Crafting Lull

Crafting Lull

Got any inspiration you can send my way?
I’d intended to craft all the live long day after we left NYC,
but before we moved into our new home.
I may have packed more craft supplies than clothes to hold me over for the next month.
I have the  time.
But I find myself distracted with getting my boys settled in a new town.
I’m also far too drawn to the shopping centers scattered around me like shiny new baubles.
And perhaps the move is taking more out of me than I realize.
Because I’ve slumped over asleep every single time I tried to crochet this week.
I have 
Scrap yarn
Crochet hooks
Embroidery floss galore
Pens
Pencils
Crayons
Sketchbook
Scissors
Glue
Although most of my supplies are in storage with the rest of our “lives,”
I’ve still got plenty to create with.
Just struggling to sit myself down and start making.
Any of my crafting friends checking in?
‘Cuz what I seem to be lacking right now is inspiration.
Got any to share?
 
Done With Care

Done With Care

 
His name is Doc William Cudd, Jr.  D.W.C.  He told us it’s ok if we forget his name.  Just remember that D.W.C. also stands for “Done With Care.”
I like that.
 
We visited the Biltmore Estate during the kids’ most recent school holiday (doesn’t it feel like they are always on holiday?).  My boys and I spent one day exploring the Biltmore House.  Unfortunately, pictures weren’t allowed so I can’t share with you how incredible the place was.  If opportunity arises, I highly recommend a visit there!
We spent a big chunk of the next day traipsing about the inn premises.  During our rambling walk, we stumbled across Doc Cudd’s most impressive blacksmithing demonstration.
Doc comes from a family of blacksmiths dating back over 400 years.  He told me he got his first anvil when he was 9 years old and to this day, loves working with it just as much as he did when he first started out.
 
I know nothing of the art of blacksmithing.  But when I watched Doc standing before the forge, with his hammer and anvil, I knew I was seeing a master at work.  Think I could have stood there all day watching him effortlessly “tapping” out the rhythm with his hammer in one hand while manipulating the iron rod with his other hand.  All the while telling us stories in his low, smooth, melodic voice.
If you’re interested to read more about Doc, here’s an article on him chock full of details.

What a privilege to meet this master blacksmith. 

Thank you Doc, for sharing your art.  And for letting me stick around to pester you with questions and for making the second leaf for me.  I am inspired by your dedication to and your care for your work.  I love it that you don’t worry about how long it takes to complete each piece; that you just want it to be right.  Thank you.

Mail Art?

Mail Art?

I’ve been pondering “mail art.”  What is it?  How does it work?  Who participates?  Can I play too?

My friend, Kris, introduced me to the idea when I watched her create a really cool postcard during our February craft night.  I’m itching to join in on the fun, but first, I had a few questions about how this whole mail-art-thing works.

What is mail art?  I went to Wikipedia to answer this question.  The short answer is that it can be just about anything so long as it is dispatched through the postal service.  It can be a stamped and painted postcard.  It can be a collage or made from a piece of recycled cereal box.  It can be a poem or even some kind of music.  It can be whatever you dream up so long as you stick an stamp on and send through the mail to someone.  Remember, it doesn’t become mail art til it makes it through the mail!

How big (or small) is mail art?  It seems that mail art is mostly sized to limit postage to either a postcard or letter-sized stamp.  To qualify as a postcard, the card needs to be rectangular, at least 3.5 inches high x 5 inches long x 0.007 inches thick but no larger than 4.5 inches high x 6 inches long x 0.25 inches thick.  Any other sized “postcard” will require a letter-sized stamp.  Adding stickers to the postcard might bump it into the letter-sized classification as well.  If you want more details on postage requirements, here’s the link to the USPS page I looked this information up on.  By the way, I think part of the mail art fun is pushing the limits to see what our postal system will actually process and deliver.  Can anyone expound on this idea?

Who does mail art?  Apparently, lots of folks.  You can have just one mail art buddy.  Or you can form your own group.  Or, you can even search for mail art groups online & join one of those (I’m not ready for that option yet).

Why bother?  Well, you don’t have too.  But doesn’t the idea of receiving a bit of art with that bundle of junk mail make you smile?  Are you curious to see what techniques other artists are experimenting with?  And to actually hold their work in your hot little hands?  Do you want to surprise a friend with a funny stamped comment?  Or maybe send a goofy sketch to another friend?  My answer is “yes” to all of these.  I’m intrigued about this low-key, low-cost way to share inspiration and to connect with my friends.  Can’t wait to get started.

Creepy Guy

Creepy Guy

 
I spent yesterday morning wandering around The Metropolitan Museum of Art with my friend, Stacy. It was quiet when we arrived so we were able to stroll about at our leisure and enjoy all the exhibits without the normal crowds.
We thought the Madame Cezanne exhibit interesting but really depressing.  She looks so sad in the paintings (with the exception of a few sketches Cezanne captured of her in their early years together).  We speculated about what it must have been like to sit for painting after painting.  I was much struck by one description that said that she & Cezanne married for the purpose of legitimizing their son.  Did he paint her over and over again because he loved her?  Or only because he liked to paint what he was familiar with?
We were wowed to learn about “The Treatment of Tullio Lombardo’s Adam.”  In 2002, the pedestal under this statue gave way.  The marble statue fell to the ground and broke into 28 big pieces and I don’t know how many little pieces.  The restoration of the statue was documented and is now being shown, along with the beautifully restored statue, in its own little room (I can’t give you the exact location – just go towards Arms & Armor and ask one of the guards for directions).
The thing about visiting The Met is that one can be easily overwhelmed by size of the museum and the sheer number of amazing things to see.  I don’t even try to pay attention to every last item in there.  Rather, I prefer to stroll through the galleries and stop when something catches my eye.  Midway through our visit, Stacy pointed out that I was stopping at all the creepy stuff.
The sculpture of the bent over wizened old woman with half her face eroded off.  The portrait of another elderly woman with great detail spent on the deep furrows in her face and the giant mole on her cheek (Stacy was convinced it was actually a painting of an old man). Rusted masks with empty eye sockets that looked at you anyway… I guess the creepy was attracting and inspiring me yesterday!  And the most creepy and inspiring of all?  A little blackened figure with feathers on its head that practically jumped out from behind the glass at me and demanded that I draw him.  Which I did.  I call him “Creepy Guy.”

Here’s the picture of the actual figure.  It’s titled “Oracle Figure (Kafigeledjo).”  It’s from the Cote d’Ivoire.  Part of the description reads,

“A hybrid creation that lies outside the realm of anything in nature.  This oracle figure provokes anxiety through its shrouded anonymity through the sense of suffocation and entrapment it suggests.”

Fascinating.

I drew Creepy Guy with more childlike proportions (bigger head, pudgier body).  I’m toying with the idea of using a plastic baby doll (plenty creepy already) and then swathing it in layers of black fabrics.  Hmmm… maybe.

Heart Doodle Table Art

Heart Doodle Table Art

I call it “table art.”  What am I talking about?  You know – when you pick up the crayons set out at the restaurant and you start doodling all over that clean piece of paper spread out to protect the tablecloth and to provide a drawing surface for the kids.  You’re at the table.  And you’re making art.  So, it’s “table art,” get it?

The other night, I was prepping for my Valentine’s card making craft night.  I didn’t want to spend the next morning scraping glue off the table so I layered the craft table with sheets of paper before everyone arrived.  And once that big expanse of clean white paper was before me, I just had to sit down to do a little table art.

I started with a lightly penciled heart.  I had no crayons.  But the roll of bright pink duck tape worked just fine to frame out the heart.  Then, between stitching and stamping cards, I took mini breaks to add to my heart doodle table art.

Towards the end of our evening, I asked all my friends to contribute something to my heart and to sign their names so I could keep this bit of table art as a memento of the evening.

Looking at this heart makes me really happy.  Kris’s cool orange stamp with the turquoise heart punctuation.  XiaoNing’s perfectly stenciled key.  One of Stacy’s many cut out hearts surrounded by the bits of textured pink duck tape (so Stacy….).  Annie, who with one swift gesture, left washi tape and signature on the page.  She had this funny half smile on her face while she did it & I need to ask her what she was thinking.  And Liz’s red hearts reminding me of all those ladybug cards she cranked out.

Happy memory.  Cool keepsake.  And a light bulb moment to ponder on and develop…

Why is drawing on a random piece of paper taped to the table so inviting to me?  Can I recreate that feeling and compulsion to draw, stamp, collage and write in a sketchbook?  What would happen if I taped a fresh piece of paper to my crafting table each week?  If anyone visiting the studio was invited to doodle a little bit?  What could we make together?