#handmade · #karichapin · 2015 · bags · Divine Mercy · New Project · painting · sewing

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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Anthony Newley · family · friends · November · Sandy Dennis · shopping · Sweet November movie · Sweet November song · Thanksgiving · Zazzle

Sweet November

I haven’t decided what November really is for me. The words “Sweet November” have been imprinted in my mind ever since I saw the movie on TV–the original one with Anthony Newley and Sandy Dennis. I think it’s during the ending when credits begin rolling in that you hear Anthony Newley singing the song. I even remember the lyrics!

Sweet November,
they say you’re wintry and gray
and yet this love that you bring
is sweeter than Spring and warmer than May

I can’t remember November’s sunshine
more beautiful than today
fleeting, it’s true, but what can I do
to make sweet November stay?

Come December, 
when our November is through
I’ll face the Winter and smile
for I know that I’ll be thinking of you

When I remember November’s sunshine
I won’t mind December’s rain.
For me it’ll be like sweet November again.

I could be wrong but I think Mr. Newley wrote the song as well. I may have missed out on some of the lyrics, too, but those are the ones I remember.
November seems like a month where you’re holding your breath in anticipation of December 25th. You might be tempted to remind me about Thanksgiving but that’s a tradition that’s still new to me. I grew up with Christmas and New Year’s Day and that’s how it was for about 50 years for me.
November is when I tell myself I’ve begun to plan my gift-giving strategies too late. 
November used to be the time when my friend Cindy and I would brave the bazaars. She didn’t mind driving through Manila traffic and I didn’t mind that she drove like a Jeepney driver (to understand that, you might have to travel to the Philippines and ride on one of the Jeepneys). I miss those days. Cindy and I often think back to those days when we do get to talk.
November is when I pick up a couple of items for just-in-case gifts and am always thankful for when it’s crunch time on Christmas Eve and I realize I had unchecked names on my list.
November is also the name of a former student of mine who used to fill her journal with all sorts of angsty doodles which I genuinely enjoyed. Should I have been alarmed? Umm, no. She went on to be an amazing artist who loves cats and enjoys snail mail as I do.
And speaking of snail mail, November is when I try to get Christmas cards that have to get sent overseas out. I can see the pile I have to address from the corner of my eye. Maybe I’ll tackle them tonight. 
This year’s November began with unusually cold weather and lots of rain. They say it’ll be snowing which could make traveling for Thanksgiving a challenge. As I’m typing this entry up, the skies outside are gray but the cold has eased up and I’m able to put on one of my favorite made-in-India dresses and a light cardigan. That’s always good.
I doubt if I’ll ever think of November as sweet. I’d say it’s quite eventful specially since in these past few years, November has meant getting together with family and friends, some of whom drive all the way from Virginia! Even more recently, November now marks the birthdays of three very special little people–my first grandchild, Sophie, and my sister’s first grandchildren, Cole and Nate.
Maybe instead of sweet, November for me will always be frenzied and joyful and in some ways, bittersweet.
And in my usual Johnny-come-lately mode, here’s something I just put up on my Zazzle shop. Shameless advertising but hey, I’m my own marketing manager!

Playground Pony
Playground Pony by MopStudio
Browse Ponies Aprons online at Zazzle.com
art · cork trivets · doodles · Ikea · ink · Inktober · Instagram · just start · Lahla Smart · projects · showing up · Uncommon Goods · Walt Disney quote · why not you

Getting Things Done

I’m going to move out a bit farther on the limb and say that I’ve surprised myself by sticking to the Inktober routine. This is not to say I like the stuff that’s been churned out on the sketchbook I got (because it was cheap and on sale) at Michael’s. The whole point was to come up with something in ink every single day. I missed a couple of days and I even started late but for the most part, I’ve been showing up.

Showing up was today’s theme. It was the last of three that I’d been doing on cork trivets that had been one of my very first purchases from Ikea. The set of three sat on top of the fridge for a couple of years before I decided to bring them to my work area. Then they sat there for a few more months where I ignored them the way I ignored the junk mail that I swore I would use for collages. That’s how one becomes a pack rat. It’s seeing possibilities in junk and then saving them for a project that might never see the light of day that have the people you live with wondering if one day they’ll have to dig you out of stuff that should have been in the dumpster many Wednesdays ago. Wednesday is when the garbage truck comes in.

I’m not too sure when it was that the trivets made their way to my work table. I just know that when I was telling my husband that I’d have to get a new sketchbook because there were two pages left for Inktober entries, I found myself staring at the trivets.

What do draw? There are days when I already have an image in mind even before I pick up a pen. There are days when I sit there blankly staring at nothing wondering how the other Inktober participants can come up with such beautiful entries.

The day before, I clicked on an Oprah newsletter item because I felt I needed some encouragement. I’m one of those artists who’s highly suspicious of his or her own abilities. It must be because I’m at a mid-life stage where most of my peers are highly accomplished and about to retire whereas I’m still trying to start over. Anyway, there was an image that stayed with me in that newsletter. It was the picture of a mug with the words Why Not You. Those are the words that made it on the first trivet.

The next day, I knew what I wanted to put on the second trivet. I’d read them over and over again on so many blogs and articles and books. Show Up made sense to me and the words struck a chord. It was like the Aha! moment for me. To get myself out there, I first had to show up. 
You might think it’s the easiest thing in the world to do but it’s actually not–at least for me. I don’t want to get into the details of that one. Let’s just say I’m working on it. 
Then today I read another newsletter, this time from Uncommon Goods. I clicked on the tour to find out more about a couple of artists from the UK who were putting their art on tea towels which I find myself obsessing over lately. I like tea towels. One of them, Lahla Smart of The Food Guide mentioned the Disney quote: The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing
The thing about that quote is it’s the same quote on a Kim Klassen image that I started using as my computer wallpaper just last week. I don’t believe in coincidence. 
So now I have three trivets with messages that for the most part, must be meant for me. Inktober (and Instagram) forced me to draw every single day and to be accountable. I even made up for missed days whenever possible, kind of like when I miss a day on a Novena. 
There are four days left of Inktober. I’m probably going to miss it and at the same time feel some kind of relief that it’s over. I’m working on illustrations for a friend who’s starting a business and I’d like to get started on a project that I’ve had brewing for a while now. It’s time to show up for that one and I’ve got that pegged for November. Wish me luck and send me good thoughts!
And to those who have taken the time to “like” my Instagram entries, a huge THANK YOU! Those likes helped to keep me at it!