I took the kids to our local used book store the other day. I didn’t want to buy anything but a snack (Boy said he just wanted to read, not buy anything. Mm-hm.), but a book called WorldChanging: A User’s Guide for the 21st Century, edited by Alex Steffen, was sitting in the el cheapo bin, staring at me. It is a collection of strategies and solutions and possibilities meant to inspire people into facing the ecological difficulties the planet is in. It has chapters on “stuff,” shelter, cities, community, business, politics, and planet. I thought I’d take a look at the section on “movement building” in the politics chapter. I think the following quote, written by Steffen, was worth the $4 I ended up spending:
Optimism is a political act.
Entrenched interests promote despair, confusion, and apathy to prevent change. They encourage us to think that problems can’t be solved, that nothing we do can matter, that the issues are too complex to allow even the possibility of change. It is a long-standing political art to sow the seeds of mistrust among those you would rule: as Machiavelli taught, tyrants do not care if they are hated, so longs as those under them do not love one another. Cynicism is often seen as a rebellious attitude in Western popular culture, but in reality, our cynicism advances the desires of the powerful: cynicism is obedience.
Optimism, by contrast, when it’s neither foolish nor silent, can be revolutionary. When no one believes in a better future, despair is a logical choice–and people in despair almost never change anything. When no one believes there might be a better solution, those who benefit from the status quo are safe. When no one believes in the possibility of action, apathy becomes an insurmountable obstacle to reform. But when people have some intelligent reasons to believe that a better future can be built, that better solutions are available, and that action is possible, their power to act out of their highest principles is unleashed. Shared belief in a better future is the strongest glue there is.
Great movements for social change always begin with statements of great optimism. Facing as we do today so many interlocking challenges, one of our biggest tasks is simply this: to be willing to look so many looming catastrophes in the face and courageously point out that radical changes for the better are possible. History attests that if we can show people a better future, we can build movements that will change the world.
This week’s Smoosher is Chris Newcomb, aka EagleHawk. Chris lives in Cypress, Texas (the 2nd largest state…;) ), with his wife (“the most wonderful woman I know” he says! Isn’t that sweet?) and two daughters. He is primarily a woodworker. Something I love from his Art Fire shop‘s Artisan Gallery is this wonderful decorative violin:
More representative of Chris’s work is this gorgeous little scrollsaw ornament, which he says is “perfect for little hands to hang on the tree.” Living as I do only a few miles from the North Pole, I had to include this one!
How does this work make Mr. Newcomb a Smoosher, you ask? Well, although Chris is relatively new to polymer clay, he has come up the great idea of inlaying some of his woodwork with polyclay, which has resulted in some very cute keychains.
Using wood and polymer clay together can be problematic, because of wood’s tendency to shrink and expand. It is nice to see someone experimenting with the combination, though, because there is wonderful potential for creating beautiful items. This is my favorite of Chris’s keychains – I love the combination of the poplar with the pearl polymer clay:
I hope you’ll have fun browsing at Chris’s Art Fire shop!
This week, the Smooshers spotlight lands on Jennifer, of Crafty Baby Hope.
Jennifer uses her Art Fire profits to fund treatments for secondary infertility – hence the name of her shop. You can read about her story at her blogs, Jewelry for Hope, which is where she shows her creative side, and A Look Into My Life which is her forum for discussing her hopeful, if frustrating, experiences with MTHFR, PCOS, and endometriosis…and an active little Boy Scout called “Boober.”
She does lovely wirework, as well as polymer clay work. I love this little bird’s nest pendant:
And this bracelet is just stunning:
Of the many adorable polymer clay items in her shop, I think my favorites are the “kawaii” things. I had to look up what that means – “kawaii” is the Japanese word for “cute” and refers to the culture of cuteness that has developed in Japan since the 1980s. This is the trend responsible for Hello Kitty and Pokemon, though even everyday items and food can be kawaii. Here are some of Jennifer’s kawaii items:
I hope you’ll take the time to visit Jennifer’s shop and blog. She is a strong lady with a lot of hope, and she makes really cute stuff!
This week, the guild spotlight is on Dori, of Sassy Clay Creations. Dori has perfected the trick of layering clay to build up lovely and fun textures on her jewelry and home decor items.
This mirror would cheer me up on the worst bad hair day!
I love this little glittery white bowl. Working with white clay is a HUGE challenge for me – mine always ends up mainly white with flecks and smears of other colors and fuzzy with dust. This little bowl shows Dori’s meticulousness and patience.
And just look at this pretty little pin! Reminds me of childhood vacations at the ocean. (Sigh – the nearest ocean to me now is the Arctic! Br!)
Dori’s blog is Sassy Clay Creations – check out the wonderful tutorial on making Artist Trading Cards (ATCs) from polymer clay. Her Art Fire shop is SassyClayCreations. I hope you’ll spend a little time browsing through her lovely products and admiring her creativity.
Thursdays are going to be my day for profiling my guild mates from the Polymer Clay Smooshers Guild of Art Fire. I’m pleased to start this weekly feature off with my Guild Master – ColtPixy! (Her blog is over there >>> in the blogroll.)
ColtPixy is a multi-talented artist from Tennessee. She has worked in many different media over the years, including painting, stained glass and mosaics, and of course, polymer clay.
She seems to have never-ending energy, though she says it’s all due to coffee. I’m thinking I need to switch to her brand. 🙂
These are her latest creations – some of the most beautiful beetles I’ve ever seen!
She has a sense of humor, too, as you can see from these “Ticked Off Peas in a Pod.”
My daughter would kill for these miniatures, even if the mask is really a very cool little pendant!
I LOVE this pendant – it’s so simple and striking.
Ok, that’s all I’ll show you, but I hope you’ll go visit ColtPixy’s Art Fire shop or check out her Flickr pages to see all the lovely things (like amazing mica shift work and her fabulous “PixyStones”) that I couldn’t post today. Of course, you can also go to her blog or the blog she maintains beautifully for the Smooshers.
Yesterday was not a good day for me and my clay. Everything I did either didn’t work, broke or just didn’t come out like I wanted it to. So this morning I was looking around the web for something that looks fun but not too difficult – time to regain some confidence. I found this great tutorial on 2 Good Claymates’ site. Carolyn is one of my guild-mates in the Polymer Clay Smooshers’ Guild of Art Fire.
The n0t-good-day seems to be continuing, as I can’t seem to get a picture of the very cool cane Carolyn came up with to post. Sooo, I’ll just go try it out and take pictures of MY version. (Yanno, this “I-can’t-post-pictures-of-other-peoples-stuff” problem could probably be resolved if I read WordPress’s help pages….)
UPDATE: So, here’s the proof – I did try this tute out and it’s very cool. However, my toaster oven has recently (like, about an hour ago) passed away, (grrrr) so the blue/white/gold extruder cane covered prescription bottle is not baked. But isn’t that cane cool??
Wow – have you ever had one of those mornings when you need coffee just to make the coffee? First I forgot to put the coffee in the maker – so I was just heating up water. Then I put in too much (I guess – it’s REALLY strong). Then I poured it on my cereal. Sigh.
Well, at least my cane making has been going better than that – WAY better! Long ago, I tried making a rose cane that, well, looked cool, but was not very rose-like. So, last Sunday I spent some time studying the lovely roses that Marcia Tzigelnik makes. It took a bit of concentration for me to get the idea of how to make these flowers look 3D, but I really like how they came out.
Purple Rose Cane
Peachy Rose Cane
I used the scrap from my purple rose experiment to make some nice springy filigree pins:
And then, yesterday, I suddenly HAD to work on something I’ve wanted to try for a long while. The Kuna people (the women, anyway) of Panama wear beautifully vibrant reverse-appliqued fabric panels on their blouses. Here’s an example:
Check here for more fabulous examples!
Since I was introduced to this lovely craft (in a Piecework magazine article, years ago), I’ve wanted to make one. Thing is, although I love needlework of all kinds, I’ve never had the patience to try it in fabric. Somehow, I have more patience for fiddly stuff in polymer clay, so here’s my first pc mola (I decided to try one a bit less complex than the example above):
Parrot Mola Cane
The small picture in the upper right is the image I was copying. Needs some work, but I’m really happy with it. Can’t wait to start the next one…but I have to go get some more clay first!! 🙂