From the Studio

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Now that my studio time has become limited to evenings and weekends since my return to full-time work 3 months ago, I have slipped into a comfortable rhythm as I dip into one art project and then another. Depending upon my mood, my energy level (especially after a day of work) and whatever else is going on, I choose my project and settle in for some blissful art making. Lately, my choices have been between my knitting, weaving beads for jewelry pieces, and my art journal.

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My knitting is a dear old friend, with its cozy and comfortable rhythm, always there to wrap me in its warm embrace. Using a newborn sock pattern I recently found online, I’m making a rosy pink pair of booties for a colleague’s brand new daughter. It took me a couple of practice starts trying to find the right gauge and now I’ve settled upon using size 2 double pointed bamboo needles.

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My beadwork is constantly evolving as I try new and different weaves to express the beauty of nature and how it touches and resonates within my soul. I love the color palette I used for my Spring free-form bracelet and do not want to let it go just yet. Using the bead soup mix I found left over on my bead mat, I created a 2-drop peyote cuff.

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I was pleasantly surprised by how quickly and easily this cuff came into being and am excited by the range of ideas floating in my head on how I can use it for a background for polymer clay work like canes, cabochons and buttons. For this particular cuff, I think I will create a glazed polymer clay face cabochon in soft pinks as a focal point. I haven’t figured out yet what I will do for a clasp. I want something that will go well with the design and colors of the cuff. I feel that if I add a metal clasp that it might be too jarring for the rest of the design, especially with the soft colors of this palette. Any ideas?

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My new love is my art journal. Sarah Whitmire’s wonderful Soul Journal prompts have taken me gently by the hand and guided me as I start out on this self-discovery journey. Now that I have almost completed the 22 days of prompts, I find my wings starting to flutter open. I want to fly on my own across my journal pages and see what happens.

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I am having so much fun mixing and layering paint colors on the pages. I’ve discovered the “My Studio” line of inexpensive acrylic paints at A.C. Moore and everytime I visit I am compelled to get just a couple more colors! I also find myself looking around the house for interesting elements to add and use for stamping and texturing my pages. Inspired by my dear friend Judy, my next step is to try my hand at molding paste to bring a lot more texture to my pages. I’d like to use that for the cover of my journal. If anyone has any tips or stories to share about your own art journaling/collage experience, please do!

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I am always doing that which I can not do, in order that I may learn how to do it.

~Pablo Picasso

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From the Studio

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Another Ripple scarf!

I love this pattern so much that I’m making another scarf, this time in jeweled tones for a dear friend’s birthday next month. I imagine her wearing it with a vibrant fall colored outfit.

One of the things that I love best about this pattern, besides its wonderful rhythm, is the way you can choose 2 different yarns that coordinate in color but contrast in texture. As you only use one skein of each yarn, it’s also a great way to use up leftover yarn from a bigger project.

I’ve returned to my art journal pages. I put my journal aside for awhile when it was time to create some pages of your home, the one that you’ve felt most comfortable in. I’m sure that the intent was to journal about what home means to me. Well….in the past 6 years, I have faced a lot of challenging questions about that so this was an interesting exercise for me. After putting it off for days and days, I finally sat my butt in the chair and just started drawing a house.

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I’ve created my dream house with big windows and skylights. I love the idea of living in a home filled with light, illuminating my sacred living space in a wash of warmth. I have yet to find this place of my dreams in real life. As my writing states,

“Under an ocean of stars, I hope to find my true home.”

The house itself (on the left) is made of a brown paper bag glued onto my journal page as a pocket. Our assignment was to create some paper dolls of myself and the loved ones I live with. As my kids are grown and I am no longer married, I have decided not to make the dolls but I will place some beloved photos of myself with my family in the house pocket.

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The next assignment was to find a couple of interesting body shapes in a magazine and cut them out precisely. I laid the body shapes onto my page and then, using a makeup sponge, painted around each shape, thus creating a beautiful silhouette. I especially love the shape on the right and thought that she needed some wings. Then, using a gold gel pen, I wrote down as many descriptive words as I could think of. That exercise really sparked my imagination. I found that sitting outside in nature was the perfect setting for accomplishing this.

Visual journaling gives me such a calm, peaceful feeling…

“Every spirit builds itself a house, and beyond its house a world, and beyond its world a heaven. Know that the world exists for you.”

~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Saturday Morning Tea

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It’s a grey day here in New England, perfect for staying inside and curling up with a good book, cup of tea by my side. It’s supposed to rain all day, wonderful nourishment for all the newly growing plants and flowers.

I’m stepping out of the box today from my normal tea choices. I’m sipping a black tea from the Bogawantalawa estate in Sri Lanka. Boy, those Ceylon names sure can be a challenge to spell let alone to say. My colleagues and I have a lot of fun at work¬† practicing pronunciation before we have to talk about them with a customer.

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This is a broken leaf tea. While the tea is being processed, some of the leaf breaks up into smaller bits. The leaf is then run through various size sieves to separate it into piles of the same size leaf bits. This is because a broken leaf tea has a shorter steeping time than a whole leaf tea. If the broken and whole leaf parts were mixed together, you would end up with either under-steeped or over-steeped leaf in your tea.

The Bogawantalawa tea estate is in the Dimbula region of Sri Lanka, located to the west of the central mountains at an elevation of about 4,000 feet. The island of Sri Lanka (old name Ceylon), located off the tip of India, has a highland ridge running right down the center of the island. This ridge blocks the monsoon winds that come in from the northeast in December to March and the southwest from June to August, creating a perfect climate for growing tea. Warm days, cool mornings and infrequent rain are perfect for producing the most flavorful leaf.

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As there is more surface area on the broken leaf that is exposed to the water, it brews up quickly in 2 1/2-3 minutes. The tea liquor is a dark amber with a fragrance that I can best describe as a “tea fragrance”, full bodied, lemony and brisk. It is the aroma that most people would identify with a cup of tea.

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The flavor is smooth yet brisk with citrus notes. While I am very much enjoying this tea hot, it would make an excellent iced tea with its lemony nuances. To enhance my citrus experience, I have spread some orange marmalade on honey crackers. This tea would also stand up well to milk but I recommend trying it without milk at first so you can taste its wonderful flavor notes.

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Continuing my work in my art journal, I filled 3 pages with journaling using the prompt “Today I feel…”. I then gessoed over the pages with a dry brush. The next assignment was to write my name all over the first page. I brought out my watercolor pencils and had so much fun doodling and coloring.

I created a little spring tulip garden.

“How does the Meadow flower its bloom unfold?

Because the lovely little flower is free down to its root,

and in that freedom bold”

~William Wordsworth