I think about my footprint on the environment pretty often. I know there's a lot more that I can do...my vehicle is reasonably fuel efficient but not as much as I'd like and I don't always think about reducing my consumption of things, like strategic bulk purchasing to reduce packaging and being focused on buying more products from local or close to home sources. Having confessed those sins up front, I can also say that I'm very good recycling and composting...almost nothing from my house goes to the landfill, I became vegetarian several years ago as my way of helping to reduce the impact of industrial farm animal production, and I love little more than figuring out how to reuse or reinvent something in a creative way. So. much. fun.
Here are a few of my favorites...
This is my (no longer working) dining room fireplace hearth and mantle facing. The marble tile that I laid years ago had started to crumble, so I decided to gather tiles that I already had and purchase a few more from SmART*--an art reuse supply store in Nashville that sells only donated materials that would likely otherwise be thrown away. The wood came from my what I had saved from other projects. I also had a partial bag of thin-set (given to me last year by a neighbor who was going to throw it away) and a box of grout.
Tea light holders from wood scraps and leftover stains and varnish that I had on hand. Add wood glue, clamps, a drill bit the size of the tea light candles and the candles. Done!
Never underestimate the power of your creative mind! Which means you can help save the world too!
*Full disclosure: SmART is a social enterprise retail store that benefits Progress Inc. This is the nonprofit organization where I work. SmART provides employment opportunities for people with disabilities, keeps really cool art and crafting materials and supplies out of the landfill, and benefits the work of Progress Inc. You can find out more using the button below!
MLK Jr. holiday was this past Monday and so, a three day weekend. Monday turned out to be one of those days when it all just came together. I was expecting it to feel chopped up and maybe even a little frustrating. There was a dentist appointment to begin the adventure of Invisalign and a trip to the vet with my old cat...the morning was gone. I had a date with my yoga class at 5:30. After getting the cat settled in and foraging in my refrigerator for lunch, I had just under four hours to spend at my jeweler's bench. Sometimes the bench god plays with me a little bit, just to remind me that patience and skill building are both necessary. Sigh. But this was a day when my brain, hands, and art-spirit- groove thing were all in sync. There was a little left to do when I got up to go to yoga, but for the most part, these were finished. A little thank you to the universe.
An additional gift from the holiday came through my yoga instructor, who ended our practice with a quote from MLK Jr., "I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear." And the people said, Amen.
I'm just back from a few days in San Diego. The beauty and power of the ocean is hypnotizing. Living in Tennessee, it's such a treat to be able to whale watch, surfer watch, and crashing wave watch. One of those crashing waves jumped up way unexpectedly and drenched me head to toe. (My phone got to live in rice for 24 hours as a result...it has a couple of glitches which I'm hoping a factory reset will fix, but the rice thing definitely brought it back to life!)
A couple of weeks before my trip, I poured two small countertops on either side of the sink in the bathroom. With the leftover concrete, I cast two bowls. The bowls stay in the molds for 2-3 days, then they sit submerged in water for about a week. That process helps them cure more slowly. After that, I typically do any needed shaping, smoothing, or carving. In this case, I had taken them out of the water to dry but didn't do anything else with them before my trip.
Today, when I decided to clean them up and smooth out the edges, these bowls had been curing for almost 3 weeks. Concrete is 'workable' much longer than might be expected. It can be carved and sculpted almost like plaster early in its curing...the second to fourth day or so...but after that, it can still be altered for a few weeks.
I should say here that I am not talking about quick setting concrete...that would be an exception and not what I would recommend for casting anything that you want to be able to carve or sculpt. I will often mix my own concrete from Portland Cement and sand. It's very easy to do...I use 1 part cement to 3 parts sand, although more or less sand will work. By mixing my own, I can also vary the final texture by changing the type of sand I use.
Here's how it looks:
Before any finishing; sharp edges at the top...
And sand in the bottom that needs to be removed. I use a light spray of oil in the molds as a release agent. In this case, I threw some sand on the bottom to get a little surface texture, and I want to learn if the acid etch coloring (to be done later) will look different on the rough areas as opposed to the smooth.
These are my concrete clean up tools. The wire brush functions simply as a brush (obviously) to remove sand, but also works like a medium grit sandpaper. It will smooth edges and clean up all the surfaces. The chisel works like a scraper to remove more material at a time. It definitely cannot be a woodworking chisel anymore once you use it on concrete, so use an old one or an inexpensive one!
Done! Another week or so of curing and it will be ready to be colored.
I'll post when they're colored and sealed...the bigger bowl is asking for a plant I think...maybe a bonsai? I've been thinking about bonsai since seeing the bonsai garden at the North Carolina Arboretum in Asheville. So beautiful.
True confession. I do not have a quiet mind. At almost any given time of day, my mind could not be described as quiet. My normal is a busy mind...I actually find that to be most comfortable, at least most of the time. It's who I am. There's always something to think about, a problem or quandary to be pondered or a flash of something that can be expanded on...designed, organized, and eventually created. Mental (and physical) activity motivates me.
But there are times when I make myself crazy. Times when I know a peaceful mind would be better, at least for a bit. I know it's time to get quiet when capturing the next potentially great idea is more exhausting than exciting; when the sense of balance has taken a hike.
Having said all of that, I will also confess to a love-hate relationship with meditation. I do think that meditation is the best way to a truly quiet mind, but, it's difficult for me to get my body still enough to sit quietly. Ugh. I'll put off sitting, for even ten minutes, in my meditation space until I get "one, or six, more thing (s)" accomplished. I find the ritual of meditating difficult and rewarding. The difficult ritual of bringing my mind back to quiet when it strays, with all those jumping thoughts, rewards me with a quiet space to listen, to myself and to the universe.
There must be at least a hundred benefits to a quiet mind, but two things I've been thinking most about lately. When I'm doing well with a practice of meditation, I'm better at reminding myself throughout the day to find focus when my mind is somewhere else. And, I automatically listen better to my creative mind. Both of these make me happy.
I'm learning that I can most love and benefit from the busy, racing, jumbled mind when I can also give it a regular quiet peace. I wonder, what do the minds of other creatives look like, feel like?
for your right brain. The creative brain. Here I want to offer thoughts...both joyful and anxiety producing...about being a creative. (I'm slightly uncomfortable using creative as a noun. I like that it covers us all in a word, but it still feels awkward. Hmm. What do you think?)
Every year I take the four days between Christmas and New Year's off. The plan is always to complete far more projects than are reasonable for that period of time. This year was no exception. I love having the time and indulging the chaos of my mind, but sometimes I have to step back and laugh at...uh, with?...myself. My plan this year was to do some house projects that had been begging for attention and spend many hours at my jeweler's bench after cleaning up the whole studio area. And here I am, early Sunday afternoon, with house projects almost all completed (yay!)...and not even 5 minutes have I been at the bench....sigh...
I did get this done...dining room fireplace...
And, I took time this morning to work on the next earring design. This will give some focus and direction for some time this afternoon....
Happy New Year!
Hi, I'm Donna. Long time artisan/creative. Full time work in nonprofit world. Mother of two adult sons. Currently, also mother of two cats.
The patience project. Because patience is a virtue. And a creative challenge.
Don't mess with imperfection. How copper and heat speak for themselves.
Politics and Art wage war inside me
Write 100 words, take a nap and share your mantra
Tile and wood floor...this year's winter project...kitchen renovation