Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Changing Purposes

When I started in the online Mixed Media Workshop, one of the earliest projects was to do a mixed media college on Tyvek. My first one was not to my liking at all, and the second was better (here), the third the best (I thought). I don't think I posted the third one, shame on me! If I did, just enjoy it again~ here it is:

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So, back to the first one I did. I decided to cut it up for different projects. The first two cuts I did were made into postcards. I made a 6 x 4 template hole in a piece of cardboard and it works great! After cutting out the selected piece, it's glued to same size card stock for stiffness and writing ability. 

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Postage has gone up one cent here in the US for domestic postcards, but thankfully not for first class mail or international mail. With all the postcards I send, every penny counts!

Hope you enjoyed the art work!


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Tag Tuesday - Arbor Day; and a Story: REGIONAL DIFFERENCES

For the Tag Tuesday challenge - today's theme is Arbor Day (USA). National Arbor Day is the tree planter's holiday, and has been celebrated since 1872. It began in Nebraska, a largely treeless plain back in the 1800's. It's always the last Friday of April, a day to plant and dedicate a tree to help nature and the environment. Millions of trees will be planted Friday, April 29, 2011.

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For more information about how I made the tag, or to join the challenge, click here.

Sixteenth in the Tuesday Story Series

In 1973, I moved from Columbia SC to outside of Harrisburg PA, in the small town of Dillsburg. My mother's family lived in south central Pennsylvania and I was looking forward to seeing my grandmother more often. I had moved because I was young,  I was tired of living in Columbia and I thought I'd try something different. 

In Autumn, it was wonderful to experience the weather and the brilliance of the leaves. In Columbia, there is a slight change of seasons; in Charleston, there are only two seasons: Hot and Not. So it was a heady change of pace for me. The people I met were very pleasant, although they did tease me about my accent. I thought I would probably stay in the area for awhile.

Then, things began to change. There were two main reasons for this - the weather and the food. Having been raised in the South, there were some foods I began to miss after a few months. I remember stopping at a diner one morning to have breakfast and asked the waitress (that's what they were called back then) if they had grits. She looked at me strangely and said "What's a grit?". And I was used to BBQ being pork with a mustard base, not beef with a tomato base, which was all there was available. When I went into a restaurant in the evening during winter, and asked for iced tea (THE southern staple!), I would get another strange look and would be brought a glass of ice and hot tea in a pot. 

I think what capped it in the area of food were the turnip greens. Growing up, we would cube the turnips and cook them in a pot with the washed tops and they were delicious. I went to several large supermarkets in the area and I found fresh turnips (the greens had been cut off), canned turnips, and even frozen turnips, but no greens anywhere. Finally I approached a store manager, asked him where I could find this particular delicacy and then received a VERY strange look! "Lady," he said slowly "We feed those to the pigs."

Turnips, greens and cornbread - mmm mmm!

And then winter....... I loved the first couple of snow falls, but then the snow stayed on the ground. And continued to stay, adding more with each snowfall. It turned yellow in a lot of places, or was full of dirt.  And it was cold and it stayed cold. At that time, if you didn't have money for a snow mobile, or didn't ice skate or ski, you stayed indoors. In Columbia it may have snowed once a winter, or if it was very cold, it wouldn't stay that way, after a few days it would warm up a bit. I found out first hand what it was like to have cabin fever. In January, there was the "January Thaw", the temperatures went up into the 50's and people were walking around with shirtsleeves. I did not think that was funny, I thought they were crazy. By March, I had moved back to South Carolina, all the way back to Charleston!

I realize that over time, regional differences have shrunk, and you can find any food just about anywhere. And now that I live in the mountainous area of the state, I experience the full four seasons. It even snows more than once a winter here too! But I am always more than ready for Spring and would not want to move any further north. It's quite lovely in the area of Pennsylvania where my mother's family was from, but I am content to have it as a destination instead of a residence. I guess you just can't take the Southern out of the girl raised in the South!


Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Finnish Grannies

I have mentioned from time to time that I participate in an online postcard exchange called Postcrossing. It's been over a year for me and I have exchanged over 320 postcards with people all over the world. I have a couple of pen pals from it too! It's free to join and of course you pay your postage on each card. During the past 18 months I have seen some beautiful cards and lots of places I would love to visit. Postcrossing was started about 5 years ago by a man in Portugal as a way to help people interact with other people from other nations and countries; I see it as a small way to reach out in friendliness to people I will mostly never meet - an emissary from the USA, sort of. So far the country with the most members is Finland, and the USA is second. There are only 5 small countries in Africa which have no Postcrossing members, and several other countries have only one or two members. But Postcrossing has grown quite a bit and I think it is a marvelous thing to do.

In today's post, I wanted to share some of my favorite postcards to receive - the Finnish Grannies. These are postcards which come from the artwork of Inge Look from Finland, and they portray two elderly ladies who have a zest for life and don't really give a rip about what other people think of their actions. So far I have 7 of them, sent by various friendly people from Finland and I look forward to getting more. My understanding is that there are many, many more portraits of these down-to-earth ladies so I really hope I can keep collecting them for quite a while!

I am sharing these postcards with you - hope you enjoy them! Be sure and click on the photo so you can see the details.

See? They love getting mail as much as I do!!! :)

Have a great day!


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Tag Tuesday - Happy Easter! and a story: START AT TWO

For this week's Tag Tuesday, the theme is Easter, as we approach Easter Sunday. This is my tag, and if you would like more info on the materials,and to see the work of other artists, please click here. The basic image came from a postcard my grandmother Alice received in 1911.

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Last week Tuesday was not a good day health wise, so there was no story. It was nice to know, though, that it was missed!

Sixteenth in the Tuesday Story Series

My father was an upright man who worked hard for his family and was a faithful loving husband to my mother. When he was in his fifties, and I in my thirties, we developed a close relationship which lasted until his death in 2005. Before that time, our relationship was distant, for diverse reasons. Most of them stemmed out of how I was raised. My grandfather on my dad's side was very autocratic; Dad was one of six children, 5 boys and 1 girl. They grew up on a farm during the Depression, so no one was a stranger to hard work and thriftiness. Dad did not have a great role model for how to be close to your children, although he did a much better job than my grandfather did. Earlier I wrote about a cherished time I spent with my father here. I was six then, and over the next decade, my parents had six children; Dad worked many long hours and there just didn't seem to be time to parcel out his attention to all of us individually. Years later when I was in high school, he realized he was putting too many hours in at the office and changed professions. But by that time for me, it was too late. As I had grown up, he became more uncomfortable about being alone with me, and we couldn't seem to talk about anything without it turning into a lecture. I think that changed a lot when the youngest were in high school, thankfully. And as I stated earlier, we did develop a friendship as adults.

Many years later, when our daughter Tabitha was born, I asked my husband John to promise me he would spend one on one time with her, especially during the teen years. He did so willingly and began almost immediately. I had read once that if you want to have a good relationship with your teenage children, start when they are two years old. I would amend that to "start right away"! 

John began reading to Tabitha early on and did so into her teen years. He and she would go on "dates" for Saturday morning breakfast and he would listen to her chatter about everything as they sat eating at McDonald's. As she grew older, they would eat at more "grown-up" places, and although the subject matter would change, he still listened. I was very grateful.

As she was growing up, John made a point to be available for any kind of discussion and so as she changed and hormones would sometimes cause confusion, she knew that she could talk with her Papa about anything she was experiencing and he would not pull away in embarrassed silence. As a 27 year old adult, she still spends time with her Papa. A couple of weeks ago they went to see a play together. I'm not saying John always understands her, after all, Men are from Mars and all that sort of thing, but they have a precious relationship! And that certainly makes me happy too! 

Hope you have a blessed Easter this Sunday!


Friday, April 15, 2011

With Love

Today I wanted to share with readers about a wonderful person I know. Her name is Judy and she is one of my sisters. I admire her very much and she has been a great encouragement to me. Judy has been through many painful experiences in her life and right now, because of a fall at her place of employment several months ago, she is experiencing constant pain and sleepless nights. It's been very slow progress for her, for a multitude of reasons, but she perseveres. She has grown in her faith and willingly shares it with all, and even in her darkest, most painful times, has encouragement to share with me. There have been many times during the course of my illness when I have felt that there were an extreme minimum number of people who truly understood I was, and am, really ill and she is always in that group. Although she only lives about two and half hours from me, it's been several years since I have seen her because I can't travel and she isn't able to drive.

Thanks to her loving and faithful friend Michele, she is able to make short trips to the store; Michele has accompanied her to her doctor's visits and elsewhere, and has done so many things for her, that I think Michele is an honorary sister! Judy lives alone with her furry cat babies and I'm so happy to know that she has friends to come and visit with her.

Judy has an artistic side as well, with her camera. She has taken many wonderful nature photographs which exemplify the majesty of God and His creation. I was blessed to receive as a gift from her the framed photograph below, which has always been one of my favorites. It's a bit tricky to take a picture of something framed with glass but I hope you can see it well enough to enjoy it!

Foggy Morning On The Pond
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Can you see the spiderweb to the left of the old stump? It's fragile and gossamer looking next to the solidity of the stump. And the stump shows signs of new life, although it had been cut and left for dead, it didn't give up. At this time of year, as Christians contemplate the death and resurrection of our Lord Christ Jesus, it's a blessing to think how often we are encouraged by the lives of others who just don't give up, and who instead grow in grace and faith. That's my sister!

She always reads my blog postings (Lead On Lord is her sign in name) and so I know she will read this. 

This is for you, Judy, with love!


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A Bit Behind

If anyone was looking for the usual Tuesday Story yesterday (and I hope there were a few people!), I apologize. Yesterday was not a great day for me health wise and I couldn't think clearly enough to string words together. It was also Tag Tuesday, which I now host on a second blog, and thankfully I had done the tag over the weekend. This week's theme was The Chair.

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If you would like to see how I did it, click here, and you will also be able to click on the links of other artists who are participating. The Tuesday Story will return next week, provided all else is well.

Update on the birds - the Bluebird eggs have all hatched and they are so teensy and helpless! The Carolina Wren is still sitting on her 4 eggs. And speaking of Carolina Wrens - my daughter lives in an old house which still has the old fashioned kind of mailbox up by the front door, even though it's no longer used for mail. A couple of weeks ago, she noticed Carolina Wrens building a nest in it, and now they have 4 eggs! I think that is so neat that God gives us such unusual ways to see the beauty of His creation.

Hope your week is going well!


Friday, April 8, 2011

Creation to fruition process!

I have mentioned on this blog that I am a member of the ATCdivas group, and we have an themed exchange once a month. When I make ATCs for them, they need to be as alike as possible, and I usually create 6 or 7 depending on who's playing that month. Sometimes it's difficult for me to do this because I tend to put a lot of time into an ATC and I don't always have the time to do 7 in a row, or the energy, but I don't want to sacrifice quality. So this month for the theme of flowers, I came up with a different plan to try and I think it worked pretty well. I first made a collage background on a sheet of 12 x 16 canvas paper by gluing several torn papers, pages, scraps of music and even an old French paper bond from the 1800's.

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As you can see, it has a nice mixture of dark and light. After it had dried, I began altering the whole background with gesso, thinned acrylic paint, rub ons, rubber stamps, walnet ink and more, with this result:

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There is some slight glare from the camera, but you get the idea. Then I cut 7 pieces the size of an ATC (2.5" x 3.5") and starting adding prima flowers altered with ditress ink, number stickers, additional detail, and here is the final result:

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I really am pleased with the way they turned and the fact that the texture and depth of the background really is part of the overall pieces. It's a lot better, I think, than using a picture of a collage where the texture is flat. And I even have a big chunk left over to use with other projects!

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Maybe for the next tag I design for the challenge I host, I will use some more of this. It is really easy to do and I think I will be doing more of it in the future!

UPDATE on the bird's nests - the Bluebirds are sitting on 5 lovely eggs and the Carolina Wren on 4. The Goldfinches can drain a full thistle feeder in less than 2 days and I am having to really stay on top of all of the feeders, because of the large crowds of birds. One time I counted 8-9 cardinals out there at once! The territorial calls are going strong, especially the Tufted Titmouse. Sometimes I want to call out to it "OK! OK! We get it- it's your territory, please calm down!!" But I am so happy to hear them and to have my windows open!

Hope you have a blessed day!


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Tag Tuesday - Postcard Cutout, and A Story: TELLING TIME

This past week has been a rough one health wise, so I haven't posted anything since the last Tag Tuesday! We had another great turn out and I'm glad people are enjoying the challenge. If you want to see the other artists' work or join the challenge, click here!

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This is sort of simple this week, but hey - I'm glad I was feeling well enough to do something! I traced a tag shape on a postcard, cut it out and added some Tim Holtz vintage image tape on the left side and sticky ribbon across the top. I then cut out the door to the Art Hall and glued a colorful image in the opening, added a metal H, an arrow, brads and a tiny crown. It's finished off with a word cutout.

15th in a Tuesday Story Series

I grew up with analog clocks. My daughter grew up with digital clocks. I never thought much about the difference until a few years ago. When I was teaching her to tell time, I used a cardboard cutout of an analog clock but as she got older, digital clocks were fast becoming the preferred choice on radios, VCRs, CD players, and everything else that wanted to feature telling time as a selling point. So when she would hear me say " It's twenty minutes till nine (or whatever hour)", she would translate that in her head as it's 8:40. And conversely, if I asked her the time, she would say 8:40, and I would translate that in MY head as twenty minutes till nine!

Finally one day she asked me, somewhat exasperated, why I told time that way. I was startled when she did, because I had never really thought about it. Part of it was, of course, you do what you are used to doing (or saying). So unless I was actually looking at a digital clock, I continued to say, or read, the time as analog. I preferred an analog watch, and I had a battery run analog clock in the kitchen. 

Recently I was pondering why is that I still prefer analog clocks. I have a red antique  looking French clock in my studio, and not too long ago I purchased a bedside clock with an analog face for my nightstand. I think it's because when I see the face, I see the immediate past and future at one time. I can see the time I have left or the time I've spent doing something; in a digital clock, it's only about that moment, glaring out at you in red lights (usually). On an analog clock, time is spread out, you have a better grasp of where you are and how much lays before you. 

When I was a small child, I remember spending a week with my grandparents and they had an old wind up chime clock on the wall. In the room where I slept, I could hear it ticking in the hallway, and it had a strangely comforting sound. Grandpop would wind the clock every morning and check his pocket watch to it. There is something about a ticking clock that has an ethereal whisper about it, when you stop and think, because it brings us closer to eternity - when there will be no time as we know it.

Recently I was writing a correspondence to a friend who lives out of state; he had written concerning my health and a particularly stressful experience we are having with a family member. I'm enclosing the last paragraph of that letter to him and I hope you will be encouraged by it for the different times of your life! 

When my mother died in 2007 and we were cleaning out her little house, I brought a battered old clock home along with many other things. I kept that small bedside clock on my nightstand. It had to be wound every day and the rim was bent and the "night glow" feature no longer worked. I remember that clock being on my parent's bedside when I was a small child. If I wound it too much, it would stop and I would have to jiggle the knob a bit to get it running again. But I loved the soft tick tock. It finally stopped altogether a few months ago, and there seemed to be an empty space in the air around my night stand. I finally replaced it with a very similar one; it's battery operated and its a bit bigger (so I can see the numbers easily) but the ticking is like the little old clock. It's a reminder to me that time is not infinite - each tick brings me closer to the time when eternity will replace this battered place and body with perfection. And even on my worse days, or when the drama erupts again, or loneliness clouds my thoughts, the ticking continues. Whatever happens in my life does not stop time, does nothing to make time stand still. And I remember that God is like that, He is not stopped by what I am enduring, He loves the bent and the broken, and He is more faithful than the clock. This too shall pass, and someday, will pass into eternity. 

Have a great Tuesday!!