Monday, March 30, 2015

Growing Pains of Spring

Early tulips and daffodils, Spring 2014
I have to wonder, does the thawing ground hurt like I hurt, in the spring, waking up from winter?

I've just spent the past few weeks, miserable in my body.  First, I threw my back out.  Trying to keep up with a fast-moving, much younger fellow PhD student, while carrying about 30 pounds in my bookbag and significantly more weight than his on my frame.  Whoo-eee.  For three days, I cried with every step I took.

Then, I got bronchitis.  As I type, I've been sick for a week.  Sick sick.  The kind where you can't breathe and are so tired and worn out from trying to cough up a lung that you don't really care that you can't breathe.  Cause breathing hurts, and well, you get it.  Sick.

Which makes me think about my body.  And doubt my body.  Because, when I'm sore and/or sick, I have to acknowledge that I have pushed the limits on this body.  
In my artwork, I pride myself on pushing the limits.  I could do things like other people do, make work that's similar to other bead embroidery artists, other fiber artists.  Who knows, I might even have a more "successful" career, be recognized in my field for the art I do.

In not following the rules, I've developed a body of work I'm really really proud of.  Sometimes, when I look back through the photos of pieces I've made, I'm amazed.  I haven't played it safe, that's for sure.

And when it comes to women's bodies, we are so rarely safe.  I like to think my artwork honors that, in its own way.  A woman's body carries what it needs to.  It just does.

Like spring, who always wins out over winter.  Even when it hurts, there are blooms.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Hope is the Thing with Feathers

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I've heard it in the chillest land
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.

(Emily Dickinson)

Thank you, Miss Dickinson, for this poem.  When I need the reminder most, I often go to these words.

I'm not a huge fan of "hope" as an inspirational motivation.  Typically, I'm more of the "just do it" approach.  Which really means I just keep pushing until something moves, in the name of having a plan.

That's me.  Big on plans.  Because plans imply I have control.

Yeah.  (I hear you all snickering.)

In November, I spent some time at one of my favorite places on earth, a temple in the desert.  I hadn't been there in several years.  It was such a good reminder of who I know myself to be, at my best.  But someone I haven't felt much like in the past few years.

While sitting in the Temple, I picked up a small token, a rock.  


I almost put the rock back down on the ground.

But, since rocks are my "thing," and often a way that a power greater than myself communicates with me, I reluctantly put the hope in my pocket.  And, later, on my altar, where it sits with other rocks and beads and flowers and tokens.


I'm struggling with hope.  Because I want guarantees.  Not hope.

I want to know that I can make a living doing the work that I love.  Not just a squeak-by-every-month, robbing peter to pay paul, oh please, I hope I make enough next month/semester/year living.  I want a hope full life.  Or maybe a life full of hope.

I haven't figured it out yet.  But just writing about it, makes me feel more hopeful.  That Emily Dickinson, maybe she's on to something.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Inspiration: Gypsy Wagon

I saw this online a few years ago:

Gypsy Wagon
My first thought:  I want one!

My second thought:  How can I get one?

Well, a gypsy wagon is still on my bucket list.  But in the meantime, until I get one (and I will get one), I get to plan for when I get one.

Maybe, it'll look like this:

Pinterest photo
Of course, inside, it would look something like this.  With more twinkle lights.

And, then, I saw this:

And I immediately wished that I didn't owe so much in student loans.  'Cause I would totally put all of my beads and felt and trimmings into an Airstream, buy a truck, and hit the road.  Now, I know that it's not as easy as this.  For 18 months, many years ago, I was a traveling jewelry saleswoman.  It's a hard way to make a living (especially with Bush in office).


Doesn't this look wonderful?  And fun?  And adventurous?  Can you imagine this inspiration that would come from traveling all over the country?

I guess I'm a vagabond at heart.

Friday, March 6, 2015

We're off to see the wizard...

in the wonderful world of Oz.  Aka Kansas.

Well, maybe not the Wizard.  The mama, J and I are off to Kansas to see this guy:

Luminere - aka the Big D
And this guy:

The Toad - aka Luc

 Hard to believe that just YESTERDAY, they looked like this:

Baby Vikings
Totally worth the 13 hour drive.

While I wouldn't mind finding Dorothy's red shoes or Glinda's wand, I am hoping it's too early in the year to meet up with a tornado. 

Monday, March 2, 2015

Inspiration: Estate Sales

Looking for an economical source of materials?

Check out estate sales.

You never know what you'll find for sure.  But, once you get a feel for the different estate agents in your area, you'll learn which dealers set up reliable sales, for reasonable prices.  And yes, some agents are better than others - with pricing, with organization, with pictures.

And preview pictures are key.

Late February sale in Kalamazoo area.  Check out those textiles.  And paintings.
This is the kind of stuff that gets me out of bed at 7 a.m. on a Friday morning.  To go stand in line in the cold/rain/sun.  

I love how this listing agent sets up their sales.  Interesting stuff is mixed in with furniture.  I love the bureau above.  And the velvet wrap.  And the tin of buttons.

I've gotten great deals on thread and buttons and lace at estate sales.  Usually, people are looking for the bigger ticket items early in a sale, stuff that can be easily turned around.  But I always follow this rule: if you see it and like it, pick it up.  Even when you're not sure that you want to keep it.

What's really cool is when a display gives you design ideas.  The one above makes me think of Paris.  Which makes me think of layers.  And subdued colors, And bits and pieces that don't really make sense used together in a way that does make sense.  Of old mixed with new.

These paintings are just scrumptious.  I love how they are all beaten up and weather-worn.  Wouldn't they be cool sales booth props?

That dusty mirror!  Hard to tell if this is another bureau.  Or if that's another mirror frame in front of the mirror.  And that lamp?  How fun!  I can see that hanging in a cheerful kitchen nook.

And then, at another sale, which I will miss because I'll be out of town, there's the headline "Biggest collection of jewelry we've ever seen!"  Followed by about a dozen pictures of boxes and trays and dressers full of jewelry - bits and pieces and vintage and junk.

And then, bins.  Unopened, unexplored bins of jewelry.


Sigh again.  Even though I ALREADY HAVE THIS MUCH JEWELRY.  More than I will realistically ever use in one lifetime.  

But,one of these, I do need:

And vintage clothes.  C'mon, can you ever have enough vintage clothes?  Which I admit, I shamelessly cut up and repurpose.

So, estate sales shopping.  Put this on your calendar!  It definitely fits into even the most restricted budgets.