Monday, March 28, 2011

Tag Tuesday - VIntage Sewing, and a Story: AGAINST THE ODDS

The tag challenge this week is Vintage Sewing. There were 20 people responding last week, my first week for running the challenge - I think that's great! If you want to see how I made this tag, and see the Sampler of the other artists' work, click here!

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There is glitter on the tag, it just doesn't show in the photo  - boo!

Against The Odds
14th in the Tuesday Story Series

Many years go, in the Seventies, I used to work in the Accounts Payable department of Ryder Truck Rental in Columbia, SC. Ryder is a large national chain, and rents everything from small trucks to tractor trailers. Working in an office was not really a good job for me, but I had to take what I could get at the time. After being there for a while, I heard about a way to earn extra money. Because so many trucks would be rented at point A and driven to point B, there were times when some of the trucks at point B would need to be moved back to to point A. Did you follow that? And Ryder paid extra money to a qualified driver to move trucks on weekends by taking drivers in a van to where ever there were too many trucks, and they'd drive them back. The picture below is the familiar small truck seen on the road.

A qualified driver meant that you had to have your CDL - Commercial Driver's License. And to have one of those, you needed to take several tests, one of them being a road test. So I thought it would be fun to apply for my CDL and earn extra money on weekends. Now, remember, this was the Seventies, and you just did not see many women at that time driving trucks. And the attitude among many in the industry was that was the way it was supposed to be!

I talked with my office supervisor, Chuck, about the steps to take. To my surprise, he was very supportive and told me what I needed to do. I had to take an exam and then the Safety Manager would take me out on the road. And the choice of truck would be his. So I took the next available exam and tried to schedule my road test. The Safety Manager kept putting me off and several weeks went by. Meanwhile, I practiced on the lot with whatever truck was available.

Finally I harassed him enough that he gave in. He told me that I could take the test the next day at 5 pm. Did I mention that he was a man with a very strong chauvinistic bent? Five o'clock traffic in Columbia was horrible, and the city is hilly. Nevertheless, I was ready, and met him in the yard the next day.

The first thing I noticed was that he picked the longest straight body truck in the yard. A straight body truck is the biggest you can get before a tractor trailer, something like the one below. 

We climbed into the cab and off we went. As I changed gears, drove through traffic and had to stop and start on steep hills, he would pepper me with questions from the manual. I was a little nervous but managed to answer everything, even as I feigned confidence. When we finally returned, he didn't say anything to me, just got out of the truck and headed inside. Somewhat confused, I followed him and saw him go into Chuck's office. I went over to my desk and waited. I could see him through the glass walls, slumped in his chair and shaking his head.

Convinced I had messed up somewhere, I kept running the test through my head, trying to figure out what I had done wrong. Then I saw Chuck smiling at him and they both got up and came out. The Safety Manager mumbled "You did fine. You should have your CDL in a couple of days." and walked off. Relieved, I turned to Chuck who was laughing. He said the guy came in, sat down, muttered an expletive, and said "I don't believe it! She passed!" I was thrilled! And the rest of the time I worked at Ryder, I spent a lot of my weekends driving all over the state in a truck, making pretty good money! And enjoying it!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Collage on Deli Wrap

Another fun lesson from the Mixed Media Melange workshop. This is a collage on deli wrap paper. I added fabric, papers, cheesecloth, origami mesh, and acrylic paints. Then I top stitched on it and added vintage buttons and waxed linen thread. Now I need to think of a title for this!

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I really really enjoy making collages! I am going to be framing
some of these and hanging them.

And a quick Spring update - last week bluebirds built a nest in the bluebird box and Carolina Wrens built their nest using the nesting platform on the barn. Today I found 3 lovely Bluebird eggs in the nest, and 1 in the Wren nest. I will check on them later to see what the final count is.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Tag Tuesday - Think Spring! And a story: A QUESTIONABLE ROOMMATE; And a surprise!

Okay, surprise first - Louise at Kard Krazy is no longer doing Tag Tuesday! Waah! But wait! I AM! I decided that since so many of us enjoy doing the weekly tags, I would try hosting it. The address for the new blog is here! SO, I will be posting my tag on both blogs, because I know there are some who read this blog who don't participate and would still like to see it. The challenge today was to Think Spring!

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If you want information about how I did it, you can click on the link above.

A Questionable Roommate
13th in the Tuesday Stories Series

When I was still single, I was living on Folly Beach, outside of Charleston SC. I became friends with a couple of other women at my church and they had just moved to the Isle of Palms, another island on the other side of the Charleston peninsula and asked me to share the house with them. It seemed like a wonderful idea, so I took them up on their offer. As usual, there was a honeymoon period while we became better acquainted with each other. One day, we sat down to divide up chores and reality sort of snuck up behind us and gave us a little smack. 

Janie, Glenda and I (and yes, I have changed names here!) were discussing what needed to be done on a regular basis; well, actually Janie and I were discussing it, Glenda was strangely silent. Occasionally she would nod, or murmur something but she didn't contribute much to the overall conversation. After we had listed the housekeeping chores and set up a rotating calendar, we posted the list on the refrigerator. Things seemed to go along pretty well, but we began to notice that when it was Glenda's turn to sweep and vacuum the floors, or dust, or defrost the freezer (yes, it was an old fridge), it was hardly being done. We finally had a talk with her and she looked at us and said "I don't know how to sweep." 

Surprised, we said "Well, we can show you."

"Umm, I don't know how to dust, either."

More than surprised now, we just stared at her. Finally I said "I don't understand - didn't you have chores to do when you were growing up?"

"No. My mother had maids, and I wasn't allowed to do any housework."

I'm afraid we both just stared at her as we tried to take all that in. Suddenly her very messy room, with clothes everywhere, started to make sense, and the unwashed dishes after she had eaten, and the litter box........

Ah yes, the litter box! Glenda had a very neurotic Siamese cat which mewed all day, and especially when she was at work. The litter box seemed to hardly ever be changed and as it grew worse and worse, Janie and I would bug her about it, but usually we ended up cleaning it so we could have guests without being embarrassed.

After the chores discussion, we set about trying to teach her the basics of keeping a house clean. She sort of half heartedly tried, but the truth was she really didn't WANT to learn and always had an excuse for pushing whatever chore she had onto us. The last straw was that litter box. It simply stunk.

Finally one day I told Janie that we needed to put our foot down because I was tired of being taken advantage of. We penned the cat and the litter box up in Glenda's room, made sure the windows were shut, and waited. When she came home from work, she opened the door to her room and we heard a loud "GAAAAHHHH!!!" She swept out of her room demanding to know why we played such a joke on her, and I told it was no joke, we were tired of doing her work for her and of the house smelling like a public toilet. She was not happy, but we were.
Eventually (pretty soon after that actually) she moved out. She was engaged and wanted to move into the apartment they would be sharing after the marriage. We knew that the future groom had no idea she didn't do housework and felt sorry for the guy. The rent may have been higher after she left, but it sure was a more pleasant place to live!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Reverse Collage on Plexiglas

In the Mixed Media Melange class, this lesson was to do another reverse collage, this time on Plexiglas. So once again, you are looking at this through the Plexiglas and I had to do everything in reverse.

Vins Emporter
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The image of the vintage French wine label was put on as a transfer with a gel medium, collage bits added in layers, lace and stenciling also added. Acrylic paint added in transparency colors and also in opaque.

This was time consuming, because at first I had a lot of trouble with the transfer; in fact, this is the fourth one! The first three times was another image which I finally gave up on. Each time I had to scrap off the transfer which didn't adhere properly, so I am really kind of tired now. I'm pretty pleased with this as the first one, and will do others.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Tag Tuesday - Surprise, sort of, and a Story: UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL

Well, the "surprise" is that there is no Tag Tuesday challenge today, but if you read my post last Tuesday, you aren't really surprised at all! The art I do have for you today is pretty simple.

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This was done a week ago for something my daughter is doing. Back in January we were both struggling with facing the long cold days till the first day of Spring and she came up with the idea of posting a count down photo on her Facebook account. Each day would be a different picture with the number of days left till that day came. She started with 68 and has been faithful to have something unique each day. She is a very talented artist and the pictures have been very creative. There have been a few "guest" artists and I was one of them. Obviously I did the artwork for 13 days left till Spring. 

I did this on a 4 x 4, using alcohol ink and a blending tool. Then I rubber stamped the Rook card on it and attached some fabric leaves and crepe flowers. Pretty simple, but colorful. (You may have noticed that the same Rook card showed up in last week's tag - it was a cast off piece which worked well!)

Today's story is actually from a post I did last June. I've had a few not so great days and some "brain fog" so it was hard to think clearly. Hope you enjoy it again!

12th in the Tuesday Story Series

Living in the country as we do now, we catch a whiff of skunk odor every now and then when we are driving on the roads. It reminds me of an experience we had several years ago and since we now live close to the State Park where this happened, I wouldn't be surprised if it happened again when we go camping there.

We were still living in Charleston and had taken the camper to Table Rock State Park in the mountains. After settling in and enjoying the park that first day, the children had gone to sleep and John and I stretched out on full length folding chairs to talk and rest. After it had gotten quite dark, we noticed several animals moving about in the shadows cast by the yellow outdoors light from the camper. Suddenly they came right toward us, sniffing the ground and looking for any bits of food. There were at least 8 skunks, black and white, blond and black, black, white and blond. 

They acted as if we weren't there and we just froze. Several went right underneath our legs on the chair, bumping against us with their backs. All I could think of was how horrible it would smell if all of those skunks were upset at once! We sat still and did whisper to each other once or twice, and they just ignored us, continuing their search for any crumbs of food in the campsite. Eventually, they left as nonchalantly as they had entered, and we were able to take a deep breath! I'm still amazed at the variety of colors and patterns I saw. I wish I had had my camera, but then again, that might have been the one thing they would not have liked!

Early last year, we found a dead skunk in the road in front of our house and the dogs were all excited and wanted to use it as a toy. Visions of having to purchase a case of tomato juice to bathe two dogs outside in icy weather quickly convinced us that the only thing to do was to bury it as soon as possible. We dug a hole by the side of the road and deposited the skunk. A few months later, I noticed that the skunk, or what was then left of it, had been dug up and taken off somewhere by some animal. The odor still hung in the air around the empty hole in the ground. I'm sure glad it was not on the dogs fur!

If you are interested, click to see the variety of skunk colors! In South Carolina we have spotted and striped skunk, and I think we saw both that night.

Monday, March 14, 2011

ATCDivas March ATCs

The theme for the March ATCs was watercolor. 

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Liquid watercolors were added to a babywipe, which was glued to an ATC card and cut to size. Liquid watercolors are so brilliant! I then stamped on a small tag and colored with watercolor crayons then added water with a brush. A small length of fabric leaves and a colorful fish charm were attached, and Gold Leaf pen used in the corners. Since I have to make 7 of these, they had to be rather simple!

Praying for the people of Japan and the Ivory Coast. I have a brother and his wife who are in the Ivory Coast as missionaries and have served over there for 30 years. The situation has been rather overshadowed by the things happening in Egypt and Libya, but it is a very precarious situation with the refusal of the incumbent president to leave since he lost the election in November. There has been much bloodshed and destruction there. Please remember this country in your prayers!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Tag Tuesday - Surprise, and a Story: Black Hawk Waltz

Today's tag theme at Kard Krazy is to create a surprise on your tag. 

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I created the image of a sedate old house, with a shuttered window and then when the window is opened, there is the stamped image of a Rook card on some very bright colors!

No Tag Tuesday challenge next week, but I will have another story on the Tuesday blog.

Black Hawk Waltz
11th in the Tuesday Story Series

My maternal grandmother was born in the tiny Pennsylvania village of Upton in 1897. She was one of six children and her father was the village blacksmith. As my grandmother grew up, she became very adept on the piano and would often play at the parties her contemporaries  gave. Allie, as she was called, would be invited to all the parties because she could play almost anything and at that time, get-togethers in the parlors of homes were the main social events of farming communities and towns. Music was being written just for those social events, and Allie would learn them all with ease. She was so talented on the piano that she was encouraged by others to apply to Julliard, and assured of a scholarship she began to make exciting plans. But this all came to a halt when her father William put his foot down about this "fool nonsense". Girls belonged at home, and not away at a school, especially one that only taught nothing better than music! No matter how much my grandmother wanted to go, there was no persuading him.

Grandmother was about 19 when she had this portrait made, and I have it in my home. My mother had told me how disappointed my grandmother was and that she continued to play at parties and in church, but it was like the fire had gone out inside of her, and for a long time she was very angry with William, (which had some bearing on another decision she made - but that's another story).

As a child, I remember when visiting my grandmother's house, she would often play if we asked her to. She had some favorites among the hymns and a few pieces of secular music but we never let her get up from the piano stool without playing Black Hawk Waltz at least once. I am not sure exactly why we were so taken with that piece, perhaps it was the sweeping chords and how my grandmother played it. It must have had some other memories in it for her, because when she played it, she put emotion in her fingers and it came out in the music.

Years later, our daughter began to take piano lessons and she must have inherited her grandmother's gift, because her fingers could dance over the keys and her sensitivity shone through music. I often wondered what my grandmother would have thought about her great grandchild's playing. Allie had died in 1991 when our daughter was only 8 years old. I thought too of our favorite childhood song and wished I could find that music. But songs popular in the early 1900's were not easily found at that time. There was no Google and there was barely an Internet. So if you could not find something in the library, you just had to keep looking elsewhere.

We often traveled with my husband when he had a business trip and when we could we would visit with friends who had moved out of state. One such trip took us to Boston, and we drove down to spend a few days with family friends who were living in Newport RI. Carolyn and I had decided to spend a day antiquing and so early one morning, we started our trip through several small towns and it was great fun. In the afternoon, we came to a large two story building where many antique dealers had booths on both floors. We agreed that this would be the last stop of the day, and after carefully culling out some real deals downstairs, I debated about whether or not I had the energy to go upstairs and poke through all the offerings. I finally decided to go on up, thinking that I would at least give everything a once over glance. 

At the top of the stairs, slightly to the right, I could see the second booth was small and crammed with music related paraphernalia. There were old record albums, hymnbooks, and even a couple of small instruments. But more than anything else there were boxes and boxes overflowing with sheet music and song books. I wondered once again if I could find my grandmother's song in this pile and sat down on the floor and began sorting through the dusty boxes. After almost 30 minutes, I came across a small book of music entitled "Parlour Songs" and opened it to see the index and there it was on page 8 - Black Hawk Waltz! Suddenly I could hear my grandmother playing it once again and sat there with tears on my cheeks, which is how my friend found me several minutes later.

When we returned to Charleston, I asked our 10 year old daughter if she could try to learn this piece, and play it for my parents when they came down for a visit. It was a stretch for her small hands to play all the chords, but she gamely practised it and she played it well. When my parents arrived a few weeks later, we told them we had a surprise for them, sat them down in the living room and Tabitha went in to the dining room to play. The look on my mother's face was priceless and after the surprise sunk in, she listened to the remainder of the music with a big smile, and a few tears. Black Hawk Waltz is not a great piece of music, but to our family it is a treasure piece and will always bring back many fond memories.

Here is a video of someone playing the song, after their grandmother's funeral. Obviously it was a popular piece in its time!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Reverse Collage on Vinyl

Another lesson from the Mixed Media Collage class I'm taking online. This was something brand new to me! It's a collage on vinyl, sort of a "deconstruction". Everything is done in reverse. You work backwards so that the background pieces go on last, and then paint is added as the final step on any clear area. So, you are looking at it through the vinyl.

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I rubber stamped in the right bottom corner and also one of the eyes. I then stamped the other eye on deli paper and flipped it. I save all of my used palette paper, and I cut some of it up to use, as well as lace, gold on netting, small paper bits, tissue paper, small shiny squares, etc. I used deli wrap shapes, but you can't really see them, I think because my color is dark. I tend towards dark, deep colors, so I'm not disappointed they don't show. 

Another thought, having never done this before, I found it hard to get started. I think I let it intimidate me. But once I got started, I was having a lot of fun! There are some things I would do differently, but all in all, I'm pretty pleased with it!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Tag Tuesday - NADA, and a Story: Tale of Two Bridges, part 2

No Tag Tuesday today at Kard Krazy, Louise has some other obligations, but will have a challenge up for next Tuesday. In the meantime, here is another collage on tyvek with acrylic paint.

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I did another one to practice letting the paints flow into each other, which was the object of the lesson. This is actually not finished, but I am waiting for a template to come in the mail to complete it. When everything is finished, I'll put it on here for you to see!

With Apologies to Charles Dickens
(10th in the Tuesday Story series)

Last week I gave a brief history of the first bridge to cross the Cooper River in Charleston SC. In 1966, the Silas Pearman Bridge opened next to the Grace bridge, and immediately both bridges were locally referred to as the "New" Cooper River Bridge and the "Old" Cooper River Bridge. The Pearman bridge was built to help relieve the traffic congestion on the old bridge, and after it opened crossing the river on the Grace bridge was designated as off-limits to anything heavier than a dump truck. By this time, the Grace was 37 years old and the maintenance crews were having a hard time keeping up with the natural deterioration that takes place on a steel bridge. Rusty areas were a common sight and it creaked and groaned, especially in high wind. More than one Charleston resident would wonder aloud if the bridge would just collapse into the river one day. Yet it was still heavily used.

The Pearman bridge was designed with three 12 foot lanes, two bearing traffic from Charleston to Mt. Pleasant and the third lane was reversible. The explanation given for the reversible lane was that this design would help alleviate rush hour traffic. Above the lanes were lights: a green check for "Yes this lane is open for you to drive in your direction" or a red X for "No you don't - it's for the other direction". Well, it's almost surprising how many people did not look up at those bright lights. There were several head on collisions unfortunately, and finally the reversible lane became permanent. So now the bridge had two permanent lanes going north and one lane going south towards Charleston.

Here's a photo of the Pearman bridge before it was dismantled. Now, notice anything odd about it? There are no divisions between the south bound and north bound lanes! Many people continued to lose their lives in collisions on this bridge while officials frantically searched for a way to divide them safely. Nothing ever worked satisfactorily, and in my humble opinion, this was a very poor design from the beginning!

In 2005, The Ravenel Bridge was opened, and the other two bridges were taken down. The new bridge is lovely, and even has a separate lane for pedestrian traffic. It has 8 twelve foot lanes and is high enough for the largest ship heading to the ports to move under it with ease. It's a bridge whose time was long overdue, and it certainly makes things easier for those on both sides of the river. However, I do miss those silhouettes of the other bridges, once among the most immediate images of Charleston! For many my age, it's hard to think of Charleston any other way.

If you were wondering how the bridges were dismantled, this video 
will give you a quick hint!