Wednesday, July 20, 2011

makes bunnies

I am so taken with this photo, by the talented Sonja Ahlers, sourced from her lovely blog. Sonja is well-known for her beautiful cashmere bunnies, each hand stitched with careful, precise, perfection. Her work sets a real standard. This photo captures her earlier prototype bunnies. I love photos like this, that illustrate how an artist's work develops and grows over time. I find it so comforting. When it comes to art, I think we tend to dismiss the practice makes perfect motto. Art galleries celebrate the end result, the "Artwork" - capital A. But it's often an artist's sketchbook that holds the real gems - the seeds of an idea, that germinate over time, and grow. Alright, perhaps I am taking this gardening metaphor too far ...

The secret, of course, is that it's really the work that is important, not the end result. (Put another way - the journey, not the destination!) Diligence, discipline, discovery: work leads to things! Like these, the most perfectly-perfect bunnies. (sigh) You are an inspiration, Sonja Ahlers! and my latest blog crush. Follow Sonja's blog, here.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

popsicle weather

We’re experiencing an official heat wave here in the big smoke. I know that parts of the States (Hello, American friends!) are seeing temperatures soar also. According to my peg city pals, the prairies are scorching, too. What’s left to do? (besides watching the tomatoes grow ).

Make popsicles, I say. They're the easiest DIY ever, and truly impressive: the flavor combinations these days are so inspired! Like these avocado-lime pops I made on the weekend (recipe, here). Even the New York Times recently dedicated a spread, proving that popsicles are the new cupcake/sandwich cookie/cocktail/whoopie pie - Just don’t tell Starbucks. (I don’t fancy my Americano on a stick!)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

the wellsprings of creativity

I run the volunteer program at the biggest gallery in the city (lucky me!) The best part of working here, before the art and the building, is the people. They fill me with inspiration. I’ll always remember a conversation I had when I was living back in Winnipeg, and working at the Winnipeg Art Gallery (WAG). Our Chief Financial Officer (money bigwig) – new to the gallery- shared with me her biggest insight on leaving the corporate world, and entering the non-profit. She was amazed, AMAZED, at the lunchroom conversations. She had no idea people talked about art, ideas, and, more than that – had such rich “other” lives – whether it be sewing into the wee hours, or getting up early to catch the morning light to paint. These are the secret lives of artists working day jobs.

If you work in the cultural sector, you’ve long known this secret, as it’s really the best part of the job. Surrounding yourself with likeminded people goes a long way. Most of us have administrative roles – that’s another secret – so the creative part of work isn’t in the task, it’s in the environment. That’s something I wish they taught you (me) in grad school, but I digress. Today one of my colleagues asked me about the wellsprings of creativity. When are you most creative? More specifically, she had seen one of mushroom terrariums, and asked where the idea came from.

I started making mushrooms years ago, with thrift store finds from Value Village. I love the idea of rescuing old needlework, and attributing wealth to materials that have lost their value; hence, the crocheted doilies. I think craft and community are also inextricably linked. I think of the potters I met in peg city, who came together for wood fires, shared kiln space and secret glaze recipes. I know living in Winnipeg, a city well-praised for its collective leanings and arts community, was instrumental for beginning my own work. I can’t help but think that picking up and moving to the prairies (circa 2001) was one of the best things I ever did. I found my inner artist, long ago silenced by a (terribly) influential art teacher.

Fast forward to 2008, and my move back to Toronto, and the terrariums. I started putting mushrooms under glass the summer I moved home. Without employ, (such an unsettling time), artmaking was a source of comfort. I am lost - lost- without routine. Looking for fabrics to sew, and vessels to fill - it was just what I needed.

This past Fall, when my mum’s cancer diagnosis rocked me to my core, I reached out to craft again. This time, more painstakingly, I painted tiny white dots on bright red fabric. It may sound trite, but the focus calmed my mind, even just for brief moments (something that work/sleep couldn’t do). Today, that terrarium - the first of the painted mushrooms- sits in my mum and dad’s kitchen bay window. For them, a present. For me, a reminder of my mum’s (and my) journey. P.S. Today my mum is cancer-free. Better and more beautiful than ever.

Where do your ideas come from? Or maybe more importantly, when do they spring?

sleeping quarters

Martha's always been the type to prefer hard surfaces to soft (I think this is a breed characteristic - my mum and dad's Himalayan similarly favours tabletops over sofa cushions). Her newest sweet-spot: Guy's desk (more specifically, his sketchbook). Blame her artistic spirit!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Golly Garden

One of very best things about our new home is the garden. We have a front yard (rosebush, porch!) and a back plot (wildflowers, shed!). In the back yard we've kept a vegetable patch. We're patiently watching the first signs of our tomato blooms (roma, cherry, heritage!). Sidenote: rhubarb and zucchini are firmly rooted and growing well! In the meantime, I'm thrilled to share our first harvest. Check out these gorgeous garlic (garlics?). Should we confess these bulbs just kind of sprouted? Like a gift from the universe; a good omen, we hope, for bounty to come!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

new press!

Thank you to decorology, who "swooned" over my terrariums. You made my day! The best thing about this feature? I am once again linked with Shannon, one of my crafty - and Anne Shirley-loving - (of Green Gables fame) kindred spirits. This gorgeous photo credit - my terrariums have never looked so good - to Covet Garden)