Portraiture + Bridal Fun!

Portraits are a favorite photographic subject of mine. The stolen glance or reflective gaze, I strive for authentic emotion and to capture the true nature of a subject. That being said, it should be obvious why I would specialize in documentary style portraiture. I am currently booking clients with a taste for natural and creative aesthetics in and around the Detroit area and would love to hear your ideas for a portraiture session! You may contact me anytime through email at marylauramau@gmail.com. Or if you’d like to meet in person, please join me this Saturday, May 20th at Williams Sonoma in The Somerset Mall’s South building from 12-5! They are holding a bridal event full of vendors that specialize in planning and executing celebrations of love.

To help you cherish the happiness and love, I would be honored to capture some of those moments with you.

Truthfully,

MaryLaura

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Doll Make-Under Inspiration

My 2.5 year old daughter received a new doll for Christmas. Unfortunately, this doll was sporting more makeup than I knew a face could hold. I’m not sure why a little girl’s doll would need any makeup in the first place, let alone this heavy-handed amount. It concerned me enough to not feel comfortable giving her the doll.

Our daughters obviously look to us to guide their perceptions, self-image and self-esteem. Since our choices reflect our values and judgements, I wanted to make sure my daughter didn’t think my idea of her was based on the look of this doll. That said, my daughter would love a doll this size and I felt crafty enough to solve the problem.
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Thankfully, I had seen a video of Sonia Singh, a mother in Australia who removes the makeup and repaints these dolls. I loved the idea and am happy to try my hand at a doll make-under.

First, I removed the original face with acetone nail polish remover on cotton swabs. Once she was barefaced, I began to paint. I used acrylic paint and fine brushes to give her new more natural features. The doll’s skin had a purple cast to begin with so it was a little harder to work in a totally neutral pallet. I did choose to give her my daughter’s eye color and left the purple streak in her hair. I’m happy with the result and feel much better about my little girl playing with her. I hope she knows how important she is to me ‘as is’ ❤

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DIY Antique Hutch into Play Kitchen

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Antique Hutch Turned Play Kitchen by @bluedutton

I picked up this very sweet, but slightly rotted, water damaged and over painted children’s hutch from a garage sale for $10. The intent was to clean it up for my little girl to use. Good intentions and a million higher priorities later, it lived in the garage for a good year before she would even be old enough to use it. Now she is 2.5 and obsessed with cooking… so the hutch became a play kitchen, placed against the wall next to the working kitchen so she could cook with us.

First things first, I tested the piece for lead paint with a kit found at the hardware store. We were in the clear and ready to deal with antique paint. I then cut off the rotten legs and pulled off the water damaged back panel. I decided to strip some of the paint off since it was at least 3 layers thick, very chipped and well, gross.

I decided to try Citristrip, a ‘less’ toxic paint stripping option, because its winter and I wanted to work inside. I did have the windows open and the smell, though citrus, is not something you would want to be in an enclosed space with. I applied it liberally with a brush and let it sit for a couple hours.

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Using a heavy duty putty knife and a rag, I was able to scrape a majority of the paint off in the first application. On the lower door panel I was pleased to find a decal of a little girl. She was too cute to cover up, so I decided I wouldn’t fully strip all of the paint and keep it a bit as-is. I did apply a very dilute wash of cream colored acrylic paint after washing the remover off. This gave everything a slightly more uniform look while maintaining the aged charm.

As for the back panel, I cut some Masonite to size and found some adorable gold starred wrapping paper at Target. I attached the paper using spray adhesive. I recommend laying down a good amount of scrap paper under the board to protect your floor. After spraying, remove the board and place it adhesive up on a clean surface. This will keep the paper, and yourself from sticking to the over-spray.

Cut your paper at least a few inches larger than the board. Start by laying the paper onto the board at one edge, leaving extra paper on all sides. Slowly lay the paper down while smoothing out any air before moving forward. Once the board is covered flip it over and trim the excess paper with a blade.

I attached the back board to the hutch using brad nails with the hutch balancing on a bin of dirty laundry. I recommend doing this to protect the front from damage while hammering the back, but maybe not posting your laundry to the internet.

I bought 4 little turned legs and painted them with the same grey I used to paint circles for burners and knobs. I reattached the original glass hardware after a good scrubbing and a couple new washers. I stocked the kitchen with cookware from Ikea (links: Pots/Pans and Tools) and a cool counting set of plastic food in adorable labeled containers. The counting food works perfectly for pretend cooking since there are larger quantities of small items. We are working on recipes already!

Let me know if you have any questions. I would love to see some of your refinishing projects and furniture makeovers! Please share links in the comments or tag @bluedutton on Instagram.

-MaryLaura

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Bouquet of Intentions

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I’ve been going through some old photos and came across this snapshot of the bridal bouquet my dear friend held on her wedding day. We don’t get to speak often; babies, work and life keep us off the phone for months at a time. I’m lucky it’s one of those forever friendships that can stand the time, distance or whatever life has thrown at us over the years.

Just as I was pulling the file up on my computer I get a call from her. We say ‘her ears must have been ringing’ in my family when your thoughts of someone magically manifest as they call you. Well, it’s always nice to hear from an old friend. But the gift lies in the knowledge that a little bit of magic exists just from thinking beautiful thoughts about the ones you love.

❤ MaryLaura

Falling for Fall


The temperature has finally dipped below the ‘I don’t need a jacket’ threshold and I am chilly just looking outside. That means Halloween, heavy meals and raking leaves for what seems like an eternity. The smell of damp cold earth and fires burning fills my lungs and the spiced foods of the pumpkin-everything variety are on every shelf. 

Fall is good, Fall is great. Let’s bundle up and head for the woods, feel the new crunch under our boots. Yes! Boots, how I missed you boots. 

Confidence shines

This is the spirit I try to foster every early morning waking, every living room dance party and every time my daughter asks me a question about herself.

It doesn’t matter what someone else sees, it matters that this little light of confidence in herself is kept burning.

Product by Proxy

I generally love the work I do when it comes to product photography…

Then I have to shoot vintage clothing for Etsy without a model… aka the ‘I am not a model’ disclaimer. I find myself with the time to work, baby at school, but no other warm body with which to drape my gorgeous goods.

Like most women I feel fairly unenthused with myself in pictures. Not that I’m about to get into a body image rant but I’d just rather not have to edit photos of the face with which I am most critical.

So here goes. I’m learning not to care one Etsy post, one tagged group shot, one unaltered picture of a red shirt under my face at a time. Here’s to getting shit done and loving what we do, as well as accepting things as is.

Cheers to my fellow perfectionists doing the ‘just let it go’ dance.

-MaryLaura

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Turning Towards Nature

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Where the wild things roam, we roam.

There is no division.

Shying away from nature is a loss we all feel. Its our environment being polluted, its our air turning poisonous and our water toxic.

That’s why it is so important that we teach our children to turn toward nature. To make nature a best friend, a spirit they can rely on. That in turn can rely on us to protect.

As a parent, I often fear what will be left of our natural world as babies born today may miss out on all that I cherish. I remember being terrified of the word ‘endangered’ as a child, I knew the finality it carried and how much we would miss the Black Rhino. Today, the West African Black Rhinoceros is gone, and not only was their eradication senseless and unnecessary, its not even a drop in the bucket of concern.

Obviously I could go on at length, in tomes and never ending books about the losses we are facing to our environment. But I am not the scientist you need a list from. I am hoping to be a solider in the fight and my best suggestion for change is: our children.

Our children will carry the weight of our environmental damage. We owe it to them to change our actions and teach them how to turn toward the most important resource around them. Our natural world should be everything to us, lets teach our little ones how to develop a kind, nurturing, hopeful spirit of their own.

-MaryLaura

Potato Box Bounty

This year we decided to grow our own organic potatoes. Knowing our soil was not the best and opting to grow the rest of our veggies in straw bales, we built a potato box!

I started with a couple rows of untreated 2×6 boards attached to 2×4 posts and started my seed potatoes in some fresh garden soil mixed with a little compost. Once the baby plants were sprouted I knew we were in for a good haul.

I let the plants get to about 10 inches tall before back filling the plants and adding more boards to build up the sides of the box. I used mostly straw to fill the box at this point, adding soil to make sure no light was getting to the covered parts of the plants. I left a few inches of the plant tops exposed out of the soil so they could continue their journey, hopefully making more potatoes!

Now that frost has come and plants and dying back I was excited to dig for gold. It was very simple to place a tarp in front of the box and remove boards as I went through the soil. Luckily the straw made it pretty easy to remove the layers to uncover the potatoes.

I’m pretty happy with this method and will definitely be using the box again next year. I will also show you how I prepared the seed potatoes next year so stay tuned. Happy harvest everyone!

-MaryLaura