Monday, February 27, 2012

Ashes: Lenten Song and an Offering

Special thanks to "bunnits" over at Art In The Wind, who not only told me about this song, but also tracked down the lyrics and sent them via email. The song is "Ashes" by Pat Conry.

1. We rise again from ashes, from the good we’ve failed to do.
 We rise again from ashes, to create ourselves anew.
 If all our world is ashes, then must our lives be true,
 an offering of ashes, an offering to you.

 2. We offer you our failures, we offer you attempts,
 the gifts not fully given, the dreams not fully dreamt.
 Give our stumblings direction, give our visions wider view,
 an offering of ashes, an offering to you. 

 3. Then rise again from ashes, let healing come to pain,
 though spring has turned to winter, and sunshine turned to rain.
 The rain we’ll use for growing, and create the world anew
 from an offering of ashes, an offering to you. 

 4. Thanks be to the Father, who made us like himself.
 Thanks be to his Son, who saved us by his death.
 Thanks be to the Spirit who creates the world anew
 from an offering of ashes, an offering to you.

While this plays, I am reflecting on that which may be "given up" for Lent.  If the abstinence of the substance or activity is given up, it is called sacrifice.

And if the mere act of not succumbing to a temptation is given up (which is likely not in our best interests anyway), why is it then termed "sacrifice"?

It seems that sacrifice has many depths...pausing to consider.

Please visit Floss at the blog where she has sponsored a theme of writing during Lent.  Her left sidebar links to others who are writing on the theme of "A Pause in Lent".  Reading others' thoughts does give pause. Reread the second verse of Ashes; my favorite.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Silk Painting continues

First posted here with an excellent tutorial on painting with silk dyes referenced here (including steam setting the dyes), this picture is the fifth dining room chair seat now finished.  The size before covering the seat was 25" x 25", with a bit of waste allowed on all sides for wrapping around the sides of the cushion.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

A Pause in Lent

For Christians, the Lenten season is a time for reflection.  The forty days of Lent generally represent the forty days that Jesus spent in the desert in prayer and spiritual anticipation of his Passion, Death and Resurrection.

However, the Apron Senorita says...
The 40 days of Lent, which precedes Easter is based on two Biblical accounts: the 40 years of wilderness wandering by the Israelites and our Lord's 40 days in the wilderness at which point He was tempted by Satan.  Each year the Church observes Lent where we, like Israel and our Lord, are tested. We participate in abstinence, times of fasting, confession and acts of mercy to strengthen our faith and devotional disciplines. The goal of every Christian is to leave Lent a stronger and more vital person of faith than when we entered.
 Words and images, thoughts and reflections going along with the Lenten season include the Cardinal Virtues (and theological virtues) of:

Humility suggested in Floss's blog.  She is inspiring others to write on this theme of A Pause in Lent during the coming weeks.  Please check her out; she has quite a following, writing from France.

For a post on a Lenten theme the day after Ash Wednesday, I refer to Philip Yancy's book What's So Amazing About Grace? when he writes about Bill Moyer's documentary film on the hymn "Amazing Grace". Moyers was sitting with Jessye Norman in her dressing room prior to a concert in London in Wembley Stadium.  She was scheduled to sing this song as the closing act which was to conclude a twelve hour concert for rock music fans.  This is from page 282 of the book:
"..(the crowds was) already high on booze and dope...The crowd was restless.  Few recognize Jessye Norman as the opera diva.  Alone, a capella, she begins to sing, very slowly the opening verse...A remarkable thing happens in Wembley Stadium that night.  Seventy thousand fans are singing along, digging far back in nearly lost memories for words they head long ago. 
When we've been there then thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We've no less days to sing God's praise
Than when we first begun.
Jessye Norman later confessed she had no idea what power descended on Wembley Stadium that night.  I think I know.  The world thirsts for grace.  When grace descends, the world falls silent before it.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Embroidery: Urban Themes

Spending time over at the Flickr group on Urban Embroidery, some amazing artwork can be seen.  Here are some examples:

Sarah Walton has these pieces:

(I love the dimples in the back of the knees and the pensive look on the face of the dog.)
(Does this not just scream BFF! and dogs that are wary)

(Do you see these two out for coffee and the pup waiting for a bagel bite?

And from Lucky Jackson on Flickr:

You can purchase Lucky's embroidery patterns here.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Girls Scouts: 100 Years and Nostalgia

One hundred years of Girl Scouting and I have lived over half of those years.  Both facts make me ponder.

Over 50 million girls have been Girl Scouts since Juliette Low founded this opportunity and organization for girls to grow and mature into contributing world citizens.  The oath:
I will do my best to be Honest and Fair, Friendly and Helpful,Considerate and Caring, and Responsible for what I say and do, and to respect myself and others, respect authority, use resources wisely, make the world a better place, and be a sister to every Girl Scout
Being a Brownie myself in the '50's and a Girl Scout in the '60's, then going through the years with my daughter Heidy as a Scout through the 80's and 90's leads to this post.

Skirting the controversies of selling cookies door-to-door (which was the first no-no that I recall) and going all the way to transgender scouts, this post focuses on the positive aspects that scouting brought to our family.

Janet Macpherson, (1941-2011) The Girl Scout troop leader for my daughter's years in scouting, had a profound effect on many lives.  Janet was the mother of our younger daughter's best friend Melinda.  She was a good friend and a strong support to our family during difficult times, and Heidy spent many a night at the Macpherson home while I was at Children's Hospital with Julie.

Janet and I also shared many a good book and glass of wine during the years we commiserated over our young families during book club evenings and family dinners.

As families, Janet and we traveled to Washington, DC together to share an historic view of the city and to visit the Smithsonian Museums in the mid '80's.

Then there were Girl Scout activities Janet and I and our daughters shared, including two overnight trips to mountains and one to the Air Force Academy and a long ... very long... weekend in the mountains using three llamas as pack animals for the girls' gear.  And throughout it all, Janet was a good humored role model for all the girls whom she shepherded.

So for all those years in Scouting which brought us together, I am extremely grateful.  Her family, friends, beloved dogs and the bees she kept over the years are all so proud of you.  Janet kept the Girl Scout Promise and Law  close to her heart and acted accordingly.

Thank you, Janet, for your friendship and rest in peace.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Elusive Secret of Happiness

Remembering the good times is so important that researchers in the UK have found a clue that
The elusive secret of happiness could be as simple as remembering the good times and forgetting the regrets, a new university study reported
Valentine's Day, 1997 when daughter Julie and SIL Jack married:

Just look at the smiles on all our faces as Julie sets forth on a new journey with her husband Jack! It brings tears to my eyes remembering that joy.

1997, Jack and Julie enjoying their wedding cake on Valentine's Day after their marriage ceremony

Update: Julie has completed her second round of chemotherapy and had a PET scan yesterday in order to better target radiation that begins next week.  She is happy, upbeat, sweet and a joy to have as a daughter.  (Further links to Julie written by her mama can be found here, here, here, and here.)
Further: For people who look at the past through rose-tinted glasses are happier than those who focus on negative past experiences and regrets, according to a new study published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences.
The study helps explain why personality has such a strong influence on a person's happiness and the findings suggest that people with certain personality traits are happier than others because of the way they think about their past, present and future.
The study examined how peoples' ratings on the "Big Five" personality traits relates to their approach to time and life satisfaction.
The "Big Five" model assesses how extroverted, neurotic, open, conscientious and agreeable a person is, and rates individuals as high or low on each personality trait rather than assigning them a personality type.
"We found that highly extraverted people are happier with their lives because they tend to hold a positive, nostalgic view of the past and are less likely to have negative thoughts and regrets.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Reupholstering Dining Room Chairs with Painted Silk

Supplies Needed to Reupholster Six Dining Room Chairs:

Silk Paints (Jacquard Brand), water based resist (note to self: purchase heavier gutta next time) and six yards of12 mm raw silk (only available on line): slubby and heaviest available.  The silk was ordered from Dharma Trading for about $6/yd.  Wash the fabric and dry in dryer on medium heat.  The product says there is an 11 percent shrinkage fabric on this silk.  This is correct!

Process: silk fabric was cut larger than the chair seat and a large canvas frame was turned over and re-purposed for stretching the silk canvas. A heavy staple gun was used to attach the fabric to the back of the canvas frame...the staples are easily removed after the project is completed.

Resist was applied and painting started.  Note: Allow paints to dry thoroughly and then steam following the technique using newsprint for wrapping and steaming (three hours).  I used this tutorial from Dharma.  Newsprint was purchased from the local art supply store.

As a learning experience, I used two types of silk fabric paint.  One product for painting on silk must be steam set for three hours to set the dyes.  The advantage of this type dye is that it allows colors to flow into one another and results in greater control of the colors.

These are a couple of pictures using this steam set type silk dye and paint brushes with the too-thin resist that spread much too freely, creating large areas that were barriers (resists) to the liquid paints.

Finished piece of painted 12mm thickness of silk before the steaming process:

This is the finished silk painting on the seat of one of the dining room chair cushions: steamed, dried, cut and stapled onto the bottom of the seat cushion:

The second type of silk dye is set by heat only (simply pressing on the back of the painted fabric with an iron set to the silk setting). This type of paint is thick and requires a $13 bottle of formaldehyde based thinner which some painters might not desire because of the associated negative environmental factors.

The above picture shows the same type resist was used (I was too frugal to purchase another gutta for the second chair cushion and wanted to start the second cushion while the first one was drying).  The paint is the heat set type product, with little room for blending colors.  Instead, the colors were applied one on top of the other.

Finished but not yet applied to the chair cushion: (note that the background is the natural color of the silk fabric):

Completed chair cushion with poppy motif:

Four more chair cushions to complete.  I will continue using the dyes requiring the steam method.  These cushions will NOT be matchy-matchy.  For people with OCD, this might make you squirmy, but it is OK in this household.

Update on 2/16/12, third chair cushion finished:

Update on 2/18/12, fourth cover completed with heat set dyes and little blending allowed:

5th chair cover:

Last one...a bird of paradise.  Who wants to sit on the bird of happiness?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Beautifying the Office

My cluttered office needed a face lift and more than a little cleaning.  But wait!  Where does one go for inspiration on this task, you ask?  Why, Pinterest, of course.

Some pictures on Pinterest that looked like copycat possibilities:

Here was my start with a dark and boring bookcase of file folders:

And this was the result of slapping on a bit of glue over the magazine holders and covering them with nouveau designed papers (and after seeing what a few others had accomplished with their organizational beautification efforts).

Better. And the office is clean, too.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Painting on Silk

Silk painting originated in China, going back to 2600 BC. Long before paper was invented/made, silk was a medium on which to paint. Silk is durable, portable, and readily rolled for travel.  From this site:
Silk was chosen as an artistic surface not only because of its soft, luxurious feel, but also for its practicality. Silk is light, easy to cut into any desired shape and size and is convenient to carry. Chinese artisans prepared the silk for painting by beating it on a stone slab until the surface became very smooth. After the silk was prepared, the color pigments or ink tones were applied slowly and carefully.
And what lovely works have survived over the centuries. Bing has a large collection of images of ancient silk paintings; this is just one example:

Western Colorado, where I reside, is fortunate to have a variety of talented artists displaying talents in multiple media effects. Vera Mulder is one such artist who has refined batik painting and has a large following of admirers of her work.  As a teacher, painter, photographer and ceramist, she can be found here (with drawing classes the second week of February and more information).

This is one in a series of gorgeous batiks that Mulder showed at The Blue Pig recently:

From All About Fruita:
...a series of batiks titled Rhythms in Red, this batik by Mulder features rich red and lines that create movement for the eye. Cards and prints of the series can be found at Blue Pig Gallery, Palisade, Colorado and Oakley Gallery in the Interiors building, Grand Junction.
(this one can be viewed at the Oakley Gallery in Grand Junction, CO)

And across the pond, from Surrey, United Kingdom, some beautiful paintings on silk can be found at TheWoodFairy's blog, and the author and painter, Betty, has given her permission to show a few of her works here. (If you copy any of her paintings, please be sure to link back to TheWoodFairy.)

Betty's art blog, Imaginary Brushstrokes, can be accessed here.

The Wood Fairy (Betty)  gives a tutorial on how she creates paintings on silk which you can also access at this site.  Another excellent tutorial on painting on silk can be accessed at this site on Chinese painting.

Betty painted the one below for her brother, saying..
I have included the Celtic symbols for the word 'strength' on one of the oak leaves. The oak is regarded as the symbol of strength.

If you are interested in trying this technique, products are readily available from most art suppliers. Several years ago I purchased fabric dyes and raw silk over the internet.  The raw silk was cut to fit six dining room chairs, and then I painted onto the raw silk in colors matching the tile floor on the dining area floor.  Those chair seats are still in use, but I have noticed that they need to be refreshed with more paints as the years have faded the colors.  Or is it that just the wear of sitting on those cushions has caused the dye to fade?  Either way, my next painting project is to re-paint and re-cover those chair seats.

One complete site relating to products needed for painting on silk gives a complete listing of available items including dyes, paints, silk material, resists, etc. This site, Dharma Trading, can be accessed here where I purchased the Jacquard brand dyes and resist products over ten years ago, and the dyes are still strong and vibrant.

For further assistance in painting on silk, a book entitled Beginner's Guide to Silk Painting by Mandy Southan (Search Press Limited, 1997, Great Britain) was my inspiration into dyeing on silk fabric.  This little book (available on Amazon) is a gem and highly recommended if you desire further instruction. Southan gives gorgeous pictures and detailed, step-by-step procedures.  If I can do it, so can you!

Update: as soon as my husband read this post, he asked when those dining room chairs were going to get reupholstered.  Sigh.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Irregular Square Afghan

Never having been a big fan of acrylic fiber, except for the fact that it washes quickly and dries just as fast, I recently ordered a batch of acrylics from Lions Brand to be used on a new project.   I am anxious to start an afghan called the Irregular Squares Afghan, a free crochet pattern available on this page with colors chosen from an extensive palette of colors offered online.

This is a snap of a finished afghan, courtesy of Lion Brand.  I am not interested in the colors it was worked it (in fact, yuck), but I like how it is put together.

Each of the six squares making up the afghan not only is comprised of four separate colors, but each square is also put together differently, hence the irregularity of the pattern.  If not ingenious, it certainly will hold one's attention while constructing the 30" x 45" throw.  Here is the pattern for just one of the squares:

Now the fun part (for me) is selecting colors to match the decor of the area where the small throw will most be used.

This is a collage of the colors in our living room, including pictures of furniture, paintings and accessories. It lacks the brick red color of the entry wall and all the green plants, but you get the idea.

And here are the colors of the acrylic yarn chosen from the Lion's Brand palette that will be used for the project.

If this works up as quickly as others tell me it will, maybe I'll get cracking on a second one as a gift.

Here are two of the squares worked; each square pattern is worked three times, and then put together in an alternating fashion:

Update: 2/27/2012
Finished but not completely happy with this project as the squares are not completely "square" and the overall look is not tight.  It is warm, however.  I will give it a month of wear before giving it a final rating and deciding whether to crochet this again as a gift.