Inspiring Creative Women #4: Bliss Ranch




She had me at "ice tong toilet paper holder." 

After all, such humor shows a truly creative mind at work. But it's her altered and lettered dressers creating a buzz in the blogging world. Bliss is the alter ego behind the little slice of humorous heaven known as Bliss Ranch. Sit a spell and find out how this artist and her "hunk-o-burnin' love" navigate the creative process and family life together. And more pointedly, how tuning in to her creativity and leaving her comfort zone introduced her to an old friend: herself



The Inspiring Creative Women series is dedicated to
in-depth interviews designed to bring the
creative process into sharper focus.



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{Christina}  Bliss, I've had so much fun following you and commenting back and forth. Welcome! We want to hear all about your "Bliss Ranch." I know you’ve got a gaggle of offspring (as you put it), grandchildren, a herd of chickens, ducks, a dog and a 25-acre spread. What drew you to country life?

{Bliss}  When we were dating, my husband told me he was going to build himself a house. I grew up around Los Angeles - houses came already built by someone else- so I didn’t know a person could go do that!  Next thing I knew we bought 5 acres.  I was clearing brush and heating a big bucket of tar over an open fire to keep it fluid enough to paint cement block, and planning a wedding at the same time. That was 31 years and 3 houses ago. So the truly inspiring and creative person is my husband.



{Christina} I'm betting the creativity runs deep over there. What other creative outlets did/do you all pursue together as a family?
{Bliss} There was lots of crafts around the house when everyone was little. The older everyone gets the more I see the opportunity to be creative as a group.  My two daughters are my junking buddies and we hit the occasional sales every month together.  This has inspired the girls to craft together on my dining room table, lately they have been making paper flowers.



{Christina} I simply love your style! How would you describe your style? 

{Bliss} Thank you Christina.  I have never considered myself artistic, and just recently learned to even allow the label ‘creative.’  I'd have to say with six kids I developed my style by what worked best, not necessarily what I liked best. I started blogging in January being in awe of the talent of others.  If you would of told me then that I’d be lettering on dressers I’d of thought you nuts!

{Christina} Looks like Brawn, your "hunk-o-burning luv" as you call your husband, is essential to several of your projects ~creative and in life. What are the keys to teaming together with your spouse on a creative endeavor?

{Bliss} There are two keys.  One is that the man can make anything. Period.  I haven’t found something he can’t do or isn’t at least willing to try.  The second key would be letting me always be right.  
     We joke that I’m the brains and he's the brawn.  To team with me it helps to have patience, which he is a master at. It also helps to be able to decipher the horrible way I draw when I'm trying to get an idea across. We play off each other, so ideas often develop as we talk them out.  I tend to ask him, “do you think it’s possible to ______?”.
     When we were young and broke, he wanted to make anything he could and I didn’t want cookie cutter, so that blended well.  It was something we could do together.  

     Now that our years of raising small kids has passed, we have rediscovered creating together again.  Taking an idea from my head to his hands doesn’t always turn out, so fail or success it's a joint effort either way. 

{Christina} What do each of you admire about the other?
{Bliss} I’m amazed at what a great man he is, and that has nothing to do with his creativity.  He’s a better person than I am, the best husband and father I know.  The fact he caters to my every buildable whim is a bonus! When I asked him what he admired about me I should have been more specific that I meant in the creative realm.  His response wasn’t fit to type.
{Christina} Your humor and wit are so much fun! Did you grow up in a witty family? What role does humor play in helping or hindering creative expression? 

{Bliss} Thanks again Christina. I consider humor and wit big compliments.  Based on some of my design flops, I’d say having a sense of humor helps to not take yourself or your project too seriously. Having fun, laughing, and enjoying life is what it’s all about. I don’t know that my home was a hysterical place to grow up (unless you count looking back at some of my mom’s decorating styles), but my parents certainly had a sense of humor.  Humor plays into creativity by helping me take chances I might not otherwise take.  If something I do to a piece of furniture makes me smile, chances are it will have the same effect on someone else.






{Christina} You’ve transformed several pieces of furniture into works of art. What do you look for in a piece you intend to transform? Give us some tips!

{Bliss} Now THAT is a funny question!  What I look for and my secret to turning them into works of art is that they were free or something I already had.  Not hardly an amazing tip huh? Both the dresser I turned into a portable bar and the one I made for my son were free.  The Kodak dresser I already owned.  
     There are some really creative minds out there who can repurpose things. I’m smacked silly by what they create. I only wish my brain worked that way: I am a total wannabe.  Instead when I eye up an ugly piece of furniture I wonder what so-and-so would do to it.  When I spot something free my new mantra is “it’s free who cares!” and I load it in my vehicle. 

{Christina} What projects are you most proud of, and why? Which ones say the most about you?  

{Bliss} I’m proud of the projects that got me to leave my comfort zone, such as doing lettering or the rare (very rare!) sewing. Mostly I’m just proud that I’m being creative.  It’s like I’ve met an old friend, someone I used to know….myself.   
     I was particularly happy with the rock n roll dresser I made for my son.  It was free, ugly, then transformed specially for my son and I beamed when he said it was cool.  That is the type project that says the most about me because it came from my heart.


{Christina} Which project(s)have been most popular to the public?
{Bliss} I would have to say it has been pretty evenly split between the rock n roll dresser, Kodak dresser, and the drink station dresser.  





{Christina} In the creative realm, who encourages you and whom do you admire? What impact does creativity have on your life / quality of life?
{Bliss} My husband encourages me to finish the projects I start, probably because they are taking up half the entryway while I work on them.  
     I admire talent big and small.  It's a lot like music for me: I maybe don’t enjoy listening to all types of music but I appreciate all music and the talent to create it. Sometimes I see beautiful rooms that are not my style, but that doesn’t make them any less beautiful.  I don’t particularly want the Sistine Chapel on my ceiling - not my style - but there is no question of the talent and time that went in to creating that.  
     The impact creativity has on my life is that I no longer have room to park in the garage and one of my kids asked me if I was going to paint everything in the house. I don’t think he was joking either.

{Christina} All kidding aside, I think expressing ourselves creatively is actually a pretty profound act. Have you ever hit a creative block, or felt discouraged or unsupported in your endeavors?   How did you handle it?

{Bliss} Definitely all of the above. In the project category I started my son’s room redo last August.  It is now at the 1-year mark.  I hit a creative block shortly after I started, and even the rock n roll dresser I made for him didn’t restart me. That's a bit discouraging.  I’m not sure everyone around here is supportive of my new found habit of collecting junk and free furniture!  
     My sons will tease me as I try to explain a purchase or my curb crap collection, but my daughters are starting to see the diamonds in the junk. And my husband learned a long time ago it's easier to just have a "yes dear" attitude as when I ask him to break out a power tool.

{Christina} You have six children and some grandchildren! What do they think of your projects?

{Bliss} Yup, 4 son, 2 daughters, and one each of grand kids.  My oldest declared the drink dresser “freaking awesome,” and just about all of them will walk by a new find and ask “what are you gonna do with THAT?” followed by a laugh or grunt of disbelief.
{Christina} Are any of them artists and/or creative types {in various areas} like you?
{Bliss} Two earn their living as graphic/visual designers, and of the six, four have artistic hobbies like making pottery, stained glass and wood working/DIY on their own homes.  The two youngest tell me that the artistic gene ran out before it got to them.  I’m almost inclined to agree but I would never want to discourage them.  I was not artistic at their age either.  Being artistic and creative to me are two different things and those last two are very musically artistic.


{Christina} Is creating fabulous works and blogging your full-time job, or do you have an additional career? How do you balance it all?
{Bliss} I am a semi-retired photographer, which really means I’ve just gotten lazy.  My full time job has been and always will be my role as wife and mother, and now gramma.  I’m here to tell all the moms of young kids…. when those young’ins get older they require just as much attention because they come over and want to visit or ask advice or just to hang out because they like ‘ya.  If you’re lucky.  And I’m very lucky.
    I’m having fun blogging and enjoy finding like-minded creative people.  Blogging has to stay fun for me, because when it becomes a job that I don’t enjoy I’ll be done.  But if that happens I’ve gathered a loooooong list of projects from all of you to keep me busy.
     Thank you Christina for thinking me inspiring enough for your Creative Women feature.  I’m truly honored to have been asked.  It tickles me to think I might inspire even one person, especially because I find much of my own inspiration in all the other creative women.



Thank YOU for sharing your talent, humor, and insight with us, Ms. Bliss.  I loved hearing about your approach to creativity and partnership with "Brawn"!





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{I host a weekly linky party. Come find out more here!  I'm sharing this Inspiring Creative Women Interview with...Monday:  CraftomaniacMaking The World Cuter, The Gunny SackAlderberry HillA Round TuitSkip to My LouCherished BlissTuesday:  Not Just a Housewife, Nap-Time Creations, The DIY Dreamer, Tip JunkieToday's Creative BlogUncommon, Gingersnap CraftsThe NY Melrose Family; Wednesday:  The 36th Avenue, Live-Laugh-Rowe, Nest of PosiesSavvy Southern StyleSomeday Crafts, The Trendy TreehouseVery Merry Vintage StyleWhat We Wore & Made,SnapThursday: Johnny in a Dress, Bliss Ranch Hot Fun in the Summertime, My Repurposed LifeShabby NestFriday:  Funky Junk InteriorsAnything Goes, Finding FabulousMy Simple Home LifeRomantic HomeFrench Country CottageTatertots and Jello, Thirty Handmade DaysFaith Trust & Pixie DustNaptime Crafters, Too Much Time on my Hands, Stuff & NonsenseSaturday:  Be Different Act Normal,  It's OverflowingSew Country ChickSunday: Nifty Thrifty Things, DIY Project Parade, Under The Table and DreamingMy 1929 CharmerSew Darned Crafty}
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