Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Saving the Bees-A Peek-a-Boo Project

One of my favorite authors is Sue Monk Kidd, I remember reading her haunting and compelling Secret Life of Bees book many years ago. I love stories that are character driven and challenging to our senses. I like how it offered us insight to forgiveness and how many times in life we need to offer ourselves some grace. "The world will give you that once in awhile, a brief timeout; the boxing bell rings and you go to your corner, where somebody dabs mercy on your beat-up life" It also shows the difference between appearances and reality.  "Someone who thinks death is the scariest thing, doesn't know a thing about life." This is in part my inspiration for this project. 
Supplies:  Gypsy Soul Laser Cuts-Honeycomb and Bees Small, Gypsy Soul Laser Cuts-Flourished Frame Connie, Gypsy Soul Laser Cuts-Catweed Shape Set, Decorative 5 by 7 Frame, Decorative Scrapbook Paper,  Wendy Vecchi Acorn Permanent Ink, Blending Tool, Versa Mark, Tim Holtz Walnut Stain Embossing Powders, Ice Resin Torched Copper, Heating Tool, Weldbond, Ranger Brick Embossing Powder, Wendy Vecchi Tree Branch Embossing Powder, Extreme Peacock Embossing Powder, Black Sharpie, Copper, Antique Gold, and Quinacridone Gold Acrylic Paint, Paintbrush, Alcohol Inks in Autumn Hues, Rubbing Alcohol and Water in Spray Bottles, Scissors
 1.  Take GSLC embellishments apart, I am using Honeycomb and Bees-Small, Flourished Frame Connie, and Catweed Shape Set.

 2.  Use decorative scrapbook paper to build a substrate for your design, I glued mine on a piece of cardboard to give it stability.
3.  Before gluing decorative paper t cardboard I distressed the edges using Wendy Vecchi Acorn Ink and a blending tool.
4.   Use versa mark and Torched Copper enamel and walnut stain embossing powders to age GSLC Connie Frame. Curing with a heating tool until you are satisfied with the process.
5.  Glue GSLC Frame on top of decorative paper, centering it.
6.   Distress GSLC Honeycomb first using Ranger Brick Embossing Powders and a heating tool. Add further layers dry brushing on Copper, Antique Gold, and Quinacridone Gold Acrylic Paints.
7.   Emboss the GSLC bee bodies with versa mark and Wendy Vecchi Tree Branch embossing powders and heating tool.
8.  Emboss the GSLC bee wings with versa mark and Perfect Peacock embossing powders and heating tool.
9.  Add strips to GSLC bee Bodies using a black sharpie and use also on bee legs and antennas.
10.                Start assembling composition using Weldbond and scissors to cut section of the honeycomb.
11.                Using alcohol ink and a blending tool to color GSLC Catweed Shape Set. I used autumn colors of green, yellow, orange, red, and brown.
12.                Spray with rubbing alcohol and water to further distress the Catweed
13.                Add these to your composition using scissors and Weldbond to layer on top of what you have added so far.
14.                Place assemblage inside of decorative frame.
Some final thoughts.
It is sad to hear of all of the sorrows that the honey bees are encountering, in another life I'd love to be a beekeeper, to in some small way restore the balance of these incredible creatures. One of my favorite beverages is to take equal small portions of honey and coconut palm sugar and add to half and half and fill to top with iced coffee. It is refreshing and is my go to second breath after coming home from teaching all day and wanting create in the art studio.
 One final quote from the book:
“Knowing can be a curse on a person's life. I'd traded in a pack of lies for a pack of truth, and I didn't know which one was heavier. Which one took the most strength to carry around? It was a ridiculous question, though, because once you know the truth, you can't ever go back and pick up your suitcase of lies. Heavier or not, the truth is yours now.”
Sue Monk Kidd, The Secret Life

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Take Time to Enjoy the Apples

One of my favorite seasons is Autumn, I love the cooler temperatures, the vivid colors, the changing of the seasons. It is my busy time of the year going to my art shows where I get to show and sell my  artwork. One of my favorite poets is Robert Frost, and Nothing Gold Can Stay, is the inspiration for this project:
Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

 Supplies:  Gypsy Soul Laser Cuts-Leafy Swirl, Gypsy Soul Laser Cuts-Leaves and Flourish Set, Gypsy Soul Laser Cuts-Fanciful Elements, Wooden Tray, Tim Holtz Distress Sprays in Autumn Hues, Crackle Stamp, StazOn Saddle Brown Ink, Decorative Scrapbook Paper in Autumnal Theme, Heating Tool, Scissors, Green Gold and Antique Gold Acrylic Paint, Blending Tool, Weldbond, DecoArt DuraClear Matte Varnish,
1.  Stain wooden tray using Tim Holtz Distress Sprays of Wild Honey and Tea Dye.
2.   Once dry use a crackle stamp or GSLC foam stamp with StazOn Saddle Ink to age wooden tray.
3.  Coat with Matte Varnish to seal in stains.
4.  Choose GSLC embellishments-I am using Leafy Swirl, Leaves and Flourish Set, and Fanciful Elements.
5.  Randomly spray GSLC cuts embellishments with Tim Holtz Distress Sprays in autumnal colors.
6.  Spritz with rubbing alcohol and water to further distress and age your embellishments. Cure with a heating tool.
7.  Add other layers of color by dry brushing with green gold  and antique gold acrylic paint.
8.  Choose pictures for your tray, fussy cut if you like.
9.  Distress edges with blending tool and StazOn Saddle Brown Ink.
10.                Assemble Tray by adding a decorative piece of paper to bottom of wooden tray using Weldbond.
11.                Continue to add to your tray by using Weldbond to attach your autumn pictures and GSLC embellishments.
12. To add aging and patina add rust pastes in green hues.
13.                Once dry cover entire wooden tray with Matte Varnish to seal everything into place.
Some final thoughts.
It's not too late to enjoy an autumn picnic or at least a
hot toddy or hard cider out in the crisp evening air using your autumnal tray. The tray is decorative enough to hang and is even reversible.
Another of Robert Frost Poems that has inspired me to live a life worth living:   

The Road Not Taken
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Friday, November 9, 2018

The Luddite

Who Can know the heart of a man?
Is truth found in solitude?
If these walls could speak, what would they say?
   A man with a hermit heart lived alone far from the happenings of the local town's folks. If you did not venture down these dusty dirt roads you would not even know of his existence. He was a solitary man who lived by himself and his coon dogs in the holler within miles of the local community, He was unaffected by the marching on of time. Time stood still for him in his mind and in his holler. In the springtime he could be found hitching his workhorses up to their harnesses and furrowing his fields that met the thick forest that surrounded his property. His relatives,  also farmers, somehow allowed him to carry on at his own pace. They would use the modern tractors and various other farming equipment, but this man had no need for these modern conveniences. This was also reflected in his dwelling. One could not really call it a house, although an ancient one stood dying within his view. His shelter was a one room shanty with a woodstove used for sustenance and warmth.
            He had few visitors as few people even knew he existed. There was a young boy who stumbles upon him when he was searching the nearby woods for treasures of his own. The boy already frightened of the dogs looks to his knee where the stitches were from an earlier incident and tries to stay clear of their detection. Although the man did not see the boy this time a strange bond was formed between them.
   The boy returned home and asked his parents about this man who still plowed with horses. The boy's mother filled in the details and provided him with a name. From that day forward the hermit man was known as Luther. The boy's mother, a tenderhearted Christian woman invited her son to go with her the next time she delivered pumpkin pies to him for Thanksgiving.
            This would be the first of many time that this boy would travel down the rugged road better suited for deer and black bears than the family car. The ruts in the road were deep and dangerous. The boy thought they would soon be stuck, but somehow his mother, the angel of mercy, maneuvered the wheels magically and they passed through unscathed. There was a grove of naked tress they passed through before coming to a huge graying barn. They would park up by the corncribs and make the last bit by foot. The boy trusted with carrying one of the pies stepped ever so carefully like on a newly frozen stream or when wearing Sunday shoes in the snow. The dogs were the first to announce their arrival and the boy stepped closer to his mother's used flannel jacket. The boy was comforted by his mother's warm scent imagining himself as a small chick beneath the protective wing of the mother hen.
            The child's eyes were not prepared for what he would see. Luther gave a shout out saying "Who's there?", waiting for a response before he called off his hounds. The woman answered softly but firmly says her name "June". As the hounds are put into the pen they journey onward. the man invites them in with a gruff voice, Then Luther asks "Who's this?" referring to the frightened child. The woman says, "This in my son and he was snooping in the woods when he saw you. He had so many questions that I thought I should introduce him to the legend of these hills." if the man could smile this would have been a golden opportunity, but all that was heard was a low rumbling.
   It was obvious that this man had had a very hard life. The lines in his face were almost as deep as the furrows in his fields. His skin also had the color of fall leaves, a mixture of beech and maple touched by a golden glow of an Autumn's sunset. His teeth were stained brown from his chewing tobacco. Work dungarees stood mysteriously in the corner by an invisible coat hook. There were pottery jugs on a rustic shelf illuminated from the glow of the kerosene lamp on the simple rickety  table. No pictures ordained the bare wooden walls, the wind could easily get inside for a peep through the wide cracks found there.  The cook stove was burning and there was something boiling in a pot. It smelled like his mother's stew or vegetable soup, only wilder.
Although the visit only lasted a short time, it had left a lasting impression on the boy's small heart. The boy would wonder how the man stayed warm in the winter, who would hear the man if he cried, did the man ever get lonely, was it true what he had said about putting dog whiskers under your pillow, or would cats really get stuck in holes if they lost theirs? There would be many other visits, both announced and unexpected. Some of the boys fondest memories were of times spent with Luther. He loved to take off his shoes and socks so he could walk a safe distance behind the hard working horses feeling the rich moist soil between his tiny toes. The boy also loved how a simple wave from Luther meant everything was well in the world today. Although the conversations were few in words they were heavy in meaning.
 The boy grew up and moved away, but not before the man who gauged the winters by the wooly bears striped bodies, or who could tell what kind of day it would be by looking at the morning's sky, and who also knew which direction was North because of the moss on the tree trunks would kiss this sweet earth goodbye. Giving up the ghost and returning to the soil went unnoticed by many. Even the boy himself does not remember when the quiet man slipped away into the sunset. Gone was the man but the spirit remained.
            The grown boy would return whenever he was back to his childhood home. He would photograph the landscapes so he would never forget the man who walked here in silence, who was more comfortable around his animals than men, who loved the land, who stood still while the rest of the world rushed by. For these reasons and many more this man was greatly misunderstood. Perhaps it is for this reason the most that the boy now returns. Although many of the outbuildings have gone under the mossy soil, there is a deep tranquility in this holler. This is the boy's thinking place, a place where it is okay to be silent and still.
 The man's hermit heart was passed on to the boy perhaps because the boy spent so many hours in the nearby woods, or perhaps because he understood the old man. Whatever the reason the grown little boy would often feel out of place in this world. He would move hours away from this holler making his living as a school teacher, but would never forget the mountain man who lived within miles of his parent's house. Nor would he forget the kindhearted woman who delivered Thanksgiving pies to a forgotten man just because she said she always had more than enough. She gave out of her poverty and he received out of his abundance.
The  boy believed he now understood the strange call of the wilderness. He also began to see how important his mother's visits were to a man who stayed to himself. He needed someone to hold his heart tenderly and carefully so that it could melt like the snow on the Spring's first morning. The boy having many married friends never married himself, but longed for the company of one. Living by himself he too waited for someone to remember him, to go out of their way to bring him something and silently say "I know you exist and you are special to me," A hermit's heart still beats within  the grown boy; every time he comes home to find the unblinking light on the answering machine he goes a little deeper in his holler until he is reminded of another lesson he learned long ago. The old man was desolate in many ways but the stories he left behind were rich in practicality and folklore. So the grown man resolves to live his life well and looks around for someone in need of a "Pumpkin Pie" remembering the richest man is not the one with the most but the one who gave the most away!!!