Friday, April 21, 2017

It's Not Such An Uncomfortable Place

To invest in a new form we need to get rid of the old one. We need to try to reach into the unknown and drag it into our space so that it will be useful to us. At first, this unknown place is uncomfortable. We tend not to like this kind of surprise or risk and we fear failure. The more we practice reaching into and prodding the unknown, the more we see that it is the only place to be and the most rewarding for us as creators. We even may grow to like it. - Mary Todd Beam - Celebrate your Creative Self





Our entire family was here for the Easter weekend which was wonderful. With living in different cities and varied work schedules, it can be hard to find a weekend that works for all of us but I definitely want at least one a year. Christmas is difficult with winter travel but Easter may be entirely possible. It's something to discuss.





We had an Easter egg hunt with the boys - meaning my adult boys and my grandsons. The piles of three were for the adults and were not as easy to find and the piles of two were for the small boys and were much easier to find. It was a very chocolate weekend.





I sewed two pairs of black and white pajama pants and hate both of them. They're woven and it seems I much prefer knit pajama pants so I'll take these apart and use the fabric for bags and sew new ones from a knit. - - - - The rolls are 2 1/2" strips of a cotton/polyester blend that is either purple or dark blue on one side and grey on the other. I prepped the strips for the two bedside rugs that my friend Rosmarie is weaving for my bedroom. She'll also include a colourful yarn in the weft. I used the rotary cutter to cut the strips and yes, polyester dulls the blade very quickly. I was asked but I don't remember cutting polyester before so I wasn't sure.





Everyone left before the couch and the - unbelievably heavy - and still unfinished - thrift store table were taken back down to the studio so I slid the couch into the kitchen where I could sit and watch the pond and the morning sun and the table into the corner of the living room to use as a wire weaving station. My order of wire and tools came on Wednesday so I'm redoing the workshop and practicing the samples again with the correct supplies. I'm really enjoying learning this new art form and...






... earlier this week, I went to a friend's to learn about creating polymer clay shapes free-form. I'm hoping to combine polymer and wire wrapping in some way. My friend doesn't bother with different colours of clay or with rolling and sanding the pieces she makes. She simply forms them by hand, bakes them, and then paints them with acrylic paint.

It's interesting to look at the pieces in my photo as opposed to looking at them in-person. In the photo, I can see fluff and rougher details than I'd want in a finished piece so I imagine if I think polymer will work with the wire, I'll be sanding off some of those edges although the thing that attracted me to try again with polymer was the less labour intensive approach so I'll need to find a happy medium. I can also see now how these free-form shapes could have a textile piece adhered to them whereas before I was overthinking the idea.

The quote at the start of this post was from yesterday's journal time. It reminded me not to cling too tightly to how I think a thing should be done and to instead let it evolve. When I first started wanting to make textile jewelry, I wanted it to be all fabric and now I see that if I'll shift my desire from textile jewelry to making jewelry - and in particular statement necklaces - and pull into that journey whatever it is that I know and can learn and that works, it'll be far more enjoyable. I'm making progress and - having learned to like the mystery of the unknown - it's not such an uncomfortable place.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - family & fun

Monday, April 10, 2017

When The Time Is Right

It's no secret that I like statement necklaces. I'm also rather fond of rings with bling. One of the waitresses who works at my favourite breakfast restaurant is equally fond of them. We're constantly sharing what we're wearing and yesterday, we were comparing notes on consignment stores in neighbouring communities as well as the new one downtown where...





... I found this Silpada Designs ring called Queen For A Day. The shop owner said she could have sold it a dozen times over only it's so small it doesn't fit anyone... except it fit me... YES YES.





I've been working on one of the assignments Diane gave me in our last coaching session which was to take three different jewelry starts and work on each one for an hour to see what develops. I chose three that have been tickling for a while. The first was a metal disc picked up in the clearance bin at Michaels quite a few years ago. There were a dozen in the bag for a couple bucks which makes it a great element to practice and perfect.






The necklace is a combination of fabric strips, plastic tubing, the metal disc, a bail, buttons, black primer, and silver paint put together with glue.





The magnetic closure I wanted to recycle didn't fit onto the wrapped cord so I created a button and loop closure by wrapping the ends.





I've worn the piece several times and it's getting great review. A few people have even stopped me walking by to ask questions about it. I'm quite pleased with how it turned out.





The second piece started with the inside core of a thread spool and some scraps of painted fabric. I zigzagged the fabric edges with metallic thread and then glued the strip to the spool. That's as far as the piece has come for now.





If I use five spools, it will be about the same size as the pendant on another necklace. Right now, I'm debating using three spools and some spacer beads only...





... I think some wire wrapped elements would be wonderful only that's a journey I'm just beginning. Finally. I've been talking about wire wrapping for quite a while with little bits of research here and there and nothing really happening until now. It could have been frustrating except that I've learned from past experience that this is my way. I talk and talk and wish and wish and gather and research and then - when the time is right - I begin. This weekend, I started working through Wire Weaving Bracelets: Basics and Beyond with Sarah Thompson. I'm on lesson three and it's VERY well done.





The first practice piece is a multi-coloured bracelet using a modified soumak weave. The supplies I have are whatever I could find that may work at the hardware store and not the right stuff however, they're good for getting going. I started practicing with a copper wire that was too thick and wouldn't straighten and then...





... tried again using stainless steel wire wrapped with brass wire. They are closer to what the supply list calls for however, the shape is all wibbly wobbly. In the pictures, I can see my mistakes although, up close it wasn't so easy. I'll need better lighting and perhaps a magnifying glass and even so... this is fun... and definitely addictive... and all sorts of ideas are brewing in my brain for combining other elements. It seems... just maybe... that I have finally found my jewelry form. I'm planning to finish the lessons and make the different practice projects - all bracelets - and then look at necklace possibilities. Perhaps by then I'll have an idea for thread spools and wire wrapping.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - beginning

Friday, March 31, 2017

The Interval Between Open And Closed

We need to find the courage to say NO to the things and people that are not serving us if we want to rediscover ourselves and live our lives with authenticity - Barbara De Angelis - - - To gain that which is worth having, it may be necessary to lose everything else. - Bernadette Devlin - - - If you play it safe in life, you've decided that you don't want to grow anymore. - Shirley Hufstedler

Several days ago, I started rereading The 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women by Gail McMeekin which I always find inspirational.  One aspect of the book I especially enjoy are the quotes in the margins. Words work for me. I love the way quotes connect me to another person who, on some level, shares the experience that I am going through. In a strange way, it's both comforting and encouraging.





As a student, I naively believed that all I had to do was pick a path, walk it for life, and end up happily ever after. What I've learned with experience is that life is a journey and along its path are many doors, some of which are open and some of which are closed. And I've learned that the interval between doors opening and doors closing varies. It's not an immediate action that one door closes and another one opens although it is - I believe - an inevitable action. In between is patience and preparation.

In December, a door opened and I went back to work as a hairstylist. Yesterday, a door closed and I am no longer working. The match was perfect in every way but one and that one way turned out to be critical. I couldn't work the hours they'd hired me for and still maintain my top priority of my relationship with my husband and family.  Since the other employees were getting increasingly upset about my "preferential treatment" and since I wasn't looking for a career, it seemed best to take the stress off my employer, quit, close that door, and start walking toward whatever is next. For not having been there very long, it was more sad than I expected however, through the experience I learned that I am far more comfortable with myself, confident of my abilities, and outgoing than I once was. This is good.





On Tuesday night, a friend was over for coffee and we talked about the way I create. She sees it as intuitive and flowing, a kind of dance with the developing piece. And she believes she can't dance. I can relate because at one time I felt exactly the same way. I wanted a printed pattern with step-by-step instructions and a guaranteed outcome in the form of a successfully completed project.





My friend thinks I have some kind of magical talent that allows me to see possibilities in mundane, boring items and, again, I can relate to how she feels. While it's true that I can see possibilities, at one time I couldn't and while the skill has improved, I have several friends whose ability far exceeds mine. It's a treat for me to spend time shopping with them so I continue to learn to see potential and possibility.  It's a skill that grows with repetition.



The ebb and flow of my dance and the ability to see possibilities and potential is an ability I've been developing for the past twelve years since my Year of Play from September 2004 to September 2005. During that year, I worked every day in the studio and limited myself to what I already had. If there wasn't an immediate answer to the problem, I had to brainstorm until I found one. It was a year of concentrated and tremendous growth that taught me so much and even so, I still have to push myself in that direction. It's so much easier to hop in the car, run to the store, and buy a solution. 



Sometimes, the solution is not one I'd have chosen. The 100% cotton that is not actually one hundred percent cotton so the dye doesn't cover completely and the flecks of colour I'm left with are not my favourite colour and the only buttons that will go with are in that colour. And yet they work perfectly. Learning to embrace what I think I don't like has taught me tremendous lessons that extend far outside the studio and into every corner of life.





The purple buttons I preferred didn't work. The yellow buttons that worked were not in a colour I liked. Oh well. The cardigan wanted them. BUT... they didn't have a shank and the fabric is thick. A smaller button makes a shank. It a dance between problem and solution, between design and technique. It's so simple and yet, like all forms of dance, takes practice. The only way to learn how to do the work is by doing the work. Go into the studio. Work. Regularly.





I don't know when the next open door will appear along the path. I do know that while I'm waiting for it I'll be focusing on the priorities that I do know, one of which is preparing for possibilities by continuing to work with my coach - Diane - on the assignments she's given me and on my "dance steps".

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - winning a $40 gift certificate at Fabricland

Friday, March 24, 2017

Parts & Pieces

The gas company is coming this morning to change the meter. They wanted a four hour window which I find annoying since they must have some kind of schedule and could provide a tighter time-frame... however... it is what it is. I left writing the blog for this morning when I had to be home... waiting.... which is not my favourite thing. This helps.

My work schedule has shifted. Working Friday nights and Sundays was having a negative impact on Howard and my time together. I thought when I told my boss that that would be the end of doing hair only it wasn't. For now, I'm working only on Mondays but once tourist season comes I'll have more hours. It's difficult for building a clientele but perfect for getting out of the house and spending money so I'm willing to see what happens. Good things I hope.





After several months of being super busy, this quieter week was the perfect one for catching up on coffee with friends. I feel back on track even though it meant little time in the studio... which... with spring slowly creeping across the yard... will become more contained to mornings and evenings once yard work begins. The path I started cutting last year is emerging and I'm looking forward to finishing it.





And the cardigan. To wear with my spring wardrobe. I finished the neckline using bias strips of the purple taffeta and have the collar parts ready to finish. I'm going to tuck the neck edges under and secure them with edge stitching so they'll lie better against the neckline with less bulk. I still haven't decided on the closure. I'll work it around the collar.

Yesterday, my friend gave me these handwoven tea towels that I'd admired on her loom. As someone recently said to me, it's wonderful not only to be given a hand made gift but to be given one that you couldn't make for yourself but can totally appreciate. I'm almost afraid to use them but I will. They're my favourite colours and look fabulous in my kitchen.




This carpetbag pattern is from Marchwerke. The image shows how clean and crisp the look is and how big the bag is opened. Last weekend, Craftsy had a sale so I signed up for Lisa Lam's course Sewing Structured Bags: Purse Frames and Beyond which is VERY well done. So well done that I'm waiting for the next sale to take her other workshop. The carpetbag is one of my favourite purse shapes and can be made in handbag to weekender bag sizes. I'd like to make some as gifts using hand painted fabric.





Last week, I went to the thrift store to find parts and pieces to use in jewelry and handbags. It turned out to be bag day so I bought the three purses above and all the items below left for $2.00. YES YES. I've separated all the parts and tucked them into supplies.





The bracelets above right are from a local dress shop. They're a woven band with a magnetic or turn clasp at the end and were discounted to $6.60 each which is far less than just a clasp.  I don't even need to take them apart. I can build my design on top.





These pieces were in the "quality" section of the thrift store which is excluded from the bag sale. They were individually priced at $2.50 each. The chains are all part of one necklace and can be separated as can the wooden parts of the wo bracelets. I can't decide if I'm going to cut up the wooden bracelet with beads. It's gorgeous and brand new only I'm unlikely to ever wear it.





One of the assignments I'm working on with Diane - my creativity coach - is taking a starting point for a jewelry piece and working on it for one hour and then setting it aside as a part that may or may not be taken forward into a piece. I'm supposed to see it as a part and not as an unfinished project. We'll see - LOL. For the first starting point, I used this metal disc that I picked up a few years ago on a clearance table in a bag of ten. It's been tickling and because I have more than one, it can be a "blank canvas" that I fill in several ways. Always fun.





When I was looking through some files the other day, I found this image. One of the coffee conversations I had was with the director of our local gallery about the changing world of art and where I fit into it. One thing I really appreciate about her is how honest, straight forward, practical, and pragmatic she is and I came away from our talk feeling focused for the spring and for this season of new growth and possibilities in my life. Some choices are past. While at one time they seemed absolutely perfect, that perfection is in the past and now, in the present, they are no longer the right choice and other opportunities are appearing. That's quite wonderful really. Change is what keeps life interesting.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - time to catch up with friends