Monday, December 10, 2012

Antlers, Broken Instruments, and Giant Leaf Mustaches: The Stuff of Pure Fantasy

Antlers can be so inspiring. At least they have been to me lately. And please save me the "poor deers" comments. Antlers are shed naturally, so no deer were hurt in the writing of this blog.

Actually antlers are the reason I set out on an unintentional journey into raw creativity this week. 

My friend Andrea is a floral designer in Gainesville, VA. She owns this huge, 100 year old stone barn at Lynn Vale Farms, and does some crazy good floral arranging. She was one of 15 local designers selected to be in a contest held at Arena Stage. The contestants had to make a floral arrangement inspired by one of Arena Stage's costumes. Andrea had chosen "Artemis, goddess of the hunt and all things wild and innocent." I can still she the flecks of crazy energy floating in her eyes as she told me about ordering a case of real antlers to serve as the support for her arrangement. 

When she said "Wanna help?" this little Western girl was there.

When I got to the barn, she had already pulled out all the stuff we needed: Spanish moss, zip ties, a large vintage pedestal, a picture of the costume, and a mailing box full of antlers. It took a while, but eventually we figured out how to lean and zip tie them together to make a stable base and gradually built a sort of chalice to hold the flower bowl. 

It occurred to me as I was feeling the surprisingly warm December sun on my back shining between these huge, open, old wood barn doors, that this was the first purely creative thing I had done in a long, long time. I have been so focused on home and barn sale and being professional this year, that I keep forgetting to play. Yet here, I was, in a barn, holding a bunch of antlers together for no other reason than it sounded fun, so there must still be some hope for me.

I drug my husband on a date downtown so I could see the finished piece. Impressive, yes? You should get Andrea talking about what each of the different elements symbolize. 
Now that is impressive:

Artemis costume from "Agamemnon and His Daughters" and inspired flower arrangement 
by Andrea Gagnon of Lynn Vale Studios

Our story continued when I got an email the next day from a local music store, where I had left my name and number to contact me if they ever had any unplayable instruments. They had a clarinet for me! Now many of you may not get all excited about an unplayable clarinet, but for me, this was a playground of potential. I could make a lamp like this:

Or I could paint it all cool like this one:

The ladies at Bees Curiosity Shop on Etsy who made this piece do some really cool stuff. 
Check them out here.

All these fabulous possibilities were flying around my head when I walked into the store to collect my lovely broken clarinet. Terresa, the woman who emailed me about the instrument, just happened to be there and said she had something else for me. I just held my breath in wonder. When she pulled out a broken violin, I started jumping up and down -seriously jumping- in the store. I had a dream about a blue violin about a year ago and have desperately wanted to make a piece inspired by my dream ever since. I thought it would be years before I'd get my hands on one. And here it was, broken neck and all, in my hot little hands.

Think of all the ways you could make a violin blue......

I am thinking about decoupaging on this lovely navy blue handmade paper with tiny Chinese characters all over it, but then again, it might be hard to make that iridescent. Maybe I'll use nail polish instead.....

So many options. So little time to work on it.

But the week wasn't over yet. Apparently the forces of random creativity still had something to teach me. In the form of a whole bunch of leaves in the hands of two young girls. That's always the ticket to fun, right?

Can you see it hiding behind my deck?

My husband wasn't feeling well, so my kids and I decided we'd rake the leaves for him. I started blowing them into a pile and both girls started going "No! no! mom. They need to make a smile." Um....OK. 

So I blew them into a smile. 

And then into a handle bar mustache.

 They had already made the eyes and the eyebrows. Yes folks, MY leaf pile has eyebrows.

It was such a simple thing. A yard covered with leaves. And yet, when I thought about the pure joy involved in making a mustache instead of a leaf pile, I was completely blown away. What a gift to have time to do this! To be a part of such random bliss! 

It's so easy to become focused on accomplishing and becoming. That's what we're all "supposed to do" as grown ups. But I am so grateful that for one week, the universe decided that I should stop all that and play. It has recharged my heart and soul, and brought the lighter, funner part of me back to life.

Thanks Heavens for antlers. 

Hmmm.....I wonder if they would look good with my cowboy Santas on the mantle? Maybe I can talk Andrea into giving me a few now that she's done with them. It's time to decorate you know, and they are all the rage on Pinterest....


  1. I feel refreshed just reading this :)

  2. What a wonderful way to find joy in the everyday! I love this post! Thank you so much for sharing!

    Happy day to you!