Art of the Firebird http://artofthefirebird.com Glass. Cats. Dance. Not a bad life, at that. Wed, 30 Jul 2014 21:14:19 +0000 en-US hourly 1 In This Place http://artofthefirebird.com/2014/06/22/in-this-place/ http://artofthefirebird.com/2014/06/22/in-this-place/#comments Sun, 22 Jun 2014 23:13:52 +0000 http://artofthefirebird.com/?p=36469

Layne Redmond

Have you ever found yourself at a place, or an event, where you were uncomfortable and felt like you didn’t quite  belong, but yet you KNEW you were supposed to be there?

Today at the Asheville Percussion Festival, a memorial Celebration of Life for Layne Redmond closed out the three-day event. I never met Layne. I only know her through her book, When the Drummers Were Women, which I added to my library and  read through long before I finally began to learn to drum, plus a handful of YouTube videos. The room was full of those who had been her friends, her students, people with some sort of personal connection to her. I had none.

But when the prior workshop ended and I thought about leaving, I didn’t. I moved my seat and my drums away from the front of the room, but I stayed in the room. When everyone sang, I sang. When everyone joined the processional, drums playing, out to the waterfall, I thought again about leaving, but instead I pulled out my deyereh, bought just the previous day, and joined in. I played through the ceremony, while Layne’s ashes were passed in their bowl from person to person, scattered to the four corners of the Serenity Garden, and eventually given to the waterfall. I said my own blessing and goodbye to her spirit as the bowl came to me, though I never knew her in this world. I did not leave until everything ended and everyone began to go their way back out into the world.

Maybe the only reason I was compelled to stay was to bless and charge my new drum? Maybe it was simply to acknowledge Layne’s influence, however small and remote, on me? Whatever. There was some powerful energy moving at OM Sanctuary in Asheville this weekend, crescendoing to a climax this afternoon, and I was a teeny weeny little mote of a part of it, for whatever reason.

 

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List Me, Baby! http://artofthefirebird.com/2014/03/05/list-baby/ http://artofthefirebird.com/2014/03/05/list-baby/#comments Wed, 05 Mar 2014 05:20:36 +0000 http://artofthefirebird.com/?p=36436 (C4ward March Blogathon Day 4)

Five Goals to Achieve Sometime Before I Die

  1. Create jewelry items that tribal dancers buy, love, and wear while performing.
  2. Perform a solo at a major bellydance event like TribalCon.
  3. Travel to New Zealand, and maybe Australia too. DH & I don’t really care that much for travel, but we could make an exception for this.
  4. Become an ATS® Sister Studio and/or Gypsy Caravan Collective Soul Certified dancer
  5. See the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights). Just because.

Five Goals to Accomplish in the Next Five Years to Move Towards Achieving The Above Goals

  1. Keep learning new jewelry skills and honing the ones I already have.
  2. Have professional photographs made of my work for advertising and festival entry purposes.
  3. Research New Zealand  & Australia to determine where to go and what to do while there.
  4. Attend and perform at as many bellydance events as possible, either solo or with a troupe.
  5. Take at least two of the Collective Soul certification levels and/or retake ATS® General Skills and Teacher Training I.

Five Goals to Accomplish in the Next 12 MONTHS… as if it were the last year of my life!

  1. Take as many ATS® classes as possible.
  2. Get the Gypsy Caravan DVDs and start working with them.
  3. Perform at least one solo at Oasis, Open Mic Night, or Northside Tribe’s own show.
  4. Draw up a will!!!! (gotta be practical somewhere)
  5. Make sure my husband and son (at least) know how much I love them.

What I Noticed when Making the Above Three Lists

  1. None of the items had anything to do with my profession as a college professor. Basically, I’ve achieved every feasible goal there and I’m just maintaining status quo.
  2. Setting goals for my little nanobusiness of making jewelry is HARD because I don’t want to turn it into a career per se. I don’t want to get so serious about it that it takes the fun out of creating stuff.
  3. Tangible goals for my bellydancing hobby is easy enough because I’m such a newbie at it; the problem is that my age is working against me there.
  4. Some practical things really should not be put off.
  5. There’s a lot of DO-ing on the list, but in truth, I wouldn’t have to do any of these things except #5 (and #4 for practical reasons) on the 12-month list, and I’d be happy.
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Sharing My Favorite Creative Work http://artofthefirebird.com/2014/03/04/sharing-favorite-creative-work/ http://artofthefirebird.com/2014/03/04/sharing-favorite-creative-work/#comments Wed, 05 Mar 2014 04:22:31 +0000 http://artofthefirebird.com/?p=36428 (C4ward March Blogathon Day 3 post, a day late because Monday is my insanely long day with no breathing room)

What should I show as my favorite creative work? In what area did I DO my favorite creative work?

Was it this pair of chainmaille earrings?

Sterling & Niobium Chainmaille Earrings

Sterling & Niobium Chainmaille Earrings

Or these earrings made from one of my favorite pairs of lampworked beads?

Lampworked glass bead earrings

Lampworked glass bead earrings

Was it this paper I did for my first art class on German artist Käthe Kollwitz?

Käthe Kollwitz image

Käthe Kollwitz Self-Portrait

Or perhaps the debut performance of the dance troupe to which I belong at TribalCon last month?

I can’t decide!!

 

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Five Year Plan? What Five Year Plan? http://artofthefirebird.com/2014/03/02/five-year-plan-five-year-plan/ http://artofthefirebird.com/2014/03/02/five-year-plan-five-year-plan/#comments Mon, 03 Mar 2014 01:54:36 +0000 http://artofthefirebird.com/?p=36421

C4ward March Blogathon: Day 2 Prompt

“Where” is your creative work going? Envision yourself and your work five years or more from now.

  • Who are you and what do you see your work as “being”?
  • How is your work “evolving” and “becoming”?
  • What about your work inspires you? Inspires others?
  • Where are you going and what are you doing after this (five-year) point in the future?

The truth? I don’t have any kind of a five-year plan, artistic or business. I tend to have Artistic Attention Deficit Disorder (AADD) so what I am creating at any moment is based on what medium I feel like working in at that point and what I am inspired to create with the tools and materials available.

When I create jewelry, whether it be the glass beads & pendants, the chainmaille, or the odd mixed media concoctions, I’m trying to create items that are edgily wearable, or would that be wearably edgy? I want to create your “go-to” piece of adornment, the one that you automatically reach for whether you are wearing jeans or a business suit or a little black dress. I want to create the unique piece that becomes a part of YOU, the piece that, when other people see it. they know it’s perfect for you, and maybe the perfect piece for them is there as well.

Hunh. How about that?

My work evolves rather organically, driven by improvements in skill and technique, availability of materials, and (though it sounds rather “fluffy”) what I’m feeling from the Universe. I no longer particularly try to direct it (been there, doesn’t work). Ideas and inspiration come from many places — some of the best from my customers! — and will often have to percolate for a while before they can be attended to. Some of the best pieces both my business partner & I have made have been ones where we’ll see a bead or a component that the other made and it will trigger something in our own brain:

Shawl Pin

Pin created by Andrea, bead by Julia

Thinking about this, I don’t feel any urge to worry about where I’ll be artistically in five years, or ten years, or however long I keep at this. I only feel the urge to keep an open mind and keep experimenting.

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C4ward March Blogathon Day 1 http://artofthefirebird.com/2014/03/01/c4ward-march-blogathon-day-1/ http://artofthefirebird.com/2014/03/01/c4ward-march-blogathon-day-1/#comments Sun, 02 Mar 2014 01:17:10 +0000 http://artofthefirebird.com/?p=36418 On a whim I decided to participate in this challenge — blog every day for two weeks, with prompts given, about my creative journey. I’m doing it here, on my personal site, rather than on Copper Dancer Designs or Thursday Nights at Windy Hill, because I choose not to limit myself to one aspect of my polymath life for this project.

Today’s prompt:

Tell us the big “why” behind the creative work you do.  Here are a few questions to consider as you write:

  • Why do you exist?
  • What is your purpose here on this earth?
  • How would you express the “why” behind your creative work in a few short sentences?
  • What do you want to be remembered for?
  • Can you think of three or more key words that embody the reason why you create art?
  • If you were to write a short, memorable, and inspirational t-shirt message about the purpose or mission for your creative work, what would it say?

Well, I suppose I do my creative work because I can’t NOT do it. I’ve always created, even if it was just somewhere inside my head. My hands, especially, always have to be doing something, whether it’s creating program code, jewelry, socks, words, pound cakes, or drum beats. Creating stuff brings me inner peace and seems to bring others little bits of beauty and enjoyment — not a bad thing at all!

Why do I exist and what is my purpose here on earth? I don’t know that yet, and honestly, I don’t think it really matters to me on a day to day basis. Especially as I get older, I try not to spend too much time getting all existential about my existence. I’m here, I’m learning and growing and doing the best I can, trying to share what I learn and provide an example that perhaps others can find helpful. As I get older, I’m learning to be more in the moment and less about the unknowable. How people remember me after I’m gone is the same as what people think of me today — none of my business and out of my control. So I don’t spend energy being concerned about it. I’d rather create and just put it out there.

“Create for yourself; share it with the world.”

 

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So, What D&D Character Am I? (meme) http://artofthefirebird.com/2013/08/08/so-what-dd-character-am-i-meme/ http://artofthefirebird.com/2013/08/08/so-what-dd-character-am-i-meme/#comments Thu, 08 Aug 2013 20:13:31 +0000 http://artofthefirebird.com/?p=36071 I Am A: Neutral Good Human Wizard (6th Level)

Ability Scores:
Strength-9
Dexterity-10
Constitution-11
Intelligence-16
Wisdom-13
Charisma-11

Alignment:
Neutral Good A neutral good character does the best that a good person can do. He is devoted to helping others. He works with kings and magistrates but does not feel beholden to them. Neutral good is the best alignment you can be because it means doing what is good without bias for or against order. However, neutral good can be a dangerous alignment when it advances mediocrity by limiting the actions of the truly capable.

Race:
Humans are the most adaptable of the common races. Short generations and a penchant for migration and conquest have made them physically diverse as well. Humans are often unorthodox in their dress, sporting unusual hairstyles, fanciful clothes, tattoos, and the like.

Class:
Wizards are arcane spellcasters who depend on intensive study to create their magic. To wizards, magic is not a talent but a difficult, rewarding art. When they are prepared for battle, wizards can use their spells to devastating effect. When caught by surprise, they are vulnerable. The wizard’s strength is her spells, everything else is secondary. She learns new spells as she experiments and grows in experience, and she can also learn them from other wizards. In addition, over time a wizard learns to manipulate her spells so they go farther, work better, or are improved in some other way. A wizard can call a familiar- a small, magical, animal companion that serves her. With a high Intelligence, wizards are capable of casting very high levels of spells.

Find out What Kind of Dungeons and Dragons Character Would You Be?, courtesy of Easydamus (e-mail)

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Celebrities vs. Politics http://artofthefirebird.com/2013/07/02/celebrities-vs-politic/ http://artofthefirebird.com/2013/07/02/celebrities-vs-politic/#comments Wed, 03 Jul 2013 03:06:11 +0000 http://artofthefirebird.com/?p=36061 Last Tuesday night I had been one of the 180,000+ viewers, via YouTube, of State Senator Wendy Davis’s epic filibuster against the Texas abortion regulation bill. Wednesday morning, the U.S. Supreme Court had issued its rulings overturning California Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act, two days after they gutted major provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. In other words, the past few days had seen some very significant political and judicial action.

Wednesday night after dance class I was chatting in the parking lot with several classmates and our teacher. They barely had any idea of any of the political news of the past few days — in fact one of them flatly stated that she never listened to the news any more because it was too depressing. What were they completely up to date on and animatedly discussing? Paula Dean’s woes and Kim & Kanye’s baby.

Paula Dean. Kim Kardashian. Seriously. In no way are the behaviors, and misbehaviors, of any celebrity likely to ever affect our lives.  True, abortion rights and gay rights may not ever directly affect my classmates, or those close to them. But there is a far greater likelihood that those legal actions will be personally significant  some day.

We need to devote our attention and energy to the important things that affect the world, not the train wrecks of people that just happen to be Famous (with a capital F).

 

 

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WordCamp Atlanta 2012 http://artofthefirebird.com/2012/02/10/wordcamp-atlanta-2012/ http://artofthefirebird.com/2012/02/10/wordcamp-atlanta-2012/#comments Sat, 11 Feb 2012 04:05:19 +0000 http://artofthefirebird.com/?p=36007 I’ve decided that most professional conferences are, as far as I am concerned, not really worth it for me. I’m far more interested in improving my technical knowledge than listening to a bunch of educators blather about what is the most appropriate pedagogical approach to computing, or in listening to a different bunch of academics blather about some esoteric aspect of computing with no practical application to anyone’s life or work.

So I love WordCamp because I can hang out with fellow geeks and learn WordPress and web design stuff I can actually USE on an everyday basis to make my teaching, my business, and my volunteer work better. Both WordCamp Atlanta events that I’ve been at have been held at SCAD Atlanta, which is really a great facility, and have been well organized and run by an all-volunteer staff. Most of the sessions I attended this year were in the designer or developer tracks because I was interested in more technical information, but there are always many good presentations for beginners and non-technical users as well.

Plus no one blinks when they see you sitting there knitting while you wait for the next session to start!

If you’d like to see a little of what I learned, Marna Friedman has collected most of the presentations from the event on the Northwest Atlanta WordPress Meetup site. We heard also that plans are in the works for the second WordCamp Savannah to be held this May, so you have an opportunity there to experience this for yourself.

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Donovan http://artofthefirebird.com/2012/01/12/donovan/ http://artofthefirebird.com/2012/01/12/donovan/#comments Thu, 12 Jan 2012 18:32:16 +0000 http://artofthefirebird.com/?p=36000 It’s taken me a while to get to the point where I can write this post.

We noticed shortly before Thanksgiving that Donovan, our youngest cat, was looking a little thin for him. I kept an eye on him for the next couple of weeks, and by the second week of December it was clear that he was indeed losing weight. I wasn’t sure how much because I couldn’t find the record of his last vet visit, but I remembered him being generally around 14 pounds. When I weighed him, he was down to around 10 1/2 pounds.

That alarmed me, especially when I realized that he wasn’t being his usual energetically squirrely self. We took him to the vet that Monday, December 12. When Dr. Globerman felt his abdomen, she immediately said she felt something there that she didn’t like. The x-ray she immediately took told the full tale — as I had feared as soon as she spoke, it was cancer, aggressive and fast-spreading. There had been absolutely NO sign of it four months earlier in August, when Donovan had gone to the vet because of an absessed bite wound on his shoulder.

Given how rapidly the cancer had progressed and how far it had spread, Dr. Globerman said that in her opinion, surgery would not buy a lot of time. She didn’t even suggest chemo. Since we all knew that Donovan was a very nervous and anxious cat in the best of times, and that he was a very hard cat to medicate, I made the difficult decision to not make his last weeks a nightmare of stressful treatments that were unlikely to delay the inevitable for long.

For the next two and a half weeks, we cosseted Donovan as much as he would let us during his decline. He had established his “home base” in my studio, so I set up a comfortable bed for him in his chosen spot under my worktable.  His food and water bowls were placed in there, right by his bed. He would still get up and come out for visits, and often in the evening would come snuggle in his usual spot on our bed for a while as I read or knitted.

Donovan had no appetite to speak of and in fact had trouble eating anything — he’d bite a piece of kibble and the pieces would fall out of his mouth. So I would fix him a bit of canned “junk food” like Fancy Feast or Friskies, well watered down into a soup. He could lap up a little of that at a time, but as the days wore on even that didn’t interest him. Finally, the only thing he would really even try to eat was the Friskies “Natural Sensations” treats — he wouldn’t even eat Greenies!

It broke my heart to watch him growing weaker and weaker, but I didn’t want to lose him before I had to. I knew he would let me know when it was time to go, and when I got home from dance class on the 29th, he did. He came out of his bed and quietly wailed to me when I came in the room.

The next day, Friday, December 30, we took him to Dr. Globerman’s and sent him on to Rainbow Bridge.

R.I.P. Donovan, March 2003 – December 30, 2011. You left me far too soon, sweet boy, and I terribly miss your snuggly, silly self. I’ll meet you at the Bridge when the time come — in the meantime you can cuddle & play with Iris, and Andrea’s Bellacoolah and Mincot and Piglet, and all the Good Mews kitties there.

 

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Thanksgiving Break Lessons http://artofthefirebird.com/2011/11/27/thanksgiving-break-lessons/ http://artofthefirebird.com/2011/11/27/thanksgiving-break-lessons/#comments Mon, 28 Nov 2011 04:45:14 +0000 http://artofthefirebird.com/?p=35982 …was far too short, and far too full of people for my taste. A family Thanksgiving dinner and a family milestone birthday party within four days were gatherings that were just too big, too noisy, too crowded and chaotic for my peace of mind, and that was with one whole branch of the family missing entirely.

After all these years, I should learn to not let my one sister get on my nerves, period end of story. I should learn not to speak my mind to my older nieces because they have not developed an ability to filter what they hear and say. I should learn to arrive late to crowded gatherings, and leave early, to lessen the risk that my tolerance of crowds will run out prematurely. I should learn that there is just no pleasing some people. I should learn that thinking of myself is not selfish, it’s sanity-saving.

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