Musings from the Moonroom

Thoughts on Art, Inspiration, Creativity and Spirit


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New Art Friday: Tiny Totem Bobble Birds & a Sneak Peek

Do you remember that I shared some process pictures of my Tiny Totem Bobble Birds several weeks ago? Did you think that the birds “flew the coop” because I didn’t share the finished pieces?

Well, the birdies are still here in the studio. But I lost my focus on the blog as I delved into other areas, like delivering work to a new consignment store, preparing for a studio show, and starting a year-long coaching program. I’m sure you’ve had times like this. The fork in the road takes you in one direction and eventually you circle back to that place where you started.

Anyways, several weeks ago I shared the birdies progress pictures. You can see their “beginnings” in this post here and in this second post here.

Today I’m happy to finally share the finished Tiny Totem Bobble Birds:

Tiny Totem Bobble Bird with Heart (Formerly known as “Wings”)

Tiny Totem Bobble Bird with Heart
(Amy A. Crawley, 2012)

Tiny Totem Bobble Bird with Heart
Front View

Tiny Totem Bobble Bird with Heart
(Close View)

Tiny Totem Bobble Bird with Heart
(Side View)

Tiny Totem Bobble Bird “Spike”

Tiny Totem Bobble Bird “Spike”
(Amy A. Crawley, 2012)

Tiny Totem Bobble Bird “Spike”
(Close up)

Tiny Totem Bobble Bird “Spike”
(Side View)

And a Sneak-Peek

This week I started work on a new line of Ornimals, The Farm Animals. There are four Ornimals in this new line, a cow, a piggie, a sheep, and a chicken. Sculpting them has been a bit of a challenge. A couple required do-overs. And I’m sure they’ll continue to evolve from this first iteration. For now I’ll share this group shot of the ornies with the first layer in the process- an acrylic wash.

Farm Animal Ornimals, Phase 1
(Amy A. Crawley, 2012)

Thanks for stopping by and have a great weekend!


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Solopreneur Wednesday: An Introduction-How Did I Get Here?

The 5th anniversary of this blog is fast approaching. And there are a number of new subscribers to this blog. So it seemed like a good time to slow down, take a step back and introduce myself to my new readers and re-introduce myself to those who have been following my journey since this blog started.

Who Am I?

If you look over to that column on the right, you can see my picture. That’s me, Amy —->

Nice to meet you.

What do you do for a living & how did you end up doing it?

I’m in my third iteration career-wise. I am a polymer clay mixed media artist. Before working with polymer, I tried paper arts, wood stuff, painting, fabric. None of those really stuck. In 1998, I learned about polymer clay, bought a crafty book and some clay at Michaels and gave it a go. My first piece was a pair of earrings, a bunny & a carrot. I still have those earrings too.

First polymer earrings (scanned image).

But as I said, I’m in my third career. Amy 3.0? Before discovering polymer clay I had always played around with artsy-crafty stuff. I took art classes all through high school but never gave it a thought to make art a career. Let me rephrase that. I had no intention of pursuing art as a career.

Instead I got a degree in Speech-Language Pathology and a minor in Communications from Michigan State University. Then I got my Masters in Speech-Pathology. I worked in the healthcare field for almost nine years. Got laid-off. Went back to school. Got my certificate in Technical Writing. Got laid-off again and began to think about what else I wanted to do with my life.

At that time, in 2002, I thought about the things I might want to do if I wasn’t going to work in cubicle-land. The three things I liked most were gardening, cooking, and making art.

Gardening & landscaping are very physical careers. So I scratched that from the list.

Culinary school required many early hours as you work through the coursework. I’m not a real early-morning person. And I realized I mainly like cooking for family & friends. Scratch culinary school from the list.

That left art.

What are you influences or sources of inspiration?

My art is inspired by nature, animals, the spirit of ancient cultures, and my travels around the world. I’m drawn to texture, movement, color, and faces.

I’ve created work that draws from the Celtic, Egyptian, African, and Asian cultures. Symbolism plays a big part in my art when I create my Spirit Messengers.

Anam Cara (Trio)

More recently I’ve focused the subject of my art on animals, such as my Ornimals: Sculpted Animal Ornaments.

Cat Ornimals 2012 Group Shot (Amy Crawley)

Those who have influenced my art include Laura Balombini, Dayle Doroshow, Gustav Klimt, Joseph Cornell, Alexander McQueen, El Anatsui, Dale Chihuly, Tim Burton, and Cirque du Soleil.

How did your art become a business?

It didn’t become a business by blatant choice. After being laid-off, and thinking I’d like to work more with my art, I started playing around with polymer clay even more. I was at a local hardware store looking at cabinets and wearing a piece of jewelry I made. I was talking to a woman who worked in this department and she asked if I made the jewelry I was wearing. When I told her “yes,” she asked if I sold my jewelry. One thing led to another and my business began. That woman became my first customer.

When I say it wasn’t by blatant choice, I mean that I had thought, someday, it might be fun to sell my art. But it wasn’t my intention when I started making jewelry. I didn’t say “I’m making this to sell it.” Apparently the Universe had other plans for me. Maybe the best way to put it is that my art became a business through the back door. Add a little ego into the process and there you go. I really had no idea what I was doing or what I was getting into.

Next: My intent with Solopreneur Wednesday posts is to share what I’ve learned about running a small art business. If you have questions about working as an artist and/or running a small business, please leave your question(s) in the comment section below. We’ll be enjoying the 4th of July holiday next Wednesday so our next post will be in two weeks on Wednesday, July 11.


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A Year of Mindfulness: Study Suffering

The Half-Way Point and a Give-Away

Here we are at mindfulness practice #26. We are officially at the half-way mark in our year of mindfulness. Pat yourself on the back for sticking with it this far. In honor of your perseverance, I’m going to have a small give-away.

Sweet.

Leave a comment about today’s post, share your favorite mindfulness practice or an a-ha moment, and you will be entered into a drawing to win one of my Love Soulful Sprites. One winner will be chosen from all comments received. Comments must be posted by midnight EST on Monday, July 2, 2012.

Love Soulful Sprite

A Review

Here are links to some of the most popular posts on mindfulness practices we’ve discussed since January.

Using your non-dominant hand

Leave no trace

Eliminate filler words

Become aware of your posture

Listen

Pause before answering the phone

Waiting

Loving Eyes

Entering new spaces

Rest your hands

Saying Yes

Last Week’s Practice: Endless Desire

How did you do last week increasing your awareness of endless desire? I became quite aware of my desire to eat sweets last week. Chocolate, cookies, ice cream. The desire for these sweets felt like a bad habit. It was like I didn’t even think about it, I just wanted it.

Then I started asking myself why I wanted to pop that cookie in my mouth. And I couldn’t come up with a very good answer. But I hope that just becoming aware will help me tame that desire for sweets.

What desires popped up for you?

This Week’s Practice: Study Suffering

I grimaced when I saw the title of this week’s mindfulness practice. Suffering. Why would I want to study suffering? Isn’t this mindfulness stuff about feeling happy?

In this week’s practice, we are asked to become aware of the phenomenon of suffering. Not just the extreme forms of suffering-death, abuse, war, but the spectrum of suffering, from mild irritation and impatience to rage and overwhelming grief. We are asked to become aware of how we detect suffering in ourselves and in others. Where is it most obvious?

Dr. Bays points out that there is a difference between pain and suffering. Pain is the physical sensation or discomfort. Suffering is the mental and emotional distress that is added to the physical sensations.

By becoming aware of suffering, the mental and emotional distress, we can restrain the mind from running amok, speculating, disaster-mongering, and blaming someone else for our misery. When we stop resisting pain, we slowly begin to stop adding mental and emotional distress to physical discomfort.

As we become aware of the many forms of suffering, we also become aware of its opposite, the simple sources of happiness.

Reflection:
May I feel safe, may I feel content, may I feel strong, may I live with ease.
May you feel safe, may you be content, may you live with ease, may you be strong
.
May we feel safe, may we be content, may we be strong, may we live with ease.

-Lovingkindness (Metta) meditation

Remember the Give-away

Remember to leave a comment in the comment box below and you’ll be entered to win one of my Love Soulful Sprites. All comments must be posted by midnight (EST), Monday, July 2, 2012. One winner will be chosen from all comments received.

Love Soulful Sprite

Love Soulful Sprite on meditation altar

 

NOTE: The Soulful Sprite give-away has ended.


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A Year of Mindfulness-Desire

Can you believe we’re half-way through the year and almost half-way through our mindfulness practices? To be honest I don’t think I would’ve realized we’d come this far had I not looked at the calendar and then at the chapter number in Dr. Bay’s book, How to Train a Wild Elephant. Give yourself a pat on the back. You’re doing great!

How did your practice go last week? Were you mindful during at least one meal or snack to take one bite at a time? How did it feel to eat slowly and mindfully? I know it’s a hard habit to break, especially if you’re doing something else while eating…like watching TV (ahem, me) or reading or talking to friends.

Sometimes practicing mindfulness reminds me of having two characters (little Buddhas?) sitting on either shoulder. One will remind me to engage in my practice. The other will tell me to just keep doing what I’m doing. Usually the tiny mindfulness Buddha wins.

This Week’s Practice: Become Aware of Endless Desire

This week’s practice is to become mindful of the arising of desire. Now, now, this isn’t what you think. Yes, I thought it too when I first read the title. Desire = sex, love, food, pleasure. Certainly that form of desire is part of what we’re aware of. But this practice is about more than shall we say carnal desire. Consider this example:

Your alarm goes off in the morning. What might be the first thing you wish you could do? You might wish or desire more time to sleep.

You walk into your kitchen. What do you do you desire, tea or coffee or a cinnamon bun?

Get it?

Now, there is nothing wrong with desire. Desire keeps us alive. If you didn’t desire food or drink, you’d starve and die. Yet where desire can get the better of us is when we cling to its pleasure. So, if you desire ice cream and you eat the ice cream and then tell yourself it was so good you deserve another serving, then desire starts to control you and direct your behavior.

Becoming aware of desire helps us to make conscious decisions about whether following that desire is wholesome or not. Desire can be pleasurable. Satisfying your desire can also be disappointing. It is the disappointment that causes us to always look for the next great thing. You see what kind of circle we get ourselves into. It is this restlessness that causes suffering and dissatisfaction.

This week, become aware of desire. Observe your response to desire. Does it control you? Can you simply let it go?

Reflection: Manifest plainness, Embrace simplicity, Reduce selfishness, Have few desires. -Lao-tzu


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A Year of Mindfulness-One Bite at a Time

How did you do last week observing and becoming mindful of the empty space around objects? Even though I’m artist I found this practice to be rather challenging. My week was busy and I didn’t slow down very often. So this afternoon when I took my walk, I observed the space around the trees and tree branches. The sky did seem more vibrant and the blue more intense. In fact, I think this may qualify as practicing three of our mindfulness tasks-seeing blue, observing trees, and observing empty space.

This Week’s Practice: One Bite at a Time

This week’s practice, to take one bite at a time, reminds me of being told as a child to “chew each bite of your food 37 times” (or whatever that number was-30 something.) Being told that as kids we were lead to believe that chewing a bite of food for 30 some odd times would improve our digestion. All it really did was destroy the taste of the food and make me impatient.

Taking one bite at a time, however, is more practical. In this practice we are asked to take a bite of food or a sip of liquid and then to put down our utensil or cup. Why? Well, how many of you practice eating by the shovelful? You know, take a bite, chew a little, take another bite before finishing the first bite and so on and so forth. Our go-go-go time pressured society doesn’t always encourage us to enjoy our food.

But isn’t that the point of having a nice meal? To eat slowly. To savor. When we eat slowly, we feel full sooner. When we feel full sooner, the better we become about the amount of food we eat.

The other aspect of this practice is becoming aware of impatience. Eating quickly may be considered an example of impatience. If eating quickly is a frequent occurrence, in what other aspects of your life are you impatient? And if you’re impatient in many areas of your life, do you need to ask yourself why you’re in such a rush to get through life?

When the mind is absent, thinking about the past or the future, we only half-taste our food. When our awareness rests in our mouth, we are fully present as we eat.

Reflection: There can be no party in the mouth if the mind is not invited to attend. -Dr Jan Chozen Bays


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A Year of Mindfulness: Empty Space

How did you do last week becoming mindful of the bottoms of your feet? This practice is an important one for me for health reasons. I have sciatic nerve pain & herniated discs. Last year I had to become mindful of my walking and placing my weight on the big toe side of my foot (versus the little toe side which was my “normal.”) Since last summer I have become very aware of the bottoms of my feet. I have to remind myself several times a day to ground my feet. My feet are essential for providing me with good posture and improved core strength.

This Week’s Practice: Become Aware of Empty Space

When I saw the title of this week’s practice I thought it literally had to do with empty spaces-empty rooms, empty boxes, empty spots inside of us. But that isn’t quite the case. In this week’s practice we are asked to shift our focus from the objects in front of us to the space around the objects.

Why would we want to focus on the empty space around an object? One reason is to break us of our “tunnel vision” where we typically focus on the object in front of us. That might be a building, a tree, animals, furniture. Instead, by being mindful of the empty space around the object, we shift our focus and invite the mind to rest.

As humans we are often identified by our objects-our books, our CDs, our collection of whatevers and whatnots. Yet when you’re in a room with your “stuff”, how often do you step back and see the background of the room? Are you even aware of the space around the stuff?

(It just popped into my head that this lack of space must be why I can’t deal with extremely cluttered rooms. I literally feel closed in, want to start tossing stuff out, and open up the space. Hmm….)

This observance of empty space can also be applied to our minds. When we let go of thoughts and the yammering in our heads, we find a sense of relief. So too when we release objects, we find a sense of relief and opening. Become aware of the empty space around objects. Begin to quiet the mind. In both you will find a sense of relief and peace.

Reflection: It is only in the world of objects that we have time and space and selves. -T. S. Eliot

Space, the wonderful something in nothing. -William Carmen Soyak III

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