April 30, 2010

a case for pastels

I am usually one to choose "bright" over "pastel" any day but these two photos make a good argument for the merits of softer colors. I found them while digging up my red poppy photos.

A pink poppy – not too common in my experience.

Lake Michigan – my favorite place.

April 29, 2010

for the love of poppies

You already saw me gush about the fabric that I then purchased for my kitchen makeover.

Here are some other bits and pieces from my inspiration clothesline.

I am thinking about illustrating some poppies, bold and simple shapes, and having them printed as vinyl that I can then adhere to the tiles on my backsplash. They're already painted over so I can't hurt them.

April 28, 2010

for the love of dogwoods

The poppy fabric made me fall in love but the sibling dogwood fabric captured my heart as well:

Our own pink dogwood is in bloom right now:

And one of my inherited aprons features dogwoods too:

Lovely! I will have to keep my eyes peeled for other vintage fabrics next time I am out antiquing!

April 27, 2010

Antique aprons as art

These were hand-made by my great-grandmother. Thankfully, I did have the opportunity to know and love her as a child. She was past her sewing crafty days when I knew her but I feel lucky to have inherited some of her handmade treasures. Here's a few that made themselves at home!

Love the sassy black and red polka dots!

A girly one featuring dogwood blossoms – how fitting!

April 26, 2010

The beauty of delegation

Once upon a vacation I found a smooth bit of seashell with a perfect hole through the top. "Perfect for a necklace!" I thought to myself. And one lunch hour after the vacation I even attempted to buy the appropriate supplies for making such a necklace. But I wasn't exactly happy with the string and then I used the metal loop to repair a different piece of jewelry and the little seashell sadly sat in a plastic bag, waiting.

Fast forward four years. One of my co-workers does lovely beadwork. And one day I think to ask her if she might make a necklace for me. She says yes. A few weeks later, this lovely piece of art is born. I love it so much that I wear it the very next day!

April 23, 2010

baby leaves

Go outside and find a tree. Take a moment to admire the tender new baby leaves unfurling. They're teeny tiny versions of the ones that provide shade in the summer and blaze gloriously in the fall. I bet you already knew that leaves started out small. I suppose I did too. But just recently did I really notice the miniature leaves sprouting from our oak. Lovely! Amazing!

April 22, 2010

color palette for front garden

My front garden has always been a bit of a mis-mash. The previous owners left it without much design direction and I lazily allowed hostas to take it over and tossed in a new plant here and there. The best contributions I have made are a bleeding heart, which is flourishing, and some trilliums, which I love seeing in the spring. One shrub and two plants is hardly a vision though!

Inspired by an as-yet-to-be-spent gift certificate and a fresh color palette, I am working up a plan. To help me visualize my direction or at least the colors of choice, I have put together an "inspiration board" with images from magazines. I want to refresh our shutters and front doors by painting them a deep plum. Along with the plum, I envision some lime green-yellow with highlights of magenta and white. The magenta is mostly because I like it. The white is for contrast with dark purple foliage and flowers and to tie in the trim of the house.

Some day this summer I hope to thrill you with some "before" and "in progress" shots. The "after" won't really happen for a year or two when things get established. Meanwhile, let me know if you're interested in any hostas!

April 21, 2010

And another one!

From the same book I mentioned yesterday. I told you I liked it. This is also a quote of a quote of a quote.

Nelson Mandela, world leader and anti-apartheid activist, quoted author and speaker Marianne Williamson from her book, A Return to Love:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate,
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It it our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous–
Actually, who are you not to be?

You are a child of God.
Your playing small doesn't serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God within us.
It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone,
And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.

April 20, 2010

A quote!

I am in a Creating Leadership class at work. One of our assignments was to read The Art of Possibility by Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander. Many people in class were put off by the authors' style and the fact that most of the stories and examples were from their own lives. I loved the ideas presented by the book and feel like I could read it again to better absorb and apply them. In a nutshell, the book is presenting an alternative way to look at the world, to see possibilities instead of limitations.

This quote was in the book and it is actually a quote from another book. But I really like it and it encompasses one of the reasons I ventured out into the blog world. So I wanted to share it with you, faithful readers:

There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.
–Martha Graham, quotes by Agnes DeMille, Martha: The Life and Work of Martha Graham

April 19, 2010

Michigan – Land of Riches

There's a new and strange art show in town: Michigan – Land of Riches. Exhibits and specimens left frozen in museum limbo at the old Public Museum were handed over to artists to use as they wished. Some of the works are simply beautiful arrangements of old objects. Others mix and match available objects in unexpected. Still others seem to have been created elsewhere and imported into the space for display. The mix is fascinating and the sheer amount of art to be seen is impressive.

I went Friday night during the Art. Downtown. event and the exhibit's opening. Needless to say, the place was packed. My family was with me as well. My toddler daughter was at turns mystified and fascinated. My scientist husband tolerated the strangeness well. I am going to have to go back because we only managed to do the first floor and perhaps a quarter of the second floor. I think I'll be able to absorb it better with less people around.

The thing that inspires me the most? It's all this big crazy experiment. Why not use this old building and old stuff in a new way?

April 16, 2010

Earth week poster

Every year the main color is green. I try to do something different with the pattern or background. One year it was a map. The next year it was small leafy branches on the outside and oversized leaf shapes on the inside. This year, I chose to add in water drops on blue as the contrasting pattern because so many of our events have a water theme.

Since the raindrops were done in a very structured, geometric way, I edited the leaf pattern to also march in tidy rows. In this way, the two patterns "belong" together.

April 15, 2010

Stamp joy!

I get great pleasure out of walking to the post office and choosing from among the very cool postage stamp designs. Most recently the post office chore fell to my dear husband. However, he came home with these beauties and I couldn't be more pleased. Sometimes I hate to even use them!
This one is my favorite. I need to find out more about this artist. Or finally get around to taking the modern art history class that I ran out of time for in college. Maybe I can find a prof who podcasts her lectures?

April 14, 2010


As some of you know, I went on a retreat this past weekend. It is not, of course, entirely necessary to travel 6 hours to Wisconsin and join up with some fabulous Puerto Rican women to hear from God. But for me, it was indeed helpful. I love my daily roles as wife, mommy, and employee but there is something liberating about separating myself from those titles and examining exactly who I am and who I might be in the process of becoming.

April 13, 2010

book: Art Making & Studio Spaces

Art Making & Studio Spaces
by Lynne Perrella

This one called out to me from the New Books section last week. It's loaded with full page photos and detail shots of a wide range of artists. Lots of clutter. Lots of supplies. Lots of bits and projects in process. I am not alone in gathering my bits and pieces! Soak it up, drink it in, be inspired.

April 12, 2010

something fun

I get to design buttons at work. Then other people use the button making machine and we all get wearable art. These crops for mini-buttons are either photos I took, a peek of a poster I've designed, or a treasure from the Library's archives.

April 9, 2010

Easter basket!

Basket & napkins: thrifted treasures
Easter grass: fabric scraps!
Eggs: basic dye (perhaps more creativity next year)

April 8, 2010

Calder Jewelry

During my lunch hour yesterday I ventured to the Grand Rapids Art Museum to take a peek at the Calder Jewelry exhibit. I loved it! The jewelry was fantastic and unique, unlike anything I had ever seen before, and there was more of it than I expected.

Calder was imaginative and his style playful. His designs are not constrained by convention and expectation. Necklace pour down chests, drape over shoulders, and twirl across collarbones. Oversized brooches take on many forms – abstract shapes bloom and creatures leap. A crown of leaves, a hat of woven wire, and earrings that move with the breeze, miniature sculptures in their own right, all shining within simple black display cases.

This necklace is called jealous husband! All the lovely, feminine loops in contrast to the dangling spikes protruding from the shoulders.

The pieces are made of found materials or basic metals, rarely gold or silver. Many of them feature spirals and swirls. And why not? If you like a shape or a pattern or a color, then why not use it?

I was also touched by the fact that almost all of his jewelry was created as gifts. Most of them were for his wife for birthdays or anniversaries. They had this image on the wall, of her dressing table, with jewelry form her husband arranged as if on exhibit. That in itself is inspiring. How many of us own beautiful things – jewelry, shawls, shoes, dresses and so on – that are tucked into drawers and closets. Why not display the objects as art?

There's only one week left to catch this exhibit here in Grand Rapids. I scoured the web for a few links so you can enjoy some images:
Images from the Metropolitan Museum of Art
National Public Radio story
Video of the exhibit being installed

April 7, 2010

Cucake conundrum

So I wanted to top the birthday cupcakes with something cute. Bright butterflies or festive flowers or some such thing. Do you think the bakery aisle offered anything other than crusty pastel roses? No. So I perused etsy.com and saw that many crafters out there have made their very own cupcake toppers (See? The item I desire even has an official name!).

Then the thought came to me: I'll just make my own! We've got toothpicks and heaven knows I've got craft supplies!

1. Paper punch
A cool UICA poster I saved from Library bulletin board discards.

2. Teeny tents
I learned the ways of x-acto knives and self-healing mats while in school for graphic design. Now they're crafting buddies!

3. Spray adhesive
Another graphic design friend. Yes, this was in the dark in the driveway. I had to keep moving to keep the motion sensor light on. When you've got an idea and a deadline you don't always wait!

4. Hot glue
Basic assembly with toothpicks.

5. Tah-dah!

April 6, 2010

Garlands revealed!

6 yards stretched across the living room wall nicely.
Next year I think I'll add another in here for a fun circus tent effect!

April 1, 2010

my own quilt

I had a fabulous college roomie who made me the best wedding a gift: a quilt I designed and picked out fabric for and that she spent many hours assembling (amidst her grandmother's comments "That's not a real quilt"). Poor sweetie!

I do adore it though and it really "makes" my room. The paint color and the paper lanterns hanging from the ceiling are all inspired by the quilt itself.

Here's the original inspiration, a painting by Kandinsky (simply a color study he did!)

Here's the only in-progress photo I seem to have, on the dorm room floor:

And here it is today, still bright and colorful: