Archive for the ‘Arts and Crafts’ Category

Forthcoming Firekeeper! Catnip Socks!

May 1, 2019

Persephone Demos Catnip Socks

This week I finalized a deal for the very first short story ever featuring Firekeeper and Blind Seer to appear in DreamForge Magazine! “A Question of Truth” will be in issue three, which is scheduled for late August 2019.

“A Question of Truth” is set after Wolf’s Blood, but before the forthcoming novels Wolf’s Search and Wolf’s Soul.  It was inspired by my awareness that a certain event in Wolf’s Soul had a complete story that preceded it.  However, if I were to tell that story in the novel, it wouldn’t fit into the flow.  Since I needed to work those details out, I decided to do it in the form of a short story.

The opening sentence reads as follows: “Prompting from an insane jaguar is probably not the best reason to investigate a dark, dank hole in a hillside, but Firekeeper and Blind Seer had long ago learned not to ignore Truth.”  For the rest, you’ll need to read the story in DreamForge.  It will not be featured elsewhere for the foreseeable future.

You can subscribe to DreamForge here.  Both print and digital versions of the magazine are available.  We’re negotiating with Hugo award-winning artist Elizabeth Leggett to do the illustration.  (In case you didn’t know, DreamForge is lushly illustrated.)

To anticipate a likely question: “When is Wolf’s Search coming out?”  At this point, we’re still on schedule for August 2019.  I’d love to have the novel available for Bubonicon.  I’ll keep you posted as we get closer.  If you don’t want to miss updates, sign up for my mailing list, which you can do on the homepage of my website.  If I can manage to do something other than writing and pre-publication production, I might even have some sort of contest or giveaway to celebrate.

If you’d like to know more about how I’m handling this project, you might want to look at my Wandering from a couple month’s back, “Wolf’s Search (And Other Projects) Update,” here.

Now Persephone, one of my cats, says I’m being too serious this week.  She suggests that if I’m going to tell you about things I’m doing, I should tell you something really, really important like How To Make Catnip Socks.

Many years ago, my cats informed me that catnip mice were simply too small.  Although cats like toys they can bat around, cats really appreciate toys they can wrestle, kick, lie on, and use as pillows.

Here’s how to make a Catnip Sock.  Cut a large quantity of fresh catnip.  Stuff into a spare sock, stems and all.  (Tube socks work really well.)  Tie a knot on at the open end.  Present to cat.

 As the catnip dries, the sock won’t be as tightly stuffed, but you can untie and add more.  Even if you don’t, the cat will continue to enjoy.  I’ve seen my cats happily napping on nearly flat catnip socks in the dead of winter when the catnip has lost its first pungency.

Side note: Catnip is a plant in the mint family and is very easy to grow.  In most climates, the difficulty is keeping it from spreading.  Cut it frequently to keep it from going to seed.  Both the plant and your cats will appreciate this.  Catmint may be substituted or used to augment catnip, but it is less pungent.

On that cheerful note, I’m off to write.  I’m into the final section of Wolf’s Soul, and am pretty jazzed about how events are shaping up!

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What You And I Want

March 27, 2019

This Will Make Sense

Monday I woke up with no idea what to wander on about for this week.  I did know what I wanted to be doing.  Last Friday I left Firekeeper and her associates in the middle of a very complicated situation.  As much as I wanted to keep writing into Friday evening, I’d wrenched my shoulder (either throwing atlatl darts or carrying buckets of water), and I had to get away from the keyboard.

So Monday (which is when I often draft the Wednesday Wanderings) came around, and I didn’t have any idea what to natter on about.  I really didn’t think you’d want to know that Jim and I drew plans for where to plant what in our garden, which is very complicated because this year we’re not only trying some new things, we’re rotating crops.

Or that I had a lot of fun coloring with special gel pencils a picture that had been printed on black paper.

Or that my RPG went well this past week, despite the fact that my players seem to be rolling a record number of fumbles.  (Jim is in the lead.  He’s being a very good sport about this.)

And I didn’t really want to spend a lot of energy trying to justify why these things should interest you, just because they really interest me.

Then it occurred to me that what most of you and I have in common is my writing, and that you’d probably like it if I didn’t put off getting back to that very complicated scene because I was trying to write a clever (or at least not hugely boring) essay.

So, I will leave you here and go and do what I want to do…  And I hope that it’s what you want me to do as well.

As always, I welcome suggestions as to topics for the Wednesday Wanderings.  Please feel free to make a suggestion in the Comments wherever you’re reading this or, if you’re shy, you can e-mail me at jane2@janelindskold.com.

Now, off to continue dealing with complications and consequences!  Woo-hoo!

Here Be (Another) Dragon

March 13, 2019

Lurking On My Floor

I found another dragon.  This one is on the same floor tile as the one featured back in August.

(Wondering why I started drawing on my floor? Here you are…)

Last week was intensely stressful, so I didn’t get nearly as much writing done as I would have liked.  Even a story I thought I knew where it was going refused to take shape beyond the first few pages   This means that, rather than taking the weekend “off,” which I do so I can recharge my creative juices, I spent much of the weekend puzzling and puzzling.

By Sunday afternoon, the writing front, at least, was looking better.  (So was the plumbing.  And maybe the bit with the screwed up prescription.)  I haven’t finished writing the piece, so I can’t say for sure.  To celebrate the joys of the amorphous becoming solid, I sat down on the floor and traced out the dragon pictured above.

He’s a bit more fierce than I thought he would be, but I Iike how different he turned out from the sibling with whom he shares not only a tile, but even some of the same grooves.

Now…  Off to see if the  story will be as cooperative!

Shadow Dragon

The Pleasure of Process

October 3, 2018

Go For It!

This past weekend, I finished my first kumihimo beaded bracelet and started a new one.

You can see the finished bracelet in the picture above.  What you can’t see is how close that bracelet came to never existing.  When I wrote about beading last week, that beaded piece was about three inches long (the finished coil is seven inches) and I knew it had flaws.  By the time I was done, there were a few more errors.  And the bracelet was too long because an unclear element in the instructions led me to use too many beads.  I have fairly small wrists, so after I attached the findings (fasteners), the bracelet slide right over my hand.

So I thought “Why not just cut it up, salvage the parts, and start over?  You’ve learned a lot about doing kumihimo from this.  Now you can make one that’s the right length has fewer errors.”

And another part of me said, “This is the first time you’ve done one of these.  It’s not as if you plan to sell it or enter it in a competition.  No one but you is probably ever going to notice the errors.  As for the length, you can work with that.  Get rid of the findings that came with the kit, and see if you have any smaller ones.”

That’s what I did.  One advantage of having done beading for so many years is I have an extensive kit of findings.  I also know what options are available.  The faster I eventually used was a magnetic clasp scavenged from a different bracelet that I’d meant to repair for years.  That bracelet was a little snug (which is why it had broken), so I put a new set of findings on it.

Tah-dah!  Now, not only do I have my very first kumihimo project to wear and enjoy – flaws and all – I finally fixed the other bracelet.

While I was sorting  through my kit, I found myself thinking about how easy it is when focusing on what you hope to achieve to forget the pleasure of the process.  Another project I’m involved with right now is a brand new SF/F magazine called DreamForge.  Will it be a success?  I certainly hope so.  I certainly believe it should be.  However, whatever the future brings, nothing will ever take away the pleasure that Scot and Jane Noel, me, art director Mike Zingarelli, and a few others have had in the process.

Please take a moment to look at DreamForge’s first Table of Contents.  When Scot writes about each of the pieces he selected, you can hear how thrilled he is.

My Jim makes arrowheads.  (Yep.  That’s one of his in the picture.)  His favorite material is obsidian, which is fragile, fussy, and often has hidden flaws.  But even when an arrowhead doesn’t come out just as he wanted, he keeps making new ones, not because he’s trying for perfection, but because he enjoys the process.

When following my friend Tori Hansen on Twitter, I learned about something called “Inktober,” which is basically a hashtag that encourages artists to draw one picture a day.  I’ve very much enjoyed looking at various people’s offerings.  To me, the focus of Inktober is on process, not perfection.  Draw a picture.  Post it.  Leave it.  Go do another.  This is the opposite – at least to me – of events like NaNoWriMo, which focus so hard on the end goal (write 50,000 words in a month) that the pleasure of the process is lost.  Writing becomes a race, not an art, not a craft.

My writing this last week went out of control.  I wrote over twice my self-assigned length.  Immersed in the process, I had a wonderful time.  Will I write that much again this week?  Probably not, but I’m starting this week with a strong reminder to myself that even with the writing that is my job, I can take pleasure in the process.

Oh…  The new bracelet I’m working on?  It’s an experiment in which I’m deliberately using slightly off-sized beads in different shades of blue in attempt to get both visual and tactile texture.  So far, so good, and if it doesn’t work out, so what?  I will have enjoyed giving it a try.

Tactile Sparkle, Mental Spark

September 26, 2018

Kumihimo: Cords and Beaded Work in Progress

So…  This past week I re-immersed myself in writing on the new Firekeeper story.  I’d taken some time away from prose to double-check details and suchlike, but last week I dove back into writing.  The story is developing nicely, although I still am doing a lot of meditating, both pen in hand and while most of my brain is busy doing other things.

As part of that meditation, I’m teaching myself a new craft technique.  It’s an expansion of Japanese kumihimo – a sort of fancy way of braiding cords.  I’ve done sixteen strand round cords before, but this variation involves adding beads.  Beading – as many of you know – has been a weakness of mine since my mom taught me to sew beads and sequins on felt when I was quite young.

During my college years (in which I’ll include grad school), I taught myself both loom weaving and brick stitch.  Somewhere along the line, I learned how to do counted cross stitch with beads.  I have fond memories of sitting on the sofa while Roger Zelazny read to me and I made little counted cross stitch beaded thingies, including some silver roses.  These eventually became either gifts or Christmas ornaments.  It’s funny, but while I never really got into embroidery, add beads and I became addicted.

Beaded Dolls: Storm and Rainbow

I moved from counted cross stitch to peyote stitch (both odd and even count).  Later, I taught myself how to sew beads onto figures.   Jim set two of my figures in a lovely mirrored shadowbox so it’s possible to see them in the round.  I also beaded the toes of a pair of moccasins…  Beading on leather is tough!

Peyote Stitch Bracelets

I’ve also done a variety of stringing projects, although I will admit that working with crimp beads (which you need to do to attach most findings to wire) continues to be something I find really difficult.   One of the reasons I enjoy working in polymer clay is that I can make my own beads…

Now I’m off to write down some of what I’ve been thinking about.  Then maybe I’ll pick up the kumihimo disk and add a few beads onto the cord while my backbrain adds elements to the story.

Very Much a Fox

February 7, 2018

“The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.”  This saying is credited to Archiliochus, a Greek who was born sometime around 714 B.C.  The one “big thing” a hedgehog knows is, of course, how to roll into a ball, prickly side out, and thereby keep itself from getting eaten.  This is certainly a very big thing indeed.

Wild Horse!

I, however, am definitely a fox.  That’s why today’s WW is illustrated with a photo of one of my recent craft projects – one that, superficially, has nothing to do with my life as a writer.

Not all writers are foxes.  Some are very happy being hedgehogs.   Particular themes or settings or character types call to them, begging to be re-examined.

I remember one novelist I first encountered through her fictional re-telling of a certain fairy tale.  I was devoted to this book.  Later, she got a lot of buzz for a new novel.  As I read it, I came up short.  The setting was different.  So were the characters.  But it was that same fairy tale all over again.  When, later still, I was given a copy of her then newest novel.  I discovered that, for all the change in setting and time period, for all ostensible difference in plot, it was the same fairy tale all over again.  I found myself wondering what called to her so strongly about that particular story.

As a reader – especially in my younger years – I often became attached to one particular novel or series by a particular author.  When I was very young, I wouldn’t even try something else by that writer.  A good example of this is Kipling.  I first became aware of him through the Mowgli stories.  When I later learned these were part of the larger tapestry of the “Jungle Books,” I read those tales with suspicion.  They couldn’t possibly be as good as Mowgli.  I didn’t read Kim, a novel I now love dearly, for years and years because of some vestigial loyalty to my first love.

I think the tendency to choose one thing over all others comes out of our society’s constant desire to rank and rate things.  I’ve been part of heated discussions where I’ve been asked to defend my preference for Edgar Rice Burrough’s Tarzan stories rather than his John Carter of Mars.   It’s as if a reader’s preferences are a sort of psychology test.  These days, this is constantly reinforced by seller sites that tell you, “If you liked THIS, then you’ll like THAT.”

I’m a dark chocolate person, a coffee drinker, a reader of SF/F.  Does this mean I never eat milk chocolate, drink tea, read biographies?  Hardly!

Happily, I got over a desire to make an author be one thing and one thing only.  It happened gradually, helped by the fact that I often read according to recommendations given by friends, rather than author name.  Nonetheless, I remember a seminal moment.  I was in the library, looking for something that I hadn’t read by Patricia McKillip.  I’d “met” her work through the Riddlemaster of Hed and its sequels.  I’d gone on to enjoy her standalone fantasy novels.  But when I pulled a McKillip novel called Fool’s Run off the shelf and I saw it was SF, I started to put it back.  McKillip and SF?  Then I thought.  But it’s McKillip.  And I read it, and it is now among my favorite of her works.

I think readers are often shaped to view who and what a writer is by the first piece we read by that writer.  For example, the first book I read by Maggie Stiefvater was The Scorpio Races.  I followed this with her different but similar “Raven Cycle.”  When I realized that her new novel, All the Crooked Saints, was going off in a completely different direction, I hesitated.  Then I gave it a try.  It turned out to be worth the read.

But for all that I had tunnel vision as a young reader, as a writer, I’ve never wanted to write the same thing or even the same way.  Indeed, a desire to write different ways, about different sorts of people, using different styles, was one of the bonds between me and the late Roger Zelazny.  In an essay about the impact of the works of Henry Kuttner on him as a boy, Roger said: “Even then, I wanted to write, and I decided that it would be something of a virtue to possess that sort of versatility.”

Here, Roger was talking about style, but the same applied to his content.  He wrote far future SF, near future SF, high Fantasy, swashbuckling sword and sorcery, stories that could make you weep, stories that could make you laugh aloud.  Definitely a fox.

And thank goodness that fox never got shut in a box.  Late in life, Roger wrote a novel called A Night in the Lonesome October.  If he’d been restricted to Amber or to the short stories that garnered him most of his awards, we would have missed a novel that every year – over twenty years after his death – I still get notes from people who need to tell me that that it’s October and they’re reading it again.

Making a fox be a hedgehog only makes for a very bad hedgehog.

And I am definitely a fox.  I write fantasy about wolves but I write other things, too.  Even far future SF.  Even questing Fantasy.  Even contemporary tales of gods among us.  And sometimes I stop and paint myself a horse, then adorn it with shining gemstones.

Inspiration and Calendars

January 3, 2018

On New Year’s Day, I ritually opened my two wall calendars for 2018.  The one that’s going in the kitchen where I’ll see it every day and where it will serve as command central for Jim and my life over the next year is the annual Julie Bell and Boris Vallejo Fantasy calendar.

This Year’s Selection

I chose this one for several reasons.  One is that Julie Bell is the cover artist for the Firekeeper novels, and much of this year is going to be centered around the Firekeeper Saga.  As many of you already know, I’m in the process of writing Wolf’s Search, the seventh Firekeeper novel.  I’m also preparing the first six novels for an updated e-book release.

Julie Bell very kindly offered me a deal that will enable me to use her artwork for both the e-books and for Wolf’s Search, so having her art where I can see it every day will remind me that unexpected good things can happen.

I’ve also had a liking for Boris Vallejo’s art since those days of yore when a bonus for membership in the Science Fiction book club included bookplates featuring “Golden Wings,” his wonderful painting of a warrior woman riding a winged horse.  I’m certain that looking at his and Julie’s artwork daily will remind me of that younger, dreamier, more optimistic me.  I’m going to need that this year.

My office calendar is completely different.  It features brightly-colored mosaic cartoons, mostly of owls, although several other forest animals are included.  Some pages incorporate brief inspirational sayings like “It Takes Courage to Fly” or “Have Patience and the Storm Will Pass.”  Since in 2018 I’m definitely flying in different skies – starting with the self-publication of my novel Asphodel either in late January or early February – I’ll appreciate the reminders that I’m not the only person who needs encouragement.

After all, sayings like these wouldn’t end up printed on calendars if the need was unique, right?

A bonus to my office calendar is that the mosaic approach is something I want to try in several of my own art/craft projects, so seeing these images every day will remind me of something I’m looking forward to pursuing further.

Last year’s experiment with using a bullet journal went very well, and I’ll be continuing using one this year.  One thing I learned is how important it is to date entries. I did some of this last year, but I’ll be doing even more in 2018.

For example, I was very down on myself for the lack of progress I was making in getting Asphodel out.  Then I went back to the page dedicated to that book in the journal and realized that at this time last year I hadn’t even finished my revisions, nor had I begun the final proofing, which included several months reading the manuscript aloud to a group of friends.  Suddenly, rather than feeling as if I’d been slacking, I realized how much I had achieved in a relatively short span of time.

When you work for yourself, it’s really easy to lose perspective.

Now it’s time for me to go write fiction…  Catch you later!

Have Yourselves a Merry…

December 20, 2017

Right now I have a bunch of projects going.  If you’re a regular reader of these Wanderings, you can skip the next three paragraphs.

Wolf Cookie In Its Native Habitat

The most time-sensitive project is finishing off production for my novel, Asphodel, which I’m hoping to release in January.  I chose to self-publish Asphodel because it’s a bit odd and finding the right publisher might have taken years.  Sooner rather than later or maybe never seemed the right way to go.

I’m also working on putting together new e-books for “The Firekeeper Saga.”  Last April, Tor Books courteously reverted to me the rights to most of my works with them.  Since readers had complained that the Tor-produced e-books suffered from a lack of proofing, I’m putting out new editions.  The cover art will still be by Julie Bell, but with different design elements.  As a bonus, each book will include an original afterward about some aspect of the series.

Side by side with the above, I’m also writing a new Firekeeper novel: Wolf’s Search.  I’ve been handwriting a bit every day.  Pretty soon I’ll have the first story arc done.  Then I’ll type that up, which will give me a chance to review, while meditating on details of the second part.

So how do I keep from crumpling up and becoming overwhelmed, especially now that I have holiday preparations taking over all my remaining available time?

What I’ve realized recently is that I need to remember the fun part.  I really love writing.  Not just “having written,” but seeing a story evolve, getting surprised by a twist in the plot.  When I started doing self-publishing, I’ll admit, I wasn’t crazy about it.  Now I’m growing to enjoy having some influence on both internal and cover design.  I’m very excited by Asphodel and can’t wait to share it with you all.

As for the holidays…  I really like the frills and flourishes of this time of year.  Jim and I don’t have any kids.  This year we won’t have any holiday visitors.  But nonetheless we’ve been decorating.  We’ve even added a couple of new wreaths, one of which hangs on my office door where I can see it as I work, the other of which is on our bedroom door.

Although it’s a lot of extra work, I honestly enjoy sending out Christmas cards.  It’s a way of touching base with people I care about, as well as reminding myself how lucky I am to have so many interesting people in my life – some of whom have remained part of it for decades.

I really enjoy baking holiday cookies.  This year I’ve had to trim back on the more time-consuming cookies, but I’m going to do those as New Year’s cookies.  Meantime, last Sunday, Jim and I settled in and did the most complicated cookies of the lot: the frosted sugar cookies.  Ours never quite look like the usual…  I’m contemplating doing more sometime in the new year because I didn’t make nearly enough cats.  Or guinea pigs.  Or the fox…

As I’ve mused over this, I’ve realized that there’s an aspect of American culture that validates complaining.  A person who is happy is somehow lesser.  To get respect, you need to complain about how overworked you are, how tense, miserable, underappreciated, and all the rest.

Sure, not everything went as I might have hoped this past year, but disappointments aren’t what define me unless I choose to let them do so.  Meantime, I have wolves roaming in Christmas cookies forest!

Merry, merry, merry to you all!

TT: Men in the Kitchen

November 2, 2017

ALAN: The other night Robin said that one of the reasons she stays with me is because I feed her. I pointed out that feeding her was merely a side effect of feeding me, and she had to admit the justice of that statement. As I’ve proved times without number, when she’s away visiting her mum, I still cook tasty meals for myself. It just so happens that when she’s here, she can share them with me.

Let’s Get Cooking!

JANE: Robin’s comment is interesting.  I’ve been known to say that one of the advantages of being married to Jim is that he can cook.  Now, mind you, I can cook and I enjoy cooking, but I also enjoy living with someone who can and will take over.

ALAN: I am continually surprised by the number of people I know who can’t cook for themselves. I know far too many people who appear to live on nothing but microwave meals and takeaways. Personally speaking, I can imagine nothing worse.

JANE: So how did you learn to cook?  Especially for a man of your generation, cooking isn’t a usual skill.

ALAN: That’s an interesting question. Certainly I didn’t learn as I was growing up. My mum was a traditional English cook who started boiling the vegetables round about the time she put the roast in the oven. Her meals were bland and soggy – typical English fare of that era. She guarded her kitchen fiercely and wouldn’t allow me anywhere near it, so I got no cooking practice at all as a child.

But when I left home and was thrown on my own resources, I had to sink or swim. Cook or starve. Or eat takeaways…

JANE: Jim also didn’t learn to cook from his mother.  He started cooking when he was in college, and then continued after.  I suspect that the fact that he wanted to eat healthy played a part in his acquiring the skill.

Nonetheless, because he was a bachelor when I met him, apparently some of his friends assumed he couldn’t cook.  I recall one woman saying that she hosted regular potlucks (to which Jim was asked to bring salsa or something else he could pick up pre-made) because “This way I can be sure the Jim and Chip get at least one decent meal every week.”

I was quite startled because she had known Jim for ages, but never had gotten beyond this sexist stereotype.

ALAN: Yes, I’ve come across that attitude as well. It seems to be quite common.

JANE: In fact, even now that more men routinely cook, Jim and I still encounter such stereotypes.  We like to grill, and Jim has become very good at it.  However, he never gets the praise he deserves because – at least here in the U.S. – grilling is considered “man cooking.”

What makes us both laugh is that I was the one who taught him how to grill.  He really had no idea how to handle the finer points.

But I went off on a tangent, didn’t I?  Sorry.  You said you didn’t learn to cook from your mother.  How did you learn to cook?  Who were your teachers?

ALAN: Well, as you know, I studied chemistry at university. So I’ve always been very comfortable with the idea of mixing stuff together and applying heat to make interesting things happen. It’s what you do in chemistry labs and it’s what you do in kitchens – in both places you concentrate on making bangs, smells and pretty colours. Hopefully not too many bangs though…

So I just bought recipe books and followed the instructions. What could possibly go wrong?

JANE: Oh, dear…  I can think of lots of things!

ALAN: I may have phrased what I said flippantly, but I really did mean it seriously – the techniques of the laboratory work very well in the kitchen. And vice-versa of course.

To begin with I followed the recipes in my books religiously, but as I got more experienced I relaxed a bit. I digressed and substituted ingredients, experimenting with this and that, learning what things went well together and what things didn’t. So my cookery is largely self-taught. However most people seem to enjoy eating the food I prepare, so perhaps I’m a good teacher…

JANE: What made you decide to start cooking in the first place?

ALAN: Partly the fact that I enjoy eating tasty food, and partly a vague desire to eat healthily. But the main motivation was economic. It’s very expensive to live on takeaways, and it’s comparatively cheap to cook for yourself using fresh ingredients. For example, last night I cooked a large curry which will provide Robin and me with three substantial and tasty meals. The ingredients cost about $25 in total so each meal works out to approximately $4 per person. I don’t think you could get a takeaway meal for that price.

JANE: I agree!

ALAN: But what about you? How did you gain your culinary skills?

JANE: Ah…  There hangs a tale.  How about I tell it next time?

Brain Stretching

February 1, 2017

This last week was all about brain stretching.  I immersed myself in volumes on illustration, fonts, and related areas of book design.  I stared at letters and pictures until I could see them as shapes, not as information symbols.

Lucky Canister!

Lucky Canister!

Did I enjoy myself?  Get back to me on that.  I feel like someone who has just run a marathon and hasn’t stopped panting.  My mental muscles are still aching.  Oh, and someone just walked over and told me that the race is far from over, it’s only starting.

When my mind was saturated with information, I took a sideways turn into using my hands so my head could recover.  I’ve been wanting to try decoupage.  I’d even bought a jar of ModPodge several months ago, but it had just sat in my closet, waiting for the right time.  When I found a book specifically about using ModPodge (as opposed to several I’d looked on about decoupage, all of which seemed to assume you wanted to reproduce Victorian effects or things you could achieve far more easily with a  cheap decal), I knew the time had come.

Because I’m a practical person, and because Jim and I have just about no available wall space, I decided to decorate a canister that, at some future date, I could use to store something.   Then I went and stared at various types of paper, looking for what would appeal.

I was about to give up until I could make a trip to the craft store when, stuck up on a high shelf, I glimpsed the remnants of a craft project I’d tried – and failed to complete – some years before.

My sister, Ann, had given me a kit which promised to show you how to make a hanging globe from the scarlet and gold envelopes the Chinese use to hold New Year’s “lucky money.”  I’d not done very well with it – although whether the fault was mine or the kit’s is anyone’s guess.  But I’d loved the paper and couldn’t make myself throw away the envelopes.  Thus, there sat the partially completed project, a mute reminder of failure, for several years.

Now I grinned, pulled down the partially formed globe, and, before I could think my way out of it, started cutting up the envelopes.  Where possible, I preserved the diamond shapes that had been part of the original project but, when I couldn’t, I allowed myself to just keep pieces and trust they’d come in useful.  Then I started putting on the ModPodge.

I was about half-way through when I realized that what I was doing was actually related to the research I’d been doing.  As with fonts and illustrations, I was making myself look at the envelopes not as envelopes, or as carefully folded diamonds meant to be fit together, but as paper.  The image printed on the envelopes had a distinct orientation which I preserved, but when I needed a small piece to patch a gap or create a border, I looked not at the picture, but at the underlying pattern until I found what I needed.

The process was extremely satisfying.  Three coats of sealant gave gloss that, if possible, brightened the original scarlet and gold, as well as protecting the paper.  As a final touch, I slid the tassel that had been intended to hang from the bottom of the original folded paper globe over the knob on the lid.

And there my new canister shines.  I’m not sure what I’ll put into it.  Maybe some of the guinea pigs’ treats.  Maybe tea bags.  Maybe…  Who knows?

As if doing this one project opened up a storehouse in my mind, I have ideas for related projects.  The same book contained instructions for making votive candle holders.  I’d liked the tops, but found the bottoms boring.  However, I’ve thought of some very interesting alternatives involving polymer clay, wire, beads, even gravel from my landscaping.

More brain stretching…  As I have written elsewhere (see “Walking Away from It” in my Wanderings on Writing), sometimes the best way to solve a creative project is to think about something else for a while.  You may be surprised at what comes forth.