Mar 27 2012

Every now and then, little Sunbonnets get the most AMAZING e-mails.

On Wednesday, March 21, I was invited by BlogHer to meet with other BlogHers on Friday, March 23, in the Big Apple.

I have been encouraging BlogHers to get together in real life to enrich our virtual friendships, solidify our communications and bolster mutual support, but I didn’t expect to have to put my money where my mouth was so soon. They called my bluff. They asked was I into it? Or not? I decided I was in. The journey began.

Considering all of the fantastic women involved in BlogHer, though, how could I go wrong? I expected there would be no end to the wonderment and delight. Anyway, when I was invited to go by BlogHer High Command, how could I refuse? I was needed. I was on a mission.

Friday, March 23, was also my 20th wedding anniversary, so I spent a few seconds thinking about whether or not I should go, then it was “Hi-Ho-BlogHer-O, we’ll celebrate when I get back, honey! SEE ya!” as I ran to pack the suitcase.

New York, New York, crossroads of the world.

BlogHer had set the meeting for Friday morning in the Cheslsea district of New York City. Being centrally located for those of us in the mid-Atlantic region of the east coast, it was not a far stretch. And besides, I counted it as a “dry run” for getting up to BlogHer ’12 this summer. One thing to try out for sure was transportation. Before, when I’ve gone to NYC, I’ve flown the commuter flights, but with those TSA checks, I decided to try AmTrak and off I went on the Metro subway to Union Station in Washington, D.C. to catch the AmTrak Acela.

In only two hours and forty five minutes, I was in New York City at Penn Station, standing in the line waiting for a taxi to my hotel. The trip was so effortless, it was hard to believe I was there. With the AmTrak train charging up the east coast at 150 miles/hour, the time and four states just flew by.

Digital Still Life: Arrival at Four Points Sheraton in Chelsea.

When making reservations, it’s sure hard to know what you’re getting into. Even with the Internet and an army of Travelocity Gnomes, one never knows until one arrives just how the accommodations will suit. Well, if I had gathered a committee to pick a great Sunbonnet-friendly site, I couldn’t have done better.

There I was in the garment district, a fair slice of Heaven for a quilter. Shops of fabric, dress manikins and yes, there was even a quilt store and gallery across from the hotel. I was early enough to go shopping and it took a New York minute to select going to the quilt store as a first choice. But, first, I had to walk down the block and get a photo of St. Patrick’s Day balloons bravely flopping in the wind, tangled in a tree, on the Avenue of the Americas. It was SO NEW YORK, I couldn’t resist.

St. Patrick’s Day Balloons at 6th Avenue,
now officially called Avenue of the Americas.

Green foil shamrock balloons, probably left over from the Parade down 5th Avenue on March 17 were tangled in the trees giving testimony to NYC’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade. The New York City Parade is the oldest in the world, having started in 1762, and, as you can tell from their web site, it’s a really BIG deal.

Empty fabric boards in front of The City Quilter
quilt store tell of a prosperous fabric store.

Walking down the other side of the street from the hotel, I stalked my quarry, The City Quilter quilt store and The ArtQuilt Gallery NYC. What a bounty I found inside and what luck they were open until 7:00pm. In fact, I was so impressed by the floor plan, selection of fabrics, shop models and accessories, I have decided to do separate posts on the both shop and gallery.

I have to. It’s the only way to show off all the quilting paraphernalia I was able to enjoy last Thursday evening. Remember, I was a quilt shop business owner myself from 1982-1991, nine years, so I’ve been to a few quilt shops in my career. It is noteworthy, therefore, that I was very impressed by The City Quilter.

On the left, Penn Station and Madison Square Gardens
from the 11th floor of our BlogHer get together.

So, on Friday morning, it was almost time to meet everybody, the three BlogHers who agreed to get together, and I couldn’t have been more excited. After a short workout in the hotel gym, mentioning that for the diet conscious BlogHers with whom I usually comment back and forth as they will be proud of me, I packed my things and got ready to hail a cab to our meeting place.

My heart was beating a mile a minute as I “bag ladied” my stuff to 7th Avenue, hoping people didn’t think I was homeless. I was wondering the whole way as to why my “packing eyes” are always bigger than my “suitcase’s stomach.” The tote bag I bungee corded to the top of my tag along suitcase kept sliding to the side, looking anything but sophisticated. It was Sexless in the City, for sure. I was hoping that none of the BlogHers were watching.

But! I didn’t care. My “wardrobe rig” got me where I wanted to go and I was going to meet other Bloghers, what could be better? And meet other Bloghers I did.

It was so much fun and we had such a good time, that I’m going to have to continue this post to tell you who they were, next time….

NaBloPoMo March 2012



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Mar 20 2012

Nothing is more invigorating than a spring day,
except, maybe, getting a book published!

Many years ago, no wait, many, many, MANY years ago, in the middle 1980s, I was teaching a quilt class. We met once a week at one of the class members’ homes, interrupting our quilting with snacks and hot tea. One of the ladies would haul out a big notebook and read to us. She was transcribing handwritten letters, sent back and forth to her sister-in-law, Bert, in the 1950s. We loved hearing the letters. They were so interesting and the enormity of her task, typing them all without a computer, was impressive.

And so, we spent the winter, hunkered down, quilting and listening to wonderful letters read by one of the original authors. We knew Grace was serious about her letters, because as we quilted and talk through the weeks and months, the stack of typed paper grew. Then, at some point, Grace started mentioning the idea of publishing her letters with Bert as a book. The other quilters and I would try to think about publishing a book, but that was very far away to us. Grace, however, anticipated entering the publishing world someday, without a second thought. Later, I learned that her dreams, with her positive thinking, brought results.

Grace’s book was published in 2000.

The years went by. I moved away and lost touch, got married with a family and often thought of Grace and the quilters, but never quite took action to say, “Hello.” Then, with the immediacy of the Internet, in 2008 or so, I wondered about Grace, did a search on her name and got the surprise of my life. I was directed to Amazon, to a book called, “Dear Bert” by an author named Grace Kull. I was thrilled!

At that, I had to get in touch and reacquaint with one of my favorite people, so I called Grace and we have been in touch ever since. And today, I called Grace again, because today is Grace’s ninetieth birthday. Counting backwards you can figure she became a published, first time author at seventy-eight years of age.

Happy Birthday, Grace, and Many Returns!

Being a first time author was not her only first. Talk about trying new things, Grace opened a bed and breakfast in the 1990s, forging ahead to bring new people into her life. And indeed she did. One of her guests turned out to have connections with a one man publishing house, Jerry Kelly of Xoxox, as one article says, “hard to pronounce, but easy to admire.” The rest is history as Grace’s book came out and delighted everyone who read it.

Grace and her cat, Abner.

Jerry Kelly is a graduate of Kenyon College and an informative article is available by clicking here. While interestingly enough, Jerry is called a literary “midwife” for his birthing of books, Grace is also mentioned in the article:

“More typical, perhaps, is Grace Kull, an octogenarian homemaker from Cooperstown, New York, who came to Kelly through his network of writer friends. In 2000, Kelly published Dear Bert, a collection of letters by Kull to her sister-in-law. In 2003, he brought out Traces: A Soldier Writes Home, a collection of war-time letters by Kull’s brother, John E. Rames, who was killed in the Battle of the Bulge in 1945. In both cases, Kelly was drawn by the personality and humor that shone in the letters, as well as by the way the letters’ mundane details evoked a particular era while innocently touching universal chords.”

Grace’s second book, “Traces: A Soldier Writes Home,” has a heartwarming aftermath as members of the armed forces who knew Grace’s brother in WWII have written her following her book’s publication. But! That’s a good story for another post, so we’ll end by wishing Grace:

The Best of Happy Birthdays!

May each day throughout the next year
bring you all the happiness of today!

NaBloPoMo March 2012



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Mar 19 2012

Let us use the moment of the Equinox to join together to send Peace, Love, and Light to Mother Earth and to Humanity.

Peace Love, and Light,
Barbara Wolf

What a beautiful place it would be if we could give each other the world.

A world of peace…

Giving each other peace and the world.

From the Global Meditations web site,  Posted March 18, 2012:

The Equinox is March 20, at 1:14 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time, which is 5:14 a.m. UTC, Greenwich time.

Will you observe the moment of the Equinox by sending Peace, Love, and Light to humanity and our earth? Your brothers and sisters will be observing.

World Clock will convert your time.

Can you conceive of the positive energy that is created when so many are thinking the same thing at the same time?  Peace, Love, and Light — this world needs a boost of this energy.

Yearly, at the moment of the March Equinox, the Japanese Peace Bell is rung in the Rose Garden at the United Nations in New York City.

Masahiro Kataoka Nakagawa placed the Japanese Peace Bell at the UN in New York in 1954.

Singer Pete Seeger rings the United Nations Peace Bell
in New York City on Earth Day 2009.

In 1969, John McConnell pointed out the need for humanity to respect and preserve the beauty and ecological balance of Mother Earth, and he proposed that Earth Day should be yearly celebrated. This proposal was supported by United Nations Secretary General U Thant, Margaret Mead and many others, and soon the concept spread world wide. A tradition began of ringing the United Nations Peace Bell at the moment of the March Equinox.

In 1998, John McConnell invited me to the ringing of the peace bell Equinox ceremony and I have attended nearly every year since. Today his age prevents him from attending, and so I take a birthday card to the ceremony for all to sign. His birthday is March 22, and he was born in 1915.

Let us use the moment of the Equinox to join together to send Peace, Love, and Light to Mother Earth and to Humanity.

Peace Love, and Light,
Barbara Wolf

NaBloPoMo March 2012



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Mar 17 2012

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

She a bit of a flirt, is this colleen,
With her roguish eyes and bouquet of green.
The sight of this maid so blithe and so gay,
Cheers all Irish hearts on St. Patrick’s Day.

Sunbonnet Smart wishes all those who are Irish,
and all those who will be for today,
a pot of gold and a rainbow under which to find it…

…and an unending flow of blarney
for BlogHer posts!

 

NaBloPoMo March 2012



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Mar 16 2012

Cat people don’t find cats. Cats find them.

How many cats does one family need? Zero

How many cats does our family have? Seven

What! I hear you saying. Seven!?!?! Oh, sigh. Yes, seven.

 

Cats are regular BlogHers.

 

My muse, Kitty, sleeps on top of my computer desk
telepathically giving me inspiration.

Kitty was the first. I was a dog person. I had had a small Yorkie for all her life, thirteen years, when she finally passed over and I was petless. I missed her terribly, but, at the same time, I had gotten her when I was single, far from being with a family. Without a pet, I was to the point where having one less demand upon me was a relief. I was happy to have one less thing to worry about.

Then I got a call from a certain someone that there was a family of kittens born in a field at work, eating crickets for food and living in a rabbit hole. It was October, winter was coming, the big boss was taking one of the other kittens home, so how could we say, “No?” But, when I received the call, I had my wits about me and said, “Well, I don’t really want a pet, but we can one get it if you agree to change the cat box.” Not a first time cat owner, as you can see.

Smokey is a Tiffany. She is just as
strange as all of the articles on
Tiffany cats say they are.

Then, my Dad got sick and we were spending as much time at his house as our own. Kids miss cats, so driving home one day, there was a sign “free kittens” that drew us in. Once we saw Smokey, we were hooked. We consider her “medicinal” as she provided a little buddy for the kids at my Dad’s house while he was alive.

Helen was named for Helen of Troy,
in the movie “Troy.”

Then, one day, we went to see the movie, “Troy” with Brad Pitt. When We came out of the theater, there was a couple with a kennel of kittens yelling, “Free Kittens!” We couldn’t stand it, not knowing who would be taking them home, so we saved one. We got Helen because Smokey was laid back, loving and sweet, while Kitty was a die hard career women and wanted nothing to do with raising kittens. Smokey was constantly being rejected by Kitty and we felt sorry for her. Helen was the perfect playmate and they have been close ever since.

Helen and Smokey are constant companions.

So, verything went rather well until one day, the kids were yelling about a cat going in and out of our shed. Being no fool, I thought, “Kittens!” And I was right. Going into the shed, there was a tragedy in store. Here were three freshly birthed kittens, umbilical cords attached, eyes closed, dying and half dead. The mother was so sick, she couldn’t take care of them. The mother didn’t make it and GUESS WHAT!?!? The kittens did.

We didn’t know much about taking
care of young kittens.

I kept doing my motherly duty in preparing the kids for the fact that these kittens were so far gone, they wouldn’t make it. All the while I was preparing kitten formula, filling doll bottles and using flannel in a shoe box to make a kitten nest, not to mention feeding them every two hours. And, best of all, did you know kittens do not have peristaltic action in their little digestive systems? Did you know kittens can’t go to the bathroom without the mother cat licking their tummies?

Every two hour feedings ’round the clock.
Yes indeedy!

Well, neither did we. The vet showed us how to use WARM cotton balls to stroke their tummies and get them to go. It was really more than I needed to know, talk about TMI and “oversharing,” but once you get going on something like this, there is no turning back. Wherever you find yourself, there you are, as they say.

Here are two of the three twenty pound cats.

Well, they made it and we became the proud parents of three tremendous male cats. Didn’t we do a FINE job?

Turns out, they are Turkish Vans, another rare breed. How do we create these rare cats out of thin air? Why do they come to find us? What are we doing wrong? Or right?

We found out the “Boys” are Turkish Vans because that is the only breed of cat that likes water. Every time we drew bath water, these three hephalumps would come running and jump in the tub. We quickly learned not to leave doors open when taking a bath, because if one or more wandered into the bathroom, the bathtub became very friendly.

The Boys’ connection to water was the weirdest thing. While trying to figure out what in the world was wrong with these cats, we found their origins. Leave it to us to come up with this one. Turkish Vans are originally from Turkey and Armenia where they swim in ponds and streams and catch fish.

The Boys were named Bruiser, Dot and Mini. We still have Bruiser and Mini, but Dot passed on after a congenital deformity manifested in later life. After the loss of Dot, I have turned down my feline “love light” and things have been relatively quiet.

This is FatCat, a lady of refinement,
with a goal and a heart of gold.

Recently, though, I’ve gotten into adopting virtual cats that I find on BlogHer. I just open up my BlogHer Profile, and Ag-g-h-h-h, there they are. But, I have found virtual cats easy to care for, requiring only a comment or two every day or so. And I have Followed them as well. FatCat was my first virtual kitty love. Who could turn away from her sweet demeanor and zest for living? And, every day she has new stories to tell.

jennifer.watson is a very loving
cat who just adopted a kitten.

Just this week, I’ve gotten to know jennifer.watson and I have been fascinated with her stories of adopting a kitten, or child, as she prefers to call them. I was very happy to see her when she Followed me home to my Profile. I decided to Follow her immediately, when given the chance.

It occurred to me, that with her now blogging as a Mommy Cat, all of us on BlogHer will be able to hear about this baby growing up. Very regularly so, until she gets frazzled by motherhood like the rest of us and can’t keep up with everything. But, either way, “Welcome little Esme Louisa.”

And there you have the introduction to my cat family.
I am sure this post served a really good purpose and
was worth all the time it took to read it.

No cats or avatars were harmed in the
production of this blog post.

 

NaBloPoMo March 2012



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Mar 15 2012

Create art to celebrate life and manifest your spirit!

When one is an artist, it’s easy to feel artistic about one’s workspace and lifestyle. Waking up every morning to create, dazzle and delight must be a fun life choice. While there are certain realities, I’m sure, about paying the light bill and buying artist’s materials, let’s just focus on after we’re famous and have it made in the shade. Let’s pretend we just get to slide out of bed and into the studio every morning to be with our “stuff.” And, remember we get paid to do this, as we are not starving artists!

Whoa! That sounds like fun, like fingerpaint on steroids and Play-Doh with a shot of Grand Marnier. But, of course, we’ll need a smock, if we’re artists! H-m-m-m. I wonder what artists wear? Hey! Here’s an artist! Let’s look at HER!

Barbara’s Smock of Spectral Colors.

I was preparing to write two posts on Barbara Hughes, scuplptor and painter: the first, Healing Sexual Abuse and the second Teaching in Africa. I asked Barbara for some portrait photos of herself along with some of her actually working in her studio, When I received the photos, I was delighted.

One showed Barbara standing in front of her studio with her “Smock of Spectral Colors.” I knew from the design of the smock this was an artist’s artist and a pretty fun individual. Who else would turn themselves into a palette of color to delight the eye? And what better pattern than a Tie Dyed Rainbow Spiral? I found myself wanting a smock like Barbara’s. If you also are interested, here’s how one is made:

Many garments can be dyed with this method, including
one like Barbara’s Smock by not using the black.

You need three things: 1) The smock or garment, 2) The dyes and 3) A workspace with dyeing equipment.

The Smock: Looking at Barbara’s smock, it appears to be a male lab coat, judging by the length and the big pockets. They can be found here, along with women’s lab coats, if you prefer a shorter length.

A sampling of the blanks at Dharma Trading Co.

If you would like to make dresses, here’s a good link for “blanks” or 100% cotton clothing meant to be dyed. Blanks for children and men can be found by looking at the list on the left hand side.

The Dyes: In the early 1970s, I used to mail order dyes and supplies from the Dharma Trading Company in Berkeley, CAImagine my delight when, in 1974, I visited San Francisco, Berkeley and the Dharma Trading Co. While other tourists want to see the Golden Gate Bridge or Fisherman’s Wharf in San Fransisco, nope! Not me. I had to go to Berkeley to shop at Dharma.

I was able to order anything I wanted and hand carry it with me. Now Dharma is located in Petaluma and San Rafael, CA, but back then, they were in Berkeley.  I picked things out from a black and white printed catalog that listed their stock in an unimaginative way. Fast forward to 2012 to find them on the Internet in a fantastic color display of possibility. Just check out this web site and dream away, by clicking here.

To make the smock or tie dye any mostly cotton fabric, use the Fiber Reactive Procion Dyes in the section of the left third of the main page marked Fiber Reactive Dye Colors by clicking here.  There are 110 eye catching colors in the Fiber Reactive palette.

The Instructions: For detailed instructions and required equipment, click here.

Advanced tie dye patterns as shown by the Dharma Trading Co.
Complex patterns made with nothing more than rubber bands.

Tie Dying is easy and fun. The feeling of creating art cannot be matched. Expressing the soul for the world to see and claiming it in a physical way will be empowering to you, just like when Barbara creates her sculptures and paintings. With dyeing, you can create clothing, inexpensively, without sewing, and call it your own. It’s LOTS of fun!

Now, let’s look at some professional tie dyeing women from Africa, which is a big continent with many diverse regions of distinctly different cultures, languages and practices. I wanted to find a video of women in Tanzania dyeing fabric. The country of Tanzania is where Barbara did her work and where the fabrics in the previous posts were dyed, but I couldn’t find one on YouTube.

This glorious video on a tie dyeing woman, Sanata, and her family shows large production methods done by hand with magnificent results in the west African country of Mali.

Sanata says, “Women always have dreams. I have many
dreams. If I start telling you my dreams, it’ll get dark
while I’m telling you.”

The video above was a short film used for funding efforts envisioning a one hour film presentation called Bamako Chic. To be funded by grants, organizations have to be sponsored by a non-profit entity who manages the money granted, making sure the agreement is followed and grant money spent correctly. The non-profit entity for the movie Bamako Chic is the San Francisco Film Society.  Here is a link to a film grant makers media database listing Bamako Chic.

And, best of all, here is a link to Queen Sheba Village where
you can buy bazin cloth, the profoundly beautiful polished
cotton fabric, made by the home dyers of West Africa.

 

NaBloPoMo March 2012



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Mar 13 2012

Thank goodness life is not picky. Everyone seems to have good and bad experiences ranging from the heights of joy to the unending depths of sadness. With all of this character building, each person eventually finds a way to cope and survive the bad times, waiting for the good to come back around.

In my last post, Barbara Hughes shared her methods for healing from childhood sexual abuse by giving us a look into her art studio. She showed us how the creation of healing sculptures and paintings helped her get her pain outside of her mind and body. By forming her emotional pain into physical works of art, Barbara has lessened the impact of her childhood terrors.

Barbara Hughes, artist and healer.

In addition, Barbara also has reached out to gather community where she lives in Tennessee and traveled to Tanzania, Africa, intent on healing others in pain. Barbara has found that by enlarging her circle, she could continue to heal herself by helping to heal others. And, while Barbara was in Tanzania, she observed and celebrated the culture by painting and sculpting the beauty of the people she met.

Maasai Women

In 2010, Barbara taught in Tanzania at the Msalato Theological College. She taught Art and Spirituality to a group of African men and English to both men and women. As an accomplished artist, Barbara found the Tanzanian people and culture to be an endless resource of inspiration. Upon her return to her Tennessee studio, she began to sculpt and paint the “Women of Tanzania,” a show installed at Shenanigans Gallery, Sewanee, TN from April 1 – 26, 2011. The sculptures and painting in this post are all from the “Women of Tanzania” show.

The sculpture of Maasai Women, above, depicts women from a Maasai village Barbara visited. Although the Maasai are a very patriarchal society, Barbara found the women to be tall and magnificent, regal in their bearing. Her sculpture shows them wearing the traditional red cloaks worn by both Maasai men and women.

Here, Maasai women are singing. Many villages
have Mother’s Unions that gather to sing, dance
and drum at worship services.

Barbara fell in love with Tanzania after spending six months there in 2010. She went there to teach at the Msalato Theological College in conjunction with McCann’s Mission in Msalato, Tanzania. McCann’s mission is working toward, and accepting donations to build, the anticipated Msalato Women’s Center to offer wider outreach.

Another well known organization, the Mother’s Union, is an International Christian Charity supporting families worldwide, with a well recognized presence in Tanzania. As the Mother’s Union web site explains, “In 83 countries, our members share one heartfelt vision – to bring about a world where God’s love is shown through loving, respectful and flourishing relationships. This is not a vague hope, but a goal we actively pursue through prayer, programmes, policy work and community relationships. By supporting marriage and family life, especially through times of adversity, we tackle the most urgent needs challenging relationships and communities.”

Matiki, a member of the Mother’s Union,
from the Wagogo Tribe in Tanzania

Women who belong to the Mother’s Union meet regularly for fellowship and worship. The Mother’s Union in each village will gather to sing, dance and drum and also to discuss issues of the village. Matiki, Barbara’s portrait of her above, is from the Wagogo Tribe. Even though the Tribe is a structured patriarchal society, the women of the Mother’s Union are very powerful. Barbara comments that, “Not much gets by these women.”

The Mother’s Union, founded in 2000 in Tanzania, has
accomplished much in changing lives for the better
with their Literacy and Development Program.

When Barbara saw this video about the Mother’s Union, she said, “I was really moved by the young husband having turned around his thinking. Domestic violence and extreme patriarchy is typical in Tanzania. I worked with some Mother’s Unions in introducing Al Anon, for families of alcoholics. Alcoholism is rampant. We did two trainings about the disease concept. Once open, the Msalato Women’s Center will be working with the Mother’s Union as well.”

The Mother’s Union was founded in 1876, in England, by a mother of three, Mary Elizabeth Sumner. She was aware of the burdens and responsibilities that can swamp young mothers. The Mother’s Union was specifically founded as a society for support of women in their role as mothers. Mary believed, “…that good parenting was more than providing for the physical needs of the child, and she believed that the primary responsibility was to raise children in the love of God.”

Barbara’s friend, Eunice, helps her fire clay sculptures
made by students of her Art and Spirituality class.

Barbara taught an Art and Spirituality class at the Msalato Theological College in Tanzania. In the photo above, Barbara, Eunice and some students from the class are in the process of firing clay artwork. Barbara shares that, “We placed the clay pieces on a flat stone and built the sticks around them. Then, Eunice ignited the sticks and they went into a roaring flame and fired the pieces.”

She continues, “In this firing I was helping to finish the figures my Tanzanian students had made in the Art and Spirituality class I taught. Here we see two of the five wonderful men who took to the class like ducks to water.”

Woman Dancing

Barbara tells us that, “The joy of the people is really something to see. Tanzania is one of the poorest countries in the world. They have had years of drought and yet, they know how to laugh and dance to enjoy life.”

When looking at Barbara’s artwork and then at slides and videos of Tanzania, the magnificently dyed fabrics of the clothing make a lasting impression. The beauty of the colors and patterns swirling with each movement become a visual delight. The prints on the fabrics are distinctive to each group of people and each region in Africa. Most of the garment fabrics are hand dyed by women of each village.

Brightly colored hand dyed fabrics celebrate the women’s song.

To effectively translate her impressions of the Tanzanian women into the hard media of clay sculpture, Barbara softens the visual effect by leaving off the shiny overglazes one usually finds on kiln fired clay pieces. Her sculptures, Woman Dancing, Woman Begging  and the Maasai Women, show only  the colorful matte underglazes to better depict the feel of the fabric.

Woman Begging

Barbara’s sculpture of a Woman Begging has a story. Barbara explains that, “My sculpture, Woman Begging, is of a woman who stood outside our little house and just waited without saying anything. We gave her food.  She seemed to epitomize the suffering of these people.”

Easing the suffering of others is now a big part of Barbara’s life. Remembering her own pain and moving through it, she is reaching out spiritually, but also financially, to help lessen the needs of others. Barbara sets aside a portion of the sale of her artwork to benefit the Msalato Women’s Center in Tanzania.

An informative article profiling Barbara’s work and her show, Women of Tanzania, is offered by Rev. Diane Moore, a prolific writer of many published books and of the blog, A Word’s Worth.  Of interest to BlogHer.com fans of Isabel Anders, Rev. Moore has written a mystery novel with BlogHer’s own Isabel called Chant of Death.

For more information on Barbara Hughes, visit her website.

A portion of all artwork proceeds are donated to the
Msalato Women’s Center in Tanzania, Africa.

To give to the Mother’s Union
East Africa Famine Appeal, click here.

For a delightful peek at Diane Moore’s and Isabel Anders’s book,
Chant of Death, go here.

NaBloPoMo March 2012



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Mar 06 2012

I send some of my Sunbonnet Smart posts over to BlogHer.com.

On our BlogHer profiles, our avatars are proudly displayed and also appear every time we comment. Visually marketing ourselves by only a small square is a challenge. Some wondrous creativity come into play as informative, decorative and sometimes humorous images are produced.

I get a kick every time I go to my profile to check on my own BlogHer Followers, because look who I see right next to each other:

The world’s most horrible and most beautiful images appear
side by side. On the left, Kraken, a fearsome mother
of the sea, and on the right, sweet little Barbara Hughes.

Poor, sweet, little Barbara Hughes’ image, ending up next to big, mean, ole Kraken. While Kraken’s image is fraught with the humor you’ll find on her profile, Barbara’s image is world’s away in its intent, having deep meaning relevancy to her life journey. Barbara is well versed in art, both painting and sculpture, and has used her art ability to help in her healing of traumatic childhood sexual abuse.

In addition, she reaches out to others with artistically oriented healing retreats at her studio in Tennessee. Barbara encourages attendees to feel and dissipate unpleasant childhood memories in a safe environment with others that desire healing from child abuse, sexual or otherwise. Forming art materials into expressions of healing allow each person to move their pain outward into a physical form.

Here Barbara works on a maquette for Jesus with Wild Beasts.
Painters plan their work with preliminary sketches while sculptors
plan with small scale three dimensional models called maquettes.

Barbara sculpts with clay in an additive process, adding clay and manipulating it into desire form and expression. Sometimes, if she is creating an edition for sale, she will use her clay sculpture as a base upon which to create a latex and plaster mold. Then, once the mold is ready, she presses clay into the mold to recreate an issue of her original design.

Remembering

One women is holding another as she remembers her abuse.

When speaking of her sculpture, Remembering, Barbara says, “I had so much grief about my sexual abuse that making a sculpture that said back to me what I was feeling was very healing for me.  The desire to have the clay say to me what I am experiencing is a key part of my sculpture.”

The expression of art is controlled by the media with which it is presented to the viewer. Artists materials are physical substances that have physical proprieties, so the artists must remember these limitations and tailor their artwork around them. For instance, earthen clay is a porous substance easily manipulated and formed. It is soluble in water, which is another wonderful quality for the clay to have while the artist is manipulating it.

Smoke Ritual

A celebration of menstruation and a ritual around it.

But, this affinity for moisture, a big help while the piece is in progress, also means that the clay, once dry, will absorb moisture if the finished piece is moved to a humid location. So, the artist fires the clay at high temperatures in an oven called a kiln. This high firing eliminate this absorptive quality and make the artwork impervious to water. Firing also chemically changes the clay into a hard, strong structure.

“These sculptures are made free standing in clay.” Barbara shares that, “Sometimes I use a temporary outer armature while the clay is drying a little. An inside armature would make the clay break because it shrinks as it dries.”

Commenting on her inspiration, she continues, “Sometimes, it is a power greater than me that makes it happen, and sometimes it turns out differently from what I had planned.”

Resting in the Woundedness of God

When thinking about her work, Resting in the Woundedness of God, Barbara said that, “This is a healing piece I did. The only way I could understand how God could be a compassionate God in the light of my and many other’s abuse is to get that God suffers along with us – that God is wounded.”

The physical pain a sexual abuse victim suffers is compounded by accompanying emotional pain. If a person is a child when they are compromised, then the betrayal by a trusted adult or older child leaves many trust issues behind. Sometimes, these issues do not become open emotional wounds until much later in a person’s life. The child that once had a strong natural urge to trust and obey, has trouble trusting. Working with people in authority can also become very fearsome.

Barbara’s healing retreats use the arts to creatively move the pain from physical and emotional abuse to a creative display outside the mind and body. Her workshops take place at her Rahamin Retreat & Clayhouse, named for the Hebrew word for womb, “Rahamin.”

COMING SOON! Saturday, March 17, 2012
Nurturing the Child Within
a day long Art Retreat
10am to 4pm.

The Rahamin Retreat & Clayhouse is an art studio and retreat space located in the beautiful mountains of the Cumberland Plateau in middle Tennessee between Nashville and Chattanooga.

Barbara Hughes leads art and spirituality retreats, some of which are for survivors of childhood sexual abuse or other childhood trauma or pain. These retreats have CAREFUL BOUNDARIES, and provide a safe place to take the next step in healing. Simple ART MEDITATIONS USING A VARIETY OF ART MEDIA require no artistic skill. There is time for sharing and time for quiet.

Barbara also gives art retreats at other venues around the country.

For more information, go here.

Barbara has painted visually luscious cards which she
sells on her web site to benefit CASA, the Center for
the Prevention of Abuse and Violence, an organization
that has an effective program for helping to prevent
childhood sexual abuse. 

To order, please visit here.

 

Barbara Hughes has traveled to Tanzania, Africa.
In the next post, Barbara will share her paintings
and sculptures of the people she met.

 

NaBloPoMo March 2012



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Mar 01 2012

Nothing bettern than Chocolate Ganche Cake

Once upon a time, in upstate New York, there lived a fairy princess named Laine or Lainey, as the people of BlogHer Castle sometimes liked to say. Lainey was very beautiful, was married to a handsome prince and had children that were known to drive her nuts over a cabin feverish long winter as only upstate New Yorkers can have.

And many happy returns!

As Laine can tell you, even fairy princesses have dreams. Laine dreamed of being a big, bad roller derby Queen and turning in her sparkling pink fairy dusted ball gown for a roller derby persona named Crazy Eyeris. As Crazy Eyeris, Laine didn’t have problems with anything, least of all the weather, so she and her husband and kids lived happily ever after. THE END.



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NaBloPoMo November 2012