Sunday, June 22, 2014

Fire Pit Planter

A few months ago I fell in love with this planter I found over at Fine Gardening. Like just about everything else that I see and want, I knew I wouldn't be able to stop thinking about the thing until I had something just like it. But also just like everything else that I see and want, it would be way out of my price range for at least another 4 or 5 years. Lucky for me, I have a fast moving brain and knew that I could have something really similar for free just by using something I already had laying old, rusted fire pit.

This plain jane run-of-the-mill fire pit served us well the first year we moved in, and was there for us every step of the way up until we built the real deal the following summer. And then it was quickly retired to the back of the house where it's pretty much sat as an eye-sore ever since. 

After a few rounds of scrubbing and suds followed by 3 coats of mega expensive metallic colored spray paint ($9 for a can that sputtered and dripped...) I was happy with my new planter bowl. So happy that I didn't even let it cure for the full 48 hours, but whatever- it's fine as long as you're looking at it from like 8 feet away, which works out since it's placed upon a shady slope...
Once I got the positioning right, it was time to figure out a way to keep it secure and level. Thankfully I had just been working with a roll of metal grid fencing the day before so I was quick to realize that I could just cut a length of that stuff and wind it into a sturdy circle, shoving the wire stems down into the ground for support. Unthankfully, this only worked until I was finished planting which was when the entire thing kind of fell over and made that cartoon-like droopy falling-over noise. It was around that time that I took a deep breath and a walk and probably opened a beverage of some sort. Eventually I circled back and with a mallet and some dowel rods and kind of just worked with what I had in order to get this thing strong enough to hold up to the elements. Of course, this wasn't before having to un-plant and then re-plant the whole thing, but that's beside the point.
When all was said and done, this is what shined in front of me, in all it's splendid glory. Overall I'm pretty happy with it. I had to use plants that I already had on hand, and the most easy-going, transplant-friendly ones I had were a variety of sedum, so that's what I went with. I'm excited to see what it looks like when it flowers and also once I have this area free of vines and other nuisances, but until then I'll just be happy to have a finished project (which is always a big deal for me).

Monday, June 16, 2014

Projects, Life, Etc.

It's funny to think back on the days when this blog would wrap itself around my life as much as it did, day in and day out, for years upon years. I'm not sure if I stopped blogging because I got busy or if I got busy because I stopped blogging, but I think it may have had something to do with a little bit of both.

At some point a couple years ago I remember feeling burnt out. Trying to do all these projects on the mega-cheap while other bloggers were creating beautiful homes and projects with ease. And while I'm not really the jealous type, it did get a little frustrating at times to know that I was trying 10 times as hard to create something that was 10 times less exciting. I eventually came to the realization that what I once loved about blogging had become this toxic, looming state of frustration. So I put it aside and moved along.

But recently I've been feeling this pool of emptiness and I think it may be that I miss writing. I've been working on all these little projects lately and while it has been nice to not have the constant, hovering thought of "I need to document this....and this....and this....and probably thisss...." I still do really miss this space. And so, I think I'll come back again and give it a try, remembering what my original intent was in the first place: to have somewhere I could post photos of what I was doing along with some words so I'd always have something to look back upon in 1, 2 or even 20 years from now.

So, here I am. This is one of the projects I've been working on. It's not finished yet- right now I'm building the roof, but eventually it's going to be a drop box for all those little weeds that like to poke their heads out of my garden. I came up with the idea when I was weeding a few weeks ago and realized that when there are only like 10 weeds to pull, I never walk those 10 weeds all the way to the weed pile in the back corner of the yard, because it's like 200' from my main garden. As a result, I would end up with all these little piles of weeds scattered about. So this is my attempt to fix that issue. We'll see how it works...I'm pretty sure it will be a good solution.

As far as life projects go, over the past couple years I've managed to stay busy with a few things here and there.

I completed my Entry Level, Firefighter I and Firefighter II certifications, and I'm officially considered an Interior Firefighter. More on that later....

I received my Nursing Assistant Certification last month and will be finding a job in the field relatively soon. I've learned that I really enjoy caring for people in need and I also learned that scrub pants make the most excellent garden and house project many pockets! More on all that later as well.

I'm in the process of completing all my immunizations to start my EMT class in August. My eventual goal is to become and ER nurse, hopefully by the time I'm in my mid 30s. It will be a long road but I think I'm up for it. I started school for the first time in almost 10 years last fall. It's been a fun challenge and for the most part I enjoy it. (Ha, I say that now....)

I started focusing on art again after a long hiatus, which has been really, really nice. I'm still in the process of moving my studio, but I'm finally making headway on it. More on that as well. It would help if I didn't have an a-hole alpha male cat in the house to deal with. Anyway. Here's one of my works in progress....hoping to finish it shortly:

Well, I suppose for now I should get outside and carry on with this weed box. I'll be back with photos soon. I've got so many things to post about...I'm really excited. I'm hoping to get a real camera again, cameras are convenient and all, but constantly being attached to my phone is a distraction I don't need, and usually I don't even know where it is on my days off (which is good and bad, of course.) Anyway....I hope you are all doing well. See you again soon.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Block Print Patterns

Yesterday I made myself stay in my studio for most of the day so I could finally get a few things done. It was mostly sanding and pretty slow moving...but I did draw 2 new designs and I even managed to get one of them carved and printed which was pretty great. At least it makes me feel like I'm getting somewhere. 

This is what it ended up looking like. It's one of the most textured, simple designs I've ever done and to be honest, it's probably one of my feels much more free than a lot of my patterns and I like how I didn't feel like everything had to line up *perfectly* while printing. No hooks yet, but they're to come. I'm also working on finding some vintage black hooks to give some of the racks more character.

I've tossed around the idea of making pillows and I think I may eventually end up doing so if all goes to plan. I don't know if I mentioned it but I'm in the midst of moving my studio and I have a huge amount of space...perfect for lots of separate work areas. For now it's nothing glamorous but I am hoping to pull everything out of there for a week this winter and paint the floors and get new lighting. And if things go *really* well, I'll even get a new ceiling and a sweet sliding barn door entry. We'll see. For now I'm off to carve design #2 and then go to work. Hope you're all having a great summer! Take care. :)

Thursday, June 20, 2013

New Mixed Media Piece [Yep. Another Boring Title.]

Hey hey, what's happening? Not a lot here. Just your average June-inspired activities. Lots of grilling, lots of gardening...some canoeing, camping and art. In 10 days I am dropping down to 3 days a week at work to focus on art and eventually school. [that sounds rather daunting when I see it typed out...3 days??? Ugh. It wasn't supposed to be this nerve wracking.]
Anyway, I finished this piece last week and I'm pretty happy with it. So happy that I am going to make a few more in varying colors. I'm thinking grey, blue and maybe yellow. Right now I'm in the midst of moving my studio, so that takes priority over new pieces, but I'm hoping to have it ready by July 1 [so I can work on stuff right away when I cut back on hours at work.] We'll see how it goes. I know myself well enough to realize that it probably won't be ready in time and I'll probably have to work on some sort of jerry-rigged, temporary work bench that will end up being my primary workspace for like 3 months until I finish all my landscaping things. Right now I'm building a new limestone retaining wall. Photos to come....for now I'm off to stack more rocks. Hope you are all doing well.

Monday, May 13, 2013

New Pieces

It's been awfully quiet around here lately, hasn't it? I'd say that it's because I've been really busy doing this or that, but in all honesty I haven't really felt all that busy. 

I finished up my firefighting class a couple weeks ago and passed my exam, which has been a huge relief. I had been sort of stressed during the months leading up to it, mostly because I'm dealing with health issues so I was really concerned that test day would come and that I wouldn't physically be able to do everything I had to do, which could have potentially caused my group to fail, and that would be terrible. It felt like this looming storm cloud for quite a while but it's over now and I'm good to go! Thankfully test day came and I felt great. I've mostly been feeling pretty good on all the other days too..I've learned that I just have to go about things at a slower pace than I'd prefer, and I think the new pace is finally starting to become normal rather than the huge annoyance it had been at first. Outwardly I look fine; most people have no idea that I have this going on and I think I prefer it that way, to a point. It does suck when I'm having a hard day and people who don't know that I'm usually strong and determined think that I'm just a weak and feeble girl who needs some dude to do everything for her. I do realize that posting this on my blog opens the door to pretty much anyone in my life knowing about this, but I'm hoping that most people are respectful and don't make a big deal out of it. Please and thanks? 

Okay, moving onto happier thoughts...I've been working on new art stuff and lots of small landscaping projects now that spring has finally decided to stretch itself across lower Wisconsin. Yay! Here is one of the new pieces I finished last month:
It's about 19" x 24", mixed media on wood. One of the larger pieces I've made...I really like it for the most part; making these bigger pieces feels a lot different than the smaller ones do. 

I've also been working on moving my studio to part of the house that's bigger and brighter and has a door that walks out to my gardens. I was all set to move everything, and I was really excited about doing so since I worked hard to get it cleaned up and ready to go, but then my dickhead cat Clementine decided he was mad at the world and began to pee on things in there. Ugh. Joe and I are to our wits end with him. On one hand he's super sweet and cuddly, but then he turns into a mega jerk and is mean to Moonshadow and he pees on things [sprays] for reasons unknown. I thought we had everything sorted out when the neighbor's cat stopped roaming around the house, but I guess we didn't. We're trying to figure out what to do with him...finding a new home would be nearly impossible, but like I said- I'm sick of our things being ruined and I'm even more sick of the house smelling like cat pee and not being able to find the source. Come ON dude, I just want to have people over but don't feel like I can with this going on. And now that I've typed that I realized that there's a friggan CAT controlling my life, and that's not okay. 

Anyway, back to happy thoughts again. I'm hoping to have a couple shows late 2013 so I've been working on lots of ideas for that. I might go canoeing will be the first time this year and although I really feel like I should be doing art or working on house projects, it would be great to get out on the water. I'll take pictures if I go. :)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Gear Closet: Before and After

A sunshiney Wednesday and I've got the entire day to enjoy. Right now I'm working on moving my studio to a bigger, brighter space in the house but since that trudge isn't even close to being finished, I'll just show you guys what I worked on the other day. My gear closet, before & after.

Before, our sleeping bags were annoyingly slung through wooden hangers so they wouldn't touch the floor and as you can see, everything else was kind of just thrown to the closet stomach last fall. I found myself at the end of my frustration tolerance and bought a few baskets while I was perusing the aisles at Target last week. Of *course* the only baskets I liked were the most expensive ones they had, at $10 each, and while I wanted to buy 4 big ones I just couldn't justify spending $40 on them all at once so I told myself I'd go back for a couple more when the next paycheck came. Well, apparently the rest of Madison gets paid before I do, so when I went back yesterday they were all out. I knew that would happen.

I bought some U shaped hangers at the hardware store so I could hang the paddles and I was pretty excited to find them. I thought I would have to stop at the music store for some guitar hangers but these orange ones look way cooler and were way cheaper. Score! I organized the baskets by the 3 main components of camping: cooking, sleeping, and hanging out.

I ripped the metal hanging-rod out [which I had to cut out with a hacksaw] and then shortened it to 2 smaller pieces. One to go across the top of the closet to the right so we could hang out PFDs/lifejackets up and out of the way, and another which I rigged up high on the other side so we could hang our sleeping bags without them brushing across the floor.
I also had to rip the long shelf out that previously held the board games and GEEZUS did the previous homeowners like to use LONG nails and screws, and lots of them. I seriously effed the wall up and was going to patch it but ended up forgoing the idea when I realized how long it would take to dry. So I just threw on a quick coat of paint and made all my measurements and cuts while it was drying. 

So yeah. I'm pretty amped about the fact that I started and finished a project in the SAME DAY. That's a pretty big deal for me....I mean, just finishing a project is a big deal for me so this was huge. Super excited to have an organized camping gear closet. And now, it's onto the next: my big studio move. Hopefully all the batteries are finished charging for the saw. I've got a lot of cutting to go. Off I go, hope you are all doing well.


Friday, February 08, 2013

New Mixed Media Pieces

I don't really know how this turned into an art blog, but it kind of did and I'm just going to roll with it. The fact that I don't like house projects the same way so many other bloggers seem to enjoy them has been a determining factor, I'm sure. Although I do wish I liked house projects....there are so many things I want done, but so many things I'd rather be doing that I just don't do well when it comes to the active task of everything a project entails. 
But anyway, I've been on this art kick since last summer when I was in mega-make-mode for my art show, and the feeling hasn't really diminished. Which is a good thing....prior to that I had taken a long, long time off from my art, mainly to do those damn house things I talked about. The art has given me some form of balance and I really enjoy coming up with new pieces.
This chevron tree piece is hanging in that coffee shop I talked about last week and I like the way it turned out. I pulled myself to use yellow and red and I'm glad I did. It feels a lot different than the majority of my other stuff since I usually fall into the comfort of various shades of blue. Having something that's warm is nice.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

It's Winter Again!

I took this photo 24 hours ago, wishing so badly for winter to come back. I mean, don't get me wrong, I do love spring....but it's January and January means winter. But our yard was a soggy, icky mess.

Little did I know, we were in the direct line of a winter snowstorm and my wish came true! Now we have snow again which I'm very excited about. The only bad thing is that I tried leaving my house today to head into Madison for an appt that I really needed to go to, but I got out in the road and realized that what I was trying to do was worth a pretty good eyeroll, so I was back inside my house in less than a minute calling to reschedule. 
So I spent most of my day doing art stuff and getting all my pieces ready to hang in the coffee shop. I finished my most dreaded task, applying the matte finish and mounting hardware, and now I'm onto titles and pricing. Ugh, never used to be so damn hard. Ah well, I'll get it one day. 

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Yola's in Madison

I've been trying to connect with a few coffee shop owners over the past week or so and as it turns out, one of them is looking for somebody to hang art in their shop for the month of February...which is in like, 6 days. I've got enough stuff ready but I felt like I should probably make a few more things just because otherwise it seemed too easy. ;)

These ones are all about the same size, 8" x 12". I need to buy a new reddish orange prisma color pencil [i think they call that rust. what a novel concept...] because mine got dropped one too many times and won't sharpen without crumbling into a million pieces. Once I get a new one, I'm going to color a couple of the leaves on this blue piece.
I'll probably end up hanging about 12-15 pieces or so and I think most of them will be pretty simple, mostly in the $45 - $150 range. I'm excited about the exposure more than anything, really....any sales will just be a nice surprise. So if you're on the West Side of Madison, you should run over and get a latte from Yola's and take a quick browse. They have a fireplace so make sure you bring a good book too. :)

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Mixed Media: Progression Clips

I put together this short series of clips highlighting the progression of layers in the last piece I made. It's far from anything spectacular and I need to focus on better image quality next time, but for now I'm pretty happy with it. It's nice for me to be able to see how things came together, because I usually manage to erase that part from my head by the time I'm finished with it. I'm hoping to make a bunch of these to stream during my next art opening.

I'm pushing for 4 art shows over the next year. One solo, one with a friend who recently started printmaking, one group and one in....gulp...Minneapolis|St. Paul. Of course, more would be fun, but I think 4 is a decent number considering I'll still be working and doing the firefighting thing and hopefully going to school during that time. 

If you happen to be an artist in Madison or Minneapolis and you somehow strolled across this post, feel free to shoot me an email. I haven't researched my group show too much and I'd love to hear from groups looking for more people, and I'm also looking for a good venue in Minnesota. 

Okay, well that's all. Talk soon. 

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Latest Mixed Media Collage: Drifter

Here's the latest piece- I finally felt that it was finished sometime yesterday afternoon. It's about 12" x 18", on wood that I cut and sanded a couple weeks ago. I don't know how it happens or why it happens, but I almost always end up gravitating towards cool colors, unless I really drag myself to the reds and yellows and oranges. I have been trying to lean toward the sunny-day hues, but in all honesty...I think I'm just a rainy-day girl at heart.

I thought about making a strikingly similar piece with sunnier tones [an idea I came up with about 3 seconds ago after mentioning that I'm a rainy-day gal and realizing that, coincidentally, there are raindrops all over this one...] so I might work on that sometime this week. 

I've got the next 2 or 3 weeks off [fuckshitYEAH!!!] and I'm going to focus on my art stuff pretty heavily during my break. I'm between seasons with my jobs and every year I have the luxury of enjoying my birthday week and then some away from the workplace.'s pretty much perfect. 
I've been feeling pretty good lately but there's definitely something that's not right. It's kind of frustrating, but I'm getting through it. I've got another MRI and more tests tomorrow; we'll see how it goes. One thing I know for sure is that I'm not going to request Moby when they ask which internet radio station I want to listen to during the MRI...because that station is a bit nuts when teeter-tottered with the DitDitDitDitDitDitDit RRRRRRRR neeeeee.neeeee.neeee *CLANG*CLANG*CLANG* noise emitting from that damn magnetic-cylinder bed. It was 25 minutes of insane non-stop crazy electronic noize! I couldn't hear the music over the machine and it was kind of funny because as soon as the machine shut it's mouth for a minute, there was the music again, blazing into my ears. Less than comforting. Although I did kind of laugh about it when I realized what I'd gotten myself into. The night before that I had told Joe that I was a bit humored by this recurring image I had of being fed into a big machine with googly eyes and a mouth with sharp teeth and a crooked jaw and that Pink Floyd's "Welcome to the Machine" was playing anytime I started to think about this goofy cartoon-like thing. Yeah...I almost requested Pink Floyd for my tunes but I thought it might have been cliche [like they would have known what was going on...] So anyway, I don't know what music I should ask for tomorrow. I'll let you know if my experience is as good as the last.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Cheers to 2013!

Hey hey! It's 2013! Did you all have a wonderful holiday season? Are you all glad that it's over? Yeah, me too. Although I've gotta say- this was the first year in forever that I wasn't running around touting my shiny bah-humbug horn. Not really sure what was different, but I had fun getting ready for Christmas this time which was really a nice change.

We cut our tree down a few weeks before the holiday and the weather ended up being perfect. It snowed for the first time this year and the temp was in the upper 30s. The tree farm we picked was really cool...just a ton of random pines poking out of the ground in a jagged pattern, across acres and acres of snowy white fields. Most tree farms tend to be planted in perfectly straight lines, row after row, with all of the pines separated by type and size. This felt more like we were in the woods, which was awesome.

I was also really thrilled about the day because it was the first time in what felt like ages that I had felt really good. I had enough strength to help Joe carry our tree, which I know sounds like nothing, but it was such a feeling of victory. I felt like a kid who just learned how to tie their shoes. 

I've been mostly fine lately but still not 100%. I'm dealing with some health stuff that's been everything from scary to frustrating to hopeful and back again. I'm still waiting on a diagnosis, and it could possibly take years to diagnose if it turns out to be what I am fearing most, which I'm near certain it is. I won't go into full details just yet, but I'm sure my next post will have more. For now I'm happy that I woke up feeling good this morning and I have mostly just been embracing these kind of days. Today is the first time in 23 days that I have the day off and the house to myself. I'm planning on doing some art stuff and I hope to finish this piece that I started a month ago.

Fingers crossed that I can get it finished! We'll see. I just noticed that my hands aren't shaking for the first time in 6 weeks. I should get drawing while things are good. :) See you guys soon! I hope you've had a great start to the new year.