Tuesday, December 16, 2014

TO EVERYTHING THERE IS A SEASON, MERRY CHRISTMAS...

"To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven...a time to heal...a time to laugh...a time to dance...a time to embrace...a time to keep silence...a time to speak...a time to love...a time of peace..."
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
The past 14 months have taken quite a toll on me in many ways and there is so much I could but won't say about this passage of time other than it was a season of turbulence and it has come to pass.  I have entered into a new season.  While the physical world outside my window lies fallow in its drab bare bones winter chill I have entered a season more akin to spring, blooming and joyful, a time of healing.  While I have been absent online I have been, am being, fully present just living.

I've taken time to laugh...one little grand dressed in a glittery costume sprinkled me with magic "pixie nuts" so I could fly and made me giggle.  Another grand pronounced me "so old school" and cracked me up.  The Handy Hubs and I fell into a fit of laughter that rolled in waves until we lost our breaths and our eyes watered, it began again every time we looked at one another.

I've taken time to dance...the tiniest grand adores music and does this little circle spin wiggle clap giggle in time to the tune.  We have adopted it as a family thing and it is amazing fun to have old and young alike circle spin wiggle clap and giggle together.  

I've taken time to embrace...mostly I have embraced my family spending lots of time with them, gathering them back home in my nest and smothering them with mothering love.  Little celebrations of nothingness just family, food, fun, conversation, laughter, and heart sharing, those things that really matter.

I've taken a time of silence...especially here online and mostly in my heart.  I have needed this time of withdrawal as part of reestablishing my life and creating a new pattern that fits new circumstances.  A lot of things felt like pressure to me and I had to assess what was most needful to direct my time and attention to.  I have embraced this time of silence to think, feel, pray, and process.  It has been my wintertime season of laying fallow like a farmers field.  It felt as if I had emotionally been plowed and harrowed but left unsown for a growing period in order to restore my productiveness.

I am now taking time to speak...to hopefully encourage you all that there are seasons of strife in life but they are just that, seasons, they do pass.

I am taking time to love...loving my family and friends by making them a high priority right now.  Loving my faith that keeps me afloat.  Loving my home back to its former state by cleaning and  sprucing.  Loving this Christmastide with its physical shine of tinsel and glow. Mostly I am loving the heart glow I get from a tiny little baby in a manger full of hay, born in a stable long ago on Christmas day.

I am taking time to enjoy the gift of peace...a peaceful mind of knowing I now have a great team of caregivers to help share the care of my mother.  Peaceful emotions reign now that situations and circumstances have settled themselves.  A peaceful heart that rests in the hands of Him who can handle burdens bigger than I can even imagine.  A peace of knowledge that rests in the truth that to everything there is a season, a time to every purpose under the heaven...

I wish you all the most blessed Christmas and happiest of New Year's.

blessings,
Sandy

P.S.  I will catch back up with you in the New Year!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

BELLE OF THE BALL ART JOURNAL...

I have been exploring creating some art journals using Karla Nathan's (Karla's Cottage) online class, Creating An Art Journal. I started with the Hardcover Book Journal as described in the class...

I was inspired by an old magazine ad for silverware, the demure belle in the ad reminded me a little of Melanie in Gone With the Wind.  I imagined that she like to dance in dainty silk slippers under glittering crystal chandeliers with pale pink roses pinned in her hair as the ribbons and lace of her dress flutter at each spin...
I picture her as a sentimental sort who collects mementos from her memorable moments and pastes them in her scrapbook, a quaint poem her first collection...
Vintage paper pages await being filled with her artful fancies...

A tiny clasp with dainty golden key keep her secrets locked away for only her eyes to see...
A pile of pretties await their turn at being pasted in.

Next I followed her Vintage Cabinet Card Folder Journal and am in the process of making two versions as described in the class.  I used two vintage upholstery fabrics for one and a favorite old sweater for the covering of the other one...
Both are very much still in the works...

I am enjoying so much inspiration from this class!
I hope to have them finished soon.

blessings,
sandy

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

TINY TOMES...

TOME:  A volume forming part of a larger work; book

~ Merriam-Webster ~

 I have been working on small parts of larger works, tiny tomes created to mimic antique books for some new jewelry designs.  Books have always played a large part of my life.  I was an early and avid reader as a child.  Books were my friends and means of travel, escape, and doorway to knowledge.  As an only child they were often my companions.
As a child I played "library".  On most Saturdays I would set up my "library" in our formal dining room using the big lace covered dining table as my desk.  My mother indulged me by letting me remove items from a shelf or two of her whatnot cabinet and fill them with my books.  I created library cards for the neighborhood children and our rarely used front door became my grand library entrance.  I would sit on a stack of large books piled up in a chair so I would appear more adult and invite the children in the check out books.

My mother would often take a break from her Saturday cleaning and read a story to the group.  Now, my mother was not and is not an animated type of person, she is pretty no nonsense, but you put a book in her hand and as she began to read aloud a transformation took place.  She would relax and the best part was that she did the "voices" of the characters.  One of the begged for neighborhood favorites was The Tales of Uncle Remus.  Being from the South and growing up in rural farm community which boasts a twang and language all its own, she would lapse back into her native dialect, it was both enchanting and fascinating to hear.

My mother read to me every night of my childhood.  I often lay in bed staring at her lips as they formed the words and listened to her voice lift and lilt with expression and feeling.  She never tired of reading and I could beg and beg for another book and she kept going until I fell asleep.  I think we both sort of missed those times of reading aloud when I grew older.  We still read together in the same space only quietly and separately pursuing our own tastes in tomes.

She was the first one to foster my love of words and reading.  She was the one who influenced and introduced me to the magic of moving through worlds unknown, places of imagination, and she gave me the gift of books.

I am hoping to foster that same gift to a few of those on my gift giving list this year with a custom jewelry piece inspired by books and the library as well as nice hardbound volume that will take them on a magical journey of words.

What is your all time favorite book and/or book related memory?

blessings,
sandy

Thursday, November 13, 2014

INSPIRED BY RUTH RAE....

"My connection to the earth is reinforced through the rhythm of the waves."
~ Mike Dolan ~

"Serenity by the Sea" mixed media necklace:
I recently viewed a new video class, Mixed Media Etched Jewelry, by Ruth Rae through my Craft Daily subscription (it is also available for purchase through the Interweave Store).  I am enamored by Ruth's artwork and loved getting a chance to learn from her via video.  I used some of the tips and techniques in her class to create a new piece of jewelry.  While I did not follow her tutorial exactly as I did not have all the metal etching supplies on hand I did not let that stop me from diving in and doing what I could with what I did have.  That said I have metal supplies on their way and can't wait to try my hand at etching!
Some of you asked how I would use the hand made beads from my own free embellished fabric bead tutorial in a piece of jewelry and this was a perfect opportunity to incorporate a couple.  Here they are below: 
Ruth's class sample was demonstrated as a wrap bracelet that could be worn as a necklace.  My piece is just a necklace.  I was most proud of being able to make my own closure, never done that before!
I used her crochet, wiring, beading, resin, sewing, joining, and clasp forging techniques in this piece.  I chose to create my piece with a summer feel, that of a stroll along the shore incorporating glass beads, stone chips, cultured pearls, and tiny shells.  I titled this piece Serenity by the Sea based on the feelings of serenity, peace and calm that accompany a visit to the shore.  I applied those words to the back of each sewn section, tucked away like sweet summer memories.  
The piece can be worn either way.
Thanks Ruth for sharing the inspiration of your teaching.  Ruth also has some other fabulous new videos as well as a couple of new books with fellow artist Kristen Robinson out and I want to explore them all!

What is something new and artful you would like to explore?

blessings,
sandy

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

A QUILL COTTAGE CHRISTMAS...


I know that like me many of you have turned your thoughts towards Christmas crafting whether it be making gifts, ornaments and holiday decor, or filling shops with custom items for sale.  I wanted to share a little reminder of the Quill Cottage Christmas site where you can find a grouping of my FREE holiday tutorials that have at one time or another been featured here on my blog.  

For a full listing of the tutorials visit A Quill Cottage Christmas, scroll down to the bottom of the blog where you will find an archive linking list.  All tutorials feature photographed step by step instructions with variations on each project.  I have placed a clickable icon on my sidebar for easy access.

Besides the tutorials that share a variety of ornaments, tips, and techniques, you will also find an Advent celebration that my family I share with friends and family featuring a handmade center piece idea for using in each weeks gathering plus a program guide.  I hope you will join me for the holidays.

Happy Holiday Crafting!

blessings,
sandy

Monday, November 10, 2014

GOODBYE SUMMER, HELLO FALL...

wishing a fond farewell to fall...
its warm breath puffing out like dandelion dander...
as it dances out on dainty feet...
a celebration of seasons end...
autumn begins...
to tiptoe in with a riot of color...
barren branches, spent flower, glittery morning frost...
goodbye summer, hello fall...
a little art journaling, playing with paper dolls and leftovers on my art table.

happy fall ya'll!

blessings,
sandy

p.s.  I cannot express my gratitude and appreciation for the outpouring of support and encouragement I received from my last post.  I am reveling in the freedom to just create in my own way and carve my own path where ever it might take me.  My creativity has been renewed and in the span of just a few days I have gotten six new projects completed.  It feels great to be me again!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

LOST AND FOUND...

I am sure I am not the first person this has happened to...I lost my voice,  not my literal speaking voice, my creative one.  I lost the voice that imagines and makes art, the one that stings together thoughts and turns them into words, the one that directs my minds eye to see, feel, hear, taste, touch, and create in my own tactile unique way.  I fell victim to the voices of advice from others. While advice is a wonderful thing that can spark a new direction or reroute a train of thought onto a broader path but it can also get into your head and derail you.  Advice is meant to be guidance or a recommendation but it is ultimately up to me to decide if that is best for me. 

While trying to decide a direction to take I thought I would educate myself in a few areas to help get my bearings.  I took a couple courses that seemed a good fit and started making a plan.  I consulted a few professionals who gave me great advice.  What was supposed to encourage and energize me became information overload and I let myself feel like I could never be a success or reach my goals if I did not do it the way that was pointed out.  Labels were being bandied about, things like "marketing" "target audience/customer" "branding" "tag line" "platform" "social media presence" "finding your voice" "reigning in content" ...etc. that literally stifled my creativity.
In the midst of trying to connect with other like minded creative types I decided to check out a local art group.  It felt more like an interview than a gathering.  I failed the interview...after questions about what I make, what my art pedigree was, if I had had any gallery showings, did I teach, blah, blah, blah, I received a sniff of disapproval as I overheard a cluster of members snarking that I was one of those "Outsider" artists.  In their eyes being self taught equals untrained and untalented.  Also, this group was made of primarily painters (oil and water colorist), they did not understand my art and I left feeling no desire to further our relationship.

I cannot say exactly when or what happened but I literally could not get past my self doubt.  I could not compose a thought to write.  I would sit in my studio for hours and just look around, no creative spark or idea.  I would try to putter with this or that but my heart was not in it.  I tried focusing on my blog by sprucing it up and mostly sat on the "create a new post" page watching a blinking cursor in a white block of space.  I thought maybe I could focus on social media more, pitiful attempt on my part, its just not my thing.  I took my camera on field trips and it never left the shelter of its bag.  I was stifled and stagnant, my voice was simply gone, until I read these words...
"...Do not let your splendor be dormant, show your colors...." {Cherie Haas}

With Autumn right outside my cottage windows color is ablaze in hues of red, yellow, brown, green, and orange against a stunning backdrop of a water blue sky, I am in awe of natures show of color.  I am in wonder at natures ability to stay true to its self, its seasons, its times, its talents, and its treasures to be found in each stage of times turning.  Nature does not hide who or what it is with its energized lush blooming spring moments, nor does it change its slow and lazy summer days followed by a burst of showy color each autumn just before it slips into its barren quite winters.  It keeps a steady rhythm of doing what it is meant to do how and when it is meant to do it and it never doubts its plan or purpose. 

I am reminded of Matthew 5:15, you don't light a lamp then put it under a basket...I had snuffed out my own light with doubt and trying to be who I am not.  I may not have a big successful huge voice because I am not following "the rules" to success and I am perfectly okay with that because starting today I will be true to myself, my abilities and talents, finding my own steady rhythm of expressing my artistic voice.  With this little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine, no longer dormant.  Like autumn, I will show my colors.
I encourage you all to unleash your splendor and show your colors, reflect and emit your own unique light!

blessings,
Sandy

Wow, that was a lot of words, I think I got my voice back :)  

Monday, September 29, 2014

NATURE'S BLESSINGS JOURNAL PAGES...

“Isn't it mysterious to begin a new journal like this? I can run my fingers through the fresh clean pages but I cannot guess what the writing on them will be.” 


I recently had a little fun creating some journal pages for a swap, A Journal of Nature's Blessings, hosted by Karla of Karla's Cottage.  Participants were to make 6 signatures, the base being 8 1/2 in. x 11 in. folded in half to make four layouts per signature.  At least half of the journal pages were to be usable for the recipient to write, sketch, or collect/store special mementos. I used a series of pullouts, hidden journal note/sketch books, tags, and pockets to provide plenty of recording and storing space.  Inspiration for the page designs were to be our interpretation of nature's blessings.

My main ingredient for all my pages was glitter, lots and lots and lots of glitter, a whole container of glitter!  I was in a glitter kind of mood.  If you have followed my blog for very long and like to play "I Spy" you might see tidbits of past projects, supply stashes I made up, even tags or pages from my art journal recycled into the nature journal pages.  For instance on the layout below you might spy hand dyed/ stamped ribbons as well as skirts and wings from a fairy cupcake topper class I did a way back when.

Page inspiration:  Watching my grandchildren chase butterflies and pick dandelions, the awe, the wonder, and the joy of simple natural pleasures.

Page inspiration:  I spent the summer watching a robin family build a nest in the wisteria bush just outside my studio window, three tiny eggs rested in the nest and it was pure delight to watch the little hatch-lings feed, chirp, grow downy little feathers and finally gain their independence and leave the nest. 


Page inspiration:  Seasonal changes, autumn and winter, crisp frosty autumn mornings and glimmer snow dusted winter days, colorful foliage and falling snowflakes, the twitter of birds at the feeders.


Page inspiration:  Purple cone flowers and the large lilac bush blooming in my grandmothers garden where butterflies collect in profusion sipping natures nectar.


Page inspiration:  A color filled botanical garden stroll where every flower imaginable bloomed in profusion and the air was punctuated with bird song.


Page inspiration:  A little yellow warbler I photographed while strolling down a country lane, yellow sunshine and flowers spilling into the roadside, the sparkle of water from the creek crossing, patches of cool leafy green shade that provided resting places to admire the brilliant blue sky.


Page inspiration:  Cool ocean tones of blues, greens, and tans that mimic surf, sky, and sand...vacation at the shore where collecting shells, sending post cards, and watching seagulls sail are a few of my favorite past times. 



Page inspiration:  An abandoned fallen nest I found over the summer with three tiny eggs in it, I watched it for days to see if the mother bird would return but sadly she did not.  I collected the little natural wonder and saved it.


Page inspiration:  A colorful quilt patch that reminded me very much of the paper pattern, a quilt that was carried on many childhood picnics where clover chains were made and worn as jewelry, tasty treats were consumed, and softly slipping into naps on my favorite flower patch while listening to the cadence of my grandmothers voice as she told the cousins and I stories.  Sweet memories.


Page inspiration:  The simple pleasure of a walk in nature exploring, observing, collecting, something I have done since childhood.


Page inspiration:  Pockets and pictures, it seems I never set out to explore my natural surroundings without a handy pocket or a means of snapping a photo.  My pockets fill with little tidbits especially found feathers and I snap happily at whatever catches my eye.  I have recently framed some of my nature art to decorate my home.


Page inspiration:  The Victorians, during the Victorian era there was a surge of artistic representation of the natural world.  They had an entire language and symbolism of flowers, much poetry of that era reflects upon nature, painters created pastoral scenes, there was an emotional attachment to the things of nature.  Quaint children, chubby cherubs, and dancing fairies frolicking in natural settings were often depicted on fashionable greeting or calling cards.  The study of natural science became in vogue, private collections of natural specimens became popular, quite observation, recording and/or painting or drawing of observations resulted in nature journals. 


I can't wait to receive my swap pages in return!
I hope you all enjoy a fantastic week.

Blessings,
Sandy 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

GIVE AWAY WINNERS...


I would venture to bet that some of you were wondering if I were ever going to choose a winner or winners for the input on choosing a tag line for my blog.  I chose not to choose just one person or even a couple of people, I mean how could I choose a winner when I am still pondering the idea myself.  So what is a girl to do if she has yet to take any of the suggestions?  One thing is to decided on a winner...You ALL win!


If  you were one of the 20 responses to this post, please access the email link on my sidebar to send me a mailing address.  Each of you will receive an ephemera and embellishment inspiration kit from my studio, lots of fun goodies to kick start your art.  I will be contacting you all individually through your comments in addition to this posting.  Congrats! 

Why the delay in announcing?  I had to make up the kits first :)

Thank you for all the wonderful feed back!

Many Blessings,
Sandy

Friday, August 15, 2014

DEFINING MY BLOG GIVE AWAY....

GIVE AWAY  CLOSED
How does one sum up the purpose or content of ones blog in 10 simple succinct words to make it clear, understandable, relate-able,  leaving a positive impression of what it has to offer the reader?   The simple answer would be to have a good tag line.  The hard part is coming up with one.  I recently contacted my sweet friend and blog designer extraordinaire, Karen Valentine of Valentine Design and My Desert Cottage, to give my tired blog a fresh new look and she did just that.  Now I need to define the focus of my blogging.  That is where I need your help...please, pretty please, pretty pretty pretty please with a cherry on top?
Truth be told you only have a few seconds to make an impression on your reader and for them to get the content of your blog, hence the tag line.  Tag line:  a memorable phrase or sentence that is closely associated with a particular person. (ex: NIKE - Just Do It!)  I am looking for a tag line that will help define my blog content but also capture my artistic style and passion for words.
I am a self-taught mixed media Indie artist, hobbyist nature photographer, and word smith.  I consider this blog my online journal where my individual creativity and imagination are expressed in visual form of mixed media art (primarily collage, fiber & textile arts, book arts, and jewelry) and the written word.   I draw much of my inspiration from my natural surroundings and personal life story collections to marry art and words in one mixed media style or another.
Long walks and deep silences help me to get in tune with my intuitive creative self.  A saunter through nature with camera in hand connects me with creation which is an endless fount of inspiration of texture, shape, and color combination.  Many natural forms turn up as personal imagery in my work such as leaves, nests, birds, feathers, flowers, etc. My artistic style often incorporates vintage textiles, ephemera, and/or images, found objects, hand made embellishments, and careful attention to detail combined with text.
Here is where I need your help. Tag line ideas please!  For now I have my favorite art quote under my blog banner but I want to replace it with a tag line.  My first thought was to use the greatest compliment I have ever been given about the way I see my world..."She sees art in everything..."  But I thought that might be a bit general so I could tack something on the end like "She sees art in everything...mixed media art with a story." or "She sees art in everything...narrative mixed media art." or "She sees art in everything...narrative mixed media creations."  I am not sure these are quite right either.

"She sees art in everything..."
"Nature based art with a story..."
"Art with a story..."
"Narrative mixed media art..."
"A mixed media journal..."
"Shared moments, shared creativity..."
"Inspired by imagination..."
"Slapped by a frog..."

Ok, that last one was just to see if you were paying attention.  Seriously, any of the above, none of the above, I am completely open to suggestions.  If I use your phrase or the idea of your phrase then I will send you (could be more than just one of you if I combine phrases or ideas) a jam packed art inspiration kit from my studio to get your creative juices going.  For those that are not chosen, I will draw a few extra names from the comments and send out kits to those as well.

All you need to do to enter is leave a comment with a vote for one of the phrases above OR your phrase OR a 10 word or less sentence based on the above information I have given on who I am and what I create.  Any and all are eligible to enter, no standing on your head, linking, tweeting, or chirping required.

Thanks so much for your help and have a great weekend!

Blessings,
Sandy

P.S.  The photos are this weeks inspiration as I walked along a country roadside with masses of Black Eyed Susan's literally towering over me and spilling out into the roadway.  Exquisite!
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