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Archive for December 3rd, 2008

Colorjoy is sometimes Making Things

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2008

greenhandspun20.jpgSometimes the idea of ColorJoy is about making things, about being creative in any number of ways. I remember the six years when I taught computer seminars for a corporate training company (where we were forbidden to wear even dress pants, only skirts/dresses were allowed), I had a lot of restraints on how I could do certain things during the workday.

My instincts for costuming as an artform were limited to a great degree during that time. I could not wear African or Indian clothing to work during those years. I was getting away with what others could not, when I wore a sweater and cotton hose with my skirt rather than a sport jacket and sheer nylons.

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I made myself a pact during those years. I committed to myself to do at least one small creative act each day. Sometimes I was driving 2 hours one way to teach and then driving 2 hours back, and there was studying to do after work (learning the next versions of software as new ones were released). I sometimes had time to eat and sleep, pretty much,sparroweudora.jpg before heading out to work again.

So some days my creativity was making dinner. Some days I would rubberstamp the envelopes which held my payments for utility bills.

I could not always spend even an hour on making “true art,” whatever that might have meant at the time. But just getting out rubber stamps made me feel more free. I needed to keep that commitment to my artistic self while I was working to pay the reasonable expenses of living an adult life.

Today I am picturing a big variety of creative products. Some are more accepted in this world as art, some are considered creative by some and not others. All are part of my concept of ColorJoy: Art as an Everyday Attitude.

The first photo here I’m really excited about. I bought some turquoise and hot green Romney (a breed of sheep with shiny, somewhat rugged fiber) wool roving in August 2006 at Michigan Fiber Festival. It was dyed and carded by my friends at Heritage Spinning in Lake Orion, Michigan (north of Pontiac and Detroit).

Since I got that roving, nothing else has been on my spinning wheel. It was merely 8 ounces of wool, but I just had so much to distract me at home that I seemed to never spin.

Sometime this year, Rae invited me to bring my wheel to her shop and spin there. I do sometimes have quinoapeasalad.jpgwaiting moments between classes, and surely enough, I got going on that roving again. I finished the first 4 ounces and then before I knew it, I had a second bobbin with the second 4 oz on it.

On my birthday last Friday, between feeding guests cake, I spun. And then I took each bobbin full and made a center-pull ball of yarn. I plied the yarn from each ball to itself (one strand from each end of the ball). And I ended up with two very pretty, very fuzzy, shiny, colorful skeins of yarn.

I insist on spinning yarn a bit thicker than other spinners, I just do not enjoy spinning thin. I also insist on spinning a bit thick and thin. So the yarn looks very much handspun and imperfect. I love it that way. It looks green now that it is spun up and plied, and it seems to be about an aran weight or bulky yarn. I am planning some ribbed legwarmers before winter is over.

In the case of my handspun, I did not dye the fiber, friends did. I spun it. In the second photo, I show my dyeing creativity. In that case I purchase commercially spun yarns and add color to them. It’s a different sort of “Making Things.”

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The next photo is about costuming… not for work or everyday life (a passion of mine), but for the stage. The costume I am wearing was created by Phaedra of the Habibi Dancers. She’s a very skilled costumer and I traded her some computer expertise for this costume several years ago. I wear it all the time, it is as if this one was made just for me. Others have tried to borrow it but I seem to be who it really fits. Love it.

Next was a lunch I whipped up one day and it was very creative since I’d never put those ingredients together before. Also it was very tasty! I had some leftover quinoa (a pseudo-grain according to Wikipedia, which contains very high quality protein), and I put it with frozen peas, chopped red bell pepper, black olives and fresh parsley. I assume I put olive oil on it, and very likely gomasio (crushed sesame seeds and sea salt. Yes, that was a creative act!

Next is a multiple-person creative project. My young knitter A. is wearing a hat she knit… from yarn spun by Rae. She is now making wristwarmers with the leftover yarn.

fabheftonesbarndoor.jpgLast but best of all, is my bass. It is called a Heftone and it was invented and built by my Father in Law, Larry Hefferan in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He started out wanting a portable outdoor-friendly bass that could have notes played. “Gut bucket/washtub basses did not do for him what he envisioned.

The first Heftones had weed-whacker cord for strings (very colorful but hard to tune). They had plastic buckets for sound chambers. Now he uses a commercially-purchased hand drum and hand-carves the neck and other parts to go around that. They have electric bass strings. Brilliant. I adore playing my Heftone.

Do you have any particular commitments you make to yourself regarding creative output or thought? Do you find creativity in your everyday moments such as gardening or cooking? What makes you feel like you are in touch with that inner artful being?