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Recycling and Upcycling

Last May, we said good-bye to our little apartment above the flower shop in Connecticut and said hello to a duplex in Massachusetts. Needless to say, we were short of a few pieces of furniture here and there. To date, we still do not own a sofa so it’s convenient that we also don’t really know anyone, except our next door neighbor, Pete.

For the next five months, I also didn’t have a night table so my reading lamp was on the floor beside me. So were my books and other night time indispensables (iPad and phone!). We also didn’t have storage in the living room so boxes of videos were piled up against the wall along with the wooden crates that hold my husband vinyl collection.

Finally, one weekend, we decided to visit Ikea. I didn’t like the night stands I’d been seeing at Home Goods so I decided maybe Ikea will have something I can customize. That day, we came home with a beautiful, dark blue cabinet with glass panes on the doors. We also came home with a few useful doodads but no night table.

As my husband was assembling the cabinet, I noticed that the parts came in really sturdy, thick sheets of cardboard. They looked like corrugated boards on steroids! I kept saying how it would be a shame to just pack them off along with the other recyclables.

Then it hit me–why not turn them into a night stand?! Papier mache has been around for centuries, I thought. People have made furniture using the technique. I’ve made papier mache bowls in my childhood. I’ve decorated walls and doors with paper and glue (by the way, even if the glue isn’t waterproof, it’s not easy to remove). I’d never made furniture but I figured it’ll be a good project to experiment with and learn from.

So, to my husband’s dismay, I stashed some of the packing boards in my already crowded work room.

packing_boards

We don’t subscribe to any newspaper but every week we do get flyers, store and grocery newsletters and all kinds of junk mail. I started tearing those for my new project.

starting1

starting

If you like getting your hands in the thick of things, papier mache is a good project to try. Of course it made getting to the phone tricky but I made sure I had a towel nearby. At one point, I tried using gloves but the ones I had were a bit large so they didn’t work too well.

This was the time I plowed through a couple of audiobooks. I highly recommend Louise Penny’s mysteries. They’re the kind that you don’t want to stop listening to (or reading) and, at least for my part, will elicit a loud guffaw or two.

The project took me about three weeks to finish. I had to plug up some gaps and awkward spots with paper clay. I also wanted to soften the edges of the top a bit so I smoothed paper clay on those as well. Temperatures had also dropped by then and we’d been having quite a bit of rain so I made sure to give the piece enough time to dry.

top_view

When I finally had all the layers I needed, I gave it a coat of primer. Then I dug out my stash of odds and ends and got those in. I found a rose I had pressed some time ago as well as a petal from another rose that was given to me. The daisy at the bottom was also from my stash of pressed flowers. Then I cut out a stencil using my Cricut.

finished

Here it is, almost finished! It’ll remain in that almost finished state for a bit, I suspect. One of my Instagram friends said it can be the “happy project” that I can return to whenever I’m in between projects. I told her that was a really fantastic idea.

In the meantime, I really wanted to get my reading lamp at the right height and to give my corner of the bedroom a bit of cheer. As soon as everything was dry, I brought my papier mache creation upstairs and set everything up.

night_stand

There are magazines and more books on the lower level of my new night stand. The hubby liked the finished product too.

This was a project I truly enjoyed while feeling like I did a teeny bit for the environment as well. In fact, I’ve been thinking about what to do with all the junk mail that comes every week. One can have only so many night stands, right?

That’s something to think about for sure. This website is called Paper With Everything. Maybe it’s high time I did something about all the paper coming my way!

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Changes

I’ve been having a bit of a problem with my other blog (Painting Words). I can’t access the dashboard so I haven’t been able to update the progress on my bags. It seems as if my procrastinating reached the Universe’s limit and it was decided that something needed to be done.

What am I talking about? Well, for a while now, I’ve been thinking of merging my blogs. I have one about motherhood, one about my art and writing, and this one that’s supposed to be mostly about paper. What possessed me to have three blogs? I’m 56, memory challenged, and if I’m not painting or writing, I’m sewing. Half the time, the bedroom which also functions as my studio is in a state of disarray. Let me mention here though, that the Virgo in me steps in to put things in order once a project is finished. It’s hard to think in a messy space.

Anyway, it occurred to that it was time to simplify. The blogs would simply have to be merged. My website also needs quite a bit of paring down. I announced on my Facebook page that I’d be doing this and changed my profile picture to a quick BRB (Be Right Back) doodle.

BRBI’m thinking of a new blog name that won’t limit my content to just motherhood or just art or just writing or even just paper (even if it does say paper with everything!). If you have suggestions, please send them over!

Meanwhile, in between everything else, I shall also be happily working on some orders for the hand painted bags and journal covers. I also just ordered fabric from Zazzle and promised them a blog post about it so that’s coming up in the next post.

Here’s to the start of an interesting and productive week!

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New Year New Project

December came and went just like that.

Well, maybe not really since I was in a frenzy trying to finish handmade gifts that I said I wasn’t making. However, when funds are tight, it’s amazing how it becomes possible to shift the minutes so that there are pockets of it for keeping on track with the business of the day-to-day (read: eat regular meals and such) and still finish up gifts in time for handing over on Christmas Day.

I’ve been asked about the why of this craziness that comes when there are special occasions. Standard answer is that even if the giftee might not like the gift, there is, at least for me, the idea that when I made it, I put a bit of myself in whatever it was I made. The other more obvious one is that the gift will be unique to that person because it’s not something that will be found in any shop or bazaar. The third reason is that I really just like making things so I figure I’m sharing the joy of that in some way.

Something came out of making those four bags. I decided that 2015 will be the year I make bags. Here’s a little back story.

I’m normally a very calm person–ask my sisters. Most disastrous events in my life have come and gone without very much public drama from my end. I came to the conclusion that since I can have the attention span of a hummingbird, it may happen that I move on instead of dwelling.

But I had something happen to me that occupied my thoughts most of my waking hours. It got so bad that one day, I found myself talking to a picture I have on my cork board of the Divine Mercy. One of the things I do is to stop whatever I’m doing at 3:00 and say the short chaplet followed by a short novena. That particular day, I didn’t stop with the novena. I did what might horrify some staunch Catholics. I started berating God.

Yup, there I was, blubbering and sniffling and accusing Him of not paying attention. I went on and on about how He promised this and that and what more does He want–the usual rants of someone who won’t listen to reason because no answer will do.

Then I started answering my own questions. This happened very spontaneously–there was no lull in between the ranting and the answering where I could have thought things through. I just segued from demanding answers to giving them.

When I paused to blow my nose, my eyes shifted from the picture of the Divine Mercy to a large note I had pinned above it months before. I had written it because a friend suggested the idea sometime in the Spring. In large letters, I wrote: CAN YOU START THINKING ABOUT MAKING BAGS?

So I sat there, holding my tissue, and I said, “Oh.”

The Christmas gifts post printing and just before sewing.

My Facebook post showing the pieces I had painted.

The half-finished bag that I decided would be for my own use.

The finished bag with outer pockets that I love but proved to be more work than I intended!
Poetry by Virginia Lichauco de Leon that’s always been one of my favorites because I need more bouquets, I think.
The inside of the bag that I customized to suit my preferences.

A new bag in the making.

A close up of what the other side of the bag and handles will have.
I also began listening to Kari Chapin’s podcast just to keep the fire going. On Facebook, I told one of my friends that my project for 2015 is to be a geriatric Kate Spade. I should  have said middle-aged. I don’t think I’m geriatric quite yet.
As for the Divine Mercy, He was probably shaking His head and smiling, thinking I deserved to have a good cry anyway. 

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