Sunday, 24 January 2016

Beer Pong Table - Part I

Timing is everything isn't it?

A few weeks ago, 3 to be exact, I called on an old friend. We see each other maybe once or twice a year. Usually on whim. So, as usual, the call turned into, "What are you up to this weekend, you should come visit." and so I did. And, as usual, it was an awesome visit. Leaving was awful. Maybe because of the hangover, maybe because I hate driving on the highway, maybe because I had so much fun. In any case, we really should do that more Jen!

It was great to catch up with her and her family and see what reno projects they have taken on. They have been busy and this time it worked to my advantage. Jen, an incredible artist in her own right, called me part way through the week to see if I would be interested in taking on a painting project. It was offered to her, but she was too swamped to take it on and wondered if I wanted too. YES! I said. She passed my info along and before I knew it, I had taken on a project that was, how do you say it?? "Meant to be."

Once I contacted the client, and found out more, I was so pumped to find out it was to paint a custom beer pong table. It isn't everyday that you get asked to paint a beer pong table. What an awesome project. And just different enough to make me giddy with joy. She (the client) said it just kinda came to her as an idea for a birthday present. So as if I'm not excited enough to paint such an unusual canvas, then I'm told it isn't a family crest (like Jen had told me), but a pub sign! For real?! So cool! If you know me well, you know my Dad is from England. If you know me really well, you might know that I got the opportunity to visit England, about 6 years ago, with my Dad. We toured around Derby and Borrowash where he was born and where my Grandparents moved back too when I was little, to take pictures of all the local pub signs in the area. Those photos were all on the wall in my old house, one of my favourite art collections actually. I haven't found the right place for them in this house yet.

And as if this project wasn't perfectly suited for me already, she also asked if there could be a Canadian flag at one end and Union Jack at the other. Of course! I work at a Flag company so this didn't pose much of a threat to me. Could this project be any cooler?!

Like I said, it was meant to be. I couldn't wait to get started and less then a week later her Contractor was dropping of the 8'x4' piece of wood in my kitchen. I've never painted anything this large before - unless you count the entire wing of Georgian College when we were in a Murals class (Ahh, listening to Eve 6 in the basement with Darryl, Mike and Derek painting oversized computer graphic murals...memories).

I didn't have any time to waste in getting started as this was also a rush project. I had less then two weeks to complete it. The timing actually worked out perfect as I had the weekend to myself and managed to prep enough of the main areas in the evening after Charlie went to bed during the week. Leaving me with a few nights to Varathane it.

So timing, it was great. Great time to see a good friend. Great time for her to be too busy for this project. Great time in my schedule for such a project. There is also another big timing issue that I've opted to write about in a second post for a few reasons; It's more emotional and I don't want to show the final picture to you all until the client has seen it first. And it would have made this post way too long.

So these work in progress pictures will have to do for now. Don't worry, shouldn't be long.

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Quilt is Finished

A couple of years ago, I had made the decision to try something or accomplish something new each year. A sort of bucket list if you will. But being that I'm not really the "jump out of a plane" or "bungee jumping" kinda girl, you shouldn't be too surprised that one of the items on my list was to "make a quilt" - so adventurous I know!

If you read this blog a few years ago, you would know that I got a really great start on this goal. I bought and cut all the material to make a king sized quilt. I even stitched the entire top piece together. I even bought the batting and backing and started to put that on too. But all of it got sidelined when Charlie's new bed was made. I instead started another quilt for Charlie out of his old t-shirts. Of course I finished that one and was able to check "make a quilt" off my list. But for the past 3 years I've had an almost finished king sized quilt tucked away.

I knew I couldn't let this venture go the way of my "learn to knit" goal - the half of a scarf I started when I lived at home. I'm sure if I looked hard enough now I would find it in a box downstairs with the knitting needles right where I left them in 2002.

So when I moved it seemed like the perfect opportunity to decorate my room and what better jumping off point then this awesome quilt I'd started. After Christmas I dedicated a solid few nights and a weekend to finishing it. I did it! I finished this massive quilt. I watched you tube videos on how to bind the edges. I took my own creative liberty to improvise a bit in some places. I'm sure people who quilt regularly would be horrified if they looked at the back of this thing. But if you look at the top, it looks so great. It weighs approximately a thousand pounds, which I love. The colours and the textures make it interesting. There is wool and tweed and all sorts of stuff. There probably isn't one row that is straight. In fact, who knows if the quilt itself is square. All of this is besides the point. It's a homemade quilt. I'm so unbelievable proud of myself. It's a real accomplishment. Maybe because it's just a finished project? I don't know, but I'm proud. And happy. Of course I'm never going to make a quilt this big again - I'm crazy but not that crazy. I will leave the quilting to my Sister! Tackling this project gave me a whole new respect for this artform that is for sure.

It's left me thinking though about quilts. What is it that makes them so comforting? Why did I want to do this project so badly?
I think it's because they are like a story. Whether you bought all new material, or chopped up old clothes, whoever made the quilt had an idea in mind. It's not so different to a painting or any other creative outlet. The quilt tells a story. The different materials, the textures, the stitching, the colours. It is like functional artwork.

My Mom has two quilts that I adore. One she has had as long as I remember. It is so colourful and it reminds me of her Mom - my Grandma Newton. It's heavy. It's abstract. It's satin and velvet and corduroy with beautiful hand-stitching. I can't remember who made it, but I feel like it might have been someone I would get along with really well! In fact, that quilt inspired my Mom and I to make a quilt back when I was teenager. I still have that one too.

The second quilt she received a few years ago from her co-workers who as a group, made it for her. They gave it to her to celebrate becoming a Grandma when Charlie was born. How cool is that? This same group of ladies has done the same thing for others in the group as more little ones were born. There's a story! Each of them sewed a section and the whole thing gets brought together at the end in a beautiful quilt. This one happens to be of water and trees and it is stunning. Way to go Ladies of the Ridge!

Now that I'm writing I also remember the quilt on my bed a kid. It was mostly pink and white. It had a large circle pattern in it and the pieces of material were pie shaped. I remember spending nights falling asleep trying to find all the pieces of the same material. Or the one piece that had actually started to come apart at the seam, I would always stick my finger in it. I know someone had made that for me. I just cannot remember who.

Maybe it's all these memories that made me want to make a quilt of my own so badly.
In any case, here are some pictures of it. High five to me! It feels so good to have this done. Now to finish the rest of the room!

Finished King Size Quilt and Shams!

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Putting Yourself Out There

So, 2015. Quite the year. Personally I couldn't wait for it to be over. Not be over in a my life sucks kinda way, but in a new year, fresh start, clear slate kinda way. I have been saying this past year was more a "trip" then a journey, so fingers crossed 2016 marks the start of the journey.

There is one last event from 2015 though that I would like to write about before we get this year kicked into full gear. For the past 5 years I have been an Artist on the Midhurst Arts and Crafts Home Tour. This year, for the first time, I was a guest artist in someone else's home instead of displaying in my own home. I was worried people wouldn't remember me because of this change up. And I was worried that people would remember me and have questions as to why I'm wasn't in my home anymore.

I live in small community where everyone knows everything. I was scared to be part of this show and stand alone as a guest on a tour I've been a part of for so many years in a community I grew up in. Knowing that everyone knows I'm not in my old house because I'm separated. Feeling like people don't know what to say or worry they put their foot in their mouth while talking to me about the change in location. This wasn't the weekend I wanted to spend talking about my personal life to strangers, but it's also the exact thing that you sign up for at an Art show. It's not just your work that sits out for people to look at, it's you. You've put a piece of yourself out there. And people want to know your story. The story could be the very reason they connect to your work. So you stand there, totally vulnerable - a word that keeps coming up for me lately - being judged, hoping people like you and your hard work. Work that is a direct reflection of me, what I represent, what I believe, where I've been, how I see things. But a funny thing happens when you put yourself out there. Support. Support of a group of artists that are now friends. Support of friends and family who make the effort to come by and say hello. Support of those who can't make it and send their love. Support of total strangers who come year after year to find me and ask how I am and how my son is.

As Artists, we are constantly vulnerable. Always putting ourselves out there. It's all subjective. My stuff isn't for everyone and I don't like everything. That's what is cool about it. But you've gotta own it. I work hard on my line of arts and crafts. Everything I make is an extension of me. When you buy something of mine, you are taking a little piece of my energy with you. If I'm selling it, it's something I'm proud of. So it is a very vulnerable state to stand beside your work and hope to God people respond to it. You put yourself out there professionally AND personally. In the creative world, you can't do one without the other. So when people do react, it's such a rush. In that moment you know you're not crazy (well, maybe a little bit), and you're proud of yourself. Watching people smile and connect with my stuff is so incredible.

I am so grateful to all my family and friends, to the group of artists and crafters on this tour, to this community and to the people I don't know, that all come out and send their support to myself and all the other incredible artists on these occasions.

What do I take away from "putting myself out there"? That it might be scary, but it's so very rewarding. I'm trying to embrace the vulnerability that I'm so accepting of in my creative career and apply the same confidence in other areas of my life. So Cheers 2016. Lets do this!

Friday, 1 January 2016

Paper Chains

Well, my first Christmas alone, or "single" as I guess they might say and it was my Son's first Christmas with myself and his Dad apart. This meant new everything to him. Routine and traditions up until now were questionable and it seemed to me like a good time to switch it up a bit. I was really stressed out about this for a long time. More then I could probably admit. I was worried about him, but I guess I was also pretty worried about me. What do I continue to do? Should I take this opportunity to change things? Would I upset Charlie if I changed anything?

The other thing for me, was that it's been a pretty strange month and half, and a tough year all around really. I was kinda faking my Christmas spirit this year. That's not like me. I was going through the motions if you will. I have about 4 rubbermaid bins of decorations, 2 trees, a box of garland and a bunch of items that don't fit in bins and none of that includes ornaments, lights, wreaths and seasonal towels/linens. I got my trees up. That felt good. There were a few little decorations I put out as I thought of them but I just didn't feel like trying to figure out where to put anything. I had no energy and I had no desire to dig through bins of memories.

But Charlie, being the incredible spirit that he is, inspired me. Kids will do that to you in strangest ways and this one never ceases to amaze me. We were out shopping when he started talking about decorations. It hit home as I realized that beyond the trees, I hadn't made very much of an effort to embrace the season thus far. And like I said, he is 6, prime Christmas age. We watched "Elf" that night and I just love the scene when they wake up in the morning and there are paper snowflakes everywhere. It's breathtaking. I said to Charlie, we should do that. His eyes sparkled. I knew this was going to get us in the spirit.

And so we went to work. Because we were hosting Christmas dinner, we decided to make the dining room the most festive place to be. We cut strips of coloured paper and spent a few nights stapling chains together. We had to stash the chains away in the closet some nights when we knew Grandma and Grandpa were coming over so they didn't see everything before it was ready. Then, the weekend before Christmas, we started to hang them. It looked incredible. I wanted paper snowflakes too but we ran out of time. That was until my friend Michelle (AKA Edward Scissor Hands), came over on Christmas Eve and helped make it a reality.

It looked spectacular. In fact it's still up because I can't bear to take it down.

I think what makes me so happy with this is the simplicity. This is what I wanted - what I needed really. Colour. Fun. Whimsy. Love. Creative. Spirit. Energy. Simple. It makes me smile. My tiny house is very quickly becoming quite the little home. This is the energy that I hope to continue to invite in 2016. Merry Christmas everyone and Happy New Year. 

And a shout out to Michelle (and Kim cause if she was here she would have helped) for helping me with the snowflakes. Eddie Freak n' Roid Paper Snowflake Manufacturers. Est. 2012. I just realized I didn't put my banner out. Ah...Memories.