Thursday, June 17, 2010

In Which Our Intrepid Blogger Goes on a Cruise

Featured below, you see all the reasons why I wanted to go on a Crafty Chica Cruise: Of course, there'd be crafting, a trip to Mexico, and a shot at sunshine in April, but the big draws? Getting to hang out with the Crafty Chica Herself - Kathy Cano-Murillo (right) and the ever-delightful Sister Diane (left). Add sun, surf, and stuffed iguanas, and I was totally in!

Now, it turns out that I'm not much of a cruiser. Seasick? Check. Mildly claustrophobic? Check. So overwhelmed by the possible shore excursions that I actually didn't spend any time in the surf? Check. A little freaked out by the floating Las Vegas casino atmosphere of a Carnival Cruise ship? Double-check.

But I still had a great time! Why? Well, Kathy Cano-Murillo is just as fun, generous, and crazy glitter sweet as her books, blog posts, and awesome craftiness would lead you to believe. Not everyone lives up to their on-line image but the Crafty Chica does it - plus some! (And man, did she score us some serious swag!!) Here she is modeling the amazing apron she decorated during the cruise!

I also had an incredible time being roomies with and generally geeking out with Sister Diane. She was there creating an epic podcast about the Crafty Chica Cruise - I haven't seen sign of it yet, but I'll let you know when I spot it! In the meantime, she chronicled our adventures at the Mexican fabric store and the Mexican paper store in nerd-a-rific technicolor detail! Here's a shot of us heading ashore - with no idea what wonders lay ahead!
But the thing is, vacations are generally made great by the things you don't expect. In my case, it was towel animals.

Yes, towel animals. Finally, I understand why hotel towels are always so darn stiff and scratchy - its because they have to be if you're going to fold them and roll them and twist them into loveable animals!

Apparently, towel folding or towel origami, is popular on cruise lines and tropical resorts. Having spent no time at either before, they were brand new to me!

If you're feeling inspired - and maybe in need of a vacation at an exclusive resort - try venturing into the land of towel-folding with Ian:

Of course, if towel-folding seems too mundane or you're looking to get really fancy, you may just need to hop over to Amazon and order this book:

And no, no-one did anything fancy to our toilet paper on the cruise. But if you want to go on your own crafty cruise, the Crafty Chica is already accepting reservations for an 8-day cruise next spring!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Art and Healing: Part Two

Lately, I've been so busy doing things that there hasn't been a whole lot of time to blog about them - or time to absorb what's happened. *

It's been a wonderful whirlwind, and now I'm ready for a little reflection and a little quiet artmaking time. Sometimes things don't make sense until we write them down or until we share them - either through words or through our artwork or both.

And a good place to start reflecting is the amazing women I had the opportunity to work with at the Quest Center for Integrative Health's Healing Empowerment Project. The Project, led by Jo Brody, provides an expressive outlet for those living with breast cancer and its consequences. With a different art class led by a different art teacher each month, the women have the opportunity to create, explore, and take an active role in their own healing process.

The participants, diving in!

Opportunities to teach in an environment like this are few and far between, and I was honored to be invited to teach an all-day shrine making class earlier this year. As is often the case, it seemed like all I did was unload materials from the truck, offer a little bit of information about structure and adhesives, and then get out of the way.

The women were fearless. They took risks, told personal stories, and were absolutely willing to work intuitively. It was a joyous and inspiring thing to witness. And there is such a lesson there. Perhaps once you have faced your own mortality, the blank canvas just doesn't seem as scary as it used to.

Starting with Egyptian deities . . .

and completing with feather and sea.

Dress patterns, Botticelli, and Mother Mary . . .

United by spirals.

A collecting of materials . . .

and a lid of riotous color.

This piece, assembled by a particpant, features an image of singers originally created by Deborah Koff-Chapin.

And this is what art is about - at least for me. Expressing and exploring, and maybe getting lucky enough to tap into something utterly beyond ourselves.

* If you were curious . . . In the last four months, I've attended workshops at ArtFest in Port Townsend, taught several workshops here in Portland, joined Sister Diane on a marvelous Mexican cruise with the Crafty Chica, had a feature show at 100th Monkey Studios Gallery, participated in a few charity art auctions, taken on the role of Treasurer for Portland Open Studios, celebrated my 40th birthday with friends, visited family in Texas, and now, I'm in Beverly, MA, for the Encaustic Conference at Montserrat College of Art and will then be heading off to present at the Summit of Awesome in my hometown of Portland, OR. I have a serious back-log of eye candy and insights to share, so get ready!