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November Blog Challenge! Theme: “Flight”

As promised in my previous post, here is the first creative blog challenge! The theme for November is “Flight”. What do you think of when you hear this word? It’s a powerful symbol, and immediately conjures up a multitude of images and feelings for me. We each have our own unique experience with this theme in our lives… somewhere in our journey of life there are dark times, painful and difficult places we must take flight out of. Somewhere else there are the things we take flight away from. And then there are the things in our story that hold our hearts… the things we spread ourselves wide open for and take flight into with boldness and passion. Flight is open, limitless, perpetual.

I’m excited to see what the results on this first challenge… and I’m deciding to ignore the voice that says “what if NO ONE participates” – because, oh, its there. But I’m not listening! You’ve got a whole stinkin’ month to make something – so no excuses! Time to take flight!… paint, draw, sculpt, write, photograph and collage your heart out! And when you’re all done, please please email me at sarahtreanor[at]icloud[dot]com with an image (or text if it’s a poem or essay) and a short description of your project and I will post it up on the blog the first week of December. (If you feature it on your own blog too I’m happy to throw in a link to that, just make sure you include it!)

Have fun!

Welding: Kayak Rack (almost) Complete!

It’s taken me a while to finally get this posted.. My welding class ended a few weeks ago, and I finally got the chance to photograph the kayak rack I made on the truck yesterday! It works! I am utterly amazed that I was able to create something with right angles and exact measurements that is actually functional. It’s definitely not my natural tendency – I prefer organic shapes and just making things up as I go along. Ok, I admit it, that’s partly because I’m lazy and measuring things and planning them ahead is well, a lot of work! But with welding, I found that I really had to plan ahead, especially with something functional… so this project definitely pushed my out of my comfort zone.


Above: Removeable center piece for carrying two kayaks. Holes serve as tie downs to secure cargo!

Even though I went into it kicking and screaming a bit, once I started seeing this precise, exact thing come together that I made with my own two hands, it was pretty amazing. Something so new for me, and ended up being so rewarding to stretch myself into areas I’d previously defined as “things I just suck at”.


Details, Left: Loop to attach chain for the pin. Right: Vertically adjustable, with pin to secure.

A nice thing we realized when putting one of the kayaks on the rack is that it will be one we can grow into, as we have pretty short kayaks right now, but plan to buy longer ones down the road. It can also be used for transporting just about anything else long, like lumber or ladders… and with a piece of plywood laid out on it, it becomes a temp work table! I still have to get the it all painted, definitely going to rust if we use it like this at all! So painting will come soon! To paint myself or to have it painted? Hmmmm!

Quarterly Project: Welding & Malformed Metal Frogs

I haven’t posted in a few weeks about my adventures in learning how to weld. Since my last post, I’ve gotten to try out the plasma cutter and practiced just doing straight lines of welding beads to try and get the form and technique down. Plasma cutter is gloriously fun – mostly used for thin metal to do more finely detailed work. It was a ton of fun – like drawing in metal!

Finding My Niche
In my last class I also decided to mess around with the torch welder a bit. I grabbed some scrap re bar and started heating and bending it… my teacher showed me how to braid re bar, and off I went braiding away. Pretty sure I’m in love with bending and forming metal. My teacher said that I would probably really like blacksmithing because its more about bending and manipulating the metal form. Oh my.. looks like I will just have to take the blacksmithing class next!

Making Malformed Metal Frogs
This past weekend I started on an exciting project. Back in early college, I made these fun little wire frogs for my sculpture class. Over the course of a year, I sold about a dozen of them to various folks. Back then, I’d wanted to make larger versions of them, but the wire became too hard to bend at thicker gauges and I didn’t have any access to tools, so eventually I just filed the idea away. That was almost 10 years ago. And now I’m excited to get to dig this project back up and finally make the giant versions of these little guys I’ve dreamed of for nearly a decade!

Last Sunday I started on a test version just to see what size I want to make them, and to test the proportions of the limbs to the body and such. All I had to use was some pretty thick re bar scrap from the shop, so as you can see this little guy came out a bit malformed so far. Talk about some giant feet! I’m going to go buy some more metal in smaller diameters and try again next Sunday to hopefully get things closer. It’s going to take a lot of trial and error for sure. One of the trickier parts has been cutting all the ends on the arms so that the angle will match up to the body piece it needs to weld to. It’s a lot of “put piece in vice, cut it, take it out, check it, put back in vice, re-cut it, check it, grind it down, check it…” Definitely not anything as quick as just wrapping some thin wire together like the small versions! I’m excited about the challenge though, I think I can get there in maybe a month’s time.

Quarterly Project: Welding Is Definitely NOT Sexy

This past Sunday was my second welding class – and we got to do a bit of welding finally! I’m definitely not having the same awesome “fish in water” experience with this as I typically do with most artsy things. A little frustrating to not feel like comfortable as quickly as with drawing or photography – but we’ve all got things that don’t come naturally for us! So I’m having fun realizing that my vision of being this sexy welding chick is not exactly fitting into reality…

Yup. That is me. And I look like man. Lord almighty, welding is definitely not very flattering, particularly when it’s cold outside and you have no choice but to wear a 3XL leather welding jacket in which you can barely bend your arms enough to do the welding. I went to buy some leather work boots yesterday –  an area of women’s clothing that could really use some help. They make my feet look so immense that I look like Meg from Family Guy. Despite my disappointments in being able to retain a ladylike appearance in any form, I did grow up a tomboy – so really I quickly forget about all that and am suddenly lost in learning this cool new process!

Oh yes, and that helmet? You can’t see anything (and I mean anything) through those things until you make a few sparks – so it’s pretty impossible to actually weld where you planned on.

In the shot above I’m doing some MIG (Metal Inert Gas) welding – which is essentially like a big hot glue gun. There is a piece of steel wire that runs through it, and when you hit a button on the nozzle it comes out and uses an electrical current or arc to melt the steel onto your metal surface. Pretty neat stuff! It took me some practice to figure out how to comfortably hold the nozzle and all, but after a short bit I started to get the hang of it.


(Instructor and one of the other classmates doing some stick welding)

We were introduced to stick welding too – which made me a little nervous. You use two giant positive/negative clamps like you’d use to jump your car. One clamp attaches to the metal table you’re working on and the other will hold a stick of steel that you weld with. Yeah… this just sounded like a bad idea to me. Alas, I did try it – and sucked pretty bad at it – but proud of myself anyway! Really hoping I can do most of my welding with the MIG welder though!

We’ll be starting our first projects in the next week or two. Right now, I’m thinking of making a truck bed extension for Andrew’s truck, so that we can more securely transport both of our kayaks this summer! It’s a pretty basic construction, just an L-shaped piece that fits into the trailor hitch with a bracket or bar on the other end to hold the kayaks. I’m a little nervous about making something functional – but going to give it a shot! Very excited!!

Week 1: Getting Nothing Done!

Week 1 in my 12 month photo project… I got NOTHING done! Hoorah! But I learned a little and decided to try a creative way of sharing my brief and uneventful first week… video diary!!! (Thanks Micaela for the inspiration!)

My 12 Months of 2012

I’ve spent the past few weeks thinking about what I’d like to focus on creatively this year. To be honest, I had a really hard time deciding! All I knew for sure was that – at the end of each month last year, I would just be gaining momentum and getting excited about one type of project and then I would have to switch gears totally and drop it. So I think this year, I’m ready for longer projects and timelines…

Quarterly Projects
I’ve decided to focus on 4 different types of projects quarterly throughout the year. This might mean that I do one large project for the quarter, or many small ones… depending on how things unfold and you know, how badly I procrastinate. ;)

The 4 projects I’m thinking for now are:

– Welding/Metal Sculpture
– Illustration/Drawing
– Needle Felting
– Nature/Land Art

Welding is something I’ve never done and always wanted to do. I’m signed up for a class at a local community college to start January 22nd, so this is where we begin! The others were things from this past year that I fell in love with and wanted more time with. The list could possibly change if I find anything else exciting along the way – but for now this is a good start!

12 Month Barn Series
Alongside that, I’ve decided I also want to focus on photography for a monthly project. I have a barn series that I began a year or so ago that I was really fired up about but never really got off the ground. So the goal here is to trespass onto as many abandoned old properties with barns as I can find!… or hopefully more of the time enter with permission so no one comes after me with a shot gun (this is Texas, after all).

By the end of the year I want to have photographed a full series of a dozen barns, each with a ceiling shot similar to the one below, as well as other supporting angles and details. I’d really like to get a wide range from old abandoned barns to fully functioning newer ones… but we’ll see where the journey takes me.

I will be doing some research on how to create good black and white images too – as there are good and bad ways to achieve it and I’m pretty sure I’m not using the best methods right now. I may also throw in some techniques to focus on (landscape, macro, HDR, etc) from time to time to help me practice in areas I haven’t taken the time to really read up on or practice a ton yet. Pretty excited to revive this project! I have been in love with it since the first ceiling shot I took and look forward to having my first full series of photos done by the end of 2012!

 
Yes, We Will Create!
And that’s still not everything! On top of my personal creative projects, I’m spending this year trying to get a creative community called We Will Create off the ground. It’s a place to share any and all sorts of creative projects – big or small, long or short. I’m hoping together we can create a real place of open support for each other in all our creative endeavors… a place for anyone who is looking to add a bit more creativity in their lives and wants some friends to do it with! In the much bigger picture, I dream of this becoming a community that reaches millions… where you can explore or join various groups and have specific communities related to your interests (photography, cooking, living green, painting, charity work, etc) as well as joining other groups for 365 projects, 12 month projects, 30 day projects, etc. It’s definitely far from anything that big (yet), but I believe in it a heck of a lot, so I’m doing all I can to get it going. I figure worst case is that a few more people in the world are inspired by each other, and I learn a lot about how to NOT make a community site.

If you actually made it this far into my novel of a post… please take a moment to check us out at wewillcreate.ning.com and if you like what you see, join us or share with your family and friends!

Looking Back on the 12 Months of 2011

Today I’ve been thinking a lot about what this project has meant to me and how it has helped me to grow. In January of 2011, I was really a pretty wimpy creative person… I didn’t believe in myself. I didn’t believe any of my ideas were any good or that anyone else would think they were. I had VERY little confidence in myself as a creative person (which really sucks, considering I’m a graphic designer for a living!! Yikes). I would doubt myself and over-think things to the point of talking myself out of even trying to do them.

These monthly projects have really helped to change a lot of that for me. I feel confident now. I know I am a creative person who has valid ideas to share – who deserves to share them. I doubt myself less and I try not to over-think things or judge my ideas as “good” or “bad” (and hopefully catch myself quickly when I do). I find myself leaping into action when something first excites me now. It’s been nice learning how to not get in my own way. Ha!

“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” (Maya Angelou)

I love this quote because it is so very true! I have really noticed it this year and it has surprised me. I always used to think that when you did a creative project it left you sort of drained for a while until you recharged. Instead of feeling depleted at the end of each month though, it’s more like each of these projects has added fuel to a creative fire in me. I feel like I am noticing opportunities to be creative in places that I never did before. I suppose it is just like anything else in life – the more you practice it the better conditioned you are and the more easily you can do it. Funny, I thought for a long time that creativity was something you either had or didn’t have – a talent. Sure, some are more talented artists than others, but all of us have our own creative talents that are unique just to us. That’s really kinda beautiful to see.

“You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment.” (Henry David Thoreau)

This is one of my favorite quotes and it’s one that I’ve connected with a lot in 2011. I’ve been learning to let go and trust things more in all areas of my life. I think it has helped me to have these projects – because you aren’t really looking past a year, or even a month really. You are so intently focused on that month or that day and the project at hand. It’s been so rewarding to get lost in the process of creating things – without worrying “Will I make a good grade?”, “Will the client like it?”, or “Will I win an award or get more business because of this?” I mean what a HUGE release it has been to put aside all of those practical things and just say “Yes! I’m going to put my head in the clouds and be ridiculous, thank you! I will spend hundreds of dollars on supplies and make tons of things that will probably go no where at all! Because I want to and that’s the only reason I need!” Ahhh – even just writing that is refreshing!

The Show Must Go On!

This project has really become a part of my life this year – a big part. It’s sort of my child… and I can’t very well just give up a child! And so, I will continue on in 2012 with a whole new adventure. Instead of a wide variety of projects and themes, I am feeling like narrowing my focus this year. I am toying with the idea of sticking to a particular subject for the entire year… certainly a whole different sort of challenge than what I have ever done before. I’m sure it will be difficult but also get me thinking in new ways.

My Dearest Thanks To You All!

I just want to thank each and every person who has supported me throughout this past year. Without your help, advice, and cheering me on some months would have been pretty tough. Just knowing that there was someone out there reading this really helped to keep me serious and hold me accountable to finishing my goals (even if some of them were a few days late! Hey, no one is perfect). All my thanks to you, and I hope that I can be of support to you in your creative endeavors as well.

Goodnight Dear Friends!

Wrapping Up for the Night…

So that thing I said about how well I work under pressure? Yeah, that was kind of a lie. At least, not under THIS amount of pressure. So the nervous breakdown is over for tonight… and I have gotten a pathetic total of 2 eggs done. I’d hoped for twice that. Stupid eggs and their breaking. At least now I am at the halfway point – just a few more days and I’ll be done with this ridiculousness.

My cat decided to give me a little added stress of course just as I was beginning to relax for the evening – they are so good for that aren’t they? I had plopped down on the couch to watch some TV and turned around to see this huge fumbling dork of a cat hovering atop my neat little nest of beautifully completed eggs. Dear God, why do I ever think I can leave anything precious laying around my house… ever? In a fury I jumped up, the eggs were just moments away from being kicked by a leaping cat and flung into the air. It took all the restraint I had to calmly call him off the table instead of smacking him right off it.. slowly he jumped down, leaving my precious cargo and hours of work just barely unharmed…… what an ass. Like an annoying older brother who screws with you just to laugh at you freaking out, that’s a cat.

I have now tucked all the eggs away in my laundry room – safe and sound from the dorkiest cat on the planet and the cat that’s big enough to BE a planet. Here’s a quick shot of the progress… a tasty treat to tide you over until the finale. I will be taking a break tomorrow night to celebrate a friend’s birthday (and have some much-deserved drinks!), but will be back at it Saturday to finish this thing. And now… finally… to sleep! Goodnight to all who are reading.

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