Saturday, July 31, 2010

Create: Cherry Blossoms in Summer

I've always loved cherry blossoms.  They are possibly my favorite flower in art and movies.  Whether they are my favorite flower flower is still up for grabs, but I love the decorative quality of these little delicate blossoms.  I typically don't care for pink, so it is slightly weird that I am drawn to these flowers.  But at the same time, I love love love art that involves branches.  I'm weird, I know.

Cherry blossoms in Haiku are a signal word for Spring.  And I tend to think of cherry blossoms when I think of Asian art.  So today I give you a cherry branch!
 This now hangs outside my cube at work.  It is made with origami cherry blossoms, candy wrapper centers, and a FedEx envelope.

To make the blossoms, take a square of paper and fold it like this.  I had to use a variation on step eight, however, as it was just not working for me.  Instead of folding the corner back and intuiting where the fold is, I folded it like I learned when making a crane.
Basically, put the open ends towards you.  Fold the side flaps towards the crease in the middle so that you end up with the shape above.  Fold the top triangle down towards you and crease.  Open up the flaps and fold like the directions say.  This provides you with a guide for where the paper should be creased.

To make the center:  This is pretty much a free hand style of your choice.  I ripped/cut a long triangle of candy wrapper, folded one end to make a flat space, and twisted the remaining wrapper into a stem.  It turned out looking mostly like a clove.  I rolled the stem in glue and pressed it into the opening left in the blossom.  Then I pressed the flat part flatter against the center of the blossom.

To make the branch:  I free-handed the shape of a basic branch with curly bits on the ends and cut it out.  The part that shows is the inside of the FedEx envelope.  I thought I might have to color it darker, but it turned out pretty well.

To connect them all:  The back side of your blossom will have a triangle shaped stem that you can fold over to make the blossom lay flat.  Add glue to the flap and blossom and stick your branch between them.  This way it will be held on both sides and will not be so easy to fall off. 
Tadaa!  You are done.

Now go pretty up your space. :)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Write: Haiku You!

Exercise:  Write a haiku according to the rules of the form.  Set your poem out into three lines of five, seven, then five syllables.  Place your poem with a seasonal word and try to include a cutting word which creates two separate but united elements.  

Share your experiment!

Cars rush on asphault,
Never stopping to sightsee,
Flowers fill the ditch.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Inspire: The World, in Three Lines

At our last Ames Writer's Group meeting, we decided that we should work on haiku's for our next meeting.  While I've always been enchanted with Haiku's, it is not my normal chosen poetry form.  I don't read them often, I don't seek them out, and I rarely write them the way they should be written.  But when I do get around to them, they are full of thought and make me feel inspired.

Haiku is a traditional Japanese poetry form.  It consists of seventeen syllables and a seasonal element.  There is also a cutting word, often with a colon or semi-colon in the English language, that separates the poem into two sections that are related but different.  In English, we typically break the syllables down into three lines of 5-7-5.  Often, we don't the seasonal element or cutting word as well.  I'm not sure if we were taught that part in school, but I find that seems to be what makes haiku.

Here are a couple examples of traditional haiku.  They are translated and in translating, you can either follow English (or whatever language you are translating into) syllable break down, or you can follow the meaning of the words.
A giant firefly:
that way, this way, that way, this -
and it passes by.
Issa. (1762-1826).
The crow has flown away:
swaying in the evening sun,
a leafless tree.
Natsume, Soseki. (1867-1916) 
Both of these poems inspire me, make me think past the poem and into the world.  Here are some more resources for haiku.

Haiku For People:  Great history of Haiku and rules
How to Write a Haiku Poem:  Pretty good walk through of making a Haiku.  Great explanation of the seasonal reference and the cutting word.


Friday, July 23, 2010

Create: Something from Nothing

As my dear readers probably know by now, I am part of an art group that hosts a variety of different events.  The group is called Ames and one of our events is the Sew 'n Swap.  It started off as a 'bring your project and extra fabric to swap' and has ended up as a 'here is a project to work on if you want, but you can bring your own as well.'  ...Okay, it's a little better than it sounds when I put it that way...

The last meeting we had, we made market bags.  We never got around to making produce bags, but that's on my list of things to do at home.  As I stated in a previous post, I helped others during that meeting but took the pattern home.  I also took home some wonderful fabric that just happened to be a pair of pajama pants.

A little careful placing and cutting, and tadaa!
I have a bag!  The wonderful thing about this pattern from BurdaStyle is that there is a little pocket it for it to fold up into when you aren't using it. 
Have a crafty weekend!  I'm, hopefully, going to be making Kites!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Write: The Destruction of You

Exercise:  Pick a time or place in your life where you felt like everything was falling down around you.  It could a storm, a family fight, or a crossroads where you have to pick which way your life is going to go.  Think about that time and write about what came after, how you picked up the pieces.

 Most think that Death is the worst card you can draw in Tarot.  But Death means only that change is coming.  Something will be laid to rest that isn't working and something new will be born.  Everything changes and the death of a tree allows it's children to thrive in the light.

The Tower is worse than Death.  Symbolizing the destruction of Babylon, it points to the destruction of you.  Torn down, tattered, and scattered so far away that you cannot put the pieces back together.  Instead, you have to create something new and go down a new path.  There is no going back to the way things were.  This is not the easy change Death brings.  This is rampant Chaos.

And it's happened to me more than I care to admit.

The last time it came up, I felt the pressure of ...something... lurking just out of reach.  My life wasn't bad, it wasn't perfect either, but I didn't feel that I needed a drastic change.  But I was stuck in a rut and it wasn't getting better.  The Tower came up and I sat down and cried.

That looming weight crashed down on me and swept me away from my safe and normal life.  It took me out of my comfort zone and got me going.  I didn't want to do what I was going to do, but I had to do it.  I had to.  It just wasn't working any more.

I am enjoying the path that the destruction of my life lead me on.  I've gone to school, organized my life, recognized that I have a creative side that wants to come out.  I am more myself now that I've destroyed my previous life. 

And though I pray I never see the Tower again, I am thankful for it.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Inspire: In the Path of Destruction

Summer time here in Iowa is normally hot, extremely humid, and stormy.  We aren't quite in 'Tornado Alley' but we are close.  Half the time in summer we pray for rain to ease the ache of the humidity.  The other half is spent hoping the storm isn't a tornado.

When I woke on Sunday morning, my son complained of the cable being out.  Sometimes the cable in the back comes loose.  It wasn't that, so I figured that the storm that came through must have damaged something.  A quick glance out our living room windows showed just a few branches down.  Then my mom called and said that the opening between my building and the next was covered with downed tree.

I went outside and the neighbors fence was broken when a tree fell, luckily it just barely scrapped his house.  Unfortunately, it also pulled the wires out of the house and broke the utility pole next to it.  Luckily our power was restored by the time I woke up.

The news says there were 70 mph winds and lots of people were without power because of the trees.

This sort of destruction brings a wake up call to some people, that storms aren't just inconveniences, they are forces of nature.  And nature isn't always fuzzy squirrels and pretty leaves.  It's a wild, uncontrolled, force answerable to absolutely no one.

But one of the differences between natural destruction and human destruction is that natural destruction normally clears the way for new growth.  By clearing away the old, it leaves room for the new to grow strong in the sunlight.

What do you have to tear down so you can rebuild?

Friday, July 16, 2010

Create: Washclothes for the Oil Spill

I'm guilty, I haven't been checking the Craft Hope site as much as I should.  I checked it at the end of June (when I thought the due date was...) and found out that it is the end of August.  Since then, I haven't been working as much as I'd like to on crocheting washclothes. I still did make several, which is good for me given my moving and lack of motivation for doing anything.

But!  I did talk to our fibers group and have collected a number of towels from members.  I'm also going to be thrifting some towels this weekend and cutting them up for cloths. 

The design for the cut up towels is pretty easy.  Cut a square of fabric and zigzag around the edge.  My crochet cloths are pretty easy too.  With a G hook, chain 30, turn and chain one, then sc in each chain.  Turn and repeat until you have a square.

It sounds like Craft Hope have so many donations now that they aren't sure where they are going to get the money to deliver them.  I'm so excited that there has been such a fantastic response to this project.  I'm only disappointed that it is in response to such a huge disaster.

Edit:  Hah!  They DID move the deadline.  It wasn't just my bad memory.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Write: Choose a Path

Sorry about the late post.  Kiddo is sick so I stayed home.  I'll get better about this, I swear! :)

Exercise:  You stand at a crossroads.  Down one path, you are surrounded by people you know laughing.  Drinks and gorgeous food are served to you.  Down the other path, you are surrounded by the homless, the lost.  You are serving them basic good food and they smile at you.

What path would you choose?

Friends called me on the way out the door, inviting me to dinner with a few other people.  They were going to a fantastic restaurant, one we had been talking about going to.  The reviews were amazing.  They even said that there was a guy they wanted to introduce me to. 

But I had other plans.

I pulled my car into the lot, feeling bad when I made sure it was locked.  I knew some of the people here, but it wasn't them I was worried about.  This wasn't the best neighborhood and I knew someone who had their car stolen last week.

Davey waved at me from his perch by the door.  A smile lit my face as I made my way across the yard.  "I'm glad to see you," he said, standing up as I approached.  He shook my hand and opened the door for me.  The smile that covered his face was brighter than a light bulb and brought out the lines by his eyes.  "I got a job," he burst out happily, his back straight with pride, "I start tomorrow."

"That's wonderful, Davey!" I exclaimed, pausing before crossing the threshold to give him a hug.  "Congratulations!  See, I told you that it would happen.  You just couldn't give up."

"I wouldn't have been able to do it if it wasn't for you and the others," Davey shrugged, following me to the kitchen of the homeless shelter.  "You all make us feel human again.  Like we mean something.  We don't have anything but you make us feel like we are worth more than the air we breathe.  Thank you."

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Extra! Noumenia, A New Month

Welcome back, Moon!

Noumenia marks the day where the first sliver of the waxing crescent moon can be seen after the new moon.  To Hellenists, this is the day to honor the household gods and spirits of the house.  To this blog, it is a day to reflect on the previous month and make goals for the next.

This month I'm starting something a little different.  This blog was started as a way to keep myself organized with my ideas and creativity.  So I am going to try to use the Noumenia post as a way to keep myself organized with different life habits.

I come across so many different things I think I should do, so many groups to join, so many different causes to champion and take part in.  I get confused and forget about half of them.  I get frustrated that I goofed up or forgot the date for something.

So join me on my journey to change.  Feel free to send me things I haven't seen or information on what you are doing.

Meatless Monday:  This past month I have decided to try the Meatless Mondays as I have already been trying to do one meatless meal a week.  I mostly succeeded in the two weeks I've been doing this.  I decided I didn't want to blog every Monday about what I was cooking as my dinner plans can change as soon as I get home so it's hard to know in the morning what the plan is.

6/28/10 - Cereal and Nutella Toast, Egg salad bagel and salad/mac 'n cheese for the kiddo, and Grilled cheese and fries.
07/05/10->07/06/10 - Switched to Tuesday because Sunday plans became Monday plans.  Almonds and a muffin, Chinese restaurant for lunch (some meat but I felt bad so I stuck with veggies the rest of the time), black bean burritos with roasted veggies and salad.
07/12/10 - Bagel with honey cream cheese, veggie burrito (that turned into a salad), cheese pizza which I added fresh veggies too.

No Plastic:  Inspired by The Chestnut House, the Save My Oceans challenge and videos, and my own sense of using too much plastic, I have decided to try seriously to cut back on my plastic habit.  I already try.  For instance, I try to use reusable bags, I use tupperware and cloth napkins, and I wash and reuse the ziploc bags I have.  But yet I put my trash in a plastic bag.  I buy condiments in plastic containers.  So while I don't think I can live without plastic just yet, I'm trying to make an effort to cut down my consumption.

My son helped me with this already.  He's excited about the challenge and depressed that so much plastic does get used.  (He's really upset about the oil spill and that plastic comes from oil.)  I was looking for a new salad dressing, trying to be adventurous and branch out from my norm.  I picked up one and then he said something about there being glass jars of dressing.  So we got one of those.

On another shopping trip I had decided on a peanut butter, was getting ready to put it in my cart, and noticed that there was a glass jar for a dollar more.  I immediately switched out the peanut butter in my hand for the glass one.  I think a dollar more isn't too bad a price for the jar.  Plus, it's more useful to me later when it's empty.

Day Tasks:  I went through and listed the things I wanted to accomplish each week and then assigned them to a day.  I have done this in the past and it's worked pretty well to be able to focus on one thing and know that I will work on something else another day.  It gives me time to be able to focus on multiple things without them getting in each other's way.  I only make up this new list at the end of last week, so I haven't really been working on it yet.  It starts yesterday!

There are a couple more things that I think I might work on or add to this month post, like being active in the Neokoroi, joining Hellenion or a local group, the Compact, or even working on getting writing sent out to publications.  But I think I rambled on enough in this post!

What are your goals for the coming month?

Oh.  And today is my birthday!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Inspire: Sacrifice and Giving

In today's culture, there seems to be an upswing of volunteerism.  I'm quite happy to report that Iowa has the second highest rate of volunteerism in the US.  (And I think I may be making up the word 'volunteerism' or the way to use it, but it works for me today.)  One of the things that has bugged me about the US for a long time is the fact that we are very individual.  Not a lot of people tend to stop and help out a person who needs it.  Not a lot of people think about helping those in need.  The fact that volunteering is on the rise makes me feel a little bit better.

This weekend I went to my art groups Sew 'n Swap.  We get together and swap fabric and work on projects.  We've started having a project available for those that want it, but you can still just sit and work on your own projects as well.  We had a large number of people come in and rather than join the ranks of those working on a project, I decided to stand up and help everyone else.  I knew (we had just had a talk about this on Wednesday) that our fearless leader wanted to start having volunteers at our events, someone who would help the leader/host with everything and make it a little less stressful.  So I decided to help and it felt a lot better than sitting there watching other people run around. 

I didn't sacrifice much more than my time as I took the pattern home and made one on my own.  But I feel like I helped, I helped people and gave them a great first impression of our group, and I made some new friends I might not have.

Do you have any groups that you volunteer with?  Do you do any volunteer activities?  Do you give back in anyway?

Friday, July 9, 2010

Create: Bring the Constellations Inside

In my move, I finally got around to hanging up a poster of my sons.  It came with one of his books and shows the two hemispheres of constellations.  Unfortunately, I don't think they do a good job of it.  They haven't used the most common lines between the stars and they cut them weirdly.  For instance, only the top half of Orion is in the North.  The bottom half of Orion is in the South (where it all should technically be) without a label.

I used to be an astronomy nerd, so this bothers me.  My Earth Science teacher let me sleep through the astronomy section of class because he knew I knew everything.  He had helped us learn it all the previous year for Science Olympiad. 

So I have been on a hunt to show my son what the real sky looks like.  He's interested, and upset because I'm upset that the poster isn't right.  And I fully believe that he should be able to pick out at least the major constellations.

Which leads us to today's craft:  Pinprick constellation charts. 
I learned this trick in elementary school for making pretty pictures hanging in the window using the light to show the design.  Draw your design (constellation) on the paper, and use something sharp to poke holes in the design (stars) so that the light will shine through and you can see the design. 

Normally, you use black construction paper so that only the light design is seen.  I didn't have any and I figure that this way, he can learn two ways at once.

Happy crafting!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Write: At Dusk

Exercise:  Think about dusk during summer.  Do you look forward to a break from the sun to get ready to go out and enjoy the cooler weather?  Do you mourn the loss of another bright day?  Do you give thanks that the heat has broken?  Or are you grumpy about mosquitoes?

The heat breaks at dusk.
The lighted numbers on the bank sign
decrease into something manageable
but the night is still soaked with seat.
The vapor condenses to a rolling fog
and the humidity smothers like a blanket.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Inspire: Summer Nights

When most people think of Summer it's what you see in magazines - the sun, the beach, the pool, the day.  And that's what I typically think too, but one of my favorite aspects of summer is the nights.  After a blisteringly humid day being sunburned, I can't wait for the temperature to fall and the lightning bugs to come out.  I don't think there is a better time for looking up at the stars than on a cool summer night.

Of course, that's on the days when you are praying for rain.

Right now we're in the middle of flood season and the rain postponed fireworks yesterday.

But the nights are still wonderful.  A great retreat after the bleaching light of the days.  I can't wait to go sweat and get cranky camping just so I can go sit around a bonfire at night watching the trees be lit up from the bottom.

What are your favorite parts of a summer night?  Do you relish the small amount of darkness you get (the sun sets at about 9-10pm and gets up at about 5-6am here), or is it just a hassle in the way of the sun?

Friday, July 2, 2010

Create: A Jar and the Sun

This time of year is one filled with bbqs, picnics, and outside fun.  All of which I have yet to do... hopefully this weekend!  One of my favorite things is sun tea - no matter whether it's winter or summer.  Unfortunately, I have a problem with the commercial sun tea jars.  They always develop a leak and then I can't use them anymore.  I for one, do not want water or tea leaking all over my fridge.  I tossed (I know, I'm horrible!) my old one when moving since it had just developed the leak.

When moving, I grabbed a glass bottle of tea from a convenience store (I know, horrible, right?  But it was glass and I was really thirsty.)  I hate buying tea from stores because it's so easy to make at home... unless you don't have a jar!  But I discovered a few days later is that any jar can be a sun tea jar.  I'm sure others already knew this, but I'm slow.

Tadaa!  Conveniently sized take-along sun tea.  I also found a use for the half gallon glass milk jug I've been holding onto since my ex-boyfriend brought it home.  The commercial sun tea jars are just a little bit too much.  Towards the end it always gets murky and icky, but the half gallon size is just perfect.
Now I just have to create a cozy bag for the half gallon jar to take it to events with me.

Happy crafting!