Posts Tagged 'craft'

Sparking creativity : September workshops

With the sweet feeling of renewal sparked by the arrival of September, I wanted to shake things a little, do something inspiring just for me. It seems that the universe had a compatible agenda, because these two cool creative gals were planning cool creative workshops when I was on the look out for just the right project !

I decided to treat myself and registered for both workshops. These will be my Christmas present to myself ! Elise’s one, the Big Mini workshop, just came to an end and was chock full of very helpful information, basic and not so basic steps and ideas to  make minibooks of all kind. Elise’s workshop was just like her blog : fun, inviting, inspiring ! I took another of her workshops last year too and she managed to make it even better this time. I have wanted to try my hand at minibooks for a long while and never actually completed one, each of my attempts ending in me over-thinking the whole process, trying to make it “perrrfect” and being completely overwhelmed… which is the fastest way to kill any project !

Thanks to Elise, I am now equipped with  detailed guidelines, clear advice and fun suggestions to build my own minibooks, and I feel very grateful to her for making the whole process seem so much less daunting than it used to be.

Then this weekend began Kal’s workshop : Nurture your creativity & be bulletproof. The first session was inspiring and quite an eye opener for me. I can’t wait for what’s to come. !


Beadwoven necklace and a few other things !

February is already here, and I left my Kyoto home to go and teach a few classes in another region. I’ve been doing that for a few years and am loving it ! I’m just hoping I can soon find something a bit more permanent…

Anyway, so I find myself here, quite near Tokyo, spending most of my days teaching to very motivated (seriously) students a thing or two about Japanese society and religions. It is, this year too, a very fulfilling, incredibly inspiring, motivating and humbling experience. It is all that and some more. And I find myself thinking about when I’ll be back in Kyoto a couple of weeks from now, where I have no such real job, and no real friendship network. Just writing about it and my stomach turns into a messy knot. I so want to find something to do and to be in Kyoto, but I haven’t quite yet. (Don’t misunderstand me, Kyoto is such an amazing place, with so many things to discover, and I do feel lucky to live in such a place. But on the other hand, I have no job there yet and know very few people, none of which I can really call friends.) All of this makes me contemplate different ways to “make my own job” more and more, on the web for example, but I still feel too shy to really start something. I guess if I really want it, I will have to take the big plunge eventually and see where it leads me.

Wow, that’s a lot of rambling !

I started this post to actually talk about a necklace I beaded a little while back, but got carried away about the above things, I guess. It’s pretty much how my mind seems to work these days ! So, back to this necklace ! I know a very sweet old lady who I go and visit almost every week. In her younger days she was a painter and we often talks about our respective passion for art, beautiful things, creating things. It didn’t take too long for me to start talking about beading and how I loved it and what kind of things I was making or trying to make. It seems that my little lady was surprised and curious about it and asked me to show her my work. Which I did a few weeks later. She was even more surprised and quite impressed with what could be done with those tiny seed beads. The week after that, a bit shyly, she asked me if I would agree to do a commissioned piece for her to give as a present with her dear friend. I was so, so happy that she thought my beading was good enough to be given as a present to someone. It sounds a bit silly maybe, but I was fueled with joy and also with a little bit of pride. It was not my first commission, but in these particular circumstances, from this particular person, to this other person,  it really meant a lot to me somehow.

SO, the necklace was finally given to its recipient at the beginning of the year and I got some very nice feedback, so I felt I could show it here too !

The pictures unfortunately don’t do justice to the delica beads : they are opal with a copper filling. It’s quite an amazing shade in person, very soft and subtle, which I thought would be appropriate for the lady the necklace was destined to. Then just a slight bit of gold seed beads to add texture and shine.

Pintuck pillows and what we put into handmade objects

I have a bookmark folder named “craft tutes to try”. It contains exactly that. And admittedly it is ever-growing. It almost took a life of its own, so much so that I had to subdivide it by crafts : paper craft, sewing, patchwork, crochet, etc. Just writing about it, my heart goes just a little faster. Sigh. Crafty goodness and possibilities all over the place !

So when my sweet mum got tired of her old, sad, forest green pillows, I knew I had just the right project on hand to free her couch from these floppy things nobody in the house dared to call pillows any more (just a little bit of drama thrown in for good measure).

To my (and the couch) rescue, came the talented Ellen of The Long Thread and her great pintuck pillow project. I unearthed some home decor fabric purchased a couple of years back…just because it was pretty (I do that sometimes, yes), and followed the well written instructions. Being a beginner at anything sewing, I was curious to see if I could come out with a decent result, and I think I did pretty well. It’s far from perfect, but I’m still happy with them ! Thank you Ellen !

I did one pillow exactly as suggested, and for the other one, I put more and more space between the pintucks, resulting in a slight gradation.

I sewed these pillows just a few days before leaving home and going back to Japan (I arrived a few days ago, still enjoying the jet lag induced  fuzziness). The last days home are always filled with mixed feelings. Somewhat happy to go back to my other home, but so very sad to leave my family and friends behind. Especially my mum, because I know her life is not so easy. So among others things, I made pillows for her. I hugged, cooked, talked, and made pillows. Because I thought it might cheer her up when she looks at them. Because they’re not store bought pillows, but handmade pillows, that I took the time to make especially for her, her couch, her living room. To bring just a little bonus hint of happiness. For me, that’s what the pillows, and handmade in general, is about. I do believe these objects we make with our hands, especially for those we love, have this very special added value. Something that says : I did it for you, because I think of you and you’re well worth the time and the effort, because you’re that special to me.

So, I’m going to stop there before I start crying in front of my computer screen 😉 , but these are my thoughts.  What about you ? What do you put in your handmade objects ?

Simple beaded present : seed beads bracelet

My first beading this year is a present for one of my cousin. I have to admit I lacked a bit of inspiration and imagination when I first decided to sit down with this project, but I did have fun choosing the colors and that’s what kept me rolling !

My original plan was to make this beaded bracelet. A pattern called Fordan, provided by Mu, a much talented, prolific and generous french beaded. If you don’t know her yet, go pay her blog a visit, you’ll have dozens of pretty patterns and ideas to browse through. Pretty amazing if you ask me.

I ended up changing the beading path just a bit, and finally stopped before the last two rows. The result is a more classic, slightly less wide, less decorated bracelet. Exactly what I had in mind for the recipient (Hi G. !).

Talking about beading, I would like to start working on a group of pieces to…maybe…finally setting up a little shop. Probably on Etsy. I’ve been thinking and dreaming about it for a couple of years now. The idea itself completely overwhelms me, but still hasn’t left my mind or my heart. It’s really something I’d like to give a try one day, so why not try and start working on it now ?

I’m thinking clean lines, simple and modern pieces, pretty colors with an accent, a bit of texture. Versatile pieces. Pretty much the type of jewelry, especially beaded jewelry, that I love and am passionate about !

We’ll see. I’ll keep you posted.  But in the meantime, if you have some advice about this particular endeavor, maybe because you’re doing it yourself or would like to do it or have tried at some point, or just because you’re in an advice kind of mood, feel very very free to leave a comment, drop a line, send an e-mail. I’ll be more than happy to read your messages !

Beautiful day to you all !

Green !


I guess it grew on me. 🙂


Great week to you all !


Favorite space and creativity – 31.05.2009


Today is the last day of Everyday in May. A month (well, almost, because I started a bit late) of daily pictures, of a bit of journaling too. It’s the first time I committed to doing a certain creative thing daily for a month, and the commitment itself made the process very interesting. The assignment (a photo a day) was simple enough not to be too overwhelming, and flexible enough to fit my schedule and/or my mood on any given day. This self-imposed assignment motivated me to take the time to go outside and really look. It also was a good opportunity to look at my daily environment a bit differently. To look at it with a purpose. To really see what’s around.

As I’ve written before, I learned a lot about what kind of photos I like, what stops my eye, what taking pictures actually means to me. These were all good things that I feel are going to continue influencing the way I take pictures from now on. I really had to push myself sometimes to get outside of my little comfort zone and not focus exclusively on leaves, rusty pipes and water…all things I could take picture of endlessly.

I’d really like to do commit again to one specific creative activity daily for a month. I yet have to decide which one, but I know it would be an opportunity for growth and the source of many discoveries !

Japanese garden at the end of the day – 23.05.2009


After a beautiful kimono exhibition in Osaka, we literally stumbled on this Japanese garden nearby the museum. We walked around for a while, enjoying the quiet of the end of the day. Nice. Very nice.

I really like days like today : new things blended with usual things, each in enough proportion so that the day is interesting without being overwhelming.

Nice !

Have a great weekend everyone !

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