Wednesday, May 28, 2014

My Introduction to Art Therapy

I just returned from a grief seminar where I learned a little about art therapy. Why was I at a grief seminar? My son was killed while serving with the Air Force at the Afghan Interior Ministry in Kabul in 2012. A wonderful NGO organization, TAPS (Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors) provides support for the families of the fallen. I was fortunate enough to attend the National Seminar in Washington D.C. over Memorial Day Weekend. In addition to other workshops, I attended two on art therapy presented by Sharon Strouse, an art therapist and author of, Artful Grief, A Diary of Healing.

First a confession; when I saw the workshop titles, Artful Grief/Open Art Studio and The Mask of Grief (descriptions said we would be making a collage and a mask,) I thought, cool, maybe I will learn a new technique. Well, it wasn’t exactly like that.  I did make a collage but also was encouraged to describe where I was in my grief journey.  Before we began to make our collage, Ms. Strouse shared her story. Her 17 year old daughter ended her own life in 2001. Ms. Strouse found art, specifically collages, to be the only thing that would bring her peace.
For the workshop, she had papers, paint, pens, buttons, bottle caps, magazine pictures, and a lot of other stuff, including a couple of boxes with words on strips of paper. We were encouraged to look through the magazine photos and words to find something that we could relate to in our grief journey. Almost immediately I found five words that described my current location; peace, calm, sad, grateful and proud. I covered a piece of cardboard with some black and white paper. I glued a small seashell and the word peace to a pretty piece of blue burlap and attached it to the substrate. I had been tangling while listening to a speaker in the previous workshop, so I tore the tangle off my note pad, adhered it to the collage with the word calm, as tangling is a calming exercise for me.  I found an appropriate photo for proud and a heart shape for grateful. In the center I glued a sad photo and the word sad. As we worked quietly, listening to soothing music, it did feel peaceful and calm. Sorry, I didn’t take a photo and at the time I didn’t see any reason to bring it home. I hadn’t given any thought about sharing it on this blog. 

In the mask making workshop, we teamed up and applied strips of gauze and plaster of Paris (like they use for cast to set broken bones) to one another’s face. Of course we applied petroleum jelly to the face before we applied the bandages. After the masks had hardened and were removed, we sat in a circle and talked about what we saw inside and outside our mask and what we thought it meant. I won’t go into detail, but I did learn I do, at times, wear a mask. And that it is okay as long as I take it off sometimes and acknowledge my feelings.

Like Ms. Strouse, I have found my craft studio and also my garden to be my sanctuaries.
Another workshop provided a lot of fodder for thought.  Mitch Carmody, author of Letters to my Son, spoke about signs from loved ones that have died that indicate their spirit is still among us. I left the workshop thinking it was plausible, but still somewhat skeptic. I decided to sit in on a sharing group, Winks and Signs from the Other Side. The room was overflowing with folks wanting to share, so another room had to be opened with another facilitator. After hearing numerous accounts, well let’s say I’m not so much of a skeptic. (In fact I had two winks over the weekend.) I think I may start an art journal to record my winks.
If any of you have had experience with art therapy or signs from your deceased loved one, I would like to hear about them. If you are comfortable sharing, please comment below.
Oh, did I say I was a proud mom. You betcha I am! I'd love for you to meet my son, Lt Col J. Darin Loftis.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Etching with Diane Cook

I love being a shop girl for a mixed media store and working studio! It is fascinating to meet local artisans as well as popular artists featured in magazines like Cloth, Paper, Scissors and Sunset Studio. But for a crafter with an addiction, well let’s just say it provides fuel.  Working at Ephemera Paducah last month I fell in love with Diane Cook’s etched jewelry. It was displayed along with information about her upcoming workshop. I really liked those bracelets! I told HR about them but said I really can’t get interested in yet another craft. Well, after a few conversations with him about how cool I thought they were, he suggested I just take the class and think of it, not as acquiring a new craft, but buying a nice piece of jewelry that I made myself. In fact, he said he would pay for the class as an early birthday gift. Well, that made perfect sense to me. So I spent yesterday etching brass, copper and nickel! Oh my, was that fun! And here is, not a piece of nice jewelry, but 4 pieces made by yours truly!

So, how did that work with my addiction? Well let’s just say I have checked the price for muriatic acid, know Amazon carries liver of sulfur solution and am trying to convince Kristin she needs a metal punch set in the studio.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Hooked another crafter!

I was privileged to have a very special mom and new crafter play in my studio over Mother’s Day weekend. With a new home and garden, Gail decided to make a garden flag. She chose to use burlap and from my collection of stencils, she chose StencilGirl’s Modern Tree. To keep the colors vibrant in the outdoor elements, she stenciled with an outdoor acrylic paint.
To add a little pizazz, Gail embellished the flag with buttons and dimensional fabric paint.
Very nice!
Hard to believe this is Gail’s very first stencil project. (I think she may be hooked!)

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Tangling with RubberMoon

Last week I received Kae Pea’s Sun Sweet stamp from RubberMoon in the mail. My first thought when I saw it was “it would work perfectly in a tangle.”

 I think it did!
I then wondered how Barb Roger’s Go Bug would look as an art car.

Kind of cute, don’t you think?
These tangles will find themselves on greeting cards.
I am having a ton of fun thinking of new ways to use my RubberMoon stamps! If any of you have suggestions, please comment below.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Burlap Pillow

My Silhouette Portrait came through for me once again! Needing a housewarming gift for some special friends, I used the Silhouette Portrait to cut a stencil from freezer paper (a technique I found on the Silhouette School web site.) After ironing the stencil to the burlap, I stamped it with black outdoor craft paint.  It did take a couple of tries to get all the letters to come out crisp. I think I have the stamping technique down so it should be easier next time. (Mainly, just blot dauber before stamping and use a straight up and down motion.)

This pillow reminds me of the ones found at stores like Pottery Barn; doing them myself I can customize with my own words and images.

Love my Silhouette Portrait! Those of you reading this that have a Silhouette, I would love to know what you are making with it.