I've been so busy teaching mindfulness meditation that I haven't had time to tangle (except for that last post) in weeks. Oh boy, do I miss it. Today I took a class called Renaissance Gold with Stefanie van Leeuwen in Holland. (I love Zoom! It has opened up a globe-full of teachers.) This was the tile I produced in class.
She's a gifted teacher. You can find her by clicking on her name above. This has been a wildly popular class for her and you can see why. The class was packed with Certified Zentangle Teachers (CZTs), always a good sign--sort of like going to dine in a new-to-you ethnic restaurant and noticing that many of the patrons are of that particular ethnicity: You immediately know you are in good hands and that your meal will be the Real Deal. We all had a relaxing time.
Art offers sanctuary to everyone willing to open their hearts as well as their eyes.
I am unbelievably rusty at tangling right now. Why? Because I was rug hooking like a fiend for two months; and for the last two solid weeks I've been preparing to teach two meditation classes that begin next week. Online. Online teaching is not optimal, but what else can we do in the middle of a pandemic? We're just lucky to be able to do that.
This was an insomnia tangle, done around 1.30 am a few nights ago. I needed to pick some tangles that wouldn't require any thought at all, so I chose Scena and a variation of Doo-dah. Plus a little Therefore in the corners. It was wonderful to be tangling again, but I fear I won't get back to it until August. I'm teaching meditation for the entire month of July. We'll see how it goes.
by Kathy Kenney-Marshall
I cannot get to sleep tonight.
I toss and turn and flop.
I try to count some fluffy sheep
while o'er a fence they hop.
I try to think of pleasant dreams
of places really cool.
I don't know why I cannot sleep -
I slept just fine at school.
It may look done, but it's far from done. Just like this year. Just like this never-ending plague. After the hooking is completed, there is a LOT of cleanup--searching the back for large unhooked spots to fill in, trimming stray ends, then steaming it to lie flat and to "relax" it (a newly hooked rug is often stiff before being steamed), and then binding it. I have only a small strip 1"x2" to hook.
You can see I've hooked in "2020" around the corner (lower left and middle right). What a year. And not quite halfway over yet, with some of the highest suspense still to come.
A haiku from Dave Hayes the Weather Nut that is perfect for tonight, across our troubled continent:
Fireflies light up;
The Milky Way Galaxy
appears in the fields.
Dave writes haikus frequently and posts them to his Facebook Page; they are always wonderful. Today is Juneteenth; a good time to contemplate this poem. Perhaps the fireflies and the Milky Way will light our way through all this darkness.
I needed to dye some yarn to bind a rug that I'm nearly finished with, so I did a test skein and was pleased. Just ten grams. I liked both the color and the value.
But then I needed to dye a 4 oz (about 113g) skein to match the test skein. I'm sure I'll need a lot more yarn than that for the binding, but the big question was, could I match that tiny test skein with a regular size. Results below!
In each of the two photos above, the same tiny test skein is on the right. In the first photo on the left, you can see that the 4 oz skein came out too light. Pretty but not quite a match. I had actually already overdyed that 4 oz skein because my first try was SO light that the mismatch was even more obvious. So what you are seeing on the left was an overdye with additional dye solution.
On the right is the finished product. That was the 2nd overdye using even more dye solution. Voila, perfection! I wanted some slight variation and I got it, but I also matched the color of the small test skein. Now that I know how much dye solution to use, I should have no trouble dyeing more yarn to match as I start binding the rug.
We're still in the middle of a pandemic and we're back in the center of facing racism and injustice in America for the first time in a long time. It's been a very hard few months for this country and the rest of the world.
But, today is sunny. It's lovely out. The color I got was perfect. It all feels great, despite all our current issues, just in this moment. A lovely respite.
"Wherever you go, no matter what the weather, always bring your own sunshine." --Anthony J. D'Angelo
"Never forget that Justice is what Love looks like in public."
With everything that is underway in this country, I have no words except to quote Cornel West's thoughtful statement on what Love should look like in public.
Tonight is cloudy, but last night's moon--on its way to being full--was glorious.
Despite the turmoil and troubles in this country right now, I had a chance to take a class with Zenjo this morning, just to get myself going on tangling again. Yes, it is so important to make our voices heard. And, it's also important to take time to center ourselves so that we are responding effectively and skillfully, not just reacting from our (horrified) emotions. And so I chose to take two hours of a class to find my center. Here are the results--we first did a black and white tile, and then after the class was over I decided to tart up the tile with color. Thanks, Jo, for a lovely calming time.
"And if you are to love,
love as the moon loves.
It doesn't steal the night.
It only unveils the beauty of the dark."
My closest friend, to whom I gave this rug that I hooked years ago (2013), just sent me a photograph of the rug and the sculpture above it in her home. I love her arrangement. After I gave her the rug she gave me the carved horse figure above it, which she had found in the Southwest. Eventually I realized the carving needed to be with the rug. They are a perfect match.
I dyed the teal and red wools in the rug; the light color is actually an as-is, off-the-bolt yellow wool plaid. I loved this pattern from Underhill Farms (no longer in business) but by the time I finished the hooking I was so thoroughly sick of looking at it that I gave it to my much-loved friend who had been drooling over it right from the start. I'm delighted she still feels that way and it has a place of honor in her house.
Here is a better photograph of the actual rug.
An old friend--a former terrific boss who quickly transformed into a friend decades ago--has been asking me for some of my artwork. Her name starts with and L so I decided to do an "embedded letter" piece for her. I used Ellish as the main tangle since it's based on an L, and went from there. On a renaissance (tan) tile with a black Micron PN, black Micron 01, and white chalk pencil. With a touch of graphite.
This was the result of a class I took with the gifted teacher Romi Marks this afternoon. She really can teach anything. I'm calling this Big Fish Little Fish (and yes, I know one could see it as a Pisces image). It was a lovely relaxing few hours.
"Spend a new penny on an old friend and share an old pleasure with a new friend."
I am heartbroken over losing a good friend to COVID 19. She had a long, gruesome struggle and it's finally over. At some point about two weeks ago it became obvious that she was too damaged to come back to us, but the struggle went on. And on. And on. Horrible. She finally died last week and I have to say I was relieved on her behalf. Now the grief sets in.
But, there are still plenty of other wonderful people in the world. One in particular--my 97 year old next door neighbor--called me last evening and told me she wanted me to come over to her property and cut myself a bouquet of her lilacs, "Since you don't have any on your land." I went over this morning and did just that. She even loaned me her garden shears. I adore her, and she has absolutely no idea that I just lost a friend. But somehow, she reached out anyway. It just made my entire day.
You can imagine--I hope--the fabulous scent spreading through my home from her marvelous lilacs. Thank you, Erm! Kindness makes all the difference.
I've learned that people will forget what you said; people will forget what you did; but people will never forget how you made them feel.
“When I say it's you I like, I'm talking about that part of you that knows that life is far more than anything you can ever see or hear or touch. That deep part of you that allows you to stand for those things without which humankind cannot survive. Love that conquers hate, peace that rises triumphant over war, and justice that proves more powerful than greed.” ―Fred Rogers
Normally I don't do any type of tangling on representational art, but I made one exception for this small project yesterday. It borders on being too cutesy for me but what the heck. It's the product of a webinar I took from Zentangle® headquarters in lieu of the large multi-day seminar they had to cancel due to the pandemic.
We'd all like to "fly away" from our current global situation. I am lucky to be healthy so far, but have at least one sweet friend who is battling for her life at the moment. Everyone fighting this (and really that's all of us, even those who aren't sick) is under stress. I'll Fly Away is an old gospel song done by many choirs and artists since the 1930s. It's in the repertoire of the hospice chorus I sing in. Since I finished this tangled balloon, I've been hearing the song in my head. If you click on the link above you'll hear Alison Krauss's version, recorded for the film, O Brother Where Art Thou, which had such a great soundtrack.
Here's the same piece photographed this morning in better light and on a white background. Amazing how different things can look under different light. Much like the way we view problems in life.
"Better to be busy than to be busy worrying."
I have been both for these last couple of days. A friend is very ill with Covid-19. There is nothing to do but wait. I took a break to do some Zentangle®. As always, it was calming. My prayers are going out to her.
This is indeed a silent spring, though not entirely in the way Rachel Carson envisioned in her book. I mean the term literally: traffic is down, people are staying in their homes, all due to Covid 19. It's very quiet out there. For all the suffering and misery it is causing, and the fear, the few benefits from this pandemic experience are mighty: the lowering of air pollution, the increased awareness of our interconnection with others. New appreciation for nature as many people are getting out on walks, not to mention sleeping longer, spending more time with kids and pets.
In honor of that I include two photos friends have sent me, of two marvelous harbingers of spring.
I always enjoy these wonderful reminders of Spring when I see them in the woods. This year for a number of reasons I won't be in the woods, so it was lovely to get the photographs.
Yesterday I got a small package with something I had ordered from Etsy. Inside were the things I had ordered, along with a slip of paper I found utterly charming:
What a fun message. And I'm sure it's true.
If you, like me, are "Staying Home to Save Lives" during this pandemic, and if you're ordering things online I hope you'll consider buying from a small business when that is possible. You know they need the help.
(And no, I do not sell online. But I do like to buy from small businesses when I can.)
Slowly but surely it's coming along, and is it ever fun to do. I am totally into this rug in a way I haven't felt about hooking in years. Fun, fun, fun.
It's all about the color, and all about using up scraps that I've had for years. No new fabric, just things I've stashed away and couldn't get to before I moved to this larger space.
In such a challenging time, when we are all in "lockdown" over this pandemic, it's lovely to work in my studio, playing with color and listening to music or simply enjoying the silence.
But I'm aware of how many people are struggling--hungry, incredibly sick, risking infection by being a front-line provider, dealing with the loss of a loved one, or going bankrupt from losing a job and/or losing a business. The fear, the anxiety, the terror. So far my health is all right and I don't know anyone with the virus; I have a home and my finances are stable. I have food, friends, love. I meditate. In short, I am unbelievably privileged; and I am very aware of it. I'm also aware that my circumstances could change on a dime, any day.
May we all be safe and protected. May we all be loved; may we find peace each day, no matter what happens. And may we look after each other with compassion and kindness.
This is a photo of a line of people about 40 long, each practicing social distancing, outside a grocery store at 8.15 this morning as I was waiting to get in to buy food. We almost never see this sort of thing in the USA. Strange times for all of us the world over. At the same time, I was grateful that food was available and I had the money to buy it. Not everyone does.
Not much to do with all the closures. Fine with me, as I get to stay home and do art. Here's more Mooka practice (Mooka is named after Alphonse Mucha, the Art Nouveau genius)
Just some of the words I'm thinking and also hearing from others as the pandemic ramps up in the USA and other countries. There's the cascade of cancellations, the hoarding of odd things (toilet paper, really?) leading to empty shelves in stores. I could, but won't, go on.
With all the cancellations I've been able to focus a bit more on art. I just finished this small piece that's part of a group challenge. Meaning, a number of us are doing the same-sized piece with the same word on it, but other than that, we are each deciding on our own colors and border patterns used. It was fun to do this, and I'm doing a second one as a punch-hooked piece. I hooked this one in traditional fashion.
I didn't plan this and just made-it-up-as-I-went. And it probably looks that way! I like it though.
Today I took an online class with Joanna Quincy (a CZT from the UK) on the tangle Mooka, which I've used for years and love. But I know I can always learn tips and tricks and get better at anything, so I signed up. We did lots of fun practice and all did a similar tile. As you know if you read this blog, tangling is like handwriting and looks wildly different from person to person--part of its charm, fascination, and fun. Here is mine:
And here is the mosaic of the entire class' tiles:
Both rug hooking and tangling are incredibly relaxing, a much-needed, outrageously helpful characteristic right now. All forms of art practice can help us get through this. Read this fascinating article on the topic.
And finally, a quote from the late John Lennon which captures it all:
Nobody told me there'd be days like these;
Nobody told me there'd be days like these;
Nobody told me there'd be days like these;
Strange days indeed -- strange days indeed.
This is a short tale of trust and patience. It's been weeks since I've had time to do any drawing at all--an indicator of how over-scheduled I've been. Yesterday I had a scrap of time in the morning and thought I would do some tangling...and then noticed a curious reluctance. It had been so long since I'd picked up a pen that I was losing my confidence and was afraid to try. Not good. So I went to my desk and began with a new-to-me tangle called Avos by Maria Venekens, CZT. This was my first attempt with it. I was surprised at how tentative I felt.
I started with this, below and really did not like it:
Nope, not happy at all with this. I had to force myself to start adding color. Did not feel like I had drawn it well, even though this was a first attempt.
The internal critic was in full voice.
I considered tossing it, BUT I know from experience that Zentangle® teaches patience, persistence, and trust in the process. So I put it aside when I ran out of time and vowed to keep going later.
Last night I went back to it just before bed, and I'm so glad I did. Here's the final result:
I deeply appreciate the lessons the Zentangle process teaches about life, not just about art. A particular result may not be a masterpiece, but it's possible to love it all the same. What I've learned from the process is to keep going and trust, and things will usually work out fine. Perhaps not perfectly, but certainly "well enough."
Meanwhile, this is a lovely tangle and I hope to use it more in upcoming projects.
Finally finished yesterday, steamed one last time this morning, and hung on my kitchen wall this afternoon. For such a small rug (I think the length is about 26"), it took me way too long to get it done. But there's quite a story behind it, and while this rug is silly and funny, it means a lot to me.
Here's the story:
The original version of this pattern, which I have greatly modified, was designed by George Kahnle and hooked by his husband, Dick LaBarge. I believe it was titled, "Americus Tunafishus" and Dick dyed the wool and hooked it in red, white, and blue as a patriotic rug. I first saw the finished piece in Vermont at a rug show, and took note of it as I am a tuna fan. Note: It even says, "Loves tuna fish" under my photo in my old high school yearbook. And one of my memories of my dad is that he ate a tuna sandwich for lunch every day of his life--apparently my fondness for tuna is genetic. (I do know about the mercury danger and the over-fishing, and am pretty careful about where I get my tuna)
The original pattern is still available from Betsy Reed of Heavens to Betsy; she bought Dick & George's pattern stock from their former business, Hooked On the Creek. After I heard that Dick had died in 2018, I'm sure I bought the pattern from her late that year. It isn't shown on her website but if you ask, I believe she can bring it up. As I said, the original pattern doesn't resemble my rug much. I changed the wording and I completely redrew the fish.
Dick and George were just two of the nicest, most talented, and funniest guys I've ever met and I adored them both. I never got to visit them in Victory Mills, NY, where they lived, worked, and taught rug hooking for decades. They also had a fabulous antique store. But I was fortunate to take some classes with them in Vermont and count them as friends.
They were devoted to each other and were life partners long before it was safe to declare their relationship. I believe they were finally able to marry in 2012, just two years before George died, aged 82. Dick died in 2018 and he was 85. I swear I miss them both to this day. When I heard Dick was gone, I sat down and cried; but then I began to smile as I remembered how funny he and George were, and all the good times we had in their classes.
I knew I wanted to hook a rug in their honor, and this is it.
I just took a look at both their obituaries and true to form, it's Dick's memorial write-up that says it all. George's is short and contains few details, but you can get a flavor of both of them from reading Dick's.
Dear friends, I am thinking of both of you today with much gratitude for your fine teaching and the hilarity and kindness you offered those of us who knew you.
I miss you.
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:
My next Beginning Zentangle® class is not yet scheduled--stay tuned.
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