July 4, 2013
June 1, 2013
“We have eyes, and we’re looking at stuff all the time, all day long. And I just think that whatever our eyes touch should be beautiful, tasteful, appealing, and important.”
– Eric Carle
In keeping with my resolution to drive less, my niece, a friend, and I made a day trip to Tacoma by bus to see the Eric Carle exhibit at the Tacoma Art Museum. Carle is a well-known, award-winning children’s book illustrator, so I have been familiar with his work for a long time. I enjoyed reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See to my daughter when she was very young.
I was so enamoured of Carle’s illustrations that I adapted some of them into applique for a handmade quilt. Carle’s stylized, simple shapes were perfect for copying as appliqued patterns.
The Tacoma exhibit, “Beyond Books: The Independent Art of Eric Carle,” presented another side of Carle as artist. It included some of his wood block prints, framed paintings, amazing works on painted Tyvek, and even handmade greeting cards for (lucky) friends. Now I am even more impressed by Carle’s talents.
The exhibit runs through July 7, 2013.
December 31, 2012
“When trees mature, it is fair and moral that they are cut for man’s use, as they would soon decay and return to the earth. Trees have a yearning to live again, perhaps to provide the beauty, strength and utility to serve man, even to become an object of great artistic worth.”
– George Nakashima, The Soul of a Tree: A Wood-worker’s Reflections
“Ours is a search for pure truth in the most realistic ways — the making of things.”
– George Nakashima, The Soul of a Tree: A Wood-worker’s Reflections
“There is a line from a Sexton poem: ‘The writer is essentially a crook./ Out of used furniture he makes a tree.’ . . . After all, that is what art should do; create something natural out of all the used-up sticks and bureaus of our lives, the detritus of our lives.”
– Maxine Kumin, To Make a Prairie
One of my most cherished Christmas gifts this year was this wooden bowl made from a fallen red maple tree on my Dad’s farm. My sister and brother-in-law commissioned the bowl from a wood worker they knew. It’s a wonderful keepsake from my childhood home, a one-of-a-kind work of art, new use for old wood.
Coincidentally, David Perry, one of the bloggers I follow, just wrote about handmade wooden plates made by a Vermont woodworker and friend. Perry’s post is a love song to things analog, like the handmade wooden plates and bowl. I can relate.
December 28, 2012
Seattle’s City Arts online magazine recently sponsored a contest for Andy Warhol-inspired art in conjunction with the Tacoma Art Museum‘s current exhibition, “Flowers for Tacoma.” I entered two pieces, each playing off the pop art image of Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s soup cans. Instead of the Campbell’s soup can found in our mothers’ pantries, I featured a more contemporary everyday icon, the ubiquitous Starbucks coffee cup.
My entries did not win a prize, but I had fun executing my pop art vision. Here are my Andy Warhol-inspired creations:
December 17, 2012
“It comes every year and will go on forever. And along with Christmas belong the keepsakes and the customs. Those humble, everyday things a mother clings to, and ponders, like Mary in the secret spaces of her heart.”
– Marjorie Holmes
“To perceive Christmas through its wrappings becomes more difficult with every year.”
– E. B. White
“Maybe Christmas, the Grinch thought, doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas . . . perhaps . . . means a little bit more.”
– Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas
The largest part of my Christmas doesn’t come from a store. My keepsakes are handmade, for the most part. And yes, they are humble, like this paper cut Scandinavian horse ornament I made this year from instructions I found in Mollie Makes Christmas: Living and Loving a Handmade Holiday.
Or my traditional holiday wreath, made from rosemary sprigs from my garden. For me, simple is best.
December 12, 2012
“Snowflakes spill from heaven’s hand
Lovely and chaste like smooth white sand.
A veil of wonder laced in light
Falling gently on a winter’s night.”
–Linda A. Copp
Several years ago one of the gift wrappers at the University Bookstore in Seattle was making these holiday snowflakes (or they could be stars, I guess). She gave me a photocopied set of instructions, original source unknown. I’ve been meaning to make some of these snowflakes for holiday decorations, but until now, I never got around to it.
My finished snowflake hangs in my kitchen window, a lacy wonder that lets in the light.
Here are step-by-step instructions for making your own paper snowflake/star:
You need six square of paper. I used 5 x 5-inch squares. Fold each square in half along the diagonal, making a triangle. Then fold in half again. And again.
Now, keeping the little triangles folded, cut four parallel slits on the solid side. Cut almost all the way across.
Open each piece of paper back into a square and flatten with your fingers.
Next you will bring two opposite points of the inner squares together in a sequence. In order to do this, you will first have to cut the corners free along one long diagonal fold line. (Leave the other points/corners so that they are not cut all the way through.)
Starting with the smallest inner square, fold two opposite points together and tape into a cylindrical shape.
1. Turn the square over. 2. Bring the opposite points of the next larger square together and tape. Repeat steps 1 and 2 until all of the opposing points have been taped in the center.
Your square should now look like this. You need five more. Start folding and taping!
Once you have completed all six sections of the snowflake, take three and match up at a point. Staple at this point. Repeat with the other three sections.
That’s it! Your paper snowflake/star is complete.
November 30, 2012
“Now the last leaves are down, except for the thick, dark leaves of the oak and ghostly beech leaves that click in the breeze, and we’re reduced to a subtler show of color — brown, gray, and buff, perhaps a little purple in the distance, and the black-green of moss, hemlock, and fir. To my eyes these hues are more beautiful than the garish early autumn with its orange leaves — orange, the color of madness — and leaves the color of blood. Let hot life retire, grow still: November’s colors are those of the soul.”
– Jane Kenyon, “Season of Change and Loss”
“As fruits and leaves and the day itself acquire a bright tint, just before they fall, so the year near its setting. October is its sunset sky; November the later twilight.”
– Henry David Thoreau, “October, or Autumnal Tints”
These photos show the late November color palette in the Pacific Northwest:
November 19, 2012
This is Thanksgiving week, and my thoughts naturally turn toward prayers of gratitude. I’d like to devote my blog posts this week to the theme of gratitude.
I did a similar series of gratitude posts in my first year of blogging, culminating with our Thanksgiving feast. If you are interested, you can re-visit them here:
- Lessons in gratitude # 1
- Lessons in gratitude # 2
- Lessons in gratitude # 3
- Lessons in gratitude # 4
- Lessons in gratitude # 5
- Lessons in gratitude # 6
- Lessons in gratitude # 7
- Lessons in gratitude # 8
The older I get, the more aware I am that each day is a gift. My gift of days is finite. It is up to me to use this gift well.
by G. K. Chesterton
Here dies another day
During which I have had eyes, ears, hands
And the great world round me;
And with tomorrow begins another.
Why am I allowed two?
October 28, 2012
The Traveling Onion
by Naomi Shihab Nye
When I think how far the onion has traveled
just to enter my stew today, I could kneel
all small forgotten miracles,
crackly paper peeling on the drainboard,
pearly layers in smooth agreement,
the way the knife enters onion
and onion falls apart on the chopping block,
a history revealed.
And I would never scold the onion
for causing tears.
It is right that tears fall
for something small and forgotten.
How at meal, we sit to eat,
commenting on the texture of meat or herbal aroma
but never on the translucence of onion,
now limp, now divided,
or its traditionally honorable career.
For the sake of others,
by Billy Collins, from Horoscope for the Dead: Poems
Only a few weeks ago,
the drawings you would bring in
were drawings of a tower with a fairy princess
leaning out from a high turret,
a swirl of stars in the background,
and bright moons, distant planets with rings.
Then yesterday you brought in
a drawing of a scallion,
a single scallion on a sheet of white paper –
another crucial step
along the path of human development,
I thought to myself
as I admired the slender green stalk,
the white bulb, the little beard
of roots that you had pencilled in so carefully.
It’s more difficult than you’d think to paint an onion. Here’s my third attempt, and I’m still not satisfied: