Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Pull up that... DRAWER?!

A few weeks back, on a bright and cheery Monday evening, I went for a run. Around here Monday night is a lot of fun. Why? Because Tuesday is Trash Day! On my run I saw a disgusting old wooden file cabinet. The cabinet was worthless but the drawers stacked beside it? Awesome! I ran home, got my cousin and my car and headed back to the treasure. Cousin M confirmed the coolness of them and laughed as I put them in my trunk. 

The possibilities for these drawers began to pour into my head and I scrambled to sketch out ideas. One of my favorite ideas was an ottoman. Add some legs, a comfy, classy top and POOF! You've got yourself a snappy little foot rest. 

The legs on this ottoman are from an old corduroy ottoman found by my fellow picker sister, R. I tore that one apart (underneath it's ugly duckling hood, there was a great wooden frame...that will be revealed when it has had its own POOF moment) and cut wood, fabric, and my fingers. Woops, shouldn't have included the fingers but creating requires sacrifices. I only hammered them twice while applying the tiny furniture brads. 

I am so pleased with the outcome. The contrast that I am constantly looking for is definitely present here: classy, sleek, and beautiful with a warm flare from the vintage base item. 

Original varnish on the front. I added a slight sheen
to the rest of the drawer. Here you can see the small piece of
wood affixed to the top as well as the metal legs.
These are the legs attached to the underside of the drawer. They
squeeze and fold up into the bottom.
Ready for the top! See the foam and fabric on the left.

Attached the foam and then began the drama of the faux leather...
Add some silver brads to reflect the legs and POOF! I love it. 


This lovely piece will be available on Etsy!

Monday, November 28, 2011


Sketches are wonderful... whether as part of an exhibit in a gallery or in a friend's little blank book, sketches have a quality all their own. They tend to have a personality and freedom about them that draw me in.

I find my own sketchbooks to be a great journey through ideas. Old sketches can trigger ideas for new projects. I can also see a direction within a sketch that I want to carry through to other things... an energy, subject, or essence. I've recently purged a few old things and found myself flipping through old sketchbooks. Here are some findings from a sketchbook round about 2007-2008. I was in a very line focused phase as you will notice... 



Back Porch

Beach Flower

Lady Sunning Herself

Beach House

Buy Local

Red Cabbage


Come to Italy


Drift Wood

Farmers' Market




Hawaiian Leaves

Leaf and Flower

Man on a Plane

Mile 20

Pot with Handles

Crooked Old Spoon


My Street

Wine Quote

That Woman

Eva Zeisel: A "Maker of Things"

This is a wonderful TED talk by Eva Zeisel. Here is the description on the TED Talks website:

"The ceramics designer Eva Zeisel looks back on a 75-year career. What keeps her work as fresh today (her latest line debuted in 2008) as in 1926? Her sense of play and beauty, and her drive for adventure. Listen for stories from a rich, colorful life."

She speaks softly but, if you have some patience, listen through the whole 18 minutes. There are some gems in there!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Four Tips for Getting Things Finished!

"[I have a lot of] projects ... going on right now, and I find I end up just reading all the fun magazines and blogs I never have time for in real life.  But this is real life and I need to get busy!  Which I notice you're good at, so please, any helpful self-motivators?"

In the span of two weeks a few different friends posed questions to me like the one above. How do I motivate myself, get projects done, act as my own boss... It is a HUGE question and one that I have to rethink daily. I am grateful for the question since it makes me really concentrate on what I am doing and how I am doing it. 

Its definitely not something I figured out once and have in the bag. We are funny, us humans, always wanting to be needed, wanting to be busy and have things to do but constantly trying to find ways around actual work and ways to stay on our own selfish comfy couch. When you have a boss or even clients, you have someone who is directly affected by your work and productivity. That personal connection can be a huge motivating factor. I do work with clients and bosses occasionally but my own art projects? There is no one but me.

I have to be the boss: setting the deadlines, motivating the 'staff', lecturing the lazy, disciplining the worker... I also have to be the client: deciding what I want, changing my mind, wanting it to be useful, affordable, beautiful... I also have to be the employee: putting in the long hard hours, maintaining the deadline set by the boss, producing... 

This reality has been required of me in my situation for years now. In high school I signed up for the art show and realized that I would show up on that day, by myself, to present whatever it was that I completed. There was no one there to grade me, reprimand me, praise me for doing what I set out for myself... people would either stop at my booth or they would not. I was responsible for the work that I did.

In college I wrote up proposals for Independent Studies where, by very definition, you are your own boss. Yes, at certain points in the semester, the professor would check in and at the end I had to present my work. But it was up to me to get out of the study what I wanted. There wasn't an exam to work toward or someone holding my hand through out, ensuring that I would get as much as possible from the experience. I either did or I didn't. Really, I could've fudged my way through an Independent Study if I wanted to... but then where was I? Who had I duped? No one but myself. 

After college I've worked many jobs and continued to create on the side. My work for an employer would finish and then there was my other boss standing in the mirror, urging me to get on with it!

So, how do I set deadlines for myself? What are my "self-motivator tricks?" 

First: Keep it fluid. 
I can't emphasize enough that it is a fluid process. As I change and as my environment changes, my tactics for motivation and focus have to change as well. Like I said before, I've not 'figured it out and have it in the bag.' Just realizing this fact helps me get to work each day. I look at it like a mystery to solve each day, an adventure in discovery... I'll give you some examples that are close to home. "Hmm, wow today I am REALLY distracted! I haven't stayed on one thing for more than 10 minutes" or "I really don't feel like doing anything today. What is the point anyways? Nothing really matters" or "Hooray! Today I am going to work so hard! ...*2 hours later*... Wait! I'm still watching these youtube clips?! What time is it?!" Then there are outside factors too. I set a list to complete but then a friend needs help unexpectedly, a call comes that takes far too long, I run into an old friend, etc. So realizing that each day's tactics for getting to work have to be directed at that day's adventure is helpful to me. 

Second: Keep promises. 
I am very serious about keeping promises to myself. If I say that I will work on project X or finish cleaning item X, I do it (almost) no matter what. That means if I've made bad decisions earlier in the day or the week I don't just toss that fact aside saying, "Oh well, it doesn't really matter." Sure, my project will still be there, there is still time, etc but I've broken a promise. I am responsible for the use of my time. I will stay up late, say no to fun outings, skip a movie or TV show or reading my book at night in order to stay on track. I see this as good practice for how i interact with others as well. If I make a promise to someone else, I will do all I can to keep it. Be consistent. (Preaching to myself here!)

Third: Lists and priorities. 
I make lists all the time. I include little things and big things. This means my list includes
- Sand down Plywood for tray
- Saw Molding for trim of tray
- Reply to J and K's emails
- Put clothes away
- Eat lunch 

By including all of the things that I want/need to complete I can properly evaluate how much time I have. This way I can create manageable lists. Being honest with myself as to what I can actually complete helps me keep a good attitude. I usually have 2 columns: one column for that day's list and one for things I think of as I create a list (since inevitably my brain gets excited and starts to come up with ALL of the things I could possibly do). After making a list, the evaluation of priorities begins. I constantly have to evaluate priorities. I fail a lot but continue to evaluate and re-evaluate and try to learn. 

EXAMPLE: Do I need to check my email? Yes. I may have time sensitive emails from clients or bosses. I get to my email and have 4 emails that were unexpected and have link to watch or read fascinating things. Do I read them now? Was that what I planned to do? NO. Do I FEEL like watching/reading them right now. YES. Ignore, star in my inbox, and come back another time. The more I give in to whatever I feel like doing in the moment, the less I get done and the more bad decisions I make. 

Fourth: Have a motivating factor.
A motivating factor helps me a lot. If my work outs are getting to be few and far between, I sign up for a race or ask a friend to join to get me out there training. If my art projects are starting to take far too long or pile up, I'll get them out to the public somehow... a show, Etsy, anything! If my home has a half-finished project or my room is a mess, I'll invite someone over to scare myself into responsibility. I often make little calendars and hang it on my bedroom door with a sharpie. The calendar only has the days from the starting date to the ending date of the particular goal. Each night I either cross off the day (meaning I did what needed to be done that day) or I circle the day (meaning I was irresponsible and didn't do what I should've). Then I can see how well I am doing... how much I have actually kept my promises... it keeps me very realistic about my work. Then I can look back at the end and say, "Wow! I really stuck to it!" or look back and say, "Well, no wonder you didn't finish by now... just look at how many days are circled." Count up the circled days, add those to the goal date and try again. No fluff added, just the failed days. 

This eventually gets deep down into your foundation. I find that the more sensitive my conscience is the more guilty I feel for not being productive in a way that would improve the lives of others. I know this is an abstract thought but it really keeps me putting my nose to the grindstone rather than doing whatever it is that I feel like doing. My religious beliefs give me a lot of hope and excitement in this realm. 

Now stop reading this blog and go do a project!

The Power of Making

"Making is life. It is what I do."

This video, by the Victoria and Albert Museum, is about the human act of creating. The peace and serenity with which these people talk about their craft is that same peace and serenity that I feel when I am engaged in creating. Its hard to articulate because the work itself is the articulation. So, when an artist or craftsman has a hard time telling you about their work, it is usually not for lack of thought or intellect; it is merely that they now must say again, in a less fluid or natural way, what they've already said in their creation.

"I think its really important for people to reengage with actually making things."

Power of Making from Victoria and Albert Museum on Vimeo.

[Thank you to P.B. for sharing this video with me!]

Monday, November 7, 2011

I couldn't find the table I wanted...

So I made it!

I am doing some interior design contract work right now and have a client with a tight budget. My partner and I were looking for a long thin table to go behind their couch. With heights, colors, lengths, and prices to consider we just couldn't come up with what we wanted.

This vertical half door was raw wood and only $10 at an Architectural Reclaim Store. J called me and asked if I wanted it. With correct dimensions, it eventually would become our elusive table!

                             The raw wood door.                                  The raw wood table legs.

The table legs I wanted were not available in the store and, because of time constraints, I had to settle for these sleek and simple square legs instead. It ended up working out well as you will see in the pictures. As Tim Gun says, "Make it work!"


I stained the top and bottom with Ebony wood stain. I spray painted the table legs gloss black and the horizontal wood details gloss black as well. 

I then added silver brads (or upholstery tacks) to the front and sides for a little fun detail.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


A toolbox is my go to for a lot of my work. Each profession has a 'toolbox' of sorts... whether it is your breifcase, office drawer, camera bag, purse/manbag, or chef's knife set, there is something that holds the materials that you constantly go to. Lately I realized that my 'toolbox' (which happens to be a literal toolbox) was quite uninspiring. It was plastic and cheap, a plastic-y red color with plastic hinges. Quite sterile, really.

Plus it smelled like vomit.

Now, I know that is disgusting and I really am sorry I have to say it but it truly did. I have no idea why but I had it confirmed by friends multiple times. The similarity was disturbing and again, not inspiring!

So when I saw a great sturdy metal toolbox at a yard sale a few weeks ago, I knew it had to be mine. It was full of stories from projects done over the years, beaten and rusty but still in perfect working order. For a hefty price of $1 I took it home with me. I cleaned it thoroughly and sprayed the outside with Rust-o-lium to prevent further wear and tear. I want to get my name engraved on the area under the hand that looks like it was made exactly for that!

Then came the fun part. I taped up the outside and the inside black metal tray with painter's tape. Then I sprayed the inside with Watermelon-Pink Metal Spray Paint!

Now it holds a little bit of mystery with its own history and I constantly want to open it. THAT is inspiring. What is your toolbox?