Saturday, October 31, 2009

Spider Silk Tapestry

Yesterday, I read an article in "Fast Company" that showed what can happen when the creativity of man and nature work in harmony! The article ("Creepy, Crawly Crafty: A Tapestry Woven by Eight-Legged Artists") wrote about two men ~ Simon Peers, a British art historian and Nicholas Godley, an American fashion designer ~ who spent half a million of their own dollars over a period of 4 years to collect the silk of a million female silk spiders (Nephila madagascariensis). This process of silk collection is actually done on this island country of Madagascar! What makes the whole process extra difficult to do ~ besides the obvious ick-factor! ~ is that the female golden orb spider has a nasty disposition and is cannibalistic, which as you can imagine, makes having and herding such large numbers somewhat of a problem. Thankfully, while they do bite, it isn't especially dangerous ~ small comfort, but there is that darned ick-factor again!

The silk was woven on a loom (see below) into an 11'x4' tapestry! The color of the silk is natural and gets it's golden shade from the natural saffron tones of the spiders' silk, which also amazingly, is barely visible when it is extracted, by hand, from the "spinnaret" (ok, I actually didn't experience the ick-factor with that lovely word) of the spider. The silk extraction required dozens of native Malagasy "handlers". The weaving was done by local weavers and shows a stunning pattern (see below) of geometric shapes which correspond to traditional images of animals and birds. One more unbelievable little tidbit about the spiders' silk: Its tensile strength is 5-6 times that of steel by weight!!!

The end result of this costly, time-consuming, and ick-factor laden project is, in my opinion so utterly worthwhile and amazingly, breath-takingly beautiful! My only regret is that I don't have the opportunity to see the finished piece in person. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

"Creative Thursdays" by Marisa Haedike

On Thursdays, I receive an email from Marisa Haedike, called "Creative Thursdays." Marisa is a painter, both of canvases and of furniture pieces. The two that are here are, from left to right, "Winter Dreamers" and "Susanna" (selected for obvious reasons). I love her work! It's sweet and joyous. It makes me smile. The colors are at once bright and refined. I love the contrasting turquoise and red in the Susanna chair, and the way the wind is blowing the scarf of the little chick, who seems to be puffing herself up to brave the cold. Take a look at Marisa's website ( and see for yourself. It's well worth a visit!

Sunday, October 25, 2009


It's funny how the critics can pan a movie and, when we go to see it, we thoroughly love it! That's what happened this weekend, when Harry and I went to see Hillary Swank and Richard Gere in the movie "Amelia", based on the life of aviatrix Amelia Earhart. We thought it was a lovely film and that Hillary was amazing and quite believable as Amelia. The soundtrack fit the cinematography (which was definitely suited to the big screen) beautifully.
Some sources were talking Oscar, while others called Swank's performance "stodgy" and "wooden." I certainly never felt it to be either of the last 2 adjectives! She characterized Amelia as a woman ahead of her time, consumed by a passion for freedom to express herself, to create a life for herself on her own terms defined by no one else in the air. It's easy to see why she remains an inspiration to so many young girls today.

And, the resemblance, especially in the scenes leading up to her disappearance, between Hillary Swank and Amelia Earhardt are quite striking....

Monday, October 19, 2009

I recently found a great blog by Laura Hegfield, called "Shine the Divine." Laura has MS and in her blog entry of October 11th, she wrote about how she taught her young art students that "imperfection is the doorway to possibility." That really got me thinking about creativity and how many of us look at it. I have friends who tell me "You're so creative!" and then quickly follow that with the comment "But I don't have a creative bone in my body!"
What holds us back from expressing our creativity? We are all born creative. Look at children with crayons, paint, clay, paper, almost any medium. They create without fear, anxiety or embarrassment that the result will not be perfect. Somewhere along the way, however, we grow up and begin to impose expections of perfection on ourselves. We don't try a particular creative endeavor because we fear that the outcome won't be perfect. By whose standards?
The only outcome that creativity implies is possibility! By creating something, we bring an idea, our unique idea from our own imagination, into the possible. And, what we must remember in creating is that our it is the process of creation that is to be enjoyed, and the possibility at the end of the process that must please only us, its creator.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

ArtMail :: Milwaukee

I love the texture and the colors in this painting by Milwaukee artist Todd Mrozinski. Anyone who knows me well, knows that I'm really into visual texture.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Well, tonight, before I started to study for my exam, I decided to work on my haunted house. I had to take apart the little bit that I had done yesterday because it was all crooked - I know, I know, haunted houses are supposed to be crooked, but this one isn't designed for crooked! And, to add to the frustration, I kept knocking over the sections of wall that I had put together & glued before the glue had set up!!! ARGH!!!
I really have to focus on a plan for crafting space!!! Step one: Find some time (when???) on a weekend soon to clear some room in the library & the buy 2 2-drawer file cabinets. I'll put them in the large space between the book shelves & have a piece of MDF board cut to fit to stretch between the 2 as a work space. I have about a dozen patterns of oil cloth that are available online (will post these soon), that I'll order to cover the board & presto! I will have a work space that will be large & devoted to my crafts! That will sure beat the small TV tray that I'm using now!!! Then, small bits of creativity to tide me over til after graduation! It feels good to have a plan!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Creative Mini-Bites

I've decided that, since I don't have time for big projects, involved projects, or even more than one project, I'm going to do one simple project for each of the upcoming holidays. As much as I would have loved making handmade gifts (think of how green that would be!) for my family and friends this year, that's just not going to happen. So, on a couple of visits to my favorite "happy place," Michael's, I've picked up a haunted house kit in craft foam for Halloween and a gingerbread house kit in the same craft foam for Christmas. Now, I know, it's not completely my own idea and all, but I plan on adding some extra embellishments to the finished houses. And, my other goal is to FINALLY master downloading pictures from my digital camera, so that I can post the finished houses to my blog! Such lofty goals!!!
I'm feeling creative, inspired, and better already somehow! Now, to just budget my time wisely!!!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

About My Blog . . .

I've always been a creative person ... a crafter ... a needleworker. My family calls me a Martha Stewart "wannabe." And yes, my fantasy is to live a life where each day is spent in creative, artistic pursuits, that somehow, put food on the table and pay the bills. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm lucky enough to have a job that I truly love and am challenged by, so i would be very happy to just spend my freetime being creative. The trouble is that for the past 7 months (and for the next 11 months or so), I have been and will be working on my MBA. It's an accelerated program, so in addition to working full-time and trying to manage my marriage and house along with schoolwork, you can imagine that my freetime has virtually disappeared.
Now, I fantasize about crafting! I collect craft ideas and patterns like others collect recipes! I have so many new "friends" on Facebook who are creative crafters and they inspire me with their art! I plan and dream about my "crafting corner" in our spare bedroom (aka "the Library") and the time I will be able to spend there after I graduate next July.
So, I decided to write this blog as a way of expressing myself, my frustrations at (temporarily) losing this part of myself, and the realization of just how important creativity is to my spirit and to my soul. I'll wite about the ways that I find to live through this self-imposed (I did choose to get my MBA at this point in my life) creative downtime, and how I am preparing to release myself again into what I hope will be a new level of creative freedom and self-expression next year!
I hope that you'll join me on my journey of self-discovery and growth, and share your thoughts, suggestions, and ideas with me here!