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"Turning a sow's ear into a silk purse, and other possibilities..."

| 25 November, 2012 18:46

I'm not a rockhound, but I love pretty rocks. Well, beauty is always in the eye of the beholder! As a kid, pretty rocks were the colorful bits of glass I picked out of the stucco from the sides of buildings- certain these little bits were "real" rubies, emeralds, and various other gems. I had hit the mother lode!

I got a rock polishing kit- a tumbler for Christmas one year. I spent hours trying to pound river stones, and gravel into chunks, and (hopefully) turning these into "beautiful" rocks as they emerged from my little tumbler.

I can still see the potential in a natural stone. I love to mix the stones with glass beads and metals, and am still in awe of what nature produces; augmented by skillful cutting and polishing. I try to purchase  only natural stones for my jewelry- with minimal help from human hands... Ametrine/Amethyst may be heat treated, howlite is howlite- not white tourquoise, touquoise is natural and not stabilized to the best of my knowledge. Agates display natural colors and are not dyed.

I think Nature has done a fine job producing beautiful stones to appreciate; my interest is in turning these little beauties into wearable art!

Does Anyone Know Where I can Buy Some Time?

| 03 October, 2011 23:33

Can you believe how quickly this year has passed around?? This is the beginning of the holiday crafting season; and every town and city in the province has craft fairs to showcase the work of crafters and artisans...and to pick up some great handcrafted  gifts!

I am in the midst of preparing for the upcoming season, and this year I am working on some small bags; beaded and otherwise, quilts, and jewelry of course!

A dose of organization is in order as well as a hefty portion of time. It is very unfortunate that I do not learn from my previous experiences. It always comes as a huge surprise to me when this time of the year shows up again. All this 11th hour craziness could have been stress free if I had only planned ahead. But...that's another story.

This blog is not about whining, handwringing or fretting, but rather about sharing some organizational words of wisdom if YOU like ME are trying to cram a year's worth of creative work into what amounts to mere minutes in the grand scheme of things!

So, here is what I could learn:

  • Do as I say, not as I do
  • Less is more
  • Learn to say "No"
  • Everything starts with a plan
  • Once started, follow through
  • Clean up as you go
  • "Make measurable progress in reasonable time" Jim Rohn

So, until the next blog, I'll keep my head down, preparing for a craft show or two. Happy Crafting!

Change the Way you Look At Things...

| 08 September, 2011 17:51

"Change the way you look at things, and the things you look at change"

Still on the theme of creativity...being on vacation can be hazardous in all kinds of ways! So much more time to explore ways and means of being creative. I've had time to take a look at what mixed media artists and crafters have to say on the topic of where creative ideas come from, and the ways in which artists challenge themselve to create outside their comfort zones.

Despite the enormous quantity of info. on web sites, I am still drawn to books and magazines for ideas and inspirations, and I love the diversity I see. I cannot re invent the wheel, but I can still hope to put my own spin on an item I have created.

"Where Womwn Create;  Book of Inspiration", compiled by Jo Peckham, and Jenny Doh is a beautiful treasure trove of ideas from 23 talented women who show their creative spaces, and share insights into their unique sources of inspiration. They share activities to combat ruts, and images to illustrate their inspirations.

Some of their tips and inspirations:

  • fairy tales, folklore, circus and vintage ephemera can be a source for ideas
  • overvaluing a vintage item can inhibit creativity; the fear of not finding another like it can prevent you from using the treasure in a design
  • being raised from childhood to appreciate and value the giving and receiving of heartfelt handmade items
  • visit a flea or antique market for ideas; there is potential in old fabric, cards, jewelry, paintings, photos, as a stimulus for ideas
  • pop culture, movies, commercials, celebrities, current events, magazine clippings provide fodder for the imagination
  • music can create a mood, which in turn evokes a design-imagine creating something a favorite character in a musical would wear!

I will wrap up the topic of creativity by offering another bit of wisdom from another favorite book entitled: "The Crafter's Devotional", by Barbara Call. This author quotes a technique called SCAMPER for kick starting a stalled project. Apply a question or a series of questions to your project and see what happens!

S- substitute something

C- combine it with something else

A- adapt something to it

M- modify or magnify it

P- put it to some other use

E- elimimate something

R- reverse or rearrange it

Ever get into a Creative Block?

| 21 August, 2011 20:04

August 21, 2011

“Ever get into a creative block”? 

“In the creative state, man is taken out of himself. He lets down as it were a bucket into his subconscious, and draws up something which is normally beyond his reach. He mixes this thing along with his normal experiences, and out of the mixture he makes a work of art.”    E.M. Forster

In my opinion, this is a nice definition of creativity! 

Ever get into a “creative block”, where the ideas just dry up? I spent the last while doing a little net surfing and reading to figure out just what creativity is all about. And, there are opinions…. how to find creativity, how to become more creative, how to enhance what you’ve got, and do you have to be born creative? You are welcome to draw your own conclusions. I found a very interesting web site, just in case the topic amuses you;  www.creative-portal.com

What caught my attention was an article on this site, entitled “Traits of Creative  Individuals”. I thought I would pass on a few of the traits here, but check out the site for lots of interesting stuff!  Here they are:

  • Creative people like to question, explore, examine
  • They love to wander through their own imaginary worlds
  • Love to look at things from multiple points of view
  • Do the unusual; take a problem solving focus
  • Lots of interests, but commit time and energy to a few
  • Are “crayon breakers”

-Robert Alan Black

Did I get out of my “block”?  No,… but I had an interesting diversion along the way!

The Chicken or the Egg?

| 07 August, 2011 20:32

I think one of the most frequently asked questions of an artist or crafter is "where does your inspiration come from?"

I thought about this question as I strolled through the "Art Walk", and viewed art works in Old Strathcona, during a recent street festival in Edmonton. One of the very best things about Edmonton in the summer, is the number of festivals that occur-Jazz, Art Walk, the Silly Parade, Street Performers, Folk Fest, Heritage Days, the Fringe, and Harvest festivals.

The Art Walk attracted 363 emerging and established artists this year; spread over 2.8 km, with foot traffic of over 30,000 people, according to organizers. That's a lot of artistic folk with a lot of inspiration!

"Our primary focus is on the fine arts; painting, sculpture, abstract, realism, every subject matter you can think of." And so, there were interpretations of memories, ideas, sights, emotions, scenery.

Which brings me back to the question I started with...inspiration; the influence that suggests options. I once attended an art quilt exhibition of which one small portion of the exhibit was devoted to small 12"x12" fabric "quilts" each depicting an artist's interpretation of an experience with cancer. The artists didn't need words to express fear, anger, pain, depression, or body mutilation; the violence of clashing colors, jagged and aggressive stitching lines, repetitive circular patterns, and the juxtaposition of textures all said what was intended.

I don't think I can say what inspires me to create- other than the colors themselves. When i look at a ripening canola field, against a backdrop of the variegated greens of poplars and evergreens, with a heavy grey sky overhead, I don't rush home to find beads to recreate this image in jewelry; but I do find myself playing with the combination of barnboard grey picasso finish beads, old golds, and blue green grey stones because the colors strike me as being particularly attractive together. Maybe sometime there will be a piece made with these colors.

Sometimes, it is the color combo used that suggests the memory. My "New Frontier" bracelet was named after recalling the adobe like whitewashed walls of a monastery; the ancient dark wood pillars supporting a doorway, thick old ivy vines crawling up over the frame, and a vivid blue wall just visible through the opening.

Asking me where my inspiration comes from is like asking me what came first; the chicken or the egg?

Musings from MIlwaukee...

| 18 June, 2011 20:21

I attended my first major bead show this past week; Bead & Button Show,2011- in Milwaukee Wisconsin.  To my mind, the couple of Oasis Bead Shows I've attended in Toronto were huge, but this US show was massive!

I checked out the show on line, dithered around for a bit trying to decide; Should I go,or should I not"? I registered, had a look at the classes offered, and was immediately overwhelmed. 600 sessions! Took me 2 days to read through the classes, 2 weeks to decide on 5 classes, a month to gather all the supplies I needed,and "11 more sleeps to get there".

Clearly recalling the Oasis Show adventures; so many beads I had to fondle and own, and so little time, I made up a list: funky clasp and hearts for her, red beads for that one, and oh, look at those drop beads-really should stock up on those 'cause they are so hard to find here. Then there were the "basics" I really should replace...Since I am taking a class with Rebeca Mojica, (owner, founder, designer and teacher for Blue Buddha Boutique) at the show (!!),  better get a few more niobium jump rings so I can make another of those cute little bracelets. Now, if I buy those jewelry books here at the show, I can get the authors to sign them! That has got to be a deal; U.S. prices and all.  You get the picture, things got out of hand real quick.

I just want to say that the show, and classes surpassed my expectations. I ran out of steam long before I managed to see less than half the show floor. I was amazed at the quality, creativity, talent, skill, craftsmanship of the men and women who attended/taught classes, who manned the booths. At times, I felt like I was observing a catwalk; everywhere I looked women were showing off their handmade baubles and bling. The classes were well worth attending; artists/designers were knowledgeable, personable, passionate about their craft, and eager to share tips and help with newbies! What a fun experience.