Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Late Bloomers have more fun!

Teresa Cash, who blogs at "I'm a Late Bloomer," has a heartfelt mission: to encourage people to awaken to their latent talent. She knows firsthand the experience of only later in life discovering and nurturing the seed of a dream hidden for so long.

I learned about Teresa's blog via a comment she made on Where Women Create's Facebook page. Immediately her passion resonated with me. Her motive—encouragement—aligns with my values. Her method—storytelling—allows people to share from the heart in an environment that celebrates each person's unique journey. There is no competitiveness, no horn-tooting, nothing to hardsell. In addition, Teresa's blog design is so appealing that it is a visual treat along with a filling feast for the soul.

When she and I "met" via email, Teresa's blog was going through a lull. She had written a beautiful and candid post about learning to let go and trust. As much as she believed in her dream of celebrating creative late bloomers, she also had to believe that "the stories are out there and will be directed to me."

"Magical things can happen when we let our creative spirits out to play. Everyone has a story and it’s in telling your story that  you can encourage and inspire someone else. Being a creative Late Bloomer is not about being a certain age or doing something totally magnificent. It’s about finding your creative self, later in life, even in the simple things." ~Teresa Cash
Today, Teresa featured my story on her blog. It would mean the world to me if you could visit her at I'm a Late Bloomer and leave a comment. Encouragers always appreciate encouragement!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

When a coffee can becomes affordable housing, you must be a hobbit

I'll let you know now that I suck at writing tutorials. I'm not letting that stop me. I made something and now I want to tell you how I did it. But here's why I think you'd do a better job at it:

  1. You won't scavenge materials that most people are unlikely to have lying around.
  2. You won't go overboard with three possible options for completing the project, like some hoity-toity film with a focus group to decide which of two endings is better.
  3. You won't be writing asides that have little to do with moving the how-to along.
Given all that, I'm still writing this tutorial. Mondays are linkyhoppy days, or something that sounds like that. What I mean is there's this blog where my etsy Upcyclers teammates and I can have a virtual meet-up every Monday and exchange links to tutorials we've written that we hope give people enough incentive to visit our blogs. If you're here at my blog and you're not even remotely interested in crafts—I know the name of a good lobotomist. Just kidding. You're still welcome to follow the winding road to the corky, quirky Itty Bitty Hobbit House that smells like coffee.

And isn't it a relief to read me not being consumed with angst over the latest life dilemma? Not today, anyway. You'd think I was cured by craft therapy.

So. Why turn a coffee can into a hobbit house. Because I have too much time on my hands and hardly any money. I can't buy advertising for my etsy shop, but every month everyone on the Upcyclers team can get free exposure for their shops if they win first and second place in the monthly challenge. This month the challenge was to make something with a plastic coffee can. I didn't even realize we had one until I went to make a protein shake and read the label. It's a coffee-flavored protein mix. Close enough.

Once I peeled the label off I thought I'd turn the gray into a putty-colored background with some acrylic paint. I wanted to Sharpie a cottage-style stone facade on it. I couldn't find a wide enough paintbrush so I used a cosmetic sponge to dab it on. Then I drew four stones before remembering that I can't draw. Plan B: Glue stuff on instead. In which case, pre-painting had been a mistake, as the paint peeled off in spots when I started gluing things on. The paint peeled, taking the glue and the thingy off with it. Such uncooperative paint. I reglued things back. More on exactly what things in a minute.

You'll see from the pictures above that there is an oval-shaped hole cut into the back side of the coffee can. That's for the door. I had an oval tea can with a secure-lock lid that in a lucid moment I recognized as a castle-ish drawbridge kind of gate that you could lower over a moat. At first I'd asked the hubby to cut the tea can down to an inch below the lid. But it's metal, and plastic is much softer to cut. The tea can ended up being inserted into the coffee can.

I'm so glad I numbered these collages when I saved them last week so I know without studying them in detail what order to post them. We are at the Inside and Outside phase of hobbit house construction. By keeping to a loose theme ("kitchen scraps") I managed to  self-edit and not use sequins and other temptingly sparkly stuff that would've pleased Liberace if Liberace had been hobbit-sized. Instead I used wine corks, dried shiitake mushrooms, dry beans, and two reed coasters (pretend they slide open and reveal windows). The husband protested the use of the mushrooms but I only needed a handful.

What is that multicolored sheet of sponge remnants in the center of the collage? Does anyone know? This is not a quiz. I don't know what it's for. Maybe some sort of insulation? I found it at a thrift store years ago and took it home because it was pretty and I knew I'd find something to do with it before I croaked. It approximates the rock facade I had failed to draw.

The paper towel tube, styrofoam and toothpicks form the base of a tree that I imagine grows above the hobbit house. I figured a tree would be easier to recreate than a hillside, which is usually where hobbit houses are located, per hobbit house realtors.

Right about now I'm so over this tutorial. I can't imagine why you're still with me. Haven't I proven that making a hobbit house my way is the way you wouldn't want to go? Why is the hobbit house wearing a turban in the photo above? Where on earth would you scrounge for a sticker of a door that just happens to fit over the lid of an oval tea can?

Door stickers: Fun enclosed gift from etsy shop Wilson Graphics when I ordered giant vinyl butterflies for last year's Halloween costume. Turban: brown paper wrapper scrunched up to play the role of dirt under tree roots. Tree roots: paper bags twisted and then tied like Joan of Arc at the stake around the paper towel tube using the handle of a paper bag. Coffee filters: a skirt for the tree roots. Why I thought they needed a skirt is unclear to me now. But I couldn't just leave them exposed.

More twisting of paper bags. These paper pretzels were reinforced with 24-gauge (I think) green wire from my dungeon full of craft hoards that will be the only things my children will inherit upon my demise. The wire made the twisty branches hold their shape better. I glued one more coffee filter around the base of the branches just to prettify it.

And now for the treetop. I have commitment phobia when it come to crafts. It's probably why it takes me 10 times longer to finish a project than the average crafter. Not to imply that a crafter is average or ordinary. But here we have three kinds of trees: a spindly desert type tree, an effusive, improbable wisteria, and—my personal favorite—a woolly bully evergreen from all those nets that oranges and onions come in. I KNEW I'd someday find a reuse for them. The last treetop is the least feasible, as I haven't a notion how to affix those blob-shaped nets in place.

Here we are, outside, trying not to fall over during our portrait session.  I am so glad this isn't a project that a hypothetical gradeschool child of mine will have to keep on his lap on the schoolbus tomorrow. Stupid treetop is so unwieldy.

It will be a relief to return to fabrics as my medium of expression! 

Oh~ P.S. There was an accidental offshoot of this project. I decorated one of those wooden birdhouses one can get cheap from a Michael's craft store. I used coffee filters as roof shingles. For the siding, I spread a texturizing product that purports to make any paper look handmade. I had intended to top the hobbit house with this birdhouse. Do you think I should've stuck with that plan instead of trying to make a tree?

"Poems are made by fools like me but only God can make a tree."
~Joyce Kilmer

Monday, May 6, 2013

The life lesson I'm reluctant to learn

Life charges too high a price for some lessons. This one, in particular, wants my ego, perhaps my health or that of my loved ones, and all my comfort zones in exchange for wisdom.

I can say the words, "We are one" and not really believe it. Either I live it or it remains in its package, delivered but unopened. I cannot send it back because there is no return address. And so it sits at my front door, waiting...