Travel Friday

Where: Bell Island, Newfoundland- 2007

Inspiration:  This rock formation totally looked like an elephant.  Amazing the shapes and configurations that are carved out by nature.

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Every Friday in 2015 I am sharing a photo that I have taken somewhere that we have travelled. My goal in looking back at these travel memories is to rekindle the inspiration that caused me to take the photos in the first place.

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Karen

Long Weekend Relaxation

This past weekend was the Victoria Day weekend so Monday was a holiday.  In addition, my sister was visiting from Newfoundland for a week so we decided to do a day trip.  One of our favourite spots for daytripping is Perth, Ontario- it is only about an hour away from Ottawa and is full of heritage buildings and pretty spots.

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My sister treated us to lunch and then we headed to Big Ben park (Ian Millar is from Perth and his horse, Big Ben, won many different equestrian events and was even in the Olympics with him several times).  It is a really lovely park right by the water with lots of trees for shade.   The kids played ball and Frisbee and we all took turns amusing them.  It was a super nice afternoon.

Having my sister here meant I got a very nice break from cooking meals and general child care.  So now that she has headed back home it means that I go back to my regular scheduling.  But it also means that I go back to making art.  I’m embarking on a big and very important piece.  And I have several upcoming application deadlines between now and the first week of June.  Time to get back to work!

 

Karen

Fibre in the Classroom!

Last week I had a fantastic time teaching the kids in my daughter’s class of 7 and 8 year olds how to make hooked fibre pieces!

I went to the class with 17 prepared frames that my husband built for me.   They were small enough that the kids would have a chance to actually complete a full piece in the time allotted but big enough that they could still work easily with the materials.  We then stapled a small square of burlap into the frames and voila- the kids had a sturdy piece to work on and it was then already framed and ready to hang once completed!

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I started by getting everyone to sketch on their own design.  I wanted it to be completely their own art and for them to hook something that got them excited.  There were houses, flowers, Pokémon characters, hearts, trees, bunnies- a little bit of everything.

As anyone who has tried traditional rug hooking knows, there is only one “stitch” involved so in that sense it is easy to learn.  But at the same time, the act of pulling up the loops and having them stay there and not get pulled out when you hook the next one takes a bit of practice.  So initially some of the kids were a little frustrated when the technique didn’t immediately work for them.  In only a little bit of time, though, everyone had gotten it figured out and were hooking away on their pieces!  Not only that, but everyone said that they were enjoying it and wished they could work on it all day!

I was there for two hours and in that time about half of the class got their piece finished and half did not.  The teacher decided to give those who wanted to continue to work on theirs some time later in the day so I left some hooks behind for those students to complete their work.   When I saw the photo of all of the completed pieces I was so thrilled to see that everyone had finished their pieces!    I even heard that at least one student has continued to add to hers at home using the hook that came with her Rainbow Loom set.   I feel like definitely a new generation of rug hookers and fibre art enthusiasts has been fostered!

Here’s a photo of all of the finished pieces together.  The teacher graciously provided all of the photos that you see in this Blog post.

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So much fun!  Can’t wait to do it again sometime soon.  🙂

Karen

On Handmade and De-Cluttering

I read a blog post today that really resonated with me.  Having just come to the end (I think) of a month-long-room-by-room-tidying-and-decluttering session, I know exactly what she means.  That now I can look around and feel peaceful.  Now I can look around and see only the things that we love in our home, rather than seeing just a bunch of clutter.  When I undertook this big task, there were several end goals:  1. to minimize the amount of “things” thereby making less work for myself.  Less things to have to move around when cleaning, less things to collect dust    2.  create a sense of peace in our space- I no longer wanted to look around and see every surface covered with “things.”    and 3.  to pare our belongings down to just those things which when I look at them bring my joy and that I love- I no longer wanted my house filled with the things that I felt I should keep or that other people loved but we didn’t.

A month later I really do think that I can look around and feel that I have achieved those goals.  And having spent so much time getting to this point I can say with absolutely no hesitation that I would have wasted less of my life getting rid of all of this stuff had I never brought it into the house to begin with!  Nothing brings home society’s propensity for over consumption than when you start to rid your home of all the extra “stuff.”   Not to mention when you think about all the trucks and pollution involved in trucking these ‘likely-made-in-a-factory-in-China’ knick-knacks and doodads into the stores.

I think the whole decluttering process goes hand in hand with the recent movement on the part of the Craft Councils across Canada to promote their Citizens of Craft campaign.   I love their slogan that “Cookie Cutter Doesn’t Cut It.”  Who wants to fill their home with a bunch of mass-produced decorations?  Not only does buying handmade support small and local artisans, but the things they make are much nicer, last longer, and are much more meaningful and special.    I think it is up to our generation to embrace this philosophy and to be great role models for the next generation- for environmental reasons, for economical reasons and just to promote good taste.

During my mass de-cluttering process I was so impressed when my daughter approached me without any prompting whatsoever and asked me to help her to pare down some of the things in her room.  I was so proud of her!   I have noticed her becoming more and more discerning about the things that she wants to decorate her room with- she definitely veers to towards things that she had a hand in making or that are handmade.  Even at her young age she has developed an appreciation that when someone puts time and their heart and soul into making something it is far more meaningful and better quality than the mass-produced.  And she already has a sense of when there is just “too much” surrounding her and that is when she usually asks me to help her to clear some things out.   I think that these are great values for kids as I know she will never use shopping and “things” to try to bring her happiness as so many in our culture of over-consumption seem to do.

So in the end my house is cleaner, it is tidier, it feels like there is more space to move and to breathe and to think and to create.  It doesn’t get much better than that.

 

Karen

Mother’s Day Highlights!

Yesterday of course was Mother’s Day.  My girl presented me with this beautiful bouquet of tissue paper flowers that she had made at school for me along with a poster where she had written all the things she loves about me.  🙂  Then her and her brother climbed on top of me in bed to present me with a beautiful bouquet of real flowers.  Doesn’t get much better!

gallery

We spent a lovely afternoon at the National Gallery of Canada.  I had been wanting to see the Alex Colville exhibit so it was a real treat!  The exhibit was great- so many pieces of his were on display that I didn’t even know he had made.  And I found it really interesting to see the different dynamics behind his work.  On their face they seem like ultra-realist scenes of the every day but there is really a lot more too it.  It reinforced for me that the seemingly “mundane” can be interesting and that one doesn’t have to look far for inspiration.

I also got to see the Mary Pratt exhibit.  Her work is interestingly enough along the same lines- a focus on the everyday and common household things.  And yet her interpretation makes those things both beautiful and interesting.

No trip to the Gallery is complete without spending time in the Canadian Art section with the Emily Carr and Group of Seven paintings.  I can never get enough of looking at those works.  It is such a fantastic gallery and I am so fortunate to have so much fabulous art right on my doorstep.  I always come back from a gallery visit feeling refreshed and inspired.

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After the gallery I was whisked away to dinner.  I got many hugs and kisses and “I love you’s” from my kids.  I am so very, very lucky to be their mama.  🙂

Karen