A spring full of creativity

April 25, 2012 at 5:20 pm | Posted in art, country life, family, gifts, inspiration, knitting, needle felting, shopping, travel, women, yarn | 12 Comments
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We have been very busy, very productive. Last week I was not able to blog because I was working all out, day in and day out to prepare two full-color two-sided brochures for the now annual Artists of The Oak Art Trail the last Saturday of August. This is the third year that our artist group has organized and held our own Art Trail event.

The first two years we worked with a local arts organization but this year we have struck out on our own. My husband and I are the Art Trail organizers, and I felt strongly that our ability to organize has exceeded the ability of the arts organization to serve the needs of our community. Their attention is more focused on our neighboring county because a) the arts organization is located there, and b) the other county has a larger population than ours.

In past years when the art trail was orchestrated only by the arts organization there were only a small (microscopically small) handful of visitors to the trail. When my husband and I got involved and added the Artists of The Oak “loop” to their trail and pressed them to move the date from mid-autumn to late-summer the number of attendees dramatically increased (up from half a dozen literally to 80 the first year; up from 80 to 175 the second year).

Anyway, this year we broke off from the arts organization and are creating our own Art Trail. We raised money from local businesses to sponsor the map for the trail and then raised money from the artists in our group to pay for the Artists brochure.

I had an opportunity to get 5,000 of the map brochures and 5,000 of the Artists brochures with free shipping if I got everything done way ahead of schedule and submitted my artwork by this past Friday.

It was hard, focused work but I made the target and now we will have 10,000 promo pieces to distribute far and wide — which is four times as many as we had to work with last year.

If you are interested in our event this year, you can download the map here. Of course, the event is not until late summer, so you will have plenty of time to plan your trip!

Meanwhile, both my son and I have been busy creating. I love these new “Minimalist” prints he has created for various cities.

I admire his ability to keep things very clean and simple in his designs; these new posters are a great example of his taste in that regard. He has also added several new cities to his collection of Subway Signs and Bus Scroll Prints. So far these cities are represented:

  • Dallas
  • Washington D.C.
  • Portland
  • Atlanic City
  • Seattle
  • Boston
  • Chicago
  • New York
  • San Francisco
  • Los Angeles
  • Paris
  • London

As for me, I have been combining two of my favorite fiber arts: knitting and needle felting. I have had so much fun creating this doll … and she has been enjoying two of my favorite activities: knitting and drinking coffee. I gave her a tote bag much like one of my favorite totes, and filled it with little balls of yarn rolled up from left overs of some of my favorite yarns.

Last fall I started knitting a pair of knuckle gloves for myself that I was really looking forward to wearing this past winter. However, I was not enjoying the knitting project and never got past mid-way on the first glove. I had intended to complete my gloves and then release a pattern for my readers, but I am not willing to publish a knitting pattern for a project that is no fun to knit, so I never completed the knucks and of course never released a pattern.

When I was working on the doll I had an idea to knit a hat for her, but then I came across the incomplete knuckle glove and realized it would make a great hat for her.

So I unraveled it back to a good length for the hat and voila, an adorable little hat to keep my doll’s head warm. I used some of the curly, unraveled yarn to make tassels for the corner points on the hat which just added to the cuteness quite a bit. I also used a little bit more of the same yarn to knit her a tiny ribbed scarf to make sure she stays plenty warm and cozy.

What I am doing with the needle felting is developing some more of my own techniques and characters so that I will have all kinds of cool stuff to teach in the needle felting classes I will be writing up and selling via my Etsy shop. I love the idea of combining knitting with needle felting because knitters will have an additional way to use their talents. But, for non-knitters I will be sure to include instructions for making accessories without knitting.

Please continue to be patient with me because it is a long process to develop the techniques and characters, then to remake items photographing each step, write up all of the instructions, and get it all published. For me, it is especially painstaking because I put quite a lot of care into breaking down my instructions into very easy to understand and follow directions. The thing is, this is a very fun and wonderful artistic medium and when I pass along some instructions on it I want to make sure others will experience great joy in what they are doing.

That will be it for today, but next time I blog I have a wonderful recipe to share that my son passed along to me for Asian Lettuce Wraps … I haven’t had a chance to make them yet, but he has and he loves them so he shared the recipe with me so I could share it with you fine folks.

I’ll write more in a few days.

Hope you have a beautiful week!

~firefly

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Soon

March 21, 2012 at 4:46 pm | Posted in art, blogging, country life, faith, family, inspiration, knitting, Life, photography, shopping, women | 6 Comments
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To my regular readers … I have been away for quite some time, as you have seen.  The year got off to a bit of a bumpy start, and then I needed to take some time off and clear my mind.  Wanted to be sure that as I move forward I do so with a clear vision of the path before me in mind, rather than just continuing to do what I was doing before out of assumption that I my course was still correct.  Refreshed, I am here for you today ready to rock and roll.

On with Today’s Blog …

On my Facebook page yesterday I shared a photo of the first day of spring on our farm; quite a lovely day.  It felt great to be walking around, feeling the warmth of sunshine on my back and shoulders, my face…hearing the voices of hundreds and hundreds of birds, the peeping of peepers…seeing the river out front glistening brightly under open sunshine with a beautiful flow of water easing its way along downstream.

During my nearly 3-month long break from blog writing, I have been exercising my creativity in a variety of ways.  Something I don’t have much time for at this point in my life is fiction writing, although that is the writing I move love to engage in.    It used to be that I had to be prepared to “catch” my fiction as it poured forth from my mind, otherwise it would dissolve into the ether.  Often I found myself concocting a story during the middle of the night as I lay awake in bed, needing to get some sleep.  The clarity of those thoughts, the exact wording that flowed out of me so eloquently were gone nearly as quickly as they appeared.

As I have attended to some non-writing, non-business matters over the past three months, I have had quite a lot of time to reflect on various things and what has happened is that one story out of a few I have been loosely thinking of over the past few years, began materializing.  The five central characters began to step forward in my mind and tell me more about themselves, their thoughts, and struggles.  The setting has taken shape, the plot line has formed itself up … and I am retaining it all even though I have written little of it down.

Over the course of the past ten years, my writing process has evolved into a routine of living life, thinking of whatever my current writing project is (for clients or for my blog), retaining the ideas in my mind then writing them down later when I can I get some quiet time to myself.  The discipline of writing that way over a period of years has now segued into the process I now discover I can use to write my fiction stories.  This wonderful new thing of not losing the ideas that have formed so clearly in my mind is very liberating.  It will still take time to do the business of writing the entire story in typewritten words as opposed to thoughts of words, but I feel a deep a great sense of creative satisfaction at the development of this story in my mind.

I have also been needle felting, and this little fellow is one result of that creativity.  He is a pretty goofy looking rabbit, but sweet and someone I know who has tiny hands enjoys playing with him very much.  A number of readers over time have asked if I will publish and sell instructions for making needle felting items and I have decided I would like to do that (in addition to publishing more knitting patterns).  I am finishing up one more bunny rabbit and when he is finished I will start preparing written instructions for needle felting in general, then get into the specifics of how to make the characters I have designed.

I am also working on a series of paintings (some watercolor, some oil) depicting various scenes and settings along our river; currently I am working on swans but I have some beautiful photos I have shot of turtles sunbathing on fallen logs, heron about to pounce into the water while fishing, and other lovely river scenes I plan to paint.  As the paintings are finished, I will share them here with you.

My son continues to create his beautiful prints, maps, and photography.  He and my husband and I have made plans for some prints and maps related to New York history, and as we get those items ready for the public I will let you know.

In closing for today, I will share a few more photos reflecting some of what I have done and seen over the past few months.

See you here again soon.

Warmly,

~firefly

Our world of many faiths

December 22, 2011 at 5:53 pm | Posted in Christmas, faith, family, Holidays, inspiration, knitting, Life, love, women | 7 Comments
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There is a tradition of faith and religion, the seeking of an understanding of the nature of God and our relationship to whoever or whatever God is going back at least 10,000 years on our planet. During those 10,000 years many faiths have emerged helping people find their way to a connection with God from many different viewpoints. Each has validity, each has value.

With so many different faiths the world over, the concept of any one being the one and only true faith is peculiar to me. It doesn’t make any sense if you think about it. However, it does make sense that one faith is the one true faith for one particular person … at a time. Each individual person who wishes to understand the nature of God and what his or her relationship is to God needs a path to follow to get there. For George, it is religion A and that is the one true faith for George. For Natalie, it is religion C and that is the one true faith for Natalie. Michael, on the other hand, finds that religion H works for him, so that is the one true faith for Michael. George, Natalie, and Michael are all on the right path … each has found the one true path of faith that works for him or her.

They should all wave to each other and say, “Hey, way to go! Isn’t this amazing!”

Wouldn’t it make sense that if God exists and has anything to do with the affairs of mankind, that there would be some wisdom coming from that source to provide mankind with many different paths to follow in reaching the God connection.

I believe it would have to be so. We are so different, one to another. We have different cultures, different life experiences, differences in our spiritual nature, and so forth. There would have to be many different paths leading to God. The most fundamentally important thing is seeking God and gaining a closer connection to whoever or whatever God is for you, not which path you use to do so.

If God is love, it could not possibly make any sense at all that conflict, hatred, or war would lead any one of us, some of us, or all of us to a closer relationship with God. That part of the equation must come from somewhere else, and leads to erroneous illogical conclusions that don’t add up.

I’m right, you’re wrong, my God is the one true God, my faith is the one true faith. No — we are each right, our Gods are God, our faiths are faith, our love is love. We are all united in love and faith, regardless of the tradition of knowledge or ritual that gets us there.

I have a dream of a community church of all faiths where people from all over a community from any faith within that community could gather together for the purpose of sharing faith and love, learning more about what unites us in our religions, and celebrating together our gaining of a closer connection to God. You know, if we brought our faiths closer together in friendship and trust we would inevitably grow closer to God all of us together.

That makes sense to me.

One of my favorite Christmas memories is from quite a few years back in Los Angeles when my children were still fairly young. It was a particularly challenging Christmas for me as a single mother. My car was broken, I was out of work, and out of money for the most part. Determined to create Christmas magic, my children and I made Christmas gifts for family members using materials we had on hand for the most part.

I had some red velvet fabric I used to sew Santa outfits and Santa “bags” for a couple of little teddy bears. My son made two cube shaped boxes with lids out of a decorative paper and lined them with some gold-leaf we had on hand in our art supplies. The boxes looked very magical, and we put them inside the red velvet Santa bags that went with the teddy bears. We gave one of the Santa bears and bag with the magic box inside to my parents and the other to one of my older brothers and his family.

I painted watercolor portraits of several nieces and nephews for others in the family, and was up painting the last one on Christmas Eve. While I was painting I watched a televised Midnight Mass. I had never attended a Mass of any kind, and didn’t know what to expect. It was beautiful. Ministers from a wide variety of religions spoke for several minutes each. They all gave a holiday message based on their respective theologies but all had a common theme: love.

Sometimes I think the real reason behind all of the hardship I was experiencing at that time was so that I would be up late painting on Christmas Eve and therefore watching television to help myself stay awake and thereby see that particular show…it was an important part of my own spiritual path.

This holiday season I am thinking of you, whoever you may be and whatever your faith may be. I am sending to you my thoughts of love, my prayers of hope and peace. I am longing to feel a deeper connection with God by reaching out and touching your hand (in spirit) and expressing my gratitude to you for your part in the worldwide search for God along many different paths shining many, many different lights toward truth.

Love,
firefly

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