Thursday, April 25, 2013

newest experiments in jewellry making....

For many months now, making some 'bib' or statement necklaces has been on my list of things I've wanted to do.  Maybe even years.  After much brainstorming and imaginary problem-solving, it was finally the right time to just sit down, try out some of my ideas, and make (it work).  Of course, creating a self-imposed deadline, by way of offering it up as a potential class*, certainly helped!  LOL!  Regardless of the why, the how and the when finally combine to start creating the what a few short weeks ago.  Easter weekend, to be precise.

I find, for me, the best approach to working out a completely new project is to make sure that I have a big chunk of available time when I finally sit down to start playing.  Regardless of how many potential process kinks I work out prior to starting - simply by spending a lot of time thinking, there are always some rude surprises along the way...and for me, I know that the absolute worst time to stop is right after enduring a disappointment.  So by setting aside more time than I know I will need, which in this case worked out to be a whole day/evening, with nothing else to do, on a long weekend...I was able to make some real progress.

Usually with new techniques and processes, there is a bit of a learning curve.  For the first time in a long time, I was able to witness a fairly quick evolution of my own ideas, practically right before my eyes...modifying, revising and fine-tuning my techniques along the way.  Such is the charm of a small, quick project: there is little time to forget what you learn before you finish the next one, and another, and yet another!  ;-)   It's actually a little bit addictive, to be honest.  And it certainly helps that I am so excited about the possibilities.....

I've even experimented with making belts...and soon hope to expand and play with the idea and basic techniques to incorporate them into other functional items, too.  Stay tuned....

Frequently, over the course of the last few weeks, I have been reminded about how important amazing it is to have a little stash of inspiring supplies on hand, at all times.  I've also been having a great time revisiting some of the trips where the various items were acquired – and let me tell you, some have been lying in wait of an opportunity to shine for years!  Many years....   Some items purchased with a project in mind that never came to pass, some things just because I thought they were interesting, and others just because they might come in handy, someday.  Jewellery disassembled and reinvented, breaths of new life into old beads, and merging memories with new possibilities.   Wow!  It's been so much fun to create something brand new and totally different, and using all stuff that I had on hand already.  Kinda scary, but also kinda great to be able to pull some things out of hibernation and use an eclectic mix of ingredients.  All were hooked over two 24-hour periods (including sleeping, but not including the assembly....LOL!)

So this is just a little glimpse into what has been exciting me and occupying me of late....back soon with more new projects.... ;-)

* I will be teaching class on these in Vermont this October/November.  All of the details available here.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

the seven year itch?

For the last many weeks (months?) I've been spending quite a bit of thinking time pondering this blog and blogging in general.  It seems like many people are a little less committed to updating their blogs lately - at least a lot of the blogs that I seek out.  I've been stuck in a bit of rut of my own lately and feeling unsure about how to get out - and where to go from here.  A wise friend said that I should just share where I am at, here on the blog, and explain a bit how I am feeling.  Basically stop ignoring it and hoping that it goes away.....LOL!

Over the past 7+ years that I have been blogging, the blog has undergone many transformations... changes in themes, purposes, and intentions.  I've been very happy to have it as an online presence....and it's been a great way for me to share information, ideas, and current projects. 
I've also found it to be highly motivating - encouraging me to create, make and share.  In spite of all of the good,  there seems to have been a bit of a shortage of energy here lately for me.  Stupidly Naively, I tend to operate on the assumption that I know everyone who is reading my blog - because, when I am writing, I am writing it directly to people I actually know are reading (friends, family, former students, etc.), and as a result, maybe sometimes I am a little more familiar or open than I should be in the sharing. 

Just in case I missed the fact that I don't know people in all of the 47 different countries listed on my Google Analytics page – or even people in 47 countries, for that matter....ha ha! – recent events have proved that there are many 'strangers' lurking in my midst, and visiting my blog.  I'm not going to really get into what has transpired, but suffice is to say that it's left a bit of a bad taste in my mouth and zapped my blogging mojo.

Despite all of this, I still want to be here in this space.  I want to make it work.  For me.   I haven't got a firm plan yet, but I have decided a few things.  Baby steps.  So here is the plan, for now....

1.  Bye Bye Comments
I've come to the conclusion that the Comment feature was/is just dragging me down.  Too much spam.  Too few comments.  Bothersome snarky comments.  Too much guilt about reciprocating and feeling obligated to reply.  And, really, why does any of it matter, anyway?  I don't want to care about the comments or have to worry about them any more.

So this morning I changed my settings and turned off/hid all of the comments.  You can always contact me via email (fisheyerugs AT hotmail DOT com) if you want to share your thoughts or have questions.  I welcome real comments from real people, at all times - and I promise that if you email me, I will email you back....just maybe not for a day or two... ;-)

2.  More pictures, less text?
Writing blog posts takes a lot of time - at least for me it does!  I probably spend an hour writing a typical post.  And well it might be time well spent, it also pulls time away from all of the other things I have going on.   I have the same 24 hours in a day as everyone else, and I am finding it's just not enough to do everything I should be doing - not to mention everything I want to be doing.  So blogging has become an easy sacrifice.  If a picture is worth 1,000 words, maybe I should spend just a little more time on taking pictures - instead of the explanatory text?  Plus, it will be more practice for my new camera.  Win-win. 

3.  No commitment to post
I'm tired of feeling guilty about not posting regularly.  Tired of feeling behind in sharing projects or ideas.  From now on, I am going to try to give myself the gift of freedom to post only what - and when - I want to share.  Whether this translates into posts on back-to-back days or weeks apart, that remains to be seen....but I am really intrigued by the whole idea of "slow blogging".  So setting up feed reader (to alert you to new posts) might be a good idea, if you want to avoid the frustration of returning here to no new content....

Apart from the comments that I have hidden (this is the only way I could find to permanently turn them off - any other ideas?), all of the old content and pictures will remain here indefinitely for now. 

So this is where I am at.... ;-)
See you when I see you, and hope you are well.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Some Guatemala Links....

I cannot say enough about the wonderful and amazing trip I took to Guatemala in February.  I hope the photos and text I've been sharing along the way have helped to convey this....but really, it's just but a small glimpse into the trip, and a somewhat superficial one, at that. 

If you are intrigued, want to learn more, and maybe even thinking about going on the trip yourself, I would have no problem talking one-on-one about my own experiences, and no hesitation at all in recommending it to those who have a sense of adventure, compassion and love of textiles. 

There are some great places online where you can see some photos and learn more about some of various programs and groups at work in the country.....

 Oxlajuj B'atz' - Thirteen Threads
(pronouced Osh-la-who-bats)....organized the tour, but that is but a small part of what they do.  With projects in health, artisan and product development, small business, democracy and team building, the focus is on empowerment by increasing knowledge and skills.  "The mission of Oxlajuj B’atz’ is to facilitate processes for Maya women artisans to bring about change, through their own efforts, that will alleviate the adverse effects of poverty and improve their quality of life. Our mission is guided by the principles of harmony, democracy, and sustainability."
Cultural Cloth
Is Mary Anne and Jody's business, based in Wisconsin, that collaborates with artisans around the world to promote women's economic empowerment and environmentally sustainable practices.  You can purchase Guatemalan rugs directly from them.

Robert Egg's Photos
Robert own Casa Kachiquel, home to Oxlajuj Batz in Panajachel.  He took quite a few photos over the course of the week, especially during our farewell gathering.

Rachel's Photos
Rachel is an American who is presently volunteering with Thirteen Threads.  It was delightful to meet her.  She took some fabulous video (and, unlike me, has figured out how to share it online....), including this can see more on the Oxlajuj B'atz' Google + page.

After being home for seven weeks now, I think I am slowly starting to get a bit of a handle on the impact this trip has had on me, personally.  It's going to take a little more time, though.

Some Chichicastenango Market snaps....

Have I told you lately how many pictures I took on my trip?  Well, it was over 2,000.  Yes.  Many. Many.  Photos.   Here are just a few of the dozens I took on market day – eye candy everywhere you look...

 (Interesting procession.....)

 I love belts!  ;-)

 (weaving and loom parts and tools)

(patterns for huipiles, etc.)

 shanks of coloured threads for embroidery and weaving....

Asociación Maya de Desarrollo

On our way back from Chichicastenago (day 8), we stopped in Solola at a women's weaving co-op.  Luckily we arrived right in time to be able to watch part of the dyeing process.  Here are some of the snaps I took....

You can find out more information about the project here and it looks like you might (soon?) be able to purchase items here.  Plus, I was happy to discover this wonderful video today by accident that shows the whole process - from start to finish.  It's great!

Guatemala Day 10 - Panajachel + Antigua

My apologies for the delay in getting back to the Guatemala posts....I really didn't anticipate that it would take me this long.  Enjoy!

+     +     +     +     +     +     +     +     +     +     +     +     +     +     +     +     +     +    

Saturday morning was our last full day, and the final day for spending time with our buddies.  Everyone took full advantage in the morning, working hard together with their buddy to plan the remainder of their rug.  I really wanted my project to reflect Zoila, so we dumped out the whole garbage bag of used clothing (that we purchased earlier in the week at the Pacas), and started picking and choosing.  Along the way, we added some details to the design, incorporating some repeating motifs and also mixed up the colour placement a bit to balance the colours (mostly having opposite corners matching) over the rug, but still allowing more variety.  

One benefit of using inexpensive materials like the tshirts (cost in US$ ended up being less than a quarter per item), is that you can feel a bit more care-free and cut odd shapes to 'test' your plan prior to hooking.  Knowing that it was impossible for me to hook all of our ideas, we cut out shapes of the various colours to make a mock-up.....

Knowing that I didn't want to fill precious luggage space with all of the old clothes....I cut strips of all of the various colours for the motifs.  Hopefully I made good guesses about how much I will end up needing,  but only time will tell.  I did not bring anything home for the background....but I am sure I will be able to find something suitable and similar here. 

 In the late morning, we did a final show and tell....

...and everyone packed up their stuff to head home.....

And after lunch, it was time to 'hit the road'.  I was pretty photoed out.....and only took a handful of snaps on the drive back to Antigua.   This is one of them....still shocking to see after a week of similar sights.....

Although we didn't leave until the next day, fittingly this next snap ended up being the last photo I took with my camera....

(Elaine and I had both just woken up right before I took the snap - we were all down for the count.... ;-) )

It is hard to believe that I have been back now for seven weeks already.   Everything is still so fresh in my mind, it could easily have been just last week that I came home.   It was truly an amazing, life-changing experience....and I sincerely hope that the changes I have noticed that it has made in me last indefinitely.