When Life Opens Up

My day today…writing with my new little buddy Max. It’s wet and cold outside.

writing

What am I writing? Who knows. I’m all over the place. But I write for myself. Writing makes me see things. And maybe one day someone will read it all.  Maybe some of it will end up in a digital landfill.  Maybe I’ll print it all out one day and save it for my daughter.  All the writing and letters my mother saved for me I think are priceless.

anniedillard

I’m branching out more this year. I’m stretching myself to new things and I like the discipline and deadlines they bring. I joined a virtual book club, I am starting Patti Digh’s Verb Tribe this week, and I am in a church small group where we dive deeper into each week’s sermon.  I’ve surrounded myself with people I admire and inspire…who also challenge me to think and write deeper.  And it’s all very interesting, for a reason hard to explain.

I love Annie Dillard’s The Writing Life…except for where she says “write as if you are dying.”  Well, I am dying…we are all dying if you stretch the timeline out long enough. I think I can quote Fight Club here and it’s appropriate: This is your life and it’s ending one minute at a time. And that’s not supposed to be depressing, at least I don’t read it that way. I think it’s freedom.

There is a distant goal. It changes along the way. I reserve the right to change my mind about any and all writing projects I’m working on. In the past few years I’ve been asked to write creative books, DIY books but my heart wouldn’t have been in those.  And that in a nutshell is why I blog…to release those things freely as soon as those projects are finished so I can move on quickly to the next.  The creative projects? And the exploring and wandering? I like how Henry Miller described it:

“I turn to painting when I can no longer write. Painting refreshes and restores me. It enables me to forget that I am temporarily unable to write. So I paint while the reservoir replenishes itself.”

Some think I’m crazy for turning down opportunity but it wasn’t hard for me to say no:

Them: But you’ll be published! 
Me: And I won’t enjoy one second of doing it!

I think you have to weed and prune out all which doesn’t speak to your soul.

Holy crap I wish you could listen to what I heard in church yesterday.  I could see people reeling afterwards at the magnitude of it. A church member, Debi,  spoke about how we find ourselves with boundaries we didn’t set for ourselves: sickness, isolation, financial difficulties, but we know that God has only good intended for us:  When we change the way we look at things, the things we look at will change.  

Writing changes the way that I look at things. I make connections and I find strength and redemption in painful things. And I will not live a life of numbness. I did for too long with ro-bo-tic-dis-con-tent. But all of that was so I could get here.  One day life can just open up, it cracks open from the pressure.  Let. it. crack. There is meaning in all of it. And the sun is going to rise again tomorrow no matter who you are, or where you live.  Write about it.

And just so I can say I quoted Fight Club more than once (I haven’t seen the movie in years, but dang it was good, even though I do not condone violence or fighting.):

The things you own end up owning you.

You’re not your job. You’re not how much money you have in the bank. You’re not the car you drive. You’re not the contents of your wallet. You’re not your f–king khakis. You’re the all-singing, all-dancing crap of the world.

It’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything.

Prove you’re alive. If you don’t claim your humanity you will become a statistic. You have been warned.

You wanna make an omelet, you gotta break some eggs.

Warning: If you are reading this then this warning is for you. Every word you read of this useless fine print is another second off your life.

Inspiration is everywhere, even in Fight Club. I think the Super Pretzel I’m eating right now is pretty darn inspiring, inspiration dipped in mustard.

If you can’t find any inspiration go hang out with a 4-year-old. Yesterday we gave our neighbors a ride to church. 4-year-old Natalie was waiting by the mailbox 10 minutes early for us. As we drove towards church she said cheerfully:

“Look at all the beautiful things outside today! The leaves are blowing, and the trees are growing.”

Her view was of an unkempt hillside on the maintenance side of the hospital. That. is. enthusiasm.

And then today I offered to watch her and her sister for a few hours while their mom went to a doctor’s appointment. And Natalie told me that she’d been to Florida once…and when I said really? She answered: YES. Florida is for REAL. 

You guys: Florida is for REAL!

And Emerson was right:
enthusiasm

Good grief, all I was going to share was the Annie Dillard quote and somehow I ended up on Fight Club.

Tick.

Tock.

 

A Single Drop of Rain

Sometimes I just stop by the river to hear the water, the white noise. Especially when it is raining.  Time stops and deepens. Good things are magnified. Disappointments disappear.  Everything just is.

Sometimes I pull out my phone to capture the place, just to remember: I met myself here today. I caught up. 

I didn’t realize until later that I’d caught a single raindrop right as it was hitting the water.

It takes a lot of slow to grow Eve Merriam said in her poem A Lazy Thought.

river

“When I am dying, reevaluating my life, I would like to remember only these moments, those in which no clocks are ticking, in which I am aware of my excruciating and increasing vulnerability, in which I am so grateful for my lot in life that I could fall prone to the ground, overwhelmed with gratitude, moment by moment by moment. My life has been saved in moments. In moments, my life has been made worthwhile.”
-Janisse Ray, Drifting into Darien

Getting out of My Daughter’s Way

She has been asking for a dog for a long, long time.

We’d been visiting our local shelter the past few weeks and she had expressed interest in a sweet mutt, but the dog ended up testing heart worm positive.  Then we applied for a yellow lab out-of-state and he ended up going to another family.  We kept visiting the local shelter to play with the dogs and she had her heart set on on one of these lab puppies:

labs

She even used her Christmas money to sponsor a dog when we told her any money she donated we would match:

 

Paws-letter
We were a little worried about how big the labs would get, but we went through the adoption process. Two weeks ago the shelter called all our references, talked to our vet and neighbors in California, and we were finally approved to adopt River.  But…somehow wires got crossed and when we went back to visit last Friday to hopefully finalize an adoption we learned that all three pups had been adopted. One puppy had already left and the other two were leaving that afternoon.  When we heard the news Boo walked quietly out of the room without saying a word and disappeared. I knew she was off crying with the puppies.

For a split second my mind said: Phew, I’m off the hook.  Because that’s where my head has been for the last few years. The repeated declarations to Boo of: We will never have another dog. Dogs are messy. No. No. No. No. No more dogs. We won’t be able to travel, don’t you want to travel? Do you know how much vet bills are?  And I will be the one that has to take care of it!  

I had every excuse in the book…because I have never naturally been a dog person: I don’t like having my schedule interrupted by dog walking. I don’t like the look of crates and gates cluttering up the house. I can’t stand all the dog smells and shedding.  I’m tired of potty accidents in the house. I don’t like poop in the yard. But watching my daughter set aside all her money for dog donations and dog supplies the past few months began to wear down that grumpy dog person in me. I’ve watched in awe as she concentrates on dog training DVDs and videos, sometimes watching them twenty times over.  I’ve sighed as she has asked me to stop the car so she can take her stuffed dog on potty breaks to proved to me that she can take care of a dog.  I realized I need to get over myself, and see how much joy might come out of something I am so adamant against:

I need to get out of my daughter’s way.

So anyway, back to the puppies.  I found Boo crying over the two remaining labs, knowing she would never see them again. But then we found out that they were being adopted to neighbors which ended up being a silver lining.  We were happy for them that they would not be separated.  And as we left I said, “we will find the perfect dog for you, I promise.”

That night, after Boo was in bed, we scoured the Internet again looking at all the shelters and ads within a 100 mile radius.  Brett found a small terrier that a family was no longer able to keep.  He was a shy, skittish one-year-old that had spent most of his life in a crate.  Twelve people had expressed interest in front of us but they chose us because they liked the idea of the dog having a small playmate like Diesel to live with. And just a day before we were contemplating a lab.  I think that’s a sign that it was meant to be. When we finally met him we knew he was going to be ours.  He let Boo hold him like a little baby and he just nuzzled right up to us.

Meet Maximus aka “Max”

maximus

And Max loves Diesel, although Diesel wants nothing to do with him. Diesel’s licking his chops and saying: ain’t nobody got time for that. 

maximus2

Now I have a permanent shadow following me around all day. If he could crawl into my body and wear my skin to get closer I think he would. He just wants to be loved and to please us. Boo was worried about him not eating so she hand fed him every morsel of dog food at dinner last night…Max appreciated every second of it.

maximus3

Max has a lot of quirks and we know we’ll have to be extra patient with him. I set up a camera so I can watch him from my phone at night to check on him. Boo has woken up the past few mornings on her own to take him out first thing. She scours the pet section of every store to see if there is something he might need. She’s so happy taking care of him.

Brett: It’s strange, I don’t feel like he’s a new dog. It’s like he’s always been here.
Me:  It’s like he knew we were his family right away. 

We feel like he’s always been part of the family, and we think he does too.

Diesel is still thinking about his verdict.

Me: I think you should build two permanent dog beds into this cabinet.
Brett: But what if one day in the future we only have one dog.
Me: Then we’ll have to go and find another. 

DIY Marquee Letters

DIY Marquee letters by Heidi Swapp

These cool DIY Marquee letters by Heidi Swapp are now carried at Michaels stores. I had a chance to preview them and I chose to spell the word “outdoors” to remind us to spend more time outside this winter. It’s way too easy to try and hibernate when it’s cold out. Here are the letters on my fireplace mantel, right below an awesome heart shaped succulent wreath that a friend sent to Boo for her birthday:

DIY Vintage Sign Letters #michaelsmakers

There’s not a lot of green outside right now so this is the perfect substitute:

DIY Marquee sign letters at Michaels

The letters come individually packaged with a stencil for cutting paper to overlay as decor:

_MG_8664

But I just decided to add a coat of bright green spray paint to mine:

Spraypaint Marquee Letters

I love how they turned out:

Succulant Wreath and Marquee Letters Decor

And how gorgeous is this living succulent wreath? It has to stay indoors right now so it won’t freeze.  I hope I can keep it alive all year:

Heart Shaped Succulent Wreath

 

The Marquee Letters can be found here at Michaels.

The heart shaped succulent wreath can be found here at The Little Succulent Shop.

 

Wide Load: Moving the Train Depot

I took Boo to her basketball practice last night after a long day and a few familiar faces said “was that your building being towed through town this afternoon?”  

It was.  I had a building moved 50 miles.  A crazy hair brained idea…but one that I was dead set on. I wanted to save an old building and recycle it into something new.

When I pulled up to the building yesterday the mover that I’d found was already hard at work. The depot was jacked up and they had used hydraulics to pivot it 45 degrees toward the road. Their trucks and trailer made it so I had to stop right in the middle of the road and park. I could see the looks in their eyes as I parked: great, we have to move all these trucks so that vehicle can drive through. I waved to them signaling I was fine and got out of the truck. They had stopped working for a second, while looking at me.  A man walked up and said: I sure hope you are Ashley.  And I said: You must be Mickey.  As soon as we shook hands the hydraulics started up again.

how to move a house or building - house mover

Mickey Simmons is a salt of the earth kind of guy. You can tell he’s a hard worker, no b.s., and takes care of his workers. They work like a well-oiled machine with their signals, movements, etc.  I didn’t do a lot of research right at first to find a mover, I had a few referrals from locals and I called them all but got mostly answering machines. The few that answered the phone or actually returned my call said it was too big of a job and they couldn’t do it with the equipment they had.  So I searched on the Internet and found a few house moving companies. Brett asked how I picked Simmons House Moving and my answer was: well, he sounded just like my dad.  It was more than that though…I have a really good sense of people. I liked Mickey right off.  I knew I could trust him.

And yesterday, as we finally got to meet after days of talking on the phone about the job, I told him I was glad the day was finally here because I’d had anxiety about it, not about transport necessarily, but the owners of the property on the other side were worried about having trucks in the horse pasture and making it muddy, how fast we were going to get it moved, how we were going to get it moved, about heavy equipment tearing up the asphalt, and truck oil on the driveway etc. etc. etc.

Mickey: Anxiety? You didn’t need to worry about any of this.

Me: I know, but there were so many logistics and I was worried about putting these people out while we moved it.

And then he looked at me all serious and said:

Listen here, the sun is going to rise tomorrow. And then it’s going to set. And then the sun is going to rise again. Don’t worry about all that other stuff.

I nodded. He was right.

house moving in north carolina and southeast

And then as it started pouring rain in the freezing cold I stood there watching them work. I wasn’t cold because I was mesmerized with the process….and the scenery:

maggie valley

I noticed that they were spending a lot of time underneath the structure attaching metal straps everywhere.  Me: Is that going to keep it all together?  Mickey:  Yep, this is what is known as a balloon construction. The building is just resting on the floor. We have to secure the top and bottom together to keep it from falling apart. (I love knowing just a little bit about just about everything.)

moving an old train railroad depot - simmons house moving

I think it probably took longer than they expected because of the condition of the building. And with the rain everything was getting slick. And then just like that, the sun came out, and they were ready to transport: We’ll just follow you.

Me: Uh oh, I have to pick up my daughter from school. I’ll run go do that and then meet you back at the highway exit.

Nothing like packing in a full day right? I ran to get Boo from school thinking I’d have enough time but they arrived faster than I thought they would. When they called to say they were on the exit I had to answer: Um, I’m stuck in a carpool line. I can’t go forward or reverse.  I bet that’s never happened before.

So I called Brett who was working on a roof right at the corner of Main Street: Hey, they are headed your way, I’m going to tell them to look out for you and can you get in front of them and direct them up to our property and where to put the building?

Brett: I see them. They are at the stoplight.

Talk about good timing.  I had switched trucks with Brett in the morning, because Ruby was leaking transmission fluid, so I told Mickey to look for the “1982 red Chevy pickup” and to follow it.  But then talk about bad timing: at the same exact moment I said that ANOTHER red chevy pickup pulled in front of the convoy… and they followed the wrong pickup! It took them up to the hospital. What are the odds….  Brett eventually caught up to them and they were able to get back on track to drive around the hospital to our place.

But then there was the mud. It had been hailing in Bryson City earlier in the day and the ground had thawed from being frozen.  Also, the gas company had dug a trench up the yard earlier in the morning….a perfect storm of mushy red clay.  As soon as they got the trailer down to the edge of the yard, the truck began slipping.  Another truck was brought around to pull it through the mud:

simmons house moving

If they were nervous they didn’t show it.  I wasn’t nervous either…the sun is going to rise tomorrow right?

So then, they methodically inched the depot into place and began to lower it, positioning blocks and leveling it as they went. I could hear them talking: we need to dig this out or it will settle eventually. I thought for sure the building would just be dropped, but they made sure it had blocks to sit on for as long as I needed them. It will probably never move from that spot as long as we live here:

structure relocation - simmons house moving shelby

And then as fast as they came, they were gone, onto the next city for the next move.  Boo checking out the new addition to our property:

The Old Depot Project #theolddepotproject

There are some people that walk this earth that you are just glad you got a chance to meet, to cross paths with if even for a few moments.  I got to spend a day with Mickey, his son and their team and watch them work.  It was awesome.  I could just follow them around all the time and watch them move really big things.

But the best part is that I’ll always remember Mickey’s words, in the same southern accent my father would have had: the sun is going to rise again tomorrow.

That reminds me of something Kid President said recently:

kidpresident

If you ever need a house, or anything huge, awkward and heavy moved, I’ve got your contact: Simmons House Moving  I even love the story of how they got started:

“Every family has a dream to own their own home and in 1981 that dream became a reality for me and my family when someone offered to give me a home to be moved. Not only do I still live in this home today but also our business was born out of that move. “

Check out the structures they’ve moved on their Facebook page here.  Impressive.

DIY Upcycled Infinity T-Shirt Scarf

how to make a diy infinity scarf using t-shirts

Last April I taught a class on making t-shirt infinity scarves at the SNAP Conference in SLC.  I’m just now remembering that I hadn’t posted a tutorial for them…so better late than never!  The scarves were a hit…they are so easy to make that each person in the class made more than one.

_MG_0805

I had precut all the squares for the class:

knit scarf instructions and tutorial - recycled t-shirt projects

Here’s Boo with infinity scarf samples I made and wearing the scarf she made: recycled and upcycled t-shirt projects - infinity scarf

 

Love all the colorful combinations:

_MG_0804

To make your scarf, first you need to cut a bunch of 11″ squares from t-shirts, pajama pants, etc or just knit-by-the-yard:

upcycled t-shirt projects

For the adult sized scarf you need 8 squares per scarf and the child sized only needs 6 squares.  Lay them out in the pattern you want the finished scarf to be. 2 rows of 4:

_MG_0573

Sew each row of 4 together first using a sewing machine or a serger, like you are making a quilt. So you will have 2 long rectangles: [Read more…]

Perfection Was Never the Goal

perfection

Sitting in church today listening to my friend Jodi speak I had tears in my eyes, especially as she spoke about the pressure of being a pastor’s wife:

My story is not churchy, but… it is authentic and genuine. 

My story is not churchy either.  I mean, I can’t even be churchy at church.  I sat on the steps in the front of the church today folding bulletins as we had the Sunday morning volunteer meeting. I had grabbed the bulletins off of the copier….folding them at lightning speed.  Jodi was talking about what the message was going to be, and suddenly our pastor Jeff yelled “STOP“….and I looked up.  “Those aren’t printed yet.” I was folding blank bulletins.  I stopped but in slow motion…. I said “shhhhhiiiiiitttttttttt.”   In front of everyone.  Darn it. Very messy.

Something Jodi wrote a few weeks ago was exactly what I needed to hear that day:

To our lurking duo of guilt and shame,

Maybe, and perhaps especially, it is our messy, out-of-order selves, that breathe a sigh of relief over our circles of influence. Maybe YOU being YOU, puts others at ease and inspires them to do the same. We will not see perfection in this lifetime. But perfection was never the goal given to us. Our broken world needs something from you; You, in fact, are necessary.

Declaring on this “hustle and bustle” Thursday to show up graciously and authentically. What a privilege it is to share God’s love.

I read those words while I was waiting for a hair cut and it was like I’d been hit by lightning. I’m always struggling on how to keep this blog relevant…do I raise my voice like others do?  Take a stand on controversial things?  That’s just not me. Maybe YOU being YOU, puts others at ease and inspires them to do them same.  I don’t want to do anything differently. I don’t want to draw attention by shaming other people. I don’t want to write for a large corporation. I just want to live a simple life, and I just want to tell the story of how my life is different because of the presence of God. So maybe I’m not supposed to have a loud voice, maybe I’m supposed to have my everyday authentic, genuine voice and bring other authentic, genuine voices along with me. Like Jodi. She puts into words so many things that I’d like to put into words.  And so to make a long story short, I texted Jodi and told her I was “struck by lightning” and would she be willing to share some of her writing here and there. And she said yes. And she was excited about sharing. Which rocks. So here’s Jodi, pastor’s wife to Jeff, hustlin’ mama to her four MVPs, and inspirational friend. I think you’ll like her….a lot.

-Ashley

**********

From your small town, messy, unconventional Pastor’s wife….

I grew up with one of the most beautiful and remarkably stunning Pastor’s wife on the planet. In my eyes, she was exactly perfect and I was convinced JESUS himself was her personal BFF. She was holy and lovely and godly and well, you know, untouchably awesome. And for me, I was a church going mess; lost and broken and doubting, but striving to BE who I thought God needed me to be, perfect.

Now fast forward into my adult life and I somehow land myself smack dab in the middle of my own gig as a Pastor’s wife. Go figure.

It became quickly obvious to me that even after all my years of Christian striving, a degree in Church Ministry, receiving my License to Preach, and marrying a Pastor, I was still a church going mess, but NOW I was a Pastor’s-wife-church-going-mess. I was overwhelmed with the thinking, “I’m just not at all what they want.”

And people weren’t shy to confirm that: too young, too casual, lacks experience, too much love and grace, not enough accountability, not deep enough, oh and that tattoo…sigh. What on earth would they do if they knew I’ve slipped up and said the “F” bomb….as recently as last week? I was buried in the land of “not enough” and lacking the confidence to plow through the critics, each day thinking, “How on earth would I please the masses?”

Jodi in Guatemala with The Grove Church

Guatemala

I begged God to keep me genuine and authentic and to help me reveal His love to others. I was determined to not let serving “the church” steal my joy, because I guess deep down I had just known I was born to share His story. I felt as though He needed my voice to bring hope to other church-going-messes JUST LIKE ME.

But could He use an imperfect Pastor’s wife to build His kingdom? Could He use a broken church-going-mess to bring hope and love to our world?

He CAN.

He HAS.

And He WILL use every single imperfect, non-fancy voice that speaks up with honesty and transparency for Him. A voice that uses its courage and bravery to be exactly who God designed them to be.

And so I fought and I fought to be just that: brave and courageous in my own skin, pushing for a real honest faith that didn’t buckle under the load of expectation. Striving to be an uncommon voice in the world of churchy behavior and language.

So maybe, and perhaps especially, it is our messy, out of order selves that breathe a sigh of relief over our circles of influence. Maybe when we are true with who we are, we will in turn put others at ease and inspire them to do the same. We will not see perfection in this lifetime, but perfection was never the goal given to us.

Now a Pastor’s wife for 14 years, I am more deeply in love with the messy church goer than ever before, because WE are just alike. These are my people. “The Church” should be a place where every heart matters, where every story is valued and we can show up just as we are:
Broken and Beautiful,
Chaotic and Peaceful,
Hurting and Hopeful,
Sinful and Forgiven.

thechurch

I was never meant to be super fancy and untouchable, but to be faithful in telling and sharing the story that is uniquely mine to tell, rough edges and ALL.

Peace and Blessings to the story you bring. Share it…all of it, no matter what the masses may say.

-Jodi

 

 

Investments

An open aware heart is your camera. -Ansel Adams

My little girl watching the sun rise yesterday morning on her own:

watching the sun rise

That picture just makes my heart swell….that she even expressed interest in the sunrise.  I want her to be awake to the world. To be able to entertain herself.  To play, to explore, to read, to connect widely offline.  She can tinker and wander and wonder. She can invent her own life.

investments

And at her own pace. Last weekend she wanted to build a house for the squirrels.  Brett let her make all the decisions.

building

It took all day…but the result was a house…with a swinging bridge. Practical? No…but very creative. I think I need to unlearn some things.

I want her to be full of experience.  And I want her heart to be moved. Over and over.

Investments.

The sunrise is a good start.

Step 1. Wonder at something.

Step 2: Invite others to wonder with you.

You should wonder at the things nobody else is wondering about. If everybody’s wondering about apples, go wonder about oranges.

-Austin Kleon, Steal Like an Artist

 

 

The Old Depot Project

I can come up with a new project in an instant.  And…some are bigger than others. Anyway, it’s Brett’s fault…he’s the one that looked up from his computer a few nights ago and said “there’s an old train depot for sale near Waynesville for $500, but it has to be moved by next week.” A few minutes later I was emailing the owner that I was interested.

Brett: How are you going to move it?
Me: I don’t know yet, but I’ll figure it out.

Nothing to be scared of….it’s just a bunch of wood and nails. I mean, if I really needed to I could go out there myself with a sawzall and load it up into our trailer, right? I’ve been thinking about building a shed-type building to make into an office/studio/playhouse but the materials are so expensive. Since we live right above the Bryson City train depot I thought it would be really cool to restore a railroad building…very fitting.

Depotfront

The backside of the building. I love the scalloped detail under the eaves:

Depotback

This is the setting that the building is in now…it was moved here over 50 years ago by the owner’s grandfather to use as a hunting cabin:

depot6

The building was being sold with all of its contents…like this huge cast-iron wood stove.  I did some research and it was made by the Ohio Stove Company in the 1940’s. Cleaned up a bit it will make a great heat source:

depot4

Also inside: a few dressers, a desk, a vanity, a wood bed and a metal bed….a few rats nests, a dead bird, a store of acorns and who knows what else:

depot3

We moved everything out yesterday to get the depot ready for moving. Brett worked on cleaning up that table today for our hallway:

depot2

That table in the photo above was covered in years of dust. Brett cleaned it off today and put it in the hallway….I told him I wanted one! I just didn’t think we’d have to buy a train depot to get it.

table

In one of the dressers and in the desk I found a few photos. This one was in the form of a negative, I scanned it in and this is what it looks like inverted:

old photo

I love everything about it. It’s been sitting there waiting for me all these years…

birdhouse

More research turned up that the building wasn’t the “ticket” depot but actually the old sandhouse, used in the time of the steam engine. Every major depot in the days of the steam engine would have a sandhouse to keep traction on the rails. A large stove inside would keep the sand dry (hence the large stove).  Because the sandhouse had the large stove, it was a warm dry place that typically became the railroad worker hangout…perhaps why it was moved in the first place…lots of memories spun there.

The good news is: I found someone to move it for me.  A guy that’s moved almost every sized house you can imagine. The depot building has to be moved 45 miles which means a lot of planning and logistics.  Permits have to be pulled with the DOT and bridge overpass heights checked.  I’ve got butterflies. I’ll bet the old depot does too…being adopted and all. Ruby and “Depot” will get along just fine.  And the old wood stove?  Maybe I’ll name him Buck. Another character in this story of mine.

Vintage Inspired Art Supply Boxes

Craft Room Organization - Vintage Inspired art supply boxes via lilblueboo.com and #michaelsmakers

This month’s Michaels Makers theme is New Year’s Craft Resolutions. The challenge was to start the year off with craft resolutions and since we just moved into our new home I get to start completely from scratch again with my creative space. Michaels wanted me to share my creative space and since I haven’t even had a chance to unpack I thought I’d share the huge space I left behind in California…remember this?

Click here to see a detailed post on my old creative space.

Art Studio space ideas

Now I’m starting over with a much smaller space but I’m more inspired than ever. This month I thought I’d start with a few handmade boxes with a vintage inspired theme to hold various art supplies.

Art Boxes05

Michaels sells various sizes of pre-made unfinished wood boxes like this one:

pre-made unfinished wood box

I created an image using plain text and printed it out onto regular paper.  Here are the images I used as jpegs if you would like to save them and use them:

Free art template for wood art box crayons

 

Once they were printed I taped each in place over a piece of transfer paper. I used the kind of transfer paper with white chalk on the other side because it leaves just a faint line when you apply pressure to it. I traced each letter carefully with enough pressure to transfer the image to the wood:

How to create perfect letters - transfer paper

Then using black acrylic paint and the tiniest paint brush I filled in all the letters.  I have a VERY shaky hand so if I can do it, you can do it.  Since I am going for a distressed look it doesn’t matter if the letters are perfect anyways:

How to paint letters - the art of lettering

Once the black paint dried I used a brush and rag to apply a coat of wood stain:

Staining wood - Rustoleum Golden Oak Stain

It will take a few hours for the stain to dry but here are the finished boxes:

How to organize a craft room or creative space

Love the look of these and they will look great stored anywhere: a shelf, a desk, a table.  A great idea for a gift too:

DIY Crayon or Pencil Storage Container

Filled with crayons:

Crayon storage idea - How to organize kid stuff

Here is the “Artist Supply Co” box:

Making a vintage inspired paint box

Filled with all of my watercolor painting supplies:

Organizing art supplies and painting supplies

Not just organization…home decor accent too:

Vintage inspired organization - DIY art boxes

 

More organization posts I’ve done here: [Read more…]

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