The Ghostly Lighthouse

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I am so excited to share this layout with you. The story it tells is one of the most important things to have happened to me in a long time.

It is of the Seul Choix Point Lighthouse in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula on Lake Michigan. It is haunted and you can read of my experience with the ghost in the lighthouse. It was my first encounter with a ghost and had me shaken up for quite a bit, but that is just the sidebar to this story.

The real reason this will always be my favorite lighthouse is because it is here that I learned you can accomplish anything. It is here that I first pushed myself beyond what I thought I was capable of. And it is here that I conquered my fear of heights.

lighthouse-left-by-candy-spiegelA year ago, I was too afraid to climb up on the counter to clean the cabinets. And I was too fat and out of shape to walk up more than one flight of stairs — and I had to take a break halfway up in order to do that. Last June, after I lost 60 pounds and started walking, my husband took me to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to camp, hike and photograph nature and lighthouses. We stopped at this one, located at the tip of a peninsula far from anything but water. It was our first visit and, although eager to explore, we had to set up camp that evening, so we didn’t want to linger.

The lighthouse keepers were nice enough to let us take a shortened tour of the lighthouse and they told us we really needed to go all the way up to the top. At first I was eager, but then I learned it was 96 stairs to the top — and we were already up a flight of stairs from the ground. At first, I let my fears take over and I declined. I knew I couldn’t handle the climb, mentally or physically. But the tour guide kept on me until I gave in. I figured I could go up as far as my legs and fear of heights would let me go and then I would come back down.

lighthouse-right-by-candy-spiegelMy legs handled the steps with ease, but it didn’t take long for my fears to set in. About halfway up, something in me snapped. I suddenly had this urge to push forward. With my husband behind me assuring me I was OK and protecting me from falling backward (the main reason I was afraid of heights), I kept going. My heart was pounding so loudly, I was sure everyone could hear it. I was gasping for air and holding on to that railing for dear life. In full-blown panic attack mode, I climbed step after step after step, winding around and around the lighthouse as I continued my upward journey. I kept telling myself I could do it … chanting over and over in my head. My whole body was shaking and I was nearly in tears, but I made it to the top of that lighthouse and peered outside. I was practically paralyzed with fear and I had to go down the first few steps on my butt, but I did it.

That moment changed my life. Since that day, I have been up and down ladders, escalators and glass-sided elevators with ease. The fear of heights has been conquered.

But, more importantly, there is this new fire in me. I am no longer afraid to try anything new. I’m not afraid of failing. And I know, if I set my mind to it, I can do anything. It’s like I have finally given myself permission to “live” for the first time. And it is all thanks to that haunted lighthouse.

Yes, I did have a paranormal experience during this journey … you can read all about it, here … click on the photos to make them bigger.

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This story was written soon after the experience … before I felt the continued benefits of climbing all of those steps. Rarely does a day go by that I don’t think of that journey to the top of that lighthouse. I always say a little thank you to that guide for encouraging me to climb. Had it not been for him, I might not have learned to ice fish, ride a bike, shoot a gun, hike through the woods, kayak, swim in public or do any of the other things I have learned to do since that day at the Seul Choix Point Lighthouse. And I certainly wouldn’t be thinking of learning to rock climb or taking escalators just to prove to myself they no longer scare me!

Thank you.

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Commissioned Art

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For years, I have been looking for a special piece of artwork for my living room wall. I fell in love with a huge canvas photo in an art gallery and dreamed I would someday take a picture and have it mounted. So far, that hasn’t happened and I was anxious to get something on the wall. So, I decided to commission myself to make a piece of art.
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I started with a large, 6-pane window I bought at Green Door Studio. I washed it up, but left the white paint just as it was.

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I added metallic silver paint to the majority of the window.

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Next I added a bit of blue paint here and there …

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And then some brown. Then I went over the top of the entire window with a semi-gloss glaze mixed with brown paint. Then I was ready to decorate …

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I used a Wendy Vecchi Studio 490 rubber stamp to add some text to two of the corners. Archival Ink works well — I heated it just to be sure.

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Then I went over the top with Texture Paste on a stencil.

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I added a bit of paint over the top …

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I used the same techniques in the opposite corner, but I added Lake Superior rocks and a bit of birch bark to that corner.

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In the center of the panes, I used a stencil to add a compass with Archival Ink.

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Then I added the photos behind the glass. I used Mini Glue Dots because I wanted to be able to change them out. I don’t like that the dots show in some places, but I really wanted the photos behind the old glass.

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I also added a few tags, some wood pieces and more rocks to various spots on the window.

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At the bottom, I added a piece of driftwood from the beach, along with a few more rocks.

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I also added a charm from Tim Holtz.

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I love how my window came out. I hope I’ve inspired you to make art of your own!

Photo Transfer Canvas

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I recently had the opportunity to take some classes with Jen Starr. This was the one I was most excited about — transferring a photo onto canvas. The background was painted with acrylic paint and stenciled and stamped … then we transferred the photo (in my case, the lighthouse) and then added the metal around the edge. The rest, I finished at home, finally!

I won’t tell you how to transfer the photo because that was Jen’s class, but I can share some of the work I did to the piece.

First, I should tell you that touring this lighthouse was a bit of a life-altering experience. During the 96 steps to the top, I realized that my lifestyle changes made in diet and exercise are working. I also pushed myself to deal with my fear of heights. And, I had a paranormal experience. Much more on all of this to come, but because the place was so special, I wanted it to hang in my living room.

If you look closely, you will see that I forgot one of Jen’s instructions in doing the transfer, so I am missing a couple of pieces, but I feel it adds to the paranormal quality of the art, don’t you think?

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Jen also stressed in her class that the elements added have meaning and not just be random pieces of art. I took that to heart and nearly every piece included is done for a specific reason.

The metal quote (from Tim Holtz) is there to represent the paranormal experience. The keys tell of my courage and determination to “own” the lighthouse and climb all of those steps despite the full-blown panic attack I was having from my fear of heights. (The anchor and metal corner piece are decorative … hint: I painted the metal corner embellishment with Distress Paint to cover the brass.)

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Suel Choix (inked wooden letters) is the name of the lighthouse. It’s name, in French, means “only choice.” The story goes that some French sailors were caught in a storm and this bay was their only choice for survival — hence the little French sailor from Prima. The lighthouse was once the center of the fishing community in this part of Michigan, so I included the fisherman from Prima as well.

The arrow signifies movement and direction, which I took in climbing the stairs. The compass is for the journey we took to get there — we had to use GPS because it was so far off the main road — and the admit one is for the tickets we had to purchase to see the lighthouse. The wooden saying, a moment to remember, also painted, is so I will always remember that if I set my mind to it, I can do anything!

By the way, the chimney and roof are actually in front of the tower. When I cut out the picture and saw how it looked like it was painted onto the tower, I thought it led a ghostly quality to the canvas.

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Facing Your Fears

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My husband and I recently returned from a trip to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. I’ve only been a couple of times, but it always feels like we are entering a different country — especially since you have to stop at a toll booth on the U.P. side of the Mackinac Bridge.

 

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I am still working on developing my photos (yes, they are digital, but I run them through a program to adjust color, crop, straighten, etc.). I took more than 100 photos on my iPhone and another 996 on my camera, so it is taking longer than I would like. Fortunately, there are some duplicates and a few that didn’t turn out that I am deleting!

IMG_1373Our plan was to photograph lighthouses, waterfall and wildlife. It turns out I have way more wildlife in my backyard than is in the U.P. But we did hike to quite a few falls and saw several lighthouses.

This is Seul Choix Point Lighthouse. It is located on the northern shores of Lake Michigan, 60 miles west of Mackinac Bridge. The name is French for “only choice,” since this harbor is the only option to get out of a storm in the area.

IMG_1352The lighthouse was once the center of a thriving fishing community, with supplies for residents coming in from the lighthouse docks. The community is now gone, but the lighthouse grounds are wonderfully maintained with all of the original buildings.

The light tower, still operating although it is now automated, is 78 feet tall and was built in 1895. The Victorian details on it are unique and magnificent and you can see for quite a distance from the top. However, it takes climbing 80 tiny, open iron steps and a ladder to get to the top. When I heard that, I declined a visit to the tower, but the guide quickly talked me into it. And there began my terrifying journey up.

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First of all, I wasn’t sure I was fit enough to make it up 90 stairs. However, since I recently lost 50 pounds through diet and exercise, I decided to give it a try. Physically, the climb was not difficult at all. But mentally was a whole different animal.

I am afraid of heights. Well, more like terrified of heights. I can’t be near the edge of a balcony, more than two steps up on a ladder or handle a shopping mall escalator. Heck, I cannot even walk up a staircase in a house if it doesn’t have a rail. And if I get stuck going up, I cannot get down without help. Needless to say, going up 90 stairs was terrifying. Several times I had to stop, refocus and push myself to get to the top. By the time I got there, my heart was pounding out of my throat, I was trembling and I was nearly hyperventilating. I had a paranormal experience on the way up, but that didn’t even hit me until I was safely back on the ground.

But, I did it — well, all except the top three ladder rungs. I just couldn’t do that. But I did get up high enough to see out the window.

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This was, quite honestly, one of the hardest things I have ever done. But, the rewards of having accomplished this are so incredible. By the end of the trip, I was climbing steep hills and getting closer to the edge of the cliffs than I ever have before — without any trace of nervousness or even realizing that I would normally be afraid at that point. No, I don’t think my fear of heights has been conquered, but I feel like I am more in control of it.

Back to crafting!

 

On the Rocks

I am excited to have been invited by Tami Potter to contribute to her amazing website … mosaicmoments.com.

This site includes videos, how-tos and everything you ever wanted to know about creating mosaic pages.

My first contribution to the site features photos from Lake Erie.

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I used several techniques on this page … you can read all about it, here!

 

Got Wood?

September is a special month at Scrap It Girl.

In addition to the back-to-school challenge, we are also having a wood challenge. And, to get your mojo going, each of the girls on the design team created a project using a wood book from Genuinely Jane Studios.

woodalbum_candy_spiegelPrior to this challenge, I had not even heard of Genuinely Jane Studios, nor seen any little birch books, so I was eager to try it out.

wood_Candy_SpiegelThis is the little mini book I received. It’s made in Missouri, a definite plus!

Anyhow, there were a few tiny chips around the edges, so I took my Tim Holtz sander and went around each edge, then wiped it with a microfiber towel to remove any dust. It was easy and only took me about 30 seconds per page.wood_Candy_Spiegel_2

I pulled out my Distress Stains to color the book. I wanted to give it the look of water, so I added a variety of blues and greens.

wood_Candy_Spiegel_3Then misted them with water and let them blend on their own.

wood_Candy_Spiegel_4I then dabbed off the excess water/stain and dried with a heat tool because I am always impatient.

wood_Candy_Spiegel_5Once I got the background how I wanted it, I added a bit of metallic stain to it and dabbed it around with a paper towel. It created a beautiful effect — much like frost on a window. Click on the photos for a larger picture to see the details.

wood_Candy_Spiegel6I wanted the cover to resemble a port hole, so I coated it in Tarnished Brass Distress Crackle Paint and let it dry. (heat tools and crackle paint do not mix)

Once I had that part done, I got to decorating the cover and filling in the book.

wood_Candy_Spiegel_7I filled the book with inspirational quotes I found with a nautical theme. I added buttons, twine and stamps as well. (click on the pictures for a better view)

wood_Candy_Spiegel_8This is my favorite page … a ship on one side and a Michigan lighthouse on the other!

wood_Candy_Spiegel_9On the back page, I added a bit of fiber to soften it up a bit.

wood_Candy_Spiegel_6I added lots of little things on the cover … Dew Drops, metal and a tiny compass.

Here’s a look at the front again …

woodalbum_candy_spiegelNow it’s your turn. You do not have to create an entire mini album. Just use a bit of wood on your scrapbook page, card or layout and post it here. One person will win an amazing prize package filled with woody goodies!