Category Archives: Art and Making Stuff


How does one pass the time during one of the most unnerving days they’ve experienced in U.S. history? This one mostly distracted herself. I placed a grocery order & had it delivered (lotsa vegetables), took a 30-minute aerobic walk, watched the last episode of a DVD of American Vandal, and puttered in the yard.

I made a no-frills screen feeder to add to the “Bird Feeding Station” out of 4 lightweight, small boards nailed together with a spare piece of window screen stapled to the bottom. To hold it I initially tried four same-length pieces of wire (attached to 4 tiny eye hooks I screwed into the corners) but that didn’t work right so I just used string for now (it’ll probably need to be replaced down the road).

It held peanuts earlier in the day & the birds seemed at ease hopping in to get them

I mostly avoided the TV but happened to turn it on to catch Biden’s first speech, an encouraging (and emotional to me) bit of business.

Lastly, it’s a unusually mild, lovely day. I captured a honey bee – in November! – on my bird seed sunflower.

Let’s paint a “Barn Quilt” on the shed!

I promise this is going to be a post about painting a barn quilt but first I have to say that while I’ve been having a bit of fun, I cannot look away from what is going on as the coronavirus cases increase across the country and the election LOOMS. I’ve been feeling emotional and a little sick at heart. The air feels charged and not in a good way. That’s why I’m really glad I both have time for my projects and feel creatively energized while all this is happening.

So what, you (probably) ask, is a Barn Quilt? That’s what I would have asked too a few days ago before someone mentioned the idea to me. Barn quilts are apparently a “thing” in the country, and by that I mean, rural locations. I don’t live in the country, never have, and have no particular affinity for country style decorating; it’s just not my thing. All that said, when I saw a picture of what a barn quilt is – a huge painting resembling a fabric quilt displayed on the side of a barn – I was charmed.

From what I viewed online a barn quilt is typically painted on an 8’x8′ square board which is then attached to a barn. I realized somewhere along the way that it makes total sense for the painting not to be applied directly on the barn itself since that would be a lot trickier: getting up there, standing on scaffolding or what have you, braving the elements, and so on. A 3’x3′ square was suggested for a shed. I don’t have a board like that or any thought of buying one, so I figured I’d do the painting directly. I am just tall enough to do this project without a ladder.

Barn quilt designs can be very intricate but I wasn’t interested in getting too crazy, not for a shed painting and not for my first attempt. Getting intimidated would be counter-productive to my purpose! I googled painting a barn quilt on a shed which led me to a very basic pattern. I took this simple pattern, looked over what house paints I have here and adapted it to them. I made little mock-ups on paper to see how the designs would look.

The shed is a dark chocolate brown (from the last time I painted it) so I looked at each of my samples against the back of this pillow which fortuitously was dark brown.😊

I easily ruled out the first one butΒ  was torn between the 2nd and 3rd. I thought the middle one with the light green was prettiest (the one I’d choose for my bed) and decided to go with it, thinking that should I change my mind & want the one with the dark green, it’d be easier to later paint over a lighter color than the reverse.

The first step was using painter’s tape and a yard stick to create a 3’x3′ square on the shed.

NextΒ  I filled the square in with white paint; I figured a white base would be better than dark brown for adding lighter colors. (This proved true; I only needed to do one coat of color.)

I didn’t take a picture but next I used a pencil and the yard stick to draw the pattern on the white square. Part of why I went with the 3′ square was so that dividing it would be a fairly simple matter and I wouldn’t have weird measurements like 14.75″ for instance, which I’d be more likely to screw up. I did this pen & paper design just to show you what I drew on the shed lightly in pencil.

I had the little color mock-up with me so I could consult it while I painted (which I did so I wouldn’t accidentally fill in the wrong color somewhere 😯).

My completed shed “Barn Quilt” – I am delighted!

My makeshift 4th of July decor

Personally, I am too vindictively American, too full of hate for the hateful aspects of this country, and too possessed by the things I love here to be too long away. –Ralph Ellison

No, flamboyant artificiality is one of the things I love most about this country. –Jim Knipfel

What could possibly go wrong on a holiday that’s celebrated with beer and explosives? –Homer Simpson

Is there a more American holiday than the Fourth of July? Sure, we’ve got Thanksgiving but the Fourth screams USA loudest I’d wager. I don’t consider myself wildly patriotic; I feel connected to humans and don’t automatically align myself with Americans. (For instance, if the news reports 200 people were killed in a plane crash and 13 of them were US citizens, I don’t immediately think the loss of Americans is inherently worse; the other people mattered too.)

Also, Americans give patriotism a bad name, something I thought long before the current Administration. There often seems to be an ugly tinge to American patriotism that doesn’t sit right with me. However as I’ve grown older I’ve started to reconsider this patriotism business. As in why can’t I be patriotic on my own terms? Why can’t I have my own genteel brand of patriotism that doesn’t involve bashing other countries, or redneck bravado, or bullying immigrants with “You’re not REAL Americans” propoganda? I think I can! Why, I’ve even toyed with purchasing some kind of patriotic apparel like a flag-themed bandanna or a red, white & blue tank top! It hasn’t happened yet but I’m thinking feisty thoughts.😁

These are some of the ideas that led me to want a little bit of 4th of July decor this year. A year, clearly, that has been tough here. Americans are struggling & hurting. This IS my country flaws and all. I agree with the writers of the quotes I included at the top of this post. I ain’t going anywhere. So it’s time to wave that dang flag!

Not too far back I made a 16″ square out of scrap wood that I put on top of a smaller table to use as an end table in the living room. It looked okay but when I recently found this excellent table I dismantled the makeshift one and put aside the “top” thinking I could take it apart for pieces or maybe find another use for it. When I began thinking about patriotic decor I looked at the wood square & got an idea. I had red spray paint and the wood square was already painted white but I didn’t have blue paint. However I had blue painter’s tape! Sure it’s not quite the right shade but so what?

I made a “star” stencil out of heavy paper to use with spray paint.

I put a small hook on the back of the wood

First I applied strips of blue painter’s tape, then I spray painted stars. The star stencil didn’t make precise stars – the edges “bled” some – so the most time-consuming job was using a tiny brush to touch up white all around each star. I think the finished project is on par with decorations you’d find at a Ross or other mid-range store.


Fixing up a roadside metal table

The last few weeks have been overwhelming, painful, and psychically grueling. My thoughts and heart are heavy. I have yet to form a cohesive way to approach all of it – the murders and protests and upheaval coming on the heels of a brutal pandemic which isn’t over – on the blog. I’m not sure that I will or that I need to (yet/now). But I can’t post about other things, simple, everyday things, without saying something more definitive to expose where I’m at amidst so much turmoil. I want to be hopeful about this country, its ability to adapt and evolve and right wrongs of the past, but I’m afraid. There’s so much beauty and so much ugliness. I want us to be better and I’m fearful that we won’t be.

I grab onto small pleasures and diversions. It helps me cope and it’s what brings me satisfaction. Creating is where I live. I was walking along the street, dodging other people, when I saw a rust-tinged metal table tossed out with a pile of yard debris. I examined it. My hands came away rust-shaded.😐 The metal top was wicked hot from being out in the sun. The top was too heavy for its 3 skinny legs and it wobbled or rather vibrated. I almost walked away from the castoff when I remembered how I pushed similar metal legs into the soil to steady them. That sold me; the wobbly quality wouldn’t matter if I used the table outside.

I had cans of black and red spray paint. I figured black would get pretty hot in the sun and red would be more interesting.

I added a coat of gloss to protect the top. I added a friend too. I love it! A simple feature with a vaguely art deco vibe that raises the spirits a bit. I can’t make life beautiful but I can make little things beautiful. From trash no less.


Not dull as rocks

Earlier in the week I saw this sign on someone’s fence. It was set back away from a path so I went to investigate (I MUST read signs!)

I was charmed. I’ve never painted rocks but have heard it’s a “thing” and since I have creative talents, I thought it might be fun. As suggested I took a rock and a tiny set of paints.

I was tired & working some for the next few days and didn’t feel inspired. Then yesterday I put a coat of white on the rock thinking it’d be a good base. Also, studying my rock, I decided it had fish qualities.

Today I got my rock & the little paints out only to find the latter dried up.πŸ˜• However, I did have a few bottles of acrylic paint of my own. These too were mostly dried up πŸ˜• but I added a bit of water and revived them enough for this small endeavor.

I tried using a paintbrush of mine but it broke so I just used the brush end. IF I do this again I need a better brush. A very TINY brush.

I looked at a few fish photos online and got my idea. I assure you this isn’t a known fish so far as I am aware!πŸ˜€ Considering both my supplies and that this was my first painted rock, I am satisfied. Besides, if it looked like crud I wouldn’t post it here. (I considered whether to sign my rock in any way and opted to print “COLETTE” on the flat bottom inconspicuously.)


I returned my rock to the place I got it. This time a small table was there with a few rocks so I added my fish. I enjoyed this – it was a nice diversion.