Welcome to The Happy Homemaker, my daily project exploring concepts, ideas, and expectations of home, domesticity, family, hearth, social expectations, and, you know, anything else that may occur to me as relevant or that I might discover through this process.

The Happy Homemaker runs from 01/01/11–12/31/11. Each day, I am making a house and posting it to this blog.

Why houses?
First of all, they are easy to project on. There is a lot of room for meandering thought and ideation.

Because of that, they give me an icon through which I may explore concepts, ideas, and expectations of home, domesticity, family, hearth, and social expectations that are triggered by or associated with the living space created to house ourselves and our possessions.

I am interested in the idea of home and what that means for me and others. What is leaving and returning home? How does it relate to a place and people, particularly family. What is the process of making our own homes and families? What are homes, other than just physical residences? Is home a location, an idea, a feeling, people, all of these things? Home does home and homemaking differ by gender, age, and culture?

It's a huge subject, which brings me to the year-long time frame: I need at least a year to explore this.

Why a daily project?
I have taken on huge projects that have spanned years before, but never a one-thing-finished-every-day project. This process actually goes against my nature. I am a meticulous creator.

I take a long time to create work that usually includes a lot of repetitious detail. My work to finished product ratio is heavy on the side of labor, and I like working that way. A daily project is a challenge for me.

This project encourages me to work quickly without over-analyzing. I am forced to produce with freedom from re-evaluation and doubt. For me, it is a set-up for unbridled creation.

This project is inspired by my friend Noah Scalin and informed by his book 365: A Daily Creativity Journal. Although I started using the book as a foundation, almost as daily assignments, I found that I quickly went off in my own direction, as I am wont to do. I really like having the book as a resource because it is a great thought trigger and is a support for a year of daily actions.

See The Happy Homemaker on the 365: A Daily Creativity Journal site.

About Me
My name is Madonna Dersch. I am an artist living in a 150+ year-old historic house in Petersburg, VA. I work as a designer, I teach one class each semester in the Art and Design Department of Virginia State University, and I make stuff.

I am learning to be mindful, to sew, to dance, to skate, to (re)build, to be patient, and to garden. My husband, known around these parts as the WerePanda, and I are urban homesteaders and preservationists with three dogs, two cats, and two hives of bees. 

I have a fondness for organizing, learning, making stuff, collaboration, old things, things that show wear from use, vintage clothing patterns, wooden pencils, handcrafted objects, quiet, toast, reading, traditions, history, thoughtful conversation, concept, puns, holidays, mail, tea, carrot-pecan sandwiches, cooking, rain, dogs, hot chocolate, chickens, color, photography, boots, kitchen gardens, organizing, atomic-era portrayals of space, Wonder Woman, travel, the woods, museums, post modern and contemporary art, strawberries, zazen, mushrooms, gnomes, little houses, and miniature donkeys.

Growing up, I fancied cowgirls, Ella Fitzgerald, witches, and Patti Lupone as Evita. I still have these tendencies. I would like to be a jazz-singing, cowgirl-witch serving as an appointed spiritual leader of a musical nation even today.