Transition post

December 29, 2013

If you are interested in transition issues and how they apply to personal choices, please go on over to tending time, where I’ve just written a post on some questions brought up for me by two books I’ve recently read: Charles Eisenstein’s, ‘The More beautiful world our hearts know is possible’, and Charlotte du Cann’s, ’52 flowers that shook my world, a radical return to earth’.

It is hard to pinpoint why I don’t write these posts for artcalling- they seem more private somehow, and I feel that they will be more relevant to people in transition themselves, and less to others who are still striving to ‘make it’ commercially as artists.


After a fantastic 2 1/2 days with Jeff and Joyce up visiting, I had to get used to being on my own again. We’d spent the days touring Pittsburgh neighborhoods, talking about old times, laughing and stopping for yummie things every once in awhile. Thursday night I made a big salad and we ate out on the deck with the fairy lights on, magical. And last night we made a nice dinner here and had a cozy meal while it stormed outside.

So when they left, first I walked over to the house where I grew up.  In that neighborhood I met a man walking a dog and we walked together through part of Frick Park, turns out we went to the same grade school. That shared history is one thing I really miss living outside of my own culture and place.

Later,  I revisted Square Café where J&J & I ‘d had lunch yesterday, and sat at a table for one. I’d had a brief exchange with a lady on the way to the counter to order, and at some point she came over and said I was so sweet looking she just had to come and wish me Happy Mother’s Day (I figure Lucie counts as a child of sorts, so thanked her 🙂 ). We got to talking and had a warm conversation. She went back to her table and later come over and gave me the cookie pictured to welcome me to Pittsburgh. She told me her son is a cook at the café. So we talked some more, and she came around and we posed for the picture, I’d given her one of my little silk ribbon roses.

When she left, I got to talking to the couple seated next to me, and that was really nice as well. We all agreed what a friendly town Pittsburgh was. Well, mostly….. I was walking through my neighborhood this past week and a car came tearing around the corner with 5 police cars screaming after it. It was a real car chase, but not at all entertaining. There was only fear and desperation, and a real risk of someone getting seriously hurt as the car tore through all the intersections, it really shook me up.

Other than that, though I feel safe and comfortable here, on the edge of Wilkinsburg.

Creating community

May 24, 2012

Group dining together (Source)

The issue of community has been up for me recently, it is always a concern of mine, but something has changed.

Our international online artist’s group is doing a joint project called Space, Place and Story. We were all asked to answer several questions about what ‘home’ meant to us, and how the place we lived in affected our art.

In answering these questions my usual story surfaced, of feeling displaced here as an internationally oriented American in provincial northern Holland. And the feeling of loss I carry around with me having left several communities behind in the states and in Scotland, so far not being able to recreate an intimate sense of community locally.

It turned out that many in our group were dealing with similar feelings of being an outsider.

As my contribution to the project grew, primarily through some compassionate and perceptive questioning by one of the project leaders, Sibylle, my ‘usual’ story began to change. I saw how, though it had been uncomfortable, the breaking down of my professional identity here in Holland had made way for a deeper, more inclusive kind of art sensibility. I’ve been infinitely enriched by being here in another culture.

In a little book called, ‘The Community of Kindness’ from Conari Press, there is a story of how a woman always used to spend her childhood summers at a lake where other families would come year after year.  That ended when she reached adulthood.

‘The experience of being part of a community can be so powerful that iits absence feels like a deep wound. That’s useful because the pain reminds us that it is important to be connected to others. But at the same time, we can get stuck looking backward, mourning what is lost or even  trying to reconstruct something that cannot be put back together again.’

This, and the project with my artist’s group are opening new perceptions for me of what community could mean if I stop trying to recreate what I’ve lost, but look instead to what is here. The truth is, that in searching for my fixed idea of a close knit community of like minded people, I may have overlooked some of the many chances for connection that I have closeby.

Realizing this has also opened up a question about how my art could relate more to the issue of community and connection, and I’m asking myself, ‘Is there a way to enhance this?’

Craft chronicles

March 19, 2011

etalage before

For years our etalage has been a storage room for art and everything else

My new project is starting a shop/mini-gallery at home featuring beautiful handmade functional objects made by myself, my husband and guest artists.

Though I am not exactly thrilled at the idea of having opening hours (and probably won’t have any regular ones), the project answers a lot of my needs- short and long term. It gives me a structural, continuing base on which to build. This balances the nature of my free-lance work which usually involves large, one-of-a kind projects which sometimes demand a steep learning curve to learn to apply my skills to a set of new materials which I then don’t use again, often for several years (lettering a 100 year old huge document, burning letters in a wooden grave marker, decorating a period instrument, making a giant gold leaf sign for the local church/hermitage).

Having a craft shop in this period of rising interest in knitting, felting, crocheting, beading etc. supports good quality work and the artists making it, and also provides inspiration to aspiring handwork hobbyists.  I love to teach, so workshops will be a part of the concept.

new space

New space with hardboard wall removed

Important to me is the relationship with the local community. My focus will be in this neighborhood (rural northern Holland) and surrounding area rather than internet for now. I have a nice working relationship with the people who own the only other store (gallery and gift shop) in the village (besides the motorboat shop), they have a large space and we are planning an autumn creative course program linked with both our shops.

My space, on the other hand,  is tiny- three people max including me can fit in there and stilll breathe. But there is room for a table and 2 chairs and I can still offer one on one tutoring. Also, I am excited about the idea of organizing some local craft-ins, where people can just come and bring their currrent project and work and drink tea together.

Felt & beaded brooche- button from V&A museum gift shop(UK)

I have been having a great time working with felt, silk and beads to create some brooches for sale. My friend Betty just bought the first one, so that starts things off well. I’m making some great cotton roses for interior decoration, smaller ones for brooches as well.

brooches and buttons

Some brooches and a bowl of porselein buttons

I think I will post here from time to time (see Category Craft Chronincles) to share how this project unfolds. It is a leap, the last time we had a shop here, very few people came, and the village were not at all interested. But things have changed in 15 years and it feels like the time is right.