Little Labors of Love

Outside:

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Inside:

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Published in: on July 5, 2017 at 10:08 pm  Leave a Comment  

Felted Mats with Curly Locks

These are about 20″ x 8″.  I’ll add a bit of embroidery to some of the hand-spun yarn embellishment; then press the mats flat before taking them to the shops.  I was pleased with the texture of the yarns; and how the yarns meshed with the merino on the surface: even the strips of silk fabrics that I used in spinning some of the yarns found their way securely into the surface.IMG_1218IMG_1220

Published in: on May 17, 2017 at 8:54 pm  Leave a Comment  

Little Felted Cases

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Made of merino, yak, camel, alpaca and silk; with embroidery and one or two metal leaf beads; and a bit of surprise on the inside of the flap: for holding a special gift or poem, business or credit cards; amulets or antidotes; a favorite feather or stone.

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Published in: on May 5, 2017 at 5:44 pm  Leave a Comment  

Little Felted Mats with Curly Locks


Want to learn the craft of felt making while creating a small felted mat? This is the same technique used for other flat, wet-felted work, such as scarves, table runners, wall hangings, rugs. Our focus will be on the basic elements of felt making and on learning how to use those little happy curly wool locks as embellishment. I am offering this workshop in two formats: as a full-day, one-to-one individual tutorial with a “creativity coaching” component; and as a small group workshop where the focus will be more on the actual craft of felting. I am just starting to plan some workshops, so if you’d like to be on my list, please email me at: aspangborn@gmail.com for more info.

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Published in: on April 19, 2017 at 3:04 pm  Comments (4)  

Pushing the EASY button


There’s an ad motif for Staples stores, advising that we can “push the EASY button” by shopping at Staples. I love the general idea of an EASY button, and apply it to my own life and when working with clients, asking: “What would pushing the EASY button look like?” Sometimes “EASY” looks like asking for help or support; sometimes it means arranging for professional services; sometimes it means adjusting expectations or attitude — including adjusting one’s attitude that the situation can or should be easy.

Life’s challenges — those times that make one wish for an EASY button — can trigger anxiety, that voice that says “We’re doomed!” What if we met these anxiety-provoking instances with a sense of doing an experiment, having variables to adjust, making adjustments as needed. Would life seem more easy, more like an adventure, and less affected by worry? We can practice this when we process thoughts and feelings and when we try things that are new experiences.

Teaching felt making, I love seeing how students approach the unknown. Some students dive right in: it’s clear that they are not inhibited by a fear of doing something new.  Other students, no matter how gently I invite them to play with the materials, no matter how reassuringly I tell them it’s OK to use more fiber to figure something out — no matter how generously supplied they are with fiber, they fret.

Anxiety can make you fearful of discovery, can raise the volume of that inner voice that clutters our thoughts: Have I made a bad choice?  Am I ready to try this new endeavor?  What will others think of me?  What if I fail? The word “clutter” relates to the word “clot.” We can see how it gets us stuck.

A sense of adventure is motivated — and liberated — by the desire to get to the other side. I don’t use the word “desire” lightly.  Adventure taps into longing, nurtures the value of exploration, and moves us along toward a deeper quest. We aren’t stuck with cluttered and limited thoughts.

I know that my work as a teacher is going well when I can see a student lose any sense of anxiety and replace worry with adventure.  Other teachers can relate to this:  we can hear and see and sense this shift in a student’s focus.   One cannot learn a new instrument or a new piece of music if one is afraid of playing a wrong note; however, in an environment that values the effort of learning — welcoming the wrong notes as the pathway to the right notes masterfully sounded SOME DAY — creativity is nurtured.  This is called “beginner’s mind,” and is a good framework for happiness and personal growth.

In holistic life coaching, too, we seek to motivate an individual’s quest, by asking illuminating questions.  How liberating, to have dark recesses of thoughts and beliefs become well-lit, and to experience this with steadfast, nonjudgmental support.

One way I am “pushing the EASY button” in my own life is to navigate around the reality that I have ongoing home repairs happening, with no fixed date of completion (because they are weather-dependent) that are affecting my studio and coaching spaces. I started focusing more on offering coaching on-the-phone, and find it so mutually convenient and… EASY. What started as a reaction to a challenge turned into a welcome change. When I stopped lamenting the inconvenience, and saw the potential for developing more of an on-the-phone practice, I felt energized by possibility. I invite you to email me (aspangborn@gmail.com) for more info; or please visit my website at http://www.annpagborn.com or my blog at http://www.WoolyBlissFeltmaking.WordPress.com.  

Published in: on March 31, 2017 at 7:20 pm  Leave a Comment  

Permission to Create

As a holistic life coach and an artist and art teacher, I love that “AHA!” moment when students and clients claim their own creativity. It’s palpable: they glow. There’s a hum in the atmosphere akin to falling in love. It’s the beautiful process of their re-enchantment with the child-like experience of creativity and play.

Several years ago, an acquaintance asked me how I found the time to create.  This was an accomplished woman who did a lot of entertaining and traveling.  She had several homes and enjoyed decorating and gardening.  She loved to shop, and expressed herself in the way she dressed: colorfully, with lots of sparkly jewelry.

I thought about how creatively she lived her life, with so much expression and zest. Her question stayed with me: How do I find time to create? How did she NOT see her own life as filled with creativity? In my mind, the answer was clear: there is a trade-off, because there are just 24 hours in each day, and if we are giving our time and energy to things other than a focus on art making, we cannot or will not have time for art.  On one level it’s that simple: life is filled with urgent demands and yummy distractions. But it’s also true that there are infinite ways to be creative. The tricky part is finding creative expression that’s authentic and satisfying; being mindful about how one uses one’s time and energy; and paying attention to priorities.

The interaction with this woman happened before I became a holistic life coach. If she asked me that same question today, “How do you find the time to create?” I would be curious to know her perspective on how she spends her time, and could ask questions that would support her exploration. If in fact she feels unfulfilled creatively, despite how expressively lived her life seems to be, that would be such a good opening for discovery. Maybe our conversation would lead her to affirm that in fact she is finding time to create, in her own ways, but that for some reason she’s disparaging her own forms of expression; and therefore a shift in her attitude, rather than in her behavior, would bring her more satisfaction about how she’s using her time and energy. If I felt that a direct question to her question would be appropriate, I might ask: “How do you find time to do the many things you do?”

Each one of us is creating our own life, with every moment.  I’m energized and challenged by seeing every day life as a form of creativity; and via life coaching and art making and art teaching, I love sharing that “AHA!” of falling in love with creativity over and over again.

Published in: on March 23, 2017 at 10:05 pm  Leave a Comment  

Wooly Bliss!

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Published in: on March 21, 2017 at 12:21 am  Comments (2)  

Small Felted Pockets

IMG_3499These labors-of-love take a while to craft, but the combination of novelty fibers — usually including some yak and alpaca, maybe camel along with merino — plus the simple pleasure of adding embroidered embellishment and some beading; plus the practical uses of the pockets (for business/credit cards, cash, lipsticks, notepads, amulets, antidotes, feathers, magic stones, and other small treasures) add up to some blissful hours in the studio and some sweet items for the shops and my customers.   This photo is of a series I did a while back — they were pretty enough to wear as pendants, and I did attach ribbon to some of them so they could be worn.  As winter softens into spring I am looking forward to fabricating more pockets, adding spring colors and an element of whimsy.   I’ll post images when the current series is completed.

Published in: on March 20, 2017 at 2:43 pm  Leave a Comment  

Perfectly Imperfect: Felt Making

img_0961 I process ideas and feelings by making art (and sometimes by making pots of soup and sharing them).  In this felted card series, titled “Perfectly Imperfect,” I was thinking about all of the things in life that are NOT perfect, and wondering how to find peace — and even delight — in how things are, in the moment.

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Even when we want to change ourselves or change the way things are, even when we are preparing for action, taking time to find peace and focus on a vision for a positive outcome will guide us and help us avoid limiting beliefs and hurtful behaviors, so we do no harm.

Connecting with my background in expressive arts therapy and holistic life coaching, I hope that my art will nurture others’ sense of what’s possible, in ways that increase well-being.  Right now, many people are feeling dismayed, agitated and fearful; others are hopeful and empowered.  It’s as if there are multiple, competing realities and we wish our leaders could figure out how to work together for the common good.

We also need to look within for leadership in our own lives, homes, communities, work places: what form will our individual leadership take?  What responsibility will we each take?  What will our work look like?

My expression of this work is through my art: Perfectly Imperfect, reminding people of the time it takes stitch by stitch to create anything, encouraging wholeness and delight from a combination of different elements.   My felted cards are little ambassadors of hope and gratitude: I imagine messages of peace and encouragement written on them, and see them sent out, mailed, delivered.

Published in: on February 9, 2017 at 5:12 pm  Comments (2)  

The win/win/win of Artists’ Philanthropy

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Most artists work hard for every dollar they earn.  If they sell at gallery shops or offer work online, they create many pieces of which only some will actually be sold; and how many pieces will eventually sell is an unknown financial outcome.  If they do commissioned work, they spend extra time in the back-and-forth with customers and in trying to read each customer’s mind.  Many artists live simply as a trade-off for having time and freedom to create, and embrace this trade-off mindfully.

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I want to encourage fellow artists to find ways to become philanthropists: offer some work to support organizations that do good in the world.   There are so many groups that hold silent auction fundraisers, and the auction items can be “things” or can be experiential.   By participating, the artist gains exposure — often connecting with folks who are attracted to philanthropy and support of the arts; the attendees have the opportunity to see art work close up and to purchase art work at excellent prices; and the organizations benefit from additional support.

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Even a small item that represents the best of your work and that may not be expensive might allow an attendee to place a successful bid.  Your actions speak for you: your philanthropy communicates your interest and gives your work greater resonance.  Locally, some of the organizations to which I’ve donated work or a portion of sales from my work include public broadcasting, Clearwater Conservancy, PASA (for sustainable agriculture),  an animal shelter, Women’s Resource Centre, Choral Society, various religious organizations, Global Connections (promoting international friendship), museums, For the Love of Fiber…  It feels so good to help these groups, it adds purpose to the hours I spend in the studio.

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When you work, you might set aside a few pieces so that if you’re asked to contribute, you’ll have something on hand; some organizations do not give artists much advance notice, while others ask far in advance of the events.  You may not have the money to give, but you can participate through your creativity!

 

 

Published in: on January 27, 2017 at 4:57 pm  Comments (3)