Monday, August 8, 2011

Japanese paper, jewelry, and firemen

Oh yes, it has been another day for Molly Cat and myself.  I set the alarm for 6 a.m., determined to be up and taking on the day as early as I felt possible.  Obviously, my muse decided otherwise or at least I am blaming her for the resulting chaos.  Somehow, I managed to turn off the alarm when it went, rolled over and promptly went back to sleep.  When I awoke somewhat later, confused and not knowing what time it was, I realized my folly and dove into action.  First order of the day was to get Molly her bowl of kibble, a saucer of treats and nice big bowl of cold water.  The next order of the day was to turn on the coffee pot so that it could heat up whilst I had a quick shower and dressed appropriately for a day in the studio.

Feeling somewhat annoyed at myself for wasting time, I got to the business of making art.  Paper out, acrylic medium ready and then I started chopping up toothpicks.  You must think that I have truly lost my senses and maybe I have, but the toothpicks were destined to become part of a bridge in my latest idea of something to try for my exhibition piece.  My line of thought is that if I do up enough pieces to see what can be done on such a small piece of paper, then I can pick elements from each partially completed piece and incorporate the elements into the final piece which has to be in its final destination by September 01.  I am committed to having this piece of art in priority mail no later than August 20, so I do still have a little time to play with ideas and see how the ideas transition themselves onto the etchu hagaki paper which is only 6" x 8".  Trying to put an idea onto such a small piece of paper is not as easy as one might think, or at least I find it difficult to reign in my ideas and put just one down on the final piece.  I keep thinking "what if this other idea turns out better and I can execute it better?"  I have to leave the "what if" and move on to "this is what I am doing."

At this point, my flurry of activity came to a grinding halt as their was a loud knock on the door that echoed through the flat.  This was not the knock of a neighbour wanting to borrow a cup of sugar, nor was it a tap to see if I wanted to join someone for tea.  This was the kind of knock that makes you immediately start to worry and portends of trouble somewhere in the building.  I got to the door and opened it to find a fireman in full gear with several of his co-workers all on the floor knocking on the various doors.  I have to admit, I was somewhat concerned and already thinking of how I would capture Molly Cat and get her into her travel cage and then make our way down the stairwell.  The fireman asked if I was cooking something, no I was not.  He asked if I could smell the smoke in the hallway, yes I could.  I was told to close my door and there was no need to evacuate as yet.  The other firemen seemed to have found that the smoke was coming from a certain unit and were pounding on that person's door.  There appeared to be no answer.  I opened my door to talk to the fireman that had been questioning me as one other said that they needed to find a key for the unit.  I volunteered that I had a key for the unit.  The occupant had been ill a few months earlier and had asked me to hold onto a spare key in the event that I needed to get in to help her.  Key in hand, the fireman unlocked the door to find something burning on the stove or in the oven, I am not sure which it turned out to be.  The occupant was home, but had dozed off forgetting that she was cooking.  Luckily, she was fine, the fire detectors had not been set off and it was another neighbour who had smelled smoke and had called for help.

So, a word to the wise - if you are cooking, it might be wise not to decide to get too comfortable and hence, fall asleep.  Not only do you ruin your dinner, you make a lot of your neighbours nervous.  As the fireman returned my set of keys to me, he said that the lady should be grateful that they had not had to kick her door open.  I quite agree!  Note to self, make extra sure when I am cooking to stay right around the kitchen in the event that something boils over or more water needs to be added to a  pot of rice.  I always set timers when I am cooking and carry the timer with me wherever I go in my flat.  I know how long it will take to roast a chicken, bake a cake or brownies.  I err on the side of caution and deduct a few minutes and check to see how my cooking project is doing.  Burning down the flat just would not be something I would want to consider and so I am cautious, very cautious.  It was nice to know that someone was on the alert and smelled the smoke and knew that it was not something to be ignored.  I will have to find out who that person was and thank them.  Evacuating the building with a cat in a traveling cage is not easily done for me and I am very grateful that it did not come to that today.

All week my thoughts have been jumping around from jewelry to paintings and then on to writing.  Somehow, I need to incorporate all these elements into one.  And, so was born an idea that I plan to execute which will satisfy all my needs into one very energy laden project.  All the partial art pieces, that have been made to give me an idea of how they would translate onto the specified paper, will be completed once the actual piece destined for the exhibition is complete and on its way.  These sample pieces will be part of a larger series, all with a Japanese theme and become part of a album of my works done using this theme.  No bought journal would be what I need for the completed pieces and so I will make my own album using wonderful Japanese paper with each 6" x 8" piece on its own page.  Hopefully, I will come up with a title for each completed piece which will be ever so carefully inscribed below the artwork.  I am hoping that I will come up with at least 12 to 15 pieces of artwork all using the Japanese theme.  A spot will be left for the exhibition piece in case it comes back to me.  Artwork sent in for this exhibition will be on display for a month or so.  Judges will pick a first and runner up to win a gift certificate.  Artists are able to set a price on their submission in the event that someone wants to purchase it.  That would be lovely, to actually have someone want a piece of my work badly enough that they would actually pay for it.  But, let us see how the piece progresses before I even think about such an airy thought.

I love texture in my work and I really want to work some texture into my submission.  I have two partial pieces to show you at this time.  To the right of this column, you will see two pieces which I have been working on.  I know that they look quite simplistic, but I was amazed at the length of time it took to execute each.  The first piece shows a mature tree in the far right hand corner.  I used various shades of embroidery floss to get the effect of bark on a tree.  I envision some leaves towards the top of the paper, perhaps a lovely geisha strolling along a pathway with her paper umbrella ready to unfurl.  There may be a butterfly or two in the sky with some flowers lining her pathway.  That is the joy of being the artist, I get to create the story and plan how best to depict it using various materials besides my paints.  I am not sure how the idea of embroidery floss came to me, but I feel that it worked out well when I was putting the tree together.  One simple little tree took almost 5 hours to put together, piece by piece of the coloured floss, side by side and then on top of each other in places to build up the texture.  The picture is a long ways from done, but I will get it done, along with all the others that I would like to see in the series.

The second piece of artwork shows a bridge with some trees in the background.  The trees are all done in acrylic paints at this point, but will be covered with embroidery floss Monday morning.  The bridge is made out of sticks with with one stirs their coffee as well as toothpicks.  There will be a pond added to the scene along with water lilies, their leaves and maybe a curious little koi fish poking his head through the water to see what the day might be like above the water.  This piece of artwork is far from complete, but I can see what I am imagining in my mind.  My muse is quite clear about the colours that I need to be using.  A few bright notes to catch the viewer's attention are required.  I am adamant that each picture have bright colours, that the pictures are bold, in your face and not tentatively asking you if you might like to see them.

I am hoping that people will be drawn to my show piece and ask if it might be one of a series.  The answer will be a resounding "yes" and maybe I will need to take pictures of each to send off to a prospective buyer.  These are all dreams at this point.  How cheeky of me to think that someone might be interested in a series of mixed media pieces all pertaining to Japanese life, but I still am hoping that people will be interested in what I have put down on paper and the different mediums used to bring life to trees, bridges, kimonos and all other things Japanese.  I have a little trick up my sleeve for one piece that may or may not turn out to be an element in the art submission.  I will have to see how it will turn out and if it is impressive enough that others might find it interesting.  I have a lot of work to do over the next 10 days and I suspect there may be some late nights.  But, I am up for the challenge!

Realistically, I just need the one piece for the art exhibit.  The other partial pieces, plus the ones still to be developed can be done over the next month or two.  I can work on other types of art in between each Japanese piece.  I am hoping to spend a lot more time making pendants for necklaces, bracelet, beads to be strung for necklaces.  I will be making cards, lots of them, for the holidays.  But, I also want to make up extra birthday cards, cards for new babies, some with get well wishes and a lot of cards that impart the idea that someone sent the card just because the sender was thinking of the recipient.  That is the best reason of all to send a card.  I am hoping that others, maybe those reading this post, might take up the challenge to send more handwritten notes to those they care about.  These days, we are more apt to send a quick e-mail to someone on their birthday or when they are feeling down.  I remember the days when I would go to my mailbox and find that someone had taken the time to write a note in a card and send it to me.  The feelings that came over me while opening the greeting are difficult to explain other than to say, I felt so happy, so very happy.  I would love to send a card to someone hoping that they might capture that feeling.  And so, that is why I make greeting cards.

This is the way the journey played out this week!   I hope you had a wonderful week and got to do something that you normally would not have the time to do.  Enjoy these last few weeks of summer.  Summer never lasts long enough and so it is up to each of us to make the most of these last few weeks.  A few more barbeques, time in the park to sit and read or maybe one more trip to savour a dripping ice cream cone.  You decide!

Sincerely,  Rutheemac

P.S.  Whilst rambling around the internet looking at some of my favourite sites and looking at some new places, I found a great e-zine.  Nuno Magazine is published digitally and has just put out their 4th edition.  Go to for a taste of what you find in each edition.  Nuno writes about craft work that you might want to take on with your children and other pieces that are strictly for the adults.  The craftwork uses repurposed supplies you might have on hand or might find on an evening stroll in your neighbourhood.  Have a look at the web site and see the sample craft for making a pendant and necklace.  You can subscribe to the magazine for a nominal cost, well worth it considering the ideas you will get for other crafts.  Digital magazines are the way of the future - trees are not cut down to make paper, you will not be looking to find where someone may have stashed the magazine since you just have to go to your computer, where you have downloaded the current issue.  Check into Nuno and I think you will be excited to see what they are all about!

By the way, Omiyage is a fantastic place to do some browsing and shopping as well.  I got my first shipment of goodies (stamps, origami paper, notebooks) and am dreaming of all their wonderful items.  Marisa writes a chatty blog which she updates frequently.  I do not know how she does it all!  She has such amazing information and reading her blog will take you on a tour of many wonderful items.  Check her out at

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