28 Days til Eddie Izzard!

Definitely a splurge purchase getting tickets to his “Force Majeure” tour in DC, but something super exciting to get me through the month of April. He’s been a favorite comedian of mine for years and it’s a dream come true to get to see him live. Something I’ve come to learn that’s important for me is to have these types of fun adventures on the schedule so I always have things to look forward to. Just like the classes I took at the Workhouse Arts Center, seeing Eddie Izzard from the balcony of the Warner Theatre will be a wonderful experience that I look back on and cherish.

Celebrating 100 Posts!

I may not always have something new or interesting to share, but somehow i have managed to crank out 100 posts since this here blog was created a few¬† years ago! May not be much to some folks, but it’s a nice milestone to reach for me. And I could use something to celebrate right about now, no matter how small.

Lately, I find myself doing less and less of my usual creative arts and instead have thrown myself into learning HTML and CSS. With a combination of fantastic SkillShare classes and the tutorials available at Codecademy, I’ve stuffed my brain to the gills with all manner of code. I’ve created mock webpages and a resume site. tinkering with a line here or there to create something new. So in a way, I suppose it is still an artistic endeavor, just more of a non-traditional one. I plan to take some classes at the local community college to get a certificate in web design – I just might find myself doing this as a career!

I had my two glass-working classes at the Workhouse Arts Center yesterday and they were both a blast. I learned not to fear the flame and how to be patient working with glasses of varying melting temperatures. I have a handful of glass leaves to show for my efforts (and a few minor burns!). I doubt I’ll be doing much more with those skills, but it was still enjoyable to learn them. As finances will allow, I plan to take more workshops at the Center, possibly stained glass and ceramics.

Despite the coding endeavors and glass lessons, life has been a bit gray and bleak for me. I try to keep my head up and treat myself with compassion in all that I do. But it’s difficult to contend with half a lifetime’s worth of negativity and erroneous messages; they form the tape of self-doubt that plays on loop when I’m feeling weak and vulnerable. I spend time cuddling with the cat or taking a long hot bath, finding ways to give myself small breaks and distractions. I have to believe that giving myself more opportunities to learn and grow (like the web design classes and WAC workshops) will help solidify my self-confidence. We shall see.

 

Workhouse Arts Center

As March begins winding down, I have a very exciting opportunity coming up. On the 30th, I’m going to head down to a great little gem in Lorton, VA called the Workhouse Arts Center.

Workhouse Arts Center
Source

I highly recommend reading more about the history of the location, but the short version is that it used to be a prison and workhouse of the District of Columbia. The buildings have been restored and they are now studios that you can visit and tour. You get to interact directly with the artisans and get a feel for their process, not just their product

As part of the educational nature of the place, they offer a whole host of classes and workshops and I was lucky enough to snag a seat at the flameworking and borosilicate classes. These are skills I’ve always wanted to learn and I’m thrilled at the chance to learn them in such a unique environment.

My partner and I have made several visits and checked out several of the studios. She bought a beautiful ceramic chalice and spice container, which are wonderfully made and reasonably priced. As the weather improves, I know we will be visiting the place frequently! If you’re in the area, I highly recommend checking it out.

Freezing at the Zoo

Over the weekend, my partner and I decided to head down to the National Zoo on one of the coldest days this winter. It was a lot of walking, but worth the effort to get all the way down to the toasty warm Amazonia exhibit. I brought my camera but only snapped a handful of shots, mostly of the elephants.

Inside the Elephant house
Inside the Elephant house
Another shot of the pachyderm pair
Another shot of the pachyderm pair
A beautiful bird preening itself on the railing inside the Amazonia exhibit

If you’re in the DC area, I highly recommend checking out the Zoo. We bypassed the Panda House, but there’s a little baby panda there now that I was sad to miss. I probably wouldn’t do it again, or else I’d wear a third layer of clothes and gloves with fingers!

 

Nail Polish Parties

A few weeks ago, I spent some time with close friends, sitting around talking and drinking while we all painted our nails. It was such a fun experience, sharing polishes and stamping plates, showing people how to use them, and generally enjoying the company. I hope we have many more opportunities to be together like this and have a great time with beautiful colorful nails to show for it in the end!

A bright blue for Biff.
A bright blue for Biff.
Dark purpley-red for Bethany.
Dark purpley-red for Bethany.
Dark blue with french manicure in teal for Stephanie.
Dark blue with french manicure in teal for … Stephanie? (a new friend I met that night)

My nails are still super short, but these kinds of parties make me want to grow them out much longer. I didn’t snap a photo of my own nails, but that night I painted them my favorite bright lime green color. I stamped the white skull you can faintly see on Stephanie’s thumb in the last photo. Bringing all that equipment out of storage makes me want to go on a stamping frenzy. Just might have to have regular nail posts again in 2014!

 

Faux No More

A few years ago, I bought my first pair of faux gauge earrings from my favorite online store, Soul Flower, but it took me many months before I felt comfortable wearing them. I felt like a fraud and a poser because I couldn’t commit at that time to gauging my ears for real. I wasn’t sure what to expect with the process and I didn’t think I could pull off the look. Despite my fears, I managed to amass quite a collection and did wear a few pairs intermittently.

That's only a small part of my collection!
That’s only a small part of my collection!

In the not too distant past, I made the decision to throw caution to the wind and finally gauge my ears. I did lots of research online, spoke with several friends who’d done it, and armed myself with as much information as possible. I wasn’t nearly as patient in the early days and moved up sizes earlier than i should have. But thankfully, I always took good care of the holes and they’ve been happily stretching ever since.

I’ve stopped at 0mm and aren’t likely to go any bigger. They are the perfect size for me and I grin like mad every time I look in the mirror and see my plugs. They add exactly the kind of edge and funkiness I’m looking for and they are super simple to take care of. Throughout the process, I’ve been ordering my tapers and plugs from bodyjewelerysource.com and have been extremely happy with everything I’ve received from them. I have a nice collection of organic plugs. a few metals one, and a pair of buffalo tapers, which I’ve been wearing constantly:

buffalo expanders
Pardon the bedhead!

I’m excited to see my collection grow and expand, experimenting with materials and shapes. I’m a bit said that I can’t wear any of my faux gauges now, but my partner has been wearing them regularly so they’re still getting some use!

WIP: This Moment With You (con’t)

After getting a bit of color inspiration from the bride:

lisa bouquet

I finally mounted the silhouette and typography for my friend’s anniversary present, choosing a dark teal background and bright orange font:

mounted step

There still more tweaking I want to do with the area around the silhouette and possibly the corners. I might remount the piece with the words on swathes of ribbon, much like the wedding present I gave some dear friends a few years ago:

.IMAG0314I can’t wait to see what the final piece will look like. I love these friends dearly and I really hope the husband enjoys it! I’ll keep you posted but might have to keep the final design a secret, we’ll see.

Rules Worth Remembering

When I first established the Workshop back in the fall of 2009, I came up with a series of basic guidelines that I wanted to follow whenever I was creating. When the blog began a year or so later, I wanted to make sure they were displayed prominently for me to see whenever I posted. Lately, I feel like I’ve lost my way a bit artistically, so I pulled these back out to get a refresher:

|anything and everything can be art|

|there’s no right or wrong way to express oneself|

|negativity and judgment have no place|

|the process is as important as the finished product|

|inspiration comes from everywhere|

|praise is appreciated, but not required|

|there’s no self-censoring|

|no project is a waste of time|

Those ones in bold are particularly meaningful for me right now. I stop before I even get started when I’m so concerned about doing it “right” or when I judge each step of the process. I get wrapped up in the finished product and forget about the joy and freedom of just creating. And I need to remember that whatever project I’m working on is important no matter how small or seemingly random.

Now is the time for me to dispel all the self-criticism and just let go, dive into something that’s messy and energizing and creative. It’s not about its marketability or even about having a finished framed project at the end, it’s about getting my hands dirty and giving my heart a chance to express itself.

So let’s see where it leads me – stay tuned!

On the passing of 2013

Last January, I came up with some informal resolutions that I hoped to adopt during the year. They were quite a mix of things, but they felt realistic and achievable:

informal resolutions

I’d meant to have monthly check-in posts about each goal, but this year didn’t go nearly as planned, especially for this blog.

The first few months of the year seemed promising; I was posting with frequency here and things felt relatively stable. I was enthusiastic and energized, ready to write letters and get in shape, save some money and go on vacation. I had my first go-round with quitting smoking. I was working hard on cultivating gratitude daily. But by April, I was in trouble emotionally and found myself hospitalized for the first time.

While the psychological work was hard, it served to wonderfully deepen and strengthen my relationship with my partner; her daily visits, unwavering support and compassion, and beautiful smile kept me from checking out completely and gave me the determination to fight my inner demons. Following discharge, we moved in together with another friend of hers and I finally had space away from my parents that I could make my own, a place of comfort and sanctuary to recharge and relax. Though I lost the space for a studio and most of my supplies stayed in storage, I was still occasionally struck with inspiration.

The summer had its ups and downs, with professional triumphs but more frequent frustrations, increased socializing with friends in the neighborhood and copious game-playing. But those days gave way to a brutal fall with back-to-back hospitalizations and even more difficult emotional struggles. Interestingly, when I decided to open myself up here and share more about my personal life, I felt freer to post more frequently and the last few months of the year were documented here.

I find the year ending on a troublesome note with financial worries hanging over my head and the nagging notion there’s another hospitalization around the corner. But my goal in the coming year is to cultivate hope and gain a greater appreciation for life as a whole. Bigger picture and all that.

Getting back to those resolutions…sadly, I never went on vacation and I’m still struggling with my attempts to quit smoking. I never even picked up the guitar; in fact, I think it’s still at my parents’ place. Physical exercise didn’t become a priority until very recently and I’ve mainly stuck to yoga. Still haven’t had my first manicure but my nails are mostly grown out again now so this is one that makes it to the 2014 list. I have next to no photos of myself (or me with my partner for that matter) so I’d like to carry that one over to the coming year’s list, too.

The successes were the new apartment, a cleaned-out storage unit, and the letter-writing efforts (not exactly monthly, but often enough for me). I wasn’t able to save money, and became even more financially unstable during this year, but some stability in that area should definitely be forthcoming in January. My fingers are crossed that I find employment in a way that’s far less psychologically taxing and emotionally draining than my previous job.

On a related note, I have a feeling 2014 will see this site grow beyond my wildest expectations. I plan to showcase some of my work in some capacity, whether it’s at the local library or through a larger craft show, and work harder at creating for myself and not for other people. I also plan to incorporate art journaling into the mix, which I’ve already been having a blast with so far.

So stay with me folks, and let’s see how 2014 shapes up. All my best wishes to you and yours for the coming year!