Studio Wednesday – Art Projects

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A Spring nest of yarn.

With these 2 luscious skeins, I’m knitting a “Ripple” scarf, a pattern I purchased from Spincycle Yarns. The yarn in the nest is the Berroco “Seduce’ yarn I was talking about last week. Yum…

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I love the contrast in textures between the linen/silk yarn and the mohair-y wool yarn. I find myself being deeply drawn to pale blue these days.

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With this wonderful pattern, I’m learning all about “yarn overs” and how they can create a fabulous see-thru lacy look. I’m also being drawn to lacy, flowy designs.

More work on my free-form bracelet. It will be ready for the clasp very soon.

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For the past several months, I’ve been gessoing the pages of an old datebook, preparing it for transformation into an art journal. I walk by it everyday and feel its call to add color and images and words and doodles. I daydream about what I will do. Yet, I do nothing. A couple of days ago, I stumbled across the most wonderful blog called Caspiana and posts about Soul Journaling, a 22 day step by step guide to creating a soul journal. Hoo-ray! It was just what I needed to inspire and guide me to sit down with my art journal once again.

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I’ve glued down my ripped up dictionary pages and am ready to write using the prompt “Today I feel…” I’ll do that tonight. Next will be gessoing over my words and doodling my name all over the first page with colored pencils and markers.

I am joyously taking the first steps in my art journaling experience.

I stopped by the library on the way home from work and have a new pile of books to snuggle up in bed with tonight.

Opening each book and sifting through its words. That pleasure and a steaming cup of herbal tea to guide me toward sweet dreams.

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Books let us into their souls and lay open to us the secrets of our own. ~William Hazlitt

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Saturday Morning Tea

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As I gaze outside my window, I see that it is still mid-winter and we are encased in snow and ice here on Ramble Road. However, inside my cozy house, in my cup of morning tea, it’s a different story. I am sipping the first picking from the Arya estate in Darjeeling. Lot 1 of 2009. But it’s only January, you say. Is this a first flush tea?

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Actually, it is labeled as a “winter tea”. Oh dear, and here I thought I was cheating winter a little bit with springtime in my cup. Still, it is the first 2009 Darjeeling I’m enjoying and that is cause for celebration.

The preparation for this tea began last July when select bushes were carefully pruned. This pruning process encourages the bushes to “flush” right after the monsoon season which ends in September. This is actually considered the fifth season in India besides the regular four seasons that we know of – spring, summer, autumn and winter. It is a season of intense torrential rains that can cause landslides that block the Darjeeling district off from the rest of India.

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The leaf has a lot of green bits and some stem mixed in with the darker leaf. This tea has been processed as a black tea where the leaf is allowed to oxidize and turn dark.

I steeped the leaves in water just under boiling temperature for 3 minutes.

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A soft floral whisper drifts up from the amber liquor as I take my first sip. I taste a fresh fruitiness with a hint of green, almost like a ripe fruit that holds echoes of its unfolding flavor before it ripened.

I am enjoying my cuppa with my latest favorite treat, an oatmeal raisin flax cookie from Kashi. These wonderful cookies contain all sorts of goodness and one cookie is very filling.

My shoulder continues to heal, slowly but surely, and the pain fog is starting to recede, allowing my ability to concentrate to return bit by bit.

This past week I found a sketchbook that I had purchased last summer and, in the evenings after my acupuncture treatment, I started painting the pages with Twinkling H2Os, shimmery watercolor paints. Very simple. I place swirls and washes of color on each page randomly, allowing myself to just play with the paint. In my online browsing, I discovered Teesha Moore’s website and blog. Her unique and creative art journal pages have inspired me to create my own. You can read Teesha’s tips and recommendations on how to layer the pages here. I love to have guidelines when first attempting a new art technique. Guidelines allow the spirit of experimentation and play to come out and dance. Speaking of play, I want to purchase some crayons. Teesha recommends Caran D’Ache Neocolor II crayons. I found a bunch of different sets at Dick Blick’s and they look positively scrumptious.

Dipping into my creative life once again feels like a long, cool drink of water after a journey through the desert.

Creativity – like human life itself – begins in darkness.

~Julia Cameron

Studio Wednesday

Today was not the usual full day in my studio as I was organizing and packing for my trip to Texas tomorrow. I was able to string the necklace for my turquoise cabochon. Originally, I wanted to have each strand directly attached to the beadwork framing the cabochon but the beads didn’t lay right when I tried it. Then I tried adding a bead in between a couple of the caramel picot beads on top. As I did that, I realized that I could peyote stitch a piece coming out of the top. Furthermore, that piece could be built up 3 rows, one for each of my necklace strands. The small oval turquoise beads were purchased at the Whole Bead show a couple of weekends ago. I brought the cab with me to the show so I could match the color of the turquoise. It’s amazing how many different colors turquoise beads can be! I’m still mulling over what to do with the clasp.

I also got a little time in on my September journal bracelet. The turquoise beads on either side of the tree spirit face were also purchased at the Whole Bead show. I love the crackle pattern in them.

I looked on the Weather.com website and saw that it will be 87 degrees down in Texas. It’s a good thing I hadn’t put my summer clothes away just yet. Be back on Sunday!

12 months of beading

I am happy to present a year’s worth of beaded journal pages!

The first row (at the top, l to r) is June – September 2007, the second row October 2007- January 2008 and the third row February – May 2008.

When I finished my last page, I was so excited. When I look at this group shot, I am beyond excited and into jumping up and down ecstatic and really amazed that I actually did this.

I want to send a huge thank you and hug to my beady hero and mentor, the creator of the Beaded Journal Project, Robin Atkins. Her vision and inspiration has changed the lives of many artists through this amazing and wonderful project. I feel like my life has changed in an enormous way as I have learned much about myself through my beadwork and also to my commitment to stick with this project.

To all of my fellow BJP participants, bravo to one and all!

My last beaded journal page is done

Well, talk about getting down to the wire! With the 2008-09 Beaded Journal Project poised to begin tomorrow, I have completed my last page of the 2007-08 year, my November 2007 page. With my annual jewelry show in November, that whole month is dedicated to preparing for my show. Instead of creating my November page in December then, I was inspired to jump right into my December page at that time. So, November never got done until now. However, I always had what I wanted to create, a tribute page to my greyhound Buddy, in my mind. It was just a matter of getting the fabric paper to put in my printer, updating my printer cartridges and getting started on it.

I’m so glad to be finished with all of my pages. I feel a great sense of accomplishment even though I finished late. Now it is time to turn my sights to the new year and start on my first bracelet!

Studio Wednesday

In my studio today, I worked on my last 2007 beaded journal page, my November page. Well, truth be told, it was such a gorgeous day weather-wise that I brought my beadwork out on my deck in the sunshine and enjoyed the fresh air. This is a photo of my greyhound, Buddy, who passed away in August 2001. We adopted him from Greyhound Friends in Hopkinton, MA, a non-profit organization whose sole purpose is to rescue greyhounds, take care of them and find forever homes for them. Also, to spread the word about them and their plight.

Greyhounds are such amazing dogs, enduring the hard and challenging life of racing at the track. They are usually “retired” after a couple of years of racing because it is so strenuous on their body. Very sadly, most of them are destroyed after they can’t race anymore. In ancient times, greyhounds were the revered pets and hunting dogs in Greece, Italy and Egypt, not used for how much money they could make for their owner.

Buddy, whose racing name was “Paris Boy”, was retired at age 2 1/2 and soon after came to live with my family. The first week he lived with us, we discovered that he had absolutely no idea what stairs were. We lived in a ranch house and it wasn’t until we visited my in-laws down the street and he got excited and walked up their deck stairs to greet them that we discovered he didn’t know how to get back down. My SIL got his front and I got his back and together we lifted him gently down the stairs. Poor guy was petrified. He also was afraid of rubber balls which we found out when we tried to play catch with him and he ran away in the opposite direction of the ball. One thing that he greatly enjoyed was to go into my daughter’s room and methodically take all of the stuffed animals off her bed back to his “nest” of blankets in the living room. We discovered this upon returning to the house one day to find him in a pile of stuffed animals. He was very happy that day.

I’m not really planning my beadwork ahead of time with this page. I was just going with the flow of the beads in the moment and found myself creating a pair of wings for Buddy’s heart. Well, they’re supposed to be wings. There’s some white space at the top and bottom of the photo so I’ll fill that in with some beads. I’m hoping to be finished with this page in the next day or two as the 2008-2009 BJP starts on September 1st.

For this new BJP year, I’ve decided to create journal bracelets, probably 1-1 1/2 inches wide x 6 inches long. With an ultrasuede backing, I’ll secure each one over a metal bracelet blank. I haven’t chosen a theme other than to make each one into a bracelet. My intention is to create a piece based on whatever I’m feeling at the moment. I’ll sew on one bead at a time and see where it takes me.

Studio Wednesday

Today was a dark and dreary rainy day, a good day to spend time inside in my studio with a cup of tea by my side. I started out the day by cleaning and organizing the studio and then set to work on my May beaded journal page.

My first journal page, entitled “A Garden in my Heart”, was completed in June 2007. When I moved out of my house 4 1/2 years ago and into my apartment, I had to give up my physical garden but it’s wonderful memory always remained in my heart, forever a part of me. Now that I live in a house again with a beautiful garden, I am able to open my heart to my new garden and let my flowers take root here. So, this is what my May page symbolizes. It’s not quite done yet. I have the next couple of days off from work and I hope to finish it by this weekend. Then I will just need to create a November page. My original idea was to create a page in memory of my beloved greyhound, Buddy. He passed away in August of 2001 so I feel it’s right that I create his page during the month of the 7th anniversary of his death. He was a loyal and lovable companion and I still miss him everyday.