Halloween Porch

Halloween Porch

My neighbors are decking their homes out for Halloween.
Everyday, someone adds something new to her house and lawn.
I’m decorating for the season as well.
My self imposed rules slow the process down.
But that’s ok.
The process is where all the fun is!
This weekend, I started playing with my front porch.
Started by dragging my guy to a local nursery.
I needed him for the $20-all-you-can-carry pumpkin special.
We were pleased he made it to the register with five whole pumpkins.
Then we found out some young man before us manged eight pumpkins without dropping any.
(Oh honey, you’re still my hero… ha…)
Next, I put together a witch’s broomstick.
This “craft” took less than 5 minutes.
I tied 2 cinnamon brooms to a stick I pruned off a bush with three lengths of jute twine.
If it’s this fast and this easy, can I even count it as a craft?
By the way,
I’m really digging these cinnamon brooms.
I found them for just $4 each at the grocery store.
They are great for fighting off damp musty smells in our house.
I just flip on all the ceiling fans, then walk from room to room gently waving my brooms in the air.
Dragged the rocking chairs closer to the front door.
Arranged and rearranged the pumpkins.
Added a favorite witch’s hat.
Leaned my new broom against the wall.
I’d love to add some creepy crows and a big antique birdcage.
But that would mean buying more.
I dunno… 
Should I?  Shouldn’t I?
Pondering what to add next.
But I think this looks pretty good so far.
“My Hands”

“My Hands”

“My Hands”
Pen, Ink, Washi Tape & Pencil
(Art Journal)
Val Chan
September 24, 2015
Here are my two biggest challenges with art journaling:
1.  Sitting my butt down.
2.  Making that first mark on a fresh page.
Once I get going, I love working in my art journal.
I don’t expect to create a finished product.
I might have an idea of where I’ll start that day.
Or I might have no ideas at all.
 I try not to get discouraged if I draw a mistake.
If I can make it work, then great.
If I can’t, I keep chugging along anyway.
Perfection is not the point.
Keeping an art journal is just part of the process.
To capture a thought or feeling.
To experiment with a technique.
To try out new mediums.
To warm up or prepare for a bigger project.
To discipline and train myself.
There are some fantastic mixed-media books available.
In Misty Mawn’s “Unfurling,”
She suggests tracing your hand as a way to start a drawing exercise.
So that’s what I did.
What came out it was “My Hands.”
I think some of it works.
Other parts could have been better.
Much of it are reminders to myself.
I’ve discovered drawings with words can say so much more than words alone.
Some questions I have:
What does it take to become a mixed media artist?
Can I be one?
Not just a dabbler.
But recognizably one?
Or does that even matter?
I suppose the answers to these are irrelavent.
There’s something about mixed media that fascinates me.
Whether or not I ever get the label,
I’m going for it anyway.
Which makes me glad to have these hands of mine.
Crocheted Halloween Spider Web

Crocheted Halloween Spider Web

 Got lemons?
Then make lemonade, yes?
So I’m making it into a Haunted House for Halloween.
Thus far, home ownership has been a constant bleed.
There is always something that is either broken or screaming for attention.
Overgrown trees and bushes.
Extreme weeds.
Failing appliances.
(don’t get me started on the critters).
Tempting as it is to shop big for Halloween decorating,
I’m going the more frugal DIY route.
As best as I can, my decorating criteria include:
  • Being economical
  • Making instead of buying
  • Using supplies on hand if possible
  • Creating reusable decorations
  • Making stuff look good whether we’re looking from inside or outside the home.
Following these guidelines, I finished & installed my first house decoration for the season yesterday:
A big crocheted spider web for the front window.
With long legged amigurumi spiders crawling around on it.
To create the web, I used a US I (5.5mm) crochet hook and essentially followed the steps outlined in my “accidentally a spider web hat” pattern.
In places I felt needed a little more give or stretch on web spiral, I chained a few extra.
After round 10, instead of using triple crochets, I yarned over three times and used what I call a “quadruple crochet.” 
 I.e., I did the “crochet motion” 4 times instead of three.  This gives more height to each stitich.
To attach the web to the window, I added seven long chains to the web body, then secured chain to window frame using sticky tack (a reusable sticky putty).
After I attached the web to the window frame, I chained one more spiral around the perimeter.
Spiders happily clung to their new web with just a bend to a few of their pipe cleaner legs.
Used an orange light bulb for additional Halloween ambiance.
One haunted house window complete.
Onto the next…
The Roar

The Roar

My boys and I take turns choosing our read alouds.
It’s only fair.
But I don’t always enjoy their picks.
Case in point:  “The Roar” by Emma Clayton.
My middle schooler has read this dystopian novel multiple times.
He was excited to share the story with us.
While I appreciate his enthusiasm,
I find this book very mediocre.
The basic idea of this book has promise.
People crammed in overcrowded walled cities due to a terrible animal plague that has resulted in the destruction of life as we know it today.
The message for us to be better caretakers of our planet is a good one.
The twist at the end of the story is a surprise as well.
But I think this book needed stronger editing.
 Most distracting to me are the ubiquitous compound sentences joined by the word “and.”
Perhaps a small point to gripe about.
But try reading a few pages of this book aloud.
Put a little emphasis on the “and” every time it unnecessarily connects two sentences.
You’ll hear yourself reading that word too often.
It gets annoying.
I also wish characters were less one dimensional.
Situations fleshed out a little more.
Just a handful of pages left to this book.
Then, onto its sequel.
(Even bigger sigh).
Then back to a book of my choice.
Can’t wait.
“Where Am I?”

“Where Am I?”

“Where Am I?”
Collage & Ink
(Art Journal)
Val Chan
Sept. 17, 2015
Attended an Art Journal open studio this week.
My first meet up ever.
No particular agenda or project in mind.
Just hoped to connect with others and to create a little.
A moment of awkwardness as I joined a group of strangers.
But strangeness doesn’t last long
When you’re coming together over journals, scissors, glues and paints.
Soon enough,
We were laughing and chatting as we worked alongside each other.
What fun to have access to our host’s art supplies and ephemera.
(Thank you Brooke!)
No goal or vision of what I wanted to make.
My hands sifted through supplies and chose what they wanted.
An old Georgia map.
A tear page of a paperdoll.
One lone mailing label.
A time for light conversation and moments of pondering.
Cutting and pasting all the while.
There really is a meditative quality to collage art.
When I finished,
I realized I had something to say this day after all.
How intriguing.