I was born in a small town . . .

If you know me - you know this fact - I WAS BORN IN A SMALL TOWN!!! I believe there were less than 300 people in Olivet, IL when I arrived at the age of 4 with my Mom, a new Stepdad and various step and half siblings, with more to arrive . . . The Carter Clan: r & back)Mom; Lisa; Joe; Janetta; Janice; Daddy Jim; middle) Me; bottom row: Johnnie; Troy; Susan If I had to choose an anthem for my teen years - it would be this song.  So many of the lines screamed out from my soul . . . there were a few lines that I 'wished' were true . . .  here are some random thoughts and memories which bubble up every time I hear John crooning . . . Lyrics are copyrighted by Mellencamp   www.johnmellencamp.com "Small Town" Written by John Mellencamp Well I was born in a small town
And I live in a small town Probably die in a small town Oh those small communities
All my friends are so small town My parents live in the same small town
 
 
  My job is so small town          my first job was at Burger Chef, Danville, IL Provides little opportunity   perhaps one of the reasons I ran away at 18? Image of a similar Burger Chef from the '70's Educated in a small town     attended Pine Crest Elementary (Georgetown), First Baptist Christian School (Danville), Hope Christian School (Danville); but where I really learned the MOST and glimpsed the wider world was in the boundless walls and bookshelves of the Carnegie Library just down Route 1 in Ridge Farm, IL.  But I've seen it all in a small town
Had myself a ball in a small town   Married an L.A. doll this would be married a Jersey boy and brought him to this small town now my kids  are small town,  just like me  
Notre Dame de La Salette Boys Academy - across the highway from my Mom's house, Olivet/Georgetown, IL Used to daydream in that small town   reading about worlds far away Another boring romantic that's me       how many Barbara Cartland's can one girl read?? . . . then my brother's threw one of those paperbacks out the back window of the Olive Green/Panel Country Squire Station Wagon on vacation . . . "Bye, Bye Bawbwa Cawtlan!" No I cannot forget from where it is that I come from
 
 
 
I cannot forget the people who love me from the Sunday gatherings at Grandpa's farm . . . to the church families . . . and the immediate family of siblings and nieces and nephews . . .  
Yeah I can be myself here in this small town  well, I didn't feel I could be myself
And people let me be just what I want to be    and I always felt I was expected to conform to Fundamental Baptist rules - I couldn't be what I wanted to be - but I figured that out later on . . .
 
 
Got nothing against a big town  I feel just as comfortable in NYC, in fact! Still hayseed enough to say Look who's in the big town But my bed is in a small town Oh, and that's good enough for me
Well I was born in a small town And I can breathe in a small town Gonna die in this small town Oh that's probably where they'll bury me  well, I will be cremated and submerged in Copper Canyon, along the Colorado River, near Lake Havasu . . . but you get the idea.  I love to visit the graveyards where my Grandpa and step-dad lay . . . those graveyards are some of the places where my heart has been completely broken, and yet I felt close to those of us left behind.
 
Torpedo as Mailbox? - Olivet, IL 2009 My daughter Lauren, age 15, at Forest Glen Park, Georgetown IL, May 2009   Taught the fear of Jesus in a small town   what I loved were the people in the church and the hymn worship services.  My favorite hymn is "It Is Well With My Soul" . . . my Daddy Jim's funeral was in this very auditorium which occurred just before the interior was burned in a fire . . . from ages 4 to 18, I attended with my family and we filled an entire pew . . .
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Get Out Of Your Own Way

After a short mourning of "My Vintage Soul" (see previous post for details) I have gotten back on the proverbial horse/bicycle. Today I contemplated going back to bed at 8 a.m. (I went to sleep at 4:00 a.m. after playing Mahjong for 4 hours!), but instead I jerked myself directly from the front door as I waived good-bye to Claire and headed down the stairs. Into the studio. To look at the carcass:   After facing that . . . which felt very similar to viewing a newly dearly departed, I decided to work on some new techniques while I pondered what to do with the remains.  My instinct was to trash it, cremate it, send it on to its just rewards - but that is hurt and anger surfacing and some of my best works have been pieces that went 'wrong' and I had to re-work them to salvage them.  The only difference here is that it was finished to my great joy and I know any re-creation will be but a shadow of the original (such was my then state of mind). I decided to rummage through all my new supplies and chose to work with some new RF Paintsticks.  In the encaustic process I had been using, I would paint encaustic into the divots and distress marks and scrape the layers down.  It is back-breaking and time consuming work.  Can you imagine my delight when I was able to create this work within about 2 hours, start to finish, while simultaneously working on 4 others? Let me introduce you to "Traces of Time", 6"x6", Encaustic, Handwritten letter, Leather/silver watch band.   As I sit here typing this title, it occurs to me that I dealt with the very thing I was mourning - my loss of TIME.  Art is so amazing that way.  You do not even know what you are seeking, but it forms itself before your very eyes if you get your ego and brain out of the way.  Finally, after getting myself out of my own way, more works came forth.   "Run Away" 6"x6", Encaustsic, Vintage Fairy Tale pages, quickly followed the time-piece, and then came "Descent"   So, if I would only listen to my own advice I would save myself A LOT of heartache, right? I was excited to use some of the real butterfly wings Don and I had collected on our Lake Lure, NC 2006 vacation.  We came upon hundreds of butterflies hovering over puddles and upon closer inspection realized there were dozens of drowned butterflies.  Apparently some of their wings had become wet and weighed them down and they couldn't fly away.  The living butterflies appeared to hover in a mournfulness of collective spirit. Once again, my feelings are just bubbling up to be revealed in these new works . . . time, the need to 'run away', and mourning. One benefit to all the years of collecting is that I have an amazing resource of materials on hand.  To have them all, more or less, at my fingertips in the new studio is something I have never experienced before. I NEEDED those butterfly wings TODAY, and because I had taken time to unpack and sort - I knew EXACTLY where they were - safely encapsulated in U2's "All That We Can't Leave Behind" CD case. There are no coincidences.  There is only synergy.  The flow and flux as the energy transforms. Consequently (or not)!, what I ended up with today was three new completed works and the energy to begin or re-begin some other works. I now have all the butterfly wings dipped in encaustic and ready for the next 'calling', plus I infused multiple antique baby clothes for my textile version of "Ashes, Ashes", and, best of all, I found a technique that will increase my efficiency and save my body many aches and pains! Somehow, in less than one week, I have decided that this self-destruction of "My Vintage Soul" contained many valuable lessons.  I am looking forward to using these new techniques and insights to create new, and, hopefully, better work in the future. Don't forget: "I get knocked down, but I get up again - you're never gonna keep me down!" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GAM9diIDHqs      Chumbawamba- Tubthumping Here are a few images I took of the studio today  - I am, apparently, back in action!   Real butterfly wings (found) dipped in encaustic.     Vintage baby dresses, in the process of being infused with encaustic.   Vintage Baby Robe, infused with encaustic, hardened, standing on its own.   One shelf of collected figurines/vintage toys for future use in assemblages.   Mid-process of encaustic infusion, antique embroidered pinafore with safety pins in pocket.  
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Fear of the Studio

I have suffered the most devastating loss . . . my recently finished, yet to be acclaimed, masterpiece "My Vintage Soul" was destroyed last week.   Thursday night, as I dealt with my insomnia by blogging and shopping on eBay, at 1:00 a.m. an unearthly crash shook the house - and lying on the hardwood floor in front of the fireplace was the face-down remnants of "MY VINTAGE SOUL".  As my husband lifted and turned it face-up, we discovered that not only were all the ceramic, vintage figurines crushed, but many of the rolled fabric forms crushed.  Apparently the 150 lb (supposedly) picture hooks I used were inadequate.   I am thoroughly crushed and cannot even face going into the studio right now. This is a complete wash.  I can re-install some other figurines and re-work it - but this was the seminal piece of my new series and will never be able to re-capture the joy I felt as I created it - as it formed beneath my hands and revealed itself to me. It is a memory - a figment of my imagination. I am considering a burial or a cremation.  This was to be the highlight of my new exhibition. In deep mourning, For Art's Sake, Sher
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Part II - Durham Journal - Augusten Burroughs/Haven Kimmel

So Thursday everyone visited different things.
 
Kate, Baby Alice and I did a Thrift Store Bingo ride, led by the Tom-Tom. I found a few great things . . . in one store they didn’t even speak English . . .
 
Here are a few of the treasures I found in the Durham Thrift Stores:
 
 
 
Above you can see the great hat and dollhouse/shelf I found for Claire at "Everything Except Granny's Panties" - which had to be my favorite location of all.
 
 How could I possibly pass up these vintage copies of Laura Ingalls Wilder's "Little House" books?  Garth Williams, the illustrator, really inspired me as a child and I spent endless hours drawing women and girls in old-fashioned clothing and sunbonnets.  I can barely wait to use the aged pages in some collage encaustic paintings.
 
 
Also at 'Granny's Panties', I found these bizarre Lucite balls.  When placed on the fabrics (those were given to me by fellow blog baby, Carrie) they create bizarre distortions which I find greatly intriguing.  I also found and purchased Lucite cones:
 
I am very intrigued by these Lucite objects as I will be able to create some amazing sculptures, their characteristics also remind me of my 2006 series "Collected Works" were I suspended obje cts in resin and candle gel within toy capsules.  If they still have any left in July when we re-visit NC, I plan on buying them all.  Sometimes it is hard to know until you get home, how 'valuable' the items will be to your artistic production.
 
"Collected Works I" with detail.  2006. 2" toy capsules with found objects.
 
Around 2 pm, we made our way to GEORGE’S GARAGE (which was sadly George-less). The decor was unique and so was the set up . . . Mediterranean food  . . . purchased by the pound . . . so we all loaded up our plates and gathered together (hosted by Caryl) . . . unfortunately Linda and her gorgeous son SAM were held up at Chapel Hill and didn’t make it to the dinner.
 
Towards the end Caryl and I explained DEAR CARRIE’s “Fugly Bead” game . . . which brought her presence right in the room with us . . . Molly won the ‘ugliest bead’ so will receive a masterpiece from Carrie. Each bead was wrapped in lime green handmade paper tied with tiny twine - so I kept the remnants to use in future artwork.
 
Here is a view of two of Carrie's masterpieces, which I call my "Molten Sky-Drops"
 
 
As we left many pictures were taken, but not by me, because I was just STUPID . . . I think GiGi has the most pictures . . .
 
We then all visited the Regulator Bookstore (fabulous independent, they hosted the reading) which is just across the street. I already have every Augusten/Haven book, but I loaded up on some others (including one of Suzanne’s and lots of art journals).
We also went to a store called “Vaguely Reminiscent” nearby and Amber and I (we realized later) bought the same lovely handbags! Kate found some smashing vintage earrings . . .
 
We headed back to the Inn to freshen and dress up for the Reading . . . As we arrived at the Carolina Theatre around 6 pm we were greeted by Kimbits (a fellow blogger) who came up to us and explained “ARE YOU KATE AND SHER?” - we had our own ‘fans’ and had been ‘recognized’ on the street. It was thrilling and sweet. It was fun getting know them better and then we finally got to meet Linda and darling SAM . . . and on into the theatre we went.
 
We were all held like cattle waiting for the official seating. The Carolina theatre is GORGEOUS . . . even the vintage ticket box was evoking of the old, glory days. We were not worried because, thanks to Nora Barnacles a/k/a Sherrill, we had reserved rows of seats right up front. I had made some tags just like the t-shirts, so we were set!
 
 
Kate's daughter, Alice, waits for the seating . . .
 
I totally embarrassed myself by acting like a dork when I saw Kat (Haven's adult daughter) and her Gorgeous Boyfriend Tyson . . . I was like “Can I say HI???”  . . . but they were gracious and chatted like normal human beings, of course!
 
 
Here is a row of Official Blog Babies, holding our seat reservation signs.  From Left: Sam (Linda's son), Linda Carter, Molly, Amber, Kathleen, Maureen, ME, and Sherrill a/k/a Norabarnacles.
 
Here we see GiGi waiting with her collection of Augusten/Kimmel books.
 
Maureen and I had already agreed to sit together because we had not had a chance to ‘hang’ much. You could even get soda/wine/beer and popcorn to consume during the reading . . . wow!!!! I was driving and in pain so chose Root Beer and Milkduds as a lift me up.
 
Awaiting Haven and Augusten was fun in itself because you could see the family hanging around the entry door . . . the introductions were touching and then Haven did a beautiful introduction of Augusten. They then took their directors seats and began on a riff . . .
it was obvious we were attending the Haven/Augusten Show and not a typical reading. It was HysteriCAL. All the sudden they asked for questions and we all sat there enthralled and stunned.
 
They really need their own radio show!
 
Then the signing . . . which was standing in line for what seemed like hours and probably was . . . as we were in the end of the line!
 
They and WE prevailed and stuck there as they signed every book proffered. I had Haven sign a “Klattermaster” book for Claire and she made sure to say it was MADE IN AMERICA. I also had my much marked up, highlighted, flagged IODINE and she talked about the notes and symbols she used when she wrote the book. I told her I was working on my own index and she gave her blessings on that endeavor. For Augusten I had him sign a specific page in my Wolf At The Table Book - which made me cry as I stood in line choosing which page . . . I finally chose the one with “my mother couldn’t protect me”.
 
 I blathered at him as I am rather amazed that he is alive, that he never tried to commit suicide as a child. I am just so glad he survived with such resilience of spirit - that is something that is impossible to figure out - how some of us ‘dark place’ survivors actually blossom and others fall into an eternal abyss.
 
So now, at 10ish, we finally make our way back to the Inn, Linda and Sam joined us there . . . and we are trying to figure out where to eat in the lounge . . . I go to the bathroom and everybody disappeared except for Sam and Linda. We wait and wait . . . and wait . . . then we finally leave out of exhaustion as well.  Now, instead of ordering room service and taking a long hot bath and going to bed early as most sentient beings would do, I chose to  . . . follow this scenario:
 
I was painfully exhausted and all I wanted was my 2 bottles of Italian wine. I was determined. Kate was visiting with her brother, his wife, and newborn niece in our room so I went knocking on doors . .. Shanna wasn’t next door so I went on down the row until Molly and Amber answered - yippee!!!! - I petulantly refused to eat any of their chicken they had smuggled in from TGI Fridays . . . and Molly went downstairs to have the bartender open the bottle of wine . . . and, low and behold, everybody had re-gathered down there! But we decided to have our bottle of wine (which was already paid for!) in their room. We talked about breathing the wine, the bouquet, and the legs . . . they enjoyed the imported wine and we had a hoot. Talked about the reading, the barn, the whole experience and even went into relationships and surviving abuse. It was a great talk with much depth and moments of pure joy. I love me some Amber and Molly and I am encouraged that we have such intelligent, hopeful young adults to help us, as humankind, move forward into a bright future.
 
Before we made our way downstairs Maureen and Kathleen returned upstairs and Kate called begging for the party to convene to our room . . . so we all marched or 'ballet-ed’ over there.
 
I did a hysterical search for a corkscrew again, called the front desk in sheer desperation while Maureen suddenly appeared with one. Ooops, we ended up with 3 corkscrews. So we had the 2nd import and Amber and Molly offered up their White Zin . . . Alice slept through the entire 4 hour slumber party.
 
All I know is this: we are an amazing group and I want to know all of you the rest of my life.
 
I didn’t get to hang with Caryl or Shanna or GiGi 1/2 as much as I really wanted to . . . so I am thinking another get together is in order . . . to include all the missing Blog Babies this time . . .
 
After a quick goodbye to Shanna and Caryl in the lobby after Kate loaded up earlier and went to breakfast with her brother . . . we headed out of Durham with one last stop at the SCRAP EXCHANGE. What a glory that was.
 
Here is an Ode to Durham and our Blog Babies Retreat . . .
 
 
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Off the Hotplate . . .

  New work, just to prove that all those sleepless hours are bringing forth something! Above is a studio image of "My Vintage Soul", still on the easel.  Here are some detail views:       I really enjoyed adding this vintage puppy's broken tail nearby . . . This series took a surprising amount of time and a surprising amount of beeswax.  Measuring 24" x 24" and approximately 7" deep, it weighs at least 50 lbs! As I was forming the rosettes from the wax infused textiles, I though of the roses my mother creates for decorating wedding cakes. As I was working on this large, focal piece, I also experimented with smaller assemblages.   This diptych of boxes includes a guardian angel and other vintage figurines. After a rather bizarre dream of GIANT "little people' peering at me sleeping (thru a window), I had this idea.  These are the oldest versions of little people I could find . . . I hope to do many more works with Little People in them.
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Inspiration Comes From Working, Not Waiting

So I keep hearing all these esoteric artists, writers, and musicians say "I am blocked, I don't have any inspiration, I'm waiting". 

  Well, that just chaps my ass because it is such a cop-out.  Of all the successful artists I know (whether they be writers, musicians, etc.), they all work and they find the inspiration from that action. Art is really about preparation - cleaning off that table, having your tools and techniques on hand, carving out the time, and then STARTING - something.  STARTing anything . . . lift the brush, touch the pen to the paper, or the fingers to the keyboard . . . make a mark, a word, a sound . . . then react to that item . . . by continuing in this manner, the actions become problem solving.   Keep the end result OUT OF YOUR MIND - it doesn't matter yet - react to the first layer, then react to the second . . . and so forth, and if you have prepared yourself enough, if you have emptied your mind of all the static from the day, if you have kept your techniques honed, if you have chipped the rust off  - - you. might. reveal. inspiration. This miracle happened to me just a few nights ago and the feeling is indescribable - it is the moment when all the sounds come together, when the colors pop, when the prose flows . . . and you just be there and let it happen. I hope you get to experience it again and again in your life.
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My Vintage Soul

"My Vintage Soul"

Actually, I am considering changing the name of the blog to this phrase.  Unfortunately, it does not encapsulate what I do, but who I am.  So, I will have to dwell on that idea for a while.  If nothing else, I plan to do a series of work where I can be just as sentimental as I want.

Isn't nostalgia SO tempting?  It really draws the viewer in - for me the big temptations are:

tin toys . . .  

porcelain figures from the 30's and 40's . . .  

any of my childhood toys . . .

vintage aprons . . .

classic Holly Hobbie Fabrics from the 70's . . .

the faded snapshots from the 60's and 70's

vintage doll clothes . . .

older than vintage baby dolls . . .  

 

June Carter Cash refers to these items as "klediments" - these gathered treasures help us reach back into our past and touch our history.  They are the link to days gone by.  Perhaps they are links to a dreamworld, as well.  My past was not all sticky-sweet and idyllic, but it was a part of me that I will carry forward.  These tiny scraps remind me of the little girl that still saw stars in the sky and believed that the sun would always rise.

What a naive way to go about life, I know, I know - - but to me, that is an example of the resilience of a child's spirit.

I hope you always look for the stars in the sky.  I hope you always expect the sun to rise tomorrow.

Remember,

"reality is surface."

 

Sher Fick, copyright.

 

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