. . .that’s when I knew her name

One of my favorite poets and people, Pamela Ferguson, contacted me recently to see if I’d teach a Wax and Talisman workshop for her small group, and I said “Of course!”. Pamela had taken the Small Worlds workshop last March and I wrote about her work here in an earlier post.

Teaching this talisman workshop is so rewarding – it’s the subject of my latest ebook, and one of the most personal workshops that I offer. So I was excited to be teaching it “live,” especially when I found out that Pamela’s granddaughter Caitlyn would be in the group. It’s fun to see how different generations respond to an art challenge.

Pamela’s group came to the studio yesterday and we had a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon. The workshop has three components:

  • Personalizing the earthenware face piece and painting melted beeswax wax on the surface
  • Making rolled paper “blessing beads” and adding texture, beeswax, and metallic enhancements
  • Tying symbolic ribbons and cord to the focal piece and stringing the beads

Every step has meaning and intention. I asked the students to let their intuition lead them and to see what would happen. I also asked them to name their pieces when we finished.

This is Caitlyn’s piece – she is a senior in high school and very perceptive about herself and others. She adores her grandmother, Pamela.

Her blessing beads are beautiful, and I like the way she has grouped them at the bottom edge of the face. During discussion time, I asked Caitlyn what she had named her talisman. She said the name kept shifting as she got deeper and deeper into the process, but it had ended up as “Venus” – not what she’d expected. We all understood what she meant !

This morning, I got an email from Pamela saying how much they had enjoyed the workshop. Then she told me that Caitlyn had started talking about her talisman as they were driving home. Her words were almost an impromptu poem, which Pamela wrote down.

Read Caitlyn’s poem and look at the talisman she created which inspired it – lovely.

Talisman
by Caitlyn
Venus is her name –
    the two sides of her face
    the two sides of love
 
The light side has golden glow
The ribbons are bright, peachy,
      lots of strands, beads, charms.
 
The other side is dark –
the walnut stain soaked deeply.
The copper tear by her eye was accidental
      but love can cause pain.
That’s when I knew her name –
      the tear, the dark side.
And those ribbons are thin, stringy –
black, gray – sadder somehow.
 
I didn’t mean for her to be Venus
      the goddess of love
but that’s how she came out.

It’s all about trusting the process – letting go of what we expect and letting the intuitive take over. I’m very glad that Caitlyn’s work and poetry expresses this so perfectly – she didn’t mean for her to be Venus, the goddess of love, but that’s how she came out!

But wait, there’s more! Pamela, a published poet, had her own insight about the process. She sent me her poem this morning, as well – it’s titled “Paper Bead,” but it’s about much, much more.

Paper Bead

     by Pamela Ferguson

 

Cut a strip of paper,

long

narrow

Write a secret word,

a power word

a sacred one –

a promise – a passion –

a vision word.

 

Glue the strip

almost end to end

side to side.

Coat your word

with protection.

 

Lay a skewer on the almost end –

roll the strip onto the tiny dowel

until your word is cocooned within –

held by the power of your hands

the dowel

the glue.

 

Bedeck the roll with ribbon

or string or yarn-

chain or silk or sinew.

 

Seal in place with that most

basic of adherents –

pure, warm beeswax.

Coat the cocoon.

Seal your word

in the unique world you make

and remake each day.

Add its shape and your word

to your memory’s bliss.

 

Then do another.

 

Don’t you love the way the creative process works with work and words? I especially like Pamela’s last line, “Then do another.” It means that we can do this any time, this expressing our best thoughts through our art and our poetry. It’s so comforting and liberating.
Thanks, Pamela and Caitlyn, grandmother and granddaughter, for sharing your artwork and your poetry.
PS I’m always happy to arrange a small group workshop for you – you don’t even have to be an artist or a poet!

 

 

 

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Quebradillas: a feast for the senses – there’s an app for that

quebra

I am so proud to be a part of this amazing project! Two years in the making, Quebradillas is a fusion of poetry, intimate audio readings, and gorgeous photos developed in the style of a coffee table book but accessible on your iPad. In a word, it’s stunning. You can purchase it here for only $4.99 – but truly, Quebradillas is priceless!

johnlynscott

Me, Quebradillas author John Dickey, and photographer Scott Taylor at a meeting in my studio in 2015

John Dickey, a dear friend, came to me with this idea about two years ago. He had written a lovely and reflective book of poems titled Quebradillas, inspired by his home in Puerto Rico, and wanted to combine them with photos taken by his son-in-law, photo artist and world-traveler Scott Taylor. I knew just enough to design the epub layout in InDesign and worked closely with John and Scott putting the visuals together. John recorded each poem in his wise, endearing voice.

Larry Ketchersid, app wizard

For turning the concept into reality, we enlisted the invaluable help of Larry Ketchersid, honco at JoSara Media. I had met Larry through another friend, author Bob Flynn and knew he’s be perfect for the job. Larry broke new ground developing Quebradillas in app form, adding an audio file for every poem and making each page glide smoothly across the gorgeous photos.

I hope you will look at the app. I hope you will buy it and show it to your friends! I hope you will cherish the poems and the photos as I do. It’s been an extraordinary collaboration – please share 🙂

Here are two of my favorite poems from Quebradillas – hearing John read them on my iPad is a double delight. And for you non-techies, there may be a hardcover version in the near future! Stay tuned.

Q1 Q2

 

 

 

 

 

A wordle-y diversion

You’ve all probably seen word clouds, those designs that are made from a selection of words in a paragraph. There’s a free online program called Wordle that I use with my students on the first day of classes at Trinity as an introduction. I have them write a little bit about themselves, then transform it into a design. You just paste the words into the Wordle window, choose your colors and layout, click Create –  and voila! Here’s one of my favorite Mary Oliver poems, Wild Geese, as a Wordle word cloud (the poem itself is underneath the design).  Give it a try, and have fun Wordle-ing!

wordle

Wild Geese
 
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
 

from Dream Work by Mary Oliver

Art Show report and poetry gig

Here’s a short video from the Art Show and Sale at the Studio yesterday – it was one of those soft, gray fall afternoons that makes ya feel all cozy inside. Lots of people came by (and shopped – yay). As usual, I was delighted to see what goodies Alison and Jan and Lesta brought with them. Take a look – so much talent and diversity!

twigYou want more? Well, check this out – Tuesday night at The Twig Book Shop, there will be a gaggle of poets and wannabees (including me) reading poems and short fiction and  words of all kinds to an assembled audience of brave folks. Jo LeCoer, who read at my first Studio poetry event is the amazingly-talended guest host/poet for the evening. Jo sez, “Readers include artists, poetry performers, song lyricists, fiction writers (one has a new book just out), journalists, current and former UIW faculty/students/alumni, and a couple of reluctant guitarist/extortionists holding out for bigger bribes.” Sounds like a literati fun fest. See you there?

Finally, Twigs remind me of Shrubs, and that reminds me of my friend Kathy Tarasovic and her new foodie venture, Well Seasoned Cuisine. They make Shrubs, an artisan beverage syrup blend of mellow vinegars and fruits. I saw her and her partners at the Quarry Farmer’s Market today – you should have a look at their web site – they have perfect foodie gifts for hard-to-shop-for people. Their business is a partnership with Good Samaritan Community Services, a highly respected community-based outreach organization – what’s not to love? Try a Shrub! It’s good in protein shakes, too.shrubs

 

 

The gentle power of music as poetry

Everyone who came to the Studio last night was blown away by the beautiful songs performed by Bryce Milligan and Don Stephens. Even though these two poet/pickers had never met before in person, they played a song swap that blended perfectly – every song sounded more breathtaking than the previous. Seriously. I tend toward hyperbole (really??), but these guys were so good. And Roberto Pachecano was the perfect moderator. It was a privilege to hear them. I’m putting together a more comprehensive video soon, but here’s a short clip to give you a taste of the evening – Don sings first, a short selection about life’s changes, then Bryce sings a longer song about Dante and Beatrice, then Don finishes the clip: