From one crocus to another ... the art of craft and collage
When I started doing collage, I worked with different papers, inks, and paints. The crocus above is an early collage. Lots of different papers, some watercolor, and some handwriting.
I enjoyed creating the collage, but as I moved to other pieces, finding papers to match what I had envisioned became more and more difficult. And frustrating. So I set it aside.
Until I discovered sheet music.
Three big books of sheet music at a yard sale ... 25¢ each. It was the end of the day and the books were headed for the dump. My early attempts at collage somehow brought me to see these books as something other than what they were. And I understood:
Sheet music would be the base paper for my collage work.
When I got the books home, I painted full-size sheets in a rainbow of colors. Painting the sheet music gave me a full range of color and where the music comes through, I found unexpected textures. By limiting myself to these painted sheets, I focused more on the objects and image I wanted to create and less time searching for materials.
I never would have expected to enjoy it so much. Collage is a forgiving art form. While there's something precise about what I create, there is a lot of room for interpretation.
Like the bulbs we plant in the fall, our ideas may lie dormant for months, or even years, before we're inspired to take the next step.
In my early collage work I see things I would change, but I still like it. It reminds me that there's a process. That it takes time to develop a skill. And that starting is the only way to get to something more, something better.
It may take a few seasons to get it right, but when it does, the project (and you) will blossom in ways you could never have imagined.
March is Craft Month, a good month to start or revisit a project.
What are you working on? Let me know. Maybe it's something I'd like to try!
World Storytelling Day
It’s easy to imagine your stories aren’t interesting. But they are. And they’re worth sharing.
They’re worth sharing because we all have similar experiences. When we share our stories, there are feelings, circumstances, and events that feel the same.
Yesterday I participated in an online writing webinar and did a bit of writing live during the session. Here's the writing prompt we got: “Write about a time you knew there was no turning back.”
I’m sharing the unedited version (it's so hard not to clean it up, but the point was to just write and not worry about grammar, making mistakes, or trying to be perfect). The whole point is to not judge yourself, to just start.
Because that’s where we all get stuck...starting. Wanting everything to be just right before we begin.
And it's not just with writing.
It can be hard to start even if it's something you want to do ... like starting new hobby or project.
Here’s what I wrote (transcribed below):
I was to meet them on the ice. They were ice fishing. I’d been to the lake before and we’d always set out down the dirt road. It was the only way I knew to get there. The dog was in the back seat of the car, a white Mazda hatch back.
Just me and the dog.
We were a third of the way down the road, the snow-covered, steep-downhill road, when the car started to slide. I pressed the brake. No traction. Then traction. The car came to stop. I jumped out to look down the road, to see how it looked. Not good.
And then the car started sliding.
When people were asked to share their writing, there was one volunteer. Asked again, no one raised their hand, so the instructor called on someone she knew. When the third call came, crickets. So I raised my hand.
Raising my hand was hard, but I’m glad I did.
I’ve hosted a few workshops and having people participate creates a more interesting and beneficial event.
And I wanted the feedback.
Getting the feedback was like a big dose of feel-good. And inspiration. It makes me want to finish the story. To write more stories.
I’m not sure it would have had the same impact if I hadn’t raised my hand.
You may not be a writer or have any interest in writing, but you can still share your stories. You can videotape yourself, draw pictures to tell your story, or record yourself ... no video, just voice. Or in person.
Use the prompt we used, or if my story brings to mind an event that happened to you, tell that story.
Agatha and I made it to the lake safely and yes, we went home another way.
Sharing your stories can be like it was for me, a big dose of feel-good.
Will you share a story? What’s it about?
A recipe of one's own
Forgive me, but I’ve never liked a boiled dinner.
I know. A lot of people like a boiled dinner, and for many, it’s the traditional meal on St. Patrick’s Day.
I’ve got a wee bit of Irish in me and I like to cook, but I had to find my way beyond the boiled dinner. It took some trial and error, but this has been my St. Patrick's Day dinner menu for a while now. And I won't say who, but even those who remain on the side of the boiled dinner have been known to ask for seconds.
St. Patrick's Day Menu
• Corned Beef (flat cut) with a brown sugar/mustard glaze
• Colcannon - mashed potatoes with sauteed onion and cabbage
• Roasted Carrots
• Soda Bread
• Chocolate Guinness Cupcakes
I sometimes make the cupcakes a day ahead, but otherwise make all the dishes the day we celebrate. Especially the soda bread. It’s best the day it’s baked.
What holiday dishes and traditions do you modify and make your own?
Spring is just days away, but it will be weeks before some areas of the country see any flowers in bloom.
Are you yearning for some color? Some sign that spring is coming?
Buy yourself some flowers
It may seem indulgent to buy flowers for yourself, and it is. But buy them anyway. Flowers are popular for a reason. They make us feel good. They lighten the mood and remind us how incredible nature is.
Go for the daffodils
Have you seen the daffodil bundles? They make their first appearance each spring at the grocery store. Small bundles of dry daffodil stalks with closed buds. Cut before they blossom, the daffodils are dormant until cut and put in water. I buy them every year just to watch the show.
If you can’t find daffodils, try something else ... maybe a potted plant that’s flowering.
Do you make it a habit to buy flowers for yourself? Tell us about it. Why do you do it and how does it make you feel?
Who will tap the trees?
Nearly every morning I walk the neighborhood. Up one block and down another. And every spring I look forward to seeing the sap buckets hanging.
But it seems the people who lived in the houses and tapped the trees moved. From both places.
One family used traditional metal buckets, and the other used plastic. The plastic buckets were translucent and I could see the sap levels rise from one day to the next. I'm going to miss that.
My brother has lots of hobbies and fortunately, one of them is making maple syrup. Did you know it takes 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup? The two glasses above (sap and syrup) are samples from his his harvest.
What does sap taste like?
Straight from the tree, sap tastes like water. It's not sweet, but if you concentrate, you can (kinda, sorta, maybe) taste a hint of maple. Though sometimes I think we want so much for it to taste like maple syrup before it is maple syrup we trick our taste buds into thinking it does.
As the sap water boils down, the liquid thickens, the color shifts, and it becomes syrup. Sweeter and sweeter the more it cooks down.
There are still no buckets in the neighborhood. But I'm watching.
What signs of spring do you see in your neighborhood?