The doorbell rang tonight after dinner, and it was my package from Amazon: Noah Scalin’s creativity journal, with the challenge to make something every day for a year.

I have been reading MAKE magazine, following links like this one   and just generally thinking about challenges.   I had tried to take on the Art House sketchbook project, and while it inspired me to organize my pantry, write my grandmother, and otherwise busy myself with avoiding it entirely, it mostly made me feel disappointed that it wasn’t 3D, and didn’t feel useful or tangible to me.

So… Noah offers daily starter ideas, but says, “It’s your project, and you set the parameters”.  I’m good with that. I know there are days when I will not feel up to this, but sometimes the best stuff happens when I don’t feeeeeel like it but I have to anyway. (ie: grad school, writing deadlines, and other forms of pressure.)  So I will give myself permission in advance to have some really lame entries. If one day I am in bed with the flu, and post a pic of the snowman I made on the nightstand with three used kleenex, humor me.  On my honor, I will try to do my best… that’s all I can promise.

I have thought hard about my parameters. The advice is to pick one medium (clay?) and take it a million directions, or take one theme (like the skull guy) and explore it in all different media.  Apparently, though, the most important thing is to choose something that won’t bore you after the first few months (and I have a very short attention span.)  So I am giving myself permission to explore themes — house, bird, pear, whatever — but not be bound by one.

And I know, deep down, that my passion lies in useful, functional projects ands creative problem solving… so does it have to be “art”, for me?  I mean, I don’t want to post every time I make my kid a peanut butter sandwich or hammer together a nesting box for the hen… too easy.  So I will only allow myself to count a project if a) I’ve never done it quite that way before, b) it involves some creative use of materials, and c) it has some kind of aesthetic value (in other words, it’s prettier than it has to be.) If I bake a loaf of bread shaped like a lion, or bake it in a solar oven, or wear it like a hat, it counts.

So I’m starting with tonight’s “make”.  I have long admired those tidy little aerogardens that people buy to hydroponically grow herbs on the kitchen countertop. They are futuristic and bucolic at once, floating like little tropical islands between the stove and toaster, friendly humming robots with their own light source and live green breathing plants (a sight I am famished for in winter.)  I wanted something like that, with an Avatar/jetsons feel and a useful, green purpose, but the gardens are expensive and you have to use their specific fertilizers and seeds. 

I have all kinds of odd seeds.  I start seedlings in my front porch/coat room under big shop lights in very early spring, but I rush by them and hardly get to watch them grow or enjoy that healing light.  It’s still magic. Every sprouting seed revives that kindergarten bean-in-a-dixie-cup miracle for me, almost as good as the egg-in-the-incubator trick.

So tonight, I propped a shelf above the stuff on my counter and screwed a flourescent light up under my cupboards. I happened to have a stack of the sawed off bottoms of 2 liter bottles (being used for a greenhouse project, which i’ll post later) and I found that I could fill one bottom with seed starting mix and use another for a cap, making a bright little moisture-retaining clam shell.  There are five little feetie-dents in each one and I planted a seed above each, so the roots would have their own place to go until transplant time.

I lined them on the shelf under the lights.  They are bright and shiny, recycled, and shaped like odd transparent  peppers.  I planted leeks, bunching onions and cippolini onion seeds

 in them, and once they sprout I will move them out to the cooler front room and start brussels and cole crops.

It’s a new approach for me, it’s not unattractive, and it’s done… so I’m counting this in my notebook as my “make” for the day.