Category Archives: making

rainbow themed

When I was in high school I started painting murals. It was the late eighties / early nineties, and that was a big thing – a more custom take on stenciled borders and wallpapered walls that everyone seemed to have. It kept me busy. I did a lot of nurseries and kid rooms, bathrooms, dining rooms, kitchens. I painted on larger walls in schools – lots of book themed murals in hallways and stairwells. I also did pen and ink renderings or watercolors of people’s homes, watercolor names of children for their rooms, a few painted mailboxes and flowerpots – I don’t think I ever turned down a job. Thinking back on that now, I really hustled in high school. I had places to go (Europe with my French class!), things to buy (Guess jeans!), events to attend (New Kids on the Block concerts!).

So it was kind of funny to have some flashbacks to this time over this past weekend.

I painted a lot of book themed murals in the elementary school where my mom taught third grade. I started painting them in high school, and added to the collection over summer breaks at home from college. Based on the date above, I must have done this one right before heading back to my sophomore year at Clemson. It’s a scene from Eric Carle’s Draw Me A Star, and I remember that it wasn’t that easy to paint something in thick paint that was originally rendered in painted tissue paper collages.

My first mural in that school was the cover of one of my favorite books – Tomie De Paulo’s The Art Lesson. It’s hard to tell in the photo, but that mural was ten feet tall and painted over a stair, so it was a pretty dicey ladder setup I worked from. Also, I had to use oil based paint on the painted concrete block walls, which wasn’t much fun. I don’t miss mineral spirits. I used to bathe in the stuff.

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E is always drawing or painting something at home. A friend asked recently if she’d be willing to paint a mural on her daughter’s bedroom wall, and E was excited to do it. I offered to help her get started on this project because I know that it’s not as easy as it looks. You need good quality paint, you need a lot of supplies, and it’s easy to tell when you haven’t done your homework. Plus, someone’s got to drive her around to do all of this, so she didn’t have much of a choice on the partnership. Luckily she was on board.

We ended up having a really great time together, and split the work pretty evenly to be efficient. I gave her lots of pointers along the way, but let her make or weigh in on every single decision. (We used a push pin in the corner of the wall, and stretched twine tied to a pencil to make the perfect arcs for the rainbow stripes. And we hunted through the house for big circles – using a step stool and a metal toy bin for the fluffy clouds.) We made a good team, and when we were driving home on the third day, she thanked me for the opportunity to try it. She loved the process and really loved the end result. She wants to do more. I have a feeling she might have a mural business in the making.

a new desk: before and after, and a mess


BEFORE:

Frances' Room 2

Here’s a shot of F’s desk area from her baby days. We used the elfa system from the Container Store because we knew that it would easily grow with her, and it was definitely time to grow! The green Eames chair was just there for that photo, but F had a smaller green desk chair that she received as a first birthday gift from her grandparents.

You can see it buried there if you look closely. It’s underneath the avalanche of school items she brought home and her continuous collection of recyclable material. (Somewhat) in her defense, I had collected everything in her room into one place and dumped it all there so that the rest of the room was neat and orderly for vacation packing. Still, this area was driving me nuts.

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These photos in the middle are crappy and ill-lit, but it was also after midnight on the day we had traveled home from vacation. I brought M along on my before-sunrise jaunt to the lighthouse, which meant we had been up in the 4 o’clock hour (central time) that morning. So naturally, 21 hours into our day, we decided to put together a new desk in a half darkened room, next to the sleeping birthday girl.

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It took awhile, but mostly because we were trying to be quiet and we were also exhausted. We kept dropping things (loudly), and the drywall anchors for the magnetic strip didn’t work, so M had to raid the basement stash. I just piled all the mess up in the other corner of the room, and we did our best to get everything set up for the morning. I also wrapped E’s birthday gifts from her sister because she had passed out in her own bed before doing it.

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I set up this little birthday chain of kids on top of the desk, and we left her other wrapped gifts on the desk.

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She was still pretty sleepy in the morning – so sleepy that she didn’t even notice the changes at first, but afterwards she was really excited for the new space.

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If you look back at the before photo, the desktop was about even with the top of the outlet to the right. It’s about 6″ higher at this point, and works well with the Eames chair that I moved back up here.

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We raised the shelf on the left up, and added to pull out drawers to corral the art supplies. This allowed us to remove the bins that were always overflowing and took up a lot of precious work space. Now she has a ton more space to work on important projects, and it’s easier to see her supplies in the drawers. We have room for a third drawer if we get rid of that second shelf, but we’ll see how she uses the space she has first. We already had that shelf, so if it’s still functional, that’s great. 

Desk 1

We didn’t buy any additional art supplies because the girls already have plenty. My parents did buy the magnetic pieces and accessories that span between the vertical desk standards and add more supply storage that’s off the desktop. There are a few clear bins that have crayons and glues and erasers, some hooks for tape and triangles, these cute loops that hold her scissors collection – all of these just snap into the bracket – some magnetic glass topped containers that will be full of treasures soon, I’m sure… and plenty of fun magnets.

Desk 2

Desk 3

They don’t make the snap in magnetic bracket with the slots in a 30″ width, which is the width of the desk pieces on the right (where the chair is). But they suggested this magnetic strip which screws into the wall and is the same height as the bracket on the right. I picked out aqua and lime colored magnets, and couldn’t resist the birdie set either, right?

Desk

I haven’t changed much on the walls in this area over the last eight years, added a few things, subtracted others. This little desk area just makes me happy. I’ve been missing this kid this week – can’t wait to see her back and busy in this space.

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PS – here’s the other gift she got – a tent and lantern for her mice!

Desk 5

“super” raffle posters

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I haven’t been to bed before midnight in a week, and I’ve promised myself to be there by ten tonight. That’s in eleven minutes, so I’m typing at breakneck speed – I’ll do a quick edit in the morning and then post this. I’m just so excited to have a camera again, and so I’ve been playing around with it some this weekend. I shot some of these photos early this morning, and I was pretty rushed to get out the door to set up for the annual soiree at the girls’ elementary school. I’m glad I took the time to take the photographs though, I love to look back on these each year. There are a few process shots thrown in as well.

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Raffle 9

This year’s theme was Super Soulard Soiree – it had a pop art / comic book / super hero kind of vibe to it. I decided to take this really bold, graphic approach with paper as my medium, which gave the posters a really nice handcrafted feel. The top poster above was the crowd favorite, and the last one that I completed. E punched green paper with a hole punch for an hour while I glued the dots on in a grid to form the planet. Then I used two shades of gray to make the buildings, assembling them around the globe. I wove curved rainbow streamers through the building, and this poster was called “Save the World”. It featured lots of civic and good citizen minded prizes, plus a large gift certificate to Peacemaker Lobster & Crab just around the corner from us.

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Raffle 7

I loved this second poster – “Kryptonite”. The description asked “What’s your kryponite?” – carbs, beer, working out, etc. I drew inspiration for the background from Lichentstein’s Still Life with Crystal Bowl, and cut dozens of black strips of paper. Then I made dimensional green kryptonite exploding in the center. I love the way it turned out. A bird pooped on it at the end of the event, so maybe pigeon poop is your kryptonite!

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Raffle 8

The idea I got most excited about was for this third poster, “What’s Your Super Power?” The prize was full of experiences – music, art, fitness – so many different things to try out and explore. I decided to take inspiration from Warhol’s Campbell’s soup cans, and opened three of them, with some comic book bubbles asking the questions Could I? Should I? Maybe I Will. At one point I entertained the idea of doing the Campbell’s logo, but even I have my limits. I actually like the simplicity here.

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The last poster was “Lightning Power for a Rainy Day” – it had so many awesome things to do in the summer when it’s raining outside. I had plenty of inspiration for this one last week. The BAM! in the center is dimensional with gold and red sticking out, and I love how the white dot pattern – stretched out into raindrops – turned out. Lots of measuring and marking on these four posters to get them to turn out right.

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The afternoon was perfect – sunny, 70, with a light breeze. The decorations were so much fun – my friend Becky orchestrated all of that, and there was a great crew there Sunday morning setting everything up.

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I’ve heard rumors it was the most successful soiree to date – which is really exciting to hear after all the hard work from everyone.

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I “borrowed” a few of the centerpieces, and tucked them around the house. I was seriously worn out by dinner time, but rallied to do a few more things before bed. My goal this week is to be in bed by 10pm each night – we’ll see how that works out! It was nice to celebrate and visit with friends on such a beautiful afternoon.