Summer Roses

Some colour combinations are such classics. Take this one of red, black, white and lime. They are almost sure to look good together.

I can think of others such as …

Orange and denim blue

Pale yellow and soft blue

Lime and turquoise

Mauve and brown

These combinations and many others give you a feeling. They work together in a special way.

In this rug I started out knowing the combination of colours even before I decided upon the subject. Red roses are a favorite of mine to hook so they were a natural compliment to the black and white pots. In the long thin rug I chose a coral for the pot just to change it up because I knew that coral and red always work well together in my rugs.

The stems needed to be noticeable and stand out from the background but I did not want their curvy nature to overtake the rug. If I had chosen a bright colour that is all you would see. The deep green real works well I think. 

Sometimes colour is your first inspiration!

Butterflies

You might need some colour inspiration.

You might need to look at form.

You might have one landing on your hand right now.

Butterfly. Butterfly.

Watching them fly around so beautifully

Made me want to hook rugs. 

I hope it does the same for you. 

Beauty in abundance. Everywhere.

Summer in a garden.

Fresh strawberries down the road. 

Soon to be a bowl on your table. 

The slightest breeze.

White sheets on clothelines.

New potatoes. 

Old friends.

Knowing your blessings.

Feeling your abundance. 

The evening light. 

Sunshine.

Summer. 

The Myth of Cattiness

I just wanted to say…

I have been surrounded by great women all my life.

And that I think that the notion that women are mean and catty is mostly a myth. 

Anyone can be. I can be. Maybe you can be that way too. Mostly though all my life and right up to today I have personally found that women are good to each other. 

My earliest memories are of my mother’s friends. Names like Edna, Kitty, and Mary come to mind. They shared their lives. Sometimes it was fun, sometimes sad. I still see them on the street or in each other’s kitchens passing stories, being each other’s blessing.

I watched my mother look after her friend Ann Bartlett when Ann was sick and dying. For a year I went to the Bartlett’s for school lunch because that is where mom would be. I would go in and visit Ann at her bedside and she was so happy to hear about my day. When I think of my mom I know that is who she was. She was a woman who loved and cared for her friend who was dying. That single act of caring in my mothers life makes her amazing to me.

 Then there was my Aunt Beth. I watched her go to summer school and get educated. I saw her good judgement and kind heart. She lived through loss and saw the importance of the joy to be found in each other. She loved her seven neices and was so proud of us. She was always telling you how good you were. I still think of her as someone to emulate.

In my Aunt Mary and my Aunt Nell I saw business women who were generous and kind but sharp as tacks. My Aunt Nell ran two boarding houses in Brooklyn, New York. She would send me an outfit, or my mom a cheque for $50. She stayed in touch and loved us. She worked hard and held her shoulders back and her head high.

 Aunt Mary was always there in St.John’s to welcome us from around the bay. Her house was a welcome home. I would watch my mother with her sisters and sisters in law and know that there was comfort in getting along. They were all women I try to be like. 

Except for Aunt Mary and the overnight guests. Sorry I am just no good at that. I do though sent people out of my house with food I made or got on sale somewhere like she used to do.

I have six sisters of my own. I never really grew up with them as most were left the house shortly after I came along but they have always surrounded me like a quilt. I remember them coming home for the weekend with gifts for me. New colouring books.  I love them all and they love me. I watched them get married, get educated, have children and grandchildren. All their stages came before mine and watching them prepared me and still prepares me. It is like a video of what may come. Everyone of them is different and I love each one in their own way. It is because of them that I go educated. There was no other way. You got yourself educated and you got a job and you looked after yourself.

I have two good sister in laws. My mother in law took me in to her family easily and was kind and generous with her time and also with her advice. When she was alive I rolled my eyes ( right in front of her) but now that she is gone and I am older there is so much of it I follow that it sometimes worries me. 

My daughter is like a dream come true. I could not imagine a better one. 

Then there are the women I work with at the studio and 30 Church.  They are pretty great. We all have our moments but we all have our gifts. Everyday I learn from them and watch them grow into themselves. They are soooo good to me.

Then there are my good friends. We went to school together or raised families together. They know you. You know them.

 I never feel afraid to walk out of the room at work or with my friends, or my sisters, or my co workers or any of the women I surround myself with. 

Do they sometimes talk about me?

 Well yes. I can be a pain in the arse. 

That is not the question. The question is do they care about me?

The question is when it comes down to it do the people you surround yourself with have your back?

It is natural to talk about each other. 

It is fine really as long as you also talk to each other about whatever it is that you say about each other. 

That is the rule I try to follow. Sometimes it is impossible but when I can I like to bring things to the surface. I do not like to talk about some one unless I am able to talk to them about it.

I am no Pollyanna. I know we can be hard on each other. 

Recently I heard a woman talk about another woman with great disregard. I was just in the room, not part of the conversation. And I was shocked. 

I have been thinking about it for weeks. It really bothered me.

The more I think about it though I realize I was shocked because this was the exception. Mostly in my life I do not hear women tear down other women. Mostly I see and have seen and still hear them build each other up. 

Cattiness is really not that common in my world. That might be because I don’t make any room for it but I also think that it is not as common as we are lead to believe.

I watch women in my community every day support and be kind to each other. It is mostly what I see. 

When one woman  is sick, another woman is organizing a parade of meals. When another woman is having a hard time, her friends are making sure that someone is dropping in regularly.

I think women have got a bum wrap in the cattiness department. 

Sure when we were young there was some cattiness.

Sure there is a bit a gossip. 

Sure we can be hard on each other.

But really what do we see mostly? 

I see women reaching out to each other. 

I see them praying for each other.

And I see them putting out their hands for each other so they can help another woman step up to the plate. 

I have seen it all my life.

The rug in progress

One of the most difficult things about starting a rug is deciding which colour to start with. That first colour determines all the other colours that you will use.  I hate to colour plan the entire rug in the beginning. It is just not the way I work. Instead I like every colour I add to help determine the next colour. 

So colour planning is not something I really do. It is more like colour processing. Through out the whole rug I am processing the colours I choose and deciding if they are right.

For me if I worked out all the colours before I started I would have the puzzle worked out. The fun would be gone. I like to make it part of the whole process.

Yesterday I worked on this pot. I knew from the start that the pot would be black and white but the teal stems evolved. I had imagined green but then chose three shades of blue and hooked them in. The teal won. 

I think black and white will appear again in my rugs. It is such an easy palette to jump off. 

Meeting Doris

This week we had a fashion show in Moncton, a small city north of Amherst for 30 Church Women’s Clothing. Before the show I sat with a 91 year old woman, Doris,  who had travelled the world, and eventually came home to retire. Our conversation was easy. It was not about what Doris did but about what she was doing. When ever I meet someone older who is living a full life it makes me embrace aging even more. 
The thing about getting older and wiser is really true for many people. You carry so much experience with you. You have sorted through so many ideas. You know yourself more, and therefore you know more because it is always that struggle between self and the world around it that needs sorting out. 

For me turning fifty was critical in coming to terms with aging. I have lived over half a century. Surely there has to be some serious learning in half a century. I always felt like an old soul. I would have to say I see that same old soulness in my children. Some people have that way about them.  But at turning fifty I feel that I am not just an old soul, I am actually an older person. And this morning at least, I like that and meeting Doris at the fashion show inspired me to embrace aging. 

It is not about what I have done, that is just collected knowledge. It is about what I am doing on any given day, at any given moment. Being thankful for peace of mind and a healthy body.

I just love meeting people who inspire me. When I got to work the next day, there was a message from Doris, thanking me for the visit the night before.

She gets me. I get her. 

Aging is just part of life. 

Life stays good.

Singily Skipping Along

Today was a lot of fun. Sheree came to read the book I illustrated for her on YouTube. And we kinda had a Singily Skipping Along kinda day.  

We went to 30 Church and got her in some dresses, had our nails painted at Damaris and then had tea, dim sum and wonton soup at Victoria Faire. It is so nice to be able to do all that within a block of the studio. We did not actually skip but almost. It was a happy day. 

The book has been out now for over three years but when she reads it to me again it feels new to me. It is the only time I ever illustrated a children’s book, and it was really something to be part of. It took a winter to make all the rugs and part of that time was imagining the words as images. Not in too literal  a way, but a beautiful way. That was the trick. 

It was one of the loveliest projects I have worked on over the years. Both Sheree and Nimbus Publishing were fun and easy to work with. It was a happy collaboration. Spending time together today made me think about what else I might like to work on. 

You can see the video on Youtube. 

Singily Skipping Along

Things I love more as I get older

There are things I love more as I get older….

humility, that softening of heart and soul,

high heels

and comfortable shoes.

Lipstick, my mother told me I would,

gentleness,

good manners,

and quick wit, the kind that catches you by surprise.

Youthfulness in the young, but especially the old.

Lines around other people’s eyes

(I am still coming to terms with my own).

Marriage

and faith in all it’s forms.

A kiss on the top of my head from someone who has known me forever,

or at least twenty years.

The smell of fresh air on someone I love.

A bath before bed.

A good story from the horses’ mouth.

Cozy sweaters

and fried eggs.

These things seem to matter more now than ever.

Studio in March

Clementines is our new studio treat. Do not worry , we still have oatcakes but for those of us there everyday we need some fruit. 

I was looking recently at store windows when I visited Montreal and there were bowls of clementines everywhere. It looked good so I want them here too. 

My new desk is working well. I have room to draw and to write. 

I have finished four new rugs in the last few weeks. Ones I had been working for awhile. It feels good to have new work on the walls. 

We are looking forward to clear roads and visits from you! 

Art is everywhere

I look for it, it’s true.

I want to find it everywhere.

I see it in the window boxes.

In the windows. 

In the galleries for sure.

In the churches, art is all about the Mystery.

On the street you might find it in the shadows. 

In a restaurant it might be on your plate, or it might be overhead.

When you broaden your definition, the art world opens up for you. 

Art is everywhere.

It in the fine things.

It might be in the squashed cardboard on the street. 

Or the way the snow and ice are melting in the winter sun.

It hangs on the walls. 

It lays on the floor. 

It is stacked interestly on shelves with love and care and attention. 

Beauty built, carved, designed for eyes to see and hearts to feel. 

Emotional connection. 

Find the art. Find the feeling.

Art is waiting for you. 

Look anywhere at all.


25 the Anniversary Pattern

25th-anniversary-rug

I ‘ve decided on an anniversary pattern and it will be geraniums.

Why geraniums?

Well they are hardy, like you have to be if you have been in business for twenty five years.

They are a simple plant, no fuss, and there they are from May to early November, showing up everyday, still blooming. Sometimes I forget to water them, other times the rain pours on them. Either way they manage with just a little bit of attention.

They also remind me of how I see a community. I want to be the person who chooses to plant geraniums to make their community a little prettier. Somehow geraniums remind me of the importance of giving back. It is such a simple thing to do and it reminds me that small things matter a great deal in a community.

You’ll notice the four white houses in the background of the pattern. They are there to represent community. When I moved my business into town , one of the things I decided was that I would commit myself to the community. It has been good to me, and I must try to be good to it. Building and supporting my community is an important part of  my everyday life.

So is beauty. I love to see the storefronts in our downtown in full summer bloom. It makes coming to work, walking the street, and driving by a little sweeter for everyone.

I think of geraniums as an old fashioned flower. It is traditional.

But it isn’t meek. It is quite showy. And I kinda like that about them. Plain but showy. I relate.

So this is a very simple pattern but it is meaningful to me and part of my celebrating twenty five years.

We have listed it on the online shop here.

Twenty five years and counting

For twenty five years I have been hooking rugs and running a business around it.

For twenty five years I have been an artist.

That is a reason to celebrate.

Twenty five years and counting.

I began with a two thousand dollar loan from my mother and an old trunk and hutch in my front room that I used to sell supplies from. 

My sister Joan, God Bless her heart, bought many of my early rugs. So did my other sisters. They were all supportive. 

My mother wondered what the heck I was doing as I had just graduated with a masters degree in counselling but had decided I wanted to hook rugs for a living. She had right to wonder. She had not hooked rugs for sixty five years but she started again.

I never wondered. Everyday I did something that would make my business a little better.

For a while I spent more money than I made. I poured any money I made back into my business. 

My husband paid the household bills. Being married really made a difference. It was so much easier knowing I did not have to pay the light bill.

I paid an employee before I paid myself. I needed help as there was so much to do. 

When I think back to my early years in business I think of packing cards late at night. 

I loved pretty much every minute of it. 

I still do. 

Today I am trying to come up with a small pattern to celebrate twenty five years. I went to bed last night thinking about it and I woke up this morning thinking about. That is what it is like. What you do is just part of you all the time.

Twenty five years of grace. 

Twenty five years of beauty. 

Twenty five years and counting.

Grateful for the years gone by. 

Hopeful for the years to come.

Prayers and Blessings.

Joy.

We are the community

On Friday night as I was going to Duncan’s for nachos I stopped by the new downtown rink. There was a couple of families skating and playing on the ice.

After dinner another group was out for Friday night skate. 

It was so good to see that kind of vibrancy.

The other day on instagram, Cumberland Public Library posted a book called “This is Where You Belong: The Art and Science of Loving the Place Where You Live.” I checked it out because I thought the title was good advice. You have to love the community you live in. When you do it is better for everyone. We can all take some responsibility for making the town a better place. It is easy really to commit to some little thing that makes your town better. It can be tiny. It can be big. Either way , we are the community and we need to carry it out, to make it happen.

In her book, Melody Warwick says that simple things increase the happiness factor you feel about your community. She suggests getting out and walking, volunteering, shopping and eating local, being creative,and  knowing your neighbors are just a few ways of loving the place where you live.

I remember years ago there was a woman being interviewed on the radio about her home. She said, “It’s not what you got, it’s how you keep it.” Whether you live in a mansion or something more humble how you keep your place says alot about you. I think the same can be said about our community. A town does not have to be growing to be good. Goodness comes in all sorts of ways. It does not have to be big to be a great place to live. There are many communities much smaller than ours that are amazing places to live

Last summer a visitor was sitting in the window of my studio for a couple of days while she was here on a workshop. She was watching all the comings and going and she said,”This place is like Cedar Creek off the tv.” I wanted to say Cedar Creek is idyllic. It is on the water. Everyone there is beautiful.

But I did not. Instead I listened to what she said and looked at it from her perspective. We live in a small place where people know each other. She was here watching the community and she had a valuable persective.She was watching how we treat and interact with each other.  I have thought about that a lot. Especially when I doubt Amherst. I remember that we are a community. We are in a constant state of change because we are made of people. People come and go. Their needs and abilities change. People change with in themselves. Because of this communities change.

We are even more of a community than Cedar Creek because we are real. It was really interesting to see our community from her perspective.

Small things that do not  cost a lot like the outdoor rink, or the big block walk through the downtown (3 times around is two kilometres) add to the life of our village. It creates a sense of place, something for people to do and enjoy. When we live here it is our responsibility to create and find the joy in the community. There is buzz  in seeing people enjoy and utilize their community. We are all strengthened by it. It is our job to make them happen;to work together to create beauty in the community.

Thanks to the town for listening to the community and working to make it just a little bit more like those sweet little towns on tv.We might not be Cedar Creek, but we’re Amherst.

Twenty Five Years a Beginner

As I work to create a selection of new beginner kits for the studio I think a lot about what it is like to be a beginner.

I have been starting to paint. Playing with new materials, learning how to handle them. It is a whole new world. 

That must be what it is like when people start rug hooking. I remember how I was. I was so curious. I was starting out. Curious about everything. 

I feel the same way whenever I start to paint. 

I have never painted consistently enough for me to loose that beginner feeling.

I want our beginner kits to inspire people to make more rugs. I want them to make them curious about new and different materials. Curious about design! Curious about finishing and moving on.

I am going to make lots more small kits. I will see what I can come up with to keep people hooking. Small projects that are not daunting. Little pieces that they can finish easy and move on to new materials and colours. It will be like a little series of explorations. You will be able to play with designs, colours, and textures.

For the next little while as I explore painting big as a beginner I am also going to explore hooking small and imagine what it might be like for a beginner.

This year I will be in business for twenty five years. Every new year there is a new beginning. Anyone who works as an artist or as a business person. You are always starting over. 

As I hook these small pieces and paint large I feel a real juxtaposition on some levels. On other levels there is a synchronicity. I find them both fun, and both challenging. In paint I work to complicate the materials so they are more interesting. In rug hooking I am trying to simplify the materials and keep the designs interesting. 

The thing I am most happy about is that I am making. Ideas are emerging slowly but they are coming and I am excited about the possibility.

You would think if you were good at one it would be easy to be good at the other but it is not that way. I think I will have to make fifteen or twenty paintings to get anything I like. Maybe it is the same for rug hookers. You have to make lots to get to a point where you really start to like your work. 

Just make. 

Be happy to make. 

Be grateful you have the luxury to make. 

It is a joy. 

Twenty five years is a long time but really I am twenty five years and counting. 

Twenty five years a beginner and hoping to remain that way.

Twenty five years and counting.

Fill up the cup

Sometimes I have to pull myself away. 

I took a road trip on the weekend and delivered 22 of my rugs to the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia for their permanent collection. 

I was happy to see them off and into good hands. 

Getting around to taking them down there should have been easy but instead I keep talking myself out of hitting the road. 

For me it is like a workout. I like it when I do it. I feel good afterward but I do not look forward to it.

It would be nice to try and change this but that would be like a diet. It is not going to happen. See I am happy like this. It is just that my curiousity does not get satiated so I have to break the bonds of home sometimes.

Once I got to the city it snowed heavily and I walked about and had a lovely time. It was just so pretty with all the lights. It does not get dark there at five o’clock because there are lights on everywhere. 

A good dinner out. 

A morning at the market. 

Perfect really. I loved it. 

I just needed a kick in the arse. 

It will be easier if I just keep going away lots. 

Just a night here and there. 

Filling up the cup. 

Breathing in. 

I wandered around the AGNS and one of the docents came along and guided me through a show of Nova Scotia artists. She asked really interesting questions, ones she herself did not know the answers too. I liked that. It left room for discussion. Art is so beautiful to talk about.

I bought a book by a painter I have been curious about. I bought some pens. Little things. 

I looked at more art. 

It was like one of Julia Cameron’s artists dates. We need them. We need to socialize the artist in us. She needs to be met in different places. 

I came home, still not terrifically inspired but ready to work. 

If I work the inspiration will come. I know that. Twenty five years at this has taught me to show up whether you feel like it or not. 

Showing up and making lots of work. 

That is the answer. 

Fill up. 

Show up. 

Make the work. 



Begin

I told myself I would go somewhere in January but it has come and I am not feeling that desire. I am feeling the need for my nest. 

I did not book anything for the month because I wanted to keep it open just in case I got the urge to travel. 

We all have opinions about this time of year. 

Resolutions. Promises.

Regrets about resolutions not kept. 

A friend told me yesterday that they love January. It is time to metaphorically clean house for her.

So many more feel as if it weighs heavy on them. I feel some of both.

 The freshness and promise of the new year. 

The trepidation and vastness of the year before me.

Hope would be a better word.

I feel the freshness that my friends feel.

We have shed the windows of their Christmas decor.

Georgina has taken down the rugs from The Very Mention of Home show to send to their permanent home at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. 

The studio is claiming a different vibe. Hot pink foxes. Red moose. Vibrant coves.

Change is in the air in lots of ways.

Decisions must be made.

Plans.

A new plan for a new year.

I have not started the first rug of 2017. I feel like once I do it will settle things into place.

For me the new year will begin when that hook  slips through burlap to create something.

It will be then that I will settle into this year. A reclaiming of my routine. 

Don’t wait for the muse. Be the muse. Hook.

On the eve

On the eve of the New Year I am thankful for the last year. 

Sitting with a few prayers, and hair in a towel ready to go out with friends, I look back and see that there was so much beauty behind me this past year. 

My family thrived. 

Work was good. 

I loved so many of the rugs I made.

I sit here hopeful that new ideas, new interests, new beauty will follow for all of us, for you.

Grateful. 

Thankful. 

Hopeful. 

Lately when I wake in the morning I think “Let me fill this day with good things.”

I love the video that Maya Angelou made where she tells people to “Be a blessing.”

So often we look for blessings but she reminds us to be one. 

A succinct statement. Be a blessing. 

May 2017 be just that.

May we all be a blessing in 2017.

 

Working

I have decided to start to write more here because I believe the more I write the easier it will be to write. I just want to kick off the new year with a practical creative habit. 

In my writing I have periods where I write a lot and periods where I barely write at all. I find that when I hook a lot I get better. Ideas flow more easily. I am going to try to write in the same way I hook. Just let it flow. 

So I will not wait for the new year.

There will be no beginning.

Instead it will just be a continuance.

I will start from here. No waiting for the right time. 

Why wait when you can begin. 

I might wait for something else. Something I have to build a commitment to. 

Something I do not look forward to. 

I love to read my old writing. The old blog posts here from years ago. 

Once I have written them I am glad. 

Sometimes I read things over and I remember. 

Sometimes I read things over and see how I have grown . 

These writings will be right off the cuff. 

I want to write from the spirit inside me that wants to write. They will be done in the moment because that is the only way I do it well. 

Maybe these will be a conversation. Maybe sometimes I will ask a question. Right now I am wondering…

Are there practical creative habits that you need to start?

What if you hooked everyday , what would happen?

Cozy at home 

There is nothing like home. I have had a long tradition of making a rug for myself in December. I had just finished making a rug for my kitchen. 

The other night I walked into my home just after dark and gasped at the comfort it offered. It surprised me. I walk in this house every evening but somehow the light surprised me, it was the glow from the fire in the wood stove. The rug in the corner, the twenty year old couches, the plant on the coffee table were waiting for me. I felt so certain I was in the right place. That is home.

It waits for us. 

The house feels fuller because we are there. 

We belong, feel situated. 

It takes very little to turn a house into home. 

It is the light, the people, the fire. 

It is the bits of me memory in the little things.

A painting, a rock picked on a beach somewhere. 

The books that you love. 

Something soft underfoot. 

And the thankfulness that it is there upon your return. 

Waiting for you like you never left. 


Seeing things from another point of view

Yesterday a little boy visited our house because he had asked Santa to see inside some old houses. It made me look at our house from a different perspective and I appreciated that.

The things we are used to we look at from the same perspective all the time. It takes another pair of eyes to help us see again sometimes. 

Whether it is your home, your business, your art, you rug hooking. Sometimes we need to step away and let someone else show it to us from their point of view.

As I get ready to teach this winters online class   I try to think from the perspective of the people who will be learning with me. Every little video we make is about the learner. When I do this I see my rug hooking from a new perspective.  I can see what I am doing rather than just doing it. I learn a lot myself from this. It slows me down and makes me examine the process more carefully. 

It is a kind of self examination, watching your shadow, or thinking about the way you think. 

Sometimes little things help you get outside yourself and see things from a new perspective.

Bringing the Light into the Season

 

Today as I look around the studio and the women’s store I feel the season of Christmas fast approaching. Remembrance Day has passed and we are busy prepping for the holidays. Windows are glittering with white lights and shiny balls.

At night at home I have little lights on timers that come on at five until ten and when I come home in the evening they are waiting for me. I try to think of winter as a festival of light. I miss the early morning and evening light that came naturally in my window so I reinvent it with a little sparkle. I put small white lights on shelves to lighten up the long hours of darkness in my house studio. They make me feel cozy and warm.

Our windows in both shops are simple but they too focus on the warm white light that we need in winter. Georgina, Susan (30 Church Women’s Clothing) and Denise put the windows together today. Watching them really got me in the mood for this long season of celebration.

I just do not engage in all the negative hype we hear about Christmas. I think it is a miracle season. It is a time when we look outside of ourselves to help, or cherish others. I still see the beauty in giving and receiving gifts and love the symbolism of it. The wisemen brought frankincense and myrrh to the baby and it turns out, he too , already had everything. Gifts can be simple, joyous, and useful. We do not have to overburden anyone.  I love to give gifts.

I look forward to the little celebrations that people have.

The joy and comfort. The hope, peace, and charity that prevail at this time of year. It still makes me believe in possibility. It reminds me of the importance of faith.

It is our season. It is my season. Time to spread a little joy. Time to remember others’ kindness.

There is no way that I am going to diminish the beauty of this season. It is a celebration of birth. I want it. I want to share it. I want to celebrate it.

These months of darkness need a blessing.

And Christmas is just that, a chance to celebrate what we have, what we had, and what we hope for.

So the season starts, not with endless shopping, though I will do some of that.

Not with endless plans for fancy evenings and complicated foods.

It starts with a little white light in the window.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Diane Krys: Felt :: Feutre

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Lip Service, Diane Krys

It’s been a number of years since I first tried my hand at felting and it’s taken my work in all sorts of unexpected directions. l make a point to take a felting workshop every year or two to try new things and build my skills. This fall I made a road trip to Penticton, British Columbia for Felt :: Feutre Canada’s biannual symposium which featured an International gathering of instructors, as well as, many other inspiring events including an exhibition, fashion show, artist’s talks and a Saturday night banquet.

It was a rich experience full of camaraderie. I registered for Charlotte Sehmisch’s workshop. She was traveling all the way from Germany and I was excited to gain an understanding of her fascinating architectural structures and surfaces. I also had work accepted for the Migration exhibition and was delighted to participate in a morning art chat- although I never expected to be standing in front of large group of felters talking about rug hooking! An even bigger surprise came Saturday night at the banquet. You could have knocked me over with a feather when my name was announced for the sculptural felt award. I was extremely honoured and thrilled but along with joy unexpected emotions cropped up the next day in class.

As others kindly offered their congratulations I started to feel self conscious about the wonky work I was doing in class. Charlotte’s techniques were amazing but challenging and they sure didn’t roll off of my fingertips with grace. The class projects were methodical, precise and took me right out of my comfort zone.

In the wake of recognition I was having skittering feelings of discomfort  as I realized everyone was seeing my lumpy, bumpy, learning curve. I thought my obvious fumbles would surely leave them questioning how the heck I ever received an award. Oh the mind games we play with ourselves about perceptions and worthiness.

Long ago I let go of any expectation of producing perfection in workshop situations and liberated myself to experiment without inhibition even if it meant a crash and burn. Experience has taught me the real prize is the new idea or technique and that you can bring into your work down the road and it can surface from the good, the bad and the ugly. I reminded myself of all this as I made peace with this odd convergence of feelings.

In retrospect it was an unusual juxtaposition to receive recognition for an accomplishment and in the very next breath be back in the trenches faltering and fumbling- all with the same group. Yet the more I think about it it seems a perfect manifestation of artistic growth where practice, skill and achievement form a perfect circle to connect right back to a new beginning.

Aside from a great learning experience with Charlotte I also learned something about myself. I’m okay to let others see my imperfect growth and missteps, which is something I realized you may need to contend with as you move further into the world as a professional. I think it’s part of the humanity embedded in every piece of work and while it may not show when you’re putting your best foot forward for an exhibition or something, we all have imperfect beginnings and they too are beautiful things.

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Related Links:

Felt :: Feutre Canada
Felt :: Feutre  Awards
Charlotte Sehmisch

 

Confessions

Every year I start preparing for my fall workshop a year in advance.

Every year I am afraid. You might not know that about me. That I am scared. 

Scared I won’t know enough. Scared it will not be good. Scared. Anxious. Worried. 

I prepare for it for months. I work hard at it. I am ready. I know I am ready but still I am never sure. I never take it for granted.

One woman told me she taught six classes a year at university and she was always nervous before every class. Thank you for telling me. I feel less alone.

I want it to be beautiful. The first day is always so hard because there is so much to cover. There is so much to say, to do, to learn. 

Hard but good. You can feel that people are taking things in st the end of the first day. 

By the second day you can see eyes lighting up with idea. You see hearts open. You see rugs on their way, but mostly you see people on their way. You see their art spirits emerging.

The morning of the third day I walk on and I am not scared anymore. I am in good company. We have talked and reassured each other. I have made friendships. I know names. I see the soulfulness in each person instead of their name tag. That is why I love the third day. There is a magic in the air that comes with knowing there is only so much time left for the work that has to be done.

Best of all, I am not scared anymore. I believe again. I know that people have learned and that I have more to give. 

The day ends with a beautiful feeling. A kind of elation. Joy. Purpose. All in the pursuit of art. It is good. 

And then everyone goes home and I say a little prayer that they will carry the ideas and the spirit of the workshop with them as they make their mats. I pray that they will find the artist inside themselves.

Then I look to my own work. I think about next year and I am not scared. I am sure. And I relish that feeling because I know it will go away and I will be scared again. Because that is how it is.

And that unsureness will insure that I will work hard and make and create. It will make me make. And that is a good thing. Not to be too sure of oneself. To question, to study, to learn. 

It is the artist in you stewing. 

It is the teacher in you wanting to teach. 

It is the student in you learning.

It is your little soul stirring. 

But you do it even if you are afraid. 

You should. You have to. You will. 

A place to remember

You go back to the hill you grew up on,

And visit friends from years ago. 

There is not much to say.

You take a walk. 

You take it all in.

You go back in the house to get your jacket and you hear your friend singing an old Kris Kristofferson tune.

The same one he sang when you were twelve. The sound of the voice  wraps around you like a comfort. 

You know you are in the right place.

And you remember there was never much to say, and that was the pleasure of it.

That you are friends and not much needs to be said.

We go out for a fish dinner.

The restaurant has the same lemon squares and dates squares your mother made when company came.

The place does not remember you but you remember it.