Friday, May 28, 2010

Slogging Through the Bog

Last Sunday I joined my husband on a trip to two local bogs.  One of them was quite open, not at all what I think of when I think of a bog - which is deep, dark, mysterious.  This was open with daisies growing in profusion.  However, another word comes to mind when I think of bog and that is water and dampness.  Although the first bog we visited was more open, it certainly fit the bill for dampness.  My toes were actually squishing inside my wet boots and my jeans were wet up to my knees.  Guess that goes with the territory.

The second bog we visited fit more with my preconception.  This one was overgrown and dark and filled with water and mud and this tree that looked like it might be home to fairies that come out after dark when there is no one to see them.

Living with a biologist I get to see a lot of this sort of thing -- and I revel in it.  Going into these 'alternate' worlds seems to open my spirit to all sorts of imaginings. 

Next week we will head for the desert -- again we'll be roaming around, discovering the natural world all around us -- but at least this time my feet will stay dry.

"I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journey-work of the stars". - Walt Whitman 

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Time On My Hands

As you can see above, I've got 'time on my hands' these days and working on this piece has brought all sorts of thoughts to the surface of my mind and spirit.  'Time' as a subject for artwork is quite common and I think it must be because it is such an elusive concept.  One day may seem to last forever and the next flies by almost before it started. 

I have a love-hate relationship with my own personal time.  I tend to wake up in the morning with thoughts of 'laying out' my day.  Before my eyes are even fully open I begin to think in terms of time, sometimes even hours ("before noon I'd like to walk and clean the kitchen" or "wonder if I can get my shopping finished before 2 so that I can have some time for beading").  But then, I resent those thoughts.  I'm retired and I'm not supposed to be putting my daily schedule into hourly increments.  That kind of thinking was 'required' when I rushed out to work each day.  After all, from the moment we enter childhood our lives seem to be proscribed by time guidelines (school starts at 8 - mustn't be tardy).  I suppose it would be total chaos if businesses and offices and factories were operated on an 'as will' basis.  Didn't wake up until 10, that's okay, just wander into your workplace at any time you please, as long as the work gets done.  Sounds idyllic doesn't it? So here I am, without an office to go to -- I am my own boss -- and still the boss in me expects that I do such and such at this time and finish this and that at that time. 

BUT, there is hope!  While I bead I think nothing of time -- I try to separate myself from everything else but the work in front of me.  My hands are moving, my mind is dreaming and I am really and truly 'not of this world'.  As I ponder 'time' I think that creating something from nothing with your hands is our human answer to the boundaries of time.  For that moment we are lost in a timeless world and it is enchanting and delightful.

"Clocks slay time... time is dead as long as it is being clicked off by little wheels; only when the clock stops does time come to life". - William Faulkner

Friday, May 21, 2010

Pretty In Pink

Greens of all shades surround us here in the western North Carolina mountains. It almost hurts my eyes to take in green everywhere.  But as spring progresses there is a new color in town -- pink.

Its everywhere and I'm loving it!!

"Every flower is a soul blossoming in nature". -- Gerard De Nerval

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A Bead Journal

Awhile back, after I had finished up a couple of beaded figures, I decided to try to keep a working journal for this type of beading. I do keep a personal journal of sorts – trying to write each day of the thoughts and events that make up my life. A bead journal would help me to keep track of specific beaded pieces and how they were created.

I began the journal with my first figure “Desert Dreamer” and have maintained it through the most recently completed figure “Carnival”. It's been fun to keep track of start and finish dates, to document stitches used and formats tried.

I’ve been able to include ‘the good, the bad and the ugly’ as I worked through a design challenge or a bead challenge or just about anything ‘beady’ that occurred while working on each figure.

In trying to put a bit of my own spirit into each beaded figure that I create, it helps to write down my thoughts and take pictures of the process as I go along.

Do you do this? Do you document your work in any way? I’d love to hear about it if you do.

“Doing the work points the way to new and better work to be done.” - Julia Cameron 

Friday, May 14, 2010

"Symphony" - May BJP

The word for my May BJP piece is “Symphony”. Once again, the right word for the right month seemed to appear. I’m not exactly sure how this is happening but each month ‘just the right’ word comes to the top of the jar.

Of course I had to have music on this bookmark. It happened that I had (from my bookart days) a piece of medieval music printed onto silk. I put this onto the bookmark backing and made it my centerpiece. For the past four months I have used encrusted beading on my BJP’s – but this month I used the silk as the ‘center piece’. I have to admit this made the overall beading go quite rapidly and that helped since I was so fully involved in the Flat Rock Playhouse Craft Show that my beading time was quite limited. I almost felt like I was cheating because I didn’t cover the whole surface with beads. I guess we encrusted beaders have a hard time leaving any space unbeaded!

So this bookmark and this word celebrate the joy of music. If you read my posting of May 7th you’ll know that music has been on my mind especially this month. Music is so much a part of my life that I loved making this small celebration of something that surrounds me each and every day.

"Symphony: an elaborate instrumental composition in three or more movements...
anything characterized by a harmonious combination of elements..."

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

A Job Well Done

Whew!!!  I am tired right now.  This past weekend my art/craft guild "InspiredArts" produced a fine craft show held at Flat Rock Theater in Flat Rock, NC.  We have worked for months and months and months to bring this show to life.  Our 'call to artists' began last September, the jurying was held in January and after that it was one detail after another to be ironed out.  We designed the show to be presented as a 'gallery' showing or a fine retail art store so the Guild was responsible for the display, the inventory, some of the publicity and what seemed like every other detail for a show this big.  We juried in over 40 artists which was a task in and of itself.

Flat Rock Playhouse sponsored the show and it was held in their YouTheater building.  They were wonderfully helpful and gave us such good publicity outlets.  The posters were fabulous.  This show was designed to benefit the Playhouse with them getting money from the fee at the door and the 30% commission that the artists would donate on sold items.

Whenever you participate in a show of any kind there is always worry and wonder as to whether it will be a success or a failure. There are so very many variables - from the space, the artists involved, the economy, the weather, etc., etc., etc.  I'm so happy to report that this show met and exceeded our fondest wishes.  After all of the effort, sleepless nights and yes, tension within our small group, the show ended up meeting all of our dreams.  We had a vision a year and a half ago and it came true this weekend.

The room was lovely (no, beyond lovely, with art in all medias shown by excellent artists), the crowds were good and people were buying.  All of our fears were laid to rest as the weekend went on.  I want to give a big hug and congratulations to my fellow InspiredArts members:  Tamsin Allpress, Ellyn Berstein, Mary Beth Jung-Ganser, Sandra Macklem, Libby Miller, Ruth Obolensky, Peggy O'Connor, Sharon Richmond and Andrea Stern. 

And now its time to rest on our laurels (and actually get some rest for a change)!!  WE DID IT!!

"Action is the foundational key to all success". - Pablo Picasso

Friday, May 7, 2010

"How Can I Keep From Singing?"

In the far off land of Somalia there is a decree that no music can be played on the radio stations.  I have heard of other countries making this decree - no music.  How can that be?  How is that possible?  Music is the language of the soul. Not only do we create it ourselves, but It fills our natural world through whale song and birdsong, wind blowing in the trees and frogs croaking in my pond. 

The instruments that bring forth musical sounds are carefully created and revered.  Wood of the finest kind is shaped into a violin or a guitar, strings are skillfully crafted to bring forth the purest of notes.  Music comes so naturally to us -- as a mother sings softly to her newborn baby, as that baby hears notes and moves his/her body in the rhythm, as we pass through phases of our lives when the local radio station and its musical choice is our connection to the world. When my son was a teenager we had to relocate.  The first question he asked (in a very forlorn voice) was "will there be a radio station there that plays 'my' music?" 

My music choice for beading is usually classical, coming from my local public radio station.  There are also times when I pull out my favorite cds -- everything from Enya and Il Divo to The Beatles and Simon and Garfunkel (am I dating myself?).  If I could not hear music performed by others I would have to sing by myself -- I would have to lift my less than adequate voice to the skies and sing my heart out.

One day, when we were on a trail in the woods which led to a waterfall two women passed us by.  As we walked away from the waterfall (which is set back in an mini-ampetheater type setting) one of the women stood under the waterfall and sang. Her lovely voice floating out into the forest. 

To forbid music in a society is like telling everyone they can only breathe for ten minutes a day - it is impossible.  Today as you hum along to your favorite music do it for those who cannot, do it for yourself and love every minute of it.
"My life goes on in endless song
above earth's lamentations
I hear the real, though far-off hymn
that heals a new creation.

Through all the tumult and the strife
I hear it's music ringing
It sounds an echo to my soul
How can I keep from singing?

When tyrants tremble in their fear
and hear their death knell ringing
when friends rejoice both far and near
how can I keep from singing?

In prison and dungeon vile
our thoughts to them are winging
when friends by shame are undefiled
how can I keep from singing?"


Monday, May 3, 2010

Face Forward

For the past few days I've been playing with faces.  So far, with all of my figure work I have used purchased faces - or cabochons - or buttons.  I thought it might be fun to try to work up some faces from scratch, using my own fingers and imagination to create the personality that a face can give.  My thought was to try several different types of face techniques, not trying to make the 'perfect' one the first time around, but to experiment with as many techniques as I could come up with.

How about a beaded face?  Having gotten the pattern and directions from Anne Hesse I decided to dive right in.  The figures I create are much smaller than her patterns so I've had to improvise - but then that's what its all about isn't it?  When I try something new I first concentrate on the skills.  It can take quite awhile or a short time, depending on what I'm doing, but once I've mastered (to my satisfaction) the 'how to do it' I can then let my spirit and imagination loose.  That's when the real fun begins. 

Another thought was to 'sculpt' the face. Once again I was challenged by the size of my figures -- whereas most 'patterns' are for faces at least 2-1/2" in diameter I have to downsize directions for sizes around 1-1/4".  Quite a difference in what a person can do in the smaller sizes.  My first 'tests' had only sculpted noses - and then I got the idea of painting the fabric.   Perhaps I could paint the fabric, then antique it or 'crackle' it and finally finish it off with a wax finish? 

Or how about an embroidered face.  How much embroidery detail can I put in these small spaces?  How can I create a face using the tiniest of stitches?  These are all questions that I ask myself as I stick needle into fabric.

What fun to have the time and inclination to try all of these new-to-me techniques and to not know where it will end up.  But if I'm successful with any of them I'm sure you'll eventually see one or two here...

"In oneself lies the whole world and if you know how to look and learn, the door is there and the key is in your hand. Nobody on earth can give you either". - Jiddu Krishnamurti


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