Sunday, September 29, 2013

"B" Books

 BOOKS. No matter whether  paperback or traditional hardcover or e-readers, books and reading are experiencing a revival. I love the feel of smooth papers, the smell of ink and the heft of a physical book. My own library has taken over shelves in several rooms in my house and overflows into the bathroom and on the floor by my bed. And this is after I've culled and donated non-keepers.

You may prefer e-readers for the ease of carrying thousands of free titles. I delight dropping into the library to peruse the new titles. I may be attracted to a catchy title, drawn to the author or enchanted by the cover design. Who else has enjoyed this book? Who slipped it into her/his book bag, stayed up late to discover the villain or cried over the lost love?
 I don't feel connected to other readers of e-readers.
My reading partner of 14 years insists on adding his two cents worth. He's saying that it's time for me to give him some attention.
 Books stir memories of reading with a flashlight under the covers, sitting on Mom's lap or in a tree with a favorite book.
Periodically I buy used books for reference from thrift stores or library sales. So many gently "loved-up" tomes are being abandoned that I've become interested in creative uses for discarded books.

I used book binding techniques to repurpose covers for journals. The two on the left are covered with pressed leaves. One is covered with a map. and the other is bound with handmade paper that includes bits of marigolds. some of the photos, illustrations and text from the original books, I used in scrapbooking. How do you dispose of used books?
This travel journal was created by covering a three ring binder with a collage of fabric and then embellishing it with beadwork. The Internet has many sites for repurposing books into birdhouses, tote bags, planters, shelves, lamp bases and much more.
Challenge: Interview the owners of a mom-and-pop book store or a resale book shop. What are you predictions for large chain book stores with e-readers be coming so popular?
Crafters, use an old book or parts of a book in your craft or text as a theme.
Beaders commented that workspace and storage were a problem and that a magnifying system and good lighting were essential. They also related on the fun of taking apart old junk jewelry to  remake into contemporary pieces.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

"B" Beading

Beads and Beading
 Decorative hollowed-out objects have been strung together for at least 5,000 years. Most cultures have used beads made from shell, wood or soft stone for adornment, as good luck talismans, or for religious purposes.

The necklace on the right was created by stringing small turquoise, coral and silver beads on soft silver wire. I crocheted the wire picking up a bead between each stitch. Three crocheted stands were then plaited together. The other necklace used the same technique with jet stones and silver beads.

The availability of a vast variety of beads and beading books for jewelery making abound in crafts stores. You will be tempted to create complex designs. Why not recycle old jewelry by restringing it?

 Applique beading is tedious and requires good eyesight, patience and a magnifying glass. The flower design and the solid white background of this Native Alaskan dance dress was created with seed beads each sewn individually on the yoke of the elk skin dress.
Another form of beading uses a loom and is familiar as beaded belts and hat bands seen in Southwest native bead work.
Would you have the patience to attempt applique beading?

I embellished this loon wall hanging with seed and bugle beads to enhance the cut out silhouette design. It took a blue ribbon in the Alaskan State Fair.

You can enhance many crafts projects with beading, create distinctive jewelry, and even create your own beads. 

Challenge: Make beads from rolled paper. Cut paper into long tapering triangles. Roll the strip, starting at the wide end of the triangle, around a toothpick. Apply a thin layer of glue to the remaining paper and continue to roll the strip of paper into a cylinder. Remove the toothpick. String the beads.
You could cut large beads from seeds, nuts or twig. Drill holes for stringing.

Writers. Does your character have a favorite necklace, ring, or bracelet? Why?


Comments on baskets included many who collect unusual baskets and use them in their homes.
No one reported seeing my mystery basket.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

"B" for basket crafts

Anthropologist disagree whether basket making or pottery developed first. Clay is easier to form into a container than weaving fibers, but ancient fired pottery shards  have been found with the imprint of woven fibers. Which did man create first?  How long ago, in history, was baby Moses hidden from Pharaoh in a water proof basket?   
Since we are all familiar with woven Easter baskets, I'll introduce you to birch bark baskets. While in Alaska my friend and I studied native crafts and tried our hand. We collected birch bark that had naturally peeled from the trees, soaked it in water and trimmed the sheet of bark into a usable size. The bark was rolled into a cylinder and held with clothes pins while a bottom of bark was cut to fit. Using an awl, holes were punched into the sides and base. A twig, caning, or jute was added to stabilize the edge while we stitched the bottom and sides together. Traditionally, caribou sinew or spruce roots are used. We didn't have roots or sinew, so we used raffia.
I painted the eagle and loon.

Here is a real challenge. I found this basket made from woven vines and covered with matted fibers in a thrift store. No one knew its history. The horns appear to be cow or buffalo. The strip of fur is not rabbit. The hair is coarse and short like goat. This basket would not hold water but the weave is tight enough to hold tiny items. It is about 18 inches in diameter and 12 inches in height. Why do you think it was created? What is it's use?

Challenge: Use pine needles, or other long plant material (or a sheet of rolled newspaper) Wrap the material with raffia (or yarn). Coil the wrapped fiber into a snake and stitch the coils together to form a flat mat. to make sides on your basket, place the coils on top of the previous row as you progress.

Write a short story that would include the basket pictured.


Comment from K on Art. She said that the art museum in her town had a free night once a week, so she and friends took advantage. The ladies took notes on painting, etc. and compared their thoughts over coffee. Each had discovered ideas to use in crafts.

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Sunday, September 8, 2013

Another "A". ART

 Art is human creative skills that develop in civilizations after the basic need of food, clothing and shelter have been met. Primitive cultures have body art, art on clothing and walls, and jewelry. Infants today are introduced to color, shapes and textures, and are rapidly exposed to public art in the form of posters on the walls in the mall, TV and of course picture books. Do you stop to look at the art work around you?

Drawing a basic form of art used for sketching ideas as well as completed expression. Above is a colored pencil drawing by Doug Lindstrand that I discovered in a small café along the Tok Highway in Alaska. I see expression of the old prospector's character and even the dog's. What do you see?

This oil painting of the interior of an old barn is one that I painted many years ago on site. Realistic paintings as well as abstracts intrigue us. The question arises, "Do you like it? Why or why not?"

Sculpture is three-dimensional art. I have never done very much sculpture. This guy is from my teaching days. I was so blessed to teach art in schools where I had access to a large variety of materials. What other materials could you use beside clay to create sculpture?

Drawing, painting and sculpture are certainly not the only examples of fine art. Many artists express themselves in mixed media using two or many more materials. Crafters may embellish their creations with painted designs or develop a craft form as fine art.

Challenge: Try your hand with an art medium that is unfamiliar to you.
Visit an art museum or studio or children's art festival looking for an "Ah ha, that's what I like" moment. Why do you like it? Be specific.

Response from architecture can be summed up by paraphrasing several commenters who said they discovered "Mc Mansions" that didn't appear to be occupied although the yards had been tended. You wondered who had lived there and why these beautiful homes were vacant.

Websites:  I will list websites as we explore drawing, painting and sculpture in more depth.