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Growing up, I got the full well-rounded girl lessons- piano lessons (10 years), gymnastics (4 years), guitar (2 years), and art in multiple media (12+). I was fairly adept at piano and art, disastrous at the rest. I've continued to dabble artistically over the 20+ intervening years, with a few lovely pieces as a result, always concerned with "THE RULES".

I suppose that it is those rules that I'm moved to discuss just a bit. All the formal training valued a single medium, particular techniques over others, the use of proper art equipment or materials, and any departure from that meant that you weren't 'real'. I've also crafted at length, hot-gluing things to grapevine wreathes, dyeing fabrics (very inexpertly), ceramics, and several other sorts of putting things together to try to make something attractive; one of my best works was barbed wire, lariat rope, and eucalyptus. There's been marbleized paper, marbleized floors, furniture refinishing and repair, and a number of other adventures. But always, always afraid that if I didn't do it like THEY said I should, it would go wrong and we can't have that, now can we? Timid, with not a lot of enjoyment and very few results, because it is risky to break the rules.

In recent years, it turns out that my family has established this small antique and "interesting things" kind of shop, where I do the fixing and creating of stuff of all types. Dad oversees, lovely husband manages the business requirements, one cousin the daily money, another the accounting, and so on. We stumble across a lot of interesting things all the time, many of them in need of some love and care. This is where the question of 'the rules' come up for me.

wood cabinet structurally repaired; original hardware restored, mosaic door fronts from hammered copper wire, tinted auto glass, and grout tinted with black paint
small cabinet, est. circa 1930s, repaired with original hardware restored. Mosaic door fronts or broken auto glass, grout tinted with black paint, and hammered copper wire semicircles.
resin frog figures, broken limbs rebuilt with polymer clay (also tophat and tie), repainted and accessorized with broken jewelry and fabric scraps
Resin frog figurines, received with puncture damage and missing limbs. Repaired and accessories added with polymer clay, repainted and costumes created with fabric and ribbon remnants and broken jewelry.
Something I've found with regard to scratches in old finishes this- just as denatured alcohol and lacquer thinner can repair the look of the piece of furniture, iodine and sharpie markers can also restore the color surprisingly well. I often consult a variety of subject matter texts and sharpies are not much on their list of must have materiel. Not long ago, I was trying to repair/minimize the damaged appearance of an antique crib's rockers which had been chewed by a dog. Stainable wood putty failed to take on the stain, but sheetrock mud, ebony paint, and ebony stain did the trick.
after repair and repaint
Mushroom statuette, after.
mushroom statuette before repair
Mushroom statuette, before.
My most recent small success was with a ridiculous resin mushroom statuette about the size of a cocktail table. It was scabby and fractured in places, but I just couldn't resist. I filled the fractures with sheetrock mud, added some texture based on real mushroom pix, mixed house paint (including one quart of returned paint on clearance for $3 named serendipitously 'mushroom'), acrylics, watercolors, and a variety of tools like steel wool, dental picks, sandpaper, and carving tools.
mass production jewelry case, drawers removed. hardware repainted, chicken wire added to become curio case
Generic jewelry cabinet with drawers removed. Cabinet and hardware repainted, glass doors repainted with chicken wire.
ceramic candleholder, sanded to remove exterior gloss coat, repainted, false eyelashes added
ceramic chicken candleholder, repainted. False eyelashes added.
What I have found is that I'm finding myself better at creating something, even something kitchy and quirky as all hell, and feeling better about my creativity and artistic ability, the less I follow 'the rules', maybe even breaking them on purpose, and using anything that works to accomplish the end result.
1 or 2 prints on thin wood, badly faded and dull. Charcoal work on lines, watercolor washes on background, chicken repainted with acrylic and sharpie markers
Print of chickens on wood veneer 2 of 2. Lines enhanced with charcoal, watercolor washes on background, chicken repainted with acrylic and marker.
1 or 2 prints on thin wood, badly faded and dull. Charcoal work on lines, watercolor washes on background, chicken repainted with acrylic and sharpie markers
Print of chickens on wood veneer 1 of 2. Lines enhanced with charcoal, watercolor washes on background, chicken repainted with acrylic and marker.
plaster dog, originally unpainted; brown spray paint, acrylic gleam paint drybrushed highlights, imitation pearl bead for eye
Plaster dog figure, repainted with spray paint and acrylic dry brush. Imitation pearl replaces missing eye.
desktop organizer boxes made from discarded household item boxes, covered in scrap paper, ribbon and notions
discarded cardboard boxes turned in to desk organizer set with paper, ribbon, and fabric scraps.
So I suppose what I'm asking is, does following the rules aid or hinder your creativity? Knowing what they are, but departing when it makes sense on a particular piece? Or all your work? Using unconventional methods or materials when it suits you, or just as a challenge to see if it will work at all?

I've decided that I don't particularly feel scared much anymore about breaking the rules, myself. Obviously I don't want a bad chemistry experiment, but with everything that turns out to delight even only me, I'm even feeling confident and brave about it. How do y'all feel about "THE RULES"?

Well, that's all for now.
All Kossack Artisans are welcome to join the group, just send a PM to meagert.
In the meantime, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the KosKatalog. They do yeoman's work in there, and it's about as business close to supporting "local" as you can get on the inter tubes.

Another crafty place to hang around...
WAYWO

Originally posted to KosKraft on Sat Nov 16, 2013 at 06:00 AM PST.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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