Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Step Fifty Two: Seriously, the last one?

Dear Fi,

It took me quite long (like: forever) to decide what to do for my last post. I really liked your idea about creating something for each other, to exchange the gifts when we meet. I actually loved that idea, because it makes our meeting look more tangible than ever ;) However, the process of deciding on my fifty second step was agonizing. I knew that I won't have much time on Tuesday so I started to work on this project on Sunday. I wasn't sure what I wanted exactly, but I knew a few things.

1. mixed media piece
2. something to hang up but not a painting
3. using red and gold
4. incorporate a "special" button - the same one I used in my first post (I had only two of them, and somehow using this button for the last post seemed to me like my personal sort of closure)
5. the phrase "follow your dreams" popped up in my mind and even though it sounds like such a cliche, I couldn't help not to using it

It was really enough information to get excited and start the "last" (at least in this format) journey.
The idea of trying something I have always wanted to do, but never did came up and I thought that it would be really great for this particular project. Instead of using a frame I wanted to use a cardboard as background for this piece and later attach a wire with some additional "cute things" so you could easily hang it wherever you want.

At this point I got really excited. I searched through my art supplies and started gluing stuff to that cardboard only to find out about five minutes later that everything I glued shrank, wilted and looked really ugly. So, I was very disappointed by my first attempt - the poor effect almost made me cry. I had already spent a few hours on thinking, preparing, and working on the project and it seemed like I wouldn't be able to use it after all.

So, I decided to start a new project, and to do something on paper first and then find a way to incorporate it to the cardboard or piece of wood or something. Since I had used some materials I really liked and I didn't have more them (the Chinese paper with cute red flowers) I changed the palette. However, after working on this new piece for a quite a bit, I found out that the wilting effect was temporary!!! so now I had two pieces in the early stages of development, Sunday was gone and I didn't take any pictures of my work.

So, today my Dear Fi I came from work and started to work on the first project. Since it was already late, and dark outside, I decided not to worry about the fact that I will take some ugly pictures later. Instead I decided that during the weekend I will take some decent pictures with decent lighting and then I will repost them. But for today this is what I have.

I don't know what to say now, except it really feels weird and kind of unbelievable that I am posting the last step today. When we started this project I actually never thought about the end ha, ha. There are so many things  I would like to thank you for my Dear Fi!!! I will try to downsize it to a few "main" things - otherwise I wouldn't have a chance to sleep tonight ;) he, he.

First of all I would like to thank you for agreeing to do this project with me, it was one of my dreams and you've helped me to realise it. That is huge!.

Second, thank you for showing up every week and for being so patient with me. I really have no idea how you managed with me being late so many times, with not having time to comment on your post properly (by the way this is what I'm planning to do on Tuesdays now ha, ha). Most of all, I really don't know how you could stand my whining and complaining for the entire year!!! You must be a saint! I really appreciate that you were so understanding of my weekly failures... and being here on time - you have no idea how much it motivated me to keep going despite of all the time when I felt guilty and bad about not managing to post. Thank you.

Third, I had so much fun and excitement every week with you Dear Fi! You've inspired me and surprised so many times with your projects, innovations and creativity!!! and you know that I loved reading all the stories you've shared here.

I am really glad and grateful that we did it together, Dear Fi. I am also proud of us ha, ha.

I have learned a lot about myself during this year, about the way I create, about some of my limitations, and the things that excite me the most. I also did some exploring and some "deepening" in using various media. The one thing I confirmed for myself is the fact that I cannot live without creating - the quality of my life is not the same without art in it. I might not post my paintings anymore but I will still paint, experiment, search, try, explore and create - that I am sure of. I've noticed that I feel more brave and confident now, than I felt when we started this blog. After all, it feels good to have completed this project (and who knows what is waiting for us around the corner?!).

So, thank you again Dear Fi for journeying with me for the past year, it had been an extraordinary experience!!!

Love :***


Do not forget to FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS!!!


Dear Fi,

It's Sunday February 6th... and instead of reposting the pictures I decided to add a few of hopefully better quality. Last Tuesday felt weird...I still cannot come around to the fact that we are done. It will probably take me a while to adjust ;) During this week I found another gift of our 52 steps. It was my hope that our project would help me to develop the habit of finding the time to create at least on a weekly basis and I already did a small project yesterday. I really had the need to create, hopefully it won't change ;)

Love :*

Step Fifty Two: A not so 'grand' finale!

Dearest Sylwi

What can I say, except, "Oh. Dear!" ha ha ha ha ha ha! :-)

I guess I should have known that today would turn out like this. Not only have I not had time to plan what I was going to do for the "grand finale", neither did I have time to shop for materials. So, when I sat down this morning to create my last post, I drew a complete blank. I had nothing! Panic!

An hour later and I still had no idea, but really liked the look of this adorable tutorial, by Lynn Roberts. She made the cutest little birdie, complete with a tiny heart, peeping out from his front pocket. 

I really, really wanted to make one for you, as a little present to say thank you for being you and for sharing so much on this blog for the past year.

There is no way, back at the beginning, that I could have realised how much of an impact this blog would have on me, or how much I would enjoy meeting here every week. I feel so privileged to have been able to share this space with you and been given an insight into your art and mind through it.

As an added bonus, I feel like creativity has become a part of my everyday life. I'm constantly dreaming of new projects and stockpiling ideas... and for once, the ideas happen and 'things' get created, rather than drifting around in my head, or being entirely forgotten.

So, thank you, thank you!

Back to my last disaster Step.


You would have thought I would have learned by now, that I should make sure I have all of the materials before I begin a project.

Uh. Not so.

I DES-perately wanted some cute material to work with, but I had nothing. Not even any cute dresses I could cut up! heee! I really was getting that desperate! :-) I was cursing the decision I made at the end of last year, when I visited Liberty's in London and decided not to buy a bunch of beautiful fabric scraps to use for craft projects. I KNEW I would be able to use them somehow, but had just gone through a big decluttering phase and was trying to keep the amount of "stuff" I had to a minimum. So, I didn't buy them.

Dumbest. Decision. Ever. :-)

So today, I ended up using fabric scraps and a beautiful, cashmere sweater that was given to me that I've never worn. And, well, the project slowly went from horrible to worse! I'm not even going to get into the nightmare I discovered when trying to sew the knitted jersey - it just took on a life of its own... or how I messed up the heart to the point where I had to blanket stitch around the edge to hide the holes... ha ha! 

So, I have decided dearest Sylwi, that I am using today as a "test run" and that I shall buy some fabric especially for this project and make you a sweet and beautiful bird; a gift that I can be proud of giving and one that you won't feel like you have to hide in your bottom drawer (or conveniently lose in the trash can!) :-))))

Let's call it "abstract, modern art" and leave it at that! ;-)
And, in the pocket next to the heart, there's a little note! I wanted to use the letters S.Y.L.W.I. somehow, but sewing them seemed a little advanced in light of my other sewing disasters today... so, I began thinking of adjectives that describe you beginning with those letters ... but I couldn't think for the life of me of anything beginning with 'Y'... yellow... yearbook... yodel... yak... ! Eek! :-) "Youthful" will have to do! ha ha! 

soulful, senTimental, wonderful, sensual, warm, serene, sincere, wondrous, sacred, youtHful, strong, soft, legendary, sweet, intuitive, loveAble, sexy, special, integrity (what on earth is the adjective for integrity?!), lumiNous, lustrous, sparKling, wise, legacy-leaver, womanlY, saintly, inspiratiOnal, innovative, independent, indUstrious, spiritual, intellectual and a true superwoman!

Lots and lots of love to you,

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Step Fifty One: The last ten minute painting ;)

Dear Fi,

I had great plans to do something "special" for the last two posts. However, it took me so long to finally finish writing my paper, that before I knew it the weekend was gone. The week started and now every morning I head to work at the women's shelter, and I come back in the evening to eat dinner, put the kids to bed and fall asleep with them ;)

BTW, I love my new practicum, I've only been there since last week but every day I learn so many things, I cannot believe how much there is to learn!!! That's so exciting! The less exciting part is the fact that when I come back from work I do not have much energy left.

So, today I've decided to make the ten minute painting because it was the only way to be here and post, and because it will be the last one ;) I hope I will have some time during the weekend to prepare my last post. I have no clue what it might be. I'm curious how our journey will "end". However, I do not believe in endings - I believe in change and transformation instead ;)

So, My Dear Fi, see you next week for the Grand Finale :) ha, ha

Love :*

I love your crochet flowers, I have no idea how you were able to make them??!! Do you remember my attempt at crochet? Your flowers are the masterpieces in comparison to Danbo's eco-bag!
BTW, great title for the post ha, ha. I love it!

Step Fifty One: Revenge of the Mutant Crochet Flowers...

Dearest Sylwi,

Step Fifty ONE??! Eek! I'm excited and a bit sad it's coming to an end. :-)

Whilst I was creating my Step today, I began to wonder how on earth I am going to find the motivation to create anything, once these 'Fifty Two Steps' finish next week?

I've stumbled and tripped my way through this year, experimenting and playing, but only because I had a weekly deadline and rendez-vous with you. Without you, I would have let every excuse get in the way of making time for being creative.

I really don't know what this next year is going to be like; whether I'll continue experimenting, or if I'll let things slide and rarely break out the art materials. I know I've done one thing this year, though - I've certainly conquered my fear of creating things... I've learned to block out that voice in my head, the one that used to make me give up on an idea, before I even began.

Although, today, maybe I should have listened to that voice! heee! ;-)

With only two Steps left, I knew one of them had to be an attempt at crochet. I tried it before for a Step, but  it was such a disaster, I couldn't bring myself to post the pictures. Ha! Today though, I was determined to post whatever the results turned out to be.

Using a little pamphlet on crochet that my Mum gave me a couple of years ago, I learned how to do a basic chain stitch.

That bit seemed simple enough, so I (foolishly) :-) decided I needed something more challenging to post.

So, I searched for crochet flower tutorials on YouTube. None of the tutorials there were basic enough, so I ended up having to ping back and forth between several different tutorials, to try and work out how on earth to make the flowers. I guess it didn't help that the tutorials were for different types of flowers. (ahem!)

I was dissatisfied with the first flower I made, so I made another... and then another ... annnnd another...

Each one was as bad as the last, but for a different reason. :-)

I decided on one last attempt. One last flower. I would concentrate really, really hard and surely it would turn out perfect?!?

... or not.

*long sigh*

ha ha ha ha ha ha! :-)

See you back here next week, for one last Step. {sob}! ;-)

Lots and lots of love

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Step Fifty: Zenpatterndoodles ;-)

Dearest Sylwi,

Yikes! Step Fifty?! :-)

{... and actually, I'm even closer to the finish than that! This is really Step Fifty One, as I'm still missing a post from a couple of weeks ago!}

Today, I needed to create something where I could just zone out. The last few weeks (and in fact, end of last year, too) were so busy and stressful, that I wanted to find something that I enjoyed doing, but that didn't need a lot of brain power!

I find that doodling patterns (particularly strong, geometric ones) provides peace and the ability to completely switch off, so that's where today started.

I found a pattern I liked in amongst these free ones (which I found online here) ...

... and set about drawing it freehand on brown paper with white paint. There's something about the brown and white combination that I really love.

Once I'd spent some time drawing the pattern ... I could feel all of the stress beginning to disappear as I doodled :-)  ... I decided I wanted to use the pattern to make something. So, I searched for tutorials for Japanese paper crafts.

I came across an amazing tutorial for Japanese Papercraft Boxes on The Evil Mad Scientist blog and knew I had to try it. The tutorial is so precise and clear and they have even included a free template for the box...

... and this is how it turned out!

... and because I can't leave well enough alone, I added a quick bow that I made from left over Christmas ribbon :-)

I know you're really busy this week, writing your last paper. I hope it's all going very smoothly and that you'll soon be finished. Can't wait to see your penultimate Step, when you get a moment to do it... and then there will be ONLY ONE LEFT!!!! :-)

(I'll try and catch up this week with the post I missed. Sorry it's taking so long!)

Lots and lots of love

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Step Fifty: A little garland with my word for 2011

Happy Blissful New Year my Dear Fi!

Can you guess my word for 2011 from the picture above?

Hint: It has five letters... Ha, ha!

For the last week of 2010 the word "playful" was on my mind. Probably because the year 2010 was quite challenging for me; too much stress, too much complaining, tiredness, seriousness, and whining. So the word "playful" for 2011 seemed like a winner ;) But then I woke up on the first of January and the word was gone... together with the whole idea of choosing a word for a year.

I was quite surprised by this shift. Not only did I not feel that I wanted to stick with the word "playful", but I also didn't feel any need for choosing a word anymore. But then as my day went by a new word picked me...


There is a lot meaning behind this word {for me}. It is actually hard to grasp. I hope one day I will ;) I am not in the mood for sharing today and I do not want to write a deep reflection here. Simply put, it is a powerful and vibrant word for me, especially because lately I felt so drained that now I am drawn in the opposite direction. I want to be alive and feel alive!

What I like about this word the most is that aliveness requires having energy but it is not about doing, it is more about being, feeling, experiencing... Being alive means also being in the moment and appreciate and agree on whatever life brings. Being alive is a gift. At least this is what it means for me. 

I had many ideas for illustrating the word "playfulness" since I spent some time with this word already. However, the ideas did not transfer well to my new word. Yet, I wanted to do something to connect with this word, and to have some tangible representation, so I could just look at it and be reminded of the direction I am heading. 

I woke up this morning with the thought of doing a small garland with my word. I didn't have much time for today's project. I have scheduled too many appointments before my new practicum starts, so I was in and out for the entire day. When I finally finished the garland it was late for taking good pictures and I wished you could send your friend over to teach me some brilliant lessons on lighting ;)

Did you pick your word for 2011?

Love :*

Step Forty Nine: Raw chocolate Christmas bonbons

Dearest Sylwi,

Happy New Year!!!! I hope 2011 is full of love and light and dreams coming true... and lots of time for creative adventures, too!

As mentioned in my last post, I had initially hoped to cook some Christmas cookies for a Step at the end of last year. However, food guilt set in over Christmas :-))) and I made a promise to myself, that instead of a holiday completely filled with refined sugars and dairy, I would teach myself to make one raw food treat.

This recipe came from a book that I was given as a Christmas present, called 'Naked Chocolate' by Shazzie and David Wolfe. It's a recipe for fudge squares, made from nuts, dates, coconut and cacao nibs. 

To make the fudge look a little more treat-like, I rolled each square into a ball and then covered it in either shredded coconut, or raw cacao powder.

They tasted very good... not "excellent", but pretty darn good for my first adventure with raw treats. I'm looking forward to improving on the recipe a little. 

My ultimate goal is to invent raw treats that will taste soooo good, that everyone will like them... even friends who don't really understand the whole raw food concept and think it's all a bit crazy! :-) I shall certainly know I've achieved that, when my husband likes them! 

Today's Step was really two creative adventures in one. Not only did I make the treats, I also persuaded a photographer friend to show me how to light my pictures. I styled these pics, with the Christmas tree behind and an old, wooden, chopping board that belonged to my Grannie... and then I ran out of props! (and began dreaming of trips to Paris, to browse flea markets for pretty ceramic plates and saucers!) 

In the end, I just made a quick origami gift box, using these instructions. In hindsight, I should probably have left it out of the shot, but I hadn't really planned the shot, it just kind of fell together... so, well, that's why there's a weird paper box in there! heeee! :-) 

I learned so much about lighting today. We played around with lighting the bonbons from the front, then the side and then from slightly behind. The pics I liked most, were lit from slightly behind. It seemed to give the bonbons much more shape.

I'm exhausted from all of the work. This was supposed to take a couple of hours and ended up taking far longer! Especially when you're trying to take the pic and a curious and hungry puppy sneaks into the background of the shot...

... so, you shoo them out of the shot, run back to the camera and take another pic, only to discover ANOTHER curious and hungry puppy, attracted by all of the noise... and then the chocolately smell wafting down off the counter, has sneaked in to the vacant space...


Lots and lots and lots of love to you! Happy, Happy, Happy New Year, sweetpea!