Sunday, February 22, 2009

small places

Jonathan built me a little house 5 years ago (I love to say that though I guess it wasn't actually for me but for us, but, just the same, I feel like it was for me).  It is small and lovely and unfinished still.  Because it is so small, and seeing how our kids are not staying small, I feel like I am constantly trying to come up with ways to keep our heads above the rubble ( I mean, creative work) that is washing in on the high tide of childhood business.  

Ava is very attached to her animals and creates very comfortable worlds for them to live in.  What this looks like in our little home: All available windowsills, cardboard boxes, and shelves are desireable real estate and the critters just keep moving in.  Now, despite not actually having a well organized house without overwhelming clutter, I really really dream of such clean spaces.  It is a dilemma.  I want my kids to express themselves fully and the worlds Ava creates are truly awesome, but alas, such clutter makes me a grump.  I fight it.  I lose.  So, like I said, I continue to be confronted with the puzzle to solve and a balance to strike.  IKEA shelves have been very helpful, certainly, but here is a sweet little idea that not only provides a home for wayward stuffed animals, but allows Ava's creativity and attention to the sweet little details to shine.

I bought simple wooden shadow boxes at the craft store, and they have become her animal's homes, right there on her bedroom wall.  They serve as a sort of doll house that she could rearrange if she wanted (though generally, she doesn't), and are compact/neat/modern/artistic/smart.  Windowsills are cleared!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

old and new

Back in the 60's, I imagine, there was a woman sitting in a factory who was a member of the Women's International Ladies Garment Union, and she was fashioning this amazingly loud pair of pants for some nice American girl about let loose.  The waist was low and the bottoms belled. Then that girl bought the pants and wore them a few times, but maybe was nearly as shy about them as I would be today, if I were to consider leaving my house in such an eye catching number.  Well, somehow, these pants made it into our local Salvation Army with only the Union's label inside, and I snatched them up.  Three or more decades later I marveled, washed, and unceremoniously cut these pants into the most fabulous set of napkins I've ever made.  

I will have them for sale in my etsy shop, along with sets of other cloth napkins, if anyone is interested.  I wonder if anyone will ever be wiping their spaghetti sauce mouth on any of my coveted clothes that end up at the Salvie?  

So, I came home with fabric treasures and Jonny came home with, apropos of him, old glass bottles, screen printed with the names of some long gone soft drink companies from our area, still in the original wooden cases.  They have inspired us towards the idea of screen printing our cider bottles, rather than using a paper label.  Look at these simple beauties.

I really love the simple graphics painted on these.  There is something substantial and honest about them.  Something to consider.   Especally for us folks who are known to, perhaps, buy a bottle of something because we like the label.  I mean, what tastes better, a tall thin bottle of coke pulled from one of those cold metal machines, or a coke in a can tumbling from an illuminated billboard style machine?

Sunday, February 1, 2009


I think I might depend too much on the art my children create to decorate our home, but, well, who wouldn't.  Ava is a person who must always be making something and her art is truly worthy of praise and she gets it wholeheartedly from us (though she is suspicious of parental prejudices), both verbally, and physically.  True, we haven't a budget for art, but I love having her work up.   Now, Harry isn't so taken by the pen/crayon/pencil, but hand him a paintbrush and like any nursery schooler, happy big strokes and swirls abound.  Having a tendency toward mud making, I have a trick that ensures a beautiful product when I feel like I'd like to have some big color on our walls (legal color, that is).

Give your young artist a good quality piece of paper and a choice of colors that all go together- all blues and greens, or all reds and oranges... Tell them too fill up all the white space with color.  Sometimes I use painter's tape (it comes off easily) to make a border and when it is peeled off, the painted space really pops out.  When the paint is dry, hand them a paint pen and let them draw whatever they want.  This is one that Harry did when he was almost 4.  

Framed, it looks like this (minus the weird distortion)

Once, I gave him a canvas and he made something similar for a gift for Nana.  

Ava made the following triptych for Jonathan for his birthday this year.  She is really into drawing these simple people with black line, so this project also worked well for her.  A solid acrylic color on 3 blank canvases, then a paint pen for the people.  Sweet.