For many years we handed out sidewalk chalk as the party favor at Rebecca’s birthday celebrations. You could get sixteen big sticks of color (in a convenient plastic carrying case) for $1. It was big, it was colorful, it was useful and it was cheap. That’s an ideal party favor for little kids. (AC Moore has a 20 pack for under $5–bet it was on sale early in the summer). If you find a good deal, stockpile it for your next party. You aren’t just being thrifty, you are nurturing talent. Perhaps the best reason for giving out sidewalk chalk (home associations be damned) was , and is, that it is a gift of creativity. It’s hard to resist a sidewalk canvas, and it is an excellent way for parents and kids to play together on a summer evening. People in my neighborhood clearly agree. Here’s a few shots of the summertime art, gone with the next rain, that makes sidewalk chalk such a priceless toy.
I had three hours in Nashville all to myself recently and tried to make the most of it. If you are short on time, but want to see more than the honky tonk bars or stars’ homes, here’s what I did. Noon: the taxi drops me off in front of Hatch Show Print, which is best known for its iconic block print lettering that was used on posters advertising all the concerts and appearances of Nashville’s greatest stars. Part of the Country Music Hall of Fame, it is still a working printing business. If you are lucky, someone will be using one of the presses and give you a little talk about what they are doing. The walls are filled with fabulous artwork and they continue to make lots of great posters for sale. Best buy? $1 postcards cut from test posters. They reuse the test posters a number of times, so the resulting found art is quirky and beautiful. Right next door was a great candy and ice cream soda fountain that sells the popular Tennessee chocolates Olive and Sinclair. I picked up some smoked cocoa nib bark for my husband and a chocolate shake to fortify me. 12:45–a bit of walking and poking around on Broadway, enjoying the flashing neon, the sound of country music blaring from busy bars and the sudden hush as you turn the corner and see the Ryman Auditorium, the original home of the Grand Ole Opry, which looks more like a church than a performance hall. See the funky windows? 1:15 Caught a cab to an up and coming neighborhood–12th Avenue South. Lots of funky shops in bungalows converted to stores and a super place for lunch Burger Up, with locally sourced meat and produce and astonishing sweet potato fries. Right next door, Las Paletas, a tiny shop that sells beautiful Mexican popsicles. Chili and cucumber, strawberry and blueberry, pineapple and more. And you can even have your treat dipped in Olive and Sinclair chocolate. Alas, I didn’t get to explore the vintage stores and other fun places because the hotel shuttle was coming down the street. And the driver, a former tour guide, told me where the stars homes were, to boot!
Every long weekend I imagine that I will actually complete an art project. Most weekends, I fail. Memorial Day was no exception, as long delayed cleaning chores consumed most of my time (well,OK, so did hanging out with family and friends! But I was determined to complete SOMETHING, so I took a project that was almost done–a soldered ruler pendant–and finished it by adding a glass bead component to one side, jump rings and a really nice length of chain I found at a yard sale. Voila! a finished project. Of course, this actually took a long time. The rule is a great old folding ruler that I cut into pieces with “cut anything” scissors. A few flying wood splinters later I had a pile of ruler chunks, which I then wrapped with copper foil tape and soldered . I had originally planned to make single pieces (and have plenty still to finish), but the juxtaposition of the different lengths made a nice bib necklace with a bit more soldering to link the pieces together. Anyway, I may not have time, but I sure have inches!