So you are sitting in your favorite spot scrolling through Pinterest, checking out what your friends are creating or what some mom just created out of toilet paper rolls and you think to yourself, "Why didn't I think of that?".
You look around your house and you have done a good job decorating and things look "nice". But something inside is stirring, rolling around.
Many people ask me how or why I started doing what I do. The answer is simple. I couldn't do what I WAS doing one more day.
I tried all kinds of things to provide an income other than punching a clock. Now by punching a clock I mean working for a paycheck. I made good money, don't get me wrong and the work wasn't bad but I had done it for a long time and it no longer fed my soul. So I went on a search and tried all kinds of things but deep inside of me I have always needed to create something, to balance colors and light, to work with textures and fabric. I like creating environments and finding beauty in natural materials. When I got there, when I got to the thing that brought joy to my soul? I wasn't working anymore. As a matter of fact I don't really focus on the "business" portion of what I do, meaning I don't get up in the morning wondering if I will sell something......
I wake up in the morning thinking about what I want to create.
Now that's a good day.
Last summer began an adventure that I had no idea was coming. It is always curious the timing of events in your life. I was getting into a good rhythm in the shop, had strong momentum going with sales and I was looking forward to a good strong year.
I spent 8 months caring for terminally ill and aging in-laws. A few critical events made it impossible for them to care for themselves any longer and they needed help, right away. In the process of finding care, nursing, doctors and getting through the Medicaid process I found a treasure. I was very fortunate to be able to spend the last months with an interesting character, although he would have told you that I was the interesting one! I heard stories, looked at photographs, learned about the treasures stored in the home and shared a glass of wine.
I also heard the pain and fear of someone who is dying and not quite ready to leave this world. I also learned what dementia looks like and how heartbreaking this disease is for the family and for the person who is slowly losing touch with reality. It is sad to watch a person lose their independence and their ability to care for themselves.
These events taught me a very important lesson. A lesson that we hear often but you will never pay attention to until you watch someone's breath leave them.
We may not have tomorrow and if we do, we may not be able to function in it.
Do not let this day pass without RUNNING headlong towards your dreams. Look fear right in the eyes and move anyway....go forward anyway. Don't waste precious time doing what you think others approve of, do exactly what you are meant to do. BELIEVE that you will not be successful, truly successful until you are doing what you love. LOVE and LOVE again. Reach out a hand to someone in need. DANCE and SING with everything you have in your soul. CREATE something lasting, something unique, something mind blowing....you have it in you!
You may not get another chance!
I purchased this original piece many years ago. It was one of those "buy it in a box" pieces that was actually wood. Over the years it got a little wobbly and the natural finish no longer suited my decor. Although it had a shelf it was so close to the top of the table that it had limited use. I decided it needed a makeover.
I took it all apart with a vision in mind. I rearranged the pieces and added a few embellishments including original art to the top. The finished product is beautiful.
Yesterday I received a treasure from a very good friend. It was a picture of all the letters I had written and this person had kept every one of them. My response was that I had kept all the letters I had received as well and the truth is I keep all letters. The reason? Because handwritten letters are a piece of the soul and they should never be discarded.
One of the lost arts of this age is letter writing. The ability to tell a story, to describe events so that the reader is pulled into the story is the beauty of a letter. My grandmother and I used to write letters to each other and I looked forward to receiving them. She was a wonderful storyteller both in writing and in conversation but in her generation that was an important and well developed skill. They didn't always have telephones and family may be spread over a few states. They wrote letters full of the stories of the day and the events that impacted their lives. I have spent many hours going through old letters and finding bits of history, events and a story of life.
Today we have tweets, texts and emoticons. None of these things convey a story or tell of history, they only give a "sound bite" of the current moment.
There is something very inspiring about picking up a pen and paper and writing. It causes the creative side of the brain to activate and color and imagination to thrive. Sadly it is a lost art which is going the way of cursive writing. I wonder if this is not the reason we are so depressed, lonely and lost. We have lost the art of communication, of connecting and of creating a timeless legacy for others to read.
If we are to continue to partner with the universe in creating, in beauty, in communication and in human connection perhaps we should return to pen and paper and share a piece of ourselves with someone else.
Thank You, Chilli, for treasuring my soul.
One of the things that I take pride in is making sure that my family and my home are well cared for. Now that doesn't mean spending lots of money or having all the trinkets and gadgets, it means making sure they are healthy and well able to function in this world. Our mission statement states that we use natural, organic recycled and repurposed products to create things for you, our client. In fact we use them in our home too. If you walk into our home you will find all kinds of creative things that have been repurposed into functional art. In our cabinets you will find natural, organic products and lots of healthy food.
There are many things that I think this industrial and technology age has taken from us. The ability and even the knowledge about growing healthy food and herbs. The ability to cook, from scratch, good healthy meals. The ability to keep your house clean, your kids clean and everything healthy without a cabinet full of chemicals. A simple, healthy life.
You may think that you just don't have time for all that. It is a matter of knowledge and priority. My morning coffee time is spent wandering through the sunroom caring for my herbs, seedlings and orchids. My monthly shopping day is also the day I prepare the washing powder, dish soap, dishwasher soap and household cleaning mixtures. It fills the house with the scent of peppermint, lemon oil and lavender. I buy my supplies for soap making once a quarter and make soaps for 2 or three days so that I always have a supply on hand for sale and for use. I make extracts when I harvest herbs and I dry the rest for cooking. I putter all the time (as my husband puts it) with my hands in oils and smells and earth. I never need therapy and my time out for myself is out in nature.
All of these things give me the energy to work and work hard. My time in the workshop is focused and productive and I bring the creativity of nature with me into my work. Start small, one step at a time. Get a few patio plants that yield vegetables. Start eliminating chemicals from your house and your diet. Start spending more time outside or reading or dreaming. Your body and your family will thank you. And by the way? So will the earth.
You can find out how simple home cleaning products are by following this link.
DIY Naturally is a great resource.
I have always admired antique phonograph cabinets but I never had the courage to separate the cabinet from the workings inside, fortunately this one was empty. The veneer on top was splintered, peeling and missing in spots. The back was missing, the bottom shelf inside was covered in oil and the whole piece had been neglected.
I removed the veneer from the top and found beautiful poplar wood underneath. I began restoring the rest of the wood and reviving the stain. I put a birdseye maple veneer on the bottom shelf, made a new back piece, put a new finish making sure to cover the top (only) in urethane for protection. I have always wanted to repurpose one of these pieces into a wine cabinet so here we are! I love the rich golden brown color of the wood.
My favorite stone is Travertine. I love the color, I love the lack of uniformity, I love the porous look of the natural stone. However, travertine in its natural state, does not make a good table or countertop so the manufacturers have learned to cut and polish it to make it useful. It is a beautiful, natural stone.
The original designer of this piece selected really nice wood with strong grain patterns and then the wood was covered in a stain and finish popular in the 1970's that actually hid the wood.
I pulled the old finish off, exposed the wood and finished it. Now the table has a very rustic, natural look. Perfect!
This little table was just needing a home. I am a huge fan of wood and iron so this piece HAD to come home. Cleaned up the tin top, added some color and gave the sides a face lift. All beautiful and so functional!
I have to admit that sometimes the reason I pick up pieces are completely silly and then they wind up being way too much work. That is the story with this piece. I wanted the cabinet because it had hand carved handles and I just KNEW there was a treasure hidden under the paint. I was right....under 4 layers of paint!
It took a long time to get all the paint stripped off and to be honest there are still little flecks of paint in the wood. Once I got the paint stipped away, I had to take the thing completely apart and start rebuilding it. Sigh...it was a long process.
I had to put the top back together, build a new back, new from leg piece and shelf. In the process of pulling things apart I discovered old square nails. For those of you who are not familiar with those, they used to hand make nails by cutting the metal and hammering them into a square nail. they look very much like horseshoe nails except smaller. Manufacturing of the square nail ended around 1860 but many remained in circulation until the very early 1900's. I actually reattached the top with new horseshoe nails! It is finally complete. It will never look brand new; it has nail holes, cracks and flecks of paint...but it is finally original....beautiful....Black Walnut. Hard to find that anymore!
My sister purchased an old house and needed to find furniture that fit her design ideas. Now that was a challenge I could handle. So we began looking. My husband found these old pieces and we brought them home. The frames were solid with hand carved detail. I did not want to strip these pieces because I did not want to alter the detail. I wanted to find a way to bring the finish back to life and get rid of the oxidation and damage that had occurred over the years. In the process I got to learn some new tricks and apply some old ones.
I can't give away all the trade secrets but I will tell you that Formby's is my best friend, stain gives life and you cannot work on furniture without triple ought steel wool. The result? Amazing! The wood came back to life, every detail was spared and the normal wear just enhances the age of the pieces. They are now timeless pieces that will grace a home for years to come. In the final picture you will see that the owner has decided to re-upholster these pieces in tartan plaid...from Scotland.