Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Wise Woman Doll - III

Hello dear reader!
I hope you are ready to hear another chapter of the wonderful story of some magic that came from a doll I made and was given as a gift...

The Story of the Wise Woman Doll Gift - Part III

The woman at my door was so excited:

"You are the dollmaker who made my Wise Woman doll!"

Instantly I knew - this woman was the "letter" I had been told about but I never saw. The "letter" was standing right before me! Of course I let in her into my humble abode.

Her name was Miriam* and she had received a Wise Woman doll as a gift from her daughter, Faith*, while she was in the hospital dealing with the removal of a breast cancer tumor. Miriam had just loved the doll and kept it with her at the hospital during her stay. Miriam had told Faith she wanted to find me and tell me how much she loved her doll. She knew the neighborhood and thought she would be able to locate me. I'm not sure how she got my address, but I sure was glad she had made the effort to find me!

Miriam was so energetic and so full of life and enthusiasm. She told me that she wanted to bring Faith around for a visit and I agreed.

Within a week, Miriam returned with her daughter Faith, who was very sweet and kind. Faith told me how she had seen the doll in the store window and just felt like it was something she had to give her mother. Faith also thought it was adorable that her mother was so insistent about looking for me. Both women were so happy to have found me to tell me personally how much they loved the doll and Miriam asked for another to give to a friend who was dealing with breast cancer issues at that time. Faith asked if I would consider doing some sewing for her and I was happy to do it. Faith and I set a time for her to stop by again with the "family pillow" so it could be recovered with new fabric, since it had seen better days.

It had been such a great experience to meet someone who had received one of my dolls and to hear the positive impact it had on them. I can't say the Wise Woman doll had 'cured' Miriam's cancer, but it had certainly helped Miriam to feel better about the situation and rally herself to beat it.

A few days before Faith was scheduled to come by my home with the "family pillow" I received a letter in my mailbox, written by her...

to be continued...

One of the brochures I used during the days I was trying to sell my dolls - Wise Woman is at the bottom of the page

* - names changed to protect the privacy of those involved; if any of them should be reading this story, however, please contact me! I would love to hear from you! Feel free to leave a comment if you are reading =-)

Monday, September 28, 2009

Craft Project - yoga bag

As I mentioned on Friday, I had a jam-packed day on Saturday with classes in the morning, one of them being a Yoga Flow class. The yoga class was really good and meant to be restorative. I can say it was very restorative because I think I may have blanked out for a few minutes near the end! Okay, to be fair, I had been awake since 5am that morning and unable to get back to sleep - I guess I needed a two minute nap.

I brought my own yoga mat and my newly created yoga bag as well. I had been given a bag by a fellow stretching class student a few years back since she had an extra one. It was very kind of her to give it to me since we met for only two classes...maybe it was the universe's way of providing me with a much needed yoga bag and a way for her to release unneeded goods?

many thanks to the woman who was kind enough to give this to me; a fellow classmate i met only twice!

I bought these fabrics a few weeks ago because I really liked how they looked together, but I originally thought of making an apron from them until I realized it would make a great yoga bag. I used the gifted yoga bag to take the measurements and began to cut.
here are the fabrics before cutting...

i cut the bag shape and i cut the bias and sewed it together to make the handles

I knew the stripe would make great bias trim for an apron and I also knew it would make a great handle/drawstring.
here is the finished yoga bag with bias trim for handles

I cut the length of the bag and added 5 extra inches for a fold-over band to insert grommets that would be used for the drawstring section at the top of the bag, instead of sewing a zipper. This is one way to make a yoga bag if you don't want or like to sew zippers; also, extra long zippers can be hard to find.

I made sure to sew a tab near the bottom of the bag for a grommet to thread the bias through, then took the bias tape up the length of the yoga bag, through the grommets and back down. I threaded the end back into the bottom grommet so both ends would be on the same side...

detail of the bias trim handles that start at the bottom of the bag

both ends of bias trim knotted on one side after it's gone through the grommets at the top

I then knotted the two ends of the bias and it's now an elegant drawstring and handle for the yoga bag.

detail of bias trim as drawstring/handle

This sewing project took a few hours over three nights, even with cutting and sewing the bias together. The grommets took a few hours to assemble since they were going through two layers of canvas made to be used for outdoor upholstery which was somewhat thick. Luckily, I had not added any interfacing or it might have taken longer to hammer those grommets together. Guess I need to work on my upper arm strength!

FYI: the Sound of Music Sing-Along was great fun! I highly recommend going if it comes to a theater near you!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Action-packed Weekend!

This weekend is shaping up to be an action-packed/fun-filled adventure! On Saturday, I will be participating in some fun and challenging classes being taught by fellow performance artists through TEADA Productions, an organization I have worked with in the past. TEADA has been hosting great classes this summer and they have decided to host an Open House where you have the opportunity to try out the new schedule of classes for FREE! (my favorite 4-letter f-word!)

The day will begin with "Playtime with Kristina" led by Kristina Wong, an amazing and hilarious performance artist and blogger. I have taken many of her workshops in the past and I have no doubt that tomorrow's class will be just as fun as all her others have been...

This class will be followed by a challenging one for me: Vocal Dojo with Antoine Diel. Let me just say that I do not consider myself a singer. Like many folks, I sing in the shower on occasion and I sing in the privacy of my own car, but I am in NO way a trained singer and I do NOT sing in public, so of course, this class will be a HUGE challenge for me but I have been wanting to try out a vocal lesson for a while and tomorrow's open house offer is as good time as any to test the waters - wish me luck!!

After this class I will be taking a yoga lesson, which I think will be a great follow-up to the vocal lesson. I find yoga to be relaxing for me, even if the moves get strenuous but that is probably because I am most at home with body movement...

I wish I could take all the classes being offered on Saturday but the next big event taking place for the evening is attending the "
Sound of Music Sing-Along at the Hollywood Bowl"! (good thing I'm taking a vocal lesson in the morning!!)

silk ribbon emboirdery, with sequins, pearls and floral buttons

This event is held every year and I've always wanted to go and this is the year I'm going! I've heard that many people go in costume and though I am a costumer the most I will be doing is wearing a vintage sweater that I've embellished with embroidery and a hat from my collection that I think will look lovely together.

vintage straw hat with floral "bulbs"

detail of embroidery on sweater back; this makes for a great exit view!

a stylish duo!

On Sunday I will be visiting with Jane who I recently worked with; she is having a fun event she calls "Swap and Brunch"; women bring clothes they no longer wear and you can swap items or the clothes go into the studio stash for the sewing classes Jane teaches to young girls. The girls create some amazing things by embellishing or renovating the clothes from these events.

WHEW! I'm going to need another weekend to recuperate after this one!

Do you have any plans for playtime or challenging yourself this weekend? I'd love to hear about them!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Wise Woman Doll - II

Last week I wrote about my wonderful Wise Woman and the doll that she inspired. I also began to tell you a story that came out of that...

The Story of the Wise Woman Doll Gift - Part II

I left the shop a little saddened that there was no letter for me telling me that one of my doll creations had actually cured someones cancer.

Could it really be possible it had cured CANCER??

I had a general 'product' tag for all my dolls I was selling at the time but the Wise Woman had a special tag of her own with a special message:

"This doll is inspired by the many women who give unconditional guidance, wisdom and support in time of need"

Maybe someone who received my doll did have cancer, or a serious illness, but felt better when they received the Wise Woman doll as a gift. After all, it's known that the emotional state of the patient is a big factor in getting well and who wouldn't feel better after receiving a doll with a message like that?

One of my creations, my little "Pocket pal" - she is approximately 6" high

6 months later...

I was at home, making more creative goodies and I looked out my front door and noticed a woman wandering in the driveway of my apartment building. She didn't look familiar but I had a strange feeling that she was looking for me. I brushed off that feeling, and went back to my work table.

Five minutes later there was the woman at my door. She said she was looking for me and I told her that I was who she was looking for.

"You are the dollmaker who made my Wise Woman doll!" she exclaimed.

story to be continued...

Monday, September 21, 2009

Tools of my trade - Vintage Typewriter

I thought I'd like to share one of the tools of my trade for the collage work I do. It's my portable vintage typewriter:

Isn't my typewriter cute!

Here is my Sears Tutor Typewriter that I was lucky enough to find at the Pasadena City College Flea Market which takes place every first Sunday of the month. It is a great flea market but it is big. It's not quite as big as the Rose Bowl Flea Market because you CAN get through it in a day, which really can not be done at the Rose Bowl Flea Market. Also, the Pasadena Flea Market is FREE! (my favorite 4-letter f-word!)

After I acquired my typewriter I took it for new typing ribbons since the old one was dried of ink. I use it to type up quotes for my little matchbox creations and other collage items. Here is a remnant I didn't use:

Quote reads: "Luck is what happens when PREPARATION meets OPPORTUNITY..."

I am debating whether to take it with me to the Artful Journey's a tool I use in my work so I may pack it for the class. Luckily, it IS a portable typewriter and not very heavy. Maybe some of my fellow classmates will get a kick out of it! =-)

Friday, September 18, 2009

A Quote from CalArts President Steve Lavine

I came across this great quote while reading an article at the Huffington Post and shared it with my artistic friends at that time; I think it's time to continue to share this quote with a larger audience:

"When you can't define yourself any longer by what you can buy, you suddenly have to look deeper for what life is about and I think that gives an opening for the arts that it hasn't had before, an opening for it to matter again."
- Steve Lavine, President of Cal Arts, Valencia

This quote makes me feel hopeful for the future of art and artists! I hope you have a weekend filled with art and creativity!

BTW: I will continue with the story of the Wise Woman Doll next Wednesday, I promise!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Book I love - The Creative Habit

I want to share a great book that I love and helps this Creative Beast in her journey as an artist: The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp.

I was recently reminded of this book by Communicatrix, Colleen Wainwright, who wrote a
great review of it on her blog and I recommend you read her review. However, I will also share my take on what makes this a great book for the Creative Beast...

It is my personal belief that creativity can be learned and isn't just for special talented people, which is why I was so excited when I saw that the title of this book included the word "HABIT". I have had people express to me their view that they think art is created 'spontaneously', which is probably why many people stop 'playing' creatively as they grow into adulthood. I can tell you, if you are not already experiencing it yourself to some degree, that much practice, work and planning goes into every work of art created.

I love that Twyla Tharp, a dancer, writes about creativity and she includes examples not just from her own experience, but she cites many examples of hard-working, and amazing artists such as Rembrandt, Mozart and Philip Roth. She also gives examples of their creative process and includes great exercises to get your own creativity going.

Having been a dancer in my life, I love that she talks about the importance of MOVING the body and I think this is important since we are all mobile beings. I often come up with ideas while walking and see things in nature that get my mind going. As a result, I often take time to bring my camera to photograph things I see when walking that I might use for a collage work later. Sometimes it helps me to put on some music and dance around the house to get the juices flowing. Creating art is a physical activity though not as physical as dancing or also takes discipline and practice to become really excellent just like dancers and athletes. Creativity can come in many forms, not just artistic, and working consistently with your tools of the trade, whatever those tools may be, will help you hone your skill (be it art, writing, baseball, running, gardening, cooking or photography) into real artistry.

Yes, it does mean the dreaded word "discipline" but perhaps we should substitute discipline for "commitment" and remember the words of Vince Lombardi:

"The quality of a person's life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavor."

The Creative Habit is a great book and I encourage you to run out and get yourself a copy!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

My Dear Wise Woman

Last night I had a visit with a dear friend that I call my Wise Woman. I have known her for many years (over 15) and she has been a wonderful support to me during those years. As I now grow into my own Wise Womanly-ness, I find that I am now able to provide some wise wisdom for my own Wise Woman...

Her name is Janet Sternfeld-Davis and she has provided unconditional guidance, wisdom and support in time of need through the years. She has purchased my work as gifts for friends and family, she has paid to have garments made for her, she has even given gifts of money to support my endeavors - last night she gifted early birthday funds for me use toward the Artful Journey Retreat!

Janet has been such an amazing presence in my life that I created a special doll based on her "unconditional guidance wisdom and support" and of course, called it "Wise Woman". She has the very first one I made and I have sold only a few since I first created them but there is a story that came out of this doll...

The Story of the Wise Woman Doll Gift - Part I

Back in the 1990's I tried to make a go of selling my craft works and was selling dolls on consignment in a few specialty shops. One of the workers at a shop informed me that there was a letter from a buyer of one of my dolls and that it had been given to a woman with cancer and it cured the cancer! Well, I found this a bit hard to believe so I went to the shop in search of the letter. But for the rest of the day all I could think of was "Who I am makes a difference!"*.

When I got the shop the letter was no where to be seen.

I was not entirely surprised to find there was no letter since the owner of this particular shop (no longer open at this time) was not exactly someone who was friendly to the concept of "magic" and was all about commerce, instead of meaningful exchange. I left the shop a little saddened that there was no letter....

Story to be continued...

* - one of the many wonderful stories in "Chicken Soup for the Soul"

Monday, September 14, 2009

Amazing Fundraiser!

A few weeks back I posted about helping a Creative Kindred Spirit make some fun props for a fundraiser she was working on, but I did not post pictures at that time because I wanted to have pictures of the props in their environment at the event. The event took place on Sunday and it was fantastic! Here are a few pictures of the props on the Mad Hatter's Tea Party table:
some of the tea cups made by another helper - I love the mix of trims used here!

I made the base for this little cake and love how it was trimmed with the little pom-poms

I made this 'cake' and i made the 'flaming' candle to go on it - one of Jane's helpers added some marabou at the base of the candle; it's a whimsical touch!

another little cake with bead trim, a crazy teapot and a hand-painted chair in the background

a small 'cake' with sequin trim and marabou 'confection' on top; and a 'teacup' with pom-pom trim

It was a wonderful event with lots of tasty foods, great music playing (Nic Harcourt EMceed) and the Mad Hatter's Tea Party was great fun for the kids. My boyfriend enjoyed the wine-tasting and I loved the setting at Saddlerock Ranch - it was really lovely. It was a great Sunday and I can't wait for next year so I can help out with the event again!

Thanks to Jane for inviting me to help out and play in her sewing studio =-)

Friday, September 11, 2009

Seek and ye shall find...

I've been feeling a bit better, mood-wise, since my post of yesterday, thanks to seeing a fellow Creative Kindred Spirit speak of her own discomfort and I thank her for allowing me to share her words on my blog...

As I mentioned yesterday, I have noticed how new people have been coming into my life that help to reinforce the path I have been traveling for some years now but I feel I am getting ready to really go to the next level. Today I found this great e-book written by life coach, Johnathan Mead, whom I met a few weeks back when I attended an event to meet with Chris Guillebeau, the ultimate Non-Conformist.

Though I have only managed to read through half of this e-book during my super-crammed day, I really like some of the tips he has about creating a way to "get paid to exist", but he also writes about "why the world needs you to do what you love", which is what I am striving for in my life, being The Creative Beast. It is interesting that these things come into my life when I need them and as my own wonderful and amazing life coach, Pete Lee would say "look for the clues" and I'll be darned if they don't fall into my lap!

It does seem to be true that:

When the Student is ready the Master appears

Thank you Johnathan Mead for sharing who you are and reminding me "paths are made by walking".

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Out of Sorts...

I live in Los Angeles, California and if you don't know by now, there has been a raging fire going on for over a week and I'm now feeling the effects of it through allergies and sinus problems.

I've also been the feeling the beginnnings of crankiness creep in, so when I saw this little post from a soon-to-be-classmate at the Artful Journey Retreat, I thought, WHEW! It's not just me...

I really appreciate how she expresses what happens when you are working on personal growth:

"I think any period of personal growth is always going to close you off from others to some degree"

I do feel this has been happening quite a bit with some old friends that are still stuck in old behaviors or thought patterns but I've also noticed how new friends are coming into my life that really reinforce the new life I'm truly creating for myself or meeting old acquaintences that seem to be on the same path or a similar one and it gets exciting to talk about our creative arts and where we want to go with them.

Needless to say, I was happy to see this post today from my Internet Hero, Chris Guillebeau, which also made me feel a bit better.

Sometimes, I marvel at how the Universe reminds me "There are no accidents" ;)

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Book Gift!

I had a low-key Labor Day holiday but was able to spend some quality time with my dear boyfriend. I also hung out with Jane making more props for the fundraiser and again it was great fun... However, what REALLY jump-started my weekend was receiving this great book in the mail:

This fun book came to me from Colleen Wainwright, the writer of Communicatrix who I briefly met a few weeks ago...

I had e-mailed her to let let her know that I liked what she was doing at her website and she responded and asked for my address to send me something she thought I would like - I can tell she checked out my blog because of this wonderful gift!!

It is a fun book filled with creative ideas on refurbishing old shoes and giving them new life. I love the creativity and the recycling of old goods and giving them new life. I also love that this book is filled with stories of the favorite shoes owned and worn by friends of the author. The stories remind me how alike we can be when we find the common threads between us; after all, who among us doesn't have a favorite pair of shoes or a pair that we miss when they finally give up the ghost and can no longer be worn?

I am so excited about this gift since I've been dying to try out refurbishing some sneakers to wear as part of my personal ' creativity uniform' while working in my workroom. Thank you Colleen, for this book, and for sharing yourself with the world and encouraging others to share themselves as well!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Friday Philosophy...

I am taking a 4-day weekend for the Labor Day holiday and I am in need of it, let me tell you...

I do believe there is something to be said for a job well done and taking pride in one's work. So in that spirit, I would like to share this quote:

"Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work"

I hope you are having a wonderful weekend, wherever you are!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

My Dreamboard for September...

"The Brain is a wonderful organ; it starts working the moment you get up in the morning and does not stop until you get to work" unknown

In light of the quote above, I have made a dreamboard for the full moon of this month of September to manifest a new, better job in my life. I am ready for it!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Holiday, coming soon...

...and thank goodness for that! Today was more brutal than I had expected so I am REALLY looking forward to tomorrow since it's my last day in the work week before the holiday - I'm taking an extra day for a lovely 4-day weekend and I can't wait to see movies and make fun crafts!

In the meantime, I'm off to my Wednesday knitting group! Hooray for knitting groups!!