Thursday, December 19, 2013

Great Gift for Beach Lovers

Do you have people in your life who make a positive difference? Here's a gift that a friend of mine discovered that is a way to let them know they're special to you.

Starfish Necklace
I am happy to make this necklace for you or a friend or family member who is special to you. Convo me at Dreamkeeper Creations on Etsy if you have an interest. It's based on a story that Loren Eiseley wrote about making a difference in this beautiful world. The version I love the most is this one:

“Once upon a time, there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work.

One day, as he was walking along the shore, he looked down the beach and saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself at the thought of someone who would dance to the day, and so, he walked faster to catch up.

As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young man, and that what he was doing was not dancing at all. The young man was reaching down to the shore, picking up small objects, and throwing them into the ocean.

He came closer still and called out "Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?"

The young man paused, looked up, and replied "Throwing starfish into the ocean."

"I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?" asked the somewhat startled wise man.

To this, the young man replied, "The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don't throw them in, they'll die."

Upon hearing this, the wise man commented, "But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can't possibly make a difference!"

At this, the young man bent down, picked up yet another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, he said, 
"It made a difference for that one.” 

Downloaded from 12/20/13

This Christmas one of my favorite customers ordered 5 necklaces for people in her life that she appreciates and she wanted them to know this. So she asked me to do something based on this story. Each person's necklace was unique to them - I asked her what colors they love, and my muse took over from there.

Each necklace includes a sterling silver starfish charm, plus a beautiful focal bead that represents the colors this person loves, plus a lovely fluffy bunch of accent beads, including rice pearls, a potato pearl, and gemstone beads that pull out the colors in the focal bead and enhance the physical energies of the wearer.

This person loves red!
The description my customer gave me of this person was that she loves red and fun, funky jewelry. So I used a gorgeous handmade lampwork lentil bead that suggests the playful movement of water with it's splashy painted design. The accent beads include bamboo coral and agate, rice pearls and the sterling silver starfish charm. 

Golds and coppers
For another friend of hers, who loves gold and copper colors, my muse chose a coppery smooth disk made of shell, and accent beads of agate, hematite, rice pearls, potato pearls and glass, plus the special sterling silver starfish charm.

Blues and Lapis
For another one of her friends she wanted blues, so my muse chose a gorgeous handmade lampwork bead by Grace Ma, and we added Swarovski crystal beads, agate, onyx, and rice pearls as well as a potato pearl.

Warm earth colors
For another friend and colleague who loves warm earth colors, browns, greens, and oranges, we chose a gorgeous agate focal bead, and added agate, hematite, rice pearls, potato pearl, and the starfish charm.

Each recipient will receive a 20" sterling chain that feels like silk when you run it through you fingers, so smooth and flexible, plus a shorter 16" leather necklace with sterling end caps and lobster clasp in case they want to wear their necklaces a bit shorter.

They also get a copy of the story along with the reminder that the gift giver considers them something special - a "starfish tosser" - someone who makes a real difference in this world.

I had such a good time making these necklaces and was charmed at how different each one is, unique to the wearer, but holding the same message: you are special.

I LOVE doing custom creations. Don't hesitate to contact me for ideas you may have. Many good things are born of good minds and hearts working together, and the gift keeps on giving each time the wearer puts it on.


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Dance with Destiny - new ink image

Destiny shows me her dance steps
For my Wonderlit course we had an exercise where we had to write "the catalyst" for change.

Michelle said "Let it [the catalyst for change] describe itself--even if you've simply called it "emptiness" or "longing." She said, "Make sure to use strong language, especially verbs."

I perceived that the catalyst for change in The Dragon Slayer is "destiny," because he isn't the one who makes the decision to go slay the Dragon; he's chosen by one of the other noble warriors.

When I reread the first draft I felt that I had taken the suggestion to "use lots of action verbs" too seriously: the dialog below shows how I first imagined Destiny would talk to Dobrynya, the hero, who's been chosen to free the princess and the people of the kingdom from the twelve-tailed Dragon:

"I am Destiny. I am Fate. Hear my call summoning you. You've had enough time to practice, now it's time for the real thing. Get up! Listen! Act! (see my action verbs? ugh) Apply yourself! You have been chosen for this. Now is the right time!! (! do you think I put in enough exclamation points?!) I will give you strength and determination. I will stay with you; haven't I stayed with you all these long years? Now is the time to act, for you are very well prepared. Do not fear, but carry on!"

This dialog feels kind of like a kid getting yelled at by their mother. So I slept on it, and when I woke up I decided to change it. (This is one of the things I like best about writing, that we can change things.) I rewrote how I imagined Destiny would communicate with Dobrynya. (I kind of see everything in life as preparation for what comes next, like a puzzle where at the end all the pieces fit together to make a beautiful tapestry. In the story, Dobrynya has won many battles as a noble warrior, so one thought I had was that Destiny had been there for the ride all the way and she could take a gentler, more encouraging tone with this Dragon battle).


Destiny is patient, kind, and knowing. She has been riding with me all along. She sees and knows everything, so her eyes are important. She is beautiful, timeless; she wears the colors of the rainbow.

She says, "At last I get to meet you, Dobrynya. We are longtime associates. You are one of my favorites. You have a good heart and you are full of love. Come with me as you face the Dragon. Relax into me and let me be your wings. My sister is Fate and she is the culmination of all that you and I do together. We create fate in the journey of our destiny. Fate is legacy. Fate is all that you have done and said. Fate is the reflection of all that you are. Fate is love because you are love, and love always wins. Come with us now more consciously--and use your special gifts. You've earned them. Share them with the people of the kingdom to free them from the Dragon's cave. We are with you."

In another exercise we, as students, imagine ourselves in the protagonist's situation. In doing that I drew the image above that shows me (on the left), quite the ingenue, with offerings of sunflowers for my meeting with Destiny. I'm dressed in soft pink fabric with a golden sash (to represent limitation without the "magical" gifts, but not too restrictive). Destiny has no restrictions. She has more freedom and takes my arm to show me her dance steps (how to develop the magical gifts). She is a world traveler with very few limitations. She has a treasure box full of wonderful magical things for me to explore. She has, by her side, Crow, who represents Cosmic Law.

I think we all have special gifts and talents to use in our lives, and the little stars by my head in the image represent that. We can reach out and grab one if we want, and in the image Destiny helps "me" do that.

I still need to draw her sister Fate, which I'm contemplating. Am not sure if she'll appear in this picture (probably) or in another (probably). Anyway, the work is totally fun, not so much work as play, and the journey is interesting. I think the artwork is coalescing - which is part of what I'm looking for in this course. I am getting better able to convey feelings that may be common to others, and in that way, maybe can share a little comaraderie.

I will paint this after I finish drawing it. Should be beautiful--wish me good luck!


Monday, December 9, 2013

New Learning - Wonderlit Rocks!

Story Map
Well I'm about 6 weeks into retirement and pursuing some of the things my new "boss" encouraged me to pursue in order to create new foundations and directions (similar to what I did when I started my job as an instructional designer - learning is a great way to "resituate").

I'm about halfway through the Wonderlit course, and it is sooo much fun - multifaceted, and the learning is applicable to where the student has been, where the student is now, and where the student intends to go. It's very interesting from the instructional design point of view to experience how the course author pegged so many of the things that students are demanding these days, such as very personalized learning, total engagement, options (no single answer is the only right answer), applicability, depth, etc.

The image above is from an exercise that included a lot of thinking and application of course concepts; it is a drawing depicting the passage of the protagonist in a fairy tale of our choosing. I chose The Dragon Slayer from Fairy Tales of Russia, an old, old book that my parents used to read to me when I was very young. The illustrations in this story are so beautiful; they're what first sparked my love of art.

I love this image of Dobrynya fighting the twelve-tailed Dragon from the book Fairy Tales of Russia.
One of the course author, Michelle Tocher's beliefs is that fairy tales have much to teach us, and students often tend to focus on the ones that most directly reflect our life path or current circumstances when we begin to really study a storyline.

She teaches us about Joseph Campbell and his work with mythology and religion. Michelle herself has a strong background in the history of science and religion as well as journalism, communications, and storytelling (nice combination of skillsets!). In her course, we learn how to immerse ourselves in the story, really studying the story from many different viewpoints (including the characters themselves, whether human or inanimate, including magical forces), and we learn how to associate the archetypal lessons with some of life's real-life lessons and events.

My Story Map
When we apply the same storymapping technique to the events in our real world lives, it can be very interesting as well as confirming. My little map depicts the beginning of my real-life story at the point where I was a single mom with two beautiful children to raise on my own. I traveled from the mountains of Colorado to the town where my sister lived, where there happened to be a wonderful university, the largest employer of that little town. I worked there for 16 years while raising my kids, but at the point where they left home to go out into the world and spread their own wings, I filled the void left by their absence with art (of course). I happily worked on it many nights and most weekends into the wee hours, but after about three years of that schedule, I became very tired, and realized I had to choose between the day job and the artwork. It was a hard choice because I was very invested in both, but the art of my heart won.

Sometimes the universe has to kick us in the butt before we'll listen and my crisis point where I felt the kick was when I was in the kitchen talking with my husband one evening. I was in a place in our house that probably wouldn't pass code today (old house), where the basement door and the studio door and the door to the outside converge. It's a very small space. I was waving my arms about and my hand hit the little window on the outside door. To our surprise, the window broke into a thousand pieces, and that was the point of decision - we became silent, looking at the little pieces of glass on the floor and I suddenly woke up and realized I could no longer burn my candle at both ends. So I made the choice to take the leap into the art world, and what a gift that has been, though leaving my other world was very hard.

So my story map above shows me stepping off the "magic carpet" (which is the office floor at my university) and into the new and developing world.

Illustrating a message dream.
Another image I've done for this course is a depiction of a dream I had which represents a conversation I had with my husband about starting a new business. The image shows me holding a child (the child is "the new artistic endeavors/the business which is being "birthed" - in the dream it was a toddler because I had been working on it, but it was still very young). I'm standing next to my husband in the doorway of our home. The dining room represents the state of the "heart's dream," (to devote myself to art exclusively), and in the dream it was in a state of neglect (since I was more committed to the university job). So there are chairs turned over, spiderwebs, a little box of new tools that says "please open," and symbols representing the four elements - air (the window), earth (the plant), water (half-empty pitcher), and fire (unlit candle). The four elements are elements that must be present (and active) in order for the "thought" to become "reality"; for "matter to manifest." There is also the fifth element, spirit, which is represented in the union of the man and the woman (male = action plus female = intuition or receiving nature). When all these elements combine, the dream becomes reality.

So for this Wonderlit course, I've been doing the textual/thinking lesson work and supplementing it with some visual work, which is very fun. The next thing I get to draw is Destiny and her sister Fate. Can't wait to see how that one turns out. I will be painting these at some point. Right now am drawing them faster than I can keep up painting them, plus have several lovely commissioned bead orders for Christmas that I need to get done in the next few days.

Check back to see the painted versions and to meet Destiny and Fate : )

Along with the Wonderlit activities, I'm reading some really good books, which include Right Brain Business Plan, The Gift, and Make Art Make Money (a study of Jim Henson's philosophies) - really great stuff for creative people.

I think this learning will provide some direction for where my artwork goes. It also is helping to strengthen my writing for some other projects I've been working on (Tree Book, Tree Book, more info to come!!!!).

Thanks for checking in - hope your journeys are rewarding as well!