Displaying fragments of a creative soul wannabe …

Remember the vintage letterpress trays I picked up at the Allegan Antique Market a while back? Yep, those trays. I think it was nearly two years ago that I came upon them thinking I’d create a shabby-chic style wall decor class.

I started collecting bits and pieces of sewing items – old patterns, threads, buttons, thimbles, intending to work into a sewing theme, but I struggled with where and how to begin. So the trays continued to take up space in the garage.

I turned many a magazine pages searching for inspiration; something to get me going. I shopped antique malls, searching for more little trinkets, treasures and ideas. I searched the Internet. Nothing. Nothing really inspired me enough to get started. Finally the time had come to do SOMETHING with those trays (my husband said so)! I took one out, hosed it down and spray painted it white even though I loved the honey-colored patina of the wood. It was like a whole new object – a big blank canvas to work with and it gave me the kick in the butt I needed!

I packed the tray along with loads of stamps, inks, paints, bits-and-pieces and whatever else would fit in the back of my car and headed to Sunset Shores over Thanksgiving with a couple of friends for an artsy weekend.

Nearly all the background papers are hand-stamped with Wendy Vecchi and Tim Holtz stamps because the papers I packed just weren’t working. The solid colors texturized with embossing folders, and yes, I measured and cut paper for each little cubbie.

I drew inspiration from some of my favorite artists: Rebecca Sower, Nellie Wortman, Michael Jack Putman, Tim Holtz, Wendy Vecchi and Lisa Pace. The piece finally started to come together. It actually took on a life of its own and went in a totally different direction.

Hardly any sewing notions I so painstakingly searched for and collected were used. Instead of a sewing theme it became representative of little fragments of my life. The life of a creative soul wannabe born in 1950. The thimble reminds me how my mother taught me to sew at the age of 7. A game piece from the Sorry! game played so many times with brothers and sisters. My Charlie dog and so many more memories fill those little cubbies along with a few family photos. Some cubbies remain empty to house memories of days and years yet to come. I am so pleased with the results. Don’t you think it will look great next to the vintage shutter?

Focusing on the positive…

If there was ever a time when everything falls apart it was in class this past weekend and, as an instructor, that’s the one place you never want it to happen.

I’ll admit, the majority of my classes usually go extremely well and I consider myself very fortunate. It doesn’t just happen, though. There’s a lot of time put into designing my projects, keeping track of all the products used and writing easy-to-follow instructions with color photos for all the students. I package kits and pack extra supplies. The store owners receive a complete list of products that will be used in class and they receive a sample for display.

Techniques are the focus of all my classes. I love teaching technique so have learned to incorporate them into projects that can be completed in an allotted amount of class time. I’ve been getting much better at estimating class times and classes have been finishing on time – until this past weekend.

Boy, my estimates were way off and everything that could go wrong did! Students were very understanding and still commented about how much fun they had and that they loved their project, but underestimating the time to complete the project combined with confusing instructions was frustrating for students as well as myself.

On my journey home I churned the day’s events over-and-over again in my mind, working through all the kinks – I do make an effort to learn from my mistakes. These mistakes needed to be corrected because I’m teaching this class again in a couple of weeks and I’m positive it will be a good time for all!

Weather, birthdays and classes …

This beautiful weather we’ve been experiencing for a week now is making it very difficult for me to stay indoors and do what needs to be done – like posting to this blog! Today my husband and I started by clearing out a lot of junk out of the garage but as the day wore on we both found ourselves sitting under the tree and watching the wildlife scurry around the pond.

Dinner was cooked on the grill and we ate on the patio. What a wonderful day! I justified the easy day by telling myself I’ll take it for my birthday instead of Monday – works for me (I don’t know what other excuses I’ll use if this weather holds much longer)!

I wanted to share these photos of my recent shutter classes. I’m really bad about remembering to take photos during classes because I’m usually chatting and sharing techniques and ideas and before I know it the students are gone and I’m packing up. This first photo is the first group of students working on their shutters during class at Scrap Tales.

This next photo is at Scrapbook Peddler in Saginaw. I caught the students just as some were leaving but I really wanted to share their shutters with you. They worked hard on them and they each created very unique looks to fit their decor.

I just love teaching and watching the students go off on their own allowing their creativity to jump out and take over.

One of my most enjoyable teaching experiences recently was with the Brush Benders painting group in Brighton. This is a very creative group of students who are usually much more structured in their meeting sessions and their craft than I. But they gave it their all as they experienced playing with gesso, Distress Inks, Grunge Board, paints and gel mediums in my version of painting class.

I’m currently working on some classes for Fall and Christmas and I’ll have some sneak peeks to post later this week so stay tuned. I will be teaching in Flint and Saginaw this weekend so hope to see you there!