Ikebana

Spooky Action at a Distance

As a quick update I have been in Wyoming since the beginning of January for my show with Maria Rose Wimmer called "Spooky Action at a Distance". The installation at Casper College lasted two full days and spans two galleries and an atrium. I couldn't be more delighted with the work and how it looks in the spaces.

My knees were bruised from kneeling in a glass box installing my interpretation of particles in space. I climbed an eighteen foot ladder for five hours to hang all the strings for the graphing installation. Who knew art would be such great exercise? It's like the installation process adds a performative aspect to the work. There are hyper-lapse videos to edit.

Our reception is on February 23rd at 12pm with the artist lecture at 12:30pm. We'll explain all our inspirations and the fun we had researching quantum entanglement. Albert Einstein, who came up the theory, called it "Spooky Action", hence the title of the show. I am also teaching a soft sculpture workshop at Casper College on February 21st from 2-4pm. The workshop is designed for hand sewers. Fear not those without a sewing machine!

In the mean time, I am the first artist in residence at Art 321, the gallery run by the Casper Artist Guild. The space is gorgeous and there are always interesting classes going on. They are really kind letting me use a table and an outlet for my sewing machine. My parents got a puppy making fiber art and concentration impossible. Spot is an alligator in puppy clothes! You can find me there most days of the week working on some crazy new sculptures and installation pieces for my upcoming shows. More details to come.

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I am also teaching workshops or giving lectures about ikebana. I have a workshop at the Nicolaysen Art Museum today. I am teaching down in Cheyenne at the Cheyenne Botanical Garden on February 18th in their new building. I am thrilled to bring a love of plants and Japanese culture to Wyoming.

Eating: Kiwano Mellon, a spiky orange fruit from sub-Saharan Africa. It is so odd looking and tasty. Do you think I could grow it?

Drinking: Wyoming has stepped up it's beer game since I've left. There are three bars within a block of the studio. I'm trying all the kinds, especially if they are on tap! Beer can be a good afternoon snack right?

Reading: Refridgerator Monologues by Catherynne M. Valente - It's the stories of the women behind the superheros. It feels like Marvel fan fiction but smartly done. And there are pretty pictures.

Fall Colors

Saturday we had a great ikebana class where we arranged zinias, and some other lovelies that I can't name.

 The sage makes a crazy fluffy subject.

The sage makes a crazy fluffy subject.

It's the end of the 30 paintings in 30 days challenge. I learned a lot this month about lowering expectations, working through a theme and how to put different materials together. It was a great idea generator to get me back in the studio and break through the paralysis of starting a new project. I'm ready to be done and move on to making some less challenging work for a while. On to making some bags out of kimono fabric for the Creative Hand Show and Sale in November!

Reading: About writing a better artist statement in The Artists Guide. 

Listening to: my brain explode as I try to comprehend 1099s and schedule C at Artist Inc.

Cooking: a nice warm Indian curry for these blustery days. 

Witch's brew

This is a small tutorial on making walnut dye; my first floundering in the world of natural dying. Let us jump right in! 

I have some storm damaged black walnut trees in my neighborhood with low hanging branches packed with walnuts that haven't dropped yet. On a particularly cool and cloudy day my daughter and I picked the green walnuts right off the branches and brought home about fifteen to start dying. If you are gathering them off the ground, make sure you go for the green ones. 

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Even though my source said to soak for three days, I soaked the walnuts in water for about a week.  I soon discovered that a week of soaking was too long. Some people don't soak them at all, but my busy life meant I kind of forgot them in the garage over the weekend. The key is to use a large stainless steel pot for the soaking and dye making. These little guys might eat through a plastic bucket, or stain it pretty good. 

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Last night I finally got the time and gumption to boil the revolting stuff. There may have been a little mold growing on the water, I'm  not really sure. The smell was pretty bad and the fan above the stove couldn't quite keep up with it. I suggest opening windows or boiling outside if you can. After half an hour of boiling the water started to look thick and dark brown. I continued to boil it for about two hours. 

Time to strain the husks out! Then I put it in sealed jars for later dying. Maybe I'll use this ink/dye in the 30 in 30 challenge.

This weekend I taught ikebana at Powell Gardens to a couple of lovely students. I got my flowers from a local flower farm in Warrensburg, Earth Care Farms. They were so great about letting me romp around in their fields so I could pick flowers that were not only lovely but in season. It always makes me happy to show people ikebana plant combinations that they could take from their own surroundings. 

Yesterday began the 30in30 challenge. I'm going to be posting my daily creations on Facebook and Instagram. I looked at the first batch of paintings yesterday on the 30in30 blog and my stuff seems so different. But again, I'm a fiber artist among painters. I still think this is going to get me back into a more consistent work creating schedule so I'm sticking with it. 

Reading: Dinner Pies by Ken Haedrich. Besides being a fabulous book of the ins and outs of a good dough and filling, the best part was the forward to his wife in the beginning. It had me rolling on the floor laughing. I started looking at fillings for quiche and Ian said sternly, with much emphasis, while pointing his finger at me, "Don't change your quiche"! Well goodness, maybe I'll try my hand at meat pies instead. 

Listening to: 99% Invisible podcast episode On Average. So fascinating! It talks about the Air Force, the A-10, female pilots and a world without adjustable seats. 

Cooking: I tried something a little different this time. My vegan and vegetarian friends would be proud. I made stuffed peppers where the main ingredients in the stuffing were tofu and beans, besides the tomatoes and green onions. It actually turned out really good. Tofu gives it a real creaminess. Always get the tofu in the sale bin!

Small Town...Big History

Today marks the second day of the Knob Noster Fair. It'll be going on till Saturday night. They shut down the main street of Knob Noster and have carnival rides, food vendors, different stage acts, food eating contests, a tug of war, a 5K run, you name it we've got it. I was on the fair board this year representing the garden club and helped with planning for the flower show.

This year's theme was Small Town...Big History. The husband and I created a stamp rally, like the ones at tourist attractions in Japan, of fun little local things that have happened in Knob Noster's past. You can get the paper at the main stage, you follow the clues and map to the five locations where you'll find a white box with a flag. In the box is a home made stamp representing the location, a stamp pad and a small story about what happened at that location. Once you've collected all five stamps you can return the paper back to the poster at the stage to be entered in a drawing for a free meal from Belly Down BBQ & the KN Wrestlers. The drawing will be on Friday night at 7pm so go get started!

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Bea has had lots of fun with the stamps we made. I really enjoyed cutting them out. I haven't tried this since high school. Maybe there are fun woodblock prints to be made in my future.

All my entries got submitted for the flower show, art show and home ec. They have been judged and I'm so curious to see if I got any ribbons that I'm tempted to go down this evening and have a look around. I kind of love ribbons, sometimes I wish there was a way to win more ribbons in every day life. At least there's the fair.

 My ikebana entry, yellow flower, button mums, and peace lily leaves.

My ikebana entry, yellow flower, button mums, and peace lily leaves.

I have no idea what that yellow flower is. I saw it at Awesome Blossoms in Warrensburg and knew I needed to arrange it for the fair. The lighting on that side of the room is a little sparse so bare with the pictures.

Come on down to the basement of the First Christian Church in Knob Noster to see all the beautiful flowers, art, and quilts. I'm going to be giving a ikebana demonstration in the flower show area at 2pm on Saturday, June 11th.

Farm Report: All my vegetables are flowering! Cucumbers, Peas, Peppers, Tomatoes, and Eggplants. I've got all my summer veggies started. Boy it's hot here. We'll see if they sprout.

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Bea pretending to be a rabbit while she munches on the first carrot from the garden. It was picked a little early so is pretty small but it looks and smells like a carrot!

Reading: Application guidelines. I've got so many applications for fun new stuff due this month!

Listening: The theme song from Naruto. We introduced Bea to the show and now she's in love with being a ninja and going on special ninja missions.

Cooking: My daughter had her fourth birthday party this weekend. When asked what kind of cake she wanted for her party she said a "skull cake". Ever fascinated with anatomy and skeletons. This later morphed into skull cake pops, which I thought would be infinitely easier because I could just use a little black gel to draw the features and voila, done. Nope. Turns out cake pops are super labor intensive when you are actually putting them on sticks and your chocolate is white and shows all the red velvet crumbs.

Delicious! and sooo sweet. The inside was red velvet cake and cream cheese frosting balled up and dipped in white chocolate. You only needed one. But I got to watch my daughter munch on it and tell me she was eating brains.

Spring Show

Last weekend KC Ikebana invited me to participate in their annual spring show at the Garden Center in Loose Park. They teach Sogetsu style ikebana which is a little more abstract and uses non flower elements to create designs. They actually have a theme for their spring show, it helps get the creative juices of the students flowing. This years theme was "ikebana inspired by art" which is just delightful.

My arrangement was downstairs in the authentic Japanese tea room. It was just the most beautiful setting with the grey walls and black tokonoma. I felt at home making an arrangement while kneeling on tatami mats. When the door opened to the tea room and I could smell the cedar walls it immediately made me homesick for Japan. The Japan America Society was also down stairs giving demonstrations of making matcha and showing a video of a tea ceremony.

I was really impressed by the creativity of the students and their arrangements. It was so encouraging how many of them love ikebana and are interested in learning about the Ohara style. They were so gracious in allowing me to show with them and letting me take home left over flowers from the show.  Just a really warm and friendly group. I look forward to learning and working with them in the future.

Up Coming Cool Stuff:

I'm going to be in the Mid Missouri Artists Spring Show on Saturday April 30 1:00 PM - 4:00 PM and May 1st, 12:30 PM - 4:00 PM at the ABC Building at Grover Park in Warrensburg. This is the first time I've attended the show so I'm excited to see all the local art.

I'm giving a presentation on Kogenzashi, a traditional Japanese counted embroidery, to the Greater Kansas City Fiber Guild on May 11th at 7pm. Check out their website for more details.

My next ikebana class at Powell Gardens will be on Saturday, May 14th from 10-12pm. Check out their website to register!

Farm Report: A giant storm, complete with hail, rolled through and all my seedlings in the box survived! I'm feeling like I might actually be good at this.

Reading: Tons of articles on motherhood and creative careers. This website and artist project by Lenka Clayton called Residency in Motherhood rocks. I wish that I had thought about this when Bea was younger. Artist residencies don't always allow kids and it's pretty tough to leave a young child, so creating one where you are at is brilliant. Her piece about all the things she has pulled from her babies mouth made me laugh so hard I cried.

Listening to: I kind of went down this rabbit hole of kids and creative careers after listening to Double X Gabfests Spanx and Spanking episode.

Cooking: Experimented with putting chayote squash in our chili. Remember to take off the skin and cut out the middle! Beginner's mistake.

Eating bugs

Last Thursday night Paul Lamdkamer gave a lecture at the Knob Noster Garden club about wild edibles and entomophagy, the practice of eating bugs. He's kind of a big deal in the world of eating bugs and has even published recipes in Time magazine. Who knew?! So many new things were learned and he brought samples of bugs and plants to eat. I got to snack on cicadas, grasshoppers, Japanese beetles, and possibly a cockroach. I can't quite remember if it was a cockroach but Paul says he hasn't found a species of roach that you can't eat. The only thing that made any of these bugs unpleasant to eat was the texture as your cracking through their exoskeletons. There was an adorable little three year old boy at the meeting that I encouraged to eat a cicada but his favorite ended up being the cricket flour cookies.

Saturday, I taught an excellent ikebana class at Powell Gardens. I ended up being half an hour late to class because I forgot my students vases at home and didn't realize it until I was half way to the gardens. But my students we so happy shopping and having a girl's day that it was soon forgotten.

We had some really awesome materials this class. Irises, Red Bud, Horsetails, Wild Rose, and a bush from my back yard. It'samazing to see the variety in my students work despite making the same style arrangement. All the plants have different proportions and then the different material combinations. I can't wait for the next class!

I've been playing a round with collage lately. It's kind of morphed into a 5" by 5" format that is related to natural disasters. Fun quick little projects that make me feel like I'm accomplishing things.

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Upcoming Cool Stuff:

The Sogetsu school of Japanese flower arranging in Kansas City is having their annual spring show at the Loose Park Garden Center April 23rd and 24th. They have asked me to come make an arrangement! My arrangement will be down stairs with the tea ceremony display provided by the Japan America Society. Come out and see all the great floral art!

I'm giving a presentation on Kogenzashi, a traditional Japanese counted embroidery, to the Greater Kansas City Fiber Guild on May 11th at 7pm. Check out their website for more details.

My next ikebana class at Powell Gardens will be on Saturday, May 14th from 10-12pm. Check out their website to register!

Farm Report: Cucumbers and carrots are sprouted. Indigo is failing miserably. Maybe I'll start some new seeds?

Reading: Seven Brief Lessons on Physics by Carlo Rovelli. This book is tiny with a cute little black cover. How can one resist? I always feel sad about not taking physics in high school because maybe I should have been an industrial engineer. Building Stuff!

Listening to: The Moth podcast.

Cooking: Wantons full of spicy sausage, carrot, green onion, sauteed in bulgolgi marinade. So delicious!

 

 

Spring

Spring has started early this year and pysanky season is almost done. The bush in front of my living room window is really ugly and hasn't even developed leaves yet. I think it's called a white fringe tree. But the one saving grace of this bush is that every morning around 8am a male house finch comes to sit in the branches and serenade me while I drink my morning coffee. It's my favorite time of day because the light is beautiful and the day is full of potential.

Yesterday I took a walk about base to look at the different flora in the area. I've been thinking of different arrangements that I could make with native Missouri plants. I'm eager to arrange red bud and pecan like last year. But there are other surprising plants like rose hips and raspberry canes. Nothing is lovelier than exploring the woods alone in the warm sunshine. I keep thinking back to the plants that would be sprouting in northern Japan at this time of year. Cherry blossoms, sigh.

We started drawing the MUNS mural on the wall today! Ian came home for lunch and said that he got the go ahead to start. This is only half of the mural but we should have it completely drawn in a few days. We got quite a bit done in an hour.

Some of the challenges from the very beginning will be the bumpy wall and very small areas of color. I will be doing a bit of detail painting. I've consolidated the color palette so that we don't have over a hundred colors like in the photo. All those shades of grey and sage green!

These are some cute eggs from my pysanky student last week. It was a was a pretty chill class and my student even came design ideas! I've got one more class left for the Easter season. March 26th 9-12pm at the Warrensburg Community Center. Sigh up today! More pictures of my pysanky this year in next weeks post. I've haven't been able to find my white satin for photo taking.

The Farm Report: The snap peas, Swiss chard and spinach are all sprouting. It's been a little chilly as of late and I'm debating pulling them in at night. I had them inside over the weekend because it was going to freeze. Further work on hardening off my tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and indigo.  Planted some basil. This is all trial and error, I really have no idea what I'm doing. My spirea has leaves! It didn't die!

Reading: Kansas City a Food Biography by Andrea Broomfield. Kudos to this book for putting a chapter on prehistoric and Native American cooking practices, not to mention the French and Mexican cuisines in the region. This only makes me want to learn more about the Osage and do some experimenting with the wild persimmons that grow near by.

Listening to: My favorite house finch. I've named him Atticus

Cooking: Bea wanted vanilla cupcakes with orange frosting. I got a little creative inspired by Cupcake Wars and added the grated zest and juice of two clementines to the buttercream frosting. I'm really pleasantly surprised by how delightfully orange tasting they are.

Toys! Miniatures!

Saturday we took a little jaunt out to Kansas City for some barbecue and some museum action. It warms the cockles of my heart when Bea gets excited for museums. We tried out Jack Stack in Lees Summit. Fabulous. My first encounter with smoked lamb and I'm never going back. It's my humble opinion that American's don't eat enough lamb and they are missing out. Talk about a meat packed with excellent flavor.

Our museum for the day was so amazing, the National Museum of Toys and Miniatures. I've heard rave reviews and it's so true. All the tiny things! The miniatures are fascinating and the artistry! It makes you want to work in small scale.

On Monday I had a group of ladies from Fiber Guild over for food and fiber fun. In reality I just wanted to know if I was spinning on my wheel correctly. Turns out all my thoughts about the wheel are true! It is backwards! Can wheels be left handed? Spinning on my wheel wasn't going the greatest but I broke out my new drop spindle and the difference was amazing! I could spin so tiny. So in love with spinning right now.

On Tuesday I gave a program on ikebana for the Grow and Glow Garden Club in Sedalia. It's so much fun to have an attentive group that asks great questions. But then I just love talking about ikebana and want everyone to do it. I arranged Irises and Heather for them. They aren't really plants that can be found in the same season together but the colors and textures go so well.

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P.s. We've been working on cleaning and decluttering the house. New living room arrangement! I'm reading KonMari again just in time for Chinese New Year.

Finally stopped making excuses and finished up my sashiko piece. Turns out nothing in the house needs to be cleaned half as much as I need to make art. This origami pattern is the Japanese Horned Beetle. I learned a lot with this piece. Made a ton of mistakes. Don't cut the fabric to the edge of your embroidery? Things will always fray! At least I don't have to go through all that again!

So many things happened this week it's been a bit of a blur. Let's hope we can keep up this pace! Getting things done in the new year!

Reading: Frida Kahlo: The Paintings by Hayden Herrera

Listening to: The British History podcast and how terrible life as a princess really is. No choice in anything, people hate you without knowing you, being married off to old men..... #Traditionalmarriage.

Cooking: Chili, Beer and Flautas.