Frustration On The Creative Endeavors – When You Can’t Get Anything Finished!

Ever have one of those days? Well, I am having one of those months! I have about ten projects all going at the same time and it seems that for one reason or another, I cannot get a single one finished! Timing or materials or weather, something seems to stand in the way of completing the project.

My big project and the one I am most excited about is now 99.9% complete! I am waiting on one more simple (or I hope simple) finishing touch and a nice day of weather to get the project photographed. Argh! It is so frustrating to be so close to completion that I have nightmares about it! No joke!

I’ve stopped picking up project pieces since the weather is going to soon become the kind of weather that prevents me from driving my little sports car. When that happens, I usually drive it into the third garage stall, cover him and put him into hibernation. Well, in order to do that, I have to get that stall cleaned out, so I have been a busy little beaver trying to get things done. It is either that or get rid of them. And I am trying to do both.

I picked up this awesome antique bench thinking it would be an easy project, but it has turned out to be anything but. Sigh. I work on it a little and then get frustrated or tired of fighting with the four million staples/nails/tacks and move to something else.

I am close to finishing the four poster bed frame that I am painting in the same pink ombré style, but of course, I had to spend an inordinate amount of time to find the right connectors for the side boards, so it too has taken a place at the back of the line.

I picked up this not-so-little entertainment center for the express purpose of harvesting pieces – like the doors and drawers and shelves – as I am planning on building a gun cabinet for The Kid’s personal collection of antique fire arms. They are very nice pieces, so the cabinet needs to be of the same quality. This thing weighed like two thousand pounds when we picked it up and much of it is turning out to be real wood (as opposed to the junk compressed wood in many) so I am harvesting much more than I thought I would be. And of course, it too, was well made with about a ton of glue, staples, screws and nails so it is taking much more effort to get it apart than hoped.

The end table to dog crate too, is almost complete. It has turned out to be a bit heavy, so as an added bonus, I am planning on adding wheels (found on the entertainment center) to make it easier to move around. Of course, the wheels are on the bottom of the entertainment center, so they are close to last in coming off, but maybe – just maybe – that can be completed today.

As I said, the weather is starting to turn which is just raising havoc with the arthritis in both knees. Did I mention that I am tentatively scheduled for dual knee replacement surgery in January? Something tells me that work with come to a screeching halt in the garage for a while then. 🙂

photo 4As a consequence of the weather and knees, I’ve been back to sewing some. I made a personal vow not to make any more quilts until I can get some of the tops completed quilted. My best guess is that there is between 200 and 300 waiting for someone to do this step and then I do the binding. I just cringe each time I think about the money that will be needed to do this. So, they wait.

In the meantime, I’ve been working on using up my scraps. I just put on a good movie and sew, really without much thinking. I’ve also been working on a postage stamp baby quilt (I think I might be able to do the quilting on my sewing machine) just to use up these last few hundred pieces. A few years ago, I ordered this box of charm pieces (2000!) that are 1.5″ squares and used a good deal of them in several quilts. I just can’t bring myself to toss the remaining, although they are what I call “the uglies”!! Does anyone else here have this issue?

I’ve also been working with felt pieces while I ice then heat my knees. I’ve made a bunch of Christmas decorations (although we don’t really celebrate or decorate in the house), as well as working on another needle book. I need to just need to finish the cover. Of course over in the corner next to the fireplace is that great big hulking needlepoint project… just sitting there mocking me.

I’ve resisted writing just this post – the one where I admit that I can’t seem to get anything completed! Its just so aggravating and humbling to have to admit to all this incompleteness! I really try to hold myself to a higher standard, but sometimes it is so overwhelming – and I realized that it has been quite a while since I last posted. But to have to post and say I’ve got nothing! Argh!

Best intentions aside, time to get on with the day. I really need to assess what is left and what still needs to be done and what is required to get to that point. And then just start tackling them, one by one.

Wish me luck! And to all those out there who think us bloggers just get things done out of discipline and attention? We’re just people too and infallible. So don’t worry that you’re project(s) isn’t getting done. It happens to all of us!

julie

Assessing Value and Value Added! What is it Really Worth?

So, I recently had an email conversation about a piece that I had completed and listed for sale.

One of the things I learned very early in life, is that something is only worth the amount of money someone is prepared to pay for it.

Value can be a difficult thing to assess. What someone might deem value as one thing, I might think it is something else. But in the end, it will be worth what I am paid.

I’ve done many things in my life to earn money. From my youngest jobs of “walking beans” and “de-tassling corn” in Iowa, to a range of professional jobs, starting with secretarial work to my technical career as a quality assurance engineer. And the salaries have been all over the board. In the end, what I was willing to do to earn money was the value of my work. Experience has taught me what is in my own best interest.

So, when it comes to pricing the pieces that I create for the blog, it becomes a grey area. Obviously there are some very concrete costs that go into any pieces that I work on, including but not limited to, cost (if any) for the piece  plus a lot of smaller costs that shared across projects, like primer, paint, rollers, drop clothes, sand paper, tools etc. and also some soft costs, like my garage space, electricity, gas, phone and internet expenses.

And then there is time and talent. I spend a lot of time hunting down pieces, hours and hours spent on CraigsList and eBay and running all over Kansas City. And the time that it takes to complete each piece, and the process of deciding what I am going to do and later, writing about that experience. It has taken a lot of years to develop the experience of creativity. I think back now on some of the things I did then and laugh at my inexperience. Sometimes I realize that talent is a lot about experience, but some of it just comes naturally. And while I have always had a “knack” for creative endeavors, I just never could figure out how to turn that talent into cash, so for most of my life, I just did it for me and those around me.

So, when I started writing a blog, I wrote about projects and pieces that I did for myself. If you have ever been in my home or seen pictures (there are a few on this site) you know that my house is a lively, creative dwelling! Inside and out. When it got to the point where my home could no longer could hold anything new, I started giving away items to friends. As time allowed me to work more on my creative side, it turned out that I could turn those items into cash, allowing me to fund bigger and larger projects. And to allow me to add great tools to my workshop and my sewing room. As I worked and sold pieces, I realized that I could be underpricing many of my projects.

It has occurred me that I perhaps was undervaluing my work. After all, a lot of things go into every piece I do. I list a price, which yes, is subjective, but you have to start somewhere. If it doesn’t sell, if there isn’t any interest, then I will lower the price and entertain offers. At times I will offer these pieces to someone who cannot afford even these prices.

But back to the conversation. Somehow, at times, someone can say something that isn’t meant to be offensive, but does come off that way. You see, the piece that I had recently showcased here was for sale. And I provided the link in the ad, so a certain someone followed and read the blog. Awesome! Right?

Well, that person then seriously offered me much less than asking price. When I responded and let this person know that I couldn’t accept such a low offer, this person than countered with a slightly higher price. This person also provided a little insight to lack of funds, which could very well have sealed the offer, if this person hadn’t also said, “but I also know you got the dresser for free”. I have to tell you that I was very offended by those words. As if the only value that this person saw was in the actual physical piece. But not really in everything that went into it – as I’ve outlined previously.

Not sure what I am looking for with this post, other than to maybe explain what some people do not see in the finish project. And maybe, just maybe, one more person can truly appreciate what goes into a project piece.

julie

The Great Experiment Continues!

The last post I made, I explained how I was conducting a little experiment to see if it would be possible for me to simply live off the money I make “creating”. This week the experiment continues.

I had just the most awesome luck last week in running across quality pieces from a number of places. In addition to furniture pieces, we really made out with our ‘thrifting’ trips as well. I found a ton of old quilting books, one that dates back to 1949! Its really neat to see the way that women used to quilt before the adventure of rotary cutters and our fancy-schmancy sewing machines! Gives me a new perspective on just how good we have it!

IMG_8502And one of our favorites just happened to be clearing out their inventory of clothing. $1 for every stitch of clothing in the store. Couldn’t pass on that deal – so yes, I snagged another ten pairs of jeans. I have about a hundred projects going on it seems, but deals like that cannot be passed over! By now I am sure that I have enough denim to make a rag rug at least 20 feet round!

IMG_3254The Kid and I have been steadily working, but with days in the high 90’s and temps reaching into triple digits, it isn’t easy to spend too much time in the garage with heat and the paint and glue fumes. We’re made a lot of progress on quite a few projects in that time, though. I expect to have at least three or four ready for reveal this coming week, but until that I will just leave you with some parting pics!

DSCN3682Who said garages were supposed to be for parking your car?DSCN3685Part of our week long bounty. And I have ideas for all of it!

DSCN3686And yep, you’re looking at a pew! Lord only knows (pun intended!) where this will go, but it is solid wood and gorgeous! How could you say “no” to something like that?DSCN3690Projects have even spilled back into my kitchen! I can’t wait to show you this piece… it started out looking like this:

00t0t_heezBoCqAMt_600x450Prepare to be amazed! Or not. You decide! 🙂

julie

Quick Update: Paisley, Painting and Scrap Quilting

Been a little remiss in writing regular posts. This does not mean that I haven’t been working hard and have a ton of projects ongoing all the time.

I am not sure that I revealed this before, but a fair amount of the work I do – in projects and experiments – are sold to fund more projects. That’s why you will see a lot of repainted furniture… I have found this to be the most reliable and easiest way to make money. As a second note, I have been on a professional sabbatical for the past six months, so the furniture projects also help to replace some of the earnings that I haven’t been contributing to my household budget.

Currently, all of the former pieces completed have sold, thankfully!

With all of that said, the garage is filled up! Kansas City has a wonderful CraigsList community, but like everything, it isn’t always consistent. I can go for months without being able to snag decent furniture and then (like last week) it turns around and we have been able to score a bunch of pieces. I had so many projects lined up, that I needed to make a physical list and schedule pieces to make the most sense and still be contributing to the household budget, while still working on pieces for the blog.

DSCN3604So, a shot of the garage… this is three dressers and two nightstands, in my signature pink primer. All five pieces will be done in the same ombré pink scheme and will be sold mix and match. We also have a project dresser and an entertainment center – both pieces that are scheduled for some transformation experimentation. There is also the leftover “hi-fi” that I have finally decided to turn into a “bill pay station”while keeping the ability to play music. I haven’t quite figured out exactly what I am doing with it, exactly why it isn’t on the ‘do right now’ list.

One of the fun things I have been messing around with is beading decoration. I have this weird love of paisley, but you wouldn’t find a single thing in my house decorated with it. It is a weird kind of love… but soon hope to integrate some of it into the master bedroom redesign. Lack of funds have put that plan on hold – the most expensive portion is the purchase of fabric.

photo 6Here is the paisley beading project. I took this snapshot with my phone in a fairly dark living room, so the colors aren’t as vibrant as they really look. The felt pieces have all been stitched onto a deep blue background and today I purchased all of the beads and sequin pieces I will need to complete it. Part of the delay is that much of the sequins came in a large collection of colors and styles and with my OCD I first had to sort it all to get what I needed to match colors.

photo 5Here I had started the deep green with glass tubular beads and then started on the turquoise. Lots to do and lots of shapes and colors to work with. I am really enjoying this project.

I have also been working on a small challenge of my own, I wrote a little about it last week. I wanted to see just how small sized scrap I could work with and still be successful. Here is some examples of pieces that I feel that I can use. You can see how small they are by the lines on my cutting mat. I can’t really work with anything less than 3/4″, you can’t get two good seams and still have much displayed in the piecing. I had two plastic boxes, about shoe boxed sized, and have used up the scraps of one.

DSCN3602I had started with a 3″ muslin square attaching the scraps. I think I’ve gotten enough to make a doll-sized quilt or the perfect center to be surrounded by larger scrap pieces. This was fun, but a bit tedious… it seemed just once you got the needle moving you had to stop! But it becomes almost cathartic along with watching old movies!

Okay, that was a quick update to the past week’s work. Lots to do in the coming weeks! Oh, and can’t forget the container gardening… one tomato plant even has flowers! I think I have to pinch back these flowers, as the plants need some upward growth before it can support fruit. I think I need to read up some more!

julie

Sea of White (Primer)

Work continues on projects, but at least I am moving forward. There is a HUGE part of me that is ready for this bunch of projects to be done so I can do something else. As I was taking photos, I counted now, 8 projects (or 7, one project is questionable whether it is one or two). And completing these, means I will finally (almost) have my garage back. And just in time, too, as I hear snow is in the forecast in a couple of days.

2014-12-17 14.44.11

2014-12-17 14.44.28I’m now in the possession of ten or twelve quilted tops – fresh back from my friend in Arkansas. Now they have to have binding done. I understand that there are another four or five, I forget, in transit. I’ve not been in my quilting room for some time and I am anxious to head there. Sewing is so relaxing and a real catharsis for me, as I don’t really have to think while I am piecing and my brain can chill.

Another advantage? Paint and primer are reeking havoc on the skin of my hands. Not to mention the weather, as well. The dry air coupled with constant washing are drying my hands almost to the point of cracking. When I am done with this particular group of projects, I am going to indulge myself in a manicure and wax dip.

julie

 

Pumpkins, Strawberries and Spiders

Today’s post deals with my attempts at gardening. I’ve been pretty successful with growing houseplants and indoor trees. Five or so years ago I planted 24 seedling evergreens that today are more than 12 feet tall. Last year I planted strawberries in the space under the deck, and got a few little fruit during the season.

I was out in the backyard recently and found that the strawberry plants had nicely weathered the winter and were growing well, spreading out establishing new shoots. A few weeks back, I noticed that the plants were covered with little white flowers and yesterday, I saw that the little white flowers have been replaced with little tiny berries.

DSCN2443 DSCN2444 DSCN2441 DSCN2442The Kid has planted pumpkins, he had saved a pumpkin from fall that lasted all through the winter and into early spring. A few weeks ago, we started them in a long rectangluar planted in the kitchen near the window of houseplants and they sprang into life overnight! Last weekend, we removed sod in a great patch beneath the big tree, laid down some Miracle Gro soil and replanted the pumpkins. The Kid has been out everyday, tending to the plants and giving them water. I am excited to see his enthusaism and we are looking forward to at least one or two pumpkins by Halloween.

DSCN2439We had a house guest last night. But I am a firm believer that killing spiders is just wrong. So, we coaxed it onto a fly swatter and gave this little guy a ride into the back yard. Its cool that spiders are out there reducing the insect population, but they need to be outside and not in my kitchen!

DSCN2449We’re working on a garage-full of projects, they all seem to be in the middle of being done. Argh… it is so frustrating to have so much work to be done and yet so much time is spent waiting. Waiting for paint and stain and glue to dry. And while stained and paint are drying, you can’t get saw dust in the air, so that has to wait. And yet, while I wait for this to be done, I am busy acquiring other projects to work on. Its a crazy cycle!

julie

The “Genius” Behind the Black Ombré Dresser

I realized that I needed to expand a bit on my last post. I just sort of threw it up here without any discussion at all.

So here is the before picture:

As you can see, this is a magnificent piece, made of a beautiful wood with gorgeous grain. I was hesitant to paint over it, but it did have scratches and stains and a crack in the base, that although could be repaired, the finish was beyond repair in its natural state. But, oh, such wonderful bones!

Here is the before and after photo:

The black has become my new favorite, we’re using a lot of this in the Kid’s room makeover. I especially like it with the shades of grey (please no reference to “fifty shades”!!) in the ombré style. So stunning and sophisticated, yet still playful in its appearance.

Here is another piece that was recently completed, almost an identical in appearance to the first, albeit a bit smaller:

I love the slim handles that I found on eBay, and I got quick shipping and a great price. You can check it out here, it’s called Marnyn12. I think that the handles are like the candles on a cake!

Here is a quick ‘Before & After’ photo:

There was something else that I wanted to share with you today. Although I consider myself organized and a neat freak, I am not a cleaning nut. And nothing dampens my creative nature than cleaning. So when painting, I was determined to figure out a way to reduce – if not outright eliminate cleaning – from my painting process. At first, I used inexpensive materials, so when I was done I could just throw them away. But I didn’t like that idea for a number of reasons, the two main reasons being that I wasn’t happy with the results of “cheap” materials and the second, I didn’t like the idea of throwing away so much and adding to the landfills. It did get to be expensive as well. So there had to be another answer.

I had heard, with painting, that you could simply freeze the brush in between uses, which did work, but it always took time to get them thawed before I could use them again. And frankly, having all of that mingled in my freezer with my food and ice cream wasn’t sitting so well with me. One weekend while working, I forgot to put the brushes and rollers in the freezer and found the next day that they were just fine. In fact, they were better than fine. They were ready to go when I was, and they retained both their use and their paint color. And it seems, that as long as you have the bags sealed tight, they seem to be lasting quite a long time.

I also found that if I left the paint in the trays that I used when painting, I could simply pour more paint into them on the next painting session and when I was done, I was able to simply peel the paint off the tray! I couldn’t ask for a better system.

This really works for me since I use about the same dozen or so colors. For drop cloths, I have purchased old sheets from thrift stores, averaging about a dollar for a queen or king size… so often you see wonderful patterns under my work in my pictures.

Well, I’m about ready to start working and finish up the final pieces. Three pieces are already being advertised for sale and hopefully I will be delivering them soon.

Happy Crafting Y’all!

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