Tuesday, April 29, 2008

New! Comments made easier!

My boy, sifting flour for cupcakes!

New and improved, easier commenting is enabled! Try it out and see if it works. I changed some settings so that those of you who have been thwarted or bored by the whole "sign in and create a password" nonsense can freely comment now. I am hoping this will mean that more of you that are reading this blog will not be shy and leave a little note sometime. In fact I am scheming about some kind of give-away ATC for commenters in May...Stay tuned.

Mosey Handmade
You may have noticed a new "Favorite Stop" over at the right, called Mosey Handmade. Mosey is actually a blogger who is sort of nearby to me and what's even more fun is that she's someone I already know (and love) in the physical world, and now I know her in the land of virtual also! She makes these lovely nests and lots of upcycled felted-sweater crafts and other items of beauty. Mosey has an Etsy site and some of her nests have found their way to Renegade Handmade in Chicago. She's getting ready to open a store in June, location I am not totally sure of yet...so keep watching her blog for updates. I sure will be!

ATC Make and Swap, Tomorrow!
Yes, tomorrow, Wednesday night at 6 p.m. we'll be cramming our crafty selves into the Rockport Public Library for another couple of hours of community art-making. Try this link to look at some of the photos of past events---there's even some action shots! Come join us, it's fun, it's cozy, and we'd love to have you there.

Friday, April 25, 2008

We're Crafty!

I love hanging my clothes on the line. This was the first time this year, today!

Our Beautiful Kitchen!
Back in February we sent the boys away and worked on our kitchen for a few days. We had the cabinet doors replaced by a friend, and Jake and I painted the insides and the surrounding edges of the cupboards. The big work was boxing up all of the kitchen stuff and carrying it out of the work area...we have something like 30 cupboards!

My creative husband had the idea to use natural stones for door handles. Since February we have been handle-less in the kitchen, while he figured out how to mount them, order the hardware, drill them, epoxy, etc. Well, now it's done and it's lovely. Martha Stewart can eat her heart out for not being as cool as we are.

Jonas requested that the heart-shaped stone at right open his favorite cupboard, the one that has the crackers and pretzels:
Are you wondering where these amazing stones came from? Our dear friend Aaron was so kind to part with them! They are from Lake Champlain in Vermont. The lake makes them so interesting and different. Some have thicker lines, some have lots of tiny lines. Thanks, Aaron!They feel so nice in your hands. Opening the cupboards is a little bit exciting/surprising and tactile now.Here are the handles we chose for the drawers:

Below, Jonas uses pastels to beautify some old pallets in the yard:This is a rose, at right:
Two young farmers at work, making the garden weed-proof around the edges:
The bluebirds are back! Sialis is the Latin name for the Eastern Bluebird, and also Sylvan's middle name:Isn't the bluebird stamp lovely? I made this card yesterday during my art date with Kimberly. We had a 3 mile walk, lots of chatting, and even had time to make cards together at her wonderful farm. Hooray! So much to celebrate.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Spring in Maine is Fast

Kitchen sink windowsill: tiny Irises from Joanie with a little gnome friend.

We go from nothing to everything. All of a sudden things are growing! The weeds, the flowers, the grass! I am always surprised by the suddenness of spring here, and by now I shouldn't be. So my semester is nearly done (only two and a half weeks to go!), the garden wants attention, and thank goodness Jake has been using his vacation to get a lot of housework and outdoors' work done, while I have been working a few extra hours! My plan is to sort through winter coats and boots...

I recently visited crafting mecca, Michaels Arts and Crafts, and loaded up on some supplies. A very generous angel passed a gift certificate my way in thanks for something I was already glad and happy to do for free. Lucky me! So I have some new toys to play with...new stamps and stamp pads, papers, new (sharp!) scissors, pens, and lots more. This morning my children and I had some play time and made some cards.

Below, find Jonas's "Cozy," featuring a hedgehog getting snuggly by the fire. The hedgie is from Jan Brett's book Trouble with Trolls and was withdrawn from the library because it was severely damaged: torn and written in!
Sylvan, our sporty boy, made this card for our also-sporty friend, Carl. I helped find the right words:
"Invitation to a Tea Party," below, with new teacup stamp!
Below, an ATC with movable arms! This teacup girl can wave to you! There are a couple of techniques here that I learned by an advance viewing of Robinsunne's book The Great Library ATC Swap---I can't give you more details, you'll have to have a copy for yourself! Visit her website to get more information about the release of this resource that will help you go about starting an ATC group at your own library.
A week from today, on Wednesday, April 30th is the next meeting of the Wednesday Swap Group at Rockport Library! It's National Poetry Month, so that will be the theme to get us started. Come at 6pm, bring some lines of poetry, scissors, glue, maybe your favorite papers---and don't forget your cards to swap, if you have any! Hope to see you there.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Saturday Swap Group Success!

"Good" by Robinsunne, on my kitchen sink windowsill spot of honor

On Saturday I worked all day at the Rockport Public Library and we had our very first Saturday ATC Make and Swap group there! It was fantastic to have 19 kids and 10 adults in the library, hanging out, chatting, and making art together. Some highlights: a Mother-Daughter team making an ATC for their patient pup, Roxy (who was waiting in the car)...A tiny adorable toddler (~18 mos.) who was making her first ATC, with a little help from Mom (it featured a chicken)...Three generations of a family, all artistically snipping away....A very shy girl who doesn't hardly say a peep, but is a prolific artist and made some great cards and smiled a lot...And many more sweet moments! It was very organic, people just dove into their work, though Robinsunne was there to facilitate and check in with folks. So much fun!

What I love about this ATC swap group at the library is that I think it represents a very real evolution of what libraries are moving towards: community places for people to meet, a place to use resources (physical and virtual), responding to community interests, and having a welcoming "Yes We Can" attitude. For a very cool view of how libraries may look in the future, check out this post by Jenny Levine, the Shifted Librarian, about a library in Delft, Holland which calls itself a "library concept center"---pretty amazing visionary ideas!

My personal favorite moments: When A. (who is 8) came up to me at the desk to ask if I was willing to trade some cards with him. His cards were really lovely in their constructions, layers of papers very artfully put together. This was the one I chose:

And here's the one that Jenny gave me, in trade for the Amy Sedaris card from this post; Jenny's is a terrific 2-sider. This is just the front...She knows what I like!

Robinsunne passed her "Good" card to me, pictured up at the top, my recent favorite of her alphabet series! Yay! This is what I see when I wash my dishes, approximately a million times a day, so it may as well be something I like looking at. The sea shell is a favorite from my mom, and it serves as a very nice stand to display ATCs.

And finally, here are a couple of my Spring Meditations. Recognize the backgrounds?
And one last thing...Do you know that Robinsunne is writing a book (The Great Library ATC Swap) about what we are doing at the library? This is meant to be a resource for folks who may want to start up a group at their own local library. I have had the privilege to be a proof-reader for this project, and let me tell you: it's great! She is including many helpful photos of the techniques, following the schedule of our year of Library projects, and then has additional ideas and things to try out. Go join Robinsunne's Yahoo group to stay apprised of the release date of this fabulous resource.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Spring Day in Maine

Hat by Joanie, from a pattern from Hats On! by Charlene Schurch.

Well, we are enjoying an afternoon of warm sun and playing, just Sylvan and me. He is busy digging a hole and discovering bits of rusty metal treasure and I am sitting by the woodshed door getting some sun on my white and pasty face.

This week I have been so excited to discover Staedtler Mastercarve, this really easy to cut substance to make your own rubber stamps with! I have been inspired by Jane and Robinsunne in my efforts thus far. I wanted to make a stamp for the backs of my cards that I could fill in with title and date information. It was hard to do the tiny letters. I am using my old carving set from my days at art school when I made woodblock prints. The tiniest scoop is still my most favorite.

And then I saw this beautiful card of Robinsunne's, a part of her alphabet series, and was inspired to try a stamp that would be a good background like hers:
Here is a picture of the Librarian's Boy, looking at Bone by Jeff Smith:
Isn't he handsome?

Monday, April 7, 2008

The Lovely Chickens

This is George, Sylvan's birthday chicken. George is named after our plumber, mentioned in the last post. We don't know what George's breed is, but he's tiny and very fancy looking. He and Shadrach, our regular sized rooster, seem to coexist quite easily. George's crow is very small and screechy, Shad's is more typical Cock-a-doodle-do. George has a partner, whom we call Sharon, after real-life George's partner. Real-life and chicken Sharon are women who have minds of their own. Sometimes the chicken Sharon takes off for awhile, perhaps to go dancing or singing, like her namesake.

Below, the flock is pecking some cracked corn:
Here is one of Shadrach and Poule's offspring from last summer, an Araucana and Buff Orpington mix. Now she is laying eggs along with her sister! Her biological mother, Poule, is at right, but you are looking at her bottom.
I say "biological" mother because Minerva was the one who actually sat on the eggs and raised the babies up. Minerva died last fall, sadly, but at least she experienced the joys of motherhood! And even more interesting, Minerva had a mother's helper, Rainbow, who began to co-parent the chicks with her a couple of weeks into their life! Rainbow nested with Minerva and the babies, she kept her eye on them, brought up the rear and waited for any laggards, etc. It was darling to watch. A very modern approach to family life, all around!

Below, here are a couple more examples of the technique Robinsunne showed us at the library. In my convalescence, I played around a bit more with it. The tissue paper is the plum color, with a cardstock blue background.
The one at left reads: "The freedom to be yourself."

Friday, April 4, 2008

Once again, back in the place to be

"Recuperation Poetry series, 2/3" with poetry line by the Zen Master, Ikkyu: "Oh you poor sad thing thinking death is real all by itself."

...which is to say, I'm back in The Land of the Living (although, if you caught the reference in the title of this post and can name the artist who said it, I'll send you an ATC for getting it). All of those plans I had for last weekend went by the wayside because I got some nasty flu with a high fever for days. Thankfully, my boys, dad, and stepmom all took great care of me while Jake was gone. But you can't really be your absolute pathetic and worst self with anyone but your spouse. Many other friends stepped up, like Meikle, who came and got the boys on Friday in the middle of a snowstorm. And Joanie, who kept a steady flow of tea coming my way, reading material (including a book called If I Live to Be 100, which I found humor in when I was laying in my underwear trying to coax my fever down from 104...how about if I live for 5 more minutes?), healthy things and beauty things (a rosebud garland with beads and ribbon). What a lucky girl I am. But still so tired.

Below, find the "Recuperation Poetry Series" which I made on April 1st. This lovely thick gold origami paper, also from Joanie, feels so wonderful that I am not planning to cover it up with Mod Podge. The poems came to me from George, our beloved plumber (or as Sylvan calls him, George the Plunger), who gave me these catalogs from Copper Canyon Press. They are all Asian poets. Ikkyu, from the detail above, was a Zen Master who was not afraid to ruffle some feathers, the bio told me. Another line that I am saving for later talks about the statue of Buddha, covered in birdshit, and deserving it!

It was a big deal to make only these three, simple, easy cards that day. Harder still was hacking through cereal boxes to make more backings...

Remember my art date with Kimberly? She made this lovely card, below, that morning we were together! I particularly enjoy the border papers she chose. I have been keeping this lady on my kitchen window sill, the most preferred display spot in the house. The card has glitter Mod Podge on it, which seems to be glinting in this woman's teeth in this photo. Don't you love how she is holding that bowl of Cheerios? "If you are a radish not everyone will like you" just seems perfect. I know Hannah and her godson Sylvan would love me even if (especially?) if I was a radish. But then they would probably also eat me.
Finally, if you have been wondering what Robinsunne's special secret WOW technique was for March's meeting of ATC-lovers at the library, here is a small example, below. You can see the concept is like making snowflakes, except to fit on your card! This was a border technique she showed us. We were using tissue paper (easy to cut), and a lot of patience. I don't have the experience (or I suspect, the sort of brain) to be able to anticipate what the cuts I am making will end up looking like in the final product. Far from being frustrating, I found it somewhat liberating...and delightfully surprising each and every time, like Christmas! The background here is straight from the Garnet Hill catalog.