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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Wacky Wednesday #91—Sandcastle


Sandcastles…Creative fun. Breezy days at the beach. Yep, it’s almost summer, folks.



A few months ago I found some materials that instantly reminded me of sandcastle shapes. They were cardboard packing materials, and their light brown color and bumpy texture looked exactly like sand to me. So I saved them until this week, and I made them into a sandcastle hat.


 
 





I’m wearing my sandcastle today, and mentally, I’m ready for summer. As a parent, I find the school year quite intense. My kids are still at the age when they need help with homework and projects so the school year feels like a nine month marathon. Summer, I need you. I know the kids will fight, and I know the heat will get to me, but I’m still ready for a break from school. My sandcastle and I are welcoming summer today.

Parts of this outfit were taken from last summer’s ocean costume, but I believe that if you create a hat you’ve never made before, this qualifies as a brand new Wacky Wednesday theme. I altered and reused the shell necklace I made last summer, and used some of the leftover shells for my hat. The hat is made from the cardboard shapes, hot glue, origami paper and a little bit of felt—things I already had.



My earrings are intended to look like starfish, and they are made from a piece of sandpaper I had. (The sandpaper wasn’t new, but I think that the slightly worn areas give the starfish more interest…)
 

Have a happy, rejuvenating summer…



 

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Wacky Wednesday #90—Crayons

Yesterday I baked crayons. Well, technically I melted them in the oven. But why split hairs?
Let’s back up a few weeks. At our house I can never find a pencil but we have hundreds of broken crayons in a giant box. Unlike permanent markers, crayons don’t wear out. So after they break, I keep them, thinking there’s still tons of life left in them. As an artist, it’s hard for me to throw out art supplies that could be used again, so the collection of broken crayons grows and grows. (Again, I am not a hoarder. I’m a practical saver of art supplies.)
The crayon fragments were screaming to become Wacky Wednesday accessories. So I used some fragments to decorate a crown, necklace and sunglasses. Other pieces I melted to create larger, usable upcycled crayons.
 







Until this week I’d never melted old crayons to make larger ones. I remember someone doing  this when I was in grade school. Why I can remember this--and not remember where I put the pencils—is evidence of how mysterious our brains are…

So, let’s review. This genius plan of mine has several bonuses:

1)      I’m creating another Wacky Wednesday costume I haven’t made before.

2)      I’m using up old, tiny crayons and therefore reducing the clutter (ever, ever so slightly).

3)      I’m giving old, broken crayons a new purpose.


Once I’d melted the old crayons I experimented with making art. I dripped the liquid wax onto paper, before it cooled, and I also colored with the new, giant crayons. It’s great fun.








This week’s crayon accessories are well-timed, if I do say so myself. I’d been planning this crayon theme for weeks, and by pure coincidence, crayons were in the news a few days ago. Crayola is introducing a new crayon color, based on a new shade of blue discovered by Mas Subramanian, a chemist at Oregon State University. He discovered the new pigment in 2009--the first new blue pigment to be discovered in 200 years.

The new blue has not yet been named, and Crayola is holding a contest to name the new shade. If you’re interested, check their website. Contest ends on June 2.



I’m taking next week off from blogging, but I’ll see you all again in two weeks.

The crayons and I wish you a colorful, creative day.
Now--anybody have a pencil I can borrow?



 

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Wacky Wednesday #89—Maypole



May Day was two days ago, and I’m wearing a maypole today. But let’s not argue about dates, okay? My wackiness is a Wednesday thing and if May first has the audacity to arrive on a Monday, there’s only so much I can do.




Maypoles are not something we see all that often in Southern California. Apparently there are a few places in America where maypoles are decorated each spring, and some European countries set them up each May. In San Diego? Not so much.

Some people believe that the maypole has a pagan connection. There’s debate about why people decorate them. My costume has no pagan agenda or political message or anything like that. It’s just about being colorful and making something I’ve never made before.





For months now I’ve been thinking about how to make a maypole costume. I have a piece of bamboo for my pole, and six bright shades of ribbon. Apparently, I also need a handful of leprechauns or fairies to help me make one, since I have only two hands and there are many ribbons that need to be woven under and over one another simultaneously. Since all the leprechauns and fairies I know are at real maypole celebrations this week, I’ll have to do it myself. But as you may have noticed, I like a good challenge.



(Update: I tried twice to wrap the ribbons around the pole, under and over, with an alternating clockwise and counter-clockwise pattern. After two tries, my brain was in knots and the ribbons were not woven. So I did some ribbon arranging instead and I’m calling it good enough.)



And if my maypole falls down later, we’ll just start a limbo contest instead…



Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Wacky Wednesday #88—Plastic Bottles



Today’s outfit of the day definitely involves strange accessories—even stranger than some of my other Wacky Wednesdays. Some WWs have a colorful look or have sparkly aspects. This one is much less colorful and sparkly than some. But I’m taking a break from the sparkly to explore the untapped potential of plastic bottles as accessories.

Pro: they’re very lightweight to wear.
Con: I look like I fell into a recycling can.
Pro: the scrunched-up surfaces of the bottles makes for a lot of visual texture and variety.
Con: empty water bottles make me thirsty.
Pro: this outfit will be entirely recyclable when I’m finished with it and won’t add to my clutter.
Con: my art pile clutter is at such a state that a few extra bottles won’t tip the scales.
I broke down and added a little bit of water (dyed with food coloring) to some of the bottles for a pop of color. Turns out I am not good at wearing clear, uncolorful accessories and I had to remedy the lack of color.
This week’s accessories fit with a theme I often visit: taking something from everyday life--something most people don’t think of as beautiful or interesting—and giving it a chance to be in the spotlight.
To a lesser degree, I’m also promoting recycling, which is something I do on a daily basis. Recycling isn’t necessarily limited to plastic bottles and aluminum cans. It could mean cutting up an old sweater and turning it into a capelet and giving it new life. But I’m not here to preach (a lot) so let’s get back to the wackiness and just enjoy the fun of turning something forgettable into something unforgettable.

And don’t forget the sunglasses…


I’m not quite at the point of plastic bottle underpants but if anyone out there develops some, let me know!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Do I have Egg on my Face?



Egg-blowing is the new Pilates. You heard it here first.

It’s Easter season and I decided to decorate a few eggs. So I poked holes in the ends of five eggs and started blowing the contents out. Have you tried this? It’s an alternative to using hard-boiled eggs. This way, you empty the egg shell so that you can decorate the eggs and keep them displayed without having to refrigerate them overnight.

It’s been a year or two since I blew out the insides of eggs and I’d forgotten that it takes quite a bit of force to get the goo out. By the time the fifth egg was empty, my exhausted cheek muscles felt like they’d been pinched by a hundred grandmothers. And my abs felt like they’d done a million crunches. I realized I’d conquered new levels of multitasking: working out my core and prepping for Easter. And that’s why I’m promoting the newest exercise trend: egg blowing for fitness and home d├ęcor.

Mid-way through the egg blowing I thought, “I’d better take a photo of this.” It seemed like a good idea, since I sensed a blog post in the works. But maybe it was the lightheadedness speaking. Because I’ll tell you: I did take two photos, and they are possibly the least flattering photos I have ever taken in my life. So I’ll spare you the horror and I will assure you that a close up of me, forcing air into the egg clutched between my tired lips is bad enough to picture in your head. You don’t need the visual. But the effort was worth it. My body may be tired but the eggs are empty. This is what we artists call suffering for our art.

I need a nap.

Anyway, I now have five empty eggs and I want to decorate them with supplies I haven’t used before on Easter eggs. One year I tried a silk transfer method. The pattern from your silk fabric transfers onto the eggshell for beautiful, colorful results. Other times we have used the PAAS egg decorating kits, which are fun. But please—I have a studio (crammed) full of delightful (and random) supplies and I thought it would be fun to decorate eggs using some of my craft stash.


 
 
 
I ended up decorating the eggs with decoupage. I used a clear product I already had to stick paper to my eggs, but you could use glue if you had some at home. Once I had my adhesive on part of the egg, I pressed small pieces of tissue paper onto the surface until the tissue was flattened against the egg. Then I secured it with more glue. This is so easy and because tissue paper is translucent, you get cool layers of color. On a few eggs I added a little bit of ribbon, pieces of paper doily or tiny silk flowers. I also gave makeovers to a few eggs I’d saved from previous years—adding tissue paper to the color already on the eggs. Keeping previous years’ hollow eggs in a Tupperware box in the garage is a good way to protect them from year to year, and to add to your collection. In related findings, keeping previous years’ eggs in a Tupperware box in the garage (alongside tons of other decorations and many bikes and boxes of random stuff) is not a good way to deal with the garage clutter. But hey, I’m only human. And egg decorating is much more fun than garage mess sorting.








Whether you celebrate Easter or Passover or simply the magic of spring…Whether your eggs are plastic or dyed or bedazzled or scrambled…

Happy Spring!



Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Wacky Wednesday #87—Oranges



Spring is here and it’s making me want to dress in as much color as possible.

(Well, actually, I always want to wear a lot of cheery color. It’s not exclusively a spring thing for me…)

Today I’m wearing oranges. A lot of oranges. More than a year ago I did a WW themed around lemons, but I think the citrus family is varied enough to warrant a separate outfit celebrating oranges, don’t you?


 


I decided to refashion a WW costume from the past—my Orange is the New Black dress. The dress was a good base for today’s costume, and I added oranges slices onto a necklace to fit my new theme. The orange slices are made from foam, felt, paint and a plastic orange construction vest I bought at a yard sale years ago and cut up. I cut circles from the plastic to make earrings, and I think they may be my favorite part of this outfit. While I was out today I noticed that while my shadow was dark, the shadows cast by my earrings were orange. (I loved this.)




The plastic is translucent, and orange slices are, too. Have you ever held up a slice of orange to the sun. You haven’t? You should! If you do, you’ll notice that sunlight shines through the orange. I took a photo of the earrings in our orange tree so you could see how the sun shines through them.




Oranges: they taste good, and are cheerfully bright, and are good for you. And when I wear fruit symbols, it automatically gives an outfit a playful feel.

Want to know a few facts about oranges? Oranges are the largest citrus crop in the World. They originated in Southeast Asia in approximately 4000 B.C. Oranges are actually modified hesperidia berries.

Anybody craving vitamin C yet?



Thursday, March 30, 2017

Ray and the Coif of Many Colors

On their birthdays most grandpas don’t ask for exotic hair colors.
But my friend Ray Park wanted a birthday present he’d never had before: hair in shades you’d find in a Crayola crayons box.
Ask and you shall receive.
A week ago Ray’s wonderful wife Debby asked me if I would be interested in experimenting on Ray’s hair. Are Wednesdays wacky? Of course! I said, “Yes—I’ve been feeling an itch to dye someone’s hair!” This project brings to mind a twist on the 1963 song by Leslie Gore. “It’s my party and I’ll dye if I want to, dye if I want to, dye if I want to. You would dye too if you liked red and blue…”
My own hair is taking a break from the exotic hair colors because while delightfully fun, they take their toll on my hair’s health and Dried Straw wasn’t the look I wanted. Ray’s birthday wish scratches my itch to experiment and his quest for color. Win-win. This funny grandpa of two with the quick smile and twinkly eyes was about to change his look.
Ray in his natural state.

Raynbow in the early stages of coloring...

But let’s back up a few weeks. Ray had seen an eye-catching hair style on a musician and was intrigued by the colors in the man’s hair. Ray began to ponder trying something different with his own salt and pepper hair. But why leave out his beard? Ray’s beard is more salt than pepper (an excellent foundation for dye). As we discussed ideas, Ray’s eyes sparkled with enthusiasm. He envisioned rainbows, stripes and variety. When I asked Ray how he sees himself, he said he’s “evolving.” Although his work life was in science, his hobbies, including poetry and gardening, are on the creative side. His wife describes him as spontaneous, fun-loving and goofy. His personality is as colorful as the nickname he’s had for years: Raynbow.    

Perhaps Ray’s interest in a new look shouldn’t be a surprise. Ray has explored his creative side with watercolor painting classes, landscape design courses, and stained glass making classes, among others.  He and his wife sing with the La Jolla Symphony Chorale. So for a creative guy like Ray, a desire for expressive hair should not come as a true surprise. The only surprising part is that he hadn’t done it before. But perhaps the timing is perfect. Ray was inspired by the musician’s hair, Ray’s birthday was approaching, and Debby and I were chatting about hair color last week. The pieces came together. As I’ve said before, hair can be a canvas, and I happen to have a brush or two in my tool belt.

When the dye first goes on it's very bright. Once it's rinsed out it becomes a lot more subtle.

 

This photo shows Ray's look after the first batch of color was applied. We ended up adding more blue to the sideburns.

And so…to the colors. A few days ago I emailed Ray about whether he preferred temporary or permanent dye. Short-term options included using Kool Aid colors. Yes, the drink powder. It makes for bright, temporary hair color and has the added benefit of being very affordable. Plus, if you have leftover powder you can make drinks in less than a minute. But Ray preferred to jump in with true gusto and go for permanent color. We met yesterday to discuss ideas and today Ray and I collaborated on his new look. He opted not to bleach his hair white first, which would make the colors to pop more. “Semi-subtle” was his goal.
 
 
 
This week I didn’t do a Wacky Wednesday costume and yet I was given the opportunity to do a creative experiment nonetheless. Ray, thank you for asking to be my guinea pig. I’m flattered that you entrusted your hair to me and tickled that your family associates me with the kind of crazy fun you craved. When I’m a grandparent if I’m as fun-loving as you are, I’ll be satisfied. Happy birthday and happy hair play!