If You Don't Know Me By Now

Then that would be my fault, wouldn't it.

I just took the picture above. I wanted to take a photo of my hands, but as I set up the camera I realized I was too close - it wouldn't work. Then I saw the reflection of my hands as they showed up on the lid of my laptop. It came to me that this couldn't be more appropriate. I am reflecting on my hands right now. After I took the picture and opened it to crop it, I saw I'd managed to get one of those happy accidents on film. It looks like stardust snuck in the frame along with the almost zen-like design on the laptop lid of waves. Sense of motion. Sense of magic.

I'm coming up on my first anniversary of blogging and I've looked back over my entries to see how I'm doing. Am I true to my original intention, have I wandered too far afield, and if so - is it really a bad thing?

What was my mandate? To create my own place in cyberspace where I would share the work of my heart, sight and hands, without self-censure. To show what works for me as well as what doesn't.

This is a part of my current pile of things unfinished or in need of repair or redesign.

This is my pile of "what was I thinking???" that is waiting to be salvaged.

I write an artisan blog. Through art we share something deeper than opinion or attitude, the minutiae of the mundane or the trivial wars we wage against imagined enemies - we share our individual, unique visions that come from a deep communal wellspring of creation.

Another Country. I gave this name to my studio when I started doing bead art in earnest. It's the home I have made for myself in a world where I have never felt at home. All of us have experienced a sense of alienation, of not belonging, at some point in our lives. I have felt this always. I loved being on the move, to the point of being an addict to change, always searching for that home outside of myself. I love being here, now, but as always I never feel a sense of belonging to the physical place where I am.

When I am deep in the creation of an art piece, whether it's jewelry or an art doll or a bead journal page, then I feel at home. Home is within, not without.

Conclusion? I've done what I know, and done it the best way I know how. I like this blogging thing. I like my blog. It could use a little more poetry, but otherwise I'm happy with how things are going.

I've had my moments of intense frustration, but I've also had my share of being uplifted. With the kind permission of the author of this, I'd like to share a note I received at Etsy just the other day:

"Hello Morwyn,
I wanted to let you know that the Crazy Quilt bracelet and Goddess
pin/pendant arrived yesterday...I am blown away!!! Although your
photography is excellent, there is just nothing like the "real thing"...and
these two pieces are beyond my ability to describe...nothing less than
extraordinary and gorgeous and amazing!!! I love the jasper pieces,
too...jasper is such a gentle, soothing stone...and the agate piece is very
powerful...the pin/pendant is so full of energy and magic!!! I've done
enough stitching, beading, and jewelry-making in my life to comprehend
what a huge gift you have, what an incredible talent...you are indeed a
blessed artist!!! I will wear these pieces with honor and true
appreciation for their preciousness...I am indeed privileged!!! You have a
huge fan and customer in me...I will be back to your shop for more of
your gorgeous work in the future!!!

Many thanks and blessings,

When someone really understands your work and appreciates it, there's no way to describe that feeling of vindication, of acceptance, of joy.

Now, about that December page. Here's the embryonic stage.

I can't wait to see how this one turns out!


November Page Accompli!!

Day of the Dead/All Hallows Eve

Halloween. Samhain. The night when the veil between the worlds of existence grows thin, and the possiblity of passing from one side to the next is greatest. This is the night I journey to find my loved ones, to ask them to join me on the Day of the Dead, to celebrate their lives.

On the right is a representation of this journey. I am wrapped in a cloak of night, with only the remembrance of love to warm me from within, as I step through the Veil. I chose this stone for my body, as it seemed to me to be lit from its center, while being shot through with veins of black, like ribbons of sorrow. In my dreams, the Veil is ephemeral, gauzy, within a landscape outside of time and space.

On the left is my Day of the Dead Altar. A candle is lit for the soul of each of my loved ones who have passed from this life, to help them find their way back to me. There is an extra candle lit for the Forgotten Soul. The candles are surrounded with marigolds, whose strong scent will also help them to find me. They loved flowers, so I give them two vases filled with all sorts. The sugar skulls are to honor the sense of fun and play we all shared.

Now, to recap, here is what six months' worth of bead journal pages looks like in its "bound" state:


Simply Red

Ah, Mick.

The current challenge for the Etsy Beadweavers is to work up something in red. I've been working on overcoming my Fear of Red for several years. Dolls I can do in red, but for some reason I balk at designing red jewelry.

In any case, as I was ruminating on this subject, I remembered how much I liked the music of Simply Red; most particularly the vocals of Mick Hucknall. Next thing I know I've gone out and bought four CDs, pre-ordered the official bio of the band at Amazon, bookmarked every site I could find and am about to figure out how to embed a video.

This video was taken from the live performance at the Nobel Peace Prize concert in November of 2006.

I'm trying to work out why I'm obsessing over this group. Why them? Why now?

Back to the design board. November page is half done. December page has been sketched. Sold off some bits at Etsy over the past few weeks and I need to do something to restuff my shelves there.


Way More Than 52

Wendy Seaward and her fabulous masks are Inspiration #13.

My list of 52 Inspirations has stretched into infinity - it runneth over here.

Every single member of the Etsy Beadweavers Street Team is a wellspring of ideas and brain sparks.

Does it seem like cheating? Maybe so, but I have two journal pages to finish in the next two weeks and no time for surfing & exploring!


Ho Ho Hooooo! My Hands Are Killing Me!!

You may be wondering why there are no beading photos lately.

Tis the season. We decided this year to give the gift of homemade and handmade. For a whole bunch of reasons - not the least of which is the complete and utter frustration and disgust with the commercialization of the holidays. The relentless, insulting advertising. The stores filling up with red and green crap the day after Halloween. The pervasive and obnoxious Muzak, jingling my nerves instead of bells.

Anyway. The baking and the knitting are finally finished. 30 loaves of holiday breads (fruitcake, peanut butter/chocolate chip/orange, cranberry/pecan, gingerbread) and 10 dozen cookies (applesauce jumbles, ginger creams, ranger cookies) are now wrapped and ready for gifting.

Actually, I tell a lie. I'm not quite done with the cookies - I still have to glaze and frost some of them, but my back was just screaming. By the time I pulled the last cookie sheet out of the oven this evening, I surrendered. A nice little brandy&soda and a handful of Advil along with at least 7 hours of sleep ought to see me well enough to get things finished in the morning.

Four chunky knit watchcaps and three fuzzy neckwarmers have been knitted and are also wrapped and ready for the mail. I decided to break out my yarn stash this year. Each one of the watchcaps was knitted with at least 5 strands of different sorts of yarn, ranging from fine-spun mohair to chunky novelty yarn to ribbons, using size 15 needles. I felt like I was knitting in mud, it was such a long, slow slog. I had to keep stopping to rest my fingers after every third row or so. Working with giant needles and fat yarns is very tiring, but I do love the way all the hats turned out:

The fuzzy little neckwarmers were done up with some fun eyelash yarn I found at a great yarn shop in Omaha over three years ago. At the time I was a little concerned about paying so much - even on sale I think they were about $8 per ball, but I see how lovely and soft they worked up and I'm glad I broke down and went for the quality goods:

While I'm proud of myself for finally using up a substantial chunk of my yarn stash, I wish I'd found this book a little earlier:

Clicking here will take you to Ms Radford's website for her book. I have GOT to teach myself how to do felting - I love the little bowls on Page 76-79. Maybe next year.


December Inspirations

My favorite poets have been dominating my thoughts. As we head for the shortest night of the year, I find myself sitting closer to the fire, wrapped a little tighter in my favorite shawl, diving headfirst into the landscape of other minds from other times and places.

Inspiration #10:
The Poetry of Tagore

The butterfly counts not months but moments,
And has time enough.

Inspiration #11:
The Poetry and Prose of Rainer Maria Rilke

This is the creature there has never been.
They never knew it, and yet, none the less,
they loved the way it moved, its suppleness,
its neck, its very gaze, mild and serene.
Not there, because they loved it, it behaved
as though it were. They always left some space.
And in that clear unpeopled space they saved
it lightly reared its head, with scarce a trace
of not being there. They fed it, not with corn,
but only with the possibility
of being. And that was able to confer
such strength, its brow put forth a horn. One horn.
Whitely it stole up to a maid - to be
within the silver mirror and in her.

Inspiration #12:
The Haiku of the Master, Basho

Winter solitude--
in a world of one color
the sound of wind


More Inspirations

Inspiration #7: Mary Darwall. I could get lost in her website for hours. Gorgeous.

Inspiration #8: Laurel Burch.
Her life and her art were and are a great inspiration to me. A wonderful spirit and a gifted artist, her absence will be felt by many, and for many years.I will always remember her sense of play, of color and her unquenchable fire of creativity, and forever treasure my few pieces of LB jewelry. Wish I still had my cat mugs . . .

Inspiration #9: Van Gogh. Especially the work he produced while in Arles. Color! He makes me absolutely vibrate from the top of my head right down through the soles of my feet - he is the master of color.Willows at Sunset. This just leaves me gasping.

I have a lot of ground to cover between now and the end of the year if I'm going to make it to a list of 52. Next year will be easier - I'll list one a week then! The nice thing is, this world is FULL of things to inspire you.


Dragging My Feet

I don't know why, but the past few days I've been alternating between working on a dozen projects at once or hiding from all of them. *sigh* The two extremes actually amount to the same thing, don't they. Avoidance. I can't seem to settle on any one thing and give it all I have. I feel scattered to the winds.

For lack of any meaningful progress reporting, here's Inspiration #6:

I put this on my Amazon wish list this morning. I love nearly all of the "500" books in the Lark Books series - there's a whole lotta brain sparks to be found in them.

I mentioned a few posts ago that I was finishing up a lot of older projects. After three months, I did manage to finish making an eyeglass case out of the Sunrise I beaded back when, but it sold before I could take a new scan of the finished work - it sold today, actually.

Posted this on Etsy this evening - I call it "Crazy Quilt 2":

I should do a flat scan of the entire piece to show off all the embroidery at once. I'll try to remember to do that before I open the store tomorrow (just in case lightning strikes twice.)


Heehee. I remembered!


Madness, Illness, & An Anniversary

My October page, completed, and titled Water/The Undine. I've been slowly catching up on projects too long neglected. And possessed of a certain madness, started a few more. I came up with some designs for gothic Yule jewelry and I couldn't rest until I got some of them pulled together.

In spite of my best intentions NOT to get sick this year, I came down with a monster cold. Along with half the population of the country, it seems. After almost ten days, I finally got my voice back yesterday.

Which was great timing. Friday, Saturday and today we celebrated our ten-year anniversary of running our bookstore. We filled the place with helium balloons and set out a tray of cookies - we gave away the tote bags I made and visited with a lot of old friends and sold a lot of books. My favorite part of these celebrations is always the balloons. Just looking at them makes me feel happy.

To get back to the subject of madness, I really am glad I reopened my Etsy shop, but now I'm having second thoughts about the destash shop. There's just this overwhelming amount of work that needs doing - I thought I might start slow with it by listing all the craft books I'm weeding out, but even that will take a huge chunk of time.

I'm looking at my schedule for next week and I'm exhausted just thinking about what's ahead.

I gotta get more sleep.


There And Back Again

I'm fairly recuperated from my trip; coming home was like hitting the deck running - I've been working at the bookstore 10 hours a day for the last four days, catching up on all my chores and odder jobs. It was a great visit - Charlie is, naturally, the Most Beautiful Child Evar. Even with his face full of plum.

In addition to drooling all over him, I also spent a great deal of time at my daughter's place of employment - The International Bead Market in Omaha.

Spent just enough time and waaaaaay too much money there, I can tell ya. This year I learned how to do pearl knotting. I always learn something new by taking one of my daughter's classes. Last year it was Ndebele stitch.

At any rate, overloading my carry-on bags with the more precious acquisitions and stuffing the rest into mailers made me realize I've got to destash again. I did this 2 1/2 years ago - I had a beady indoor yard sale, then put the rest up on FeeBay. Cleared out about 30 pounds of beads that time. Looks like I've got that much and more yet again, but this time my daughter's convinced me to open a destash store at Etsy, in addition to my shop of finished pieces.

I've been stockpiling stuff for a show at the end of November, but I have serious doubts about doing it. I've re-opened my Etsy shop and I'll be listing (and relisting) things as I can,

like my medicine bags.

I may have to start drinking coffee in the late afternoon just so I can stay up long enough in the evening to work on NaNoWriMo AND all the beadwork I've got lined up.

Inspiration #5: The Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha.

I must have taken 100 pictures there (and not all of them with a baby in the middle). The main indoor exhibit is the Chrysanthemum Walk and it wowed me completely. The spider mums were breathtaking. It was heaven, being surrounded by so much color and texture.

I love to travel, but I love to come home. Now back to the beading . . .


Almost Forgot!

The principle beadwork is done for my October page, Water/The Undine. I'm off in the morning to spend 2 weeks with my kids and meet my grandson, Charlie!

He's almost 9 months old - I'm over the moon about meeting him!!

When I get back I should be able to finish up the page, but I'll have to hurry - I'll be busy all November with National Novel Writing Month.

Inspiration #4

I forgot to post my link to the Astronomy Picture of the Day archive, here. I check this every morning - besides being a great source of inspiration (#2), it helps me keep things in perspective. This was the picture from today:

I love that stuff.

Anyway, Inspiration #4 is the most peaceful, beautiful massive multiplayer online games/interactive screensavers you will ever see. It's called The Endless Forest, wherein you are a deer with a human face, there are no words, no fighting, no goals and no quests. All there is to do is interact peacefully with other deer. It's so lovely I find myself wandering around there for hours.

Here I am, in the forest with a couple of fawns, chillin'. To me, when I can't get out and go for a walk, wandering around in a cyberforest is inspirational.


October BJP: Middles

I'm at the half-way point with the primary embroidery:

It took me a few tries to get the Undine's seaweed hair just so - and I'm really pleased with the effect. I'm more than halfway, actually. The lovely "blue moon" cab was made by my Most Talented Daughter, The Jade Dog.

There's something about this time of year that leads me to turn inward, to start paying more attention to my dreams. I'm staying up later, spending more time in reflection. I feel the image of the reflecting moon and the image of the Undine, just under the surface of the water (like our dreams, just under the surface of our consciousness) express those things for me.


52 Inspirations - Here's a Start

I can't make a post without a picture. And I do love those colors.

It was Mandi who inspired me to give this some thought. (I guess that makes her the actual Inspiration #1) One of my sources of inspiration was the AlteredBooks Yahoo group (#3). I was an active member some time back, and was continuously challenged to stretch my artistic concepts, to learn and to grow. My favorite thing was the monthly color challenge - useful when you find yourself stuck in a rut of using the same colors over and over. If you think you're going stale, give this a shot:

Pick three or four numbers between 1 and 50. Don't look at the list beforehand - that sort of defeats the purpose. Click on this link to see the list, which was originally devised by Karen in Thornton, CO from the Yahoo group I mentioned. Oh, and feed the cat while you're there.

Find the colors that correspond to your numbers.

Now the challenge is to make the resulting color combo work, somehow, in a piece of art - whatever your medium happens to be; altered books, ATC's, beadwork or whatever you want.

Kinda like yoga for your color sense. Neat, huh?


Exploded Sunrise

I'm still not too sure about the button, even though I love the look of vintage; I wanted to make a beaded bead for the closure, but everything I tried just flopped - they were either too big or the wrong color.

This time I think the scanner washed out the colors:

I forgot to throw in the picture of my worktable for the October BJP page, so here it is, rescued from obscurity.


October BJP: Beginnings

When I started the Bead Journal Project, I had a theme in mind. I wanted to create a visual representation of the Wheel of the Year. As there are 8 spokes in that wheel, I still needed 4 ideas to complete the year. I decided to interpret the Four Elementals. Well, that was my intention anyway. I think I veered off a little here and there. Then again, if we didn't make rules for ourselves, how could we know the joy of breaking them?

For the month of October, I'm drawn to the Undine, the elemental representing water, flow, intuition and dreaming.

First, the sketch:

I've already changed my mind about the placement of the different focals on the left side.

Here is that beginning. The stones I used were a gift from a rock-hound friend who found these in a dry riverbed somewhere between Truth or Consequences and Las Cruces. I think the larger one is some kind of agate - it was very fragile and quite porous so I coated it with liquid glass. It dried a little unevenly but I still like the effect.

I pictured my Undine as standing on a pile of pearls - I had no idea this was going to get as deeply textured as it did. When I fill in the background, it should really stand out.


What I Found and What I Made

Rooting through a box of beads, I found a freeform peyote bracelet I'd made last year, set aside and totally forgot. "Tumbled October" is up for sale on lov.li and it's in the gift cabinet at the bookstore.

I kept my "recipe card" for the original Far Sunset so it can be redesigned from there, but I chose to leave the bead mix that resulted from the autopsy on The Far Sunset in its scrambled state. It resulted in The Exploded Sunset:

The scanner did the best job of rendering the colors, I think. I can never seem to capture these colors - even in natural light - my camera is intimidated by the sheer gorgeousness of the cuff. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.


When It Changes Direction AGAIN . . .

I really couldn't leave it alone. I just didn't like the presentation of the lampwork beads. I wanted the whole piece to be really special. So I took the centerpiece apart and built myself a pendant of bead embroidery to frame those beads.

I call it "Industrial Femme." And now I can leave it alone.

I think.



Vincent Van Pony is now complete - I'll be sending him and Monet Pony to visit Red Oak, Iowa - home of The Jade Dog - in a few days. They'll be making appearances there and in Omaha, Nebraska over the next few months.

Did I mention I found another cache of ponies at yet another thrift store? I have over a dozen of these little guys now, waiting in their stalls for embellishment. And to answer Mandi's question about getting the beads so nice and tight, it's just a matter of increasing, decreasing and using teeny 15s in some places as needed.