Tuesday, February 17, 2015

IF: design & decor

I made it to my first IF gathering. I'm still meandering thru my thoughts on it all...there's just so much to unpack. The speakers were raw and real. I felt such a sense of community and sisterhood being there with all of those women. It's something I haven't felt quite like that before. 

I had the privilege of helping with the decor for the event, and that was a blessing in itself. Months before a friend had asked if I'd be involved. I remember hesitating, feeling unsure of what I could bring to the table...but I'm so glad I stepped up and out of my world of crazy self doubt. We met early on at a coffee shop downtown to talk about her vision. We gobbled down our lunches and chatted and prayed and before I knew it, I couldn't keep up with my sharpie. When our two hearts and minds came together, ideas just flowed. I was sketching and doodling and designing my little heart away. And I'm not talking about anything grandiose or over the top either. I was working with yarn and cans and sticks...{lol}. I made trips to Good Will for milk glass vases and old frames and used the old lace drapes that were in our house when we moved in. We did buy a bolt of burlap and A LOT of babys breath. But other than that, we didn't break the bank on decorations. 

We prayed about it a lot along the way...from our first meeting to the last moments of set up. That whatever we did and however we did it...that God would be glorified. {and oh did we mean it}. We wanted God to be in it. For women to come and be blessed and feel comfortable enough to pour out their hearts to God. Not like they were at a church or a luncheon or a function {and no offense to any of those fabulous ways to commune with God either}. We were just dreaming of something else for this thing. We wanted it to be an intimate atmosphere that whispered acceptance and grace. I'm not sure how decor in any way shape or form can do that...but I truly believe that when God is "in" something...when He shows up...it can come alive. And OH DID IT. Thank.you.Lord.

The concept: 
Create a simple and elegant atmosphere using a collection of all things rustic and natural. 

{old wood boards, cans, twine, green & cream yarn, chunks of wood, lace, burlap, twigs, string lights, metal buckets, simple milk glass vases}


Here was the beginnings of our string art sign. It was sort of the basis of the our whole design concept. Lyndseye's handy hubby built the pallet substrate for us. You can see my little helper there in the corner. He wanted to rip the paper and eat the nails. Eventually he ended up in baby jail. {aka the jumper}

I made a template on the computer so that I wouldn't have to measure out the nail locations. I didn't have time for that, and this sign was pretty big as it was. I've discovered that when I work, it has to be quick. Like lighting fast. The little people require snacks and hugs and tickles every 15 minutes. So sending a drawing to the local print place is just easier for me. It might be because I spent years in a design firm and that's the language I speak. However you slice it, this little template made nailing my 3 foot "I" and "F" cake.

This next image might help you understand WHY I can only work in 15 minutes increments. This is what my 4 year old did while I nailed the pattern down. I was working on project IF, he was working on project TENT DISASTER. You can see he's in mid jump here. Probably testing out the strength of his tent roof. {sigh...}

I tore the paper off after all the nails were in. It probably took me an hour to do the nails and the yarn. Easy peasey.

My dad even joined in on the action. He followed me thru our woods one cold afternoon and heave-hoed all the down branches and logs that fit the size and shape of my liking {what a sweet dad}. Then he even pulled out the saw and cut them in random lengths for me. I truly heart him.

I also got a little crazy and cut up old lace curtains and used them for table runners. Our original idea was to use chicken wire as a layer over the lace {it looked AMAZING) but it was just too hard to work with in the end. It wouldn't lay flat and I didn't have the patience to deal with all the sharp edges. We ended up layering a strip of black tule over the lace to get the same contrasting effect. Much easier, and still pretty I guess.

This "angel" puzzle was in one of the old frames I bought from Good Will ... I thought it was fitting that it ended up being the straight edge I used to cut the lace against. God was in the details, like literally. But we knew that with or without an angel straight edge :)

I also made two large coffee filter wreaths. I decided to dye the coffee filters light gray by soaking them in a mixture of water and black paint for a few minutes. We laid them out on tables in front of space heaters to dry. Like I always say...whatever works, people! It was somewhat time consuming gluing them all together, but mainly because I was sort of OCD about bunching them together as close as possible. I used over 1000 coffee filters in the end. Thank goodness Aldi sells them cheap!

My son Rigby wanted to be in the photo below since he helped. He stayed up late one night with me separating all the filters. I heart him too :) Who asks to be in a photo and then refuses to look at the camera??? I think I better pause here and apologize for jumping back and forth between serious design and sarcasm. Please know it cannot be helped. ;)

Since we wanted to atmosphere to be cozy and intimate, we surrounded the tables with walls of pipe and drape, basically pulling the walls of our sanctuary in. And by "we" I mean Tom...the amazing facilities guy at our church. He offered up a lot of suggestions and really helped us get everything just right.

We also used long runs of tables end to end so that it had more of a community feel. I think it helped us feel like we were all part of this thing together. Quaint and cozy, and well, just plain lovely.

And we can't forget this little man. I know he was helping his Momma behind the scenes as well :)

And here she is...Miss Lyndseye...our IF coordinator extraordinaire! We had so much fun working together on this. Seriously. I swear we were finishing each other's sentences by the end. We even accidentally wore matching shirts to set up..."twinning" as Lyn put it. So fun!

And finally we were ready for IF:Valpo


(photo credits to Liz Bradley and Jerry Grafton)