Wednesday 16 November 2011

Craft Like You Don't Have A Chronic Illness

My blogging has been a bit all over the shop lately. Partly due to the usual feeling like death warmed up. Partly due to apathy. And, partly due to the fact I'm trying to actually get around to some of the craft projects that have been collecting dust and dog hair all over my house.

Last Hardwaste (for those who don't have this, it's the magical time of year when you can put all your large rubbish items out on the street and the local council comes round to collect it, free of charge) I scored. I personally think of Hardwaste as a bonus Christmas. People put out some amazing 'rubbish' and I am not ashamed to stop on the side of the road and re-appropriate these unappreciated treasures. Even my children get in on the act, with an audible groan and eye roll. They love nothing better than being made to get out of the car and fossick around in someone else's junk. They have carried all sorts of treasures home for me. Tables, wardrobes, chairs, old braziers, the list is endless. I've even roped their friends into the act. Suck it up boys. I feed you. You can carry crap.

And I've found some great pieces over the years. As soon as I see a piece my mind starts whirling with possibilities. And by the time it's stored in the rumpus room I know what I'm going to do. Pity that my poxy body often refuses to go along with my plans. Makes it hard to buy paints and varnishes when you're physically incapable of driving. And even harder when you don't have the strength to lift your head from your pillow, let alone sand down some woodwork. So many of my projects take 6mths to a year to complete.

My latest project is a large pine-framed mirror that I found on the side of the road. It's huge and heavy and I already know where it is going in my loungeroom, well once it's had a bit of a make over. I'm rather proud of how it's turned out. Now I just need to get Mr Grumpy to hang it for me.
You can see by the back of the old lounge it's leaning against, it's rather large.

The frame was pretty boring so I decided it needed more than just a coat of paint. There is a poem I have loved for years. The River Merchant's Wife*, by 8th century Chinese poet Li T'ai-Po, and translated by Ezra Pound in 1915. I made a pdf of the poem, cut and pasted to fill an entire A4 sheet and had Mr Grumpy to print them out on the laser printer at work (important if you don't want the ink to run). And used these to paper the frame.
Nice and Cheap

 My high tech, can of chickpeas solution, to elevating the mirror
Unfortunately the way it was made, I couldn't remove the mirror from the frame 
so had to paper the mirror to keep off the paint and varnish.
Finally a use for all the articles from my thesis. 
"Lateralization of human nasal chemorecepetors..." is exciting stuff. No, really it is.
Quick coat of white paint to stop any remaining traces of varnish coming through. 
Also gives a better background to the white paper.
 Two days of frustration, swearing, spilt glue, and three layers of varnish later, it is finally papered.
Voila! Shitty photo of new mirror.  
How do you get a decent photo of a mirror without getting your ugly mug in it?

A weeks worth of work, a lung full of carcinogenic varnish fumes, and one new mirror. Woo Hoo!

Now for a prolonged nanna nap.

Michelle :)

*The River-Merchant's Wife

While my hair was still cut straight across my forehead
I played about the front gate, pulling flowers.
You came by on bamboo stilts, playing horse,
You walked about my seat, playing with blue plums.
And we went on living in the village of Chokan:
Two small people, without dislike or suspicion.
At fourteen I married My Lord you.
I never laughed, being bashful.
Lowering my head, I looked at the wall.
Called to, a thousand times, I never looked back. 
At fifteen I stopped scowling,
I desired my dust to be mingled with yours
Forever and forever and forever.
Why should I climb the look out? 

At sixteen you departed,
You went into far Ku-to-en, by the river of swirling eddies,
And you have been gone five months.
The monkeys make sorrowful noise overhead. 

You dragged your feet when you went out.
By the gate now, the moss is grown, the different mosses,
Too deep to clear them away!
The leaves fall early this autumn, in wind.
The paired butterflies are already yellow with August
Over the grass in the West garden;
They hurt me. I grow older.
If you are coming down through the narrows of the river Kiang,
Please let me know beforehand,
And I will come out to meet you
      As far as Cho-fu-Sa. 


  1. You "new" mirror looks awesome :) Great job. It's against the law in my area to re-appropriate items from hard rubbish :( Though people still do it, they're just careful not to get caught...

  2. Melissa - thanks. That's harsh, I think of it as great recycling and less landfill. Surely a good thing. They tried to arrest someone in my area during one this year but the guy was released without charge after outrage from the community. I've got some great pieces over the years.

  3. Oh yeah, just some great pieces over the years. I just love it! If there is anything I love more than bring other people's junk into my already cluttered house I can't think what it is.

    Hard-waste week has me quivering with pleasure and anticipation of what may appear!!

  4. Love, love LOVE it! It's beautiful!! Well done! I have mirror envy now. I can never understand how people can throw away "junk" when it has so much potential. And don't worry, I have so many projects sprawled across my floor- some of them don't get touched for years. Sometimes it takes me days even to complete a basic card- oh the joy of having a chronic illness. Xx

  5. Mr Grumpy - you know you love it. Besides I've been doing it for the 20yrs I've know you so time to harden up Princess and get over it.

  6. Miss CC - HA! 'mirror envy'I like it :) So glad to find someone else who can appreciate the treasure in what others discard. I don't know how you do the fine work on the cards. My poor fine motor skills make the little details harder now.

  7. Looks great.....


  8. the upside of being able to do things slowly is that you can change your mind about things, and go in a different direction, thats what i tell myself anyway.

    your children are so sweet helping you bring the goods home. aawww. x

  9. I have to say I pissed off right now that my reader isn't working properly and I have missed recent posts. Anyway off topic.

    Em I love your upbeat take right now, years ago I went on an intensive pain management course much of which wasn't appropriate for me (the physical exercise part) due to my bendiness and they made me sit and twiddle my fingers. But also learnt to find good in small things rather than bemoan that which I could no longer do. Are you sure you haven't been on a secret pain management course...

    Back on topic me. slapped wrists. virtually

    I love love love the mirror. Intelligent recycling indeed. I love it. Hope you are very proud of you Michelle.

  10. Love the mirror, Michelle. In my house, it's my husband who robs other people's trash in order to find "treasures". I am the one with the rolling eyes when he stops to see if he can find anything cool when he sees that someone has left large items on the curb. I have tried to cut back on the bitching, however, because many times he will fix something someone else has thrown out and sell it on craigslist. I can't really complain if he's making money out of the deal. Now, if he starts adding clutter to our house, I'll have a problem.

    I do like your idea to cover it in paper. I may have to try that sometime. I, myself, used to be anti-craft. But, in my new dysautonomia life, I am quite crafty. Trying to make a business out of it too. We'll see how that goes. I just want to make back some of the money I spend on stuff to keep me busy while I lay in bed all day. You know?

    Much love,

  11. Jane - thanks. I'm a bit chuffed at how it turned out actually.

    Em - I'm going to use your philosophy.:)

  12. Achelois - thanks babe. I am proud of myself for finishing it. I agree with you about Em too. Gotta find the positive in the little things.

    Robin - I was having a squizz at your designs the other day, they look great. I wish I could work out how to generate some cash from crafting. To break even or even have enough to buy my own coffee without guilt would be nice.


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