Thursday, October 16, 2008

Elementary School Musical: Fun with Paper

Warning: If you have school aged children and word gets out that you can make stuff out of paper, your home and cell phone numbers will be on the speed dial of every music teacher, homeroom parent and overzealous PTA member from now until your kids graduate from high school. After my friend Desiree and I created the set for "Bugz! The Musical" for our kids' second grade performance, suddenly I was to go-to gal for projects involving large amounts of colored paper. Last year, I got a call from a 5th grade mom asking if I could make a woody station wagon for the surf themed, end of the year 5th grade party. Thinking she must have mistaken me for another mom, I said, "You do know that I don't have a child in 5th grade?". "Yes", she said. From that moment on, I have honed my skills in the art of "Just Say No". It's not that I didn't want to help, but I know that I'm not the only creative-type parent who has kids at that school. Besides, being a good Christian and all, I didn't want to "steal any one's blessing" by doing something someone else could do.
This was my first hands-on experience working with those big rolls of paper that teachers use to cover bulletin boards in their classrooms. With the exception of a few purple balloons, a couple sheets of tissue paper, and a small amount of craft paint, this entire set is made of paper. And staples -- lots and lots of staples! Oh wait, I forgot the pb&j sandwich. This was made out of upholstery foam, purple satin and brown felt. (That sandwich was pretty awesome, if I do say so myself.) The red and white picnic blanket was weaved out of two sheets of paper. I gotta give props to Desiree for that one: cutting straight lines is not my strongest attribute. Speaking of Desiree, she is one of the most creative people I know, and she was such an encourager during the creation of this set. When I was up on a ladder with 20 feet of scrunched up paper atop my head, she kept saying, "It will be fine. We just need more staples!" Love that gal!
Because I was also in charge of costumes, I had to figure out how to create roughly 300 pairs of wings for various type of bugs. After pricing pre-made fairy wings, I concluded that option was not in the budget. My solution? White pantyhose, Rit dye in an assortment of colors and wire coat hangers. We dyed the hose and stretched them over the coat hangers (shaped in the form of wings). Oh, and safety pins -- we used lots and lots of safety pins!

I hope that this has stirred your creative juices and perhaps inspired you volunteer your creative services to your local school or church. That creative mom they always call needs a break, and she doesn't want to steal your blessing!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A Different Kind of Blog

If you follow my other blog, "Hey look, a chicken" then you may know that I'm a painter. Clients and potential clients are always asking me if I have a website. To which I tell them no, but I plan to someday. Right now, I'm doing well just to blog a little here and there between family life, home projects and paying gigs.

But I thought it might be cool to share some of the projects I've done and perhaps inspire some of you to take on a project or two yourselves. Sometimes I will give step-by-step instructions, sometimes I'll just post pictures. If you ever have any questions, feel free to leave a comment and I will try my best to answer them. While I'm sure I'll add some stupid commentary here and there, this will primarily be a painting/home decorating/diy blog; as opposed to "Hey look, a chicken", a blog about, well, whatever that blog is about...

I've done a bunch of projects -- some for paying customers, some for charity, and some just because I wanted to create something (the latter fall under the category of home projects or gifts for friends). I didn't know where to start, so I thought I would post my most recent projects and work backwards. That's not nearly as overwhelming as trying to post everything I've done.

So without further adieu, I give you "Audrey's Kitchen".

Audrey is a friend of a friend. She has a beautiful home. What I especially like about her home is that it reflects her personality. One of my big complaints about homes that are professionally decorated is that while they are usually tastefully done and well thought out, they tend to reflect the taste of the decorator, not the lives of the homeowners. I'm sure there are professional designers that can pull this off; I just haven't run across any.

Audrey was looking to update the outdated wallpaper in her kitchen. If you know me, you know that I deplore wallpaper. It may look great for years, but eventually it's going to date the space. And once it's up, you either have to paper over it, pull it off and re-float the walls, or do what I did. Namely, check to see if all the seams are tight, put an oil-based primer over it and paint it - preferably a faux finish.

Why a faux finish? Because straight painting is rather unforgiving when it comes to hiding seams. The finish itself is fairly easy, it just takes some practice. The treacherous part is the prep work - especially taping off everything, which I hate almost as much as wallpaper.

I love the way this turned out. Her kitchen was nice before, but now it ties in with the rest of rooms adjacent to it. She really likes it too -- which is what matters most.

Audrey's Kitchen Before:

Audrey's Kitchen After:

I love the splash of red here. It's also easier to touch up scuff marks.