Friday, February 25, 2011

Theme Thursday - Flourishes

Ahh, yes, I know it's Friday, but with this illness, I have learned when I better lie down and not do much (or it just gets worse), and yesterday was one of those days. Soooo, today I'm doing Theme Thursday  and the subject was flourishes.

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I haven't done anything Asian in a while, so I chose that for my direction. This is a 4 x 4, and the background is archaic Japanese print on rice paper. The vintage image of the women was aged and put down with torn red texts and a postage stamp with a lantern over it was added. The flourishes are black "gems".

The temperature is nice today but it is exceedingly windy! The bird feeders are swinging and leaves are flying in mini dust devils. The birds here have been making their spring calls, even though it is still February and the Spring Peepers chorus is taking place each night. According to the weather forecast, it looks like it will be that way for a while (except for the wind, hopefully!) so I really hope we do not get an intense cold snap . But, after all it is still February and it's really not supposed to be doing this!

And I wanted to say thanks to all of you who read my stories on Tuesdays. I've been getting some nice comments - it certainly gives me encouragement!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Tag Tuesday - Postcard, and a Story: Tale of Two Bridges, part 1

Anything to do with a postcard, that's the theme at Kard Krazy today.

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I copied the back of an old French postcard and made it into a tag, extra postage stamps were added and I rubber stamped flowers on the tag. Embellishments include striped tape, velvet flower and 3 tiny keys; distress inks were also used.

with apologies to Charles Dickens
(9th in a series of Tuesday Stories)

As I have mentioned before, we lived in Charleston SC before moving up to the mountains. Charleston is a very historic city and has a lot to offer anyone who visits it, from history to nature and enjoying the beaches. However, two of its landmarks are no longer there, but they are etched into the memories of many people - the bridges which crossed the Cooper River.

The first bridge, named the Grace Memorial bridge for a former city mayor, was quite a feat for its time. When it was built, it connected Charleston with Mt. Pleasant and Hwy. 17, which was a major North/South highway long before interstates were built. The Grace bridge was completed and opened in 1929.

As you can see from this old postcard from my collection, it was a very big deal and when it was opened, Charlestonians celebrated for three days! Each lane was only ten feet wide and it was two way traffic. Of course, the cars were much smaller back then!

Opening Day

It remained the only bridge over the Cooper River until construction was started on another bridge in the early 1960's. By this time, traffic was very heavy across the bridge and cars and trucks were much larger than the bridge was built to handle. I remember when my father used to take us for Sunday drives, he often maneuvered the trip to include the bridge, much to my mother's dismay and the children's excitement! It was breathtaking in several ways- both the view and the adrenalin rush of having cars and big tractor trailers come toward you with no room for mistakes. When I had driver's ed in high school, we were required to drive over the bridge before we could pass our driving test. 

Sometimes drivers approaching the bridge from the Mt. Pleasant side would simply stop when the bridge loomed into view, and be afraid to proceed. The county police began offering a service to drivers who would cross the bridge - one officer would drive their car over, and the other officer would follow in the patrol car! In 1946, a freighter hit the bridge, taking out a span and several people lost their lives when their cars plunged into the river far below.

When the Pearman bridge opened, authorities made the Grace a one way bridge coming toward Charleston. A lot of folks would still be nervous driving over it and would drive squarely down the middle. I remember being behind some of those poor people (usually with an out of state tag) and I would get so irritated because not only could I not go around them, they were driving much slower than I wanted to go. When my daughter got her license, she began to drive over the bridge and handled it very well. 

I loved that old bridge, it was great fun to go over in a motorcycle, and I was fearless driving my Excursion over it. I think having driven it when it was two way traffic made driving it as a one way bridge seem a piece of cake. It was like a roller coaster - a steep incline, then almost down to the ground in the middle and back up another incline to finish the trip. When a car broke down on the bridge, there was no place to pull over (except at the middle section of the bridge) so traffic would be backed up for hours. When Charleston started holding its Bridge Run in 1978, they would use the Grace Bridge (also known as the Old Cooper River Bridge by this time) until the bridge became too fragile to withstand the constant pounding of hundreds of pairs of feet. I never ran the bridge, but I did walk in the Walkers group and it was a glorious view to be at the top of a span and see the land and water. 
(Next week, the conclusion of the story)

If you want an idea of how narrow the lanes were on the Grace, this video is a good way to find out.

Friday, February 18, 2011

ATCDivas Feburary ATCs and Crocus!

For the ATCDiva's group, our February design was Snowflake. Now I must tell you, this one was sort of a contradiction, because for the past few days, the temperatures have been in the high 60's F during the day and sunny. In fact, tomorrow it's supposed to be in the low 70's! Much much different than the past few years and it's still 30 days till the first day of Spring. Several years ago we had an earlier Spring than usual, and then in April we had a cold snap which killed a lot of the blooms. I certainly hope that will not be the case this year!

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I have two shots of these because they were a bit hard to photograph. I had laid down Silver Leaf pen as a resist, then painted over it with acrylic paints. The vintage metal snowflake is in a circle punched from sparkly wrapping foil, and I punched the tiny snowflakes from the foil as well. Stickles were added for detail. Everything is on the reflective side, so I hope you can have some idea of how they look; they actually look better in real life. (I had to do seven of them.)

And the other day I noticed a tiny, bright flower near the front walk, and realized they were crocus. They must have been left from the original tiny house which was torn down when our house was built.

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Last year I moved the daffodils which were scattered about also near the front walk and they are coming up as well.

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So, today we have Snowflakes and Flowers!!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Tag Tuesday - Friends, and a Story: Graceful Rider

How was your Valentine's Day? We had a great time here. Our daughter Tabitha made a tasty lunch and then we exchanged cards. My husband had a book of poetry for me, of John Greenleaf Whittier. I recently rediscovered him when I included a line from one of his poems on the tag I made last week.

This is my second post for the today. I posted earlier with the results of one of the lessons from my art class. This post is for Kard Krazy, where the theme is Friends.

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I used some rubbing stamping, and distress inks, buttons and a ribbon bow. The image is another copy of a early 1900's postcard. It reads "Oh well, we has sweet tempers anyhow". I'm sure many of us felt a bit plump after eating chocolates and more yesterday!

(Eighth in a series of Tuesday Stories)

I have often felt in my life, especially when I was younger, that there were new adventures waiting for me if I didn't let the "norm" restrict me from trying. In the 1970's, that was true about motorcycle riding. If you were a female, you were usually classed with Hell's Angels types if you showed an interest in bike riding. And even then, most of the women rode on the back as a passenger, not as the driver. I, however, thought riding a motorcycle would be something that was great fun and as soon as I was able, I purchased my first bike. I've had three in my lifetime, all Hondas - 2 450s and the last was a Honda 600. I absolutely loved driving those motorcycles! I quickly found out that the most dangerous things were other drivers on the road, they either did not see you, or they did not care. I never "laid my bike down" (had an accident where I was thrown from the bike) but I did have a few close calls. The only accident I did have was when a large produce truck stopped quickly in front of me, and I ran my bike up under his truck and damaged the headlamps and the front wheel.

There was such freedom in riding a motorcycle. During my early years of riding, our state had a helmet law (which is a good thing) and when they repealed that, I took every chance to ride without one. I will say now that was very dumb, and in another story I will tell you of a very close call I had without a helmet. But at the time, I enjoyed the wind in my face. I wore sunglasses of course because with the wind came bugs, and being hit in the eye by a bug at 50 miles an hour can cause real damage!

The above picture was taken by a friend as I was getting ready to dismount the bike. To be honest, I also enjoyed the attention of seeing double takes from people when they realized that the motorcyclist was a female. I rode my bikes to classes, to church and to work, and enjoyed the cheap fuel economy. It was less enjoyable when it was raining, or very cold, but I usually had a car to switch to when that happened. 

When I met my husband, he had moved in next door to me on the Isle of Palms. My roommate and I had become friendly with him and one day he wandered over into our yard while I was oiling the chain of the 600 and doing some other maintenance. We chatted and after I was finished, I said "Hop on - I'll take you for a ride." He sort of backed away, shaking his head and mumbling something about riding being dangerous. "Oh, it's easy" I reassured him, "Just act like a sack of potatoes and lean into the curves as we go around them. I promise I'll drive slow and we won't go far." He very hesitatingly got on the back, put his hands at my waist and we took off. Very shortly I realized that he was as stiff as a 2 by 4 and all tensed up. I began hollering back "Relax! Relax! You're going to make us fall over if you don't lean in!" He tried, but he seemed not able to let himself go. 

After we had returned, I learned two things: 1. That was the first time ever he had consented to ride a motorcycle (and never rode one again) and, 2. He had always hated motorcycles! He only did it because he liked me.

I had been saving to trade my bike in for a Harley, but when I started dating, and then became engaged to John, I gave up my motorcycle willingly. He was more important to me and it wasn't a hard decision to make. I have missed it from time to time, but as I have gotten older it's just a pleasant memory. Earlier in our marriage I had told him I was going to get a Harley when I turned 60, but instead that year I became ill with the ME/CFS so even though I am slowly improving I don't think my reflexes are as good as I would like. Maybe there are motorcycles in heaven, and I will be able to ride with no fear of laying my bike down! 

Art class continues......

This lesson was focused around putting together a collage on Tyvek and then painting over it. As you will see, I have a ways to go in developing this. I enjoyed using the Tyvek, and I always like collage, but there were some bumps along the way.

Before the painting.....
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After the painting.......
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Some observations on this project:

*I seem to struggle with the tonality (balance of light and dark) of the picture as a whole. My husband suggested viewing it in black and white to get a better feel of what was going on in the painting, and that was very eye opening! I need to learn that balance.

*Paint has never been the main part of a project in the past, only a supporting player. I have a lot to learn using it as the main ingredient.

*I have not worked on an area this large (18 x 22), most of my pieces are much smaller in size. I wanted to fill every area with deep colors.

*This is my second attempt at the project and I find my self becoming rather emotional about it, so I think it's time to put this aside and move on to the next lesson for now. I can always come back to it when I am ready to try again.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Theme Thursday - Words, an ATC

Still feeling rather blah today, as I have all week and not really sure why exactly. Could it be because I am waiting for a parcel of supplies I ordered to come in before I can work on my next art lesson? Perhaps it's because my husband had surgery on Friday and it's been a long week? (thankfully, he is slowly healing!) Or maybe because of the ongoing stress we are dealing with from another source. Whatever it is, and it could very well be a combination of the above things, I am determined to at least create something and it doesn't have to be spectacular, just something from me. So, I'm thankful for Theme Thursday today, it gives me a reason to do putter about with art.

 The theme today on Theme Thursday is "words". My creation is again on the simple side (for me) as was the one on Tuesday but I am just happy to be doing something!

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This is an ATC with a line of poetry, Sweet calm days in golden haze, Melt down the amber sky from John Greenleaf Whittier's My Psalm 39. I think those are just beautiful words! The number two is a chipboard piece, distressing inks were used as was a Spica pen and Tim Holtz tape at the corner.

Also today I caught up on sending out postcards on Postcrossing. I sent to Canada, Great Britain, Taiwan, Ukraine, Spain, Belarus and the US. I have received some really nice cards recently from Italy, France, Russia, Lithuania, Finland and Ireland. I have quite a collection now (but still very small compared to some folks!) and really enjoy this small way to spread good feelings across the world. It's always a fun day when I get postcards!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Tag Tuesday - Tag on Tag, and a Story: Daddy's Girl

Today's theme at Kard Krazy was to do a tag with a tag. This was not one of my better days energy wise, but I hate to miss this challenge, so mine is pretty simple (as compared to the one I did last week)!

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Tag cut outs with a quote from Tennessee Williams, ribbon and jeweled brads.

Daddy's Girl
Seventh in a Tuesday Story series

The summer I turned six, my parents purchased their first home. We were living in a small frame house which belonged to the U.S. Navy, since both of my parents were veterans. At that time there were three children in the family, with the fourth on the way so more room was needed. The new house was several miles away, across a couple of rivers and on a large island. I was beginning first grade, and my parents enrolled me in the neighborhood school not far from our new home. However, school started a couple of weeks before our scheduled moving date and so my father drove me to the school and picked me up each day. 

I have such fond memories of that small period of time, because it is the only time I can remember having my father completely to myself. He chatted with me as he drove me to school, and after school, he took me back to his office in downtown Charleston and I thought it was the greatest fun to be able to be part of his day like that. My father was the County Extension Agent, working for Clemson College (it wasn't a university yet) and all of the county and municipal offices for Charleston were in the old Citadel, the original site of the military college. 

The old Citadel building had been built before the Civil War and had its first graduating class in 1846. During the Civil War it was active until 1865 when Union troops captured Charleston and occupied the building and the grounds. It remained confiscated property of the Federal government for 17 years and was used as a garrison by Federal troops until 1879, when it was ordered to be returned to the state of South Carolina. The building and grounds were immediately returned to the military college and they remained there until 1918 when a much larger campus was built on the Ashley River and the old building was converted into offices for the city and county. The offices were not air conditioned and still retained the original architecture. During restoration of some of the offices, numerous historical items had been found, including bullets from the Civil War, military buttons and buckles and even one or two old cannon balls (still viable!). A few years ago, the property was bought by Embassy Suites and turned into a 5 star hotel. The outside facade is the same, but hardly anything remains of the inside.

The Old Citadel Building

Daddy's secretary used to save papers for me to staple together, or had me do other "odd jobs" to keep me busy. The building had an open quadrangle on the inside, and all of the floors had a walkway around the quad and I could wander up and down the floors as long as I did not disturb anyone. On the floor above my father's office was a small canteen where I could get an occasional bottle of soda, or more frequently, a cup of ice water. I loved going in there because there was a huge fan in the ceiling roaring at its highest level and blowing everything around. The canteen had a screen door, which would made a satisfying noise when it slammed shut behind me. I would stand between the fan and the door enjoying the breeze created between the two. When it was time for Dad to leave, we had fun talking on the way home. 

This idyllic situation only lasted for about two weeks and then I was riding the big yellow school bus between home and school. I missed that time with my Dad and as the years passed, I never again got the chance to spend one on one time with him except for rare occasions. My father worked hard, often gone in the morning before we got up and home long after we had gone to bed. It wasn't until years later that he realised how much he was missing and changed jobs. By that time I was a teenager and could not have cared less whether he was home or not. (Or at least that's what I pretended.) Much later, as adults, I told him how much that time had meant to me, and he remembered it well and told me it had meant a lot to him too. I was happy to know that, but a little sad that I had not known it then, or in the ensuing years. When I became a mother, I asked my husband to please make it a priority to spend one on one time with our daughter, which he was very happy to do. It has proven to be part of the strong foundation for the loving relationship they enjoy today, 27 years later.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Neutral Palette Wall Hanging

From lesson 3 in the Mixed Media Melange workshop, we had to make a wall hanging in a neutral palette. It was a stretch for me, which was good, because I usually lean toward rich deep colors. Pale is sort of not a color to me automatically. I remember when the Shabby Chic books came out, I thought they were so cool, and then I realized that to live like that all of the time, with no color feeding my soul, I would artistically starve to death! Pastels just aren't me! So this was a great learning experience.

The first two photos are close ups:

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and this is the full wall hanging:

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This was done on canvas paper with collage bits all over, then scrubbed with 2 colors of neutral shade acrylics. The print is one I had in my stash and it's from 1899. It was pretty brittle, so that lead the direction I went. The lace was distressed and aged and torn apart and there is hand stitching on the canvas. The hanger is a vintage French bag carrier attached with 2 torn and aged muslin strips.

I may not do many neutral pieces but I'm glad to be prodded out of my comfort zone!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Theme Thursday -Family......and I continue to play with acryics

The theme today on Theme Thursday is Family, so after I did some more color mixing with acrylics, I used up the leftovers on a 4 x 4, added a torn print of a Mary Cassatt painting, altered a flower and added some crackle gels and distress inks.

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These are my second pieces working with mixing acrylics with a limited palette. The others are on my Monday post if you want to see them

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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Tag Tuesday - Circles, and a Story: Turning Twelve

For today's tag challenge at Kard Krazy, the theme is circles. I went in a bit of a different direction here.

Industrial Circles
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Yesterday I did some acrylic painting and had these  "skins" left in the teflon pan I had used for mixing paint. The background is chalk inks and rubber stamping, with bead gel medium, acrylic paints, wire, metal bird, and found objects.

Sixth in the series of Tuesday stories, this week's story centers around my twelfth birthday.

My birthday is in July which generally means that if it was my year to have a party, the guest list was small because school was out. With six children in the family, my parents had decided that to accommodate the family budget, each child would have a big birthday party at 6, 10 and 16 years of age. Otherwise, it was a small family affair with perhaps one of two neighborhood children. (Side note here - they realized later having a party at 16 was going to be a REALLY big time event, so it turned into a special dinner out instead!) The summer I turned twelve, though, was an exception to the rule for me.

As I mentioned before, my mother was from south central Pennsylvania and we didn't get to see our relatives up there very often. That summer, my parents had planned a two week  family vacation with a trip northward. On the way to visit my mom's family, we stopped in Washington DC to see the sights and I remember my brother and I walked to the top of the Washington Monument, reading all the inscriptions on the wall on the way up. That can't be done now, I'm sorry to say. We spent a couple of days in Washington and I fell in love with my country's capital city. 

At this period of time, there were no interstate highways connecting South Carolina and Pennsylvania, so I admire my parents fortitude driving on their vacation with six children and no air conditioning in the car. As we drove around the Beltway of DC, we used to get a lot of stares as people would try to count the number of children squeezed into the car. We made a sign that read "SIX CHILDREN" and took turns holding it up. People would read it, laugh and wave. We kept that sign for the whole trip.

My mother's family were farming people in a lovely part of Pennsylvania. We stayed at her cousin's home, which was a very old farmhouse, deep in the country. We drove down a dirt road to get there, and when we unloaded and took a deep breath, it was amazing how different it was! The country quiet was something I had not experienced - no automobiles, no noises, no sounds of industry, nothing except the tall corn across the road whispering as the breezes stirred their leaves. It was magical to us. Then we found out something that we thought was hilarious - the bathrooms were out of commission and we would have to use the outhouse in the back!

I don't know how my parents must have felt about that with two children still in diapers, but perhaps since they both came from farms it didn't bother them. We older children though thought it was a lark - at first. It was a "two seater" and I still don't know today why there were two seater outhouses, who wants somebody in there with them?? We made a great deal of noise about the smells and thought it was quite an experience for the first few days, then the novelty wore off and we complained about not have 20th century conveniences.

The outhouse was one small part of that wonderful trip. They had a huge barn with hay, and we could swing on a rope and jump into it. We took turns riding on the tractor and feeding the animals. At night, the adults would sit out on the wide porch and talk while we chased fireflies. There were holly hocks in the yard and we were shown how to make a firefly lantern by pinching the petals at the top of the flower after slipping in one or two fireflies. They would make the flowers glow a lovely pink and I still remember how enchanting that looked.

My birthday was right in the middle of the visit and I was treated to a celebration. My relatives gave me gifts, but the only one I remember is a very large, two layer box of Whitman's Chocolates. Of course I was admonished not to eat it all, to share, etc. etc. but all I could think about was that this was MINE and I couldn't wait to sink my teeth into each variety. I would offer some to everyone, but not before saying "Don't take this, it's my favorite" or "Don't take that, I haven't tried that one yet"  all said out of my parent's hearing of course! Often during the day, or at night when I was supposed to be in bed, I would sneak in to where it was and snatch a piece. That candy was long gone before we ever left the farm! 

Years later, I drove my mother and my daughter up to Pennsylvania to see my grandmother, and we stayed at that same farm. It was still peacefully quiet and still had a working tractor and a large pile of hay to jump into and I love the pictures I have of my daughter enjoying the farm as much as I had. However, the best part was that it had two modern working bathrooms, for which I was very thankful!