Monday, May 23, 2011

Fruits of Our Labour (FOOL)

This SCA event is best described as a weekend dedicated to the 'arts practical'. All classes were hands-on and resulted in the creation of items and the formation of skills. There were martial activites also, as the site had an archery range, space for thrown weapons and excellent tourney fields.  The event was at a boy scout camp near Ayr, ON this Victoria Day weekend and we were there.

The classes ranged from bread making to tablet weaving, wood working to calligraphy, and that only scratches the surface of what was covered.  Other classes included bead making, blacksmithing, thrown weapons and German rapier (a straight 2-edged sword with a narrow pointed blade).  My partner taught two classes, chain mail basics and advanced chain mail techniques.

I'd wanted to attend the Introduction To Yard Sales class but we were still setting up our vending booth when it was on.  It was an open discussion on the uses of materials found at yard sales that can be transformed into SCA suitable garb and paraphernalia. The class included burn testing on hand textile and raw material examples to determine suitability.

I did manage to make it to the This Old Blanket class. I learned how to make some SCA necessities out of old wool blankets, including coats, cloaks, pouches, wraps, shawls, pouches, project bags, slippers, and insoles!  I am planning to make myself a Traveller's Cloak once I find a suitable blanket at Value Village.  I know what weaves and colours to look for now that are appropriate to the medieval period.  I managed to finish off a small pouch during the class.

The Bead Making class was one that I REALLY wanted to go to.  I'd dabbled in making glass beads before and having the opportunity to make them like the Vikings would have was very exciting.  The outdoor clay oven was powered by burning charcoal and air generated from two bellows operated by a 'volunteer'.  It was a lot of fun.  Unfortunately, I got burned in the process and none of my beads made it successfully off the mandrel.  *Big sigh*  I was hoping that at least one of them would survive but as you can see, it did not happen.

All in all, a great weekend.  We sold some stuff, learned a few things, met a lot of interesting new people and spent time with old friends.  We are planning to go again next year.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Inspired Action

I never turn the radio on in my car anymore.  Instead, I listen to audio books, mostly self-help, success and inspirational works.  This week, I'm listening to 'The Attractor Factor' by Joe Vitale for the umpteenth time but it's one of those books that you gleen something new from each time so well worth listening to again.

On my way to work today, the author was talking about taking inspired action whenver to get that inner nudge to do something.  Do it now, don't wait, he says.  You never know what opportunity awaits if you do.

It then occurred to me that I'd done that very thing last night.  I'd taken inspired action.  My brother had a doctor's appointment and I had time to kill while I waited for him to get his prescription filled at the pharmacy.

I walked down to the bank to get some cash and on my way back noticed a new shop in the plaza selling 'fashion jewelry'.  I peered in the window and saw a large selection of inexpensive, gawdy looking costume jewelry, probably imported from China.  Nothing of interest to me in there, right?

But something told me to go in and look anyway, so I did.  I saw pretty much what I expected at the front of the store.  As I wandered to the back, however, I noticed that they also sell strands of beads for jewelry makers.

Lo & behold, what did I find?  Small Mother of Pearl disc beads about 1/4" in diameter, the perfect size to be the 'moon' for the small Tree of Life pendants I make.  I've looked for that size everywhere.  I'd given up ever finding them.  I'm so glad that I took the inspired action when I received that unexpected internal nudge to go into that shop.

And, wait a minute...I did it again.  When I arrived at work this morning, I followed the internal nudge to get down on paper the rough draft of this blog post so I could share my newfound wisdom with all of you.  Another inspired action!  Proof that you should listen to the small voice inside of you when it speaks.  Wonderful things can happen and opportunities can open up for you that would not otherwise.  Do it now!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Creative Process: Knotted Leather Doughnut With Charms

Walk along with me as I wind my way through the creative process as laid out in June Roman's book, 'A String of Expression' that I reviewed on my blog this week.  First let me show you the finished piece that she created with the inspiration of one of her art journal pages.  It is my desire to create a similar piece.

Here is the artwork that I am using as inspiration for my project...Autumn Goddess.

What are the images, words, colours, textures, mixed-media materials, emotions & thoughts that this photo invokes?  And how can I then incorporate them into a unique, one-of-a-kind focal pendant in the same style as the knotted leather doughnut with charms above?

Several things come immediately to my mind....

Colours: orange, yellow, red, brown

Mixed-media Materials: leaves, dark brown wood beads, round orange buttons (as seen on her right wrist), strings of tiny gold beads, orange flower (possibly another button), brass rings (like her earrings & bracelets), yellow ribbon, and carnelian beads & doughnut.

I will start gathering everything together over the next few days, as I continue to gaze at the picture to see if there are any other elements, feelings, words or textures that present themselves to me.  Please feel free to add your own impressions by way of comment.  Share the journey with me.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Book Review: A String of Expression

The full title of this book by June Roman is 'A String of Expression: Techniques For Transforming Art and Life Into Jewelry'.  June gets ideas and inspiration for her one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces from the pages of her own art journals.  Her pieces are beautifully textured and layered incorporating several techniques and materials.

In this book, you’ll learn creative new techniques such as:

• working collage into a pendant
• knotting beads with leather
• creating your own toggles from unusual beads
• developing successful asymmetrical design
• wire-wrapping
• making your own bead caps and more

The author shares how she draws inspiration from her own journal pages and guides you through the process for making your own wearable works of art that are an expression of your passions, dreams and secrets.  She formulates a visual map of each piece on paper before she begins making it.  She writes down the images, word combinations, colours & textures, beads & mixed-media materials, as well as, her feelings & thought processes for the project.

The challenge now is to take your design skills on an unexpected journey and let A String of Expression inspire you to transcribe your life into jewelry today!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Forgotten Ones Cat Rescue & Adoption Inc.

This charitable organization is a growing group of volunteers who love cats and whose main focus is rescuing from high kill shelters.  Homeless cats & kittens end up in these shelters through no fault of their own where there is little chance of placing them into loving, forever homes.

Every other month, Forgotten Ones showcase some of their adoptable cats in the adoption centre at Petsmart in Richmond Hill.  I am one of the volunteers who goes in one evening a week to tend, feed, cuddle & play with them, as well as, talk to potential adoptive families.

All of our cats with the exception of the ones that are on display at Petsmart and other locations are in private foster homes.  The majority of our cats are in the Richmond Hill or Pickering area, however, we have foster homes in Thornhill, Toronto, Scarborough, Whitby, Newmarket, Keswick, and Vaughan.

We do not have paid staff or government funding.  We rely on fundraising events, donations and grants to help us cover the costs of the many cats that come into our program.  All cats are vet checked, spayed, neutered, vaccinated, microchipped, treated for internal/external parasites and given any further veterinary care they require when we admit them into the program.

If you are interested in adding a four-legged furry kitty to your family, you can see cats currently available for adoption here

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

May Birthstone: Emerald

Emerald is the modern and traditional birthstone for the month of May.  The name Emerald is derived from the French 'esmeraude' and the Greek root 'smaragdos' which means 'green gemstone'.  Top quality emeralds are a deep grass green with a slightly bluish cast, but many lesser quality stones are lighter shades of green and can have a more yellowish tone.

The largest deposits of emeralds are found in Columbia & Brazil but Columbia is recognized as the source for the finest stones.  They are found in many other countries also, including Pakistan, Russia, Australia, South Africa, India, Norway, and the United States.

Because emeralds usually contain many cracks, fissures, and inclusions, most of these stones are 'oiled'.  This means that they are dipped in oil which reduces the visibility of the inclusions, and improves the clarity.  Emeralds are brittle stones and are very susceptible to breakage.  Care should be taken when wearing or cleaning them.  They should never be immersed in an ultrasonic or subjected to steam cleaning.

Emeralds were used as amulets to ward off epilepsy in children and thought to cure diseases of the eye. Folklore suggests that these stones will improve memory, intelligence, and enhance clairvoyance thus helping to predict future events. They are also worn to enhance love and contentment.  Some people believe that wearing an emerald brings wisdom, growth, and patience.

Spring is a time of new growth & rebirth and an emerald is as refreshing to the eyes as a spring garden after a rain.