Flower Power… Fresh & Painted!

Flower power! When did you first realize that flowers are magic? Even though I have always loved flowers, I think it was the day we picked out lavender roses for our wedding that I felt the magic from them. That was over 31 years ago!

As a young child, I loved planting flowers with my mother in our flower boxes out back. In middle school, we used flowers in science experiments as we learned botany. In high school we poked flowers through chicken wire to make gorgeous floats for the homecoming parade. Of course, there are so many times when I was given flowers…corsages, get well wishes, and birthday blessings, but I really remember that first lavender rose I held in my hand and felt the magic of beauty and promise… for the days that lay ahead.

Fast forward 20 years later and I “accidentally” discovered a way to use flowers to stain paper and make beautiful art. After a steady five years of devotion to plant elements, I took that technique, which is actually an age-old concept, and developed it into an art, that for the first time in decades of being an artist, actually manifested into a style that was truly mine.
Now, plant-staining is on the back burner for me. I have taken that art as far as I want to go with it and I am back to focusing on pottery and teaching art journaling, both art loves that I have embraced for several decades, even before they became hip!

Flowers are a consistent theme in my work. Daisies are my favorite; more specifically, purple daisies. As much as people know my obsession with purple, they know my spirit flower, if there is such a thing, is a daisy. Daisies symbolize innocence and purity a belief that stems from an old Celtic legend. Freya, the goddess of love and beauty in Norse mythology, holds the daisy as her sacred flower. The daisy then is associated with childbirth, motherhood, and new beginnings.

I didn’t have daisies in my wedding bouquet, but it’s one of those many things I feel I have grown into over time, perhaps not worthy of their loveliness until I too became a mother, or at least looked at each day as it was full of new beginnings. In an odd and contradictory way, the more I grew into myself as a woman, the more I grew away from the refined connotation of the lavender rose to the free-spirited barefooted jubilant character of the daisy.

The power of flowers is a whole study that I really just enjoy learning about. I peruse books, read stories, sculpt daisies out of clay, and paint them constantly. I display them, fresh, almost daily, on the bar perched between our kitchen and family room, bringing smiles to my heart as I pass them through multiple trips to my studio.

In our own individual worlds, we give power to what we choose and we energize ourselves by what we choose. I give flowers the power to energize me, whisper sweetness to my heart, and shout beauty to the world on my behalf. I give them the power of my soul to spreading kindness. From flowers, I receive the power of inspiration and nourishment for my individual expression. In my world, true Flower Power is the strength to plant, nurture, and grow my individuality. The true power of Flower Power is blooming, blooming true.

For an extra bonus, below is a link to a watercolor painting tutorial…”Daisy Love!” Come paint with me!

Throwing it Back to My 1967 VW Bug!

Rachelle's VW Bug - Painted to High School Perfection

Is this not the best?!!! Lol!
In June of 1986, I graduated high school and drove this sweet ride!

The father of one of my closest friends put this baby together from different parts. I basically “rented” it for the year. Knowing that I was going out of state for college, and it would never make it to SC from PA, Mr. West, let me use it until I left for Carolina (Go Gamecocks!)
The first week I had it, at the beginning of my senior year, the engine caught on fire!

I was captain of the tennis team and had stayed late after practice to plan some things with the coach. When I started it up, the engine sparked and then the back, where the engine lives in VW Bugs, went full fire. A friend of mine grabbed me out of the driver’s seat (thanks, Drew) and I grabbed my racquets from the back seat. There was no way I was going to let those burn!

Churchill High School Tennis Team Fall 1985

That was a Friday afternoon. Mr. West had a new engine and new back put on by start of class on Monday morning! Ha!

There were enough parts of the same year to label this a 1967 Bug, at least for the vehicle registration and insurance information. It had one of those large wire steering wheels and fabulous old fashioned dashboards with round gauges that looked like the inside of cups. Since I was going to drive it for a year, the very important senior year of high school, I sprung for a brand new radio with cassette player! It was very spiffy!
In the winter, I braved the cold as long as possible and, when I could bear the chill no longer, Mr. West connected the heat…a hot cylinder pipe that blew burning hot air from under the driver’s seat. If my leg touched it, it burned it so much that it would leave a welt. There was no controlling the heat. If the car was running, the heat was running. There were many days it was so hot in there that I had to drive with the window down in below freezing temperatures just to be able to breathe.
I loved that car!

One day while I was at work, my friends decided my Bug needed a make-over. They bought spray paint and sprayed each section of the car a different color, then personalized it with my nick name…Dish (in reference to the body builder Rachel McLish, but that’s a whole other story.) I came out of work to find my Bug painted…p-a-i-n-t-e-d! Every section, painted in a different color!
Talk about “rock star” status…that was epic! Once I got over the shock, and the fear that Mr. West was going to throw a fit, I embraced that wild and crazy fabulous work of art on wheels like it was my own personal Picasso! But the real treasure, was the gift my friends’ gave me in that crazy antic…a story of connection to them and a beloved time in my life.
And…I really loved that car after that!

My VW Bug was painted to high school perfection.

We used to go to the drive-ins all the time that summer after graduation and, since the price of admission was per car not per person, we would stuff it full. That sweet little thing that was a two sitter with a compact back seat ended up carrying 10-12 people to those movies. (Mom, I know you are reading this…it is 34 years later and the statute of limitations on being grounded has expired!💜) I swear we looked like the clown car at the circus when everyone peeled themselves out of it to sit on the roof and the ground around it to watch the movie. I feel like we were watched Top Gun at the drive-in a lot that summer!

Senior Year 1985-1986
Two of my other friends had Bugs that year and we even took a yearbook photo together, posing proudly with our buddies and our Bugs.

Memories like these are definitely priceless, as are the years that float in between. Our youngest child turned 18 yesterday and not only is it hard to believe that all four of our children are now adults, but it is hard to believe I am so many years removed from being 18 myself.

Some of these guys are ones who painted my VW Bug!

The phrase the days are long but the years are short is such a true and real sentiment. I long for the days when our children were little, would curl up on my lap for stories, and we would look at pictures together. I told them stories about my Bug, well most of the stories about my Bug, from the time they were little and over the years they have gotten me little trinkets as presents because they know how much mine meant to me.

They have given me stickers, a book about VWs, and Renée even gave me a toy VW Bug painted with daisies on it that sits on my desk in my studio to this day.

One of the neatest things I am appreciating with the passage of time is the merging of memories decades separated. It is the sharing of stories that give our children a glimpse into a past they never knew but shaped us, their parents, in ways they know so well.
I wish I still had that Bug to show my kids. Oh, there’s no way in the world I would let them drive that old thing as it would never be safe to ride on the roads of today, but it would be a fabulous yard sculpture for unique curbside appeal and provide priceless photo ops to bridge the generations of time.

Happy 18th Birthday, my baby boy and Happy High School Graduation to you and the rest of the Class of 2020! May you always, always, hold dear snippets of this year, as unusual as it is, and find the wonder of it to share with your own children one day.

Tea Tongs… The Unnecessary Necessity

You know I never thought much about tea tongs until about a month ago when I saw a fellow potter in a social media group post about them and offer the idea about including them in mugs we sell. Tea tongs are used to pull saturated stringless tea bags from cups after tea is steeped.

In so many ways, I am a purist…I refrain from using templates and molds, stamps and decal transfers. I just believe that my art is my art. It is the product of what I create using the rawest of materials I am willing to forage. Now, I know that there are several artists that dig their own clay, mill their own watercolors, mix their own glazes, etc and I do not do any of that.

I learned from spending over five years perfecting my plant-staining technique using natural plants as my color source that creating my own art materials in “back-to-earth” methods is a full-time job in itself. So, again, I am only talking about how much raw I am willing to explore so that I still have time to create the art growing in my inner soul.

What in the world does this have to do with tea tongs, you may ask. Well, in my head, a lot! It has to do with the idea of commercializing a piece of art to sell it and to me, when an artist chooses to use a prefab piece of design, like a stamp someone else made or a decal someone else produced, then they have moved from art to craft and more interested in creating a piece that “looks” close to perfect versus one that exudes individuality from the artist. I see the value in both, but I am just not about craft or look-a-likes and all about art.

Again…the tea tongs connection? When I first saw that post by my fellow potter, I thought of giving tea tongs with mugs as a sales ploy. It is one more thing that people are using to “sell” their pieces instead of the piece selling itself or making the connection between the artist and the collector. I look at those prefab, almost perfect, stamped images or decal transfers on pieces and see commercial product production not art. I see the same thing when attaching a set of tea tongs.

But, then I reflected back to the many tea house experiences I have had. I love tea houses! Some I have been to are quiet and dark for a quaint and private ambiance that leans into zen meditation while others are fresh and lively with lavender and flowers all around for a feminine retreat. They all have one thing in common though…no tea tongs! Ha! They usually serve loose tea in a tea pot that you pour through a strainer to hold back the herbs and leaves. I haven’t ever had tea made with a tea bag at any of those places. But I have had sugar cubes that I have served myself from a sugar bowl to my tea cup with…wait for it…tongs!

So as I was sitting and thinking about the gimmick of the tea tongs, something that is definitely unnecessary in the tea drinking experience, I had a rush of memories back to many delightful visits to tea houses and to the people I shared those rendezvous with. Some are not here with us anymore, some are people I see only a couple times a year, and some are with people that are in the next room, but it doesn’t matter where they are in this particular moment; what matters is the blessing of the memory with them, and what got me to those memories is thinking about tea tongs.

So now, while supplies last, when you purchase a mug from my shop, you will also receive a set of tea tongs! Yes, they are completely unnecessary and, no they are not a sales ploy. In my world, tea tongs are not just for pulling your saturated tea bag from your cup, but they pull memories of delightful visits from your often overwhelmed and busy mind so you can visit with them for a bit while you enjoy your cup of tea from a one-of-a-kind mug as unique as your memories.