Monday, February 8, 2016

Letting Go...

Letting go-such a simple phrase to say, but so hard to do.
Whether it's emotions that you need to let go or material possessions that you need to let go, it's very difficult.
I am always mentally telling myself to 'let it go' when I'm upset or stressed out. I tell myself to just breathe and be done with it. Easier said than done. But I'm getting better.
What I'm really not good at is letting go of material possessions. We are in the midst of moving AGAIN. This is move #7 in the last 29 years. But this is the first move that we actually chose to do. All the others were corporate moves that we did for my husband's career. This one is just for us.
Hubby is heading towards retirement in a few years and we decided that it was time to leave the bitterly cold, long winters of the midwest.
SO...with the move coming up in about 2 months I find myself evaluating all our earthly goods.
And a MOUNTAIN of art supplies, fabrics, beads, etc, etc, etc.
What to keep, what to toss, what to give away and what to sell?
It's hard to part with clothes that you like but haven't worn in SEVEN years. You know the old thinking- "but it might come back in style OR I might just lose that last 10 lb. I've gained"   Such is my dilemma.
At least we have had almost a year to plan for this move. So I have had time to cull through closets and shelves several times. It's funny; you go through them and pull out a handful of items you know you don't need or want. Then 2 months later you go back and revisit the same closet with the same clothes and you can see them in a whole different light.
So this past week I have gone through closets and drawers with a new determination to scale down the amount of clothes & STUFF that is moving with us.
My art studio is the hardest! But again, after going through it last summer and weeding out items I don't need or use then going back through again last week I tossed massive quantities of junk!
I have become a regular visitor to the local Goodwill store to unload clothes and household items.
I have dropped off loads at the recycle center. I have thrown bags of garbage away. And I have given away lots of fabrics and yarns to my local needle arts guild. And yet there is still a lot of STUFF in my studio.  One more cleaning and purging should do the trick. But it's hard when you are an artist that works in more the one medium.
This move and this major clean-up has caused me to take a long hard look at what I create, what my passion is and what supplies I actually NEED to hang onto. Do I actually need 500 spools of ribbon anymore? I don't think so. Do I need 2 drawers full of papers for collaging? NOPE.
So I am scaling back on supplies and downsizing my fabric stash (just a bit).
I am learning to LET GO of things I don't need and things I am not in love with.
I just need to keep telling myself that constantly and continue to plow through all the things that have accumulated over the years.
In fact this afternoon was to be spent going through 7 years worth of Quilting Arts magazines. I really hate to part with them but do I really need them all? Last Friday I sifted through almost 10 years worth of Somerset Studio magazines. I decided to only keep the ones that I had been published in (plus a few more special ones).
What am I doing instead of cleaning and sorting today? Playing in Photoshop and now, writing on my blog.
Oh well...The magazines can wait another day.
For now here are the results of playing in Photoshop today.
Hope...

Surrounded by Fire
Looking UP


All the original photos I used were taken with my cell phone. Some of them were played with on my phone with the PicEffectFree app before I uploaded to Photoshop and reworked them.
'Hope' was an original drawing of a feather with birds flying out. I was designing my newest tattoo when I sketched that and I really liked the drawing. I really played with color and saturation as well as adding some layers and filters. And of course I added the text.
'Surrounded by Fire' was a photo I took while sitting on the deck, looking up through the branches of the trees. Layered it with some filters and textures and bumped up the saturation and color.
"Looking UP' was also taken from my deck looking up at the beautiful river birches. I will miss those trees when we move. The photo was layered with filters and textures but I didn't alter the color
except with the filters. It was a beautiful summer day when I took the photo. The trees were a vivid green and the sky was a gorgeous blue in the background.
Okay, time to go sort through more STUFF.
More updates to the move and letting go of stuff to follow......
 
Until then, live your life creatively (and learn to let go of stuff you don't need)
Cathy

Friday, January 22, 2016

How did I get here? ...

What a fast paced year it was in 2015. I actually ONLY posted once and that was a year ago, with the idea that I might-just might-post more frequently last year than the year before. HAHA...

Facebook and Instagram have pretty muched killed blogging, at least for me...So sad...

I  would like to turn back time-to a year when I had WAY more time to blog because I didn't spend it on Facebook! I spend way too much time looking at all my friends' photos and catching up with everyone. It's like having a conference call with all these people all the time. You can step away and come back and they are still there. Always something to look at or someone to talk to.

Then there's the fact that I joined so many Facebook groups with wonderful bead artists and lapidary artists. I am mesmerized by the eye candy when I log on. It is inspirational to me as well as Pinterest. So who is hooked on Pinterest? Another huge consumer of my time...UGH!

I have done a pretty good job (not great but pretty good) of staying away from FB (ok not spending as much time)since the end of 2015.

I have also not been on Instagram as much as last year.  Which means I've actually had time to create some ART.... Jewelry to be exact!

I spent the first week in January working on some pieces to submit to a magazine. (fingers crossed)
Then I spent the week after that finishing up pieces I started last year. They had been sitting on my work table waiting patiently to be finished.  Sometimes I don't always know what I'm going to do to finish off a piece. I pretty much NEVER plan ahead. I jump in, create a pendant and then once I'm finished I let it sit and rest until my muse tells me what to do with it.  Sometimes she doesn't speak loud enough for me to hear or maybe I'm just too busy to listen. So things sit and wait to be finished.

So I'm off to a pretty good start with the year as far as finishing up pieces from last year and shipping off jewelry for possible publication.

Now, I just need to figure out what I'm doing with my Bead Journal Project this year. I have wrestled with what to do for about a month now. Guess it's time to just do it!After much deliberation I have come to the conclusion I cannnot commit to one piece per month. I decided that maybe something realted to the seasons. That would mean I only need to make 4. But I didn't want anything your average 4 season depiction in beads. I wanted something a little different. So I though why not do a seasonal mandala! I love to draw and doodle so I thought I would draw my own mandala then transfer it to a beading background and bead away. Well, that idea just never felt quite right. I let it stew for about 2 weeks and never attempted to start. Soooo, I have re-thought my plan. I am planning to do the 5 Elements (fire, water, earth, metal & wood) I will do each one  approx 5 inches in the shape of a pentagram with the Chinese character for each of them in the middle of the design. I will use beads that correspond to the colors of each element. Since I love monochromatic schemes this is going to be fun. I will try to pull in an array of the colors of each element and do the Chinese character in black. OK, now that I have stated my plan I guess I best get to work.

Another thing I MUST do is continue to clean and purge my studio. Which brings up the BIGGEST news from last year....we are moving from the icy cold midwest to a much warmer climate this spring. After 7 years of  living in the northern burbs of Chicago we are heading to the burbs of Raleigh, NC. WOO-HOO! Which is one of the bigger reasons for scaling back on my bead journal project.

I am slowly, going through supplies that have multiplied since we moved here. I am purging and cleaning. Trying hard to think about the direction I am going with my art/my life.  I have been fighting a battle with myself when it comes to what I make...I have wanted to be a mixed media fiber artist for soooo long that while I was busy waiting for things to happen in that arena, I ended up becoming a jewelry artist! Who knew?  Certainly I didn't, because I kept telling myself EVERY DAMN year, that I was going to stop making jewelry because it was taking up too much of my time!!! I thought I wanted to be making art quilts. Then I would declare that I was done with jewelry and someone would ask me to make them something or I would see some new beads or jewelry techniques and go ohhhhhh-gotta try that, gotta have those beads, gotta make more jewelry. So then it hit me one day that I AM A JEWELRY ARTIST---hello... What was I thinking? I was spending so much time trying to be something else when I really LOVE making jewelry. I fell in LOVE with bead embroidery about 2 and a half years ago and that is when things really started to fall into place.


Not saying I don't want to do art quilts-I do. It's just they are not my passion. I have loved fabrics and
fibers of every sort for as long as I can remember. But jewelry has been a passion for probably longer.
First as an admirer, then as a dabbler in making a little jewelry, then a novice at trying my hand with all sorts of jewelry techniques. But the bead embroidery-AHHHHHHH! She's my true love.
Maybe I will get tired of it one day, maybe I'll fall back in love with art quilting, or mixed media paintings, or assemblage. But for now, it's beading with a beautiful stone cabochon or some seashells,
some ultrasuede and my favorite KO thread.

Okay enough babbling. Probably one reason I don't blog very much is once I start typing I don't know when to stop!

I promise to post photos of new work frequently this year--she says with a wink-Ha!


Creatively yours~

cathy

Sunday, January 25, 2015

New Year, New Chance and a Lengthy Post….

So…It's been 6 months since I last posted. I am amazed at how much faster time seems to fly as I get older.  Every year one of my New Year's resolution is to stay on top of my blog posting and yet, I never seem to follow through with it! What is up with that?

Well, THIS year I vow NOT to make that resolution. Just maybe I can change my work habits to include more frequent postings. Maybe…

With that said, I have been contemplating creating a website. The simple fact that I can't even keep up with a blog tells me I probably shouldn't create a website. Over the past 6 months I actually have been on Yola and Wix and created a free website on each but have yet to publish either one.
I just wasn't quite satisfied with either website and keep asking myself- WHY do I feel the need for a website?

These days, my Facebook Art page has become both blogger and website.  Whenever I post process photos or completed project photos on Facebook it is serving the same purpose as a website-
getting my creations out in the world.  The thing about my blog is being able to give more information on the process and show more photos.  I also miss creating with images in Photoshop and displaying those here on my blog.  So I would like to get back to that this new year with all it's new possibilities.

I have been going through a creative dilemma over the past few years.  I kept trying to tell myself that I was first & foremost a 'fiber' artist. I have always loved fabrics and handstitching along with machine stitching. Creating with fabric and fibers is in 'my blood'.  I have also been making jewelry for almost 20 years but kept telling myself that it was just 'my hobby' my real passion was making art quilts or doing hand embroidered pieces.

Well, guess what? I came to the realization over the past year that I am still a 'fiber artist' but I am also a 'jewelry artist'. And it's not just a hobby or something to do in between working on art quilts or felted and stitched pieces. It is a very real passion.  I came to this realization after many attempts to 'stop' making jewelry.  I kept saying I had to focus on one medium and that medium was going to be art quilting.
Every time I decide to 'give up' making jewelry I would get a request from someone for a piece of jewelry or I would see some new beads and just have to have them! And the wheels would start turning and I would start designing new pieces of jewelry without even thinking about the fact that I was giving it up!

Something else happened over the past year-I joined Robin Atkin's Bead Journal Project. It is something that I had been wanting to do for a while so I finally decided 2014 would be the year. I coincided with a local bead group a friend and I created. Each month there was a color theme for our local group along with an 8x8 inch format.  I thought I would make a piece for our group and also a 4x4 beaded piece for the Bead Journal Project using the same color scheme throughout the year.
It went very well. My local group displayed our pieces at the Fine Art of Fiber at the Chicago Botanic Garden back in November. The thing is, since the show was in November it was before the end of the year, therefore we only displayed the pieces we had finished. Well, I haven't made anymore of the monthly 8x8 pieces for the local group, BUT I did finish my 4x4 beaded Buddhas for the BJP.  My plan is to now stitch all the Buddhas together into a wallhanging.  The 4x4 beaded portion is fused to the center of an 8x8 piece of fabric that has been treated as a quilt and has a layer of batting with a backing fabric. Then I free motion machine stitched the background on each piece separately
then I will figure out a way to put them altogether with a black border around each 8x8 square.

As for the other 8x8 pieces for the local bead group…I have those remaining pieces on my 'to do' list for 2015.  (in my spare time)

The point to all the information about the the BJP and the local bead group is that while I was beading all those pieces last year I realized that I LOVED bead embroidery and have started doing bead embroidered jewelry now!!

I have been extremely busy making jewelry for a magazine lauch party that I was invited to sell my jewelry at. I've bee so busy with that that I haven't started my January bead project for this year.
This year my plan is to stay somewhat close to the colors I used each month last year but the format will be a little different. I want to focus on goddesses for this year rather than Buddha. Each month will be a different goddess (Greek, Celtic, Egyptian, Hindu etc)  And the size is yet to be determined because I'm still in the drawing phase. Also, last year I 'winged' it. No preplanned drawing, just started beading and let it flow from there. This year I would like to 'try' and plan the designs before I start beading. I may not stick with the design but I'd like to try to at least have a vague idea of where the piece is going before I get started.

One more thing I've been contemplating since January 1st is my 'word' for the year. Last year I chose 'focus'. I'm not sure I focused as much as I should have, but I certainly stayed focused on my beading and creating as much as possible.  This year I have been thinking about the word 'santosha'. It is one of the niyamas which are one of the 8 limbs of yoga. It literally means contentment. Actually it is translated as being entirely or completely content with what you are doing and accepting of where you are at right now.  An attitude of contentment and acceptance of yourself. I would like to 'practice' that. I am my own worst critic-in art and everyday life.
So I'd like to start practicing being easier on myself. Being happy with the journey of my art and not just worried about the results.  Being happy with where I am in my art and in my life.  Practicing yoga off the mat is much harder than the physical asana practice of yoga! So I will try to practice this feeling of satisfaction with where I am right now!  Namaste~

Stay tuned to see more of my Buddhas all put together & more of my beadwork…..

Live your life creatively (and with contentment)~





Tuesday, July 8, 2014

'Creativity is not the finding of a thing, but the making something out of it after it's found.' James Russell Lowell

 I have had a life-long habit of collecting 'stuff'. Some would call it trash or junk but I think they're treasures. I have been collecting seashells for as long as I can remember. I also collect other bits of 'stuff' at the beach, like driftwood, rocks, coral, sometimes I've even brought home seaweed and broken bits of palm trees. I find beauty in these offerings from nature. I also collect bird's nests, leaves, acorns, seed pods, etc. But those items will have to wait. Today's post is about my love of beachy related items.

I bought a beautiful white howlite donut at Bead & Button last month. I didn't really have a plan when I bought it but I loved it's crackled look and it has a very matte finish which really appealed to me.

As luck would have it, I was cleaning up my jewelry workspace a few weeks ago and inspiration struck. The howlite donut would look great with some coral I picked up in Grand Cayman and the little bitty white rocks, beach glass and shells that run from white to off-white to light tan. Perfect for the white howlite. Then I sorted through my driftwood stash and found the perfect piece to hang the whole thing from.  I wasn't sure about leaving the donut hole open or using something to cover the hole then I searched my shells and found the PERFECT limpet shell to attach over the center with a bead. The limpet is white with tan and charcoal markings.
I sorted through my beads as well to look for white, off-white, tan, brown and black. As usual I always choose a ton of different beads when working a project so I can have lots of choices. I end up using about a third or half of the ones I choose but still I like to have them all out 'just in case'.
I chose black ultra suede as the base and glued the donut down and also the piece of coral as seen below. (You can really see the beautiful markings in the howlite in this photo)

Once, the glue dried it was time to start beading.
I did a simple peyote stitched bezel for the donut in tan and matte white seed beads. Using a couple small beads I stitched through the top of the limpet shell (it already had a hole in the top)and through the donut hole to the ultrasuede backing. Then I wrapped some tan beads around the coral just to make sure it stays put since the back of the coral wasn't flat.
When I was satisfied with the beading I cut the shape I wanted around the beaded donut and coral. I also cut a piece of thin cardboard the same shape to sandwich between the beaded front and a backing of plain black ultrasuede. This gives it a bit more stability.
Once the glue dried from layering the ultrasuede/cardboard it was time to bead around the edges of the pendant. I chose to only bead from the bottom edges of the donut and around the coral. I liked the larger beads that were the base of the bezel. I let them be at the edges, which means I clipped the ultra suede very closely around the donut being careful NOT to get so close that you clip any threads.
Then it was time to 'freak out'!!!! I have never beaded a bail to attach the pendant to a necklace. NEVER. So I searched through all my beading books trying to figure out what would look best around the driftwood. I decided on a square stitch making it just barely long enough to wrap all the way around the driftwood. Tricky, since the driftwood wasn't perfectly round or symmetrical. To make up for one side not quite fitting I just added a few beads to that side and then stitched the bail with driftwood intact to the top of the donut. I used more of the size 8 beads that surround the donut to attach from the bail.
Once the bail and driftwood were attached it was time for a little fringe. Since it's such a large pendant I didn't want to have too many dangley shells, beach glass and stones. Originally I had planned to load it up but decided less is more. So I chose one little white beach stone, 2 little pieces of white beach glass and 2 little shells which appear to be minute snail shells.
After the fringe came the actual necklace to hang it from. I went with the same tan beads size 11 to wrap around the driftwood and then added the larger 8 tan beads and a single white howlite bead on each side. These attach to black braided leather with bronze end caps and then I created a wire clasp.
And VOILA! My new necklace. Love all the little bits of things I collected making this necklace truly a one-of-a-kind piece.
Every time I go to the beach I tell myself I don't NEED to pick up any more 'stuff'. Thank goodness I don't listen to myself. I have an almost endless supply of goodies to choose from. 

Since I never finished cleaning my studio 2 weeks ago when I stumbled onto the inspiration for this necklace I MUST go NOW to finish cleaning. Who knows-I may just come up with the inspiration for several more necklaces or perhaps other beaded items.

Live your life creatively~

cathy

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Creative Organization

Whenever I go into my studio it's like Christmas morning when I was a kid. I don't know what to play with first!  I always have a bad case of ADD when I walk in without a plan. SO, I definitely have to have some sort of schedule before walking in there.
My friend Cindy & I embarked on a goal setting plan at the beginning of 2013 and for the most part it has been working well. At the beginning of every month I write down my artistic goals for the month.
Then on Sundays I write up a plan for the week. Each day Cindy & I email each other our goals for the day. Sounds a bit regimented and doesn't sound as though it would allow for a lot of spontaneity. Emailing each other keeps me motivated to reach my daily goals.  I try to stay accountable.
You'd be surprised at how prolific I have been for the past year and a half. Even though I haven't posted on my blog regularly I have been busy.
Writing down the daily goals gets me in my studio and with a plan in place it keeps me on track (for the most part)!
Then there are those days where I'm in my studio and working on a project and my mind starts to wonder. Then my eyes start to roam about the room that desperately needs cleaning. Sewing table is a mess. Ironing board is piled high with works in progress and the beading/jewelry table looks like a disaster. Knitting needles are on the sewing table, in a tote bag and also spilling out of a vase like spikey flowers. So what do I do then?
Decide to tackle a project that has been on my mind for a while but I had not put it down as a goal. I just HAVE TO to create a knitting needle case for all my needles I have been collecting.
They were scattered about with no place to call home.
I decide to 'wing it'. No pattern, no particular design in mind other than I wanted to use some vinyl screening that I already had. I thought that would give it some structure. So I grabbed a couple remnants of ulpholstsery fabric and my vinyl. Gathered all my needles to see how many wide I needed to make it. Then I started cutting and sewing. 
Not perfect. I didn't even use my straight edge or a ruler! 
Just stitched the fabric onto the screening, leaving the screening long enough at the top to fold down over the needle pockets to keep them in place. And I have velcro to hold the top part in place.  I also stitched pockets for all the different size needles.
And Voila!


Knitting needle case with top flap folded down

Needle case with top flap opened up to reveal the pockets

All rolled up 
The only problem is. I haven't tagged each pocket with the needle size. Which isn't too big a deal since the straight needles have the size at the top. The only problem is my circular needles. I left them in their original case for now and put them in the pockets but it's creating too much bulk. I do have a needle gauger that I can use to determine which size they are if I decide to throw their original cases out. But then there is the length issue. Although it's pretty easy to determine the length of the circular ones.
I only have one set of DPN (double pointed needles) so far-so no problem determing their size.

I didn't actually accomplish all the goals on my list that day but I do have my knitting needles all organized in a pretty little case.

Now, I am off to work on today's goals!

I vow to update this blog on a regular basis. I guess if I put it in my goals then it will get done!

Live your life creatively~

cathy


Monday, June 16, 2014

Blog Tour Monday

I was invited by my long-time friend and art buddy Sandy to be a part of this blog tour monday.
She has been an inspiration to me for years.  She recently created her own blog and it's awesome so go check it out. Hopefully, this blog tour will spur me to get back to blogging regularly. I must confess, I sort of got sucked up into the vortex of Facebook. It unintentionally became my 'blog'.  That has been where I've been posting updates to my work and finished pieces. It was quicker than going to my blog and creating a post. Sad, I know.
I have become a tad bit frustrated with Facebook and have vowed to stay away from it except to post artwork and a link to my recent blog posts!  With that said here are my answers to the blog tour monday questions:

                         what am i working on?

I usually work on several projects at once.  I currently have several necklaces laid out on the jewelry design board to finalize and I have a couple of bracelets to finish. Then I have a much larger project that I've been working on for a group I'm in called Womens Journeys in Fiber. We have a yearly project that is due by the end of July. We self-publish a book and usually have 3 group exhibits over the next year. The photo below is a small portion of what I'm working on. This beaded piece will be a small part of my project. Sorry I can't say more about it but we try to keep it a secret until our first exhibit in early November. I will post photos on my blog of the whole process once we go public.
Besides the jewelry and the BIG project, I am also in a bead group that has a monthly color scheme. In the sidebar you can click on the Bead Embroidery Project to see my '12 months of Buddha' that I'm doing.
I have just finished June's Buddha in shades of salmon & coral

how does my work differ from others of its genre?

Wow! What a question. It differs because I'm me. I know that sounds a bit snarky or sarcastic. 
But really, why is anyone's work different? If you are creating from the heart and doing 'your own thing' then it will differ from everyone elses. If you are trying desperately to replicate someone else's beautiful work then it will look like someone else's. I have taken many workshops and devoured art books and how-to videos. I now have many tools in my toolbox! And I'm trying to take what I've learned and make my own art. I don't really fit into any one genre.  I do feel I am still finding my voice so to speak. But, it takes time and many, many pieces of work to find your style or your voice but I'm getting there!

why do i write/create what i do?

I create because I love it! I create because I feel the need to make things with my own two hands.
I create because I have to.
I have always created. I learned to embroider at the age of 8 and learned to knit at the age of 10. Prior to that I was drawing and coloring in coloring books nonstop! 

how does your writing/creative process work?

I have no set process. I have never really been diligent about keeping a sketchbook. Although I do have many sketchbooks with various things written and sketched.  But the problem is, I never sit down and say "Oh golly, I don't know what to make". I always have a bazillion ideas in my head.  What usually happens is I pick up some beads or some fabrics and threads and just begin.
From there it takes on a life of its own. When I have tried to 'use' one of my sketches or ideas I either don't like the way it turns out OR I just take off in a different direction and it looks nothing like the sketch!
Take for instance, the BIG project I mentioned that I'm working on. It took several months of research and planning and digesting and reworking and right now-it looks nothing like the original sketch I made! As a matter of fact it isn't even made from the materials I had originally set out to use.
Once I started it become what it wanted to be. I kind of like not knowing what things will turn out like.
Sometimes things are great, sometimes not so great. It's like when I used to play with clay and did raku.
It was a gamble. You pull your clay piece out of the kiln and stuff it inside a container full of combustible materials to let it catch on fire. And you never really know what it's going to look like until you pull it out of that container a while later. It was surprising and oh so exciting! 

 Since I haven't kept on top of blogging in a while I didn't have a long list of people to invite to join in the blog tour. I do however, keep up with Natalya Aikens' blog (through Facebook). Her art quilts are magnificent! And she will be on the blog tour next Monday.
Natalya says the motto for her art is: Architecturally inspired, delicately stitched. The core of her art is deeply rooted in her Russian heritage and the architectural images of St. Petersburg and New York City coupled with the use of recycled materials such as paper, plastics & vintage fabrics. Computer photo manipulation and intense hand & machine stitching, and translucent effects are the techniques she favors.

The other person I invited had already been a part of the blog tour and I had missed her post on it, but you should still go check her out. Kathryn Dyche Dechairo Here's the link to her blog tour Monday post in case you didn't see it. Her photography, photo manipulation and her artwork are amazing as well as her poetry!