked her to come Wed and Thurs. She asked what the plans were for Christmas. I told her that the husband's whole family would be there for dinner and that Grams and Gramps would be staying over Christmas Eve in the guest bedroom. No prob, she said, she'd bring her air mattress and sleep in the pool room. I hoped the lack of a direct invitation would be enough but apparently not. I winced a little, ok a lot, two days where in I spend minimum of time in near proximity is just about all I can handle of her. This, then would make four. She was great- cleaned out the girls closet, etc. I was very busy- wrapping or cleaning so don't think I didn't appreciate the help. But, its still hard to be around her- sadly, it just is.

Christmas Eve came and she disappeared conveniently about the time we were to leave for Church service. Bernie, the patriarch of our Catholic family, cautiously informed me that he had invited her to join us at mass but she declined. I matter of factly validated that and then quickly moved on. A touch uncomfortable to explain that Sis would prefer not to celebrate the birth of our Lord because she was ATHIEST. YES, I said ATHIEST, no, not a, she wouldn't be sacrificing anything while we were gone and no there wasn't a pentagram drawn on the floor under the guest bed. ARRGH! Couldn't she just take her uncomfortable religion or lack there of (which if you dedicatedly believe against religion- isn't that still a form of a religion???)and go elsewhere on my Christmas?

Again, everything was going smoothly Christmas, presents were given and received. I loved my jewelry box I picked out and the bracelet that hubby picked out. Everyone behaved. We cooked, we set the table, we called Aunts and Uncles far away. We decided to eat buffet style- food in the kitchen, guests at the table- we were running out of space. So while I was taking the rolls out of the oven someone asked if we minded if we gathered in the kitchen to say Grace all together. Awesome, I said- thinking 'oh yeah, gather up, ye minions, and dance to my tune' when the only other awkward moment of the day occurred.

Patriarch Bernie realized that Sister wasn't with us. Everything halted. I started to sweat. Now I was in a room full of Catholics who didn't know about the Athiest in the closet. It was at this time that I wished she was a lesbian in the closet. Then she could be there to pray with us and run off to see a girlfriend later. Damn it all! I said "Yes. We can pray with out her." "No, we couldn't do that!" was their aghast reply. There was this split second of ...nothing....then I turned and RAN down the stairs. Pretty fast, too, for an out of shape 42 year old woman.

She was lurking around a corner. "Please come up stairs, the Catholics want you to say grace with them!" "No" she said in that same stead fast, brick wall, I will stick to this until you stick a pool stick in my eye- voice that I'd learned years before would take at least an hour to beat out of her. (I considered the pool stick option.)

So somewhere between a scream and a whisper and between gritted teeth I replied "What do you want me to do? Tell them you're a Pagan?" She threw up her hands and said "Tell them I'm in the bathroom- I don't care!" Really? The bathroom is the best you can come up with? Thanks, cuz that's what I want to mention to my guests, on Christmas, in the middle of the kitchen right before we say grace and eat a lovely dinner. I just can't win. I was born into the wrong life. Surely I was. I stood there for a milli-second and whirled around and bolted up the stairs. I rejoined the circle, grabbed the hands of the people next to me and stated in the calmest, matter of fact- let's not continue to debate this- voice that I could muster- "She's in the bathroom and asks that we go ahead an pray with out her, she could be awhile."

Well, that shut them up. We said a nice prayer, had a nice dinner to which she 'appeared', I drank wine (thank God, I am Catholic) and we had a nice remainder of the day.

Its honestly the first time I have found bathroom talk the best solution during a dinner meal. But whatever. Later- I had a question rip through my mind like a tornado through Kansas. What the Hell was she doing there with us giving and receiving gifts, and supping with us-if she is an Athiest? Its not like I hid the fact that it was Christmas! Hmm, nice. Thanks for the awkward moments, Sis, did you like the shirts I bought you? This won't happen next year. Trust me.

Friday, December 24, 2010

My Perfect Christmas Day

Christmas day is a very special day to exhibit my holly homemaker hostess skills. So I start the day with a very special routine. Chilled water is sooo refreshing.

A little personal grooming goes a long way.

Hubby understands how important this day is to a wife. Truly a culmination of all I could ever hope to be...

So the outfit is especially important. Do I go all out?

Or go for the casually elegant and oh so modern?

These decisions can cause a lot of anxiety!
Luckily, I have a coping mechanism...

My guests will be very interesting and diverse.

They are sure to enjoy the touch of Americana I included in the supper menu.

I just know that the Mr. of the house will be so proud and fall in love with his wife all over again.....

Unfortunately after such a strenuous day I am likely to develop a headache....

Only curable by a little alone time with that ever so fabulous- ME!!!!

Ahhhhh.....I can see it now...

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Eye Candy for You- no calories!

This was on my daughter's Christmas list to Santa. She wants a necklace that says 'Dogs' and a charm bracelet. Whatever your sweet little 71/2 heart desires. Its only money. How can I compare repairing a car to the dreams and wishes of a child who believes in Santa?
This is a do-it-your-self-er I bought from Hobby Lobby. The bracelet comes strung with beads and jump rings. Then you add the charms from their vast selection and Viola~ you have a personalized gift that will probably be lost by the end of the school year...ahh the dreams and wishes of a 7 1/2 year old.

Hey- here's a tid bit from the art world part of my life! I'm still waiting for a ballerina to arrive so I can finish the bird. So in the meantime, I have just started tinkering with the gown. I'm stuck on cloisonne` and capturing spaces with wire. This portion looks somewhat like a stained glass pattern to me. I dig it- How about you?

And....what you do for one you do for the other....while B. is the saviour and lover of all animals Kayla is my performer. American Idol watch out. She has a guitar and may even get lessons some day....she loves to sing and dance. She sure has stage presence...I just have to get her to stop adjusting her tights while singing. Those hands....always have to be busy....

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Perhaps an electrical field gone haywire?

I'm starting to think there really is "something up" in my world. But I'm busy. Its Christmas. These other worldly things will have wait- right? I spent 4 hours wrapping presents Sunday. Good day to do it as hubby fixed the car stuck in the driveway. Weirdly though, during his tests drives (the ones that got it stuck in the drive) an electrical problem occurred. My brake lights came on and stayed on can't tell if the car is braking or not. Plus to make the lights go off one has to pull out the fuse with needle nose pliers. "#40" he told me. "Its number 40. You want me to circle it in the book?" "No" I replied, "I will never forget as the last thing I want to do is be in a parking lot somewhere asking strangers to jump my car." Really, silently I am thinking, I just about can't take any more indignity- so I will remember the number 40. How old am I? I thought all this unreliable car stuff was done with about the time I settled into grey hairs and crows feet? What's wrong with this picture?

Today was the day the Rendezvous is to go in to the mechanic. Cute little- Russian Alex- mechanic. I like him- he has a genuine accent. It makes him interesting. I need interesting things to divert my attention from- oh yeah, cars. So on this morning I received a clue about the electrical fields that have gone haywire around me.

My hairdryer that was given to me by my first sister-in-law over ten years ago (don't give hair dryers as Christmas presents- just a hint) went from working fine and dandy to shooting out sparks and flame- luckily for my endangered hair- sparks first- then went dead and then turned back on, shooting out more sparks, flame and smoke. I screamed a little, just a little, by now its going to take a lot more than flames to get a good reaction out of me. "hmmph!" I thought and tossed it in the garbage. "Hope I can remember in 8 hours that I need a new hair dryer!"

I played switch-a-roo with the cars at the mechanic. I dropped off my Rendezvous and picked up the Subaru. It was a nice re-union. I liked this car for many years. Today as all the lights were working and as long as I didn't "run it too long" I felt safe. So off I went after work to pick up the girls from daycare. I parked in front of the building, got out, started walking towards the doors and stopped dead in my tracks.

Even though I had turned the engine off the lights were on. Specifically the tail lights. What the hell? I thought. Seriously? Because the only common denominator in this situation is ME! I went back and checked the knobs, looked at the doors, they were all shut. I started to get the heebie jeebies. My cars- my cars are alive and I am being haunted. It was truly a very weird feeling.

But- I'm busy. I still have Christmas shopping to do. I went in and got the girls. I watched them closely as they approached the car. They acted fine. So much for children being sensitive to the paranormal- right?

Well- I'm just going to get right to the end, here folks! Enough DRAMA! I bumped a button and it was the fog lights! Only the rear fog lights but still! Paranoid Polly has about had it! I am trying to plan a Christmas menu and get some party cleaning done, here! I have no time for cars, or ghosts or tarantulas because I have stockings to stuff! Geez o' pete's! So I promise you- no more posts about strange events until after Christmas! But, just so you are warned there is a reason this blog is named ChrisChronicles. There is!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Update on my new career as a grease monkey-

Ok, folks, I got out of playing car mechanic on Sunday, anyways. A bolt had come loose and was caught between some thing important and some other thingamajiggy. But this strange thing happened in the midst of all this- my tailights are stuck in the on position. That means no brake lights (Hey, mister in the big white truck, do you think there's a reason I turned on my hazards? Get off my ass!) So I did play mechanic for a minute as a friend told me that if I followed the break pedal up into the dash I might just find a I tried it and no switch but as I was laying on the floorboards of my car with my hand squeezed in a little hole I was reminded of a movie where there were tarantulas hiding everywhere and they would fall out on people's heads and bite them....

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Mercury is in Retrograde. (Or some crap like that!)

That's what those in the know say. I subscribe to a newsletter that keeps me abreast of these things. I look forward to getting it and then....never really understand what I am reading. Truly, astrology is a language all to itself. Apparently when Mercury is in retrograde our thought processes are compromised. Do not, and I have diligently tried to follow this- make any important decisions right now. Wait two weeks. But- does it mean something else for Scorpios? I'm just wondering because things...things have not been right this month!

I just got my haircut yesterday. For the third time this month. Really- all I said was- "whatever you did last time, my hair was great, not one bad hair day so do that again" Apparently that is what you do not say to your hair stylist. When I came back a week later with a limp, dull and dragging hair style I said "this is what its doing for me- I've tried me..." She looked at it and said "why did I cut it on that angle? That's obviously not working for you." She cut it again, styled it and away I went. Problem solved? No, there was something 'bulky' about it. I'm busy. I didn't want to go back. I didn't want to bug her for a third time.

Yep. I have a problem. All designers suffer from the affliction of thinking we can do anything. And while we can do a lot of things and we are problem solvers by nature we are not endowed with all skills. you think....ooooh...that's it right there...that little piece sticking out.....and that little piece right....there.

So yesterday I had to explain to my hair dresser that while yes, I was still having problems with the cut she gave me.... the cut she was staring out was not the one she gave me. The phrase "really, its not you...its me" never rang so true. Long story short.....well 'short' is the word that ends this tale.

The other weird thing....I'm trying to ignore winter. I did that last year and I was pretty successful. But today.......I will have to go outside and play car mechanic with my husband. I don't want to do that. I don't want to lay on the cold ground and use my small hands to get parts off the wheel of my car that is blocking our driveway. I don't. I'm a girl. I don't like car grease and I don't like being cold. I'm way too old for this. Damn his large manly hands!

So seriously. We somehow have four old cars (anyone want to trade for two new ones?) and none of them will get us out of our drive way. One is at a garage being diagnosed as to whether or not we should activate the resuscitators or call time of death. One just never made it to the junk yard before the snow flew. One is just fine now that hubby got the broken spark plug out of it by using a hair dryer to warm it up. And my car....well, that's the one that barely got me home from Christmas shopping last night. (It was a hairy ride home but Mr. couldn't come and get me because of the broken spark plug that wouldn't come out- seriously can you beieve this...)

But my car is now blocking the driveway and without going into the snow bank we can't get around it. You know, to get the parts we need to fix the car blocking the driveway. Thank god for phones and wine. We will get this resolved but.....I don't want to go out in the cold......I don't want to touch the car's parts....I'm a girl....I have to clean up puke in the middle of the night- I shouldn't have to work on cars....If something happens and I can't do art anymore....

So really, all you this something to with Mercury being in retrograde?....Inquiring minds want to know

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Merry Christmas, Everyone.

Thought I'd share a peek at my tree with you. I just finished grading 30 final projects so I don't have much going on in the art department.

I do have a fabulous bird sculpture to show you. Fabulous because I had no idea that I could sculpt and animal. I've never tried! You may remember the bird from earlier posts. In its breast is a hollowed out spot for a ballerina that twirls around. Guess what? Broken music mechanism! Over wound like me. Try to find a music box mechanism when you need one. On line prices are daunting. Sure, retail stores have plenty of $10. jewelry boxes. You know what you get for ten dollars? Ballerinas with palsy. Yep, a lot of twitching and jerking for ten dollars. I have one on order from a jewelry store.

I was a florist for seven years. Anyone who was ever a florist has had a turn or two at decorating trees. Traditional trees, contemporary trees, fishing trees, teddy bear trees, fruit and flower trees- you name it. But I have to say that my favorite tree has always been mine. (I should say 'ours' but I can barely let go of control long enough to have any one else touch it so it really is 'mine'.)

I've been asked "What kind of tree do you do for yourself?" I dunno what to call it- its the same every year. White lights, gold, ivory and silver ribbon with an angel nestled in a fluffy bow at the top. Then throw in ornaments of every color- red, green, hot pink, purple, a little but not much royal blue. The ornaments tend towards old fashioned toys, musical ornaments, romantic and a few baby's first Christmas ornaments. Every year since I was married I have dated the ornaments I bought. After twenty years I buy maybe just one a year but I like to keep to the tradition. The tin Pinnochio you see below is one of my favorites. The green carousel was made by my Mother from a kit she bought at Ben Franklin's Crafts. Remember those?

At some point I fell deeply in love with Mercury Glass ornaments. My small collection usually hangs from the ceiling around the angel.

I think people are disapointed when I tell them that my tree has no particular theme. I think they are expecting something more like "It's dedicated to Princess Diana and is decorated in designer gowns and expensive shoes" rather than my "Well, it just looks like the Sugar Plum Fairy came to visit awhile."

When I decorate my tree I feel a little bit like this child- daughter Brooke at 5, enchanted by the idea that there really is such a thing as Christmas Magic.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Another book? Is there money left for Christmas?

Fear not, Chinamommy, like I said, I have your gift. Actually, I bought this book awhile ago but just got around to scanning and uploading which takes for-ever...did I mention I live just outside one of the biggest cities in my state but I still have dial-up? ARRGH, doesn't begin to cover it.
Back to the book-

I have these fantastic pictures of daughter Brooke sleeping that are going to end up on canvas.... and that canvas will be gessoed...don't worry, I have a plan.... but....I have to get them to the firm that will make this happen in a format that they can work with and while I could just send them my jpeg I prefer to modify it first. I was playing around with a low level program on my computer and gave her this dramatic spotlight effect where in the center of the pic remained true and the outside edges blurred into darkness. Instant drama and I was hooked. But....what if the low level program I was using is not good enough and all my effort is wasted on a less than acceptable result? (repeat- I am not a perfectionist, I am not a perfectionist, ok, maybe a little around the edges....)

This is one of the pictures by the way. 'One of' because I can never settle for one of anything fabulous...

Oh yeah, the book. Well, with this project burning a hole in my brain I was off to the book store and the book store did not disappoint. Has it ever? The very first project in the book is creating a 'vignette' effect. All you need is Adobe Photoshop or more specifically Photoshop Elements. I have Creative Suite 3 Premium and have not really cracked the seal because....its on that darn Mac laptop that I bought off a student but really don't know how to use....(insert sigh expressing great angst.)

Oh yeah, the book....
By Susan Tuttle
Well of course, I love it. I find it quite user friendly in its set up. First it guides you through all the tools, simple processes like setting up files and working with layers. Then it takes you through multiple projects using all kinds of mixed media applications, each are step by step.

I don't know why- maybe because its explained by a female artist it seems so much easier to understand than even the photoshop for dummies type books I already own. I do recommend it to you but of course- I want you to browse through it to see if it meets your comfort level.

by Susan Mckivergan
There's a style for every one's taste in this collection, 25+ different examples of work, actually. I chose a couple I found intriguing.

by Tiffini Electra X
Oooh, does this mermaid seem just a bit 'Art Noveau' to you? Well, she's pretty, that's for sure. One thing I haven't mentioned yet is that this book contains a c-d with a few brushes and textures for you to use as backgrounds. Not a ton of them, but enough to get you started and the book does share how to create your own "brushes". Honest, it seems easy enough. Now, how to clone myself so that I can work, mother and create great art.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

"Jose~ Can You Sing?"

Now, repeat that to the tune of "Oh say can you see...."
Yep, there are many things I will miss about my daughter being young. For days now she's been running around singing "Jose` can you sing?" Sometimes I wonder if she has an auditory dis order. Especially when she's looking for the 'amote retrol'. Anyhoo, that's all...just wanted to share before my mental disorder made me forget.....

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Oh, The Possibilites!

Oh, I'm a sucker for a good book and office supplies- I love a good romp through Staples or Office Depot- but rather than tell you what color paper clips I just bought I'll give you the low down on this book that I think should be part of your library. Call it an 'office supply/business expense' whatever it takes to justify the purchase. I call it another late birthday present from me to me.

I was drawn to this book because of its wide variety of topics. Right now anything that can help me get the cloisonne` or enameled look I want for my big little lady sculpture is a must have right now. Even if its just a particular color combination in an advertisement in a magazine- its mine. This book covers- resin, enameling, acrylic, polymer clay, and glass.

This really cool pin is made from a piece of broken pottery. Two things come to mind. 1. I would have really liked to see the whole piece of pottery- I'm sure its also very cool. 2. What great detail work! So very small and intricate! The artist is Patti Leota Genack. Love the little girl and dog hanging out the window.

There's directions on-
-how to transfer images onto your jewelry and how to keep them protected during the process.
-how to add a patina
-how to make a figure
The author, Sherri Haab, created this bracelet using transfer techniques.

This pendant by Susan Gifford, was made by applying cloisonne` enamel to precious metal clay.
Why, there's even info on wire wrapping, macrame, crocheting with wire, creating buckles and closures- you name it- I think I saw a casserole recipe in there, too!

This stunning piece was created by Kelly Russell. The butterflies and lady are from precious metal clay.
There's complete directions for firing your jewelry. I just found out that 'ramp speed' doesn't have anything to do with racing for that last available spot in the parking ramp.

There were many other pictures I could have included but I hate to spoil it for you! All I can say is- Great Job Sherri Haab, great collection of artwork and artists.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

One of those projects that's been nagging at me!

Creative Carmelina, a blogger friend of mine, started something awhile back. She did this awesome self portrait that really spoke to me. We all want to define ourselves. But not in any permanent way that can't be changed. We all want the world to see us they way that we see ourselves. A self portrait can be a very hard project to even attempt.

Blogging has a certain safety in that people can only see what you allow them to see. The picture we create with our words, the story we tell with our art, the glimpses we share with our photography. But a self portrait should be honest. Its not that it can't be pretty- but the truth of it, the heart of it should be un-adorned. The truth should shine forward, beautiful in itself.

I used to believe a story about myself. I took parts of messages I heard from my Mother and believed them to be true. Now I realize that her truths don't have to be my truths. As a young adult I took in the messages from people around me and thought they must know more than me. Now I realize how much we all didn't know back then. Now- I realize 'that' story never really fit and I knew it all along.

I challenge you to know yourself truthfully. It sounds silly to say that if negative words come out of your mouth than positive words should follow- but really- if you ever do dwell on negative things about yourself you need give yourself a good mental shake and state the positive side of things as well. Its only fair to be completely accurate. I mean come on'- if you're going to be hard on yourself go all the way- realize that yeah, you're not perfect and you're not all that bad either. Somewhere in the middle is a big space to be in. A big wide open, full of wonderful possibilities space.

By the way, Creative Carmelina is #103 on the blog hop. Go visit her. She's always doing something amazing. She'd love to have you- she's a great host!

Monday, November 15, 2010

I have the wierdest life.

Strange things happen to me. I'm not kidding. I'm the kinda person who in an effort to save a lost dog kidnaps some one's pet and then makes the owner feel bad for losing them. I've witnessed fish falling from the sky, no lie. My child has single-handedly caused the evacuation of a day care center. These are only the things I can remember right now.

The following story is an example of the craziness that is my daily life. You have to get to the very end for the reward and trust me, its worth the wait.

So, last Sunday night I thought I should get my exhausted butt to bed a little early to make up for several nights of no sleep and days filled with anxiety. (If anyone ever says to you- "Ya know, I think it would be fun to be an interior designer..." punch them for me, please.) So I finally made it in there about 11:00 and I was pretty proud of myself. That should have been the first indication something was going to go badly wrong.

'Round about 1:30 my dog woke me up. It doesn't take much above a whisper to wake me, just so you know. She was agitated and barking at something I couldn't hear. So I let her out and she ran around the yard barking insanely. I rounded her back up and sternly told her to get back to sleep- it is deer season, they'll be moving around a lot and I wasn't going to have her barking at them all night.

But, she didn't settle down. She stayed at the end of our bed and continued to bark at every little noise. "That's the furnace." I told her. "That's the walls creaking because the furnace turned on." "That's the floor creaking where it always creaks when the furnace turns off." "That's the wind on siding, just like every night."

Now, I should admit to you that I am petrified of the dark. I know, I'm 42 and there is a big hairy man in bed next to me but...hey, maybe there's a correlation? So it doesn't take too many nervous little barks before I'm all creeped out. But, I'm 42 years old and a mom. So like a good grown up I get up to check the house. Why didn't I wake up hairy man? Because he drives for a living and I want him rested so that I don't have to worry the whole next day about him crashing his big truck into a family of small children. Yes, I over think everything. Everything. I can come to the worlds worst cause and effect scenario in very short order.

I check the front door, the garage door and the sliding door. I turn the exterior lights on an and peer outside while maintaining a safe 6' of distance between me and the glass because I've seen way too many movies wherein the person next to the window suddenly gets sucked away into bloody nothingness by a scaly claw. I wasn't born yesterday- more like 42 years ago, that's a lot of scary- Freddie, Jason, Alien, and vampire movies.

I do this several times and lecture the dog after each time. She doesn't stop. Eventually, too tired to do the route again I pull the covers up to my chin. The dog and I lay cheek to cheek both staring with big eyes at the bedroom door waiting for the sure arrival of the axe murderer. I know by now its definitely an axe murderer she's hearing.

The axe murderer came in through the slider in the lower level and is just waiting for us to fall asleep before he comes up the stairs. I know he's coming from the lower level because I was too chicken to check down there to make doubly sure that door was locked. It wasn't that I didn't think of it. I gave the stairs a sidelong glance every time I went by them. No way I was going down there! Everybody- Everybody know this simple truth- there are monsters in the basement and vampires in the attic. So, no way, no how was I going down there at 2:00 in the morning....years of tearing up the basement stairs at my parents house had taught me that one day I wouldn't be fast enough....

Its now somewhere around the 3:00 hour and my need for sleep is battling with my furiously beating heart. My adult brain is totally disgusted with my child brain. One more round I tell myself, just do it! This time I turn on the outside lights all around the house and leave them on. Damn the electric bill! Hubby is going to have a fit tomorrow but I'll make short work of him after no sleep! One more time into the children's room to check their breathing. I walk in.

I stop dead. Something has caught my eye. It can't be. I rub my eyes. Yep. Still there. Ok, I've died and just don't realize it yet. Nope, I felt for my pulse and it was there. Present also was this strange feeling of the earth moving under my feet. Now, I've been staring for several seconds. Ok, I really am seeing it- its moving. I take two steps backwards, so does the dog. I flip on their light. Yep. Still there. How can it be? I live in Michigan. Woodland wonder Michigan.

There on the floor of my children's room, lumbering across the shag was.....a hermit crab. At 3:00-ish in the friggin a.m., in the middle of Michigan was a shellfish. Not any shellfish but the one creature who borrows an abandoned shell and takes it with them wherever they go.

So I bent over my- giant in comparison- body and tapped that shellfish on top of his house. His legs immediately curled up like the busted thief that he was- he retreated into his refuge. I picked him up and held him up- eyeball to claw, I decided there was only one place for him to go.

Once I unceremoniously dropped him the fish tank I warned the fish. "Listen, you've got a roomie for the night and I'm not sure when he ate last or what he ate but if I were you I'd stay on that side of the tank."
It was at that exact moment that my dog lay down on the floor and went immediately to sleep. Somehow, my super sensitive dog could hear the tiny noises that this crab was making. She knew something in her house was not right and she was not going to rest until I made her world safe.

There in lies the story of how my work week started. Bleary eyed but with a good story to tell. OH! Where did it come from? Well if you haven't guessed, the story I was told is that it was found on the picnic table on the playground. Our new friend had been in my house all weekend but Sunday night had managed to work his way out of his plastic bag and tried to make a run for the sea.

Let me just say- its not everyday you can claim that your shag has crabs- and then giggle about it!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Couldn't take it! Ballerina revisited.

I tried. Really, that goofy grin. Couldn't just get myself to leave it alone. Perfectionist? Yeah, I know- perfectionism = limits. rest until she was...

just as beautiful as I thought she could be.

Once again I turned to my friend- the embellishment queen- Kristi for help with tiny ballerina's tiara. Kristi works at Pages in Time, a scrap booking store, so she's got the 'in' on all things tiny. She's also on this wonderful journey of all things felted and I wish I could show you the fabulous scarf she just made out of a strange silk (nou nou???) that she then felted and embellished. Turned out to be very sophisticated and I covet it. I would send you to her blog for proof of how wonderful it is but she hasn't updated it since her trip to Ireland this summer. Maybe if I guilt her enough....

Any how, I used this really cool twisted wire I purchased from a florist supply store and glued on the world's smallest gems (thanks, Kristi, now get to that blog!) and viola` - a tiny tiara. Its difficult working that small, people!

I refrained from making ballet slippers because- 1. no one will see them and 2. I'd have to melt the hot glue that is keeping ballerina straight when she twirls. She's got a definite tilt to the side- looks like a tiny ballerina that got a tiny bit tipsy before she went in front of her audience! Thank goodness for hot glue even if it is a bit gloppy.

Anyhow- that's all for now. Am in the final weeks of the semester- big projects for the students going hot and heavy. Leaves little time to Facebook or blog. I do check in with your blogs so keep it coming! Take care.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Here's a quick peek at the ballerina that will fit in the bird. What species of bird is it? No clue. Pigeon? Nothing too exotic. Anyhow this little lady measures 3 1/2". Her head is approx 3/4". Wow, try putting a face on that! So she's not as pretty as I'd hoped but still has a certain 'old world quality'? I really like how this paper clay paints up and varnishes. I may use gloss on her. Her tutu is covered in glass glitter. As I intend to use frit on the body of the piece I wanted to use real glass glitter on her and will use some of those tiny, tiny glass marbles- somewhere- as well.

I'm excited to get to working on the lady herself again but this sculpture is building itself in a certain order. Had to figure out what she was holding before I could do the hands. Had to figure out what the bird contained before I can finish it. Had to figure out a way to contain and protect the ballerina. Had to figure out the back ground for the ballerina...which led to the shopping trip and broken goes on and on....can you say obsessed? This may well be a year long process. Hang in with with me- would you??

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Yes, in honor of Halloween.....

This was from two Halloweens ago- but, I thought, worth reading again. One wonders, is the mean girl still lurking just outside the dressing room?

The mean 20 year old at the dressing rooms told me there was no flash photography allowed. So I promised not to use my flash. She said "no pictures at all!" I said "Seriously?" You have go to be kidding!" Really, does she think I was going to run home and copy the super girl outfit on my sewing machine? Couldn't she tell by merely looking at me- that I am almost 40, that life has been very hard recently as I rush around trying to get two little girls off to different classrooms with different schedules and different events going on every freakin' day with different homework every freakin' night and that not only am I getting grey hairs and wrinkles but also still enjoying the fun of acne due to my raging hormones? And that the only thing on my ever rotating roster of things to do that has brought me any joy is the thought of how cute Kayla would be in a super girl costume but that I would have to take a picture to see it because there is no way they would choose not to be a princess or a fairy so if I want any memories at all I will have to lug in my big phalyx symbol of a camera into the store and snap a shot of the little tykes in the moment. But, no, in the land of twenty year olds, apparently my situation wasn't that obvious.

And she wasn't kidding, as I found out. I also found out that even if you hide in the dressing room and take a picture of the girls outside the dressing room- that cameras are loud when the flash goes off. And the light doesn't necessarily stay in the room. So imagine my chagrin as the 20 year old mean girl came to once again inform me that there was no flash photography and points at the sigh on the wall that you can clearly see in the picture. Then to justify herself and make me feel small, I imagine, she told me that she could get fired. WELL, I would hate to cut short her career at Halloween, USA even though it was October 15th that very day.

So there in is the story of how we came to purchase our Asian Princess Halloween costumes from Halloween USA. Because, even though every bone in my body wanted to take my little girls and my little wallet and walk out, I knew there was no explaining the universal code of wrong and right to a 5 1/2 and 7 year old and I also knew the only one who would be punished for leaving empty handed would be me.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Had to share this with you!

This is what big little lady will be holding. What is it? Why a bird of course!

The bling? Well, had to do something with the back of the cavity! A ballerina stolen from (yes, Kayla might get it from me...) Brooke's jewelry box will circle around inside her new little world. She's attached to the music box which will be part of the bird. If all goes well a person should be able to turn the key and hear a pretty little song while the ballerina twirls a pretty little dance. Cool, right? Wish me luck.

Oh, yeah- the bling- After shopping blissfully childless and alone at Michael's I purchased 56.00 worth of stuff. I was on a quest to provide a suitable back drop for the tiny dancer.

I bought spray paint to re-silver mirrors- $12.00, and $17.00 worth of glass beads from Martha Stewart. Crushed glass in white, mauve and silver. Foil in case I changed my mind about the paint- $7.00 And then walking out the door I changed my mind on how I wanted to make all this happen. I decided I would buy some Christmas ornaments, crush them up and sprinkle them and the silver glitter glass in a bed of glue. It would be like a mirror but fractionalized. So the paint and the foil never even made it into the house 'cuz I'm returning them!

What do you think?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Wabi Sabi

So I just picked up this little book in the Kendall Library.

Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets and Philosophers.

I was struck by the introduction and had to immediately share it with you.

Wabi-sabi is a beauty of things imperfect, impermanent and incomplete.
It is a beauty of things modest and humble.
It is a beauty of things unconventional.

So...on the quest of discovering my 'style' I continue to learn and define myself- loosely, that is, remember...I don't like rules. I understand the concept of rules- just no how they apply to me.

I am imperfect, aesthetically and ethically. I am impermanent- I will not be here, in this state of being, forever. I am incomplete and happy about it.

I enjoy the beauty of things that are what they are. A loaf of bread fresh out of the oven with that beautiful brown crust. A stack of lumber, precise and machined, yet organic of origin.

Things unconventional? Hello? Are they watching me on a hidden camera?

So, more about Wabi- Sabi as I read.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Things and stuff!

First- I should have mentioned this at the beginning of the month but why be timely? Willowing and Friends is featuring artists from the group every month. I'm one of the first five to be featured. Am I just that good? At begging probably! Scroll down and to the side to see my badge and go visit them- they are right, they are a fun and friendly group!

Two- washer= broken. Sounds like there might be a few pet shop pieces, some rocks and loose change wandering around in there. Hate, hate, loathe (which is worse than hate according to Webster's) laundromats. So thought I'd take a stab at washing clothes in my bathtub in my house with my own familiar dirt. Yep, betting that washers do a much better job than me or Brooke, who I tried to con into swishing the clothes around.
Chinamommy made a correlation about me 'agitating' the clothes a bit better but I'm not sure I did it right. I made a few comments like "ya know, if you jeans were all your cracked up to be you'd just wash yourself" "Sweaters- don't worry, I still want you even if you are looking worn around the edges- I think" "undies- you used to be smaller-I'm just sayin' and bra's- well, you've been letting me down lately!" I don't know- my garments may have lower self esteem but they didn't seem to be too agitated!

Three- Brooke proposed that I pay her a dollar to clean her room all "spic and spaniel". I told her I'd have to see the results but if she could make it happen- go for it!

That's it, three things.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Paper Clay Recipe

As promised- the paper clay recipe from the website passed along to me-

This was the most fun I've had at 'cooking' in awhile. My family thought I was insane! The first batch I did strictly by the recipe.

If you can't read this - I don't know how to link to websites and all that fancy stuff- Chinamommy is supposed to come and help me with that and help me set up an Etsy store but she's as hard to pin down as a wisp of smoke- or maybe that's me and yes, I am the queen of the run on sentence- then go to the website which has tons of other great info.

I thought it was a bit lumpy and I have a problem with thinking I know everything so I added a bit more of this and a bit more of that. This is usually where my cooking goes wrong. I wanted the paper fibers to be shorter or finer? I guess I was looking for it to be exactly like creative paper clay and it wasn't.

So next I tried dissolving the toilet paper in a big pan of water over the stove, gently warming it and then I let it sit thinking it would take up more water and dissolve better. It did get 'fluffier?" Then I put it in a dish strainer and pressed as much water out of it as I could. It was kind of a trade off for cutting it up into 1" bits. I think it was still more wet than the original way so I added more flour and more drywall mud than the recipe called for. I did not increase the oil by very much- you can tell if it is sticking to your hands you need a little more. Finally I decided I surely must have ruined it and by now I had enough to fill a cake pan. I put it in the fridge and left it a day to set up.

When I did use it on my sculpture I was pleasantly surprised by it. It acts differently than the brand name product but I adapted. It dried hard and while it doesn't sand up quite as smoothly as the brand name clay I think it has its own nice texture to it.

I believe that I will use this for the bulk of my project and do a final skim coat of the brand name clay over top of that. I'm working on a big piece and am looking for ways to save money and the hassle of buying tiny little bricks. Its worth a try anyways- the materials were about 15$ and those first two batches made about 4 or more bricks worth. I still have enough materials to make bunches more. Whew! Betcha didn't think you'd have to read a novel!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

New found wisdom at work!

After pouring over and bookmarking all the pages from those Art Nouveau books that appealed to me I made copies of all. Then I poured over the copies. I thought and I thought- how do I make this work for my current project? How do I create some sense of order? Do I make a pattern? I wanted her to have some mixed up melodious story woven in and out.....I wanted complex- like we women are- yet with some sense of a simple overall statement- "I'm just a girl" is what she seems to say to me over and over.

So I cut up all the pieces that I thought incorporated my intentions and laid them out on my living room floor. I moved them around until a picture came to mind and then out came my sketch book.

I soon realized that I would never be able to execute this complex pattern on my girls wavy gown. So I adapted.

I intend to use wire to outline these shapes and fill in with 'frit' which I just learned about. Its crushed up glass. How cool is that? Texture and reflection and depth- yummy eye-candy!

But I am way far away from being done. I want to add in some images of women- between the leaves and fronds.

And then there is the whole front side of her to 'decorate'. Stay tuned folks!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Did you ever wonder what your "style" was?

Many times I have said I wish I had a "style" I don't know how to do that- have a signature 'style.'

Am I contemporary? Maybe. But not stark contemporary or crazy contemporary- no I definetely have paremeters. Certainly I am not traditional- all the traditional people assure me of this and then politely ask me to move along. I might be alittle bit folksy which should really fight with the contemporary- oh hell, I like it all- but...what defines me and this elusive 'style' I covet?

I like contemporary because it explores relationships of color and texture and shape. Beauty occurs in moments, I believe. Sunlight coming through the back of a leaf creating a color somewhere between pink and orange- a color I would have thought impossible to create and more impossible to define with a name. When the wind blows across the tall grass in the field behind my house I'm reminded that texture is three dimensional shapes fighting for space to exist within. I think we all know that one of my favorite shapes is the sweet full curve of my daughter cheek. I wish everyone could see the world the I do, the way that artists do. Its no wonder we can't concentrate long enough to write the checks that pay the bills that keep my daughter's cheek from turning blue.

So I had a break through recently. Amidst a few breakdowns- as you all have been witness to. A moment I fought for, carved out of the chaos of everyday schedules, obligations and unruly interruptions.

Big little lady has just been hanging around, gathering dust, shouting at me when I dare glance at her. She wants some way to express her purpose. She's not just a pretty face- she has a message, she has a soul. But as I did not give her lungs or a voice box she's in need of a different form of expression and folks- its all about her attire. I mean- come on' if your going to be 57" tall and not be naked well then we have to do something with the outfit. But what? Just make it pretty? She is 'just a girl' after all? But are any of us 'just a girl?' Oh, no, there's a lot that goes into our recipe. Rosemary and sage and a pinch of cayenne, courage and empathy and hope and a pinch of wisdom- they are all simmering below our surface, behind our eyes.

I have the good fortune of having a large source of art resources. I teach as an adjunct at Kendall College of Art and Design. I can visit their library and find new and old books about any subject. In the last few weeks a tiny voice has been telling me to find the books about pattern- particularly folk art pattern, maybe of Swedish influence, maybe Art Nouveau? I didn't know what but I thought I'd find some tiny seed of inspiration in those rows of books!

I found more than a seed, I found the bean stalk. I went through the folk art patterns really quickly- not 'elegant' enough- the image of what I wanted to do with Big Little Lady still foggy. I found the Art Nouveau books, the same ones I had referenced years ago when I was force to write a paper about a period in art history. Actually, I was intimidated by the fussiness of the style and went to Art Deco instead- not as difficult to describe for someone who is really not interested in history- at all. But, back to Art Nouveau- as I flipped through the books this time I felt an immediate kinship. I was home now.

Art Nouveau is not about straight lines. If there is a 'line' at all it is bent and curved and exaggerated. Something I have a tendency to do with anything that I can bend. I was a florist, once, and used to love the way the stems reached for the sun- some straight and strong- others delicately curved but determined none the less, for their place in the sun. When I paint, I curve lines, when I sculpt I am always concerned with creating a line- reaching out into the negative space and capturing shape. I judge cars only by their shape, its really all I can see about them. To me a curved line indicates a certain strength, a right of being, survival really, those that don't bend snap. Think of a line of trees by the edge of a field and how the constant wind pushing at them has shaped them all similarly- a battle between forces, the need to grow despite adversity. The curved line is very symbolic to me yet beautiful and elegant in its existence.

You know how sometimes you are not ready to hear a message? Well in my twenties I was not sure of who I was. I couldn't see past all that fussiness (check out that architecture- Antonio Guaudi- you'll know what I mean) and was intimidated. Who did I think I was? What right did I have to immerse myself in all that- I couldn't breathe. But I'm older now. I get it. I know who I am. Now when I looked at these books I didn't see stifling fussiness but rather a joyous celebration of what is. I get what they see, I see it too. Beauty is in everything. And beauty should be exposed and glorified. We only have one life, one planet to enjoy- lets not waste it wandering around in a state of self inflicted unawareness.

Am I only about the curved line and the exaggerated shape? Not even a little bit. There's still color, glorious color. I still love- well just about everything I did before. But now I have a defined platform to work from- I'm Art Nouveau- ish! I can blend that Art Nouveau tendency with my other loves and finally create an expression of my style. I might be on to something here, folks! I can finally answer that question- just who is this unusual girl named Christine? Well- for one thing- her style leans towards the Art Nouveau.....ish.

Wish me luck!