Saturday, April 30, 2011

                                           Day 81:  Some days the project I make just stinks. 
Day 82 and 83:  Some days the project I make is completely lovely.
Day 84 and 85: And some days the project becomes so time consuming that even two days is not enough to finish it.  (I've been dreaming about covering my cardboard tube table with tiny pieces of black and white magazine paper.)  It ended up being more time consuming then I ever imagined, but loads of fun.  I did as much as I could in two days, now I plan on doing a little bit more every once in a while until it is finished.  I'll post the results when it is complete! 

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Day 79:  I spent some time in Sante Fe with my daughter Mazi this past weekend.  We were heading down to Albuquerque to visit my boyfriend Richy, and also needed to do some shopping.  I was looking for a dress for Mazi because she is going to be the flower girl at my friend's wedding. We went to the mall, since there are a lot of options in one place and I really didn't want to drive all over.  At the mall, I am pretty out of my element, I always feel like a foreigner in another country (or another planet).  All this stuff for sell everywhere doesn't do much for me, I'd rather be romping around in the mountains in my little mountain town.  For the full mall experience, we had pizza there and I bought my daughter some ice cream at Dairy Queen.  When I pulled out my milk carton wallet, the kids behind the counter were fascinated, and wanted to see how it opened and closed with the screw top.  This, I like about the mall (and about life in general); unexpected interactions can happen anywhere, and you can make people think by being different.  Working on this project has created more of a rift between me and our cultural focus on consumption.  I feel less desire for new things, more focused on experiences.  It has also created more interaction with other people and conversations with strangers just based on whatever I've made that I happen to be carrying around with me or wearing that day.  I guess going to the big city this weekend got me ruminating about all this... When we arrived in Albuquerque later that night, we went out to a Thai restaurant called the "Orchid."  One of the things I love about visiting the bigger city is more restaurant options.  The food was amazing and our waters came with black straws.  Out of those straws, I made  a window hangie thingy for my car (is there a real name for something you hang from your rear view mirror?)
Day 80:  There is a spot near the river in Albuquerque that is covered in pieces of old glass and bottles.  I know it's pushing the definition of "recycled project" to take pictures as one of my projects, but I don't care.  The focus is still on trash and creativity, and most importantly, having fun.  It was great to spend an afternoon in the city down by the river, feeling like I'm not really in the city after all, wandering around, taking pictures, finding cool bottles. 

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Day 74:  This is another project from the book "Alternacrafts" by Jessica Vitkus.  This hat is made from a sweater that we bought at a thrift store.  By cutting the shape of the hat out of the sweater, then sewing the edges up, you have a beautiful knit hat without having to knit.  ( I do like to knit, but it was fun to make a hat in just a few hours).  The braided strips of sweater make it extra fun to wear.  I was suprised that you can cut a sweater into strips without it unraveling.  I guess if the knit is small and tight enough...


Day 75:  I have a pile of blank cards in my desk drawer, some of which I've had for a few years.  Many of them are just generic, boring thank you cards.  I took one of them and redecorated it.  I used a photograph of an ocean from a magazine, a tag off an article of clothing, and words that were cut out from a photograph of a plaque that was for sale in a catalog.  I liked the list of all the things that the plaque was reminding and suggesting were good to be, but I chose to leave a few of them off of the card:  "Be quiet, Be punctual, Be a star."  I can see the good in those three qualities in the right situations, but I've been told to be those things often enough in my life already, so I left them off.
Day 76 and 77:  I brought home a piece of paper from the store that came in one of the packages as a space filler.  I also brought home a wad of torn wrapping paper and tissue paper from a kid's birthday party. I had been wanting to create a recycled window covering for my back door, because all I could come up with was tacking up a piece of dark fabric and that made that area of the house feel a little dreary.  So I used all the wrapping paper and the large piece of white paper to create this.  I like how it looks on my door, and it lets in light! I took two days on this project, not because it was so terribly time consuming, but because I was exhausted.  It really is quite a challenge to get myself to make something everyday.  There are days that I just don't feel like it and find it hard to get started, but once I do, I always enjoy the process.  On this day, it took me too long to get going and I was ready for bed half way into it.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

 Day 71: I got the idea for this day's project from a book called "Alternacrafts" by Jessica Vitkus (we have it for sale here at Seconds Eco Store).  I had a bag of clothes ready to take to the thriftstore, already in the truck of my car.  When I decided to make these "skants," as she calls them, I needed a pair of pants that I was willing to cut up.  I retrieved a pair from my thriftstore sack, a pair that didn't fit well, and began to cut them apart.  The thing I like about these skants, is that the crotch is cut open and sewn accross the skirt, becoming part of the design.  It was quite difficult to get the seam accross the butt to work well, and it is slightly bumpy, but I like my new article of clothing anyhow.
Day 72:  I have an old dream journal that I have been wanting to convert into a coffee table/ poem book/ dream journal (the other type of dreams, like things I wish I could do).  I figure I don't really need to remember all these dreams that I had so many years ago.  Often I will be looking through magazines and have one page or section stand out as worth keeping, so I will tear it out.  That was the case for this National Geographic article about all the tunnels under Paris.  I knew about the catacombs, but not all the many other tunnels, that form a whole world under Paris.  People sneak into them and explore and there are rooms where people have gatherings and parties.  Much of this activity is illegal, but sounds pretty thrilling, especially just the tromping through the underground world of Paris with a flashlight.  I probably won't ever end up doing this, but it is indeed a dream that is fun to have, so I sewed both the cover and this section of the book into my dream book.  I like sewing paper.
Day 73:  I met a woman at the store who said she had a bunch of zippers that she no longer needed.  A week later, she brought them to me.  Using one of them, I made this flower.  I got this idea from another book that we sell at the store called "1000 Ideas for Creative Reuse" by Garth Johnson.  He basically sought out people who were making recycled art and crafts and took pictures of their projects.   A woman from Spain named Maria Castrillo makes flowers like these. 

Monday, April 18, 2011

Day 69:  I have been saving foil lids off of yogurts for a while, not knowing what I was going to make from them.  I have an extreme fondness for silver and often paint old picture frames with silver paint.  So I ended using the foil lids to create a silver frame.  Even with that huge stack of them, I didn't have enough to completely cover the frame, so it is not quite finished.  I mostly like how it looks.  From a distance you can't tell what is is made from and just looks like a pretty frame.  Up close, being able to see the foil lids makes me laugh, but I'm not impressed by the effect.  The use of some recycled materials completely fascinates me, other times it works but isn't extraordinary.  This would be one of those times.


Day 70:  I revisited day 62's project, the piece I made out of various food boxes, that I had the urge to paint blue.  I did indeed paint it blue.  I used three different shades of blue, letting each new layer reveal some of the layer beneath it, including some of the original colors.  Then I also followed the urge to add a splash of words in places where the paint was already light in color.  You can't really see this is the larger picture, so I added a picture of the detail.  I am quite fond of words, especially those that are on the verge of extinction, like zamblanity and ataxaria.  (Of course I couldn't find any of those in the magazine I was cutting from).  I like that the little groups of words could be significant in their meaning or could be random.  I think it adds interest to not know which is the case.  So far, people who have seen both the old and new versions of this piece, like the new version better, myself included.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Day 66:  I wanted to make a large flower to go in my large vase, and the first material that came to mind was wire.  I pulled out a bunch of wire I had been holding onto, including a fat copper wire that I have no recollection of where it came from.  I had also saved a couple of those spiral bound notebook wires, one of which had a white plastic coating on it.  I also came accross some scraps of screen, that I decided to use for the petals.  Cutting the petals out of the screen was tricky, it was hard to get all the sharp ends off, so this is a dangerous flower, perhaps a secret weapon against unwanted intruders.  I used the smaller notebook wires to wrap the petals onto the larger wire, and then I found myself wanting to add color, so I wove in scraps of silvery and green material.  I had hoped to fill in the petals more, add some shades of blue, but this is as far as I got.
Day 67: Every night before I put my daughter to bed we read.  We just started a new book called "Chasing Vermeer" by Blue Balliett, and illustrated by Brent Helquist (an important fact, since he also amazed me with his illustrations in "The Series of Unfortunate Events," my absolutely favorite children's series written by the wonderfully mysterious Lemony Snicket ).  "Chasing Vermeer" is a mystery novel, with clues given along the way both in the writing and in the illustrations, and related to a set of pentominoes belonging to one of the characters.  I had never heard of pentominoes before, but found out they are a set of shapes each made up of five squares with at least one side touching.  All together there are twelve possible shapes that five squares can make.  These twelve shapes can then fit together to make thousands of rectangles, and mathematicians have messed around with these for years keeping track of all the possibilities.  So, inspired by this book, I decided to make a set of pentominoes, cutting them out of a cereal box.  Even though there are thousands of possibilities, making even one rectangle is not so easy.  I sat up playing with them before heading off to bed.  First thing in the morning, as Mazi was eating her cereal, she starting messing around with them.  We have only been able to make a smaller rectangle so far, using six pieces.  I guess we're right on track, cause that's all the character in the book has come up with so far and we are having fun with them.

Day 68:  I try not to mess around too much doing things other than work when I'm at the store, but it's good to keep my self happy and take a little break here and there.  So while making miniature magazine bags that we use for the small items (the bags are quite fun to make too), I made a magazine flower.  Now, one of the things that I absolutely love about working at the store (and there are a lot of things to love), is that it is a sweet little community of shops where I know many of the shop owners and their employees by name, and love seeing them every time I work and getting to know them.  I always enjoy a quick chat with the girls at the coffee shop accross from the shop and often don't make coffee at home, just so I will go in there on my way to work.  I gave this flower to one of the coffee shop girls named Shalis, cause she's the one who is always there when I work, and I think she is one of the nicest people in the world.  It's fun to make something for someone just cause you like them so much. 

Monday, April 11, 2011

 Day 64: I took a pair of pajama pants that were too big for me and transformed them.  I was going to cut open the waist and remove the elastic and shorten it, but found that the elastic was sewn into the pants the entire way around.  So I just made a cut into the elastic and overlaped it and sewed it shut with a few stitches.  It doesn't look as "perfect" that way, but I like the imperfection.  There is so much emphasis around being "perfect" for women in our culture and sexiness is measured by how close you come to this standard of perfection.  I wanted to create something that feels sexy to me, but is comfy and imperfect. This is my own little affirmation of the worth and beauty of women as we are.  The stars are cut out from an old T-shirt that was printed in stars, but the lace is new.  I didn't have enough lace in my bag of scraps of lace and ribbon, and I absolutely wanted lace.
Day 65:  My favorite color happens to be red, but I almost never ever wear it.  I have had this T-shirt for a while just siting in my closet.  I don't know what exactly keeps me from wearing red, but that just might change now, cause I love my new shirt.  The inspiration for this came from an artist named Julian Beever who makes huge drawings on pavement with chalk.  They are anamorphic drawings, so they only make sense and take on a 3-D aspect from one direction, otherwise they look distorted and long.  After buying a book for my neice about his drawings and looking through it several times in utter fascination, I realized that the whole concept could also be a metaphor for life.  I think it is so easy to look at life and only see it in a distorted way, to see only all the awful things that happen and to think that this is all of life.  It is only when we look at it through a certain perspective that we can really see it in all of its beauty.  I, for one, really need to be reminded of this, so I thought "anamorphic" would be a great word to sew on a shirt.  I think a lot of the spiritual cliches you hear these days are very very true, like "stay in the moment," "be here now," etc. but I get sick of hearing them, so this is my new little twist on it.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Day 61:  I took a bunch of brown paper home from the store.  It was the packing material from one of our packages.  I knew I wanted to make either a dress or a skirt out of it, but didn't want to think too hard about the design.  I just wanted to dive in, see what it felt like to fold and shape it, and see what came of it.  This is my first trash fashion piece ever, which is really exciting because every year Taos has a Glam Trash Fashion Show, and this year I want to make something for it.  It feels good to be experimenting, and I know that the more I work with my ideas about trash fashion, the more interesting and evolved they will become.  For this one, I basically just folded pleats accross the top to make a waist that would increase into a full skirt.  I put duct tape underneath the spot where I sewed on the buttons and where I made the button holes, so that the paper would be able to hold up.  So, it's easy to take on and off, but no, you can't sit down in it.  I might want to add onto it later.  It would be interesting to make some paper ruffles, or some other sort of embellishment.

 Day 62:  I'm not quite sure what to think of what I made today.  I took a bunch of boxes and cut them into wavy shapes and glued them all together to create a textured piece of art.  Or can you call it art?  I quite like the layers and how the pieces interact with each other, but somehow cut up cereal, pizza, and pie crust boxes all held together with mod podge doesn't fit in with all my education about what art is.  Well, maybe in this world that has so much useless stuff, stuff we just want to throw away and forget about, we need a new definition of art.  Recycled art is not a new idea, but I know that here in Taos, which is considered an art community, you won't walk into one of the galleries here and see anything made out of food boxes.  I do think this particular piece isn't quite what I wanted it to be.  I'm tempted to paint over the whole thing with blue paint.  Here are pictures of both the front and back side.

Day 63:  In contrast to yesterday's project, college is a more widely seen and accepted expression of art.  This particular one was one of the most fun I have ever done because it was a collaboration with Richy (my boyfriend who I'm finally spending time with!).  I have never done a piece of art with anyone.  It was one of the most enjoyable times we've had together, because it felt as if I was letting him into a world that I usually only experience by myself.  I enjoyed the ideas that he brought to it, and how it became a piece of art merging our two different styles.  He cut out the big green spider and the white sea creature looking things around the edge.  I created all the tiles of blue, orange and yellow.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Day 59 and 60:  I had this cabinet in my bathroom that was completely ugly.  I had done a collage on it a while back, decided I didn't like it and ripped many of the pictures off and painted over part of it with a little yellow paint.  YUCK!  So for day 59, I sanded it down and did a better job of repainting it.  Then for day 60, I added trees that I cut out of black and white magazine paper.  I thought it would be cool to do a symmetrical design, making the two trees mirror images of each other.  I used mod podge to stick the pieces onto the cabinet, and then also painted it on top to give them a protective coating.  This was so much fun to make and I felt glad that I decided to allow myself to take more than one day on a project if necessary, because it allows me to really get into whatever I am making and follow it through to the end.  I spent about four hours each day on it.  My favorite projects of all are those that make my home feel like a more beautiful and happy place. 

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Day 55:  I did it!  I turned the paper weight thing into a beautiful, large vase.  It took aproximately four cereal boxes, two and a half pizza boxes, and one cracker box.  I used a coiling technique to add on each strip, spiraling them higher and higher.  I am impressed with how it took on an even, uniform shape without a whole lot of effort.  I specifically wanted a certain shape for the vase and I acheived it by gluing the strips closer together at the bottom so it took less vertical distance to widen, and farther apart at the top, taking more vertical distance to narrow.  I also switched to mod podge, rather than the regular glue I was using.  It made the process faster because the mod podge dries more quickly than the glue.  I also painted a coat of mod podge on both the inside and the outside, so it has a nice finished surface.  I like how the different shades of the cardboard make it look like I intended to create a pattern, but I was just grabbing any box to work with out of the stack.  It really is quite gigantic, so I'll have to create some monster flowers to display in it. 
Day 56 and 57:  I have had a few days where the project I start for that day becomes so time consuming that there is no way to finish it in that day.  (Maybe if I wasn't a single mom working between 40 and 50 hours a week it would come more easily).  I have been reevaluating what my goals are and what I really want to get out of this whole 365 business.  I decided that if I start a project one day and end up spending a significant amount of time the next day working on it too, then it counts for the next day's project also.  I'd rather do this than trying to stay up til two in the morning making myself finish something, or making myself finish the project from the day before and complete a new one on top of that.  I do, afterall, have to maintain some sense of sanity.  As long as I spend time every day seriously involved in one of my creations, that's going to have to be okay with me.  The whole point of it for me is to try new things, and to be creating every day.   So it took two days to complete this super sweet purse made from chip bags, candy wrappers and such.  The whole process of collecting all the bags, washing them and cutting them into the rectangles actually began about six months ago before I ever dreamed of doing the 365 project, but the majority of putting it together took place in these two days.  This is the project that has gotton the biggest response from other people.  I will be out working on it, or carrying it around, and no matter where I go, someone always says something positve about it.  This has been really fun, because then I start telling them about this crazy endeavor and my blog.  It's been a good way to share this part of myself as well as make new friends.
Day 58:  I spent the day trying to get to Albuquerque to visit my boyfriend (who I only see about four days a month which is why I still call myself a "single mom"), but my car broke down on the way.  I ended up in Sante Fe sitting at the mechanics for a couple of hours, spent my entire wad of spending money for the trip on the repair and then headed back up to Taos feeling exhausted, pissed off, broke AND super duper lonely.  Getting creative is enough to remedy all that! As soon as I decided that I would create a collage from old paintings and oil pastel drawings that I had done and was busy cutting and gluing, I forgot about everything else.  That's one thing I love about making something every day, even though at times it drives me crazy, more often it keeps me sane.  Often in the creative process there is chaos, mess, disorder, and it shifts into something beautiful (hopefully) or at least something that has some form and completion.  That in itself is a psychological process and then there are the ways that art becomes a physical representation of something that was previously contained inside you, whether an idea or a feeling.  So there is self affirmation in that.  In many ways being loved by someone gives you the same things that making art can give you.  You receive affirmation by having someone see you and love you for who you are or you can do that for yourself by entering into a space where you allow yourself to unfold and be revealed in what you create, confirming to yourself that what you are is valid and worthwhile.