Monday, September 17, 2012

Colorado Days

Aspen trees turning
For the last two weeks I have been enjoying southern Colorado. I have family here and I have picked apples, worked in a permaculture garden, built a compost bin, shoveled bear poop (!) out of the back yard, attended a fabulous concert at Steve's Guitars in Carbondale, and generally enjoyed the beautiful weather.

My aunt has a big apple tree in the backyard and for the last several nights a bear has climbed the tree to eat apples. He or she shakes the tree, chomps, grunts, and causes apples to fall. This all takes place right outside my second floor bedroom window, but I have never seen the bear. It's too dark, even with a flashlight shined from the window. This morning we shoveled up a 5 gallon bucket of bear poop. (I debated whether to post a picture of the poop, which is quite interesting, and have decided to spare you.)

My son Henry's girlfriend Shannon
My son has launched a business of installing permaculture gardens in Durango and thereabouts, and I have been assisting him with marketing, setting up a blog, and so on. I visited a garden he installed in Carbondale, and was amazed at the continuing yield of a small garden. (If you'd like to contact him about a garden for your backyard, it's henryellisjohnson (at) gmail (dot) com.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Prayer flags for all beings

I have been enjoying The Prayer Flag Project, and I finally got organized enough to jump in with a few of my own. Instead of overplanning, overthinking, and generally acting perfectionistic, I just did it.
A 50 cent garage sale sheet yielded 72 - 5x7" rectangles to play with. Having so many inexpensive pieces of fabric made me reckless -- if I did them wrong, it wouldn't matter because they were so cheap and there were so many of them. (The obstacles we make for ourselves!)
I dug around in my art supplies and found some fat tubes of Crayola finger paints, Radiant Rain, and big bottles of Colorations liquid watercolors from Discount School Supply. These materials, like the cotton fabric, will deteriorate rapidly. I think that prayer flags, like prayers, are meant to be transient and vanish into the universe.

I grabbed a few tools for making patterns and textures. One of my favorites is the purple rubber brush thing. It is soft and I can use it on my Gelli printing plate safely.I grabbed a few tools for making patterns and textures. One of my favorites is the purple rubber brush thing. It is soft and I can use it on my Gelli printing plate safely.
I placed the fabric on waxed paper on my worktable. I don't have a photo of this part, but I rolled out some blue fingerpaint on the Gelli and scribbled in it with the purple brush. I mashed each flag into the paint, adding more as needed.

And I painted. I globbed yellow finger paint on the fabric, then brushed it around and let it dry. I sprayed on some green Radiant Rain and when that was dry, added some orange. I like the Radiant Rain because it is sparkly, always a good thing in a prayer flag, I believe. I dropped the watercolors on the fabric to make blogs. When I decided that the colors were what I wanted, I had to decide how to add the lettering. After considering handwriting, image transfer, and printing on tissue paper, I decided on the latter. Easy and quick and more predictable than handwriting.
I stuck down the tissue paper captions with gloss lustre Mod Podge, then later wished I had used matte medium. Too shiny.
In order to hang the flags I added 2 machine made buttonholes to the top of each flag and then strung them on some orange twine I had around.
The flags read as follows:
May all beings be safe.
May all beings be well.
May all beings be happy.
May all beings be loved.
May all beings love themselves.

These flags are intended as a housewarming gift for my son and his partner, Shannon. I want them to always be safe, well, happy, and loved.

The gig is up

The emma & abby gig is over. It was fun while it lasted -- going to garage estate sales, arranging the finds in the shop, and eagerly watching what was selling (or not). It began to be less than fun when I realized that I was barely working in my studio, I was spending more time scrounging through other people's castoffs that I was spending cleaning out my own closets, and, well, the glamour was gone. Worst of all, I was not making a profit. It would have been fun for longer if I had been making money, I think. I gave Colleen notice, and packed up my remaining "treasures" on Friday. The boxes, thankfully there are only a few, are in my studio waiting for me to decide the fate of the contents. My son has just rented a house in Durango, and I am going for a visit next week. Gee, I wonder if he needs me to help decorate?