Wednesday, February 25, 2015

February Report: 300 Boxes

So a little report on my February progress for the 300 Boxes Project.  See these boxes plus 2 more not pictured?  


I did 3 Valentines shows.
Made a little cash.
Got rid of boxes that don't fit in my storage room.
And made cute things.


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

More Young Women New Beginnings

Thank you Bob Hills for these photos.  He just happen to have his camera with him and although he had no lighting equipment to give him the exact lighting desired, I think he captured some pretty great photos.  All terrariums created by @leafdesigns by L.P.

Monday, February 23, 2015

It's What's on the Inside that Matters

This last October, my creative crazy friend, Sarah, called me and asked if I could help her with a project for New Beginnings.  If you don't know what New Beginnings is, it's a special night for the Young Women (ages 12-18) in our church congregation that starts the new year off by introducing the Young Women Personal Progress program and the new mutual theme from the year.  In addition we introduce the new girls that have moved into the ward and those who will be moving up from the Primary organization (children ages 18 months - 11 years old) to the Young Women's.

Sarah decided that for her ward's New Beginnings she would use the Russian nesting dolls as the visual that inspires and teaches. The Mutual Theme for 2015 is found here.

Hand painted 2015 Mutual Theme by Aimee Ferre via Etsy

I love the symbolic connection to these dolls for many reasons.  One being the connection that the heart, might, mind and strength are all on the inside of our souls.  They are not external qualities.  You can't buy them or have them surgically added, you must develop them spiritually. You have to embark and serve, with all of your heart might, mind and strength.

I created the print below this past summer and Sarah ordered them for each of her girls.

by Aimee Ferre via Etsy

She purchased a set of 10 blank nesting dolls and thought I could paint them to match the colors of the eight YW Values represented by various colors, and then for the two largest dolls I could paint them to match the print she was giving away.

I thought the theme was perfect, and immediately asked if I could use her idea for our New Beginnings.  So this was the start of the great Aimee and Sarah collaboration.  Our dates just happened to be a few days apart, so the timing couldn't be more perfect.  We could share our resources. And we did. 

Nesting Dolls primed and templates drawn

"It's what's on the inside that matters"

Notice the tiny dolls?

by Aimee Ferre via Etsy

I decided to paint the dolls with respect to their value color backward from the order of the Young Women Values and how they are outlined in the Young Women Theme.  I wanted the faith doll to be as the children's primary song, Faith, describes:  "Faith is like a little seed".

Detail on the back of the second doll

I hand-lettered the Young Women motto on the back of the second largest doll.  On the front, I had the symbol of a beehive, Mia roses and the sprigs of laurel branches, representing the three classes in Young Women's.

There are a couple of interesting facts about the nesting dolls: 

"The dolls are constructed from one block of wood in order to create a proper fit; different pieces of wood would have unique expansion-contraction characteristics and moisture content. Production involves use of a turning lathe, along with various woodcarving knives and chisels."  Wikipedia 

I love the truth that we are made in God's image (Genesis 1:27), from the same block of wood so to speak.  Think on that principle for a little bit.  

Another metaphor used from the same Wikipedia article is the Matryoshka principle, stating:  

Matryoshkas are used metaphorically, as a design paradigm, known as the "matryoshka principle" or "nested doll principle". It denotes a recognizable relationship of "object-within-similar-object" that appears in the design of many other natural and crafted objects. 

The onion metaphor is of similar character. If the outer layer is peeled off an onion, a similar onion exists within. 

Yet another way we must believe that we are created in our Heavenly Father's image.  

Another item I hope my Young Women will learn from these little nesting dolls:  As women, we should be as the babushkas and be strong and care for one another, keep each other safe from hurt and harm, build each other up, nest one another in the comfort of our service; we are brothers and sisters working together for the same cause, to love one another and serve one another.

Hand painted and hand lettered New Beginnings invitations  

Entry table with programs, terrarium by @leafdesigns


Because I am a cheapskate when it comes to spending church funds, to save on color copies, I duplicated three sizes of handpainted Matryoshka dolls, and me and my friend Rose, hand cut them all out and then sewed them at the top of the program.  I pretty much sew everything together.  Saves on glue and time.


The Russian Tower

Can I give just a word on this little table project? Because in sharing this, I think it reminds me that Heavenly Father is in all the details and He cares about how we present our sacrifices before Him.  And it also is a reminder that when we fall short in whatever way, He makes up the difference in all ways.

I had borrowed many little terrariums from sweet Sarah to use at our New Beginnings, knowing I didn't have much time or money to worry about decor for this evening.  I had no idea how I would incorporate these little green gardens in a vase, and quite frankly spent my time available on Saturday, frosting cookies.  (The cookie frosting project might have been something President Dieter F. Uchtdorf would have considered a foolish sacrifice in his talk, "Forget Me Not", but then again, maybe not, they were pretty tasty).  So I'm sitting in church with my head spinning just a bit over the how to utilize decor I have and make it all flow together, because while it's not a necessary element of New Beginnings, it's a nice one.  The cinderblock walls with the oak chair railing aren't very inviting when you have to go back for yet another meeting on Sunday night.  One thing led to another in my mind's eye, and I remembered my Jadeite tower of cake plates from my collection.  My memory brought back the old Martha by Mail catalogs and her beautifully styled cake pedestals using cookies, flowers, nuts and candies.  And then the wheels began to spin faster, right there in the middle of my church worship.

Summer of 1998 Martha by Mail catalog cover

And then I started kicking myself that I was trying to save money last night on any unnecessary items and had put back the two baskets of strawberries at Costco, only to decide they would have been perfect for my tower of cookies mixed in with the miniature and large red mushrooms, and the remnants of flowers from Elsa's basketball senior night, (talk about being frugal and innovative, the flowers were 2 weeks old, but still looked pretty good).  I tried to forget about those strawberries.  Then it turned to:  I shoulda bought heart candies too.  Now it was the Sabbath Day.  I have made a concious decision that I would not shop on Sunday as a part of my Sunday worship.  The shoulda's were starting to pile up and make me nuts, with my obsessive compulsive behavior kicking into full gear.  I resolved that I would make do with what I had available, and that was final.  And with my 300 Box Project in full swing, I knew I would be just fine using what I have on hand.

After church, our family made a visit to my sweet friend that just returned from her mission in the Ukraine.  She had yellow flowers on the table, lovely sets of hand painted Ukranian nesting dolls, AND large, beautiful, red ripe strawberries.  I couldn't help myself, but to shamelessly ask...

"Can I take just a few of these strawberries home?"  I inquired of my sweet friend.

"Why of course, I actually have TWO baskets in the fridge we aren't even going to get to use," she responded.

She led me to the refrigerator where she pulled out two of the exact sized baskets of strawberries I had in my Costco cart the night before.  So four hours before our New Beginnings was to take place, I walked away with beautiful strawberries, a couple dozen delicious lemon bars, a fresh bouquet of yellow daisies and some more authentic nesting dolls to share with the Young Women.  I know it's silly and probably doesn't mean anything to most, but to me, it was a little voice whispering to me, "Heavenly Father cares about the details that we care about."  And if we don't believe He is the master creator and impeccable designer with our lives in the most flawless way, we must make a firm decision to get to know Him better this year.  Ever seen one of the LDS temples during an open house?  Yes, He cares about the details in the moldings, the carpet, the artwork, and He even notices when a tiny sparrow falls.  Yes, He cared about the Dimple Dell Ward Young Women enough to gather strawberries for them.  And they are shaped like hearts for a reason.

I forgot about the little gumballs we found in my basement. Yellow and pink lemonade. Perfect.

Terrariums by @leafdesigns (handle on Instagram)

Tulip bouquets for our visiting Stake YW President and 3 new beehives

The YW motto print for the New Beehives that night

I do sell this print here.

And the 2015 motto can be found here.

The take homes and the nesting doll displays

More nesting dolls came later, they were just stunning.  Again, more terrariums by @leafdesigns on IG

Blank nesting dolls we will paint at our YW activity this week.  They will be a representation of each girl's individuality, talents, and the many layers they possess.

Blank Nesting Dolls from eBay came straight from Russia, so plan on 3-4 weeks wait time.
Terrarium by @leafdesigns on IG

Sunday, February 8, 2015

300 Boxes Project

photo credit

January.  I think is the month of white fluffy towels, clean surfaces, organization labels and flax linen covered boxes.  I started off the New Year in Arizona working with my family.  My parents, older sister and I worked together to help my little sister with"stuff management".  She had been through some tough life events that took away from her time and energy, and her stuff had multiplied in just a little over a year's time.  The work turned into a mix of games:  Tetris, that memory matching game, and those counting bears from kindergarten you sort by color and size.  We became gamers in her 1495 square foot home.  I was playing the Domino game.  I started in the living room, then tore apart the bedroom, and then had to clean the garage.  Pretty soon, I was an addict:  An addict to the neatly, organized shelves and closets of Em's house.  They were inspiring and actually, quite beautiful, in the shelving unit sort of way.  I kept opening the doors of hall closets just to look at the organization of it all.  Em is a minimalist at heart.  Her style is clean, mid-century modern and she keeps a pretty streamlined home.  But with her recent timeline, it became a problem to manage all the stuff and boxes filled with so many emotions and things to sift through. 

Eventually the fun ended in Arizona and I came home, back to Utah.  Back home to my boxes.  After completing the grueling task of packing up 30 boxes of Christmas (no exaggeration) around the middle of January; I decided to tackle my storage room.  Could I make my basement studio better by minimizeing my stuff?  I’m pretty sure my husband projected this space to be the theatre room when we built in 2004.  “But wait, where do I store my stuff?” I debated, began stacking my boxes, all while promising it was “just for a few years until I could finish the projects”.  It’s been 11 years since that promise was pitched.  Now I find myself sitting on the concrete floor amidst a bunch of full boxes that grew up and had babies.  They have now spilled over into my creative workspace and even the family room.  And now, too many childhood memories of that one west wall of boxes covered with sheets in my parents bedroom, are coming back to haunt me.  The wall of shame.  I’m now repeating the cycle and building my own wall of boxes.  It’s got to end. I wish all my boxes were fabric covered and tied up with a cluster of ribbons, but some just aren’t that pretty.  And some just aren’t that easy to open and sort through. 

I started thinking about boxes:  The boxes in my life. The figurative boxes I put my emotions in and store for years and deal with or don’t deal with.  The boxes I use to package beautiful surprises, (now those are lovely).

Then there are the banana boxes of books I’ve had in a storage unit since we moved to the suburbs a dozen years ago.  They represent hope. Hope for my dream of building ceiling to floor bookshelves in our "library" before the internet takes over and books are deleted out of our lives altogether.  How about the boxes stuffed with photos and memorabilia for someday scrapbooks that will document the years that I’ve lived-we’ve lived?  There are the boxes I hold onto full of completely awesome crafting stuff and incomplete creative projects.  These are the ones I really need to focus on and make huge efforts to push their contents out into the world.  

I didn’t get a photo of this 300 Boxes Project from it's very start, yes believe it or not, the above photo was taken after 3 days of working.  It has not been a pretty project.  I wondered if good lighting could somehow make the images look better?  It's shameful to document the actual state of that area in my basement.  Perhaps because it might be considered a reflection of my state of mind, and perhaps it is.  There was once fabric draping out of three or more large plastic bins down one of the shelving aisles, wood shavings scattered on the concrete from my packaging area, crinkled scraps of tissue paper and a pile of shoe boxes filled with “random things to put away when I have the time” that were shoved on the floor in desperation a few minutes before a couple dinner parties and a craft show or two. Every shelf was lined with homeless items, items I just didn’t know where to put.  I’m a collector of tablecloths (among countless other collections, and I wish we were talking small coins or stamps).  I had many folded cloths piled at the doorway because I couldn’t get to their bin on the top shelf, they were really heavy and just too full, all twelve of them.  There were clusters of large handled shopping bags filled with newly purchased holiday clearance treasures that I didn't know where to stash, every bin was already at capacity.  I’m not a hoarder.  I’m not.  I’m a serious crafter and a project lover, and when I have a vision, I buy.  I take my projects very serious.  No really.  It’s an artist problem.  Maybe I should say, “It’s THIS artist’s problem.”  I have no project manager to direct me. No inventory system to take count.  No assistant to be my gopher.  No intern to boss around.  No accountant to advise me.  No financial advisor to run reports.  Nope, it’s only me.  Just me, running this whole crafting lifestyle gig.  

So I began shamelessly taking inventory.  

One. Box. At. A. Time. 

“Aimee’s Tea Party - 90 pale pink square folders from Paper Source, 96 mini straw purses, horsehair turquoise and cream millinery flowers from Tale of the Yak, 22 Anthropologie mushroom ornaments. Miniature Picnic Baskets - 60 baskets, one yard of red and white gingham fabric.” I pulled each and every box out to the family room, organized, counted contents and labeled.  I took two vanloads to the local thrift store. I threw away, I don’t know how many large garbage bags, and gave away boxes of books, craft supplies and clothes to those who I knew would have a use for my excess.  I have a small pile for online garage sales, but after ridding myself of all these loads, I hoped to have extra space in the storage room for many of the boxes that lined our family room wall.  Unfortunately that wasn’t the case.  That’s when I got honest about my boxes.  I once read in an organizing book on how to clear your clutter, that any given household should only be storing around 50 boxes of stuff.  “I wonder how many boxes I have?”  I asked myself.  I walked around the room and began to take count.  I winced with disbelief after reaching the 300 mark.  By the end of my count, I had well over 300 boxes, closer to 400, but I won’t be exact to protect my pride.  Don’t misunderstand my problem; I complete a ridiculous amount of projects every year.  I rid myself of thousands of items from my storage room every year, but the rate at which I take in projects obviously is at a faster rate than the amount of items I send out.  It’s an inflow/outflow dilemma.

This brings me to my objective.  

Eliminate boxes.  

Eliminate 300 boxes, to be specific.  That’s right, 300. Some people need to lose weight.  I need to lose three hundred boxes of unfinished projects:  Holiday crafts to sell, themed dinner parties to host, PaperClay to sculpt, books to bind, wood frames to paint, folds of fabric to stitch, a chair or two to upholster, photographs to organize (35 of those alone), and gifts to package. It’s going to take me some serious superhuman discipline to really utilize what I already have, and not seek out more supplies, which ultimately leads to more projects:  Again, the inventory inflow/outflow dilemma.  It’s an awesome challenge; awesome in size and idea.  If I need something to finish a project that I really don’t have, I can purchase it, but only if it is absolutely going to help me eliminate a box. 
I’ve pulled out the first 10 boxes for Valentine crafting, see photo below.  Immediate goal:  Rid my storage room of 10 boxes by February 14th.  Long-term goal:  Rid my storage room of 300 boxes by 2017.  It's happening folks.  See those boxes below?  3/4 of them... gone.

Am I the only one?  Does anyone else share this crafter/artist problem?  Watch me for the days to come tackle and eliminate 300 Boxes.  Starting now.

#300Boxes #ProjectBoxElimination #ArtistProblem #UseWhatIHave  Help @joanns_stores!