Updates On The Current Status

I don’t know how to start this blog post so I’m just going to jump in. This past year has been …hectic and chaotic and jumbled and all kinds of disorganized. We’ve run the gamut of emotions from exuberance to complete and utter dejection. In the middle of this crazy roller coaster ride, we’ve had to make some serious life changes.

First, John’s photography will be separate from the rest of our work. We both believe it is necessary to take this step. Secondly, I’m going to start putting my stuff up on Etsy under the name Unchained Emporium. I’ve already started storing items onto the site but I won’t be able to sell anything until I can get the whole business license bit settled, which we’re going to tackle later this week. For what it’s worth, hobby businesses have a lot to overcome in Louisiana and the PTB make it very difficult for small hobby businesses to do anything at all. Technically, you don’t have to have a business license if you do your art as a hobby but I want to make my business into something more than just a hobby. I’d really like to believe you don’t need money to make money but it’s really becoming quite clear to me that we’re going to be climbing up an outward sloping shale cliff. Having said that, I’m not giving up and neither is John. I like what I do. I like the things I make. I’m not changing what I make to fit the trends, so I’m prepared for whatever happens with the sales. John likes what he does. He likes his product. His product is infintely more marketable than mine but I know we both have a niche to fill. And we both have dreams and goals we are working hard to meet.

I’m still working on the larger canvas for my triple mask mixed media art project. The latest photo of my progress is shown below. I wasn’t happy with the scattered confetti and streamers I painted. I wanted something…MORE. So I vented a bit of my frustration on the canvas and I love the result. What do you think?

Now it really looks like a party worthy of New Orleans' Mardi Gras!

Now it really looks like a party worthy of New Orleans’ Mardi Gras!

Considering all the change we’ve been experiencing in our business and our home, I think this quote is quite appropriate. It fits with our personal policies to be truthful and honest in all dealings. It also fits with the masks, just a bit. We all have a tendency to wear masks to protect ourselves, don’t we? But what are we protecting ourselves from? Living life?

Dare to be true: nothing can need a lie: A fault, which needs it most, grows two thereby.” ~George Herbert

Quoteful Saturday: Childhood

There is a garden in every childhood, an enchanted place where colors are brighter, the air softer, and the morning more fragrant than ever again.” ~Elizabeth Lawrence

We could never have loved the earth so well if we had had no childhood in it.” ~George Eliot, The Mill on the Floss, 1860

If you carry your childhood with you, you never become older.” ~Tom Stoppard

It is never too late to have a happy childhood.” ~Tom Robbins

To trade a childhood wonder for a plausible explanation — is there a worst trade one makes in life?” ~Robert Brault, rbrault.blogspot.com

I found all of today’s quotes on this page at Quote Garden. I hope you enjoy them and are inspired by them.

Fabulous Friday 58

I must confess, I’ve been in a slump lately. My creative well has been running dry. I have ideas…but I can’t seem to put them together in a pleasing format. It’s a bit discouraging but I’m going to keep pressing on. And just to keep you in the know, there will be some drastic changes to the blog reflecting the drastic changes we are making as a family and in the direction we are taking with our businesses. Yes. Businesses. As in more than one. More on that in future posts…on to the fabulosity! (For those who had to think about that word, /thank you/! I did make that word up but don’t you think it /should/ exist?)

This Fabulous Friday post will be a bit different than previous posts. I’m going proactive with this post and sharing things I’ve researched that I think my family might enjoy. As I’ve mentioned on several occasions, we function on a very strict and tight budget. Even our fun stuff has to be done through thrifty or frugal means and with careful planning. It’s not a bad thing, though. We often get to do and see cool things no one else even realizes exists! Here are three cool places/things to do that I’d like for our family to check out in the upcoming months. Maybe these will inspire you to make a trip to our state or even look around in your own state for fun, frugal activities available to the public.

When looking for free things to do, always check big cities. They have more business, usually have more tourists, and are usually looking for ways to encourage more people to come check out what they have to offer. I did an internet search for ‘free things to do in LA’, which is always terrible…because we do not live anywhere close to Los Angeles! I then searched for free things to do in Louisiana, which pulled up several options. I found some in a city that’s pretty close to home for us.

Jennings, La. offers several free things to do and see and I’m leaning towards viewing the alligators at ‘Chateau de Cocodries’. This isn’t the only attraction, though! I thought we might bring a picnic lunch and chill out at the Louisiana Oil and Gas Park. And there are several other things of interest in the city that would make a day trip worth while. You can check them out for yourself at this webpage!

Then I remembered that New Orleans is close enough to us for a day trip. We’d actually been tossing this idea around for a while but since we didn’t know exactly what we wanted to do once we got there, we hadn’t really made any plans. As it happens, there are enough free and frugal activities available in New Orleans to keep us day-tripping for a while! These are two I thought might interest our readers.

I love music. If I could only pick one art to focus on, it would definitely be music. Something going on next weekend that our readers might enjoy is the Satchmo Summerfest. If you are close enough and you have the means to get there, I bet this will be a fantastic event to attend. And best of all, it’s free to get in!

And since this page is dedicated to the arts, I’m going to suggest visiting Studio Inferno, where you can witness glass blowing in action. There are at least 3 places in New Orleans in which you can see glass blowers working on their art. They all have their nifty aspects. This one appealed to me the most because it seemed a bit more earthy and less classical. Perhaps it was the page presentation? I’m not sure, but this is the one I hope we will visit first. The other two options are Rosetree Glass Studio (looks like a super classy joint and I hope they don’t shoot me for phrasing it that way!) and Glassworks. Glassworks would be my second choice, since they offer the option of being able to do glass blowing and creating to the folks who come in. Nothing is said about the cost for this on the information page but I’m sure they’d be more than happy to inform you when you call them at the number provided there.

Grasp your opportunities, no matter how poor your health; nothing is worse for your health than boredom.”  ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Second Neurotic’s Notebook, 1966

Nobody is bored when he is trying to make something that is beautiful, or to discover something that is true.”  ~William Inge

The cure for boredom is curiosity.  There is no cure for curiosity.”  ~Dorothy Parker

I hope you’ll enjoy this happy little jazz ditty from Good ‘Ol Satchmo, himself. If you don’t know him yet (where have you been?!), then please allow me to introduce you! :)

Days of Rest 57

~ Sun coming through the clouds ~ Photo by J.D. Kittles Photography ~ used with permission ~ To see more of his awesome photography, just click the photo!

~ Sun coming through the clouds ~ Photo by J.D. Kittles Photography ~ used with permission ~ To see more of his awesome photography, just click the photo!

Fabulous Friday!

I missed last week’s Fabulous Friday post. I didn’t want to miss this one. Besides, I have something I wanted to share with you that we think is truly fabulous.

The first promo goes out to family and friends. If you have family, friends you’ve grafted into your family, and/or friends, then you know how important they are. In particular, this shoutout goes to our friends and family who have visited our home or supplied us with gazillions of bottlecaps over the last two years. That’s right. Two. Years. We’ve had in mind to remodel our kitchen from a dark, country, plain ol’ kitchen into a nifty-difty Steampunk Pub Kitchen. We have lots of projects in mind for the remodel but the first thing we wanted to do was attend to what used to be a window over our kitchen sink. My mom used it as a sort of storage cubby for years. I repainted it 2 years ago and backed it with a piece of plexiglass that I painted with glass paint. This gave it a sort of English pub feel and started the whole Steampunk Pub idea. The ‘stained glass’ was the first step and we used the cubby to display interesting bottles we’ve collected over time. Some of those were from friends and family, as well. Today started part two of the window remodel. We’re framing out the window opening with bottlecaps. So if you visited our home and drank any kind of beverage that had a bottlecap, or if you knew about our project and donated to the cause, it’s likely you’ll be represented in our window frames. Here’s a photo of the progress so far. We completed as much as we could with the adhesive that we had on hand. We’ll continue working on it over time. We’re very excited about it!

This photo was taken by John with his cellphone. He wanted to share our progress on Instagram.

This photo was taken by John with his cellphone. He wanted to share our progress on Instagram.

John and I have been storm spotting/chasing lately and if you haven’t seen any of his recent storm photography, then you’ll want to click on the photo above to go to his photography page and check those out. I don’t think people really appreciate or understand what a valuable asset Storm Spotters and Chasers are to the community as a whole. Yes, sometimes a situation can escalate to danger quickly but in all cases, safety is the first important thing you learn when you take the Storm Spotter Class. If it was not for the spotters and chasers, I really believe more unsuspecting citizens would be seriously harmed or killed during dangerous weather. It pays to learn, observe, and be better prepared. So my second shoutout is to the Storm Spotters and Chasers out there who are doing their best to save lives. Reed Timmer is one of the very active storm spotter/chasers and you can check out what he does at his website by clicking here.

For some strange reason, there aren’t many quotes about bottle caps. (Having a little chuckle about that!) But I did find this nifty photo post on Tumblr (Sorry, WordPress!) which shows several Jones Bottle Caps sayings. I chose one to type out below, but if you click on these words here, you can read more of them!

“Feelings of goodwill to all should lighten your mood.”

We often hear of bad weather, but in reality, no weather is bad. It is all delightful, though in different ways. Some weather may be bad for farmers or crops, but for man all kinds are good. Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating. As Ruskin says, “There is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather.” ” ~John Lubbock, “Recreation,” The Use of Life, 1894

And for a song today, I’d like to share one from Matisyahu, who is a favorite artist of ours. I hope you’ll enjoy this piece from his new album. If you like what you hear, please do support his hard work!

More Masked Projects!

I’ve started work on the largest of the mixed media art pieces I’ll be doing. The canvas is 18 x 18. I wanted to showcase three masks in Mardi Gras colors and work in a Mardi Gras background. I’m up to step three, which is decorating the masks. I want each one to be unique in more ways than the fabric and mask designs. Here are two pictures showing the work so far. The lighting in our kitchen is terrible but the photos came out clear enough to grasp the idea behind the project.

The first step was to paint the canvas black. They didn't have a black canvas in the size I wanted to use. The colors of paint I'm using are black, purple, pale antique gold, metallic green-gold, and white.

The first step was to paint the canvas black. They didn’t have a black canvas in the size I wanted to use. The colors of paint I’m using are black, purple, pale antique gold, metallic green-gold, and white.

I used the colorful paints to create a simple background of different confetti. Then I placed the masks on top to determine a pleasing placement. I also attempted to roughly plan out what I wanted to embellish the masks with. The only one that stayed the way it is in the picture is the green horned mask. I used brass beads to embellish it.

I used the colorful paints to create a simple background of different confetti. Then I placed the masks on top to determine a pleasing placement. I also attempted to roughly plan out what I wanted to embellish the masks with. The only one that stayed the way it is in the picture is the green horned mask. I used brass beads to embellish it.

All in all, the project is coming along nicely, though it will take time. I’m having to work on it around my work and family time schedule. I’ll keep updating you on the progress. I got the masks embroidered at Sew What Embroidery and Screenprinting based in Branch, LA. You can check them out by clicking here to get to their facebook page. The green one is embroidered in black and the fabric is a gold/green dragon brocade. The white one has pale gold embroidered scrolls on the fabric and it’s embroidered in pale gold. I’ll be using black and silver beads to embellish it. The purple one is a stretch lace fabric with hologram sequins on it. It’s embroidered in green. I’ll be using chain and metal scales to embellish it. I’m also going to use different kinds of fabrics and pictures to add to the background. Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to read!

To live is so startling it leaves little time for anything else.” ~Emily Dickinson

Days of Rest 56

~ Red Amaryllis Lily ~ photo by J.D. Kittles Photography ~ used with permission ~

~ Red Amaryllis Lily ~ photo by J.D. Kittles Photography ~ used with permission ~