I am a student of the Creative Arts, as well as a practing crafts person. In order to learn more about the use and preparation of lye and the making of soap, well of course, I have to read about it.
“Lye–a strong alkaline solution or solid of potassium hydroxide or sodium hydroxide, made by allowing water to wash through wood ashes. It is used to make soap and drain and oven cleaners. The chemical formula is KOH or NaOH.”
It makes me wish I’d paid more attention during high school Chemistry classes.
But I read on, and research how to use fireplace ashes and filter rain water through a barrel, and how soap was made hundreds of years ago. And then I research how craftspeople of today make handmade soaps. I practice their techniques and borrow a recipe or two.
I can make soap. Out in the barn. Which makes the surroundings smell so nice you’d never guess that there are animals around.
The recipe I’ve found most success with includes coconut oil, olive oil, lard, lye, rainwater and fragrance oils. Lemongrass is at the top of my list. When the rosemary grows a little more out in the garden, I’ll pick and dry some of that. It will go in a special soap–to relax with after a long, but creative day.
I will make no apologies for not being “here” since my last posting. But here is a brief update. I think I can do that.
September? I do remember it was a whirlwind, but that’s about all.
October? Attended a writer’s conference, fall festivals and continued to plow my way through the first draft of a current writing project.
November? This month was filled with emotion and self reflection. I won’t make any political statements as to the outcome of the presidential election, but philosophical ones, most likely, and still–not here. I choose to focus on raising awareness for the choices people make and how responsibilities and consequences for those actions have an effect on everybody, and that’s all I can say about that.
Any more time spent in this arena takes energy away from the current writing project and focusing on that project is the key component.
December? We celebrate Christmas on the farm and wished neighbors, family and friends all kinds of Merry Christmases and Happy Holidays. My hands were busy, my heart was happy for the loved ones who were with me and saddened for the ones who are no longer.
It is with hope for the future that I am reminded of a quotation from THE SECOND BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL: “There is no present like the time.” I choose to live creatively.
Happy creating to you, too!
Small chairs–as individual as the children who used them!
One of the most frequent questions I hear from writers or illustrators is, “Where do you(we) get ideas?”
A lot of the folks I know smile when they hear that and then reply, “Ideas can come from anywhere.”
I used to wonder what they meant by that. Because the thought of ideas for creative projects in drawing or writing being all around and within my grasp was just too hard to believe. Surely it couldn’t be that easy. And most of the time, it’s NOT. Because the idea itself is not the only thing. The WORK to bring forth that idea is the hardest part.
That means, BIC–Behind(mine) In the Chair(working).
One of my Creative Diversions is going to flea markets and auctions, and I was delighted to discover these small children’s chairs. I know some of their history; most of them are solid oak and just the right size for a small child. I sat in one similar to these when I was younger, so these chairs hold a special place in my heart.
The chairs came home with me from the auction.
All 48 of them.
Now, I don’t know what in the world I’m going to do with 48 tiny chairs. Really? But when my Creative Mind begins to consider the 48 children–or more–who might have been sitting in these little chairs all through the years since they were made, and I consider that each child had a story to share…..well, then. There we go. I have parts to a story that’s just begging to be told.
Now I’m OFF to put my seat in a seat and begin the work–of writing today.
I’ve got at least 48 possibilities.
Happy Creating to you, too!
I go to my Local Farmer’s Market once a week as a vendor. I’m not selling vegetables, although we’ve grown quite a lot of veggies on the farm this summer.
Actually, I use this time to demonstrate hand spinning alpaca fiber. I talk to people who watch me at the spinning wheel as I turn fiber into yarn. I ask about their creative projects. Many knit or crochet or quilt and we have a lovely time as we swap stories.
From time to time, folks will share in a memory about an elder relative they recall who spun on a wheel a long time ago, and I’m reminded that it’s these kinds of traditions which need to be preserved. I hope to be able to do that in my work as I honor things handmade, and it will be my hope to write about artisans and craftspeople with a voice of authenticity.
Best of luck in your creative projects, too!
There’s a quotation attributed to Benjamin Franklin that I’d like to share, and it’s this:
“If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead, either write something worth reading or do things worth writing.”
So I’ve been busy.
I’ve been writing AND doing stuff.
The alpaca have had their yearly haircuts months ago…I have more fiber than I can possibly spin into yarn and I HAVE been making hats, even through the summer heat.
The weather will get cold again and I’ll be ready when it does.
Vegetables were planted and we harvest something almost every day. What I’m MOST excited about are the jellies: Egarden has produced some fine mints and the blackberry patch has given fruit, so that I’ve made jellies eight or nine times (as of now).
Byron Herbert Reece said, “I am a farmer first and a writer second.” And I get it. I understand. My time is being well spent and I search for balance in creative living every single day.
Some days produce more words than others, some days give more food or a handmade item, and I have been nourished– either way.
and it is the time when I get distracted and move from one creative activity to another, but more frequently. There’s so much to DO!!
A buddy of mine says that’s a characteristic of “cafeteria artists.” I’m not quite sure what that means, but as long as it involves appreciating a lot of activities through which I have a variety of creative pursuits, yeah….that would be me.
The alpacas have had their yearly haircuts, which provides me with plenty of fiber for future projects.
And out in the experimental garden, I’ve been thinning mints and herbs to see what else I’d like to add for this growing season. I’ve started seeds in the tiny greenhouse (not shown here) and will have a few vegetables to add in a few weeks.
Big Garden and Little Garden have a more “traditional” method of planting, and by that, I’m referring to the use of a tractor, a tiller and Mr P maintains a lot of the work for that. We produce vegetables and harvest enough to eat fresh foods, share, and save some for later. I grow a few flowers in Big Garden.
But in Experimental Garden–E Garden– I try different things in different ways, and when something grows, it grows, and I appreciate that.
My point is this: when I am in E Garden, I take chances. I’ve learned to trust that things will develop and come to be if I’ve done what I can, what I love, the conditions are right for growth, and I nurture the project. And I look for signs and believe in the balance of luck and hard work.
New York, New York!
I visited Grand Central Station/Terminal, the New York Public Library and attended the winter conference for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators(SCBWI). What a GREAT experience; to be surrounded by so many other creative minds!! Check out the website http://www.scbwi.org for more information about the conference.
There have been so many things to think about upon returning home; plans for future projects, works in progress. Yet, I decided I needed to re-examine some of my ideas, but THIS time, with a different focus.
I picked up a wonderful picture book at the conference by speaker Kate Messner, with artwork by Christopher Silas Neal called UP IN THE GARDEN AND DOWN IN THE DIRT. It will be a wonderful gift for my granddaughter, and I’ll give it to her–right after I finish using it. See, as I began to review some of my own manuscripts, I felt as though I wanted to know if they could move along in a story line, too. The sketches above are my interpretation of the layout for Ms. Messner’s and M Neal’s book.
I’ve worked this week on sketching at least six other picture books, by other authors/illustrators. It has been a most rewarding creative learning experience.
From there, I can use my own words to do rough sketches for possible picture book projects. The next steps, at least for me, will be to get professional opinions about the manuscripts.
Happy Creating, today and every day.
My favorite places to look for those most unusual gifts are in flea markets, estate sales, or by-the-side-of-the-road artist or craftsperson’s studios.
But I didn’t need to be shopping for MYSELF this holiday season! The whole point of shopping is to buy something unique to give or share with someone else.
So I took photos instead:
This first image is of a coloring book with illustrations in it from illustrator Kate Greenaway. I enjoyed looking through the book and have appreciated further research into more of her illustrations.
This four harness weaving loom looks like a lot of fun, but I had to be practical here–I just don’t have any room in the fiber part of my studio, nor do I need any other “distractions” as I work on my current writing project.
Ahhh….but THIS, this is like seeing a long ago friend! Of course, it came home with me. This is a Little Red Spinning Wheel, from Remco and copyrighted 1961. The red wheel turns by hand and creates tubes of knitted yarn which can be joined together to fashion bedroom slippers, purses, or rugs–depending on how long the crafter’s patience holds out. The direction book is still with it, however, it might look too complicated for the four-year-old that I have in mind.
I will play with, er…practice…using this before I pass it along as a gift to my favorite younger artist/craftsperson/best-little-friend. I think she’ll love it as much as I did. Still do. We can work on it together and take turns.
Wait…..I thought I’d started EARLIER than usual this year!
And now I see that the countdown to Christmas has begun.
I mean really, I couldn’t believe it when Holiday Decorations began to appear in stores so that everything began to appear on the shelves at about the same time. Three occasions, bam bam bam, right in a row. I watched a Christmas Movie on Cable TV while waiting for Trick-or-Treaters! I couldn’t begin to make decorations THEN because, well, it just didn’t seem possible to be coming so SOON!
I especially enjoy making cards and decorations. Okay, we can get into all the debates in the world along the lines of “What Is ART?” or CRAFT vs. ART, and the merits of one over the other, but really? I like to make fun things that fit into the categories of both. And I REALLY enjoy seeing how I can recycle gently used items into another project.
I have a crafting table set up in the space between my open area kitchen and living room that has been there since Thanksgiving of last year. I have no plans to remove it anytime soon, because it is great when I have just a few minutes here and there to work on a project. I may move stuff to make room for holiday foods to be served, but the space is right in the middle of everything.
Here’s a sneak peek into what’s in my kitchen:
and I wish for you a safe and restful holiday season, too.
We’ve had several days of rain these last few weeks.
Wind, too. The windmill went crazy. Pieces here; scraps over there. It is now in the Restoration Stage.
But the Treehouse escaped damage from every tree that fell in the forest. See? Although just barely visible, we were able to move and cut the surrounding trees and will have wood to use for other building projects.
We’ll haul the wood up to the sawmill we’ve constructed on our property.
Oh yes. There is now a sawmill. My contribution was to photograph the original sawmill before it was disassembled and then moved. I had to draw and label pieces, as well as make working diagrams in order to be able to put it back together again.
So the storms have provided us with good building material. We’ll cut the logs here:
And build a footbridge and shelter here:
We will have good materials for building.
A creative group of writer friends will be sharing some tips and their knowledge about Writing Middle Grade novels. Check them out if you’d like to learn more: they are using their collective skills to build something wonderful as they set up their blog tour.
Check out the Middle Grade Mafia at:
www. middlegrademafia.com and tell them I said “hi.”