Monday, April 30, 2012

Prayer Flags

Prayer flags are a centuries-old tradition among Tibetan Buddhists.  My first exposure to the flags came in the mail, when the Free Tibet organization sent me a string of flags while asking for my support. 

When I learned more about the tradition of prayer flags, I found it delightful.  The flags, containing all sorts of symbols, prayers, and mantras are placed outside homes for the wind to carry the prayers out into the open air.  The flags, moving in the wind, are said to generate natural positive energy and bring harmony.  There is significance to the symbols, colors, and materials beyond my knowledge and understanding.
I was recently directed to the Prayer Flag Project (unfortunately, I cannot remember the person who first provided me the link), which seeks to spread peace, goodwill, and kindness, one flag at a time.  The originator of the project, Vivika Hansen DeNegre, invites people to create a flag (she includes a tutorial on her site), hang it outside to spread the words and sentiments on the wind, and then submit a photo for inclusion on her site.

Shortly after I saw that site, Donnalee Nichols sent me a mini-zine about prayer flags, which she calls "living kinetic words of hope."  Further, it says, "It is believed that the prayerful words on the flags are lifted up to God and spread thru out the universe as they soar in the wind.  Everyone who encouners that wind is touched by that prayer that extends blessings of good will & peace...a reverent reminder that our prayers are heard and answered."  Beautiful!
With all of these "nudges," I was inspired to do my first (but certainly not my last) prayer flag project.  I decided to work with paper--a more familiar, comfortable, and "easy" medium for me--before tackling something with fabric.  I chose the size of an ATC for each of my flags to make my initial project manageable. 

I then created a list of qualities that I find myself praying for frequently, or know that I need to be praying for regularly.  I came up with:  peace, love/tenderness, wisdom, satisfaction, nature, innocence/purity, joy, faithfulness, and new beginnings.
For each quality, I created a collaged ATC/prayer flag.  On the backs of each, I wrote a Bible verse that reflected that quality.  The verse serves as a reminder of the quality, or as a prayer in itself.
I punched two small holes in each card and strung them together on hemp twine.  Then I hung the prayer flags above the closet in Studio 791, spreading their positive energy among my art supplies.
Here are some close ups of each of the flags:
innocence/purity, love/tenderness, satisfaction
the verses on the back (in reverse order from the images above)
joy, new beginnings, wisdom
again, the verses on the back, in reverse order from the images
nature, peace, faithfulness
again, the verses on the back, in reverse order from the images

While it's not particularly realistic that I would stand in my closet to read the Bible verses on the back, I thought the photos captured from inside, looking out into my workspace looked pretty cool:
I continue to be interested in the concept of prayer flags, and for the ways in which they connect with my Christian faith.  There are sure to be more prayer flag projects in my future!

Please take a moment to enter my giveaway, if you haven't already. 
I will be announcing the winner of the book and stationery set
on Saturday, May 5!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Finding Poems on the Spines of Books

If you haven't entered my giveaway celebrating my 200th post milestone,
it's not too late!  Enter here.
Are you familiar with Found Poetry?

When I was a high school English teacher, my students would "find poetry" in the pages of the books we were reading, identifying themes by highlighting select words on a few pages within a chapter.  In one class that needed LOTS of opportunities for movement and talking, I wrote large words on paper and scattered them around the classroom floor for the students to arrange, kind of like magnetic poetry on the fridge.

Quinn McDonald proposed a fun version of Found Poetry, which she discovered while organizing the books on her shelves.  She realized that the book titles sometimes sit together in fun, poetic ways.  She calls it Book Spine Poetry. 

Quinn invited her readers to try some Book Spine Poetry and link up to her blog, so I thought I would give it a try.  What do you think?

Certain girls--summer people--specimen days, the barefoot believers, feeling good.

(Hard to figure out the punctuation for that one!  It sounds best read out loud, slowly.)

She's come undone In the middle.  I can say a prayer...a separate peace.

3.  This one shows there's still fun to be had with our hubbies even after we have our kids (heehee):
The incredible truth about mothers?  Oh My stars!  Good in bed...little earthquakes...wild gratitude!

The rhythm of family:  Laugh & tickle, hug & pray.  The source:  Can you find it inside?  Good faith!

The wanderer, daughter of fortune...prodigal summer, baptism by fire...I know why the caged bird sings.

It was kind of fun to scour the book shelves, looking for titles that might lend themselves to found poetry and relate to one another.  Though Quinn did it while organizing her shelves, I had to be careful not to get mine in total disarray as I pulled titles from three different rooms and a hallway! 

If you decide to give Book Spine Poetry a try too, let me know; I would love to read your Found Poems!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Giveaway Time!

I've been wanting to do a giveaway on my blog for quite some time, and the big day has finally arrived!  In celebration of this, my 200th blog post, I want to thank one lucky blogging friend with something fun in the mail.

Here is a completely unstaged look at my work table this evening....can you spot the giveaway items?
...there down in the front??  Yeah, it's pretty tough to pick them out of the mess.  Here's a closer look:
I will be giving away one of the Studio 791 "Colorful Journey" Stationery Sets.  As you might recall from an earlier blog post, this set includes six "Journey" gift tags, which are shipping labels embellished with a piece of map and a sentiment created with a Dymo label maker.  They also contain an Airmail Envelope Notebook, a paper tape bookmark, and a stitched card with an envelope, as well as one of my handmade envelopes with a stamped card insert and a red "To/From" label to use with the envelope.

But, wait...there's more!
I am also giving away my copy of Visual Chronicles:  The No-Fear Guide to Creating Art Journals, Creative Manifestos & Altered Books, by Linda Woods and Karen Dinino. 
Every chapter deals with one potential excuse for not getting started with art journaling, such as "I have no time," "I'm just not artistic," and (my favorite for a smile) "I don't have any ephemera and I don't know what it is."
There are even a few spreads about mail art!

(Don't worry if you already have this book.  Go ahead and enter the giveaway, and I have two other titles you can choose from, if you would like!)

So how can you win the stationery set and the book?  Well, each person has up to three chances to win:

1.  For one chance to win, write a comment on this post.  Because I am always happily looking for new art, craft, writing, creativity, and inspirational books, I would like you to include a book title/author that you think we should all check out.

2.  For a second chance to win, please become a Follower of this blog, and write a second comment telling me that you did.  If you are already a Follower, just leave a comment telling me that you are.

3.  For a third chance to win, share the news of this giveaway in some way.  You might blog about it, with a link to this post.  You might share it on Facebook, in an email message or a phone conversation to a friend, or in (gasp!) a handwritten snail mail letter.  Then leave a comment letting me know how you chose to share this giveaway.

Please note that only comments on this blog post will be considered for the giveaway.  I'm not ready to figure out any fancy computer sites or programs, so my Random Number Generator is likely to be my husband!  :-)

Comments should be left by midnight (EST) on Friday, May 4, and I'll announce the winner on Saturday, May 5.

I can't wait to hear from you!!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Acquisitions and an Announcement!

At the risk of leading you to think that I spend all my time acquiring things and not enough time creating things (ahem...), I wanted to share some more treasures and findings from the past week or two.

My mother and I made another trip to Clover Market during her visit, and I came away with some great additions to my paper stash:
Last time we went, I saw very few vintage photographs; this time it seemed as though every other vendor had at least a small stack for sale.  They varied in price from $1 to $3, and I came away with quite a few.
Old photographs really bring home to me the realness of history--these were real people living real lives in the times I've only read about in history books.  I mean wouldn't you love to have hung out with these guys (above) in 1920?  (Specifically, February 8, 1920.)
How about Gertrude and Curt here?  They look like a pretty fun couple.
I wonder what became of this little boy, standing bare foot in the bushes in his convict-stripe pajamas.
And who did this lovely lady marry, in her gorgeous velvet and taffeta dress, with an oversized bow to decorate that great poofy hair?
The back of this sweet photo says, "Mande Trout, age 10."  Age 10 is awfully hard to believe!  If so, we clearly grow up way too fast in this day and age.
Finally, I don't purchase nearly as many photos of men, as they don't tend to speak to me in the same way as women, children, and couples, but I kind of liked this well-dressed, jaunty fellow.  That's just a sampling of the interesting personalities I "met" through my vintage photo acquisitions.
I also bought a Water Birds Bird Guide by Chester A. Reed published in 1921.  His preface, written in 1906, extolled the virtues of using a bird guide to identify strange birds observed in the wild, since the ornithologist of yester year "had but one course open to him, that is to shoot the bird, take it home, then pore through pages of descriptions, until one was found to correspond to the specimen."  Well, thank goodness I don't have to shoot any water birds to find out what I'm looking at when I'm at the beach!
I found three different little ledger books:  a book of vintage graph paper that was quickly abandoned by Harry Hill back in 1936, a dock book filled with notes on import invoicing, and a ledger belonging to Mrs. Ed Heltz of Miwaukee, containing some gas records, some scattered notes, and a few blank pages.  (13.1 gallons of gas cost her $4.05, by the way!)
The Pièce de résistance of this particular shopping day, though, is this large ledger filled with accounts from May 16, 1898 to July 20, 1903.  It's not clear what is being tracked, but it's still an interesting piece of history and a wonderful source of vintage papers. 
And if that's not enough, I went to two of my local libraries' used book sales this past Saturday, and came away with both arty and non-arty books to add to my shelves:
In addition to these art books, I also got a series of nine small art books featuring the works of artists including Stael, Klee, Miro, Braque and Mondrian.  I am going to be using their work to inspire my drawing and painting practice; why not draw inspiration from the very best?!
I bought three books of musical scores, which frequently feature in the things I make.
Another great find was The Architectural Plates from Diderot's "Encyclopedie".  Tremendous envelope-making fodder in this large book!

So now I think it's time to stop shopping and hunker down in Studio 791 to play with all my latest treasures and findings, don't you think?


My next post will feature my very first giveaway on this blog,
 so don't miss it!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Crafternoons and Crafterevenings

Last week at this time, my mother and I were knee-deep in art supplies, making the best use possible of our brief time together. 

We started her visit by trading arty gifts with one another.  She brought me three new rubber stamps for my ever-expanding collection, and I got her a waterbrush and an inexpensive set of pan watercolors to play around with while she was here. 

We set up our workshop in the dining room:
Mom is now a waterbrush convert!

She's been doing her own altered Rolodex project at home:  She glues a business card to one side of the Rolodex, and then creates a thematically-linked collage on the other side!  So, of course, we had to spend some time on Rolodex cards together, using our newly acquired stamp stash:
My mom is getting a little tired of me taking these photos of her, leaning over various projects, but I just can't resist!

You'll noticed we moved our base of operations to the breakfast area, because the dining room is so totally dim at night.
I know I'm not the only one who loves a good pic of yummy art supplies--a painty palette, beautiful stamps, bright watercolors.

Here is one side of the Rolodex cards I created:
And here is the other side:
Mom and I did a swap; she took the blue card above and I chose this one from her collection:
I also shared with her the strategy of using gel medium to adhere napkins to journal pages for a lovely translucent effect, and showed her the butterfly page from my Gift from the Sea journal.  That sent us to the party store to buy a huge stash of inexpensive napkins to play with in our journals:
Here, mom used a gorgeous yellow and white napkin as a background, then cut out flip-flop images from another napkin over the top of it.  She used pen to outline the shoes for a better effect.  I took one of my famous "Mom at the work table" photos, but didn't take a pic of her page!  I'll share some of my "napkin art journal pages" in a future post.

She was also interested in the paperbag journals I made for my girls using a link I found on April Cole's blog to a tutorial for making little notebooks out of paper lunch bags.  So, of course, we had to make some of our own:
My mom had the idea of using some of our paper napkins to decorate the covers of our little notebooks.

It would be such a fabulous thing if we lived nearer to one another and didn't have to watch our time together so carefully.  But as it was,we had four lovely days to amuse ourselves with the girls, enjoy excursions like Briggs Auction and Morris Arboretum, and PLAY-PLAY-PLAY with whatever creative idea caught our fancy. 

I'm already ready for her next visit!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Hitting the Jackpot, MY Style

This past Friday evening, I headed back to Briggs Auction with my mother, visiting for the weekend from Kentucky.  (Remember, I was there the previous weekend buying chickens and marbles with my husband!)  We were single-minded in our goal to walk out of there with postage stamps for our art-making, and we were NOT disappointed!
In the five years I've been going to this auction on-and-off, I have only brought home postage stamps on one other occasion.  I thought it might be too much to hope for that they would be offering stamps on the particular weekend my mother was coming with me.  But we truly hit the jackpot.
When we got home on Friday evening, we sat with glasses of wine, sorting through all the stamps.  If we saw something we wanted, we would hold it out to each other and say, "Can I have this one?  Can I have this one?"  The ones we didn't want, we put into piles to hand over to each other.  We had quite a system going.
My share of the postal haul abundantly fills two cigar boxes; my mom carried her share home in a gallon plastic bag to make it easier to take on the plane. 
In addition, I brought home a stamp collector's book.  He glued the stamps directly to the page so they cannot be removed.  However, as far as I'm concerned, the pages themselves are awesome art!
They present such an interesting view of history, often including countries that don't even exist anymore, or countries that were once colonial holdings.
Each stamp is a work of art.
Tucked in with the stamp album was an envelope holding several old stock certificates from 1884:
I think the items I bid on must have all come from the same estate, a man who used to be in the U.S. Navy.  In addition to the stamps, the lot included:
Postcards of San Francisco
A certificate declaring Charles Lee, Jr., as Honor Man at the U.S Naval Training Station in Bainbridge, Maryland, for the period of training completed May 16, 1946.
The certificate included a handwritten list of various names on the back.
Some extremely spooky photographs of the nuclear weapons tests in the Bikini Atoll
A naval training booklet and group photo, with smaller versions of the Bikini Atoll photos and a book entitled A BlueJackets' Manual for the US Navy from 1944.  Now I can be prepared for hammock inspection, using inflated trousers as a float to rescue myself in case of emergency, what to do in case I am taken prisoner by the enemy, and how to conduct myself during military drills!
Another training class photo from 1946

What an abundance of treasures!  What is your favorite?  And how would YOU put these findings to creative use?