"What a wonder life I've had! I only wish I'd realized it sooner." Colette

Nov 30, 2012

On Carousels


Safari Carousel
Andrea Jansen gourd art
 Before we know it, Christmas will be over.  How did it sneak up on us so fast, is my question?  Last time I looked it was August.   I’m missing all the craft shows, holiday demos, and whatever little consumer purchasing power is left, but; that’s due primarily to lack of funds for materials, either paint, flour or ink.
But hope springs eternal.  One thing I do well is philanthropy.   It gives me pleasure unlike any I’ve received cashing a nice, fat check; well, mostly.  Perhaps my doggy treat mixes are only a means to an end in the grand scheme of my life, ‘cause as they say, “It Ain’t Over…,” and I’m not singing yet.

Whenever I’m out of sorts these days, I drop back 10 and punt.   Facing the fact that my plans for my business, some of which I’ve shared over the summer, are not working out quite the way I figured, I am comforted by my faith in my inner self.  I hate mushy, self-help, angels-are-everywhere books; I only mean the feeling we get when we follow our gut.  It’s so simple; we’re taught that as kids, but somewhere along the way many of us forget.


Albany Carousel model
When I first arrived in the Grass Capital of America (the lawn kind), I read about the Carousel Museum, a non-profit dedicated to creating a marvelous Carousel for the downtown area, to help revive the place.  Hand carved and painted, created entirely by volunteers, I was there.  I always wanted to work in Santa’s Workshop.


I didn’t know how long I’d be in town, but I like volunteering.  I was lucky enough to be an assistant to the furniture guys on the Antiques Roadshow from Eugene, shown earlier this year (I’m wearing a huge, turquoise-beaded hairpiece).  A pair of sneakers from Goodwill became autographed canvases, and I had a great time, to boot.  If interested, here's A Tale of Two Shoes.
Using oils and their special dab-dab-dabbing technique, I spent too much time looking around the museum, remembering my own enjoyment of painting animal figures on gourds.  Over time I’d grown to consider my original (dog treat mix) product labels too boring.  Suddenly surrounded by all that color and creativity, I became inspired and here’s the result.
Cute, huh?  The mascots are all real animals trained by Dogs for the Deaf, with whom I’m in a formal agreement for donations.  It’s all good, all local, but people are just hesitant to bake.
The second time I helped out at the workshop, I met a woman and confided my Karma vs. Dogma dilemma.  I was not telling the story for sympathy, but she might hear of someone who needs a caretaker for their house or property; I come with my own home.

Segue:  I’d recently visited one of my favorite retail places:  the Dollar Store.  In the checkout line, a woman admired my Doggy Bag, but as I told her, people don’t have the money for originals these days, and the gourd purses are quite time consuming.

 
Antiques Roadshow
signed sneakers
Lo and behold a few days later I got a phone call from a woman who said a neighbor told her I wanted a place to watch, and she was planning an extended trip.  Could I possibly be the same gourd artist she met in the Dollar Store, which she’d just frequented for the very first time?  How many of us could there be in town?  We knew it was Providence.
I keep telling people you never know what will happen when you volunteer.  The first signature on my shoes was AR host Mark L. Wahlberg’s, and he was absolutely charming as he signed my foot.  I’m writing this post in the comfort of the woman’s old-fashioned kitchen, simultaneously compiling a list of ingredients for holiday baking, since I have every culinary implement you can imagine at my disposal.  I’m determined to enjoy every moment of my temporary digs.
Each Carousel animal has been sponsored by individuals, and while some people don’t particularly care how the animal comes out, others have quite specific requests, especially if it’s a memorial.  Details can have their own significance, such as someone’s favorite flower.

It takes years of practice on gift shop-headed Yo-Yos, hobby-horse heads and the like before artists and carvers are allowed to touch the real things. Especially for the artists, it’s important that the painting style looks consistent throughout; this is not the place for interpretation.  At $20,000 or so apiece, I guess not.
The project has been going on for years, and the Gepetto's, as I like to call them, will be working away for several more years.  They have a camaraderie, yet are willing to welcome novices.  It's like Master Craftsmen overseeing the construction of a cathedral.
I don’t think I’ll be around long enough to make the A-list of artists, but I can still stick my head in to dab-dab-dab a bit.  And since the Museum was so instramental in my life, I’m supplying the Museum Gift Shop with free product until Christmas, and they're selling.
December is my favorite month, for obvious reasons.  There’s a holiday parade this Sunday, followed by the tree-lighting.  I made my own add-to wreath from stuff I had on-hand, and I’m slowly filling it in with holly and greenery I pick up on our walks.  If I don’t take advantage of this now, I may not have another chance for a long, long time.

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Original gourd art designs Copyright 2018 Andrea Jansen Designs. Please write for permission.