Wednesday, May 26, 2010

thinned newfragile yellows (e.e.cummings)

The material: Scrap stained glass pieces
The source: The stained
The story: Doggies, I still live in an I Can't Paint These Walls world. In an attempt to get around that, I have been trying to splice color into odd spots all around. This stove-side window in my kitchen overlooks things like gravel, the Broadstreet Market (when you careen your neck), and a Honda (always). I am against being able to see two out of three of those things, but I am also insistent on a house full of light through its windows. Stained glass exists for this very reason, and so one evening, my favoriteprofessorandnowdearfriend Helen Walker and I held a thousand squares of color to the light to find our favorites. I picked two to fit my kitchen window in colors that would pick up the table, the cups, and NOT the gravel/Honda. These days, I am obsessed with the yellow-to-green-to-brown spectrum. Be prepared for that when you come visit. The house is smashedfull with it.

The How To Do It:
1. Spend years making jewelry, and you will have acquired a wealth of very thin-gauged wire by the time you want to do this project.
2. Wrap wire four or five times around the center of the glass pane, and then back onto itself toward the top to get rid of dastardly stray wire ends.
3. Form a hoop of wire at the top out of the excess.
4. Make the hoop longer for the second pane of glass to allow for staggered hanging.
5. Use any old fixture you want to hang the panes from. I used a standard wall hook that I found rolling around in the utensil drawer.
The cost:$6 (scrap pane of glass) + $6 (scrap pane of glass) + $0 (wire from forever ago) +0 (wall hook, undoubtedly once belonging to my roommate) = $12.

And now welcome to a segment we call This Person Has Surpassed Me, in which I catch wind of someone doing excellent work and would like to tell you about them. Today's guest is Matthew Murray. His jam is to photograph abandoned structures to both document their downfall and dignify their beauty, specializing in asylums and churches. One thing in particular that I appreciate about his pieces is how carefully and eye-wrinklingly titled they are. Matt's work is excellent and has inspired me to enter dangerous buildings to photograph them. He can be blamed for my death.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Perks of Being Drywall

It turns out, the perks are few. This post details one of the messiest and crumbliest projects these old eyes have ever seen.

The material: Drywall.
The source: An around-the-corner-construction-site-recycling-bin.
The story: I have been making coasters in the style seen in the backsplash project for years and years, always with procured bathroom tiles. These coasters are great, and I have sold something like 900 jillion of them between the Hodgepodgery, Mantis Collective craft fairs, blah blah blah. Hilariously, we began noticing water rings on the trunk in our living room because we weren't actually in possession of any. YET. And while I knew ready-made bathroom tiles would work, I didn't have any on hand. But I did have an elusive and growing stack of scrap drywall, so I tried to be the Mother of Invention or the Necessity of A Mother or the Invention of Necessity or something.

The How To Do It:
1. Measure out a standard coaster size directly onto the drywall.
2. Using a straight edge and a utility knife, score the drywall as deeply and safely as you can. The drywall should snap easily along the cut. I made six coasters and three cuts on my hand.
3. Those edges will be BEAT, homegirl. Sand and scrape the edges. I had to peel the base cardboard off as well. The inexactness of it all meant that each square was unique and imperfect. Some people will like that, and some people won't. OH WELL.
4. Prime those suckers. Drywall won't stand up to moisture as it is, so I used the same primer as I did for the table map project to prepare them. This was difficult, actually. The drywall was pretty crumbly, and I am pretty impatient, so I ended up doing a lot of breathing exercises.

5. While they're drying, make some Aesthetic Decisions. I knew that I wanted these coasters to be straightforward and unironic, unlike most of my crafts. But at the same time, I wanted them to be innovative, distinct, and bitchin. I ended up using some scrap wallpaper pieces that the cerealously lovely Aly Lehman had given me. I picked my colors based mostly on the old-time-stripey gold sofa that Betsy Claar had given me.
6. Drench the (dry)wallpaper in modpodge, smear onto the drywall tiles, and let dry(wall).
7 Spray with clear acrylic finish.
8. Reinforce the backs with cork or whathaveyou. (I recommend the sheet cork as opposed to actual corkS. But you are very smart and will make a good choice either way.)
9. Display on your windowsill next to the old-time-stripey gold sofa that Betsy Claar gave you.

The cost: $0 (scrap drywall) + $0 (scrap wallpaper) +$0 (scrap cork) + $.50 (the combined cost of the Modpodge and Acrylic Finish I used) = $.50

And now welcome to a segment we call This Person Has Surpassed Me, in which I catch wind of someone doing excellent work and would like to tell you about them. Today's guest is Benjamin Thorpe, one of my most good friends and an intimidation to each facet of my creativity. His work is studied and quiet. I am compelled by this in particular. You can see Ben's work this July at the Midtown Scholar's Yellow Wall Gallery (they are letting him show his work even though he doesn't even live in this town).

Sunday, May 9, 2010

stand in the place that you are (rem)

A development: In honor of Ollie Mikse and his compulsively articulated wishes, I will begin endorsing correct capitalization rules as laid out by the MLA in these blog posts. WHATEVER.

The item: A forgettable bookshelf
The source: A trash heap on Kelker Street
The story: A contextual aside to this story is that I no longer live in a house that has a washing machine, which means that The Laundromat has rumbled back into my life. A few nights ago, Joy and I shouldered everything we each own to whatever-that-place-is-called on 2nd Street and sat in the grass along the river between loads (and waited for a certain recently discovered singing citizen to walk past. You'll recognize him by his practice of walking around Harrisburg singing. Loudly.) On the way back from the river, we found the pictured forgettable bookshelf on the sidewalk junk pile.

Back at the ranch, I formed a plan. And by formed a plan, I mean that I did nearly all of this with zero forethought. I first decided to fill the lame-o holes with whatever spackle-style-substance I could find in the basement. I found industrial sheet rock, which I still feel funny about, but which worked just fine. As an afterthought, I decided to add a little visual interest and texture to the top. I did this by spreading industrial sheet rock, which I still feel funny about, over the top and then scraping out a quoted poem (I should have been a pair of ragged claws scuttling across the floor of silent seas) with my finger. I then painted it with one of the scrap leftover cans of paint crowding the closet in hopes of using it up. BAM, new bedstand. (In honor of this Mother's Day, let me also tell you that the photo on display on the new bedstand is my OWN mother in the Cloisters on her first date with dad.)

The cost: $0 (reclaimed forgettable bookshelf) + $0 (found industrial sheet rock, which i still feel funny about) +0 (the remains of an old can of paint) = $0

And now, welcome to a segment we call This Person Has Surpassed Me in which I catch wind of someone doing excellent work, and I want to tell you about them. Today's guest is Luke Eshelman, a OnceUponATime coworker at the Midtown Scholar Warehouse and an incredible photographer (unbeknownst to me until quite recently). Luke, now situated in DC, is gaining a lot of recognition for his craft, and I have been especially impressed by his unique wedding shots. This is my favorite wedding he shot. (AT THE ZOO?!)

Thursday, May 6, 2010

get back(splash)

backsplashes are the new black, guys!

the items: standard size tiles donated by a lovely woman i don't know very well, blueprints from a paddleboat, a love of poetry, and a thousand corks donated by walter diehl approximately 30 years ago.

the story: this project is a marriage of lots of odd pieces i didn't quite know what to do with. the tiles are high quality, and the blueprints and corks are unique. but they all hung around in corners and boxes for years, always one-upped by other supplies. UNTIL TODAY, when i made a back splash for the area of wall behind my stove. the process for this was very easy since i have been in the habit of making tile coasters for years.

it goes like this: 1. find paper that will fit the size of your tile (in this case, effing blueprints. i garnered these from a part-time job awhile ago in which i worked for a riverboat, and these were in the trash. i modified the blueprints slightly by adding part of fishing on the susquehanna in the middle)
2. cut to fit.
3. drench in modpodge.
4. afix to tile, rubbing out all air bubbles. (i can not stress enough how mad you will be if it dries and you find an air bubble in the middle. you will be incensed.)

5. let dry.
6. seal with polyurethane, lacquer, or what have you. (the sixth step was particularly important in this project since the tiles will be SPLASHED UPON by delicious cooking things.)
7. IN THE EVENT that you have a landlord, as i do, and don't want to run the risk of making her sad by affixing subversive blueprints to the wall, superglue corks to the back. they essentially sit ON the stove and rest against the wall. easy, breezy.

the cost: $0 (donated tiles) + $0 (reclaimed blueprints) + $0 (donated corks) + $.30 (the amount worth of mod podge i used) = $.30

and now, welcome to a segment we call This Person Has Surpassed Me in which i catch wind of someone doing excellent work, and i want to tell you about them. today's guest is walter diehl, the donor of aforementioned corks. walter holds the disctinction of being my first roommate in harrisburg (for the span of a full week) as well as one of the most generous people i know. he specializes in abstract acrylics, curating, and networking the bejeezus out of the art world in central pa. his pursuit of art has taken him all over, and he was recently the subject of an article in the Central Penn Jorunal for having supplied a HUGE load of paintings to furnish the new lofts at 909. also notably, he is the co-owner of Progressive Galleries in Lancaster. you can visit the gallery tomorrow night for their First Friday show.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

oh, say say say (the yeah yeah yeahs)

the item: kitchen table
the story: i have, at last, finished the kitchen table. (and when i say finished, i mean i still need to paint over a few mistakes and then seal it to protect from the underside of the cup of tea you will sip with me soon. also to come: i am inscribing the poem what we need is here along the outside rim when i get home from work today.)

to make your own strange, aslant map, i'd recommend a rough draft first.

then, tape out the streets so that you can get a healthy grid. (i centered the map on my house.)

also, feel free to measure proportions with your protractor from third grade.

i decided to draw a vastly incomplete map of harrisburg, as disproportionate as most bodies, and as strangely colored as my selection of paint would allow (the street color matches the mugs hanging from the door). it has some of my friends' houses (because lots of my friends live in houses i don't know about) and some of my favorite places to go. it's also the sort of scene that can be added to. while we're sipping tea, i'll hand you a sharpie, and you can help fill in the blanks.

the cost: $0 (kitchen table donated from favorite Roxy's waitress) +$17 (primer from the man who looks like benjamin franklin to allow for painting on crappy, verneer wood) + $0 (donated paint) + $3 (protractor and ruler set from the grocery store) = $20

and now, welcome to a segment we call These Persons Have Surpassed Me in which i catch wind of someone doing excellent work, and i want to tell you about them. today's guest is tributary, the combined efforts of my co-baristas-and-worthy-adversaries beth and kinsey rice. the Rice Style is very intentionally reminiscent of the soft folds of cabin life, irreparably nature-centered, and whimsical. you can see their work at local craft fairs and currently at the employee art show at the midtown scholar (next to mine!) this is my favorite design.