Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Art is Where the Heart Is


"Art is where the heart is" and so is your studio space! I am off to enjoy some holiday fun in the sun and will certainly bring a little piece of my studio with me. I am looking forward to relaxing and having lots of time to journal and create new things. I created my little portable art kit with paper, a small paint set and pencil crayons. I am excited to go exploring and pick up some local handmade craft items!


Enjoy a visit to The Backyard Bear http://www.etsy.com/shop/TheBackyardBear where you are sure to find wonderfully unique creations with a wildlife theme!

by The Backyard Bear
Hi there. My name is Mary Ann and I have a confession…..I am an Upcycler.

Actually I grew up upcycling before the word was even vogue. Coming from a family of 6 kids and being the youngest my parents were upcyclers as well. This was just natural to them as they were born in the early 1900’s when things were never thrown out. It just was unheard of. I remember watching my grandmother make rugs from old clothes, mittens from old sweaters. She would sew them on her old Singer Sewing machine. My mother had a sewing machine which she only used for patching. I taught myself how to sew by making Barbie doll clothes from worn clothes. I still have that old machine and its wooden case but I now use a more modern one.
I was always creative and my mom, to keep me amused would scour the house to find me items for my craft addiction and would make glue from flour and water. How Eco is that!



I lived in the country and my siblings were quite a bit older than me. Friends didn’t live close by so I would amuse myself. Wildlife became an obsession. I would try to tame every chipmunk and chickadee I could see. I started to draw them and eventually started painting when my oldest brother bought me a paint-by-number set. Back in the 60’s they came as oil sets and I never had patience for the paint to dry before the next colour. I remember putting one on the hot air register and later found that I had created a Picasso from the forced hot air. I can still remember the smell of those oil paints. After that I asked for watercolour paints and now I love to paint using acrylics.

I still have that drive (call it an obsession) to create. You can find me every Saturday morning in the summer at yard sales. You can find me at the Thrift store at least 3 times a week in the winter months. Every item I pick up I look to see what it can be reinvented into. By night time that item has been upcycled into a new life. Spring is just around the corner and that means yard sale season. I just can’t wait to get out there to find more items I can recreate into something useful.

One Upcycle I’m particularly proud of are my teapot bird feeders and bird houses. I came up with the idea a few years ago. It just gives your garden that little bit of sparkle. All of my feeders and houses are made with the birds in mind. They are functional as well as pretty.



Other upcycles which I have sold quite a few of are my sweater mittens. Every thrift store I walk into I look for wool or fleece sweaters with birds, animals, nature embroidered or as part of the fabric. I try to incorporate those parts of the sweater to make the mittens unique. I also make them warm and I’ve had nothing but positive feedback from them. I also started to make leather mittens from old leather jackets and hand paint wildlife pictures on them to make them unique as well. This winter I started to make bomber hats with animal or bird patches to match the mittens I sell.



I started selling on Etsy just over a year ago and I’m a member of a few teams. I feel I’ve done well with my sales and it motivates me to create more. The Oh Canada Team is a great group of Canadians and are the most positive team I’ve been on. They are helpful, giving great feedback to our shops, pictures, items. Giving suggestions of other things we might want to consider making.



On another note, just recently I found the art of felting. I have taught myself using a You-Tube video and have purchased wool roving from fellow Estians. I hope to create my wildlife feltings as life like as I can. My most recent project is a chipmunk. The same animal I tried to tame all those years ago.



It’s sad that we live in a world that tosses away so much without a second thought. We need to teach our kids the art of upcycling. So much money would be saved, the world would be a cleaner place and our children’s creativity would make them more aware of their environment.

My favourite quote;
"One should either be a work of art, Or wear a work of art" ~~~~ Oscar Wilde
My website and blog: thebackyardbear.com

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