Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Miss Billie

Miss Billie
That’s me
Born a southern belle
Stubborn as a Missouri mule
A show me state girl
Don’t explain it to me
Prove it to me
Who, what, where, why, when
I’m a contradiction
An intricate puzzle
No instructions
Pieces missing
Edges frayed and worn
Some broken and torn
But I still sparkle
Mirror mirror on the wall
Who am I
Red light, green light
Ready set go
Don’t leave me alone
I’m a work in progress
Hands on hips
Dosey doe and courtesy low
The southern bell
That’s me
Miss Billie

Paper Chain Journal Entries

Monday, February 27, 2006

Paper Chain Journal

“The Gratitude Garland, Exploring Blessings Link by Link,” by Marney K. Makridakis, in the Somerset Studio, Nov/Dec 2005 issue, has been a creative inspiration to me using a simple childhood art form to express my thoughts.

I tried journaling once after reading “Simple Abundance,” by Sarah Ban Breathnach, but something always got in the way of finding a few minutes to write. I had an extra errand to run, I had other priorities, or to tell the truth I was just plain too tired at the end of the day to want to write, and I lost interest.

I write poetry and an occasional article for our local chapter of the Harley Owners Group but that is the extent of my writing; however, the thoughts and ideas in my head never stop.

Art has become a more important part of my life since a car accident in 1999.  The right side of my brain seems to be in control.  Of course when I print a number backwards now days I just say I meant to do it, and it looks right in an altered art spread or art piece.

When I read the article on using paper chains as journaling, I immediately knew this was something I wanted to do.  Now I had a way to express how I felt when inspired by a special person, event, or place.  I have the freedom to use my art and the freedom that there are no blank pages to remind me if I forgot to make an entry or was too tired.

I recently spent a morning with the girls from the local GRADS teen parent program working on fun techniques that can be used in their scrapbooks for their babies.  We worked on folded paper frames, mini matchbook scrapbooks and I saved the best for last.  I cut all the strips for the paper chains, found old magazines, and brought my paper chain journal I had started to show the girls.  

The girls loved this new idea and their teacher told them when they completed 30 days worth of journaling on their chains she would give them an art credit.  I left extra materials for the girls.  We talked about ways to display their chains and the one they liked the best was to drape it around the ceiling.  It was fun watching their excitement as they cut out magazine images and words, played with layouts, and finally started gluing their first link.

I received a small card from one of the girls that day and it became the basis of my paper link for the day. I also like to write a date on the inside of my paper chain to remember the day.

My goal is wrap the ceiling in my art studio with my paper chain memories. Once, twice, maybe three times around, and someday my kids can count the links, wonder what I was thinking when I made this one or that one.  I hope they laugh when they find themselves on a little paper links.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Monday, February 20, 2006

Americana - Faded and worn

Altering the Altered Book

Two weeks ago it was demo day at Michaels arts and crafts.  All the instructors have examples of their work for customers to view and we each have a current project we are working on for customers to ask questions about.

There has been a big turnover in teachers and most of us are fairly new so we are getting to know each other and sharing tips like where to get cheap business cards, local artist groups to join and other artists who might be of help.

The really fun thing is we are allowed to take one free class each month from one of the other instructors.  How much fun is this to learn something new for free?  We currently have one teacher working on classical oil painting techniques, the watercolor teacher is in the process of having her first children’s book published and she not only did the drawings but did all the creative writing.  There are a couple of teachers doing beaded jewelry classes, a card making class, charcoal drawings, a scrap booking class, Ukrainian egg painting, cake decorating, and my class in altered books and altered art techniques.

We set up near the front of the store and greet the customers when they enter.  The customers have a chance to ask questions and listen to a brief explanation of what our classes are like.

I get a lot of lookers who have never heard of altered books and are curious about the idea of gluing paper, adding embellishments, stapling ribbons, drilling holes, or cutting niches into an existing book.  When I have them pick up one of my books and tell them the story I have created they begin to understand.

One of my students stopped by to show me the new papers she was buying and tell me the theme for her next book.  She is having fun creating gifts and finding an artistic  side of herself she didn’t know existed.  I like to think of altered books and art as coloring outside the lines.  

While the time spent is busy talking to new customers it does have a downside.  Children don’t understand that the books are works of art and Saturday one adult didn’t recognize  my work in progress as art and handled the book too roughly and pulled out two spreads.  There is no way to repair the pages and return them to the book because of the design of the book.  Almost heartbroken I couldn’t sleep wondering what I was going to do with the damaged pages and the remaining pages in the book.  They are all related by theme and all go together in sequence.  The following night I discovered a vintage binder in my stash of salvaged books.   I removed all the existing pages in the binder, punched all the pages from the current book and the altered book continues it’s journey.  I have spent a month working on layouts, designs, finding papers, pictures, writing poetry, and at the thought of losing all this work, made me want to cry.  

I don’t want people to think you can’t touch and enjoy the finished books so the moral to the story is I need to be more careful about which books I take to display.  

Saturday, February 11, 2006

A Night Out

No sleep for the wicked. Friday my car needed a 30,000 check up and since it takes all day, I was again on the road at 7:30 AM. No I am not going to tell you all about what was done to my car, just that I had to get up early for the third day in a row. It was nap time when I got home so that I could be ready for an evening out.

Any preconceived notions about who Harley people are should be thrown out the door. We went to the Mt. Baker Theater for the Bellingham Chinese Culture Festival Concert. What does the festival have to do with Harleys? Well Vern and Lilly own a Harley and they both were on the planning committee for this very first event in Bellingham. They are both former employees of a large aeronautical company and moved to WA several years ago.

Vern builds custom furniture in his spare time and volunteers his business skills with a number of organizations. Lilly teaches Chinese classes at WWU, WCC, and SCC. Behind Vern’s slow Wyoming drawl is a very successful businessman. Lilly is outgoing, smart, and a wonderful cook in her spare time.

Put these two together and they are a team with the skills to help other community members bring a quality concert to our little city that featured a number of outstanding musicians and actors in a three and a half hour presentation. Mt. Baker Theater holds 1,500 people and it looked like the house was full. The WWU orchestra performed traditional Chinese music, special guests from China, Vancouver B.C., Seattle, and local children’s groups wowed the crowd. Some of these musicians are renowned internationally.

It was a fun evening out with my wonderful husband and a great way to support friends.

Sasquatch and GRADS

Thursday morning found me up for the second day in a row bright and early.  I know for some leaving the house at 7:00 AM is not early but when you work from home and your husband is on sabbatical you don’t have to be on a schedule.

The GRADS teen parent program meets once a month to discuss ways to help the girls and their babies in the program and how to implement those ideas.  Almost half of the members were out sick so we deferred several items to the next meeting when more members, hopefully, would be present.

The best part came after the meeting.  Friends Ron and Cathy are former educators from Seattle and both are artists.  Ron makes the most incredible brooms and has one on display in the Smithsonian and Cathy works in clay, watercolors, and several other media. I met these two creative and giving people because they also own a Harley.   Today they are at GRADS to bring the finished pottery pieces that Cathy has been working with the girls on for about a month.  She started them with a slab of clay and showed them several ways to mold it with their hands and basic tools.  There were pots, bowls, a leaf with a fairy sitting on the stem, and hearts.  After Cathy fired the clay pieces, she returned to show the girls how to glaze their art pieces, and now she had returned again with the finished pieces.  

Ron is at GRADS today to tell three original stories about Sasquatch and his dog Sandy, to the girls.  He began by explaining lies, truths, and yarns to the girls.  He wove his tales carefully and when all three stories were finished you understood how they were all connected.  He challenged the girls to think about their own story because they are the ones who can tell it best and to tell it in at least one minute and not more than two.  Patty, the girls’ teacher, said she would use this as a basis for a class project in public speaking.  

Ron and Cathy are great assets as teachers and mentors for the girls at GRADS.  They are patient, kind, and truly care about the young moms and sharing their art with them.

I had a wonderful time taking pictures and this allowed teacher Patty to sit with the girls and be part of the story time.  Being part of GRADS is like having a child in school again and getting to volunteer.  I loved every minute of my mom time in the classroom when my children were in grade school.  I wish every parent could, would, should get involved with their child’s school and volunteer.  The rewards can’t be measured in time or money but in memories held close to the heart forever.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Seattle Flower and Garden Show

It’s 7:15 AM Wednesday February 8th and I am off to the Seattle Flower and Garden Show.  I love to garden but have never attended a garden show.  I went with Kim and Doreen who are part of my small group from church.  Kim’s mom and sister joined us for an adventure to gather ideas for the garden and shop for whatever struck our fancy.

Obviously going with pro like Kim who has attended several times before was a bonus.  She led us up and down the isles so as not to miss anything.  Garden gloves, bulbs, plant stakes, garden lights, the suburban wouldn’t be big enough to hold it all.   She wound us through the display gardens where invisible waterfalls fell from the ceiling, Tuscan outdoors rooms painted in Mediterranean colors and accented with antique Chinese stones and four foot high vases made you want to hop on the next plane out and leave the rain behind.  There were displays of plants I had never seen before and wondered where to find them and how much they were going to cost me.  

But my two favorite displays were very old fashioned and nostalgic.  The first featured an old rusted car with one headlight broken out but the other was glowing brightly.  The rumble seat had plants growing out of it and scattered all through the wooded lot were old enamel teapots and tin pans filled with flowers and plants.  Every where I looked I kept finding another hidden treasure in this little garden.

The second and my absolute favorite garden reminded me of the Ozark hills in Missouri where I am from.  Down a well worn damp dirt road with the grass growing between the groves in the lane was an old farm truck parked in the hedge next to an old wood shed, graying with age and grace.  Back behind the shed was a small table dressed with Sundays best linens and set for an afternoon dinner (dinner is served in the afternoon and supper in the evening).  I could just imagine a drive after Sunday church services to the old homestead for a casual dinner with the kids picking wildflowers and running through the creek.

Well it was time for lunch and a Starbucks white chocolate mocha, non fat, with peppermint.  It’s Seattle what would you expect a girl to drink.  We shared what we bought, what we still wanted, and where to go next.  We had a plan and we were off for part two.

More vendors with a little glitz for the garden, garden art for the home, ponds, fountains, statues, and music to soothe the soul and forget the tired feet.  The ReStore which specializes in salvaging old buildings, houses, recycling hardware, and architectural details had a bird bath made from an old pedestal bathroom sink with mosaic bits and pieces.  This reminded me that I haven’t been to my local ReStore lately and that if I really want to find a set of those old theater seats they were featuring, I had better go quickly because if you don’t buy something when you see it, it will be gone when you come back.

I bought some beautiful fiery red Crocosmia Lucifer bulbs, new gloves to replace some of those worn out ones in my garden bucket, and garden stakes to hold up my gladiolas which get so big they just fall over.  My father had made wonderful sturdy stakes out of rebar for my sister and me, but when I moved to WA I ran out of room and gave the remaining garden items to my sister who was overjoyed.  Kim showed me these wonderful stakes that she uses in her garden and they are the first ones that I think will be as good as my dad’s.  

Kim and Doreen were smarter than I was.  They both brought cameras to take pictures and offered to send me digital copies.  I kept paper and pen handy to write down notes for all of us.

We could look out from the Seattle Convention Center and see the city street lights as dusk fell. The headlights and tail lights of cars of cars hurrying up and down the street and the water shimmering as night closed in.  We had done it all and now it was time to retrieve our packages and wind our way back to the parking garage.  Doreen headed off to Portland to visit with her family and I joined Kim’s mom and sister for dinner at PF Chang’s.  

So I have all my goodies put away until it warms up and I can work in the garden and now I am exploring all those colorful brochures, fliers, and catalogs that filled up my canvas bag from the show.  This is probably the most dangerous time, because I have seen all those show gardens and if I order just a couple of plants from this company, just one shrub from that one, a few more bulbs, oh that new clematis would look great climbing up my purple martin birdhouse pole…too many plants, not enough time or money.

I once told my husband that I hadn’t seen a plant I didn’t like.  That scared him.  Well there are a few I don’t like, but that is a short list.

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