Lately

Well, friends, I hope that you can forgive my failure to blog for the past month or so (I’m pretty sure there are a few of you regular readers out there, aside from my mom:) I’ve been in one of those post-holiday ruts- you know, the kind that happens when the craziness of the holidays ends, and after months of daydreaming about slower days with time for relaxing projects you just can’t garner the energy to self-motivate? I think that this type of dilemma probably afflicts the self-employed the most severely, and January was a bit of a difficult month for this self-employed, super-emotional, highly sensitive person.

As I’ve mentioned before, making books can be hard on my body, and when the new year comes, I like to take a break from that brand of labor. My holiday daydreams included some home improvement projects for our home studio, which has less square footage and holds more than most other rooms in the apartment, and making a quilt (always on my mind these days, it seems), and reading books while lying in bed.

The home improvements and lying in bed reading books did happen in January without much effort. But the creativity and motivation for other projects that needed to happen was just not there. At this time of year, it’s important that I experiment with new ideas and materials that I might not have time or energy for in busier months. It’s also an important time to do my taxes and evaluate the past year from a business standpoint, noticing what was successful and what I’d like to do differently in the year to come.

But whoah, was I having a hard time getting moving. There’s an oft-spoken idea that sometimes we have to get to a dark place before we make a change. And last month, I found myself in that dark place, where I couldn’t think of what to do to get out of my creative rut, to feel useful and empowered, and to do something I could be proud of.

Ironically, for all my talk about making a quilt and how much I looked forward to it, I had to get to that place before I decided, out of semi-desperation, to get started on it. I just needed something to do that felt productive and not too hard. And it worked. It was crazy how much better I felt the first day that I started working on it, and the past two weeks have been easier because I have this new project that I look forward to working on in my spare time.

Now that my head is in a better place, I’m looking forward to sharing some of the other successes of January here, including another wonderful class of beginning bookbinding students and assorted little projects. A friend shared recently that we are gaining about two minutes of extra daylight each day at this time of year, which holds a lot of promise for the days to come. I hope that my buddies all over the land are staying warm, and optimistic, too, enjoying the longer days, and learning what you can from the dark.

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rockpile’s new home: before and after

We moved into our new place almost a month ago (!) and it is finally feeling like home. Here are some of the befores:

Every single room and hallway was painted yellow, a color I don’t mind in moderation, but that in this instance was total overkill.

Also, once we had unloaded all of our boxes and furniture from the truck, there was hardly any room to move around!

We put a whole lot of elbow grease into this place…pulling up the old, gross carpet, painting most of the rooms, and doing a lot of cleaning.

So here are the after photos. We have miraculously made everything fit somewhere, and now I can really appreciate all the quirks and cool things about it.

Now I can relax and enjoy this neat little place. Andy spends hours reading in the sun room, and I am in love with my new studio. Come visit!

projects

It’s January, and I’m a little bored of making books. This afternoon I have ideas of learning to quilt, and I’m excited about upholstering. Here’s the chair that I recently finished. I don’t have a before picture, but it was covered in blue vinyl, and looked like an old, beat up seat in a car. I think it looks better now.

 

before and after

Here we have my first adventure in upholstery, and one that I am proud to have done all by myself, with a little bit of guidance from friends and youtube videos.

Here’s the before. I brought this little loveseat home, in its dissembled form, from my grandfather’s house in Greensboro earlier this year. The week that I started working on it, our kitten, Yoko, got hit by a car in front of our house, and we kept the stencil that we made in her memory sitting on it in our living room for a few weeks.

And here’s the after. I also made pillows for the first time ever (and made them poorly, I have to say, but I love them anyway).

I have loved exploring an entirely new medium, and it’s surprisingly exhilarating to try a new skill that I know nothing about, knowing that I may not do it very well at all. To my credit, our living room is much cuter now.

I’ve been taking a little break from bookbinding and sweating in my studio, and spending some time at home, making things at a different pace. It’s been nice.

These refrigerator pickles were really easy to make! And they taste amazing.

And I recovered this old chair with some fabric that Leigh Anne brought me from a fabric sale a few weeks ago.

I have been loving the weather in Asheville the past few days. Autumn temperatures have a lot of power over my memories and feelings and I’m so happy to sit inside with the windows open, cooking and sewing. I also notice that while summer is fun and relaxing, the heat can make me feel unmotivated. Looking forward to fall, I’m ready to embark on a few new adventures that have been in the back of my mind for the last little while.

Hope all are well and enjoying the long days of summer’s end.