One of the most interesting things I have observed in the younger members of our workforce is their lack of ability to problem solve. When given a task or set of instructions they follow them with their "point and click diligence" but when confronted with circumstances that deviate from the projected result, they stall out. This is our own fault. As parents, mentors and teachers, we have failed to let them fail. We have given them step by step tasks and duties and rewarded them for following directions exactly. We have rewarded our children and students for obedience, we have structured their play time, their school time and all activities, including computer games and television are reinforcing the directive to "follow the direction of others".
There are the exceptions of course. Those who have been encouraged to create, explore and "get dirty" so to speak. Then there are the other exceptions. The ones that have trouble following all the rules, following all the directions, who don't learn by reading a book and don't fit the tick boxes we have created to describe the perfect student. We need these people. We need them to analyze what we have created, what we are doing and find different, better, cheaper, faster ways. We need them to see the world from a different angle and create new ideas and pathways.
We are given challenges in our life to stretch us. We are given problems in our life so that we search for solutions. We are given tough and arduous tasks so that we increase our endurance and analytical skills. Unless we begin allowing these challenges in our children lives, the first problem, the first challenge, the first arduous task will overwhelm them and they will quit.
I think sometimes parents and teachers fail to stretch kids. My mother had a very good sense of how to stretch me just slightly outside my comfort zone.
Temple Grandin (adult with autism, professor, speaker and inventor)
With all that said.....I had a challenge. I wanted to put stone border tiles around my ceiling to give a finishing touch to the venetian plaster and faux stone walls that I had created. Like most people, we are on a budget in this house. The cost to do a stone border would be over 1000.00. Now, being practical minded, that 1000.00 could also go toward my wood floors. I began to look for solutions. I went to my local habitat for humanities stores and could never find enough tile to do a one hundred foot project. I kept my eyes open on craigslist, checked stone shops and was about to use wood trim and faux paint the wood, when I stumbled on another solution. I found plaster and cement molds! Now I was familiar with the molds used for garden tiles, bird baths and little figurines. I was not familiar with suppliers that created molds for architectural design and decor. Walla! Not only did I find the molding I wanted for the living room/dining room but for the bathroom and decorative tiles just for fun! Out of a challenge came a new adventure! Now that is living!
Here are pics of the process to create the look of stone molding. First I brushed on a stone spray paint, before it was dry I brushed on the paint color. After these dried I dobbed gold metallic acrylic paint and then sealed the molding pieces with glaze. I am also showing pictures of hand painted decorative tiles that were sealed with glaze. Kinda fun and so much cheaper! I do not recommend plaster for anything that will be exposed to water unless you have added glue or some other bonding agent. Plaster will fall apart in the water. For projects that you will use outside I recommend quick set cement and tints.
Do you sit on your lunch hour daydreaming of a day when you will start that new project, new adventure, new business? Do you envision the time when you will be doing something other than what you are doing right now? Why are you waiting?
Sometimes the place where we are and the place we desire to be appear to be separated by a gorge. The work and changes that need to happen seem arduous. However, the only way to cross the gorge is one diligent step at a time. Unfortunately we have become accustomed to making changes at high speed. Change your cell service, change your phone, change your hair color in a matter of minutes. The harder changes, the life changes, take time and effort.
One of the things I have learned to embrace in my work are the steps required for transformation. First you must have a vision for a project and analyse the piece for the process required to accomplish the vision. The next step usually requires dismantling the project into sections or pieces. Next you remove and repair all the old that doesn't work or has become worn. The next step begins the rebuilding, finding the beauty in the piece hidden under all the worn and useless stuff. Finally you get to finish it and assemble everything.
It matters not whether you are refinishing furniture or making life/career changes. The process is the same. Create the vision, evaluate your circumstance, remove all the old and broken parts that no longer work. Find the beautiful foundation to start creating something new. Put it all together and you find you are on the other side of the gorge. The real challenge? Take the first step. So what if you are scared. Fear is normal and actually gives you the butterflies in your tummy that give way to excitement and energy. The precursor to infinite possibility.
Now...after a month or so of waiting (drum roll please) here are pictures of the finished 1940's Dining Set. So happy!
The tree lives on
The best treasures are usually found by my husband. He has a knack for digging around until he finds that hidden treasure so I have put him in charge of procurement. The chairs and table in the picture were found at an estate auction. He picked it up for an unbelievably low price and brought it home. At first I thought I would just clean it up, recover the seats and then sell it. I began working on the table and chairs and found they needed tightening and the more I looked at the finish the LESS I liked it. With a large SIGH I began removing the finish and the stain. I found a treasure.
I love trees. I plant them, prune them, sit under them, admire the birds in the branches and I admire the products that come from them. The wood from each tree has a character of its own and a craftsman takes time to cut the wood so that the beauty of the grain is revealed. Even though the tree must be cut in order to harvest wood for building projects, we can honor the life of the tree by taking the time to reveal the beauty of the wood. The table and chairs that I am refinishing were built in the early 1940's. That means that the tree gave of itself way back then but the tree lives on in this beautiful furniture. So I am happy to take the time to uncover, strengthen and protect these pieces. In that way I can give honor to that majestic oak tree that was harvested so that we may dine in comfort. Check back because the entire set will be finished soon. In the mean time here are pics of the refinished chairs. The red stain did not do them justice. I have used a light brown stain and a rub on finish.
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