Artsy Fartsy Stuff

More artsy than fartsy. Promise!

Random Notes From My Files

There are sticky notes everywhere, and I can’t see the monitor anymore. I’m trying to clean out all my notes, so this post is very eclectic. Consider this a post of my “post-it” notes. It’s just random bits and pieces of things that amused me, but then I’m easily amused.

For those of you who have to go out into the real world to work, I have a few silly things to lighten the mood.

Every now and then, I go to the Despair site to get a giggle. Click on “Demotivators” (by name). Scroll through the Demotivators by category or view all Demotivators.

Or, link to the Curiosity Shop, and order this slingshot pencil for $8.50. That’s a small price to pay for the mischief you could make around the office.

Over at the Sprout site, you can get the bandages shown below. I don’t know about you, but they make me want a paper cut. Bacon AND Egg bandages? Or, just Bacon bandages? I can’t decide. For $4.95 each I want them both.

At Craftser, long ago there was a contest of creating miniatures. This was one of the entries; it’s a triptych painted on bottle caps, by an artist named Roethke. Her site has some other interesting items of artwork including wearable art, dolls, postcards, paintings and more.

If you want artistic inspiration, you can learn about a quilter I saw featured on television. Her name is Carolyn Mazloomi, and she describes herself as “a quilter who happens to be African American.” This woman is self-taught! Her work is so impressive that she has exhibited many times at The Smithsonian.

Enjoy your day.

A Tapestry of Rich And Royal Hue

One of the wonderful things about traveling to schools to tell stories is that I get to meet librarians. If you are insatiably curious, librarians are wonderful people to know. They can find out things that most of us have no clue even exist. The saddest thing about my job is that I see each librarian only once a year, or worse every few years. Most of them are people I’d like to know.

I have one such friend to whom I have given the designation of “My Personal Research Librarian.” Anna Mae, who lives in a small southeast Texas town, hearkens to a time when the world moved more slowly. If you look up the word “genteel” in the dictionary, you will find that it says “See Anna Mae.” She is one of only two people I know who take time to write letters (the other is my delightful mother-in-law). She claims to know little about computers and doesn’t use e-mail.

I get regular clippings from her with little notes attached. When she finds a newspaper or magazine article she thinks might interest me, she sends it along. It’s always a wonderful surprise to find an envelope in the mailbox that isn’t a bill! And, she sends some delightful things I wouldn’t otherwise discover on my own.

In one of the recent batches was an article about The Thread Project. I wish I had known about it when I could still contribute. It’s one of the most heartwarming things I’ve encountered recently.

After September 11, 2001, Terry Helwig, a counselor in South Carolina, worried about our world. She decided we were all “hanging by a thread.” She pondered about how to heal the wounds of hatred … and inspiration struck. She began asking friends to donate a single thread that held some meaning to them for a weaving to symbolize hope.

Terry dreamed of “weaving our differences into a unified whole.”

Her project grew into a grassroots movement with its own website and resulted in seven huge weavings of seven panels each with over 50,000 threads from all over the world. Every thread has a story. Helwig will be putting those stories into a book this year. The website documents how the project was done with photographs and a collection of some of the “Story Threads.” It also tells where the panels will be exhibited over the coming year. Below is Helwig with a few of the panels.

Groups at churches and schools gathered to bring their threads for the project. People sent their threads with a story attached, and the threads were of many kinds: A tassel from a graduation, lace from a wedding dress, thread from a blanket of a child who died, a length of fishing line, a guitar string.

One young man, named Mario, said, “I didn’t come prepared with a thread so I just took my shirt off and ripped this strip from it. That’s so you know I would take the shirt off my back to contribute to the peace and healing of our community.”

The panels were woven across the world. Some were woven here in the United States in small towns in Tennessee, Kansas, Idaho, and Pennsylvania. One was woven in Wimberly, Texas. Other panels were woven in Afghanistan, El Salvador, Ghana, Australia, British Columbia, India, Israel, and the UK.

Helwig explains the significance of the “7” by saying that there are 7 continents, 7 colors in the color spectrum, 7 days in the week, and 7 symbolizes perfect order, completeness, totality, safety and synthesis. From her spark of inspiration, her dream, Terry Helwig brought people together to “symbolically mend our world.” What an amazing feat. Wouldn’t it be a wonderful world if we could all embrace the idea that all our lives are woven together? As Helwig said, “one voice matters; one idea counts; a single thread can help re-weave the web.”

Terry Helwig is good example of a person who chased a dream to catch one. Thanks, Anna Mae, for passing it along.

Collage: Art on the Cutting Edge

I entered the now defunct restaurant/gift shop in Turkey, Texas. In a small town like Turkey, I wasn’t expecting much out of the place. I found the proprietor/waitress/chef meticulously snipping and clipping pictures from a Better Homes & Gardens magazine. I asked what she was doing, and she smiled a Cheshire cat grin. “Oh,” she replied, “just making a little collage.”

Bless her heart. I had to muffle a smirk and bite my tongue not to make a cutting remark, lest she give me a good pasting. My 10th grade English teacher forced my class to clip pictures and words from magazines to make a collage to “describe ourselves.” They were pretty awful.

Then, I took a gander at her “little collage.”

My eyes nearly popped out of my head. I tried to act uninterested as I asked her what she would charge for it, and she said, “Oh, about $8.00.” I sat there at the table until she finished it, paid my money, walked out and have been enjoying it ever since. She didn’t even value her work enough to sign her name to it.

Since that day, I’ve had a new respect for collage as art. When I heard that a Romare Bearden exhibit was coming to the Dallas Museum of Art, I got all antsy. I gathered a group of friends to go with me to view the exhibit. There was only one word for it: amazing.

Romare Bearden (1912-1988) was a prolific artist who worked in many mediums and artistic styles. He is probably best known, though, for his collage work. Colorful and richly textured, his collages told stories. In 1968, two of them were chosen to grace the covers of Time Magazine and Fortune Magazine.

The Village of Yo is on display at the Yale University Art Gallery in New Haven, Connecticut.


Though Bearden was born in North Carolina, he grew up in Harlem, and later had a second home in the Caribbean. The influences of all of these locales can be seen in his works.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art has a wonderful on-line “Explore and Learn” series about artists. The one for Romare Bearden has music by the Branford Marsalis Quartet, and features “The Block,” by Bearden.

The Romare Bearden Foundation has a full biography, as well as examples of his work. Cover Art from books, oil paintings, water color paintings and collages are all there for you to view.

Seeing any kind of art on-line is a poor substitute for the real thing. Watch for the opportunity to view his work at a gallery or museum. I was shocked that some of the pieces were tiny, but had to remember that he was clipping pictures from magazines to make the artwork. You might just find it fascinating.

You can find several books on collage, but one of my favorites is called Creative Collage Techniques, by Nita Leland & Virginia Lee Williams. I keep it handy just for inspiration. One of these days, I’m going to try my hand at it.