Thursday, April 17, 2014

April Moon - Dreaming of a Juicy Home...

Hello Dear Blog Readers!
I'm attempting to follow along with Kat McNally's reflective writing challenge April Moon and I'm already behind, so I'll be writing on two prompts today...


What feelings does this word evoke?

"Juicy" for me brings feelings of excitement! This is no longer a word that I associate with food, but with things that go deep, like a meaningful discussion with my life coach, or being deep in the process of creating something new or getting lost in a good book...

What sorts of memories does it recall?

The memory of my dear Wise Woman showing me the grapefruit she planned to eat on her morning break (we used to work together) and I told her how the color of the grapefruit was a gorgeous shade of pink, surrounded by the texture of the yellow rind, and it was so pretty I wanted to eat it myself! She looked at her morning grapefruit differently after that ;)

Which of your senses start to tingle?

Just hearing the word "juicy" makes my heart RACE! It races with the promise of possibilities... 

How would you represent what this word means to you?

This is how I represent what the word 'juicy' means to me:


What feelings does this word evoke? 

The first thing that always seems to come to mind when I hear this word is the song by Talking Heads "Naive Melody", because of the opening lines:

is where I want to be,
pick me up and turn me around...

And the feelings this song evokes are bittersweet, nostalgic sadness...

I don't know that I've felt like I was 'HOME' anywhere in my life. Even the place I lived in, until my recent move, never fully felt like HOME, it was more of a residence I lived in, despite my attempts to make it feel like a HOME...

A cozy corner created in my old home for knitting and talking with a friend, or just reading...

But what is HOME? I think many people see it as a PLACE to live in, but for me, I think HOME is more of a place where I am HAPPY and there are many places that I feel happy, though I don't live in them. So, for your viewing pleasure and consideration, here are my representations of what HOME means to ME:

Ventura, California
Me, nestled in the trunk of my very favorite tree in Ventura, the old fig tree

The Presentation Center, Los Gatos
The Pueblo at The Presentation Center, home of the Artful Journey Retreats

The Huntington Library
Me, in front of The Huntington Library, home to lovely flowers and BOOKS!

ANY library
My (new) local library is a 10 minute walk away and they have a fabulous bookstore!

A good book
This bookcase sits just outside my new studio space and it's filled with my craft least MOST of them!

What are some things that feel like HOME for YOU?

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Books, Blocks and April Moon...

Hello Dear Blog Readers,
There is a LOT I will be sharing here on the blog today so make a mug of your favorite coffee or tea and draw up a chair to hear what's happening, 'cuz this is a REALLY LONG blog post! But there is a lot I wanted to share TODAY, so it is ALL here...and each section titled, so feel free to read what interests YOU the most: book-making, thoughts on 'creative blocks' and a 2-week reflective writing challenge called "April Moon". Let's dive in!

Playing With Book-Making Ideas...
When I return from my annual art retreat, I'm usually bursting with energy and excitement from learning new things and I'm eager to continue with what I've learned. But then the realities of daily life start encroaching and my plans to play with my newly learned techniques begin to fall by the wayside...Luckily, that did not happen this time around!

Muslin fabric ironed on fusible material, then top-stitched with various scraps of fabrics and trims to create a book cover; the fusible melts and hardens making it a great 'soft-cover' for a book!

You can see the raw edges of the muslin and top stitching before the inner book covers are ironed on - this was tricky since it WAS double-sided fusible

I was recently asked by an artful colleague to create a workshop to make a book similar to my recent 'Bird in the Hand' book, but to include a LOT more sewing into it. I had shared my idea for a 'fabric scrap book' with this colleague sometime ago, but we were unable to turn it into a workshop for her sewing students...but now I had new ideas and some new tools to work with and I began to work out some new plans for my old book project...

I was given a sample of fusible fabric from my colleague to use for creating a sewn book cover and it was great fun to work with! This was a double-sided fusible material so I had to think of how I could use it to create a unique book cover...Here is the first book project I made using some of the new techniques I've learned but making sewn 'book covers' in place of canvas boards for painted book covers...

Free-form sewing of 'florals' for my inner book covers, ironed onto the fusible material, after the cover was stitched together...

Stitched cover made of various scraps of fabrics, trims and lace...

Back view of sewn book cover

Center of book signature with machine stitching, lace and hand stitched binding....

Spine of book with flower-shaped mother-of-pearl buttons and red thread

This book was great fun to create, but I knew it was a lot of steps and the workshop I was invited to create has to take place in just 3 hours, so I had to keep thinking of a way to make a fun book, using lots of sewing for young students with very little book-binding knowledge! I figured out a stream-lined way to create the book cover and to bind the book that should go quickly for young sewers - here are peeks of how that book comes together:

 Strips of fabric scraps for sewing the book pages together...

The same scraps of fabrics with the addition of trims cut in strips make a quick assembly for the book cover with a plain muslin inner cover...

Fabric and paper sewn together to make fun and colorful book pages!

Using a classic pamphlet stitch to bind the pages to the sewn cover of the book...

A view of the completed first sample with a red thread stitched spine

Two completed samples with one button-bound spine in a fun, simple method for young sewers and new book makers!

Having new techniques to work with, I was able to take the original ideas I had for a 'fabric scrap book' and blend them with the new techniques I've learned, adding a few twists to make a fun book-form that will appeal to young sewing students while getting them excited about book arts - I know it will be a fun teaching experience!

Do 'Creative Blocks' Exist?
Yesterday I saw this blog post from my blog buddy, Tinniegirl, who expressed concern about having a 'creative block'. Here is an excerpt of what she wrote:

I want to get things happening but I don't seem to be able to move from intention to action. I want to get my book-making tools out, I want to get back to painting, I want to be blogging more regularly, I want to bring {sunday snippets} back to life, I want to get my knitting project started, I want to work on a couple of other creative projects.


It's driving me crazy. I don't know whether to push myself or whether to just trust that it will happen when it happens. I'm worried that if I just leave it, it might never happen. Is it possible for creative mojo to disappear and never, ever return again????

I have some thoughts on the concept of 'creative blocks', so I left a rather lengthy comment on her blog in response - here is an excerpt of my comment:

My dear friend, I think what you are experiencing is not a lack of mojo but TOO MANY IDEAS TO START WITH mojo!! This happens to me on a nearly DAILY BASIS, because I have SO MANY ideas to sew up cute skirts or aprons to work in, make new fun creative books, collage a page in an art journal, make a prayer flag or create some colorful mail art to send to friends...WHEW!! That is just half my list of creative projects and I can't do them all at once so then I get overwhelmed or, worse, discouraged because I CAN'T do them all at once! =\

I have to say that I have not ever experienced a 'creative block', only an overflow of so many ideas and projects that I WANT SO DESPERATELY TO CREATE, that it overwhelms me and I get paralyzed, instead of getting motivated to action, especially when I want SO DESPERATELY to create something utterly FABULOUS that will make me absolutely BURST WITH PRIDE to say I MADE THIS!!! And that is where some of our perfectionist tendencies might block us, but I'm not sure it is really ever 'creative block'...and I DON'T think 'creativity' goes away never to come back, so please put that thought out of your mind! BTW, this is what it means to be a Creative Beast!! 

Many years ago when I first learned about SARK and began to read her books, I found this wonderful quote from Ray Bradbury, which resonated with me at the time, because this is exactly how I live my life: 

"If you stuff yourself full of poems, essays, plays, stories, novels, films, comic strips, magazines, music, you automatically explode every morning like old faithful, I have never had a dry spell in my life, mainly because I feed myself well, to the point of bursting. I wake up early and hear my morning voices leaping around in my head like jumping beans. I get out of my bed to trap them before they escape."

Yes, this is what it means to be a Creative Beast - sometimes feeling overwhelmed by so many creative ideas that you become PARALYZED, and it takes a LOT of courage to live life this way, which leads me to...

April Moon Writing Prompts and My Take on "Courage"
Last night was a fantastic solar eclipse, under which the 2-week writing challenge, April Moon, auspiciously began. It is hosted by another dear blog buddy, Kat McNally, and yesterday's prompt was centered on the word "courage"...

I left a short comment at her blog post, but thinking about my response to Tinniegirl's idea of 'creative block' made me realize that taking creative action really does take a lot of courage...and sometimes that action takes so much energy, it can be exhausting!

But I also remember how much JOY I get from creating, so I focus on that joy that will come with the accomplishment of even one step in the process of creating something...

I hope you can keep the Ray Bradbury quote in mind, if you ever experience 'creative block', but if you still feel stuck, just remember this, as I shared with Tinniegirl:

I know that CREATING is a healing act (and you know this too!), so I would gently urge you to simply pick up one of your brushes, even if only to look at it for a little while and see if it speaks to you, or gently cuddle some of your yarns to let them know you have not forgotten them! And of course you know that if you spend just 10 minutes toward ONE project, then it will begin to snowball and you will forget you ever had a block in the first place =-) Just start small, with tiny steps until you feel enough energy to work in bigger blocks of time and we will all be here to cheer you on and applaud the gorgeous piece of art you make, whatever that art is!

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WHEW! Are you still with me??! If so, I applaud YOU for reading this far!! Thanks for stopping by to read and be sure to stay tuned for more creative goodness!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Sunday Snippets

Hello Dear Blog Readers!
It's time for Sunday Snippets, where I share a peek at my week in pictures...

What was the highlight of YOUR week? I'd love to hear about it!