Awaiting Gold

Sky lightens subtly

trees become black etchings

leaves rustle in a slight breeze,

coolness settles in

moist, fragrant

a rooster calls

daybreak is soon

 

cars swish on the distant highway

an animal gnaws its prey

birds begin their serenade

ever so slightly

the tree etching widens

brightens against a hint of pink

 

the air cooler

signifying a sunrise is eminent

every bird a different call

cows contribute tenor

a majestic symphony

in surround sound 

before the gold

Gold, generous and giving, always sharing its wisdom, knowledge and wealth with others

You Have To Have Vision

“You have to have vision,” I heard my mentor, Arturo Alonzo Sandoval, say from across the room.  He wasn’t talking to me.  He was talking to one of his students.  I was fortunate to be working on the FeltLOOM in his classroom and could listen.  

You have to have vision.  

How true, I now realize.  And vision is different than a plan.  A plan comes second.  A plan comes after the vision has been defined and chosen. We can have many visions and focus is where determination comes in. 

What vision do I want to focus on?

In the past there was the vision for the move back to Kentucky.  The transition was smooth and provided us with the amazing cabin we now live in.  Today, there is the vision from my art, each piece of shibori dyed silk using carefully chosen colors creates many versions of wearable art.  

Today, in order to keep from getting bored and to keep from repeating myself, I begin a new vision quest asking myself, “what do I want?” This becomes the quintessential question, the question most necessary to keep in the forefront of my mind everyday.

Today, I say to myself, I want each piece of art I make to become part of an intentional ensemble from the beginning of the vision.  

Since I discovered the power of gathering around me only what I like, life is easier.  While I realize it can become cluttered, I leave room for those moments when “opportunity knocks.”  These are the moments when my questions are being answered, ever so subtly. 

What do I want to explore? 

Energy.

Everything contains energy. My vision. My art. My cabin in the woods.  It’s why I surround myself with art.  Wearable art.  Art on the wall.  Art on the floor.  Art in the garden.  Art I serve my delicious food in. The art in my home, the handmade items I look at, use, wear, are closer to the maker, and the energy is more intense.  It is stronger, hence more transferable to me.

You have to have vision.

Even my Garden Girls remind me of this fact when they talk about writing.   In my creative writing I invented the Garden Girls to accompany me on my quest to take risks and live the layered life of an artist.  

“How do you find the words?” Rose asked.

“Look at your hands,” Clove said.

“I think you mean that’s really all I have to do.” Rose said.

“Of course I mean it,” Clove said. “Look at your hands, Rose it’s all in your body, in the way you walk, the way you smile, the way you think. Look at your hands and take a deep breath and you’ll find the words.”

The thought was exciting, physically. Rose felt her body move. Mentally she felt her mind churn. “Let’s write together again,” she said, “the next time we can claim a moment to own.”

In writing, Rose was seeking passion, the passion that gets you excited and keeps you awake at night. Rose was always passionate; there was no getting around it. She wasn’t ever going to give it up. To be able to create passion, that’s what freedom is, that’s what life is; just keep on writing because what else is there? Sometimes preachy thoughts showed up, talking to Rose, but she listened only when she had to. Mostly there were other sounds to consider— the voices and the quiet. When the voice was soft and the message was sweet love was all around it. Mostly when Rose heard the voice it meant listen.

When ideas were overwhelming, she’d take long hot baths, one right after another. The writing challenged her not to divert her eyes, keeping them on her vision which is to keep on moving, not stopping, except to meditate, watch her breath, while looking at her hands to find the words waiting, and believing they will come, because they’re right there in the table, the light, and window.

First I’ll make a list, a quick one, Rose decided. “Do I write it all down? Do I make notes?” She asked Clove.

“You can,” Clove said, “or you can just look at your hands. It’s in your body, Rose it’s all in there.” 

“Do you realize that you are saying there are no right answers. You are saying that whatever I say is okay, to just be me and say it. Take the risk.”

What does it take to become a Garden Girl? A desire made manifest, to discuss intimacy, passion, wisdom, and authority. And take risks.  

Today, I take a deep breathe.  What I want is in my body.  I begin a new exploration of layering fabric, color and textures creating statement wearable art ensembles. 

Choose Freely

When you uncover

What you truly

Want in life

Passion rules your garden.

 

    “But you have had an empty nest for a long time,” my sister said when I told her I have found new empty nest insights.

    “Well, yes, that’s true, physically. But my children had not left my head, my mind, my thoughts.”

    Would they ever truly? Probably not, but for sure it was necessary that they move to other rooms in my brain so that my mind could access them at will, not on demand.  

    It began with rewriting my title as Grandmother, the name I wanted to be called. “Too formal,” my daughter said. She chose Grammy. I had had a vision. Unfortunately, it was not the same for the parents of my grandson. Not to discredit their plans, they, after all, are the parents. I stood aside. There is no point in arguing. Lesley Stahl writes in "Becoming Grandma" about a similar discussion with her daughter.   “Then there was the issue of what Jordan would call us.  I told Taylor I’d like to be Granny. 'No way' was her reaction.  'It sounds frumpy.'”

     This was the beginning of my awareness of the degree to which my children have become their own person with their own ideas and plans for their future and strategies for implementation.  

    Of course this had been my goal all along. I raised my children to be intelligent, kind, independent, free thinkers.  

    Kind is the pivotal word. Thank goodness I succeeded.  They now express, with kindness, that their free-thinking, independent plans aren’t in alignment with mine. 

     Rule # 1

    No dropping by

     And so began the task of making appointments to visit.

     The nest in my mind is emptying, making room for a new me.  In her book, "Goddesses Never Age," Dr. Christiane Northrup explains, “Agelessness is all about vitality, the creative force that gives birth to a new life.”  I achieved menopause. I was now giving birth to the wise woman I am. 

    The issue of how to remove my children’s problems from my mind continued. I realized I could not solve their problems.  Unsolicited advice was received with a smile, yet not heeded, nor welcome. I learned that worry would get me nowhere.  It is the worst kind of worry because I can do absolutely  nothing. At least when I worry about my own problems, I can take action, do something, change something. Not so with adult children.  As young children I could implement consequences or lecture or have long discussions in the car on the drive to school or soccer practice. None of these strategies are currently available.  Now, there is no point to worry. The ultimate letting go has to occur. Don’t worry, I tell myself. I raised them right, did the best I could.  They will figure it out and handle whatever comes along.

    I consult my Garden Girls. They represent the wisdom and power of flowering minds of all my girl friends brought together to create. I wrote about them in my memoir, "The Garden Girls’ Letters and Journal."  They live in my fantasy world.  I invented the Garden Girls to accompany me on my quest to live the layered life of an artist — What does it take to become a Garden Girl? A desire made manifest, to discuss intimacy, passion, wisdom, and authority.

 

The Garden Girls are at an early morning gathering in the woods. No one is clear as to the plan or the direction. Spider-woven fairy handkerchiefs sprinkled in grass lead the way as we follow the instructions on Honeyrose’s invitation: Listen to your intuition and breathe deeply. 

Each girl arrives in her own time.  Artemisia, old, wise and playful in a bark beret, brings violets and greens, the secret ingredient for achieving a powerful menopause. 

This gathering, my dear, is the beginning of unknown inquiries. We have no idea what we are going to inquire about. With blue beads in her hair, Honeyrose, the woman I am to become, says, “Our life is not our circumstances, our life is our story.” I gather the Garden Girls to discuss concerns significant not only to our selves but to every weed, tree and shrub that surrounds us. What I want to know is when does the voice of authority arrive, speculation end, and assertion begin?

Our altar in the woods is a large multi-level out-cropping of smooth rocks. We each find a place for the gifts we brought, then begin looking for our perfect spot to sit and speak and receive each other’s messages. As far as I can tell everyone is accounted for. Honeyrose reads from Sage, the thinker’s, latest letter. “Freedom is the ability to create passion,” Sage wrote. She had become a ritual queen in a colony of women up north. Rose has a picture of her back home on her own altar wearing a twisted green head band. “And our passion,” Honeyrose enunciates, “gets stirred every time we choose freely.”

 

    Today, I choose freely.  And create passion. I eat plenty of greens and focus on green as I shibori dye silk. I read Deepak Chopra’ new book, "Super Genes."  He emphasizes the importance of lifestyle choices. It’s where new growth takes place. Of course, green is what is needed. It is the color of growth and balance and self-reliance. Growing allows me to increase my value and confidence.  I remain sexy.  I have evolved into my own voluptuous self. I do what I want, whenever possible. Now that my children have grown, I am free to live from the wisdom of my soul.  This is where I truly flourish; this is my second spring. My flowers are in full bloom. Blossoming.

Arashi shibori

Arashi shibori

Silk crepe circle vest

Silk crepe circle vest

Hand dyed shibori silk, green mixed with blue. Purchased crushed rayon, my boat neck tunic design with painted signature

Hand dyed shibori silk, green mixed with blue.

Purchased crushed rayon, my boat neck tunic design with painted signature

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Green the Color of Growth

Of course, green is what is needed. 

It is the color of balance and self-reliance. 

The essence of your body is 

    the ever flowing river 

the ever winding road

movement and rhythm

    an idea, constantly evolving 

    a cloud full of energy, swirling

Let your soul skin cloak be the art you wear,  your guide.

As you bloom

find grace.

Access your deepest resource

    nature’s intellegence

Sit in your garden regularly

Let your blooming be an inspiration

And continuous revelation

Refashion your purpose in life

Refashion your lifestyle

Your lifestyle

is where your new growth takes place. 

Your body knows what's good for you.  

    Listen. Seize her wisdom.

    Know when to walk away

And

    Stay focused on your amazing creative journey

You Can Wear Any Color

Blue green, crepe tuniic with devore shawl

Blue green, crepe tuniic with devore shawl

Walking in the woods yesterday, I saw the same brown I am dyeing for a mother of the bride statement kimono and tank dress.  It was in the leaves left over from last fall; deep, rich, rusty, copper, with a touch of dark forest green.

Even though the leaves came from last fall, now aged into late spring, they held their vibrancy.  Who would think that the colors of spring would include the age of fall? Clearly, every color can be found any season.

How did I get on my color path, my artful path, my path of self expression?  

I let go.

One day when I was on my lunch hour from my first office job, I was drawn into a store that sold a more expensive line of clothing than I was inclined to buy.  I was 20.  I was a Sears or JC Penney girl. It was a risky step.  I decided that I would try on pants and blouses that were bright and brilliant. The pants were orange and fuchsia.  They were each paired with a floral blouse. They were not the bright and brilliant colors of summer.  They were subtly toned, as the leaves are when they slowly change. Not my usual choice.  I gazed in the mirror and said to myself,  “I hate this. This is not me.”  I have strong opinions.  I bought it, anyway.  I was tired of buying the same styles and colors over and over.  I wanted to feel what it was like to wear something different.  A relatively safe risk.  

My dad loved it.  I never thought of him as a stylish person, in his USAF uniform or week end overalls. In hindsight, as I peer into his old black and white photographs, I discover he had a very strong since of composition. His was not the only compliment I received.  This began my journey, not only of exploring colors, also in taking risks with self expression.

You can wear any color, dare I be so bold to say.  It’s not about what looks good on you, it’s about what makes you feel wonderful.  You are part of nature.  All colors are part of nature.  Find yourself in the rainbow, it is very large, full and forgiving, as you are. It’s not that you can’t wear part of the rainbow at anytime, its that some parts have blended and rearranged so the derivative is no longer recognizable.  

In order to determine your place in the rainbow, remember your favorite season.  Find it by listening to your body.  To which season are you most drawn? Listen to your friends and their compliments. Write it all down.  Are you spring where the colors are soft, or summer, where the colors are bright, bold, and brilliant? Are you sometimes a little of both?  Getting to know your self through color is an exciting journey you are now ready to embark upon.  

Are you most present in the toned leaves of fall and their bright counterpart, jewels against the sky?  Are you in your element in the deep rich and luscious shades of winter, the spruce, and burgundy?  All these seasons come and go as you do. You know what you like.  What feels good.  

Let’s begin with your favorite season, where memories have lived the fullest. Coffee, chocolate, semi sweet, bitter or milky?  It’s the season you are drawn to that will determine your palette. How to choose your palette?  Ask, what do I like?  Then break it down.  

Let me start with brown.  Deep dark, aged, fall leave brown.  Browns emerge from all color.  The brown I am seeking now emerges from yellow and purple, her compliment.  Purple and yellow are buried in my new found brown.  They create copper and rust.  As the exploration continues, many colors will appear.  And they will be your colors, ready to mix and match and enjoy.  They will tell a story.  They will tell your story.

You can wear any color. It’s easy.  Nature has already begun to cleanse your canvas when she added grey to your hair.  If you choose color to you hair, are you more drawn to yellow or blue? If you have highlights, are they gold or ash.

Shall we collaborate?  Just tell me what you feel.  This is how you will tell me who you are.  What do you like?  How tall are you?  How full are your hips?  What are the colors of your skin, your eyes, your hair, (is it dyed or natural)? The answer to these questions are the beginning of designing your personal, art to wear, composition.

 

 

First things First

As springs has arrived, new colors appear daily.  The quest for formulas has begun for my shibori silk dyeing and designing of slow fashion wearable art.  Yesterday's fashion taught me the value of art to wear.  As the models walked the runway, they truly did manifest an energy not seen in fast fashion.

All I Want to Do

Is make beautiful things for you to wear to express your beauty.  

When I'm not doing that I write stories that reveal the beauty that surrounds me.

Food and Traditions

Deviled eggs are about the only traditional food left at my family dinners. We don't even call them holiday dinners, anymore. I do still set a pretty table, however, with lace tablecloth and china from my first marriage even though this is my third marriage.  

My mother, the granddaughter of a Methodist missionary from Texas who converted over 500 Indians to Christianity, married my dad, a Catholic and the son of Polish immigrants living in Chicago. Everything was fine until she converted to Catholicism and we started going to Mass instead of a Sunday church service. Mom's mother didn't speak to her for three months.

After I divorced my first husband I became a vegetarian and followed a more Eastern path. Turkey was gone from the dinner table and festivities became more diverse. The china remained and I added candles. 

My second husband was an assimilated Mexican. The only time we celebrated culturally was when we went to his hometown and his mother cooked for all ten of her children. Otherwise, he and I had what I called a "restaurant relationship."  We mostly ate out. In fact, we spent one Christmas Eve at The Jefferson Davis Inn, a local tavern. I cringed at the thought, "if my mother could see me now."

My current husband grew up a Mennonite in South Dakota. In the fifties he migrated to San Francisco, was an original beat hipster and followed Gurdjieff. I'm certain his mother had traditions but he didn't bring many to our marriage and blended family of eleven children. I brought everything back.  Turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, deviled eggs, fruit salad with whip cream. We raised the kids to think for themselves. 

Currently, three go to Sunday Church services, occasionally; one is an atheist; one married a Jewish woman, they seldom go to the synagogue; one is a Buddhist and practices at Temple weekly; one is Catholic, sorta; two are "spiritual" and two are Jehovah Witnesses and go to meetings. 

Today, when asked to bring a dish, I fix deviled eggs. If I'm hosting, the tablecloth still graces the table, I get down the china and serve . . . ?  Well, that depends 

Feed Your Hungry Chutzpah

The woman desiring to feed her hungry chutzpah knows.

She knows she has something to say.

She is strong in her convictions. 

She expresses them professionally through her work which she performs with integrity and strives for excellence. 

She has strong opinions 

This is the world she comes from. Yet, there is containment. 

Her range of reaching over ut is limited. She wants her knowledge to spread further.  

She holds back. 

She's not sure how to separate the veil. 

She seeks

a mentor, an affirming voice, a "go girl, you can do it, you deserve it," 

a whisper of beauty in the ears of those she comes in contact with,

an expression of calm or intrigue, adventure or serenity, depending on her choice of script for the day. 

She is in control. 

Her chutzpah Is her power tool. 

Daily she chooses wisely. She sets the scene. Defines her script. Arms herself with an appropriate look. Her friends and allies gather around her with questions and affirmations. Her team has been united. Her wisdom is shared. Her elixir is desired. 

It is simple. She knows. She knows what she is doing, where she is going, and most of all she knows we know. She knows we know what we're doing, where we are going. 

She asks simple questions at first. How long did it take you to learn this?  

Without knowing she is seeking complexity. She is seeking intrigue. She knows it is complicated. Like herself. She knows it is mysterious. Like herself. She knows it needs to be experienced to be known, like herself. She knows that if now is not the time to indulge, the time will come.

How does she know? She knows because she knows who she is and where she was going.


Optimizing Systems

Yesterday, when I read the following quote, I was discouraged for most of the day: "Your task is to optimize one system after another, not careen through the day randomly taking care of whatever problems erupt. Your job is not to be a fire killer. Your job is to prevent fires."  ~ SAM CARPENTER

I thought that is exactly what I do, careen randomly and every attempt at optimizing systems has been unsuccessful.

Today, while applying dye to a shibori pole wrapped with needle punched and wet felted merino, I realized why wearable art is so important in my life.  It provides an arena for optimizing systems.  I do not careen randomly.  Art is the arena where I know where I am going, what I am doing.  I "prevent fires whenever possible." And when one occurs, I respond and make art out of it.  In the rest of my life, I apply that same philosophy as often as possible.

 

 

Embracing liminal spaces I start where I am.

“That moment when there is nothing to hang on to is the moment when we are most present, most alive, most vulnerable, most human.” ~ Patti Digh

That moment when there is no where to go, the roads are frozen and the snow beautiful. Snowstorm Jonas has passed.   We wait while the snow lingers. 

That moment when there is no where to go,

the roads are frozen and the snow beautiful.

Snowstorm Jonas has passed.  

We wait while the snow lingers. 

And make art. The snow becomes my go to, my inspiration.

And make art. The snow becomes my go to, my inspiration.

“Possibility can only be born from the present. From what is owned. From wholeness.”

~ Jennifer Louden

needle felted and wet felted alpaca from Heartfelt Alpaca layered with soy and tussah silk roving waits for color.   I start where I am.

needle felted and wet felted alpaca from Heartfelt Alpaca

layered with soy and tussah silk roving

waits for color.  

I start where I am.

Outside, the table is still covered with snow and it is sooooo cold.   I take my shibori poles indoors to the sink.

Outside, the table is still covered with snow and it is sooooo cold.  

I take my shibori poles indoors to the sink.

shibori felt dries by the wood stove.

shibori felt dries by the wood stove.

Inside our cabin I curl up by the fire. Being ON THE NORTH SIDE OF THIS LITTLE MOUNTAIN it takes longer for the snow to melt.   That's ok.  As long as I have cream for my coffee.

Inside our cabin I curl up by the fire.

Being ON THE NORTH SIDE OF THIS LITTLE MOUNTAIN it takes longer for the snow to melt.  

That's ok.  As long as I have cream for my coffee.

Later today we will hike down the lane, retrieve our car at the bottom and head for town!

Later today we will hike down the lane,

retrieve our car at the bottom and head for town!

 

 

 

Needle Punched and Wet Felted

Time to shibori dye my new needle punched and wet felted shawl.  I like it white, however, what would it look like dyed?  The piece I'm actually working on has silk mulberry roving.

First I soaked the cotton gauze in 1# of baking soda to 2 gallons of water.  Used the drain spin cycle on the washer and dried in the dryer.  Whether or not to iron was the next question.  I like to try to eliminate as many steps as possible so for this experiment I chose not to iron the gauze.  Hence, the sixth was closer to 26” than 36”.  After following all the steps in my video, I line dried the pieces before pole wrapping them. I drizzled 3-4 colors of fuchsia and yellow green tones.  The fabric was more dense from the wet felting compared to when it was completely felted on the FeltLOOM felting machine.  At first it looked like the dye was just sitting on the fabric.  Not really flowing.  However, by the next day much movement of colors had occurred.

Art for the Breeder's Cup

Thank you, Kentucky Arts Council for taking the time to organize a gallery market for Kentucky artist to make our beautiful art available to all the amazing people that will be in Lexington for the Breeder's Cup.

I am honored to have been invited.  This lovely shibori dyed velvet devore shoulder shawl is one of the pieces I am taking to the gallery tomorrow.

Photo Shoot

Eco Topper using Shibori dyed Remnants

Eco Topper using Shibori dyed Remnants

Documenting is important.  And sometimes it has to be with our own camera or phone.  Mannequins are nice, but nothing like having a model.  Last week in M S Rezny's studio, Rupel Patel was an exquisite model bringing my newest designs to life.  Mary captured the movement, rhythm and depth of each piece.  I'm anxious to create more of these Eco Toppers. However, they are part of a long process.  First I have to felt more merino.  Then shibori dye it.  Then create a new design.  And then I will have the remnants I need to felt on top black wool and line with black crepe.  It's important that I remember my art is all part of a process that shapes itself by materials at hand, cannot be rushed and no step can be missed.

Sustainable Art

What makes art sustainable?  Most certainly it cannot be if any part is thrown away.  The materials needed to make art are expensive. Hence, I save everything that has my vision in it and use it as soon as possible.  Lately I've noticed that when I felt wool on the FeltLOOM, and then cut out a design, I have leftover pieces that fall to the side.  They still contain all the energy I put into the felting, the shibori pole wrapping, applying the dye and formulating the colors.  They are still beautiful.  Still contain the potential for more art if I ponder and respond creatively.  This Eco-Topper was created by felting the "leftovers" on top of dyed black wool.  I love the design because one size fits many, it's warm, can be worn over a sweater, and makes a strong, I know who I am, I know what I'm doing,  statement.  Currently she is on exhibit in my Dress-Up show at Mary Rezny's Gallery in Lexington, KY. 

Eco-Topper

Eco-Topper, lined with silk crepe, Kentucky Wool and upcycled shibori merino

Eco-Topper, lined with silk crepe, Kentucky Wool and upcycled shibori merino

The art is in the palette.  After considering what colors to use when shibori dyeing felted silk and merino fabric and then creating a design, there are always pieces left over.  They look beautiful as they lay in a pile or are scattered about.  Collected they become elements to lay on top of 44x80 Kentucky wool batting and felted on the FeltLOOM. Hence, no waste.  Everything is used and because all the thought went into creating the palette, each new piece of art is equally beautiful.

I posted this image on FB and a friend replied that she liked the Mad Max Glam look. Yes.  It makes a strong bold statement.  When worn, there is no subtly here about who you are or where you are going.

There's nothing like that last moment of anticipation when you are removing pins and trimming off excess fabric before turning your new piece right side out so that you can see what you have created.  It's these moments that keep me creating, that speak to me and say, let's do it again, and I begin to search for more materials.

So fortunate that my friend, Lucinda, gave me a box filled with vintage buttons.  I search for two pondering if they need to match.  Never, my friend, Cathy says.

So fortunate that my friend, Lucinda, gave me a box filled with vintage buttons.  I search for two pondering if they need to match.  Never, my friend, Cathy says.

Dress Up

Grandmother raised seven children in a small house on a cotton farm in the Texas panhandle seven miles west of Matador.  She told stories of days gone by, of fine furniture and fancy clothes.  As a child when I went to visit she never put pots and pans on the supper table.  It was always “set” and when we went to town we dressed up.  Wearing my newly sewn dresses and my hair in curls, town folk would say. “Why you must be Stella Tilson’s granddaughter.”

Dressing up changes your stance.  

It is a power tool.  

It makes a statement.  

Not so much by wearing the latest fashion but by the way you layer what you have, whether it’s brand new or make-do. With conscious attention to textures and palette you create movement and balance.  You say:

I know who I am.  I know what I’m doing.

Growing up I learned to sew and shopping for fabric with my mother was a peak experience. It made perfect sense that I created clothing when I learned to shibori dye fabric.  Instead of buying patterns, I tear and piece the colors that speak to me.

When I see dressed up, 

in Sunday best or painted blue jeans

In paintings or photographs 

I see soft.

I see caring and tenderness.

I see take a stand.

I see power.

I see 

I know who I am.  

I know what I’m doing.