More Pottery… Labor Day Weekend

Labor day weekend always marks the start of college football. Time to start entertaining myself!

The PYOP studio where we held my sister’s bridal shower closed. It’s a tough business with inventory that can sit for ages. Fortunately, a new place just opened in Elizabethtown!

Artspress is more than just a pottery studio. They have an oxygen bar, laughter yoga, espresso and tea, art lessons, writing lessons, Reiki massage and more. The owner, Jeneva, is a kindred spirit who loves art as much as I do!

Lea is the detail-oriented plotter when painting pottery. She pencils in tiny details and researches quotes and symbols on my smartphone every time we paint. Once she took two days to complete one piece. I literally brought her back to the studio the next day to finish. Usually her pieces pay homage to a favorite fandom or genre and this weekend’s choice was no different. Artspress had a pie-shaped plate. The opportunities are endless! A Pi plate, a pizza plate… these ideas were passed over for the obvious choice – a Supernatural pie plate.

unfired

unfired

Supernatural Pie Plate

Finished product

Finished product

If you don’t get the reference, Supernatural is a TV show that you can watch on Netflix Streaming. In a nutshell, two brothers cross the country in an Impala, staying in tacky motel rooms and slaying demons, ghosts, and other, well, supernatural beings. One character likes pie a lot. It’s an endearing show and if you are mildly interested in the genre of fantasy TV shows you should check it out.

Speaking of fantasy/sci-fi TV show fandoms, yes, she is wearing a Firefly tee shirt.

Emmi made a set of measuring spoons and cups. Because she likes to bake and because the set is ADORABLE.

Measuring teacups

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I needed something to look pretty enough for my desk at work to hold paper clips and binder clips. All I have are ugly plastic dip cups and they are stuck in a drawer behind me. After scouring the inventory I settled on a divided baby plate.

So zebra prints have been my thing since before animal prints were hip. I’ve always collected zebra stuff. At my last job I was never given a tape dispenser or stapler or scissors so I eventually tired of borrowing these tools from my coworkers and bought a set at Marshalls – zebra of course. Once I was established in an office again I brought my own tools along. It makes for a cute conversation started with customers.

I think the zebra print is easy to paint. This was my first attempt. But that may be because I stare at this pattern all the time.

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divided plate

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We ended our painting session and Jeneva gave us a quick laughter yoga session.

I’m a big believer in smiling to feel happy. I perfected the genuine fake smile as a waitress in college and I’ve utilized it ever since; the weird thing is that after a while, the fakeness fades and you really start to smile because you are cheerful. There was a recent study linking this phenomenon to Botox. It’s a chicken/egg debate in the psychological community whether smiling induces happiness or happiness induces smiling but I for one never considered injecting poison into my forehead until reading this article. They suggest that because you cannot frown after receiving the injections you actually develop a better overall mood. Of course it is possible you feel better because your forehead isn’t wrinkly and old looking. If you can’t afford Botox, Laughter Yoga is a good alternative.

Laugh Captain Jeneva lucked out because we three sisters are already at ease with one another and tend to laugh a lot. What can I say; funny is genetic. The interesting thing is that the laughter begins as an exercise without a joke. You just laugh. But it becomes a real giggle quickly as you make eye contact and practice and eventually your muscles and voice just take over. Having the session in a beautiful old house like the one where Artspress operates only helps.

Lea, Emmi, me, and Jeneva after laughter yoga

Good use of my time on the first football weekend of the season, eh?

 

 

 

 

 

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Custom Pottery Bridal Shower

One of my issues with weddings is that they are expensive for everyone involved.  The last time I was a bridesmaid it cost me well over a thousand dollars.  Once you do the bridal shower, a gift for said shower, the bachelorette party, dress, shoes, hair and makeup, gift for the wedding, and possibly take a day off of work thanks to trendy wedding dates, you probably don’t want to look at the statistics on the success rate of marriages in the US.  You have a 50% chance that this was just a wasted effort and cost.  And you’re lucky to get a thank you note and possibly a crappy piece of jewelry to commemorate the whole fiasco.

Knowing I am in the “elope now or never get a sympathetic ear from me ever ever EVER about what stupid flowers/colors/shoes/food your future mother in law wants you to get” camp when it comes to weddings makes most people tread lightly around me when mentioning nuptials.  Look, you can invite me to your wedding but I won’t be happy about it, okay?

Still, it seems to fall on me to take care of things for my middle little sister as she prepares for her small wedding next month.  So I threw her a shower.

2014 Emmi's Wedding Baked goods1

I guess because I have to be different, or because it is such a small wedding that there aren’t even any attendants, or maybe because Emmi dislikes being the center of attention, we didn’t do the traditional shower with gifts.

Have you ever been to one of these paint-your-own pottery places?  The greenware (pottery that is already fired once) is layered on shelves and you pick a plate or figurine or whatever and paint it with special ceramics paint. (A quick lesson in ceramics: the paint is not paint but a glaze – liquid containing tiny bits of colorant and minerals that will actually melt into a smooth glass coating once the item is toasted in a kiln for several hours. ) There is more technique than skill involved in painting, but it is a fun and creative way to spend an afternoon.  I may or may not have a slight addiction to painting pottery.

My baby little sister Lea and I made invitations with a cute poem and invited the 20-odd guests to just come and make something for Emmi instead of bringing a gift along.  This solved my ethical hangup with showers: I’m already getting something for this greedy bride for the wedding so I have to get her a second gift for the shower, too?

We went to our favorite outfit, a great independent store called Star Glazers.  Hey had tables ready for us, balloons, and extra staff.  You can always bring your own food and drink.

So there is always a risk that people are terrible at following directions/using a paintbrush.  I made a Pinterest board to collect ideas and bounce them off of the bride.  CLICKY!

Was I successful in orchestrating a pottery class/party in which 20 women made coordinating ceramic dishes for a mutual friend?

You be the judge!

 

 

Best Play Kitchen EVER (if I do say so myself!)

 

Okay so I’m not always known for my modesty.  There are some things I am really good at, like standardized test taking and pretending to be sweet as pie so my customers love me and baking most things (but not macarons because those are my nemesis).  But even with that in mind, I have to say that I am REALLY good at making a play kitchen for my niece.

I had the Fisher Price sink and stove and such as a kid.

I played in the housekeeping station in kindergarten.

I received a china tea set one year for Christmas.

My dolls were well fed.

It took a long time for me to give up tea parties and playing house.  It felt like the right kind of play.

In college I learned that my instincts were correct – this kind of play, which was always my favorite, is an important part of how young children develop an understanding of the world around them.  They learn to socialize and to work out problems by mimicking the actions and words of adults they observe.  It’s not just adorable when a tiny tot offers you an invisible cup of hot cocoa; it’s an important social transaction and practice making appropriate interactions with others.

I love being an auntie and I love to make stuff, so this project was a no-brainer.  I took my niece on a trip downtown and in the consignment store she fell in love with the plastic toy kitchen the store owner keeps out to accommodate the kiddies while their  spending-savvy mommies shop.  My niece refused to leave the store.  She threw a tantrum because she wanted so badly to microwave another pretend french fry.  Obviously I had to figure out how to get a play kitchen for her!

The plastic kitchens can be fairly affordable, but they don’t have efficient storage and they are garish.  I looked and priced, but I also scoured DIY websites and Pinterest.  As I usually do, I came to the conclusion that “I can make this.”

With Chuck’s help, of course.

My first stop was the Habitat for Humanity Re-Store.  This place is a gold mine for DIY-ers!  Any leftover and still functioning building materials are accepted as donations and then sold at low cost to raise money for Habitat.  In the past I have purchase shingles for our new shed, paint, tiles, and even unused tools.

The cabinet section was slightly bare but as luck would have it, they had exactly what I needed in stock.  Two cheap, plain wall cabinets for $10 and $15 each.  SCORE.  Some quick measurements and I was ready to go

You can clearly see the fridge, oven, and sink, right?

You can clearly see the fridge, oven, and sink, right?

I picked up some MDF meant to be shelving  at Lowes and Chuck found some unused paneling in his workshop.  While he sanded the cabinets and jigged out a hole for the dog dish –turned –sink, I painted a mural for the backsplash using my acrylics and sealed the image with clear spray paint.

 

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sink made from a dog dish.

I think she has a nicer backsplash than I do!

I think she has a nicer backsplash than I do!

Once the whole piece was together, Chuck painted the kitchen while I painted the “fridge” with homemade chalkboard paint and I freehanded the “microwave.”  I found baskets at a thrift shop and spray painted them in various shades of green.

The fridge is painted with chalkboard paint!

The fridge is painted with chalkboard paint!

 

Ha ha I am hilarious, I know.

Ha ha I am hilarious, I know.

The finishing touch was telling everyone what we made so they could help fill it out.  Auntie Alice and Uncle “Ded” bought some adorable Melissa and Doug play food, Auntie Emmi found perfect miniature baking supplies, while Mommy bought a princess tea set, providing props for play time.

A friend recently posted this article on the importance of play in a child’s life.  It sort of boggles my mind that someone would question the healthiness of a child’s imagination, but the article sort of take a tone of defense, doesn’t it?  I always assumed that most adults are just too busy/lazy to encourage imaginative play, but I guess some people discourage it, too.  So sad!

The niece-let is happy to play with her kitchen and it has been encouraged to bring her toys to the real kitchen to “bake” with flour, dried beans, play dough, etc.  She also uses her tiny whisks to stir eggs whenever we crack them into a bowl.  Baby dolls under her care are sated and I’m pretty sure those pretend cookies have calories because I think I’ve gained weight.

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