Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Little Free Library

A few years ago I was visiting my travel buddy, Carolyn in Memphis and she took me by a Little Free Library near her home.  It was a small box mounted to a pole that housed a collection of books free to any passerby.  The concept seemed a perfect fit for my garden.  I ordered a pre-made library and Jerimey(my helper in so many things, more about him later) mounted it.  There is a pretty active Little Free Library movement in New Orleans with libraries scattered throughout the city.  Through that network I began gathering books.  Friends began giving me books.  Since there are a lot of neighborhood kids Jerimey built a separate children's library decorated with birds, each of us has our own special bird.  Emily, a 14 year old neighbor, helps keep the libraries stocked.Several months ago there was a special dinner for the library folk, we dressed as our favorite books and had an amazing meal while meeting the founder of the little library movement.  You can read more about the libraries here http://littlefreelibrary.org One of the delightful aspects of the library is the books that are left by borrowers.  I have found cardboard boxes of books, special books with notes from the donator regarding the book, always interesting surprises.  You can check the map at the website to see if there are any libraries in your area and it is not that hard to get one up and running.
Below is a picture of neighbors at the installation of the first library and a picture of Jerimey's children's library.  Jerimey is standing behind the library and my neighbor Christine (mom of most of the kid) is standing on the left of the library. The sign, which can be seen above the children's library is actually quite large and was painted my Christine, it welcomes all into the garden and has our hand prints on the back with a message to come again.My home is in the background of the first picture. Welcome to the neighborhood!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The garden

After Katrina the home next to mine was sold to the state/feds as a part of the Road Home Program.  The house was torn down (mostly damaged because it was in disrepair and sat wet and soggy for weeks).  Years later I was offered the opportunity to buy the property and at very reasonable price.  During it's fallow period I had often looked at it dreaming of a garden.  The sunlight reached almost the whole lot whereas my lot was covered in trees, pecan, oak, fig!! So I jumped at the opportunity and discovered that there were financial incentives for keeping the lot "green".  With a lot of help from community groups I developed a Community Garden.  It has been up and running for four years.  Many gardeners have come and gone, mostly learning the work involved and either deciding to carry on in their own yards or that gardening in New Orleans summer heat is a huge chore.  I have tried to make the garden park like, a place to come for solitude, but also fun.  We hold Easter Egg Hunts and Halloween trick of treating.  The neighborhood kids have all started a plant or two and watched them flourish.  I have a growing fruit tree orchard and in a few years I suspect we will be hauling fruit to all the neighbors.
This is the shed built of reused materials.  The slate roof is my particular love as well as the two stained glass windows given to me by Christy Dixon.  

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Prayer flags

These are the first prayer flags to hang over my garden. The garden is a story unto itself, perhaps next time.  I started spotting eagles in my neighborhood and was worried about my little 11lb pup, Skip.  The vet said to fly some flags or banners and that would be a distraction.  So, I gathered neighbors and friends young and old to paint prayer flags.  Hand dyed pieces of cloth were decorated with meaningful symbols and words and they were set to fly.  This picture is of the original ones.  They are now tattered but there is a new batch to replace them.  Doing these made me realize what a perfect small experimental piece prayer flags can be and by their nature have a spiritual meaning.
I have been taking Jane Dunnewold's Master Dyers Class for two years and have learned and relearned a lot of surface design techniques, the prayer flags became the perfect place to practice.  After I got comfortable with them I began selling them in the gallery and giving them as gifts.  They allow me a freedom of play that I can't take with the expensive silk I use for my wearables.
More pics coming!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

The first step ...

The Rooster and the Buddha

Strange title but some how it fits.  Last night I heard a commotion on my front porch and went to check it out.  The neighborhood rooster, I do live in a New Orleans in a neighborhood full of delightful surprises, had jumped up onto my bench and was seeming to have a conversation with my Buddha statue that calmly sits there.  The juxtaposition of the colorful and often ever-present  rooster with the calm and contemplative Buddha delighted me and is in many ways descriptive of my life.  A retired social worker, I have a successful fiber business, I dye colorful silks and cottons using Shibori techniques which are sold in galleries.  I also have a deep spiritual life that often is seen in my work.  More recently I have begun making prayer flags that manage to contain both the Rooster and the Buddha.
I have always liked the process of writing and most of mine has been tucked away in journals all over my house.  This is a step outside although I doubt there will be many readers, it will be fun to attempt to combine my loves in a more open type of "journal"
Today I worked on some prayer flags using textile paints and a Gelli plate, I used the round one and am not totally happy with the outcome but they are hardly done and hopefully the next layer(s) will make my heart sing!
My next challenge is getting some photos here! Lets see how I do!