Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Step Twenty Nine: Work in progress...

Dear Fi,

I wasn’t able to finish my project today. I’m terribly sick + my family from Poland is here, not to mention that I still have my class running...

My family is here for only a week, so I’m trying my best to accommodate as much as I can to entertain them.

I also tried my best to do anything at all for our blog today. However, the first chance I had to even think about the idea for today’s post came after 8 PM. It took me a while to choose the “right” background and to figure out what kind of flowers I want to add to it. Finally, I decided on poppies because I took a few pictures of them yesterday in Banff and Lake Louise where we were visiting with my family.

I need to finish this project before my family leaves, because this supposed to be a present for my mom. She just had her birthday and I thought that it would be much easier to give something to my family to take with them instead of sending it by post, which usually takes a really long time, not to mention that it sometimes gets lost, or is kept at the border for additional month. This happened to me the last time I sent my mom a birthday present. Not only did they open my package, but it got to my mom after two months and she also needed to pay for it!

Anyway, I’m not sure if you can see on this scan, but I used a new technique today. I glued paper tissue on the poppies to make them look more like poppies ha, ha. And then I painted them over again. Using layers slowed down my progress, since it was very difficult to sew through all these layers. To apply these two poppies took me about two hours, and now I need to wrap it up, because here in the room where I’m working my cousin’s son will be sleeping soon...

So, my Dear Fi, see you next Tuesday and I hope I will have more time for you and our “steps”... I wish I will!!! Isn’t it funny, that we both have visitors and that we both were working on something for our mothers?

Love :*


It sounded better to title my post “work in progress” than “unfinished business” ha, ha, but I cannot believe that I’m stretching one project into three posts!!!

My husband is laughing at me that every week I have a new excuse why I'm so busy...


Step Twenty Nine: Fimo Love

Dearest Sylwi,

This is just going to be a quick post as it's been such a busy few days and I've still so much to get done today! I've also got the inlaws staying, so every moment seems to be filled. Doesn't leave much time for creativity (or sleeping, for that matter)! :-) 

Today, I grabbed minutes here and there to play around with Fimo. I've never really used any kind of modelling clay, so I was interested to see how I found it. 

I began by making something easy - a flower.  To make the petals, I rolled a lovely, turquoise colour into a tube, then cut it into 5 equal sections. I rolled each piece into a ball...

I used one ball of yellow for the centre of the flower...

Then, squished all of the balls together to make a flower! :-)

Using a pin, or knife, you can then add detail to the petals and centre.

This colour of the flower reminded me of tattoos that I've seen - usually a red heart tattoo with a scroll across the centre and a little blossom on top. The inlaws staying with us always makes me miss my own Mum, so, I decided to create a tattoo in her honour! :-) 

I made a heart from red Fimo, draped a white scroll over it and pushed it down to make it stick. I cut out some text from black and pushed them onto the scroll. I then cooked everything in the oven, according to the packet instructions (I had to glue the flower on later as it would not stick to the heart before it was cooked). 

When it was all finished, I took it out of the oven and I lifted it off the tray to admire it.

And promptly dropped it! 

So, that's why the scroll is snapped. *sigh!* ha ha ha! :-)))

The original idea was to make a little bobby pin with it, so I went ahead and did that anyway, despite it being broken.

It was a cute project and I wish I had more time to go back and redo it. 

Next time, I'd make the scroll a little thicker and also find some way of hiding my fingerprints - they are all over the heart and flower! :-) I read somewhere that you can polish them off with a fine grade sandpaper... I'd also try doing the text a bit differently... not quite sure how, but cutting it out of black Fimo was extreeemely tricky and not very neat! :-) All of that will have to wait for another day though... 

I'm off to get dinner on the go. Can't wait to hear from you and see what you've got! Hurry up and post! ;-) 

Step 29 already! Can you believe it?!

Lots of love

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Step Twenty Eight: Background{s}...

Dear Fi,

No, I didn’t paint a dot today as I considered doing. However... all I was able to do was paint these three green backgrounds. I’m sure you don’t expect me to explain why ha, ha.

I put myself in a very uncomfortable, stressful, demanding, and energy draining situation. So, for the next four weeks I will be going crazy {and probably paint more green backgrounds for you ha, ha}. I hope I will survive and finish my second last class, but to be honest I’m totally overwhelmed and I feel totally burnt out. Why am I doing this to myself? Do I really think that one day I will slow down? What would happen if I said to myself: You know, actually I’m really tired and I need a break. I understand that it will affect many things, for example not graduating next year, but I am asking “Is it really worth it?”

Tomorrow is my son’s sixth birthday, this Saturday he will have his first real party, with friends from kindergarten, in a special place for children. Then my family from Poland will arrive on Sunday to stay for a week. And what will I be doing for the entire time? I will be worrying, dear Fi. I will worry that I won’t have enough time to study, that I won’t be able to truly celebrate with my son, or to enjoy the time with my family.

So, GREEN my Dear Fi. My super Anti-stressor. Only green has the amazing power to calm me down. I love this colour. {The weird thing though is that I am unable to wear green}

I’m 100% sure I won’t have more time next week, than I have now. So, I hope I can use one of these backgrounds I prepared today to paint something for my mom as a birthday gift... But this I won’t know until next Tuesday ;)

I’m sending you love from my crazy spot :*


I’ve already said this, but I must say this again:
And I think you did recreate the pattern of her wings perfectly!!!

Step Twenty Eight: An old dragonfly bearing the gift of appreciation comes to visit.

Dearest Sylwi,

What a morning?! My camera wouldn't hook up to my computer, so I thought I wasn't going to be able to upload any pictures... or post today. I didn't even know when I'd be able to get my computer fixed, so didn't know if I'd be able to post all week! Eep! I was panicking and frustrated ... and tired too! I've been up since half five - my mother in law is arriving today and there's lots to get done before she gets here! :-) 

I've spent the last 2 hours trying to get my computer to speak to my camera! I really was losing my patience! Anyway, finally, they are speaking to each other again... but I wasted those 2 hours I had set aside for finishing the piece, so I'm posting it as is. I guess I could get away with saying it's the finished piece, but I had wanted to add some cut out words - some lyrics about perfection, from a song that really speaks to me right now. 

It's kind of annoying. The one week I have a complete idea in my head before I start and I don't get to finish it! :-) 

Over the weekend, my husband found a huge dragonfly, dead on our lawn... poor little dragonfly. :-(

I've never seen one up close before. They're quite scarce here and move so quickly when they do appear, there isn't time to study them.

I was amazed... in so many ways. It was HUGE! It was very robust - quite scaly... actually quite scary looking with huge, furry legs and big, bulbous eyes. The wings are papery, but strong (almost like a plastic bag) and exquisitely detailed...

I couldn't stop staring at it. I guess it must have died of old age. Apparently, they don't live very long, so are often regarded as symbolism of living life to the full and enjoying your time whilst you can. 

It was a very poignant reminder to take a step back from life and the stressful things that are mounting up to annoy me and be grateful for all of the wonderful things I have.

I decided I wanted to use the wing pattern for a papercut this week...

It didn't really go quite to plan. I chose a soft, muted, blue tone for the paper, but I don't think that worked terribly well. Maybe, I should have stuck to white or black, I'm not sure.

Normally, I would draw the design on the back and cut that side, then turn the piece over... but in this case, as the dusty blue was too dull, I used the side I was cutting as the front! :-) It's not perfect, by a long stretch, but it was better than the pale blue.

It was so strange to be cutting the pattern of something that had been living, but that was now dead. It was also really strange to be cutting a pattern that didn't have a copyright! :-) I almost felt guilty pinching the beautiful design from this extraordinary creature. 

I felt even stranger when I had finished. Almost like, the pattern on paper didn't begin to come close to the true beauty of nature. It's just impossible to recreate. If I'm honest, it felt a bit of a let down.

I had wanted to add a quote to the bottom of this piece, or around the edges, but after wasting a couple of hours with computer problems this morning, it will have to wait. Which is a bit frustrating. 

Ironic then, that the whole theme of this week was about letting go of perfection and enjoying life to the full. Neither of which, I have succeeded at this morning! ha ha ha! :-)

... hmmm, maybe I shall leave this piece as is! I don't know, I've been looking at it for too long, I need a break! :-) 

Maybe I can use my 'perfection' quote on another piece next week, because I'm sure next week, it will turn out perfect! heeeeee! ;-))))

Lots of love

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Step Twenty Seven: 10 thousand miles and her brooch...

Dear Fi,

It was a perfect day to work on my project today. Constant rain. So, both the rain outside the window and my tears were running down as I worked on today’s piece.

I listened to the same CD over and over again, I am still listening to it right now. Beautiful, tender, touching...

I won the CD some time ago on Wishstudio blog, where I left a comment under Kim McMechan’s post. If you would like to listen to a few of her songs go to her website or here. I just fell in love with all of them. Each one is my favourite...

So now the hard part. I worked today with a picture of my Grandmother. Soon five years will pass since she died. I wasn’t able to look at this picture for all these years. For my project today I used a fragment of a picture I took the last time I saw her. A few months before her death. On the picture my Grandmother was sitting on a chair with me and my mom standing behind her. My 8 month old son was sitting in his stroller close to her. I flew 10 thousand miles to see her, because I knew she was dying. She had just underwent surgery and was happy to see her grandson for the first time. A few months later she passed away.

That is all I can tell you. That is all I can tell myself.

When I look at the alerted photo above I cry. The image is too powerful to bear. It is also something I didn’t expect would come out. I started a new class at the university last week called “Grief & Loss”. One of our assignments is to use various exercises to cope with grief, there are many, but using art is something I process deeply, so this is why I chose to do a collage. My plan was to do something beautiful, cover my Grandma in flowers, especially the scar on her face, make her look colourful and free as a butterfly. I think I wanted to alter my memory of what happened, I wanted to create a new way of remembering her. A new meaning. But it failed. It failed because I’m not ready. I still remember... and what I remember is still very sad.

However, I like to think that one day I will be able to see her coming out of the cocoon, and flapping her wings above me. Maybe a butterfly, or maybe an angel...

Since I couldn’t stand this sadness facing me today, after staring on the image above, I decided to add something, to cover the feelings, or maybe to deceive myself a little longer... So here She is... slowly morphing into an unknown form. Transforming my feelings with her own change.

As I often do in my artwork, I used a page from an old book, bought once on sale at the public library, to create my Grandma’s body. Then I panicked for a moment, because I don’t know the Czech language and I though that maybe there is something inappropriate written there. So I tried to search for some clues.

I found only two.

“Kate” which was my Grandmother’s name, and “bolest” which sounds very similar to Polish “boleść” and means pain, wound, sadness...



This beautiful brooch with a missing piece, you see below, is the only material thing I have after my Grandmother, but it suffices ;)

Step Twenty Seven: Paper cut stories

Dearest Sylwi,

After my post a couple of weeks ago, where I used an image and quote in my papercut, I was curious to explore that idea further this week. I don't know why, but I was particularly curious to see if paper cutting could be more sculptural, almost 3D. Can't really explain why! :-) So, I set out today to explore how that could be achieved.

Using a rough sketch of a bird cage, I realised I could cut it out carefully (all except the very bottom) and fold the cage up up off the page... and then, I wondered if the same could be done with words. It can! The words stand up all by themselves. The cage, I helped slightly by sellotaping fine wire (bead wire) to the back - just to give it some backbone! :-) 

The words, "If not now, then when?" are particularly strong in my mind just now. I'm thinking of signing up to a few things, but keep putting off the committment. On the one hand, I think, 'if not now, then when?'. On the other hand, I think, when the time is right, I'll commit! :-) (Hopefully, that's not just a terrible excuse to procrastinate more!) 

So, those are the words I chose to work with today. It was really fun to use what was on my mind! Very therapeutic and satisfying to get it out into paper! 

The tree symbolises the freedom and relieved state that I'll feel when I finally break free from the things that hold me back. Sometimes, it's comfortable to stay where you are - it's familiar and it's easy. However, the freedom you experience when you break out from your 'bird cage' is a far more beautiful and natural state. 

As usual, I wish I had longer to draw out the idea first and then spend time doing a quality papercut. I'm not going to beat myself up too much though. I'm learning and exploring every week and I'm really enjoying it. It's such a luxury. No brief, not rules... just going with the flow! :-)

As a final experiment, I cut the paper into a strip, with the paper cut sticking up from it. When I bent the strip into coils, or scrolls, I loved how it sort of created a story, a sort of scene. I'd love to do either a bigger sculpture, with lots of scrolls or shapes and words... or alternatively, do teeny ones - almost like quilling, but with text and landscapes popping up from the coils! :-) In the pic above, I supported the curve with an old loo roll! hee hee! But obviously, if I was doing it properly, I'd have to use a thicker paper, or find some way of creating beautiful curves with the paper (with wire maybe, or glue)... hmmm, not sure how!

Or maybe I'm going crazy... I'm pretty tired now, it's late - I'm not normally this late posting (you might even beat me to posting today! ha ha!) I can't believe how fast today has gone by! Hope you're having a lovely day. Can't wait to see what you come up with! 

Ohhh, I almost forgot. I couldn't get a decent photo of the paper cut today. It was so frustrating, but it's so dark here today (raining all day) and it's not the easiest thing to photo! :-(

{Also, can you believe we've passed the halfway mark already?!} :-)

Lots of love

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Step Twenty Six: Vision...

Dear Fi,

There were many times in my life I wanted create something from... nothing ha, ha. Creating a three-dimensional piece is challenging but I learned today that it gives me a true sense of creation. I think I would be happy to work with wood, stones, wires, wool, paper, and found objects. I imagine myself in my studio surrounded by strange things hanging up from a wooden ceiling, maybe in an old shed or garage, somewhere close or attached to my house. 

I can sense the feeling of excitement and freedom. I can sense the smell of earth, wood and metal, I can feel my hands working, touching, adjusting... (while my protective gloves lie somewhere on the dirty floor... he, he).

And now back to reality ;)

Today I finally started working on my vision, the one I mentioned a few times lately. Isn't it amazing that you were working with the vision board today too? BTW, I want to know everything about creating the vision board and about what manifested so fast for you!

My vision came to me when I found that piece of wood in our backyard (my husband is building the stairs! one more year and we may even enjoy having grass ha, ha). I saw this piece and I was immediately drawn to it. I was looking at this “useless waste” and all I saw was the Earth, the one we hurt so much. Earth with a wound. While touching this wound I could see what I could do with this piece of wood. Other times I would probably have said to myself, “Yeah, it could work, but who has the time to try and play with this?” But the vision was so clear and I already had everything I needed. Except for time ha, ha. So, finally today I made the time for this work.   

The three sticks I painted in gold today where from my hydrangea which wilted some time ago, and didn’t need them anymore. I added three flags with the words: Great Thanks, Great Peace, and Great Love. These words are from a meditation I learned about a year ago from an amazing man named Sequoyah Trueblood on my Wilderness Retreat. It took me almost one year to start practicing this simple but powerful meditation. I’m learning the value of simple things and believe me Dear Fi it is not coming easy to me. What I have learned about myself through this time is that I like complicated and complex things, and that I have a tendency to complicate things in my life.

But I digress. The point is that I haven’t finished this piece yet, there is more to add. At least this is what I imagined when I took this piece of wood into my hands. However, I stopped for today not only because I don’t have more time to spend on this today, but also because I see the beauty in this simple construction. I would like to stay with this form and see if I want to continue with my previous idea. 

I like how the sage incense fits into this piece. It gives a sense of completion. Like if the missing element to keep the Earth alive was that few minutes I’m taking everyday to burn the scent and meditate, and to heal Her wounds and mine too...

Love :*



I think that Sequoyah wouldn't mind sharing this:

Breathe In: Great Thanks...
Breathe Out: Great Thanks...

Breathe In: Great Peace...
Breathe Out: Great Peace...

Breathe In: Great Love...
Breathe Out: Great Love...

As you can see I got crazy about my new (old) curtains ha, ha. Pictures of them are here and there and everywhere in today's post ;)

Step Twenty Six: Vision Boards and The Magic of Creativity

Dearest Sylwi

It's so lovely to have you back and I'm quite lucky that you're back at all, it seems, having seen your pictures from the holiday! ha ha! ;-) 

I've only ever seen a wild bear in a book, not somewhere that I could stop and take a picture with my own camera (I don't care if you were in the car, or not, that is a bit too crazy close for me?!) :-)

This week, I've been busy with a new e-course! I know, I know! I said I had banned myself from taking any more e-courses, but this one was too good to miss! 

It's a course on raw food, run by the gorgeous and talented Karen Knowler, who is also known as The Raw Food Coach!

It's been a fascinating and challenging first week! Not for any of the reasons I thought it would be though! :-)

This week, encouraged by a fantastic set of worksheets, prompts and guidance from Karen, I've come up with my first attempt at a vision board for myself in relation to raw food. I've never created a vision board before, but always been curious about them. I've heard so many people rave about how it helps to set your intentions and then flow with the manifestation of those dreams... but somehow, I never allowed myself the luxury of sitting down to create one. It felt as if it would be wrong to spend time on something so creative and fun, when surely setting goals should be a more serious business?! :-)

Anyway, I forced myself and eventually, after quietening the voices of doubt in my mind, it was a lot of fun...

It feels so odd to have finally created one! I've run the whole gamut of emotions, from embarrassment and self-ridicule through to hope and belief! If I told you that within hours of me creating this board, one of the more difficult areas for me that I included on the board began to come true, would you believe me? I wouldn't! But it did! :-)))) (I'm not joking - I'm sort of astounded!)

I'd love to live in the sort of household where it would be cool to post this board on a wall, or as my computer desktop image. I don't really feel that comfortable with doing that (although, I feel fine about posting it to blogger and the world to see, for some reason! ha ha!) So, I decided to make my board portable and a bit more private. First, I printed it off. Then, I created an origami style folder for it. It's so simple, but I'm really pleased with the result.

First, I cut my paper into a square...

Then, folded it in half. With the same side facing up, I folded it in half the other way, so the lines divide the paper into quarters...

I opened the paper out flat and turned it over. Then, folded it diagonally in half...

If you're doing this for yourself, when you look at your paper, your quarter lines will be valley folds - the folds look like troughs. The diagonal line will be a mountain fold - this fold looks like a... er... mountain! ;-)

I glued on my vision board...

You should then be able to close the paper up, like below...

... into a neat quarter, which you can tie with string or slip into your wallet, as is.

It was great to stretch my legs creatively this week with this challenge. I ADORE paper-cutting as I'm sure you now know... ;-) but last week, I found that my index finger (where I apply most pressure when cutting) was numb after all of the work I did. I'm only just beginning to get feeling back in the tip today, a week later! Eek! :-) So, it was also nice to take a break from cutting for a week. I wonder if I need to change my cutting technique? I don't want to kill off all of the nerve endings in my finger! 

Looking forward to seeing your post today. Soooo lovely to have you home. I missed that beautiful burst of colour and soul that you bring to my life.

Lots and lots of love