Glory, Glory

This brilliantly warm cocoon is dripping with beads, its weight spins it slowly around as it holds space. Space for dreams, for creativity, for love of making and life. 

Made for my mentor/art-sister/friend.  To hang in her studio. 

Keep up your shining, dear heart, I adore you. 

Wool/silk yarn, felted, dyed and embellished by hand. Glass beads, citrine, copper, cotton. 

For the curious: original weight was approximately 0.4 ounces, final weight- 3.6 ounces! This one is up there in heft for my cocoons, I loved every single stitch of it! 

Sheridan, Wyoming

First, we met in Montana, in the most stunning lightning storms I've seen in ages, perhaps ever.  In the morning we drove down the winding, gentle hills into Sheridan and slipped into King's Saddlery museum. Al Stohlman's workbench is traveling, and we were lucky enough to see it. 

Then we took a lecture from the one and only Gordon Andrus, and proceeded to add to our tool list. His knowledge was shared freely, the work below is his.  (The notes pictured here were taken over the shoulder of a fellow classmate, too pretty to pass up capturing). 

The next day we shopped and talked and shopped and talked.  I was blown away by the kindness of our fellow artisans and craftspeople. Everyone was generous in time and knowledge. We ate a beautiful lunch and followed a road until it turned to gravel, until it turned to dirt. We stopped and breathed in the fresh air, marveled at the birds. We stuck hands in cold creek water and took the stones that called our names. It was magic.

My tulip purse was graded fairly, with feedback I agreed with.  She has a home now, which makes me so happy!  

 I'm looking forward to next year already. 

Creatively Thinking

I've been rolling the concept and definition of creativity around my head for a good while. Talking about it to friends, reading what scientists have to say about it, absorbing the work of my fellow makers. Holding definitions, assumptions and conclusions up to the light, seeing where it pushes through. The passionate response I experienced caught me off guard.  As a response to my surprise, it's time to dive deeper, to study, to report back on what I'm exploring.  

This is a first of many rough drafts, I hope it inspires you to look at your world with a new light. 


We are a creative species.  Everyone has potential to be creative, and before you tell me you're not an 'artist'- that is not what I'm talking about.  I'm talking about a broader, truer definition of the word. One that encompasses new thoughts, being curious, problem solving.  Our current society has narrowed the vision of creativity down to such a precise point, we aren't allowed to give ourselves full credit to be and become the curious, expressive creatures we are born to be. 

Are you still thinking "but I don't make art, Cat, how can you say I'm creative?", let me say this:

I don't care if you can't paint a portrait, write a sonnet that makes your lover weep, or pluck melodies from a keyboard. Can you cook? Or garden, or program computers? Do you take photos that make you smile? Are you a scientist, an avid reader, a parent? Hell, do you doodle in the margins of your meeting notes?

Do you solve problems?

Did you say yes to any of the above? Did you say yes to something I missed?

Well, then-

You are creative.

We need to open the doors of creativity.

No- we need to bust it down, and flatten the walls. We are better individuals and a better community when we use that part of the brain. Like our muscles, creativity atrophies without use, and it can be reignited through practice. Find something that makes you think, something that makes you want to act. It can be anything, just go make something, write something new down, look at a problem from a different angle, take a class.

When you do new things (and my definition of New is just as broad as the one for Creativity), you use your brain in a different way than when you perform a known task. Our brains need to be challenged, creatively as well as logically.  What are you good at? Can you challenge yourself to become better, or to simplify your method? 

See what happened right there? I asked you to look at something old from a new angle. Did you? Then you just activated your creativity. Bam. 

Now, go do it again. Try to touch base with your creative self every day. Even if it's just for a few moments, blow off the dust and start making friends with it. It's there, you have to find what lights it up, and keep the flame burning.  You can do it. I know it. 


Whew! I'd love to hear what you think, in the comments below or in an email if you're feeling shy or have more to say than a comment section can handle.  We can make the world a better place, if we try new ways to solve problems and take time to play. 

Thank you for reading. Now, go do something new. 

Stone Cuff

Leather, hand-cabbed stone (99% sure it's parrot wing jasper), waxed thread, snap.

Two hands, and time.

Reserved for Teresa

Luminus Cave

For the one who helps me shine.

Who finds the thread for me to pull.

The one who interprets my reluctance and hands me the hammer to break down the walls no longer needed.

All my love, always.

 

Gratitude Project Part V

For a dear, far away friend

To remind her of her Artist Heart.

Keep exploring.

 

Love

Deep Winter

The season of harsh winds, cold fingers, red cheeks. Winter like I remember in the Shenandoah Valley. Where warmth was found in friends' homes, in the cafes, the library stacks.

Walking through ice covered snow, the crunch of each footstep.  Looking up into the snowing sky, seeing only black and white of sky and flakes as they fell.

Keep your heart warm.

Slipping away

 

It was time for some mountain air. Past time.

Take a day, drive to the mountains. Wander the town's hills, visit the shops. Drink a beer, find some tea, buy beads and a new mallet, chartreuse dye, just to make sure you don't run out.

On your way home, turn right off the highway at nearly the last minute. Follow the signs to the parkway. drive until you pass a pullover with a creek. Turn around. Get out and breath. Dip fingers in the icy water. Bring stones and images back with you.

Find a piece of your heart where it belongs.

Carry it all

I've been getting ready for a shop update, here's a quick preview!

Get lost in the forest...

Where do you wander?

Click any photo to make it bigger

Last Chance, Loves

I've reopened the shop, full of last year's best. 

This is the last chance to bring these home online. After February's page is turned, they'll go to Beadlush or Boris + Natasha, or Gumbo (Next to Okra Yoga). Three lovely Charlotte shops I'm honored to partner with. 

In March, I'll be back with a new collection. One celebrating quiet power and deep love.

If a piece calls to you, but you can't afford it all at once, please feel free to reach out to me. My email is crbabbie {at} gmail.com.  Or use the contact form on the About link above.  Let's see what we can figure out. 

Can't hurt to ask, right?

I want my work to be in the world. I can not do this without you. Let's make it happen.

All love,

Cat

New Angles

A friend commissioned three cocoons (one large, two nuggets) for a mutual friend's birthday. 

The catch was she really wanted the large one to have an air plant. Something that's been suggested, but I wasn't sure if I wanted to head in that direction.  But when you ask me to do something new, (and mostly reasonable) and are committed to it, I'm game! 

IMG_0557.JPG

I've got to say- I'm pleased, and so was she.

Thanks for the push Sara! 

Work Life

In which I think about my day job and where I want to be, and come up with a ton of metaphors. (And wordy, grab your tea, this is a real-life mirror biggie.)

It feels like a wobbly balance beam a lot, the play between working a day job, and working a joy job.

Having a life outside of the office, spending hours away from home to pay the bills in a short cubicle.  

Short cubicles are not my favorite thing.

Making in my studio is one of my favorite things.

 

I have a day job. It’s where I am right now (not physically, but life-cycle wise- you know what I mean.)

I have a night and weekend job too- creating in my studio. Leather bags, woven scarves, sparkling cocoons, this is the place that makes my heart sing.

There’s also this thing I like to call a social life.  I’m an introvert by nature, but I do love my people. I like spending time with my family and friends near and far, and take what chances I have to do so. 

The studio is where I recharge.  Where I am mostly alone. (I find one is never truly alone with cats in the house.)

So how do I find time to recharge when I get home, have to make dinner, talk with and enjoy my husband and kitties? Sometimes it’s the choice between drinks with a friend and time in the studio.  Others, my husband tells me sweetly to go work in there already.  Sometimes I stay on the couch and we watch movies together instead of me listening to them from the studio.

I miss that room every moment I’m in the office.

 

I take photos on weekends and late at night with crappy lighting.

 

Cocoons are stitched on during lunch hours, scarves dyed and woven in slips of time here and there. A little tap-tap of my maul on leather after dinner, painting early on a Saturday.

 

It’s hard.

 

I’m working to be more. More myself, more of a maker, more of an independent artist.

 

Applying to shows and galleries. Connecting with other artists online (hi guys!). Trading notes with local makers. Writing, drawing, working, photographing, posting shop updates.

Then I wake up, and drive to work.

My bills are paid, our home is secure, and I don’t have to worry about it so much. That part is nice.

The time away from what I love on the other hand… It’s getting harder.  It motivates me to work on my art more. To hone my skills, to take that leap and send the scary-exciting emails. I’ve made some rock solid big and small steps this year to move closer to becoming an independent artist.  It’s a long slog in low gear. I know I can do it, and I have help and support from my friends and my patrons. This slow roll is building momentum, and I am ready to move when the time is right.

And oh, when it is right!  

Sometimes when things are extra draggy in the office, I’ll spend a weekend working like it is what I do every day. Wake up. Tea. Paint. Tool. Weave. Dye. Stitch. Felt. Whatever needs to be done, is done.

Those days are the best type. Fun, soul-filling, it’s a rehearsal for the coming show. The steps are still being practiced.

I’ll be ready when the day to change gears is here. I hope you’re along for the long haul with me. 

A Year to Come

I start thinking about the end of the year just before Solstice, on my birthday, as we all do. It seemed especially labyrinthine (new word!) this year, with my new year, the Solstice, the Christmas holiday-travel and the New Year feeling like they all happened at once.

It's a time for reflection, self care, beginnings and endings.  Excitement, shedding of the old and well known, nurturing of the mysterious new... This year how I create changed in strong, spark-starting ways.  This year was perhaps, about finding myself within my art. This year, my goal is to take what I've learned and run with it, scattering it like seeds into the world.

I'm ready to trip over scary things, leap with joy with new skills and connections. I want to hone my craft, to tool, stitch, and weave with confidence and share what I create with you, the world.

It's going to be huge.

These are the things I hope to accomplish in this new calendar year, in addition to continuing to do what I've found this past year. I split them up between art and self, but we all know it's really the same list.

for my Work

  • Be in the Studio every day. Even if it's just sitting in the quiet in my grandmother's chair.
  • Write more about my real world of creating. The balance of creating what makes my soul sing vs. having a day job, paying bills, learning new methods of moving through my art, sleeping enough while trying to make enough art.
  • Explore different options of photographing my work
  • Make the clogs
  • Paint more, on leather and paper
  • Practice for practice's sake
  • Collaborate with patrons to make belts & bags
  • Weave more custom scarves (this is going to be exciting!)
  • Explore wet felting as a cocoon making option
  • Teach those who want to learn

for my Heart

  • Move my body more often. Be it at the gym, yoga class, or on the living room floor, I found myself missing the quiet of physical, blood-pumping movement this year.
  • Bake bread, eat it with cultured butter
  • Cook more dinners, and try new recipes
  • Keep my heart open
  • Remember to breathe
  • Drink hot tea (and whiskey) slowly, savor the moment
  • Putter about the yard
  • Take trips
  • Nap in the hammock
  • Visit with friends, near and far (dessert dates, letters, phone calls)

I'll continue to explore my mediums, work with intent. I'll snuggle the kitties and humans I adore, drink lots of water, and bake cookies.  I will continue to learn to listen to my true-self, and to ask for help when it's needed. 

This is just the base of the mountain.  I am ready.

What will you do this year?

A year in review

It seems like a lot has changed, in every nook and cranny of my life. 

So... let's talk about the creative side, it's plenty big and important. 

The Gratitude Project was launched

A loom was purchased

 

Three major bag projects were made, and plenty of fringe was cut

 

So, so many cocoons were made. 

Leather was explored

Plenty of experiments were done, results falling into learning and successes. Words were written, dreams spoken out loud and pinned down into actions. More dreams were imagined up from the clouds.  

Big steps and little steps, all taken, all moving forward to now. To the new year.  

I'm still swirling around what my goals would like to be for 2016, but for now, I'm enjoying the last days of this year with friends, family and studio all in my heart. 

Happy Holidays, may your soul be light and your heart be warm.

Thank you, for all of your support this year. It would've been much less interesting with all of you.