Friday, May 15, 2015

Spring Activities

The last couple of weeks have been very full. One of the things I took time out to do, however, was to watch the documentary Chasing Ice. James Balog, an award winning photographer, and his team filmed what happened to glaciers in the northern hemisphere from 2005 to about 2008 or 2009. You can find more information about it at the link above and on the Chasing Ice Facebook Page. It is an incredible film with stunning photography. They have been doing the same thing in the southern hemisphere since 2012.

I also had the opportunity to photograph some unusual visitors to my landscape.


Baltimore Orioles

I apologize for the blurriness of this one, but we were also visited by

A Rose-breasted Grosbeak

These visits are, of course, signs that the weather is turning warmer, though it hasn't felt quite like that recently around here. The vegetation has also made it clear, though it went through the flowering stage very quickly. We have, so far, avoided severe weather. Unfortunately, other areas of the country have not been so lucky. Between heat and storms, it has been a tumultuous spring.

Another thing I've been considering lately is our garden. I would love to be able to plant more and my hubby appears willing to do a lot of the work (since we're not sure how my allergies will react). I decided to check out this article: Planting your spring garden? Consider climate’s ‘new normal’ (You have to scroll down to the specific link.) As the article states: 

"Climate normals can help people understand what conditions they can expect wherever they may live… and plant. A previous article on Climate.gov explored the implications of the new climate normals for gardeners and landscapers. Not only can plants can generally survive farther north than they used to, but the fire season is longer and pests are able to thrive and spread in forests and other natural landscapes. Pollination patterns may also be changing."

For me, this is yet another reason to pay attention to the impact of our activities on the world around us. I hope that you will, too.

Until next time, I wish you peace and all good.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Limits and Possibilities

There is a lot going on in my life right now. One of my nieces just had a baby boy. A nephew is getting married next week. One of my sons has a birthday next week and so do the grandchildren. I've been slowly working on the quilt I mentioned last time, and have chosen a gift to make for another nephew who is getting married in the fall.

House and gold finches on thistle feeder

At the same time, I have been enjoying the brilliant colors of the birds in their spring plumage, listening to birdsong, learning new things (like yoga), and trying to get out more. In that last context, I have been finding out more about my limits. As much as I would like to think otherwise, apparently, there was a reason my doctor told me not to push myself. So, I am having to learn what that means in real terms and content myself with building up activities slowly. Obviously, this has an impact on what I can do, overall, like working on the business.

A few weeks ago, I came across a quiz I had taken earlier about finding one's life purpose. The question that hit me was what you would do if you knew you were going to die in a year. My response had been that I would finish as many of my works in progress as possible. That is what prompted me to look, again, at the quilt I'd put aside because of the pattern I had been trying to use. The new pattern is simpler and goes together more quickly, which makes it much easier to handle.

What does this mean for building up the business? At this point, that is unclear. I continue to gather ideas and work on techniques, but have not been pushing myself to get product ready. I am rather hoping to have a breakthrough on that front this summer, but am resigned to the idea that it depends more on incremental progress. In the meantime, I will continue to view each day as open to new possibilities and enjoy what I can.

I wish you good weather, happy relationships, and enjoyable experiences.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Blooming

There has been a lot going on around here in the past couple of weeks, not the least of which was the change in the weather, which resulted in this:





It is glorious to be able to open up the house, hear the wildlife, and feel a warm breeze. We've also had the excitement of preparations for a new great-nephew and a wedding in the family.

I've begun working on a quilt with these:

It is one that I have put off working on for quite a while because I was unhappy with the pattern I had been using. I made a change to the pattern choice and feel much more comfortable about it.

I was able to find information on ways to modify the doll heads, so I will be going forward with that at some point. Prior to that, however, I need to prepare for a visit from my grandchildren. Since they moved across the country when they were babies, it has been a long time since my house needed to be child-proofed.

Until next time, I wish you peace and all good things.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Recycling Doll Parts Continued

One of my followers told me, in response to my request for suggestions last time, that it would be helpful to have pictures of the pieces. I was unable to post them until I worked out why my camera and computer would not interface. Since I have been able to work out that last issue, I can now include some shots of what I have inherited. I am only including a couple of examples, since most of the pieces are similar. The exception is the head with the dark markings, which my sister had marked as needing to be fixed, presumably due to a problem with the firing.





This is only a small range of the sizes I have available to me, but they are representative of the types and range of finishes. I did find I have a couple of jars of non-fire glaze in flesh tones, but have no idea how to use them, as I've never worked with them before.

On another note, I was motivated to reorganize my wet studio as a result of doing an inventory of the doll parts, This is how it looks, now, and how I have organized my supplies.




Once again, I'd appreciate any suggestions for using the doll parts and/or methods/products to use on them.

Until next time, I wish you peace and all good things.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Recycling Doll Parts

After seeing a post about this artist: Tree Change Dolls, I got to thinking about all the doll parts I inherited from my sister, who worked in porcelain. I really like the idea of giving older dolls a new life, yet I had forgotten about the doll parts that never quite made it into whole dolls. While I have been working on prototypes that are all cloth, I have boxes and bins of heads, arms, legs, and other parts she made that can be used.



Since I do not work in fired clay and have no access to a kiln, I need to work out how to use the pieces. Some of them are fully fired. Some are only bisque fired, and some need repairs. It will probably take a while, but using them is a great way to re/upcycle the materials and pay tribute to my sister. It will also be a challenge, since they range in size from what she called "poppets," (about doll house size) to 20" or more.

I am considering different types of paints I might use, the addition of materials like cloth or Paperclay, or using some of them as molds. The possibilities seem exciting, and I am eager to dive into learning what is doable.

I would love to hear any suggestions you might have about how I can use them.

Peace,

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Artist's Voice

A couple of my friends recently moved, downsizing in the process, which reminded me of my need to declutter and reduce my possessions. My hope is that, when my husband retires, we will be able to downsize, too, but right now we have too much stuff for a smaller house. In light of that, I was intrigued by a method I saw demonstrated recently and the book written by its inventor: Marie Kondo: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. While I don't agree with some of her recommendations, I do believe her method of sorting through one's possessions warrants a try. So, I borrowed her book from the library and plan to attempt the process. (Thankfully, she states that doing it "quickly means about half a year.")

As part of my work on getting ready to set up a shop, I have also been thinking about what success looks like to me. I finally came to the conclusion that it encompasses three things: creativity, a flexible schedule, and supplemental income. Since I have health issues that are exacerbated by stress, it is crucial that I maintain a calm atmosphere and not try to do too much. To that end, I realized that I need to limit my work on the business to part-time. While that means I cannot do as much, it also means I have time to explore other interests and be available to my family as needed. (For example, I am also doing research for a book I want to write.)

I also recently purchased a copy of The Worldwide History of Dress as a reference book for clothing styles throughout the world. While it does not have quite as many examples of contemporary clothing as I had hoped, it gives details about many cultures that I know little to nothing about. For that reason, it is probably even more critical to my work, since I want my artwork to incorporate a global vision. Incorporating that vision is part of my artistic voice. Leni Levinson Wiener had an insightful post on weallsew.com this week about the artist's voice and how to find it. Though I have been creating for a lot of years, I have only just begun that work. 

What I do know is that I want to highlight the similarities between people around the world and my belief that we need to think more about how our actions impact everything on this planet we call home. That is part of the reason I want to downsize. I believe we use more of the planet's resources than is healthy for the planet and that people in many other countries aren't able to use enough, both for their own comfort and the health of the planet. It is also part of the reason I am a proponent of simple living.

I am looking forward to enjoying the simple pleasures of spring.




I wish you simple pleasures.

Peace.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Preparations

You may have noticed that I changed the banner at the top of my page this last week. Please let me know what you think of it. I'm concerned that it still needs tweaking.

The banner is part of the work I have been doing to get ready to set up a shop. One of the things I have been finding is that it is taking an awfully long time to deal with all the details necessary. At the same time, I have been trying to work through a bit of angst over fears raised by the idea of setting up and running a shop online.

While many of the artists who have shops on Etsy are very happy with their experiences, there are questions being raised as a result of changes Etsy has made in its policies over the last year or so. Abby Glassenberg has a blog post at https://whileshenaps.com/ about Three Bird Nest in which she talks about some of the issues highlighted as a result of those changes. It is the kind of thing that makes me stop and consider exactly what my best options are, what I want to get out of an online shop, and whether it will be possible given those options.

Some of my fears are, I'm sure, simply coming up because it is a new prospect for me. I tend to spend a lot of time planning things before feeling ready to move forward. In some ways, this can be detrimental. In other ways, I find it helps because I encounter fewer surprises along the way. The difficulty is in maintaining a balance so that I don't freeze in my tracks.

Speaking of freezing, I was thinking about the difference between Niagara Falls now http://abcnews.go.com/US/video/deep-freeze-creates-winter-beauty-niagara-falls-29074903 and how it was last summer, when we visited.




I'm sure most of us in the deep freeze are looking forward to warmer temperatures and more colorful horizons.

Wishing you peace and all good things.