Sunday, December 18, 2011

Merry, Happy & Joyful

Just bit of musing on the season. I'm enjoying this holiday more than usual. Maybe it's a result of my finally admitting that I am retired, instead of simply unemployed.  G'vment says my benefits are expired, so that means I'm off the statistical rolls. So... retired. Meanwhile, I have noticed that the usual Xmas music that saturates the airwaves hasn't set off my irritation meter. I'm humming along and making up the words as I go. This year I'm taking the time to notice things, to take pleasure in the efforts of stores and neighbors to make the season bright.  I like all the sparkle and glitter, the lights and ribbons. I even like the blow-up snow globes. They are so totally over the top, but they make me smile. It's like Las Vegas. Of course it's not natural, but that's the point. They are a talisman for happiness in this season. 
Thus, I hope to extend my happiness to all of my friends and family, with a wish that it spreads like ripples on a pond.  I wish you moments of sheer delight, of warmth in your hearts, of contentment at the end of the day.  May you have the gift of time to enjoy the world around you, and pleasure in little things, to make you smile.
Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, & Joy to the World. 
All my love, Elaine

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Ombre Basket

This is the first basket I've started after the lovely workshop with Carolyn Zeitler.  Her infinite patience and gracious teaching are inspirational and I look forward to a long and creative connection to her. 

This photo shows the top wrapping, and a little of the shaded coloring, from black to sable needles.  (Thus the name - "Ombre Basket")

I started with Canary Island Pine needles that are darker than the ones shown on the left (you can see the difference between dyed and undyed needles). This batch of needles is the transition or middle of the basket. The needles on the right are the ones used at the top of the basket. The tips of the needles absorbed the black dye more than the shaft, so the basket has a continuous spiral of the black on the outside.  A little aside: I look at the coloring of the dark sable needles, and wish just a little that my hair was that deep, rich, brown-to-black. It's yummy!
This is how the basket looks when you start. This is a full day's work. The beginning is the most difficult, and for the basket itself, the most important work, for as it begins, so it will follow.  (Yes grasshopper, keep stitching.) 

Now you can see the early stages of the basket, where I am changing from the pure black needles to the deepest sable. This is about day 3. 
I work on this a little here and a little there, as time permits.  The baskets may be the "final straw" in driving me to install better lighting over my favorite chair. I like working while the idiot box is on, but it's so dark... 

Here is the start of the finish, where I am wrapping the needles with raffia.  I'm not sure exactly how I will end it, but I'm up to three rows of wrapping so far. I may need to get a curved upholstery needle soon.

You can see a little of the inside of the basket, and the three rows of wrapping. The basket is not as large as I envisioned in the beginning, and I believe I understand why. (I started coming "up" too soon!)

Working on this basket is a joy. I feel centered and calm after stitching for a while, and watching the progress brings a smile to my face.  Carolyn Z. plans out her marvelous baskets, but I seem to have a more organic streak in me, as the baskets I work on all seem to have a mind of their own, and the outcome is frequently not what I had planned. 

Perhaps as I practice the new-found techniques I will become more disciplined, ... or not. 

Addendum: I left the basket on the table overnight, and my furry little devils chewed most of the trailing pine needles off.  Not a tragedy, as I can add more needles back, but a reminder that nothing is sacred in ART.  Four-footed art critics.  Hummph.