I've written about my fondness for Valentine's Day before in this blog. For me, it's not about the romantic love and teddy bears; however, I did read far too much into those conversation hearts that I received from grade school crushes. I just loved the bright colors at the end of winter, the sweetness of the candy, and the paper heart garlands. (Garlands are one of my favorite things, in general). Most of all, the cards that we gave each other were/are my favorite -- in particular, and here is where I make enemies, the puns. I love dumb puns. Some of you may argue that all puns are dumb. We can agree to disagree.
Now excuse me while I descend the "Valentine's Day" soap box amd ascend the "Save The Earth" stump. In her book, Braiding Sweetgrass, Robin Wall Kimmerer writes about the Earth loving us and that we should be loving the Earth right back! I mean we are in support of one another and in committed relationships with each other, but we humans don't always do our job in loving back. It's like we need to take a minute and reflect on our habits and mindsets to see if they are in a loving way to our beloved Earth.
So, in a sort of silly and fun attempt, I decided to create Valentines for the Earth that are full of puns, of course.
You can save any of these images to text or email to your friends and loved ones, or if you would like, you can download and print the set of four (below) to cut out and give in person.
If you are printing them out, I suggest printing on recycled cardstock if possible!
Save the image below for printing onto cardstock!
After Printing, Cut Out and Share!!!
Hey Artist, Writers, and Makers
Want to Write for Woolgathering?
A couple of weeks ago, I found myself sitting on my doctor’s exam table giving creative advice. My doctor, an oil painter, told me that she hadn’t been painting in awhile, and she wanted to start again but was being stopped by a mixture of tiredness and fear. She was afraid to continue a painting of a barn because it might not be good.
I told her, as she washed her hands, to give herself permission to make the absolute worst painting possible. It was Okay to make a bad painting. This was borrowed advice that I had so gratefully received from my thesis advisor, John Ploof at SAIC. I stole his bit of wisdom and now apply it to all of my creative projects.
In fact as I am writing this blog post, I am worried that it is awful and that I am running of topics. As I work through illustrations for the Spring Issue of Woolgathering, I am afraid that I am making terrible paintings - that my ideas are unoriginal and uninspired.
And even if they are, even if my doctor’s barn painting turns out horrible, there is always revision. There is always another painting. There is always growth.
Sometimes in order to get through a creative block, you just have to build. You have to produce. You have to clear out that clog by giving yourself permission to make the worst thing.
In doing so, you move through the paralyzing dead zone of fear and into the glorious flow.
You can only find movement by moving. Take action. Clear away the block for what’s to come and keep on building!
Calling All Artists, Writers, and Makers
Writers Wanted for Woolgathering!!!
More From Spring Bird!
For a very long time, I’ve been wanting to host an Artist Residency at Spring Bird for artists, writers, and makers who are longing to have the time and space to make! I know how critical this cottage and woodland was to me in the years of having young kids. I rarely had any time to create alone. My spirit would be continually renewed with each visit --- enough to feed me for months.
I want to pay forward what has been so generously been given to us by offering Spring Bird’s annual Artist Residency Program!
Spring Bird’s Artist Residency is one week or 6 nights spent over 3 weekends for an artist, writer, or a maker and their friend to finish a project that they have been aching to finish. The Artist/Writer/Maker will be able to stay at the cottage at no cost for the allotted time and be free to make whatever is proposed in the application. The point of the residency is to reconnect with your project, finish it, and connect with nature and with your creative self.
To learn more about the residency and to apply, see the Artist Residency Application.
More From Spring Bird
I have a theory of Misplaced Creativity. This theory stipulates that when we don’t listen to our heart’s desire, in other words our truest creative self, and when we fail to indulge our creativity, we misplace it. We fail to fulfill a part of ourselves that wants to be born - that wants to be generated, and in doing so we look to fill that void of creation with other things.
When we stifle our creativity, we miss out on the satisfaction of being “fed” by our creativity.
When we don’t feed ourselves creatively, we remain “hungry”.
We try to satiate this hunger by other means - like eating actual food in unhealthy ways (guilty), by shopping beyond need (guilty), consuming media - especially social media in compulsive or excessive ways (guilty).
When we stifle our creativity, a generative mode, we wrongly switch into a consumer mode. This is not to say that we should sometimes be in a consumer mode, but our default mode should be generative. This means that most of the time, we should be asking: “What do I get to make?” and “What do I have to offer?” and not: “What do I get?” and “What is mine?” and “Is that all?”
It is while we are in generative mode that we literally shape and give meaning to our lives. When we misplace our creativity, we can become alienated from worlds and from ourselves. It's then that it’s best to look into our hearts and ask "what wants to be born?"
What is your heart’s desire?
PS Having troube answering that question, more on how to locate your heart’s desire to come in a future post!
Hey Writers! Woolgathering Seeks Submissions!!!
Have an essay, story, or poem about Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall?
I am looking for new contributors to Woolgathering!
Email submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org
Include "Wool_Season_2019" in the subject line.
Replace "Season" with whichever season (Spring, Summer, Fall, or Winter) that is most appropriate for your piece.
Submission Forms: personal essays, informational essays, poems, or super short fiction
Submission Topics and Tone: All submissions should reflect upon the seasons and how they are integrated into our daily lives. They can be dreamy, informative, pragmatic, or just a good story.
Submission length: maximum 750 words
Spring: January 30th, 2019
Summer: March 31st
Fall: June 30th
Winter: Septermber 30th
Accepted submissions will be paid in a year's subscription to Woolgathering (Issues Only), or a "Four Seasons" Print, or a "You are Here" tote bag!!! (Your Choice!)
You've probably heard the saying "dress for the job you want". The implication is that you will be perceived as more successful, artistic, or however within the professional setting in which you work. But what if you work from home, and the only eyes assessing your dress are squirrels? In my case, it really doesn't matter what I wear. Other than my daughter's busdriver, my face to face human interaction on a normal day is pretty low. It may not matter in a public sense what I wear, but I have noticed that I feel different if I spend a day in sweats versus a more put-together outfit, dress, or even earings. It is strange how our mind works. Maybe it's the 12 years of private school uniforms that got me here, but here I am wanting to be intentional and thoughtful about how I dress because I can. I have the freedom and the privilege to make choices about my clothing that make me feel good about myself and more importantly the earth.
So, for years, I have been dreaming about making my own dresses and tunics. I have the Pinterest board to prove it, but it always seemed too difficult to figure out. I have never been someone who could follow a pattern. I much prefer just making it up as I go, but I knew that inventing a dress is WAY beyond my expertise. I know there are people that can take apart a shirt and make a new pattern based on it and then sew it all back together again. This is not me.
Anyway, I finally decided to give it a try after commenting on an Instagram Sewist's post about the Hinterland Dress from Sew Liberated (pictured above). She quelled my fears by saying, "It's only fabric and thread." Since fabric and thread are my good friends, I downloaded the Hinterland Dress and the Washi Dress by Made By Rae. I sewed them both in a linen blend. Linen is better for the environment than cotton. Hemp and organic varieties would be even better, and the best would be to use a vintage textile or a repurposed textile that is already in existance.
Along with following Marie Kondo's advice and only keeping the items that spark joy in my wardrobe, I would like to have an even more paired down wardrobe made up of handmade clothes and mended old ones that make me feel put-together and comfortable. I want my wardrobe to be colorful and layerable for all season wear. I want to be able to be able to paint in it, hike, and meet with other humans in a professional setting. It's a lot to ask of one wardrobe, but it feels really, really good. Why not be really mindful and specific about the clothes we wear? It's another way to reclaim our power, our creative power, and our purchase power.
Below is a quick breeze through the process of sewing from downloadable patterns. This is for any first time sewists wanting a taste of the process. This is not a tutorial by any means. In any case, I encourage you to give it a go. If you are interested in the patterns that I used, here they are:
Hinterland Dress by Sew Liberated (shown in blue with buttons)
The Washi Dress by Made By Rae (shown in yellow with cap sleaves)
Both dresses offer plenty of variations on length and sleeves. The Washi Dress was easier for me to sew. Both the pattern and instructions were clearer and more simple. I also think the fit is better on the Washi. I recommend it for beginners, and I definitely plan on making a couple more!
Other than making more Washi dresses, I would like to try a pair of summer pants for under the dresses (because mosquitoes) and a quilted jacket for winter (because winter).
Let me know what you think about dressing for the life you want and what you think about a homemade wardrobe!
After downloading a pattern, you can print it out at home on standard paper, or send it to the printers for large format printing. I chose the former which requires carefully cutting out squares, laying them out in a tessellation, and then taping them together.
Once your squares are taped together, I highlighted the lines that corresponded to my size and all other markings that would be needed for the patterning.
Then I layed tracing paper on top of the highlighted pattern, and I traced the highlighted lines in permanent marker.
Philosopher Isaiah Berlin believed that writers and thinkers could be boiled down into two groups - foxes and hedgehogs. In this stratification, foxes know a little about many things, and hedgehogs know a lot about one thing.
At first blush, I regarded myself as a fox. Afterall, I am one of those cursed multi-passionate types that is “yes-anding” her way through life. I want to make art, write, blog, podcast, coach, make books, make movies, and the list goes on. In short, I want to make what I want, when I want, which requires knowing how to do lots of things at a surface level. I dabble in everything from weaving to setting up a website to learning how to make podcasts. The most horrible thing for me is to feel that I am forbidden from learning something new. I really don’t want to be boxed in. This may sound a bit like a symptom of my generation, but I also feel this very deeply in my psyche.
That said, when I took a Fox/Hedgehog quiz, (yes, there is one), I came out pretty heavily as a hedgehog. Overall, I’m a hedgehog in that I deeply believe that creativity is essential to humanity and something which we are all deserving of expressing. I’m a hedgehog in wanting to make everyone a creative productive person, but don’t believe there is just one way to do that. Furthermore, there is not even one way within a human to be a creative productive person.
So, it seems that I am both hedgehog and fox, and maybe all of us are a blend or bounce between the two. It definitely seems like Berlin is a hedgehog in his singular thinking about dividing everyone into one of two camps.
How about you? Are you guided by one central belief or do you see the relativity of everything? OR are you a mixture? Perhaps there needs to be a third animal added to this theory . . . a blend. . . a kangaroo, maybe?
More From Spring Bird
These Stuffed Animal Pillows are my attempt to create huggable wildlife! I love have always loved stuffed animals and dolls --especially homemade ones. They are also huggable paintings since they are made from fabric printed with the image of my watercolor paintings.
I also really enjoy observing the woodland animals that visit occasionally, and they, along with my cats, inspired these Stuffed Animal Pillows!
If you are interested in making your own Stuffed Animal Pillows, I describe the process of making them below.
If you are interested in purchasing a Stuffed Animal Pillow:
They are $25 in my Etsy Shop with Free Shipping!
or buy in person when you visit the Cottage for $20!
To further spread the love for animals, $5 from each purchase of a Stuffed Animal PIllow will be donated to African Parks.
Step One: Watercolor Painting to Fabric Design
I began this process by making ink and watercolor paintings on watercolor paper. Note: I painted the animals with limbs contained into the body. It is much easier to sew a lumpy shape later without a bunch of tricky bits sticking out.
Then, I scanned them to create digital files.
I combined the individual animals into a singular digital file, wich I uploaded to my Spoonflower Shop.
Spoonflower prints your own designs onto fabric, wallpaper, and wrapping paper. You can make your designs available for others to purchase, or you can just use them as your personal printer.
Finally, I ordered a yard of Kona Cotton fabric with my new animal design tiled with animals measuring approximately 5" x 8".
When I was managing teachers at an art center, one of my favorite aspects of the job was being able to affirm the intentions and dreams of my teachers. If I could help them to recognize something in themselves - something that they didn’t know was unique or special about how they taught, then I felt an amazing reward. Lifting them up, supporting them, in turn lifted me up.
The truth is that as creative people, we all have so much to offer the world.
And the beauty is that when we offer the world our creativity, our passions, we offer the world our love.
Furthermore, in giving this creative gift, we are fed and our communities are fed.
I have entered a stage of my life in which I feel called to help others develop their creativity - to shape it - to plan it- to affirm their value as creative humans.
In other words, I want to say to you, “Yes you can and you should!”-- do or make that things that sits in the back of your brain - that pulls at your heart - that taps you on the shoulder. And I want to help you get there - to work through the doubts, fears, and all of the reasons you are saying “no”.
We can get really good at ignoring that creative voice that is calling to us, but I think that we actually have to expend a lot of energy to keep it quiet. And there is really only one way to truly silence that call of creativity, and that is to listen to it, to feed it, like a mother bird feeds its hatchlings.
In the coming months, I will be developing a coaching practice that will involve one on one coaching, a course, and some written guides.
I am eager to be of service to your creative dreams - to helping you say yes to your voice - your dreams and passions. The world is ready for you!
PS If you are looking to develop your own creativity, have a dream project that you are wanting to get started, or are a creative who needs help getting unstuck, what kinds of services would be helpful? I.e. one on one coaching, help with imposing structure and deadlines, group support, etc. Let me know in the comments or email email@example.com
Who is Spring Bird?
I realized that I usually share about the things we are creating and doing at Spring Bird and about the natural happenings, but I haven't written about the "who's" of Spring Bird!
We are so privileged to live on this piece of land that is so magical and sacred. Living here has enriched our lives as a family so much, and to literally grow in numbers by adding some furry friends to our group. I recent added these illustrations and bios to the About Page but decdided to also fashion this into a blog for ease of sharing.
I hope you enjoy getting to know us a little better and learn a bit more about what we do at Spring Bird!
More From Spring Bird!
Anna Lentz, artist, writer, and creativity coach who blogs about making a creative life connected with nature at Spring Bird.