Tag Archives: creativity

Wonder! Stunning Exhibit at Renwick

We were in DC a couple of weeks ago to celebrate our oldest daughter’s 21st birthday.  I was excited to fit in a visit to the Renwick Gallery to see their exhibit – Wonder!   I love that  the exhibits were large and immersive – experiences that you could take in with all of your senses.  In the exhibit they basically turned over the museum space to nine contemporary artists, who filled the space with large, immersive and stunning exhibits.    The boys and I had a great time exploring the museum.  Highly recommend!

Check out this link to take a virtual tour of the exhibit.  It’s absolutely worth a visit the next time you are in the DC area.

Wonder! at the Renwick Gallery     The building itself is gorgeous!

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A few of our favorite images from the exhibit.

from the Patrick Dougherty exhibit

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from the Gabriel Dawe exhibit

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from the Tara Donovan exhibit

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from the John Grade exhibit

 

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from the Janet Echelman exhibit

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from the Jennifer Angus exhibit

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from the Chakaia Booker exhibit

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from the Maya Lin exhibit

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Christmas Decorations – Maker Style

The boys and I headed down to 757 Makerspace today after a little bit of a hiatus.  Great to be back and such a fun afternoon!

We got to use silicone molds to cast some snowflake ornaments, the customize some glass ornaments with the laser cutter.  Creative, hands-on afternoon and some really original ornaments to bring home.  Justin said we should plan to make a custom ornament every year.  Great idea!!

Here are a few pics.

We worked with the liquid plastics last year when we were first introduced to mold-making.  Last year we made this cool storm trooper using the same technique.

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This year Beau had snowflake molds already made up and ready to go.

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Both times we used Smooth-Case liquid plastics, mixing two part solutions that you pour into the mold, wait for it to cure, and voila!  (provided your measurements were solid) 🙂

Most times we have tried it it worked great.  Today one of my my snowflakes flopped, but we quickly mixed up another one.

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While the casts were curing, a small group of us headed over to the laser cutter.  We were able to design the images and text that we wanted on our ornament, then watch as the laser cutter did its magic.

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Pretty amazing that the laser cutter can hold and laser cut so many different substances – even wood, stone, and in our case glass.

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Always lots of great creative energy around Makerspace – and today was no exception.  🙂

 

 

 

Gorgeous Sand Sculptures

Sand sculptors from around the world are competing in the Neptune Intl Sand Sculpting Championship.  They are creative, complex and amazing in any medium, but this is SAND.  Heck, I can’t even get a basic tower out of a sand bucket intact so these are fantastic accomplishments.

Josh and I headed down to the oceanfront yesterday afternoon to check them out.  The weather isn’t great this weekend so hope plenty make it down in spite of the weather.  All is safe and dry under the tents.

Here are a few of our favorites.

Creativity! Stumbled onto the Richmond Murals

With a couple free hours in Richmond, I went out exploring with my camera.  We were staying at the gorgeous Jefferson Hotel in Downtown Richmond, so I wandered toward and along Broad Street for a bit.  And what a treat!

Block after block of terrific murals, a great little boutique with original dresses designed by some VCU design students, and lots of quirky shops and independent local restaurants.   It was a terrific little afternoon walk.  Between the terrific food, great museums, and other sights  we left Richmond feeling like we had ignored it far too long and would be back again very soon.

I love a city that really embraces creativity!  (Need to get back to find the rest of the murals.)

Check out this link to the 2014 Richmond Mural Project:

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Maker Saturday: Molds, Mold Making and Casting Objects

On the heels of a great blacksmithing series at 757 Makerspace, this week we transitioned to classes on Making Molds and Casting Objects.  There’s a lot to learn so today was an introduction, with some basic hands on practice.   We primarily worked with one technique today – thermoforming, or vacuum forming.

My take on the basics from today’s intro:

  • a plastic sheet is heated to a temp that makes it pliable
  • that plastic sheet is then stretched over the object to be molded
  • its them cooled into the finished shape; thickness of the plastic sheet needed depends on the size and height of the object you are trying to mold
  • the original model is them removed from the mold and it can be filled with a range of materials to create copies.  bit of art and science in removing your objects from the model
  • we used a table top machine to help us do this
  • Can fill the molds with a range of substances – we used liquid plastic today, but many other possibilities like foam, resin, etc.

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Our instructor, Scot Clark, did a terrific job getting us introduced to mold making with the basics while sharing some of his great work and giving us some ideas of more sophisticated techniques.   His creativity definitely came through and he did a great job teaching us newbies while enticing us with the possibilities once you master the basics and move onto more advanced molding techniques.  He shared some of his special effects and ghoulish Halloween creations (think zombies, skulls etc).  Josh and Santiago were definitely drawn to the zombie he brought in!

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I love the way he described the work he does in special effects as ‘problem solving’ where someone wants to achieve something and he has to determine how to achieve that look or effect with materials!  Love that angle on the work – as a fellow professional ‘problem solver.’

Scot mentioned being part of the team that worked on the Year of the Dragon display for the Bellagio Hotel and described how they used molds to create the parts of the dragons.  Josh quickly googled the display and this is what we found – amazing!

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For next week’s class we can bring a small item to mold – so need to decide what I might bring.  The younger kids will be working with Lego mini-figures to create molds … right up Justin’s alley 🙂

 

Looking forward to next week’s session!  And trying to decide on some family projects to work on at Makerspace in addition to the classes.  Some metalwork and pallet art ideas mulling around.   Thanks again to Beau for arranging a great series.

 

To check out 757 MakerSpace, visit their website or check them out on Facebook.

Beacon of Light

Kicked off my LifeBook 2015 course this weekend.  Got Natalie and Josh to tinker around with the paints too – that was lots of fun!  Here’s my first attempt – Beacon of Light.   Lots to learn but it was fun – and she’s a cutie !

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Great class – check it out at:

LifeBook 2015 – Willowing Website

 

Pathways: Don’t Let The Grass Grow …

I started a weekly journaling project and the first week’s prompt was Pathways.  Aside from any journaling I would like to try to pair a photo with each week’s prompt.    This one made me smile and seemed to fit (in a silly sort of way) 🙂

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This past fall we visited a pumpkin patch and this shoe planter was alongside a little shed.  Peculiar and adorable and fun!

Don’t Let The Grass Grow Under Your Feet!  Find Your Path and Get Moving.

Get Up And Make! The Maker Movement

We got a peek into a great ‘maker’ community here in Hampton Roads today at 757 Makerspace, and I am SO excited!  It reminds me of the many years that I coached creative problem solving teams with Destination Imagination.  Artists, crafters, makers – learning and experimenting aLearning, imagining, creating, messy and imperfect – and FUN!   The idea that if you can imagine it, you can make it.  And have fun learning how and trying.

Check them out!

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757 Makerspace website

And if you are not in Hampton Roads, see if you can find a similar community center in your town.

Today we checked out a blacksmithing class.  About 25 kids and their parents braved 30 degree temps to try their hand at learning the basics of blacksmithing.  Metal, fire – what else do you need, right???

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And we are definitely lucky to have the guys and gals of 757 Makerspace who were fantastic with the kids and families.  A little teaching, some hands on practice, and some fun!  We are so excited to get back there next weekend for another class and see what other  things we can get into.

I think most of us love to try our hand at new things.  And exposing ourselves and our kids to the things we can do, create, make with our own hands and the help of others is a perfect antidote for too much screen time and standardized testing.  To get us all taking our ideas and trying them out, bringing them into reality.

Here’s a Parenting Idea for 2015:

FLIP THE SITUATION!  Instead of lamenting how much time kids spend in front of screens this year, plan an outing to do something hands on – whether that’s an outing in nature or a class where you can all create something with your hands and learn a new skill!  

Maybe find a way to create a little ‘maker box’ or ‘maker space’ of your own home for tinkering.  Try to get your school to get a ‘maker club’ going to get kids engaged with their minds and their hands.

And the same applies to all of us.  What kind of projects have we had in mind that we would love to see come to life?

Let’s find some new, fun and creative alternatives and get the creative juices flowing!

Getting out of my head …

Sometimes I just have to get out of my head!  You know how it is right?  When your mind has been in high gear for a while and you have to shift gears.  Funny story, the first time my now friend Kellie tried to teach me to SUP, I was not steady and fell a couple times.  She looked at me (before she really knew me) and said ‘You think a lot don’t you??  You have to get out of your head!’   If she only knew …

For many years when I was younger, there was no other gear – always on, always thinking, all the time.  Then the kids came along and in addition to the fun and chaos of raising three kids, they sort of force you to shift gears and pay attention.

People often tell me how busy we seem, how many things our family seems to be doing.  What’s funny is I don’t see it that way at all.  For me, its more like … hey, not working, so lets have fun.  What shall we do?  So much to do, so little time 🙂

A few years ago I tried hot yoga and fell in love with it, and that was a great way for me to get completely out of my head and do something  physical and calming at the same time.  Love it!  But somehow I have fallen out of the habit and not made space for it in my schedule in a way – and trying to get back.  I feel so much better when its part of my life and routine.

Then late last year I tried a fantastic course call Gifts of Imperfection with Brene Brown and she did some creative or art journaling.  If you have never heard of Brene brown check out my other post t and her Ted talk for starts – amazing and inspired speaker and writer on living wholeheartedly and authentically.

One of My Posts on the Gifts of Imperfection Course

Link to Brene Brown TED talk

But as for art journaling … now this is me of the barely recognizable stick figures – so it was completely out of my comfort zone.  But SO fun!  Then I happened upon a mixed media course by Kelly Rae Roberts that I loved.

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I love my photography,  and photo editing is fun too.  Suddently I had these little bursts of creativity in my life – who knew! – and another great way to get out of my head.

And my latest discovery … Chalk Paint by Annie Sloan.

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(ok I’m a little messy!)

It’s a fantastic set of gorgeous paints for painting furniture.  While my Mom was in town we took a class at a terrific little shop, Delightful Digs, then tinkered with a couple old frames that weekend and had a blast.

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There are gorgeous colors, great techniques to master for finishes, lots of elbow great required for sanding to distress the wood, and fun waxes to finish and age them.  Plenty to keep me busy.

During one particularly silly moment my Mom tried to stay very monochromatic with her frame and I could not resist splashing a little color her way – the small color battle that what ensued was hilarious!)  Anyway, I am having lots of fun tinkering with Chalk Paint.

It’s great to see the boys swing by the dining room (which I have sort of commandeered) to see what ‘art stuff’ is going on in there.  Who knew?  Doesn’t even matter if its any good (though I kind of like what has resulted) – but its such a great outlet to be working with your hands.  Always envied people who can work with metal or clay … hmmm … maybe that’s NEXT?

How do you get out of your head?

 

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… on play and productivity

Something I read this week reminded me about the importance of play in our lives – as adults.  More on that in second.  But today, I had a wonderful time with a great big dose of fun on a mom-son play date with Justin. 🙂   While Josh was at the Harlem Globetrotters with a friend, we headed out for the afternoon together.    SO.  MUCH.  FUN.  And he was grinning from ear to ear on the way home, talking about what a great day it was and how glad he was that HE planned it 🙂

So the question … is there enough play in your life?  What an interesting question, right? For a long time,  I would have have thought to even ask that question – so focused on getting work done, getting chores around the house done, etc.   I am pretty hard wired for action, so productivity was king since there were always lists of things to do.  But I am incredibly grateful that some years ago I started to make a more deliberate effort to unwind, to laugh more, to play.  Now … when I am mindful of it … I try more often to channel it into fun adventures with family and friends.  And when there’s too little fun and laughter … frankly, I get a little grumpy.  Bryce can attest to that.

 

This week I was reading a chapter from Gifts of Imperfection about play and it was right on point.

“In today’s culture – where our self worth is tied to our net worth, and we base or worthiness on our level of productivity – spending time doing purposeless activity is rare.  In fact, for many of us it sounds like an anxiety attack waiting to happen. ” “… the opposite of play is not work … the opposite of play is depression.?” “… many of us still believe that exhaustion is a status symbol of hard work and that even sleep is a luxury.?”  – Brene Brown

I know how easy it is to identify with busyness, to almost elevate our busy schedules.   How often does someone ask how you are doing and your immediate first response is …”really busy.”  I find myself trying hard daily to break that habit.  We all have work, lives, families, commitments.  And our days will fill up in one way or another … no one will schedule us for time to unwind and play … if balance and creativity and fun are going to be important in our lives we will have to carve out time for it.  So interesting to ask yourself whether there’s enough play in your life … and if not, what small change can you make to put a little more laughter, fun and play into this coming week? Hope its a FUN week!

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A Little Inspiration …

I was so grateful to get some time to connect with Natalie, our oldest daughter, last weekend.    Winter break was over and I was taking her back to school for the next semester.  Thanks to hubby taking care of the boys, we were able to squeeze in a girls day in DC before drop off.  Gorgeous hotel, world class service, some delicious Greek food (one of our favorites!) and some great creative inspiration at the National Gallery.  Most importantly, some time to catch up, share new music, and reconnect.  Short and sweet – but a great trip!

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I always feel reasonably tall til i stand next to Natalie!

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We meandered through a couple of the sections in the National Gallery with the audio tour (I love the extra insights and context they give me.)  It was nice to go slowly, not worry about trying to see it all, and just appreciate and enjoy what was in front of us.  I’ve been feeling creative lately and the inspiration was awesome!

I adore sculpture and am always amazed by the talent to shape materials.  So we wandered over to the sculpture garden and were alternately inspired, amused and a little disturbed by the work – as it should be, I think.

  • inspired – the metallic tree set against the blue sky with puffy clouds was striking and captivating; hard to take my eyes off of it

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  • disturbed – the ‘thinker bunny’ and giant spider sculpture were odd… and Natalie thought there were creepy

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  • reflection – this Toulouse-Lautrec piece on alienation could be straight out of any restaurant today … just but cell phones and texting into their hands … same alienation and no CONNECTION

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  • in awe – the Dying Gaull sculpture was just incredible

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  • and lots of other great pieces, too

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Great getaway with a terrific girl!  And she is safely deposited for her second semester.  Miss her already …

What Is/Was Your Armor?

Today was the first day of the Brene Brown e-course based on her book The Gifts of Imperfection.  At the core is the idea that to live authentic and wholehearted lives we must live our lives with: COURAGE, COMPASSION, and CONNECTION.

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Reflecting on those things in your character and your emotions that get in the way of this type of deep connection is tough and powerful work.  We all have to work through things in our history – sometimes out of a goal to improve or just out of necessity when the baggage gets in our way.  But I love that courage/connection/compassion are aspirational … a daily destination to work toward in our relationships.

I am glad that Brene unpacks the words – moving them from ‘fluffy’ words that we can toss around pretty lightly to something that requires us to reveal ourselves (beautiful parts, warts, all of it) to others.   I first read the book last year and had plenty of text highlighted already, so used today to go back over the assigned reading and really reflect.  I wrote for a long bit in my journal … attempted to draw out some visuals that seemed to illustrate my relational journey  (messy, but they helped me process.)

I was surprised at how quickly the reflection on these topics carried me deep in the recesses of my history and my travels toward a life of greater connection, compassion and courage (though I might not have used those words before.)   I will have to clean up the pics to try to share, but I found myself drawing three stages

  • The Early Years (til about 20 yrs) – formative, how I showed up naturally, the bright spots (gifts, talents, kindnesses) that stayed with me and the dark clouds (tragedy, loss, things that brought shame later) that I had to wrestle with.
  • The Achievement Years (from 20 to about 35) – built a strong suit of armor that protected me from connections that might get too personal, might see past the image to the imperfections beneath, might think differently of me if they knew of any weaknesses.   So my armor was made of achievement, control and building a reputation of strength.  Some results were great, but at the expense of connection.
  • Expanding Connections years (from 35 to now (43) … and hopefully long into the future.)  This is about when I really started owning my own history, sharing it and my lessons with others, and when I was able to become more outward facing, investing in others and creating connections I would have avoided prior. It’s been an amazing period that’s been deepening year over year and I am SO grateful.  My family relationships have deepened and been restored, my friendships have grown and become more authentic, and I have touched the lives of many more people by sharing, coaching, and being open about my journey and imperfections.

I am excited to invest deliberate time in the coming weeks to find ways to continue down this relational path, and oh so grateful to be making this journey with two amazing friends.

I wonder – as you are reading this post – whether you have also crafted any armor that puts a barrier between yourself and real, open, vulnerable and honest connection with others?  I know that I had … and that taking that armor off has felt like a risky but incredibly rewarding journey.