Sunday, August 30, 2009

Heroes & Shadows: a heroic comic book

My polymer clay art has been published! Those who have been reading my blog for a while now may recall my creative process during the creation of 2 different panels: The Hero and The Shadow. These were created specifically for one of Mother Henna's collaborative heART projects.

The project is now a reality! Check out a beautiful new publication by Mother Henna (Kara Chippoletti Jones) exploring our Hero & Shadow sides and featuring artwork from 9 different artists, including... YOURS TRULY!

Book description: "Through visualization, prompts, imaginative play, dreams, and more, contributors have taken a Hero’s Journey and come back to share their Heroes and Shadows with us. You’ll see the archetypes at play, the personal mythologies unfolding, the collective knowings of all Heroes being shared. We invite you to journey through each story with us, and be open to the idea that all you see might be a clue for you on your own Hero’s Journey!"

Friday, August 28, 2009

PCSG Challenge- Aug '09

The August challenge entries for the Polymer Clay Smooshers Guild are posted and waiting for YOUR vote!

The theme this time was HALLOWEEN and we have twelve excellent and diverse polymer clay creations entered. Come give the participants some lovin'! Click on the banner above to see the entries and place your vote.

A Sense of Identity

The following was created using a prompt shared by Miss*R, who found it at Gemma's, who got it from here...


I am from a book of children's stories, from Nestea with lemon and non-designer brand jeans.

I am from the two-story house with crooked front steps; from tall, staring windows and green, shaggy carpet and a redesigned breezeway, now a kitchen nook.

I am from the golden, swaying, Weeping Willow Tree Goddess and from a backyard row full, leafy peony bushes with fat pink and white blossoms. I am from a black and gold back patio, railroad ties and colorful shrubs. I am from a rusty gas grill that made many, many mystery burgers.

I am from weekend camping trips to Bailey's Ford and canoeing down the Yellow River and from dimples and laugh lines, from German family names no one can spell or pronounce, from ancestors of the Royal Apple and from men named after a big, red dog.

I am from late night parental arguments, sitting fearful at the top of the stairs listening, and I am from unconditional love. From "take your fingers out of your mouth & quit biting your nails," and "why are you so nervous?" and "do I have to get the wooden spoon out?"

I am from the Methodist Cherub Children's choir and natural witchcraft. I pray to the trees and the moon and the stars, although grandmother's Baptist God only hears me if I pray in one of His churches. I am from dancing in the rain and hugging trees and dirt worshiping.

I am from Dukes of Normandy, the Belle Plaine and the Cedar River rapids. From rolling hills of sweet Iowa corn, stuffed green bell peppers and Saturday night popcorn and Sunday morning pancakes. From the brave pilot who lands planes in rivers, and cross-country motorcycle travelers, and from grandmothers and great-aunts who create with color and fabric and food.

I am from crumbling photo albums forgotten in the corners of the attic, from sleek and polished antique marble-topped tables handed down through generations; I am from connections with unknown ancestors, pieces of their lives passed down to me, kept close to my heart.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

TAW: Checking in Week #1

My first week of The Artist's Way started out with a bang, but ended with rather a whimper. That's okay! Because I feel like I covered quite a bit of territory.

How many days out of the week did you do your Morning Pages? How was the experience for you?

Six out of seven days. I thought I would dread it, but for the most part, I really don't. It helps me wake up, helps me get the chatter out of my head. I noticed that most of the time, I feel energized after I've finished my morning pages. More ready to start the day.

I covered lots of subjects, issues and ideas with my Morning Pages this past week. Sometimes my thoughts went places that really surprised me. I really focused on just writing-- not penmanship or spelling or order or anything else. I tried to just write, write, write. I used up all the ink in my pen, which cracks me up. New pen tomorrow, how long will this next one last?

Did you do your Artist's Date this week? What did you do? How did it feel?

I did do my AD, but for some reason, it was a real challenge. My Censor kept whispering, "Wasteful, indulgent..." So I kept putting it off. Finally did it Monday night and felt it was a complete and utter flop.

I have a fantastic set of watercolor pencils that a friend gave me and I have an uncolored pack of the Major Arcana cards from the tarot (not Rider-Waite, but very similar images) and I've been dying to color them. But for whatever reason, I've been putting it off. So I thought, perfect Artist's Date activity! I lit incense, lit the candle on my desk altar, opened the windows in my craft room so I could listen to the night sounds outside; crickets and the wind rustling the leaves on the trees. I pulled out my cards and my watercolor pencils and sat down.

I had The Fool colored and I wanted to add an "aura" around him, so I experimented with colors and washes on a separate piece of paper until I got the look I was wanting. Then I tried in on my card. I didn't like it. I tried to improve it. Still didn't like it. Realized I was clenching my jaw, had a knot in my stomach, was getting a headache. The Censor kicked in, belittling me. I kept working. Still didn't like it, and now I was afraid it was going to start to look like mud if I kept dinking with it. Decided I should move on to the next card, but at that point, all the joy was out of it for me. Bleaugh. It had been an hour. End of Artist's Date.

However, because it was such a flop, I took myself on another AD today. I guess since Week 2 has officially started, it could count as my AD for this week, but I'm counting it for last week. I decided to explore the public library that's right here in our neighborhood. I've never been there. As a creature of habit, I always forget we have a library close by, and go to the library in our old neighborhood.

I was a little skeptical when I saw how small the library was, but determined to explore. I, of course, gravitated towards the craft and hobby books. First thing I saw were cookbooks. All sorts of cookbooks about making recipes from all over the world. OoOoo! And books on antiques. Ahhh! And gardening! Woo-hoo! Papercrafting, woodworking, weaving, crochet, home decorating, calligraphy... I was getting so excited. How could I have forgotten the veritable treasure trove that is the library?

And then I found books on polymer clay. SQUEE! Not very many, mind you, but just what I was looking for-- "How to Make Clay Characters" by Maureen Carlson, which is on my wishlist. And even better, I found a book I've never seen before, "Create a Polymer Clay Impression" by Sarajane Helm. Just a quick flip through it made me swoony with happiness, all the new ideas to explore! So I renewed my library card and brought some poly clay books home to pore over, drooling. Yeeesssssss. Artist Date #2 was much more satisfactory.

Were there any issues this week that you consider significant to your recovery? Describe them.

I discovered that as a child, my creativity was actually nurtured by my mom and Gram and my teachers. I couldn't really recall any negative voices from childhood. My Censors voices come from people I've known in my adult life. Interesting. Also interesting to realize that those people were all unhappy, negative and mentally unstable people, so their criticism was more about their own misery, and not really about my creativity. Ha!

But the loudest Censor voice is my own. And I'm really not sure where the roots of this voice began. Not from criticism from others. Fear, I think. I think that voice stems from fear... lots more to explore there, and I'm sure it will happen over the next 11 weeks.

My Imaginary Lives:

1) Sea Turtle Rescuer and Rehabber
2) Sculptor
3) Yoga instructor for plus-sized people
4) Forensic Investigator-- specifically, Blood Spatter Analyst
5) Owner of a Therapy Dog-- specifically, a pug named Hobson

Other lives: Professional Organizer, Vet Tech, Art Therapist, Medical Transcriptionist, Belly Dancer, Metaphysical Shop Owner, Tarot Reader, Master Gardener, and a perpetual College Student.

Somehow, I forgot all about working with Week One's affirmations, so I'll be working with those this week. I used to pooh-pooh affirmations, but now I advocate for them. They may feel hokey and fluffy, but I've found they really do work for me. I've successfully used affirmations in the past to help me with anxiety attacks, depression and insomnia. I can't believe I forgot about them this week.

Onward, into Week Two...

Monday, August 24, 2009

Domestic Witchiness

The fantastically talented and magical Beweave of Weaving the Web recently passed this along to me:

The Domestic Witch Blog Award!
For Achievement in Magical Housecrafting

Thanks so much, Beweave! I'm honored that you thought of me.

If you’ve been bestowed The Domestic Witch Blog Award:
~ Pass the award on to 3 blogs about Domestic Witchery that you really enjoy.
~ Include the award in your blog post.
~ Link the nominees within your post.
~ Don’t forget to mention the person who gave you the award.
~ Let your chosen winners know that they received The Domestic Witch Blog Award by commenting on their blog.

So many great witchy blogs I read have already received this award, so I apologize if I'm being redundant by passing it along to:

Bringing Up Salamanders

Magical Musings

Kitsch & Giggles

Go check them out!

Friday, August 21, 2009

TAW: Recovering a Sense of Safety

This morning while writing my Morning Pages, I realized that the question, "What makes you feel safe?" had me absolutely bamboozled. Holy crap, I had no idea what makes me feel safe.

First, the OCD list: having a plan, feeling in control, feeling like I'm organized, CLEANING. Over the past couple of years I've realized that when my sense of security feels threatened, I clean. Usually the kitchen.

Then, the rational list: knowing I have food & shelter. Enough money to pay the bills. Having heat, water, a comfortable bed to sleep in. Stuff like that.

Finally I got down to it. Books. Books are safe place. They have always made me feel safe. Love the feel of books, the smell of books. I don't mind reading favorite books over and over again, they are like old friends. They are an escape to another time and place. Books welcome me, have always been there for me, they are unconditionally loving friends.

So are cats. I've always had a cat in my life, except for when I was in college, living in the dorms & apartments that didn't allow pets. I hated that. When we moved to Colorado, I made sure our apartment allowed cats. And then we adopted our sweet Claire, and later our Moose-man. Kitties are such good friends. They are warm and soft, they are loving and trusting (once you earn it!); nothing is more calming and creates a feeling of safety & comfort than having a kitty cuddled in your lap, purring away. Kitties are also unconditionally loving friends.

The last item I came up with is rather strange-- it's color. Yes, color! Glorious color. Color makes me feel safe. No white walls for me. I love to surround myself with color. My "studio" (craft room) is purple, my bedroom is filled with spring green and yellow, my living room accented with lots of hunter green. Surrounding myself with color creates a safe, cozy, atmosphere.

And I realized, maybe this love affair with color is why I love polymer clay so much. It comes in a huge rainbow of colors, colors that can be mixed together to get MORE colors. I can put my hands on these colors, work the clay, make it pliant and smooth, shape it and create with it. Working with the clay is an exercise, a meditation in color; and for me, nothing could be better. Huge lightbulb moment. No wonder I like working with poly clay so much.

So far, my first week with The Artist's Way has been enlightening. Morning pages have not been so bad, I find I rather like the brain dump before I get started with my day. Its like I put all the worrisome chatter that's in my head down on paper and then I can forget about it and move on the the day ahead of me. It feels time-consuming, but so far, doable.

I haven't done my Artist's Date yet, but I do know exactly what I'm going to do for this week, and I'm soooo looking forward to it.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Herb Wrangling Results

I was out working in my poor neglected herb garden today. My periwinkle is encroaching on my lemon balm, my lemon balm spreading through my lavender and sweet woodruff, my tansy is attacking everything. But I'm quite happy to see that my thyme has taken hold quite nicely, at long last!

I spent some time weeding and cutting my little green friends back, while Moose enjoyed a bit of coveted and rare outdoor time. I brought in some handfuls of lemon balm, tansy flowers and lavender and hung them up in the kitchen to dry. I don't know why the handles to my kitchen cupboards are in the middle of the door, way above my head, but the handles do work well for hanging herbs. I gathered some calendula heads, too, and spread them on a paper towel lined cookie sheet to dry.

I also filled my bird feeder (finally got more seed yesterday) and watered the lawn. Plenty more to do in the yard, but at least I made a start.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Artist's Way

A while back I discovered a book called The Artist's Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity by Julia Cameron. It is a 12 week course in discovering and recovering one's creative self. I thought it sounds like an excellent book, just the thing to jump start my creative juices... but I also thought it sounded like the kind of book that might be difficult to work through all alone. It sounded like something that would be easier to do in a supportive, inspiring atmosphere, like with an art or book group.

Sweet serendipity. I found Our Artist's Way-- a group of women online who are just starting to work through The Artist's Way. Perfect timing. I guess the Universe was listening.

We begin with Week 1 work on Wednesday, August 19th, but for now Miss R (our lovely hostess) asks us these questions:

What are your hopes, dreams and wishes?
What do you wish to create?

What are my hopes, dreams and wishes? I wish to say, "I am an artist" and know that it's true. I wish to grow and expand my creative horizons. I dream of letting go of the perfectionism and unnameable fears that paralyze and limit me. I dream of color and texture and big, juicy, vibrant pieces of art that came from ME, from my hands. I hope to connect to others with these same wishes and dreams.

What do I wish to create? A strong bond with the divine within myself. A stronger sense of self. A stronger connection with my Great Creator. A stronger connection to Mother & Father Nature. And of course-- big, juicy, vibrant art. Maybe even sculpted art. Maybe lots of sculpted art.

I've read the Intro and most of the Basic Principles chapter, and so far I'm loving it. I adore this paragraph from the book:
"The heart of creativity is an experience of the mystical union; the heart of the mystical union is an experience of creativity. Those who speak in spiritual terms routinely refer to God as the creator but seldom see creator as the literal term for artist. I am suggesting you take the term creator quite literally. You are seeking to forge a creative alliance, artist-to-artist with the Great Creator." pg 2
YES! And the author expands that concept into 10 Basic Principles which, as I read, I thought yes and yes and yes and YES! This all makes sense to me, this seems plausible to me, this puts into words what I've personally experienced in moments of creating. This gives me hope and joy, I feel anticipation and motivation.

Thank you, Universe, for listening. I am humbled by your generosity.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Been Beading

Behold, the chaos of beading:

I was having too many design ideas for too many different pendants all at once. Just kept pulling out more and more beads... it happens sometimes.

The good news is, several new necklaces with interesting new designs, coming soon!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

A Special Rune Set

I've been working on a special set of my herbal runes the past couple of days. These are a gift for a friend.

Whenever I make herbal runes, I always include a leafy herb and a flower, like lemon balm leaves & calendula petals. For this set, because my friend really likes purple, I included 2 flowers-- African violet petals and ground lavender buds. The flowers make little purple speckles in the clay and the lavender makes them smell wonderful! It's not an overpowering scent, but it does last a long time. Magically, African violets are said to provide protection and lavender enhances psychic awareness and creativity.

I also tinted the clay for these runes, which I usually don't do. I like to leave the clay its natural color so that the herbs in them can be more easily seen. But to make them more purpley for my friend, I added a tiny bit of fuschia & purple color to them.

And I had one other special addition-- gold leaf. That's all the gold speckles you can see in the photos. It's hard to tell in the pics, but the gold leaf is very glittery. It really added a special touch!

I spent today sanding and buffing the runes so that they have a nice glossy shine. Now to pop them in an organza bag so that they will be all ready to give to my friend when I see her tomorrow!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Busy Sanding

I've got a collection of beads and pendants made and have been a busy little bee getting them all sanded.

The pendants in the middle and swirly lentil beads on the right have all been hand sanded. I sanded for an hour and a half or longer last night. So far, I've used 3 different grits of fine wet/dry sandpaper on them, one more grit to go. Next, I'll buff them with denim. Then they'll be varnished and baked again.

The beads on the right have been sanded once, and now need to go back in the tumbler for another 12 - 14 hours with the next finer grit of sandpaper. Little round beads are too difficult for me to hand sand, so the rock tumbler, lined with a sheet of sandpaper and then filled with little squares of sandpaper, does the work for me.

The lone swirly lentil bead in green, aqua & purple has thwarted me. I completely forgot to put a hole in it for stringing before I baked it. I love the colors and I really want to use it for a necklace. Any ideas?

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Blessed Lughnasadh

The tide has turned to Lughnasadh, the first harvest is upon us. Patricia Montley honors the feast of bread best with this litany of grains from “In Nature’s Honor.” (slightly adapted here)

Our delight in the taste of seasonal flavors is matched only by our joy in the first fruits of the grain harvest. Let us celebrate the many forms of grain and the richness they bring to our lives.

Let us rejoice in wheat and corn, oats and barley, rye and rice…

Blessed be the bread of the earth!

In whole wheat, cracked wheat, sour dough, and pumpernickel…

Blessed be the bread of the earth!

In French bread, Italian garlic bread, Russian black bread, Irish soda bread and Indian pita bread…

Blessed be the bread of the earth!

In corn pone, corn chips, corn pudding, cornmeal mush, cornflakes…

Blessed be the bread of the earth!

In granola and bagels, muffins and crumpets, scones and croissants, brioche and biscotti…

Blessed be the bread of the earth!

In pancakes and waffles, blintzes and crepes…

Blessed be the bread of the earth!

In donuts and buns, crullers and kolaches, and Danish pastry…

Blessed be the bread of the earth!

In challah and matzoth, won ton and dumplings, tortillas and taco shells…

Blessed be the bread of the earth!

In oatmeal, bran flakes, wheat flakes and grits…

Blessed be the bread of the earth!

In breadsticks and biscuits and rolls…

Blessed be the bread of the earth!

In rice cakes, rice pudding, fried rice and Spanish rice…

Blessed be the bread of the earth!

In saltines, graham crackers, animal crackers, popcorn and pretzels…

Blessed be the bread of the earth!

In spaghetti, macaroni, lasagna, fettuccine, ravioli and pizza…

Blessed be the bread of the earth!

In layer cakes, loaf cakes, shortcake, pound cake, coffee cake and cupcakes…

Blessed be the bread of the earth!

In bread pudding, cookies, pies and tarts, brownies, and baklava…