Tuesday, July 21, 2020

A thought i'd like to share...

In the process of sorting through e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g I own and selling or giving most of it away, I found this little star I bought from another artist many years ago. Definitely a keeper.
It was a timely reminder for myself and I hope for anyone one reading this.

Mary Ann Evans, known by her pen name George Eliot, was an English novelist, poet, journalist, translator and one of the leading writers of the Victorian era. That quote is attributed to her. She also wrote this poem... which is another good reminder that even the smallest act of kindness goes a long way.

Count That Day Lost
If you sit down at set of sun
And count the acts that you have done,
And, counting, find
One self-denying deed, one word
That eased the heart of him who heard,
One glance most kind
That fell like sunshine where it went—
Then you may count that day well spent.

But if, through all the livelong day,
You've cheered no heart, by yea or nay—
If, through it all
You've nothing done that you can trace
That brought the sunshine to one face—
No act most small
That helped some soul and nothing cost—
Then count that day as worse than lost.

đŸ’—until next time-

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Somewhere over the rainbow

June 23, 2020

and July 5, 2020

Two things, no... three, that will cause me to stop what i'm doing, drop everything and run outside: the sound of geese flying over in the fall or spring, the first snowfall of the winter and when the sun is shining and I hear rain falling on the tin roof -- because I know there's a good chance there's a rainbow.

I have never seen so many rainbows in my life as I have since living here... up in the mountains in Tunbridge, VT. And not just rainbows, but double rainbows.

One might think, with all the time I've had on my hands since March 16, when, thanks to covid19 life as I knew it came to a screeching halt, that I would have been blogging away all these months, and not in fact, just getting around to my first post since last September.

But, I have been occupying myself with worthwhile tasks like sorting, organizing, selling and giving away 'stuff'. Downsizing it's called these days. Inspired in part by some videos i've watched these last few months.

The first was a BBC show called "Victorian House of Arts and Crafts". In it, several modern day artists and crafts people spent a month working together creatively on projects using traditional tools of the trade and methods from the Arts and Crafts Movement period (1880-1920) inspired in part by designer William Morris. The program ended with a quote by Morris, "Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful."

And then there are the abandoned building exploring videos. Who knew this was such a worldwide thing?! I have 2 favorite explorers, both in (my beloved) England. (If you want to check out some of their videos for fun, here are the links to their YouTube channels: Stare   AND  Abandoned World Explorer)

Sometimes, the abandoned places they are exploring are homes where seemingly every single possession of the family has been left behind. It made me think "who in the world is going to have to deal with all my 'stuff' when I leave the planet?" I mean, if I have not used my KitchenAid mixer in 2 years, do I really need it taking up space in my cabinet? Hence, the major clean out occurring in my home and studio. If it has not been used in the last year, or I do not foresee using it this year or believe it to be beautiful, it is going, going gone. 

Love having the cabinet space freed up to be able to more conveniently put away the things I am keeping. Less is more.

Also. Please, if you are an artist/maker let me know if you concur with this... I cannot be creative in a disorderly space. I. Just. Can. Not. Do. It. I am not talking about  the mess you often make in the creative process, that I can handle; I am talking about the dishes in the sink or the laundry that needs folding and put away or the dust bunnies hopping around under the drafting table, or the art and craft supplies piled up in the corner because there is no other place to store them away.

Some people tell me it is procrastination-that need to clean before I create. OK. Maybe. But then please answer me this. Why does procrastination get such a bad wrap, when it starts with a prefix that has a positive connotation? (A blog far another day, or another year perhaps, in my case).

All that said, while I have not managed to weave any willow lately (my first love), I have managed to do a wee bit of painting. For the first time in quite a long while. Like this card I made for a friend who loves peas:
Did you know that watercolours in tubes can be re-hydrated? I had some  that dated back to my college days - yes indeed, they are older than the hills and were totally and completely dried out. Thanks to the wonders of technology and more YouTube, I found out how to extract them from the tubes and re-hydrate them. It's like a miracle!

Oh the therapy of arts and crafts. Just the act of putting on some peaceful music and playing with paint for a few hours has such a healing benefit to the body. Or even just doodling with pencil and paper. Anything that does not, I repeat not, involve a screen but does involve your hand, a mark making tool and something to make marks on. I highly recommend it to you if covid19 life alterations are making you feel stressed out.

That brings me around to my inspiration for writing today. I am feeling incredibly blessed. All my extended family, as far as I know, have remained healthy. These last few months I have had the time to reflect on what is important to me and been able to simplify my life by sorting, consolidating, organizing and getting rid of things that no longer serve me well but will be very useful to someone else. I have become even more frugal in spending than I was before. In many ways, for me personally, the life alteration caused by covid19 has been a blessing in disguise.

But. I do not say that without the ever present realization that for so many it has been a time of devastation and loss. I have several friends who have lost loved ones. Three of the 566,790 (as of this moment) whose families have suffered loss worldwide. My heart goes out to you and my prayers are with you and with all the healthcare workers who have tended to the sick and dying.

Rainbows are commonly recognized as a symbol of hope. If you are struggling, with loss, or life changes due to covid19, please do not give up hope. Please try spending just a little bit of time doing something creative that you enjoy doing-  a little reprieve from reality; and may you find a measure of healing in it.

Here's a song for you from Judy Garland...
Somewhere Over the Rainbow

With love-

Friday, September 27, 2019

Coming up... Sculptural Visions

Sculptural Visions at St. Gaudens - Cornish, NH
Saturday, September 28, 2019
11 - 4:30
It is looking like a beautiful day weather wise tomorrow! I will be enjoying the day weaving willow as I participate once again in Sculptural Visions taking place at the beautiful St. Gaudens - National Historic Park in Cornish, NH. You can read more about the event here:
Come out for a drive, see the beautiful fall foliage and visit us at St. Gaudens. Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

I was looking for a word

that describes when you love to do a particular task or job so much that it baffles the brain to understand why there is such a pull towards that thing.

Willow (salix spp.) weaving is like the for me-- but even more specifically, I LOVE peeling willow bark off the wood, and this is what I have been doing these last couple days.

This task is best done this time of year when the sap is rising and the new leaves are just popping out-the bark is loose from the wood and comes off easily, leaving pure white willow rods behind.

I will be using the bark to make cordage, for basket making and (hopefully) will do a bit of fiber dyeing too.

I have been splitting or riving the willow in half, this too seems to be very easy at this time of year. You can tell if you've done a good job because you will see some of the pith on both halves. I seem to be doing a very good job of it! Splitting is accomplished by making a small cut in the center at the butt end of the willow then carefully prying the 2 sides apart. If the split gets off center, so you have a thicker and thinner side, you just need to bend the thicker side and it will go back to center. It helps if you keep a hold of the willow below the split so you have a bit more control to keep it in the center.

I am hoping (to finally) have plenty of time this summer for basket making, and will use this split willow for that purpose. The pure white will make a great contrast pattern!

I still have a small harvest in a bucket, here at home waiting to be peeled and split. Hoping I am able to harvest again before the bark attaches to the wood... mid to late June.

This is such a satisfying thing for me. The willow sap smells so deliciously sweet. I'm in heaven!
I hope there is something in your life you love as much as I do this!
till next time,

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Olathe, Kansas - Living willow play structure

...leaves already popping!

An exciting thing happened recently. An old college buddy invited me out to Kansas to help with the installation of a living willow play structure at the new Natural Playground that is being built at Lake Olathe Park. Just part of a huge renovation of the entire park.

It was an awesome experience from beginning to end.

I adore flying. The trip out was sunny and practically cloud free so I could see the changing landscape below. From the forested and snow covered mountains and valleys of Vermont with its curvilinear arrangement of roads; a unique perspective in the winter months when the trees on a mountain look like whiskers on a big mans chin. And then there's Kansas. The other extreme. Roads and fields organized on a grid for the most part. I love seeing the checkerboard of different greens--early crops already growing contrasted with fields of brown grass or dark tilled soil. It's easy and fun to spot the watersheds from above, they are fingers of green, native trees and shrubs know to grow where the water is. From far above you can see the rivers where all those waterways lead, winding their way along to the distant horizon.

Just to see Mike and Jean (who graciously hosted me during my visit) after so many years, since our time studying Landscape Architecture at KState, and to meet their children and grandchildren. That was, by itself so heartwarming. Especially after the long, cold, solitary winter of hibernation up here on the mountain.

The living willow installation was scheduled for Friday. Thursday we had thunderstorms. I had forgotten what it is like to experience lightning strikes in the wide open spaces. It is pretty awe inspiring. In between the downpours and lightning Mike and I managed to get the structure sited and staked out. Friday's weather was supposed to be more of the same, starting at noon. Mike and I met the rest of the crew on the site at 8:30, I explained what we would do, showed them how to make the holes, how to plant and how to make a clove hitch and they were on it!!! (and that truly does deserve 3 exclamation points too :-) We were done by 11. "Many hands make light work!"
The rain started at noon.

And a few pictures:
staked out

Tanner  in background, Chad, Isaiah and Michael clovehitching!

Mike B., Liz, Moi, Johnny

Jim and Michael sorting and prepping willow

Johnny and Moi-- clovehitching

halfway there!

Jim and Tanner

Liz, Johnny, Jim

Jim and Mike B

working on the last joins at the top

finished! view from wheel chair accessible end

What an absolutely phenomenal group of people! Tanner (maroon hoodie) Isaiah (with beard behind tanner), Chad (brown hat), Jim (away at the back!), Michael (yellow raincoat), Johnny (crouching), my buddy Mike Latka (yellow vest), Mike Burson (black sweatshirt) and Liz (grey hoodie).

The project finished, the rest of the trip was relaxing and fun. Jean and I visited the Heritage Center Museum and Mahaffie House (https://www.mahaffie.org/) where we saw a newly born lamb about 5 minutes old.

Mike and Jean took me to Kansas City and out for bar-b-que. We visited as many of the other Olathe parks as we had time for that Mike has either designed or had a hand in as Parks Project Coordinator over the years he's been in Olathe. We three spent days and evenings talking, catching up, and
reminiscing. We laughed our heads off...  and that truly was a good medicine.

Sunday we met up with their kids and grandkids for brunch. It was great to finally meet them all and put faces with the names. The biscuits and sausage gravy was the best I've had since I lived in Kansas oh-so-long-ago. Here's the whole Latka crew!

The one thing I hoped to see while I was there was the Redbud trees (Cercis canadensis) in bloom. They are so beautiful and one of my fondest memories of my time in Kansas--there is nothing in the world like them. I missed them by a couple weeks, they are blooming now. Mike and Jean have both sent me pictures so I'll include them here.
somewhere in Olathe, Kansas

Redbuds in full bloom at Seaton Hall-home of the Landscape Architecture Department at Kansas State University!
until next time-
peace out

Monday, August 27, 2018

Taking Wing #1 @ LandART Lab

The first of several flying creatures joyfully hand woven/crafted from willow for LandART Lab 2018 that opened this past Saturday at the King Farm in Woodstock, Vermont.

more to come...

Thursday, August 16, 2018

LandART Lab 2018

Opening Saturday August 25th at the King Farm in Woodstock, Vermont.