Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Work Table Wednesday

Lots on the worktable this week...and it looks like it will stay that way for many weeks to come. Yay!

I have two worktables in the my studio these days. The large 8' x 8' upstairs in the actual studio space and a new to me old metal porch set that I got at an auction for $2. One of the best deals ever!

Have I mentioned I LOVE my studio? I really do. I know I am very fortunate to have such a great place to work. A few weeks ago, I decided to take back some work space downstairs in the shop, rearranged, moved in the table and set up an area for making candles and other projects I wouldn't want to work on upstairs for some reason or another. It makes a nice display piece too when I'm not using it for a work table.

The new work table area
It used to look like this back there
I made my first batch of Holiday soy candles yesterday...Pumpkin Souffle.  It was so nice to have everything in one place and not have to mess up my kitchen and dining room. The studio and shop smell like Thanksgiving Day. Yum!

My brother-in-law, the plumber, got us this old farm sink and Rick built the base.  I'm using an enamel table top as a back splash until I find another use for it.  The shelf above is an old green chippy locker door.

I'm using found objects as candle containers this season. Can't wait to show you how cute! 

 Upstairs, on the big table are three file boxes awaiting embellishments. They are the same file boxes from the Container Store that I used on the last keepsake box project.

Such a nice box to start with!

Two boxes are for little boys and the other one obviously is for a little girl. I've shopped for papers and other embellishments and now I have to get busy piecing it all together. I'm still looking for what I want to use for feet.

For a boy with navy and other blues and red as an accent

For a boy with classy Ralph Lauren type patterns

For a girl with a bold floral and polka dots

I should be pretty far along by next Wednesday and hopefully they will already begin to look like the keepsake boxes they are meant to be. Stop by for Work Table Wednesday next week and see.

So, back to the work table(s). What are you working on this week?

Monday, October 24, 2011

This is Going to Work!

It's the most beautiful time of year for me and the most busy time of year as well as we gear up for the upcoming holiday seasons. To add to the mix, we've added a new element back into our lives here at the Ranch...homeschooling.

I say, back into our lives because if you've followed me since the beginning you may remember that when Sam entered 9th grade he wanted to go to the beautiful new state of the art public school down the road with his friends and at the same time I got the notion that it would be the ideal time to start this new business and chapter in my life.

I've purposely chosen not to say anything much for the last month because I needed to deal with my feelings about it all.  The decision came about quickly and then again, it has been a long time coming....

We had homeschooled so long that we had forgotten how well it was working for Sam and our family as a whole. It only took a couple of years to realize that no matter how new and beautiful, how state of the art, and how great the teachers are, or sports programs are that most public schools will never be equipped to teach kids that are right brained learners or any other learning style that is not traditional. That's just the way it is.

For two years, I watched Sam's self confidence level decline at a steady pace. From the beginning weeks in high school he was labeled by some of his teachers as  "lazy, unfocused, unorganized, talkative, and unable to concentrate, sit still or comprehend information",  all the while saying he was a "good kid, respectful and sweet".

On the other hand, when report cards came home, comments from the teachers in the hands-on classes such as Auto Tech were more positive...."good student, gives 100 percent, works hard".

I've had many personal, phone and email conversations with teachers over the last two years trying to find solutions we all could live with. By far the simplest was a deal struck up between Sam and one of his teachers....sending in a bag of her favorite candy for a 100 test score to bring up his overall average....honestly, I kid you not!

 For the most part the teachers are doing the best they can in a world of standardized tests and requirements from the state. I feel for them. I could have been one of glad I took a different road!

Since making the decision to homeschool again, the blog has had to take a backseat. First, there were the homeschool legal forms to take care of, then public school release forms which came with personal judgements from well meaning administration and friends, then curriculum to find and purchase, and a new schedule here on the homefront to plan and try to adhere to....just a lot to deal with.

Today, things have settled. Curriculum is in place and going very well. Our family feels like family again.  None of us realized how stifled Sam felt until we noticed an almost immediate change in his attitude. It's answered prayer for sure!

I wanted to share a couple things with you today as I get back on track with the blog and all that goes with it...

I've been reading a new blog that I believe you will love Fieldstone Hill Design . She also is a homeschool mom and is redoing her office as a combination school room/office. It's really wonderful and her blog is most inspiring.

Homeschool room by Fieldstone Hill Design
Our homeschool room also used to be a shared space in my studio...high school is different. School now takes place wherever, and whenever. There aren't so many supplies or need for a black board or more than one bookshelf. He's happy on the sofa with his books and laptop...or in the shop building a motor for his go cart project or at the gym continuing his weight lifting class...and best of, he drives! This is going to work!

And lastly, a video that I love..that really says a lot about how we should nurture our children's interests and talents regardless of the opinion of the public education system or our family or friends...just sayin! 

Animal School

Do you  homeschool? Have you ever considered? North Carolina is one of the easiest and best states to homeschool in. We are so very fortunate!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Outside the Box

Lots going on this fall here at the ranch...more unexpected surprises...we are once again homeschooling. Yay! More about that maybe later...but, I will go ahead and say it's all good!

It's been busier than ever this past month, but too, I've taken many days off to spend with Erin. I love having flexibility, but it can also be exhausting! I can't believe this is our last week together before she goes back to Oklahoma. Boo and Hiss! 

I have managed to finish a couple of small commissions....

This is one that I got as a result of my Etsy's a keepsake box for a new baby girl that will house her drawings, awards, lovies and maybe a love letter or two...

It started with this great file box the customer sent me from The Container Store. It's sturdy cardboard, heavy enough to keep it's shape under the glue, paper, paint and polycrylic....and boy was it fun to make! 

The name and birth date is painted on vintage sheet music and I did a collage-like treatment with papers, acrylic paint and ribbon for added interest.

This is actually a print of the original piece on top of the box. I was afraid that the vintage paper would be too fragile for actual use, even with the poly finish. I'm really glad now that I invested in a good fine art printer earlier in the year and most recently a new scanner. The print looks identical to the original and sturdy to boot! Because it's printed with archival inks there was no worry of the ink smearing under the polycrylic.

I'm including the original piece in the order as a gift to the buyer for her scrapbook or maybe even for framing.

As with all of my boxes, I like to embellish the insides a little too...the paper on the bottom of this one hides the wooden dowels that attach the ball feet to the bottom of the box.

The ribbon on the top and bottom is a sheer brown organza. I didn't realize it was sheer when I bought it and it was a very pleasant surprise effect. I love when that happens!

I decided on stripes because of the size of the box compared to the size of the decorative papers I use. The box is the largest I've done to date...16 3/4" x 13 3/4" x 10 5/8 h. The papers are 12" x 12". The stripes allowed me to piece the papers without showing seams...experience I've gained over all the years hanging wallpaper. I'm thinking if I do any more large boxes I may use wallpaper...or maybe that I think about it, it reminds me of back in the eighty's when I worked for a designer and we made dozens of paisley shaped boxes and covered them with wallpaper. Ugh!

I am happy with how it turned out and hope the buyer is just as happy with it! 

This one is the clock box that I showed you the beginnings of a while back sometime in August. It's also a commission and I believe I remember hearing that it would be for stamps and envelopes on her desk. It's a 7" square paper mache box, the smallest I've found to work with the clock kits I have.

This isn't the new owner's trophy, but it would be a nice way to preserve some of them I think. Looking at the top, it makes me wish I had done a little something more to the's hand painted by the way.

It's pretty all the way around with two different papers, the floral ribbon and nickel tacks.

The embossed pink paper gives the appearance of tooled leather don't you think? When I found it I couldn't wait to use it! Now, I can't wait to use it again.

I'd like to decorate for fall and Halloween around here this week. If October goes by as fast as September did, we won't get to enjoy our Halloween decorations for very long. Got yours out yet?