Among the Garbage and the Flowers

Meet Michelle Stitzlein,an artist who searches for beauty in the mundane. She creates myriad varities of exotic moths spanning as much as 11 feet across from humble found items such as license plates, car parts, piano keys, broken china, rusty tin cans, electrical wire, bottle caps, mirrors, trash can lids, bicycle tires, scrap wood, aluminum siding, faucet handles, oil drum lids and phone hand sets.

She prefers materials that bring the experience of personal associations to her work over those that are “shiny and new.”

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She writes in her statement: “As an artist and as a person, I ask myself to look closer, lest I miss the one exquisite trait in something oftentimes regarded as distasteful, old, tired, unimpressive or just plain ugly so that I may see it again with fresh eyes.”




Stitzlein has also written two books outlining projects for children, families, schools and non-profits utilizing recycled, plastic bottle caps

deep play
Sustainability

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Incediary is My Favorite Word!

These photos by Tom Lacoste are absolutely luscious!!!!!





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NAMM – The Trip Home!

I should have taken my experience at John Wayne Airport security as a portent of things to come. It looks like such a simple, safe throwback of an airport with The Duke standing guard at the entry and everything running smoothly on his watch. Well, pardner…….looks are deceiving!!!!

The one thing I am used to is having to be frisked EVERY time. Why?????  Because my braids are too thick. Seriously!!!!  When I step into the scanner, apparently my braids must be bulletproof or at least X-ray proof as they show up as bright yellow “danger” signals. But whether there is a scanner or not, my braids apparently look capable of concealing incendiary fuses as I am always taken aside for frisking.

Obviously not my scan but you get the drift

So…..as I’m being frisked at John Wayne, I see that there is a holdup with my carry-on bag. Three security officers are gathered around and as I step out of the frisking station I’m asked if it is my bag. Uh oh…..that already doesn’t sound good. I was totally unprepared for the next question. “Is this your knife?” To my horror, one of the gloved security officers was holding a steak knife in his hand.

YIKES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

My first response was “Of course not! OMG! How did it get there? etc……” But as I drew closer to it, I saw something on the handle that looked familiar. It was a little bumblebee on the hilt. Just like the bumblebees on my French Laguiole steak knives at home.

Matching steak knives back at the Ponderosa!

When that registered, I immediately changed my response to “OMG! It IS my knife” I wasn’t sure what was the better answer. If someone had planted it, the entire passenger list would have been suspect and we would definitely not be taking the flight out. If it was mine……I was pretty sure I would not be taking the flight out. It dawned on me that my carry-on was the same case I took to work every day with my lunch packed in it, and that I sometimes took a knife to cut apples and cheese. This was my official explanation to the security officers. Perhaps because they did not find any incendiary devices in my braids, or perhaps because there was a disconnect between cute bumblebees and a terrorist weapon, they mercifully believed me and said they would have to keep the knife but I could proceed. What is crazy is that it made it through security in Tampa on our way out and it was in my bag all along.

I was so relieved to have successfully run the security gauntlet despite the unexpected challenges!
I was humming “Two of Us” all the way to the gate in blissful ignorance…..we were just a few simple plane rides from home. NOT!!!!!

When we arrived at our American Airlines gate we were informed that there was severe wind turbulence over Dallas and that our flight was delayed at least 1 1/2 – 2 hours. We had a 2 hour layover in Dallas so it was looking dubious that we would make our connection to Tampa which was the last one out. We finally boarded and whether we made our connection or not was a toss of the cosmic dice.

Flash forward. After a very turbulent ride to Dallas, we arrived with just enough time to make our connection. Like a neon cross at a roadside revival tent, salvation was in sight! We gratefully boarded our plane along with all of the other gleeful passengers who had thought they would be sleeping on the airport floor. Camaraderie was rampant and spirits were high. The first announcement told us there would be a slight delay as they were waiting for the pilot’s dinner catering service. We watched the catering truck arrive and leave as time continued to elapse. Tick tock. Tick tock. We were then told that they were waiting for a mechanic to check out a slight malfunction which would take approximately 5 minutes to repair after the mechanic’s arrival (not comforting). Twenty minutes later we were informed that the plane had been taken out of commission and that we should disembark and stay close to the gate for further instructions. A few passengers started to lose it emotionally and another threw up in the cabin. The worst part was that there was not a single place near the gate to order a drink!

Shoot me now!!!!!!!

We waited approximately 30 minutes before it was announced that a plane had been found that was “nearby” and merely needed to be mechanically checked out and cleaned. When it arrived, first class passengers were allowed to board while the rest of us urged them to help clean the coach section so we could all get home. I’m sure they spent their time ordering drinks instead. But at long last, we boarded. We kept expecting a clown to jump out of the cockpit with a sign that said “Just kidding! Please disembark again!” The plane finally took off  and we made it home at 2:30 am. It was a long and surrealistic trip! And as we landed, all I could think of (other than wanting to kiss the ground) was that Dorothy was right….”there’s no place like home….there’s no place like home!”

There's no place like home!!!!!!!

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Inspiration for Luna’s Tapa Ukulele

The design for Luna’s TAPA ukulele was based on traditional Tapa Cloth of the pacific islands and executed by Alex Morgan, our UK artist in residence.

Tapa cloth (or simply tapa) is a bark cloth made from the bark of the paper mulberry tree (Broussonetia papyrifera) on the islands of the pacific ocean. In Hawaii it is called Kapa. It was originally made from the bark of the Dye-fig (Ficus tinctoria) and other native species until the mulberry was introduced from S.E. asia during early migration voyages.

In the South Pacific, women traditionally scraped out the inner bark of the mulberry tree and patiently spend hours beating the bark to make a beautiful eco-textile called tapa. Paper-like in texture, the fabric is colored with natural dyes and painted with tribal designs and then used as for clothing, room dividers, blankets, wall-hangings, and wedding and ceremonial costumes. Native cultures in Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, and other Polynesian islands still hand make the cloth and use it in their everyday life, and some designers now are even using the textile to create more traditional clothing.

Tapa can be painted, decorated by rubbing, stamping, stenciling, smoking or dyeing. Natural dyes and paints are made from plants (mangrove, blood tree, candlenut, lipstick tree, turmeric root, banana to name a few). Traditional colors are brown, red and black though brighter colors are also used. The traditional design elements used in decoration are typically plant or animal motifs or other images from island life. The fabric is stiff like paper. Although durable under normal conditions, it loses stability when wet.

Although methods vary amongst islands, here is a Hawaiian video that does a good job of quickly explaining the tedious process of creating tapa/kapa.

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This Tahitian video (with much wilder music!) shows the process in real time which is amazing to behold.
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The photos below are taken from an article on eco-fabrics (www.ecouterre.com) They are meant to give just a glimpse of this complex and amazing tradition.





Instrument Inspiration

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Beyond Singing

I was blown away when I came across this video of Lisa Gerraud. How did I not ever hear of her?
Her voice is rich, deep, dark and jaw-dropping. Her range spans from contralto to dramatic mezzo-soprano and what is amazing is that rather than sing, Gerraud uses her voice as an instrument in many of her pieces by using an idioglossia (an idiosyncratic language) that she has developed since the age of twelve.

Over a career that takes in almost two decades with Dead Can Dance, award-winning movie soundtracks and a series of acclaimed solo and collaborative albums, Lisa Gerrard has established herself as one of Australia’s most ground-breaking and in-demand artists.

Her voice is at once angelic and erotic. Prepare to be amazed!
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Peace! Yvonne

Personal Inspiration

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Man & Nature

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The Vitruvian Man is a world-renowned drawing created by Leonardo da Vinci around the year 1487.
This image exemplifies the blend of art and science during the Renaissance and provides the perfect example of Leonardo’s keen interest in proportion. In addition, this picture represents a cornerstone of Leonardo’s attempts to relate man to nature. Encyclopaedia Britannica online states, “Leonardo envisaged the great picture chart of the human body he had produced through his anatomical drawings and Vitruvian Man as a cosmografia del minor mondo (cosmography of the microcosm). He believed the workings of the human body to be an analogy for the workings of the universe.”

Leonardo would have been fascinated by the following pictures from http://ceceliawebber.com/.

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A permanent installation of the original work is at the Renown Center for Cancer Research – Healing Arts Program -

Flotsam & Jetsam

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Craving Connection

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This talk is 20 minutes long, but WELL worth the watch!

Dr. Brené Brown is a researcher professor at the University of Houston, Graduate College of Social Work, where she has spent the past ten years studying a concept that she calls Wholeheartedness, posing the questions: How do we engage in our lives from a place of authenticity and worthiness? How do we cultivate the courage, compassion, and connection that we need to embrace our imperfections and to recognize that we are enough — that we are worthy of love, belonging and joy? Brené is the author of I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn’t): Telling the Truth About Perfectionism, Inadequacy, and Power (2007) and the forthcoming books, The Gifts of Imperfection (2010) and Wholehearted: Spiritual Adventures in Falling Apart, Growing Up, and Finding Joy ( 2011).

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mental health

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Mindblowing Butterfly Research!

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With all the recent talk about sustainable energy , our species is causing the extinction of up to 30,000 other species per year.  This article from today’s Los Angeles Times should have been front page news.

Here’s are some short excerpts from this fascinating and important research.

“Butterfly wings are so synonymous with bold color that few people may wonder what makes them that way. But Yale University researchers studying the green color on the wings of five butterfly species say they have found the source of that striking color — three-dimensional crystals known as gyroids…….”

“The gyroid is the most challenging thing to describe in this research,” said Prum (senior aythof of the study). “I’m still mystified myself. It really is mind-bending.”

Vinodkumar Saranathan, coauthor of the study, took a stab: “Imagine a maze of these pinwheels, hundreds of thousands of pinwheels connected in all directions.”

“…….gyroids respond to light much like wires transmit electricity, so the potential technological applications could be enormous.”

Worth the read, and some serious contemplation of what we lose each time a species is extinguished.

Wonder and Radical Amazement

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Therapy

Those of you that have been reading my blog are aware that I have been deeply affected by the Gulf oil disaster.
I have been playing with ukulele designs and came up with this fantasy. If only oil rigs could be washed away and magically replaced by wind turbines and solar collectors!

Tsunami Uke

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No Blue No Green

Ocean Researcher Sylvia Earle shares astonishing images of the ocean and
shocking stats about its rapid decline as she makes her TED Prize wish: that we will join her in protecting the vital blue heart of the planet.

If you are a parent or grandparent or simply love a child in your life, please take the time to view this video.

Sustainability

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