Monday, June 25, 2012

Woman, Mend Thyself!

A few weeks ago, I turned 42. I'm truly in the middle. These 42 years of living have taught me many things. Unfortunately, so many of the lessons I have learned are the result of mistakes and wrong turns. Sometimes, I struggle with the scars of regret and when I reflect back on my life, those scars are the only thing I see. I don't see sparkly eyes staring back. I see the wrinkles, stretch marks, and hairy warts of poor choices.  
But I have hope. I have art. And through art, I can mend so many things. 

Many years ago, something sad happened in my life. I had a miscarriage. The grief I experienced was like nothing I knew. The darkness was like a riptide pulling at my heels while I struggled to stay afloat. But I knew I must stay afloat and I did. I was lucky to have the love and prayers of my family. And lucky to have embroidery. Yes, embroidery helped bring me back to shore. Every day I snuggled up in a cozy chair with my dog and stitched. I stitched quaint tea towels, a denim jacket, and an enormous poem on a quilt. And with each stitch, I felt better. 

And so I kept moving my hands. Stitching more, painting more, cutting more, and pasting more. And I realized... these acts of art are healing me. Art was bringing me back.

As I wallowed in my birthday-induced regrets earlier this month, I knew what I needed to do. I got to work in my studio. I threw myself into some new projects and got my hands moving. As I created this collage, a phrase stuck itself into my brain. Woman, Mend Thyself! In other words, quit moping around in the regrets of what you didn't do ... do it now! Fix it now! Take the rest of your life and fight for your dreams! Work hard. Take yourself seriously. And just stitch up your battle scars as you go.

Patchwork is more interesting than perfect anyway.

Monday, June 18, 2012

IPhone App Madness

Now I am completely attached to this silly thing. Yes, I have to put my iphone away during the day. Otherwise I will play around with the camera apps non-stop. No dinner, no laundry, no conversation with my lovelies.
Dudley Redhead is to blame. I downloaded her zine, A Quick Guide to Iphoneography, Tips + Apps for Creating Cool Pics, a few days ago and can't stop exploring!
This one started out simple - just a troll in front of an open book. Apply the app... add an air of eeeek!
Now I've got a little story in the works.

Japanese salt and pepper shaker set, one of my grandmothers' treasures.
Toys that belonged to my husband and I. This effect makes me feel quite old. But doesn't it look cool?

label app - lots of cool label choices...

this app lets you turn any photo into a poster (complete with coffee stain, if you wish!)

I wonder, is all this app experimentation good for me? I think it is. The more I play around with photography (phone or non-phone,) the more I explore color, composition, and subject matter. Photographs are another way of telling a story. And don't we all have stories to tell?

If you are ready to get hooked, visit Dudley Redhead or purchase her zine at her etsy shop, hedgiepie.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Fireworks in June

Watermelon. Mangoes. Strawberries. Kiwis. The fruits of summer inspire me with their sweet juicy flavors and vibrant colors. Speaking of vibrant and juicy, these Fireworks spray inks are loads of fun.

Remember my paper-cutting spree last week? Well, I couldn't stop. This time I made a few pages of blobby circles and leaf-like shapes.

I created a circular design on top of a sheet of bright white Canson Colorline paper. Then I started spraying. I used three different shades of green for the first one, allowing dry time between each spray layer. Once done, I lifted the sheet allowing all the shapes to fall away and reveal this bold image.

For the pink one, I simply turned the now green shapes over and created a new design.

Once done, I sewed the shapes into a double-sided pink and green paper garland.

The whole process was so much easy fun. I waited with child-like glee for each layer to dry and couldn't wait to see the final design.

I'm not sure how I will use these prints, but I enjoyed making them and think the project would be an excellent one to do with my daughter. I also think the prints would look fabulous matted and framed in white.

I don't think I'm done. Up next... new shapes and different colors!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Magpie's Delight

Today I felt like making jewelry. The shiny, sparkly, trashy bits kind of earrings that I love to wear. Must be the 80's girl within.

I dusted off my hammered jewelry supplies and went to town out in my garage. (My kids chased me out of the house - too much racket!)

I sat on the floor of the garage and breathed oily, dusty, lawn-mowerish fumes while I happily hammered.

Back inside, I put the pieces together with bits of fabric and some old baby buttons.

 I ordered these birds on perches for super cheap from Bedazzle Beadz a while ago.

Who knew a few simple tools could turn dull brown discs of metal into these fabulous Duran Duran- concert-ready dazzlers?

Hope you're hammering out some time to create today!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

A Real Page Turner

I am not a bookmaker, but I recently tried my hand at one. I was inspired by a nifty binding machine I got for a steal on the clearance rack at the craft store. I call my book "Traveling by Hand."

My idea was to create a place where I could write or doodle as escape. I would like to think of myself as a great adventurer, but in reality I struggle with jet lag, motion sickness, homesickness, and anxiety. I dream of being that worldly woman traveler who can dance with the natives and pick up languages quickly, all while carrying everything she could possibly need in a small backpack.

And so I turn to art to live the dream without having to leave my comfortable hobbit hole.

I haven't written anything in it yet. Where should I begin?

  Perhaps like any great adventurer, I should just set out and see what happens.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Beach Walk

My mind has been cluttered. So many plans swirling around in there. I'm torn between creative ideas that I want to develop and the taxi, laundress and short order cook service I am running for my children. The result... gridlock and frustration. Panic that nothing is happening. Nothing is getting done!
Breathe in. Breathe out.
I stopped and let the waves of my mind's ocean lap back and forth. Things started to wash up. Broken shells, twigs, crab claws, smooth rocks. Bleached out. Perfect in their white smoothness.
I started cutting shapes and sewing them together.

Perhaps this paper garland will remind me to get out of the traffic in my brain.

To pull over, slip on some sandals, hop across the hot sand, and take a slow walk along the beach.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Happy Flags are Fluttering

The weather in Atlanta is unseasonably cool this weekend. I want to roll around in it all day long, as I know it won't last. I'll be battling b.o. and bug bites in full force by next weekend. But while it's still cool, my daughter and I have been doing some flower-planting and puttering around in the back yard.

Today we planted hot pink petunias and bright orange marigolds. So cheerful.

Earlier this morning I launched into a flag-making project. I was inspired by an article on prayer flags written by Jane Lafazio in the March/April issue of Cloth Paper Scissors magazine.The flags in her article are beautiful and quite detailed. I didn't have much time, so I decided to throw caution and planning to the wind and just start stitching to make a strand of scrappy Happy Flags. I stitched strips of fabric to some light-weight muslin. I didn't plan anything or finish any seams, so the whole set took under an hour. I used a textile pen to write a list of things that make me happy onto white cotton. I then cut the fabric into strips and stitched them onto the flags.

I strung the whole thing onto some old bias tape and rick rack, then tied the flags between two trees in my backyard. I'm excited to see them fade out and change with the weather.

I hope the flags will remind me and my family to slow down and give thanks. Perhaps the wind carry our gratitude out into the world.

As I walked back to the house after hanging my Happy Flags, I saw this fellow just sitting right in the middle of my patio.

I took it as a good sign.