Artsy Fartsy Stuff

More artsy than fartsy. Promise!

Sifting The Trinkets and Treasures

I can’t understand why I am drawn to tiny trinkets. Miniature figurines, toys, beads, and buttons always fascinate me. Do they attract you? I can’t seem to throw them away, so I always just put them in a box in a drawer. No more! Now, I’m putting them out on display for my guests to sift through — if they can snatch one of the silver ladles out of my hands.

miniature trinkets and treasures

At a local antique store (about which I will be telling you soon), the owner does a lot of mosaic work using trinkets. She had bowls full of “treasure” all over her shop with tiny wooden scoops in the bowls. With delight I grabbed a scoop and started sifting. It was like sifting in a Pirate’s treasure chest! I was having great fun … until I noticed the shop owner looking at me. I put down the scoop and grinned at her sheepishly. She said, “No, no no! Go ahead and scoop! That’s what it’s for, and EVERYBODY does it.”

You can bet it gave me an idea for all my tiny treasures. I told you long ago about a Hand-some Bowl that my husband gave me. It’s a huge ceramic bowl with carved hands holding it all around. I decided that it would be perfect for displaying my stuff. Why hide it in a drawer? With two antique silver ladles at the ready (bought at a garage sale for a buck, because the kids selling it didn’t know it was silver that needed polishing — they just thought it was dirty), it makes an interesting display for my coffee table.

handy bowl with trinkets

I think it is a success because the first adult who saw it immediately began to scoop. However, I suspected that when I’m not looking five cats would want to scoop, so Mr. Tucker cut a circle of Plexiglass and inserted a lovely drawer knob from Anthropologie in the center.

handy bowl with trinkets and lid

This reminds me very much of the Magical Button Box we had as a child. Momma only brought it out to amuse us when we were sick. That is why it was “magic” … we never got to play with it long enough to grow bored by it. I think that if I were a parent of small children, I might put some trinkets like this in a covered tin to only bring out on special days or days when a child was ill. Do you think that a kid in today’s technological world would find interest in sifting through a bowl full of trinkets and treasures?

Scraps of Love

Upcycled never-ending afghan
The afghan that is spread on my kitchen island in the morning sunlight is a special one. First of all, it’s for me, and I never rarely make anything for me. Second, it’s made from scraps of yarn. They call using scraps to make something new “upcycling” these days, but my grandmother would have called it “using the brain God gave you.” It’s crazy to waste resources. Third, and most important for me, those scraps of yarn were leftovers from the Share A Square program. Every tiny (colored) thread in it is filled with love.

For the third year, volunteers from around the world have been sending me crocheted squares to make afghans for kids with cancer. They leave a long thread to use for stitching the squares together, but I often have excess yarn. When I snip off the extra yarn, I throw it into a bucket. After all, that yarn might have traveled from Michigan or Japan or England! I can’t throw it away … even if it’s just a few inches long!

The result was a HUGE pile of yarn!

pile of yarn scraps

This is only about half of it! I remembered that saying that my Grandmother had: “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.” Answering a challenge from The Non-Consumer Advocate, I wanted to use it up — so over the Christmas holidays I started tying those tiny strings together to make a very funky “novelty” yarn. I knitted a fun “shabby chic” scarf that I love to wear.

upcycled shabby chic scarf

Unfortunately my arms aren’t long enough to take a full length picture of me in it, but you get the drift. The scarf didn’t make a dent in the amount of yarn, so I made a few crocheted bags.

upcycled tote bag

That bucket of yarn reminded me of the porridge bowls in the old folk tales. You know the porridge bowls I mean: the ones that are always full, no matter how much you eat. Every time I moved the yarn around to find another color, the bucket seemed more full than it was before! Frustrated that I couldn’t use this stuff up, I decided to make an afghan using different sizes of squares crocheted with the Never-Ending-Blanket Square pattern from Deb’s Crafts. “Never-Ending” is appropriate. At this point, I’d like to call the afghan “halfway done,” but I keep changing my mind and making it bigger. If I keep going, I can blanket the steps of the Helsinki Cathedral when I’m done.

My husband asked why I didn’t chart the afghan before crocheting. “Seems like if you charted it you would know where you were going,” he said. Silly man! I don’t want to know where I am going. Half the fun of a journey is being able to take any road you want! I’m just seeing where the path leads. It might wind up being a queen-sized bed cover, or just an afghan big enough for two people to snuggle beneath. I have no clue.

Some of you might be wondering about that Share A Square project. Where is it on the journey? I haven’t talked much about it lately on this blog, because I’ve been busy working on it. We have about 100 of the 150 afghans made for this year. A deadline was extended for receiving squares and by mid-February, I expect to have the kits ready for the final 50 afghans of the year. Then I have to find more local volunteers to help assemble the blankets. That part (finding local volunteers) has been the most challenging task of this project. I have a double handful of dedicated volunteers who are stitching away … but creating 150 blankets in a year wears them out quickly. I have to find some “new blood.”

Already my Facebook friends are talking about “next year.” At this point, I do not think that Share A Square will happen again… at least not on the scale of 150 afghans. I’m old enough (and, believe it or not, smart enough) to know when to let go. Maybe I’ll ask the volunteers who stitch how many blankets they are personally willing to make next year and only make that many. If 10 people say, “I’ll make one,” then we will make 10 afghans. If 30 people say, “I’ll make TWO,” then we will make 60. I’m still on the journey — just waiting to see where the path leads.

Meanwhile, I will keep working on this year’s project (looking forward to a delivery in Illinois in August). I’ll keep using up these scraps of love, and looking for other ways to upcycle.

How about you? Do you upcycle? Do you “use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without?”

Riding The Fence

bikes 2

Have I ever told y’all that it isn’t a good idea to drive behind me if I have the camera in the car? Folks in Salado, Texas (a tiny town north of Austin) discovered that this Sunday as I drove through that delightful hamlet. I saw the bicycles that were hung on a fence and braked to a halt to snap pictures. No animals were injured in the making of these pictures, but I’m not sure about the folks behind me who had to brake very quickly. They knew “sign language,” that’s for sure.

I would have loved to have gotten a close-up, but this is Texas and there are fire ants.

bikes on a fence

I prefer to think it is just whimsy. I’m going to call it “art,” since it evoked emotion in me. First, I laughed … and then I started remembering days long ago when I still had the “oomph” to ride a bicycle.

Do you think it’s art? I suppose it could be a political statement … “I’m riding the fence on these issues?” … “I’m sitting on the fence.” Perhaps this is an example of a creative “use” for the overflow from the garage? The only way to know would be to ask the owner, but I doubt one would get a straight answer. After all, this is Texas…