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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Polly Wants a Candy!

My hot glue gun has been working overtime the last few weeks. After all, it is costume season.  Once I came up with a costume idea, I got my tail in gear. I visited a few fabric stores, bought the biggest bag of hot glue sticks I could find (100 sticks), and moved my sewing machine into the kitchen.

This costume has taken a little longer to create than I’d planned. But if I’m going to do a costume, I want it to be as detailed as possible. So it’s worth the extra hours, some hot glue burns on my hands, and hundreds of red fibers scattered on the kitchen floor. (The house looks like the world’s largest feather boa exploded inside it, but luckily I have a very patient hubby who knows that I’m much happier (and easier to live with) when I have a project going. Smart hubby!)

My idea for this costume came about because I like parrots for their bright, feathered outfits. At the fabric store I spotted red eyelash fabric and it reminded me of feathers. That would be my base, and to it I would add felt feather shapes as well as actual feathers. I created my beak and feet with plastic needlepoint mesh, which is an excellent material when you need some rigidity but also a flexible, lightweight material. I already had a red shirt and red skirt I hadn’t worn in ages, so turning them into costume components was free.

The pitfalls of life in a parrot suit:

·        It’s not as comfortable as other clothing.

·        Keeping one’s beak in place is not always easy.

·        The costume is hot (no wonder birds shed feathers) and the weather is expected to be warm today. (But we artists sometimes must sacrifice for our art, so it’ll be worth it!)

The perks of parrothood:

·        Making this costume was fun! Bright colors are mood-lifting.

·        An amusing costume makes me happy and hopefully will entertain others.

·        This holiday is all about choosing an alter ego for a day and being as creative as you like.

This morning I’ll be attending a Halloween parade so I’ve got to fly.

This is Polly Parrot signing off, saying “Squawk! Happy Halloween!”




























Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Priorities Shaken

Storm Sandy shook ships,

tossed trees, telephone wires,

families, feelings.

We watch tv reports in disbelief.

Can’t comprehend the destruction.

Yesterday my big concerns were

Halloween excitement

and election ad burnout.

Today my attachment to Halloween

feels ridiculous

as others have no power

and flooded homes.

Trick or Treat?


People injured and scared.



Saturday, October 27, 2012

Halloween Fever

I have all the symptoms. My heart is racing. My palms are sweaty. I can’t sleep. That’s right. It’s a serious case of Halloween fever. But the mundane errands still exist (holiday season or not), so I recently visited the nearby 99 cent store for paper towels. (I try to use dish towels a lot, in the interest of saving trees from being turned into paper towels, but I do still use paper variety, too. It’s a change-in-progress…) Anyway, the 99 cent store has good deals on paper towels and after I’d chosen three rolls, I became distracted by the decorations for sale. As you know, I like to make my own, but if I were not inclined that way, I could find a ton of decorations for a song at this store. The one Halloweeny thing I did end up buying was an orange table cloth. It’s the vinyl kind that people use for parties. It was HUGE, and I immediately  envisioned  transforming our plain garage door into a festive welcome area, beckoning trick-or-treaters toward our front door. The garage door is a giant canvas just sitting there, mostly undecorated, most of the year. Besides, big is fun and with a giant plastic table cloth (for only 99 cents!) I could have a HUGE pumpkin decoration on the door. Big results, small cost. Yippeee!
First I cut the tablecloth in half, putting both halves side-by-side on our biggest wall inside. I taped them together on the back, and then drew a pumpkin shape, plus eyes, nose and mouth. Since I already had black paint at home, I painted the features and soon it was time to put The Great Pumpkin outside. (Linus from the Peanuts gang would say that mine is not The Great Pumpkin, and he would know. Have you seen “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown?” It’s terrific!) My pumpkin doesn’t take up the whole front of our 2-car garage but it is eye-catching nonetheless. Once I realized I still had leftover table material (the corners of the tablecloth) I decided to make smaller pumpkins just in case anyone passing by might be unsure of whether I like this holiday. The garage door is now almost like a pumpkin patch, perhaps a tribute to Linus, as he awaits The Great Pumpkin.

Here I am next to it, to give you an idea of the scale.

The fever? Yes, I’ve got a bad case of it. Halloween is less than four days away. Don’t be alarmed if I vanish like a ghost in a minute. This feverish fanatic still has finishing touches to put onto her costume…

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Creative Costumes and Creepy Creatures

It’s no secret that I really like Halloween. No, I’m not particularly interested in being scared but I love the imagination involved in Halloween. It is different from most other holidays, which have traditions to follow. Halloween you can interpret in whichever way you want, and I love the creative possibilities. Remembering the Halloween parades we did at school when I was a kid makes me happy. The costumes were all so different and the surprise of seeing how everyone else was dressed made for such fun.

When I was a kid, my sister and I started plotting about costumes months (maybe seasons!) before the big day. I still remember many of the costumes we had, some of which we made at home. One year, I decided I would be a box of Cracker Jack popcorn. Mom found a box somewhere and I covered it with paper, then painted the outside to match the Cracker Jack box. I remember sitting on the floor of the laundry room, painting the box as I studied an actual Cracker Jack box. Naturally, I had to sample the product (such sacrifices for my art!), as I needed to be sure that what I was endorsing was as delish as it claimed to be. Yes, the popcorn passed the taste test! Here I am (aged 9 or 10):

We’ve been making decorations, too. Out front we have two dozen ghosts and jack-o-lanterns, as well as a few bats.
And maybe I’ve ignored boring household chores to make a few seasonal barrettes…
This morning I took this photo of a web dotted with tiny drops of dew. Pretty, I thought. Although I don’t like to think of the 8-legged artist who created it. The big spiders have come out in the last few weeks. They are volunteer Halloween decorators. Sure, I appreciate their effort but they are BIG! And SCARY! (I like my Halloween to be funny rather than scary and spidery…)

Halloween is fifteen days away. I’ve been working on my costume and I’m excited to show it to you. But you’ll have to be patient until Oct. 31. No hints. You’ll just have to wait. (Although if you were determined to get a hint out of me, I can be bought with milk chocolate…!)

Sunday, October 14, 2012

New Life (Oct. 14, 2012)

You never know what you'll see when you're out wandering. (I’ve said it before but I’ll keep saying it because I keep seeing wonderful surprises!) On a recent walk I discovered a charming planter hanging near the front door of someone’s house. Succulents caught my eye first because I love this kind of plant. A moment later I realized that they were planted inside something else I like: part of a vintage car. It looks like the grill from a 1940s or 50s truck. What a delightful combination!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Low-Water but Lotsa Wow! (Oct. 6, 2012)


Today was the annual Arts Alive festival in Solana Beach and I was delighted that my art was part of it. The festival is a celebration of various art forms. There were live musical performances, choreographed dance pieces, fine artists’ displays and Urban Fence Gardens.

Several months back I read the call for garden-themed creations for Arts Alive and I instantly knew that Duck tape should be involved. I submitted my proposal and sketch and thirteen of us were chosen to design gardens that could be installed on the fences separating the pedestrian walk from the train tracks below.  

Duck tape came onto my radar earlier this year. If you haven’t been inside a craft store lately, Duck tape is strong like duct tape, but much more appealing as it comes in many cheerful colors and patterns. It’s an ideal material for outdoor art and the possibilities are endless.

A few days ago I installed seventeen flowers and eight critters along a twenty-foot section of fence. The flowers range in size from 16” to 6’ tall. Each is different, some being semi-realistic (like my 6’ sunflower) and some being wild creations I made with tape, buttons, feathers, and wooden dowels for sturdy stems. I named mine “Groovy Garden” and if I may say so, it was quite groovy.


One of the things I liked most about the fence gardens is that the thirteen artists all interpreted this proposal so differently. Most artists used color but some did not. Many varied materials were used. Different shapes, textures and patterns made the gardens individual. One artist who made a sign encouraging viewers to recycle created her flowers from repurposed plastic containers (such as Tide detergent bottles), cut open to form oversized petals. Some artists used wood. Some created ceramic pieces, and one woman made long spiral shapes out of screen. Quite a mix.

It feels good to be involved in my adopted home-town. It feels great to have my art on public display, too. My life is mostly about my family these days, but the artist is always in me, and she’s happy for the chance to do something creative that many people can enjoy.

My flowers won’t last forever but for now they are brightening a tiny patch of San Diego. Plus, they are low-water plants (no water, actually!). Bright, cheerful flowers for everyone to see? No water needed? It’s a win-win!