Friday, November 29, 2013

With Gratitude Every Day

In ordinary life we hardly realize that we receive a great deal more than we give, and that it is only with gratitude that life becomes rich.  - Dietrich Bonhoeffer 

Yesterday I kept thinking about how the world is changing and not all for the better. Why do we need to shop on Thanksgiving day? I believe that small changes can create the opportunity for change. I remember when I made the conscious effort to be more grateful. It started by signing emails "With Gratitude" even when it was difficult. This helped me to realize that I needed to be grateful for those who caused me pain because they also caused me to grow as a person. I began a journal just for listing things and people that I am grateful for having in my life. I wrote in it each night before I went to sleep.This lead to another journal where I worked through difficult experiences until I could feel genuinely thankful for them. This, of course, is still a work in process.  I am still working on being grateful for Chicago's long, grey, cold winters. So I hope you will join in me making gratitude a habit because with gratitude also comes acceptance and kindness and happiness. I am grateful for you!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Stepping Out of My Comfort Zone

You must do the thing you think you cannot do. -Eleanor Roosevelt

If someone had told me that a year after taking my first pottery/ceramics class that I would be creating sculpture, I would have looked at the person like he/she were crazy. It is still a work in progress but I wanted to share with you what I have been working on for the last two months. I think I have convinced my teacher that I don't need three detailed drawings to create. 

There will be a broken heart hanging inside the hole and a white crow on the shoulder. It is two pieces and will be epoxy together once it is all done. There are wings too. They are on the shelf waiting to be fired. They are bird like instead of angel like.) It was created in two pieces (newspaper separating them right now) so it will fit in the kiln. 

The piece is autobiographical. It deals with a lifetime of not being seen or heard by people who claim to love me. It also deals with coming to terms with life and finding flight. It has been an interesting experience and I will be creating another sculpture that deals with loss. 

Why clay? It is just another tactile experience, another creative outlet. I think pottery and quilts have more in common than one would think. There is the kaleidoscope of forms, colors, textures, sizes and function. There is traditional and contemporary. All I know is playing in the mud feeds my artistic soul. 

What feeds your artistic soul?

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Winner and Another Journal Give-Away

I am overwhelmed by all the kind words and the number of people who signed up to win my journal. I wish I could give each of you a journal. Since that is just not possible, I decided to give another one away next Tuesday, December 2. It is the journal pictured here. I will admit that this one has a mistake in it. I didn't allow enough of a seam with one of the fabrics so I had to fuse some on top.

So if you signed up for the Create journal, you don't have to do anything except check back next Tuesday. If I don't hear from the winner in 48 hours then I will have my son draw another name out of the hat. If you haven't signed up, you can do so.

Now for the winner of the Create journal----Elaine! It makes my heart sing to know that a long time follower and wonderfully kind person won. Enjoy!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

A Journal Blog Give-Away

“Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.” 
― A.A. MilneWinnie-the-Pooh

Michele Foster is once again organizing a blog hop give-away. The theme this time is "giving thanks." I am most thankful for Michele for all that she does to make this happen.

I decided to give away one of my recent journals made with my quilt-as-you-go (all three layers are sewn at once) technique. I started teaching this technique more than 15 years ago. It began because I kept hearing my students complain about having UFOs and/or not being happy with their machine quilting and/or not being able to afford to have someone quilt for them.  I called my first quilt "Dropping out of the Conga Line to Do the Merengue." It even uses a 1970s green and yellow polka dot polyester fabric that a friend claimed I could never use in a quilt and have it work. She actually bowed down to me when she saw the quilt. It hangs in my dining room as a reminder of taking a risk and having it work out.

The journal has a pencil holder in the back, a bookmark and can be reused because it is made for composition books which can be easily found. I sell these journals for $45-$65.

Now for the rules.

Read Carefully:

1. I will ship internationally.
2. I won't be responsible if the package gets lost in the mail. Hasn't happened yet.
3. Winner will be announced on November 26. I will not track you down so make sure you either check back or leave an easy way for me to contact you so I can get your address. If you don't leave contact info and I don't hear from you within 48 hours, a new winner will be selected.
4.  I love the people who follow my blog and want them to know it so my followers will get their names put into the hat twice.

Enjoy the hop!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Shedding: Letting Go of the Old as I Create the New

Mending a Broken Heart (from one of the workshops I teach)
Fall is a tough season for me. The long grey days with little green outside my window always causes me to feel depressed. This has also been a year of a lot of loss. My mother-in-law died after suffering from Alzheimer's. I experienced her leaving us twice. Six friends have died (one from suicide and one simply gave up). A question that keeps popping up in my head-Is it possible to live life so fully that you die happy?

I lost the friendship of another. Her bipolar disease making it just too difficult to maintain. My husband's job has been eliminated. The quilt store and bead store that I loved and frequented have both closed. All of this has caused me to think about letting some things in my life go.

Interesting that I have also had conversations about this topic with friends (ages late 20s to early 70s) and even a clerk at Trader Joe's. One friend is struggling to let go of someone he loves who does not love him back. I feel his pain. Another friend is struggling with a house full of things that her parents could not let go including the first electric blanket (not usable and full of mouse poop) they ever bought. I can relate and know I don't want to leave my children with this kind of burden. I have asked about how this shedding has made them feel- tense, cranky, restless and vulnerable have been the answers.

Shedding is a natural consequence of growth. Deer shed their antlers. Snakes shed their skin. Animals shed their fur. We shed our entire epidermal layer every 29.5 days. We replace all our cells every seven years. We are constantly letting go of the old as we create the new so why is letting go of other things so difficult?  I wish I could say that shedding outworn activities and aspects of my self were easy. It is not. I truly understand why change is so difficult and often stressful. Change makes our new "skins" feel tender and vulnerable, the old ones, with its familiar scars and weather worn bumps, seem more comfortable. So I am spending a lot of time thinking and writing in my journal. Some decisions have been easy like ending the heARTist Trading Card group. It had run its course and accomplished its purpose. Other things are much more difficult and I am willing to take the time to figure it out.

What do you need to shed now? How did you know that you were done?

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Patron Monster of Fear

Be bold and might forces will come to your aid. -Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

There was talk on the QuiltArt list about perfectionism. While teaching, there was talk of fear- fear of failure, not being good enough, wasting material, etc.  It got me to thinking which can be dangerous. I got an idea and ran with it.  I would make monsters that dealt with different fears using the fabulous colored erasers I bought years ago. Each piece will have a favorite quote or saying of mine on the monster as a reminder. Goethe's quote seemed perfect for fear. I am going to add a tag to each one too so people who only see them will have some understanding of what I am trying to accomplish. Fear can make small things in life seem big. Hold this guy in your hand or put him on a shelf and you have one less fear hiding in your heart. These monsters will hopefully erases your fears or in the very least cause you to smile. Got to have more fun!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Prayers to the Moon

"Follow your bliss. Allow it to usher you into the orchard of fulfillment. Here the moon shines fully illuminating dreams come true."

For everyone who emailed concerns because I have not been posting, thank you for your kindness. First, I badly sprained my right wrist which made writing a painful challenge. Then I caught a nasty virus which laid me out for more than week. Thankfully I am now injury free and healthy again. Rejoice!

It was good to have a creative must do waiting in the wings for me. This month's ATC theme for heARTist Trading Cards is "Prayers to the Moon" (one of my suggested themes which always seems to bring a little pressure). I had stumbled upon some 2.5" x 3.5" canvases so I decided to try my hand at painting them for this month's theme. This was tougher than I thought and an interesting experience.

The creative juices are flowing once again!