Upcycling, also known as creative reuse, is the process of transforming by-products, waste materials, useless and/or unwanted products into new materials or products of better quality or for better environmental value.
A friend sent a photo of two chairs his mom was planning to throw away. They were hideous. He thought of me as I’ve been learning upholstery over the past year and a half and figured I might want to make a project of them.
Cambridge online dictionary defines project:noun (ˈpräjˌekt) – a piece of planned work or an activity that is finished over a period of time and intended to achieve a particular purpose. I found a second definition of the word describing a large or major undertaking, especially one involving considerable money, personnel and equipment.
Perhaps from the early 70’s, or even the 60’s these rounded low chairs are seated on a chrome swivel base that was heavily rusted, but with some elbow grease, polished up quite nice. After removing the original fabric and the innards, I found the wooden “skeleton” in pretty good shape. A few reinforcements with screws, braces and glue gave added insurance that these chairs would last a couple more generations of seating while sipping Martini’s or beer, eating popcorn on movie nights, game nights, conversing with friends or maybe even falling asleep.
I was complimented when a friend said she wanted to spend a day watching me paint, and/or paint with me, see how I work….. Is there a method to my madness? I decided to follow the progress of a painting taking photos as I went along.
Often I find I overwork something then wish I could press the “undo” button and go back a step or two. That’s when my husband might question why I didn’t put my signature on it and hang it on the wall several iterations ago.
I imagine many artists have a desired “look” or “feel” they want to achieve. Some point of measure that is known only to the artist herself, and until that point is reached, the signature may remain lost in the hairs of the brush.
This particular project went from palette to canvas with relative ease. I don’t really know why one painting can be completed in a couple of hours, while another takes months of frustrating do-overs? I’m pleased with how I was able to capture the sun on her knee.
There are tantrums. There are crying jags. There is stress and anxiety and the general pressure of parenting.
There are moments of just sheer exhaustion.
There are days where we have fun playing and learning. And then there are days like today where I’m standing in Woolworth’s, having made all of my supermarket selections and am headed towards the check out when The Little Moo suddenly bolts out of her stroller and runs down an aisle. I am then forced to abandon said stroller and my filled grocery basket in the middle of the meat department to keep up…
Slow roast cherry tomatoes with garlic cloves in an oven of 200 degrees 3 to 5 hours.
I’ll toss the tomatoes and garlic in olive oil, a pinch or two of brown sugar and some balsamic vinegar. Spread them evenly on a roasting pan and place in the oven. Check occasionally, turning them over, gently, so not to burst them. I might sprinkle dried herbs at the beginning of this process, or add basil leaves at the end when I’m ready to store them in a jar and refrigerate. I add a bit more olive oil, salt and pepper when I store them in a tightly sealed mason jar.
Roasted tomatoes and garlic make a great addition to a salad, or as an appetizer with fresh mozzarella. I’ve used it as a spread on toasted french bread. I once impressed a friend when I took a jar out of the fridge and tossed it in a pan of fried (diced) bacon. I tossed in cooked pasta and sprinkled on some parmesan…. she thinks I’m a gourmet cook!
Mom wore a coral colored cardigan with big buttons, pockets and 3/4 length sleeves (or maybe she pushed up her sleeves). It was a thick knit with a collar that closed up around the neck. It was the sixties, I would have been 5 or 6. I thought the color was pretty against her skin.
Her lip stick wasn’t a sassy red, but more like that same coral color. When she’d go out, my sister Robin and I would ask her to kiss us so she could leave a lip print on our cheeks.
Tchotchke:pronounced (ˈCHäCHkə),Yiddish – A small object that is decorative rather than strictly functional; a trinket (Webster’s Dictionary). The Urban Dictionary defines Tchotchke as: A small piece of worthless crap.
Everyone has them. Little knickknacks hidden behind other knickknacks collecting dust. Perhaps they are kept in a box, maybe a secret treasure chest type box. Tucked away.
To an outsider it may look like a rock, but to me, it’s a gift my son gave me when he was three. I keep it in my purse. A blue bird with a chip in it’s beak, was a gift from Edna Degraffenreid, a woman who worked with my mother. I was fourteen. I don’t remember packing or unpacking it, but it has moved with me and after 40 years, it still has a home on top of my dresser. I have three Murano glass frogs my mother-in-law brought back from Italy. There was a slight panic when I dropped one and broke its leg and a failed attempt at gluing. The sentiment remained intact.
When Uncle Winston passed away, a couple of the cousins and I packed up his house. One keepsake I took with me was a faux Limoges box shaped like a carrot. There’s a tiny white rabbit inside. Turns out, my sister was the one who gave it to him.
Inside the goodie bags at my daughter’s 5th birthday party, her guests found a tiny ballerina with a magnet at the base of its feet. The tiny mirror that came with it is also magnetic. Put them together and the ballerina dances. I want her to dance. She spins and stops, spins and stops. She stares. In the end she performs a lovely adagio.
A tiny glass dolphin. A small glass bunny. A turtle, a pig, a teeny weeny rubber chicken. A long neck goose carved out of teak, a pencil sharpener shaped like a cannon from the Alamo. A minuscule teddy bear and blanket crocheted with vintage yarn. The craftsmanship of this little bear is amazing. I met the artist and admire her work, we belong to the same Artist Guild. The teddy bear wanted a ride on the bicycle after he saw the rubber chicken ride by.
Tchotchkes. Taking them down from the shelf is kinda like looking at old photographs. The memories come flooding in.
Something I like to have readily available in the fridge is a simple syrup made with the juice of freshly squeezed lemons.
Squeeze the juice from several lemons and strain the pulp and seeds. Place equal parts juice and sugar (raw works very well) in a saucepan and bring to a rolling boil, stirring constantly. Once boiled, reduce heat to low. Stir occasionally, so not to burn, for 5-10 minutes. Liquid should reduce and thicken slightly.
When life gives you lots of lemons… make syrup!
I like using this in tea, a variety of cocktails, as well as combining with seltzer water for a sparkling lemonade.
Often I’ll toss in strawberries, raspberries or blueberries. I will let it cook a bit longer in order to get as much of the color and flavor of the added fruit. Again strain the pulp to keep the liquid clear. Store in a jar or bottle, keep refrigerated.