Let us put by some hour of every day for holy things...

I will not doubt, though all my ships at sea
Come drifting home with broken masts and sails.
I will believe the Hand which never fails,
From seeming evil, worketh good for me.
And though I weep because those sails are tattered,
Still will I cry, while my best hopes lie shattered:
I trust in Thee.
--Ann Kimmel

Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines, the labor of the olive shall fail and the fields shall yield no meat, the flock shall be cut off from the fold and there shall be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. Habakkuk 3:17-18

Saturday, April 30, 2016

She Thought It Was An Ordinary Blog Post, But Then She Read THIS!

I have so got to start punching up my intros. Like those ubiquitous facebook posts that try to lure you in with some dramatic and enticing hook, and then the accompanying article turns out to be some silly, predictable thing that wasn't worth the time it took to wait for it to load up.

Maybe I could imitate them and get more viewers. What do you think?

"She slaved all afternoon over a hot stove, and then this happened!" (It was called to her attention that the salt shaker needed refilling.)

"The gardener bent over to pull out a weed, and was stunned to discover these lurking beneath a shrub!"  (A pair of soggy gardening gloves accidentally left outside overnight.)

"The little girl reached up to whisper a secret in her grandmother's ear. Imagine the horror this loving grandma experienced when she heard the childish, lisping words reveal a shocking truth!" ('Grandma, the cat threw up on your bed.')

You get my drift. Now let me try it for real.

The vintage-obsessed "wannabe" artiste labored carefully in her spare time for a couple of weeks to revive a favored tacky mid-century craft. The project was nearly completed when, to her utter frustration and dismay, she encountered an obstacle that stopped her dead in her tracks!  


Vintage gravel art poodle picture made from a kit during the 1960's.

Remember the gravel art kits of the 1960's and early 1970's? These once popular, inexpensive craft sets composed of a pre-printed design on sturdy particle board, rat tail cord for outlining, glue, trim, and colored aquarium gravel were quite a fad among the mid- twentieth-century handcraft crowd, and nostalgic baby boomers are avidly seeking them out, making these iconic pop art pieces very desirable in today's vintage market. So much so, in fact, that one nostalgic collector decided to try and create new vintage-inspired gravel art pieces for herself.

Accordingly, she prepared her board with a rough copy of an actual vintage gravel art picture, painstakingly clipped, curved, and glued the cord into place, anticipating the exciting, final step of applying the colored aquarium gravel. It was only then that she discovered a seemingly insurmountable problem:


Once again, for those of you who haven't already seen it. This is my living room wall. (My mother would be appalled.)

Okay, enough of the imitation facebook blather. Here's the scoop with way less drama. 

I had some very ugly, balding gravel art pictures that weren't worth keeping. So I decided to reclaim the boards and frames with fresh paint and burlap, and make new pictures out of them. It sounded feasible enough (well, feasible enough to someone like myself who delights in dubious mid-century endeavors in the first place) and so I sketched out a vague copy of my genuine vintage gravel picture poodle I showed you above (it hangs in my bathroom) and began.

My version of the original.

But making a gravel art picture isn't something you can do all in one fell swoop; each little section has to be measured and pinned or weighted in place while it dries, so this was going on over several days. It seemed practical to me to work on a second picture as well, so one could be drying while I fiddled with the other. 

So I cast about for another idea for a design. I wanted something simple and cute. Then I remembered this little handmade felt and sequin Christmas ornament I'd fished out of a garage sale free box at some point:

Cute little "free box" find. It's two pieces of felt glued together, with sequins and embroidery on both sides.

This provided the inspiration for my second gravel picture:

This one was more fun than the poodle because of the added velveteen fabric, faux jewels, and google-eyes.

BUT when I finally finished this lengthy process of preparation for the last, crucial step I had a rude awakening. It seems aquarium gravel ain't what it used to be. In the gravel-art heyday it was relatively fine-gauge stuff, and you could buy it in many terrific dyed colors. And it was cheap. It was probably hazardous to fish or hard to clean or something because now it's obsolete.

NOWADAYS aquarium gravel is made of pea-sized pebbles with a some sort of coating. It comes in a handful of relatively dismal colors and it comes in big bags that cost way more than I feel like laying out for a silly whim of a craft.

I admit I did buy some. I even attempted to crush some and see if that would work--ha! I've been playing around with sequins, beads, chenille stems, buttons...  so far, I'm just plain stuck. I can't find a single material that gives an effect I'm pleased with. I flatly refuse to  use rice, lentils, colored popcorn, or beans, like those horrors we used to make in elementary school art class. I keep scanning ebay to see if anyone is selling NOS ("new old stock") bags of vintage gravel. So far, no luck.

Anyway, there you have it. I'm open to suggestions, if anyone out there has an inspiration. Somehow I don't think the prospect of "gravel-free art pictures" are going to take the vintage-loving world by storm.

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