Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Powerful Art of Stupid Creativity

I listened to the song "Big Man" by Boy & Bear. "If failure don't hurt then failure don't work anymore..." 

I started reading a book called The Power of Starting Something Stupid by Richie Norton.

I had a conversation with my friend, Dusty, about creating to create and the process of creativity.

I had a morning to ponder to myself what I'm doing with my life, knoweldge, talents, abilities, etc.

I watched a video by John Green. How to Become and Adult 

Then I bummed around on Facebook and Instagram. 

Today, this week, this was part of my creative process. And something came from it.

Sometimes I feel like if I am not doing something "big", "important", or at least "cool" than I am not doing "anything." Flawed logic my friends, flawed, flawed. Flawed!

I have another "issue." All I've ever dreamed of doing is... EVERYTHING. I've often said of myself that I am a specialist in being a generalist, because I think everything that everyone else does is SO COOL. Ok, with the exception of accountants. Although they have some sa-weeet jokes. If only I understood them...

Everyone says to follow your dreams. So today I had a crazy idea. If I've only ever dreamed of doing everything, why don't I "live my dreams" and give it a shot? The idea is easy: Find someone who loves something and does it better than I do and ask them if I can listen to them (para-quoted from the John Green video).  For a couple of hours. For a day. Whatever they want to give me! AND OF COURSE I WILL RETURN THE FAVOR (I felt the need to capitalize and bold that...) I'm not exactly sure where the idea will lead at the moment, and maybe it's "stupid"... but currently I'm super excited.

 I hoping to enlist the help of my friends and learn something cool from them, maaaybe once a week? Next week: Book Binding! Coming soon... welding! Other possibilities: Stand up comedy, photography, jewelry making, glass blowing, ceramics, sculpting, pottery, writing music, DJing etc. etc. etc. And I am SO open to suggestions. Anyone want to teach me their awesome profession or hobby?

Maybe something will stick and become my passion. Maybe not. I actually expecting that I'll probably get addicted to learning. But I will definitely document it. And I as long as I'm following my creative process, then SOMETHING will come out of it. It's like, the law of creativity. Creating creates. 

Wish me luck!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Penny Stain WIN!!

 It has been said on Pinterest that one can make a caribbean blue stain out of pennies soaked in vinegar for a week.

To the frustration of many pinners, this has experiment has failed over and over again.

But before I knew this, I wanted to take a stab at that oh-so-gorgeous penny stain! I love it when I can experiment with science AND art. It's, like, what my brain was made for or something. Luckily, my brain is also wired to do research before starting such a project (lesson learned from many childhood volcanos gone wrong. *Shudder*). I figured there HAD to be some sort of ratio of vinegar to pennies, estimated time lapse, etc. etc. etc. 

This is when I found out if you throw a handful of pennies in vinegar for a week you get a niiiice big chunk of!!!!.... nothing. So what's the dealy, yo? Luckily I found the answers!

There are two important facts to note if you want to do a penny stain. 

1.  Not all pennies are created equal: 
"In 1962, the cent's tin content, which was quite small, was removed. That made the metal composition of the cent 95 percent copper and 5 percent zinc. The alloy remained 95 percent copper and 5 percent zinc until 1982, when the composition was changed to 97.5 percent zinc and 2.5 percent copper (copper-plated zinc). Cents of both compositions appeared in that year." - US
I also read another blogger who experimented with pennies and vinegar and found that she had most success with pennies from the 1960's. So maybe it is the tin from pennies before 1962 that contributed to the deep blue? Not sure on the details yet, but 1960's pennies DO work the best (as you will see later in the blog post).

2. You can't use vinegar alone! 
There must be an introduction of oxygen in order to get any chemical reaction going. This can quickly be done by adding a secret ingredient. Are you ready for it?
Just add even a couple of tablespoons and you are going to get yourself a stain in a matter of hours. This is why no one was having success by just adding pennies to vinegar. 

So I decided to try a little experiment. Since I didn't want to waste time copying other experiments, I just did two jars of pennies mixed with vinegar and hydrogen peroxide.

Here were my results:

I was actually quite shocked at how quickly the chemical reaction happened on my jar full of pennies from the 70's through the 2000's. It literally happened in a matter of minutes. However, the 60's took a couple of hours to start looking blue. It did, however, start to turn blue on the first day.

Yet oddly while the 60's penny stain stayed blue, the other elixir did not. The 60's got more and more blue, and the 70's through 2000's color practically diminished by day 3. It was completely gone by day 5. I was actually quite bummed because I was excited to see what sort of colors each stain produced. They were so different! I wonder if I had only used pennies before 1982 (when they changed to mostly zinc) it would have stayed that cool, mossy green color (hey, YOU should give that one a shot!)

But as it was, my 1960 penny stain won out, and that was what I used on my wooden sign. 

I had enough stain from about 6 oz of vinegar and 2 tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide to do 6 coats on 3 wooden letters. It turned into a BEAUTIFUL greenish blue hue. I wasn't ever planning staining all of my letters. I also wanted to try modge podging some beautiful tissue paper I've been saving for months onto one of the letters, and the last letter was saved to pay homage to the source of the stain itself. I literally wanted pennies EVERYWHERE! The tissue paper letter was just an added bonus.

(Side note: I also read that the stain isn't "stable" so it is a smart idea to seal the stain. I just used modge podge over the stained letters as a sealant)

This is how the final product turned out:

AWESOME, RIGHT!?!?!? Wow, I was so surprised at how pretty it turned out. I think I'm going to hang it on my wall over my makeup area. But seriously, imagine how pretty this stain would be on some old wood furniture? Game boards, bird houses, the possibilities are ENDLESS. 

So now you know how to do a REAL penny stain, the right way. Get to it! And send me pictures of the masterpieces you make. I would love to see it all :)

Happy Creating!

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Does Anyone Ever Feel This Way?

That's right. ANGRY. I took this self portrait on Tuesday as I was thrashing and screaming about my home. My poor mother experienced this animorphic transformation when I spilled her smoothie all over the ice tray in the freezer. (I think the ice machine took offense because it hasn't made any ice since...)

I was so angry that I did what any mature, self-respecting young adult would do. I threw a tantrum. Granted it was contained in the form of a journal entry, but I think at one point I even threw my phone across the room onto my bed. Luckily my phone is military grade. It was trained to endure much worse.

I know how unattractive it is to admit this, but COME ON PEOPLE, do you really think I will believe you for a second if you told me your face hasn't turned blue, red, and maybe a little yellow in a moment of irrational rage? Ok, so maybe I'm the only one. Luckily I didn't take my rage out on anyone but myself (and the ice machine). But after a two-day cool down I've learned a couple of valuable lessons. 

Anger is quite the same as a headache. It's almost never the actual problem. It is always the symptom of a different ailment. And trying to treat the surface ailment may help for a moment, but it will only leave the real problem nesting away in your mind/body. And that problem will lay it's cancerous eggs e'ry-where 'till it has consumed your whole soul. 

So what was behind my anger? Hurt, anxiety, shame, fear, frustration, disappointment, embarrassment, and a just a pinch of jealousy. Yes, that is 8 of the 11 sub-faces on my anger face chart. Which feelings came from what I felt were unfair, and oddly cyclical life occurrences. 

After that wonderful realization, I had to start asking, "Why?" A mentor-friend I have been working with told me to keep asking why until you get to the bottom of things. And can I tell you something? I uncovered quite the amount of gunk. Things I have been holding on to for a long time that I have been sweeping under the rug. 

I would love to sit here and tell you all of the frustrations I have been facing and what was actually behind them, but the truth is I wouldn't know where to start, and I probably wouldn't know where to end. And I'm not even sure it would be all that helpful. However, in an effort not to be vague, I will tell you this. My next blog post will be dedicated to a specific experience I had this week that truly humbled me. Like the "man-I-was-just-served-and-boy-did-it-feel-good" sort of humbling. 

But for now I will say this. Most of my life I have been living for other people. Not because they wanted me to, but because I thought I wanted to. I felt it was my duty to fulfill the potential I thought others saw in me. And I would feel extremely disappointed if I couldn't live up to it. Trust me, it's an exhausting lifestyle. 

After a wee bit of soul searching, and some unexpected counsel from dear friends and supporters, I've decided to LET GO. There are good things to let go of, and there are bad things to let go of. And I'm sure I'll learn to navigate my way through both avenues. But for now I'm deciding to let go of two major things. 1) Other's opinions, and 2) Outcomes. And I'm also going to let go of the fact that I am not where I thought I would be at this stage in my life. So what? If I can be happy here and now, that is going to give me the most amount of peace. 

I have some amazing blessings in my life at the moment. I have plenty if reasons to feel happiness. And I have every reason to do things because I want to. Not because I think others want me to. And by the way - that is not to be taken in a bitter connotation, it isn't anyone else's fault I was living for them. I've just decided for myself that it's time to stop. 

So there it is. And here I am. And we'll see where it goes from here.

(PS. Next week I'm going to experiment with natural stains on wood. It's going to be so fun and I'm so excited!)

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Paint on Paint

On Monday I was itching for creativity. And I wanted to be selfish about it. 

So I went to Savers and purchased this little diddy.



Sorry for the absolutely terrible pictures, but at least you get the idea. Some of my favorite details are in the pictures at the beginning of the post. 

Basically I wanted to take a tired, old, and forgotten painting and give it new life by painting over it. I used 6 colors of acrylic paint, wooden birds, and metal elements to create my new masterpiece. I didn't mix any of the colors because I wanted them to be pure and stand alone. Plus I loved how some of the elements from the original painting came through all on their own. 

  And how could I resist choosing this painting when I found this heartfelt message on the back of the frame??

If you have trouble deciphering the handwriting, it reads, 

"I Saw This - Fell in Love & Called Stan in Tears - He Said - "Get it" Bless Him!!"

Wow! So many things I love about this statement. Not sure which part of the story I love most. Is it the fact that the painting moved her so much that she called her (husband?) in tears, literally crying, to tell him about it? Or the fact that he loved her so much that he didn't laugh at her when she called, he just straight up said "buy it"?  Or is it that she was so moved by his offer that she blessed his name forever? Whatever it is, it was so moving that she had to document the story on the back of the frame. 

The date from that statement is November 1987. The same year I was born. 

When I first saw the painting, I honestly didn't see anything special. I thought, "DEER! I love deer! could paint them in glitter." It didn't move me. I honestly just wanted to find something I could paint over for a fun project. But as with every project, it takes on a life all of it's own. 

I thought about what the painting must have looked like before it was sun bleached, back in 1987. Was it really so moving? To bring someone to tears? Where has it been since then? And why would such an important piece be at the local thrift store?

I don't know the answers, but I know what it did for me. It still might not be anything special, but this is the first creative project I have done just for myself in years. Just because I wanted to. And I love how it has turned out.

And Mumford and Sons tied the whole thing together. My story and her story. Just as they always do.

I didn't intend for this blog post to get all sentimental, but it is what it is, I suppose. Stories on Stories, Paint on Paint. That, to me, is the beauty of life. 

I intend to do one creative project a week. Just because I want to!

And if anyone wants to join they are more than welcome! Let's make some memories :)

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Get It, Girl!

Sometimes instagram hits the nail right on the head.

Sometimes you just need to stop feeling sorry for yourself and get up and go.

You don't have a job that fits your degree? So what? Hugh Jackman worked as a party clown before he ever made it big. (Can we say sexy clown? Yeeeah)

You're not married to the man/woman of your dreams? Do you remember that Justin Timberlake dated Britney Spears? Be glad you've probably dodged some bullets. 

You happen to have roommates who are 40 years older than you? And may have also given birth to you? Aaaand sometimes still buy you dinner? Well, I mean if you'd like to trade for halitosis-fire-breathing-drama-causing-twenty-something-year-olds-with-sticks-where-the-sun-don't-shine... be my guest! There's always a lucky chance you could even share a bed.

I guess what I'm trying to say is there are a lot of reasons we can feel sorry for ourselves. And that pity usually stems from fear. Fear of failure and fear of the unknown. But more likely the fear of success. The idea that what we want to do will actually WORK. And what does that mean if we have to power to change our plight in life. Does it seem overwhelming? 

I've never allowed myself to dream big, because I was afraid of disappointment. But I realize that I was actually more afraid of success and what success would mean in my life. So this is really a pep talk to me. Dream big, girl. Dream. Big.

Oh, and let go of that ridiculous pride. Nothing in my life at the moment is conventional. I'm waiting tables for extra cash, I'm giving online dating a shot, I'm a woman trying to start a new business, and I live at home with my parents. But I'd rather be unconventional than sitting at home scared (poop)less. And now that I'm starting this journey, I want to document it. I AIN'T SCURRED! Thank you, blogger, for being my outlet.

I don't know what it is I have always wanted to go do, and what is happening in my life is certainly not what I've always wanted to do. But the fact is, I'm DOING. And doing leads to more doing. And that doing is leading me up an unconquerable mountain. 

And so far the view is great.