Sunday, October 16, 2011

Let It Out, Yes?

See this?

This is what remains of three Value Village t-shirts which have recently undergone an upcycling adventure to become two darling skirts for my sister. Now, before you start thinking what a wonderful baby sister I am, I must admit: she bribed/bartered with me for these skirts using (mmmmm!) homemade applesauce. The kind with chunks, not super-pureed. Just how I like it. Yes, a lot of love went into these two skirts in anticipation of the applesauce. This is why bribery by siblings works - they know your weaknesses!

So I am running into a problem which I'm sure is common for many of you - I have SO MANY ideas(!!!) and not enough "free" time to actually carry them out.'s important, you know? To take these things out of your brain and put them into the world, to take the time off from everything that *has* to be done and to create just for the sake of creating. Necessary? No. The world will keep spinning without creation and art. I'm just not sure that I'd want to be part of that world.

What have y'all been working on lately?

Friday, October 14, 2011

A Surprise Trip to Tacoma

So the trip to Colorado was amazing, but the trip home was pretty rough. I realized, before we even boarded the plan in DIA, that I HAD to see my boys. Luckily, my schedule was flexible enough this week that I could take Monday and Tuesday off work - especially good since I worked 52 hours last week and really needed some extra rest time! Of course, one must always go through the dark in order to get to the light. In my case, this meant 21 hours from getting up in Fort Collins Sunday morning until finally pulling up in front of the house in Tacoma at nearly 3 am Monday morning. The last 3 hours were especially exciting, involving driving through fog from Portland to Tacoma with the windows open, music blasting, and eating ice cream in an attempt to stay awake. I can't even remember the last time I've seen fog, let alone driven in it!

It was all worth it, though, when my mother-in-law woke me up around 10 am Monday so I could join my special little guy for lunch at his school for the very first time this year. On the way out of the house, I had to stop and admire his "Mini Me" from Open House, who found a permanent home on the room of his door.

Cute, right? I was pleased to find that school lunches have improved a LOT since my elementary school days, and then enjoyed joining Monkey's first grade class for a lesson on sight words and a trip to the library. Have I mentioned that Monkey is now attending the same elementary school my husband went to? You know that's adorable! I got some work done Monday afternoon and then, when both the boys got home, we enjoyed a big spaghetti dinner (courtesy of my ridiculously talented mother-in-law) and a rather over-competitive game of Monopoly. We made it a whole hour before we all got bored with it!

Then there was the matter, of course, of a certain little lady who I like to call my very best friend in the whole entire world. Aaah, Tay! We met in college, she was one of my housemates senior year, moved out to Virginia with me when I was starting grad school - and just HAPPENED to meet the love of HER life at that same university! - and is one of my few friends who has lived in as many states as I have in the past 12 years. The only downside to our combined wanderlust? Tay and her wonderful hubby are now living in Honolulu, so we don't get to see each other all that often. In fast, the last time we saw each other in person was at their wedding, in summer 2007. Let's have a visual flashback, shall we? And yes, my hair was slightly orange ;-)

I got a call the week before that Tay was flying to the mainland to visit her parents but - alas! - she flew into SeaTac the day AFTER I flew to Denver. Luckily, her visit was long enough that we could schedule a morning together on on Tuesday before I had to drive back to Portland. So I decided to finally devirginize Tay's toes - yay! Pedicures! We went to the best little nail salon in Tacoma and, coincidentally, the same place where my darling husband devirginized my own toes nearly a decade ago. Of course we had to be nerdy and take pictures to mark the occasion. First, Tay looking lovely and not nearly as nervous as I was my first visit here:

...and then me, with my legs that I'm only realizing now are kind of scary white. Man, I guess I really did depend on that Texas sun to keep me from turning vampire-esque!

The nail ladies were getting annoyed that it took us so long to pick colors, I think. Tay settled on a dusty rose-ish pink, very girly, very her :-)

I've had gray toenails for the last month (I know, so stylish, right?) and was going to try the olive green, but was advised against it as "too much like gangrene" by my darling friend. Instead, I settle on my old faithful - dark red. Call me crazy, but I always try to get a dark or bright oclor when I go for a pedicure, like something I wouldn't be able to put on neatly myself at home, you know?

We quite literally can (and have) talked for hours. One thing we agreed on that really stuck with me, though, was this: We haven't seen each other in person for four years and yet, when we are together, it feels like we see each other every day. That, my friend, is true love. I love you, Tay :-*

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Old, Angry Guitar ---> POOF! ---> New, Happy Clock

Okay, so, confession time: While I am a board-certified music therapist and dance instructor by name, I have a strong wannabe complex when it comes to visual arts. I would never call myself an artist, but I somehow feel more...alive when something evolves in my hands. Sewing, painting, quilting, baking, collage, graphic name it, I'll try it. Not that things always go smoothly - remember when I sewed my finger last Spring? Ouch. Seriously, ouch. But less than a week later, I was back behind the wheel (of my sewing machine) and ready to create again. Major crafty nerdiness, right here, people!

The seed for this particular project was planted back in June via this picture I found on Pinterest. Gorgeous, right? But where to get guitars no longer
worthy of playing but totally worthy of upcycling? [Sidenote: Aah! First non-clothing upcycle project! Exciting :-D] I kept my eyes open on Freecycle and Craig's List for the next few weeks, scouring the 'burbs of DFW for an old, angry guitar, but came up empty-handed. Huh, I thought. Guess I'll have to wait for this project. And I shelved the idea (pun somewhat intended) and moved on to other things, like, ooooh, I don't know, being offered and accepting a new job, packing up the entire family and moving 2,000 miles back to the Pacific Northwest? Yeah, that pretty much kept my mind off my crafting guitar-less status.

So imagine my surprise when, several weeks ago, my amazing boss asked me to oversee the inspection of five old guitars with a repairman, hoping that two of them would be worth fixing up to be used as spares in our clinic. Hmmm...whatever shall we do with the three others? I wondered out loud. Trade-in, donate, recycle...yes! Recycle! I'm in! After getting the go ahead from my boss, I called my Dad and informed him, "Power up the power tools!" Yes, I totally said that out loud. I'm nerdy like that :-D

So here's the old, angry guitar on our kitchen counter, waiting to be loved on... well as a display of the tools of the guitar-upcycling trade - clock mechanism kit, AA battery, strong wooden ruler, and a box cutter. Fancy, yes?

So first I removed the broken strings

Looking pretty naked without the strings, huh?

That's me, loosening the bridge with a butter knife. Oh yeah, we keep it high-tech at our house!

Then Dad flipped over the guitar...

...I marked a rectangle in Sharpies (key for removing the screws holding in the bridge and installing the clock mechanism)...
...and Dad drilled some lead holes.

Several slices across the varnish to cut out a rectangle...this looked like so much fun, I totally swiped the boxcutter from Dad pretty much as soon as I put the camera down, hee hee!

Ooooh, aaaah! Like a tiny door into the music-making magic ;-)

So then it was time to deal with the ugly, varnish-less mark where the bridge used to be...

I'm not gonna lie, using the power-sander was super-fun, but a little hard to control. I ended up going with the old school hand-sanding method. Exciting, I know ;-)

First coat of paint on...

...and after the second coat, we have a golden guitar, courtesy of Martha Stewart Crafts Multi-Surface Metallic Acrylic Craft Paint in "Copper"

Golden guitar, freshly varnished...still a little gooey, though

I wanted to come up with something pretty and guitar-ey to accent the numbers. I nosed around and found some origami paper within the boxes of still-unpacked office supplies, borrowed a guitar pick from my Dad to trace, grabbed some scissors and, voila! Paper "guitar picks" - colorful and free!

Glue sticks are so useful for things like 1st grade art collages and attaching paper accents to guitars...

Clock mechanism installed, guitar picks attached...
...numbers attached...
...and another coat of varnish for like-new guitar clock shine!

Next, it was time for test placement for the flourishes
...yup, even up on the fingerboard!
The flourishes seemed a little...stark, so they got a fresh coat of Martha Stewart Crafts Multi-Surface Metallic Acrylic Craft Paint in "Rust" to make them blend in a little more

Finally! It's done! (and my room needs to be cleaned, clearly)
So here's the final product, mounted above the door of one of our offices. Have I mentioned that we are housed in a building that's about a century old? Sooo Portland vintage!
Here's a pic to give you a little more perspective. Nice, right? Okay, so maybe pretend that the white cabinet has been cleaned out and the little CD stand isn't actually there...
The view from below...those extra nails will be removed once I figure out a better way to attach the neck of the guitar to the wall...any ideas?
Oooh, did I mention the best part? There are still two guitars patiently waiting to be upcycled - stay tuned for Parts 2 & 3 of this upcycling adventure!