Saturday, February 28, 2009

Secret #8~ Partnerships & Alliances

It's week 8 of TNC: 12 Secrets. This week's secret is about selecting empowering partnerships and alliances.

I think the very words of this chapter are important to note: Selecting. Empowering. Partnerships. Alliances. This isn't about being stuck in a job you hate, working with people you don't like. This is about choice. SELECTING the right people, people who EMPOWER you, people who balance the PARTNERSHIP, people who are your ALLIES. Now, that sounds like a job/career that would really be worth being a part of, doesn't it?

I've not yet had this kind of experience, but in thinking about this chapter, I realize there was a time where I came close. The first year after moving to CO, I met the Rose Lady. She worked PT at the same place I did, plus she had her own business selling wonderful real rose jewelry. I started helping her from time to time with sales at craft shows, art shows and the local Renaissance faire. I also helped do some silk floral and jewelry production.

Though at the time I felt like I was just a sales assistant, I realized by reading chapter 8, and thinking back about how the Rose Lady treated me and talked to me, this situation encompassed many characteristics of a partnership. She was respectful and appreciative of the work I did for her, she ran new ideas past me and we brainstormed together, I helped her with problem-solving situations, she respected my opinions and I respected hers, we balanced each other well when we worked shows together... I learned a lot from her about running one's own business.

At this point in time, I feel like I'm just in the early stages of discovering myself as a creative person and selling my work. I'm enjoying my creativity and working in solitude. Creating is like a meditation for me and at this point I can't imagine working with another person...

But this doesn't mean I'm not looking to create some alliances. What I would like at this point is a way to connect with others who are creative and to connect with others who work with polymer clay. Back around the time I opened my Etsy shop, I also joined the Pagans of Etsy Street Team, hoping to make some connections, but its been a fairly quiet group. Plus, I tend to be introverted, especially in group situations, so I'm having a hard time putting myself out there, something I need to work on.

Some other alliances I'm considering are joining the polymer clay guild at Etsy, deviantART, and participating in some of the poly clay challenges at PCAGOE and PCC. Some alliances in the works are: I'm participating in Mother Henna's HeART collaboration (there are still openings-- come join us!) and Jennlui's Goddess Journey Circle. And of course, TNC: 12 Secrets, too!

Whew, that's quite a bit! And I thought this chapter didn't really apply to me at this time. Seems that at least some of it does, after all.

Friday, February 27, 2009

New Moon Gazing

Working in my craft room this evening, I saw the new moon outside the window above my altar. It's my favorite type of new moon-- a slender crescent lying on its back, what I call a moon cradle. And near it tonight, a bright, sparkling Venus. Absolutely lovely.


So of course I had to go out in the cold and take pictures.

What with dodging all the power lines, telephone poles, roof tops and street lights, these were the best shots I could get. I tried three different locations in the backyard, hoping to perfectly capture this magical moon cradle.

It felt good to be outside, basking in the light of the moon, even though the air was crisp, and my hands growing numb on the camera and tripod, and my nose beginning to run. The moon always looks its best when the nights are cold, it seems. No dancing under the moon for me tonight, but I did think about it...

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Getting Runes Ready

I've been making more herbal rune sets. Some of these are calendula petals and basil, and some are purple heather and peppermint. Some are bagged and tagged and ready to go to the local shop, the rest are waiting their turn to be sanded. When those are finished, (probably late this weekend), they'll be listed at my etsy shop.


Once the runes are done sanding, I'll sand some herbal lentil beads I've been making with the leftover clay from runes. I thought it would be fun to see what something like that might look like, so I added some extra color &/or herbs to the clay and played around. The beads will have to be wet sanded at least a couple of times, with two different grits, to really make them shine and bring out the layers of herbs in them. Can't wait to see how they turn out.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Secret #7~ Consulting With Guides

We're into week seven of TNC: 12 Secrets, and to my surprise, this chapter about consulting with guides has completely thrown me for a loop. I've been struggling with writing this post since Friday afternoon. I'm sure I've had guides along the way, or I wouldn't be where I am now; my creativity wouldn't have flourished as it has. But I am having trouble pinpointing this guidance, so my response to this chapter may end up being quite meandering and turn out to be more than one post.

Remembering Early Influences

When I think about creative people from my childhood, the one person I think of most is Grandma. She drew these intricate, swirly, colorful designs with felt tip pens all the time. She embroidered some of those designs with bright colored embroidery floss and made little doily mats with rows upon rows of bright lace ruffles on the edges. She drew pictures, too. She made clothes for my Barbie dolls without using patterns, out of scraps of cloth and even colorful dishcloths and embroidered little flowers or made flowers out of lace.

I never knew when she did these things, I don't ever recall her working on anything, but suddenly, the next time I visited, I would notice a finished project around the house. Grandma was very much in her own world, even when she wasn't creating. But I remember being allowed to use her felt tip pens to draw when I visited, and I remember being fascinated by all the vibrant and unusual color combinations she used and knowing she had a creative gift.

Initiating/Joining a Group

When I was younger, Mom supported my creativity by enrolling me in Children's Theatre drama classes and going to my plays and choir shows. I continued in drama and choir in junior high school and was supported by one particular teacher who also encouraged my creative writing. And when I was in high school I became a member of our Thespian troupe. It was during this time that I became trapped in an abusive relationship which ended up isolating me from all the friends and teachers I met through theatre. I often wonder how different my life would have been if I hadn't become isolated from drama and choir members.

In my 20's I became involved in a rape support group that used writing, collage and drawing as therapy, which turned out to be a wonderful tool for me. I've believed that creative work has the power to heal ever since then. In recent years I've tried to find an art therapist to do further healing, but to no avail so far, nor does our insurance support such therapy, which I think is a shame. Still, doing creative work on my own has been enough to help me deal with depression and anxiety issues.

Currently, I'm involved in a tarot group that meets monthly, and I find tarot decks to be little works of art. I think they are very fascinating and inspiring and my group is inspiring as well, always coming up with fun exercises for exploring and using the cards. Plus, I am meeting and building a circle of creative and supportive people through blogging and this 12 Secrets group. I hope that these connections will continue even after our book blogging group has finished.

My most recent venture-- well, I've joined Mother Henna's most current collaborative HeART project exploring the Hero & the Shadow. I'm excited and terrified! I feel out of my league, and yet, I'm looking forward to the challenge, and I'm looking forward to those I'll meet through being part of this project.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Knots & Backdrops

I've been practicing my Chinese knots, starting to really get the hang of it. Once I've learned how to make the knot, practicing rather reminds me of the meditative state I go into when crocheting, concentrating on the ins, outs and arounds of the knots.

The necklace above has button knots. I am finally getting the hang of how to follow the loops around the knots so that I can move and space them correctly. The necklace below has a double coin knot and cross knots using the diamond stitch variation.


I also got some new papers to use for backgrounds for photos of jewelry items. I tried to find some light colored backdrops that had some interesting textures which wouldn't be too distracting from the jewelry. This last one is a bit wild, but I think it's my favorite.


These are a few necklaces that I think will be going to a local shop that carries some of my jewelry. I still have some more of the Chinese calligraphy pendants to string, but it's slow going as I practice my knotwork. Still, I'm pleased with the end results.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Wishcasting Wednesday

Where do you wish to go?

My dream wishes are to go and swim with sea turtles and to go to Scotland. But I also have another wish that is closer to home and my heart.

I wish to go take care of my mom back in IA whenever she decides to have her knee surgery. She is very anxious about having another surgery and is putting it off for as long as possible. If and when it happens, I want to be there for her and help her during her recovery. I want to care for her, encourage her and comfort her the way she did for me when I was recovering from an accident and major surgery. I want to go show mom how much I love and care for her, give back some of the love she's given me.

And, by being there for my mom, I can also be close to my dearest friend, J Lo, who lives in the same city and needs some TLC as well. I want to go spend some quality time with her, let her know I love her and build some more wonderful friendship memories together.

Where do you wish to go? Join in this week's Wishcasting Wednesday here.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Chapter #6~ Conquering Saboteurs

It's week six of TNC: 12 Secrets, hosted by Jamie at Starshyne Productions; we're halfway through the book already! Can you believe it?

This week's chapter dealt with conquering those things that sabotage our creativity. To be honest, I didn't get as much out of this chapter as I was hoping I would. It seemed to focus on remembering and identifying sabotage, which is important, but didn't give a great deal of juicy detail on actual ways to conquer it. Yes, there were some personal victory stories, but I just felt this chapter fell a little flat when it came to empowering.

I've already mentioned my two main saboteurs in previous posts: the guilt and the naysayers. I don't feel like I want to give any more energy to them with yet another post. Instead, I want to share how I conquer them.

THE EGO WALL

When I was in theatre in high school, on performance night, the dressing room mirrors were surrounded by colorful signs of encouragement made by cast and crew members for each other. Everyone got their "dressing room star" with their name on it, there were funny signs relating to character's lines in the show, and envelopes with names on them which held more personal messages from one individual to another. I was amazed and delighted by this community outpouring of love and appreciation towards each other. I still have my notes and signs that were part of that wall.

It was around this time that I read a novel (I think it was by Grisham) where there was talk about an "ego wall." Basically, a wall in someone's office where awards, degrees and other certificates were proudly displayed. For some reason, this idea of an "ego wall" really struck me; I loved it and have always remembered it. And have used the idea to create my own versions of the "ego wall" over the years.

My "ego walls" have included items like:
  • letters of appreciation from teachers or friends
  • award plaques for floral design
  • certificates of completion for course work I've done
  • pictures of items I've created that I'm proud of
  • empowering collage work I've made
  • framed, meaningful, beautiful cards I've received
  • certificates from volunteering
I've even put up a certificate I got from participating in jury duty!

I also have "ego folders"-- manilla file folders full of little items that gave me "strokes." One that is labeled "plays" holds notes and signs from theatre, thespian awards, programs from all the plays I was involved in, pictures, newspaper articles and drama class certificates. Also all the programs from the different choirs I was involved in-- from Seraph choir at church when I was 6, through high school choir. A second manilla folder is labeled "writing" and holds writing certificates and letters of honor, favorite poems and stories I've written, notes of encouragement from teachers and the like.

Okay, so perhaps you're thinking a lot of that is ancient history, what about NOW? Well, I'm fairly new to polymer clay, so no awards or certificates to speak of (yet). But here is what I do-- I take pictures of everything I create. Everything! And if I'm feeling a little low, well, I pull up pictures of the first things I ever made. Then I compare them with recent items I've created. Wow, I've come a long way! I'm learning so much. My techniques are visibly improving. It really boosts my ego to see where I am and where I've been and how far I've come. It's awesome. And it works.

Does this sound egotistical? Hell, yeah! And why not? Sometimes, you gotta be your own best cheerleader. And if you love what you do, and love what you're creating, then why not flaunt it? Surround yourself by it! Make your creative victories VISIBLE. Remind yourself and tell the world-- Hey, look what I've done! I challenge anyone who's reading to make yourself an ego wall (or an ego corner or and ego folder) and just see how good it feels to look at it.

And, if there is someone who inspires and encourages you-- LET THEM KNOW IT! I received some wonderful feedback earlier this week, and it filled me with gratitude. I'd like to spread that feeling around. How about you? Maybe there is someone who deserves a note of encouragement. Maybe there is someone whose creative work you admire. Tell them and let them know why you appreciate it! Send a card or a nice, personalized handwritten letter to them. Make them a sign for their ego wall or create a special certificate for them.

Help conquer saboteurs by spreading around a little bit of empowerment this week!

Valentine Rambling

Happy Valentine's Day!

My sweet husband surprised me with this lovely little swan when he got home from work last night. I adore it, it's such a unique little bud vase. Roses from our backyard will be finding their way to this vase during the summer months, I do believe.

Our Valentine celebrations tend to be fairly simple. We will probably do a cheese fondue dinner by candlelight at home tonight, that's always romantic and fun. Then again, it's been a while since we've had a picnic on the floor...

I remember our first picnic on the floor. I was living in an efficiency apartment, a tiny little thing; the kitchen area was along one short wall of the living/dining room. We were both in college at the time.

We grilled steaks (a rare treat for college students!) on an indoor tabletop grill. I put an embroidered tablecloth on the floor in my tiny living room. Husband (boyfriend at the time) had gotten a pink rose for me, so that was in a vase in the center of the cloth. We heaped plates with steak and mashed potatoes and gravy. I think Husband got the biggest steaks he could find; they were huge! We had those little buttery crescent rolls, too. I don't believe there was a green or leafy vegetable in sight!

We sat on the floor and shared bites and savoured the juicy steaks. We laughed at our extravagance. So silly, but such a good memory. I think I might even have pictures of our feast somewhere, but this was way before digital cameras.

Still love him as much as I did back then, though.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Honored By Your Mention

I've received two wonderful, thoughtful gifts this week.

The first is from Lissa, who gave me my very first art award! Thank you so much. Being that I'm still getting used to applying the term "artist" to myself, I'm honored that someone else thought of me in regards to that word!

As part of accepting the award, I'm to share 7 things I love:
  1. My husband~ he's my best friend, my sweetheart, my soul mate; he's silly, funny, loving, kind, understanding and handsome to boot!
  2. Moose-man, my kitty. He's a little love bug, such a great fluffy lump, a very sweet boy.
  3. Color! I have a love affair with colors, the whole spectrum, so many shades, so many ways to mix and match.
  4. Books & reading. Nothing beats curling up with a good book, no matter how many times I've read it before.
  5. Lavender. Great herb, great smell. Its a lovely plant that calms and soothes me.
  6. Finches. They're such homely, happy little birds, always showing up in pairs at the feeder, so fun to watch.
  7. The changing of the seasons. Love to watch the shifting of the seasonal tides.
There are many wonderful creative bloggers I've met, especially since I've started by book blogging group. Many have already received this award, so I'm going to pass is on to these creative, inspiring souls who have not yet been mentioned:
AND ALSO Terri at Honor Yourself, which leads me to the second gift that I was given this week.

I met Terri via e-mail last week. She took the time to send me the sweetest thank you note regarding a gift sent from my shop; to hear from a happy recipient really made my day. And then, to top it all off, she offered to mention my shop in her monthly art newsletter for a little free press. Wow, so cool! I was blown away by her kindness.

Since then, I've been browsing her blog and website, bone sigh arts, and have been inspired and amazed. The way that bone sigh came into being is an incredible testimony to the power of creative work healing and empowering a person; scroll down her main page to read the story.

I would like to send out a big THANK YOU to Lissa & Terri, for the gifts they have given me this week, and also a thank you to all the other creative bloggers I have met through this journey; so many sources of inspiration in your blogs, your comments and your creative work! Thank you for sharing your creative selves!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Several Completed Items

I've been working diligently! Here are a few of the new items I've finished and listed in my Etsy shop Into the Dawn Designs today:

Chinese calligraphy pendant necklace.

Art nouveau decorated journal.

Herbal runes-- these have calendula petals and basil leaves in them.

Plus I listed more rune pendant necklaces & spirit boxes. And I'll have more items finished within the next few days; I'm on a roll and it feels good!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Works In Progress

This is some of what I made last week that is now ready for finishing touches.

I was playing with scraps of clay left over from making herbal runes, and ended up learning how to make lentil beads by accident! Once I figured out how to do it, I couldn't stop, so I practiced making swirly lentils for hours. These have calendula petals and basil in them, which will show up better once they've been sanded and buffed.


I was also playing around with my beveled cutters and Chinese calligraphy stamps, which resulted in some new pendant designs. The ones on the card still need glazed, the others are ready to be made into necklaces. Trying to decided how I want to string them.


I've also been experimenting with making decorative pieces for journal covers. I had some great stamps that matched the design on this journal perfectly, so I decided to play around with some ideas. Can't wait to see how it looks when it's complete.


I'll be working hard this next week getting everything put together.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Secret # 5- Committing to Self-Focus

Let me preface this post by saying... I'm not quite sure how I want to respond to this week's 12 Secrets chapter. I haven't been able to clearly sort out my thoughts or ideas -- especially on the subjects of patriarchy and social conditioning of women-- although the wheels in my mind have been churning around and around. I may end up with more than one post on this chapter, check back and see. But for now...

Thoughts on selfishness:

Do I feel selfish about my creativity? Oh boy, do I ever! The cost for supplies, the space my work and supplies take up, not to mention the time. I look at everything and I think, this is so self-indulgent. This is only worth it if you're making money off of it. You are wasting valuable time and money. You're cluttering up the house with all this stuff. You should have a real job, you should be cleaning the house, you should be doing something of real value.

And yet... and yet...

There is such a draw to create. The way I feel when I am sitting at my work desk creating something is often invaluable-- nothing else makes me feel so content, nothing else fills the space inside me. Having battled major depression all my life, being able to step outside of that sucking muck into a golden halo of inner peace is worth the cost of clay and stamps and tools. The joy that creating brings me is something I cannot put a value upon. The creation process is a lure, a sweet siren that beckons, a cloak of joy that wraps around and enfolds me. How can I go back to feeling the way I did before? Why would I want to?

Is this selfish? Or is it self-preservation?

Thoughts on focus:

This week, I have been very focused on creating. I have been claying up a storm! Rune sets, pendants, lentil beads, tube beads... also taking care of some loose ends business wise, restocking at a shop and reassessing the best wares for the atmosphere there. Taking photos of pieces, preparing to add more to my Etsy store. I've been quite productive this week and it feels very good.

Would that all my days were this productive. Some days it is so hard to focus. I can't remember what I wanted to accomplish. I sit at my desk and nothing turns out right. Wasted supplies, wasted time. Guilt creeps in.

I'm a list maker, often I have to be, to aid my faulty memory. I don't know if its the affects of meds or depression or age or what is called fibromyalgia "fog"-- probably a combination of all of the above, but I really struggle with my memory. I can lie in bed at night and review all I want to accomplish the next day, and the next day, completely have no idea what I want or need to get done, or if I remember then I can't seem to focus on what I need to do.

I like it best when I have a To Do list, a set of goals, little deadlines in mind. It helps me organize and prioritize. It helps me remember. It helps me stay motivated. I like to see things crossed off my list. It feeds my sense of accomplishment. I need to be better about doing these things when I'm in a good space so that when I'm in a bad space I already have these tools at hand and in the works. Good habits for bad days.

So, a list:
  • glaze Chinese calligraphy pendants
  • string CC necklaces
  • 2 more herbal rune sets: heather & mint, lavender & rosemary
  • sand and buff runes
  • sand and buff lentil beads
  • string lentil bead necklaces
  • make scarab beetles & varnish
  • string scarab necklaces
  • finish journal cover decoration
  • take rune sets & CC/scarab necklaces to WB
  • more photos of finished pieces for Etsy
  • trip to PO with items to figure out postage for Etsy shipping
  • enter Etsy listings
  • egg-shaped goddesses
  • goddess vessels
What's on your list to focus on this week?

Monday, February 2, 2009

A Simple Imbolc

My Imbolc was simple but meaningful today.

I mixed sea salt, lavender and safflower oil together to make a purifying salt scrub for my shower. As I showered, I imagined scrubbing away anything negative from the past year.

I sprinkled lavender and lemon balm on the carpet and vacuumed. I took all the expired condiments out of the fridge and emptied the bottles and jars, rinsed them out and recycled them. I took some money I've been hoarding and went and got my hair cut in the afternoon. It feels so much better now!

I put on my favorite Sarah Brightman CD, La Luna, and cleared off my altar, dusted everything and redecorated it while the music played. I lit incense and candles on my altar after I finished and just sat a while, relaxing, enjoying the music.

I made the Spring Tonic Soup for dinner and it was very good! I have to admit, never having eaten leeks or mustard greens before, I was skeptical, but I thought it was yummy. I'm having leftovers for lunch tomorrow.


And, because its traditional to have something for Imbolc that involves dairy, I made my very first baked custard! Topped with fresh blackberries... yum...

Even though I didn't do anything very exciting, what I did do today felt like a perfect way to honor the sabbat.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Imbolc Planning

Tomorrow is Imbolc and I have been thinking a lot about what I'd like to do this year. I think of Imbolc as the time of earth's quickening and also as a time of clearing out the old to make way for the new. A time of purifying mind, body, spirit, home.

So I think I will take a purification shower and continue with the cleaning I've begun around the house. I've also decided to try a couple of new recipes. The first one being:

SPRING TONIC SOUP

2 tablespoons olive oil
3 leeks, white parts only, well-washed and cut into 1/2-inch rounds
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 medium carrot, diced
2 teaspoons paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne (or more, to taste)
6 cups vegetable broth or water
sea salt
Handful of mustard greens, watercress, or parsley, coarsely chopped
croutons for garnish
sour cream for garnish
sprouts for garnish

1. Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot. Add leeks, bell pepper, and carrots and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened. Sprinkle vegetables with paprika and cayenne to taste.

2. Add vegetable broth or water, and salt to taste. Bring to a boil and cook, covered, for 15 minutes. Add greens and continue cooking for 2 to 3 minutes.

3. To serve, place a few croutons in each individual soup bowl, then add broth. Top each serving with sour cream and a couple of fresh sprouts.

Serves 4 to 6.

This soup is supposed to be rich with flavonoids, and will clear the sinuses and promote healing. Its also full of spring-y and fiery flavor.

I've always wanted to try making a baked custard and while browsing recipes online, I found the perfect one to try:

BAKED CUSTARD FOR TWO

1 egg
1 cup milk
3 tablespoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1. In a bowl, lightly beat the egg. Stir in the milk, sugar, vanilla and salt until combined.

2. Pour into two ungreased 6-oz. custard cups. Sprinkle with nutmeg.

3. Place in an 8-in. square baking dish; add 1 in. of hot water to the pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for 35 minutes or until a knife comes out clean.

Other than these simple plans, I will wait and see what other inspirations arise tomorrow.