Author Archives: lindi

Saying “Yes”…

Saying “Yes”…

keywestwingsIt’s true.  I have been absent here for months.  I just haven’t found the best any rhythm to doing it all  taking photos of everything while doing it, editing, writing about it and keeping it all updated.  A plate had to drop somewhere and, unfortunately, this was the one.  I have swept up the pieces, thrown them in the trash and am ready to begin again. One post at a time.  A bit simpler perhaps but I will begin right where I am and get on with it.

Finding ways to integrate art into real life. Getting ready for big transitions ahead this year….graduations from college and high school, end of almost 17 years of homeschooling, therefore my retirement as a homeschool teacher, kids moving out, 25th wedding anniversary…no time for gathering moss.  Time to plow ahead…Phase 3 of my life’s story.

Having spent the first phase searching for meaningful work, love, a good hair style and trying to survive the ’80’s (an oxymoron, I know!) I spent the next 25 years in phase 2 creating a unique and amazing family that I am super proud of and pleased for all of their many accomplishments and just for being all around great human beings.

After navigating homeschooling 3 kids through high school and sending them off to college, moves to different states, buying and selling homes, leading church groups, scout troops, camping trips, co-op classes, field trips, Eagle and Gold Awards, your run of the mill teenage (and midlife!) angst, loss of loved ones, heartbreaks, new loves, mean girls, new friends, tattoos, nose rings and some rather bad decisions, as well as coordinating a couple hundred family birthday parties each with its own unique theme and homemade cake, it feels like quite an accomplishment to have made it through all of that intact.  We are worse for the wear but still standing.

Not that all of that is completely over, but it sure feels much different than it did last year at this time.


oxford blue boat

I wrote THAT post over a year ago!!  I had no idea that I wouldn’t be back here until now.

I didn’t realize at the time the technical issues my little blog was facing that were WAY way over my level of expertise and the more I tried to dig into it,  the more it turned me off.  Ever feel that way? I had tastier fish to fry so I just let it sit… until now.

Finally, I have a little more access to what seems like the endless hours required to read and translate WordPress tutorials, watch confusing YouTube videos and try to teach myself what I need to know to keep this tiny window open here on the internet.

Things do feel much different now than they did last year at this time. I am feeling very much like I am out in the big blue sea hanging on in that little handmade boat in the picture, a bit unsure what is next for me as Phase 3 begins. What I do know for sure that I am determined for it to be energizing, exciting and full of adventure and experiences.  Why not?

All around me, people I know are retiring and slowing down but I feel like I am just getting started.  I have so much I want to do and see.

For the last year, I have been saying “Yes” more and more to meeting new people, discovering new opportunities and trying new adventures.   I have been preaching to and teaching my children all of their lives that learning takes place in living.  It never ends.  So, I may not be making lesson plans and taking field trips to learn about history and science but I am learning website development, e-commerce, SEO, more and more art techniques and a whole lot of patience!

Saying “Yes” to doing hard things.  Let’s hope it’s not a year until my next post!

Subscribe and stay tuned if you feel like it.




Buried Treasure

Buried Treasure

Hi there!  If you have come here from The Altered Page – or not – WELCOME!  I am really happy you stopped by.  I wish that I could meet you and talk with you and ask you about your creative journey, because I know you are on one.  We all are, no matter what we actually “do” in our lives we are on a creative adventure.edited 1

My Buried Treasure this time around is just below the surface actually! Check out my BIg Danged Kentucky Derby Hat , if you haven’t already!   It was so much fun to make and that big old crazy thing just makes me so happy every time I see it.  Hope you enjoy it as well. I love a flattering photo as well!  Ha!


Encaustics are back on my love, love, love list.  Always were….it’s just been a little while since I’ve had the time and space to pull them out and experiment.  Been playing with adding dimensional paper (i.e. paper flower!) dipped in plaster layered with wax.  What do you think?  I kind of like it.  I think I will do a white wax next time instead of the natural beeswax to give it a little more brightness, but it’s heading in the right direction for me.


This little scene which is actually a lot wider ( 7×20) just appeared as I was playing with thinned out acrylic paints on the background, paper, book text, incising with burnt umber paint rubbed into the grooves – along the lines of an intaglio printing process without the printing part.   Makes me think of OBX in North Carolina and the rows of beach houses.


Taking a course about drawing portraits and am really out of my comfort zone,  but it’s kind of a thrill.   These faces just start to appear as I work and have an expression and features that are purely imaginary yet completely captivating to me.  This is Girl #3 so I haven’t gotten very far.



On my nighstand is Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards who has also been my teacher lately.  I have never felt like I could draw like I want to be able to draw..  I can be creative, I can do mixed media, I can photograph things, I can paint, but draw?  Not so much.  I am anxious to see how her techniques, considered groundbreaking, impact my perception about my drawing ability.  Stay tuned.


Been fooling around with painting over old paintings and this little guy showed up.  Not sure what I make of him but he’s been fun to have around.  Will he stay or will he go?  It’s a work in progress.

DSCN9006Gorillas, butterflies and giant jungle flowers have dominated my brain for the last couple of months as my girl has been costume interning for Tarzan with Character Works Richmond.  I have been driving her to her work days and decided to stick around and help out.  I have learned so much about sewing clothes!  Well, costumey kind of clothes.  I have sewn so many pillows, drapes, cushions, quilts but never something to wear.  Again, out of my comfortable place.  It’s been good to stretch the edges of my abilities.  Met some really great creative people as well.  Opening night is this Friday and it is going to be fantastic.  It is staggering how many hours, people, ideas and creative goo there is flowing into this production. Something to behold and all done in the most fun, family oriented, wholesome environment I am honored to be a part of.  Tickets are still available, if you are interested.  Show runs through June 22.


And lastly, another book companion I have been spending a lot of time with lately is Uncertainty by Jonathan Fields.  Being an artist is nothing if not uncertain.  Learning how to harness, manage and use fear to your advantage as you put yourself out there for comparison and judgement is a skill I am learning  to master.  I am “uncertain” I will be able to pull it off at all times but I am learning that fear can be a catalyst when combined with a healthy dose of perspective. I am preparing myself to take some leaps, praying the net will appear and needing to embrace the uncertainty that comes with being brave.

Thanks to Seth for sending you my way.   He is a role model for all artists in how to give openly and often. I want to be like him when I grow up. Thanks to you for reading this far.

Please ….join my subscribers if you want to (believe me, they’d tell you, your email won’t be overwhelmed) and you will be able to follow my uncertain summer into my uncertain creative career….that should be a shove off of the cliff.  More people watching…

See you along the way,


One Big Danged Kentucky Derby Hat…

One Big Danged Kentucky Derby Hat…

I seriously did not know that the Kentucky Derby was this Saturday when I planned this post several weeks ago, but the timing is perfect.  In honor of that iconic event and the hats that are such an integral part of that tradition…big-curl-kentucky-derby-hatWhoa!  Exactly what statement is this making? big-flower-derby-hat

“Hi! I’m a drunk poppy!”   Even though these hats may seem extreme…. I am here to tell you as someone who has had the incredible good fortune to experience the Kentucky Derby in 2012, you ain’t seen nuthin’!  Really…

for photo credit and MORE extreme Derby hats go here.  But then come back…

Derby ticketsAnd not for nothing, but that year’s artwork for the Derby was done by an awesome Richmond, Virginia artist...Robert Joyner. handmade wedding designNever have I thought of myself as a frilly flower kind of girl.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love flowers.  Arranging them. Smelling them. Looking at them.  Learning about them. Growing them.  Just not wearing or using florals that much in decorating, aside from a vase of fresh flowers whenever possible. Definitely no “fake” flowers.DSCN3802But now, I apparently have an obsession with paper flowers!  It must be the incredibly dramatic and fun results, the art in real life of it all, from something so pedestrian as a piece of paper that gets to me.  These were just so stinking easy, inexpensive and versatile, I fell in love with them.  Butcher paper, hot glue and cardboard. Paper flower, you have served me well.  If you aren’t familiar with how this all started and you want to read about it, go light before (2)What has all of this got to do with the Kentuky Derby? Well, it all started because  I  have had a large boring light fixture hanging in my dining room for YEARS!  The chandelier of my dreams has not been in my budget and I didn’t HATE this one. Sure it was plain and boring but it was also neutral,notoffensive, large and somewhat dramatic (the room has a 12 ft. ceiling), and FREE!  A simple DIY project – two identical lampshades, inverted and attached at the center edges with simple metal split key rings, hung from a light kit with a muslin cord cover.

So…it stayed that way forever until I turned my dining room into my studio late last year. Then I could look upon it no more and in the back of my mind, I had this paper flower idea that had to be realized. I figured if I hated it covered in flowers, not that much lost.DSCN8521Coffee filters are the paper of choice in this project.  Not even sure what inspired it exactly…something I saw on Anthropologie or Pinterest, no doubt.  Even though I feel like I have some experience with the subject, I spent a good bit of time reading up on making paper flowers on the internet,  Then, taking a little bit from each article, I devised my method. Some bowls, acrylic paint and water, a tray of some sort – could be a flat box -, a clothesline (outside preferably), scissors, masking tape, and hot glue were the basic supplies.  coffee filters 2With flowers, as with anything in nature, perfection is in the variation. I did want to stay within three basic colors…pink, orange, yellow with a little green sprinkled in.   In order to achieve a varied look, I mixed up small batches of color at a time – a couple of tablespoons of acrylic paint in about 3/4 cup of water – making the mix more intense or more watery depending on the look I wanted. Then it was just dip the filters in the bowl, let them soak for a few seconds, squeeze out the excess water and lay the filters flat out on a  tray (or cookie sheet) to be taken to the clothesline outside.  Piece of cake!colored coffee filters (2)They were pretty drippy, even though I had squeezed them out, so I had to be mindful about where I let them hang. Since I knew I would be powerwashing and repainting my deck in a few weeks, I didn’t worry about it too much.  I hung 4 – 5 together with a wooden clothespin and they dried in about an hour.  The colors were really quite beautiful on this very early Spring-like day.DSCN8692Being that it was not quite Spring yet, however, some days I couldn’t hang them outside.  So, I lined them up flat in layers on cookie sheets in 185 degree oven, checking and flipping  them every 20 minutes or so.

Yes,  I said “some days” because let me tell you, I had to do this several times during the course of the two weeks or so I worked on this project.  There were many, many, MANY more filters involved than I could have guessed in the beginning.  I believe the estimate at the end of it all was close to 750 or so.  Yeah….that’s exactly what I said!Dried coffee filters (2)The type paper used to make coffee filters is amazingly durable. You can soak it and wring it out, flatten it, dry it and manipulate it into what you want without too much fear of ripping them to shreds. They take on a stiff crinkly texture once dry that makes them hold their shape as flower petals.  Not to mention the beautiful way they take color!


Not knowing what I might like better, I dyed some of each – unbleached brown filters as well as the bleached white ones.  Even though I love the brightness of the color using the white it felt like it was going to be just too much for the size of the shades I was covering.  I really liked the vintagey ecru color of the unbleached. Actually, I ended up  dipping the unbleached filters in a mixture of white paint and water to wash out the brown a bit.  I liked the way the whitewash softened the look.  Going for as much variation as possible, I even added white to a couple of batches of color to wash them out a bit as well. photo credit:

photo credit:

Although, now I kind of want to do something in all white. Love the feathery look of those “flowers” on the drum shades over the table.

Once the filters were dyed, dried and sorted by color, it was time to make some flowers!  I used a couple of different cuts and edges as I went to fight the boredom get the look of the different types of flowers but it was basically the same technique. (To be honest, it wasn’t that bad.  I did them in the evenings while watching some TV and although it did take a few days, it wasn’t too bad.)

I could go through and write out all of the steps with  pictures of how to cut and tape the flowers but it could take about as long as it did to make them!  Aunt Peaches does it best right here on her blog.  She’s pretty fabulous anyway, so enjoy.  But then come back!

Step Nine: Repeat about 400 more times…

DSCN8686So tons and tons of flowers!  Small ones, bigger ones, roses, zinnias, peonies, carnations, buds, full flowers….that’s what I was telling myself they looked like anyway. DSCN8690Okay, so if there was anything that was more surprising than how many coffee filters I was going to use, it was how many hot glue sticks it would take!  Probably about 20?!  That fixture is a beast!  And the flowers, although lightweight, started to weigh down the lamp on one side as I added more along with the weight of the glue.  It got a little tricky.DSCN8691 I loved the subdued colors a lot but every now and then I had to put in a pop of the tourquoise and hot pink just to spark it up.DSCN8719And there it is…once it was done, I said to myself,”That looks like one Big Danged Kentucky Derby hat!” I love it!  It makes me HAPPY!! That’s a heck of a lot more than I can say for its former self.  At least it’s not boring!  Just like the Derby!

round-n-round-derby-hatGoing to the Kentucky Derby had always been on my bucket list and I was definitely not disappointed. The experience lived up to every bit of the hype.  We were treated like royalty, ate incredible food, sipped mellow old bourbon with friends that are like family and our seats were absolutely phenomenal. And I do love a Mint Julep…done right.223_jalapeno-spiked-bourbon-julep_sq-3676cc4bde8e78ed6040f0fb20a877b48c260709-s40-c85Speaking of done right, to get you in the mood this year, try this version by Louisville celebrity chef Ed Lee, from his cookbook, Smoke and Pickles.edited 1“California Chrome” is the favorite for the 140th Run for the Roses this Saturday, but my money is on “Hoppertunity”. If only I could wear this!   (Just saw a plain white ball pendant made from coffee filters on Houzz for $189!!!   Winning!!)

Have some FUN and Enjoy!



Back to the Future…

Back to the Future…

Looking back I could see it coming. Burn out….I was going to need a break.  How about a four month hiatus from blogging?  Last year was much like juggling flaming knives while studying for finals during a hurricane while riding a roller coaster… in a kilt.


(Photo credit  here…)

I hit a wall. I needed a LONG hot bath and a nap!  Real life had left little time for Art. Or teaching. Or cleaning.  Or thinking.

Honesty, I did not plan to take the break.  It was forced upon me. One week led to two weeks to a month and well, you know….

I did have every intention of continuing my 365 project on Instagram as a means of staying in the loop. That lasted about a month or so until my 2 year old smartphone – 187 in cell phone years – stopped wanting to upload, download, or otherwise communicate with the internet.  It was in my face….take a break!


Did I do a ton of art in the meantime?  Not as much as I could have.

Is my house super clean and ready for a magazine photo shoot?  Not so much.

Have I been teaching classes in art/history/math/science.  Well, yes. Yes, I have. I am a homeschooling mom.  But even that hasn’t felt as complete as I would have desired.

Maybe it was that long cold winter we had here in the mid-Atlantic…DSCN8452Too much snow time?DSCN8619Feeling a bit confined….So exactly what have I been doing with all this “extra” time?DSCN8857Reading!  I read a stack of books. More than what’s here. Art books, business books, fun books, life books.  Some on a device, but lots of real, hold it-in-your-hand, turn-the-page kind of books. live with art lampRepurposing some tattered IKEA lamps headed out to Goodwill….StevensonL_EdwardsCreating a little mixed media statement art for a friend….DSCN8850Handcarving stamps…Hines bath (2)Adjusting to our newest family member, my Christmas present….Big Daddy Hines….sweet, but maybe a tiny bit overenthusiastic…Experiencing dog parks for the first time – ever…wow!  Add dog training books to the list above.Hines mirror (2)He’s a good-looking lad. A tad narcissistic? Maybe just confused…big head (2)He is a kind of big-headed….those itty-bitty little feet, though!…perspective is everything!GOLD window seats (2)Helping my girl figure out how to make these window seat box cushions for her Girl Scout Gold Award project!!! Thanks to the most generous donation of cabinetry for the entire room from Closet Factory, our church’s youth space is handsomely outfitted for the many uses it must handle. These cushions were just one part of the many pieces of this project that was completed in March.  Yay!  Girl Scout Gold Award…Check!  DSCN8512 (2)Celebrating her 17th birthday with some FUN fool-the-eye cupcakes made with rice cereal/marshmallow-type toppings with all kinds of flattened, cut up, dipped and sugared candies pretending to be Chinese take-out…Cupcake fortuneThe broccoli is really lime Tootsie Rolls split and dipped in green icing then dipped in green sugar.  Flattened and folded caramel squares made up the fortune cookies with special custom birthday fortunes….DSCN8831Teaching…did I mention that I am teaching Driver’s Ed to this one? (add dyeing my hair to the list!) This mode of transportation was a tiny bit less stressful of a ride along….a blast actually!DSCN8786Spending time with these girlies doing RVA!  This is their last year together as Girl Scouters.  Some have been with us since Brownies….sniff.DSCN8794Checking out the Girl Scout Commonwealth Council of Virginia Century of Leadership display at VCU Branch Cabell Library…DSCN8816Posing at the Jefferson Hotel…DSCN8825and lunching at Tobacco Company in Shockoe Slip…


Restarting a yoga practice abandoned long ago after a neck injury, which led to a weekend trek to Yogaville with a group of wonderfully adventurous women.   We laughed, meditated, hiked, did a little yoga, slept in dorm rooms and made new friends.Gorilla

The latest project has been working with my girl on gorilla costumes for an upcoming production of Tarzan. Not the greatest cell phone picture but I can’t blame it on my shiny new device….DSCN8849She’s a beaut!  We have four of them in our family now (and one S4 for the black sheep)…Pretty stunning the advancements in just two years…  Crazy good stuff!sam bday cakeBaking and decorating what I am sure is the first ever backwards birthday manatee cake in our house…colored coffee filters (2)Dying coffee filters to feed my apparent obsession with paper filter flowers 1 (2)….more about that project in my next post….

Looking to start up some more workshops and classes to get an Art in Real Life Revolution started.  Been spending a lot of time looking around the area for the kind of art experience I want to have.  Looking and looking.  There are things going on in RVA, for sure.  But nothing that felt like the right kind of space for the FUN ART experience I have been searching for.

It’s possible, though, that the space has found me.

….more about that in a future post, as well…. promise it won’t be four months!I

Hope you have spent the first months of 2014 doing something good for your soul….


One Year Later….

One Year Later….

Okay, here goes, the “Hello 2014” Post… DSCN8259Here on AIRL, 2013 clearly was the “Year of the Handmade Wedding”, but putting pictures up on my 365 Project page kept me busy posting nearly every day of 2013.  It wasn’t always the easiest thing to keep up with and there were a few times when a week’s worth would have to go up at once, but I stayed disciplined, paid attention and made it to the end.

Day 365

Through it all, I learned a ton not only about composition, photo editing, lighting (good and bad!), time-management, computers, and blogging but more about just noticing the small things that begged for a second look.  Day 257

Sometimes there were “eureka” moments that I knew the shot was the one of the day…day 212

but most times I was surprised by something that just captured the day personally in an undeniable way.

Day 116 (2)

For 2014, I am going even more in the moment and moving that project over to Instagram. You can follow along there if you’d like – click here – artinrealife.

day 263

As 2014 kicks off, capturing more of the awareness that comes from those small random moments is definitely a goal of mine.

day 245

Moments ….


Taking the time, and the risk, to find inspiration and live with more art.

Day 233

The true principle behind Art in Real Life.  

day 155 (2)

In the New Year, my hope is that you will find ways to live with more attention to art in real life…. Take notice. Take some risks. Share what you are doing here in the comments anytime, if you like.

Happy Birthday to AIRL

Happy Birthday to AIRL

December 13, 2013 ,  Art in Real Life’s 2nd Birthday!!!  Woo!  Send in the clowns….NOT!


Art in Real Life so far has been a pretty in-depth study in discipline and perseverance.  Doing the work. Keeping my head in the game.  Following my heart.  Learning what makes me happy.


It has been a way to share a journey to find what happened to my artistic self over the last 25+ years.  What started out all enthusiastic ambition in my younger days got jaded and lost somewhere between art school and here. I lost the connection with that side of myself, and eventually handed over the trust I had in my own creative nature and declared,” I am not really an artist” out of fear of failure or judgement.  Fast forward to 2011 when I rediscovered that passion and started making up for lost time and Art in Real Life was born.


Making a mark, small or large, on canvas, paper, fabric, the internet or at a job, or at home takes a certain amount of bravery. It requires effort and intention and a lot of trust.  What everyone who has taken a risk and put themselves out there knows is that inspiration is in the doing. Which cultivates more creativity which gives one the courage to try something even more. Posting here in this arena about my personal journey back to creativity in real life has been a lesson in discipline, perseverance and bravery for me and hopefully offers a tiny bit of inspiration for anyone who may have given up on that voice.


Art in Real Life 2013 the year of ….

Handmade Weddings:  Wedding planner is not my profession but this was definitely the year of the wedding, no doubt. Our dreams were big but our time frames and budgets tight so we were forced  to look deep and roll up our sleeves.  Creative thinking, faith and a lot of glue took us from a couple of bland banquet halls to romantic colorful spaces filled with personality and meaningful moments.


Project 365: One of my favorite developments from this blog. Many versions of this project exist on the internet.  There is a website that does a good job of explaining why, in this world of instant everything, does it matter to take one photo every single day for a year of your life.  My Project 365 is not a product of any of those just a suggestion by an extremely talented photographer friend . Her level of photography puts me in my place but she inspired me to really take notice of the everyday happenings, no matter how mundane or messy, and pay attention.  I like that.   Sometimes it is just capturing one simple moment brings me back to that day and the back story.  Looking to keep up with that habit and go for Project 365 2014.  Discipline and  perseverance…

Day 307

Design for Real Life: Although 2013 was all about weddings (and cats if you look at my 365 Project!), I am looking forward to being more active in this particular aspect of my creative life in 2014.  Our company, Closet Factory, has the newest cutting edge drawing technology that presents some learning curves (for me!) but  through discipline and perseverance we have been able to offer this incredibly comprehensive tool our company to our clients.  Helping people beautify and organize their homes is another passion that takes a lot of discipline and perseverance on my part.


A.R.T.:  or Acts of Random Talent page is a place that I am using to curate inspiring artists’ work as I find them around the internet.  Hoping to create a collection of unexpected art that has its roots in real life.  People who, even though they may have come to their calling in a non-traditional way, have made the connection to that inner voice and have stepped into being the artists that they were meant to be.  Really, we are all artists.

alexa meade

Gallery: It hasn’t been all weddings and cats but there has been some actual “visual art” happening around here, too. There have been paintings and classes just not so much on the gallery page.Studio renovations as well as house, food, fabric and yard projects have been a big part of the year, too!


Thank you so much for being a reader, (even if you are related to me in some way and just feel obligated!)  I am ever so grateful for your time. I am aware there is a lot of ways to spend your screen time. Thank you for stopping by.  I hope you will leave me a birthday comment if you have a moment.  I would consider it to be a wonderful gift. You could even subscribe and get an update in your inbox when there is something new here if you want…extra special thank you to my “inner circle” of subscribers!  Love you guys!


Here’s to the next 365 days of Art in Real Life!  Do something powerful and creative – be yourself!

Handmade Wedding: I lied!

Handmade Wedding: I lied!

Yes, It’s true…I thought I was done with the wedding posts but nope, got one more in me…

7 a.m., Nov. 15th, I got this Facebook message from a very dear friend who shared with me a couple of months ago that she had found a very special “beau”, “Do you plan to be in town November 30th?”.  I had a feeling what was coming.  She was getting married!  Very excited for her as she deserves every bit of the happiness she has found.  What could I say, other than “Do you need some paper flowers?” wedding2flowers She had two weeks.  I had lots of sticks and flowers (and spreadsheets!)  Let the turbo-planning begin!   Made that four month timeline for the first wedding seem extensive!  Although that quick turnaround presents all kinds of obstacles, there is also a wonderful simplicity in planning and designing a wedding with a tight timeline. Obviously there is stress, but it is not a prolonged stress.  Decisions just have to be made.  You have to work with what you have.  You cannot worry about that which you cannot change.  And for the most part, it turned out absolutely perfect.wedding2back

Starting with the theme of joining hands to become family, we wanted to be sure that we hit the main features that the bride felt were important. Creating an intimate space, just for the two of them, was the most important with a bit of drama and a dash of glamour. Look familiar?


Since the groom was a great friend with their pastor, who also served as the best man, the venue was set. The bride’s four grown children along with her sister formed the bridal party.


A hand blessing read by the matron of honor, sister of the bride, had special meaning for the bride and her family. Gotta love that hooplah!

DSCN7741In order to include the children of the bride in the ceremony and create the family bond, the couple presented each child with a special necklace to commemorate the day.DSCN7760It was a wonderful gesture that along with their family sharing in communion together, symbolized the new oneness of their family.DSCN7762The look on her face here says it all…wedding2toast

There was a sparkling cider toast..(how do you like the giant flowers’ new role? Pretty cool way to fill up wall space.)wedding2cuttingcake….a wedding cake to cut….

wedding2ladies…great food…(I see black and white engineer prints!)DSCN7765friends and family to witness and share it all…wedding2prekiss…and a honeymoon in the mountains.   .

As we were breaking down the wedding decorations in April, some of the helpers( let’s be honest, mostly the menfolk) asked, “What do you want us to do with this stuff? Put it in the dumpster!?!?!”  WHAT!?!? ARE YOU INSANE?!?!  However, truth be told,  we really had no idea what we were going to do with them. They have been in storage ever since. To be able to reimagine and share them with this couple on their special day made the decision to hang on to them a blessing.

Now, who’s next?

Handmade Wedding: Wrapping up the details…AWK!

Handmade Wedding: Wrapping up the details…AWK!

Finally….the day all (three) of you have been waiting for…the last of the Handmade wedding posts!  This wedding and the ripple effect that it had was such a huge factor  this year, both physically and mentally, that I felt it had to be thoroughly documented.  And believe me when I say, I am doing everyone a favor by editing it here.  I have hundreds, possibly a thousand, pictures of everything in every stage of production that I have determined are really just for my benefit and will remain in my vaults. So here goes..

Have I mentioned that there was no shortage of creative ideas for this wedding?  And I am not just tooting my own horn. The groom, despite the fact that he was on another continent except for a couple of weeks at Christmas and the two weeks he had at the time of the wedding, was totally “in” for all aspects of the decisions and contributed his graphic design skills via the internet. From the proposal – recreated here as part of the invitation photo shoot…IMG_2063 2 …to the invitations… DSCN7566 and the program (which included the lyrics of a song the bride had written for the groom as a Christmas gift! How creative is that?)…Program Outside4…to the poster for the elevator lobby to let folks know where to go once they arrived at the venue….DSCN4227and the clever photo boards for the ladies’…    DSCN3858 DSCN3861and mens’ rooms…DSCN3860 …so fun, a guest politely took this one home as a souvenir….    DD7_7967  … to the interior of the cigar box for the ring bearer…note the paper flower inside….wounded warrior…the buffet markers and gift donation cards attached to the sparklers for the guests to light as the couple left after the reception…Groomsmen dock1 …to the t-shirts worn by the groomsmen under their tuxes…Groomsmen dock2Hooo-ah!dog tag start (2) …to the oversized dog tag…  DSCN4001…that he made the day before the wedding as a prop for… group Lindsey …the photo booth – That man was busy!!!  Being involved in all of the creative, and manual labor, was something that he not only wanted to do, but insisted that he be involved. We would have easily given him a pass.  Love that about him! Day 77 A few more projects we felt gave the wedding it’s extra special personal feel were the cake plates and cocktail glasses for the new Mr. and Mrs.  Some paint, stencils, stickers along with a little Mod Podge and we were able to customize them for very few dollars. IMG_4578The Mrs seems happy enough!    DSCN2799We had some of the most fun creating moments in some of the most unseen places – like the men’s bathroom.  This “floral” arrangement was a kick to put together.  Some silver sticks and bamboo, accented with little green Army men hot-glued to bamboo skewers….IMG_4308along with cigars, photos and some mini-bar bottles of “Jack Daniels”.DSCN3965 Actually, we filled them with iced tea so as to not cross any ABC license lines but don’t you know, all of them were empty before the reception even started!!!!  That must have been a disappointing surprise! DSCN2686One of my absolutely favorite transformations has to be the very first spot guests saw when they exited the elevator into the venue space. This is the “before” shot. Actually that was a bare  beige Formica topped table with a chrome pedestal base. The basket and tablecloth were added by us just to get an idea of how it would work.  We knew we wanted to have something dramatic to set the tone as the guests entered.   This was not it!DSCN2784That giant round basket got hit with the silver/chrome spray paint that we used on all of the sticks. Then we placed one of our hot pink napkins along with a round mirror in the center of the basket and added a floral arrangement with all of the bride’s colors. raw monogramsThe new couple’s monogram was our choice for the wall where that tropical painting was hanging. We found these paper mache’ letters at the craft store. They were probably 18 – 24 inches tall and a couple of inches thick. They had a presence. This configuration of the letters in their names actually ends up being the groom’s initials. Thankfully, wedding etiquette dictates that the bride’s name is first in the lineup so it wouldn’t come across like it was all about him! A with black paint After priming them with gesso, a coat of silver paint was added mostly to all of the edges and sides.  monogram 2 Then several coats of flat black paint were applied and allowed to dry. Using some fine sandpaper, the edges were made to look worn as the silver underpainting was revealed. A little added silver paint, a little more black, sanding off, then adding some more and they really ended up looking a lot like aged metal. Didn’t they?  We like to think so.DSCN3060So much so, that we went ahead and added the date as the perfect finishing touch.  The only difference was the numbers were wooden but the same technique.  DSCN3152Again, pretty close to looking like aged metal.DSCN2686 Remember this before?final awkAnd here is the after!  The black and silver with the hot pink and the flowers really made a dramatic statement when the elevator doors opened  It looked much more expensive than it was and we had the ceiling spot directed right at it.  It was a focal point. The basket held cards and gifts were placed around the basket on and around the table on the floor. The proper line-up of the couple’s initials, their monogram, spells “AWK”!  which has now become a family term of endearment.DSCN3096 Last but not least, the get-away vehicle (Colonial Beach is a golf cart community) was decorated using repurposed  fringe from a banner at one of Amy’s bridal showers…  DSCN4275 …as well as a poster that read …”We Be Wed” which is a call back to my wedding at which my dear word-challenged husband misunderstood the officiant and repeated “I be Wed” instead of “I Thee Wed” . Now, a family term of endearment, as well.  The poster was created with the words “Kent loves Amy” repeated in the border around the whole sign inside the black and white checkerboard.  Super cute!IMG_4765 Unfortunately, the pro photographer was long gone by the time the couple were ready to leave and we were all pretty excited – maybe it was the excessive bar tab – as the couple left the reception to “get-away” so we didn’t really get any great pictures with the cool effect of the sparklers and their top-hatted driver.  Here’s our best shot.  Sad but true.DSCN4269Oh well, the next day we made them pose for this parting shot.  Their smiles sum up the joy that the whole event brought to everyone involved.  From all of the gluing and the the planning to the dancing and the blogging, it has been an honor to help them celebrate their love for one another.

The creative energy was fueled by our love for the couple and their sweet dedication to not only one another but to our country. They continue to make sacrifices and delay the usual pleasures a newly wed couple enjoy building their new life together in order to serve and protect our freedoms.

For that, I am eternally grateful.

Love you guys!


Handmade Wedding: Rock, Paper, Sticks

Handmade Wedding: Rock, Paper, Sticks

The building blocks of a fashionable yet frugal wedding….


wedding rocks When’s the last time you pulled out your wedding guest book, or any guest book for that matter, and read all of the heartfelt sentiments your guests took the time to leave there? Uh-huh, that’s what I thought.  Guest books are sooooo last century! .wedding rocksThe guests at this wedding were invited to pick a special rock that they liked from our pre-sorted collection and leave their wishes, signature, caricature, whatever, on them.  Some made more sense than others…just saying.  “Leave each”? “You kids are totes vegates”? I am sure it must mean something incredibly special to the bride and groom.DSCN2837These were just landscaping rocks we purchased by the bag from the Home Depot, cleaned with much TLC and complaining, and placed in a nautically-inspired oyster basket with some fine-line rocks boxGuests then dropped them in a special patriotic themed box in honor of the groom’s military service that will hold them all, along with extra blank rocks and a Sharpie to sit on a credenza for when they entertain at their new home….whenever it is that they finally get to live together as a couple!

Ugly ACSmall white rocks – again, landscaping rocks from Home Depot – in mason jars held down the sticks we used as camo for the u-g-l-y air conditioning units on the roof interrupting our wonderful river view.We did not want that hulk of machinery to be the focus of the ceremony space!!sticks in jars

Not a perfect solution but they kept your eye at the plane of the window and kept you from focusing on the obstruction outside of it so much.

DSCN2922Tumbled rock tile was our hot glue gun trivet as we made our paper flowers and also the base of the black and white photo take-aways.

IMG_2241There is more about them here.



This roll of Costco butcher paper about $15 –  and a hot glue gun were the backbone for our paper flower projects…


Giant paper flowers overhead…


…as well as lots and lots of smaller paper flowers in different sizes to adorn the space in different ways…

DD7_7863…on reserved chairs in the ceremony space…

Banner10 (2)…mixed with book text paper for a vintage feel in the chalkboard bannerbanner9 (2)…along with book text paper mixed with fabric to bring in a punch of color with the vintage.

cigar box

On and in the ring bearer’s ring box …


…paper envelopes from love letters written by the couple for the base of the groom’s cakeIMG_4309…the huge paper engineer print photos everywhere we could think of…DSCN3891…fun fluffy colorful paper pom-poms for the dance floor…( Say that fast 3 times!)buffet tags (2)…down to the menu cards designed by the groom, emailed from Germany and printed on paper cardstock for the buffet line. More of his awesome graphic design work in the next post.


My absolute favorite paper project were the floor vases we created out of cardboard concrete forms from Lowe’s for about $4 each, spray painted glossy black and banded by a field of our paper flowers. You can read more about the process of making these here.


branches tape measure

This room needed drama to liven it up and camo to hide those hulking AC units.  Our inspiration was metallic sticks we had seen at a Christmas display with, of course, tiny white lights.  We gathered a truck load of sticks, literally, cut from the woods and then set about measuring and trimming them to the varying heights so that in the end, our window sticks would have the suggestion of a wave pattern, naturally, since we were on the water.

branches smiles

We sawz-alled, trimmed, remeasured, and labeled all of our groups of sticks in the different heights.

branches spray can

Twenty four cans of this metallic silver spray paint later, we had these…

Day 62

Using the chrome metallic spray paint, as opposed to just a normal silver paint, made all of the difference.  These branches almost hurt your eyes reflecting the sun, they were so shiny and metallic.  There was tons of overspray, since the branches are so narrow, so we had some pretty nicely painted metallic cardboard under them all when we were done! If we had a few more ounces of creative energy left, we probably could have come up with a re-purpose for those! DD7_7841

Later, we gathered two huge black yard waste bags full of pine branches, not technically sticks, I suppose, and sprayed them, as well, to prop up the black and white photos in the table centerpieces.


This was the garage, booby-trapped with hanging bicycles, pine boughs, silver sticks, riding lawn mowers and stretched out white lights on load-in day.

truck branches

This was just truckload number one.


It was then up the ramps…


…and into the elevator. Fun stuff!


The poor beer delivery guy got caught holding the door for us with a hand-truck full of beer cases behind him on the elevator.  He was thrilled, to say the least.  That beer was for our reception so we had to be nice and accommodate him!  Actually, he was very nice to us.  It was a win-win.

DSCN3786Then there was this guy, along with his buddy, Obnoxious-Musical- Cotton-Candy-Machine, in the casino entrance lobby, staring and shouting at us every one of our 243 waits for the elevator to come down over the course of about 8 hours. We were all smiling pretty much like that at the end of it all.DSC_0765

Back to the cool floor vases, this glimpse of a shot was taken just as the ceremony was preparing to begin with the entrance of the officiant and the groomsmen. That’s all I have are glimpses of them finished and in place, the result of me wearing too many hats and photographer was not one of them.The two bigger vases were placed on either side of the ceremony space under the draped organza to fill in the corners. 


With a grand total of 17 people in the bridal party facing the guests, it was the only space that needed it up front!


The two smaller floor vases were at the bar and the DJ table filling in some around the glass racks and equipment. DSCN3935Our mason jars filled with white rocks and silver sticks created just enough of an illusion to create a distraction to take your eyes away from the AC units that we were hoping for in the ceremony space.   Wave pattern? Maybe not so much…subtle but still effective.DSC_1032

The illusion only went so far but it didn’t seem to keep anyone from having fun.  There’s that ceremony floor vase in the background.


The caterers ended up canabalizing some of our jars and table branches along with the ceremony chair markers to add to the display for the buffet line….another set of missing photos.  Sigh…next time!  

Rock, Paper, Sticks:  Dependable, flexible, and economical.  What more can you ask for from such basic elements?

NEXT: Wrapping it all up – AWK!




Handmade Wedding: Hooplahs and Jellyfish

Handmade Wedding: Hooplahs and Jellyfish

What do hula-hoops and jellyfish have in common?  I didn’t know either until this wedding.

Creating intimate spaces with big impact looks in a large generic banquet room using handmade personalized elements on a budget pretty much was our design mission statement for this wedding.  Finding creative answers was sometimes easy and sometimes not.  These particular projects were so easy, it was stunning!  They were the answer to what we were looking for at a cost that was next to nothing considering the impact that they made.IMG_4509

Naturally, the bride wanted to have “The Walk” down a long aisle, so we picked a spot in the room that gave her plenty of time for that moment leading to a simple but magical destination. The windows provided a great view for the ceremony backdrop but  what we needed was an intimate atmosphere for the vow exchange. Enter the hula-hoop – or “hooplah” as our finished products came to be known – tiny white lights, plus yards and yards of silky organza and crepe paper.  Nothing ground-breaking here, but extremely easy, effective and inexpensive.

garage hooplahs

Left: ceremony hoop Right: Jellyfish (cake-table) hoop

 A smallish kids’ hula-hoop purchased for $3 spray painted white, with white icicle lights zip-tied on with white zip-ties, formed the base of the ceremonial hoop.  The jellyfish hooplah was a wire wreath frame from a craft store, purchased for about $4, with white in-line string lights draped in big loops and twist-tied on.   Even though we did spray the cake table hoop white as well, we left the green wires as they actually sort of disappeared in the dark center of the jellyfish when we were done.  icicle lights boxThese were a great find at the after-Christmas sales.  Knowing we had this event coming up we stocked up and bought about 30 boxes.  We used them in several different ways throughout the space and the effect was sparkly and magical…gotta love a twinkle light!DSCN2824Of course, precise measurements and advanced mathematical calculations were employed to make sure that the ceremony hoop hung at the right height above the couple’s heads.  Okay, maybe we used some unconventional methods but they worked!DSCN2917

A few yards of organza, a couple of wraps n’ tucks, and the ceremony hooplah was finished. .DSCN3939Easy-peasy and a lot of mood for about $10 and 20 minutes!Day 94 (2)At the venue, we laid out 32 yards of the dreamy white organza ($8 a yard before the 40%off coupon). At first we thought we would be able to wrap it around strands of lights, but we did not have enough of the in-lines in white wire,  most were of the icicle variety. So, in the end, we chucked that idea for the more simple plain fabric drape.DSCN3812Creating the illusion of floating chiffon was as simple as 4 hooks, some fishing line and a couple of poles. The dropped-ceiling grid gave us the perfect center point to hang the hooplah form the grid using hooks we got from a office furniture outfitter.  After that, we just lifted the panels on either side and tucked the ends of the organza in and let the panel weight hold them down. Then, using bamboo “rods” we cut from a neighbor’s yard, with holes drilled in the ends, we threaded fishing line through them, allowing us to loop them onto the dropped-ceiling hooks.   When the hoopah was lit …ceremony hooplah…it created just enough glow to create the most important spot in the room.


At the opposite end of this gigantic room, in a corner, was the cake-cutting table, lonely and  in desperate need of an attention-grabbing something. That’s where the jellyfish hooplah was doing its job but on the way there…DSCN3946…can we take a moment to check out the fabulous overhead effect of the hundreds of white icicle lights over the dance floor.  Complete with a pink mirrored disco ball, paper pom-poms and ribbons in the bride’s favorite colors.DD7_8274

When we lit it up after the ceremony,  It just screamed, “FUN happens here!”.  And it did!

cake hoop stairs paperWhen you write it down on paper, this project does not sound like something you would expect to class-up a wedding, but it really ended up being a show-stopper.Crepe paper streamers – only around $1 a roll – created the drama for the jellyfish hooplah.  That’s right, kiddie birthday party crepe paper streamers.  Sounds kinda tacky, right?  That’s what I thought!cre[e paper rolling deviceWe had to use so much of the darned stuff ,and in such long pieces, that we devised this clever factory assembly line method for measuring and cutting the many, many strips.  The sheer volume of color and paper is what elevated it from cheap to chic.DSCN2864All that was involved in the production, was folding over the strips a couple of inches and stapling them to the frame, alternating the colors all the way around and on all of the sections of the wire wreath frame, creating a depth of layers.  Having a spiral staircase to hang it from was genius!jellyfish closeup

We simply zip-tied some chain from the hardware store on and presto… we had a jellyfish hooplah!  Crazy good!.

DSCN2878How do you store a 10 foot long jellyfish hooplah until you need it?  Go ahead, Google that!  Our method was to put the bottoms in a big black garbage bag…jelly storage…and haul it up to the storage area over the garage to hang from the rafters. Then we took the bag off because we didn’t want to wrinkle the tendrils.  It still puddled on the floor a bit.IMG_4313That’s how we learned once crepe paper gets a wrinkle, it is there.  We considered ironing them all out but then came to our senses and just  pushed the cake table a little closer.DSC_0657Jellyfish hooplah did its job and brought the punch of color to that corner that was needed.DSCN4186When the sun went down, the orange glow was ethereal. Hoops, lights, fabric, crepe paper, a couple of poles and some fishing line and chain.

Big effects.  Little cost.  Easy execution.  Perfection.

Next up: Rock, Paper, Sticks