It seems Spring is scarce as hen's teeth around here. It comes and then goes just as quickly. Fortunately last Saturday we had one glorious spring day, coinciding with our rug hooking meeting in Connecticut at Ann's farmhouse. The weather and sun smiled upon us; all of us were able to attend, and we had a blast.
I have only a few pictures (since many of us have been working on the same projects for quite a long time) but they'll be worth seeing.
Well, of course--those of you who've been reading the rug hooking category of this blog will recognize Cheryl the Rug Rescuer's name and title. Yes, this is ANOTHER rug rescue by our intrepid colleague. I believe the designer's name is Denise Mitchell...see this close-up below:
Apparently Denise (if I have her name correct) was a rug hooking teacher who died recently. Before her death she designed and hooked most of this rug, but was unable to finish it. Another rug hooker who didn't feel able to tackle the job approached Cheryl, asking her to do complete it, and gave her the remaining wool for the rug. Cheryl accepted the challenge and is basically done with the hooking now. Someone else will take care of the binding, and then the rug will go to the woman who asked Cheryl to finish it. Denise, wherever she's currently existing, would be proud to see her rug completed. A better photo is below.
Elizabeth was punching away on this beauty:
And Kathleen had brought along this pattern to work on for the day (K is in the middle of two other very complicated gorgeous rugs, too large to carry around):
That's it for the rug photos, but wait until you see what is coming next. Ann, our hostess, brought out a hand-embroidered tablecloth that had us all drooling down our shirts. One of her relatives (grandmother? uh-oh, I can't remember) had begun this, and I think Ann prevailed upon an aunt to complete it. It is just stunning. I took lots of photos. Here it is:
Here are more photos of various motifs, and some close-ups. What a labor of love.
You may be wondering (but you probably aren't!!!), "Where's your rug?" My rug is so close to done that I've decided to wait until it is done to show the photo. Since I am moving at a snail's pace--too busy to work on it much--that could be another month, but I hope not. I'll try to get it done and on here sooner.
Instead, since Ann had been asking me about punchneedle, I did bring my latest punchneedle project. I finished it this morning. Still debating how to frame it. Below you can see the original tee-shirt I've had for at least ten years, if not more, with this design on the front. And next to it, my punchneedle version. The tee-shirt is fading, and I've loved this redwing blackbird image for so long that I cannot bear to lose it, so I wanted to immortalize it in punchneedle.
The one problem: I cannot find any contact information for the original artist, Rob McClellan. I believe I've traced him to Ohio, and have even found a gallery there that sells some of his work. But the most recent work they have is decades old. I wrote to the gallery to see if they could help me locate him, but they wrote back to say they have no idea how to do that. If anyone--anyone!--knows how to locate him (I suspect he may be long dead--I've found some photos of someone with that name on the internet but they too are decades old), PLEASE let me know. Clearly I did this for myself only and will not be selling or profiting in any way from the piece, but I would love to find him and thank him and credit him even more than I can by doing this.
A happy Spring to all. May it come, and stay for awhile, before the summer.
I know we've had winter this late before. Four years ago to the day, in fact, I'm pretty certain we also had snow. Today we had snow plus drizzle ("snizzle," says our local forecaster), plus now rain. It's grim out there, and of course, in Boston, the Marathon goes on. Admiration for those runners!
Much as I dislike heat, I'm ready for spring and even--gulp--summer.
Spent part of the morning coloring this tile. It has a story attached (see below).
So here's the story. A few days ago, Cris Strovilas Letourneau--a CZT and author I admire--found out that while she & daughter Alexa were visiting her sister for an overnight, their house burned to the ground. Unfortunately, their husband/father was inside and didn't make it out. He died in the fire. I cannot imagine the grief and shock and loss.
To make bad matters even worse, it now appears the fire was started by a burglar who was in the house. Of course, HE got out just fine.
There's a GoFundMe page set up and I've contributed, but I've been feeling so badly for Cris and Alexa. Other than sending prayers, there's not much I can do (I don't know her, have just met her once), and then Sonya Yencer, another CZT, created a tangle named SoulStar with Cris and Alexa and Cris's husband in mind. So last night and this morning I did the tile above.
While working on the tile, it came to me that the front "star" (lower right) is for Cris, the star tucked behind that one is for Alexa, and the "lead star" that appears to be a comet in the upper right is her husband, on his way through transition, leaving that golden trail behind as he sets out on his journey. The fact that his circle is smaller seemed to me to be about the fact that he's given up a physical life and is now on his way in soul-form.
My heart goes out to them each day. May their loss lessen, even though I know it will never go away, and may he travel safely into the Light.
"Body at rest, spirit free."
I'm not dithering, but the weather is. After yesterday's glorious sun and spring flower adventure (see the last post), today it's dull and starting to snow heavily. Every New England Spring is like this; the weather can't make up its mind.
I got busy doing the latest It's a String Thing Challenge, from CZT Adele Bruno, based on the letter Pi. Click on that link and hop on over to the challenge page to read about Pi and have a chuckle. Also to see what everyone does with this string. You'll get an eyeful out of the way the same instructions turn out so differently when read by different people. Enjoy!
In my last place of residence, the local homemade pie shop celebrated the letter Pi on March 14th annually with free pie. Yum. (See why March 14th is relevant by clicking on the link to the challenge page above.)
Earth teach me to forget myself as melted snow forgets its life.
Earth teach me resignation as the leaves which die in the fall.
Earth teach me courage as the tree which stands all alone.
Earth teach me regeneration as the seed which rises in the spring.
Today I missed a rug hooking meeting with my favorite group because of the snow. I miss my friends and it made me sad.
Still, it is beautiful:
Above: Down one side of the street.
Below: Down the other side of the street.
Both photos taken just after sunset.
"I used to be Snow White,
but I drifted."
for this week's "it's a string thing" challenge #205:
there seems to be a theme going on here. my journal page from yesterday (note the rainbow lead pencil i'm determined to use until the last 1/8"):
finally, some pix from my long walk at 5.30 this morning:
Lovely snow over the weekend, but oh-so-cold. As I walked through my freezing kitchen this morning I spotted this guy out my back door. I'll be thinking of him as the Snow Buddha from now on. He reminded me to make the best of things, including the chaos I'll be experiencing for the next few months.
I doubt I can live up to his attitude. But I'll do my best.
Meanwhile, in starting to pack yesterday I had to roll up one of the small rugs to make room for boxes. This is a tiny rug I hooked a long, long time ago. I haven't measured it in ages but I'm guessing it's something like 2.5 feet by 18". That's probably way off, but you get the idea--it's small. It's also a long-time favorite of mine. This is just a partial view of it. When I was making it, I was lucky enough to know and live relatively near to Pat Merikallio, a fabulously talented colorist, artist, and rug maker. She now lives on the West Coast, but she was kind enough to help me with the color planning and I am a forever fan of her color instincts and all her rugs. Thank you, Pat!
But alas, just look at the binding. Yikes. I confess I've known for awhile that it was disintegrating and have been too lazy to address it. Once I get myself moved I will make it a priority. I may even have some of the original wool.
It occurred to me as I was writing this that adjusting my attitude and "fixing things" are common themes for me. I was just reading this quote from Jack Kornfield about meditation, which has implications for both these themes: "Part of spiritual and emotional maturity is recognizing that it's not like you're going to try to fix yourself and become a different person. You remain the same person, but you become awakened."
Which I certainly am not. Maybe someday?
I have indeed been absent from writing for a long while.
It's nothing bad, nor have I abandoned my blog. Instead, life has been overly-full with good things, including two major projects. I'll write about one of them today.
I just returned from a less-than-24 hour trip to Cornwall, VT, where I stayed overnight at the Oxford Rug Hooking School and completed the requirements to become a Certified Teacher Punch Needle Rug Hooking. (!! Hurrah !!)
And as if that weren't wonderful enough, just look at the weather and views I had while I was there (even though I hardly had time to be outside).
There was earthy eye candy everywhere.
Here are some samples, a photo journey for your enjoyment:
Amy Oxford's school is a bit of heaven on earth, one of my favorite places to go and well worth the four-hour drive for me. (Although TWO four-hour drives in 24 hours just about did me in.)
And then there is Amy herself, one of the kindest and most generous people I know. A fabulous artist, teacher and businesswoman. And there is also Heidi the dye wizard, working her magic on both creative and administrative aspects of the school--and just as nice. (Heidi also can repair absolutely anything.)
It is sheer pleasure to be in residence there.
I am ready to collapse for the evening and try to take in the fact that I'm now certified...a fact which just makes me think, "But I have so much more to learn!"
My one regret is that I couldn't stay longer. Anyone who has been to the school and is reading this will know exactly what I mean.
As for the other project I'm involved in: that one is bigger, longer-term, and more disruptive, and may prevent me from writing much for a while.
It's all good. But it's also all-consuming.
To quote the old Beatles' move, Help: "I can say no more."
I have been busy today, despite excessive heat and humidity. Although it hardly seems possible that I actually needed to dye more gold yarn for my current rug (after all the excess I had at the finish of the last one), I did.
But dyeing during the heat of August is not my idea of fun. So what to do?
I woke at 5 a.m. and it was only 70 degrees outside, so I zipped into the kitchen and dyed four skeins before the heat could build. Hopefully this will be enough to finish the rug. After hanging the skeins to dry, I spent a few hours punching also and am coming close to finishing everything but the borders. on the rug Well, perhaps that's pushing it just a little bit...but I'm definitely making good progress and I think the above statement will be true after one more day of work.
Once I wound the yarn, I amused myself by making a yarn-cake mandala on my iPhone. Love these fun iPhone apps...
It's too early to show my rug design, but a took a photo of a small part of the rug and ran it through another iPhone app to make a spiral.
Wow, these apps are powerful...I love this and only wish my rug could look like this! Quite amazing. (Indeed, my rug looks nothing like this at all.)
Ahhhhhhhhhhhh...I love it when I discover something scientific that justifies one of my so-called bad habits, and this video is less than 2 minutes long:
AND ABOUT THOSE KNITTED KNOCKERS:
Ok, so here is what I have been doing in the off-moments when I haven't been dyeing yarn for my new rug: making Knitted Knockers.
Yes, they are what they sound like and look like. They are ingenious prostheses for mastectomy patients to wear instead of the (usually) nasty implants or other heavy, unwieldy prostheses. You can find out all about them on this amazing website.
You see here a pair I have nicknamed the Blue Boobies...isn't there a bird called the Blue-Footed Boobie? Well anyway, I couldn't resist doing a pair in blue.
I was really moved by this project, and--given the trauma a good friend of mine is going through this very week--really wanted to be a part of it. So I am knitting knockers and I hope someone finds them useful.
Now that I've got the hang of it, they are easy to make and require no thought. But the first one! Oy vey. Let's just say I haven't worked with double-pointed needles in years (I prefer Magic Loop for socks) and it took me more than a dozen tries to get the first one going. But that was it--once I got that one started, the rest have been a snap. I just love this project.
I'm snowed in here so haven't been able to get to the studio to work on my rug, but I've been continuing the yarn-dyeing orgy and should have more skeins to show very shortly. I may--just may--have finished dyeing all the yarn for the rug. Just about 50 pounds of yarn. Phew. And each 4 oz skein has been dyed individually, by hand.
A stunningly beautiful day in the state--in the bright sunlight, sugar maples are burning up with reds, oranges, yellows. Autumn everywhere! Only the sky was blue...but an incandescent blue.
With excellent coaching from artist and CZT Cheryl Cianci, I produced the blue-themed tile above, although I was in anything BUT a blue mood today. This was a soothing process, and the slow work with the Prismacolor pencils made it entirely meditative. With thanks to Cheryl.
Tangles used: Mooka, Munchin, Pokeleaf & root, Florz, Knot Rickz, Tipple, drawn on a brown paper bag.
Here is a mirrored version (using the mirror app on my iPhone)
...and a version using the app "Painteresque."
Back in the studio--at last! I cannot believe how happy this makes me. I started my current rug, Micmac, the first week in March of this year. "Starting" is defined as beginning to color plan it., not actually starting to pull loops. By March 20 and 21, I was actually beginning to hook. Here is how it looked then:
On the left, the pattern before I began. Middle: Fooling around with colors. I loved those colors, but couldn't make them work throughout the rug. On the right: How I started the center motif. So...that was back in early March.
I worked on the rug pretty steadily for the next 4 months. See my blog post answering the question, "How long did it take to make that?" here.
In July and August it was too hot in the studio to do anything will wool, so no further hooking got done. In September it was still very warm but the bigger obstacle was my wonky back, which made even driving to the studio impossible. Walking? Unthinkable.
Finally two days ago I got in there for 90 minutes. And today, for three hours! And I walked. I'm very excited. So here is the rug now, after basically 4 months of work (24x42", aka 61x107cm):
Today I was able to finish off the motif in the lower left border, and then I was able to add the motif in the upper border (center top). Here's a better look at the start of the top border that I completed today:
Feeling good about how this is turning out.
The background is Jeannie Benjamin's fabulous hand-dyed wool in a color called Old Underwear, (!!) and I love the way it sets off the rest of the rug. Check out Jeanne's website and wools at New Earth Designs.
While I was hooking today I was listening to the Mindfulness Summit recordings and was, frankly, beside myself with enjoyment. My back is beginning to heal completely. To add to all of this, the weather today was perfect: sunny and cool but not chilly.
How lovely to have a day like today.
Although it's a week past the Equinox, the weather here has been dramatically tropical with high humidity. Today we've had constant heavy rains; the temperature is now slowly dropping, and overnight I think the wind will come in and sweep out the humid air. By the time the storm is past, I think we will finally be in fall weather.
A murky, watery light today signals autumn to me (autumn on its dark days), and I've been in an autumn mood all day. Since we do not have fall colors on the trees yet, I thought I would do a fall mandala. Here was my original black and white drawing.
I constructed this using my trusty Safe-T Compass. It's inexpensive, very light weight, and while hardly engineering-standard accurate, it's "good enough" for basic mandala work. It's a cheap instrument and you get what you pay for--the reviews on it are all over the map. Once I learned what it could and could not do well, I've been very happy with it.
Tangles used: the center is "ad-libbed," then I used Fandance, then, moving out from the center, Beadlines. The next layer started off as Flux but got morphed somehow; the outer layer is Finery. Next I added some autumnal colors.
Honestly...I feel sort of "eh" about this mandala, although I did learn a lot from it. For example, I realized almost immediately that I had made the center too small and fussy; it was hard to color in an effective way. That was a useful lesson.
The colors--which aren't true in this photo but are not too far off--are not what I normally would choose. But after all, I did say in an autumnal mood. In fact I noticed some sadness while I was working on this, along with the usual intense concentration. I don't have anything to be sad about--but doesn't this type of moving meditation sometimes bring things up for all of us? And when things come up, do we have to have a reason for them?
So I just noticed the sadness and kept working, and it was fine. Peace and tranquility were restored by the time I was done.
Working on this brought up questions for me. I'd be interested to hear from other tanglers and especially from CZTs with responses.
The Morns Are Meeker Than They Were -
A Poem by Emily Dickinson
The morns are meeker than they were--
The nuts are getting brown--
The berry's cheek is plumper--
The Rose is out of town.
The Maple wears a gayer scarf--
The field a scarlet gown--
Lest I should be old fashioned
I'll put a trinket on.
My back continues to recover slowly and today I walked 6000 steps. Hurrah! Not all were comfortable steps, but I did it, and am very encouraged. Part of the walk was to see a much-loved old friend for lunch, and on the way home, I passed the labyrinth at the Harvard Divinity School and decided I could manage to walk it today. And I did. Here is a photo of the labyrinth:
It was deserted on this cool, sunny day. Just the way I like it.
I haven't walked it in quite a while, and today I was reminded how narrow the pathway is in this particular labyrinth. It's almost not wide enough for two feet, and negotiating the turns while maintaining balance can be a challenge. Also, it seemed that I just got going in one direction when another turn would come up.
As I was walking it/working it, I was thinking about the twists and turns in life, how hard some of them can be, and what a perfect symbol of this is captured in this labyrinth. I had to greatly slow down in order to make any of the turns, another striking metaphor.
Even when two labyrinths are laid out in the same pattern, the spacing of each is different and so walking each one is different.
Similar to the way our lives work.
"A labyrinth has one entrance -- one way in and one way out. When we walk the path, we go around short curves and long curves; sometimes we are out on the edge, sometimes we circle around the center. We are never really lost, but we can never quite see where we are going."
--Alex Pattakos in this Huffington Post piece.
Finally, here's a scribbled Tangled Labyrinth I did at one of Sadelle Wiltshire's wonderful Tangled Labyrinth workshops. Clearly this was in the nature of a quick scribble rather than a thoughtful tangle, and yet...I like it because it reminds me so much of the human brain.
Check out Sadelle's fabulous tangled labyrinth works here. She is a CZT and a Veriditas-trained Labyrinth Facilitator, and a gifted artist and teacher. You'll enjoy studying her examples. Her teaching schedule is here at The Tangled Labyrinth. And don't miss reading the interesting comment she made (in the comments section)--feel free to add your own reaction to this post if you have one, or have experience with labyrinths.
Labyrinths...Zentangle®...both a form of moving meditation. Ahhhhhhhhhhhh!
Today is one of those days when everything feels surprising. The gorgeous weather. What occurred in my meditation this morning. The fact that I'm still having some serious back issues, which haven't taken this long to resolve before. Hearing that Yogi Berra just died (I was a big fan of his Yogi-isms, such as, "You can observe a lot just by watching," and "I usually take a two-hour nap from one to four"). Loved that guy, and I am happy that he had such a long life and appeared to enjoy it.
The next surprise came when I did the It's a String Thing #111 challenge today. Tangles are Hamail and Flux. I got almost nothing else done but at least I did this. And wow--it went nowhere I thought it was going to go and turned out totally differently than I expected. I thought it would be black and white...no. I had planned to use a different tangle than Flux...no. Nothing turned out as I thought! But the real surprise comes AFTER this picture:
As usual, I was playing with my iPhone Mirror app after taking the photo, and tried out some new capabilities, and the app came up with this, which I really like a lot (I'm still not sure how I like the original):
Surprised that the app even changed the colors...and I like them better. Such an interesting app, with many more features that I look forward to explore. More surprises in store.
All the hot humid weather is making me cranky. Really, really cranky. I don't want to do any substantive walking outdoors or real exercise...I just want to hunker down in the a/c. So now I have an intense case of summer cabin fever. Restless to the max! I just want this heat to break so I can get out there again and M-O-V-E.
I thought I would work on a black tile today since I was in a dark mood and I don't get enough practice with black tiles. It's time to put in some serious work and experimentation with them. I also have a seemingly endless supply of three different types of gellyroll pens in wild colors, and I need to learn what the difference is between the three types. Gellyrolls show up dramatically on dark tiles.
Today I limited myself to a white gellyroll with white and red Prismacolor pencils to do a simple duotangle on the black tile.
At first I just did the white-on-black, but then later added the red to reflect my impatience with the weather.
Contrast this to my tile of August 12th. I think the heat wave had just begun then and I was still feeling chipper. I've been paying with the mirror app on my iPhone, and so after I did that tile and posted it, I ran it through the mirror app and came up with this:
Whoa, I love that! And talk about a different feeling from the tile I did today...I liked this so much I'm having some greeting cards made from it. That mirror app is really fun.
While I'm at it, here are a few more portraits that I did long ago. These are from 2007.
At this very moment, I have 3 guys hammering on my front door and yelling.
Ok, not quite...
But I do have 3 guys hammering on the wall that's just inches from my front door, and yelling instructions to each other. They are the team that's moving around the house blowing insulation into the walls, and at the moment they are working on the front porch around my door. LOUD! But I am very grateful. Two days ago they were in the back of the house doing the exterior kitchen walls, and darned if I didn't notice that the room suddenly stayed cooler than normal during this awful heat wave. Not cool-cool, but not as fiendishly hot as it usually gets when the weather is stinko for multiple days, as it is now.
Next: what does that picture have to do with sand dollars (referred to in the title of this post)? Nada. But it accounts for some of the other excitement today; my new mattress arrived. Yes, in a box. This may be a huge mistake, but I couldn't resist trying a mattress from Casper, a startup based in NYC. I love the concept; now I hope I love the mattress. Will report back. Before I can open the box, though, I have to get my old mattress out of here (bought in late 2001, so you know it is time for a new one), and I cannot do that until the workmen leave later today.
So now, let's get on to the sand dollar reference. I am still working on the "Tints on Tan" concept that Marty Deckel, CZT, has been teaching. My last two posts have referenced this and showed two other pieces I did. Today I tried a sand dollar. I took a few liberties with it--to put it mildly--and then, insanely, I also added a few water droplets to see if I could do them. You can see the results on the tile below, and then in the bottom picture you can see my preliminary "practice" water droplets.
The water droplets scared the pants off me when I thought about trying to draw them. Clearly I still have a lot to learn about drawing water and about the Tints on Tan technique, but I am having fun blundering my way along.
I put off trying this for 2 days because I was intimidated, then got irritated with my "spineless creative self" and forced myself to jump in today. It's not perfect, but so what? I couldn't believe how much fun I had working on it, and once again I was perfectly peaceful during the process, which is the most wonderful part.
"Ready or not, tell yourself to jump." --Chris Gardner
Hmmm, well maybe there is some advantage to stinkin' summer days (hot, humid, hazy weather). I know many people really love this weather. I loathe it.
Since I cannot go to my studio and work on the rug - who in their right mind, even those who love this weather, would want to be working with wool right now? - I am home working on tangles. And since it's summer, might as well work on summer tangles. So, here I am. I am incredibly happy to be tangling again. On the upper right is my "warmup" tangle, done on crappy scrappy paper. I may even like that one better (I wrote about it yesterday).
On the left is today's tangle, done on an actual Renaissance Tile (a fancy way of saying a high quality tan 3.5" x 3.5" Italian printmaking paper). I completely lose myself in this process.
Here's how I know: we are having insulation blown into the walls of the house today, and they've been banging, drilling, and filling since 8.30 a.m., quite a loud procedure. They've also been in and out of my apartment several times to check on a few things. When the checking part finally settled down, I allowed myself to sit down and tangle while they bashed away outside. And they were, indeed, bashing away, yelling instructions at each other, etc. But did I hear them? NO. Not until I was done. I do love this process.
Oh yeah, and when I do find myself endlessly whining about this weather, I look back at this photo I took last February. It's a sidewalk near my house. Enough said..
Happy Summer, everyone!
I gave myself a chuckle today, when I started playing with Marty Deckel's Tints on Tan process. She suggested experimenting on scrap paper before tackling an actual Renaissance tile, so I did...but it really WAS a piece of messy scrap paper and so, when this turned out better than I'd assumed it would, I had to cut it out in order to get a decent photo. This explains the odd line on the lower left (where the cut-out paper ended) and across the left side of the top, where it's lifting off the page. What a fun technique to try though. I look forward to working on an actual tile.
Here comes the heat and humidity again, so I will most likely be hunkered down for a couple of days and (hopefully) doing a fair amount of tangling. I just found out that our house is being insulated (blowing the insulation in thru the walls) over 3 days starting tomorrow...not sure how disruptive that will be. Also not sure I want to find out, but it's not as though there's any choice in the matter! Time to call on the Zen in Zentangle®. Ommmmmmmmmmmmmmm...
I've been away for five days at the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies (BCBS), taking a workshop from Jason Siff, based on his two books and his decades of work with Recollective Awareness Meditation. It was wonderful, startling, even revolutionary. Not to mention that I lucked out because I was there during the four full days in July when the temperature was cool, even chilly at times. BCBS has no air conditioning; the day I arrived and the day I left were stultifying, but the days of the retreat were gorgeous, comfortable, and lovely. And oh, my, the flowers everywhere! And the sound of the wind in the trees. Incredibly peaceful. I feel like the luckiest person on earth to be able to do these things.
On the way home Sunday (well, not really, it was 2 hours out of my way in southern CT) I took a workshop on Meditation and Mandalas with Ann Grasso, using her 4-n-1 stencil for creating mandala strings. It was fabulous. And I got to see so many other CZTs, people I hadn't seen in months! Fun. I left feeling confident on how to use the tool, which is incredibly versatile.
But I needed to get home after 5 days away, and didn't have time to actually tangle at the workshop. Finally, at midnight last night, I set to work. And worked on it more today. Here is the current mandala-in-progress, which still needs either shading or coloring. I'm letting it sit while I decide what to do with it next. Ann was a phenomenally organized and helpful teacher, assisted ably by Cari Camarra (who had done many of the amazing samples). Have a look at their work if you want to see inspiring tangles!
I'm looking forward to thinking about what to do next to finish this piece, and then I have the other 3 pieces that I started at the workshop. Oh boy oh boy!
I needed all that zen, because on the way home from Cromwell, south of Hartford, I ran into the all-time worst traffic jam I've ever been in. A trip that would normally have taken about 2 hours took nearly twice as long. Surprisingly, I was ok with it, though I wished it wasn't happening as I'd gotten up at 5 a.m., left Barre for Cromwell (2 hour drive) in the late morning, and had to drive home in the horrific traffic jam between 4 and 7.15 p.m. A very, v-e-r-y long day. But it was so worth it. Big thanks to Ann and Cari, and shout-outs to Meredith, Terry, Jackie, Meredith's friend who was kind enough to introduce herself (I promptly forgot her name), Cheryl, and many others I am delighted to know. I lucked out by being able to sit with Cheryl during the whole mandala workshop. Looking forward to seeing what you all do.
Two practice tangles today, my first try at both:
Looks as though I have a lot to learn about both of these; both need practice. Sam Taylor didn't misspell her tangle; she took out the "h" to distinguish it from the narwhal whale that inspired the form.
Next I went outside and noticed it was just as warm and humid as I had guessed, meaning I won't get to the studio today because it will be unbearable there.
So...more tangling. This time I tried a new one called Frost Flowers, starting in the upper left and then scattering the flowers around, finally doing an experimental version on the lower left.
And after that, I decided to see if I could combine all of them in one tile, so here it is. I truly enjoyed doing this and found it quite meditative, and I can also step back and see just how much I have to learn about composition, LOL!
But no matter. It may not be pretty, but I *am* practicing, and that is what counts. It's kind of hilariously awkward.
I've been working so hard on the rug that I haven't had much time for tangling. It appears I am capable of doing on only one project at a time. I have truly missed tangling and now that the weather is about to turn stinky (my definition of stinky = hazy, hot, and humid) I will be able to focus more on tangling and will...alas...have to abandon the rug.
Wool + hazy + hot + humid + no a/c is a dreadful prospect.
What I love about both of these arts is that they are both entirely meditative. One line at a time when tangling. One loop at a time when hooking. Both lend themselves to complete absorption in the moment. Both teach me to focus. Both calm the mind , and although one does eventually get a result from both, the aim of any given moment is not results-oriented.
Contemplative art/craft...along with meditation, these are highlights in any day in which I get to practice.
It is absolutely gob-smackingly gorgeous outdoors today. Cool, breezy, no humidity, lots of sun but also lots of clouds to make the sky even more lovely than usual. Walking home from the studio and gawking at the newly fat-leaved trees swaying in the wind and the colorful spring flowers, I felt incredibly fortunate just to be alive. Lewis Carroll's verse from "Jabberwocky" came to mind:
'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe..."
...along with one of my all-time favorite lines of poetry, which makes up the title of this post, from that same poem: "Oh frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!"
I mean, that just about sums up how I feel about today's weather.
Wikipedia has a wonderful page on this poem here, including some hilarious translations of the poem into Hebrew, Latin, Finish, Spanish, French, and numerous other languages. I simply cannot imagine hearing this poem in anything other than English, but what do I know?
As I slowly recover from this overly-long head cold, it's such a great pleasure to get into the studio again and keep working on the rug. Sometimes, comparison can be very motivating. Here's what I did yesterday (on the left) and then what I got done today in about 4 hours of hooking (on the right):
And here's a closeup from yesterday. I'm really liking how "Old Underwear" (the name for the color of the background) is looking; I think it sets off the other colors very well. (below)
Working on this piece, often for hours at a time, reminds me of why I love the process of rug hooking. The rhythmic pulling of loops...the same motion repeated endlessly...allows the mind to slow down. It's tactile AND meditative, simultaneously. A wonderful way to calm the mind and make something useful while doing so.
Today as I hooked I was listening to several talks from the website Sounds True, part of a month-long series of talks by various teachers on the topic of "Waking Up." Sounds True is having a major business anniversary, so they are making all the talks free this month; after May, they will be charging for the recordings. Today I listened to Ken Wilbur, Eckhart Tolle, and Joseph Goldstein, and thoroughly enjoyed myself as I pulled loop after loop and watched the rug grow.
Sometimes I just don't know how I got so lucky, to be able to have this, to be able to do this.
"Fortune brings in some boats that are not steered."
Lots of counting and packing going on as I prep to teach a beginning Zentangle® class tomorrow night. Always fun to teach in a new venue.
This time, however, I'm severely limited in what I can bring since I cannot take my car--too risky to move it and lose my parking. If I lose the space, it could be April before I can get close to my house again (too much snow on the streets here; no one on my street has moved a car in over 3 weeks because of the parking issue). Sad, but there you have it.
So I'm lugging everything I need on the bus. That's ok for a beginning class, and I'm lucky that was the plan.
In the bag you can just see some kits that new students get, and a notebook with my own work in it. Under that are extra supplies and some other goodies for the students. I'm looking forward to doing this and hope I can post some fun pictures afterwards.
On the lower left of the picture you can just see the edge of one of my favorite rugs, which I finished a couple of years ago.
A few of the tangles I may teach tomorrow. Just about all packed up now and hope I can schlep all of it safely.
As Susan Cain says, "Everyone shines, given the right lighting." Yup, and that's my goal for tomorrow.
And one more quote from Bob Brendle:
Art/ got its start/ as a thumbprint in the mud."
Managed a long walk today, a one-day break from unremitting snow. Most people have cleared sidewalks, but not so at curbs. At one point I needed help getting over a three-foot snow buildup at the end of a sidewalk, and who should materialize but a nice young man who offered his hand gallantly. All I needed was a light hand to balance on and then getting across the barrier was easy, but without him, I couldn't have done it. Thank you, anonymous sir.
The sun on the snow was lovely. The five- to six-foot compressed snow buildup was beautiful but I cannot say I thought it was lovely.
More snow tomorrow.
I'm participating in an art journal project, so yesterday I created the following page. This prompt was about the Inner Critic and how it affects artists. This was my first page on the topic, focusing on the bad sides of the Inner Critic. For most of us it's much more likely to manifest as an inner voice whose main purpose is to trash whatever we do. This gargoyle from La Cathedral Notre-Dame d'Amiens pretty much sums up how I see the Inner Critic when it misbehaves:
After the walk today I felt slightly less Cabin-Feverish and was able to focus on the good aspects of the Inner Critic. I do believe constructive criticism has its place. Here was what sprang to mind for one aspect of this, the Elegance of Limits.
And here are the two pages together:
Late last night I managed a bit more Zentangle. Here is Kate Lamontagne's "Kurtinz."
And this is how I felt at various points on my walk today...
And here is why:
I'm a textile artist (traditional rug hooking, punch needle rug hooking, and other textile arts), a long-time meditator, a certified meditation teacher and coach, and 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