In Memory…

Everyday Adventures

Yesterday I learned that a friend had passed away. Suddenly. Unexpectedly. Tragically. And far too soon.

Someone who made the world better by being in it, no longer is. And I don’t quite know how to process that.

Death and I are old frenemies, going all the way back to when I was 5 years old and my baby sister died during yet another surgery to attempt to correct a birth defect. I’ve gone to many funerals for family members, but since we moved away from them when I was 6, the grief always felt one step removed. There was a distance. I was sad, but not devastated.

Yesterday I was devastated.

It was the first time someone’s death made me sob immediately. I couldn’t help myself or stop myself, even as I called Todd to let him know. I could barely get the words out. I left work early (after collecting myself enough to drive) and instead of approaching this 4 day weekend as a time to power through as many projects as possible, I’m reflecting on the whats and whys of life and all we do.

Yes, I posted about Brian’s passing a couple years ago, and how that affected me. Yes, he was local and a friend, but not the same kind of friend. When I heard about Brian’s death, denial was swift: we’re being punked, right?! For pity’s sake, he’d live-tweeted his time in the hospital on Thanksgiving with his customary humor, it had to be a joke, right? But no.

I didn’t deny David’s death, yesterday. While I bounced around the other flavors of grief, denial was never a part of it. I didn’t want it to be true, but I accepted it as fact. Somehow I knew it wasn’t a joke, wasn’t a prank, wasn’t debatable. Acceptance is not the end of grief.

Part of me is angry, but at whom I’m not entirely sure.All of me is sad.

At last year’s Halloween party, David was one of the 10 readings I did that night. I’m so glad I had that time with him. Not just now, in hindsight, but because he thanked me for it several times. His reading started out general, no specific question in mind, but quickly it zeroed in on career. Not too long after the party he was let go from his job. He told me our session helped him see the event not as the end of the world but as an opportunity, something he would not have without it. I felt lucky to be able to give him that perspective. And not too long after that, he was offered his dream job, and he thanked me again.

The job meant he’d be moving back down to Orlando, and we were all sad to see him go. But Facebook helps. It allows us to keep track of people no matter where they are, as long as they’re updating. It’s our lifeline. I suppose it’s fitting, then, that it was a mutual friend’s post that alerted me to his death.

I’m still processing. Will be for a while. But I’m trying to take something from this other than sadness and despair. A reminder to live each day the best we can, to tell our friends and loved ones how much we care. To let them know they are appreciated.

David was charming, sweet, funny, and smart. He was a good person. I was happy to see him. His absence will be felt.

This was, apparently, one of David’s favorite songs and has been shared by friends in his memory.



So that project that had me all in knots last week? All done and up over at Gauche Alchemy today!

Dia de los Muertos Memorial Canvas

I got to play with the Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) Mixed Media Paper Crafting Kit and I’m really having fun with all the pieces and parts. My first project was, perhaps, a bit ambitious, but it never hurts to go all out.

It started with the frames and fabric.

I used a trapunto quilting technique to stitch and stuff two of the faces in the fabric.

Trapunto quilted skull-face fabric

Then I trimmed them up nice and neat. Hint: there are commercial fray-stoppers out there but I couldn’t find mine. Instead I used clear fingernail polish on the prone-to-fray taffeta ribbon and it worked just fine!

The frames that came in the kit are these awesome Victorian bubble frames that not only have 3 layers to the front of each frame, making the different cuts customizable, but also rounded “glass” (plastic) so that you can place non-flat things behind them.

Close-up of bubble frames

It was fun to work with the frames, and they have so much potential, but I went with a simple prep of charcoal gray paint highlighted with bright fabric paints around the edges to make the layers really stand out.

Painted frame layers

For the background of “portraits” I Mod Podge’d some of the book pages to the frame back and then spritzed them with Art Anthology Colorations Mist in Asphalt. After some dry time all around, the faces got paired with some punched film strip (from the Black Out Mixed Media color kit) and a purple feather from my stash for the female face, and two of the milagros (charms) and metal flowers from the DotD kit for the male face.

Assembled frames with quilted portraits

Originally this was going to be it for this project, and the canvas was going to be a separate project altogether, but I decided that they’d make a better project together, so on we go!

The canvas was one of those pre-primed things that I picked up on sale at the craft store with no particular project in mind.

First I layered book pages and sheet music onto the canvas with Mod Podge, then sprayed it with the Colorations like the frame backgrounds.

Then I used the sugar skull mask (as in stencil, not the type you wear on your face) with the Art Anthology Gelate in Splashed, and created a skull image on the layered canvas. When I couldn’t scrape all the gelate off the front I decided to flip it over and use it as a pseudo-stamp just to see what happened.

Applying the Art Anthology Gelate through the sugar skull mask

After the gelate dried I realized what LOOKED like white with sparkles in the jar actually dried clear. That’s okay, though, as I wanted the background darker anyway so just kept spraying and blotting the mist on until I’d reached the right shade of dark and the gelate was standing out nicely. And the secondary “stamp” turned out awesome.

Not quite dry gelate--still looks white, won't last for long!

Since the whole idea of Dia de los Meurtos is the remembrance of those who’ve passed on before us, I dug up some pictures of my grandparents in their younger days and printed them in a few different sizes. I ended up using the largest and the smallest of each to decorate either side of the canvas. A few details added with more puffy paint (make fun all you like, those precision tips are awesome) and then the single word, freehanded along with some scrolly bits.

Decorated canvas

To finish the canvas I glued on some burgundy ribbon from my stash, then attached the frames to two wide pieces of taffeta ribbon, the lace from the kit, and more black ribbon from my stash.

Finally, I declared it done.

And you know what’s even more awesome than having a completed project from one of the awesome Gauche Alchemy kits? Having tons more supplies left to do even more fun stuff. There will be more projects from this kit, but first we’re going to get back to the woodworking art for a bit.