Monday, February 7, 2011

We Need Your Help!

"They're cousins... identical cousins..."

The lovely lady on the left is Laura, my uniquely and sophisticatedly creative cousin.  We've decided she's the Cathy, and I'm the Patty.

Laura and I don't get a chance to work on projects together since we live about 200 miles apart, so we decided to start a blog series where we work on the same type of design project and compare results when we're finished.

I'll write more about how it will work later, but for now we need to decide on a name! 

Please pick your favorite title for our blog series in the poll on the right

Sunday, February 6, 2011

A cool solution to an ugly problem

Several months ago I was addressed with an eye sore up at IBC.  The space transitioning from Town Square into our Sanctuary did nothing but withdraw from the mood we make an effort to create here. The room felt cold, boring, and uninteresting. It was an entry adorned with ugly carpet, bare walls, terrible lighting, and folding tables.  Much to address however, (again) the budget didn't give space for fixing these immediate problems, and I wasn't too sure that replacing them was the solution.  I mulled over several options until I came up with what I think was a pretty sweet idea. Wood panels laser cut with a cool pattern.  Great idea in theory until I started shopping the price on these things!  Not cheap, not cheap... until... A fantastic volunteer came to me with the desire to be donating his carpentry skills.  Um Bingo! 

I worked with our graphic design team to come up with a cool design, and landed on a simple cross/t-shape. Now problem #2, how do we space and size a repetitive design on 8'x4' etched panels so the average american doesn't get dizzy.  After several rough drafts we landed on what we have today!  Our carpenter friend networked and found a fellow carpenter with legit lazor cutting machinery.  (We did, however, hit a slight bump in the road when his machine crashed due to such a detailed repetitive pattern. oops!)

The day they arrived we were super pumped!  Working with our facility shop guys, we tested several different shades of paints to see what the final coat should be.  In an effort to save cost the pieces were manufactured out of MDF, and thus not 'stainable'.  We finally landed on coating them with a thin layer of varnish and keeping them the original maple-ish color.  A clean look, I believe.

I knew that back lighting would be the key on this project.  I could visualize the soft glow of a colored light behind them and worked hard with our facilities team to design the perfect way to incase these lights.  A great friend of mine, who just so happens to be a lighting genius, steered us in the right direction with what we needed.  They did an awesome job busting out a clean panel that framed the top and bottom of the walls.  We simply cover the bulbs with colored gels, coordinating them with the season on the church calendar.  Quite beautiful and Quite simple! 

Green Gel's, signifying Ordinary Time

Yellow/Amber gel's another color for ordinary time
Purple gel's signifying Advent and Lent

Selecting the right hardware for suspending them to the ceiling was key.  I decided to have the guys antique the metal so that it appeared more muted and again, simple!  From the pictures you can sort of see, but the pieces are suspended about 8'' from the ceiling as well as 8'' from the floor, and close to 1' from the wall.

With each light switch you can dramatically change the look of the panels.  Front lighting them accents the wood and changes where the eye rests on the design.  You an see in the picture above the difference from the top and bottom of the middle panel, based on how it's lit.

These were also hung in the entrance into the sanctuary, and instead of back lighting you are able to see through the cutout's into the sanctuary.  It's really beautiful and I will definitely have to capture a picture of those to add to the blog.  

I've changed computers twice since starting this project, so again 'before' pictures are yet to be found... bummer.  I think seeing the emptiness of the room and wall before would give you a perspective of the change these created!

If there was a contest for using the word "picture" as many times as you can in 2 paragraphs, I would have just won!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

A Modern Coffee Shop Design

Since I've done a lot of emotional discovery and venting lately I thought it only appropriate to post a design focused blog today.  I finally took a camera up to work and tried to capture some of my projects so I can begin a shoot-E attempt at pulling together a portfolio.  How about I share one with you? ...

The Mosaic Coffee Shop.

This was a happy accident. I glued these stenciles to the
wall and the plan was to spray paint the logo on, but I couldn't
resist how much I loved the look of just bare stencils!

The 'Mo', as us IBC'ers like to call it, was the first project I was handed at IBC.  I was told I had a very light budget but endless possibilities.  I was given free reign with only a few stipulations, that felt more like guildlines than rules.  The owner wanted the shop to not only fit into IBC's vibe but also give off a hint of a clean modern feel.  We chose a fun color pallet that, although colorful, stayed within the cool clean family.  We spent several late nights blaring music through the empty halls and painting the patterned walls, anything to save a buck right?  Here are some pic's of the final product... still searching for the 'befores'...

The new wall colors and simple single bulb light fixtures really brought out the maple cabinets!

The tall ceilings proved a challenge right away.  The goal was to help the shop feel more intimate by creating the illusion of the ceilings being dropped.  The solution:  Homemade Sculptures. 

A few sketches, some scrap wood, a few handy men, and you've got a $10 work of art! Quite a cool solution if I do say so myself.  Each one is unique, made of reclaimed wood, and rotates nicely.

Since the shop fixtures were a permanent structure and our budget did not allow demolition the task was to find a way to incorporate these with the space better.  We spiced up an old ugly shelf unit with some chalk paint, donated books, and bam had a new well visited "take a book, leave a book" shelf.  It's fun to walk by on Sunday mornings and see people standing interacting with it!

"Take a Book, Leave a Book", it's become quite popular and increasingly full since the days of this picture.

Why do boring tables when you could drink coffee around an old spool!

A little bit of chalkboard paint, and these boring cubby holes turned into fun advertisement!

Pre Art being hung and post people enjoying some coffee :)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Dancing With God As We Dug Through Dirt

Dana and I sat across from each other covered head to toe in dust, dirt, and probably asbestos; eating taco bell, drinking pepsi, and grinning from ear to ear! It had been a day you dream of (well I would dream of) and we were both finding it hard to believe that the entire morning and early afternoon had passed without us realizing it.  Let’s back track a little and fill you in on the adventure…

Dana and I have been hanging out, dreaming, and conspiring together for some time.  Dana is one of the most exquisite designers I know and collaborating together is always inspiring.  So the two of us grab coffee from time to time discussing projects and goals for our art.  Recently we decided to take on a project together up at the church, repurposing a room into a conference room/meeting area.  We’ve both expressed our desire to make this room the anti-conference table type room, fighting the boring standards of commercial design, and creating a space that evokes creativity and life!  Since both of us are avid hunters of beautiful found objects that to the average person would be considered junk, we hashed out an amazing design using found pieces.  Over the last several days I had stalked craigslist looking for objects that someone was selling for a quick buck.  Until I came across THIS!

“Tearing down an old house on Monday, come get whatever you want”

So last Friday, Bright and early, 8:30am (well bright for me) Dana and I met at my house with a rusted hammer and pink screwdriver in hand.  The house just so happened to be only a mile from my home, so we arrived quickly to a street full of cars. We laughed as we realized we were the only females insight.  Surrounded by workers of all sorts we stepped inside the cute little house with high hopes!  Boy were we disappointed.  This beautiful old farmhouse was all but completely disassembled, even the windows were gone.  Since we are scavengers we automatically spread out looking in every nook, cranny, and, closet.  We squealed with delight as we discovered that these boys had looked over the vintage ceramic light fixtures located in all the closets.  Crap! No ladder!  No worries, I spun around to see Dana flipping over an empty paint bucket and quickly going to work with my pink screwdriver.  We spent a good 30 minutes grabbing every ceramic fixture we could find in the house, yes including two lids to the back of a toilet that we plan on using as funky shelves.  Marking the morning as a semi success we began packing up our finds and I mentioned to Dana, “hey I’m just going to go peak in the attic and see if there’s anything good up there.”  Borrowing a ladder from the sweet little worker outside I hoisted myself up through exposed beams in the ceiling. 

As I peered through the attic I was shocked.  It was as if the family who moved out and the buyer of the current project hadn’t even bothered to investigate up here.   I quickly and quietly (don’t want the other workers to know what’s up here) found Dana and got her up to the attic as quickly as possible.  Appearing to have been undisturbed for over 40 yrs, this was the stuff you dream of finding; an entire attic filled with boxes, bottles, old doors, and even two ginormous stacks of vintage penthouse magazines.  (we did not take that collection, don’t worry).  

This marked the start of a 4-hour dig!!!! 

Up there in that attic, Dana and I lost time.  As weird as it may sound, we were two souls, dancing with God as we dug through dirt.  Like pro’s, we hopped from beam to beam sifting through piles of discarded treasures. With each vintage Avon bottle that I held up, every old retro Christmas ornament that Dana discovered, and all the porcelain electrical outlets we pulled from 2x4’s you could see us both completely lost in the moment.  Around hour 3 we stopped to discuss the possibility of asbestos being in all the air particles we were breathing, but you know what, who cares!  We were creating!!!

Our adventure came to a close around 2pm when our bodies couldn’t squat another second and our stomachs were leading revolts.  Dana passed down all of our new found possessions through the exposed hole in the ceiling as I stood below catching them.  It was fun to see the faces of all the random workers realizing that two women had been up in the attic all day.  They stared at us filled with confusion and jealousy as we began to pass down our collection through the ceiling. In total we had become the proud owners of 3 rusted and fabulous doors, a collection of vintage Avon bottles, old Christmas ornaments, a laundry load full of pearl snap western shirts, 20 porcelain knobs, a dusty old globe, wood coat hangers, lampshades made from burlap, Barnium and Balley posters, old black and white photos,  and so much more!

Recently I’ve begun to put words behind why the process of creating feels like LIFE to me.  When I am creating, scavenging, finding, dreaming, I find myself truly in the moment.  It’s one of the very few places where I feel like I exist outside of time.  In these moments I feel so close to God it’s unexplainable, and I’m coming to realize maybe that’s because God exists in the present moment.  The present moment seems to be the only place where both He and I exist in the same place and thus creating ushers me into a space where WE ARE, together!

In short, I realize that responding to a craigslist ad, digging through an old dusty attic, collecting junk may not be everyones idea of "Dancing with God", but my prayer is that you find the thing that leads you into the dance.  I think it starts with allowing your ears to hear the music, and putting aside the voices of those who tell you you're crazy, weird, or abnormal.  Do what you love, however unconventional it may seem, it's where you might find God saving a dance for you!