Thursday, September 2, 2010
Warning: I have a Skil Saw, and I Know How to Use It.
Recently my ability to use power tools was raised as a reason why I may never marry again. I can think of lots of reasons I will avoid that particular institution in the future, but the person who said this honestly thinks that no man worth having would want a woman who owns her own power tools, fixes her own plumbing, and can change a flat tire faster than AAA can send a tow truck. Alrighty then...My grandmother bought me my first tool kit when I was about eight., my dad let me help re-roof the house when I was ten, and my mom signed me up for seventh grade shop class when I was eleven. Guess that gives me all the usual suspects to blame in therapy! ; ) ...ooooh, do you think I can get a discount on the session if I offer to fix those sagging shelves of psychology journals???
Seriously, I think every gal should know how to build things. It's fun, it's economical, and it's practical. Below are three of the four paper towel holders I made from salvaged bits, and installed today, at my friend Maureen's art center. She had those cheap plastic ones that seem to be the only thing you can buy anymore. You know, the kind that when you have a really big emergency, and you give a yank, the roll pops loose and lands in the pan you left soaking in the sink, resulting in a useless, sodden lump of pulp. She thought my friend TC might build her some, and he was willing, but I wanted to see how many designs I could come up with that were both easy to reload and trustworthy, and (of course) made of recycled materials.
Design number one: A simple shelf made of scrap trim and plywood, with end caps of beadboard paneling. An inverted egg shaped hole supports a section of staircase spindle, whose turnings keep it from sliding out. Embellished with antique pillowcase lace, attached with old fashioned screen window nails, it matches the vibe of this very cool old boarding house-turned-art retreat.
Design number two was so easy, it almost doesn't count as carpentry. I had this little shelf, and just had to figure out how to hang the rod, another antique staircase spindle. Two lengths of silk ribbon, two cup hooks, and four knots, and it works like a charm!
Design number three is everyones favorite. It's made with two old silver plate forks, a length of scrap 1x3, a left-over piece of dowel, and a fair bit of patience. Bending the forks exactly the same was trickier than I expected, but worth the effort.
The only carpentry was rounding the ends of the board, drilling screw holes in the forks, and cutting the dowel to length. So easy, my art girls could do it, and they are all under the age of nine.
There's nothing wrong with having a man who will do these things for you, if you so desire, but there is much to be said for knowing how to take care of whatever curves life throws at you. Please support efforts to keep shop classes in our public schools. These are basic life skills every kid should learn, college-bound techno-whizzes included!
Here are a few shots of Maureen's retail space, including a border I lettered for her last summer.
And here's one of her current pieces, a figure atop a closet full of masks. Complex in artistry and meaning.
Remember, click to enlarge, click again for closer detail.
This is the garden entrance to one end of the studio...but I don't know why I'm showing you this, when you can simply go to http://www.maureencarlson.com/ and browse her galleries, see her list of classes, and even take a video tour of her boarding facilities!
Meanwhile, back in Belle Plaine...
This week in art class, Jensen was out with chicken pox, Kadence worked on landscaping in Italian paperclay, and Faith, who has an amazingly long attention span, put the finishing touches on her fairy castle. I do include drawing lessons in every class, and we learn all kinds of "serious art" stuff, but projects like this are great ways to hone skills and exercise creativity.
This was entirely Faith's design. My job was to help with engineering and teach construction skills. The cordless drill, keyhole saw, and x-acto knife all got plenty of use, and yes, my silk flower selection has been somewhat depleted!
Somehow, I don't think learning to use power tools has damaged her femininity in the least. You go, Babycakes!