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Archive for the ‘Crafting’ Category

Amongst the beagles and other varieties of street dogs roaming the humble pueblito known as Piedra Grande, roamed two Peace Corps volunteers named Danny and Josephine. Now these two volunteers found themselves in the mountains above Mexico City with a quest – a quest to create some of the best-recycled art crafts known on this side of the border. The motivation was simple and absolute, an eco-fair for about 70 children. Two weeks to prepare, and too many recycled crafts projects tantalizing their artistic energies led to quite the experience involving trash-picking, rancid milk, plastic dust in noses, and medical emergencies.

Now setbacks are inevitable in projects such as this, but they can’t always be anticipated.

Setback 1: The realization that papelerías are closed on Sundays. Significance of this discovery? Well, Danny and Josephine needed to buy art supplies from said papelerías before heading out from Querétaro to Piedra Grande that Monday morning. With a little huffing and puffing, the crisis was marginally averted. If you saw two gringos running at 8:00 in the morning, one falling a few steps behind the other (Josephine blames it on the altitude), then you saw Danny and Josephine running to buy paint, glue, construction paper, string, etc., before boarding a bus to Piedra Grande.  “Great,” they thought, “we’ve got all the materials, what can stop us now?”

Setback 2: Danny and Josephine decided to transform plastic bottles into jack-o-lanterns of all varieties in honor of the approaching and children-cherished, Halloween. In preparation for this feat, they collected bottles from a local school in Querétaro and hauled that “trash” bag to Piedra Grande, ready to turn the transparent bottles into pumpkins of vibrant orange opacity. And so, they began to paint. “Huh, how strange,” they thought, “the paint seems to be sliding right off the bottle.” Thus, they learned that they needed to sand 65 bottles before painting them – every nook, cranny, and crease needed a graze of the rough paper. That’s not time consuming at all, right? This is what led to plastic dust in noses.

Setback 3: Turns out Josephine was freakishly allergic to something, something still unknown, and as a result turned into a Blotch Monster. Face swollen, lips white, Benadryl state of mind. It is said that at this moment she informed Danny that she was no longer sanding. No, no dust particles were touching her already fragile face. At which point, as you can imagine, Danny ended up with more plastic dust in his nose.

With the setbacks finally out of the way Team Reduce, Reuse, Recycle was ready to get down to business. Day after day, more oranges bottles lined the room, haunting PC volunteers and begging them for eyes, noses, mouths. But jack-o-lanters weren’t enough. Oh, no. Danny and Josephine decided to make other recycled crafts to give out during a raffle during the eco-fair. This team was getting ambitious it seemed. Like elves, they carried on, hoping their energy and efforts would help dispel the myth that trash is nothing more than trash. Miraculously, beer bottle caps transformed into tambourines, a soda bottle into a piggy bank, milk cartons into wallets, and jugs into Day of the Dead decorations.

Two weeks of working and the time had come. The fair. Team Basura, Team Trash displayed all their handicrafts on the table, anticipating the rush of kids, and eager to give the pumpkins the faces they craved. As was hoped, the kids loved it! Helping the kids decorate their jack-o-lanterns made all the puffy eyes, and frustrated evenings of work fade away, and so they glued, decorated, and transformed “trash” for two hours.  It was the fair winding down, it was time for THE RAFFLE. Now kids had been eyeing these prizes every time they passed Team Basura’s table. They wanted that piggy bank. They wanted those tambourines. They wanted the trash. Names began to be drawn, as fingers were crossed. Prizes were received by kids with smiling faces, hugely smiling faces.

And so, Danny and Josephine gave each other a pat on the back, vowing next time to do the same, setbacks and all.

the twigster,

Josefina

PS: Make your own bottle cap tambourines, milk carton wallets, and soda bottle piggy bank.

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Four years in New Orleans meant many nights parading around the humid town with a face full of glitter and homemade toile skirts. Mardi Gras, Jazz Fest, Second Line parades, Halloween- there was always an opportunity to let loose, to enjoy and celebrate life within the unique New Orleans culture. Friends or strangers, it never mattered. Everyone was happy and dancing while complimenting one another’s homemade costumes. This was one of my favorite things about life in NOLA, the self-proclaimed right to dance in the streets and sport purple and green hair, if only for the night.

After Mexico’s Independence Day celebrations this past weekend, I know I have found myself in another place with people that know how to appreciate and savor this life. Thursday night, with a tip from staff at the Peace Corps, I walked over to El Templo de Santa Cruz with some other Peace Corps volunteers. In celebration of Mexico’s Independence Day, hundreds of people gather in this square in Querétaro in order to dance the Concheros for two full days, non-stop. A dance with indigenous roots, it has been performed since the Spanish Colonial times blending Catholic symbolism and ancient ritual.

When I arrived to the Plaza, I was in the middle of a sea of feathers. People surrounded me with costumes of all colors, dazzling spectators with costumes made of sequins, beads, gold, and silver. Feather headdresses adorned the dancers’ heads, extending a meter in each direction. Organized in a group, dancers rattled the instruments on their ankles, dancing for hours at a time. They filled the air with music coming from conch shells, drums, and string instruments. All the while, I stood there awestruck, attempting to drink in all the sites and process all that I was seeing. With incense smoke, floating into the air, I couldn’t help but float away myself. Wow, I thought. I live here now. ¡Qué suerte! ¡Viva México!

the twigster,

Josefina

PS: There is a tradition to crack cascarones on friends for good luck and shower them with confetti. Check out some instructions to make them here. They could be great for your next celebration!

El GRITO (The Cry for Independence)

¡Mexicanos!

¡Vivan los héroes que nos dieron patria!

¡Víva Hidalgo!

¡Viva Morelos!

¡Viva Josefa Ortiz de Domínguez!

¡Viva Allende!

¡Vivan Aldama y Matamoros!

¡Viva la independencia nacional!

¡Viva México! ¡Viva México! ¡Viva México!

 

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Portland was by far my favorite stop on the westward journey. In addition to its mossy streets and just about mossy everything, Portland harbored a great love for crafting. You can see why I fell in love with the misty city.

Portland Saturday Market

Every Saturday and Sunday, the people of Portland as well as us tourists head down to the Waterfront for some local crafts and local grub. With the smell of Moondrops’ roasted nuts in the air, I roamed the artists’ stalls for hours.  In response to my grumbling belly, I then feasted on some fish and chips, and I highly recommend that you do the same. Check it out.

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Museum of Contemporary Craft

I kid you not with this one. In addition to exhibitions focusing on past and traditional craft, the Museum also has a section focused on D.I.Y. projects. So get crafting and maybe one day your weekend project will be worthy of a spot in a museum!

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Stores Galore

Not a crafter yourself, but appreciate the art? Indulge yourself exploring the many crafty stores Portland has to offer like Crafty Wonderland.

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The twigster,

Josephine

PS: They even get crafty with their streets!

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Say hi to the Easter bunny and have a beautiful Spring day.

The twigster,

Josephine

PS: Eat a peep.

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Parker and I took a break from our lunch prep duties and went for a lovely walk in the foothills of the Coronado National Monument mountains of Arizona. Along the way we collected the dried flora we saw along the roadside and created this collaborative bouquet.

The twigster,
Josephine

PS: How cute is that desert doggie! Not as cute as my Milano posing with a postcard at home, duh.

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Gila Bend, Arizona; Day 2 of Desert Camp

Since PAC Tour has started, we have been changing towns and hotels nightly as the cyclists bike farther and farther. The other evening I had the pleasure at staying at The Space Age Lodge in Gila Bend, AZ. A relic of the past, this themed hotel welcomes weary travels with glowing neon lights and walls made of galaxies of stars.

The twigster,

Josephine

PS: Paint your own glitter wall. Everyone loves glitter.

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Getting my Mardi Gras costumes ready was by far my favorite part of Carnival season, well second to the MUSES parade of course. Since I won’t make it to my beloved New Orleans this year, I assembled some costuming ideas to be sure there will be enough glitter present at the parades. I can live through you while you’re getting ready to go catch some beads.

Even if you’re not in New Orleans, everyone deserves to partake in Carnival season. Fat Tuesday may be just like any other day in your city…until you slap that purple wig on, and hit the town. Plus, who wouldn’t wanted to invited to a Mardi Gras party that you host? Here are some ideas for the party’s menu.

  1. Wigs are amazingly fun and can transform you and your aura as quickly as you secure it over your head. If you’re in the NYC area, Ricky’s has a great wig sale going on.
  2. Make a Mardi Gras tutu using purple, gold, and green toile. Check out this tutorial and become a Mardi Gras ballerina. No sewing necessary.
  3. Glitter. You can never have too much glitter. Buy some glitter glue and you can add any color loose glitter to create glitter paint. I loved doing a glitter eyeliner effect and little designs on my face.
  4. Get some Mardi Gras colored star stickers. Put them everywhere.
  5. Mardi Gras beads. Well, you gotta earn those.

Have a fun Carnival season everyone.

The Twigster,

Josephine

PS: Don’t forget to gorge yourself with King Cake.

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