Saturday, February 2, 2019

Food For Thought

Blogging challenge: Day 4

Mid-winter arrives with some familiar feelings.  I get a strong desire to nest.  In high school it was something akin to wanderlust, a drive to make a space in my life for comfort, warmth, and interesting food.  I wanted to set a merry table, put on some introspective music and eat something adventurous. Sometimes that itch would get a scratch and sometimes with limited mobility and resources I was frustrated.  I do remember a lovely winter meal my mother prepared then served on new stoneware dishes.  Candles were lit and we ate French Onion soup with melty cheese on the toasted baguette.

Star anise, Cinnamon, coriander, fennel, and cardamom toasting for Pho'
Maybe it's springs first stirring, the symbols and rituals of Imbolc, Candlemas, St. Bridget's Day, and Ground Hogs day. There is also a bit of the excitement of Chinese New Year thrown in to spice to pot.  As I learned from reading it is common to do some spring cleaning on Imbolc eve, making space for the new to come in, common to give and donate un-needed belongs, common to enjoy the warmth of candles and fires, and common to visit a well or stream.  It makes some sense that trying some new food is a meaningful way to welcome a new year.  

The aromatic vegetable roasted to char
Often the types of food I want to prepare require some time in preparation and time meditating over ingredients and enjoying the smells and process. In the past I have filled the house with the aroma of caramelized onions for French Onion soup, roasted and toasted spices, onion, and ginger for Pho', or the permeating smell of braised oxtail for rich broth.  If I'm feeling less ambitious a hearty clam chowder will do.  I like to thicken it with a packet of hollandaise sauce powder, to emphasize some lemon notes and grate in a bit more lemon rind.  

Cooling, heating exciting and warming condiments
Last night, Andy and I attending a bon fire, those attending were invited to bring last year's Yule Tree to burn, the first tree was set upon several pallets with fuel underneath and some small fireworks and the tree was topped with a paper Saint Brigit doll.  Before lighting the tree each attendee was invited to write sometime to let go of and put it on the tree.  And then she burned and through the evening each Christmas tree brought was set upon a pallet upright to burn again.  And yes! it was warm!


Thursday, January 31, 2019

Christy Olsen: Seeing the Creative Potential in Unexpected Places

Nurturing a Creative Life

Blogging Challenge Day 3

Sasquatch with a pallet and a lady Gnome.  She knows what to do with a fresh rockfish!

How can I share the joys of getting to know Christy Olsen in the past couple of years? Before we met, her art was already making an impression on me.  A commonly known West Coast icon, Sasquatch, (from Salish se'sxac, meaning "wild men") was featured in several painted cutout murals around downtown Anacortes, Washington.  First noticed was, Bookworm Sasquatch. Holding a book, outside Watermark Books. Sadly she was recently vandalized and is in studio for rehabilitation. More currently Hobo Sasquatch now hangs on the front of Vagabond Station,  A pallet holding Sasquatch and Gnome Lady have long graced the side of the Red Snapper, Dad's Diner has a fatherly fellow with pipe between teeth inside the restaurant. Throughout town and in other neighborhoods you may encounter other Sasquatch. Occasional run ins with these creatures helps nurture the wild, mysterious and whimsical in each of us. Themes of nature creatures, fanatical and exciting ran throughout my childhood.  They speak to the core of a life exploring wild mountain streams, forests, and valleys.  Days of looking for rocks of color, luminance which tell of days before we came here.  Whether we find meaning in nature revealed in a beach eroding or the cast off remains of human existence, we can all find art and meaning in our daily lives.

Bookworm Sasquatch!  At home near a bookstore.

"Father" Sasquatch, at Dad's Diner in Anacortes.

The breadth of Christy's talents were revealed in time. Part of the joy was discovering the world through a broader lens.  Seeing the simple beauty of life, mixed in with the darker underbelly of life. Artists are successful in expanding the way one interacts with the world by sharing their unique vision.  In observing her work you see themes that seem to expand and grow.  We see things nautical, pirate, rusty, worn with the patina of time and use, the mythical and magical, the things we hold from youth that retain value into adult life, all through the lens of a collector. At Emerald Marine we are grateful to have her as an employee where she takes things that have acquired imperfection and patina and makes them like new and shiny using her varnishing and finish skills!  All sides of creative living.
This Sasquatch has found something of value among second-hand treasures at 'Expect Miracles'

A sampling of the many comics Christy has created. A favorite chronicles a family vacation to Hawaii!
Christy's favorite medium is the pencil.  It is an elemental tool. "Where everything begins, " she said.  Often, when I think of Christy, I see her sitting with a pencil working on an in-the-moment comic, describing a scene or a person that gets her attention.  The result can be hilarious or thought provoking, yet always, observant. The pencil may be favored by Christy but if you look further, don't even ask what other mediums she explores, ask what mediums hasn't she explored.  Linoleum block cut, needle felting, crochet, acrylics, pastels, pen and ink, water colors, electronic tablet art, and plein air painting are all in her toolkit.

Based on pictures of a family vacation to Hawaii, Christy explores a teenage perspective of  Hawaii in  Comic form.

Spending time with Christy has allowed my attention to gravitate toward the hidden richness of everyday observances. Odd occurrences that might be passed by or ignored if you don't pay attention, offer new ways of seeing. It's a gift of looking beyond the surface.  Before I was not familiar with #saucewatch (a hashtag that exists in Instagram.)   Imagine a view from which you become aware of the odd and little noticed frequency that unexpected objects, like an onion, washed up on the beach, a packet of ketchup discarded half opened, or spilled blueberries on the ground, all potentially, future or enhanced sauce. Surprising little things in life become inspiring in the present. Christy lets herself be guided by daily life.    Not unlike this unique approach to seeing and experiencing, her favorite way of sharing her art is to leave it in random places for someone to discover!

A furtive hobo looks for a safe place to find lodging and hopefully delicious food.  Vagabond Station in Anacortes?

Christy values the comforts of home which include her amazing pizza, which has become a form of art. Through amazing crust, select ingredients, carefully selected but not heavy toppings the fine results are always accompanied with some wine.  Another essential element to home is cats.  They are creatures of comfort, entertainment, and inspiration. She has three, Pigeon, Ole Svensen and Magnus.  The brothers, Ole and Magnus ares two of the largest cats I've ever seen that are not Maine Coons, they are panthers!  She carries treats for dog friends and the dogs at Emerald Marine are especially fond of her!

"Big Red" graces the entrance of a favorite local wine bar, Salt and Vine.

Who knows what "Killer Kitty" is after?

A favorite cephalopod of mine! It is flanked by a few sugar skull candle holders.

Artists come to their own terms on why they make art, whether or not to sell, or make art for the sake of art.  Like many of us Christy has found solace and healing in art and creativity. She came to the realization at a couple of key life moments, that she wasn't going to make a living with art but rather a career by which I believe she means 'calling' or 'sphere of being' and' path.'  As with other creatives who I respect say, "Done is Beautiful,"  Christy feels satisfaction with every project, comic book or art show deadline she achieves. "Each of those are a dream project."

Sea lore, mythology and Mermaids

In the bigger picture there are relevant social and political commentary in her comics, which include not putting up with typical B.S. She is not afraid of poking fun at some who might take themselves too seriously to the detriment of others. Her watercolors on black paper are voluptuous and luminous, and powerful. Her block prints are detailed and expressive. As with some of her influences, the pre-Rafaelites and Frida Kahlo, common themes include women's empowerment and strength which is often born of pain and struggle.  I personally appreciate looking at the world of art and women's empowerment through her eyes.

Christine's work can be found at the Red Snapper Gift Store in Anacortes, WA and she participates in other local sales events including the festive family fun of Anacortes Open Street events, Shipwreck Day, and Oyster Run.

Christy's Lady Sasquatch Facebook Page

Be Bold and Live Creatively!

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Blog Challenge Day 2- Photography

Feathers Found without their Birds

These feathers caught my eye and interest.  I wonder about the story each has to share.

Heron Feather, Cranberry Lake, Anacortes
Sucia Island, Sea Gull
Lavender  at home unknown

Orcas Island somewhere above Rosario Resort, Heron?

Juniper Somewhere in Anacortes
Mountain Juniper, Smith Rock, owl?

Heron Feather, Rotary Park, Cap Sante Marina
Heron feather, Rotary Park, Cap Sante Marina 

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Seven Day Blogging Challenge

Nurturing a Creative Life: Naturally Inspired

I am challenging myself to Blog everyday for a full week.  Here is the framework.  Starting today, I will cover jewelry, specifically, jewelry I make.  Tomorrow will be Friend's Day. I will share the work of a friend (with their permission of course), Thursday will be Photography Day.  Photography continues to be my favorite hobby, and has been since elementary school.  On Friday, I will do something in the theme of Food f/or Thought; ideas, quotes, food ideas, photos, etc.  Saturday is Caturday, cat or animal photos, experiences etc.  Sunday is Commune with Nature day.  Monday will be miscellaneous!


The first earrings from my introductory class.
In November 2010 I began my realized journey into the world of enameled jewelry.  The seed was planted in High School.  On an Associated Student Body field trip to a school in another community, I was matched up with a student who during the course of the day, took me to her art class.  The well lit room was a-buzz with with excited creative energy.  There were several small blue kilns on a table  and my student-guide introduced me to the process of cloisonné.  Tiny pieces of wire enclosed wet packed glass powder onto a small metal disk, which after drying completely, was then fired in the kiln.  It was magic!  An alchemical and beautiful process of transformation.  Ever since that day I had been wanting to get my hands on some metal and enamel powders and start fusing.

Earrings in a free form bead weaving technique

I was already knee deep in beaded jewelry and tried unsuccessfully to sell on Etsy in the crowded field of jewelry artists. I felt like I needed to offer something unique. I sought out a couple of metal working classes at Pouncing Rain Studio in Bellingham gave me the confidence to start working with copper and other metals.  I have played around with precious metal clay and was looking for ways to enhance my beadwork with pendants or earrings I made myself. A class came up at the Studio offering a very elementary introduction class to enameling, "Make three Pairs of Earrings."  I signed up and the rest is history.

A close up of one of my first pairs of earrings
For the most part I've been self-taught through book, Youtube videos and much experimentation. 

With a large unsold inventory of beaded necklaces, bracelets and earrings, I began to branch out and participate in Trunk type shows and became a vendor at the Anacortes Farmer's market where I have built up a loyal group of lovley customers and people who inspire and push me to try new things.  I have participated in the 98221 Studio Tour for two years as well as some home and holiday sales events.  I am excited to keep exploring new techniques and perhaps one day will actually try my hand at Cloisonné!

I have worked on developing a more impressionistic technique

Maple leaf Autumn side

Maple leaf Summer side

Thank you for reading my first post of this creative challenge!  Be Bold and Live Creatively!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Building an enameled necklace.

The new necklace would be fashioned after my first collar of this style
I will share the steps I took to create an enameled necklace for the 2011 Anacortes Friends of the Forest Benefit auction.  The benefit raises money for the education program which fosters knowledge and understanding of the unique forest environment that we in Anacortes have the privilege to enjoy.  The program helps my friend Denise Crow provide sessions for 3rd and 7th graders in our school district giving them a greater understanding of the resource.  The program tends to create life long stewards of this and other natural places.
My Evenheat electric kiln is programable and has several presets for Precious Metal Clays

All the enameling projects I've done in my home studio start with pieces of copper that I either cut myself with shears, a disk cutting tool, or buy pre-made.  I cut the holes for jump rings or ear wires with a special hole punch.
I use a Swanstrom disk cutter, hold punch and sometimes shape with the dapping tools

I file the edges so they are smooth and de-burr the holes (if this isn't done, enamel powder will more likely clog the hole and be more difficult to clear with a pick.

Disks are filed and marked for their holes.  The color variation is from the annealing process
I use a sanding disk on my flex tool or a file to remove the burrs from the holes punched

The disks get a brief soak in pickle and then are polished and cleaned with Penny Brite before the first enameling layer is applied.  I brush on a holding agent either Klear fyr or liquid hair spray and apply the clear enamel with a small mesh sifter.  Pickling cleans surface oils so  the enamel powder adheres better with the help of a holding agent.
Layer medium clear enamel powder

Pieces wait while kiln heats

Pieces appear red after first firing
On upper right you can see metallic oxidation appearing after  more layers are added and the firing process is longer

Now the fun can begin!
I'm adding opaque base colors here

I try to keep notes on techniques and color combinations

I used paper stencils for the design.  I bought the sheets at a scrapbook supply store.  Two tweezers are used to carefully lift the stencil off the disk after the enamel powder is dried.  It's not always easy to get an undisturbed pattern.

A friend of ours had the winning auction bid!  She later commissioned a very fun and interesting piece that I will write about in the future.  It is very cool!

The finished piece!

As I was putting on the finishing touches, a brief thunderstorm with hail passed over.  The light actually looked like this.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Wherein I get to tag along to Mystic Seaport Museum

Mystic, Connecticut April 5 & 6, 2013

( Borrowed from my post on Emerald Marine's Blog)

Mystic's famous collection of numerous small craft was just one part of the draw for Andy Stewart and James McMullen of Emerald Marine Carpentry. The vessels and holds of historical maritime treasures brought their present day occupation and hobbies to light in a very large, tangible and meaningful way.  Happily, I was privileged to go along to experience what I think may be the best-ever living museum. Likely not out of order, I'll speak for all of us, very high expectations were not let down.
Imagine hardcore boat geeks among stacks of the very boats sailed, designed, belonging to and built by the likes of John Gardner, N.G. Hereshoff, John Alden, Pete Culler and countless others.  This much alone rendered James McMullen gobsmacked.  By the end of the day, a distant gaze of wonderment made us glad that the train would be carrying him safely back to The City.

We left New York City at 7:00 am which would be 4:00 for those of us just fresh from the West Coast.  With bagels and lox from Zabars, and a bit of coffee and we  headed NE on Interstate 95.  It was mostly a straight shot and James was a great navigational partner especially through a tricky interchange or two near the Bronx.  We passed a few places of note through Connecticut. One of the most memorable was the Pez Factory!  After about 3 hours, we hit downtown Mystic, stopped at Bartleby's for coffee,  James took the back-seat for the final jaunt to our destination.  On arrival, I took few seconds too many, getting my stuff gathered to get out of the car.  Andy could almost see the pressure and anticipation building up behind me, one second longer and he might have burst.  James' relief was palpable, and while he didn't run to the entrance, he was like a kid at the gates of Disneyland.

Maritime art and craft met us around every corner.
The legacy of shipbuilding and all its supporting industries clearly illustrate an interconnected web: the ship builders, rope makers, merchants, barrel coopers, carvers and artists, just to name a few.  Whale oil,  prized for it's clean and bright glowing light and essential lubrication, allowed the Industrial Revolution to slide into the next era.  Seeing living history in action brought some of our country's past into a clearer focus.   One of the best displays was a historical model of Mystic in miniature with 4 narration programs, describing the  area and activities of the town in the peak of shipbuilding.

A visual inspection of a display whaling boat from afar.
At Mystic's living museum, the days of United States maritime successes are brought to life and offered as perspective into our greater influences on world wide commerce.  Literally greasing the wheels, whale oil commerce propelled the Industrial Revolution, and while waning, prescient merchants and ship builders saw the end of the era and made rapid transitions into textiles and manufacturing.  As destructive as this particular whaling was to the world's sperm whale population, its impact on who we are today is undeniable.

Perhaps most memorable and appreciated was the welcoming nature of the staff and other people working at the Museum.  We were treated with the upmost hospitality.  I don't think about our visit without wishing I could plan our next trip soon.  Our special tour of the collection with Walter Ansel was the highlight.
 John Gardner's 'General Lafayette' as referred to in our story about building the Island Star
Detail of the bead around the deck

One of many sailing canoes we admired
In the small boat collection, there were numerous designs in all manner of states of repair, showcase, preserved or in a state of stasis.  We enjoyed a variety of canoes, peapods, dories, whitehauls, sailing skiffs, launches, and Adirondack guide boats.  Mind you these stacks were in rows and rows, like the archives of an ancient library. 
The massive hull of the Charles W. Morgan.
Andy and James enjoyed a Shipwrights tour of the Vessel by Walter, lead shipwright.  Although, not built in Mystic, this last remaining wooden whale ship is getting a full restoration.  A mid summer 2013 launch is expected.  In 2014 she will do a port to port tour of New England.  You can be sure that we will be watching for Youtube videos of this exciting splash.
Patterning Planks

An enviable ship saw!
The largest steambox I've ever seen!  
James and Andy both got a bit misty eyed over this beauty.  Andy had just been reading a book of L. Francis Hereshoff essays. One of which describes a rather exciting adventure delivering this vessel home from New York city to Portsmouth.  The hull color is legend and very alluring.

N.G. ( Captain Nat) Hereshoff's favorite boat

How lucky for school kids in the area to have Mystic Seaport on their field trip schedule. One of the most heartening things we heard was of a very generous donor who contributed a large sum of money to help cover the cost of bringing students to the museum. The Square Rigger, Joseph Conrad, hosts sleep-aboard camps where students experience the routine of a sailor.
The Joseph Conrad
On board the L.A. Dunton, Fishing Schooner

Whale Boat Detail
Whale boat and the L.A. Dunton
All of us who enjoy and care for wooden boats have a favorite sensory enjoyment.  I would have to say my own is the smell of pine tar.  Over our two day visit, my nose occasionally picked up a hint of the earthy pungency.  We found one place where pine tar seemed to be actively in use. The rope walk display was being used to parcel and serve the running rigging for the Charles W. Morgan.

The rope walk: A source of pine tar's earthy scent drifting through the air
Beside having another day to poke around and explore the museum, Andy and I were pleased to have  time to explore that area south of Mystic, Noanck, and Bluff Point State Park. We topped it all off with date night dinner at a cozy Italian Restaurant Anthony J's Bistro.
Thank you Mystic!  We'll be back.