Monday, August 15, 2016

Back Together Again

This chair has been sitting in my garage so long I can't  remember putting it there. When cleaning and clearing out the garage, I had to make tough decisions about what was staying and what was being donated and/or sold. Having made the cut,  I was also adamant about not allowing it to sit around any longer.

As I began deconstructing it, little did I know how bad it was going to be. Layers and layers of fabrics and webbing  and a ridiculous amount of staples and tacks.I spent  hours removing them, and, as usual, some  blood was drawn along the way.

Originally, it was professionally upholstered; however, somewhere down the line a novice attempted to recover it.

Nails were used to reinforce the joints. This is the worst infraction anyone can do to furniture. It's counterintuitive and weakens the joint instead.. DIY upholsterers, repeat after me,   "no more nails in dowel joints", Some of them were very reluctant to come out. 

The only way to fix a weakened joint is to take it apart, remove the old glue and glue it back together again. 

As I reassembled the chair, I kept thinking of Humpty Dumpty. "all the king's horses and all the king's men couldn't put Humpty Dumpty back together again. I think they should have called me because I have a thing for putting things back together. I enjoy the challenge. It's restorative and reinforces my resolve that anything can be fixed and restored  maybe not in the exact same way, but in a "new normal" kind or way. Excuse me for getting a little more deep in thought, but that's how DIY works for me. It allows me to challenge, reach and persevere just as I do in the everyday.

I had clamps on the seat joints. I removed them  before I took this pic.  Down below, I had to improvise because one, I didn't have enough large clamps and two, clamps are bulky so you can't always clamp front to back and side to side simultaneously.

Now that this chair is back together again, it's time to spring forward (pun intended) and attempt to reinstate these springs. The last and only time I tied springs, I was taking an upholstery class and partially tore a ligament in my thumb. After that I went straight into retirement:) Upholstery is hard on the hands!

I sure hope I remember how to do the eight way hand tied process. Successful or not, I will let you know how it goes. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Holding on to What is Most Meaningful

Last weekend I decided to have a garage sale despite the high temperatures that have been lingering for way too long. 

The prior weekend my husband and I had another go at the garage that never stops being a catchall for everything and anything. It was then that I decided what I would put out for sale along with some house items and furniture. 

I don't find it hard to get rid of things that have lost their usefulness except when it comes to my kids; no matter how old they get, almost 15 and 25, there stuff is sentimental because it is reminiscent of their childhood and coming of age years. 

Thinking back, those years and experiences tugs at my heart in unexplainable ways. I look at pictures and I just melt and want to go back in time. They grow up so fast! 

Despite the difficulty parting with sentimental things like my youngest's glider where we spent hours feeding, reading and gently gliding him to sleep, it was time to say goodbye.

Still in his room, only used to rest laundry waiting to be put away. Taking up way too much space in his small bedroom just no longer made sense. I had to let go and he couldn't care less.

So off the glider went with a lot of other things that no longer being used, hopefully to create new and beautiful memories for another family. I feel good about simplifying and making room for only the cherished memories and the most meaningful remnants of my life and nothing more. 

Do you struggle with letting go? Any suggestions for making the process easier? 

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Handwritten Goodness

I never tire of writing about handwritten treasures. So much so that when I was asked to adapt Gifted Memories for the blog, HandwrittenI was thrilled. 

This year, I made a pact with myself to compose at least one handwritten note, card or letter per month. The year is half over and I have penned eight so far. Two of the eight were long enough, however, to warrant being typed.

I realized that I lose desire to craft a note when I resort to using  the same box of cards even with the variety of colors and patterns to choose from. I go straight into procrastination mode. So I thought it would be a good idea to have a selection of cards readily available to ensure that my handwritten, thank you's, congrats and everything in between will continue on.

Recently, I made a card with just a stamp and a color pencil.. I wanted it to coordinate with the gift bag and tissue paper. 

It's quick and easy to create something pleasing to the eye with a stamp. I made a few so that I would have them readily available.

Sometimes, when I handwrite a letter, I don't quite like how my lines run off course or the spacing is a little wonky. This occasional mishap is not a complete loss though as I cut and reuse the front of the card and a postcard stamp.  The next time I need to send a short message, I have a postcard ready and waiting,. 

Speaking of postcards, I found these vintage postcards at an estate sale. Postcards bring on instant nostalgia for me. I'm not sure if I will use these in the traditional way or incorporate them in one of my handmade journal creations.

Every so often I  display and re-read some of the handwritten letters and notes I have received. They're special!

Having a bad day? They're an instant  pick me up! No kidding. Every time my eyes fall on them, they illicit a smile. 

I encourage everyone to dwell in a handwritten experiences. You never know, you might just find a handwritten treasure waiting in your mailbox as well. 

Saturday, June 11, 2016

The Letterpress Challenge

Last week, I had the pleasure of taking a letterpress class for writers at The Center for Book Arts, here in New York. Letterpress dates back to the 1400's
and is the oldest form of printing.  I had no idea it was going to be such a different class experience unlike any I had ever taken before. This five day, 30 hour class was challenging, exhilarating and as with any class, an opportunity to grow mentally and creatively.

The workspace is filled with various letterpresses and endless drawers of type in a myriad of typefaces and sizes.

Each typeface is stored in a draw that is sectioned off to contain each letter (lower and uppercase), punctuation and spacers.

Each letter is transferred to a composing stick, right to left creating a reversed image of your content. A little confusing, overwhelming and time consuming; however, it challenges you to stay in the present moment and  focus, focus, focus.

You print from a raised surface of letters or images that are made from metal or wood, although polymer plates are used today, as well.

Periodically, as your composing, you transfer the type to the press to proof it, taking great care that the individual type pieces of type stay together. You literally stop breathing, or at least I did every time I did this transfer process.
Although, that's not my type below, this is what it looks like on the press.

The type is secured in place with surrounding furniture (black metal bars in pic) and adding just the right tension using coin expanders (the thin silver bars with the center hole).

It is not until you print a proof sheet that you see the fruits of your many hours of labor. Mistakes and all, I was elated to see the first attempt of my printed page.
The  proofing process requires considerable time too. Upside down letters and mistakes with "b" "d"  "p" and "q" and "u" and "n"   are the most common type corrections.  And the spacing procedure that requires careful precision to ensure every line is exactly the same length can be very intense and frustrating as well.

From the start, I decided to keep it simple, composing a simple poem I had written using one typeface and left justification; my intent was to absorb the process without losing my way in design conundrums.

Prior to taking this class, I had only a textbook understanding of Letterpress; a gazillion years ago, I had majored in Graphic Communications and learned about the history of printing. So all these years later, it was nice to be able to connect textbook knowledge with hands on learning.

By day four, I produced my final printed page and then I exhaled:)

I went home relieved. The next day was devoted to putting my type away which is just as time consuming as composing the text. The cover design was a joint effort by the classmates that had finished printing and putting away their type ahead of time. It was complicated due to the mixes of typeface, but they stuck with it and it got done. I love it! 

Each of us made multiple copies of our work to share with our fellow classmates.

Overall, it was a great and very different experience. Although challenging and incredibly demanding it reaffirmed my love for handmade composition. Stepping out of your comfort zone is a good thing.

Have you taken on any creative challenges lately?

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Another Journal to Fill

I created yet another journal that I hope will be filled with memories, reflection, random thoughts or whatever her fancy. It was a present for my mother for Mother's Day.

My mother's faith is a significant part of who she is so I used scrabble pieces and paper clips to form the section dividers. She loved it!!! And I loved making it.  

The best part is I used found objects found around my home.  It started with a box I repurposed from a package I received. It was the perfect size for the cover.

I layered the front and back with muslin using mod podge

to make the cover sane as I did for this one.

I used a scrapbook paper on the inside cover.

The library pocket was made from the corner of a manilla envelope. These days, I look at the mail I receive in a whole new way. Anything can be repurposed and upcycled.  I found a template for the library cards which I printed 4 to a page on heavy cardstock.

I couldn't find paper the exact size that I needed so I cut and trimmed  pages from a  half used composition notebook. 

Included labels and photos from her younger days to spark writing content.

Soon after I completed  it,  I was shopping at TJ Maxx and stumbled upon color pencils wrapped in a fabric holder that was almost identical to the cover! I thought they would be a nice compliment to the journal.

I have a thing for notebooks and journals with blank pages to fill and I love repurposing odds and ends to create something meaningful. There are so many ideas rattling around inside my head so I think I found yet another creative obsession calling:)

What creative obsession that is currently monopolizing your thoughts?

Sunday, May 15, 2016

The Seedlings Await!

The seedlings want to go out and grow already. Is it ever going to warm up and stay that way. 

The temperature has been fluctuating so much this Spring. It's a little frustrating for those of us who are ready to get our gardens started, don't you think? 

Peas and  scallions; I will thin out the scallions when I plant them. As for the peas, I think they are hardy enough to go outside but I'm going to wait a little longer until the temperature is more consistent.  

This year I  used newspaper to make my seedling cups.

Last year, I used egg shells but I like to try new things, so I did.

Also, I purchased four mature plants weeks ago. I knew it was early, but they were priced nicely and organic.    The fact that they were on the inside because it was too cold outside didn't deter me. Waiting, to go outside, they quickly outgrew the sunny window I had them in.  Finally when I thought it was safe to do so, I put them outside to harden. However,  despite the dipping temperatures,  they seem to be holding up thankfully. I cover them with plastic and a drop cloth at night for added protection.

Ok seedlings, hang in there because soon it will be your turn to go out and grow. 

Have you started your garden or are you patiently awaiting warmer temperatures too?

Sunday, May 8, 2016

A Mother's Day Tribute

On this Mother's Day, I would like to pay tribute to my mom, Sara Mae. She grew up in Mount Union, Pennsylvania and had dreams that extended beyond the opportunities available in this small town.

Right after high school and three short months after her dad passed away, she took a job in Elgin IL at a publishing company for two years. It was there that she was introduced to a lady that helped her obtain a scholarship to McPherson College. With $100 saved, she traveled to Kansas by train, later to find out it was a partial scholarship and her savings was not nearly enough to cover her expenses. In addition to her studies she took on whatever jobs she could acquire to support herself and finance her education. She assisted the house mother at her dorm, cleaned a professor's home, ironed shirts for a doctor and worked in the cafeteria. She did whatever it took to make it through and she did just that.

Despite all those jobs, she graduated in 1950, on time!

Her mom, Rachel, had only a third grade education and yet her daughter was able to support herself and navigate college life and make it through successfully. Proud of Sara Mae, Rachel made the 1000+ mile drive with her classmates' parents to attend her graduation. Amazing!

Happy Mother's Day to all the mom's out there who give or has given of themselves in ways that words can't begin to describe the depth  and totality of their commitment and unconditional love.  Enjoy!

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Tiptoe Through the Tulips With Me

I get so inspired by what I see during the course of a day that it can be overwhelming but in the most joyful way.  The magnificence of the color can be so breathtaking.

After attending a composting class at the Queens Botanical Garden, I spotted these lovelies walking back to my car.

One lone red tulip mixed in a sea of yellow

Immediately it caught my attention.  Had to get a little closer

And even closer.

Further into this tulip trail, I spotted this beautiful red and yellow hybrid.

Again, it drew me in.

Unitil I could see each individual stamen inside.

 I stared at nature's magnificence for a few moments. How could I not acknowledge it?

As I walked away, I turned around for yet another look. As the tulips swayed in the wind, I was mesmerized by their beauty. I was inspired and in present moment heaven.