Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Repurposing a hardcover book - I finally figured it out

Yay, I figured out how to both repurpose a hardcover book and also how to sew multiple signatures to make a thicker book.

The pamphlet stitch is the baby food of bookbinding. It's the basic, one-stitch-does-all. But it's a simple stitch so you can't make a huge book using it, because a thicker book uses multiple signatures, which are bundles of folded pages. The trusty pamphlet stitch can only hold so many pages before it weakens and the thing falls apart. Think, using twine to lift a table.

I had always thought that to make a thicker book I'd need to use a complicated stitch to first sew the signatures together and then sew that bundle to the cover. But this way, I use a pamphlet stitch to sew each signature separately onto the cover!

I'd prepared a hardcover a few weeks ago, ripping out the book and using just the cardboard cover to repurpose for a journal I wanted to make later. I collaged the inside front and back and painted the front and back exterior. There is sat until I could figure out the rest.

Then I watched a tutorial on making a junk journal, and lo and behold at the end, she taught how to sew individual signatures to a hard cover using the pamphlet stitch (with one modification. So here it is!

My repurposed hard cover

three signatures

inside back cover, collaged

I'm excited. I bought a hard cover book for a dollar today, it's a bit thicker so next time I'll make 4 or 5 signatures. The cover is plain red so when I collage and paint it I will not have to compete with an underlying design that is already there.

Anyway, success!

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Summer fun plans

I love when summer comes around!!!

I'm a teacher's aide in a public elementary school and that means I have several school breaks during the year ... and ... wait for it ... summers off. Now, I'm not paid for those breaks, I'm paid for working 190 days per 365 days/year and that's it. So I enjoy the time more than the money, obviously! :)

So exciting. I've got plans. Oh yeah. Tuesday at noon the kids leave. When this Friday rolls around and the afternoon dismissal bell rings, I'm done. There are several things I plan to do this summer.



I discovered that my streaming music station, Pandora, has a new thing called Thumbprint Radio. I had no clue, until I scrolled down my 'stations' list and saw it at the bottom. "What's this?" I asked myself. Oh-ho, this is cool. Pandora is streaming entertainment based on a music genome. You can choose a station, such as "Traditional Hymns" or "Jimmy Buffett Radio" and they'll play songs along those lines. Within the genre you might like this song or not like that one. You have the option to thumbs up or thumbs down a song, and Pandora will adjust your listening to what you like. If a song had more violin and less trumpet, or more harmony and less melody, they will present songs in that station with that selection in mind according to your thumbs up.

Thumbprint Radio is a station where all your liked songs go into one station! Though Pandora is free, I choose to pay $4.99/month for Pandora Pro which has no ads. So what this means is that I have access to music with a huge variety of songs that I already like and never interrupts itself for an ad or a DJ. I love it madly. I will be listening to a lot of music. Some of my stations I love are:

100 Hymns Instrumental Radio
Jimmy Buffett Radio (includes balladeers from the 70s like Paul Simon and James Taylor)
Gaither Vocal Band Radio
Mozart Radio
Hank Williams Radio (classic country)

and many more. Yay.



I have some books stacked up. I want to read or finish-

12 Ways your iPhone is changing you by Tony Reinke
Son, a literary western by Phillipp Meyer
Hearts of Fire, by Voice of the Martyrs
Veronica Mars- the Thousand Dollar Tan Line by Rob Thomas
The Autobiography of Hudson Taylor: Missionary to China (Kindle)
Bright Side by Kim Holden (Kindle)
The Bruised Reed by Richard Sibbes (Kindle)

Plus a lot of "summer easy reading" eBooks I've downloaded from BookBub recommendations. At BookBub, you select which reading genres you enjoy, and thankfully there are a lot to choose from, and BookBub sends you a daily list of digital selections based on your preferences. You can download according to your desire, budget, and amount of space on your reading device! I choose the free ones but they also have eBooks for 99 cents, $1.99 and up. They tie-in to Amazon's Kindle store, Barnes & Noble's Nook store, Apple's iBooks, and others.



My friend Kim on Facebook sent me some photos from Gay Halseth-Frayed and Twisted's FB page. They're vintage spine bookmarks. Cool! I won't embroider like Mrs Halseth has, but I'll paint them.

And just where will I be finding vintage books? We have several places in the county where I look forward to shopping this summer. There are three in particular, and two of those I have never been to before. I like my usual haunt of Second Time Around. I have already found antique books of Swedish poetry, an old Methodist Hymnal and an old Baptist Hymnnal at that store, all for $1 each.

The other store is called Neat Pieces Antiques, which I've driven by but never entered. He has three buildings and a large outdoor area. He sells heritage pine, architectural items from old barn stairs to glass doorknobs, and inside, vintage clothing, antiques, and of course the books.

Well! I believe I'll be able to find some books here for sure! Befoe you faint from horror, I'll look for water damaged, moldy books that otherwise would not ever find a home and are one step away from a trash can. I don't like the idea of taking apart a perfectly good book just to get at the spine.

The third vintage store I'm planning to visit is called simply The Special Store. This place has lots of glassware among other items like furniture. I need an English porcelain or bone china teapot, and one more cup and saucer. This will be the place to find them.



Now that I have an automobile with AC, I can drive around this summer. I like to go out in the Golden Hour, just at and 1 hour after dawn, and 1 hour before sunset, taking photos. I downloaded the manual for my now 1-year-old Nikon and I've been experimenting with some of the fancier settings now that I'm familiar with the camera and its superficial capabilities. It will be a photo extravaganza! I also began using my rechargeable batteries now that I've finally gone through all the high-capacity alkaline ones I'd bought. I can recharge to my heart's content, even in the car, since it comes with an automobile charger too.

In addition to Flickr and Facebook, I also have an account at Unsplash to upload my photos, and also Instagram now that I figured that one out. I want to compose better, and post-process better. Summer is the time to play with pictures and try and get better at photography.



Of course, movies and shows. On Amazon Prime I watched a nice movie called Mao's Last Dancer, the true story of Chinese ballet dancer Li Cunxin. I like movies like that and will seek out some more either on Snagfilms, Crackle, or Amazon Prime, and of course whatever I can absorb for free on Youtube.

I'll finish some classes I'd started, including "Understanding the Tabernacle", and "Principles of Biblical Interpretation". A new class at Ligonier called "Loved by God" has sparked my interest too. So, studying the Bible through classes and reading and studying it directly is on the summer fun menu.

Some friends have asked me to lunch, and in June I'll go to a wedding. That's pretty much it. We get out of school May 26 and begin again July 31. I'll also be taking a class for school sometime in July, so it's really not ALL that much time off as one remembers from childhood. But I'll take it!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Three Scandinavian movies worth watching

If you like foreign films there are a few coming out of the Scandinavian nations that I've enjoyed so much.

The Wave

Topping the list for quality production values is Norway's entry to the Academy Awards for best foreign film, The Wave. Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus reached 8% approval rating, and the comment: "Well-acted and blessed with a refreshingly humanistic focus, The Wave is a disaster film that makes uncommonly smart use of disaster film clichés."

Based on true information about quakes and fjords and tsunamis in the region, we read
Nestled in Norway's Sunnmøre region, Geiranger is one of the most spectacular tourist draws on the planet. With the mountain Åkerneset overlooking the village - and constantly threatening to collapse into the fjord - it is also a place where cataclysm could strike at any moment. After putting in several years at Geiranger's warning center, geologist Kristian is moving on to a prestigious gig with an oil company. But the very day he's about to drive his family to their new life in the city, Kristian senses something isn't right. The substrata are shifting. No one wants to believe that this could be the big one, especially with tourist season at its peak, but when that mountain begins to crumble, every soul in Geiranger has ten minutes to get to high ground before a tsunami hits, consuming everything in its path.
Wikipedia's summary:
A Norwegian geologist (Kristoffer Joner) and his family (Ane Dahl Torp, Jonas Hoff Oftebro) fight for survival when a massive landslide causes a 250-foot tidal wave.
It was gripping and realistic and tense without being over-the-top ridiculously stressful or gory. The LA Times wrote, "Norway's 'The Wave' shows Hollywood how to make a disaster film with real thrills."

Recommended! On Netflix. In Norwegian with subtitles. In watching it thought about the Alaskan tsunami in the 1960s when a part of the mountain collapsed and the displaced water rushed to shore. It's happened before. It will again, Revelation 6:14.

A Man Called Ove

This entry from 2016 is from Sweden-
Rotten Tomatoes' Critics Consensus:
A Man Called Ove's winsome sincerity -- and Rolf Lassgård's affectingly flinty performance in the title role -- keep it from succumbing to excess sentimentality. Stepping from the pages of Fredrik Backman's international best-selling novel, Ove is the quintessential angry old man next door. An isolated retiree with strict principles and a short fuse, who spends his days enforcing block association rules that only he cares about, and visiting his wife's grave, Ove has given up on life. Enter a boisterous young family next door who accidentally flattens Ove's mailbox while moving in and earning his special brand of ire. Yet from this inauspicious beginning an unlikely friendship forms and we come to understand Ove's past happiness and heartbreaks. What emerges is a heartwarming tale of unreliable first impressions and the gentle reminder that life is sweeter when it's shared.
Though religion or faith is not mentioned, what I took from it is how to love people, even the unlovable, and how much of a difference that committed persevering love makes. In Swedish with English subtitles. On Amazon Prime and maybe elsewhere.

On Youtube is a one-hour documentary called Hugo and Rosa, another Swedish movie, this one is a documentary released in 2002. The director Bengt Jägerskog visited aged siblings Hugo and Rosa for ten years, the last ten years of their extraordinarily long life. When we meet, Hugo is nearly 100 and Rosa is 96.

Finlander summarizes the documentary this way-

"Hugo is approaching 100 and his sister Rose is 96. In their little red house in the Swedish countryside they live in the same way as people there lived 100 years ago. "The trick is in staying happy," the always elegant Rosa confides to the filmmakers. In addition to cooking and caring for the household, she also sometimes plays the accordion. And when a sparkling Hugo with his amusing tales is chopping wood and digging in the garden, it appears as if nothing can disturb the idyllic life of the siblings. The march of time, however, is relentless, and after Hugo’s health complications, both find themselves in a retirement home. Even here they do not lose their remarkable optimism about life, their good mood, or their ability to take a humorous and detached view of the ailments associated with their age. A discreet camera follows Rosa and Hugo up to the final climax of their long life’s pilgrimage."

What we discover early in the film is that their unique worldview is due to their faith. From my research, and what I can surmise, they belonged to an evangelical Lutheran church all their lives. Hugo taught Sunday School for many, many years, at one time, his class held 40 students. "It was a lot," he said with a twinkle. Even in their last year of life, an entire service was held by them, with Hugo speaking and Rosa playing the accordion. They sing hymns, look forward to and speak of heaven, and have a placid and rock-solid assurance of reuniting with their Lord, whom they identify as their Lord, and with their 7 other siblings who have passed on before them.

I noticed at the outset, Rosa's face. It was lit from within with calm serenity and joy. As the documentary progresses, the reason for her serene joy is made evident- it's faith. Hugo also. It is a simple documentary, the director allowing the brother and sister speak for themselves, as well as his juxtaposed film shots space to be interpreted by the viewer.

What the documentary made me think of are all the Christians that have lived in obscure corners of the world, planting and marrying and living and dying, and passed on to eternity. I can't wait to meet them. There are so many saved people I will look forward to meeting when we all get there. Hugo and Rosa's life was simple. Hugo was born in 1900 in a simple farmhouse with no running water or electricity, and it stayed that way for almost their entire lives. They got electricity the last months of their lives. For one-hundred years they worked hard, chopped wood, milked cows, shoveled snow, planted fields...and loved it all because they loved the life the Lord gave them.

If you want some sweet movies or a good action movie, these are it. Note: The Wave is rated R for action disaster scenes and some language.

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Hoshino Wedding Chapel, Japan

Well, that's beautiful.

It's the Hoshino Wedding Chapel in Karuizawa prefect, Japan. What a beautiful blend of function and form. Solaripedia gives this description from an energy savings point of view-

[T]he sloping stone base of this wedding chapel unites the ascending concrete arches that project up and out of the natural terrain. For insulation from the cold, the self-supporting concrete arches are separated by double glass. The chapel turns in plan towards the south, affording a more uniform distribution of solar radiation from the sun that rolls westerly across the sky. The chapel is radiant heated by tubes of water in the floor. The thermal mass of rock, concrete, and marble floors make it energy effective. The doors, pulpit and pews were designed and hand-crafted from fine cherry wood on the site in a design-build process. As in Nature, the engineering of this chapel represents an integral expression of form. The number-one wedding chapel in the world, this wedding chapel provides more than 4000 weddings a year.

The New York Times says this:
There is not a single right angle in the Hoshino Wedding Chapel’s cascading concrete arches and soaring interior of inlaid stone. 
Form and function, it's a beautiful and delicate balance, especially when seen in in the animal world. a balance God achieved in just 6 days.

Spirals are beautiful and soothing. American Scientist says this about the logarithmic spiral-

Spira Mirabilis

"Of the numerous mathematical curves we encounter in art, geometry, and nature, perhaps none can match the exquisite elegance of the logarithmic spiral. This famous curve appears, with remarkable precision, in the shape of a nautilus shell, in the horns of an antelope, and in the seed arrangements of a sunflower. It is also the ornamental motif of countless artistic designs, from antiquity to modern times. It was a favorite curve of the Dutch artist M. C. Escher (1898–1972), who used it in some of his most beautiful works, such as Path of Life II."

"The many intriguing aspects of the logarithmic spiral all derive from this single feature. For example, a straight line from the pole O to any point on the spiral intercepts it at a constant angle α. For this reason, the curve is also known as an equiangular spiral. As a consequence, any sector with given angular width Δθ is similar to any other sector with the same angular width, regardless of how large or small it is. This property is manifested beautifully in the nautilus shell ( left ). The snail residing inside the shell gradually relocates from one chamber to the next, slightly larger chamber, yet all chambers are exactly similar to one another: A single blueprint serves them all."

Hrm, evolution didn't cause such perfection, regularity, and beauty. The 'single blueprint' is God. As you go around today praise Him who made the earth and all that is in it. (Psalm 24:1). He didn't have to make it beautiful, but He did. Man copies what is soaring and sublime, he can only copy the beauty that originates from and emanates from God.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

I'm not going to stress about people in street photography

I've written two other times about street photography. That is the kind of photography where photographers take candid pics of people on the street, usually in B&W but more often in color too. Sometimes the street people know they've been captured and other times they don't. Sometimes the street photographers get very up close and personal, and other times, they don't. There are as many ways to "do" street photography as there are photographers to do it.

The idea is to chronicle life. Street photos from photographers who were active in the in the 50s and 60s took some amazing photos that in all likelihood looked mundane then but are absolutely fascinating now. The famous names are Garry Winogrand, Bill Cunningham, Jon Naar, and many more.

Garry Winogrand

Garry Winogrand
Jon Naar, Faith of Graffiti
Bill Cunningham
Street photography is both profound and absurd. The first photo, with the old women walking...by the trash...with a small, lone weird animal at the bottom. Profound and absurd. The highly graffitied wall...with derelict abandoned car...with joyful kids. Profound and absurd. And Editta Sherman in the subway...dressed out of time...with graffiti - profound and absurd.

I find street photography to be more profound as the photos fade from "nowadays" into "historical." I like street pics from the 50s and 60s and early 70s more than today's. It's the history that grabs the viewer, makes us go 'awww', or long for times gone by in looking at places we used to know.

I just don't like dealing with people when I take pics. I've read up on and viewed videos that offer tips on how to take good street shots with people in them. I've read tips on how to defuse a situation where a concerned or angry subject approaches you. I've read up on how to 'hide' what you're doing so as not to anger the subject. All good. I just don't want aggravation when I take pics. It's supposed to be relaxing. So I tend not to deal with people. I like architectural details better anyway. Skylines. Colors. Patterns. Grit.

There's always a story behind everything. I like this photograph a lot!

Atlas Obscura has the story to this charming bit of London history:

The wrought iron hook hanging next to No. 4 goes back to the early days of automobile traffic. The building sits just off the corner of a chaotic six-street convergence, and even with the guidance of traffic lights drivers didn’t always trust the signals. So the police were assigned to step in now and then, to keep things moving, and if it happened to be a hot summer day they needed a place to hang their heavy woolen coats. Since No. 4 was under construction there was a handy nail to do the trick, but once construction was completed, the nail disappeared. 
The makeshift hook may have been gone, but the traffic wasn’t, so the police asked for the nail to be put back. They got this instead: a sturdy bespoke model, clearly labeled so everyone knew who it was for.
Everybody go 'awwww'!

There's always the hope that as you scout, scavenge, and hunt up photo opps in the back alleys and trash heaps, you might make a cool architectural discovery like this one. Again, Atlas Obscura-

In 2011, while the REI store in the Puck Building in Manhattan’s SoHo district was undergoing renovation, workers made an unexpected discovery. Hidden behind one of the walls of the cellar were more than 100 lithography stones from the building’s days as a printer. They are now on display on the store’s lower floor.

In 1917 in Halifax Nova Scotia, a munitions ship anchored in the harbor blew up. It was a huge and devastating event. As the Atlas Obscura story excerpt below notes, the explosion was the largest man-made explosion ever before the atom bomb. As you walk along the now quiet streets, you might look up and see a strange architectural detail. What is the face etched in the window? (And why didn't the window shatter?)
The 1917 explosion caused when a munitions ship crashed was a defining moment for Halifax. It was a tragic and disastrous event, that also stemmed generations of folklore, like babies who survived flight through the air by landing in trees. Many of these are too fanciful to be true, but St. Paul’s Church, the oldest building in town, bears the scars to prove its incredible tales.
We used to visit older friends in Halifax in the late 1990s. Our friend who was in his 60s had a mom who was in her late 90s. She was 17 years old when the explosion happened. It was hard to get her to speak about it (no doubt the trauma of losing friends and homes made her reticent to relive it all again). We asked her what it was like to live through the most devastating man-made explosion in the world ever at that time. In typical northern taciturn manner, she said after a long pause, "Well...it was loud."

When I do street pics, I gravitate to the buildings, not the people. I like to know the story of why this hook is there, or what that face is about, or what these curious stones with backward writing on them are. I like to see the color amid the concrete, the beauty among the grit. If someone walks by as I'm taking the shot, great, there'll be a person in it. If not, then I'll still be content with my street pics, sans life. I know that people in a pic make it more interesting, not to mention alive. But oh well. I like what I like and I'll do what I want! Street photography minus the people... just the street, thanks. Besides, I looked through my photos and I've been taking street pics all along. Not great ones, not profound or absurd. Just...life.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Street photography and all its joys and pains

Grammarly has changed my life.

OK, that's hyperbole, but Grammarly has given me relief in spades. It's an extension you add to your browser, which checks for typos and grammar mistakes as you type. No matter where you're typing, Facebook, Twitter, comment responses on Disqus, wherever you're typing, it puts a red line underneath a typo or grammar mistake.

I've been surprised at how well it offers corrections, too. It is eerily correct in its offerings even when I'm writing cultural idioms or abbreviations. For example, I typed ASAIK and it knew I meant AFAIK (As Far As I Know). The corrections far outstrip even MS Word.

You can ignore any corrections you don't want or don't agree with. A little red circle at the bottom keeps track of how many words need fixing, and if you want, you can click it to see how many have already been corrected. I dare not look.

Grammarly is free, though that doesn't stop its creators from frequently reminding you that you're "missing out" on features and offers deals on upgrades. But these reminders are not intrusive. They're contained in a correction, once in a while.

Hey, I don't need an upgrade, I just need my typos corrected. They are getting so bad. I wrote a three-word response on Facebook this morning and mistyped two of the words. You see what I mean about how valuable this extension is.

I've been interested in street photography of late. I love photography. I noticed a book called The Birth of Graffiti by Jon Naar at the Second Time Around store a while back and bought it. He took his pics of graffiti in NYC in the 1970's, a low point for the city and its denizens.

Naar is an accomplished portrait photographer, photographer of art and architecture and more. In his 90's now, he is still active. Wikipedia says Naar has had a multifaceted career as an intelligence officer in World War II; a globe-trotting executive during the postwar years; and an environmentalist, with nine published books to date. Major publications like The New York Times, The Saturday Evening Post, Vogue, Fortune, Elle, and Schöner Wohnen have featured Naar. The NY Times Magazine's very first use of color for an interior was commissioned by them of Naar.

I love-hate graffiti, it is a blight but it's also art. Art blight. Blighted art. I dunno. Overall I'm just fascinated by it. I also like gritty city pictures, tattered handbills, signs, doorways, subways...Naar's photos were all stupendous and so evocative. Yes, he takes shots of just graffiti, but he took many of his shots with people in them. Kids playing basketball against a backdrop of a heavily graffitied wall...a mom and toddler walking by a profane graffiti mural...and so on.

I didn't know it at the time but his style of photo is called "Street Photography." It is defined:
Street photography, also sometimes called candid photography, is photography conducted for art or enquiry that features unmediated chance encounters and random incidents within public places.
I've always loved candid photography, especially of kids. I am grateful I've often had the chance to legitimately take photos of kids, either through being a journalist and covering school things and sports or as a school employee asked to chronicle events on campus for the yearbook or the official Facebook page. Kids are fun to take pics of because they're unpredictable, emotive, and a challenge to get in the frame. They're also cute!

Kids enjoy having their picture taken, unlike adults. Adults are suspicious, guarded, and can deck you if they get mad that you're in their face. Hence the relief in being around kids with my camera.

But I also enjoy gritty cityscapes. Or even in my rural town, gritty, industrial things. Like these pics:

Many of my photos were of the same theme with the same interest in same topics as Naar's. Like these of his:

If I'd like to concentrate on street photography, as good as it is to be on the same track as someone like Naar in terms of interest in these kinds of scenes, it's the execution that matters. I need to improve my composition, framing, and bravery in getting close to the moment. In Naar's scene of the police car, what makes it good is that the cop is in the car. When you look closely, you see his arm in the window. This brings life to the scene. The handbills, not only colorful and framed well, but his decision to take it with the bold clenched fist above them gives the picture a foreign feel, and vaguely threatening. The new & used tires, the inclusion of the graffiti and the loneliness of both displays of the tires makes one ask, which are new and which are used? They all look tattered.

Where I fail is getting people in the picture. Getting people in the picture is key. People energize the photo. Their activity mystifies, perplexes, shocks, or comforts. It's the people who bring emotion to it, mystery, and story.

So, then there are the stupendous pics of Naar's like this one, my favorite. Click to enlarge. It's absolutely tremendous-

It's subway and graffiti. OK, so the grit is there. The lighting is great, the warm glow of the interior of the car contrasted with the steel of the exterior. The light, joy, and movement of the people through the window to the left and the right. The yellow strip which mirrors the rush and zoom of the car itself when it arrives and departs.

And then...there is one sole, still woman. One part of the entire photo where nothing is moving. There is no joy. Her face is stoic, devoid of the same lightheartedness the rest of the people display. The grittiness of her surroundings is contrasted with her obvious wealth. Her perfectly coiffed matronly hairdo. Her poised, ladylike feet in expensive shoes. Her fur around the collar.

Since every photo should tell a story - or begin one, we ask, why, if she is so obviously of means, does she take the subway?

Most incongruously of all, is her butler and the hatbox. Pink, no less.

It's an amazing photo.

There are many street photographers out there. This web page explains 10 principles of street photography and then lists many good street photographers.

Candid photography is interesting and challenging, just the way I like it. I'll keep trying. Meanwhile the link above has a wonderfully long list of good photographers and pictures to be inspired by!

Monday, April 10, 2017

New living room

The neighbors on the other side of the house moved out. They had moved up here from South GA and landed in the rental on the other side of this duplex so they could look around for a house in which to settle more permanently. They finally did find a suitable house and moved st weekend. They were nice neighbors, here for 8 months.

The couple decided to sell some of their stuff at a very good price. I've been living on a futon and a shabby (not chic) chair for 11 years and even before that in Maine before I moved to GA. I longed for more adult and solid pieces of furniture. But price locks me out of buying new, and I'm extremely hesitant to buy used. I can't smell, so leave it to me to purchase a used upholstered furniture that stinks and I would not know it. Sheldon is me and I am Sheldon-

30 seconds in, Sheldon discovers something terrible about Penny's chair...

And now Amy discovers something worse!

So, when the neighbors decided to sell some stuff I jumped on it. They offered me a very good price and I bought the couch and the chair, and they threw in a mattress and box spring. Mine were an 11 year old 5-year life span mattress. Needless to say, the bed was uncomfortable, the futon was uncomfortable, and the chair was uncomfortable. I was really tired of being uncomfortable.

I'd sold the futon and chair already, and since the apartment was pretty empty I decided to do some spring cleaning. I lifted the rugs and washed the floors underneath. I moved around the rugs to refresh my eye. I put the blue rug instead of the brown one in the kitchen and it brightens up the kitchen considerably. I cleaned out the book cases of dust and straightened up and rearranged the books. I wiped all the baseboards. I dragged out the old mattress and box spring and cleaned the bed frame, slats, and rails. Also vacuumed underneath the bed into the back corner. Also cleaned the bedroom's baseboards. Oh, my aching back! But it's so worth it to know everything is clean.

And here is the Big Reveal!

The lump at the far side next to the pillows is Murray. Both he and Bert had a rough day with all the moving and stomping through and being locked in the bathroom for the time the front door was propped open to move furniture in and out.

The mattress & box spring are very high. It's a true princess bed now. All I need is a pea. The height does justice to the four posts and headboard. The bed frame (and matching desk and bureau) are 117 years old. True antiques. (Antique starts at 100 years old, vintage at around 50).

It is a cozy bedroom.

The kitchen seems brighter with the blue and white rug in it instead of the brown one.

Plaid chair. It's not as high as a wing chair which I like. I don't need height in a small apartment. But it's deep, and comfy!!

Red couch. The nice neighbors threw in the couch pillows too. AND they delivered it. I am beyond grateful. I bought the art hanging above the couch at the 2nd Time Around store for $20. It's a reprint of an 1800s Botanical, with a bit of red, pewter, and light sage green. It matches the couch. And the frame is really lovely. I hadn't moved the art around in ten years or so, with the exception of having bought the Jennie Brownscombe to the right of the couch.

As you can see, I like lamps. The metal awnings over the windows tend to darken the room during the day, and at night, I like both atmosphere, and proper light to read. I just like lamps, too, for themselves. I have 6 lamps in two rooms and I love each and everyone of them.

I'm very happy and very grateful.

Sunday, April 09, 2017

Craft Day: results

Anticipating Spring Break is so great. We have a full work week off, plus the two weekends on either side, for an amazing 9 days. It's not like I'm paid for time off. I work 190 days per year and I am paid 190 days per year. The educator's salary is just stretched out evenly through the year over the intermittent breaks and over the summer, but it's based on time worked.

But ten years ago when I went back into educating, I decided I wanted the time and not the money. Of course, money is great, but if I pursued a high salary job I'd be busier than I wanted to be and the stress levels go up also. No, my needs and wants are few, and I'm content with being able to use the time as I wish.

In the time coming up to a Break, I plan all sorts of things. "I'll take two online classes!" I'll read a bunch of books!" I'll make a thousand crafts!"

Sadly, my "eyes" are bigger than my stomach and there never seems to be enough time to do all the things I'd planned. A week off is great but it's not long enough to do everything!

As I got to Friday I realized the week was almost over, and I hadn't broken out the crafts yet! So I dedicated Friday to "Craft Day."

I work so hard at making things. I soooo want to make beautiful things, but I just can't. I never could. My High School Art teacher gave me a grade of C-- out of pity because she just couldn't bring herself to give me a D. But I deserved it. I tried so hard, coming in early and staying late, and starting over, and over, and over. Nothing I ever made with my hands ever worked out. She took pity on me and gave me the extra tenth of a point for effort and desire.

In the 1990s I took many art classes for bookbinding at the local Museum and libraries. In 1999 I went to the Paper and Book Intensive at Haystack Mountain. I read books on paper crafts and bookbinding. Even with all the education and tutoring, my projects were clumsy and amateur. More times than not I didn't finish as the instructor had to move on and help other students.

In the 2000-teens I try the same at home, with just as much fervor and interest and desire, but not the skill. There is a disconnect between my brain and my hand that makes creating things with hand-eye coordination well-nigh impossible for me.

But that doesn't stop me! All this to say that I know my projects are incomplete looking and with a third grader's skill level. I keep hoping someday I'll get better :)

Here's what I did on Friday. First, the background papers. These are papers I'd prepared, or partially prepared, by practicing some techniques, and then plan to use them as background papers in other projects.

In this one I tried using the stencil UNDER the paper, and rubbing with oil pastel crayon over it. I like the technique, but the choice of oil pastel was bad because it clumps. I should use a regular crayon, on its side, like the lady in the tutorial did.

Same technique as above but I used a lighter touch. I did this one in my Fabriano Art Journal because it is larger & taller than the Strathmore.

Then I used a raindrop stencil over the tree rubbing and used a baby wipe to do some smearing. Again, practice. I had never heard of using baby wipes before and I like the idea of using them both for the creation of a piece and the clean up afterward, lol!

I had bought an old Spanish book of some kind at a jumble sale. Keep your eyes open for all manner of ephemera at any location. Even receipts, tickets, entry pamphlets, can all be used at some point in collage. The Spanish book pages are brittle and browned at the edges. The Spanish words, and penciled-in notes someone had made in the book make the pages exotic-looking and good ephemera. This one has a stencil of clocks and gears laid over the page, with distress ink sprayed over the stencil.
Large format tree stencil, pounced using acrylic paint. I'd used a cosmetic sponge for the pouncing. I have a few pages of 12X12 papers, and I selected black because I knew the lighter color paint would make a nice contrast. I liked the berries along the edge not just for their contrasting color but I liked the idea of bare branches on the tree but fruit along the edge.

Below, Strathmore Visual Journal, two pages of collage. I tried various techniques, including layering paint for the background, rub-ons, etc. Still looks unfinished, but I give this a D+ instead of my usual F.

I like things on a smaller scale. These are art tags. I can use them as cards, or attached to gifts for a personal touch.

This is Strathmore visual journal again. The painted background is something I'd done a while back. I used this page to stencil the sun, bird, and thinking woman on top of the block squares of paint underneath.

This is a file folder card. The birds on the front are very light. This is because the paper I'd stenciled it on is cloth-like and soaks up the paint massively. Good to know. It's why I try different techniques.

Card inside. The doily thing will hold the message I decide to write.

So that's it! Something else I did do is clean out one more drawer in my bureau that holds stuff. BTW, the pillow bungee corded to the air conditioner is because a Carolina wren makes a nest every year under the AC in the sill. (The AC unit stays in the window all year). The thin accordion slats weren't enough to keep Murray from trying to get through and attack the five babies that enticingly cheep, perhaps to their doom. So I thumb-tacked a piece of cardboard over it and put the pillow there to prevent Wild Kingdom Birdie Apocalypse from happening in my living room.

The bureau's 9 drawers come in very hand in this two-room apartment with one closet! On the far right the drawers contain-

1. Junk, tools, nails
2. Stationery, office supplies
3. Extension cords, this will be cleaned out also, for the ever growing craft supplies

The middle holds

1. paper, stencils
2. art journals, cardstock
3. ephemera, partially completed projects.

The far left bank of drawers holds:

1. empty. I plan to better organize the paper I've got. I have a lot of paper.
2. magazines, laminating pockets, some crafting tools, sponges
3. wet- inks, paints, ink pads, brushes

So that's it. Thanks for reading!!