The photo above is a picture of Barbara Demorest, who founded Knitted Knockers, my absolute favorite things to knit. She's sitting on a pile of (as-yet-unstuffed) Knockers. I added to the pile this morning when I mailed off over 60 Knockers I made--I sent them to her organization to distribute, free, to cancer survivors who've had mastectomies. This is such a rewarding and compelling reason to knit.
Below you can see what a Knocker looks like once it's been stuffed with polyester. So much better than the silicone/plastic prostheses, which are heavy and can promote sweating and irritation. Knitted Knockers are light, airy, washable, and more closely resemble a genuine breast.
Let me allow Barbara and her organization to explain, as they can do it much better than I can.
If you've had a mastectomy, I hope you will contact the organization and ask for a free Knitted Knocker.
And if you're a knitter, I certainly hope you will volunteer to make a few of these. If you do, be sure to go to the organization's website to find a zillion patterns (knitted or crocheted, and many options for how to make them) and a list of "approved yarns." Using only approved yarns is very important, as only certain fibers can be tolerated next to delicate and/or healing skin. Thank you for considering this!
Here's the bag I sent to the organization this morning. It's absolutely stuffed to the gills with Knockers I've made while watching tv in the evenings. So easy to do, and so helpful to breast cancer survivors.
Just drawing repetitive lines is soooooooo relaxing. Any excuse to just do some linework and I can feel my breathing slow, my focus deepen, and the world falls away.
A good thing to know about in these troubled times.
At the museum, a troubled woman destroys a sand painting meticulously created over days by Tibetan monks. The monks are not disturbed. The work is a meditation. They simply begin again.
It's not a full moon; in fact, she is waning. But all the same the Moon woke me very early this morning, calling through my window. I felt I should pay tribute. This was the result.
Hommage à la Déesse de la Lune!
Starting about 2.30 this morning--a bad case of insomnia resulted in this tile. And then once I began, I couldn't stop tangling as the day wore on.
Yesterday I finished unpacking the house (after "only" ten months, 4-5 of which I was useless because of the broken wrist. But still!
I next need to hang pictures, and organize supplies and furniture in my studio. But it feels fabulous to be unpacked finally, and to know in general where things are.
I haven't been allowing myself to indulge in art in order to get the house stuff done. But starting with the above tile--and now that I know where most of my art supplies are--I couldn't help myself today. So I went a little nuts.
WHEN A GOOD TILE GOES BAD...
Oh my, the above tile was meant to be a practice of the Delft technique. But it fell apart when I thought I'd use Copic Markers (about which I clearly know nothing!) to shade a bit under the bands. The result: uneven shading and a "hard line"--I tried to save it with graphite and a tortillion, but really it was a hot mess.
But hey. No fail, no learn, right? So I'm posting it.
JUST KEEP ON GOING...
Once I finished that one I just couldn't stop, and did this one (I left off the Copics until I learn more about them). Enjoying the blue-and-white a lot.
And if that wasn't enough, I indulged myself in some glitter markers that were recommended by an artist friend (see her review of them here):
Have not tried these yet but will certainly report back when I do. They are very inexpensive (About $10 or so for all these)--and the package even arrives with refills.
You can see the refills above the markers. I got these on amazon.
Tomorrow I have to "stuff the art genie back in the bottle" in order to get some required tasks done...and I have to keep her there for awhile, probably. But today was a total indulgence.
The thing about Zentangle® is that you never know where it's going to take you. Much like life. I began this tile 2-3 years ago--it didn't look anything like what you see here--and left it totally unfinished. Abandoned. I re-discovered it two days ago while unpacking (yes, I am still unpacking after 9 months of being here) and somehow just couldn't throw it out, though I was tempted. It stared at me and challenged me to reconstruct it or make it work in some way.
Basically it began life as a black tile which had been roughly shaded sort-of-white with the use of a soapstone, and then I think I had used some type of tool to see if I could score the tangle "Tripoli" into the soapstone background. It didn't work and I loathed the look of it. So put it away. I find it hard to believe that I didn't just toss it.
I finished it today in a very fast, sloppy way--because it was "just an experiment"--and now I rather like it. It has a pastel or oil paint-y look to it. I completely ignored the unpleasant beginning and re-built the entire concept.
This reminds me of something I learned in my childhood: A family member once accused me of "never finishing anything you start." I thought about it for awhile, got mad, and then decided she was right. So I made a major effort over the next few months to go around and finish all my unfinished projects. I must have been about ten, and I remember the resulting satisfaction. Although I hadn't liked the criticism, it spurred me to develop discipline.
Since then, it's rare for me to put something away unfinished. If anything, I've gone to the opposite extreme--I sometimes finish things immediately that might benefit from a longer pause.
(I do have one quilt that has been "paused" for 40 years. Er...it may be time to get back to that one!)
The other tile I did today was this one below. I'll put the completed tile first and then include two photos of the very beginning and the middle stages. (I know the tile background looks different in the photos but it's all the same tile--just different lighting)
Some things--like unpacking--take me longer to finish, because I just don't like doing them. But eventually, that learned discipline from childhood takes over and they do get done. It just takes me 50 times longer to get to the finish line than it does if I enjoy what I'm doing.
As a non-holiday celebrator, I appreciate this quiet time of year (especially tonight, Christmas Eve, and tomorrow) and always give myself permission to do whatever the heck I feel like doing for a couple of days.
That does not include unpacking.
It does include reading, drawing, tangling, and general lollygagging.
Happy Holidays to all, and to all a good night!
To my mind, tonight is Solstice Night. The longest night.
Winter Solstice is late morning tomorrow.
When I sat down to tangle at sunset today, it didn't dawn on me just how much the result might express the season. In retrospect, this was certainly a Solstice Tangle. As I worked, I was aware of the gathering dark, and deep silence.
May all beings be safe.
May all beings know peace.
May we all celebrate the return of the Light tomorrow.
In the bleak mid-winter
Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter
This easy-to-draw tangle is brand new from the Zentangle® folks, and is named Rumpus. My version today is blindingly bright. Feel free to put your sunglasses on to view it.
This was done with a black Micron PN pen, graphite, and a Rainbow Lead Colored pencil.
I do hope my next version is a bit tamer! I think I'll be using this tangle a lot as it is so enjoyable to draw.
NOTE: If you are a fan of the Trump administration and its policies, you will NOT be happy reading the next section of today's post. It's your choice whether or not to keep reading.
While I rarely comment on politics--it is not what I choose to focus on here--what I'm showcasing below is actually a photograph of a hand-hooked rug which cannot be separated from the current political climate
On the left is Emily K Robertson's hand hooked rug, titled "Trumped." It is her contribution to a superb juried show of fiber art currently traveling across the United States to protest the Trump Administration's actions and policies.
The show is titled Threads of Resistance, and you can view details on its context and its current location by clicking on that title. A wonderfully produced catalog for the show is also available on amazon.
It's well worth your time. If you disagree with this political view, it will make you uncomfortable. BUT, even if you agree, the show will still make you uncomfortable.
It is a very challenging exhibit.
I highly recommend both show and catalog.
Most of the pieces in the show appear to be quilts. I spent time today looking at the catalog, and I see that it's possible Emmy has the only hooked rug in the show.
My only criticism of the catalog, which is beautifully produced and the next best thing to actually seeing the show in person, is that it's not clear to me on a first read what the medium is for each piece. Quilt? Photo? Painting? Hooked rug? The information may be in there, but I didn't see it. However, it's a minor criticism. The full title of the show is: "Threads of Resistance: A Juried Exhibition Created to Protest the Trump Administration's Actions and Policies."
A word about Emmy Robertson: I'm lucky to count her as a friend, having met her at the Green Mountain Rug Hooking Guild years ago. She's a past president of that guild, and a phenomenally talented rug designer and rug hooker. She's also extraordinarily prolific. When she lived in my area she was kind enough to join our rug hooking group and always served as a source of inspiration. Many of her rugs are designed around political topics. She is an ordained minister who chooses to pursue her ministry via political action. If I had to sum up her spiritual philosophy, it is captured in her favorite motto: "Love Kindness."
Thanks, Emmy, for letting me showcase your rug!
“The function of the artist in a disturbed society is to give awareness of the universe, to ask the right questions, and to elevate the mind.”
I hope you will take a careful look at the above piece. It's made from 28 triangular tiles placed together. Each tile is unique, and was tangled by my good friend AE. The overall effect is stunning. And, they can all be moved around easily for a completely different look.
Take another moment to look at each individual triangle and you'll see the level of creativity at work here.
* * *
This afternoon I returned from spending five days with AE.. She's been dealing with a particularly challenging and confusing illness for months now, and coincidentally (or was it...?), she learned Zentangle right around the time that the illness announced itself. For the last several weeks she has been receiving intensive and intrusive treatments, and I can't emphasize how often she has mentioned that tangling has enabled her to cope.
And while coping, she has been producing these mini-beauties. Here are a few more examples (with thanks to her for letting me post these):
The meditative nature of Zentangle has been extremely helpful while she has been in treatment. Tiles are the perfect size for portability and for tangling while waiting to be seen in a doctor's office. One of the things I truly love about tangling is that it is a form of moving meditation, and enables a person to focus completely on the present, line by line, and not get caught up in past or future. This is a huge advantage if you are waiting for a treatment session, a doctor's appointment or any stressful situation. AE has been making the best of her time, as you can see here.
* * *
We have known each other for almost 40 years (how the hell did that happen?) and have a lot of shared interests. We met while pursuing a particular spiritual tradition and soon discovered a mutual love of art and crafts. For years we both did bead work (she focused on loom work, I focused on bead embroidery) and between us we accrued enough beads to open a bead store. Not that that was our intention; as we are both "tool hoarders," we never considered selling our stock and each still have pounds of seed beads. We are constant knitters and each have huge yarn stashes. We both enjoy writing and have blogs; she has also written a novel. We've each accumulated way too many art supplies. We each meditate daily. We both read constantly, and our home libraries have many similar books. I wouldn't even want to speculate about how many books each of our homes contain...too many.
I have to laugh at the similarities--we are each hopelessly determined and obsessive in pursuing our interests. In just a few short months, she's produced as many tangles as I have in all the years I've been tangling. She has taken her tangling kit to every doctor's appointment and treatment session, and used that time well. It's an honor to share some of her work here.
And yet we are also very different, something I also enjoy. I value our discussions, whether we are agreeing or disagreeing.
I am fortunate to have her as a friend, and hope we continue our crazy, obscure, satisfying interests for years to come. She is kind, resilient, talented, hilarious and courageous. A gift in my life.
"Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down."
– Oprah Winfrey
"There is nothing better than a friend, unless it is a friend with chocolate."
― Linda Grayson
I hereby declare an official end to my "Broken Wrist Series" of tangles.
My wrist (and my hand, which was the real worry) is coming back to life and acting more and more normal with every passing day. Finally. I've been out of commission for nearly four whole months, but I'm returning to more normal life now!
To celebrate, I tangled with a friend today.
At the moment I'm in upstate New York, and it's been quite a few days with no art, so the above was a warmup. After which I did this:
I stuck that tile into the pre-strung journal on one of the "not-strung" pages, with another tangle I tried recently:
Recently I'd bought some transparent photo corners and am happy I did--I like them better than the opaque corners. I'm enjoying using this journal, which allows me the choice to draw directly on a page or to paste in a tile. Some of the pages have strings pre-drawn, and others are blank; I appreciate having both options.
My buddy and I are both taking an online sketching course that begins tomorrow. We'll see if either of us has the guts to post some of what we do.
Wow, does it feel good to be drawing again.
Isn't that what fans are, after all?
I was lucky enough to go to two workshops for CZTs (Certified Zentangle® Teachers) in Connecticut the other day, and we spent the morning with Diane Yaciuk, CZT, learning how to create tangled fans. I was fascinated. So fascinated, I never got to tangle my own fan. That's why this post is about other people's work.
Diane is a marbled paper addict and expert. Check out her work on Facebook HERE. Somewhere along the line, she became interested in Zentangle and fans, and she began the workshop with a little history and a lot of examples to inspire us.
Not only was the workshop itself completely absorbing, but Diane also told us the story behind the paper used in the fans. It's made in Vietnam, in a rural village with no other source of income, and the tradition is in danger of dying out. Some of the papers (see the black paper at the top below) take 100+ steps to create. You cannot believe how luscious these papers are. They have no chemicals or sizing. They are thick and sturdy. Some have tooth and some are very smooth. Diane is starting to sell the papers in order to help the town. You can read all about this HERE (don't miss the videos and fascinating history) and other tabs on that site will lead you to other things Diane's involved in (including her fabulous scarves). The paper story is very compelling. We each got to go home with one of each of the papers. I can't wait to experiment with mine.
Photo of some of the paper samples below. And underneath that are more photos of in-progress fans that I took as participants in the workshop began to tangle on their own fans. Prepare to drool!
After a brief introduction and some good instructions, participants started to work on their own fans. I had permission to take these photos, and was so busy wandering around that I never got my own fan started. But I hope to begin working on it soon. Thanks to all those who allowed me to take photos...especially as I cannot credit most of you because I can't remember who was working on what! Oy.
IN PROGRESS. ...Well actually, this is the start of the linework for my own fan! Finally. That is Kathy Barringer's wonderful tangle "Antique" at the top of the fan, and Chase Messineo's tangle "Ziggle" right underneath (that tangle isn't finished). Plus random linework at the bottom. The finished fan (I added color and more FineTec) is more toward the end of this post.
...and...TA-DA! THE FINISHED FANS ARE BELOW.
DRUM ROLL, PLEASE...
© 2017 to Ann E. Grasso, CZT. This spectacular finished fan is by Ann Grasso. I forgot to mention that one of the goodies in our kits was a jar of FineTec paint. Ann is obviously familiar with these paints and has used them with spectacular results here. I drool every time I look at this. Thanks to Ann for this photograph and permission to post this.
Aren't those finished pieces wonderful? I need to get busy on doing my own. Every summer I reach for a fan when it gets hot and humid. Now I'm curious about their history as well as their practical uses. Time to do some research.
Check back on this post occasionally. I may be updating it, as I am on the trail of getting permission to post other fans as they are finished. Thank you Diane, for one inspiring and very fine workshop.
Next post: The afternoon was equally impressive. I'll keep that topic under wraps for a bit. I hope to have it up in a couple of days.
I'm a textile artist (traditional rug hooking, punch needle rug hooking, and other textile arts), long-time meditator and coach, focused on learning about the interplay of art, creativity, and mindfulness every day.
NEXT INTRO TO ZENTANGLE CLASS:
No immediate group classes scheduled (I'm open to hearing about a good venue in Western Massachusetts. I am always happy to teach 1-1 and/or in a small group in your home.)
Come and amaze yourself!
SITES TO WATCH:
Insight Meditation Society
Oxford Rug Hooking School
Zentangle: The Official Site
Green Mountain Rug Hooking
Massachusetts Tarot Society