Sunday, December 3, 2017

The Evolution of Inspiration

One day I walked into my local library to pick up a reserved book and saw something wondrous - two display cases full of the most whimsical creations I'd ever seen.

They were called "art dolls" and were made of fabric and all manner of beads, buttons, cloth, clay, and assorted ephemera. I was captivated and knew I'd found a purpose for the beautiful fabric scraps & trims I had left over from my banner-making days.

I found out more about the group of people who made the dolls and went to their next meeting. It was love at first sight! They had a time of show & tell for their recent club "challenge." I think the challenge was to randomly draw a color, then make a doll entirely in that color scheme. The results were amazing.

Since that time, I've been privileged to learn SO much from them and benefit from the fantastic artists the club has brought in to teach workshops. Barbara Schoenoff, Angela Jarecki, Cindee Moyer, Paula McGee, Arley Berryhill, Sherry Goshon, just to name a few. You might not be familiar with these names, but they are very well known in the world of figurative arts. They are members of prestigious art guilds and published in magazines. What great opportunities I've had to learn directly from them!

Even within our club, we have experienced, creative, skilled people who share their techniques at our monthly meetings. Which brings me to my pictures...

In our October meeting, Laura, the club president, did a demonstration on using a product called Rigid Wrap. You can see the demo on our Facebook page; scroll down to Oct 7. For some reason, that spurred a rabbit trail of ideas that, in the end, weren't connected, but caused me to venture out on my own (usually I rely on a pattern or make something once in a workshop and don't do anything else until the next workshop).

I've always thought those Pure Leaf ice tea bottles had an interesting shape that might make a cool doll base. Finally, a reason to test my idea! I cut out a window, sprayed the bottle silver and used the rigid wrap to create an icicle effect. Some fake snow & diamond dust completed the look. (I confess to some fun Game of Thrones flashbacks as I formed the icicles).  A nice touch would be to add those teeny craft lights to the inside. Think I might pick up a few after Christmas.

I needed an actual doll pattern for guidance and this one from Cindee Moyer fit the best. But after 3 frustrating attempts at turning her tiny cloth fingers, I made some clay hands. Another first! I enjoyed that so much, I made 3 more pairs for the next dolls I have in mind. This one was kind of a prototype. There's a few things I'll do differently and spend more time on, but overall I do like this icy blue pouffy princess.

The next doll is part two of the disconnected inspiration I had during Laura's demonstration. I love the look of mercury glass and last year converted several cheap vases into vintage decorations for the mantle. Can you see where I'm going with this? I've already done the bases and hands. I found some gorgeous, wintry fabric on super-sale. As soon as I click "publish" on this blog, I'm going to get started. Stay tuned to see how this idea transpires!

Sunday, November 12, 2017

A Taste of Autumn

Want to see some autumn colors from Oklahoma?

There's a nature preserve a few miles from us that, in over 30 years, we've never checked out!

Last Sunday the weather was so perfect. After church, I declared a convertible ride/photo venture afternoon. Hubby obligingly said "sure, where to?"

I didn't have a clue. I felt like I've photographed everything within an hour's ride around here. Then I remembered this Red Bud Valley Nature Preserve I'd heard about over the years.

It's like going to another state, it's so different than the rest of this locale. We weren't dressed for this somewhat rugged hike, so we only did half of it. All I wanted was a few fall-color pix anyway :)

I'm looking forward to going back in the spring.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Birds of a Feather

 Last weekend I was asked to do a photo shoot at a local Christmas Tree Farm. As we were leaving, a flock of geese flew overhead. I snapped a few shots and had some fun playing with effects in LightRoom. Sometimes I see life ... not as it really is :)

A friend recently sent me a meme on Facebook that said "October is to photographers what April is to accountants." True words! I've been out with the Canon quite a bit lately. One of these days, those pix will get posted. Check back now & then.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

What Does it Mean?

There are 3 things that unite a diverse people:
·         A common language
·         A national flag
·         A national song (anthem)

There are very sound historical reasons explaining the power of a national flag. Here’s a very brief synopsis from a study I did many years ago. I was making praise banners and flags for my church and wanted to understand the significance of them.

Standards of the Ancient Middle East – the Phoenicians and Greeks used them to indicate the presence of the commander on board ship & for signaling purposes. Arabian caravans used them to identify companies and for illumination at night.

The Standards of Israel – were commanded by God (Num 2:2) to identify the divisions, tribes and companies during the Exodus.

Flags of India & China – identified with the ruler; represented all attributes of kingship. To dishonor the flag was the same as a physical assault on the ruler.

Standards & Banners of Rome – a mass display of standards conveyed conquest & power.

The Middle Ages – Identified the many countries represented in the Crusades. The designs provided a history of the bearer or expressed something about them.

European Banners & Flags – Colors & designs stem from history, culture, or religion. Carried onto the battlefield by monks to inspire confidence in the troops.

Military Flags – have a practical and emotional value. Used to (1) distinguish the forces of warring armies and (2) mark in battle the position of the commander. This would provide a rallying point for the troops in the midst of confused fighting. The flag was the first object of attack in battle. If the flag bearer fell, another soldier immediately grabbed the pole and took his place.

Military flags serve as a memorial, carry the traditions and war history of the regiment and honor the fallen. They are categorized according to shape & purpose:
·         Standards – mark the position of an important person.
·         Banners are borne in action.
·         Guidon – borne by leaders
·         Pennon – carried by a knight to strike terror into the enemy and to denote rank.
·         Pennant is hoisted when the captain of a warship assumes his command.
Various positions of the flag on a ship have definite meaning – victory, surrender, saluting, mourning, distress.  In other words – flags communicate important messages.

Flags (including standards & banners) have meaning and purpose in the Bible, also. I won’t list all the scripture references but if anyone wants to know more, message me!
·         Represent a pledge of protection
·         Point to the place of refuge and signify deliverance
·         Convey the idea of conspicuous presence
·         Used as a war summons and a rallying point
·         Symbolize unity
·         Cause demoralization of the enemy
·         Are raised in victory.

I got to visit Ft McHenry last year and spent hours walking the grounds and barracks, reading the history, and seeing the spot where a handmade, 30’ x 42’ flag was still visible after a night of British bombing. You can read my blog on that here, plus the web is full of information if you want more details.

As you can see, our flag is more than a piece of cloth. It represents each of us and our ancestors. Our stories, our sacrifices, our joys. Our successes and our failures - both in times of war and times of peace. All of us – as individuals and collectively as a nation.

The Star Spangled Banner is the story of just one particular instance, but it represents much of our national history. To dishonor either the flag or the anthem is to disrespect every single citizen in the country, and most especially those who serve & defend. It’s a slap in the face of brothers & sisters who work hard, pay their taxes, raise their families, support their communities, vote their conscience and help their neighbors in need.

Our country is not pristine. We have some ugly history. Not everyone has learned from it, but in the heart and soul of America, there is deep remorse for the past treatment of native people and those held in the bondage of slavery.  There’s sorrow for people of other nations who died for their country as we defended ours. There's anguish at decisions made by flawed leaders that were terribly wrong. No decent human being rejoices at the suffering of others. Decent people are quietly working hard, without fanfare or publicity stunts, to right these wrongs by setting a course for an America that is truly about "liberty and justice for all."  Just as we individuals are a work in progress, so is our country. What started over 200 years ago (which is young by nation standards) is still developing. But we have to be in one accord to move forward.

There are dozens of ways to educate and bring light to social justice issues, but a nation has to have some kind of common symbol to rally around, to unite the people in heart. We have to have a visual or auditory reminder that we are all members of the same tribe, with a common goal – to preserve, protect, and better the tribe. Otherwise, there’s no reason to work towards a solution for “your” problem if you don’t demonstrate respect and empathy towards anyone else.  We have to agree to certain boundaries of behavior. We have to have a rallying point where we stand united so we can work together toward a better country. That’s what the flag and anthem provide for us.

Make no mistake – the USA has many enemies and they would love to see us sink deeper into division simply for the purpose of destroying & conquering. The first thing they’ll do is raise their own flag over this land. The next thing they'll do is stand and put their hand on their heart while their national anthem plays. Why in the world would you want to make that easier for them?

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Phone Pix & Sunday Night Mindstreaming

It's been a lovely Sunday but alas, no Game of Thrones to cap it off. Which reminds me, I had these pix on my phone. 

The best birthday card I've ever gotten! Which reminds me...I'm re-reading "A Song of Ice & Fire" which GoT is based off.  I just read this sentence in book 2 (A Clash of Kings)

 “Aegon,” he said to a woman nursing a newborn babe in a great wooden bed. “What better name for a king?” “Will you make a song for him?” the woman asked. “He has a song,” the man replied. “He is the prince that was promised, and his is the song of ice and fire.” 

It's easy to see now looking back from book 5 - Jon Snow is the embodiment of ice & fire by his parentage - Lyanna Stark of Winterfell & Prince Rhaegar of House Targaryen.  

The storylines are blurring between the long books and the tv series, so I may have this idea wrong, but I think all along Jon has been the hero and centerpiece of the story. He's the only one who is good at his core, with no personal agenda, always trying to do the right thing. Every other main character are shades of gray - not totally bad, not always good. Jon Snow is true hero material. 

And speaking of birthdays -- this gorgeous bouquet was delivered to my office from my own "moon and stars." The note says "Thanks for tying my shoes. Happy Birthday!" Yes, August was an eventful month. My husband sustained a serious injury & his hand was in a cast for 6 weeks. It was a month full of good news, drama, expenses & inconveniences - but we made it through!

I've been doing some real estate photography. Every once in awhile a house will have an interesting or whimsical feature.

One perfect summer morning, I took Khali for a convertible ride to one of our favorite walking spots. I think she liked it!

This is my good luck row at WalterMart. I don't know exactly but I'd say 95% of the time, I find an empty spot in this row close to the door. It goes along with the repeating number patterns I seem to experience of late. I think that's supposed to be a good thing; although some say it's also a warning to be extra alert.

When hubby & I worked at the same office, one of our favorite pastimes was to go for coffee on Tuesdays at B&N. We would decompress from the stressful day (Tuesdays were always high octane in that office), share news & gossip, and browse the books and magazines. Since we're working at different places now, our schedules don't accommodate this very often. So on this early fall, rainy Sunday, we enjoyed an hour like old times.

It's very cool to be browsing the magazine racks and open one to see your doll on the cover of a mag being advertised!

Speaking of browsing, I saw two new books at B&N and both had the *F-bomb* in the title. (Come to think of it, they were both cookbooks. What does that say about cooking?)

Of course it was disguised with splotches & other marks, but the meaning was quite clear. Which led me to this mindstreaming... why does that word hold so much power? Even though it's pretty much gone mainstream in the public vocabulary, with even the most highly educated professionals generously using it, it still holds enough shock value to be considered quite vulgar in everyday conversation. Why aren't the other synonyms considered that bad? With more & more people using this wordbomb, will it weaken its shock 'n awe effect? 

I further mindstreamed on the power of A Word

If a one-syllable obscenity holds so much weight, what about positive words? Imagine what they can do?

And if a positive verb or adjective has power, then what can a NAME do? Names carry deep & profound meaning in ancient cultures. And there is one special name that is above all others in the universe. It has the power to create, to heal, to love, and to save.

Well, I've come to the end of my Sunday mindstreaming. Here's one last pic from my phone. We had a lovely shower this afternoon and it gave us a beautiful rainbow directly east of our house. (grrr too bad the rooftop of the school had to be in the shot, but I do like the American flag flying at the end of the rainbow!)

PS: I forgot something I wanted to include here! How appropriate, because it's on the subject of getting old! Saturday night we were invited to a gathering of people we've known for going on 20 years. Most of us are age 50+. This group has prayed together, worshiped together, shared meals, good times and sad times and in the process, are aging together. One man recently had a second heart surgery. My husband told exaggerated tales of his hand injury/surgery. Another has a retina problem; one had a knee replacement, and there were assorted other comparisons of aches & pains. On the way home, I thought about how our conversation has changed. I used to wonder why old people got together & talked so much about their ailments. Now I get it! It's actually a group of 35 year olds wondering what the heck is happening to their bodies and looking to each other for reassurance. In our minds, we're still young, so these pings & pangs are mysterious and sometimes a little frightening. Senior friends are, in reality, a support group helping each other navigate this 3rd Act in the theater we call Life. It's true what they say - "old age ain't for sissies!"

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Maker Faire 2017

Guess who I ran into this weekend?

 Yep, that's him! Mr. R2D2 himself.

 He was hobnobbing at the Maker Faire.  I talked to his "handler" who assured me that he did, indeed, make this entire replica himself. The guy did a fantastic job; it looked just like the movie version.

This pint-size Storm Trooper was so engrossed in creating a digital masterpiece but you can imagine his expression when he looked up and saw R2.

There were makers of all kinds represented.
Cosplay costume artists.

Robots of all kinds were a big thing.

Wood workers demonstrated carving techniques.

Beautiful objects of art, both practical & decorative were on display.

There were those who tool leather into beautiful bracelets and a guy who blows glass into colorful, delicate shapes.

I think this was the 3rd year for the Faire to be held here. I went 2 years ago and they had a great turnout of participants & attendees, but this year was much more! One of the things I loved was seeing how many children & teens got involved.

It's a hands-on event. Kids could try sewing and using a pottery wheel.

My art-doll club was represented. People learned some of the process of doll-making and even create & take a clay dragon.

You could see how stones are polished and purchase various stones or crystals.

This is a 3-D printer. These are amazing little inventions. I'm sure someday they'll develop into something extremely useful but for now we have to be satisfied with small castles & dinosaurs. Actually, they've already come a long way. Three years ago, they were pretty much only producing Cracker Jacks type toys.

 I didn't stop to see what this demonstration was, but it sure was pretty! I assume it had to do with how light is used to grow vegetation.

And that's it - my mini tour of the Mini-Maker-Faire 2017.