When my daughter was born 37 years ago, I received a beautiful hand-painted birth plaque presented by a lovely lady whose sister loved to paint and made these plaques, along with wedding plaques for practically everyone in town. A few years later in the 1980's I decided that I would love to learn to do that type of painting so I, too, could paint such treasures.
We lived in rural Indiana at that time, and there was a tole painting studio in Evansville, Indiana, called the Red Sled. It was located in an old two story home which added to the charm of the shop. With a red sled with hand painted detail sitting in the front yard, the steps led to a front porch with a hand painted Welcome sign, and upon entering the foyer I was greeted by so many beautiful items on display, all lovingly handpainted. Upon browsing through the store they offered all types of wood products, acrylic paints, brushes, pallets, painting instruction books and patterns, and completed projects from which to choose among their many classes offered.
I immediately signed up for their beginner's series which included several projects for learning basic skills. There was a floral plaque where I could learn basic brush strokes and use of the different types of brushes and get the feel for the paint. Then there was a lovely welcome sign that stated "All Ye Who Enter Must Wear A Smile" which taught basic floating, shading and lettering techniques. After these we could choose our own projects to use our newly found talents. I chose to paint a sled to go under my Christmas tree with a red interior, blue outside and decorated with calico flowers and leaves - I still have many of these projects in my home today.
After moving to Florida I decided to open a little corner of my hand painted treasures in our orange grove business - soon that grew to a whole room - and I found myself with my new shop "Simple Country Pleasures" where I handpainted gifts, country items, birth and wedding plaques and I began to teach classes similar to the ones I had taken in Indiana. This proved to be quite a venture for me as I taught over 100 students at various times over about 8 years and many, many lovely projects. I would teach myself new techniques - then teach all of them. It was a very rewarding and busy time in my life.
Students (which became my friends) told me that this had changed their lives - that they had a creative talent that they never knew they had. Many of us participated in craft shows together and enjoyed sharing our talents with many. I also had my own Open Houses in my home where I featured my own hand-painted items and all of their lovely crafts for sale!
By the latter 1990's the trade with China in the gift market had increased so much, and they were mass producing so many "handmade" looking items for very cheap prices, the craft market began to dwindle for truly handcrafted items. I gradually shifted my interests to antiques and other outlets for my creative interests.
Now that our society is in distress, I have noticed many people returning to the crafts of the past - painted furniture with handpainted details, crocheting and knitting, making something "new" out of something "old". So naturally, what is happening to me is that my interest in crafting is beginning to resurface. I have recently felt the nudge to get creative in this way again. I have been poking around on Pinterest (you can follow me at http://pinterest.com/memoriespast/ ) and am about to explode with lots of great ideas for handcrafted gifts using vintage items! Who knows where this will lead - but I can tell you - it is starting to feel exciting! Hang in there -- and keep an eye out -- because my brain is starting to work again! The possibilities are unlimited!
Currently, I am practically buried alive in my antique store with lots and lots of work to do to clear out a lot of the inventory as I have decided to place my building up for sale with the hopes of retiring from this business. Who knows where this will lead as I am keeping my options open at this point. I have no idea if the building will sell or not or exactly what my future holds, but my brain has been set free to be open to the possibilities again. Just one step off dead center can cause such a tremendous change in our lives if we will let it! Enthusiasm is returning; I have a spring in my step; and my eyes are wide open with anticipation of an exciting future! Every day is a gift .... be sure to enjoy each and every one ... and if you need to get off dead center ... just take a step forward, and do it! I highly recommend it! Stay tuned.......