29 August 2010

When decoupage goes wrong...

Okay, so I've found a new hobby that I kinda love (like I needed another one of those...) and of course, up until last week, I was out of school and going a little stir crazy. So I decided it might be fun to decorate my iPhone's case (I had a very boring gunmetal gray Incase slide cover thingy.  Good for protection, not really my style...) Now, me being me, I don't really like to measure and be exact and stuff.  I'm much more an "eyeball it" kinda gal (also, this is how I bake! LOL!) So of course, god forbid I should actually measure anything to cover this case, what with all it's very annoying curvinesses and whatnot. After 2 or 3 attempts, it was apparent to me that using scrapbook paper or anything remotely stiff like that would not work for me at all.  So I had to let it lie for a few days while I pondered some more.

As I pondered, I remember that I have a largish stash of tissue paper.  So, I found me some bright pink tissue paper, pulled the case off the phone, and went to town.  After about 5 layers of tissue paper, lots of Mod Podge, an hour or two of painstaking whittling (essentially) with an exacto knife (yeah I know, I won't measure but I'll use an exacto knife with great glee after the fact!) I had a nifty looking pink case.  It's weird, you can actually still see some of the gray through the layers of paper, and it took on a kind of weird fabric-y look.

And then, to put the finishing touches on it, I used some iridescent-y butterfly stickers I had (I think I picked them up at Dollar Tree... I love the Dollar Tree...) And of course, then I needed to add a few more layers of Mod Podge to protect the whole mess.  And because Mod Podge stays a bit sticky, I sprayed the whole thing with an acrylic lacquer to protect it.  Here it is, in all its finished glory (and with a bit of Tim thrown in...)

[gallery columns="2"]

Where's the problem you ask?  Well, first, I can't seem to get the case off the phone since I put it all back together.  Not that I need to, but still... and second, it still doesn't seem to have totally set, if you will.  It has some odd creases and crack-like things (not actual cracks, but crack-like), and some bits are perfectly smooth while others seem to have picked up a bit of a pattern from somewhere.

So, I'm pondering ripping the whole mess apart and starting over. But we'll see.  After all, I can't get the case off the phone.  This could be a problem...


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26 August 2010


Art with Heart Cycle 2 is finished, and the pieces are posted!  Mine is a very cool watch (it has a magnetic clasp--awesomeness!!!!) I call it "No time to be Blue" and I love love LOVE the dangly bits!

Here's some pics:

[gallery columns="2" orderby="ID"]

So here's the link to vote, and my piece is #12.  I had a great time making the piece, especially because I had to ponder for so long before I got inspiration on this one!

So go vote!  Please? Pretty please? With, like, cherries on top and stuff? LOL!



16 August 2010

The Life of the Adjunct...

So, I was just reading this debate info over at the New York Times page, on Professors and retirement and new professors and whatnot (here's a link.) I admit, I didn't read the WHOLE thing (it's several blog entries and their comments, plus the original Chronicle of Higher Education article here) but I read a goodly portion.  At least enough to get all nervous and ancy again.

Okay, here's the premise: What with the crappy economy and all, older profs aren't retiring (mostly) before they're in the 70s.  Now in the English department, I remember that the old joke is that English profs don't retire, they just die (sounds really morbid, but really, it's a tribute to how much most profs love their work--they teach till they can't teach no more... for example--I've been teaching 10 years.  In that 10 years, in the Tampa/St. Pete area Community Colleges, I can recall maybe 8-9 TOTAL positions available in my field, and 5 of those happened this year!)This isn't necessarily a bad thing--the not retiring until later in life, thing, I mean--because, ideally, the universities and colleges are retaining smart, motivated, engaging professionals who LOVE their jobs.  And most of these individuals are in that category.  But, there're also the deadwood profs who are sticking around because of financial fears, and this is a drawback.

Another thing discussed in many of the responses, is who is replacing these full-time, tenured professors once they DO retire. Unfortunately, most of them are being replaced with 2 or 3 adjuncts, instead of one full-time, tenure-track prof. I call this "unfortunate" NOT because adjuncts aren't worthy professors (far from it.  I'm an adjunct myself, and I am a KICK ASS prof) but because the lot of the adjunct is so very grim.  Dire, even.  Okay, admittedly, there are some crappy adjuncts.  Just like there are crappy full-time profs, and crappy police officers and office managers and fast food workers and, well, you know, crappy workers in EVERY job imaginable.  And yes, there are a few adjuncts who hate their jobs (they don't really stay adjuncts for very long...)  But consider this: the lot of the adjunct professor.

I'll use myself as an example, and I'm going to be absolutely frank here.

As I said, I've been teaching for 10, almost 11, years.  Since right out of grad school. I have a Masters in English, and do have vague plans to get a PhD. Now, for the most part, I love the classroom (admittedly, this coming session is not something I'm terribly looking forward to, but more on that in a minute or three.) I love interacting with my students, imparting my knowledge to them, and learning from them.  That's the reason I became a teacher in the first place, whether we're talking my preschool days or my college days.  I love working with students.  It's a blast!  And consider, every 16 weeks, my routine changes.  That is AWESOME!!!  And, I love working with like-minded individuals who challenge me to be the best English prof I can be, and to learn more about, well, everything.  I've been fortunate to work, primarily, with colleagues and administrators who really are keeping the idea of learning in academia.  So, that's the positive.

Here's the negative: A regular full-time faculty member's load is capped at 4, maybe 5 classes, depending on the institution.  Now, yes, they also have other duties they're required to discharge, including advising and committees and whatnot.  And, they're compensated accordingly (at least at the institutions I'm familiar with.) This compensation takes the form of what I consider to be a very nice salary, and benefits--you know, insurance, vacation days, sick leave, all that good, fun stuff. Now, here's the negative I was talking about: I am an adjunct.  Technically, I'm a "part-time" professor.  That's what adjunct means (actually, you can go here for a full definition of the word.  Let me tell ya, reading that was depressing...).  I teach for 2 colleges; 4 classes at one, 3 classes at the other.  PLUS, I do my own fair share of student advising.  I keep office hours, both face to face and online. Admittedly, I don't have to worry about committees, but if I want to have a larger voice and presence in the institution's life, I should attend some. And I would!  I think it would be fun!  But, I don't have time.  Mainly because, as I mentioned, I teach 7 classes at 2 colleges.

Do I do this for my health?  Hells no!!!! Truth be told, I'm probably one of the unhealthiest people I know (laziness and lack of time.  But I am working on it!) I do this, the teaching 7 classes, just to make ends meet.  And I live, horribly but predictably, paycheck to paycheck.  I have no health insurance (thank you, Obama, for making that a possibility in my nearish future), I have no savings, and because of how academia works, I really have no funds going into social security (we have a social security replacement thingy--Tiaa-Cref...) I have no vacation days (although, yes, I do get quite a bit of time off in between classes.  That's not as nice a thing as it sounds...) I have no sick days (if I get sick and can't teach, my pay gets docked.) And, since I have no insurance, I only go to the doctor for the REALLY serious issues, when I can't avoid it anymore...

Because I'm single, childless woman, I'm not eligible for ANY public assistance, and because my job is classified as temporary/part-time or whatever, I can't get unemployment in my between months (and fyi--there are 2 months where I don't get a paycheck AT ALL.) And I need stuff.  Biggish stuff... Expensive-ish stuff.... (like a new car... eek!!!!) How I'm going to get said biggish, expensive-ish stuff, I've no clue... I'm sure I'll figure something out.

I'm not writing this post to complain.  Really, I'm not.  Because honestly, if I don't like it, I can get out and go elsewhere and get a job.  It might take me a while, in this economy, but hey, I have a master's degree, which basically means I am a DEMON on the research.  I can get shit done.  Trust me... So eventually, I'd be employed,and I'd probably be employed with bennies and everything (oh, paid vacation days, how I have missed you...) Rather, I'm writing this post because in all my online travels, I've never seen anyone give a frank, full depiction of the life of the adjunct.  Actually, I take that back, there was this blog post I read a few months ago... but yeah, I can't find that blog post now.  Too bad, it was pretty good.... And I think a frank, full depiction of the life of the adjunct is a very beneficial thing to have somewhere, because we put up with a lot in order to stay in a profession that is, for many of us, a labor of love.

Okay, so why am I not really looking forward to this coming session?  Well, mainly because of the 5 full-time positions available this year, I interviewed for 4 of them. And obviously, since I'm still an adjunct, I didn't get the job.  And that hurt.  And no, it doesn't really help that I know another worthy adjunct got the job.  Dammit, that was supposed to be mine! (just sayin') I'll get back into it, I'm sure, and it's not my students' fault I didn't get the job, so that's what I'm going to keep in the forefront of my mind this week as I prepare for classes (all 7 of 'em...) I am looking forward to seeing the students.  So I guess that's something...

So speaking of preparation, I should really get back to that...


UPDATE (8/30): I am happy to report, as of the 1st day of classes last week, I was all nervous and weird and stuff, which, in my world, means that all is at it should be.  I'm still happy to be in the classroom. so, you know, yay! and stuff... ~RLW

14 August 2010

Rustic Sunrise

I found a name for it!!!!!  I have to say, next to pricing, naming is one of my biggest problems.

So, a few days ago I blogged about ripping stuff apart, and included some pics of the bracelet I had made from said stuff I had ripped apart... Well, I kept looking at that bracelet and just couldn't leave well enough alone, so now I have an entire jewelry set made from that old belt.  God, I love my work.... LOL! Anyway, here's pics:

[caption id="attachment_82" align="aligncenter" width="484" caption="The complete set--earrings, necklace, and bracelet"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_84" align="aligncenter" width="387" caption="The necklace"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_85" align="aligncenter" width="387" caption="The bracelet..."][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_81" align="aligncenter" width="323" caption="The earrings"][/caption]

I love this set.  Not sure what I'm going to do with it.  But I wanted to share. Enjoy!


08 August 2010

Recycled junk mail!!!!

So, you know that annoying junk mail you get every Tuesday? Yeah, I hate that... Most of it I dump directly from my mailbox into the recycle bin.  But every once in a while a piece makes it into the house.  oops...

Anyways, I opened one of these annoying pieces the other day, cuz I thought, "hey, why not?"  It was a visa offer (like I need another credit card...) but you know how you can get those pretty cards now? Yeah, it was one of those.  The pictures were all Zodiac signs... very cool. So I put the insert in my craft-stash to ponder later.  That was two days ago...

Three days ago I made a few poly-clay pendants, thinking that I would Mod Podge some pics of my niece and nephews onto them, for gifts, if they turned out okay. Unfortunately, none of the pics I have printed would work at all well for that, and I've run out of ink (boo...). Then yesterday, I remembered the pics from that Visa offer.

So I started pondering, and made this:

[caption id="attachment_76" align="aligncenter" width="225" caption="Zodiacs"][/caption]

Here's the back:

[caption id="attachment_75" align="aligncenter" width="225" caption="Swirlies!"][/caption]

So here's what I did: After pondering the 12 designs offered up in the mailing, I decided on the Leo, Pisces, and Cancer (right, that's the crab?) images as the best for this project. And I cut some backgroundy bits from the other pieces to fill in the gaps a bit.   Instead of painting the Mod Podge on each individual piece, like I normally would, I just painted a thinnish layer on the front of the pendant, so that I would have a base to arrange and stick the pieces to. It seemed to work best for this project.  After I had them arranged (actually, I arranged on the dry piece first, then did the Podgey process...) and stuck down to my satisfaction, I painted some Podge overtop.  After that layer dried, I painted another layer, and made sure to seal the edges and back of the pendant as well, so that it's all nicely shiny... Shiny is good....

This project holds a number of firsts for me.  It's my first mosaic piece, it's the first time I've mixed polyclay and ANYTHING else, and it's the first time I've used Mod Podge start to finish.  I can honestly say, I was very pleasantly surprised at the workability of the Mod Podge.  See, I usually use Elmers to stick stuff down, and until the tea-tray, I'd not used Mod Podge EVER.  I think I'm in love...

So, what am I going to do with this pendant? No idea.  It doesn't really match any of the jewelry types I wear, but I'm kinda loving it.  But I'm not sure about the ethics of selling it, either, since I have no idea who the original artist is so I can't give them credit (and here is the dilemma of being an English teacher and a jewelry designer.  I worry about plagiarism in art... kind of annoying actually!)

Ah, well.  In the meantime, I'm just going to enjoy my craftiness...


07 August 2010

Ripping stuff apart is fun!

Okay, not so much "ripping" and taking stuff apart methodically so as to preserve all the original stuff to be used in making other stuff later. That's what I did a little while ago... I took apart a belt that I got years ago because it had these really interesting wood or palm-tree-bark-like thingies... See, like this:

[caption id="attachment_69" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="This is the main piece. No idea what it's made of.... But it looks cool!"][/caption]

So yeah, I had fun pulling that belt apart. I've been looking at these pieces for ages, and I decided to work on something today.  I made a bracelet, and I'm pondering earrings.  Here's the bracelet:

[caption id="attachment_71" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="No idea what to call this bracelet... "][/caption]

I love the pink swarovski with it.  Kinda makes it pop, you know?

[caption id="attachment_70" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Maybe I'll call it "Stuff"..."][/caption]

Eh, I'll work on a name before I post it to Artfire.  And I think I'm gonna go with "faux wood" on the materials list and leave it at that!


04 August 2010

I just may Decoupage the world!

So, my friend Jess recently extolled the virtues of Mod Podge to me.  Mod Podge is a gluing medium used in decoupage, and probably for other things, but I used it for decoupage.  I've done a wee bit of decoupage in my life (if you're not sure what that is, Jess's blog post here sums it up better than I ever could) but I've never covered a whole piece, and I've never used Mod Podge.

So I had this tea-tray that I bought 3 or 4 years ago, and painted white.  Then I just never did anything else with it, until I started using it as a catch all tray for jewelry making (it's perfect for holding seed beads while I'm bead-weaving.) I don't even have any pics of it from then... not that I would, it was actually pretty ugly. Poor thing...

Anywho... Jess is a crafting queen, and is far more creative and talented than she gives herself credit for. She posted a table she Podged, and then some pics of actual artwork she's doing using decoupage and Mod Podge. (you can see them on her blog here. The pieces I'm referencing are towards the bottom, and, in a word, GORGEOUS!!!!!! I want a custom Jess piece for my walls!) So I got to pondering, what can I decoupage?  Then it hit me--the tea-tray!  So I did...

[caption id="attachment_58" align="aligncenter" width="443" caption="The base of the tray"][/caption]

I have lots of scrapbook paper, but I don't scrapbook (I make cards, but that doesn't use a lot of printed scrapbook paper.  At least, not the way I do it.) Since I wanted to cover the whole tea-tray, I decided to rummage in my stash and see what I could find.  I managed to find a beautiful Victorian-themed set of papers with roses and buds and stuff, and since that really appeals to me, I decided to run with it.  And because I'm a little bit anal about perfection, I even used my paper-cutter to get nice crisp edges on things (right down to creasing the paper before I made it go around corners.) And since my scrapbook paper wasn't quite large enough for all I needed it to do, I had to make little accent-y bits, too. And, because I can't leave well enough alone, I had to cover the whole thing in a coat of varnish with some gold, glittery paint mixed in, just to give that additional bit of antique-y feeling....

[caption id="attachment_61" align="aligncenter" width="614" caption="Fanciness! and accent-y corners!"][/caption]

But the best part, that happened after I got the Mod Podge (see, I just used watered down Elmer's for the sticking down of stuff).  I had no idea it could have that shine!  And that mess is thick, too!  Which I guess is good for protecting, because this is a piece that will get used.  Often.  Just not for tea...

So what's next?  Well, lo and behold, you can decoupage ANYTHING it seems!  I have plans for all my switch plates, cuz, also, fugly! And eventually, my coffee table.  But that's REALLY big and will require a bit more in the way of planning (and glue...)

Thanks for reading!


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02 August 2010


So, I'm trying to eat healthier, to lose weight (cuz, well, I need to) and feel better and save money and whatnot.  The sad part is, I used to cook all the time in grad school (broke college student, anyone? Anyone? No? okay...) but then I moved back home (literally, back into my old bedroom in my parent's house...eek!  No, really, I very much appreciated that I could! But still, I had so much stuff!!!!!!) Anyways, after leaving Orlando and moving back in with mom and dad, I didn't really cook too often anymore.  There was no need, because Mom cooks most everyday.  And when I finally got my own place again, I was teaching 3-4 classes AND working full-time...  So really, not much time.  So I never really got back into cooking.

So now I'm not teaching as much (okay, now I'm not teaching at all... SCHOOL'S OUT FOR SUMMER, BABY!!!!!!!!!!) and I am, quite frankly, overweight, and I'm gonna be broke here soon, 'cuz I don't get paid when I'm not teaching (the joy of being an adjunct).  So, gotta get cooking.  Literally.  And hey, it saves me money, and I eat healthier!

I made my first ever pot roast a few weeks ago.  Amy and Sara said it was good.  Amy's is better (but also, she's got a family of 5 and cooks CONSTANTLY! And feeds me quite often... :) Love her!) And then I made a lasagna, but really, I don't think that counts, because lasagna is, at heart, a baked good, and I can bake my butt off.... So a good friend of mine, Deb (of "My Deb has Moved") is also a very good cook, and before she left, she gave me a number of pointers for makin' dinner fancy-ish but simple (orange-cranberry-glazed pork chops... oh so yummy.  with HOMEMADE scalloped potatoes.  OMGGOOD!!!!!!!! I didn't even know I liked scalloped potatoes!)  I also made my first steak a few weeks ago, marinated in orange juice and teriyaki glaze, and I've been eating a lot of chicken marinated in various things, as well.  See, that's kinda the thing. I am REALLY good at planning meals, and marinating meats, and all that stuff.  But the actually cooking, the heat and stuff, yeah, that sometimes gets me... When to saute, when to broil, etc... and there will be NO frying (one, not real good for me, and two, kinda scary!)

But, my friends on Facebook are stepping up and offering suggestions on HOW to cook things, and giving me links to helpful hints.  They rock! So tonight I had chicken quesadillas.  YUMMY!  Tomorrow, no idea, but I'll figure something out!

Eat well!