Victorian tea party hat

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Just in case you ever need an absurdly tall hat to wear to a Victorian demented mime tea party.

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I made the animal head but I can see an upcycled version with a pre-existing stuffie.  Paint clings quite nicely to fabric and fake fur.  Use glue adhesive to secure to a painted cardboard base and decorate with frippery. Paste on a ribbon tie.

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meeting Miss Marple

I've just started reading my first Agatha Christie book.  I'm a bit embarrassed that I haven't read her before.  I'm such a fan of Doyle, Poe, and even true crime writers such as Max Haines, that it's a bit strange that I haven't actually made Miss Marple's acquaintance before now.  I did grow up in an atmosphere saturated with Perry Mason, Matlock, Murder She Wrote and always adorable, Columbo; maybe I just thought I already knew all there is to know about the whodunnit?

Then I a few days ago I discovered the Flavia du Luce series by Alan Bradley and my love of mysteries has been reignited. 

Although we just met, Miss Marple is already an old friend.  She's entirely familiar.  I've known her in the guise of so many characters that she has inspired. A chilly afternoon tea and cardigan pal.  I was only a couple pages into The Body in the Library when I started to wonder if it is possible to knit while reading?

I have a friend who assures me that you can indeed knit and read.  She does it all the time.  I wish I could ply my craft while reading but I suspect that serger use while engaged in reading is a short path to heartache and, maybe, a trip to the emergency room.  (Where I could read while I wait to have my finger reattached?)

What can I do while reading though?  I may have a slightly checkered past in which I could sometimes be accused of failing to appreciate the moment, my surroundings, other people, etc., because I've had my face in a book.  I feel no remorse. Often, the moment is overrated.  And now that the world has their faces buried in their smart phones, I am totally free to pull out my paperback and read a couple pages.  Social rules have been turned upside down and instead of complaining about the rudeness of people texting while visiting, I will simply use it to my advantage.

In the interest of full disclosure, I've complied a list of activities that I can think of off the top of my head that I've done while reading.  Perhaps you can share some of your reading friendly activities as well, so I can add them to my repertoire?

comforting distraught children
answering nature's call
showering (not with a library book, though)
being a passenger in planes, trains and automobiles
piloting an off-road vehicle
doing dishes
folding laundry
washing and subsequently blow drying hair
preparing meals

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Photo by girl child, who claims that this is often all that she ever sees of me.
(Just a little aside, check out the minimalist literary designs from Creative Daffodil on Etsy.  I love the Christie shirt.)


art and process

I was talking to my friend today about art and I made a flippant (whiny) comment about not having enough time for art these days.  Later on, driving back home, I was thinking about my comment and realize that I was completely off base.  As of late, there is little of my time that is not dedicated to utilitarian tasks, it's true.  But what I meant is that I don't really have time for craft.  There is always time for art.

I know that there is as many definitions of art as there is people, but I think most people can agree that art has at least two components, process and product.  Both of these components contain aesthetics and statement.

As a minimalist and a busy person (who has little income and even less to spare), I not so much into the product side of things.  I enjoy paintings, theatre, and all that lovely stuff, but consuming the art, the product, is an event for which requires time, money and focus that is rare at this stage in my life.  In my neck of the woods, attendees of art events and buyers are overly represented by the older population and it makes sense, since they are the ones with the key resources that makes the art go round: time and cash.

As for making the art product, a finished tangible item, well, I dabble a little.  It's actually one of my greater sources of guilt, feeling like I'm not spending enough time in creative pursues.  Even still, I try to avoid the word 'artist', for some ill-defined unease, but the lines between craft and art is always murky, and I've been accused of art often enough that I've grown familiar with the idea at least.

Whenever I start to feel bad about not producing enough art, I remind myself that process is just as important.  There is not a linear relationship or timeline from process to product.  Some days I'm all process.  Some years I'm all process.

This seems like a process year.

'Make the best with what you have' is an value I live with.  Perhaps this is a case of me extending this out to 'make the best art process with what you have'.  I may not have much time, but I have a list of things to do, and I'm going to do them thoughtfully, creatively, and, gods willing, provokingly.      

Art is embedded in life.  The trick is, to be aware of it.  Art, for me, is choice.  It's thoughtful, and deliberate choice that I make in what I do, how I think about the things I do with my time.  Aesthetics come in frequently, not really in arranging, but in appreciating the view, satisfaction I take in noticing small details of the world around me.  And sometimes arranging things just so.  And sometimes letting it go fly and noting the beautiful arc things make when they are temporarily unmoored from gravity.  Statements abound.   

The art in living may not produce a lot of product, or even something that is easily shared with others.  It's private, a dozen moments during the day when effort, values and aesthetics align.  Sometimes you can capture it (that's probably why Instagram is so popular), but more often there are few words to describe and it's forgotten almost as soon as it happens.  It's process.   

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Handmade cushions for Ikea stepping stool

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In my little kitchen, I've been making the poor childs sit on these terrible Ikea stools for years of meals.  In retaliation, the childs have done their best to dent, paint, stick and generally dirty up the stools to encourage me to get them something better.

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No such luck for them.  Our spot for our dining table remains tiny and the chairs remain functional, despite their efforts.

But, in an act of mercy, last weekend I made them a couple of cushions to tie onto their stools.

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They are made with a lightweight denim and some scraps for the patchwork.  It's just a basic foam cushion inside that I cut from a larger piece I've had among my sewing supplies forever.  The bottom has a couple of ties to secure it to the chair (can't give the childs anymore reasons to suddenly fall off their chairs during dinner) and the bottom has an overlapping flap that allows the cushion to be replaced or removed for washing.

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Square corners used the flummox me when I first started sewing.  It's gratifying to have them come together well now.  Everything is double seamed for strength.

Below is girl child, enjoying her enhanced seat (and also in her very first literary tee).

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Hope you enjoyed my little project.  Comments and questions welcome :)


reunion weekend

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Decoration Day at the cemetery is also our annual family reunion.  It has been as long as I can remember.  I imagine the original thought was efficiency.

You may notice the photos seem to be heavy on animals and light on actual (living) people that were presumably at this family reunion.  The reason is that animals do not shriek and throw their arms in front of their faces when you point a camera in their direction.  I am sparing you dozens of  photos of blurry hands.  Also, the animals do seem to outnumber the human beings somewhat.  (My mother seems to have become a minor god to all creatures canine or is bringing in, what girl child insisted on referring to, dogageddon.)  Not featured was also a blue heron that stopped by my grandparent's small pond that evaded my photographic capture, much to my regret.