Friday, November 16, 2012

The Holly and the Chaos

It has been brought to my attention that I'm always posting about stuff I'm working on, but never stuff I've completed.  The question was, "Do you EVER finish anything?"  Well, yes and no.  In the case of the nativity barn in the previous post, that project is kind of in a holding pattern as I percolate over how to do the people and animals.  Sometimes it takes me a long time for things to work themselves from the depths of my brain into reality.

Case in point:  I have a tote full of twig wreaths that I bought years ago.  Small ones, around 6 - 8", kind of too small to hang on your door and too big to hang on your tree.  I don't know what I thought I was going to do with them, I didn't really have a plan, but they were on sale and well made, not junky, so I grabbed them. I had some vague idea involving beads and wire, but although I've mulled  THAT over for a long long time, I couldn't ever formulate any kind of design.  Last year, I bought these neat berries at Hack and Livery (and if you've not been there, you need to go.  I have to go in every once in a while and just take it all in.  It's magical.)

They have been sitting on my desk here for about a year now, looking pretty and defying me to come up with a purpose for them.  Then at some point a few weeks ago, the hand of inspiration reached out and slapped me.  I needed to combine those berries, those wreaths, papier mache birds (which I'd been meaning to make also since last year) and handmade holly leaves.  Birds I can do, I've worked with papier mache before many times.  But holly leaves?  How to do that?  Of course I could BUY some and stick them on there and call it handmade, but that just wasn't going to work for me.  If I didn't already have the berries, I'd find a way to make those too.  But the leaves were enough of a challenge.  How to make leaves that are 3 dimensional (as much as leaves are), had a shape, would HOLD that shape, and look as realistic as possible, not cartoony?  Percolated about that for the last couple of weeks.
Then, while digging through my Little Shop of Chaos for something else, as is frequently the case, I came across some really stiff felt pieces that someone gave me.  Didn't think I'd ever have a use for them, but you never know, so I stashed them in there (which is why it's chaos. My dad would approve wholeheartedly.) and the fact that I didn't have any green didn't bother me in the least, as I wanted them painted anyway.  So then I had to figure out how to give them shape.  Gathering thread down the center just made them frilly, and that wasn't what I was going for.  BUT, after playing around with one for a while, I discovered that if I folded them in half and made a seam down the back and then gathered THAT, it made them curve in just the right way!  Looks like this.

So next I've got to get them all painted and then figure out how big to make the birds.  Cardinals? Bluebirds? Goldfinches? Chickadees?  Some of each?  I've got a lot of wreaths, and a limitless number of leaves.  But only one spray of berries.  Maybe I'll have to figure out how to make berries after all. And back into the Little Shop of Chaos I go!