November 17, 2016

Remember Where the Power Lies

Lettering by Shannon M. Wilson, 2016

I don't know how other calligraphers choose their warmup words, but for me, when I sit down to practice, many times I just free-associate and see what comes.  The quick brown fox isn't often seen jumping over the lazy dog's back, if you know what I mean.  Oftentimes, I sense God's whispers in these moments and I wonder who is actually choosing the words on the pages before me.

The pre- and post-election mania has been something to behold, hasn't it?  It has affected my appetite, my sleep, my sense of well-being.  It has left me tongue-tied when speaking to my children. And when I take it too far (and arrogantly make predictions), it quickly moves me from a place of peace.  In the midst of all this unrest, and all of this fear and uncertainty, it's easy to get pulled under with it. Until I get out my ink and the words that come are: "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last."  -- Revelation 22:13.  Try writing that fifty times slowly and your breath will return, and hope will fill you, and you will remember that this is not the end of the story.

[I wrote the above on a Borden & Riley marker layout pad with a Zig Brushables brush pen.]

November 2, 2016

DIY King Headboard from Textured Art Panels

This is one of those "I wonder if this would work" projects that had no inspiration file or how-to video to accompany it. (I have learned since then that those are very helpful.)   I wanted a massive, interesting headboard for my massive, uninteresting bed.  So six years ago (yes, six) I saw these art panels (minus the chalk paint and distressed finish) at Tuesday Morning and said, "Yes!  These could work!"  Unfortunately, I don't have any before pictures of the panels but they had mahogany-stained wood around the perimeter and a patterned relief in the center in dark browns and gold.  With a little chalk paint and distressing they started to resemble tin and that was the look I was after for my mostly-white bedroom.  I lined them up behind my bed and didn't think about them again.  Fast forward six years.  "Hmmm...I wonder if I should actually turn these panels into the headboard for which they were intended?"  

Using a Kreg Jig I built a simple frame that matched the height of my bed frame and was low enough to clear the window above our bed.  With my staple gun I attached the panels to the frame.  Then I trimmed it out with 1x3's stained in Dark Walnut. Distressed the stain job with my sander and got my men to carry it upstairs.


I never actually attached the headboard to the bed frame because the weight of our bed is pinning it pretty securely against the wall.  (I would never be satisfied with that if I had young children sleeping in our bed with us, but that ship sailed a long time ago.)  Keeping it freestanding makes it a lot easier to move when I want to change our room around.  (You all do that too, right?)

My tip to all you home-decor bargain hunters out there -- keep an eye out for unique items on clearance that could serve a much different purpose!  If you get them cheap enough, you won't feel guilty ripping them apart, distressing them, stapling them...and then, voila, you now have a one-of-kind piece for your very interesting home!  This really is fun....

October 27, 2016

DIY Planked Platform Bed (Pottery Barn Knockoff)

As mothers, we serve our children in endless ways, a lot of which goes unnoticed. They only know that by sheer magic they aren't hungry or dirty or cold or lonely for long. Until you build them a bed. That, they notice.  My youngest son had been sleeping on a mattress on the floor for more than a year as I worked on every project except his. (Someday he will learn that the squeaky wheel gets the grease around here.)  But now, a year later,  he is off the ground and sleeping in the "coolest bed in the house" according to my two teenagers who chose to purchase theirs instead of letting mom make them. (Cough, cough, told you so, cough.)

The project was a bit cumbersome because of its size, but it was a pretty easy build. The cost was reasonable as well (excluding my chiropractor visit) since I used select pine to go with the rest of his rustic decor.  I'll post the sliding barn doors separately so you can see what I mean.   I figure I saved at least $500 by building my own and it is a far cry sturdier than the poorly made pieces my teenagers chose, which is the very reason I started woodworking in the first place. I wanted "real" furniture but didn't want to pay real furniture prices.

The bed is platform style with just enough room underneath for sliding storage and enough slats for a memory foam mattress.  I found the plans on Ana White's website. The only change I made was slightly taller "feet" so he had some more room underneath.

I found some pulleys and cages and cloth-covered cords for his reading lights and attached the switches to the side of the bed frame so he could roll over and turn off the light with minimal effort.  Because life is hard.

A built-in desk and storage under the attic stairs is next, but that may take another year because I'm heading to the next room... I can't stay in one place too long or the inspiration starts to wane.  And we don't want that.

Sleep well, my baby.

[For those of you who love details, the bedding is Izod from Kohl's and the wall mural is from Pottery Barn Teen.]

October 3, 2016

A Look Inside

I've been so busy making this farmhouse a beautiful space for our family, I didn't have time to post about it!  Did you notice the huge drop-off in blog activity from 2012 to 2016?  Just picture me exhausted. 😳  In all honesty, this has been one of the largest and most rewarding "canvases" I've ever "painted"!  Making this farmhouse a peaceful, beautiful, nourishing environment for my family is something I will never forget. It's a space made for exhaling -- a place that makes you want to cook big breakfasts and read by the fire late into the night. A place with scratches and cracks and creaky floors and a story. I will never be finished and many of the rooms below are still a work in progress,  but I wanted to give you a little glimpse at the place we get to call home.

September 8, 2016

Saying Goodbye to Summer

We said goodbye to summer with a last minute family trip to Stowe, Vermont this weekend. Immersed in the natural beauty and power of 200-foot waterfalls, scenic bike rides, and fabulous food, the five of us were able to connect one last time before the school year scatters us.

I am feeling the passage of time more than ever after taking my youngest to his first day of middle school yesterday. It begins. The letting go of a finger, a hand, an innocent kiss, to be replaced by the power of peers and that necessary but painful process of individuation. With school in session my kids are now being called to purpose and productivity and will likely thrive with the change from the slow pace of summer. But I am taking a few minutes this morning to memorize this summer's photographs and write their stories in my mind and thank God for times of rest and beauty and unplanned joy. 

May 8, 2016

The Writing of Elizabeth's Song

"Let Go" -- photo by Shannon M. Wilson
(This is a repost from Mother's Day 2010)

Right before the year I lost my voice, I recorded a song that had been hidden away in my files. My life is so full now of art and mothering and (occasionally artful mothering) that sometimes I even forget about the music.   But this Mother's Day I felt compelled to unearth it and share it here.  It's a song about desire, possession, and letting go.  It's about discovering, sometimes painfully, where we as mothers end and God begins, and the gradual turning over of our children.  Here's how the song came about...

I'd been singing and playing the piano FOREVER -- mostly songs others had written.  One afternoon, thoroughly bored and ready for something creatively challenging, I talked to God about my desire to write a song.  A real one -- lyrics, piano, solo cello, string section...the works.   With a chuckle and a great bit of doubt, I prayerfully asked for some divine inspiration because I had no clue where to begin.  I even offered to let Him choose the topic. I immediately had the sense I was supposed to write about John the Baptist.  Seriously?  God, did You suggest that?  Of course I pushed back a bit, because it seemed crazy and I surely must have misunderstood.  But God doesn't mumble and I quickly conceded.  

So......I read everything I could find on John the Baptist and fell in love with the story.  I decided to take some creative liberties with my "assignment" and write about him through the eyes and experience of his mother, Elizabeth.  Elizabeth was a woman who had longed all her life for a child and had nearly given up when God finally answered her prayers.  She bore a powerful, righteous, obedient leader whose purpose required that he listen to and follow his heavenly parent from a very early age. While reading her story I remembered my own difficulty getting pregnant, my multiple miscarriages, and my possessiveness over the heart and life of my firstborn.  I imagined the pull between gratitude and fear Elizabeth must have felt -- and all mothers must feel.  I knew I could write that song.

Elizabeth's Song (Child of Ours)
Music and lyrics by Shannon Martin Wilson

Is it true God?
A child of mine, God? 
Can this fallow womb hold such promise
after years of letting go?
That I might bear a man of God 
whose greatness I can't even know?

He is here, God
A child of mine, God
I guard him fiercely with my arms though it's clear he rests in You
I sing sweetly in his ear at night but he hears a mightier tune.

We share this child
Please share your plan
Will I ever see this child become a man?
Will he hold me as close when he sees who I really am?

Here he is God
This child of ours, God
Teach me how to lead him well, when to push and to go slow
Show me clearly what part I play in the loving and letting go.

Please guide him
This child of yours, God
Your voice is the one he hears when he cries out in the night
Weeping for your children's blindness, while blameless in your sight.

He calls for change, asks us to choose
Says the time is near and the water can make new
Then he baptized the One whose shoe he's not fit to loose.

I saw it all, God
This child of yours, God.
Fulfill the plan You made for him before his life had begun
Humble himself a forerunner
Make the way for the One

He called for change, asked me to choose
Said the time was here and the water made me new.
I saw my child gain his life by loving you.

I can rest now.
It is done.

Copyright 2008 / Shannon Martin Wilson