Wednesday, March 26, 2008

mbctc InITiaTiVe

“cREaTiVitY/OrIGinALiTy…we all have it, it’s one thing we ALL have in common…it’s ageless, it’s timeless, it knows no gender, or race……
yet we all express it in our own unique way with results as individual as the person behind them….

I know...blah, blah, blah.....I’ve said it, I continue to say it, and I now want to see what exactly that LOOKS like when you bring it all together; and in turn, share it with the world through our various platforms. There are so many amazingly, creative people and ideas out there, and this is my heartfelt effort to capture and showcase them, in our own unique way.
Whatever creative contribution you make will be shown, heard, worn, or read in some creative way. You may see it on set, you may see it on screen, you may read about it in print or online, you may see portions of it used in photos, you may hear it being played with a project. Creativity comes in many shapes and sizes and it can range anywhere from artwork, to wearables, jewelry, music, writings, photos, ideas, home accessories, tools, techniques, etc.
You make it, we’ll take it. (Remember when we were kids and would send in our artwork or birthdate and hope the radio or tv person gives us a shout out – this is kind of like that, only bigger AND better!)
This initiative will encompass a lot of what we do, be it video projects, live events, books, magazines, television shows, studio space, interviews, etc., and will evolve over time.
It's open to anyone and everyone -- all ages, all mediums, all skill levels.
I invite each and every one of you to play along, to get involved, to participate, and to spread the word……it’s for the people, by the people..creatively speaking.

Your creative offering must accompany signed waiver and contact information for proper accreditation when used and the possibility of future story development.
Click here for paperwork
No creative contributions will be returned, only celebrated.
Your idea or contribution doesn’t necessarily HAVE to be tangible…but it does need to be expressed on something tangible.
Questions or comments can be e-mailed to:

“Talent is always conscious of its’ own abundance and does not object to sharing”…alexander solzhenitsyn

cheers to creative offerings all the way around!

Friday, March 21, 2008

CoLlaBoraTIvE pAiNtInG

“desire is the starting point of all achievement, not a hope, not a wish, but a keen pulsating desire which transcends everything”…napoleon hill

It all started with a generous sized painting that my Grandma had given me a while back. I can vividly remember it hanging in her living room all the while I was growing up, and when she finally decided to part with it, I had moved into our house in Madison county, (familiar with the Bridges of Madison County?) so the fact that the painting had a covered bridge on it was more than fitting. (even Francesca’s house is just a hop, skip and a jump away from my place!) Well, I hung it, as is, in my living room for a while and to be honest, the bridge and its’ size are about the only things that have kept me hangin’ on…. it just wasn't doin' it for me and I’ve been wanting to take on this painting for years. And, I finally did. By taking it on, I simply mean, taking what’s already there and changing it up to better suit what I like. A creative process that is great fun, by the way. It’s a less intimidating art project for some people to tackle, because you already have a starting point. For some reason, staring at a large, blank canvas scares the bejeebies out of some people and with this project, somebody’s already got you started, all you need to do is further things along in your own creative direction. I did do a little research on the piece before adding my two cents worth, and found out my grandma had purchased it at a furniture store in the 70’s and a google search on the name didn’t bring it up on any valuable collector’s list, so as far as I was concerned….painting game on!
(This free form style of painting you can’t go wrong with and you can go just about any direction you want with how you paint and make your enhancements. It’s an exhilarating creative exercise and I highly recommend it to all of you! There’s nothing more fun than tossing paint around. Score some old paintings from the thrift store or yard sales and have at it!)
Here was my process: (which, by the way, took only half a day to be done and hung!)
Protect and Save – I taped off a few areas that I wanted to show through in the end. They were, of course, the bridge, a tree, a cluster of leaves and a clearing at the base of the trees. I also protected the signature at the bottom. My thought was to later go back in and build those features up.
I used painter’s tape with torn edges and then sealed the edges with matte medium to prevent any of my paint from seeping through.
I knew I was going to be hanging it on the brick wall in my bedroom, so I chose my color scheme accordingly, while at the same time, just working with whatever leftover paint I had lying around. I used everything from house paint to artist colors. I also knew that I wanted to just drip and splatter paint over it, so I gathered up a few of the empty condiment squirt bottles and filled them with paint. For my first pass, I layered up about three different colors in the bottle. I figured however they came out would be just fine.
I started by squirting a series of lines vertically to go with the flow of the original tree line. I didn’t figure going perpendicular with the trees would look as pleasing, but I’ll never know now, will I?! I continued to drizzle paint, adding this color and that color. I changed up how I drizzled it on, making my motions more of a ‘toss’, changing the distance I was dropping the paint from to alter the effect and I made sure that all my drips and splatters carried out beyond the edges of the frame. I used a large palette knife to knock down some of the drizzles here and there, wrote ‘crossing bridges’ with my squirt bottle across the center and then let it dry for a bit and removed the tape (when using the matte medium to seal your edges, you’ll have to use a sharp blade to carefully start lifting up the tape.)
I didn’t want those taped off areas to just sit flat, so I raised them up and gave them a bit of texture. I mixed a bit of caulk with my paint to texturize the bridge; I used caulk and sawdust topped off with a drizzle of shellac to make my clearing a bit more ‘dirty’; added some bark to the tree and glued down real leaves to my revealed cluster area by using my paints as an adhesive. I then finished it all off with a few more drizzles and drips and signed off! I love the randomness of how the paint falls. I can’t wait to see what my grandma thinks of the altered work, although, I’m quite confident it won’t be to her liking, but she’ll at least say, “well, if you like it, then that’s all that matters”….And to sound like a broken record, that’s what it’s all about…liking what you like, acting on it, and displaying it proudly!
I consider it to be a collaboration of creative efforts…although, I’m not sure what ole R.M…the individual responsible for the original would think, or if there’s even a real person behind the piece, but at the end of the day, that painting now makes me smile every time I look at it. It has settled in quite nicely above the bed and I look forward to enjoying it for years to come. Maybe the person that I pass it on to will be inspired to add to it even further… WHICH brings me to my next point of collaboration. We, as a company are going to be initiating a progressive art project for people all around the world (what can I say, I like to think big!) to take part in. I’ll be posting additional details on Monday, so check back! Chances are, the initiative will be right up your creative alley!
Until then, sit back and enjoy the painting process set to the tune “Gypsy” by our friends from The Josh Davis Band.

Friday, March 14, 2008

tHe nEW PlaCe to hAnG is IN the CloSet.

a PlaCe fOr EveRyThiNg and eVerYtHing iN Its’ PlAce…yes, that would be nice. The only problem with that is, sometimes we lack the proper space, or we simply have too much stuff. What to do, what to do. Re-organize, get rid of things, or add-on. How about a bit of all three!? I changed our floor plan slightly to carve out a tad more closet space off the bedroom; nothing extravagant, just enough room to store all of our clothes, shoes and accessories in one place. Running from guest room to guest room to find this or that and the mounding laundry baskets scattered about just weren’t doing it for me anymore! My dream of being able to walk into a room and look around to see all my things neatly displayed has finally come to fruition. Now, when most people are faced with a shiny, new room, they tend to fill it with shiny, new things. Not at my house. We chose to fill our shiny new closet with the oldest, most tattered fixings I could find. The design was simple…floor to ceiling shelving and a few hanging bars. Let me just say, that searching for your lumber and hardware at an architectural salvage store (the one here in Des Moines is fab-u-los-o!) is way more exciting than picking out your lumber at the home improvement center. There are no two boards alike, and every one you pull out is interesting and full of character. I headed home with what I thought would be enough to build the shelving and trim out the room, along with a great looking piece of furniture for my shoes (I’m thinking it must have been an old storage unit for screws and bolts.) Wait ‘til my husband sees the beautiful, shabby trimwork he has to work with! (I believe his reaction was one of “I knew we were using reclaimed lumber, but man, this stuff is pretty crappy…and you paid how much for it?!! My enthusiastic response was yeah, but look at how colorful it is and all the character it has…you can’t get that just anywhere!) I sketched out the plans and off we went building our shelves. The challenges we faced were: One, I didn’t have quite enough lumber…and, even though everything is fairly mismatched anyway, getting pieces that are equally as mismatched can be hard to find.. BUT, thankfully my brother-in-law just bought a dumpy fixer-upper to renovate and everything he was tearing out, is what I was buying! (a concept that he thought was crazy… “that’s the stuff we normally burn or send to the dump, you know!) Once he saw what we were doing, he started looking at what he was ripping out a bit differently and even donated a few more treasures to the closet cause! I’m pretty sure he still wouldn’t put that kind of stuff in his own closet, but he at least enjoyed watching us use it! Anytime you have the opportunity to reclaim old lumber, do it! It’s unique and it’s hard to find. Every inch of the shelving is created out of it, the trim around the doors and baseboards are also salvaged material.
I wanted to maintain the ‘worn and torn charm’ of the lumber, so I didn’t want to sand it down, but I did want to clean it up, get rid of any loose paint and seal it. All I did was vacuum everything good, scrubbed it with cleaner and water and gave it three coats of shellac. It gives the woodwork a smoother finish and insures that none of the paint will ever chip off. I love the look of the shellac finish, it’s what I used on all of the old lumber and trimwork, as well as the nuts and bolt bin. Also…whenever you’re working with old lumber, you always want to be aware of the possibility of lead paint….so use common sense and any necessary safety precautions like using a respirator mask if you’re going to be sanding it down and stirring up any dust. For the closet rods, I just bought steel rods from the home improvement store and to knock down the shine and make it look distressed like the lumber, I sanded it and brushed it with some gun bluing liquid. Blends right in now!
I also left a small opening at the end of the shelving for a hair and make up station…it’s nice to have an area to sit and get ready and not worry about having a mess out and about for all to see! We tried to maximize every bit of space, so we added a top shelf that goes all the way around the room…makes for a great place to store bags and purses – and I have enough room underneath the shelving to roll in a few pallet boxes. No sense leaving the middle of the room open…let’s add an island! We created a simple 2x4 frame and covered it up with old bead board that came out of the ‘dumpy fixer-upper’ and topped it off with an old narrow door – this offers additional shelving, and a great place to fold and organize clothes or pack a suitcase. I think I’ll hang some hooks on the outside and use it to display my necklaces and scarves.
It’s definitely a room that makes me smile every time I walk in…it’s full of warm character, it was enormous fun to put together, and we did it ourselves in our own unique way. That, in itself, is an awesome feeling. (not to mention, it was WAY LESS EXPENSIVE than using new lumber or traditional closet organizers)
Our only dilemma now is – my husband and I have no clothes to fill it up. When making the move from closet to closet, we realized we were storing a plethora of dated, unfashionable belongings (nothing worth salvaging, there!) and it was time to send them off! A fresh start all the way around.
(It’s no Kimora Lee Simmons closet, but I think it’s a close second! To some of us, Salvage Style is absolutely FABULOUS!)
I leave you with photos to peruse, and quotes to ponder.
Turn it up, so you can enjoy the laid back tune…“LiFe iN a BuCket”.. by our friends The Nadas off their Not a Sound oldie but goodie, as they say!

Enjoy, and cheers to making YOUR home YOUR own!

Friday, March 7, 2008

DeSign To LIVE, noT to seLL.

any fool can make a rule, and every fool will mind it”…henry david thoreau
hell, there are no rules here, we are trying to accomplish something”…thomas alva Edison
“the golden rule is that there are no golden rules”…george bernard shaw

RuLes, rUleS, RulES,….go right out the window at my house, especially when it comes to how I renovate and decorate. I’m not afraid to like what I like and ACT on it, and fortunately, I have a husband who will play along (it has taken a bit of time, mind you). We started an add-on to the house about a year and a half ago, (yes, doing it yourself takes some time and when you top that off with using non-traditional materials in non-traditional places, it tacks on a few more well spent moments of ‘thinkin’ and ‘plannin’ and ‘learnin’!) – and I’m finally getting to the fun, finishing stuff! I’ve always tried to kill two birds with one stone, as they say, (there has to be a better analogy than throwing rocks at birds to convey accomplishing two things at once, but that’s that the only one I can pull out of my pocket, at the moment!:) by incorporating some of our projects and show material into my living space, so you'll be seeing these actually played out in upcoming shows. I do that for several reasons: I always have instant access to the idea’s outcome; it’s more manageable and time efficient when it comes to capturing the process; storage of finished pieces doesn’t become an issue; I can work on projects in the middle of the night, if need be; and, if things don’t quite turn out as planned, the only unhappy human I have to deal with is me. Yes, as you can imagine, my home is one big, fearless, experimental adventure after another that extends room to room, floor to ceiling, inside to outside. A realtor’s nightmare, I’m sure! But whether I end up having to relocate tomorrow or end up living in this house for the rest of my life, I LIVE in it. I install what I want to install, hang what I want to hang, paint what I want to paint, grow what I want to grow (nothing illegal, of course) and I love every square foot of it! That’s what owning a home is all about. It should tell your story, reflect your personality, and celebrate your IDEAS!!!...and sharing those ideas is what it’s all about, so here’s to the beginning to an unruly sharefest that will hopefully inspire you to break a few rules in your own home.
Rule Breaker #1….Using the same material you put on the outside of your house inside.
In my instance, that material is brick. We swapped out our dated, rotten wood siding for a material that would be more durable, less maintenance and have more character – I was envisioning the look of an old stone cottage or downtown building. Now, I’m not a big fan of new, neatly formed, perfectly symmetrical brick, so after lugging sample after sample back from various brick manufacturers – everything from what they called ‘rustic’ or ‘vintage’ or ‘olde world’, I still hadn’t found what I was looking for. They could call them whatever they wanted, they still looked newly, perfectly ‘manufactured’. (Genuine wear and tear and old-school craftsmanship and materials is very difficult to re-create) So, low and behold, I finally found a vendor that sold the real deal…… genu-whine, authentic, USED brick, salvaged from demolished buildings. Exactly what I was looking for. The stuff still had paint on it, the pieces were irregular, there was charming history behind every brick, the kind of stuff you CAN’T create. ---Whoo Hoo! doesn’t even begin to describe the excitement. However, that excitement was not always shared by others who peeked in the boxes sitting in the driveway. My mother, for example was horrified when she saw that the brick really was ‘used’… ‘you’re going to put that beat-up, mismatched stuff on your entire house?!”…I believe was the comment. And I proudly replied… “yes, and it’s going to look awesome!” And, it does. The home looks like it’s been there forever, you can’t even tell where the add-on was and I love the fact that we were able to use a salvaged material! A material that also found its’ way inside! Bored with traditional drywall and paint and faux finishes, I really wanted to explore other things. So, brick, was the first alternative…..all four interior walls in the bedroom sport the same tattered brick that we put on the outside, it extends up the back of a stairwell and will find one final home in the dining area to tie everything together inside. My mother, (along with a few others that stopped by), seemed less excited about the idea of putting brick on all four walls in the bedroom, thinking it would have a cold, warehouse type of feel to it. And, to the contrary, it’s very warm and cozy. The great thing about using brick inside is the fact that it will always look great…natural products never get a dated feel, there will never be a need to repaint or recover. It has character beyond measure. All the leftover bits of brick will find their way into a number of other projects including new seats for a set of old metal chairs, and a few garden art projects. The used brick set the tone for the rest of the re-do and that’s to use salvaged, reclaimed goods wherever we can. An exciting challenge that has been so much more fun to pull together than just going out and getting the same-0 same-0 stuff from the home improvement stores. Stop back, we’ve got closet organizers created entirely out of reclaimed lumber, tool bins as shoe organizers, flooring on the ceiling, repurposed lighting, windows and doors as desks, old desks and toolbenches turned vanities and more… lots to share to hopefully inspire YoU to do yOuR own thing in your home! BrEaK SOmE ruLes And LiVe iT UP.

If you too have a hankering for some used brick at your house, the company we used is called Brick-It out of New York, ( and they have this awesome metal grid system, which makes it easy to line up and install, inside and out! You can also check with a local architectural salvage place in your area for reclaimed building materials.
Sit back, relax and enjoy the slideshow… set to the track “Home” by The Nadas off their new album: Ghosts Inside These Halls.