All posts by chasenfratz

“John/Daddy, John/Daddy, John/Daddy!”

While going through some old papers recently, I found a partial draft of an artist’s statement paper I wrote in the early 90’s when I was applying to the Bachelor of Fine Arts program at SIUE. I don’t remember what portions of this draft ended up in the finished paper – I did not find a printed copy. I’m sure I have the finished paper saved on a Commodore 64 floppy disc somewhere! In college I sometimes hand wrote drafts, but I typed up all finished papers on the old Commodore 64 we got for Christmas in 1983. (Yes I still have it and yes it still works but I’m sorry it’s not for sale! If you have working Commodore 64 joysticks or a “Give My Regards to Broadstreet” Commodore 64 game I might want to buy those though!)

I could go off on a tangent and write a little bit more about the Commodore 64 and why it’s so special to me, but I want to get back to my artist’s statement draft because Father’s Day is coming up. I wrote about my Dad’s influence on my work and I think he’d get a kick out of reading it. My Dad’s name is Don and you’ll find out who “John” is as you read. I also will enjoy remembering what my artistic passions were so long ago. I hope you will too! Contemporary additional comments of mine are italicized.

B.F.A. Paper Draft Part 1:

“While looking back on my artistic influences I can’t help but reminisce about my childhood and the factors that must have had some kind of influence on my artistic interests today. My father has had a lifelong habit of picking up every little nut, bolt or other piece of hardware lying on the ground and taking it home in the hope that it will come in handy to fix something someday. He is quite a handyman – after he fixed our old Ford Maverick with an old pencil and a piece of wire my friend exclaimed “Your Dad IS McGyver!” Whether we were on our way to church, to the store, or on vacation he would never let one of these little objects pass without picking it up. Over the years he has acquired a huge collection of such objects, many of which do eventually get used. If he knew what the objects he was picking up were, he would explain them to me but if he didn’t know he would take it anyway.

I was always encouraged by my father from a very early age to watch him work at his bench in the basement and learn the uses of all the tools myself. I remember burning my hand rather badly with a soldering iron building an electromagnet for the science fair at school while Dad left the room mistakenly thinking that I had the hang of it already (I was six years old). I haven’t touched a soldering iron since (no longer true as of the early 2000’s) but I did continue to hammer, saw, drill and glue on my own projects while my Dad repaired appliances or built furniture. He used to turn over his box of junk to me and supply me with odds and ends of wood, nails and glue plus drills and hammers to use. My favorite things to build were model ships for some reason. I have always loved water and boats and I used to create floating monstrosities studded with junk to play with in wading pool in the backyard or in the bathtub. Long nails became masts, brackets became the bridge, bits of tubing and pipe became smokestacks. When I was tired of the boats I would pull all the parts off and build a new version. The use of found objects in my art is just a continuation of one of my favorite childhood pastimes.

Another formative influence from my childhood was John Brower, the contractor who built our house and most if not all of our neighborhood. The neighborhood kids all called him “John the Builder”. He lived about four lots away from us in a very mysterious house that was surrounded by huge old trees. It was one of only two older houses in this part of the subdivision, which was still under construction when we moved in. Vacant lots flanked our house on two sides and these and the other future home sites in the neighborhood provided endless hours of fun for the kids. Huge weeds, mounds of fill dirt, wood piles, abandoned vehicles, vast puddles of mud and bits of old junk protruding out of the ground created an endless variety of play situations. (Not SAFE play situations mind you, but more FUN than I can describe!)

John the Builder was one of the most eccentric people I have ever known and as a result among us children he was beloved. He refused to paint his outbuildings, trucks, or equipment any color other than Pepto Bismol Pink, Decayed Neon Orange or Pea Green. He routinely painted new homes in putrid shades of Lavender or Lime Green with glitter mixed in! We never could figure out if he just had weird taste or was color blind. His own house was given the same treatment so we assumed that he considered it attractive.  (The house to our right when new even had, I am not kidding, glitter Lavender metal banisters!) Despite this, all the houses were quickly sold as they were built and promptly repainted by their new owners!

To us kids, John the Builder was a godlike figure. He rarely drove down the street without a crowd of children running alongside his car yelling “John! John!” We loved him because he allowed us to play on his vacant land with all it’s fascinating “forbidden” features. In return for us staying away from the current, active construction sites he would save special dirt piles for us to use. We turned one into a mountain environment for Hot Wheels, complete with tunnels and winding roads. I don’t know if I’ve worked on a more enjoyable project in my entire life! Many times we came home covered from head to toe in mud and had to be hosed off in the yard.

John the Builder also endeared us to him by occasionally letting us “work” for him by holding up surveying posts while he took measurements, or by carrying his tools. He would pay us each a quarter for such a task and at a time when that amount was a whole week’s allowance it was quite a boon to get one. The quarters he handed out were always encrusted with gunk and very old, usually from the ’40’s or ’50’s. We used to take them home and put them in vinegar to bring back the shine. We usually intended to keep the oldest ones for our “collection”, but they inevitably ended up at the Quick Shop along with all our other money in exchange for candy, paper kites, or little toy boats.

(Notes to self) Write about – Tire moving and fires, outbuilding moving, Dad being sprayed with tar, haunted “crashed” bus, Ruth back in time.”

That’s where Part 1 of my draft leaves off. Someday I might write about those tantalizing topics hinted at at the end of part one! I still know what those notes mean! Part 2 of my draft deals more specifically with art influences. I’ll share Part 2 in a future blog post.

I wrote about Dad and John together because they had quite a bit in common. Dad was maybe not as eccentric as John but they were both into collecting old stuff and creative re-use before it was a “thing”. They both taught me to appreciate the old, the grungy, the humble, the simple pleasures of life. They also showed me the fun of building things. I had a very involved Dad of my own but John was kind of an additional father of the whole neighborhood because of his kindness to the kids and his willingness to teach us things now and then when he had time. Dad and John were friends and had a good understanding of each other I thought. I associated the two together in my mind even when I was very small. One of my favorite things to do with Dad at a certain age was sit in his lap and play with his hair. They both had black hair, but John’s was receding while Dad had a full head of the same wiry, wild, thick hair I have (that we both got from Grandma Ludwig). In the 70’s Dad had a big thatch of it on his forehead that was kind of like bangs – the closest thing to bangs our type of hair could get anyway! I used to push this section back to show his forehead and say “John!” then let it down and say “Daddy!” I’d do that over and over until one of us got tired of it! (Dad I’m sure got tired of it quicker!) John’s wife Ruth was just as kind and was very motherly to my Mom as well as welcoming to the kids.

I think both Dad and John had unusually laissez-faire attitudes toward kids, even for the 1970’s. Can you imagine anyone today letting kids do what we did back then? I will admit, everything we did was not necessarily condoned, but that which was tolerated would probably be considered child neglect or abuse today! There were so many things that could have gone wrong – pits of water and mud, mounds of dirt, climbing-sized old trees, rusty nails, splintery boards – they are genuine hazards. Despite all this, I never got any injuries that Mom couldn’t fix at home with Bactine or Campho-Phenique. I’d get hosed off, maybe tweezed a bit, smeared with anti-bacterial stuff and sent back out to my activities. It was worth it – has any kid ever had more fun than I did growing up? I seriously doubt it!

Make An Adult Coloring Book From Scrap Paper and Stencils

Do you like adult coloring but don’t feel completely satisfied coloring someone else’s designs? Here is how you can use scrap papers and cardstock along with stencils to make custom homemade coloring books that reflect your own creative point of view.

adult_coloring_book

What you will need:

Pencil
Scissors
Glue stick
Paper cutter
White or off-white card stock
Hole puncher
Black ball-point pen
Black Twin Tip Sharpie Permanent Marker – Fine/Ultra Fine
Tape
Bone folder or burnishing tool
Clean scrap paper
Metal ruler
Metal binding rings
Assorted found papers that relate to coloring (pictures from magazines, old books, catalogs, etc.)
Assorted black and white images on paper (scrapbooking papers, found images)
Assorted stencils (hand-cut from your own designs, commercial crafting stencils, or a combination)

Instructions:

1. Cut out two pieces of cardstock 8 1/2 x 6 inches for covers. Select some found images that have to do with coloring and make collages on the front and back covers by gluing these images down with a glue stick. Put a clean piece of scrap paper over your collage and rub well with a bone folder or burnisher to make sure the papers are glued down flat.

2. Cut a bunch of 8 x 5 1/2 inch pieces out of white or off-white card stock or paper. I’ll walk you through using a combination of found papers and stencils to create black and white designs to color in later on these pages. It’s intimidating to have a bunch of blank pieces of paper staring you in the face, so to begin tear some papers with black and white designs or printing on them into strips using a metal ruler a guide. Glue some of these pieces on several of your blank pages in random places and directions.

3. Further build up your designs by using a variety of stencils to draw shapes randomly on your pages. Add black and white collaged images or textures to further enhance the pages.

Coloring pages are very appealing when you use different line weights to outline areas to color. I suggest you proceed by marking some areas with a heavier line first then progressively moving down in line weight as you add more detail.

A. Outline some areas from bold stencil designs using the “Fine” tip on the Sharpie marker.

B. Go back through your pages again and add more stencil designs outlined with the “Ultra Fine” tip on the Sharpie marker.

C. Go through the pages a third time and use yet more detailed stencils to draw on the pages with the black ball-point pen.

As you build your compositions, I suggest laying pairs of pages down on your work surface that will be opposite each other in your finished book. See if you get any ideas from how they look together. Here are some examples of pairs I made to complement each other.

pairing_1

pairing_2

pairing_3

4. If any of your pages are made of thin enough paper to let some of the marker lines bleed through, don’t get discouraged. Redraw the design in reverse on the other side of the paper to disguise the bleed-through and create some accidental compositions that could be very appealing and lots of fun to color.

four_finished

5. Punch a top and bottom hole in the cover pieces and each page and connect with binding rings to make into a book. In order to get the holes to line up correctly, you can trace the holes in the first page you punch onto subsequent pages, or make yourself a template out of scrap chipboard.

6. Have fun coloring your pages. I like to use a combination of colored ball point pens, gel pens, markers and colored pencils. If you experiment with a lot of different media and practice you will develop your own style of mark making. If you would like some inspiration for coloring styles and techniques, I have examples on an Art Journaling Pinterest board that should help you out. The most important things to remember while coloring are to have fun and don’t let expectations of how your work is supposed to look be a damper on your creativity and expression.

My husband Tom and I each colored a page.
My husband Tom and I each colored one of these pages.

Reverse Applique Easter Apron

finished_apron_vertical_webI’ve been wanting to try reverse applique for a long time. I also like piecing together fabric scraps to see what I can make with them. I decided that pieced fabric would be interesting to sew behind the front of an apron with a large Easter Egg shaped cutout on the front. Here is how I did it.

First I gathered together some fabric scraps. I picked out pink, blue and green pastels and decided to add some navy blue and red to the mix also. Why add those colors to the traditional Easter pastels? Right before I started sewing this apron, I stayed for the weekend at a home with a great art collection that included several prints by my all-time favorite artist, Alexander Calder. One of the things he was known for was the use of primary colors with black. Here is a composite of some selections from this collection, with a couple of other artists’ works (Joan Miró and Roy Lichtenstein) thrown in that use similar color schemes.

You never know where inspiration is going to come from!
You never know where inspiration is going to come from!
Here is some of my piecing shown from the back.
Here is some of my piecing shown from the back.
I dyed a pre-made blank canvas apron a very light citron color and I draped my piecing over it to check and see if the colors are ok together. To the front of the pieced section I sewed some translucent yellow trim and a piece of pastel rainbow rick-rack to tie the colors together.
I dyed a pre-made blank canvas apron a very light citron color with Procion dye and I draped my piecing over it to check and see if the colors are ok together. To the front of the pieced section I sewed some translucent yellow trim and a piece of pastel rainbow rick-rack to tie the colors together.
Next I ironed a stabilizer to the back of the pieced section then made a paper egg template. I cut out an egg shape with about a 3/4 inch margin all around.
Next I ironed a stabilizer to the back of the pieced section then made a paper egg template. I cut out a pieced fabric egg shape with about a 3/4 inch margin all around.
I pinned the paper egg template to the front of the apron and taped it to a window so that I could use the light to line up the fabric piece behind the apron. I sewed all around the egg with dark blue embroidery thread then cut out the egg shape from the front to exposed the pieced section.
I pinned the paper egg template to the front of the apron and taped the apron to a window so that I could use the light to line up the fabric piece behind the apron. I sewed all around the egg with dark blue embroidery thread then cut out the egg shape from the front to exposed the pieced section.

The finishing touch on the apron was to sew a row of rick-rack to the top edge of the pockets.

As you can see, I made more pieced fabric than I needed just for this apron. That’s because I have another idea for using more of it. What will it be? I have a pretty wild idea. If it turns out well you’ll see it here on this blog someday!

Gardening, Larry McMurtry and Henry David Thoreau

One of my all-time favorite novels is “Duane’s Depressed” by Larry McMurtry. I’ve re-read it enough times to have it practically memorized. At the beginning of the book,
the title character is in his early 60’s and is the owner of a small oil company in Texas. One day he comes to the realization that he can no longer tolerate his current lifestyle. He decides that he has spent way too many decades of his life driving around in pickup trucks trying to accomplish things that haven’t meant anything to him in a long time. His house is too large, too crammed with stuff and too full of family members who drive him crazy. The town is too full of people who expect him to serve on committees, solve problems and listen to complaints. He doesn’t want to deal with the oil company anymore and eventually turns it over to his son. He abruptly parks his pickup truck, walks out to a simple cabin he owns outside of town, and abdicates nearly all of his responsibilities, despite protests from practically everyone in his life.

Duane has decided for reasons not known to him yet that he is fed up with motorized transportation. The new life he has begun has been simplified into figuring out how to meet his basic needs while walking everywhere he needs to go. His cabin has almost nothing in it so when he decides to clear some brush and stockpile some firewood, he walks to a convenience store with a small hardware department to get tools since he can’t stand the thought of having to deal with the people in the town and in his house to get the tools he already owns. The store owner tells him he is acting like Thoreau so he later seeks out a copy of “Walden” and reads it to see what the store owner is talking about. This is part of his process of seeking an explanation for his behavior that he can’t give to all the people who are bugging him about it because he doesn’t yet know himself.

A lot of the book deals with Duane’s thoughts as he’s working on his new activities. Later in the book he does engage in actual gardening but while he is still just working on firewood he considers walking to the store to purchase a wheelbarrow so he can work faster. Then he asks himself why he needs to work faster and decides that acquiring stuff so he can work faster is a slippery slope back to the old life he doesn’t want any more.

I think a lot about the decision of this character not to purchase a wheelbarrow while I’m out gardening. I own a few power tools, but I usually prefer to use hand tools when I can. I do not have a philosophical or moral objection to using power tools. I will use them when I think they will help me out. One of the reasons I use a lot of hand tools is that sometimes it takes more time to deal with batteries and rechargers and extension cords and power outlets than it does to just grab a hand tool and do it. I like the exercise that comes with hand work. Probably the biggest reason is that when I’m working on my own garden, I’m working for different reasons than for a client garden. Timing IS important when working on gardening and landscaping projects even if you don’t have a deadline or have to work in the most cost-effective way possible when working on a project. Sometimes you have to whip out the power tools to get things done during the right season or in the right order before something else can be done.

An invasive hedge we are removing bit by bit with hand tools.
An invasive hedge we are removing bit by bit with hand tools.

I’ve been periodically working on removing these invasive honeysuckle bushes and vines in our backyard for some time. I’ve been making a big push the last few weeks and last night my husband Tom joined in. So far all of this work has been done with hands, a bypass hand pruner, a small pruning saw and a pair of loppers. Yes we could get this done more quickly if we borrowed, purchased or rented a power chain saw. But if we did that we could not converse while we work or enjoy the bird sounds. The task would become just another chore instead of a restorative activity that makes us feel good physically and mentally. Another factor to consider is the apartment complex that is adjacent to our backyard. I hate it when weather nice enough to open your house windows finally comes along and you have to abruptly close them because all you can hear are leaf blowers, saws and lawn mowers. This is less of a problem if your property is large but as you can see ours is not and we have extremely close neighbors that I would rather not disturb if it’s not absolutely necessary.

Like the title character in “Duane’s Depressed”, I appreciate taking time when possible to do things the slow way and the simpler way. When I first read “Duane’s Depressed” 20 years ago I had not heard of mindfulness. I don’t think the word mindfulness is even in the book but that is part of what Duane needed without knowing it. Gardening is one of the things I do to help achieve it – when I’m gardening all I’m thinking about are the sights, sounds, smells, textures and sometimes even tastes I’m experiencing. The effect on my well being is almost like magic!

No, I haven’t yet read “Walden”. The character who mentions Thoreau to Duane refers to him as a “Yankee a**hole” and Duane’s therapist calls him “that gloomy man”. Not exactly a ringing endorsement is it! Have you read “Walden”? If so, what did you think? In this novel Duane also reads “Remembrance of Things Past” by Proust which he hates 90% of, so I haven’t picked that one up yet either!

My next class at Schnarr’s Hardware is Image Transfers on Wood Jewelry

 Image Transfers on Wood Jewelry
Class by Carolyn Hasenfratz Winkelmann – Image Transfers on Wood Jewelry

Date:
April 25, 2019

Time:
5:30-7:30 PM

Place:
Schnarr’s Hardware, 40 East Lockwood, Webster Groves, MO 63119

I’m teaching this class again for the first time in three years! Make amazing lightweight pendants by transferring found images onto wood. You will be supplied with the materials to make a necklace for wearing your interchangeable pendants. You will learn the basics of transferring images with tape and gel medium and attaching a clasp to a cord necklace. I will have a selection of transferred images on hand for you to use at the beginning of the class, then while your pendant or pendants are drying, I’ll show you two different techniques for converting found images into beautiful embellishments to add to wood pendants and other art and craft items.

Each class attendee will receive a printout with a written tutorial for that class so if you forget anything we learned you can refer back to it later. Jewelry tools will be available to borrow during the class and some tools and supplies will be available to purchase if you want to continue working on your own.

At each class, there will be at least one door prize randomly awarded to an attendee – probably a craft supply item of some type that relates to the theme of the class. Past prizes have included a necklace kit, a polymer clay frame kit and a craft stencil. That’s my way of saying thank you for coming!

What to Bring
It’s not necessary to bring anything but it’s a good idea to wear old clothes in case there is a glue mishap. If you have found images on glossy papers like magazine or catalog cutouts, or laser printed copies, you can bring those as a source for images.

What’s Provided
I will provide wood pendant blanks, gel medium, images, packing tape, findings and parts for at least one necklace. I will have tools to borrow during class.

Only 20.00 per person!

LINK TO GET TICKETS:
https://dabble.co/rc/carolyn-hasenfratz-winkelmann

Art Journaling With Stencils and Image Transfers

Art Journaling With Stencils and Image Transfers

Last fall during the Old Webster Fall Art Walk, I demonstrated making pages for an art journal with paper collage work and stencils at Schnarr’s Hardware. I added in some paint samples to pay tribute to the hardware store atmosphere and remind me to have fun with colors. Later on I added some image transfers I made with clear packing tape. Learn how to make image transfers and add them to your art journal pages on the Schnarr’s blog:

Art Journaling With Stencils and Image Transfers

Experimenting With Some Flavorful Leftovers

Juicing oranges and lemons to make Tequila Lime Chicken
Juicing oranges and lemons to make Tequila Lime Chicken

At this time of year, if I want to use Cilantro in a recipe I can’t just go to the garden and pick what I need. Usually when I buy a package of fresh Cilantro from the store, there is a lot more than the recipe calls for in the bunch. In the past, if I have time I have pulled the leaves off the extra Cilantro and frozen it. Cilantro is best used fresh, but frozen is better than dried (I’ve tried that too). I have heard of preserving fresh basil, another herb that is just not the same when not fresh, in olive oil and freezing it in ice cube trays. I decided to try that with today’s leftover Cilantro.

I coarsely chopped the leftover cilantro and it's going to be blended with the citrus pulp in the small dish.
I coarsely chopped the leftover cilantro and it’s going to be blended with the citrus pulp in the small dish which I made in ceramics class a long time ago.

I’m making a recipe for Valentine’s Day today from a book that Tom and I were sent as a wedding gift from an anonymous giver – Tequila Chicken from “Barefoot Contessa Family Style” by Ina Garten. I had to juice enough limes, lemons and oranges to make a cup and a half of juice and I have a lot of pulp left. Citrus and Cilantro taste great together – what would happen if I pulverized the leftover Cilantro with the leftover pulp and froze it in ice cube trays to flavor future recipes? I’m already going to have to wash half my kitchen implements today – colander, salad spinner, garlic press, juicer, salad dressing emulsifier, George Foreman grill, mortar and pestle, etc. so what is one or two more?

Oh yeah that works, and it’s a lot less time-consuming than stripping all the leaves off the stems. I added 1 TBSP of grapeseed oil to help it stick together. I even have a fun little citrus wedge ice tray to freeze the mixture in! In the future I’m going to have a lot of fun adding these little wedges to soups, dressings, marinades, stir-frys, pilafs, sauces and who knows what else. I guess I just made Cilantro pesto, which is probably already a thing.

blended

Last fall Tom and I had our first party at our house. It’s a shame that my photo of the drinks table didn’t turn out because I served some cranberry orange tea punch in Tom’s amazing mid-century modern punch bowl with molded decorative ice floating on top. I froze cranberry juice to make the ice and as a garnish I included fresh cranberries and orange slices. I had some fruit left over so I froze the remnants. I knew I’d think of something to do with them eventually.

As Valentine’s Day approached, I decided to make something in my Mom’s vintage heart copper mold. Tom likes gelatin (I’m not using Jello brand, there is nothing wrong with it but I shopped at Aldi, so I guess it’s proper to say “gelatin” and not “Jello”) and fruity flavors seemed to be something that would complement the chicken. I cooked the leftover orange slices and cranberries to make an infusion to use as the water in the gelatin recipe. That should pump up the flavor! I froze it until ready to use and then made the gelatin with it.

gelatin_and_fruit

After filling the heart mold I put some of the leftover gelatin in the glass footed cups below. I remember my Mom getting a whole set of dishes in this style in the 1970s from Liberty supermarket. As I recall there were parts of the set that you could get each week if you spent a certain amount. Mom got tumblers in two sizes and plates in two sizes too. How do you like my space age retro hand mixer? It belonged to my Grandma and Grandpa Hasenfratz. It’s a little beat up looking but it works and I love it! I appreciate being able to incorporate retro items handed down from family members in my cooking. It wouldn’t be as meaningful or as much fun without them!

blender

Final menu:

Cranberry/white cheddar cheese with sliced pears dusted with Fruit Fresh, cinnamon and stevia, with a glass of Italian spumante malt beverage

Salad greens with Creamy Mustard Vinaigrette (also from the Barefoot Contessa book)

Tequila Lime Chicken

Grilled asparagus

Strawberry/Cranberry/Orange Jello with fresh raspberries and whipped topping

That was fun to make and even more fun to eat! Looking forward to taking care of those leftovers…

 

 

 

 

Celebrating Love As A Verb With Wedding Greeting Cards

Tom and I will be celebrating our sixth month anniversary of being married in less than a week! We renewed our marriage vows for the first time at mass this past weekend as part of World Marriage Day. Also Valentine’s Day is in two days and I’m planning the home cooked meal that Tom requested for his Valentine gift as I work on my projects this week. Love is definitely in the air!

Renewing our vows is a good reminder that love is a verb and marriage is something we celebrate and practice every day…so I don’t feel too bad that I’m still working on a couple of projects that incorporate greeting cards that we received for our showers and wedding. (Cards are still trickling in, actually, so I’m really not behind!)

The number of cards we received is astonishing. My Mom kept her wedding cards in a scrapbook. I like to scrapbook, and working cards into scrapbooks and journals is something I’ve been doing for awhile. I love to make handmade books and journals of all kinds and I’ll use almost any excuse to make one. I wanted a guestbook to use at our picnic wedding reception so I naturally made my own. I decided to work greeting cards from our showers (we’re spoiled, between the two of us we had three!) into the guestbook pages. At one of our couples showers there was a fun activity where the other shower guests wrote marriage advice on pieces of paper and we read them out loud. I put those paper pieces in the guestbook also. I intended for the unfilled parts of the guestbook to function as a photo album too, so whenever we look at our wedding photos (which I haven’t even gotten printed yet) we will remember greetings and wishes of happiness from our loved ones.

I was able to incorporate nearly every card we received prior to the wedding day into the wedding guestbook/scrapbook which is at the right side of the photo above. I made the covers from scrap mat board which I covered with map patterned paper to fit our nautical theme. The picnic reception was at a lake and Tom and I brought our kayaks. I made nautical themed collages for the front and back covers of the guestbook, protected them with a layer of transparency film, then attached them with decorative metal brads. I used metal binding rings made by 7gypsies to hold the book together at the spine. Before I fastened the collages in place, I scanned them for use as background graphics on our wedding web site. Papers for the collages came from Canvas Corp, their brand 7gypsies and other sources that I’ve collected over the years.

Here are three examples of 8.5 x 11 inch pages from the guestbook. On some pages I covered nearly the whole page with cards, notes and assorted embellishments. Other pages had blank areas for messages and later photo mounting and journaling. I used a lot of nautical themed paper from Canvas Corp, assorted goodies from my extensive paper stash and added in a little traditional wedding related imagery to blend with the greeting cards. My new Mother In Law is very talented, she painted the card with the two kayaks. She also gave us a great watercolor painting with nautical flags spelling out “Love Lives Here”. A most thoughtful and personal gift that we will always treasure!

At the wedding and since the wedding, we have received many times more cards and if I did what my Mom did and mounted them all on scrapbook pages, I would be making several huge books that would take up a lot of space. I very much wanted to keep all the cards. So I started thinking – several sides of these cards are either blank or have minimal content. What if the cards were not mounted into a book, but instead became the book? Then I could use empty space on the cards to write or mount photos or other memorabilia and embellishments. The cards could become a memory book for reminders, experiences, meditations, thoughts and much more.

I had in my stash some clear tag shapes for making handmade books that were about the size of the cards, so I used one of the plastic tags as a template and I started tracing around important sections of the cards to make tag-shaped book pages.

On sides that had something I wanted to cover up such as card manufacturer information on the back, I laminated with glue some paper with lines printed on it to make a good journaling surface. The example below left is paper from Canvas Corp. I bought a bunch of that design because I make a lot of journals. Some card backs like the seashore themed example below right are good for writing on or adding small photos just as they are.

I have not done a lot of reading yet on Love Languages, but I’m aware of what they are enough to know that one of my ways of giving love and feeling like I am loved is gift giving on special occasions. The gifts don’t have to be expensive, they can be handmade or simple. A good gift for me or Tom could be an experience like a Birthday hike. Tom and I also both think acts of service are a way to give love and to feel love, so when giving gifts to Tom I try to work that in there somehow. The image below shows an example of that on the left – Tom is sporty and we both like to participate in fitness activities so I made him a set of two-sided “coupon” cards good for a workout with me. The idea is to put a date on the cards as they are redeemed and put them in little pockets in my initial tag book. On the right below is an example of a tag page that I have treated like a scrapbook or journal page by using graphics from card parts, scrapbooking-type embellishments and patterned translucent vellum paper so that the cards are visible after they go into a pocket.

Realizing I would end up with enough tag shapes to make several books, I noticed a card with a graphic of a piece of toast on it. I decided it would be cute to cut the toast shape out and use it as a template to cut some of the cards into pages for one or two toast shaped books.

I’m going to keep our wedding memories alive for years as I use these little books to document and journal about our marriage. Happy Valentine’s Day and Anniversary Tom! I love you!

 

A Christmas Project That Turned Into a Valentine Project

Three softie hanging hearts made from upcycled fabric
Three softie hanging hearts made from upcycled fabric

While getting ready for my wedding last summer, I took apart the wedding dresses and veils used by my grandmother, Edith Linkul, and my Mom, Lois Hasenfratz. Neither dress fit me or was in good enough condition to wear as is, but I got a lot of usable fabric, lace and trimmings from these pieces. I started several of these stuffed hearts with ribbon hangers to give to people who helped out with our wedding for Christmas. I didn’t get them done in time for Christmas. I may revive this idea for next Christmas. In the meantime, I finished a few of them off in honor of Valentine’s Day.

All three of the hearts pictured here started out by cutting satin hearts from my grandmother’s wedding dress. I layered netting from my grandmother’s veil on two of them and leftover tulle from my veil on the other. I embellished all three hearts with lace from my Mom’s dress, champagne color faux pearl beads that came from an old necklace of my Mom’s, and small gold colored and clear glass beads. The wide piece of hanging ribbon that suspends the heart on the left came from my grandmother’s veil.

I was really glad when I got all the accessories finished that I made for my wedding, but I wasn’t ready to stop making things from the old and new materials I had amassed for wedding projects. As long as I have wedding supplies left in my stash, I’m sure these materials will keep popping up in various projects! What a great way to remember the happiest day of my life and pay tribute to my Mom and grandmother! (I need more practice getting the heart shapes more symmetrical too as you can see.)

Remembering an Old Friend

Mark Reed at Tower Grove Park in 1996
Mark Reed at Tower Grove Park in 1996

Mark Elliott Reed, 1969-2018

Unfortunately Mark was really too young to leave this world but he was an “old friend” because I knew him for a long time. We met when we were both in college and later on we shared an employer for a few years. We had many common interests such as art, hiking, animals and nature. I’m sure I pushed him out of his comfort zone at times because of some of my ideas of what is fun. I used to joke with him that you know who to call if you want to visit scary abandoned buildings, get heat stroke or stand for hours up to your ankels in cold mud! I hope he had as much fun on our more adventurous outings as I did.

Since I learned of Mark’s passing I’ve been looking through a lot of old photos. I have many photo albums of hikes we took together but he is not in many of the pictures. Mark was kind of shy about drawing attention to himself. When I was learning photography he did pose for me on occasion because it was in his nature to be a generous person.

Mark was sometimes insecure about his creative work but I was always amazed by his talent. He could create something interesting in any form of expression that he tried. Before Mark had formal art training, he was a bit insecure about his creative output and unfortunately he destroyed some of his earlier work. I do have some of it in my personal collection so there are some early pieces still around. Even when his artwork was still a bit naive in technique he had such creativity and exuberance that I was blown away. Over the years he worked with drawing, collage, clay, computer graphics, model painting and building, poetry and novel writing. I wrote a review of his first book “The God Hunters” on this old web page here: Book Reviews. I was not only impressed with the quality of his writing but that he had the fortitude to finish a large project like a book. He was on his sixth or seventh book in the series when he passed away.

Mark had a special sense of humor that I really appreciated – surreal and a bit twisted at times. For example here are a couple of lines from one of his poems that I really like:

Flies and grubs speak directly to us…
Geriatric means “no tacos”

I don’t know what that means – but at the same time I do!

Mark’s talent, knowledge and playful sense of curiosity made him a really interesting and fun person to be around. He was also very kind and generous with his resources, including his time. Mark was often available to share fun activities with me and he was also there for me at some really bad times in my life. I read through some old messages between Mark and I to try to date some of the old photos I was looking at. I noticed that although we did a lot together at times in our lives, there were also a lot of instances when I invited him to something and he was unavailable. In the vast majority of cases, this was because he was helping someone else or giving others the gift of his companionship.

It’s understandable that a lot of people wanted Mark’s company. Mark, you left the world wanting more.

Link to my Facebook tribute photo album to Mark:
Memories of Mark Reed