Keep your eye on the sky

Sunlight behind the clouds

I had just come out of the grocery store. My mind was filled with eggs and celery and pork cutlets. Then I turned around and saw this.

I was transfixed, and so was everyone else in the parking lot. We stopped and stared. And then turned and nodded to each other, aware that what had transfixed us had halted others, too.

For one moment, we were united in a community of beauty. Water vapor and sunlight. Transformed just for us.

Happiness sneaks in through a door
you didn’t know you left open.
~John Barrymore~

 

Know your rock and trust your mason

Picture of dry rock wall

Old historic buildings in Sedona were often constructed of red sandstone. And skilled craftsmen paid attention to the type red sandstone that they used, for the sandstone was formed by inland seas that rose and retreated. And each time the seas receded, a different type of sandstone was built.

One sediment layer was formed in thin brittle layers of shale while another was the “hold together” sandstone that erodes in soft rounded shapes, similar to Bell Rock near Sedona. If you built a house with the first type, the layers would crumble and shatter, and the house along with it.

I was reminded of that when I visited New Hampshire recently. There, the building rock of choice is granite. The stuff that tombstones are made from.

A house constructed of granite will be there a long time from now. And yet this building material, too, has its own idiosyncratic ways. View the skill it must have taken to construct this granite wall over a hundred years ago.

It pays to understand your rock. And to trust the skill of your stone mason.

It can be everything to have found a fellow bird
with whom you can sit among the rafters while
the drinking and boasting
and reciting and fighting
go on below.

~Wallace Stegner~ 

 

Paper patterns make a life

Picture of paper patterns

In the back room of a dressmakers shop lived a row of paper patterns. Some had yellowed with age, but the fingers of the seamstress unerringly drew the pattern she wanted from the collection. She knew them all by heart. They were familiar friends.

We all have our own row of familiar patterns. I know which cup I’ll choose for my morning coffee, which Internet news website I’ll read first. My fingers reach for that favorite T-shirt to wear when the stack is fresh from the wash.

Just as there is growth in newness and surprise, there is comfort in predictability. We need both in our life to thrive.

I am an idealist.
I don’t know where I’m going
but I’m on my way.

~Carl Sandburg~

 

 

In the eye of the beholder

pipe and wire

Some people collect agate marbles or Japanese netsuke. Martha Stewart collects everything!

My goals are more modest. I collect textures. So when I found this abstract image of a pipe and electric wire on an old stucco wall, I was delighted. It wasn’t a Mondrian or a Rothko, but in my book, it was pretty darn close.

It doesn’t take much to make me happy.

My formula for living is quite simple.
I get up in the morning and I go to bed at night.
In between I occupy myself as best I can.
~Cary Grant~

 

 

Book Review: The Encyclopedia of Greeting Card Tools & Techniques


greeting card tools and techniquesThe Encyclopedia of Greeting Card Tools Techniques
by Susan Pickering Rothamel
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The cool thing about creativity is that it generalizes and spreads like wet grass in a thunderstorm. It is more a mindset than it is a specific “I am talented in this one area” phenomenon. And that brings me to Susan Pickering Rothamel’s Encyclopedia of Greeting Card Tools Techniques.

Don’t let the mongo title fool you. This is a fun book, filled with bright ideas and amazing examples of the types of greeting cards you can make. Paper weaving, crayon resist, interference mica, quilling, lace paper, mizuhiki cord, ornare. The author spotlights talented artists and gives examples of their work.

She takes on complicated techniques like stamping and spritzing, working with vellum, and thermography.

If you’ve ever spent an afternoon engrossed in a seed catalog or the Sears Christmas Wish Book (remember those?) you’ll love perusing this glorious collection of possibilities.

Fun to read and dream. And even make a few cards to send. Who do you know that might appreciate one?

art of paper collageAlso recommended is her book, The Art of Paper Collage. In addition to being the founder and president of one of the largest art paper companies in the world, the author is a talented and creative artist in her own right. Why am I not surprised!

This second book showcases some of her extraordinary work and highlights how she did it.

What stoves and gargoyles have in common

old stove

What delights me about this old stove, in addition to the antique vacuum beside it, are the curves and swirls and decorations on the metal panels. After all these years, long after the designer of the appliance has passed away, these remain.

They remind me of the gargoyles placed high upon the cathedral roofs in medieval Europe. These immense churches could take a century to complete, sometimes being worked upon by generations of stone masons.

The roofs needed spouts to carry the water away from the slates, and so gargoyles were born. They could have been simple drainage spouts like we use on our roofs today.

Instead, these stone masons made a choice.

These stone gargoyles, hundreds of them, became elaborate creations, carved and placed where most people would never see them, monuments to the stone carvers who created them.

Just like this stove. The designers didn’t have to add all of those curlicues and furbishes. It probably ran the price of the stove up at least another nickel or two. But because they did, a thing of beauty as well as utility was born.

We are all creators, every day, in our own way.

To my mind, creativity is creativity, whether you’re making art or running a company. Anyone who does anything well is an artist.
~Dale Chihuly~