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Friday, 31 December 2021

Into The New Year

My cold is improving although it's not in a hurry to go anywhere fast. Thankfully, I am feeling well enough to do a few things plus this was already a quiet week with the option of moving slow. Right now, I don't have any plans until Monday afternoon with the audiologist and they can decide if they want to see me or not. 

Earlier this year, I gave someone a new sewing machine. I'd bought it in a moment of panic when the control foot on mine was on endless backorder and then regretted the decision. Although it was less than what I owned, it was far more than what she owned and I was happy to send it to a new home. 

Normally, I wouldn't mention that except it's part of my point. I've always believed that what goes around comes around although rarely in kind. Last month, I took my serger in for a tune-up and found out it was irreparably damaged. Since I'd had it for almost forty years, I was stunned, shocked, in grief, and wondering when I could replace it since there had been some significant bills lately.

When I mentioned it to my friend, she said she had a second one sitting in the closet doing nothing. I'm not sure why she replaced it with her current one so quickly but it still smells new. And she gave it to me. Just - Gave - It - To- Me. How amazing is that! I am so grateful. 

Gratefulness is something I want to take into the new year along with being more adventurous and trying new things, just for fun, not for a lifetime commitment, like the abstract painting for over my fireplace. This week, I moved to step two and used a pencil to scribble all over the surface. I think I also have some water soluble coloured pencils. If so, I'll use them next. If not, I'll see what I have. Using what I have has been a stretching choice in the past. I'm taking it into the new year as well.

One of my yearly traditions is to finish one year and start the next with no UFOs. Last year, it wasn't possible with my recent move and the ongoing renovations BUT... this year, everything is finished and I'm ready to begin the crossover project. I typically choose something that will be fun to make, has creative details, and is a piece I really want to sew. This year, I'm copying this RTW garment with so many changes it made me...

... wonder why I bought it in the first place because even at the consignment store, it was quite expensive. I think it was to support my friend who owns the store and probably, if I'm honest, just to buy something after finally getting out from lockdown. I really like the pockets. The fabric feels cheap even though it has great drape. I don't like the neckline shape and the poor sewing totally frustrates me. I couldn't find the exact garment online however, based on the prices at the boutique in town where this was most likely bought, it would have been $300.00 Canadian or more. Hello! So glad I sew. 

These are my favourite parts - the godet at the side and the shape of the armhole. Again, you can see the poor sewing at the underarm point. LOL - mine will be better... I hope... she says. While I like the godet at the underarm, I don't like it at the hemline (see below) where it ends with a folded slit-like-look. I plan to connect that edge so the finished garment will have more of a lantern shape

Although this post will be published on New Year's Eve, I wrote it yesterday. Hopefully by now I have finished the socks I'm knitting and have started working on both my 2022 collage and this outfit. That's exactly how I like to spend December 31st and January 1st. In my studio. Being creative. Doing what I love to do. I wish you a happy, creative, new year. 

What are you taking into the new year?

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - a fun project to work on

Wednesday, 29 December 2021

The Future Of Yesterday

Before my trip, I was quarantined awaiting test results and now I'm snuggled up on the couch in front of the fire sniffling and sneezing. Even though I drove straight to my daughter's house and then straight back home again, without stopping anywhere or talking to anyone, except for gas, and even though we stayed in the whole time I was there, my youngest grandson had a cold when I arrived and the oldest was sniffling as I left. Apparently, they shared. Such sweeties - VBG. 

Couch time equals napping, knitting, and thinking time. One thought I've been pondering a lot lately is that today is the future of yesterday. The author of the spiritual study I've been doing this year writes in future tense and as the year passed, it began to irritate me more and more. What about now? What about what already exists? Most self help, coaching, or goal setting type books also talk in future tense and it's not all bad even as it's not all good. The future never exists. It's an endlessly moving point that may or may not unfold as we think and hope. Things happen. Life shifts. Today is all there is.  

I've thought about this from the perspective of creating products to sell because no matter how amazing they are or how hard I work there is no guarantee a product will sell. I've also thought about it from the perspective of how I occupy my time. This day will pass whether I am doing things that nurture me or things that do not and having spent significant time, money, and energy in the past on ideas that didn't pan out, I want to - as much as I am able - focus my future, which is presented in the form of today, on what nurtures me. If the desired outcome never happened, would the process be enough? As I age, that's an increasingly important question. 

Along with a good question, another thing I love is learning. I've been watching numerous acrylic painting and mixed media videos on YouTube and there are many aspects I can't relate to even as I'm learning techniques to use for my fireplace painting. In one video, the artist, who lived in a very small space, was pulling out boxes and suitcases filled with different kinds of art journals that she had stashed away. Her point was to illustrate the different forms only my mind got stuck on how many there were, that they were everywhere taking up valuable real estate, and wondering what do you do with those anyway?

My reaction to the video led to some interesting conversations with friends about what we do just for fun. I already knew that I was more of a minimalist and that having too many of any one thing is not how I function however, I also discovered that I'm far more practical than I thought except that I have some quirks of my own that others don't understand and that's okay. How boring if we were all the same. 

One quirk that seems to really confuse others is that I'll often - as in quite often - sew or knit something, decide that it doesn't work for me, cut it up or unravel it, and make something else. Most of the time, it's not about whether it looks good on me,  it's about whether it feels right. The cardigan above started as an eight panel skirt. Somehow I managed to cut the pieces out with a large yellow flower in each section right at the hipline which was very unflattering. I tried to break up the line by adding appliques and that didn't work either. In the end, I cut it into small sections, pieced them with the seams to the right side, and added sleeves from a thrifted top. This is me. I like it. I even wear it... 

... which is another quirk that confuses people - how often I sew labour intensive pieces that I don't wear. I've probably spent the most time thinking about this concept wondering why and if it's something I should be attempting to change and my conclusion is no. This is my equivalent of a pile of art journals stashed under the bed. I have no problem with single occasion clothing like the pants I sewed for Christmas. Nor do I have a problem spending hours and hours on something that I won't wear even if it did fit me. This particular coat is a child's size three and was made from double sided wool fabric I found in the bargain section for $2.00 a meter. I bought lots in both a black/orange combo and a black/lime combo and created several little coats incorporating techniques I wouldn't normally wear. I also made a coat for myself using a pattern I thought I'd like only it was way too much fabric for my frame. I cut it up immediately because I wouldn't wear it and it eventually became something else. When I'd made a dozen little girl coats, that was my limit of too many. A few were sold. Most were given away. I haven't made another one since. 


These details are from two more of the coats. On the left, I wanted to try a technique from Kat Wise's work and on the right, I wanted to see what I could do with serger strips. Both were what if and how can I experiments. Samples, basically. I am thankful that although I am quite practical, I am also able to make something just because I'm curious. More often ...

... that curiosity leads to handbags or garments that I won't use and occasionally it becomes a piece I really enjoy. This t-shirt was made from recycled black t-shirts that were spritzed with a bleach/water mix and then pieced together into yardage that was then cut out using one of my T & T patterns. This piece isn't in my closet anymore but when it was, I wore it all the time. It felt right. 

You've probably heard Annie Dillard's quote - How we spend our days is, of course how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing. As I think about what the new year holds and where I want to invest my time, money, and energy, I am keeping in mind that today is all there is and while I might work on goals I hope will come to fruition, they may not and so I want to spend the process in a way that nurtures and feels like me. 

What nurtures you?

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - a couch to curl up on on and a fire to sit in front of

Wednesday, 22 December 2021

Three In One Day

Thankfully, the test results came back negative  and I was not in direct contact with Covid and could leave on my holiday. I am at my daughter's house until Boxing Day.  Today, I took her out for breakfast for her birthday and then looked after the boys while she and her husband went out for dinner. It's not often I get to spend her birthday with her so I enjoyed that as well as celebrating happy I gave birth day with her babies.

I had a completely different post in mind only I'm exhausted from all that snuggling and playing with my grandsons... and the noise. I am not used to people in the house and especially little people and I was already tired from the drive which was a combination of delays due to an accident, construction, and road conditions. When I normally would have arrived, I was only at the halfway point but thankfully the last half went much smoother. I left at 8:30 am and arrived at 5:30pm. 

If you've read my blog for any length of time, you'll know that one of my favourite questions is... when was the last time you did something for the first time. On Monday, after accidentally leaving the dome light on all night, the car battery was dead and needed charging before I could leave plus I drove to my daughter's house in winter and arrived after dark when things look completely different. All new. Three in one day.

A friend asked if I was nervous driving in winter and seemed rather stunned when I said no but cautious. On the drive here, I was thinking about all the things I have learned to do for myself by myself. It's not that I don't like help but I'm glad I don't need always need it or company, that I can manage. I hope that's a positive role model for my daughter and any daughter-in-laws or granddaughters I may eventually have.

I'll post again after I'm back home as it's too busy to concentrate on writing a solid post. Until then, MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - safe travels and snuggles

Friday, 17 December 2021

A Christmas Necklace

My plan for Christmas this year was to spend it with my daughter and her family including my two grandsons. It would have been the first time I'd spent Christmas with the boys at their house and I had been very much looking forward to being there. My daughter's birthday is December 21st so I planned to travel to her house on Monday getting there in time to celebrate with her the next day and then look after the boys while her husband took her out for dinner. There has been so little to look forward to during this pandemic that even the smallest outing becomes significant so you can imagine how important this trip was - is - to me. 

Right now, it's not cancelled however, it is in jeopardy awaiting test results to see if the person I spent time with, and who was directly exposed to Covid, tests negative or positive. And even if the results are negative, Christmas is still nine days away and with the rapid spread of this new variant it's hard to know what's going to happen since my daughter lives in a different health region in a different province. It's not a discussion I want to have here on the blog since it's quite a sensitive topic however, I am attempting to distract myself from how angry I am that the individual was not vaccinated and that their freedom of choice is impacting mine. 

According to my grandsons, I am a silly grandma which is a title I'm totally willing to live up to since it's far more fun than being a beige grandma. To amuse them, and just because, I sewed some Christmas pants using a somewhat gaudy print of decorations and the Burda 7400 pant pattern. I have been sewing this pattern for at least ten years and it is still my favourite. The only changes I made, way back when, were to swap the ribbed waistband for an elastic one and reshape the crotch seam to fit me better. 

A statement necklace is part of my style and Christmas pants definitely need a Christmas necklace. This decoration turned pendant was my starting point and then I made a series of aluminum foil balls that were then covered with polymer clay, pierced, baked, painted, textured, and glazed into hand-formed beads. 

I'd hoped the wear the pants and necklace today to a get together with my knitting group only I'm staying home. I won't know the test results in time and I can't be that person. I couldn't live with the guilt of having knowingly exposed someone because I wanted to wear my party pants especially as almost all the women are older than me and some have compromised immune systems. As I write this, I haven't decided if I'm going to wear them today or not but on Christmas day for sure.  The boys might have to see them online. 

It wasn't until I looked at this picture that I saw the issue with the clasp and I didn't have what it took to restring it especially as it's for me and not a piece for sale. Maybe later. Maybe never. It is good and enough for now. I'll still have fun wearing it.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - pretty shiny objects

Tuesday, 14 December 2021

Beginning Again... Again

When I posted in May that it was going to be my last post, I truly believed I was done with blogging. I thought I'd found a new direction and intended to do the work to make it work. And I did work... hard... however life, as I'm sure you know, rarely goes the way we think. 

My plan was to create a body of work and to not even think about selling until the fall of 2022 only, for the second time in my life, a gallery called me and asked to carry my work. It was the same gallery that used to carry my textile pieces and the owner, Carolina, had seen my jewelry on Instagram. Eighteen necklaces went to a pop up show that started on November 4th and runs until December 24th. So far, none have sold and while that's disappointing on one level, it's really good information on another.
I know it's not the quality of the work both in terms of design or workmanship and my first instinct is that it's the prices. I'll see what her feedback is after the show however, with the gallery fee included, the pieces range between $200 and $400 dollars. That's not in my buying range and although I know that someone somewhere can pay those prices, I don't know who that someone is or where she lives. It made me think. Again. Trying to find that thing that is both a bread and butter product and a lot of fun to create is like a roller coaster but thankfully, eventually. the ride finds its rhythm.

I had a major meltdown one day when it all seemed too much and overwhelming and sent an SOS email to my previous creativity coach - Diane Ericson. Thankfully, she was available for a long chat that calmed me down significantly. I've thought a lot since about what to do next and have started exploring parts in the form of beads and buttons as well as finished pieces. I've been working with polymer clay and I love the happenstance of mixing colours and seeing what comes out. In the new year, I'll be exploring this concept more.

At the end of November last year, I'd just moved into my new townhouse and the renovations had started with workmen, tools, ladders, and assorted stuff everywhere. I was painting the brown and darker brown walls and the yellowed ceiling with an all over bright white that massively improved the look with every stroke. Except for essentials - like a sewing machine and a serger - most of my things were piled high in boxes in the garage and would be there until just a few days before Christmas. The final bits didn't finish until near the end of January and once the last workman walked out the door, I did virtually nothing more for a full year, until now.

At the beginning of December, I started painting again. I haven't taken any pictures yet but one of the white walls is now a denim blue, the island is lime with a blue wash, and I'm working on the kitchen cabinets which proved to be quite frustrating. I'd planned for a dark grey only when I applied a first coat, I thought it might be too dark. Then, I applied a coat of white primer and decided it was too stark so I met in the middle with a medium grey, which pulled purple, and reminded me that I prefer dark colours on smooth surfaces like these flat panel doors. And now, they are back to dark grey and I like them. And I've put the gesso coat on an abstract painting, the first step of something I've never done before.

It's somewhat synchronistic that I am returning to blogging right now. I did that at this time last year as well and then I quit again. After blogging daily for well over ten years, I stopped quite a few years ago when life went on an incredibly bumpy ride at the same time that blogging was replaced by other forms of social media and I haven't managed to rediscover that consistent rhythm again. So many things have shifted this year. Perhaps now will be the time. I hope so. I debated resurrecting one of my previous blogs or starting a completely new one completely and have decided to restart here because it's the easiest choice. And easy feels doable right now.

When I started making jewelry, I created an Instagram page and I also joined some Facebook groups in an attempt to hang around with like minded people. I hated it. Social media doesn't resonate with me. I like long form writing, with illustrations, with sharing, with mutual support and encouragement. I prefer comments to likes. I especially prefer knowing how what I posted resonate with you. Although the "good old days" of blogging may be gone, I hear that long form writing and personal story blogs are still popular and that's my style so here I am... beginning... again... both in an effort to meet like minded people and because writing is something I enjoy that is also good for me. I am starting with the best of intentions to keep blogging long term and I hope if you enjoy reading my blog that you'll encourage me with shared conversation.
Thanks for sharing my creative journey. Talk soon - Myrna Grateful - brave enough to begin again

Wednesday, 19 May 2021

A Sufficiently Motivating Why

This weekend, I am getting a surprise visit from my daughter, son-in-law, and grandsons. I guess it's not really a surprise if I know about it but then again, I've only known for a few days. I am VERY excited. It has been forever and ever since I saw them last. They are here for the long weekend. I'll be spending a lot of time snuggling with the boys and providing child care while my daughter and her husband take a mental health break. It's just what we all need. 

With such short notice, I'm prioritizing what needs to be done before they come. Yesterday, I organized the crawl space and started thoroughly cleaning it. Since it's 6 1/2 feet deep, the boys will be able to play down there and build forts with all my moving boxes but only if it's clean. I couldn't believe the dust. I emerged so covered that my hair looked grey and I'd lost my voice, which I didn't know until I tried to answer the phone. I am not sure the previous owner ever cleaned down there because there was still some construction debris and the unit was built in 2006. 

AND THEN... there's a problem with my desktop and it won't open which meant I couldn't size pictures to post. Not that I had a lot but some. I started a pair of OOP Marcy Tilton pants, spent some more time on the copper pendant, and have little green shoots peeking up through the ground along my walkway and tiny tomatoes on my plant. Progress. 

On Monday morning, I had a lovely conversation with Ellen, the owner of the flower shop downtown, and discovered we had a lot in common. She was very open to the idea of me renting space within her business for my metalworking studio however, she's waiting a week to answer while she thinks through the logistics and talks to her staff and also to avoid saying yes and then wishing she'd said no. Very wise. As I expected, she was supportive and encouraging and urged me to go forward no matter what. 

That's definitely the plan. I was asked to submit an expression of intent for an upcoming exhibit in Spring 2022 at the local art gallery. When I queried the inclusion of jewelry, the director said that yes, my bold sculptural style would work great. I have never heard my work described that way. Not only was it nice to have a recognizable style, it also felt completely right and complimentary to the architectural style of clothing I prefer. YES YES. What I like about the possibility of being included in the exhibit is that it would give me a goal to work forward to which would be helpful to getting established.

Monday afternoon was another session with my creativity coach. I am SO GLAD to be working with her. So much has happened since our initial consultation. I've gone from wondering to feeling energized, focused, and forward moving and that's something I really needed. Through working with her, I've put down old plans and picked up new ones. I've identified how important it is for me to leave the house and to become more visible and connected in my community. And, I am trying for the impossible dream of an outside studio before settling for other options. 

Which leads me to my latest decision. This is my last post. Now that I've decided not to pursue writing, teaching, and retreats around creative fashion, sewing is becoming entirely personal again and I'm looking forward to that - to just enjoying the process.

If you are interested in metalsmithing and my bold sculptural style of jewelry, I intend to post my work to an Instagram account - https://www.instagram.com/oneatatimebymyrna/ - once I get a phone and figure out how to use it. While I won't be here, I will be there. Soon. I hope. 

I once strongly resisted having a computer and eventually discovered a sufficiently motivating why. A cell phone has been exactly the same and even though I now have a why, I still won't be carrying it around, turned on, everywhere I go. HOWEVER, having a cell phone is important to building a creative jewelry making practice and that is important to me especially as I begin The Year of Turning Sixty and move into this next decade of my life. A sufficiently motivating why. 

THANK YOU so much for reading my blog and for supporting my creative journey. It is very much appreciated. 

Take care - Myrna

Grateful - progress

Wednesday, 12 May 2021

Making Chain - Just Chain

Yesterday, I shoveled and raked out the last of the dirt along the walkway, planted the micro-clover, and dampened the soil. Now, I'm watching "grass" grow. Too fun. So far, the walkway is looking the way I envisioned which is good. The section from the street to the back of the house is complete and that's all I plan to do this spring. I may do a bit of the back in the fall but most likely not until next spring. I'm ready to play in the studio. THIS - more play time - is why I bought a townhouse!

The heart themed piece isn't finished but it is further along. This is the stage I'm at. Yesterday, I was downtown snoop shopping at our high end women's boutique and there were some copper and resin pieces on display. Simple. Barely any material. Not a whole lot of skill involved. Sometimes even cheap looking but VERY expensively priced. It always intrigues me - and often frustrates me - what people will pay for a brand name and not for a literal one-of-a-kind. 

When I think about the kind of jewelry I like to buy or sell, it's not anything brand name; it's eccentric, authentic, hard to get, handmade by the artist in her studio, one at a time, one of a kind, uniquely special. 

I've been spending a lot of time looking at inspiration pictures and developing a path forward for doing more metalsmithing. These pictures - directly above and below - have been in my Jewelry Inspiration file for some time. I wish I could tell you the artists' names but I can't. 


What the images have in common is chain. I tend to do better when I focus in on one aspect of a topic and develop skills one at a time before layering them. So, I've been making chain. Just chain. 

These were created by wrapping a long length of copper around a metal pipe and then cutting through the wrap to separate each link. The links were then cleaned, soldered closed, and pickled to remove the fire scale and are now ready for sanding and taking forward. They are less than best and that's okay. There is still plenty I can do with them while learning how to do better, especially with soldering. It's a skill I'll be using a lot and want to learn well. 

Another of the pieces I saw at the boutique was put together using links made from cording with a circle of fabric folded over the join. There was no stitching visible so it appeared they were glued closed. Since one of the things I really want to do with my jewelry is include textile elements, my mind immediately wrapped some hand painted fabric bits around my less than best chain links and saw potential. YES YES!

What are you making? 

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - inspiration

Wednesday, 5 May 2021

The Impossible Dream

Yesterday, I woke up completely energized. I cleaned the house - thoroughly - baseboards and all, vacuumed and dusted, moved the furniture around, washed all the wood, and did the laundry. I'm not sure why since I'd been putting it off for a while except that I got my first dose of the vaccine on Monday. A friend told me that she'd had the same reaction, as if a weight had been lifted and she could now take on the world.  I didn't think I was so stressed by the pandemic but obviously it was weighing on me more than I knew. I am glad to have done my part to contribute to finding the end of this tunnel.

Cleaning always involves looking at the stairs. The only disappointing decision I made with the renovations is the carpet. I chose it for the pattern and because it's commercial grade thinking that would make it wear better. It was installed in January and this is how it looked in March... and I live alone... and don't wear shoes in the house. The carpet company says it's dirt and to get it professionally cleaned. Hmm... right... even if... every two months! All I can say is don't put that in an office building. 

After getting several quotes on replacing it with the same flooring in the rest of the house, or wooden treads, or different carpet, I decided on cleaning it and covering it with a carpet runner. When I researched a runner, the price was still going to be way up there so I decided to buy upholstery fabric and make my own that could be removed and washed if necessary. Luckily...

... Fabricland had a sale last week. Paisley is my favourite design and this one is 60" wide, has the same cream background as the carpet, contains colours I have throughout the house, and was on sale for $6.00 per meter. Seven meters for $42.00 makes a two sided runner. The quote for the same flooring was $4,500.00. I do like those savings. 

Before cleaning, I extended the fabric across the floor, folded it in half, and pinned along the selvage. Next, I'll press the fold and then decided how to stitch it together because I don't want the layers to slide. I am planning to paint the hand rail turquoise so I may use a light turquoise binding to finish the edges. We are so lucky to sew and to be able to look at DIY alternatives. 

One of this spring's big trends is a button-up cardigan like the one above right from Banana Republic. In my ongoing effort to knit down my stash, I used a recycled silk/wool blend to start knitting a similar sweater this weekend. That made me think of....

... the sweater knits in my stash. I'd like to sew them down as well. Above, the orange cardigan is Burda 6120, view A. With a few changes, namely a button band, it will look on-trend, which is sort of irrelevant since I wear this kind of cardigan all the time but nicely coincidental. 

Last month when I cleared out a lot of my surface design supplies, it left available shelf space in that closet. I'd like to sew down my sweater knit and my coating fabrics and put the remainder in there freeing up more room in this closet for less bulky fabrics. 

The pendant made a slight bit of progress. I spent a lot of time debating how to add the stone to the center and - for now - I'm eliminating it and plan to cut a piece of metal for the inside, see how that looks, and decide on how it will be embellished and fit into the theme. The stone may return; it may get replaced. I'm not sure. 

In the last post, I said that after Covid I wanted to get out of the house more and thought I'd do that with a part time position. I do want to get out more and I've re-evaluated how. I have had an impossible dream for a really long time and I know if I don't at least try to make it work, I will regret that down the line. 

The term impossible dream comes from Barbara Sher's work and she talked about identifying the dream and the top three obstacles preventing you from obtaining the dream and then asking for help to move around those obstacles. My impossible dream is a working studio, outside the house, in a truly co-operative environment as in we all get along and we support and encourage the success of each other. The obstacles are money, space, and a group of artists that truly get along. 

There is a local business woman who owns a flower shop that I truly respect. She is open minded, supportive and encouraging, honest and pragmatic. Along with flowers, she sells locally made art in her shop. After the Mother's Day rush, she has agreed to meet with me and brainstorm possibilities and I'm really looking forward to that. 

When I wrote May 1st in my journal, my first thought was that we were a third of the way through the year and I hadn't done anything yet. But that's not true. Just in April, I started working with a coach. I made a permanent decision about surface design and a permanent decision about writing, teaching, and retreats. I started working with jewelry again. I decided to get a part time position and then re-evaluated that decision and reversed it. And I decided to pursue the impossible dream and contacted someone to help me get started. THIS IS HUGE.  This is not nothing. 

I was watching a YouTube video the other day made by a young man named David Walsh. In it, he says good lives take a lot of maintenance. Yes. So true.  

What are you working on?

Talk soon - Myrna

- vaccines