Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Step Twenty: A bizarre creation...

Dear Fi,

I had a plan. I had a good plan for today’s post. As you know Dear Fi, I started Susannah’s e-course last week, so I decided to create a cover for the binder I am using for this class. I took nice pictures, and I had an idea for a design I wanted to add on the binder’s cover. In Canada we had a long weekend. Everything was set up, my mom and my husband’s parents were supposed to take our children for the weekend, so we could finally:

1. relax
2. study (me)
3. build the stairs for our patio (S.)
4. clean our messy house (together)
5. relax
* and about 100 other things; going to the movies included, and taking tons of pictures, not to mention my clever plan of creating a binder cover and writing this post over the weekend... 

Instead, Amelie got a sky-high fever and she couldn’t go. Then Bruno came back also sick, and voilà... my plans changed. I decided to go for a 10 minute painting, have it done fast and then take care of my post to school, and go to bed early.

I regret now that I didn’t record my progress, I should have been taking pictures of the entire process of this bizarre creation. First, it was supposed to be "white on white". So I started to glue different pieces of paper and paint over in different shadows of white, ivory, and cream. If I had ended then I would have been done a long time ago. Instead, I watched as my hand opened a jar of red paint and very quickly painted a half circle in the right upper corner. Oops... Then I decided to add some stamps... of course it didn’t turn out as I imagined, so I couldn’t just leave it! I decided to add some grays and silver to balance the two heavy corners. However, instead of creating an interesting “something” he, he it turned out to look like I just stepped on my piece with dirty shoes... I didn’t like it. This is how cobalt teal got involved he, he. I needed some strong colour to cover the mess I created. Then came the gold stripes from an old Czech book bought for $1 at my local library together with ten other books (which I often use in my work). And then as I was almost ready to take a picture and to scan, I got crazy with a permanent black pen and started to draw some bizarre shapes all over. I couldn’t leave them... so I added more painting. This is when I finally said, “No more, that is it, bizarre as it is, I don’t care anymore.”

Dear Fi, I have no clue what this is about, but I’m happy it’s done ;)

By the way... our twentieth post!!! can you imagine? and we are still going he, he... Even though I feel lately like writing these posts is a heavy chore for me, and like (as it happened today) I have no clue where I am heading with my creations, I can tell you that every Tuesday I am double curious - first, because I cannot wait to see what you came up with, and second, because I usually have no idea what I will end up doing for my post...



Step Twenty: Creating with a short attention span - copper, pinholes, paper cutting, butterflies, a bit of everything really! :-)

Dearest Sylwi,

This week, I sort of went with the flow and this is what resulted! :-) I wish I could tell you the reasons, but I don't know what they are! It's just what I felt like creating today.

I always thought that canvases looked better in threes, but today, I liked just the two of them together, mirroring each other. I tried this pattern in a couple of other mediums - sewing onto paper and with material, but these were my favourites. I'm surprised to find that I haven't taken to sewing very much. I thought I would love it, but really, it seems to be paper that I enjoy most (at the moment!) :-)

The first sheet is copper with pin holes and the second, is pieces of cut out paper. I really liked the strong effect that 'drawing' with cut paper gives... I may try some more of this in future. It almost felt like I'd found a style I could work on and develop... I imagine quite strong illustrations, bold colours, but instead of using paint, cutting paper. Maybe, if I worked on it, this could become my 'style'?!! ha ha! :-) Who knows?!

Anyway, my mind wandered (10 minute attention span) :-) whilst I was piercing the copper. I'd tried (without success) to cut a butterfly from copper before, but it's too hard to cut tiny details into the metal. So, I tried it today with the pinhole technique. By piercing the copper with a pin, I was able to give the butterfly some interest.

In this pic, it's perched on a copper can which has been left outside. Originally, the can would have been the same colour as the butterfly currently is, so I'm curious to see what colours the butterfly will go, if I leave it here. Assuming the dogs don't thieve it and break it first! I found my birdie seed marker in pieces on the floor - luckily, the copper part survived, but the twig had been chewed up! :-) 

I like how it looks when you hold it up to the sky. Here it is, stuck to my office window... 

(Darn the sky, no good for photos today - yesterday it was azure blue and today it's tupperware grey! ha ha!) :-)


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Step Nineteen: Stones and circles...

Dear Fi,

Stones again. I really like the pictures above. Very symbolic, very at the right moment for me. It is funny, because the symbolism of these two pictures is really stronger now than when I arranged the stones to photograph them. I didn’t put a lot thought into it, it was a natural, simple, and rather quick movement he, he.

I am currently taking a class about group work. I am also involved in some group work and training outside of the University (working with a Wise Woman again!). Somehow stones always bring the image of a circle, and the circle represents the connection between people sharing time/space together. Sacred circles... especially women’s circles.

The wild flowers, brought home by my three and half year old daughter, and placed in my favourite wine glass are so beautiful yet so simple. At first I though that they symbolize a leader. An authentic, charismatic, visionary, compassionate person. A living inspiration. When people approach a leader like this, they naturally form a circle around her, they want to be close, and to follow her. But then I understood that the flowers are so different from the stones, they are not the same kind. I also thought that a true leader would rather sit in the circle together with other women, instead of putting herself in the centre.

So I decided that these flowers symbolize a higher power, universe, great spirit, goddess, holiness, consciousness, energy, a whole... The list goes on but I will stop here Dear Fi, because I got carried away ha, ha. {And if I don’t stop now I will write my master thesis on the power of women’s circles, creativity, and spirituality. Actually... I might do this one day when I get bored and have lots of free time ha, ha - so probably never}.

Anyway, I cannot concentrate while writing this post. Lots of things are going on in my life right now. All amazingly good, and inspiring, I feel uplifted and I feel like I am on the right path, and I am so excited. However, the thing is, there is nothing concrete to share because all that is happening is happening on the inside, still in process, still hasn’t taken a form, still very raw.

OK, I will just try now to jump and quickly say a few words about my project, shall I?

First of all I thought I would be done with my project in an hour (haven’t I learned anything yet so far???). I prepared the stones yesterday, I found them, collected them, and washed them. I was ready to start painting them right after waking up. I didn’t need to choose colours I knew what colours I would use before even realizing that I would paint the stones. These stones are a gift for a special woman, and I had planned to get something done for her since January (BTW, no this is not the longest it has taken me to finish a project, so two years for your Kususama ball isn’t really that bad, trust me!).

Anyway, I digress again. The point is that I have had many ideas for this gift in the last couple of months, I even shared one with you in post number 6 and 7, where I talked about painting nine hearts for her. Honestly, I think I just wasn`t ready, not even busy, there were weeks I could simply do something and it would be done. But I didn`t wanted to have it done, I wanted to put my whole heart into it and I wanted this project to bring a “special kinds of feelings” he, he.  Did that sound weird? Not for me.

So, everything was prepared, I was ready and eager to paint... only to discover right after I started to paint that something strange happened to my eyes. The sad thing is, Dear Fi, that my eyes are getting older, and somehow I totally didn`t expect this to happen so soon. I just couldn’t see properly. This is why instead of painting these stones in a few hours it took me a half day to finish today’s project. And when I finally did, the sun disappeared and while taking the last pictures on my patio, it started to rain.


Now, to end it somehow ;)

1. I’m very happy with the end result, and yes lots of “special kinds of feelings” were floating above these stones today :) he, he

2. I need to IMMEDIATELY schedule an appointment to an optometrist!!!

3. Finally... this post totally sucks, I have no idea what I was writing about and what I actually wanted to say. It is a great example of “How NOT to write”. I’m in a hurry and in the middle of my spring session. So, besides all of the great things {I wish I knew how to put them into words today} I have some serious work to do tonight.




Step Nineteen: Decoupage - wasted time, or lessons learned?

Dearest Sylwi

I really don't want to post! :-) It just hasn't worked out for me today. 

I started out trying to crochet, I wanted to try some little flowers. I've not really crocheted before, so flowers were maybe a bit adventurous. The flowers turned out half terrible and half ok (the first half of each flower was a hot mess and the second half, looked like they should do!) but I thought, I can't post a bunch of very strange looking flowers! :-)

So, I decided to change plans and try some decoupage, which I've never done. I have a very sad looking seed box that I wanted to cover - I thought decoupage would cheer it up. (Although, in hindsight, I should have left it alone, I made it worse! ha ha!)

I downloaded some old [out of copyright, you'll be glad to hear! ha! :-) ] images and began tearing them up and gluing. I used some of the techniques for painting from that Artist's Trading Cards book you recommended. It was fun to try and at first, I thought I was starting to get somewhere.

I realised that to cover the whole box would take days, so decided to just do the lid - treating it as a small canvas for a collage.

Shortly after, it all started to go wrong! I added colour - bad idea. I added some of my own drawings. VERY bad idea... and minute, by minute, it got worse and worse, till I could hardly bear to look at it! ha ha ha ha! :-) This really isn't the kind of style that I like to look at... so, why on earth did it come from me? It's funny! I mean, where does this actually come from? On the days when we just don't feel creative and have to force it, do we effectively channel the side of the brain that remembers everything it has seen and disliked?! Sort of out of spite?! ha! :-)

So, there we have it. My first and possibly last attempt at decoupage. :-) Ok, not really. I don't think it's the decoupage that's to blame. :-) Probably more my lack of artistic talent. It's fun to rip and glue, although I think I'm not really good at making it up as I go along. I need a plan in place before I begin...?

I guess this wasn't really a wasted exercise. I've tried both crochet and decoupage and now know what doesn't work. Maybe next time I try, I'll find out what does work?! ;-)

Lots and lots of love, sweetheart. Big kisses.


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Step Eighteen: Swimming in the Ocean...

Dear Fi,

Since this is an illustration for Patti’s new book I won’t be able to tell you much about what is going on for this little fish here. If this little fish gets to the book, you might read the story for yourself, and if it doesn’t get to the book I can tell you which essay it supposed to illustrate. Deal?

Right now I can tell you that I am surprised that I decided to work on this call for artwork. It is one of those stories about how everything gets in to your way to make sure that you won’t have a chance to meet the deadline ha, ha.

Strange and good things are happening in my life lately... I feel like I am hanging somewhere in between two different dimensions again and cannot decide to which one I belong more. It is a really weird feeling. This feeling is telling me that I know what will happen but at the same time it is telling me that everything can happen so I really don’t know anything. This is why I behave ridicules lately.

I think that it has became apparent to me that I am able to trust myself, and that I began to hear my inner voice more clearly, and strongly. So I am following my intuition with more confidence. It doesn’t mean that everything goes smooth on this side of the ocean now (he, he). What it means is, that the shift allowed me to enjoy my journey. To get to this point took me so many years and I feel like it is just the beginning. It also means that I feel so blessed and that I learn to be grateful for everything (even though the last part doesn't come that easy).

It also means that for another 34 weeks you are hooked up to me and my various theories on “what is going on in my life” on this blog Dear Fi. You might not believe me but every time I write my post I imagine your face and think how disappointed you must have been by reading my words ha, ha!!! Seriously.

I don’t write about art, or about the process of creating my artwork, I don’t teach anything, I don’t even attach any interesting links. All I am doing is writing about myself... how busy I am, how tired I am, what I feel, what I think, and about all this inner crap happening in my life. I should have warned you better what you should expect from me but now it’s kind of TOO LATE.

And I cannot even promise you that it will change because I know that this part of me (who is writing these posts) was there since the beginning and it will be there to the end ha, ha.

So please, bear with me Dear Fi ;)



Now I wish to have something hysterically funny to say to end this post graciously... hm... hopefully in another lifetime ha, ha.

Step Eighteen: Kusudama, Part Two... and a voyage of discovery with copper!

Dearest Sylwi

Today was going to be Part Two of the Kusudama project... and a variation of it, that I wanted to explore. The variation didn't turn out quite as I expected (at all as I expected, in fact! ha ha!), but I'll tell you about that in a minute - first, the Kusudama! :-)

Once I had created twelve flowers (see Part One from last week), I glued six together to make one half of the ball and the other six, to make the other half. To make a string to hang it by, I glued some raffia in a loop through the centre with a little bead just as decoration...

and... finally, it's finished! :-)

{It's a lot smaller than I thought it would be, but very dinky and cute! I can see a few of these in a larger size, hung above a wedding, or party table as decoration...}

It feels extremely odd to finish it, as it's been on my creative 'to do' list for about 2 years. When I first found the tutorial, I made one flower and that has been perched on top of my inspiration board for those 2 years, looking pretty... but ultimately, a daily reminder that the project remained unfinished! :-)

As I was folding the paper last week, I really started to get excited about the possibilities for it, if it was made out of metal! I envisioned it as a sort of sculptural piece for the garden, or as a light fixture (if the metal had lots of holes in it, I figured it might look beautiful and also cast some stunning shadows).

I've never worked with metal before, so did a bit of Googling and came across The Crazy Wire Company in the UK. They sell small packs of mixed offcuts of metal - perfect to test out my ideas, without committing to buying huge amounts of expensive materials... and then finding out my ideas wouldn't work! :-)

So I ordered a couple of packs of mixed offcuts and was thrilled when they arrived. The pieces were about A5 / A6, or smaller - lots of different thicknesses and some of them were made of a very fine and beautiful mesh. Perfect for messing around with. 

I tried to fold a Kusudama petal with some thin sheet copper, but it didn't work. There's a fold in origami where you fold the paper one way, which gives you a guideline and then you reverse the fold. It didn't work at all with the metal... so, I put the idea aside for the day! I may come back to it in a later Step, though! :-)

I'm doing a lot of planting in the garden at the moment and desperately need seed and plant labels, so I can remember what I've sowed and where. I searched online for some pretty markers to buy and could only find these beautiful, silver cutlery markers, created by a few sellers, my favourite being, 'Monkeys Always Look', over on Etsy. Alternatively, there's a tutorial on the 'Shrimp Salad Circus' blog, if you wish to create them yourself

Whilst I think they're gorgeous, it did strike me that the copper scraps I had would be ideal for markers. Not only is the copper a beautiful colour right now, but as it oxidises outside, it will turn an even more attractive range of colours. So, I decided to experiment!

I've had a bit of an obsession with tattoos over the last few years and originally had thought of doing tattoo scroll-like plant markers... I made a scroll seed marker and stamped the word 'coriander' onto it ... but there was something bugging me about the idea. 

Somewhere, in the back of my mind, I wondered if maybe I'd seen this idea done by someone before... and then it suddenly hit me! I had!!! In the lovely, 'Something Else Perhaps' shop on Etsy! Although, her results and the quality of work are far more beautiful than mine. Check out this baby! :-)

The copper scroll idea must have been embedded in my subconscious... which made me laugh, but was also kind of annoying, because I thought I'd come up with a great idea... but clearly I was just copycat-ing the gorgeous Dana! :-)

So, I changed tack and created leaves from the copper instead. I thought they would work quite well, as when the copper oxidises it will turn a lovely, green, leafy colour. I used a script font and embossed the herb names onto the leaves (I used a permanent marker to make them more visible) and then attached them onto twigs from the garden.

I also created a little song bird for the mint... hopefully, he'll scare the slugs away! :-)

So, I created two things for this Tuesday! :-) Which makes me laugh, because I know there have been days when I struggled to create one! :-) It also makes me laugh that I thought I would have a copper Kusudama light fixture, but instead, have seed markers! :-)

Hope all's well with you. Looking forward to seeing what you come up with for your next step, dear Sylwi. I wonder if, with these steps, we are moving any closer towards actually meeting in person one day?! :-)

Take care.


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Step Seventeen: Something is emerging...

Dear Fi,

I know for sure that something is emerging, I just have no clue what it is ha, ha. I thought I might write about it here and maybe find out. However I ran into trouble. I started another semester on May 1st and since it is a blended learning (on-line and in class) I found out that I have lots of work and small assignments to do each week. Today was the deadline for the first one, so I barely finished on time reading, posting, and replying to the other people’s posts. I wrote some points for my class while waiting for Amelie at her dance class place, so I couldn’t even use this time to write my post for this blog! I was able to do my journal page (which took me painfully long!) but I don’t think I can manage more writing today.

Something is emerging Dear Fi - and it is frightening me but not as much as it is exciting me. I feel like I'm pregnant with a third child (which I’m not!!!). I feel like “it” is growing and becoming stronger...  I’m very curious, I want to see “this baby”...  but I also know that I cannot avoid the delivery room ha, ha.

I'm practicing patience. When the time comes it will emerge...


Do you believe that there is a “right moment” for things to happen, Fi? I recently read a book. There is not that many books I think everybody should read (at least once ha, ha). However, this one I would recommend to everybody. Steven Pressfiled “The War of Art” is a killer and I think it was for me the best right time to read this book. I found this beautiful quote there, so I will leave you with it today...

Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, magic, and power in it. Begin it now. 

W.H. Murray {The Scottish Himalayan Expedition}

Step Seventeen: Kusudama - Paper Flowers

Dearest Sylwi

This week, I began a project that I have wanted to try for years! It's times like this that I realise how valuable this 52 Steps is to me! Without it, these ideas would sit in my head forever!

It's a decoration made from paper, called a Kudsudama ball. I had no idea where these balls originated from, but I came across them when I was searching for origami flowers... which I'm pretty hooked on making! :-) I think they're fantastic, so I set about making one this week. 

[If you want to know more about the history, this is what Wikipedia has to say about them:

"Kusudama originate from ancient Japanese culture, where they were used for incense and potpourri; possibly originally being actual bunches of flowers or herbs. The word itself is a combination of two Japanese words kusuri, Medicine, and tama, Ball. They are now typically used as decorations, or as gifts".
"The Japanese kusudama (薬玉; lit. medicine ball) is a paper model that is usually (although not always) created by sewing multiple identical pyramidal units (usually stylized flowers folded from square paper) together through their points to form a spherical shape. Alternately the individual components may be glued together. Occasionally, a tassel is attached to the bottom for decoration".]

I found a wonderful Kusudama tutorial on the Folding Trees website. Folding Trees is a dream of a place to find beautiful, papercraft tutorials. I can't tell you how inspiring I find the two ladies who set it up. It's an absolute "must visit" for ideas! :-)

Detailed instructions on making the flowers can be found here, but as a rough guide, here are the stages for folding one petal - each flower has five petals.

{Lovely paper from Whimsy Press}.

Once folded, curl the edges of the petal together and glue. Clip the edges together with a mini bulldog clip, or a clothes peg whilst the glue dries. Be careful only to clip the very edge, so as not to crease the curve.

Create five petals and then glue them all together to make a flower. I propped the flowers up inside stacks of masking tape so that they didn't lose their shape as the glue dried. 

I've fallen head over heels lately with this masking tape. It's Japanese and I bought it from a shop on Etsy that is aptly named, Happy Tape! :-)

Each flower requires five petals and the ball is made up of twelve flowers... 

... which is why I have left the second part of the Kusudama ball tutorial till next week! (I did manage to make 7 flowers today, but if I carry on, I'll drive myself crazy! I'd rather stop now, continue this another day and enjoy the whole process!)

It's quite time consuming folding and then gluing all of these petals together. I was surprised how fast I ran out of time. I think these flowers in their own right are beautiful. I can really see them working, scattered on a table, as decoration at a wedding, or party.

I also have some other ideas for these, which (depending on how they turn out) I may share with you next week! :-)

I have so much else to say, but have run completely out of time. Will be in touch when I get a moment. 

Lots and lots and lots and lots and lots (times a squillion!) of love :-)