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Every once in awhile I have a craving to go deeper into the well of inner knowledge. Things like art, journaling, solitude, and highly engaging conversation with just the right person can take me there.  Recently I felt the call of the page. Paper bound with the purpose of helping me get found.

When the desire for writing in this way comes up, I go in search of a new blank book.  It has to feel just right.  I have been bored lately with off-the-shelf journals, so I decided to delve into the realm of handmade.  Now, I made a journal once.  It is pretty, but less than what I wanted for my inner-prize.  So I began perusing Etsy to see what I could see.

Etsy has some amazing book artists.  From tee-ninsie to gian-ormous!  Elegant, earthy, whimsical, or plain Jane.  With so many options, it could be overwhelming to choose. But, as is often the case in picking a world of pages for my musings, the perfect journal for me came forward and announced itself without a doubt!

 www.bindingbee.etsy.com

Binding Bee (www.bindingbee.etsy.com)  is a cute little shop with great books. Megan Winn, the book binder/artist, turned out to be as sweet as the work she does.  This journal is made with up-cycled leather and has pattern pieces incorporated into the pages. 

To understand the call of this particular journal, it is important to get a sense of what I want to explore with it.  In my last post, I talked about the metephoric knots I was presented with.  It is maybe a strange thing to describe “issues” this way, but that’s how it feels.  It is as if I have one big problem, but a closer look reveals interlocked, inter-related variables. I find it hard to determine what all is in the knot, but I know that it includes how I live with and in my body and the things that have influenced my relationship with my body.  So you see, the pattern pieces speak directly to the issues at hand.

 I think it is easy to start to feel uncomfortable when someone starts pointing to the things in life that don’t go quite right, but this knot is about something positive. It is about looking at the knot (every woman who has worn a necklace knows you have to put what’s tangled in front of you if you want to get it off your neck) so that I can loosen it up, throw out what is broken, fix what can be salvaged and supplement what is missing.  This is about opportunity and healing.  So if my vulnerability has you at all on edge, take a breath.  It’s all good. 

I hope you will enjoy hearing about my special little journal.  In the next week or two, you can expect my first artist interview. I had a great visit with the book-binder who whipped up this jewel, Megan Winn.  Her story inspires me to look at life with a new eye and to celebrate the gift of creative living in a more back-to-basics way. 

Until then…

I am creatively yours,

Rae

sweetmeats.etsy.com

sweetmeats.etsy.com

I think it is popular to be a vegetarian. There is something romantic about sacrificing your own cravings for animal flesh to uphold your value of life for the furry, scaled, and feathered ones among us.  I watched Twilight a few nights ago and felt myself wanting to move closer toward that place of purity.

But this evening while logging onto the net, my homepage (Etsy.com) featured the handmade art of SweetMeats.  I was mesmerized by the plush, huggable meat items.    

sweetmeats.etsy.com

sweetmeats.etsy.com

 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

Who doesn’t need a little meat for their couch?! 

And check out the bacon earrings!

sweetmeats.etsy.com

sweetmeats.etsy.com

I just know if I had a pair of these, I wouldn’t be able to keep my husband off me!  He would be trying to nibble on my earlobe all day long!

(These clever little earrings are made from polyshrink/shrink paper.  That makes me love them even more.  I have a special affinity for that craft. I posted an entry featuring my own shrink art last month.  I think it is still on this page.   I am glad to see more people using it.)

 Maybe I will get me a pair!  It’s guilt-free meat. 

The owner of the shop seems to be working on some other designs, so check out what they’ve got.  If the creativity and humor shown thus far is any indication of what is to come, we are all in for a sweet treat….or should that be sweet MEAT?!   

Check it out! Find her shop at www.sweetmeats.etsy.com or her blog at http://bizmiss.wordpress.com/2009/06/30/whoa-those-are-shrinky-dinks/

 

lunaclaydesign

(This is a pendant made from a glass slide.  It is from www.lunaclaydesign.etsy.com . I love her work.  This piece has a lot of story wrapped up in it for me.  Her other pieces seem to offer their own stories, as well.)

At six months old, I learned to walk. They said I looked like a living doll, so small but moving like a sized-down adult. I was petite for my age, charming, and bright. At a year old, I went to court with my parents to make my adoption legal. My mother waited in the courtroom. They told her I would be with the judges for 15 minutes. An hour later, the judges brought me back, explaining that I had entertained them, dancing on the table and singing.

Pictures of my young childhood tell the story of an active little girl. My skin is a healthy olive color from playing in the sun. But in the third grade, something changed. My eyes seemed more vacant, and my body began to take on more weight. I went from being one of the smallest children to the largest. I no longer took dance lessons or danced with my parents. When I did, I saw the shame in their eyes. Somehow the weight created a barrier to the world of dance.

 

artmaven(From artmaven.etsy.com, Megan Chapman’s abstract, Fire Cross the Barriers, has wonderful color and movement.  It’s impending redness distracts from any calm that might be promised by the cool rythums of the blues.  It does a fabulous job of putting me on edge and reminds me of the fiery barriers I let the world push me up against.)

ladyatlarge(Speaking of roundness, check out the undulating curves on this underwater beauty by ladyatlarge.etsy.com.   She seems to dance with her koi friend in a celebration of movement and marvelousness.)

I met a woman  several years ago as round as I was round. She taught dance classes in a small portion of the larger community I live in. They were more than dance classes, really. They were fall-in-love-with-your-body classes and discover-the-sacredness-of-movement classes. I would often sink into tears during the dances. I could feel myself coming home to a place in my life I had pushed away.

The reasons were both simple and complicated. Why does any woman begin to hate her body? Because we are taught to, because we have had our protecting voices silenced, because they are powerful instruments of creation?

One week while in the small bohemian community nestled within my South Texas town, I danced 19 hours and wished for more. It is a feeling I will never forget. I understood things about myself that I would never have understood without the dance. I knew about my flesh, my spirit, community, ancestry, and about my genuine self.

After a year or two, our small community went through a big change. Many of us moved away or found our own paths. I grieved not only the loss of community but the loss of the opportunities I had had to dance. I became overwhelmed with finding an equilibrium. My body habits changed, and then my body did. I put the dance away.

My body has suffered, as has my spirit. In saying this, I struggle with the idea of body acceptance. Self-love and self-care have been the touchstones of this last year’s journey. I never realized how twisted the thinking about my body had become. Layers of hate, distrust, abuse and disgust buried the peacefulness I am learning to uncover.

Can I love my body as it is in this moment? At this weight? In this condition? After what it has been through, after what I have done to it and made it do? The answer is yes. AND, I know my body wants more. Never mind what my culture….what society wants….never mind what the media says or what I assume others think. My body and spirit long to move and be moved. They are lovers that live within the context of my existence. Married to one another in a way, but sleeping apart. Recently though, I feel them longing for one another again.

Allowing myself to dance, encouraging myself to move, rarely just comes easily. There is stigma about moving a round body. It takes courage to take up more space than what is the cultural norm. And what if someone sees something jiggle where they believe no movement would take place?! These are the struggles that play out in my unconscious, right beside the wish to move.

I have connected once more with my dance friend. She is pregnant now with her husband away in the service. I have asked her if she might like to meet to move. We have plans to meet soon.

 

kennebugboutique(This lovely,  handmade pendant is by kennebugboutique.etsy.com. I am dreaming of having one for myself in a year or so.  I thought it was interesting that I found one in her shop that said chance…that’s what I feel like I will be taking. But I know it will be well worth it!)

Ahh, but back to my awareness. I know that childbirth is a form of creativity. And the body becomes its instrument. In practicing dance, I believe I can give my body a means to its innate desire to create. But instead of creating a child, I can create movement, nuance, emotion, story and perhaps the most important thing, healing.

isabellasart(This shadow puppet from www.isabellasart.etsy.com  rides in front of the light, casting dancing shadow stories on the wall for all to see.  )

This is my own personal advocacy of self. A demonstation of free will and self-expression. I will move the fleshiness of my body…not to lose weight or to exercise, but to become a priestess to the holy union of body and spirit for the sacred right of re-creation. To reclaim a part of myself which has been hidden away, secretly waiting just out of sight, grooving in the shadows.

It has been years since I have done shrink art, but recently I fell in love with it all over again.  While perusing Etsy, I came across   www.LittleAngelsJewelry.etsy.com.  I was delighted to find such exciting images.  So I bought a few.  The little ring featuring a ribcage with a heart has become my token reminder to tend to the emotional, spiritual and physical health of my heart.

Ribcage Ring

Last night, I even had a dream in which a Wise Woman told me to relax and open my heart to the world.  It is amazing what effect a tiny work of art, done with love, by a stranger across the country from you can have on your life.  We just never know how we touch one another.

Shrinky Healing Art

 

So in celebration of  my renewed, growing love of shrink art, I decided I would offer a few tips for working with it.  I even have a few of my old pieces that I think will be fun to revisit.

Shrinky Fairy2

The tips for ONE of MANY ways to do Shrink Art:

  • I start out by using an artist grade of shrink art paper called PolyShrink.  It is available from www.LuckySquirrel.com.  The paper is treated by sanding it with a light sandpaper in a crosshatched pattern (horizontally and vertically). 
  • Color can be applied a number of ways.  I prefer Prisma Color Pencils and Sharpies. 
  • Once the piece is colored, it can be cut out.  I prefer to do it this way if I have shapes to cut out so that my pencil doesn’t accidentally catch the edge and goober up the piece.  (Is “goober up” a technical term?) This would also be the step in which you could use a hole punch for jump rings or dangly things.
  • Pieces are baked in an oven (300-350 degrees F or 148-175 C according to Lucky Squirrel) on a piece of cardboard, resting inside a cookie sheet.  For more cooking directions, check out Lucky Squirrels General Instructions. 
  • To glue on any backings, I used E6000.  I have since heard others use a 2 part epoxy, but I haven’t tried that.  I would love to hear from anyone who has.  The trick with E6000 is to apply a small amount to both parts, let it dry and then glue those parts together.  You also want a tiny bit to well up over the edge of the stud disk or pin back to help hold it on. 
  • As for sealing, I used acrylic spray.  The trick there is to keep your layer thin, especially with the matte or it will get cloudy. Without some kind of sealant, the pieces tended to scratch up a bit.

Shrinky Fish

Well, I would love to hear from those who are doing Shrink Art.  I am looking forward to playing with it again.  What a fun Summer-time project!

Sometime last year I discovered an on-line marketplace for handmade things called Etsy.  Being a creativity advocate, I immediately wanted to get involved.  I joined with the knowledge that someday I would have my own Etsy Shop.  Well, life kept getting in the way.  Not in a bad way, I have been working on my Masters in Counseling and that just had to come first.  But, I have had a break in my schedule and am devising a plan for the official opening of my shop due sometime towards the beginning of June. 

Sneak Peak:

About 7 years ago, I opened a massage studio in downtown Corpus Christi across from Yin Yang Fandango and the Tango Tea Room (http://www.tangofandango.com/).  It was very exciting to create the look of the shop and make decisions on what kind of life it would take on.  I covered the windows with brown paper while we hammered, scrapped, plastered, and painted.  Some people were so interested in what was going on that they were upset about the secrecy.  That surprised me.  I thought they would enjoy a big reveal.  But what I realized is that some folks are just as interested in the process as they are about the product, and for those people, my paper denied them a beautiful opportunity to witness the blooming of the flower. 

For that very reason, I am documenting the means to the end for this new shop of mine.  If you are a big reveal person, STOP!  Don’t go any further.  Your time will come.  Feel free to leave your email in the comments or drop me a line, and I will give you a special invitation to the grand opening.  BUT, if you are a process person, this is your chance.  Peal back the paper and have a peak inside.  Please excuse the mess, there is creativity in progress.  

www.laughinglane.etsy.com 

More about the process…..

Research:

I am doing everything  in phases, holding onto an attitude of keeping positive but not demanding perfection.  I have been doing some research by reading the hints and tips offered by Etsy and keeping up with their newsletter.  If nothing else, they are inspiring.  And the stories about people who are making it happen motivate me to do my best.

I have also ordered a few guides from Etsian how-to-ers. The first guide I got from www.TimothyAdamsDesigns.etsy.com.  It has inspired this blog and given me the tools to build a community to share it with.  I am eager to see how it goes.  Then I found a guide from www.TheBuzz.etsy.com. This is another little jewel with great ideas on how to make my shop work.  She takes the guess work out of where to start and where to put my energy.  I think these two guides are a great combination for someone starting out.  The first is blog-centered and the last shop-centered.  From what I understand, those two things help to create a formula for success.

 Product/Artwork:

But nothing will say success like having the right products.  When I say right, I mean many things by that.  I am only willing to create art that feels fulfilling.  With that in mind, I have been brainstorming about my favorite projects and have created a small grouping of printed photos of the projects I have most enjoyed doing.  I have them in a little stack on my desk and look thru them when I am ready to work on something.  Someday this wanna-be pile of pictures will be replaced with a an accomplishment pile, documenting the lives I have allowed my art to touch by sharing it with the world.

The other part of deciding about which artwork to sell is including items that others might like.  As it turns out, I often do projects that others request but for which I have had little time to do.  Luckily, these are usually the items I get the most fulfilment out of.  This is what will ultimatly end up in the shop.  It gives me a boost when others are enthusiastic about my work.

Focus:

As I prepare for the opening, I find myself nesting as a way of getting focused.  My art supplies become the twigs and leaves with which I am creating my warm, cozy spot.  It is exactly what I need as I take a break from the hustle and bustle of University life.  I think Laughing Lane Studios could ultimately provide a needed bit of balance in my life. 

I hope you have enjoyed this peak at my process.  Feel free to share with me the projects you are working on and what your progress is looking like.

Creatively yours,

Rae

My Etsy Shop

http://laughinglane.etsy.com Photobucket

Robert Alan

The creative spirit is one of the most powerful driving forces in human history. Creativity in the arts can inspire new insights and understanding for generations. Inventive creativity has helped transform our society time and time again, helping to make life better for countless lives. Creativity helps bring meaning to one's life through unique self-expression. When focused on uplifting humanity, creativity can help to create a more peaceful, just and sustainable world. How will you use your creativity to help create a better world?

Henry David Thoreau

The world is but a canvas to the imagination.

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