Monday, December 20, 2010

Once upon a time........

This year I decided to "do" a handmade Christmas.  Money is very tight so I knew I had to make do with the things that I already had, so no budget busting trips to the craft store.  Luckily, I'm a bit of a pack rat who used to enjoy lots of different crafting so I dug into my craft trunk & had a look around.  

Oh boy!!!  It had been so long since I'd looked inside the old trunk that it was like shopping because I'd forgotten why I bought all of that "stuff".  (I'm still not sure what I was planning on doing with a gazillion wooden balls.)  My recent free art class with Tam, aka Willowing, opened my eyes to mixed media & I really had a lot of media to mix.

I've knitted a few fingerless gloves using some yarn that I already had or that Grandma gifted me while I was home for Thanksgiving.  I also knitted a hat for an ex-neighbor as a "Thank You" for everything he did while he was living next door.  I'm a new knitter, so nothing complicated.

Aaaanyway............  Grandmas are always so difficult when it comes to gift giving.  Mine doesn't need anything & if she does, she goes out & buys it.  I didn't want to revert back to jewelry (though I did with Mom) so I had to come up with something different.  I decided to make a collage for her to hang on her wall.  I wasn't sure about the direction I was going to approach the collage, but as it turned out, it pretty much made itself.

When I was home for Thanksgiving I collected a few old photos & a few letters that Granddaddy had written to Grandma while he was in the Navy.  I scanned the photos & tried to fix them, but soon gave up because I'm no whiz with photo editing.  

I came up with the title, then started telling the story. 

I included pics of my Uncle Eddie, Mom, on the bottom left is Mom holding me when I was 3 days old  (look at that head of hair) & me on the bottom right.  

I used a stretched canvas & matte medium to adhere copies of his letters to the background.  I smeared white paint on top of the letters to obscure them a little & push them into the background a little more.  

I wanted to include parts of each of their lives, while they were apart & while they were married.  

Granddaddy was drafted into the Navy while he & Grandma were dating & spent his time aboard the USS Brinkley Bass.  I found an old photo of the ship & included it here, below a picture of Granddaddy.  A friend gave me a box of old jewelry so I snipped the back off of an earring & glued it above the "Hope" ticket that I distressed.

This is my Mom's brother who died when he was 22.  He was very much "snips & snails" kinda little boy so I had to include part of the quote.
  My Granddaddy owned & ran a general store  so I included the name of his store along with a few buttons as a little nod to Grandma's abilities as a seamstress.  

The flowers were pretty & added more dimension to the piece, but Grandma also used to have beautiful flower gardens.  She always had fresh flowers in her house & supplied flowers for her Eastern Star chapter & sometimes the church.

 Mom was a little lady so "sugar & spice" was very appropriate for her as well.

I glued an old keyhole cover that I had with the intent of gluing a key on Granddaddy's side, but didn't have a pretty key.  I wanted to convey the "key to her heart" thing, but couldn't quite pull it off.  I still like it, though.

I made the "Family" embellishment by using rubber stamps to stamp into Sculpey, then distressing.

The piece still felt disjointed so I added the pearls to pull everything together, but there still seemed to be an empty space at the bottom.
Granddaddy & Grandma used to go dancing almost every week, so I made up a dance card with some of Granddaddy's favorite songs & forged his name to all of the dances.  I distressed it, glued it down & I love it.  

Hanging it put me in a quandary, until I looked through a bag of hardware that I'd kept when I remodeled my house.  I found the painted "thing" that was used to wrap the string from the blinds to keep them up & thought it was perfect.  It was already painted & shabby & it resembles a cleat used to secure boats, etc so I screwed it into the top.  I'm going to look for some old chain to hook around the "cleat".

I didn't have boxes to wrap the knitted items so I made these.  I got this great idea from Mystelle at Little Glimpses.  Mystelle & Tam at Willowing have been so inspirational to me I can't stand it.  It seems like they've opened a door such that I can't keep up with all of the ideas & things I want to do.

For these little gift pouches I used grocery bags, pages ripped out of a phone book, fabric & paper.  I used a glue stick to quickly stick the items down to the bags, then struggled with my sewing machine to free stitch everything down, then I sewed up the sides.  The bottom left is just a grocery bag wrapped around the item & tied up with butchers twine.  He's a no nonsense kinda guy, so no frills for him.

If you've made it this far, you're a trooper & thanks for hanging in with me.  I'm currently working on an owl collage & a pair of copper etched earrings for Mom so will post pics when I get them completed.  

I'm also going to post a tutorial for copper etching.... keep an eye out for that.  

I hope you all are able to gear down & enjoy the the holiday season.  I know that everything seems to be rushed as the days tick away, but just slow down, take a breath & look around.

I know we all want to find that "perfect" gift for those special people, but don't forget to take the time to enjoy those special people.


Nay said...

very creative!!!

Willow Branch said...

Thanks Nay!! Looking forward to seeing your reworked pieces.


Beth said...

I love your collage with all the meaning behind it. I'm sure your grandmother more than appreciates it :) I really love the handmade stuff a lot more than going out and getting something under the pressure of Christmas. Time and thought go into handmade items. Money and the fear of not finding stuff while at the mall goes into those purchased thangs ;)

Willow Branch said...

Thanks, Beth. I actually enjoy thinking about someone & creating something with them in mind, but the inner critic tells me that handcrafted things aren't good enough.

Merry Christmas!!