Thursday, September 30, 2010

[hearts]

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I mentioned a while ago that I was working on my first quilt. It’s white on white (cream and white) so you can’t see the details very well in the photos, but here are some sneak peaks:

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Close ups of what I did with the hearts! I kept the edges raw and did really jagged uneven sewing for an artsy effect. And, bonus, there’s so many seams that there’s no way one of those hears is EVER coming off!

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And the edges. I just have to finish off the back and polish up a few small details and then I’m done.

I’ve broken 2 needles on the damn thing! I’ve never broken a sewing needle before! Not ever. I enjoyed the free edges and sewing the hearts, but finishing the quilt up has become a bit of a chore. Probably because the end is sight, I’m getting impatient, rushing things and screwing up because of it (I did break 2 needles after all!).

If I can get the last details done soon to my satisfaction, I’ll actually be quite pleased with the project. Sure there are some mistakes (some of which I’ve covered up more successfully than others! and no, I won’t share them if you can’t find them!) but it was a new project for me and overall it turned out mostly like what I’d envisioned when I started it. Which for me, well that’s a big deal!

And, I’m also really looking forward to being able to devote my time to projects soon! I’m feeling the need to paint again.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

wallpaper for a bookworm

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photo source

aka: if you can’t afford books, look smart anyways!

Sorry, that was meant to be tongue and cheek! I can’t help but love the idea of a wall of wallpaper’d books! Cracks me up, tickles me pink, and makes my afternoon!

Monday, September 27, 2010

small art penpal faeries

I joined in on a small art exchange hosted by Kira over at journal.girl. It's been a rather hectic week and I admit to falling a bit behind in the delivery aspect... it's only going to get mailed tomorrow (I'm really sorry but it's been a week of overtime and crazy work schedules).

Anyways... here's some sneak peaks of what I sent off:

the art project, 6x6 inches


envelope art


a little bit of inspiration on the wrapping

and more envelope art!
I love these little projects that bring the internet a little closer together!

Friday, September 24, 2010

the etymology of Mariah

I don't know if you know this about my name, but let me tell you, I don't think my parents did me any favours when they came up with it! Don't get me wrong, I know, it's lovely. I've heard that my entire life and it's nice to know that people like the name. But growing up I hated it for many, many reasons!

1. NO ONE can pronounce it. In fact, I will answer to pretty much anything that resembles it, from Brian/Ryan, to Mar-ye-yah, to Maya. Oddly enough, I never turn my head from Maria. Then again, oddly enough, no one ever thinks to read my name and actually try it as a Maria with a y. Strange, don't you think?

Oh, if you're not sure, Marya=Mariah. Yes, like Mariah Carey.

2. Mariah Carey. Do I need to say more? When I was a kid, there was no Mariah Carey. But then that bitch came along and stole my name. Fricken hell!

3. Marya (Mariah) = a bitter, rebellious wind. Only to be trumped by the fact that I was a gasy baby and thus this was the butt (pun intended) of many jokes.

4. Mariah (from the musical Paint Your Wagon song And they call the wind Maria (pronounced Mariah)):



Away out here they got a name
For rain and wind and fire
The rain is Tess, the fire Joe,
And they call the wind Maria

Maria blows the stars around

And sends the clouds a flyin'
Maria makes the mountains sound
Like folks were up there dying

Maria

Maria
They call the wind Maria

Before I knew Maria's name

And heard her wail and whinin
I had a girl and she had me
And the sun was always shinin'

But then one day I left my girl

I left her far behind me
And now I'm lost, so gone and lost
Not even God can find me

Maria

Maria
They call the wind Maria

Out here they got a name for rain

For wind and fire only
But when you're lost and all alone
There ain't no word but lonely

And I'm a lost and lonely man

Without a star to guide me
Maria blow my love to me
I need my girl beside me

Maria

Maria
They call the wind Maria

Maria

Maria!
Blow my love to me


Ack! Could it get any more depressing? Seriously? THIS is the song that inspired both my name and Mariah Carey's name. I'm thinking that we both share very sick cruel parents.

5. Mariah:  Black Maria (again pronounced Mariah): a paddywagon or police van for prisoners

Like I said, not a huge fan of my name! Seriously. It might be beautiful for many, but damnit, it's fricken depressing! The only thing that makes it worse was the fact that it was a coin toss decision. My father won the girl's name but if my mom had won the choices were equally depressing: Cassandra or Delilah were her picks.

I was doomed from the start....

Thursday, September 23, 2010

branding: what I hate about it


All over the internet you'll find guides telling you that in order to promote you blog/business, online identity you need to master the secret of modelling yourself into a brand. And it drives me nuts. I don't aspire to be a brand in real life, so why must I aspire to be a brand online in order to attract attention?

Honestly?

Maybe this seems like a naive questions but it actually strikes me as something of a paradox in advice. I should be me, but packaged in a shiny little box, all tied up with a pretty ribbon, in order to be a marketable project.

When did we start thinking in terms of selling ourselves. I grew up believing selling yourself = selling out. So it sort of frightens me to see how this seems to be the status quo now.

Companies sell brand/lifestyle identity. Now bloggers are selling it. Whatever happened to embracing our multilayered, complicated, fascinating selves? Because I don't know about you, but I am many things beyond creator of some origami ornaments.

For instance, sometimes (often) I am a ranter.
Sometimes I exude pure Pollyanna-esque joy
Other times I wallow in depression and won't leave the house except for work

But I do always try to undermine the myth that we must be miserable in order for our art to thrive (I hate that narrative/identity)

I use big words, but I swear like nobody's business. How do I brand that?

I like literature and think reading rocks. But I read on an iKindle because honestly, well even though I like the feel of a good book... my phone weighs less and carries more, which leaves more room in my purse for other things, like yoga pants and lunch, and a lot of journals that I write in throughout the day.

What brand is that?

I like paper. But I also like paint, and photography. And other things that don't start with a P. But mostly, I'm a little bit of Crafty A.D.D. I have a list 10 feet long of things that I want to do, and maybe only a foot of them will ever really get done!

Sometimes I wanna write sloppy and talk about how great the new season of Being Erica is going to be!

I know I should use bit.ly and track all my links... but honestly, I'm way too lazy for that shit!

I want to write about what inspires me, when it inspires me. Over the summer it was crafty stuff and canning. Before that, politics. Now it's work and spirituality. But I like art, so I'll probably link it all together.

I just can't guarantee that there will ever be a Marya/Lotus Tree Craft brand. Because I'm a complicated, evolving, dynamic being and I think that should be reflected on my blog. So when I'm interested in art, I'll write about it. When I'm jonesing to bake, I'm gonna bake people. And when the world seems wrong and I need to vent, well nothing's ever stopped me before, so I'm certainly not going to stop now.

I just wish people would stop talking about branding and start talking about authenticity and living a life that allows us the space to explore and create and develop into our bestest self.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

updates

Things are crazy in my world at the moment. September has been a crazy busy month and I’m looking forward to things settling sometime in the hopefully near future.

Though, who knows, I may be waiting until the end of semester to feel like things have calmed down. Which is not good news given that it’s only the first month in!

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not complaining. But I am finding that I’m looking more and more forward to my weekends and down time these days.

5pm Friday is looking better and better!

In other news, less whiny…

  • I’m still working on my quilt. Soon to be unveiled, I just need to fix a couple of glitches first!
  • I visited Club Bead Plus and thankfully managed to restrain myself. But oy vey! At first it doesn’t seem like a great deal but if you buy enough, it can be (it gets cheaper based on the type of membership you have). I saw women buying bead quantities that put me to shame. Thank god!
  • I’m back in my Nia course, which I love, but this year because of my knee and my crazy busy work life, I find myself taking a fair amount of time to settle into the practice.
  • I’m watching a lot more movies lately. I guess it’s a sure sign that it’s fall! Happy Fall Equinox people (for tomorrow).

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

origami gift box ornament

Ok, so the holidays are a long ways away, I know… but for those of us crafty peeps… now is the time to start planning and folding and creating in order to be ready for the season

origami box ornament

So when I discovered these lovelies last year, too late in the season of course, I knew that it was something that I wanted to share for this year instead! (Follow link for original image and instructions).

I think there are many great things you can do with them!

  • Make 'em small and hang them on your tree
  • Can anyone say 12 days of Christmas?
  • Advent calendar goodness, oh my! (see last year’s project for a friend and for my husband)
  • use them to hold jewellery or any other little goodies (maybe of a crafty persuasion?)
  • even better, wrap expensive, but small gifts in them (hint, hint…)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

i [heart] sewing: heart applique quilt

It's been a long time since I've sewn. A very long time.

What, you think I'm exaggerating? Well, considering the layer of dust that I had to wipe off my computer...sewing machine

But I sewed all weekend and I realized that I really miss sewing. I'm working on a special project for a friend's baby (and I am assuming she doesn't read this blog so I'm going to share what that is... if you do, just pretend to be surprised!)

I'm making a baby's quilt, with staggered hearts.


So I cut out a ton of these hearts (my husband helped)! And then I sewed them to the top level of the quilt before sewing everything together. All that's left is the final edging and details... to be unveiled once the project is completed.

Overall, I have to admit that I'm pretty pleased with myself and the way the project has turned out. There are a couple small glitches, but considering how long its been since I've sewn, and that I've never done a quilt before... yeah... I did pretty darn good!

Once I get more thread and can finish the last bits, I'll be sure to share!

sustainability and art

Ethics of art

Recently I was listening to a podcast (I've just discovered podcasts and I love them) that challenged me to list my 5 most important values in life, and then to take a hard look at whether or not I was living up to them. I’m sad to say that the answer is no. In the top 5 values in Marya land, Integrity and Sustainability play a major role. For me they are probably the 2 values that I hold most dear. They even come before Family.

Don’t be fooled though, as the challenge points out, each value includes sub-values that are inherent to the larger topic. For example, under the integrity umbrella I would include loyalty, compassion, honesty, and trustworthiness. Under sustainability I would include vegetarian living, shopping ethically, living holistically, and being a conscientious consumer. Overall, I feel that the 2 (sustainability and integrity) are inter-dependent. I mean, if I strive to live a sustainable life, then I must have a certain amount of integrity when it comes down to doing so.

Therefore, when I examine my crafty endeavours, I have to question whether or not I am pursuing said endeavours in a way that is in keeping with my values. And the answer:

Epic Fail!

All the paint, paper, glues, etc… not sustainable. Not made in fair trade factories. Not toxin free, nor environmentally responsible.

But is sustainability really possible in art? Particularly when art and craft supplies are already so costly? Can I find block printing supplies that are sustainable? Can acrylic paint ever be non toxic, in the fullest sense of the word? And where do my stretch canvases really come from? Oy Vey! I’m stressed, frustrated and full of guilty already because I know that the answers thus far… well, they’re not looking good!

Furthermore, if I actually go out of my way to find sustainable art products, will the act only be undermined by the fact that I have to buy them online and have them shipped from all around the world?

Monday, September 13, 2010

origami gift boxes

Tried my hand at origami boxes and created a new ornament packaging:
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At first I wasn’t sure how the boxes would turn out because it felt like the box looked a little too homemade. And while I’m all about the handmade, I don’t want to be sending out homemade looking products… cause there’s a big difference in the level of professionalism that goes with each category!

But I’m pleased with the final product. I think the pop of colour and the small crane give the box the punch it needs to make it a bit more special.

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What do you think? Does it work for you? Would you prefer a different colour combo? I’d have gone with black but the custom order was very specifically not in favour of black.

Instructions for box here

Friday, September 10, 2010

food for thought on racism, anti-semitism, and anti-Muslim sentiment

I'm in a more pensive mood lately. Maybe it's in the air... maybe it's astrology, maybe it's converging Hindu, Muslim, and Jewish holidays. I don't know, but I'm a thinking a lot lately...

And this post is right up my alley today. I couldn't agree more with how scary the rise of anti-Islam/Muslim sentiment is becoming in the world. And while I never made the link myself to anti-Semitism and the Holocaust, and the scary places that leads to, I believe she's right in drawing the link and that's a very very terrifying thought.

questions

?

I'm am an asker of questions. Many, many questions. All of the time. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if my mother told me that my first word was "why".

But here's the thing: I'm starting to learn that as much as people say they are open to questions, that questions rock, ask away, etc, etc... it's not true. People don't like questions. Not really. Especially if you ask tricky questions that challenge assumptions or ideas. That force people to look at things from another perspective. Or to examine their own opinions.

I have an analytical mind. I want to know why, how, when, where, what, and who. I tell everyone I meet, that I have questions. That I ask a lot of questions. And everyone says that's great, no problem, bring them on, we love questions. But I'm always confronted, eventually, with the fact that this isn't true. And I'm not someone who asks a lot of stupid questions (yes, there is such a thing). I pay attention (usually, and if I haven't, I don't ask) and I always try to ask pertinent questions and I restrict how many I ask because I know too many questions can derail the conversation. In general, I would say that while I ask a lot of questions, I'm fairly conscientious about my question asking cause I know how irritating questions can be if there are too many or redundant questions...

Eventually though, people get tired of questions.

And I've come to the conclusion that people don't like my questions because they feel like I'm disagreeing when I ask them. But just because I want to know, it doesn't mean that I don't agree. And herein lays my biggest problem.

I'm a questioner who is ultimately rather submissive in nature. My rebellions, the few that there are, have all be relatively tame. Oh sure, I have a couple of tattoos and a pierced nose, and I don't have the best school attendance record but I was on the yearbook club and the grad committee. And I think family is important and there are certain things I would just never do (sometimes I can surprise people by how conservative and prudish I can be). Ultimately, I'm a self-proclaimed non-joiner who always joins in the end. Always.

But because I ask questions and am the proverbial devil's advocate, I am often perceived as being much more rebellious in nature. Which is one of life's greatest ironies because I often spend a great deal of time thinking that I need to be stronger willed; that I shouldn't be so easily swayed in my opinions;  or that I should be more analytical about the information that comes my way.

But I ask questions. Always. And they're always getting me into trouble.

You'd think by now I'd have learned to shut up already, but I just can't help myself. After all, I just really want to know why people feel, even though they deny it, that questions indicate dissension and rebellion?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

how simple paper bead wine glass charms from recycled paper (and not recycled metal!)

Not so long ago, a friend and I were having  a conversation about making wine glass charms, trying to figure out a cost effective, quick way of making a large quantity of charms that were still pretty.
I think I may have found a solution! And of course, being the paper loving lady that I am, particularly interested in green living, I found an idea that brings together my love of paper and my love of recycled art!

Ok, first things first: making the beads!

I found this video here:


Here and here (last link not round beads) are more instructions if you need more explanation.

Next, making the metal ring!

Here’s a link (with even more links) on making the metal ring to insert the bead onto!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

etsy feature

Just a quick post to share that yours truly was featured in a lovely treasury of one of a kind artwork!

rebar’s vegan fudge brownies… non vegan version… yum!

As mentioned before, I spent my Monday cooking and baking and I just had to share one of the goodies I created: a non vegan version of the Rebar fudge brownie (I love that restaurant… seriously if you’re ever in Victoria you’ve got to go!) Not only does the Rebar cookbook makes yummy brownies, the restaurant serves delicious smoothies and other goodies!

  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa
  • 1 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 cup coffee
  • 3/4 cup milk (soy if vegan)
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips (carob if vegan)

Preheat oven to 325, grease 9x9 pan

Combine dry ingredients

Combine wet ingredients

Mix the 2 together.

Bake 25 minutes or until fork/toothpick comes out clean (for me it ended up being 40 mins, not 25)

These were really quite delicious, I have to say! I added a cream cheese icing on the top and they were sinfully delicious!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

de retour from the long weekend

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This long weekend was busy. Between birthdays, stagettes, training, crane folding, and cooking/baking… the weekend flew by. One of the best things about this weekend though?

All the yummy foods!

The weekend started off right, with yummy Indian food. On Friday we went to one of my favourite local Indian restaurants, Bombay Mahal, for a birthday dinner. I’ve never dragged my partner there, because ironically, he’s not much on the Indian/spicy foods, but I go there often enough with girlfriends. It was nice to share a local gem with so many friends.

And then we ended the weekend with a bang by spending Monday cooking up a storm. Cassoulet, lasagna, vegan brownies, banana bread, and pizza. I’ve never made homemade pizza before (not that I made this one either… as Paul would be quick to point out),  but there was something satisfying about knowing that this pizza (see photo) was made from scratch. He made the dough, my tomato sauce, tomatoes, onions, and peppers from our garden…  It was simple, but yummy, and reminded me of the fact that I really want to strive to move away from store bought processed foods (hence the fact that we made so much food to freeze yesterday).

Can’t wait to dig into some lasagne for lunch today!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Test your origami fold recognition skills! Fun quiz for origami fans.

Friday, September 3, 2010

the dangers of single narratives and cultural appropriation

A recent discussion with native students who had been asked to go into a classroom to talk about native knowledge/traditions left me thinking about cultural stories and authority. The students were reticent to go into the classroom because they felt like they'd be on display but all I could think about (but not figure a tactful way to ask it) was "who do you want to be in charge of telling your stories?"

I grew up with a mother who was very concerned with voice appropriation (cultural appropriation) in native communities and who would never dare to make a button blanket despite her love of them, because she felt she had no right to infringe upon the traditional craft of another cultural (particularly one who had been infringed upon so much).

As a student of literature, this idea of cultural appropriation (taking on the voice of another culture, or attempting to speak for another culture) was something that was a deep interest to me (in fact, I hummed and hawed for a long time before finally allowing myself to write about Indian (from India... because for some reaons that's never clear to people) literature. After all, who was I, the white girl who'd descended from Europeans who'd visited horrible atrocities on other nations (I'm part Dutch... and the Dutch and South Africa don't have the best track records). So how could I possibly dare to think I could become a literary (sort of) authority on sonnets from India... really?

In fact, this is still an issue that doesn't sit well with me because I think western culture is engaging in a whole new form of cultural imperialism through ESL and globalisation. But if the people of a culture won't step up to tell their stories, and if they are stories that need to be collected and told, is it wrong for an outsider to step in and tell them? To at least open the door so that another can enter it and finish the story? I'm not sure what the answer to that question is. And while I sat with these students, who understandbly don't want to be a token native spectacle for their peers, I couldn't help feeling like I wanted to be blunt and rude and say, "dammit, if you don't tell the stories, someone else will. Do you really want someone else to tell your stories? Do you want to let them take ownership and authority over your narrative?"

But how do you ask that in a polite conversation? I've been chewing on that question for the past few days now, and I still don't know how... but I'm starting to suspect that maybe, I should just ask it, bluntly, as is... and let them do with it what they will.  Because the risk of not telling your own stories, in your own voice, is that of letting a single narrative take over and tell an incomplete story of your identity, which only perpetuates the stereotypes out there. Which is why, when I listened to this TED talk on my ride to work this morning, I couldn't help but be struck by the synchronicity of it (and also inspired to want to create a literary course that starts with this argument):

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