Perfection Is OFF the Table

Sometimes if I can't make a perfect change I make no change at all.  Which is self-defeating.  it makes me think of the old Hee Haw song, "If it weren't for bad luck I'd have no luck at all..." But replace the lyrics with, "If I can't be perfect, I'll make no change at all..."

So I started looking at things differently.  Instead of perfect, my goal is to make changes which are at least 50% better.  In most scenarios in order to be worth doing, the change has to yield a 50% improvement.  For some scenarios, a 50% improvement can make a giant difference!  This applies to so many things.  House improvements, health, art-making.  Do you choose 0% improvement or 50% improvement?  (NOTE to my children and descendents:  Do not misunderstand me, I am not advocating doing a half-way job.) If you are kind of stuck in the doing nothing land, maybe choosing a 50% improvement is a good way to go.  

This was the case with my house.  I am thankful for my house.  I have a nice house.  But I had a mindset of "If I can't do the gut kitchen renovation job I will do nothing."  Things are only getting a little settled after a family member was really ill last fall. I just didn't want any more major mayhem, because I am still recovering from that mayhem.  While the kitchen was nicely designed, I hated the light sucking property of the black countertop and the dark cabinets. I hated it for TEN YEARS. Sorry, previous owners, it is/was beautiful but I need more light.

Enter the Cozy Minimalist course, which I gave myself for my birthday last spring.  (I get nothing for mentioning this course, I just like Nester's site and loved the course).  Because of the Cozy Minimalist course, I've started making some changes.  I am slowly lightening things up, one piece at a time.  This winter will be SO much lighter in my house.  I'm about 1/6 of the way through painting my cabinets.  If I were to do it again, I would pay someone to paint them.   But I've started, so will take the kitchen a section at a time.  It will be so much better!  Maybe even 75%!  ;-)  Of course, 0% or 50% change are not the only options. 

 Perfection is off the table

Sculpting Tips in My Izannah Walker Doll Pattern

I often get questions about sculpting Izannah Walker dolls. Sometimes these are from new sculptors and sometimes they are from seasoned sculptors. In both cases the question usually is:

 "How do I make my sculpts look more like Izannah Walker dolls?" 

If the person is new to sculpting with Paperclay I usually encourage them to forget an Izannah resemblance in their first creation. At that point you are learning to work with the materials. My husband named one of my first Paperclay Izannah attempts Fred Merz from "I Love Lucy" back in 2006 ;-). If this is your first time handling Creative Paperclay your goal is to get a creation that looks somewhat human. If you get a likeness that seems remotely girly in your first attempt you are doing well!

 If you have skills at sculpting realistic faces you will have to discipline yourself to NOT use those skills. Izannah Walker dolls are not sculpted in high relief or detail. I have shared many pictures on the Izannah Walker Chronicles of original antique Izannah dolls. They are there to use for helps in sculpting.

One of my biggest challenges for Izannah sculpting is to believe that the eyes really are about halfway between the top of the head and the chin. In my pattern there are two pre-sculpting exercises which people tend to skip, but they are important. I can usually tell if someone has done them or not. ;-). Here are those two pages: I hope this helps.

These are two pages from my "Making an Izannah Walker Inspired Doll" PDF pattern. 

Continually evaluating your sculpt in process is very important. Work in small layers of clay and evaluate after each session. I usually have 10+ sculpting sessions in my own Zizannah Walker creations. Sometimes 20. Compare the profile of your sculpt to a profile image of a real Izannah Walker doll after each sculpting session. Where does your sculpt need additions? Where does it need to be sanded back?

I wrote another post some time ago about using Picmonkey (or any photo editing program which has layers) to evaluate a sculpt in process. 

Good luck!

Why I Chose Laminate for Countertops Again

My goal has been to make my kitchen brighter. There is nothing wrong with my present kitchen as designed 30 years ago. It was beautiful. It's just not my taste. 

Here is my taste from a kitchen I designed at my old house, a 1914 Foursquare house.  Those floors need replacing! This is a picture I snagged from an online realtor's page.  The floors need remanding or replacing.  The kitchen floors were originally under a layer of mastic and linoleum tile. 

That was a very small kitchen. I spent months and months with graph paper, trying to figure out the best use of the space so it didn't feel like a cave. 

The darkness of my present kitchen is what I want to change. The black laminate was sucking all the light out of the space. We live in Maine, where winter is long and light is scarce. I tried to counteract the black countertops and dark cabinets with screaming yellow.  

It didn't work. 

Originally, I had thought I would put quartz countertops on the old cabinets.  
But they are not worth capping off with stone. I did not want to live through a major kitchen remodel.  Having strangers working in the house is stressful for my autistic son and me! 

I wanted to make the biggest amount of change for the least amount of disruption. I wanted to leave the option open for a future major kitchen gut job.  So I chose to replace laminate with laminate. Here is the original Quartz sample with the laminate I actually went with.  

Pretty close, huh? 

I had gotten a lot of samples of the Formica Elemental Concrete, but was still surprised at the variation in the pattern based on the samples I got.  A the samples did not have the larger darker patches in it.  If I were going to do it again I would buy several of the larger samples, or a larger two foot piece through the local kitchen store. 

But I would still choose it.  

Now the countertop is in and the nice carpenter is gone (thank you!).  Here's a before and during photo.  
I finally decided on a color.  So now it is just a process of hard work, fit in around the needs of my family.  (it's soccer season!). I could pay someone to get this done more quickly.  But it is easier to do it myself than have extra people in the house. 

I am painting...still...

Mary Emmerling's Eclectic Country

Last week I bought a decorating book, which I haven't done in ages.  It is Mary Emmerling's Eclectic Country. 

I bought the book to look at while getting ready for a routine medical screening I was not looking forward to. 

My husband, funny guy, put this post-it note on top of the book, which reads "when regular country is not good enough."

My husband has little interest in decorating styles.  He will tell me if he hates something.  But for the most part, as long as I am happy, he is happy. 

In making choices for my kitchen and home, I was feeling that I "should" make classic choices, and lean a bit toward the monochromatic look which allows for you to change out accessories to get a new look.  You know, paint the kitchen white or cream, or as everyone has been doing for the last few years, gray. And go more modern.  But when I tried white on some of them, it didn't feel right. 

I still like a country/cottage/coastal vibe, which is why I bought Mary Emmerling's book.  I like a mix of things.  I love seeing disparate things nicely paired.  I like color and decided to let myself have color on the cabinets, even though classic style would go in another direction. 

I am doing the painting of the cabinets myself, partly because having workman in the house is stressful to some in my family.  It's a big job, and will take a while.   

I'll show pictures when I am done. 

"Do not let what you cannot do
keep you from doing what you can do."

John Wooden


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