Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Sparks Of Madness

Infinity and Eternity journals.

"You're only given a spark of madness. You mustn't lose it"
Robin Williams

These 2 journals are my 'sparks of madness' and insane to create. Infinity; on the left is 5" by 5" and roughly about 10" long when it is fully extended and has a nice long wrap around closure that keeps it snug. It has 8 spines which hold 10 pages each for a total of 80 pages. Eternity is Infinity's diminutive sibling at 3" by 3" and about 14" long when it is fully extended with an even longer closure it keep it contained. It has 16 spines each holding 10 tiny pages for a total of 160 and when you factor in that each page has 2 sides, that is a lot of pages.
Eternity top view
Eternity side view
 I designed each of these journal constructions. The covers are made from 300 weight watercolor paper that are fabric covered and sewn on my sewing machine. Each cover is completely sewn together. Each spine holds a signature of pages. The design itself is intuitive. As each set of pages are turned/revealed the journal itself moves naturally to the next set of pages until you get to the end. If a 'Rubik's Cube' were a journal this is how it would work. The journal itself turns in your hands as you explore it's pages. When I first conceived this idea I created a paper prototype to determine if it would work or not before I put my time and materials into it. It worked. 

Whenever I think about making myself a journal, I almost always want the journal itself to be an adventure as I work in it. I want anyone who sees them to wonder how it's made and make them want to peek inside. Not all of my journals are quite this elaborate but each journal I make is always more than just a cover holding a set of pages. Each journal always has it's own special magic, it's own spark of madness whether it be a complex design, unusual shape or size or the textures and fabrics used in their creation as in this journal; Beautiful Day.
Beautiful Day journal
front cover
Beautiful Day is a 9" by 12" sewn journal that has a patch work of textures and fabrics for it's covers.
spine is about 2" wide
back cover

Infinity, Eternity are both journals I am working in at the moment. Beautiful Day will probably find it's way to my Etsy shop when I finish binding in it's pages. It is still a work in progress. I'm concentrating on Infinity and Eternity at the moment and needless to say they are time consuming. Wink!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Her Place In My Heart

Megan 6 months
During the times you feel most alone,
I want you to remember this:
I held you and loved you from
the moment you came into this world
and that's how it's always been for me
and if you forget, 
I am here to remind you as many times 
as you need. 
Brian Andreas
April 2000
Megan 4 Brittney 6 
and their favorite stuffed animals
Charlie and Skin Horse (named from a character in Margery Williams story,The Velveteen Rabbit)

"Real isn't how you are made,' said the Skin Horse. 'It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.'

'Does it hurt?' asked the Rabbit. 

'Sometimes,' said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. 'When you are Real you don't mind being hurt.' 

'Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,' he asked, 'or bit by bit?' 

'It doesn't happen all at once,' said the Skin Horse. 'You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby." 
— Margery Williams (The Velveteen Rabbit)

Sometimes the right words find there way to me when I need the gifts of their gentle wisdom. 

Our children are the warmth that we leave in the world long after our own fires are extinguished. Once kids start school, they enter a vortex from which they never return to be fully, totally ours again; time with them is negotiated around a timetable of school days, weekends, social lives, activities, term dates and holidays. And they emerge young adults, with dreams, plans and all those forks in their own roads to navigate. Much of their journey will be done without us. We will never stand by their side as we do in those first five years. One day, sooner than you can imagine, you will be standing on the other side, trying to remember how their skin smelt, how their body felt sitting on your hip, head on your shoulder – and you will be filled with gladness for every moment, good and bad, that you experienced with them.
Liz Sharp
Some days it's important to take stock of what matters most in the world and it's not ever what you think it is or should be, it's often the time you reached out and held their hand when they didn't want you to hold it but you held on anyway amidst the protests; the tugging and pulling, you try and hold on because they are gone in an instant and they don't always remember to look back. Sometimes that is what parenthood looks like. It's what happens when you are 'real'.

Friday, April 11, 2014

The Comfort Of Cloth

Long Long Way From Home
I've been making journals these past couple of weeks. Lots of them. This is the cover of a 9" by 12" fabric journal I've made for myself and this is the back of it. 
The past few weeks have been emotionally rough and I found that I simply didn't have the energy to paint. Painting for me is a high energy process. I have to be fully engaged and firing on all cylinders in order to create with paint and I just didn't have it in me. I tried, stopped and started. It was not going to happen. 

All I really wanted to do was to curl up in my big pink quilt and snuggle into the safety and security of the soft fabric, shut out the world. And so all of the emotion that had been held up inside was gently smoothed away between the folds. The familiarity of cloth provided a soft place for my spirit to land. 

When I am feeling most vulnerable are often the times when I need to create, when that need becomes vital to my survival and while I couldn't muster the energy I need to paint, I found that I could engage myself with cloth. Working with cloth does not demand the same kind of energy from me that painting does. It is a slower process. There is a natural ebb and flow that I can move through in order to create with fabric and that ebb and flow matched my emotional highs and lows.

I've always loved working with cloth as much as I love to work with papers and paints and that love is what inspired me to create journals so many years ago since I can bring everything I love to work with to them. 

I love everything about cloth. The softness and textures, the colors and the prints, the gentle purr of the sewing machine right down to hand sewing final details. I love that I can move from one layer to the next without having to wait for something to dry. It's a gentle process and time loses it's hard edges and opens it up, allowing me to settle in, relax, let the stress and emotion fall away. I need that right now. I need a soft place to fall.

These are some of the journals I will be finishing in the coming days; adding their final embellishments, the paper and that will eventually make their way to my Etsy shop soon. 

I've changed the way I constructed some of these journals and started using a cloth hinge which allows the pages to lay more flat when the journal is open and alleviate stress on where the pages would normally be folded. The cloth hinges also provide a sturdier binding. It is a process I am experimenting with and refining. 
5" by 5" HuG style
6" by 6" HuG style
4.5" by 4.5" re-purposed jean pocket journal,
pocket on the back too.
This little quilted journal will grow up to be 'visual dialogue No. 3'
At least that is what I am thinking of at the moment.
And last but not least there is this one, still under construction.
The cover.
The back.
That's all I got for now. I'm working my way towards something I can call normal and finding comfort in cloth.
Thanks to everyone for your kindness and gentle support. It means more than I'll ever be able to fully express, just know you are appreciated.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Imperfections, Flaws and Matters Of The Heart

It still hurts and I feel empty. 
Paint, glue, ink 
help keep the darkness at bay.
Right now, nothing else makes sense to me.
She is my first thought upon waking and
my last as I fall asleep.

"It had flaws, but what does that matter when it comes to matters of the heart? We love what we love. Reason does not enter into it. In many ways, unwise love is the truest love. Anyone can love a thing because that's as easy as putting a penny in your pocket, but to love someone despite. To know the flaws and love them too. That is rare and pure and perfect."
Patrick Rothfuss

Today I have this. 
Reminders that I matter.
Something worth smiling about.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

An Emptiness And Pain So Deep And Wide

Our children; we hold them close in our hearts and want to do and give them everything they want and need. We love them unconditionally and as parents we know that life can throw down it's best and worst at us. There are certain expectations of respecting and honoring boundaries and that sometimes we just can't have or attain what we want most, but the love never stops. It is always there, the layer of invisible glue that holds it all together, keeps things from completely falling apart when life becomes unbearable. 
Over the weekend our youngest daughter decided that she no longer wanted to be a part of our family an (the one in the blue sweater; Megan. She is 18 so she gets to have that choice). She wants no contact with us. It is a long story. I won't share it here.  The circumstances surrounding the situation are devastating and painful leaving us very confused and hurt.  We have done our best but we've been told that it's not good enough. Our love is inadequate and not enough. We are flawed and imperfect.  
Where my heart felt full, the place and the people I hold precious  and closest to my heart, are my girls and husband. Our home was my nest and now my nest is missing her youngest chick and my heart has cracked open and everything that I trusted to be good and true is shattered and falling apart. The emptiness and the pain is so wide and deep I don't know how to fill the void and gaping hole where a daughter should be. Megan if you read this. We LOVE you. Please come home.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Visual Dialogue No. 2 Artist Book

Artist Book
Visual Dialogue
No. 2
Be Brave

I started making these little artist books last year. They are fun to create and share. Each is unique and all are one-of-kinds. These 'dialogues' are created from all the various left over scraps and bits that I keep in a tray on my work table. When the tray becomes full I will spill it out and start to make pages; the pages are all scraps and are all the 'cuttings' from the larger pieces of paper they are from. 
These artist books can take any form. The first one I produced in a zine format. You can see some of the pages of it here. This one is made from a re-purposed vintage book which provided the covers I used and 200 weight watercolor paper.
This wee book is 4" tall by 3" inches wide. The pages I used as they were cut so they are longer than the cover and are exposed when the covers are closed. There are 5 total pages equaling 10 sides of artwork.

I work intuitively as I create these pages which is I why I started calling these books 'visual dialogues'. A conversation that happens between my hands, my heart and my eyes. A silent conversation yet full of emotion.
Often times the scraps are incomplete so there is room for personal interpretation. I allow some of the pages to be minimal and sparse, while others are more complete but still allow room for a 'conversation' between the elements to begin. How I see them, how they are placed and balanced against each other. 

I used a variety of scraps to create the pages, including vintage papers, photo, fabric, various collage fodder including magazine scraps. Each page begins a dialogue with the viewer. Each page holds a secret that has the ability to change from day to day. If you listen it will hold a message for you too.
I've listed this in my Etsy shop.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

You're Awesome

On super bowl Sunday I pulled out my paints and spent the entire day down in my art studio. I started my first paintings of 2014. It felt wonderful to see where the paint would lead me.
I started out with a base layer of white paint and let it dry and then the real fun began.
When it came time to add some text I had written a short poem I had intended on using but as I looked at the painting and that bright, happy sun I was reminded of a much loved and favorite commercial.

Take a peek and you'll see why.
12 by 12 inch wood panel.
Golden's fluid and High Flow acrylics, Golden's light modeling paste, paper collage elements, graphite, 005 Micron pen
Whenever I paint I generally will start a couple so I can alternate between them, so I also began this one-
She Belongs To The Sea 
and finished it yesterday. It was created with the same materials as 'You're Awesome'.
Both of these were inspired by Mindy Lacefield's class