Finding Your Whole

P1030737Last December, I held a mandala-only workshop for the first time. These are the circular “gwiazdy” (star) style wycinanki, but I called it “mandala” because it seems to be a more familiar term. I learned that we needed about an hour more than I scheduled. I also learned that it is better to pick out your color combinations first to save time later. When I work on these myself, I rarely do it one sitting so this was a good learning experience for me.

Everyone worked on their background shapes and designs before cutting began, then I shared my technique for cutting, folding and working in layers. It just takes patience and practice. Then I shared my technique for adding colorful layered shapes in the right sizes.

The wonderful thing about this technique is no matter what your skill level, the final product always looks whole and complete and is a true reflection of the maker. Here are a few of the pieces completed in class. I look forward to doing this workshop again!

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Finished work!

Finished work!

Detail view. Even our "flaws" make our work complete and interesting. These are stories of our lives at that point in time.

Detail view. Even our “flaws” make our work complete and interesting. These are stories of our lives at that point in time.

Laser Cutting

As a general practice, I always create my work by hand using a knife or scissors. But a couple months ago I was asked for permission to use one of my designs for a wedding invitation. How cool! The bride found my website and liked one of my leluje designs with two birds standing over two baby birds in a nest. She wanted to use the design for her laser-cut invitations. I was intrigued! I quickly drew up a license agreement, received a small payment, and that was that. image2
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I was delighted to get an envelope in the mail yesterday from the company that produced the invitations, LaserCreative.ca. Inside was the finished product. It turned out great, don’t you think?

Special thanks to Eva, Director at LaserCreative, for being wonderful to work with. And congratulations to the bride!

A Recent Commission

I was recently asked to create something as a gift for a new baby girl’s room. Knowing who the new mother was made it an especially fun and special project. Here are a few photos of the process and final piece!

bird family

The initial sketch.

Bird family in progress

Work in progress.

Bird family in progress 2

Almost finished, just needs final touches.

For Baby Matilda_2014

The final piece!

The Call for Blessing

A while back I was given a copy of the book “Polish Customs, Traditions & Folklore” by Sophie Hodorowicz Knab. Each chapter covers a month of the year and covers rituals and celebrations for that time. Many of these customs are alive and well, but many are extinct even in today’s Poland. One of these rituals inspired this piece that I wanted to share with you here.

Wedding Day BlessingHere is the story… The blessings of the parents were a very important part of the wedding day. In some regions, the couple would kneel before the parents and ask for forgiveness and blessings before saying farewell. This was so important that if either parent had died, the wedding party would stop at the cemetery “where the bride or groom would ask for blessings from the deceased parent” while everyone sang:

“Arise, arise from the grave, bless your daughter on her marriage day.”

I don’t have the right keyboard for the accents so this is not completely accurate, but in Polish the song is:

“Powstan, powstan z grobu

poblogoslaw corke do slubu.”

I have more works in progress and look forward to adding more to this series.

New Work and Updated Pages!

Well, I’ve finally made some updates to my gallery pages! WordPress makes it easier than I thought. Although I’m sure I will be continually tweaking, at least I now have a better range of work showing in a more interesting layout than before. I’m excited to introduce a couple of recent new pieces. These made their debut at the Seattle Polish Festival a couple of weeks ago.

The one to the right is inspired by a traditional wycinanki style showing forest (“las”) scenes.  I call it the Mushroom Picker. I’ve been wanting to do a larger than usual piece in

The Mushroom Picker (20" x 30")

The Mushroom Picker (20″ x 30″)

this style. This one is 20″ x 30″ (framed to 32″ x 43″), cut from a single sheet of paper. You can check out my FaceBook page to see images of this work in progress.

The one below is inspired by the layered wycinanki of Poland’s Lowicz region. I wanted to create something bursting with color!  In our back yard, we often see screaming jays with their crested heads searching for something to eat. These bold birds decided to stop by for a visit in my garden scene too.

Thanks for checking them out!

Jays Visit the Garden

Jays in the Garden

The Path to Serenity

Last month I created one of my gwiazdy (star)/mandala pieces as a custom order.  I call the final piece “Serenity”, hence the title of this blog. In this post I am sharing some photos showing the process from beginning to end.

There were a few specific requests by the client before starting this project, but otherwise I was left to my own devices. The color palatte needed to be “greens and purples” on white to match some existing accessories. It needed to fit an existing frame, about 25″ x 26″. There were some shapes from some earlier work of mine that were favored. And guiding my final choices were the words “bright” and “serene” that I picked up from our conversations.

Option B

The first thing I did was cut out the base. I ended up creating another one because I decided the first one didn’t quite feel right based on my conversations with the client. My client made the final decision, and she chose the second one as well. Going with my gut pays off!

My next step was to create a color palette that I would use to make the colorful layers in the work. I find that having this decided ahead of time really helps. Now the fun really starts!

I often create and play with several options as I figure out what works. Gluing the final choices onto the base is one of the final steps, because once it is glued, it can be difficult to change later.  Here are a few pictures showing different stages.

Figuring out colors and placement

Ready for layering

Pieces ready for gluing onto base

More ready for gluing to base

Making choices, nothing glued onto base yet

And finally, it’s ready!

Final piece ready for framing!

There are up to ten layers of paper in places, all cut by hand.  To me, the process and final result share a meditative quality.  This piece now provides a bright and serene focal point above a fireplace in a lovely room!