So, I had a whole blog post written out about my altered bottle project with Rita Barakat’s Heart and Wings Art Foamies stamp and Lisa Marie Jiminez’s Colorique paint. And it was fine. Got the point across and explained the project. But I didn’t feel like I had a good example to relate to this bottle’s theme, or how much I connected with the hearts and wings in this mixed media sculpture.
However, I had an experience that a friend pointed out should be shared with you, and this blog was rewritten. (This one is a little long, the project is at the end of the blog.)
Last month my older daughter had her Masters of Arts commencement in New Jersey. Before the ceremony my family had some down time. My parents, my husband and I went to the usual coffee shop to find no tables free and my Mom needed a seat. Outside it was raining. So we asked the GPS to take us to the next nearest location, which it did, in Maplewood, NJ.
The four of us had just sat down with our coffee when a young woman with her little girl came in, Mom crying hysterically. She asked if she could sit at the first seat by the door, so those people were nice enough to get right up and give it to her. At this point about half the place is staring at her over their laptops and phone screens but most haven’t noticed her yet.
Another young mom with a stroller and a young man approached her and asked her if she was all right, but the woman was really shaky and couldn’t answer. She was pale and couldn’t explain herself well and now the whole place was watching her in curiosity. Some started taking video. (Really??) I decided to go over and ask if there was anything I could do to help, even though others were sitting with her. I didn’t know what I could do, but if I couldn’t be of help I could always go back and drink my coffee. The young man was calling 911 and was walking outside. On the other side of the plate glass window was a rapidly forming crowd and at least one dented car in the street. The woman inside kept saying “I don’t know what to do, what am I going to do?” And I feared someone had been hit. Luckily it wasn’t that bad, she had just had a very close call.
So, I asked if I could help and the other young mom asked me to get her something to drink. I went to the counter and the young mom came up to me again and said “maybe a strong, sweet tea? I’m British, that’s what we do” I was willing but said maybe just water, what if she was diabetic or something? She agreed.
I asked the barrista for the water and it turned out she was a trained EMT so she came over and asked if the woman was hurt or needed help, but the frightened woman declined. I was afraid she might be a little in shock. I’m no expert but she was pale and clammy and shaking. It was chilly outside for Spring but about 70 degrees in the coffee shop, and when I suggested she take off her coat she told me no, she was very cold. So as she sipped her water and the British young mom, her name was Amy** told her it was ok and talked to her, I started to ask mundane stuff, like her name, and her daughter’s name, and told her I was from Connecticut and had daughters, but my daughter was graduating today, yadda yadda. Because she couldn’t answer questions about what had happened. I learned this de-escalating stressful situations, from angry to scared, over the years and from experts and it has helped me many times. Her small daughter seemed fine, not even worried. Mom told me her name was Emily. She was still crying hard and apologized, which, I mean, why do we women do that? Apologize for being frightened, or affected, or angry? Like it’s a weakness? But I digress. That’s another blog. Of course we told her there was nothing to be sorry about. We told her she had every right to cry, she was scared for herself and her child and that’s traumatic.
After a moment she was able to speak about what happened and it turned out a driver while driving erratically, missing her and her daughter by inches not once but twice as they crossed the street! And apparently hit other cars as well! I mean, one close call is scary but to feel trapped by a driver that isn’t seeing you, or caring, and you don’t know why? With your small child in danger? Yeah, Mama Bear is going to get upset.
Police vehicles and fire rescue begin to arrive and fill the block outside the window. Three officers come in, two men and one woman, all of whom looked like they just came from weightlifting. One officer approached Emma and asked if she was hurt, and asked her to wait and he would be back to get her statement. Then they went out and handled the situation on the street. (Of course, now pedestrians and drivers are all taking cell video of the scene instead of looking where they are going and I’m just wincing and waiting for another incident!)
Meanwhile, everyone is still staring at this poor woman wondering what is going on, snapchatting the scene and generally acting like it’s a movie. I’m now making jokes to keep the mood lighter because, gawd, I would despise being in that situation. (I KNEW my knee-jerk reaction to make jokes in a crisis could be useful someday! See, Mom, I told you!)
Now this is the funny part: when Emma calmed down and could speak clearly it turned out SHE had a British accent, too! First British mom Amy caught the accent and they had a moment. And I said “the American got you water, she wanted to get you tea!! I should have listened!” We had a good laugh.
I never got all the details, but the police took care of everything and after they came back to get Emma’s statement and I went back to my table. My family says, so what happened, I tell them and they say, oh, that’s too bad and resume their conversation. I think my family is just used to me going up to strangers and dealing with things (read: she’s getting involved again). They barely noticed I was gone. My coffee was still suitably warm.
A few minutes later we were leaving for the commencement. I said goodbye to Emma and her daughter, who were also leaving, and asked if she was feeling better. She looked a heck of a lot better. I didn’t want her driving home too shaky. She said yes, much better and thanked me for staying with her, which was nice of her to say.
Now, I am not telling you about this because I want to humble-brag or tell you how funny I was. It is to say it felt good to be able to help someone in a tough moment with my few skills and personality. Anyone can be of help by just being there and listening and resassurring. And thank goodness no one was hurt. I was able to do a small part to put a positive spin on it for her, with the other young mom.
Often people want to help but don’t know what to do, so don’t do anything. Everyone waits for somebody to do something, so one day I decided I’m somebody and I’d do something. Maybe I would be brushed off, or rejected, and that’s ok because I offered. I’m really glad I got involved this time. I encourage you all to do the same when any small chance presents itself. We live in a society of loneliness, surrounded by people plugged in and pinging messages and fear of doing something in case it’s the wrong thing. I even questioned getting her tea! But offering help, encouragement or kindness is simply never wrong. You offered, and that right there lifts the person up a little bit. And you. Wrap your wings around someone, emotionally and spiritually.
So you see the connection to my lovely Heart and Wings bottle, right? Hearts and Wings rising, protecting, holding without squeezing, supporting. When I first sketched it out it reminded me of a serafim, a multi-winged angelic creature.
Now, here’s what it’s made up of:
- Glass bottle (in this project it’s a green Trader Joe’s Ginger Ale bottle)
- Lisa Marie Jimenez Turquoise Mountain Colorique paint by Colorbox
- Sharpie gold metallic permanent marker
- Liquitex Iridscent acrylic paint
- Rita Barakat Art Hearts and Wings stamp by Art Foamies
- Ranger Ink archival black stamp pad
- Glue Dots
I first stamped Hearts and Wings in black pigment ink onto white card stock, using one inking two or three times for varied stamp intensity. I then painted over the image lightly with a brush and red watercolor and put aside to fully dry. Then I painted a multitude of watercolors onto the stamp itself and quickly stamped an image. It gave me several ethereal wings of many colors, all with red hearts in the center. I went back over them with more colors and a little water to blend and add shading. Then I set those aside to dry. I gave the paper three hours before I started cutting, to be sure there wasn’t any moisture in the layers (it is 80 lb card stock).
While they were drying, I took my glass bottle (labels soaked off, cleaned and dried the day before) and painted on the entire surface except the bottom of the bottle with turquoise paint. I added a little to the cap, too, which I planned on leaving open to allow for the lights. I set the bottle aside to dry.
Once everything was dry enough to work with, I fussy cut the stamped images out of the card stock. Using gold metallic marker and iridescent paint I outlined and highlighted each set of colored wings individually.
I used multiple heavy duty glue dots to attach the center of each one around the bottle, starting with the black and red images. The bright images went on top of those, giving them a drop-shadowed effect. I used a pencil to gently curl the wing tips inward, following the curve of the bottle. I went back and touched up spots that needed more gold or curl.
After the wings were all on, I snuck some gold heart and wing doodles and highlights onto the bottle between the wings and around the neck.
I sprayed the whole sculpture with Krylon semi-gloss acrylic spray to seal and stiffen the paper. Now it’s ready for display! I can drop some fairy lights into it, or peacock feathers and silk flowers or just leave as is.
I just adore this Art Foamie stamp and it’s only one of many Rita has designed. And it goes so well with Lisa’s paints! Shopping sources and featured artists linked above and below. Questons and comments welcome. If you try this, or it inspires another version, let me know and send me a pic! I’d love to see it!
**I had no way to ask these nice ladies for their permission to identify them after the fact, so
names have been changed.