Normal is So Overrated

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Quite sadly, my last bike was stolen right out of my yard while filling our moving van.  It wasn’t the greatest bike, but it was still my bike.

Very kindly, my mother-in-law offered up her old bike.  It’s a gray old Mongoose.  Nothing fancy, yet quite functional.

I’m at the point in my life, where I really don’t want a fancy car (that can be broken into), I don’t want an expensive bike (that can be stolen right out of my yard), nor do I want precious materials throughout my home (that would make me lose sleep and want to buy an alarm system).

I simply want comfy things and well thought-out pieces that I can enjoy every day. And yet, if they were no longer in my life, it wouldn’t  cause me any angst. In fact, it would bring me joy because then I’d have a reason to hunt for a new well worn-out treasure!

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My little girl thought it would be a great idea to take those new duct tapes on the market and decorate what she has termed my ” ugly bike”.

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She just so happens to have a not-so-normal mother who thought this was a flipping splendid idea!

We duct-taped my bike.  It now looks like Pee-Wee Herman’s flower garden and I simply love it.

If it gets worn-out, I’ll pick new tape and if someone tries to steal it, well good luck riding this bike through town.

I think we all shall know who it belongs to!

http://www.becreativemary.com

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DAY # 364 – BUTTONED UP

 

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I spent Day 364 home sick in bed.  Well actually, I did go to the doctor to get antibiotics for my mangled throat and then I got in bed and slept – a lot.  It’s funny, this is what I envisioned doing on January 2nd – minus the sore throat and ear ache!  I guess I’ll have to find something else to do now on January 2nd – Like be healthy!

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I tried to figure out what I could do from bed today in between resting.  I have this giant box of buttons just begging to be played with, so I pulled it out.

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First I went through and picked my favorites and then I had to figure out what I wanted to do with them.

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I have these gold-plated bangles with an empty bezel in the center.  I use to fill them with polymer clay designs and sell them to gift shops.  They just happen to be the perfect shape for vintage buttons.  I assembled different combinations of buttons and then wired them to the bangles.

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Next I made myself a necklace.  I tried to make the necklace symmetrical in design yet each button is different.  I love that look.  I’m definitely not matchy-matchy. I guess you could call me mixy-matchy!

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Of course my daughter popped in to see what I was up to and had to join in on the fun.  She found the wiring a bit difficult, but as usual, she’s always keeping up with her mom! Her necklace looked great.

So although my head is pounding, and my ears ache, I still made time to be creative. Tomorrow, when I’m feeling better and I’m on my last day of my 365 Challenge, I will now have something fun to wear.

OK. Off to take my evening dose of amoxicillin.  Tomorrow I have something fun planned, so I better rest up!

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DAY #363 – THANK YOUS

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The Walsh Clan is going down in a ball of fury!  First my son, then my husband…now me.

My throat hurts, my body aches and I just want to spend the rest of the week in bed.

I was so proud of myself for staying healthy during the Christmas season.  Stress always gets me sick over the holidays and I thought tanking up on vitamin C was going to see me through.  However our house has been full and sharing a bed with two sicklings was more than my body could take.

Did that stop me from trudging on with my creative 365?  Nooooo.

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South County Art Supply had given me this rubber stamp block for carving.  It’s super soft as opposed to carving in linoleum which is hard. I thought the size seemed perfect for creating thank you cards. Don’t we all have someone to thank this time of year?

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Let’s just say I figured out how to use the material after I was through with it! Meaning, these didn’t come out all too well because I was learning along the way.

This is what I learned:

First, when creating a design, you really must consider the spacing between objects.  I didn’t leave enough and lost most of my design, especially the lettering.  Second, I started carving with an Exact-o Knife which was not the correct tool for this rubber block.  The Exact-o Knife stabbed too deep, did not make uniform marks and made the rubber stamp crumble.

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Half way through the process I figured this out and pulled out my Speed Ball linoleum carving tools.  THEY WORKED PERFECTLY. Unfortunately I didn’t have any large rubber blocks left to apply what I learned!

I had a smaller block which I only used the carving tools with. See how the lines are a lot cleaner.

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It’s really not my favorite activity to try something, mess up and have to post it on the world-wide web, but hey I’m honest, I should at least get points for that!

If I were to try this again, I would spend way more time on a well conceived design and I’d only use carving tools. I could see using this technique for only one large object per block. Maybe a bird, sunflower or I thought of doing a flying pig!

Of course my daughter wants to try this now.  So we will be picking her up a rubber block to create what else? None other than a platypus!

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OK.  My back is killing me, my glands are soar…I’m crawling into bed now… :(

Two more days…two more days until I take a long winter’s nap! I desperately need one!

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DAY #349 – GHOSTS OF CHRISTMAS PAST

 

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Here lie the ghosts of Christmases past.

I had this funny idea to make a wreath out of all those little toys you find on the stairs, under the bed,  and tucked in the car seat. It’s an homage to the bane of every mothers existence, crap toys! 

I have to say, I did have to ask my girlfriend for some of the junk off of her floor because as I began to create this wreath, my children began shrieking in protest! “I need that” “this one is my favorite” “that has sentimental value” –yeah right I say!  It’s the reason us moms have to dispose of this stuff when the kids are not around.  The old motto “out of sight, out of mind” is so true! My kids didn’t even know they had it until they see it again.

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To create the wreath I cut a circle with a hole out of a recycled cardboard box.  I then took six paper bowls and hot-glued them on to the cardboard.

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Now I had a steady base for compiling my toy wreath.

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Again, if you are a parent there is no short supply of toys.  I swear I didn’t even buy these.  How do my kids get them?  How do they multiply?  It’s like magic…or a curse!

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I started with the biggest toys and the stuffies.  They were the first to be glued into the bowls. From there I hot-glued in my favorites, meaning the toys I wanted most visible and then finally I glued in the smallest/filler toys.

Now my kids don’t have to cry because Mommy threw all their toys away.  For one month a year they will be able to revisit them!

Silly huh?

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Here are my Keith Haring gingerbread men.  Sorry they aren’t super creative.  I simply didn’t see the point since two minutes after baking I had already bitten off their heads!  My kids stuck all their left over Halloween candy on their gingerbread men.  Let’s just say after all the chocolate melted, they weren’t exactly photo worthy.  But a Kit-Kat to the head couldn’t have been such a bad way to go!

It’s 11pm and as usual everyone is already tucked in as visions of sugar plums dance through their heads. Visions of sugar plums or running gingerbread men?

Hmm.  Not sure. All I know is I’m ready to join them!

Nighty night!

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#341- WE GOT CARDED

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Today the Walsh Clan was positively elfie.

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We got up bright and early and started working on our Christmas cards.

At 9am we enjoyed some breakfast and then all gathered in the living room to watch our all time favorite Christmas movie, “The Muppet Christmas Carol.”  It just wouldn’t be the holiday without it.  We sang our hearts out, laughed a lot and finished decorating our Christmas tree.  By the time we were done, there wasn’t a square inch of tree exposed.  We covered every inch!

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My daughter had two different show times today for “The Dickens’ Christmas Carol” play that she is performing in – 2 and 8pm. This left us juggling most of the afternoon and evening.

Let’s just say 10pm was when I finally got to return to our “creative venture” of the day.

I’m pretty sure I just glued and trimmed over 50 Christmas cards. I’m pooped!

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Earlier today I bought a 50 pack of recycled cardstock and envelopes, 5×7″.

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My daughter’s cards are the red ones.  They win the prize for most fun, most colorful and most graphic punch.  I should have taken a lesson out of her book!

My son’s cards are the soft blue and copper cards.  They have a mystical tranquil feeling.  Sort of like the strange barometric pressure we encounter right before it snows.

My cards are a hodge-podge of styles.  I decorated the cards here and there throughout the day.  I wish I hadn’t felt so rushed.

All said, there are some sweet cards among the pile.  I love reinforcing the notion of handmade gifts with my kids.  In a world filled with mass-production and low quality, it is great to emphasize one-of-a-kind and from the heart. I think all of us can appreciate the time and thought that go into receiving something made by hand. It’s teaching my kids to care.

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DAY # 340 – THE CHRISTMAS SWEATSHOP

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No school today.

It was a personal development day for the teachers.  Boy were my kids psyched!

A day off in December, what on earth could we do?

We decided to deck the halls some more and get into the Christmas spirit.

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Charley our Elf on a Shelf has come to the house.  Today he was hanging in the hall way.

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Way more important than the big green one is our gum drop tree!  It’s one of our favorite traditions.  Every kid that comes to visit heads right to the gum drop tree.  Who am I kidding, the adults do too!

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We are one of those faux tree families.  I just can’t see chopping down trees and throwing them out 3 weeks later.  I’ve had the same tree for over a decade and in this way I sort of feel like it fits my reuse/recycle motto.  My 9-year-old loves building the tree.  She thinks it’s the coolest puzzle ever.  She wanted to do it all by herself this year. She is getting so big and so very independent.

After the tree was set up, we turned on some Christmas music and pulled out all the paints and paper.  It’s time to make Christmas cards!

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My youngest is a tactile abstract kind of kid.  He likes the act of creating texture, smoothing with the brayer and stamping. So I gave him a giant sheet of paper and let him play.  My idea is to chop them up into small 4×6″ pieces and then glue them to pretty card stock.  We got the art made today, card assembly will have to be another day.

My daughter decided to create her own stamps.  She made a tree, snowman, Santa hat, reindeer and mitten.  We got the foundations done today.  Another day she will add details with paint markers.

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For my Christmas cards I sort of went the same way as my son.  I used the brayer to mix paints and create a textured foundation.  I then took some of my handmade stamps and created little vignettes.  Mostly trees and snow.  I plan on cutting up my great big sheet into card sized pieces and then I plan on drawing in birds, kids, and winter scenes. We used this copper paint today.  It looks like a fiery sunset.  I love it.

It was a blessing to have my kids home today.  We all needed some rest and a nice solid block of time to reconnect.

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I fully understand just how quickly it goes and I simply adore days like these.

I am thankful.

http://www.becreativemary.com

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DAY #333 – CHRISTMAS ALREADY?

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Thanks to our failed state of capitalism in America, I have been averting Christmas music since Halloween!

With children, this is hard to do. They’ve been waiting all year for Christmas.

My rule is NO CHRISTMAS UNTIL AFTER THANKSGIVING! I’m old-school like that.

Well, today was the first official day “After Thanksgiving”.

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Now I’m not exactly sure who is worse, my stepmother or the kids, but by noon the tree was decorated, cocoa had been consumed and Christmas carols had been sung.

The floodgates have officially been opened!

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By 2pm, our “Meme” had started a girls verse boys gingerbread house decorating contest.  There is nothing worse than competitive adults.  There were secrets, strategies, hidden materials…and collapsing gingerbread houses, but as soon as the icing set up, we were good to go!

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The girls house…

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and the boys house…

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Of course the trick is not to eat from under your foundation, but luckily there were left-overs.

I’d say the cousins had an awesome day. They were absolutely tuckered out.  I have to thank my Christmas-crazed stepmother.  She has definitely started a new family tradition!

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If that wasn’t enough, I had to try to get a little of my driftwood sculpture series done today as well.

I got half-way through my little folk-art dog, but then my youngest begged me to snuggle him to sleep.

I don’t know about you, but I couldn’t think of a better way to end my day.

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DAY # 332 – THE EARLY BIRD

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Happy Thanksgiving!

The Holiday season has officially begun!

I have to say I am feeling incredibly unorganized. I feel like I should have created a token piece of turkey art today, but that would have required at least three days of planning.  Three days ago I was trying to figure out what I was going to make three days ago, so if you catch the trend, you’d know I’m barely hanging on!

I decided to keep going with what I’ve been working on this week.  Today was one of my favorites, a really twisted couple pieces of driftwood I found.

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I just marvel at mother nature.  Can you believe I found a piece of wood with such a perfect bird face?  The wings are separate, yet they seem like they could have come from the same tree.  Not so. I found the wood at two different beaches.

I nailed the pieces together the other day and today I decided to paint it as well as create a pedestal with a dowel to suspend my bird in the air.

I had to be at my family’s house for noon which meant in order to create something for today I needed to be an “early bird”.  Get it? That’s how I came up with my name for today.

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I had to pack my kids luggage for the next few days, prep some appetizers for Turkey Day and then pack up some art supplies to travel with for the next few days.

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This was the other bummer.  All the appetizers came out and I was stuck on the floor in the naughty corner working on my art for today. It’s really hard to stuff your face and paint ya know.  Don’t you worry though, some how I managed!

I have to thank my family for this year.  They are such troopers.  I’m always off in the corner doing my own thing and they step up.  They help with whatever I would have been doing if I wasn’t making art and cheer me on at the same time.  I can’t tell you how many family members sternly looked at me at 8pm tonight and asked if I had gotten my blog done yet!  This 365 challenge has not only impacted my life thus far, but also EVERYONE around me.  Especially my husband.  Man I don’t even know where to start.  When they say 99% of your life’s happiness depends on who you marry, I constantly pinch myself that I could have been so lucky.  Thank you husband.  Then there’s those kiddos of mine.  I don’t think they even remember mom before this year.  Mom didn’t volunteer at school as much this year, she missed a lot of field trips,  her afternoons were generally spent finishing up some crazy project, she wound up on the computer every evening and I’m sure she has come off just a little bit crazy, tired and unorganized.

The truth is, I can’t do it all.  If you are 100% committed to one area of your life, then the other areas of your life take a hit. However, I did stay home with my little cherubs for the past eight years and all my creative juices went directly to them.  So, we’ll say by the end of this year -we’re even!  I do need to thank them.  They go with the flow, they roll with the punches and still show nothing but love.

The upcoming year will be spent trying to find a true balance.  I need to find an outlet for creativity, yet honor my family and other areas of my life just as equally.  I’m pretty sure this is a struggle for most of humanity.  I know I’m not alone. It’s so very important though.

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I leave you this evening hoping you all enjoyed your Thanksgiving, family and friends.  Today is a great day to take stock of your life, figure out who needs to be thanked and what there is to be thankful for.

I hope you feel as blessed as I do.  I really do!

http://www.becreativemary.com

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DAY #331 – WILD GOOSE CHASER

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I finished my “Wild Goose” sculpture made from driftwood found at the beaches here in Rhode Island.

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This is how the raw pieces of driftwood looked.  When I found that top piece of driftwood on the beach and I saw the natural eyes that could be created from the wood knots, I instantly thought bird head.  I just love creating things out of what you find.  It reminds me of looking for images in the clouds.  If you stare long enough, things begin to emerge.

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This is as far as I got the other day.  Today I decided to add a back fin or a hump.  I also added color to the head and details to the feather patterns. I also began to paint four lengths of driftwood in black and white stripes.  I was going to make legs for my creature.  It then occurred to me that geese have two legs not four.  Two would not balance this heavy wood structure, so I abandoned the idea.  It has been good and windy the past two days.  I am going to try again to head down to the beach and see if I can find suitable legs.  I think black and white striped legs would be a fun addition.

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For now my silly goose is hanging with some of my black and white decor in the living room.  It’s cool painting your own sculptures.  Magically they tie in to my personal style.  Fancy that!

Tomorrow’s Thanksgiving.  I will be hanging with my family and playing with my niece, nephew and our kids.  We usually have a game of capture the flag and assassin (you murder people throughout the day with a wink or handshake, if you’re killed you need to drop to the ground and act out a dramatic death, then everyone has to figure out who is the assassin). I know. I know. It doesn’t sound all that festive and Thanksgiving-y, but the kids love it, so thus it shall be our family tradition!

I have a bit of traveling to do over the Thanksgiving weekend and Christmas holiday.  I only have 36 days left to my creativity challenge, but the upcoming month may be the most difficult yet!  It’s a super busy time of year.  The only way I have figured out how to make it through the past 331 days is not to worry about tomorrow.  So that’s my plan.  36 days of not worrying about it.  On days I have time I will push myself as far as I can go.  On days where I spend 5 hours in the car with whining children, I shall go easy on myself.  Either way, creative opportunities always seem to present themselves.  The unexpected always seems to go better than the over-planned. 

It shall work itself out.

After this I have a whole new something to worry about…what do I do when I’m done?

The answer is I have no idea.  I’m hoping my near future will unfold in some perfect design.  I hope this, because I really don’t know what comes next.  It’s been nice knowing my objective for a year now.  I’ve always felt like I don’t know what I’m doing.  It’s never very concrete. This challenge was a great way to put a label on my life.  To have some way to answer when people ask what I’m up to. I’m done though.  It’s served its purpose and run its course.  It’s time for me to reassess and pick another direction or simply rest.

Rest. Now that sounds very good :)

Happy Thanksgiving everybody!

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Day #330 – TOO BROWN FOR ME

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Would you use these mugs in your home?  Many people I know have kitchens that would tie in with this nice warm earthy color palette. Unfortunately, my house isn’t one of them. I don’t own a lick of brown!

I was kind of bummed when I got my pieces back today because I didn’t apply any brown glazes yet that’s all I got.

I was expecting most of these pieces to have a Chartreuse green crackle glaze and to be bright and cheery.

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This mug was supposed to be a pink-purple color on top with yellow-green crackle throughout.

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This one was supposed to be yellow-green on top.

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All three of these were supposed to be a bright yellow-green and instead, I got brown. The Chartreuse crackle glaze didn’t work.  On all of my pieces it either turned clear or brown.  The glaze is new to the studio and it hadn’t been tested yet. I guess we can call my pieces the testers and guess what, the test failed.

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These two mugs came out as expected.  They are fun, playful and colorful.

You do realize that when I complain, this would be like a 1 out of 10 on the importance-meter.  Meaning – not at all important. It’s simply a self-critique. They still will hold coffee and I still had a great time making them.  It’s just when you build your expectations up high, you have a vision in your head of one thing and then the reality is way off, you can feel a bit down.

What do you do when you feel beaten? When you feel like a pottery failure??

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You make more pots!

I was so angry, I took that frustration and began the process of making more mugs. I learned a lot from this previous batch. The hand-built upper walls of these past mugs were an idea to fix a mistake.  I like the look so much I am going to try it again and they are going to be straighter and fastened smoother. I have some ideas on using under glazes to gain better control over the color outcome too. I will get this right I tell you!

This will be my third attempt this year to get “the mug” perfected. I think my poor husband has seen at least twelve mugs come in and around twelve mugs move out.  I keep giving them away before my latest attempts come out of the kiln.

I promise hubby I will keep this batch of mugs until the new ones are finished.  But as God is my witness, I vow to continue the mission, the mission to create THE PERFECT MUG!

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