February Make-A-Thing-A-Day, COVID lockdown version.

I don’t know if I have ever looked forward to FMATAD they way I am this year.

It’s been a long haul, and a lot of us are weary with midwinter, sick of political worries, missing the outdoor weather that allowed us to at least sit six feet from friends in a lawn chair and feel human.

I didn’t invent February Make-A-Thing-A-Day but I fired up my own chapter of it when the original site called it quits. The rules are simple: Every day in February, make something. A craft, a poem, a new dish nicely plated. A song, a doodle, a yo-yo trick. Teach your brain and use your hands and show us.

Join us on our facebook page, HERE

Make 22: mug demos for my guild class.

Make 22: mug demos for my guild class.

Demonstrated slip trailing (the bumpy one), agate wear (two colors at once, the green one) and a handbuilt textured slab mug printed with one of those long dogtag chains..

Make 19: recycling K cups

Make 19: recycling K cups

Started onions, kale and chard under lights in recycled keurig coffee cups. the bottoms are already pierced and they are great to write on.

Make Seven: two more clay stoneware rattles.

Make Seven: two more clay stoneware rattles.

I worked at Hands On Studio today and taught at Toledo Potters Guild tonight — started more projects and demos — but finished these two small rattles. The one on the right is still wet clay.

Make 5: Spicy beet-pickled eggs.

Make 5: Spicy beet-pickled eggs.

I have hens in the back yard who keep laying, snow and all – and hubby and I are on a low carb diet, so I am making pickled eggs to pack in lunches. I never use the same recipe — cider vinegar, pickling spice, mustard seeds, hot peppers, a couple of beets, some onions, random juice from used pickles.

Owens class demo: big jug

Owens class demo: big jug

One of my independent study students is making work based on Dave the Slave, face jugs and early American jugs. I demoed this jug thrown in three parts and now he’s off and running. I didn’t make this all at once but I finished and signed it today so I’m calling it my “make” for day four..

Make three: Valentine

This was my last day in the cabin in the woods, with time to make something fussy. It's back to work tomorrow... so I made hubby's valentine. Shhh, don't tell.
This was my last day in the cabin in the woods, with time to make something fussy. It’s back to work tomorrow… so I made hubby’s valentine. Shhh, don’t tell.

Make a thing a day, February 1

Make a thing a day, February 1

Juliette Gordon Lowe, the older version. Just so you appreciate my dedication to documenting my thing-a-day… I had to drive from the snowy girl scout cabin in the woods where my girls are sitting by the fire, and park on a hill by the admin building with my dorky virgin mobile antenna to find a signal and upload these :0)

Solar Marble Jar Night Light

Solar Marble Jar Night Light

I have been looking at the solar lit mason jars on Pinterest and wanted to do something interesting as a night light for my little nephew… so I made one and filled it with marbles. It’s cool. I can think of about a million things I want to do next, and next…

Makes for today: lunches for my valentines.

I made fruit leather and cut it into hearts for the kids… ditto for gelatin fruit juice “jigglers”… tucked in raspberries, almonds and chocolates, bright slices of starfruit, candy hearts with words on them.

I made the kids sandwiches by cookie-cuttering hearts from bread, salami, provolone, sliced turkey… stuffed them with sprouts and poked them shut with an angled toothpick fletched like an arrow.

It’s all packed in tiffin boxes… I forgot to take pictures  until they were all packed away, but here’s Jeff’s top box with healthy sweets… Continue reading “Makes for today: lunches for my valentines.”

Make for today: seed bombs for guerrilla gardening.


My make for today is a tray full of seed bombs. These are a mix of clay and compost, full of seeds. They are intended to be tossed, rolled, or left in ugly places: parking lots growing up in weeds, vacant lots, urban wastelands, ditches and alley cracks.

Making seed bombs

Making seed bombs

Every package of expired flower seeds I could find went in here. Purple coneflower, cosmos, sunflowers, sweetpea, marigold, morning glory, catnip, thyme, lavender, ragon, chickory, kale

Make for 2/10: Jam and syrup

I had to make room in the chest freezer for the drawn comb and stored honey from my hive that didn’t survive winter… so I took out all the fruit I froze last summer: gooseberry, ground cherry, elderberry, concorde grape, red currant, pie cherry, raspberry, blueberry… even threw in a bag of frozen cranberries. I juiced a huge kettle full and made pancake syrup, honey sweetened jam, juice sweetened jam, low sugar jam…  this pic is just the first two batches. I poured some into a blender of applesauce to make fruit leather and made a big pan of gelatin bars for a valentines project you’ll see later ;0) Imageawn

Make for today: frames for curb harvested shower doors.

I used H-channel like for trellisses, to build a wooden frame around the heavy shower doors I found. The longest are 73 inches. I put brackets on the corners to stabilize them.

Two of the glass doors were the exact size of some wooden screen doors I had been using for cold frames last winter. I didn't have washers so I used woodchuck and beer caps temporarily.

Make for today: frames for curb harvested shower doors.

These will become a cold frame for the sunny front of my house.

How to avoid your TTD list: Make a Sprouting Station.


 I get so much done when I am busy avoiding getting other stuff done. Here’s my new sprouting station, in the faux window over my kitchen sink, lit by flourescent spots. Jars contain a new batch of mung beans, alfalfa sprouts (in the big jar, as M loves them) and clover sprouts. Broccoli sprouts are a hard sell but I mix them in with the milder ones…

Make 39: teapot

This closed-form throwing demo became a teapot after the class went home. My “make a thing a day for february” blog is done, but I have almost 11 months left in the year…

Make 38: A winter camping girl scout shelter.

This was the weekend we had scheduled our long-planned girl scout version of the BSA Camp Alaska weekend.  The rules were: no tents, just tarps… 24 hours outdoors… pack in your gear to the site.  After a couple of planning meetings and some packing and grocery lists, we headed out Saturday with 2 troop leaders, camp names “Cammy” (moi, in a camo carhart) and “Bliz” Liz,  plus one scout mom and four girls. (Two more had planned to come but got sick the night before.) 

We chose to camp at Wolf Lake, where my folks have a cottage.  The area had deep snow, and then a tree-busting ice storm, and then more snow, so we couldn’t get down the drive and had to park off the property and hike/drag our gear down to the lake using backpacks and sleds.

We were on site by 1pm, and took our time setting up, mixing work and play. The girls would pull sleds up the steep hill to gather firewood and then sled down with it.  They gathered dried marsh grasses for tinder, then fallen twigs for kindling, then branches and finally logs.  There is a stone fire ring on the beach, but it took a lot of exploratory holes through the layers of ice and snow to find it, and then the girls took shovels, a hatchet and a saw to dig it out.  They laid a “raft” of logs on the icy surface, and then used the paraffin-soaked cardboard egg carton section fire starters we had made at a previous meeting to build a bright and heartening fire.

There was an inch of fluffy snow on top, then a two inch thick crust of icy snow firm enough to support the weight of a semi-portly scout leader, then more snow beneath. It was remarkable to me how much the process — relatively undirected by adults — mimicked a medieval system. First, by choosing a chore, the girls recreated occupational specialization.  Two girls set to work making snow blocks with plastic block makers and loading them onto plastic sleds to be taken to the snow shelter build site.  Others cut the middle icy layer chunks into squares, until one mom (camp name Abominable Snow Ann) discovered that a small wooden dock offered a slab of frozen ice-snow the size of a TV screen. Then two enterprising Montessorians walked a few feet out on the frozen lake to a frozen floating swim deck, and began “quarrying” squares of saw-cut and shovel-chopped ice-snow to be hauled by sled to the site as well.  .

If you imagine the fire ring as the hub of the wagon wheel, the snow shelter was a quarter of the wagon wheel: a 24 foot long semicircular back wall, and a series of “spokes” as the shared walls of three low stall-like rooms. The fronts were open to the fire. We lined each with a tarp and then made a visqueen “roof” across the whole thing, with sturdy branches and ropes as support.  “Bliz” laughed that the three women on the completely extemporaneous project could “make art, do autopsies, and make pottery”, but the engineer scout mom had been unable to come!

The camp chairs circled the fire ring and snow flurried down all day and into the night as the girls cooked hotdogs and made dough boys, sledded and built moguls, cooked pie iron pizzas, grilled cheese and fruit pies, gathered firewood, and set up pads and sleeping bags in the little snow rooms.  I stuck a big branchy limb in the snow near the shelter and all the wet mittens ended up there, like a bizarre fingery tree.  “Disaster” (named for a firewood sled crash) said it looked “Seussical”.   Camper “Doughgirl”,(loves doughboys) our main block maker, is not a camper as a rule, but braved Camp Alaska anyway.  She wavered between being her usual giggly self, and occasionally succumbing to the cold and weariness. At one point she sat by the fire next to her tarped shelter and harrumphed, “I feel like a HOBO.”  :0D

“Fluffy” made some glorious monkey bread that we baked in a dutch oven with embers on the lid, and I made “stone soup” with the contributions of each camper in another dutch oven on the fire. We kept the chai, cocoa and coffee flowing, but by 9pm, every one of us was starting to think about crawling into our warm cocoons. We were all damp — the worst enemy of the winter camper — but Bliz is a sled dog musher, and happened to have extra balaklavas, high tech long johns and enough wool socks so that everybody crawled into a mummy bag with dry clothes and warm feet.  We found a lot of interesting places to put our handwarmers: they became foot warmers, butt warmers, head warmers and nose warmers as well.

My little nest was surprisingly cozy, and the fire was close enough to our front flap that it warmed our space nicely. Somewhere in the night the fire burned low, and the snow on the tarps above us melted from our body heat, and the moisture began to creep in as the temp reached the mid-20s.  I slept fairly well until light, and then began to have an internal conversation with myself, my warmish bag, my frozen wet boots, and my bladder.

As it turned out. I was glad to be up first and rebuilding the fire, because the lake was snowy, misty and so quiet that any bird who spoke around the lake sounded clear as a bell. Fat robins moved from tree to tree, and in one memorable  moment, two white swans flew silently across the white sky above our camp.

None of our campers actually crawled from their snow cocoons looking like beautiful butterflies, but we were all pleased with ourselves that we had “done it”.  Camper “skittles” (who came down the hill onher back like a bug) took Fluffy off on a tracking trek through woods too swampy to explore in any other season.  Breakfast was oatmeal, bagels toasted over the fire, and assorted pie iron concoctions. Coffee never tasted so good.

By 1pm the fire had burned down, our tarps were rolled up, and we had hauled our gear up that steep hill on sleds and in an improvised tarp-travois. The girls who chattered and sang all the way TO camp alaska were quieter on the return trip, tired and smoky and looking forward to a long bath and a REAL bed tonight.. and the badge we earned by meeting another goal. Yay for Troop 407, girls of courage, confidence and character.

Make 37: orange clove pomander

It’s a dicey photo but oh well. We bought clementines and they were pithy, so I stabbed a couple of them full of cloves and let them dry. They will probably go  in the steamer trunk in the bathroom once I am sure they will dessicate and not rot. They look creepy and smell marvelous.

To further confuse things, I photographed it sitting on my kitchen counter, which is shadowboxes full of oddities covered with a sheet of glass.

Tomorrow’s make will be a snow shelter — I am doing 24 outdoor hours of “Camp Alaska” in Michigan with my girl scout troop — so photos will be late.

Make 34: Finished the steamer trunk drawers.

This was was a big deep slide-out box drawer that is perfect for tall bottles like shampoo and lotions. The shelf above it is for folded towels. I’ll take a pic of the whole thing when we get the support finished.

Make 33: finished the medicine cabinet.

My whole bathroom is turning into a found object project. A junk auction steamer trunk, a scrap-box upholstery fabric sample book and some brass tacks have kind of tied this whole project together. I took down the medicine cabinet and took it apart, decoupaged the inside with 1940s herbalist catalogs and random vintage printings, put my fabric on the outside, painted the trim with chalkboard paint to mimic my beat up steamer trunk, and stuck it back on the wall. I did most of the project over the weekend but finished it up today.

It’s hard to take a pic of a mirror, especially when some of the bathroom isn’t done yet!

Make for 2/21: My overdue column.

My make for yesterday was my overdue column for Clay Times magazine. Apologies to my editor.. but it’s a good one.  Sorry no photo. Nothing to see here.

Make 31: A Goldsworthy-inspired project.

I assigned my Art Appreciation students to do an Andy Goldsworthy inspired project over the weekend, take a picture, and email it to me.  I decided to do one myself.  It’s warm today, cold tomorrow, freezing rain and then snow on the way, so if it evolves I’ll take more pix. So far the leaves at the edges got redistributed a bit by a chicken.

Make 29: a planting.

Using the stack of sawed-off 2 liter bottle bottoms (leftover from an ongoing greenhouse make) I am continuing to plant seeds for the coming season’s garden. This row, stacked on a makeshift shelf between the toaster and a hasty shoplight-mounted-under-the-counter, contains three kinds of lettuce, bok choy and catnip. More this weekend — I have a headache and need a hot bath and a good night’s sleep.

Make 28: earring jars of magic seeds.

Because all seeds are magic.  Today I need reminding that things lying dormant are still alive, that big plans have humble beginnings, and that spring will finally arrive. Seeds remind me to have faith in the future and the unseen. Seeds remind me that a small act of foresight and planning can reward us in the months to come… and that luck favors the resourceful and the prepared. These seeds will become rows of fat radishes in spring… unless I trade them for a magical cow along the way.

Make 26: steampunked breadbox turned laundry chute.

Years ago, annoyed that there was no laundry chute in the kids/company bathroom, I tore out a heat duct in the floor and made one. Clothes slide down a tall narrow office trash can with the bottom cut out, into a laundry bin in the basement where the washer and dryer live. I built a simple box around it and hinged the heat duct grate to the top. it was ugly but serviceable.  Now, though, we are making over the bathroom in a steampunk theme, and I needed a better laundry chute.

Yesterday at goodwill I found a cheap, battered bread box with a glass window that said “bread”.  I brought it home and removed the bottom  — it fit perfectly over the laundry hole. I covered the sides with fake leather, tacked on, and painted the front with black chalkboard paint because the matte finish matches the steamer trunk in there.  A  razor blade easily removed the word “bread” and I found some other stuff to put behind the window glass. Now all I need is a good steampunky knob for the top of the door.

Make 25: My edible book entry

Three of my troop’s girl scouts did a fundraiser for literacy by hosting an “Edible Book” feast.  People who entered created something edible based on a favorite book.  Mine was based on Calvin and Hobbes and the book  Attack of the Deranged Mutant Killer Monster Snow Goons.  The guy above buried his friend…

This one is swimming fast away from the snow sharks…

This one just took a cannonball (see below)


These little ones march around the cake protesting against Calvin’s dad’s rules.

It was a great time.  The adults and the kids categories had some incredibly detailed and imaginative entries! Jeff did Calvin’s transmogrifier and Molly did the clock shaoped arena from Catching Fire (Hunger Games series) complete with a festive corpse, evil monkeys, blood rain and a tidal wave.

I won the adult category prize for most creative entry.  Movie passes!  What should I see? I haven’t seen a movie since Avatar.

I ate way too much sugar today, though. Time for chili and a beer.

Make 24: Same form, different demo.

Today I demoed the extruded casserole project for my ceramics class at Owens College. Same idea, bigger form. Bad cell phone pic. Wait until you see TOMORROW’s make… I’m entering an edible book contest. I’ll photograph  my entry when it’s done!

Make 23: Demo casseroles

This is made from an extruded wall (I cut the die with a rim and gallery) — textured with a wooden block from a jenga game. A slab floor is added, then a slab slumped inside the rim as a lid (later turned over and trimmed to fit.) I really did make this on the 10th but by the time I got home from teaching/cleaning up after my evening guild class it was midnight.

Make 22: Needle felting first!

I took a wet felting class a few weeks ago and made a big fish, so today I decided to try needle felting and make a little one.   Molly has done a few really cute needle felting critters so I thought I would try it. My plan is to make a couple of little feltie guys, buy a baby crib mobile at a resale shop, and then put my own danglies on it.  This would be, of course, for my baby brother’s baby boy, Jacob (3 days old!).

Connor thought it needed a little white around the eye so I felted some on after I took the first pic. I am not sure if it makes him look friendlier, or just startled.

Make 20: steampunk drawer pull

I made a drawer pull for the second steamer trunk drawer. The top pull I ordered in the mail from an artisan — bluebayer.com — and the second one I made out of a couple of lamp keys, a typewriter key, knob hardware leftover from making my mother-in-law some cupboard knobs, and epoxy.

 I like how it looks so far. I have two deep drawers to finish next.

Make 19: Playing with paper

My cousin Pamela brought a toy called a “cricut” to the superbowl gathering at my mom’s.  Molly was making cards and I took the leftover punchout bits and made a design of my own.

I glued on a few seed beads just ’cause what-the-hell.

This was a busy day — painted bathroom trim, worked on the steamer trunk — but mostly had my head in the clouds because I met my brother’s baby two hours after he was born.  It made my brain go squishy and I am not yet recovered.

Make 18: fruit leather

Last summer I canned applesauce, and peaches in apple juice, and made cases of juice sweetened jam. In winter, I blender up fruit leather. It needs to be mostly applesauce, because that makes good stretchy, rollable leather.  This batch has one with apricots, two with peaches, one with strawberry jam, one with cinnamon spiced apples, and one with blackberry juice. I will put these in the dehydrator overnight, and then I rip them into fourths, put them on sheets of waxed paper, and roll them up with a paper twist at either end like a big tootsie roll. They go in a canister and the kids pack them for lunches.

Make 17: Wall stencil!

It’s time to move ahead with the bathroom steampunk project. I got the walls painted during the snowpocalypse, so tonight after dinner I gave stencilling a shot/ I had been reading about victorian wall covering approaches, and Jeff and I modified a stencil we found at a home store.  It’s really fun and pretty easy. It’s fairly forgiving (unlike tile) when the edge of the wall isnt plumb or the ceiling is half a bubble off level.

In the photo, the paint behind the stencil looks really shiny but that’s weird light reflection — it’s actually satin paint. The metallic paint I chose for the stencil is the kind that’s bright and shiny straight on but disappears with oblique light, so it changes as you move around the room. Tomorrow I hope to move the steamer trunk in there.  The bathroom stuff has been living in the hallway and it’s annoying…

Make 16: quick henna

Molly wanted a simple henna design. I had ten minutes before I had to go teach, so I did a quick and simple one.

I made a plate and a platter as demos at the guild tonight, but they weren’t all that amazing and I didn’t bring a camera… so this will do.

Make 15: Altoids tin art

This is a picture of the Dadant family. They have been in the beekeeping business for seven generations now, selling Langstroth hive boxes and bee supplies to beekeepers like me:  printed beeswax comb foundation, screened boxes full of bees, wood and nails to build lightweight frames. I’ve been worrying over bees lately, so I made this little homage in an Altoid tin. I call it “Foundations”.

Make 14: another steamer trunk drawer.

Tonight I finished the second drawer for my steamer trunk. Like the first drawer, the  inside and out, bottom and sides are mod-podged with old herbalist catalog pages, and I used a disassembled upholstery sample book for the fabric fronts on the drawers.  Today before the snow came, I bought brass upholstery tacks. They were way too long for the thin wood of the drawer fronts, but I bit the long part in half with wire cutters and hammered them in to the ribbon trim on both drawers. I need to find/make/scrounge the perfect handles for these… one small central knob for the top drawer, and something horizontal for the lower one.

Make 12: The First Drawer

Today I lined the pressboard drawers from my steamer trunk project with the pages of a 1940s herbalist magazine. It has all kinds of testimonials and recipes for herbal remedies. I used modpodge, which is my favorite stuff.  Since the drawers are going to hold lotions and toiletries and potentially leaky stuff, I didn’t want fabric linings.  In the pic you can see that some of the sections are dry and some are still damp. They will all dry to the same yellowy color.

Then I took the fabric samples from a discarded upholstery book (Scrap box, Ann Arbor) and used them to cover the front. In retrospect, I kind of wish I had put something puffy under them, like batting, but it’s OK as it is.  I have fabric ribbon between the squares and plan to put a row of brass headed tacks down the center of each one. Technically, the “ta-dah” moment here would be after the knob is attached, but I plan to do something really cool with the handles and I’m not sure yet what it will be.

The drawer is shown here slid into the trunk. The one beneath it has been lined but I haven’t yet started the fabric front. Jeff is helping me pry off the ugly little flat handles from the rest of the drawers, and that one is next.


Make 11: Garden planner.

I have a 30 foot wide garden in the back of my yard and another behind my studio. When it’s time to think about planting, I have to consider lots of details:

Where were the squash, tomatoes & other nightshades, cole crops last year? Rotating crops keeps pests under control, and finds plants soil that isn’t depleted of the stuff they need.

What quickie crops will come and go by the time the weather is hot, and what do I plant there for a second crop? And a third?

What’s already established (like my grape vine) and won’t be moved ever?

What’s tall and likely to shade the thing behind it?

Where are the sandy patches in my soil and the loamy ones? (I once found a program — Google earth? Areis? Zillow? — that gave me not only the aerial view of my property but the soil type boundaries! There are two types on my one little back yard.)

So I made a graph paper garden, one square per foot — hoop house in the back corner, gate in the front. I made copies. One has last year’s plant positions, lest I forget. One will be a spring plan, another hot weather, a third for fall. I am using sticky notes to try out plans (less erasing.)

And now, I’m getting off the computer.  The boys are at scout camp, Molly’s at a sleepover, and Jeff and I have a nice fire and a house all to ourselves.

Make 10: Lined an old steamer trunk.

This is the ” before”  picture. We went to a junk-and-poultry farm auction in Dundee one Saturday, looking for gears and dials for the steampunk-our-bathroom project, and I ended up hauling home an enormous, dilapidated steamer trunk because it was only five bucks.  It was mildewed and musty and full of broken wooden drawers which apparently had once fit inside of it.  My ever patient hubby just gave me that look, and then found a way to drag it through the mud and chicken poop, and load it into the van.  “Only five bucks!” I kept announcing to my family on the way home. The kids, who were wedged into their seats on either side of my find, seemed unimpressed by the bargain.

I hauled it into the house, where it took up about as much room as a small recreational vehicle.  I rubbed orange oil furniture polish all over the outside, and it looked (and smelled) a lot better, but the inside was pretty ragged. It had clearly once been lined with fabric of some sort, and ratty bits and glue marks were all that remained. I pulled out the drawer-thingies and hanger-thingies and set to relining the trunk.

Never mind that the spray adhesive I bought cost three times more than the trunk (and the fumes likely killed off both the brain cells I had left from college.)  When I dropped the boys at Scout camp and Jeff and Molly headed for the girl scout dance, I went to the fabric store to look at my options.  I found an authentic vintage civil war era fabric, but choked a bit on the price. I poked around in the quilting bolts, though, and found a very similar fabric for less than half.

I got the thing done in maybe two hours. My secret?  Low standards! I am well schooled in the use of phrases like, “It won’t show from the road!” and “It couldn’t look any worse than it did when I started!” 

The spray adhesive was really annoying… before long I had glued the fabric to my hands, bits of thread and trimming shreds to my nails, and at one point the spray-nozzle of the adhesive popped off the can and stuck firmly to my finger.  Jeff found me the lighter fluid to clean up with (which smells like my childhood… grandma was forever getting pine sap off my hands and out of my hair.)

I am kind of fascinated with the innovation involved here: this was a trunk that coould be loaded on some steam-conveyed transportation, and then stood on end, opened like a book, and used as a dresser. On the left side are hanger-type racks that lock in place for shipping, and on the right, a series of drawers with tie-downs for the contents.

My plan is to make this into a cupboard for my steam-punky bathroom… finish the drawers in some arty way for bathroom stuff, and hang towels on the hangers maybe. I’m still working that out. Anyway, for now, here’s what I have done. I have to trim the fabric around the drawer slides, maybe paint the slides, and add ribbon trim at the edges… but not tonight!

Make 9: Butter dish.

Tonight’s slab project demo. Textured slab laid over a rolling pin for the cover… ends cut to fit. Textured slab base.  I just got home from mopping up after the evening class — but it isn’t midnight yet, so it’s still today! I was starting to worry. I painted half the bathroom today and started cleaning up an old steamer trunk to refurbish, but neither of those are at the “ta-daaah!” stage…

Make 8: Ceramics class demos

Today’s Owens College demos: a tall cylinder form using a textured slab (pillow lid with rattly-balls inside) – on my clearly labeled shelf.  Also, I made some demo examples of signature chops, bisqued and ready to test.  I’m grateful that my work day involves making stuff, so I don’t have to miss a day of making things for work!

Make 7: Outlet cover

Another outlet cover for the bathroom steampunk project. I used an antique dictionary whose pages are coming unbound.

Make 6: Pinch pot demo.


  This was a demo for pinch pots and burnishing for my Owens class.

The photo is crooked and it makes me a little woozy.

Make 5: Fobot Fun.

Today’s “make” is a fobot. I have lucked into an art group and we met again today in a big sunny artspace to make stuff together. I finished this little guy and started a second, but ran out of time and parts. What a great bunch of womens! Maybe I need to host the next gathering here…

Make 4: Steampunked my switchplates.


The fam has decided that we need to do something interesting with out bathroom. When the kids were younger I had wallpapered it with big maps from some old National Geographic mags, but it has been kind of ordinary for the last few makeovers.  After some discussion and some web surfing, we decided to go “steampunk”.

Somewhere in the process of stripping wallpaper,  I was peeling layers of modpodged stuff off the switchplates and discovered that the reverse side of some old book pages had printed itself onto the metal. They were perfect, period images, even though they were reversed, so I did some careful sanding and shellacked them to preserve the residual print and corroded looking edges. You can’t tell in

the photo, but in some spots the shiny brass shines through as well.

Now we just need to make a bathroom to go with the switchplates!

Make 3: OK, so they aren’t all going to be awesome, lol.

There was an ugly, yellowed, heavy plastic tape dispenser in a box of junk I bought at an auction. By the magic of art I have transformed it into an ugly RED tape dispenser, lol. Let’s call this one a learning experience, shall we?
What I learned: 1.) less is more. This looked best with the original coat of red paint. I should have quit while I was ahead.
2.) Red is difficult. It has baggage. Even when covered with shapes torn from brown paper bag, it screamed “Christmas!” The fact that it is shaped vaguely like a sleigh didn’t help. I considered other colors added to the red to unchristmas it, but finally just gave up and went with gold polka dots and called it a day.
Hey, I never said I would make something GREAT every day, did I? Well then. Don’t judge me. I bet YOUR tape dispenser looks like a regular old tape dispenser and not some garish holiday cack, and you’re just jealous.

Make: Day Two

This is a classic bad photo — loud, busy background and bla bla — but it’s late and I’m tired and I’m not a photographer. There are three demo pots I made for my evening guild class tonight — made the middle one, trimmed the other two.

It’s not midnight so it’s still today! Two days in a row, go me!

Make-a-thing-a-day… ready? Go!

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 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8XofUu6hv8U&feature=player_embedded   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.