Tag Archive: building your dreams

3x5OverToThe DarkSideWednesday Wisdom ~ DreamSculptr travel sense, Little Man with a Big Siren, and a question, so Angel doesn’t go over to the dark side in a few hours.

DreamSculpting Interactive is all about hearing from you what will make your dreams sing, and including that when sharing an upcoming guidebook I compiled for myself ~ a relatively playful process that worked well for me during the worst of my personal trials, and continues to do so.

First, though, I want to say that last night’s travel ambassador tour at the stadium clubhouse was awesome! Thank you CVB and stadium manager. I met fascinating new people and ran into friends with whom I swapped travel adventures, leading a friend to ask, “Why don’t you write about the many benefits of your adventures?” Would people actually be interested in reading this?

I told my friend, “I’m too busy adventuring.” (Well, publishing books and dancing around the art of ceramics,  watermedia, and staying alive, too). Then I remembered the safe, savvy, solo travel book I began as a spinoff from the sculpting my dreams book while driving coast to coast to ‘walk my talk,’ after finalizing a late bloomer degree that placed me firmly in the professional ranks back home.

Travel is magical. It transports me to other worlds and connects me to new people. As much as I love being caught in the lens, while traveling I am the one behind the camera. I love adventures, like those recently spent cruising from Paris to Monaco, through the Pacific islands, trolling the Caribbean, escapades on the Disney ships, and sailing on windjammers. Times spent enjoying Denali, calving glaciers, sweeping through Europe to study the arts, sleeping in a national forest outside the Grand Canyon, climbing volcanoes, residing on the Emperor’s moat in the elegant Akasaka Prince, riding the Shinkansen, homestays in “rural” Otsu, and drawing artwork for a ‘little man with a big siren’ after leaving Denver trailing a broken leafspring. Then there were times when I nearly died in the Hiawatha Nat’l forest, when the flooding Colorado River near Arches swallowed me, when I survived Death Valley without air one hot July, those insider observatory tours with my personal astrophysicist, a lockout on Olympia, and a storybook life as a kid along the Pigeon river wilderness and Rifle river while pulling porcupine needles from a dog’s muzzle, skinning rabbits, and petting a tame elk tagging at my heels. Other times, I faced a Yellowstone black bear, caught myself in a frenzied herd of  longhorn cattle, as well as earthquakes, tornadoes, and stampeding buffalo. I drove sheep, climbed mountains, learned 35mm photography far out on a Kaibob ledge jutting into the Grand Canyon without a railing, and hiked canyons with my brother. I’ve experienced amazingly spiritual animal encounters, escaped from a roaring inferno, unknowingly worked for a serial killer, endured my child being in the Rome airport during a terrible bombing, been guarded by a tiny Japanese woman with a parasol, survived the Great Sargasso Sea of Romantic Turbulence, broken through the glass ceiling, found personal discovery and generated questions, plus much more.

My travel hasn’t always been solo but lately much of it has. “Walking my talk” led to many people at Disney World and across the country freeing themselves from spellbinding circumstances to pursue their dreams.

This represents a lot of exhausting air, overland, train, and ship travel for a woman who, like all women, can be magnetic in person but must hide her charm when far from her sanctuary and yet still plan well enough to allow for spontaneous openings ~ for new people, new ideas, and insight.

Many benefits come from solo travel, whether you are truly alone or hitched to a flock of other travelers going in the same direction. I developed better radar, found moments when I forgot to guard my heart, formatted a better understanding of the world, and, of course, encountered events that required the intervention of my guardian angels. But they rose to the challenge. Now I know of new places to mention when friends ask, “what’s next?”

Preparation is key to safe, savvy solo travel. It is critical to know how to pack your bags, how to stay ‘invisible’ at times, and when to join in or merely observe. Safe transportation is a must, as well as preparing for emergencies that arise along the way ~ and that includes unexpected situations with a first time roommate as well as mechanical upsets and crises back at home base.

The truth is, I don’t know if I want to reveal poignant details of my life. I currently write stories and poetry for older children, young adults, charity, and myself. I’ve also published stories about amazing circumstances in several local editions and I’m working on a series of novels as well as in a collaborative studio.

So before I invest my time in developing what I did and why and how, I wonder if people are interested in reading these assorted tales? How has travel opened your horizon to new possibilities that help you realize your own dream?

I drew this picture while trapped at a campground outside of Denver on the flat, high plains ~ having just left behind the awesome beauty of Colorado, Utah, and Arizona. There’s a key pad combination lock on that open privy door, and the drawing is entitled “Little Man with a Big Siren.” Ouch…TextrLilMan BigSiren


Beauty is all around us!

“We must all become more aware of the beauty around us!”  ricocheted from the car radio as I drove home a few days ago.

WithCaptivatingout further ado, I bypassed the ‘hood and drove to a nursery where I bought roses…six vertical feet of them! Blossoms bathe us in special sort of beauty all their own.

Earlier on that hot day, there was a quarterly meeting at the studio.   Due to a painful wrist sprain that kept me from creating artwork, I hadn’t seen the other participants in weeks.   Finally, I gathered supplies and headed home with intent to work on my deck. By then I was exhausted from two frantic hours of catch-up conversation and heated discussion.

How many of us have experienced the sneaky way a resolve has of dissolving? My hand is raised.  Feeling deprived of leisure after three days of nonstop social events, signing books, minor league baseball, birthday celebrations, whirlwind cleaning, and meetings, I turned onto my street to plant my roses.

As I neared the house, I suddenly heard the radio blare again:  “We must become aware of the beauty around us!”

Without thinking further, I waved at the darkened, shuttered house and drove through the ‘hood, winding up hills and around curves considering the beauty.  Suddenly I was headed north on a country highway.  “Just a little further,” I pleaded.  “I’m parched.  Where can I sit by the water?  Correction…where can I find big water, not a river or a pond?  Next stop Lake Michigan, please!!!”

Destiny hadn’t tuned in to my dream yet, so I drove back roads toward the only nearby lake of measurable size.  Water had always been important to me.  My father occasionally took us along while tending Michigan waterways and parts of the Great Lakes, but I spent much of childhood far from water.  One highlight was a ride across the Straits of Mackinac on the last ferryboat that ever plied the water before the state built the Mackinac Bridge.  That one trip was enough to light my fire for eternity!

Since the age of six I haven’t lived on a lakeshore where the water was still in existence, as is necessary for those of us born under the dual sign of Pisces.  Fish are magnificent aquatic creatures, aren’t they?   However, they need water as much as air.  Without an oxygenated marine ecosystem they cannot breathe.  And if they are also more than half ‘human’, they cannot manifest their spirit.

We humans have an interesting relationship with water.  We find the eternal receptivity fascinating and the reflection a mirror to the soul.  Moreover, the ever-changing palette of possibility created by water in motion is nourishing to the restless spirit.  Water is, truly, beauty in action.

“If nothing else,” I decided, “I’ll buy ice cream and cruise Lake Drive taking pictures; they last longer.”  It’s true…the water scene does live in my memory.  Then why waste mileage?   For one thing, proximity to water renews life and rejuvenates weary cells. The area had also captured my heart over recent years. I  sold a nearby home to accept an invitation to study with Disney University and reset a relational hot button at a distance.  In short, I moved on.  New horizons are great.  But revisiting our roots strengthens our connection to the past when there is still something to learn from them.  Realizing now that a part of me was left behind in the sudden move, I jerked the wheel.  The car detoured abruptly into our former neighborhood.

Nearing the old homestead, I had a sudden brainstorm.  Until now I had only taken pictures on the fly.  Why not use the video cam?  Oh yes…the neighbors might see me!  Well, to heck with them.  I slid the iPhone camera indicator to video and sailed by with an open window.

Locating the home required two passes.  As I was soon to discover, new owners had painted the brick exterior white.  The cozy hiding spot was revealed by the wraparound boardwalk and multilevel deck I designed and built.  A huge Blue Spruce proudly dominated the street.   My father had dug the seedling from his evergreen nursery after retirement.  I planted it myself.   All these images are captured on my video.  Even though the film is a bit jumpy I can ‘revisit’ home without the haunting sense of place that makes me wish I were still the owner.

Next I drove to the water. The lake was as urban and crowded as ever.  Joggers and bicyclists rimmed the encircling drive as I raised the iPhone again.  Eventually, I found lakeside mansions fit for a water sprite.  The lack of reaction to my filming was surprising.  Instead, people waved and smiled warmly.  ‘For sale’ signs littered the landscape…perhaps they thought I wanted to purchase.

Once again lit, my nautical Pisces spirit led the way.  Driving wasn’t exactly refreshing, though.  That waits for a time when I live and work and love life from a personal studio beside the big water.

While I was puzzling about the best way to tame wild dream dragons, I drove to local dairy for a baby cone.  I had one proviso: I would lick the drippy edge while visiting one last lakeside neighborhood.

Unfortunately, the black cherry and drop-dead-chocolate canisters were empty.  Behind the counter stood a youngster wearing plastic gloves.  “Try the Pistachio.  You’ve eaten the pudding before, right?”

“Nope, I don’t eat pudding.  I’m a health nut. But I like pistachios…they keep well in the freezer.”

Jamming the cone upside-down into one of those little styrofoam cups because he stuffed it with too much ice cream, I wielded a spoon.  Finally the last video clip was done.  I set the odometer and drove home.  Only eight miles separated me from the nearest water.  Back home in drydock, however, my dream to live by the water faded into reality.  It diminished in a deafening facade of busywork, bricks, mortar, and secluded neighbors, and was consumed by the sanctuary of a comfort cave.

The new rose bush fit well in the garage.  Its seven-foot-long branches flippy-flopped all over my face,  though, and I quickly banished it to the deck for pictures before planting.

I stashed groceries in the refrigerator and retrieved some fruit blended with pecans and Pina Colada mix.  After searching for the rum I’d forgotten, I sat outside in the breeze.  “How,” I wondered, do we reposition from comfort cave to seaside bliss?”  At the time I was too lazy to find the compass I designed to navigate creative reinvention.  Instead, I checked the videos.  They were splendid.  Dreaming vicariously may not have directly solved the challenge, but the resulting brainstorm certainly brought the dream closer.

What remained was to refresh the essential aquatic creature within.  Anything with the word ‘water’ helped, like watermelon, waterside, and waterfall.  But something else was missing.

A clue to the missing piece does exist…it is in watercolors, romance, a shady Riviera breeze full of fluttering leaves, and the beautiful image of a sailboat floating beyond the edge of the deck on cool blue azure water so enormous we can’t see the other side.  These images function as dream propellers.  Fueled by their energy we finish the imaginative book series.  We draw the illustrations and make gourmet meals, too, because love is fueling the project. It all sounds so incredibly easy.

If we focus on the outcome as if it already exists and believe, it helps to attract the right circumstances. Belief is an exceptionally powerful form of beauty.  In turn, a realized dream brings out more of the loveliness that is always nearby waiting for recognition.  Beauty is all around us!

Find more ~ follow @DreamSculptr at http://www.facebook.com/pages/DreamSculptr/130834070320694 and www.twitter.com/dreamsculptr

Contributing author CactusRose is at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Author-CactusRose/231400233547368

Creating a Wood Firing Kiln

Recently I edited the following press release to publicize our new wood kiln and found it informative and interesting to share…

“On Saturday April 30, the firebox of ‘Wabisabigama’ will spark to life.  Artisans and friends of Clayworks Pottery recently completed the Anagama-style, 120-cubic foot, wood-fired kiln at their Wacousta Road site near Grand Ledge, Michigan.

Several hundred pieces of ceramic pottery and artwork will begin a three-day exposure to flames reaching temperatures in excess of 2300° (F).  Deposited wood ash will form the principal glaze on most pots. Thirty potters or more, working in teams over six-hour shifts, will add wood with increasing frequency in order to maintain the alternating process of oxidation and reduction. To complete the process, teams will slowly increase the temperature to a given maximum in the firing range. With skillful attention ~ and the blessing of kiln gods, ceramic ware will acquire the stunningly beautiful blushes, subtle shades, and shape variations produced by direct flame.  These special effects have been characteristic of wood firing for the past several thousand years.

This first firing will culminate a Clayworks dream to expand its member-focused activities.  By bringing together numerous mid-Michigan area potters with different artistic backgrounds and all experience levels, a broader talent pool will concentrate their creativity on this oldest and subtlest of firing methods.

Expansion efforts began three years ago, with the construction of a structural shed-and-pad housing for the planned kiln.  The professional hand of a famous Laingsburg potter guided the entire process.  Scores of community potters participated, as well as the Clayworks member and student body.

Coincidentally, the first firing will occur on Arbor Day. Despite that coincidence, firing teams gathered the wood from trees that are no longer living, then split the three or four cords of wood into the sizes needed for a successful firing.

Development of the Anagama Kiln and its above-described results was essentially a Japanese phenomenon. Ceramics played a central role in Japanese food presentation, flower arrangement and the tea ceremony.  All three were at the heart of the culture’s 16th century artistic renaissance. The Anagama Kiln and Raku process played a central role in element creation.

“Why, in the face of modern convenience,” ask potters Masakazu Kusakabe and Marc Lancet in their book Japanese Wood-Fired Ceramics,  “are ceramic artists internationally electing to wood fire ceramics?”  Then, in response to their question, replied, “Beauty offers the answer. It is not an ‘Oh, that’s lovely’ sort of beauty, but an extraordinary beauty – a heart-achingly, arresting beauty, a beauty of epic proportion, a beauty worth working for, a beauty only achievable by wood firing.”

The Wabisabigama Kiln is a 12-foot long cylinder, with a cross-section in roughly the shape of a 4- by 4-foot Catenary arch. “We chose a simple Catenary arch,” says the Laingsburg potter, “since it is a known kiln shape that fires very effectively. It is also relatively easy to build and is very stable.” He noted that the classic Anagama shape has structural problems when built with the ceramic materials available in this country.

The “wabi” and “sabi” portions of the kiln name refer to principals articulated in Japanese art, ideology by which Clayworks is hoping to inspire the formation and subsequent firing of pottery. Any attempt at precise definition of these terms is doomed to failure. Entire books have been written to describe the concepts. Kusakabe and Lancet referred to them as “tip-of-the-iceberg” words, with meanings that only hint at the expanse underneath.” They expressed an appreciation of natural occurrence, the understated and unplanned, and the art inherent in results that are too often assumed to be defects. Horst Hammitzsch, in his book Zen in the Art of the Tea Ceremony, refers to the “wabi’sabi” idea as “the beauty of a declining wise old age as against the beauty of an energetic yet immature youthfulness.”

 A second firing will probably occur in the late fall with a fee schedule to cover the costs of building and firing the kiln. Interested potters in the mid-Michigan area may contact Clayworks at (517) 626-1160 or www.clayworkspottery.net.

Copyright © 2011 ~ All Rights Reserved.

Birth of Wabisabigama

Those of you who know me may realize how much I love special effects.  This is the story about the birth of Wabisabigama, a newly built wood kiln that produces spectacular, unpredictable results that can rival even  happy accidents that occur in the parallel world of the watercolor palette.

This was our first firing. We felt our way as well as possible. For several reasons, I fired only a few DreamSculptr items created for the firing. Editing the press release took hours.  Quantity allocations up to sevcnteen items issued proportionally to those who worked longest on preparation and firing. On the other hand, recovering from surgical stitches and swelling ate much of my time. Firing projections changed frequently, making it hard to pin down a date on the schedule ahead of time. In the midst of all this, my children planned and prepaid a Florida trip to celebrate a milestone birthday the weekend of the firing.  No one wants to be a bad mommy. I love my children and want to ‘be there’ for them.  So I proposed tending the kiln on the day before our departure, but shifts were full. Yipes! Parents must honor their children first and those of us who are also grandparents are doubly parents, except with limited energy from a lifetime of parenting.

We fired a few of my smaller pieces placed on the firing shelf early.  Others languished. Except for ‘Ancient Mariner,’ a large fish platter. It lay under a shallow shelf where flames and ash did not circulate, making it paler than if it had been glazed!  Extreme heat caused small edge cracks; this evidently gave it personality, because it sold almost instantly.  Wood blush is primarily on the bottom.  A solidified glaze weakened the green-blue glaze I used to define his eye and fins, making the Mariner pale. My childhood was aglow with Michigan fisheries and I like to represent the great sport fisheries of the Great Lakes with glorious color.

After the firing, I brought my new ‘babies’ home and shortly after that relinquished two of the items to a family member for further embellishment since I had no others at the time.  If this makes this ceramic artist a bad pot person, at least I am a true friend, mommy, and g’ma.  Yay! The birthday girl is happy. too.  Love is really all there is, because in the end…things are only things.

I still enjoy making quirky pottery that incorporates a love of the natural world and mixed media techniques from other disciplines. Much of it is displayed on Facebook, under DreamSculptr Gallery Mixed Media Art of Carolyn Tody or on my personal page.

Beautiful Results

Here is the newspaper article, with names removed, and a video about the ceramic artwork and pottery revealed when we opened the new wood kiln.  Amazing success has taken place with this carefully engineered project, a journey filled with heartwarming discovery!

Video:  http://www.lansingstatejournal.com/videonetwork/937376143001/Kiln-brings-Mid-Michigan-potters-together

Article and more videos:   http://www.lansingstatejournal.com/article/20110510/NEWS01/105100314/First-firing-Lansing-area-kiln-produces-unique-pottery


Recapping the event ~ The first firing of the Wabisabigama Wood Kiln produced beautiful results. Participants applauded amid a chorus of admiring ‘oohs’ and ‘ahs’ as they peered into newly opened wood kiln.   Clayworks Pottery representatives passed unique pieces of pottery, one by one, into the hands of those waiting in lines to transport them to a grassy knoll. Approximately 300 pieces of artwork successfully faced the flames. 

Eventually, the sun-drenched lawn filled with five rows of blushing vases, plates, bowls, pitchers, teapots, and figurines, each representing a reenactment of its respective position in the middle, sides, front, and back of the kiln chamber to give a comprehensive picture of firing action.

‘Wabisabigama’ left a glaze on the surface of pottery, giving each fully vitrified piece sheen and unpredictable effects.  Wood resin frequently created a drippy glaze appearance, and a natural wood color not available by other firing means.

The wood kiln is the only one in the Lansing area.  Next closest wood kilns are in Kalamazoo and Dearborn in Greenfield Village.  Electricity and gas most commonly fuel kilns.

Over two years ago, two potters, one from Lansing and one from Laingsburg, approached the pottery co-op with the idea to build a wood-burning kiln that could also be used by the community.  The $10,000 estimated cost was raised by the co-op, primarily by member loans. 

Firing the kiln was their first concern. For three continuous days the kiln burned.  Shift partners took turns supplying it with wood. 

Refinements are the next project. Late summer is the next anticipated firing and such details as strength of the fire, firing time, and interior placement of the pieces for desired results are under scrutiny.    The community is welcome to use the kiln, for a small fee which will help defray the building cost. 

Update on October 16, 2011: 

Dreaming of a little Tranquility?

Ancient Japanese monks discovered that “wabi” – the way of tea – enriched their own faith by providing a concrete example of selfless attention to others.

Through wabi, learning to serve the way of tea so well that you no longer need to think about it, you are free to focus on your guests, the rustic pottery, natural elements used in making tea, the pleasures of drinking tea in a tranquil space, and appreciation of natural beauty.

Sabi is more of an autumn feeling, a somber longing for summer to last, a hopeful sadness, a melancholy ache because nothing lasts, nothing is completed, yet life is full of meaning.

Taken together, the words wabi and sabi describe a technique for living in the moment ~ by noticing and appreciating the significant moments in gentle, meaningful connection with nature and those in their environment, living each day and each season fully as changes occur.

“Wabi sabi” is an intuitive way of living that involves noticing moments that enrich life and paying attention to simple pleasures that can otherwise be overwhelmed by excesses in our consumer society.

Both Wabi Sabi and Feng Shui are Eastern ideas gaining popularity in the West.

Feng Shui, on the other hand, is a technique for increasing wealth or prosperity by tapping into unseen mystical power and arranging environmental elements to clear a channel and please the eye.

In October we held another wood kiln firing.  This time, I fired eight wonderful pieces including a treehouse and a figurative mask,  featured at: www.facebook.com/pages/Artist-DreamSculptr  and soon to be posted to the Flickr stream.  Our next wood firing will be during New Years Eve, 2011 into 2012!

Copyright © 2011 ~ All Rights Reserved.

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