Musings from the Moonroom

Thoughts on Art, Inspiration, Creativity and Spirit


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Winter Solstice & a Snow Storm

Happy Winter Solstice to all!

Here is a favorite post I wrote a while back on the Solstice: Happy Solstice

And here is a curious article from the Sunday Globe explaining the history of Christmas in Massachusetts. Those good ol’ Puritans. To them Christmas celebration was rooted in pagan tradition and, therefore, a bad thing. Businesses stayed open and kids went to school on December 25. Talk about Scrooge and ba-humbug!

Yes, we had a little snow here yesterday. Not nearly as much as some areas, like Cape Cod, Washington D.C., New York City, New Jersey or Philly. But, 6″-7″ of snow isn’t small stuff either. Here is a view of how it looked yesterday morning in our front yard:

And later in the morning, these guys showed up in the backyard to dine on fallen bird seed. They stayed for a couple hours!

Yes, those are wild turkeys. They started showing up last month, 7-9 of them in a group. One afternoon I watched them fly up into the trees which was pretty funny. This pair poked and scratched in the snow for quite some time.

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Artist Demo & The Green Man

Please join me on Thursday, June 18 at Five Crows Hand Crafts & Gifts, Natick, MA, from 5:30 to 8:00PM where I will be demonstrating my techniques for sculpting heads, mokume gane, and circle in square extrusions as part of ART WALK.

ART WALK takes place on the third Thursday of each month. During ART WALK, the stores & shops in Natick center stay open late for customers to visit and meet various artists demonstrating their art & craft. Light refreshments are served.

The Green Man

The Green Man was started in July 2007 when his head was created at Klay Karma. I knew he would eventually become a Spirit Messenger. The main question was what his body would look like. In March 2008, I took a workshop with Laurie Mika. After that workshop, I began construction on The Green Man. I wanted to incorporate the mosaic techniques Laurie taught us into Green Man’s body.

Originally, I thought I’d try to do this on my traditional cylindrical bodies. That idea was quickly tossed when I began to think about how the tiles would need to be curved in order to fit the cylindrical shape. The next natural choice was a flat, box like shape.

Green Man progressed in stages over several months in 2008 until he looked like this:

Green Man 2008

Green Man 2008

Not too bad but not great. Something seemed to be missing from this piece.

As often happens when working on larger pieces, Green Man was put aside while I focused on filling and shipping wholesale orders, and participating in holiday shows. Green Man sat on my table, waiting.

I got advice and input from friends about Green Man; beneficial critiques. I made some improvements to Green Man during this time. However, he still was not ready for his formal debut.

Then, as I was preparing work for the Paradise City Arts Festival, the final improvement hit me. I was almost giddy when the solution struck. Have you ever had those moments like that when you’re so psyched with a solution to a problem that you can’t focus on anything else?

And here he is, after many months of construction, delays, abandoned ideas, and finally light at the end of tunnel:

Green Man & His Sprites

Green Man & His Sprites

GreenManWSpritesClose

On his front breast plate, above the central mosaic work, glass tiles were added along with a cross embedded in gold polymer clay. Below the mosaic work I added an antique button. This helped fill in empty space. And then the two sprites were added on either side of his head for balance.

Green Man has mosaic work on all four sides. The mosaic work includes glass and polymer clay tiles, glass beads, and hole-less beads. Small branches, natural and polymer clay, are also incorporated into this piece.

Right Side

Right Side

Back

Back

Left Side

Left Side

The Green Man is 13″ tall.


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London: Day One

In 2004 we visited England and Scotland.  It was our first 10 day vacation.  We visited London and Oxford in England and then took a train from Oxford to Edinburgh where we toured the city and took both a day trip and overnight trip to the lower Highlands.

On this visit we focused solely on London and took in quite a lot in four days.

We woke up on Friday to what some might consider traditional England weather: light showers, heavier showers, and wind.  There is a four hour time difference between Massachusetts and England (at least until England switches to summer time.)  Adjusting to the time difference is always a little tricky the first day or two.  Melatonin is helpful and so is a nice nap!

We were both a bit under-the-weather on Friday most likely due to the lovely food served on our flight so our first day was low-key.

We visited Blade Rubber Stamps which is always a treat.  During our 2004 visit I bought a selection of Stewart Gill paints at Blade.  This was before Stewart Gill paints were readily available stateside.  Ironically, I didn’t see any Stewart Gill paints in the store this time.  I did, however, purchase three stamps made exclusively by Blade Rubber Stamps; a King and Queen inspired by the Lewis Chessman, some charms, and a crown stamp.  The Lewis Chessman, carved from whale teeth and walrus ivory, can be seen at the British Museum and in Edinburgh at the National Museum of Scotland.

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In turn, for visiting Blade, we ventured over to Turnkey Music, one of Europe’s leading music stores.

But the two treats for the day was visiting Pollock’s Toy Museum and the National Gallery. 

pollocks.jpgPollock’s retains its name from Benjamin Pollock who worked in the fur trade but loved to visit the shop of John Redington, which, among other things, was a theatrical print warehouse.  Here Benjamin met his future wife, Eliza.  When John Redington died, the Pollock’s inherited the business.  They continued the business of creating theatrical prints and eventually became involved in the creation of toy theatres.

In the early 50’s, Marguerite Fawdry purchased all the plates, plays and theatres that lay in a warehouse.  Some time after making this purchase, Mrs. Fawdry decided to create a toy museum along with selling the toy theatres.  And it is in the museum’s current location, on 1 Scala Street, where you’ll find three floors and numerous rooms filled with toys from the 1800’s and 1900’s as well as toy theatres and some of the original tools used by Benjamin Pollock and his family to create the original theatres.  It gives a fascinating view of the history of toys and how children used to entertain themselves.  There are no video games here.

The National Gallery contains one of the best collections of Western European paintings.  Here you’ll find paintings from 1250 to 1900 including Van Eyck, Botticelli, da Vinci, Rembrandt, Caravaggio, Van Gogh, Monet, Manet, and Cezanne.

Did you know that all National British Museums are free?  Though I haven’t found out the history behind this decision, I believe it may have some history with Queen Victoria and her support of the arts.  Whatever the history behind this, I think it is wonderful that the museums are free to all citizens and visitors.  After all, shouldn’t art be available to everyone?  A donation of 3 pounds or $5 U.S dollars is requested and separate fees are charged for special exhibits.

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Big Ben, at dusk, as seen from the entrance to the National Gallery.  The National Gallery is located in Trafalgar Square.

Next: The Tate Modern, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, and Spamalot.


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Imbolc

whitecandlesblog.jpgAt the beginning of February, the Celts celebrate Imbolc (im’olk) or Candlemas, the Feast of Lights.  February 2 is often chosen as the day of celebration because it marks the cross-quarter day on the calendar, halfway between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox.  Locally, it may be celebrated around the time of the first sign of spring.

Imbolc is a time of weather prognostication and the tradition of watching to see if serpents or badgers came from their winter dens may be a precursor to the North American Groundhog Day.  A Scottish-Gaelic proverb states:

The serpent will come from the hole
On the brown Day of Bride,
Though there should be three feet of snow
On the flat surface of the ground.

Imbolc also coincides with the feast day of St. Brigit (known as the Bride of Scotland).  Brigit or Brigid is the goddess of poetry, healing, and smithcraft.  She is associated with holy wells, sacred flames, and healing.  Therefore fire and purification are an important aspect of this festival.  The lighting of candles and fires represents warmth and the increasing power of the sun over the coming months.

Celebrate Imbolc by cleaning your house (purification), making a St. Brigit cross, or leaving a silk ribbon on your doorstep for Brigit to bless; it can then be used for healing purposes.  Meditate on what you would like to see grow in health and strength this year.


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Happy Solstice

Midwinter Solstice or Yule is the time of year when we experience our shortest day and longest night.  On this day the rebirth of the Sun god Yule is celebrated and evil winter spirits are expelled.

Winter solstice is considered a mysterious and powerful time as the sun begins to make a return journey across the sky.  Bonfires are lit to simulate the ascent of the sun and lamps are illuminated in homes with evergreens to simulate summer.

Winter solstice is a time to look back on the year’s achievements.  It is a time to use the darkness to dissolve old, outworn attitudes and defenses and to become vulnerable and sensitive.  With the fire of new light real joy arises.

Build a fire or light a candle.  Clear your mind, slow down your breathing and watch the flames burn for a while.  Let the flames burn away old habits and thoughts.  Think about your achievements for the year and clear a space for new goals and new intentions.  You may not know yet what the “new” will be.  At Imbolc (Candlemas or Feast of Lights) it will stir and reveal itself and keep the wheel turning.