DIY Wall Art

Gadora has been doing some creative work for Rent-a-Center. And it’s been pretty dang fun. Over the summer I was asked to produce a DIY art story complete with pics, the how-to’s and a finished project. I was on the road with nary an art supply in sight. After some thought I pulled into a few small-town thrift stores and grabbed some albums and magazines, and waited until DC to procure my Mod Podge. The result? An inexpensive DIY art project made from decoupaging album covers.

See the full story here


Summer 2016 Roadtrip


I did it! In January of this year I, as Gadora Wilder, set out to create a little adventure for myself. In between jobs, and wanting to discover a different way of utilizing my skill set upon my return, I set forth on a month-long adventure to see some of the US. Specifically I aimed to get on the road, drive through mountains with wind whipping my freshly shorn hair, talk to interesting people, see new towns, dip my feet into unknown waters, and return a little better for it.


One of my goals was to be wildly open to happy accidents, not on the road of course, but while on it. Discover vibrant small towns simply by asking people in the previous one. Learn about these communities by the stuff they discarded in architectural salvage yards, Habitat for Humanity ReStores, and such.


I would marvel at every outstanding specimen of a tree I passed often turning the car around to get a closer look. Along the Appalachian, Great Smoky Mountains and a few spots along the way I found them. And waterfalls, and secret caves, and babbling brooks, and sulfur pools, and places we often take for granted. Often I was alone.


In the end, I had my adventure. It has moved me. And it was grande. My 12 year old Mazda 6 Wagon performed like a champ. *A special thank you to Mike at Austin Automotive Specialists for ensuring I was set for success. She (The Paiger) carried me to places where I’d leave her safety to sit and stare at the sheer beauty of it all.

Road trip by the numbers:
4,983 miles covered
$491 spent in gas
33+ random new towns ventured into
29 days on the road
11 State lines crossed
10 steel arch bridges traversed
3 trees hugged
2 covered bridges marveled at
1 terrifying white-knuckle rain/hailstorm
0 speeding tickets or arrests…

In Search of Miracles…


Gadora is back and readying for a monumental solo road trip across the South and up along the Appalachian Valley. I’m zigging and zagging 2,000+ miles towards Washington DC from Austin during the month of July. And though I’ve planned certain stops in uncertain towns, I look forward to the tiny divine (and monumental) discoveries, both inside of me and outside of my old cranky wagon.

I will talk to strangers – engaging townie folks who offer unsolicited advice on where to find the best coffee, dipping spots, up-cyclers, community do-gooders, etc. There’s a zillion ways to slice a road trip: in search of the best hamburger (tho- not in my case), roadside oddities, best hiking trails… etc. I aim to focus on “happy people doing their thing” – and if their thing happens to create some kind of art, or conversation, then I yearn to make their acquaintance.

Scott and Jen

Enter MNAE. Museum of Natural and Artificial Ephemerata. An Austin roadside attraction, if you will, along the East side of town where the urban landscape is rapidly changing. I’d discovered their in-home museum whilst looking for local oddities (= genuine humans who unapologetically do their thing). A friend was in town so I thought this the perfect “tester” outing – there’s safety in numbers – a prep for grandeur on the open road. We arrived, as did a handful of other folks, to the lush surroundings of a welcoming couple (and museum’s curators): Scott and Jen. A few minutes early we were encouraged to mill about their outside garden and help ourselves to the early bloomers on the mammoth fig tree. Don’t mind if we do.

Jen w Wall

Once inside our host Jen jumped right into our welcome. No house rules (I mean, the museum is IN THEIR HOME). No formalities. Just a lovely welcome. While her children handed out our program, and a free postcard, Jen got busy showing us around. We started on The Celebrity Collection. There was one strand of Willie Nelson’s hair. George Bush Sr.’s Chocolate Eyeball. Marilyn Monroe’s Last Smoked Cigarette. And a few random items from famous folks I didn’t even know. Jen gave us a story about each of the artifacts. And paused for our processing.

Curiosity Wall

We moved from there to the Naturalia and Artificialia collection (only needed to pivot slightly to the right). The wallpaper alone was worth dissecting a while. This collection was the stuff of fairy tales. A Narwhal Tooth Replica (didn’t the Narwhal have a horn?), a raccoon penis bone, the Contraband Stalagmite from a Missouri Cave, a decaying vinyl leaf from Disneyland and a pink flamingo “rescued” from a dumpster outside of the Smithsonian. A real flamingo head, with a rod in his neck. I couldn’t stop staring at it.


A reflection of Penny and I in hallway just off main (and only) room…


The Urban Phantasmogoria wall was pretty r-a-d. A piece of melted glass from the first World’s Fair – London’s Crystal Palace Carte de Visite (and an informative story about it’s origins), Incubator Air and Infant Nightie from Coney Island’s Incubator Baby display, replicas of Siamese Twin Fruits, Barnum’s Organ Grinder Monkey Skull and so much more. The collection was varied, but Scott wove the pieces together. The curation is tight.

Below, a selfie in their black-lit bathroom. Complete with glow-in-the-dark space men and blow fish hanging from the ceiling.

Flourescent Bathroom

I got the sense – or at least strongly suspected – that much of what our Curators said stemmed from their fantastical imaginative reappropriation of items pulled from dumpsters, found in between the pages of random books, artifacts handed down from the museums originators Mercury Curie and Rasputin Zaplatynska (aka Rolls Joyce, Jr.), and so on. I chuckled through their stories bc I thought, wow, y’all are GOOD. On the way out, under the fig tree, we stopped to canoodle one of their cats. Jen approached and said she was once a famous hoop-jumping kitty, but has long since retired. Mmm-hm. Right. We’re certain this sleeping cat was all about that. 


It wasn’t until writing this post that I found the above pic. It put everything else into perspective.

MNAE Front

Thank you for opening your home, and our minds.


“The Museum was founded by Mercury Curie and Rasputin Zaplatynska (a.k.a. Rolls Joyce, Jr. ) in Tucson, AZ, on November 7th, 1921, in the early afternoon, during a monsoon storm, as winged ants took to the sky. Their goal was to explore histories and forms of collecting, with an emphasis on preserving endangered modes of collecting (saintly relics, wunderkammern, and dime museums in particular) — a sort of zoo for museums. Although the original curators passed away in the 1940s, the current curators, Scott and Jen Webel (Scott being Zaplatynska’s great grand nephew) reopened the museum in Tucscon in 1999 before moving to Austin, TX, in 2001. In Austin, we began curating community themed exhibitions to expand on our signature displays in the impermanent collection.”

Pot-bellied piggy planters…

Spring has sprung: the birds in The Gardens happily chirp and the few blades of grass are greening. And with each day that passes past winter, Gadora’s thumb turns a little less brown. My stoop beckons a spring-time make-over. Since I’m an apartment dweller, and avid vegetarian, only makes sense I have some fun with container gardening. And what better way to dress up my “Spinster Gardens” stoop than a whimsical, and ridiculous, piggie planter to house delicious herbs and what-not? Gadora’s got a sense of humor and this seems a perfect time to flex it. Google to the rescue.

First up? A leggy terracotta planter from Fired by Guatemalan artisans, this one-of-a-kind vessel would make any herb a little spicier.

Leggy terra cotta planter, $59.
Leggy terra cotta planter, $59.

Etsy’s Fruitflypie offers this adorable yellow piggie planter. The ceramic swine was poured from a 60s-era mold and is fired with a glassy lemon yellow glaze. Happy little planter! And if your own green thumb is rather questionable, the pig is also available in a piggy bank.

Fruitflypie ceramic pig, $34.
Fruitflypie ceramic pig, $34.

Another from FruitFlyPie as seen on beautifullycontained.

FruitFlyPie as featured on Beautifully Contained, NFS.
FruitFlyPie as featured on Beautifully Contained, NFS.

Check out this snarkier ceramic bisque with terracotta glaze piglet from seller EnchantedMushroomLand. Also from a vintage mold, the seller refashioned a piggy bank into this planter.

Enchanted Mushroom Land, $18.

Also on Etsy, BloominHappy2009 has a starter piglet with air plant, technically a Tillandsias, up for grabs. $10 is a teeny investment to live high on the hog.

Silver planter from BloominHappy2009, $10.
Silver planter from BloominHappy2009, $10.

This aged pig planter, by Cyan Design, is pretty pricey but he’s a little porkier than the others at 24″ wide.

Aged pig by WeGotLites, $360.
Aged pig by WeGotLites, $360.

If you’re still uncertain you’ve got the goods to keep a plant growing out of a hog’s hide, there’s always this option. The fool-proof Chia Pig. As Gadora recalls, it’s as simple as spreading a few seeds on the back of your sow, giving it the occasional water… and viola. In 1-2 weeks, you’ll see the fruit of your labor.

Chia pig from Amazon, $22.
Chia pig from Amazon, $22.

First Animal Print of 2013: Peepers

A friend-of-a-friend recently found Gadora while looking for someone to paint a portrait of a pup. The watercolor was for her Sister-in-law and would eventually be a gift for Peepers’ human Mom. Awww, Peepers! Oh how I miss my own Peepers. It will be 3 years this April, and while I still miss her, time has healed some of the sorrow. Peepers’s portrait would be a sweet Valentine’s Day surprise.

Peepers DONE
The Peeps ready for a picnic.

The pics Gadora originally received were from the client’s Instagram < check out Gadora’s set of pics – and thus a teensy bit small, but very telling. Peepers was a sweet, sweet pup.

3Peepers Instagram3
Sweet Peeps. 

I noodled around with the portrait, and was finally ready to send. Peepers was the first watercolor portrait I’d actually send with a name scribed on the paper. I scribbled a little heart right by her name.

2Peepers Instagram2

After sending Gadora let a few days pass, then checked on her recipient. “Just got it when I got home from work today — it’s beautiful! Thank you!! Can’t wait to show it to my mom tomorrow!  :)”

1Peepers Instagram
Picnic Peeps.

The following day, this arrived. “My mom loves it!!!!! It really looks just like peeps.  :)” And if you’re counting, that’s two smiley faces in her reply! Thanks Lady, glad the family loves their Peepers. xo