Saturday, July 24, 2010

Vacation

Just returned from a cottage on the lake. Now off to Cuba! Be back in a week.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

new things to try during lunch breaks: art journals

Some people exercise, some shop. Me? I art journal!

Some people might think that art journaling is a bit difficult and time consuming, but I assure you it’s not. Need evidence? Here’s my latest creation, done during my lunch break.

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You can’t see the entire image, because I’m still playing with my hipstamatic ap on my iPhone, but you get the idea (see even my simple art leaves looks artsier with my camera phone!)

In the past I’ve mentioned that I’ve taken up art journaling. I love the combination of art/journal keeping and given my current obsession with creativity in my life, it’s fit in nicely with where I’m at and it’s a great change of pace during the workday (especially during the cold winter months when there’s too much snow to go outside).

Monday, July 19, 2010

what blogging means to me

I was reading the latest instalment of Somerset Life and there are a bunch of articles in it about blogging and what it means to the writers. As I read their comments, I was struck by the profound significance that blogging has had in my life over the past years.

I didn’t start this blog with the intention of it ever being a craft blog. In fact, truth be told, my very first post, way back when in 2005, on livejournal, was about venturing into the world of online dating, post break, as a means to move on from a broken heart. The entire start was really meant to document the (mis)adventures I had in the dating world. After reading the magazine, I went back and reread those posts (they’re private, you won’t find them on the old blog).

Then I morphed into constantly talking about my graduate thesis. (I wrote about sonnets from India, btw, you know, in case you were curious). Aw thesis woes… how I don’t miss you!

Next up: weddings

When I moved this blog over to blogger, I initially started writing about social issues, weddings, and green/vegetarian living.

So I’m not exactly sure how I ended up here, writing about craft all the time. But I’ve gone from blogging for family and friends, to blogging for myself, to blogging for select friends, to blogging to a larger community, very slowly over 5 years.

Some blogs explode in less than a year. Mine has never exploded, and yet, in recent months, there has been a marked upswing in comments, views, and readers. Perhaps it’s because I’ve found my niche? Perhaps my social issue rants just didn’t appeal? Gee I wonder why?

Anyways, as I started to experience this upswing, I’ve also started to feel very differently about blogging. I’m starting to make connections more, and as I come out of my shell and comment on others’ blogs, I find myself engaging in a dialogue online with others. And it’s been fantastic. I dig it. This September will mark 5 years in blogging for me) and I can’t help but be excited about where blogging has begun to take me, and love the archive of my life that I’ve created to look back on over the years. I really have learned a lot, commemorated so many moments, learned so much, and met amazing people, all from blogging.

Here’s to another 5 years!

Friday, July 16, 2010

lotus tree craft love

It's been a busy and lovely week here in lotus tree craft land for yours truly:

Featured on this amazing Asian inspired treasury. Truly a beatiful collection, thrilled to be included.

Blogged about here and facebook fanpage linked, thanks to Paper Demon

Another facebook fanpage linked, courtesy of MP Creations

And a complimentary ad feature here, thanks to Famara Designs

And another treasury feature (this time with my butterfly ornament AND my painting), by widgetsandwhatus

Thanks for all the crafty supportive love. I'm really thrilled to be featured in so many places.

evolution of an idea

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Recently I had a customer request a custom order. Her sister-in-law was celebrating her 25th wedding anniversary (silver) and she wanted something that would pay tribute to her background, the year, and her love of cranes. Since most of what I have in stock is either very Christmas-y or golden, I went through my stock to give her a few options. She wanted something with white, silver, and a touch of red. Above was the best that I had available. 

As you can imagine, it just didn’t quite fit. So I decided to pull out the paint and come up with my own paper.

First I painted the page silver, then I splattered water on the wet paint and dabbed it off in order to get an interesting background.

Then, since it’s a wedding anniversary, I fused my love of origami with my lit geek background and used a red pen to write lines from Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s sonnet “How do I love thee”.

This is one of the final cranes:

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Once she agreed to the crane, (I gave her several options to choose from before I completed the ornament). This is the final creation:

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What is quickly becoming apparent to me is that I NEED to find a better way to photograph these puppies! The ball catches every single reflection in the room.

I built myself a makeshift lightbox (I need to finish the paper better…I know) but the results weren’t promising.

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I took the first image outdoors (you can see the sky) and the next inside (with a cream coloured background) and you can see my kitchen! So the light box, really, is sort of an epic fail!

I’ve done some reading on it, and learned some new ideas, but have yet to implement anything.

I suspect that my best option will come back to this:

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Embrace the reflections and make them work for me by making them atmospheric. I think that if I did a listing with the ornament on a tree and then a close up of a crane outside of the ball, I might have better luck.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

origami bookmarks

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So like I mentioned, I’m all aflutter (tee hee) with my origami butterflies.

These days I sort of feel like I’m just trying to see all the things I can create with them.

My latest creations, on your left, are bookmarks. I think they’re a bit of a flop but that’s ok, I’ll share them anyways just so that when I figure out how to make them better you’ll all be wowed by my vast improvements!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

simple summer salad

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It’s been hot here. REALLY hot. Ok, maybe if you live in Florida or somewhere like there, you wouldn’t find our weather last week so hot but for us, it’s been crazy hot.

And for me, the first thing that goes with the heat is my appetite. Each night my brother or husband would ask, what do you want for dinner tonight, and my first thought was always, do popsicles count as a meal?

So when I finally rallied up to actually cook something, it had to be something light.

Tomato and Green bean parmesan salad

penne pasta (enough for 4 servings)

green beans (about 2 cups worth), cut in half

2 TBSPS of butter

2 tomatoes, cut into cubes

1/4 red onion, sliced

1/4 cup parmesan (or to taste)

pepper to taste

Cook pasta. Steam beans. Add butter to hot pasta. Stir in tomatoes, onions, and beans. Add parmesan and pepper. Voila. Serve hot or cool, as desired. Easy peasy and quick!

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Monday, July 12, 2010

weekend adventures

It was a weekend of family, friends, and fun. Altogether lovely:

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Dinner at a friends on Fri… complete with a tour of all their aquatic animals… I had a gecko jump at me from about 2 feet away and crawl up my arm…. how’s that for dinner and entertainment?

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Swimming with my husband and some quality time at the cottage with the nephews and family.

Leaving the kids behind to have drinks and fun conversations at my sister in law’s party.

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Paper folding and new creations inspired by post brunch adventures and discovering this artist. Discovering this lovely post by a friend and having a nice catch up conversation with another friend. And finally, dinner, way too many drinks, and vacation planning with my cousin in law and his girlfriend (can we say excited much? 4 days in a cottage on the lake in Tremblant… so looking forward to it)!

All in all, it was a good weekend and it was nice to be able to see so many loved ones this week!

Best of all: my husband has FINALLY settled on an international vacation destination after weeks of angst. Cuba, we’ll be seeing you again in 2 weeks!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

origami art fusion

fusion

I’m working on an idea: fusing art with origami (I write that as if it’s sooo original!) but it’s a new direction for me. This is my first attempt at it using origami butterflies. (I’m all about the origami butterflies these days)!

I still have a few more elements that I want to add to the page, but this is where I’m so far. Now I’m waiting for the paint to dry: exciting isn’t it?

Friday, July 9, 2010

building a crafty business

I’m not really sure if I want to build a crafty business or a sideline hobby project, but either way, I’m attempting to make it somewhat professional in nature.

Things that I’ve been doing to nurture this project:

1. Rebuilding the website slowly but surely to make it seem more polished (see graphics) and the inclusion of a store page (which you can see at the top of the page, beneath the header) in order to link this blog to my etsy page

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2. Designing a business card that fit the main premise of the goods I’m selling (origami ornaments) and was clean, simple, and most of all, Zen:

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I know that others liked the block print vibe that I tested out before, but I wanted the cards to have a professional feel to them. So I uploaded my block printed origami crane (not the bird because it reminded me too much of twitter). I think that I’ll print them on cream or beige paper (preferably recycled). What do you think?

I’m debating having the link to etsy there directly, or if I’d rather just send them to my website and would love feedback on the question

option a: only website.

Pros: That it’s my name brand right from the get go

Cons: Maybe the blogging home page might be a bit off putting? Too personal?

Solution:? I could try to have a home start page and then a tab for the blog? Not sure how that would work in terms of technical questions though…

option b: 2 websites

Pros: no crazy formatting required (which is good, cause let’s face it, my coding only goes so far… you know)

Cons: it’s kinda confusing and messes with my Zen model… :P

3. Next up, building my etsy shop:

a. I created a new banner to reflect my shops primary focus. What do you think? Again, keep in mind that I’m working on a simple, clean look. (yeah, who knew I’d try being so minimalistic?)

banner

b. filling up my etsy shop. Slowly but surely I’m working on building up more of a collection and keeping my ornaments at the top of the page by posting more often. Some of the problems that I foresee with that include: the price starts adding up and what if it doesn’t pay off and the fact that it takes a lot of time

Things that I have to work on:

1. My photos! I need to master the art of taking artsy photos that capture my products without reflections. I’ve been reading up about glass photography but I haven’t had the chance to put my readings to use yet.

2. New products. I have dreams of creating several other goodies beyond the ornaments but haven’t had the time to really get them done. These include:

Jewellery storage shadow boxes

Block printed items (co-venture with a friend)

More artwork

As you can see, I have many plans in mind but am sort of lacking the time to get everything done at the moment. But the possibilities are endless! So much more on my mind, but this is long enough for today!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

how is it going

People always ask me how things are going having my baby brother live with us. Decide for yourself:

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

new origami ornament

The other day I mentioned that I was working on a new origami ornament.

Here’s a sneak peek (of course taken with my iphone because I love it so…):

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I’m actually debating listing them on etsy like this because I like the look of the picture so much, but I wonder if the colouring actually does the item justice… But it’s tempting! Maybe I’ll try it?!…

Next up, learning to take pictures of glass that don’t reflect everything in the room around me (much harder than you’d think!)

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

playing with my iPhone

Can I just mention, for a moment please, how much I love my new iPhone? Seriously. And the Hipstamatic Ap? ROCKS!!! Wanna see? I know you do!
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Even the most dull traffic jam becomes fun and interesting with my new phone!
Who knew that traffic could be so artsy?





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Europe? No. Ste-Anne de Bellevue!


But doesn’t it look impressive? Yeah, I thought you’d agree!


All of a sudden, even the simplest of breakfast adventures turns into photography fun!

  
Need more proof? Happy to oblige! See ho my early morning west island breakfast became an artsy adventure?
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Monday, July 5, 2010

current craft related projects

Lately I’ve been a little all over the place, which hasn’t really left me with tons of time for writing about everything that’s been going on in my world. But there’s lots to talk about, really…

Current challenges that I’m working on:
  • Creating a new series of origami ornaments
Right now I’m working on butterflies but getting them right, floating in a way that flatters them, has been a bit of a challenge.
  • Figuring out how to do a craft fair
I have 2 craft fair ventures in mind at the moment, a small summer event in the eastern townships with a friend(s) that isn’t a craft fair per se, but rather an outdoor flea market of sorts. We’re trying to create block printed goods (napkins, table runners, etc) for this, which leads to the next thing on this list
  • Block printing and products created from block prints that I’ve (we) created
I’ve been busy carving away in hopes of putting my newly acquired skills to use.
  • Finishing up a birthday present project for a friend (top secret until it’s received)
The first part just needs a touch up but phase 2 won’t be making it on time.
  • Creating my own business cards
 I figure that I’ll probably need them for craft fairs and such. And they’ll be good for future etsy sales.

Friday, July 2, 2010

adventures in block printing!

Yesterday was a crafty day. I spent hours and hours carving away at this block print and immediately had to share it with my family and now you:

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I’m so proud. I know, I’m probably not supposed to admit it, but damn it… I am! Cause it was hard work people! Hard work and I didn’t mess it up, even after a few hours of carving and getting impatient towards the end. It looks easy but it wasn’t and I’m darn tooting impressed with me!

Below my print, you can see some of the one my friend did. It’s bad form of me not to show all her hard work and first efforts but that’s because I don’t want to share the spotlight right now. Later, when we put them on stuff you can see her lovely work. But not now. Because now I want you to admire my hard work! That’s right (can I get more vain?)! 

Ok, that’s it for today!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

reasons why Creative Bravery is important

“Creativity takes courage” ~ Henri Matisse

 

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Recent discussions with people in my world have really driven home the idea that we need to be brave to be creative in the world or even, sometimes, to allow ourselves to be creative at all. I don’t have some secret how to recipe to fix this, but I know that it’s important to try. Whether you create for yourself or for others, I think it’s really important that you create. Whether you see yourself as creative or not, I still think it’s important to find a creative venue that works for you. Painting, scrapbooking, journaling, knitting, woodworking, writing, acting, singing…. etc, etc, etc. (the list is long and broad in scope). We live in a world that doesn’t place value on creativity, not really, so we tend to neglect it in our daily lives. After all, if we aren’t great at it and can’t make money off it, it can’t possibly have value, right? Wrong!

 

Art is not a commodity, it is a process, an experience, and it is important. Personal experience, at least recently, has reminded me of the fact that I am not complete without some element of creativity in my life and I suspect that the same is true for everyone out there, even if they don’t see themselves as being creative individuals. But according to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs creativity is part of our self-actualization process, a phase in our life that we can only reach after our other more basic needs have been met (food, shelter, love, safety, etc).

 

Recent comments about my “newfound” creativity have really led me to question why now? What has changed? And looking at this pyramid, it seems clear why to me. Let’s be honest, 2 years ago, when I was just finished school and looking for work, planning a wedding, and still figuring things out, I wasn’t in the space to be creative. And by that same logic, it also sort of makes sense to me why others in my life might not be in the space for creativity in their lives because they are still working on work stability or finding a partner, or… [insert whatever applies]. How is that for synchronicity?

 

That said, I really think that it’s important to have creativity in your life, even if you don’t have the other elements (this is where I disagree with Maslow) because creativity makes it easier to understand, cope, navigate all of the other needs in our lives. So while creativity might only really be able for many once we’ve gotten to a place where we are emotional, financially, and environmentally (situation) able to focus on exploring our creativity, I agree with others who think that creativity is probably most important and beneficial to us when we aren’t in those spaces/times in our lives because it often gives us the means of navigating those needs in our lives. In fact, Maslow said:

 

The key question isn't "What fosters creativity?" But it is why in God's name isn't everyone creative? Where was the human potential lost? How was it crippled? I think therefore a good question might be not why do people create? But why do people not create or innovate? We have got to abandon that sense of amazement in the face of creativity, as if it were a miracle if anybody created anything.”

 

I like that this quote attempts to demystify creativity and take it out of the realm of an elite few.

I guess what I’m trying to clarify here is that I agree with Maslow that many of us aren’t creating because we’re so focused on everything else that we don’t give ourselves time or permission to explore the elements on the top of his pyramid, BUT, I think that this is due, in large part, to the fact that our society has taught us that art is a luxury that can only be explored when we’ve got everything else settled. The first trick, I think, is to undo this type of thinking and revalue creativity in our lives/society. The second trick, I think, which is related to his quote, is to realize that no one owns creativity. It isn’t reserved for a certain group of people. Everyone has the ability to be creative; it’s just a question of figuring out how you create and developing your skills in that area that is the challenge.

 

In the last while, as I’ve been exploring my own creativity, the following ideas have been rolling around in my cranium, jiggling themselves into the crevices, and changing the way I feel about “art” in my life.

 

The need to slow down, watch less TV, escape the rat race more and embrace the art of solitude

 

Seeing what I do creatively as a learning process, inspirations, instead of looking for perfection. I think this is big because we’re always so scared of failing or not being good enough that we stop ourselves from ever actually doing anything. And every success that is out there is preceded by way more failures than we ever see. After all, Michelangelo didn’t get the Sistine Chapel right on the first go, nor did any other artist out there that we admire.

 

The acceptance that some will love what I do, and others will hate it, and that’s ok. It’s been really significant in my life to learn from others who are brave enough to put themselves out there and share their learning experiences and inspirations. I would like to be able to contribute to that exchange/discussion on creativity. I think that accepting that your art will never be “perfect” but that it can be perfect for someone else, is more important a realization than preventing yourself from doing anything out of fear of not being good enough.

 

How to we unblock and find our own creative voice? Julia Cameron tried to address the issue with her book The Artist’s Way, however for many I suspect this book may not be for everyone because the book is based on the premise that creativity and spirituality (in whatever form you view them) are linked to one another and that’s not something that everyone is comfortable with. Moreover, while I think it’s important to know why you don’t give yourself permission to create, or see value in the creating that you do, I don’t know that we always need to go down memory lane and find every incident of criticism, fear, or rejection that informed those ideas/feelings.

 

Sometimes I think that we just need to change the way we think about art and creativity and just start trying to create

 

  • Stop thinking about art as something only an elite few can do
  • Stop thinking of art as something you aren’t good enough to do
  • Stop thinking about art as that you have to be perfect act, right away
  • Start thinking of art as a meditation
  • Start thinking about art as play
  • Start thinking of art as necessary

 

So, for the friend who sparked this thought process (I’m sure she knows who she is), and any others out there who are stopping themselves from creating, get off your butt and start doing instead of dreaming. It’s important. If you can let go of the fears of criticism and enjoy the process, I think art can make you happier, more whole, and brighten your world (aesthetically and emotionally).

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