Tuesday, March 25, 2014

New Workshop! Egg and Nest: Make Your Own Chalk Paint and Glazes

CM Shaw Studios Workshop: 
How to Make your Own Chalk Paint 
and Work With Glazes
Just as all this snow has been super unexpected, I've had some things crop up out of the air. The class needs to be postponed until a bit later this season. So sorry for any inconvenience this causes you.

When: Postponed

Where: TBD

Cost: $85 ($75 with *discount code if you register by April 1st)

*enter discount code EGGANDNEST at checkout

This winter has been so long and cold. Why don't you come and brighten things up by learning to make your own chalk paint? Just think of all that latex paint sitting in your garage, waiting for a new life as chalk paint. You'll use two different methods to make chalk paint and I'll share my own experiences with a few more. Once we're all stirred up, we'll learn a simple driftwood glazing technique. 

You could make your whole house look like a Restoration Hardware ad.

Once you are feeling more comfortable using a glaze, we will practice using the new paint to create layered glazes and make realistic looking faux eggs. 

We'll use three different techniques to 
make our little eggs look real.

You can do this! 

It just looks hard.

When you are done, you'll have something like this to take home and look at 
instead of the snow.

So come paint with me and let's forget about the cold and welcome the spring. 
Just in time for Easter.

  • All materials will be provided. 
  • Please wear painting clothes that can get messy. This class is not one for your Sunday best. 
  • You will also go home with a Free sample of Webster's Chalk Paint powder and a wax sample, which should be enough to chalk paint a small bench or med-large picture frame.

Register here

Can't wait to see who comes!
CM Shaw

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

What is Joy?

I have been living the life of a creative business owner for 3 years now. And it has been one of the most amazing things I have ever done. My life has used me up every day. But while I have enjoyed all the growing and stretching, I realized there was a deep sadness growing inside me as well. 

In order to get everything done, I had to commit to projects months in advance. I had to live by my schedule book every second of everyday. I had to pray that the Lord would help me to know "what to do when" over the course of my day so I could get it all in. And I almost always got it all in. And the days I didn't, that was OK too.

But there was no spontaneity. I would wake up with an idea I wanted to try and I'd have to write it down and hope I got to it sometime after the barn sale was over. If my kids wanted to pick apples during barn sale season, we had to give up a soccer game or something else on a Saturday to make it happen, and most of the time the opportunity cost was too great. There was no freedom. 

And for me, that is a problem.

I kept wondering where the joy was that everyone promises you comes when you start doing what you love. It reminded me of a time not so very long ago, when my children were small and needed a tremendous amount of my time and energy. I felt suffocated by their needs and my inability to be what I'm like. I felt very little joy then. 

These two periods of my life only have one thing in common. They left me very little freedom. They required a great deal of structure and self control on my part all day, every day. And that is not what I am like. It is the opposite of how I see myself. 

And yet, I feel full of gratitude that I was able to have both stages. "Full" is not a big enough word. I am completely overcome by the gratitude I feel for having been able to stay home and raise my children myself. And I am still astonished and filled with wonder that I am allowed to take my life on this course of barn sales and art and blogging. Yet both periods have been excruciatingly difficult for me. What is the source of the gratitude I feel now?

I have been thinking about that a lot lately. And I got my answer from the most delicious source. The most refined and delightful octogenarian I know, my sweet friend JM.

As you guys know from my trip to Groundhog Mecca last year, my birthday is Feb 2. Well this year, the party was a bit more toned down. In fact, with teacher work days and my kids home the two weekdays before my birthday, two parties for kids to get to stacked across Saturday (making it difficult to do anything exciting), and the first Sunday of the month being a day I fast for the first two meals of the day and Super Bowl Sunday to boot, I was pretty concerned I wouldn't be able to celebrate at all. But a week before The Day, I got smart. I asked JM to be my guide at the National Gallery of Art the Tuesday after my birthday. 

JM has spent her entire life filling her mind with beauty and excellence. She taught for years and years in the public system, preferring to be in areas where the kids had less at home and really needed her help lighting that candle of learning in their hearts. She has spent so much time in the best museums and galleries of the world, the masterworks have become her friends. As an aspiring artist, I would be a fool to not spend time listening to this woman. And I got to spend an entire day with her, geeking about about great art. It was quite the birthday gift.

As I was driving her home, I finally had the presence of mind to ask her the one question I had prepared in advance. "JM, what do you think joy is?" She thought for a minute, surprised by the question. I can't remember her exact words, as their meaning came across to me more in pictures and memories. 

As we talked about it, I saw the day I turned 40. Two girlfriends and I headed up to a charming town, a village really, to go antiquing with my then 3 year old daughter in tow. My friends had fallen in love with a shop selling vintage jewelry, so I left them there and took my Little to get a snack at the nearby convenience store.  As we walked along a small highway, snow neatly along the roadside, I was completely taken by the moment.  It was a perfect midwinter day, crisp and clear, but not uncomfortable in our cozy coats. The sky was that idealized sky blue from picture books and the sun shone merrily, glinting and sparkling off the snow. We walked past small houses made from the stones cleared from the land by the first people to live there and wondered about all the lives those houses had kept protected. I remember the warmth and fun of my daughters's small hand in mine as we walked, seeing the pleasure in her eyes of being included on a "big girl date" with mommy and mommy's friends. I can remember purposely memorizing that moment with my mind as I realized there was no where in the world I'd rather be than right there, right then. 

And I had 100 other moments just as glorious as I looked back across my life, in case this one wasn't enough to convince me.

What I learned from JM and my own memories is that I was looking for the wrong thing in the wrong way. Somewhere along the way, I had decided that "Joy" was earned by being a good person and that it came across as a constant feeling of happiness and well being. This distressed me, because I had been doing things that were very hard for me and making huge sacrifices for the good of those around me for a very long time and my well being seemed to come and go randomly. Surely I had earned "Joy" by now? (Don't you love the sense of entitlement there?)

But my friends, true joy is a gift of this life. It can be cultivated, but not earned. Anyone can feel it, regardless of who they are or what they've done.

True joy must simply be noticed. 

It is present so very often, if we will just see it and recognize it. It is those beautiful moments, both simple and full of wonder that make our heart beat fast and our eyes tear up with pride or amazement or wonder. It is a fleeting thing in time, but if recognized can live in your heart as a part of you. 

It was such a relief for me to realize I wasn't "Doing it Wrong."And I connected that the reason I feel such gratitude for those difficult parts of my life is because somehow I managed to notice some of the joy along the way. I showered my Littles with flowers as the petals dropped in the spring. I blew bubbles with them and watched the colors change from green to blue to purple to magenta as they floated through the air and popped. I watched their world grow as we made cookies together and as I helped them learn how to read and grew flowers and food in the garden. I got to see the excitement and sometimes the tears in the eyes of my artists as I handed them the first check they ever got selling things they made. I've stared at my barn sale all beautifully staged and hear the shoppers comment about how extraordinary it all is, validating all my effort to bring it into existence. I get to hear my customers tell me how looking at a piece of art I made makes them happy every. single. time. they see it, even after owning it for years.

These moments, my friend, are joy. Your life is filled with them now. And the more you look for them, especially the simple things like how much you want to embrace the person who invented the warm shower, the more you will find them. 

So look. 

They are hidden in the sky at sunset and in your child's "dirty from playing in the forest" hands and in the way your curtains blow just so in the sunlight and in the ice crystals hiding under your mulch. 

Joy is not constant. But it can be all around you, especially when you least expect it.

Joy is just there, no matter who you are, if you have the eyes to see it.

Fill yourself with moments. When you look back, it will feel like 
you have years and years of joy inside you. 

And remember, joy doesn't always make it easier, 
but it sure helps to make it worth it.

I hope this little connection helps you all. It has sure helped me. Thank Heavens for wise women willing to share light on their younger sisters in the world. And thank heavens for all of you, willing to read my ramblings. You too are a gift and I 'd love to hear about your joy.

Thank you all,
CM Shaw

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Waiting for Milk Paint and the "French" Dresser

I got some exciting mail this week. 

Don't you just love exciting mail? I find tracking packages incredibly exciting. You get to watch them go from state to state and wonder how they made such a giant leap from Glendale CA to Tuscaloosa in one day, and then wonder why the heck they went to Tuscaloosa anyway? 

Maybe it's just me and you guys are all sitting there thinking "Ooookaay..." 

Crazy or no, I really do love the anticipation of packages and letters. 
It makes me giddy just thinking about it. 

But this story doesn't really begin with the package, that's the ending. So let's start with the beginning, at Asher Hill Farms. (This is my friends Margaret and Jeff's place. You can read about it here)

The first time I went to Asher Hill Farms, Margaret took me on a tour of her stash. See the barn here? See the attic? The stash fills that attic. Well, it did until we had the barn sale. Now there's a bit of space. 

Part of the tour was Jeff's workshop. In a corner of the workshop was a stack of bed frames, tables, boxes, tools and a vintage dresser. Margaret points at it and says, "Oh that's my trash pile." 

Trash? All these great old beds and furniture. And the dresser? trash? I nearly had heart failure. 

My face must have dropped because she looks at me and says, "You don't think I'm gonna throw this stuff away do you? I just can't use it, so it needs another home. I never throw anything away. Take anything you want."

Anything I want? Will all of it fit in my car?

Then I remembered I'm married. DK is a wonderful, long suffering man, and one of his major purposes in this life is to keep me from getting in over my head. Big job for the poor man. So I took a deep breath and thought, "What would I actually use?"

My daughter could use a new dresser. Or I could paint and sell a dresser at Lucketts. And I can fit a dresser-emphasis on the singular, ONE- in my studio and still be able to walk...So guess what came home with me?


I know. You're shocked. I'm even shocked. But it was before barn sale season and I knew I wouldn't get to painting it until after the show. So Margaret (or rather, Jeff) just let me leave it where it was until I had the time to deal with it. I highly recommend having friends with a big barn who give you stuff and then store it for you. I need to make them a pie.

So fast forward 7 months. I have been to Haven at this point and fiddled with milk paint and white wax. Miss Mustard Seed released a new color, Lavender, with this astonishingly beautiful piece.

Here's the link to the whole post, or just click on the image.

I needed to make something like this! But there was no budget for more paint. Boo. 

So I waited. 

I kept reading Instagram posts from Front Porch Mercantile about milk painting and using hemp oil and white wax and got more and more jealous. Wendy runs the cutest shop in New Brunswick, Canada and is always posting pictures of the fantastic classes she's teaching that I am too far away to take. 

And then there's Finding Silver Pennies. Have you guys discovered this amazing blog yet? Danielle is my hero. The things this girl can do with paint. You need to see the heavily distressed milk painted dressers she did in Feb hereTo.Die.For.

But I am wandering...Back to our riveting story and my quest for milk paint.

I even tried to get the paint for my birthday. I sent DK links to all the colors and products I wanted from online vendors and talked about it with my kids a bunch. I got everything else I asked for, including a gift card for the lumber to make the second 2x4 planting box I've wanted to build for a year, but no paint. Then one day, the clouds parted.

Shaunna West, author of the Perfectly Imperfect blog and owner of a fabulous shop by the same name, announced a sale one all her MMS milk paint products. And she had those cute little electric hand blenders I had seen, but always were immediately sold out. So I finally ponied up and bought the paint. And the hand mixer.

Isn't that just happiness on a tray?

With the paint on it's way, I figured I better go get the dresser.

The thing about this dresser is, it has great lines for this project, but a lot of it is laminate. At least it's old laminate, so I think I can sand it and give it some tooth, but I'm a bit leery about it. There will definitely be priming and sanding and bonding agent used. And I'll keep you guys posted. Then you'll have the inside scoop about whether or not you can paint laminate successfully. And don't worry. I'll tell you if it scratches right off. Either that, or you'll just hear me yelling in my garage.

I have to say though, as I clean this piece, (and it needed a lot of cleaning) I am falling more and more in love with the lines. I love the curvy top...

 And the delicate hardware. I will be replacing the mismatched top knobs with crystal ones. And painting the existing pulls to match the new look.

I love the detailed base and the carved feet. So much room for embellishment here.

And this little ornament on the bottom! So cute!

Yeah, this dresser still has a long way to go, but I can see it in my head. Repair the runners, fill the larger scratches, sand the tar out of everything. Prime it with a stain proof primer that sticks to anything. Bonding agent infused Lavender milk paint (mixed with my darling hand mixer, of course! I can't wait to use that thing) spread liberally everywhere and accented with Pure White ASCP vine style designs and glazed areas. It's gonna be awesome. At least, I hope it will...

What are you guys working on this week? 

Did you get any exciting mail? 

Do you laugh maniacally when tracking your packages? 

Leave me a comment and tell me your story.

Talk to you soon,
CM Shaw

PS. If I haven't talked long enough, and you want to see more of my exciting daily adventures, you can follow me on Instagram @cmshawstudios . I post awesome things there, like smiley faces in the left-over gravy. Cuz everyone needs a little happy gravy, right?