Friday, May 30, 2008

Friend Friday - Eight by Eight!

I have loved each and every back and forth project but I must say this one deserves an extreme bowing of awe and appreciation. Blair Stocker and Daria Penta created Eight by Eight to showcase their year long exchange of materials and inspiration to create art, that if available, I would buy each and every piece. The good news is Blair and Daria have great blogs to put on your weekly read and etsy stores to shop! (listed at the end of this post) Thanks for sharing with us ladies!

A bit about the beginning project, "Eight by Eight is our year-long art challenge. Each month we’ll send each other an 8″ x 8″ box of materials; each month we’ll use those materials to make an 8″ x 8″ piece based on that month’s theme.

Over coffee one day we discovered that we were both restlessly wishing for a new project that would push us to rethink our creative comfort zones a little bit. We liked the idea of working small, within a specific theme, & with materials that we would not necessarily have chosen ourselves."

I have decided to split this project into two posts. Read below what Blair has to say about her favorite project so far and stay tuned to read Daria's comments next Friday!


"The favorite of the projects I have completed for eight by eight so far was the one I did for March's theme of surprise color pairing (pictured above). Daria sent me the incredibly vibrant color pair of teal and orange to work with and I immediately knew that I wanted to visually "weave" them together, which is how I settled on the paper bag piecing method I tried, described here . That was one incredible satisfying project! As a matter of fact, I have it framed on my studio wall. It was complex, small (and because of that, doable), inspired, everything I'd hoped to get out of eight by eight.

FYI- My favorite piece of Daria's completed projects is actually April's, when square was the theme- . It felt like we'd developed some sort of rhythm after several months of back and forth packages. She'd really thought about how the pieces I sent to her fit together, used their commonalities to really feature the feedsack, vintage-y feel I was going for in the grouping. (Did you catch her mentioning how the red button was like a cherry pie? Perfect!!!)

Now that we are 5 months into eight by eight, I can reflect on how completely manageable this project has been for me. My husband and I have our own consulting business, so I don't have huge amounts of time to work on my personal creative projects these days. But these monthly projects can easily be completed in an afternoon. I turn on some music, look at the little sketches I've made throughout the month, and start in! We have very straightforward parameters and themes established, we seem to have different takes on similar aesthetics (does that make sense), so its a doable collaboration in many ways. It continues to inspire me to try something new each month."

eight by eight
Blair's blog
Blair's etsy shop
Daria's blog
Daria's etsy shop

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Craft magazine party this Sunday 1-4pm!

Rachel Hobson of average jane crafter and Leslie Bonnell of glitzkrieg are hosting a Craft magazine party here is Austin. Here is what Rachel has to say about it "This is an awesome opportunity for Austin crafters to connect with each other, have loads of fun and support local crafty businesses. We've also got some really cool special guests, including Jenny Hart of Sublime Stitching , loads of awesome door prizes and a great hands-on craft project based on one from the current issue of CRAFT magazine . And more, more, more .... really!" Round Robin Press is also donating back and forth cards for door prizes and Future Craft Collective will have a little surprise for the give away bags. What more could you ask for! Hope to see you this Sunday.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Ruby and Esme - Oh how I love thee!

I am so excited! This book has reached a point where the manuscript and the illustrations are unified in the most perfect way! It's all coming together exactly how I wanted it too and I can barely stand the waiting. I wish we could show you everything but then that wouldn't be much fun. But as a little sneak peek we have decided to show you the beginning of the story (below) and one of kathie's latest painstakingly intricate embroidered illustrations (above). Kathie now has a stack of these that are each as lovely as the next, and once you see the final story mixed with kathie's work you will understand how incredibly heartfelt and meaningful this book has become.

Kathie and I are now working on the manuscript together and we have begun the editing process with our good friend Liz. We are meeting this Thursday for final sketches and manuscript tweaks. I'm bringing a lot of information I have gathered on self publishing vs. traditional publishing and then we will be sent back to our corners until our next scheduled date for the big final push! Stay tuned!

Ruby and Esme

“I don’t want to walk home by myself,” sighed Esme.
“Take my hand,” smiled Ruby. “We’ll walk together.”
And so they walked, back and forth and back and forth, because neither one wanted to walk home alone.

“I like your striped socks,” said Esme
“Thanks, I knit them myself. I like your monkey socks!” laughed Ruby “Want to trade?”
And they did. One each.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

my art crush

Susan Rothenberg has, ever since the day i first saw her painting butterfly, 1976 my sophomore year at college, been my super-hero favorite art crush. My graduate school application portfolio would, embarrassingly, prove my slavish devotion. (Can you say imitation is the most sincere form of flattery?)
To this day, if i see anything of hers i have a visceral, physical reaction- it's hard not to. There are other painters that i love, Alice Neel, Philip Guston, just to name a couple. But i have unflinchingly answered the question "who's your favorite artist?", a tough question that normally would be almost unfair to ask, with the same answer since that day in 1992.
I found this quote, for which i could find no author, but which perfectly verbalizes the experience of viewing a Rothenberg painting;
“In her painting the body meets the world in the form of an emblem, like a sign in the sand, formed hesitantly by a person attempting to represent something for the first time. She opens in us a new kind of perception, joining our intuitive inner selves with external reality.”
Joining our intuitive inner selves
external reality.
No small feat for paint and canvas.
Here's to never outgrowing our first hero crushes-
who are yours?

Friday, May 9, 2008

Friend Friday - back and forth Crown Sonnet!

Wow, this is no small back and forth project. I'll let the writer, Liz Garton Scanlon take it from here. Sit back and enjoy! Thank you Sara, Laura, Tricia, Liz, Andi, Tanita and Kelly for sharing this amazing piece!

"Six months ago, seven bloggers – most of whom had only ever met virtually – came together to write a poem collaboratively. A back-and-forth poem, if you will. The bloggers, all women, live across the country and beyond. They are authors and teachers and mothers and poets, and they are either brave or crazy because they decided to write a Crown Sonnet together.

A Crown Sonnet uses the form like a bead on a necklace – stringing together seven in all. The last line of the first sonnet is used as the first line of the second sonnet; the last line of the second sonnet is used as the first line of the third sonnet, and so on. Those repeating lines are the thread the necklace hangs on and, in the end, what ties the whole piece together. The final sonnet starts with the last line of the sixth sonnet and ends with the first line of the very first sonnet. A circular feat, in rhyme and iambic pentameter to boot.

So the Poetry Seven (who also called themselves Poetry Princesses because they were sufficiently charmed with one another and this epic task) drew straws and began – each writer working at her own pace, with ample time granted for fear and denial. Along the way they agreed the poems would be about teens – and for a teen audience. And they agreed to embody the themes of tribe and identity. Beyond that, they were left with the proscribed form and the blank page.

When the first writer wrapped hers up, she passed it onto number two, and it moved this way for months – growing by fourteen lines each time until finally, it was finished. Or was it? These are writers, after all. Endless tweakers of all things wordly. And if they were going to share their efforts with the world, they were going to revise their efforts.

So they dumped their Crown into an interactive Google doc and went at it. And this is when the real back-and-forthing began. They questioned and commented and praised and suggested. Meter was corrected, rhymes toyed with, voices refined. Fear and denial were nowhere to be seen! No time for that, with sweat on their brows and hand tools chipping away at things.

Until, before they knew it, they were satisfied. And they donned the necklace and trotted it out on their blogs. Liz shared the entire Crown – in celebration of national poetry month. Kelly explained the mechanics, Tanita - the theme , and Tricia and Laura discussed the process. All seven were almost giddy with accomplishment, see Sara and Andi's here and here.

But it was more than that. Sure, they’d completed a crown and were already contemplating the launch of their next project, but there’d also been the added, unexpected delight of intimate connection. Sara, Laura, Tricia, Liz, Andi and Kelly had been wallowing in the joy of their own literary salon – virtually. They’d each amassed fat email folders full of hilarity and critique and friendship, and they’re not giving any of that up anytime soon…"

Cutting a Swath
Sara Lewis Holmes, Laura Purdie Salas, Tricia Stohr-Hunt, Liz Garton Scanlon, Tanita S. Davis, Andromeda Jazmon and Kelly Fineman

As shoes untied, you drag frayed words in trail
Behind your name; unlooped, they flop up steps
And trip your stride, and blacken blue the depths
Of day; from light to dark, from deep to pale,
Undone, you fall; unknown, you pass or fail.
In halls, you thread the holes between your debts
Unpaid, and those who shove your name in reps
Against the rails of crowded stairs. Inhale
The stench! Keep true your shoes! The ups and downs
Will yield a path to out beyond, to where
The mirror turns, and those who hid their marks
And stumbled most will dress and march in gowns
On paths unfound, on tracks, unnamed, a pair
Of laces, ends unbound, leaps free as sparks.

As lacy skirts, unbound, leap free and spark,
the prom girls surge in silk through streamered space.
They orbit round in endless tethered chase
and ride the DJ’s pounding sound through dark
around a nova. Can you see the mark
she brands on planets trapped in her embrace?
There’s just one sun. You risk her hot disgrace
unless you dance in place along her arc.
I can’t revolve and spin in cosmic time.
I won’t resolve to tread another’s trail.
I’m blasting free, eclipsing all my past.
I’m leaving stars and velvet queens behind.
I’ve torn away my atmospheric veil
to fly through life’s grand chaos, bright and vast.

Flying through life's grand chaos, bright and vast,
the tide of days leads down a path unknown.
I know not who I'll be when I am grown,
but want to live a life that's unsurpassed.
I wish to speak in words both true and fast
(when sideways glances make me feel alone
or handsome smiles imply I've won the throne),
while keeping every secret to the last.
But I commit my heart with pen to page,
my feet to races not yet known or run,
my life to every opportunity.
These dreams I hold are bound to come of age,
cannot be stopped and will not be undone,
because they live and breathe to be set free.

Because I live and breathe, to be set free
from each presumption of my proven name,
released from excellence and bland acclaim,
is neither choice nor possibility.
Embracing expectations hungrily,
I place each gaping hour in a frame
and persevere beyond the reach of shame
within this endless valedictory.
But quantitative claims define one bit
of me. Much deeper, stretching ‘gainst my skin
with all the effort of the waxing moon,
the greater self to whom I must commit.
It’s time for me to feed what’s been starved thin –
my name will be too small to hold me soon.

My name will be too small to hold me soon.
Unnamed, traversing now this darkling plane
called school. Fey, fickle, Royalty arcane,
Bequeathed with charm and crowned with mystic runes,

Their sorcerous hold upon the madding crowd
Points social scepter, friend or foe to choose.
Those Named hold sway: I do hereby refuse
To be so owned; stand rowan-straight, unbowed.

Swift, fleeting, “Shadow” is my sobriquet.
Invisible. To none allegiance owed,
My scholarship I practice, moments seize.

Small magics my cold iron will displays,
Four years I serve. I pace this treacherous road,
My eyes, now disenchanted, my soul free.

My eyes now disenchanted; my soul frees
one stifled cry – then peace behind the door.
My room, my sacred space above the floor
is all that shields me from their strident pleas.
They've chosen out the path of life for me;
their scholarship a prize I would ignore.
I spurn the grind of their required score.
I cut them off. I beg them. Let me be!
I mark the time and hide myself away,
no greater plan than lay about and dream
within the walls that guard my fractious will.
My music pounds. The restless shadows play.
Light curls across a ceiling cracked and mean.
My window opens past a well-scarred sill.

Through open window, past a well-scarred sill,
on gritty shingles sheltered under eaves,
I take in cool night air; my anger leaves
with every ragged breath that I exhale.
Your words, a thousand stinging papercuts,
lose power underneath the watching stars.
I see your reigning planet, red-light Mars,
horizon-bound and fixed. Your self-made ruts
preclude adventure or a change of course.
Is this the future that you want for me?
A mediocre life filled with travail,
a boxed-in life of sameness and remorse?
I choose to free myself of your debris:
I’m not afraid to leave you in my trail.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

gratitude banner

i thought i'd post this picture of the sever family gratitude banner here this week- it's a back and forth project between family members!
the idea was brought to us by the truly inspired master of family ritual, bernadette noll , who created a gratitude banner for her family- a place to honor all the blessings, big and small, that touch our lives. she and i decided to run with this idea, and to teach a class of 8-12 year old girls about making these for their own families, which is what got me to go ahead and follow through with making one- i had to make a sample to show the class, after all!!
there are pockets for each family member, as well as one for all extended family and community and one for the universe. these pockets provide a place for writing down something that strikes gratitude in your heart, and thanking whatever or whomever helped to bring said energy to you by delivering them a little thank you note on the spot.
writing down the gratitudes not only solidifies the wonder that bubbles up when you start realizing how many reasons you have to feel grateful, but talk about generating reciprocity! it's amazing how having the intention to give thanks inspires the same intention in those around you! they are so filled up by the little notes that appear in their banner pockets that they in turn begin to notice and document all the myriad daily reasons we have to step back and say "holy batman, THANK YOU!!!"
and i also love that it's all done in the sweet and unique artwork that is an individuals own handwriting... i love picking up a note from my 7 year old, in her still emerging pen, knowing that not only will the meaning and depth of her words change and evolve as she grows, but the mark that she makes as she grows will also evolve.
thanks again, bern!! we love you!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Friend Friday - why do you keep sneaking up on us?

Well, heck! There are a few friend friday projects coming but Friday keeps dropping in on us unannounced and we have been so busy around here that we can't even ask her in for tea. Please keep checking back in as there are some inspiring projects full of effort and big whopping ideas coming - starting next week!

As for Kathie and I, we are honored to have been interviewed by Diane of Craftypod about Ruby and Esme's back and forth process. I'll post the interview once it's out!

Now go play with Friday because we can't!