From Kid’s Craft to Framed Art

Tonight’s fun project was inspired by an idea I had last year. I found a child’s carefully drawn snowman, in a box of keepsakes from Greg’s parents’ house. The child who drew this cute snowman was Greg’s brother, Ray. I estimated the drawing was done in 1958. I framed the snowman, using a plaid scrapbook paper for the background.

I have enjoyed using this framed art as part of my Christmas decor. Ray passed away in 2002, making the snowman very special. I think of him when I look at his artwork. That project in turn inspired me to create framed art from vintage Christmas cards from the early 1900s.

Earlier this year, I uncovered more Christmas crafts, created long ago by another child. These construction paper pieces were made by Greg, when he was nine or ten years old. Being a parent, one thing I embraced long ago is fairness. Having turned his brother’s snowman into Christmas decor, it seemed right to do the same with Greg’s holiday candle and poinsettia!

Tonight I assembled materials to transform these childhood keepsakes into framed art. One slight challenge that I had was that Greg’s artwork wouldn’t fit within an 8×10 frame, as Ray’s snowman had. It was simple enough to buy larger frames. An 11×14 frame worked and at Michaels they were on a ” buy one, get one” special. Perfect.

The challenge part was finding a holiday themed paper large enough to serve as the background for the artwork. Scrapbook papers don’t come in that bigger size. I bought a roll of Christmas wrap, thinking that could be an option, and gathered my supplies, which included sheets of 9×12 holiday scrapbook papers.

When I opened the first frame, and discovered there was indeed an actual mat included, with an 8×10 opening, I made a quick decision. I liked the idea of using the scrapbook paper and the mat…and allowing the artwork to rest outside the mat, rather than within it. It was a literal “outside of the box” project!

Double sided tape secured the festive construction paper candle to the mat and background, and into the frame the repurposed artwork went. I used a plain green background for the poinsettia and in a few minutes the second framed art was completed.

The framed poinsettia is upside down in this photo, however, I am pleased with the results.

These simple projects are meaningful to me. Creating framed art from childhood treasures honors the artist, provides a lasting keepsake, and they are great additions to my holiday decor. I would rather have these pieces of art by Ray and Greg, which are almost 60 years old and 55 years old respectively, on display where they can be appreciated and enjoyed, rather than forgotten in a storage box.

I think Ray would smile over his framed snowman. And I know Greg takes delight in seeing a keepsake from his childhood elevated to framed art and displayed as well.

I must sort through more boxes…and see what other treasures I can find.

Calling All Dragonflies

I love how today's inspiration unfolded. The cooler weather encouraged me to do two things: go for a walk this morning, and spend time in the garden late this afternoon. Greg accompanied me on a walk at Mercy Park. We found painted rocks, that we hid again. And we were buzzed by an unexpected visitor.

The Missouri Conservation Department just posted an article about this being a banner year for dragonflies. The right combination of water temperature and availability of food has occurred, providing the ideal environment for dragonflies to transform from their water nymph stage to flying dragonflies. Greg and I were discussing that article as we walked around the park, when we spotted the first dragonfly…a black one.

I see all kinds of dragonflies in this area, with blue and green being the most common colors. Black isn't as common but I see them occasionally. They are strikingly beautiful. This one flitted by and was gone. As we rounded a curve on the walking path another dragonfly appeared, hovering before us at eye level. To my amazement, this delicate creature was bright red. I have never seen a red dragonfly before. It flew along in front of us and then darted off. Incredibly, a short time later, my car was buzzed by a yellow dragonfly. It kept pace with the car for a few moments, flying directly over the windshield, before lifting up and away. I have never seen a yellow dragonfly either, before today.

Three unusual dragonflies, in a short time span, seemed significant to me. In fact, I kept thinking about those gorgeous insects and their unique coloring. Late this afternoon, as I prepared to work in the backyard garden, I wondered how I could encourage dragonflies to visit my little paradise. Inspiration appeared, to guide me.

I have had several items stored in my utility room for more than a year, while I figured out what to do with them. The tile covered discs came from Greg's parents' house. Apparently it was a "thing" in the 60s, to cover metal disc harrowing blades with decorative tile. My mom used to have one of these discs. Leta Moore had three of them. As I thought about the dragonflies, the idea came to use the discs in the garden, tucking them into various spots and then filling the shallow containers wth water.

The back of one disc, and the decorative tops of two others.

My intention is to draw dragonflies to the garden by providing the water-filled discs. I have spotted dragonflies hovering near cups of tea on the brickio. I don't have a birdbath, because…well, cats…so I am hoping the dragonflies will be drawn to these little pools of still water. I'll fill the discs each evening when I water flowers in containers.

I placed two of the discs on the ground in the garden. One will receive direct sunlight. The other is tucked into a more shady area. The third disc I placed on the brickio, near lemon balm. I'll see which of the locations the dragonflies prefer.

Because I fully expect dragonflies to appear. As I pulled weeds and watered plants in their assortment of containers, the words from the movie, Field of Dreams, scrolled through my brain. If you build it, they will come. His dream was a baseball diamond. Today, my dream is a dragonfly habitat. Belief is the common thread between the two.

I believe. In 2012, Believe was my word for the year. The dragonfly was my symbol. I learned a great deal that year about belief and intuition and journeying with faith. I also learned that the dragonfly symbolizes walking in two worlds, physical reality and the spirit realm. What a perfect symbol for me. I have walked in both worlds since my childhood.

The appearance of dragonflies, red ones in particular I discovered today, are also symbolic of the presence of a departed loved one, especially around the anniversary of their passing. Tomorrow is the two year anniversary of the death of my father-in-law, Bob. I like to believe that all these events from today are connected together. And Bob was saying hello…and, oh by the way, use the discs in the garden.

I sat in the garden as the sun set, my cat Shy Boy curled on my lap. The beauty of that peaceful space is such a balm to my heart and soul. I inhaled the scents of lemon balm, lavender, basil, mint and thyme, carried to me by a cooling breeze. We watched butterflies and grasshoppers and spiders and crickets in the garden. Shy turned to watch me as I softly called out to the dragonflies, inviting them to come, welcoming them to the garden.

I'll carry my morning juice and smoothie out to the garden tomorrow to check the water in the discs and watch for visitors. The dragonflies will come. I believe.

Wooden Pallet Boxes

I came home this afternoon to find a surprise waiting for me. Greg, who has been inspired lately to do some creating of his own, repurposed a seasoned wooden pallet into a couple of attractive boxes. I was thrilled with the result! 

Wooden Pallet Boxes
Because I enjoy creating vignettes, boxes are like picture frames to me. They frame a subject or a grouping, only in three dimensions instead of two, defining the objects within. These wonderful boxes that Greg made instantly sparked my imagination. 

As I completed the day’s work and watered the garden, my artistic self was sorting through ideas for using the boxes, and opening itself to inspiration. The rustic appeal of the aged wood drew me toward creating a very natural vignette. 

I found the foundational piece for the larger of the two boxes, in my backyard garden. 

Wooden Pallet Boxes
I have noticed a little volunteer plant growing cheerfully in a pot of begonias. It is a globe basil plant, named thus due to its compact, round shape. Although the leaves are smaller than a regular basil, it has the distinctive scent, which I love. 

As I watered the little plant, I suddenly could “see” it in its own little terra cotta pot, resting in the wooden box. These volunteer plants have inspired me greatly this summer. They are a testament to survival and resourcefulness. It has been at least two years since I had a globe basil plant in the herb garden., which accounts for my surprise when this aromatic herb showed up across the yard, in a flower pot full of annuals. With great care I tranferred the basil into its own clay pot. 

Wooden Pallet Boxes
I cleared a space in my bedroom, for the larger wooden box. The newly potted basil is my focal point. I gathered other natural elements to group with the plant, creating a simple homey vignette. 

A pinecone rests next to a small jar candle with a spicy scent. A carved stone incense burner sits atop a couple of books that repeat the colors of the terra cotta pot. I lit a charcoal brick and burned dried herbs from my garden. And finally a single seashell completes the look, its soft coral color complementing the darker rust hues. The conch shell symbolizes femininity and expansiveness.

I am pleased with how this nature inspired vignette turned out. And, I am grateful to be the recipient of these wooden pallet boxes. I already have ideas for the smaller box as well. Greg has a very artistic soul and a renewed desire to explore his creativity.  I am looking forward to seeing where inspiration leads him! 

Vintage Page Gets a Fresh Illustration

I am loving the inspiration I am getting from the set of vintage encyclopedias. Printed in 1951, these outdated volumes have no resale value, however, their creative value is high. 

Tonight I had fun creating another artistic project using one of the vintage pages. 

Vintage Page Gets a Fresh Illustration
I carefully removed a page from the “I” volume of the encyclopedias. Using an article about Imagination as my background, I wanted to create a a piece of art that I could frame and display. 

Vintage Page Gets a Fresh Illustration
I sketched and then inked in a dainty milkwort plant, using another vintage page from The Book of Knowledge set as inspiration. I had pre-selected a frame and used the glass as a template to cut the encyclopedia page to the correct size. 

Vintage Page Gets a Fresh Illustration
I enjoyed coloring my completed sketch. The encyclopedia paper is very thin, causing me to color carefully. However, the old paper takes color extremely well. The pencils glided over the page and the colors blended well. 

In a short time, my something-new-from-something-old work of art was completed. It looked great in its simple wooden frame. 

Vintage Page Gets a Fresh Illustration
I knew I wanted to display this artwork in my bedroom. But I didn’t know where I was going to display it, within the room, until I carried the piece through the door. And then it was immediately obvious. Of course. There, on my little bedside table, next to the old phone that Greg’s dad converted into a lamp years ago. The framed art fits perfectly there, a fresh look on an old page, that I created. Behind it all, both figuratively and literally, is imagination. 

And the little milkwort flowers make me smile. 

Vintage Page Gets a Fresh Illustration

Vintage Flower Prints

I enjoyed a simple yet fun creative project this evening. When Greg and I emptied out his patents’ house, after his father’s death, we packed up an old set of encyclopedias and a Book of Knowledge set, from 1951. In this age of smart phones and Google, who uses encyclopedias any more? No one. 

We checked to see if there was a market for   selling such vintage volumes. There wasn’t. Sets like these can be found in flea markets and yards sales everywhere…and you can’t hardly give them away. We decided to haul the sets to Joplin and keep them. 

Vintage Flower Prints
I am so glad we did. During this year of inspiration, several of my creative projects have been created using pages cut from the volumes. As I stayed open today, to how I would play creatively or embrace tenderness, images began to pop into my head. I recalled seeing beautifully colored pages of flowers in one of the books. I seemed to remember that Scotland’s national flower, the thistle, was included. 

When I had time to search through the old books, I couldn’t locate what I remembered seeing. I was questioning my visual “download”, and considering a plan B, when my attention was drawn to the Book of Knowledge set. I had been skimming through the encyclopedias. 

Vintage Flower Prints
Vintage Flower Prints
In a few moments, I had located the correct pages. And I was right. There were several thistles included. I love the patina of these glossy pages. The flowers are gorgeous watercolor reproductions. I have looked for such vintage prints for years. And here they were, in a set of old books. Being 66 years old qualifies them as vintage, I think!

Vintage Flower Prints

Using a craft knife, I carefully cut three pages from the book. I have a stash of empty frames in my art closet, and selected two suitable wooden frames. I also have a drawerful of parchment type paper, in a variety of colors. I selected a pale blue paper, to complement the background color behind the flowers drawings. 

A paper cutter and double sided tape made mounting the vintage pages easy. Being a fan of wabi sabi…beauty in imperfection…I appreciated spots of slight discoloration on the pages and a crease or two. In a few minutes, I was fastening on the backs of the frames, and appraising my finished work. 

Vintage Flower Prints
I am thrilled with how these framed prints turned out. They didn’t cost me a penny, as I used what I had on hand. I saved one of the pages for a future project. Repurposing is fun for me, and meaningful, as I create fresh art from something old that carries significance.  

I am grateful that we saved the encyclopedias and the Book of Knowledge set. They have given me much pleasure, and provided pages, literally, of inspiration. Obsolete books? No, they are art.   

Vintage Flower Prints

Such Stuff as Dreams are Made On

I was still considering my Inspiration for today, as I moved into my studio this evening to work. Mulling over several possibilities, I turned on my Edison bulb in my creative corner, and sat beneath its golden glow. I had barely settled into my chair, when new inspiration struck. Seriously. I glanced in amazement at the light above me….and then quickly assembled what I needed for a fun little project.

Such Stuff as Dreams are Made On, Art a Little More Robust-Repurposing

I have my writing desk set up in a way that inspires me. My Taylor Kubicek art print is hung on the wall above the desk, and on the table top, Absolem the caterpillar from Alice in Wonderland perches on his mushroom. I imagine him saying to me, as he peers through his monocle, “Who are you?” I have wanted to create a framed piece using his quote, to remind me daily that this is an important question. It is good for me to know who I am, and live from that certainty.

This evening, I received a very clear mental picture of what that artistic piece could look like. And for fun, I was to assemble it collage style, from cut out words. I love when an idea blooms in my fertile mind. It quickly grows, taking on a life of its own.

Who Are You - An Important Question from the Caterpillar

The hunt began, for the words Who, Are and You….and for a question mark. In a few moments, I had found Are and You, and a leaf cut out, all tucked within a drawer in my studio. I uncovered the perfect little frame in my studio too, just waiting for something creative to happen.

The challenge was finding the word Who and the question mark. I didn’t want to spend a lot of time searching. I was ready to create! I thumbed through several magazines and sorted through a stack of publications. Nothing. My mind returned again and again to a Doctor Who comic I had safely stashed in a drawer. Did I dare cut the word Who from it, and ruin the comic? As I slowly walked back to my studio, to do the deed, I spied an advertisement lying on the table, left over from Christmas time. Who’s Your Santa? was printed in several places on the publication. The Doctor Who comic was saved!

Who Are You, An Important Question from the Caterpillar

I remembered the set of vintage encyclopedias. A page about The Adventures of Alice in Wonderland was carefully removed and part of it became the background for the cut out words and the leaf. It was as I was adhering the cutouts on the page from the encyclopedia, that the magic happened. I had glued on the word ARE, when I noticed the quote within the article. From Shakespeare’s The Tempest, it says, We are such stuff as dreams are made on. 

I had not noticed the quote before then.

I was amazed. I sat quietly looking at the words, Who ARE YOU?, and there the answer was, between my cutouts, for I couldn’t cover the quote with the last word and the question mark.

Such Stuff as Dreams are Made On

“Who are you?” asks Absolem the caterpillar. “Who am I?” I answer,  “I am such stuff as dreams are made on. I turn dreams into reality, and birth ideas from my imagination. That’s who I am. Thank you for asking.” 

I think Absolem smiled. I know I did.

Who Are You, An Important Question from the Caterpillar


Setting Up a Creative Space

I focused on my creative studio this afternoon, as the Christmas dècor gets packed away. This space, a former bedroom, currently serves as my studio. Here I work and write and draw and read and color. It is crucial that I feel inspired when I am in the room. 

Artist and author Gerald Brommer says, “The environment becomes inspiration. My response to it becomes idea. And idea becomes purpose and action through interpretation and painting.” 

With that quote in mind, I turned my attention toward making sure that my environment supports me and inspires me. 

A repurposing idea captured my imagination first. I have two trips coming up this year. My grandson Dayan has wanted to go to Italy for years. His mother and I will accompany him on this exciting first for all of us, as Dayan’s graduation gift. And in the fall, I will return to Scotland, and see Ireland and England for the first time also. This is a girls’ trip with my mom, sisters, and niece. 

I wanted a visual representation of these two trips in my studio, something to remind me of one of my big Whys…travel. Inspiration nudged me to a set of old encyclopedias that belonged to Greg and his brother when they were children. Published in 1951, the information within the volumes is out of date. However, the books are old enough now to be considered vintage. Neither Greg nor I wanted to throw the set away, thinking a creative idea for repurposing them might arise. Today, one did!

I located maps of Italy and Great Britain, the muted colors exactly what I was hoping for. 

With Greg’s permission, and help, the map pages were carefully cut from the volumes, and trimmed to fit within two document frames that I had on hand. 

I love how these turned out! The old maps hang in my studio where I can see them easily while seated at my writing desk. I will be reminded, daily, of the upcoming trips. And I like that I found a use for those old encyclopedias. There are more projects waiting for me within those dusty books, I am sure! 

After the maps were hung, I had the joy of hanging another piece of art in my studio. Greg surprised me for Christmas with a print from talented local artist, Taylor Kubicek. Taylor’s painting, featuring an old fashioned typewriter beneath an Edison bulb, could not be more perfect for me and the year ahead. I am so honored to have this work of art hanging in my studio.

I warmed up my writing table with a fabric throw. My caterpillar Absolem, made by my niece Ashley, is perched there on his mushroom, reminding me of the question “Who are you?”, that I intend to answer every day. And he reminds me as well of Alan Rickman, whose quote has so inspired my journey this year. Taylor’s print is right there, above my desk, where I can gaze at it often. 

My projects completed for the day, I savored a late afternoon tea in this inviting space. While I sipped Scottish tea, and nibbled on pears, pink oranges and medjool dates, I opened to the incredible flow of creative energy in the room. Behind me my large Edison bulb cast a soft light, illuminating the space and me. I can create here. I can write and dream and birth ideas and then carry them to maturity here.  

I am so inspired.