Friday, June 29, 2007

IT'S OFFICIAL...I'M A SCRUMBLER! I'm a happy 'hooker' and out of the closet, at last.

About 4 years ago, I had this hankering to learn to crochet. Why? I don't know. But I bought myself some yarn and a hook at the craft store, then went online and found a crochet tutorial site and started crocheting. My son was worried about me, he thought I was going a bit bonkers, I think. He said, "Mom, you're an artist and you're doing this little old lady thing." Well, being a creative person, I didn't listen to his fears and kept crocheting.

Since then, I've made too many scarves to count (I've had to give some away because they started to pile up), hats of all shapes and sizes and colors and again (I've donated to Bosnian orphans), wraps, shawls, tank tops, shrugs and even purses. I've learned the basic and not-so-basic stitches. I've tried my hand at is as hard as it looks.

Then, I learned about free form crochet and joined The International Free Form Crochet Guild located online at . When Prudence put out the scrumble challenge, I jumped in. Even though I'd only done one 'scrumble' before this, I decided I would do a few and let 'Pru' decide whether or not to use them. The wonderful and talented woman that she is, she used mine and 64 others scrumbles to create a magnificent coat, shawl and umbrella! Then to top that, she took photos of everyone's contributions and put it all into this new book, 'coat of many scrumbles', 'or just stop worrying and sew the dang things together'. It's a colorful, creative book filled with pages of crochet scrumbles, a brief history of the scrumble and how the whole challenge came together plus scrumbler prose and poetry as well as beautiful pictures of the finished coat, shawl and umbrella.

I'm honored to have been a small part of this great project. I want to send out a big thank you to Prudence Mapstone for her pioneering efforts to keep knitting and crochet on the creative map. For those of you who don't know, Prudence has her own website as well as a web of galleries featuring creative crochet and knit pieces from people around the globe. I've been happy to be able to show some of my yarn creations in her exhibits.

If you'd like a copy of this beautiful book, contact your local yarn shop(LYS) or order it online at . If you, too, are a closet crocheter(or knitter) and want to join in the fun, log on to the website anytime at Ok, so some of your nearest and dearest may think you've lost your mind but if you want to do it, do it anyway and you might just find not only your mind but a host of others with the same desire and mind-set along the way, just like I did. Plus you'll be creating pieces that can become artwork and keep you warm to boot!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Something Uncommon
Common Courtesy
"Little blue bird"

I had a conversation with my husband the other day about all the violent acts that seem so common in our everyday lives. Just look at the newspaper headlines…students shooting students, drivers hitting walkers, men killing men over anything and everything. It seems we have no boundaries any more and angry violence has become a common cultural communications tool. Scary.

I mused that five decades ago, we still had crime, wars and car accidents but there was a difference. There was still a small little peaceful oasis available to everyone in their everyday lives. A little thing called common courtesy. And I believe that this small thing might just be a way to bring about a little cultural revolution toward peaceful understanding every day.

Ok, for those of you who have just pictured yourself donning suits, hats, white gloves and matching handbags…take a breath. I am not calling for a return to the 50’s or replacing halter tops with padded bras or walking shoes with wingtips.

I’m talking about ‘attitude’. How about replacing ‘gangsta’ with respect? How about substituting ‘pushy’ with patience? A smug look with a smile? A rude hand gesture with a wave?

Oh, I know it sounds simplistic…very ‘Happy Days’ and a little too ‘Mayberry’…but a return to old-time values is not what I’m talking about here. I know it’s not going to keep violence from happening, but maybe it just might make everyone’s day a little more peaceful. What I’m talking about is bringing back a little common courtesy from one person to another.

Here are some examples.

You are walking down the street in your own neighborhood, maybe walking your dog. Next time someone passes you, smile and say, “Good morning, afternoon or evening”. Or just nod and say, “Hi”. Or even better, “Hi there. How are you?”

When you enter the mall, how about holding the door open a little for the person behind you, regardless of gender or age? Even better, if you see a parent struggling to get a stroller through the door, why not go over and hold the door for them?

When you’re driving and it’s bumper to bumper, how about letting one car in ahead of you with a friendly wave of your hand. Then, driver of the car being let in, respond with a wave of thanks and a smile. Say someone stopped at a red light, gets distracted and doesn’t notice the light has turned green? Instead of responding with a rude gesture or word, how about a small toot of your horn, a small smile and wave?

Say you’re jogging or biking through the park and you see a couple walking their dog ahead of you taking up the sidewalk…how about calling ahead with, “Hello there, excuse me…I’m passing on your right/left…thank you!” Or you’re jogging with some friends and chatting away across the sidewalk when you see someone approaching you, how about forming a short single line as you pass and saying hi or waving? You can go back to your talking formation after you pass.

The phone rings and it’s one of those ‘sales calls’. How about saying, “Hello, I understand you get paid to sell things over the phone and I respect your right to earn money. Please respect my right to make the choice not to buy anything over the phone and please take me off your calling list. Thank you. Good bye.”

You are shopping and someone drops something on the floor. How about offering to get help for them? Or there’s someone in line behind you with just one item…how about letting them go ahead of you especially if they have little children.

These are small things, yes. But I really believe that bringing back these little, common courtesies can make a big impact. Who knows, just a small smile from you today might change someone’s angry attitude just enough to prevent another violent headline in tomorrow’s paper. Even if that sounds a bit far fetched, try this, doesn’t it feel better to smile at someone? The best thing? A little goes a long way and it doesn’t hurt anyone.

I know that courtesy from one person to another is uncommon today. But you can change that and so can I. Just say ‘hello’ and start making common courtesy from the past, today’s newest communications tool.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Elementary mask workshop
Where has the time gone?

I can't believe it's been a month since I chatted here. I am really glad so many of you stopped by to read the interview with Eric Maisel. And thanks to all who left comments. I know I learned a lot from the interview and I enjoyed all the other stops on the blog tour, too.

What have I been up to?

I finished up my two mask workshops at local schools. One was for little ones and focused on making 11 different wild animals. It was great working with the kids and fostering their creativity in new ways. With the middle schoolers, we worked on animals from fairy tale stories...big bad wolf, three little pigs, wicked witch and a scarecrow just to name a few. I could tell that they were all proud of their artwork and I was, too. The masks in both workshops turned out great!

Then it was back to the studio for me. With more time to devote to my newest pieces including the last 'season' sculpture...spring. I 'm also developing a new series of copper repousse' paintings and moving along on my tryptic in metal mesh.

Also in the studio, I guess, I've been working on a story. This is a new thing for me and I didn't expect to be a 'writer' again. But this story started out a few months ago and it's evolved to more than 50 pages now and each time I sit down with it, the characters just seem to appear and start talking. I am amazed at what they have to say and I just try to focus on them and let them reveal themselves to me. This is not what I ever thought writing a story would be like. I thought that 'writers' had the plot, characters and ending all figured out ahead of time. Then they did whatever research they needed to do and set about writing it from beginning to end. My process seems to be very different. I'm trying not to think about it or judge it but just let my hands move across the keys and write down what these characters are saying.

Why don't I find the time to write here more often?

I don't know. I sometimes forget the blog is here waiting for me and I get caught up in the details of everyday life. I know that teaching, home remodeling, parenting, domestic duties and dog training take up a lot of my time, adding in studio work and writing, so the blog seems to get put last on the list. Does that ever happen to any of you? If so, how do you handle it?

I'd love to hear what you have to say, too. Leave a comment and let's start a dialog...maybe we can all learn something!