When Spider Webs Catch The Light and Friends Make a Fuss

A wonderful package arrived shortly before my birthday, all the way from New Zealand. Pauline of the Contented Crafter says it’s been in the making for a while.

paulines-gift-box

Beautiful package

She decorated the box with her own customized decorative tape which you can read more about here. Isn’t it cool? She created the art for the postcard as well using postage stamps from my dad’s collection. The original hangs on my wall. It’s quite special.

Now look at what she tucked inside:

pauline-king-spider-web

An enchanting spider web light catcher

This isn’t any old spider web. It’s a hand-crafted, bead-encrusted, gem of a birthday/Halloween gift from Pauline. I love it!

glass-spider

Faceted glass spider

My special spider web arrived with an impressively sized, faceted spider with its own hook (but no fangs). You can move her around the web, then watch it catch the light.

center-of-web

In the center of the web

Guess what else was in the box? A Halloween-themed light catcher. The charms include spiders, witches hats, cats and brooms.  Did I mention the pumpkins? There are several of those too.

The reflective nature of the faceted glass makes it difficult to photograph, so I took some video as well. It will give you an idea of the light and movement.

Mike installed hooks in the nook above the sink so I could hang the web near the light. Interestingly, the web is just as beautiful at night. The lower light mutes some of the colors, while the facets shine.

spider-light-catcher-kitchen-window

Halloween-themed light catcher hanging in the kitchen window (Mouse the Cat looks on) Thank you, Pauline

 

Gathering friends with the years

birthday-and-sympathy-cards

The stunning sunflowers are a gift from Laurie, surrounded by birthday cards and condolences on losing Slinky. The sunflower painting was a gift from Kelly last year.

My mother never liked a fuss on her birthday, so I grew up following suit. A few close friends sent greetings through the mail or by phone which I loved, but I otherwise kept my birthday a secret.

I’ve come to realize that I like a bit of a fuss. Not a loud, brash, in your face fuss, but the warm greetings that arrive by post. I love receiving cards in the mail. Happy birthday wishes via Facebook and blogging are a delight as well. I  smile at the beautifully animated e-cards and the thoughtful friends who send them. My friend Carrielin calls me on my birthday every year and has since we were in college. Each greeting is a reminder of the richness of friends and family, relationships that have grown and deepened with the passing years. I feel loved beyond measure.

Thank you all for making a fuss.

pumpkin-with-paulines-spider

Did I mention the second spider?

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Sisterhood Quilt: Stitching Together Art and Friendship Around the Globe

The Sisterhood of the Travelling Sketchbook is a collaborative effort, born from the seed of an idea between bloggers Anne Lawson and Kate Chiconi. It started when Anne offered (and mailed) sketchbooks made from experimental drawings or practiced watercolor washes. Anne offered them to blogging friends and sent about half a dozen around the world.

sisterhood Cover and map

Inside back cover: Foldout map (left) and original page art by Anne Lawson (right)

Kate added her own gorgeous drawings and some fluffy feathers to her version of the book, then sent it back to Anne.  You see where this is going, right?

Anne posted Kate’s drawings here, and then through this comment thread:

I think we need a larger sketchbook, and initiate a Sisterhood of the Travelling Sketchbook ~Kate Chiconi

the project grew wings.

All told, 15 bloggers signed up to take part. One of the sisters set up a Word Press blog, another created an interactive map of the traveling sketchbook. Anne is adding photos to a page on her blog as each of us completes our entry and sends it on to the next sister.

sisterhood sketchbook inside

Opening page: Textile art by Kate Chiconi

I broke out in a cold sweat when the sketchbook arrived in the post. I’m crafty and creative in my way, but was a bit intimidated by the artistic abilities represented in the sketch book. I calmed down, let different ideas wash over me, and eventually decided on a paper quilt using images of the art and poetry that came before me.

My entry is The Sisterhood Quilt: Stitching Together Art and Friendship Around the Globe. I copied each of the traveling entries so far, and created a collage of squares. I printed the squares on watercolor paper, then double stitched them to a piece of onion skin typing paper. I included a square of the map, and a square of my recent squirrel pillow project. It’s called Four Loves: Animals, Sewing, Nature and Photography.

The poem in the upper right hand corner comes with a sad tale. Viv in France, part of the original sisterhood, died suddenly and unexpectedly while visiting her daughter in July. I found this poem on her blog, and hope her family will appreciate the posthumous entry on her behalf.

sisterhood quilt full page

Sisterhood Quilt: *Upper row* Kate, Chas, Chas and Viv *Middle row* Anne, Sandi, Sandra and Alys *Bottom row* Anne’s cover, book detail, map (copyrighted material belonging to original artist)

sisterhoood quilt

The threads that draw us together

Contributing Artists so Far:

Australia

Anne Lawson
Kate from Tall Tales from Chiconia
Sandra (Lady Red Specs) from Please Pass the Recipe
Megan (Chas) from Chas Spain
Sandi, who lives in Wandin East

sisterhood map of Australia

A corner of the map. All this fun started in Australia

The States

Alys from Gardening Nirvana (that’s me)
Sue From The Magpie’s Nest (the sketchbook is with Sue now)

Artists to Come:

Ushashree from Creative Crafts DIY

Europe

Marina in Greece, Athens Letters
Lyn, also in France, Tialys
Constanze is in Germany
Annett blogs at Knetty Craft
Jan is in Britain, The Snail of Happiness
Margaret, also from Britain, The Crafty Creek
Then back to Anne in Australia

It’s been a joyous experience taking part in this project*. I hope you’ll come visit our shared blog and get to know us a bit better.

A sister is a gift to the heart, a friend to the spirit, a golden thread to the meaning of life.
Isadora James

*except when I freaked out at all the talent on the pages before me

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Art in the Mist: The CreARTfuldodger

You know how it goes. You follow a blogger who follows another blogger and before you know it, the three of you are walking on a beach in Victoria, BC.

Wilma and Boomdee, Victoria BC, August 17, 2014

Wilma and Boomdee, Victoria BC, August 17, 2014

Two years ago this month I met Wilma, the artist behind the blog creartfuldodger (CreArtful Dodger). When I returned to Victoria in June with Mike, Wilma drove into town to share a meal. She offered to pick us up at our hotel, and when I gave her the address she knew it well. Wilma’s daughter works at the same hotel. Serendipity!

Wilma with her art

Wilma with her art

Wilma is great company, a wonderful tour guide and an accomplished artist. Over dinner, she surprised me with the gift of this inspired bird collage.

Knowing my love of Nigella aka Love in a Mist, she used an original, 1900’s seed packet as the starting point. She incorporated airmail stickers and stamps, also my favorites and created a tag using a vintage book cover. It’s beautiful and thoughtful. She also included my initial on the gift bag, a charming addition.

Creartfuldodger

Creartfuldodger: Layered seed packet, postage stamp, mailing labels and other ephemera. The green image shows detail from the back of the tag

Wilma writes:

Love-in-a-mist,

It is truly hard to resist!

Perhaps Alys will remember, with pleasure, her stay,

And return again one fine day. – Wilma Millette, Creartfuldodger

With great pleasure, Wilma. Love and thanks.

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Catching the Light, Sharing the Love

Given the time, I could write an entire book on my extraordinary trip to Virginia and D.C. earlier this year. One of many highlights included the unveiling of the light catchers, intricately hand-crafted and lovingly presented by Pauline King. On our flight home, Pauline offered to make one for my sister Sharon and within weeks it arrived at my door.

Here’s Sharon’s reaction when she opened the gift:

It’s difficult to convey how special these are. Pauline describes her process in a recent post found here. When writing about Sharon’s light catcher, Pauline says:

I have made my light-catchers for a few years now – rather sporadically, as I enjoy making them especially for someone. They are my gift of good wishes, good fortune and a bit of magic woven into beads and charms and crystals for someone special. I like to think of the person I am creating for, then I choose colours and shapes and crystals and charms especially for them. Then it all just weaves itself together.

sharon's light catcher pauline king

Like most artists, Pauline is far too modest. She weaves a special charm into each one using glass, crystal, semi-precious gemstones, beads and the most delightful charms you’ve ever seen.

The enclosed card says “the charms have been especially chosen for you and represent the following”

Teddy Bear: for the child within, may there always be cuddles.

Boot: for fashion and style!

Music Notes: May there always be music in your life.

Jigsaw Puzzle: for when you need the last bit of the puzzle.

Ballerina: to remind you when the body can’t dance, the spirit can!

Cat in the Moon: to remind you of the magic and mystery of both.

Babushka Doll: we all have hidden layers…..

The Witch, the Skeleton and the Spider: for your love of Halloween.

Book: for the places your imagination can go.

Purse: may there always be enough.

Pentagram: may you always be protected.

Fairy: may you always see the magic.

Sharon has tall ceilings in her home, so I’m enlisting Mike’s help so we can hang it in the perfect place.  After one foolish mishap, I count my lucky stars and no longer climb up a ladder alone.

The following bloggers enjoy catching the light:

Sweet Peas: Art, Friendship and Second Chances

When my boys were young, Sweet Pea was a favorite term of endearment. They’re teenagers now, so pet names are the kiss of death. I still think it in my head though, especially this time of year.

Sweet Friends

sweet pea seeds and gift bag

Sweet Pea seeds and the beautiful gift bag

Last year my kindred spirit sent me several packets of sweet pea seeds from up north. I planted them in a few places, to see what worked best. A few came up in the pots out back, but they died back quickly, challenging my garden mojo, They’re supposed to grow like wild flowers. We mused that perhaps they weren’t properly adapted for our hotter climate and chalked it up to experience.

Guess what? They’re back. They’re also bigger and brighter and happily growing in the garden. Don’t you love second chances?

sweet pea buds

These soft yellow buds opened to lavender flowers

sweet pea tendrils

Delicate but strong

sweet peas with dew drops

Flowers refreshed

This isn’t the first time I’ve planted seeds, that do so-so in the first year, then come on strong a year later. Look at them grow!

Artful Friends

Artist Nicole Meredith created The Flower Map as a way of fundraising for her own healing treatments. I met Nicole through a mutual friend and have followed her journey for several years. As her health improved, she launched The Flower Map. I purchased a handful of cards from her Etsy shop, to send and to give as gifts.

To my delight, Nicole sent me one of her original water colors as a gift. My cup overflows! I framed the sweet pea watercolor, both for its beauty and for the reminder that Nicole, too, is improving and getting her second chance at a healthy life. Her Etsy shop is currently ‘taking a break.’ Nicole, sending healing thoughts your way and thank you once again for this lovely gift.

nicole meredith the art map sweet peas

I’m not the only one who’s in love with sweet peas. Show some blogging love and have a look:

  • Silk and Threades writes beautifully about her own experiences. Check out The Tendrils of the Sweet Pea.
  • Take a look at Cathy’s beautiful vase and field of wild sweet peas (be still my heart) at Words and Herbs.
  • Bloom or Bust has a great idea for trailing sweet peas. She also used them in her wedding, which I think is the sweetest of all.

If you’re viewing this in ‘real time’, have a look at my Descending on D.C. widget to the right. Can you believe it? It’s counting down the hours, not days. I’m so excited.

And the winner is…

butterfly sprite

Butterfly Sprite
Mixed Media on Canvas by Pauline King of The Contented Crafter

Me!

Oh my gosh. I’ve been dutifully buying raffle tickets from school children, the scouts and pretty much anyone that asks for years.  I’ve  never won a thing.

Blogging completely changed my luck.

I won the drawing for an art print of my choosing at The Contented Crafter.  All I had to do was leave a comment on her blog (which is so delightful that I do that anyway.)  She drew names from a teacup (my favorite beverage, by the way), and I won. Serendipity!

Pauline is a mixed-media artist, photographer, and all around talent, blogging from New Zealand. She shares her art and artful process with her readers. We’re treated to the occasional  story about her charming cat, Orlando.

Pauline leaves fun and funny comments on various blogs and gems of wisdom along the way. I hope to meet her on future travels.

I picked out a print of the Butterfly Sprite. It arrived yesterday, along with a lovely note and one of her greeting cards. I’m feeling as cheerful as the lovely sprite.

Coincidentally (more serendipity) I’m working on a framing project for one of my clients, so I took my new print to the shop and had it framed just a day after receiving it the mail. I promise to share a picture when it’s framed and hanging on my wall. I’m currently scouting for the perfect spot. Stay tuned.

Thanks so much, Pauline for bringing art and cheer into our home.

The Contented Crafter sells her work on Etsy.  You can read more about her process on her blog or on Facebook

Serendipity: My Word of the Year

mixed media

Mixed-media

Some people choose a word for the year instead of making resolutions. I like the idea, but didn’t really plan to choose one of my own. Instead, I think a word chose me: serendipity. I’ve been wading through the Carl Jung philosophical discussion of synchronicity which lead me to the more accurate idea of serendipity: a happy accident.

Yesterday I took a two-hour mixed media class at a local studio, A Work of Heart.  We started with three small canvases, and three tag-board hearts.  We applied a thick, clay-like medium to each canvas, then used templates to make impressions in the medium before it dried. The template I used is reminiscent of a beehive.

While we waited for it to dry, we got to choose a page from sheets of music, children’s books, or a dictionary.  She had stacks of them.  I reached for a children’s book, and quickly came upon Alice in Wonderland.  Not only was this a childhood nickname, but I still have a few of the beloved pages from my copy of the book, a gift from my grandfather in England. It’s one of only a handful of possessions we brought from Canada.

Serendipity!

The class continued and it was great fun.  We mixed our own secondary colors using three primaries, then painted over the medium.  We cut the hearts from our chosen pages, in my case Queen Alice.  We spent a joyful two hours, layering, painting and stamping till we had the desired effect.  When it was time to add the final detail, a couple of words or a quote on each page, I went back to Alice.  There, on the second page, was the following quote: “Where do you pick the flower?” “In a garden or in the hedges?”

Serendipity!

In other words, I made a work of art at A Work of Heart using pages from Alice in Wonderland, managing to find a garden quote in the last few minutes of class.

Yep…serendipity!

Oh and one more thing: when I looked up the term synchronicity, Wikipedia cited a passage from (you guessed it) Alice.  Here’s the passage:

One of Jung’s favorite quotes on synchronicity was from Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll, in which the White Queen says to Alice: “It’s a poor sort of memory that only works backwards”.

‘The rule is, jam to-morrow and jam yesterday – but never jam to-day.’

‘It MUST come sometimes to “jam to-day,”‘ Alice objected.

‘No, it can’t,’ said the Queen. ‘It’s jam every OTHER day: to-day isn’t any OTHER day, you know.’

‘I don’t understand you,’ said Alice. ‘It’s dreadfully confusing!’

‘That’s the effect of living backwards,’ the Queen said kindly: ‘it always makes one a little giddy at first–‘

‘Living backwards!’ Alice repeated in great astonishment. ‘I never heard of such a thing!’

‘–but there’s one great advantage in it, that one’s memory works both ways.’

‘I’m sure MINE only works one way,’ Alice remarked. ‘I can’t remember things before they happen.’

‘It’s a poor sort of memory that only works backwards,’ the Queen remarked.

Queen Alice

canvas

Where do you pick the flower?

canvas art

In a garden,….

canvas art

…or in the hedges?

Contact Form

I love the blogosphere grapevine, but figured it was time to add a contact form so folks could get in touch.  Comments are always welcome, but if you’re looking for a private way to get in touch this is the ticket.

You can add a contact form to a post or create one as a static page.  Readers can contact you without the need to publish your email address.  My new contact form is in the pages tab, above.  If you want to create one for your own blog, here is a quick and easy tutorial from WordPress.

Queen Alice

Queen Alice