So, I have an inner boyscout who fantasizes about making hand carved birds or small figurines, and a few years ago, I bought myself a carving knife and some balsa wood for my birthday. I fiddled with it trying to carve some fish. They were a bit clumsy, and I never got very far with it.
Then, while living at Spring Bird, Pat passed along a pocket knife (that I had given him while we were dating) to Abe who seems most at home at the fire pit, stripping long pieces of bark off of a stick with his foot propped up on a stone. I am jealous of his presence, his ability to pass the time guilt-free- languidly - to fall into a calm rhythm. While I am busily tackling projects of all sorts and stripes, I ache to just stop and sit and be with a stick.
Sticks are all around us at Spring Bird. Someone once asked me what I collect, and I think she didn’t believe me when I answered, “sticks”. Certain ones call to me, and I pick them up to display.
Well, I made some time recently to perch myself on top of my picnic table with knife in hand to peel back the bark on some sticks. If I couldn’t carve an intricate fish or bird figurine, maybe I could carve a snake. The idea of carving a snake from a stick makes me laugh. Can it even be called carving? In addition to crudely shaping a head and a tail, I wood burned geometric patterns. I loved all of it, and love my slithering snakes. They remind me of playing with a wooden snake as a child. Then, I found snakes to be slightly frightening, but I have grown to really appreciate their symbolism as a sign of rebirth, feminine power, and creativity. I want to reclaim snakes as a symbol of the goddess and not as evil.
BREAKING NEWS! I wrote this blog a couple of days ago. Then, tonight, my cats caught a snake! They were whipping it around. It showed its pink mouth at them. My Mom, who has been eager to see a snake at Spring Bird captured it all with her phone. It was very exciting! We think it is a young snake. I am guessing it is a type of garter snake, but it definitely looks different than the other greener ones that I have seen here. We kept the cats away from it, and eventually it slithered back into the brush. Can anyone identify it? Check out the slideshow below:
Check out the “carving” process below. Maybe this will inspire your inner boyscout?
Snakes For Sale!
And snakes are currently for sale at Spring Bird Cottage! $5 each!!!
Carving Snake Sticks!
Clean the bark off of sticks.
I am so pleased and excited to announce this year's Spring Bird Artist Residency Recipient, Dawn Bertuca!
Dawn's application spoke so well to the spirit of this residency, which supports artists, writers, and makers needing to find time away from busy lives.
Furthermore her work as a nature photographer connects so well to the mission of Spring Bird which seeks to connect humans with nature, to notice the patterns and changes in the seasons, and to use our creativity to build the world that we imagine.
During her residency, Dawn hopes to begin a new series of macro photography that will look at the patterns in nature. The residency will allow her to have time and space to capture just the right image!
I am so excited to see what develops (pun intended), and I think our founder, Torkel Korling, would be pleased that our first recipient is a photographer like him.
I posted some of Dawn's photographs's below, but follow her work and see more here:
Instagram: @dawnbertuca and @everybeautifuldayDB
Thank you to all who applied, your projects were inspiring!
Pat began the Forest Garden by defining its perimeter. It’s important to have strong defenses against hungry deer. He built a thick wall from the cutting down of honeysuckles, an invasive weed shrub. If the deer can’t see where they can land, they won’t jump. So far, it’s been pretty effective at keeping away our dear, deer friends.
In his first round of planting which included pawpaws, strawberries, raspberries, perennial onions, herbs and flowers, he planted a couple of rows of willow. The intention for the willow was to develop living hedges. Now after a couple of years getting established, our little shoots have grown into beautiful, long branches.
And after getting inspired from the likes of Mary Reynolds and Monty Don, we really want our gardens to embody a sense of magic and wonder. Our gardens have the potential to give us so much more than their fruits. We want our forest garden, in particular, to be a place for Spring Bird guests to experience and connect with the cultivation of food and beauty.
So, getting back to the willow, springtime is the best season to work with willow because the plants are still dormant and cuttings will have the whole growing season to become established. Over Spring Break, as a family, we decided to harvest some of the willow to make living willow arches.
It’s my intention that these two arches will be a focal point and add a level of sacredness to the garden. I hope the birds will enjoy them, as well. Now all I need is a bird bath to complement them!
As you know, I write Woolgathering, a nature magazine about our connection to the seasons. Part of the mission of this magazine is to inspire awareness of the patterns and cycles in nature, which requires observation and a practice of noticing.
My process of doing this has been most consistently to write notes on the list making app on my phone. Last Summer, the kids and I kept nature journals that would capture the place and its happenings of a particular moment in time. It also made note of the moon cycle and weather. It was involved, but I wanted to get better and keeping a log of the natural occurrences - the “firsts” and “lasts” of any season. I tried a couple of written methods that I incorporated into my Annalog Planners, but they didn’t endure. I really want to create a visual representation of these seasonal changes - so that I can grasp the feeling of the season instantly.
Another practice that I have let go of is keeping a sketchbook. At some point last year, I decided that my drawing and painting had to be “for” something, that I could eventually sell. In other words, if I was making something, it had to directly lead to making money. And, I have come to realize that I really miss having this place to play with ideas. I miss the experimental nature of a sketchbook and having a place to just make something for its own sake.
Finally, one lovely practice that I started last year was to send a monthly emailed Almanac to subscribers that recounted all natural and creative milestones of that month. I really enjoy taking time to reflect on all that happened during a month and sharing this with readers who may not be able to visit Spring Bird. They can get a taste of what’s going on and stay updated, etc. AND although I try to take pictures of nature, they do not always capture the feeling of the season.
SO, it occurred to me that I could revisit my sketchbook by visually portraying the monthly natural happenings, and share the illustrations within the context of the monthly Almanac! Duh!
Anyway, I had the most fun making this illustration of March, which saw our first duck egg getting laid on the 2nd, the great melt happening on the 13th, snowdrops, jonquils, and chipmunks poking up on the 14th, skunk cabbage sprouting on the 17th, and we planted milkweed seeds also on the 17th in the upper meadow. Also, throughout the month, we saw flocks of robins return, and the bucks shed their antlers. The grasses are still brown, and the leaves exist in paper thin layers, devoid of color, and oh yes, there is the mud!
If you would like to be receiving monthly updates about Spring Bird, please subscribe here. And if you have signed up for monthly updates but haven’t been receiving them? Check your spam folder. Sometimes we get pushed there. You have to mark us as “not spam”. We are working on trying to prevent this from happening with our next Almanac.
Speaking of, the March Almanac will be mailed at the end of this month, which is REALLY soon. So, look for that in your inbox.
Thank you for going through this lengthy process of discernment. I encourage you to notice seasonal changes. You don’t have to write them down or draw them, unless you want to, of course. Just notice the things happening around you. It’s amazing what surrounds us!
Big Plans, Small Steps
As I wrote in Monday’s post, I have my penchant for planning. I believe a planned life is a life full of intention and meaning.
I prefer paper planners for achieving goals and dreams. It helps me to write and rewrite goals and tasks, and I know there is science out there to back this up. We are more likely to achieve our goals when we write them down repeatedly.
After being dissatisfied with conventional planners, I devised my own version over these last few years. I call this paper calendar and planning system, Annalog Planners, because I like puns, but I believe that this system is adaptable to your own needs. It’s a simple framework that you can tweak to meet your work habits and preferences.
I truly believe in this system that breaks down BIG GOALS into SMALL STEPS that are then applied to your timeline. Each day counts towards building a beautiful life full of intention and meaning!
“It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan.”
To learn more, watch this informational video:
So last week, I led the workshop for a small group, and was delighted to find that Joyce was right! She and the participants taught me much more about the process of wrapping yarn around sticks. The workshop was an opportunity to practice creativity without having too much pressure on technique and outcome. Even better, it was an opportunity to share stories while our hands were busy winding.
We also talked about life’s stages, works, passions, jobs, and passions and how we choose to spend our time here on earth. As we talked about our experiences, we slowed our minds and hearts as our hands kept busy. There was opportunity to listen while we wound, to admire the color combinations of each other’s branches - to notice that the color choices and patterns resemble ourselves. We found joy in this simple experience.
And by the end of the evening, I realized that this Sweater For Sticks Workshop was much more than I had thought it could be. The participants encouraged me to develop it further.
So, I decided to formalize this workshop and make it available to groups of all shapes and sizes. I'm excited to see how it takes shape!
I believe we all possess unique purpose for this life, and we all have something important to share with the world. Our creativity is an important engine for revealing ourselves to the world in fulfilling ways.
The Sweaters for Sticks Workshop allows participants to visualize our branching sticks as a metaphor for our true purpose and reason for being, which flows or branches into each area of our life - family, school, work, friends, spirituality, and hobbies.
The bits of colorful yarn represent the choices and intentions we all make as we express our true purpose within each area of our life. When choosing colors to wrap around the sticks we can think about how we spend our time how we want to make our lives. We can ask ourselves, how is our life taking shape and how would we like it take shape.
Meanwhile, during the process of choosing and wrapping, participants can share stories and practice listening and being heard.
When we put thoughts and intentions behind our choices - we can create beautiful and interesting lives. We manifest these beautiful lives that are unique to us - that reflect our beauty.
Manifesting Your Heart's Desire
Are you harboring secret creative longings and don't know where to start?
As I wrote in Monday’s blog, we can build structure into our lives to help us express our creative freedom. I want to design tools to help people make the things they want to make. In making things, we empower and heal ourselves, as well as contribute to a more creative world.
In my experience expressing creativity can be easily stalled or thwarted. While the “flow state” exists, it’s not always accessible to us. What’s more, we may not even have time in our busy schedules to even try finding our flow!
So, I developed this workbook, Practicing Creativity, to help artists, writers, and makers of all shapes and sizes to dream big, dig deep, and manifest our creative desires!
- This Workbook will help you clarify your creative vision and deepen your creativity.
- It will help you to create structure and organization to make your creative dreams manifest in the midst of a busy life.
- It will be a safe place for confronting the emotional elements that may be holding you back.
- This is a tool for empowerment and clarity!
- You have something special to share, and the world is ready for you!
Free pdf - Excerpt from Practicing Creativity
As your coach,
- Determine your creative goals and dreams
- Develop a strategy, plan, and structure to help you move forward through the creative process
- Troubleshoot any roadblocks along the way
- Celebrate with you when your creative project is born!
Read more about Creativity Coaching!!
I am looking forward to helping you change the world one project at a time!
Now what are you going to make?
This project is great for bringing the outdoors indoors, and during this achromatic season, it can be fun to excite our senses with bright, warm colors.
This project is also great for involving kids. I would recommend using shorter, stubbier sticks with no branching to minimize frustration.
-small amounts of yarn in a variety of colors
-sticks or branches
Begin at one end of your stick and tie the yarn onto the stick.
You can wrap as densely or loosely as you prefer. It's up to you how much stick is visible.
Choose another color of yarn , cut it, and tie it onto the stick at the end of your first color.
If you are wrapping branches, you can continue onto an offshoot very easily.
Not pictured, you could also wrap continuously over one area to create bumps for a bulbous effect - might be interesting.
Hey Artist, Writers, and Makers
The Artist Residency Application
Is Now Open!
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!
After Printing, Cut Out and Share!!!
Hey Artist, Writers, and Makers
The Artist Residency Application
Is Now Open!
Want to Write for Woolgathering?
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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!
Anna Lentz, artist, writer, and creativity coach who blogs about making a creative life connected with nature at Spring Bird.