Sunday, August 23, 2015

Pearly & Beachy End Table

Brown Turns To A Pearly Monet

My Mom says I tend to plunge into things with both feet. I'm an all or nothing type of person. It could be as mild as a hobby or as serious as a religion, i.e. becoming Catholic and having six children, (another band wagon, having a large family).

Well, now a new hobby, not so life-changing as having a lot of kids, or choosing the hardest discipline of life that I know.

Oh, then there is my writing. I've eased back on that a little and it scares me that I may lose the skills and the enthusiasm I've gained. Hence this blog...

I am refinishing furniture.

Now after painting a few pieces very amateurishly, I'm hooked. I'd like to develop it and combine it with writing. Why not? Kill two birds with one stone? Ooooo, I would never intentionally kill a bird. (That was another fetish I had for awhile). At one time, I had nine zebra finches and two parakeets, and more were hatching out of eggs. But I digress.

I'm hoping that like being Catholic, having a lot of children, and writing, that painting furniture will be a long lasting enjoyable endeavor.

So here goes; a tutorial!

A little round end table sat on the end of our monstrous sectional sofa, as the only viable place to set a drink. It's an important piece, yet it was free, so I thought it was worth experimenting with color. My Dad bought it at a thrift store and passed it on to me. Here it is:

 Because this blog is called Sacred Oysters and I imagine myself and the people in my life as such; you know imperfect humans struggling and working by the grace of God and with Him to create beauty around us, I would describe this piece as a brown pearl. It is certainly pretty as it is, but it's just too dark. I'd like to shine it up a bit. My deck during the warm weather is a lapidary, a place to refine and polish pearls. The deck is where the oyster churns.

Alright, too much metaphor...

Let's get on with it!

1) I cleaned her up pretty well with a bit of lavender dish soap on a cloth (it has to smell good!) and removed an ornamental drawer pull. This is a very simple table, no drawers.

2) Although what I know about chalk paint is that it is very user friendly on most finishes and it isn't necessary to use primer, I couldn't help it. I've done a lot of painting, and because the brown pearl (the table) was so dark, I coated it with a layer of water based primer. With the weather on my side, it took about 30 minutes to dry and I was ready to paint! That is something else about me; I have no patience, so quick drying paint works for me. This is also another advantage of chalk paint. :)

Then came the fun part. Not being facetious or sarcastic; color is really fun! I think part of this for me is how therapeutic color is. The downside is that I have trouble making up my mind. Although I gravitate towards blues, greens, whites and even browns, I love a bit of red, gotta have some pink in my life, and yellow is always sunny in my corner of the world. I don't really have a favorite color, but I do have favorite combinations.

Another selling point about chalk paint, and this is a factor, (since chalk paint is expensive) is that it is non-toxic. There is no odor, no chemical fumes to be paranoid about. In the winter, when I have to paint indoors, I will certainly take advantage of this.

How beautifully basic can you get? Couleur (French flair for the word color) that is natural and not odiferous.

I went with a company called Heirloom Traditions Paint.

I can't remember how I found them. I think it was Pinterest. Their paint is made here, at home, in the great US of A! Shop local people!

I chose Venetian White (I like the name, as it sounds very Italian and exotic) and Whimsy (which sounds fun and aqua like. This was a good choice because I like both blue and green.

I'll explain the little canning jar later. *

3) I invested in a decent brush by the same company which can be used for paint and waxes as well. I I layered on the legs of the table two coats of Venetian White. On the round top, I first layered on Whimsy. Then I followed with a diluted coat of Whimsy by mixing Venetian White in the small canning jar. It gave the finish a variation that I like. ( I was being a little daring.) It was fun.  

My daughter Bethany said, "I like that Mommy. Don't distress it! Don't antique it. It looks good the way it is!" But you know, I can't leave anything alone. It looked a little bland, too milky. And here is where I get into a bit of my personal philosophy: I like imperfection. It is like perfection to me. Like humanity. God created us after His own image, who is the great I Am, the only perfection. Once upon a time I also got into knitting. There is an tradition in Mennonite culture with knitting to add a mistake to a project. Maybe drop a stitch, or add one too many to a row is to show a bit of humility, because after all, nobody is perfect. Except Jesus, and in my Catholic belief, although not divine, Mary, Jesus' Immaculate mother. The slight dents and scars shows a life lived. If we don't make mistakes, we aren't forgiven and we don't experience the love of God, because we may not recognize that we need Him. I have to mention here that one of my favorite things in the world are my son's baby teeth marks on my husband's guitar. So a little distressing it is!!!!

4) Advised by the lovely Melissa at Heirloom Traditions Paint to do it this certain way: I took a clean white terry cloth rag, (she said use something with teeth), wrap it around your index finger, dip it in water, and within 48 hours of painting (before the paint sets), rub your finger along the places that you want to expose the original finish, or in some places, the under layer of paint. In more sophisticated pieces, or pieces which the artist decided to paint over a color she didn't quite like, you can expose a hint of differing color, creating a patina that is shabby chic. I did this on another piece. There is a word for that, called pentimento. Isn't that a cool artsy word?! Here is a picture:
Distressing towel

Man, look at that hand. That's a lot a diapers, dishes, and duty. But notice the pearl ring. No I didn't actually wear the pearl while painting and distressing. Lol.

Here's the table after distressing:

5) Now the scary part. Now this is where it took real guts. I used a colored wax by Heirloom called Muddy Pond. I brushed it on with a cheap bristly brush on the legs first. I liked that part. But then I tried it on the Whimsy colored round top. Even though I obeyed, wiping the wax with a clean cloth to a look and color (the wax changes the paint color somewhat) I panicked. I hated it. This is what happens sometimes when you try something new. I thought I'd failed. I consoled myself by saying, "Hey at least you weren't afraid to take a small risk." It looked like a muddy puddle.

I walked away and decided to sleep on it and figure out what to do in the morning. Guess what?! It did look better in the morning. What had happened is that the wax dried and set. It's like wet hair at the hairdresser. OOOwey! But then the stylist blows it dry, and uses her tools, and the hair do is beautiful. The wax had to dry for me to see the real beauty. 

6) I brushed on 2 coats of clear finish (by the same company) to protect the wax and paint, and (tongue in cheek), the distressed.

7) Back on went the drawer pull, and Wow-LA! Here it is!

 Sacred Oyster Nacres a Pearl

Hey Friends, If you show me that you like this by leaving a comment, I'll do another tutorial. Even if you are only brave enough to share the comment on Facebook. 

Blessings Pearls! xo


Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Jesus Sleeps

I always found the Bible passage about Jesus sleeping in the boat as peculiar. His apostles were thrown by the wind and waves, but for Jesus, the elements only rocked him like a cradle. He was made for storms, made for chaos, made to live and die among them, and by so doing, he subdued them.

We forget that though fully divine, Jesus was human.

Mary, Jesus' mother had the privilege of watching her savior sleep. We think of our own loved ones sleeping. How serene they are. It is a personal privilege we enjoy in intimate relationships. Archbishop Martinez contemplates this aspect of Christ, that He slept. I heard that Martinez said that (in so many of my feeble words) that the splendor and beauty of Christ awake, expresses his love and mercy for humanity. He goes on to say that he wished that he could have the experience that Mary had of gazing upon the serenity of the Savior as He slept; how Jesus awake was far too great for his own smallness. How maybe that the sleeping Jesus could invigorate his faith, his peace, his calm...that God's silence is a way of leading us to a stronger faith as we grow and trust that He is still with us, though He sleeps.

As a caregiver, I am close to the reality that life only continues one day at a time.

As an aging lifeguard and an old swimmer, I think back through the lens of teenage sunglasses and see how God prepared me for this experience, today.

It is in swimming against the tide that I feel most like myself. As a swimmer, I thought nothing of venturing to the beach on a lonely overcast Sunday to swim in the open chop of the Atlantic. Unsupervised, away from the pop musical Pompano Pier. I donned my goggles and struggled between swimming against the current and allowing the waves to carry me. Practicing my strokes in the choppy waves made me a stronger swimmer. Even the salt and the buoyancy of the water lent an adventure to swimming that the man made chlorinated pool could not.

And sharks? There had never been reason to think or fear that such a fin may swim by and take my arm off.

I was trusting. Before my awareness of God as my savior, He was there. Deep down in the conception of my being, I knew Him within the water of my mother's womb.

It was later, in the desert of the world, in relationships with drying decaying mortal souls that I experienced the arid absence of God. It was when I thirsted.

In a way, the ocean on Sunday was my church, my place where I sensed God's presence. The psalmist says, "Where can I go that God isn't there? To the depths of the ocean?" Even in the detritus of a graveled lot; raked by man of all green life, sandy, littered by broken glass. God manifested himself to me as beads of sweat above my lip, upon my brow. He was there too. I cried out, not knowing who I was crying to, "Please, Truth, whatever you me!" And then, I swear, a breeze blew cool upon my face.

All that water, all that swimming, prepared me. The waves let me know that storms are to be expected. Again, it is against the current that I swim. It is to what I am accustomed.

I will not drown.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Mother's Memoir

I'm going to pretend. I will reconstruct a memory; what it was like swimming within the womb of my mother.

I didn't want to move. There was this sound- steady - like a muffled drum- underwater. a thump, an echo bubble, with waves, leagues underneath,

...movements of water- without air - to soften the blow of sound...

... as a thought starting from Heaven,

...I needed a watery introduction,

...the ear drums needing a buffering from the texture of earth.

...It would have all been too much,

...If it were not for water.

I was an unexpected soul. Not an accident. No one is.

A surprise? Yes.

An interruption? Yes. Except this is when they made their plans.

It is good. Those little conceptions. Don't despise small beginnings.

They are beginnings. For otherwise, there'd be no plans.
There'd be no middle.
There'd be no you and me,
No love,
No eternity...

So they had to set up a crib, a highchair, a playpen.

My parents had met on a bus. A Greyhound, no less.

Both were travelling, in transition in their separate lives,

One from nursing school, the other from the minors' in baseball.

It was a juncture.
I was the junction.

I was a knowing soul. Oh, details? I don't recall. I only know what I've been told. But through these pieces, these images my mother describes, I can see and feel 'how it was.'

I walked late, not until 15 months. Was I lazy? no, I wouldn't say that. It makes sense to me now. Sometimes when I wake up in the morning and face all I have as bullets on a list (through the heart), it takes me a few minutes to get moving. Rob brings me my coffee. I stare out at the mountains, collecting and gathering  my bearings, through the watery glass of window.

When my daughter Danika made her debut, I tried to put it off, as a play on words, during labor, I tried to 'belabor the point.'

I lied in the quiet dark cocoon of the hospital delivery room, dozing, not moving, so as not to stir a contraction.

But alas, Dr. Lee and Rob sitting next to each other in the still of that room, their masculine brains leaning guard against the wall, prompted me to get the show on the road.

"Are we going to have a baby tonight?", said Dr. Lee.

The lights turned on and I got to work.

Danika was born at midnight, her cry mewled like a strong kitten, girlish.
She made me a mother of daughters.

-But back to me in the womb...

I was not about to be upside down, head first, plunging into the ocean of the world.

No... I stayed near my mother's heart beat- where it was safe and warm. It settled me.

I didn't want to be born.

My midwife, when I was pregnant with Katie, asked about my birth.

"Hmmmm", she peered over her readers, her gray strands giving her a credibility of an all knowing granola cruncher.

"Breech babies are intelligent. When the mother is stressed, these babies stay near the mother's heart beat."

Did God calm my mother too?

Blood, sweat, tears...water.

My birthday marked not only my entrance into the world, but also birthed a mother,

My mother... my sons, Paul, Scott, Mark,
Then my daughters, Danika, Katie, and Beth.

And so eternity continues...

And we remember our mothers.