Friday, August 29, 2014

Challenge #182: Yipes Stripes!

What is it with stripes?  Everybody from Bert and Ernie to Marlon Brando to Audrey Hepburn wants to be in them.  (OK, so Harry Belafonte  in those pants is a little weird...) There's just something about Russian sailors, gondoliers and Candy Stripers that makes people think all kinds of things (A-hem!) The only pattern that may be more fun is polka dots, but it's a close race.  There's just something very INTERESTING about stripes.  Maybe our brains are wired to be alert to them for some reason.  We know they camouflage wild animals.  There's probably a reason Venetian blinds are so consistently popular -  weren't they around at Monticello?
We all just love stripes!  So our Diva knows a good thing - great challenge!

Once you start playing with stripes, it's hard to stop. Bijou came to play, and I hear Beetlejuice may be reappearing at a theater near you sometime soon. (Joy!)  
So, I started striping away, and here is what I got!


Friday, August 22, 2014

Diva Challenge #181: Water

The Diva's challenge this week was all about water, as she and her family recently enjoyed some time frolicking in various aquatic activities.  Like many of you, sometimes a challenge speaks to me and other times, it is a struggle to catch the wave, so to speak. 

For this city girl, aquatic sports growing up consisted of a run through the sprinkler and getting my bathing suit on to help dad wash the car. 

I did a tile with a beachy theme, and even pulled a few out of my archives that are somewhat oceanic (the archives being a couple of repurposed Illy coffee pod cans that hold about 100 tiles each - I don't organize well in notebooks, etc.)  Still, I wasn't feeling that personal connection with the theme.

Thinking back on my feelings about water, I found I do have one really emotional connection to water.  I remember reading an article years ago in, I believe, Readers' Digest, that definitely had my number.  A writer was on a book tour in Wales.  The weather was dismal and the surroundings were rather bleak, and she wasn't having any fun at all.  She checked into her hotel, which was a rather shabby affair with a small, gray and chilly room  She thought she was in for a miserable stay until she opened one more door.  There, in the bathroom, was a magnificent oversized copper tub, shining like the Ark of the Covenant in the wilderness!  The rest of the article was a rapturous description of steamy, fragrant bubble baths in that tub.  I love this woman!

Total bliss!

I am a bubble bath aficionado from way back. As a child, I would start the bathing experience by setting my Garfield Goose bath pellets (a Chicago thing) under the tap and watch the colors fizz and swirl into voluminous bubbles.  I would "swim" and float in the water, draping the washcloth over my torso to keep every surface of me warm.  I would sing and imagine myself as a princess in a beautiful castle with a maidservant to add fragrant bath oils and ready my giant fluffy towel. As an adult, I have been known to stay in the tub for hours, reading by candle light, sipping a glass of wine, refilling with hot water as necessary to prolong the bliss.  My poor husband anxiously inquires "Did you die in there?" No, Sweetheart, but I have gotten close to heaven!  The bubbles, the fragrance, the soothing warmth and buoyancy of the water, all contribute to daydreaming and a decidedly meditative state.  That is my water life. 

But, to continue the theme, here are the other tiles I did, one this week, the others in 2012 and 2013.  Happy waterways!

I enjoyed using Agua and thought just a touch of blue fit.

Fun octopus and starfish  imagery.
Not exactly aquatic, but still has the feel.

An early tile on Bristol board before I started using Zentangle tiles.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Weekly Challenge #180 - MacDee - Back to School in the '50s

When I was in grade school, the ultimate harbinger of Back-to-School was a new plaid item of clothing.  Store windows and catalogs were full of cotton woven plaid dresses, wool pleated skirts and jumpers, and trim little plaid coats with matching wool leggings for the coldest weather.  Those got slipped off and hung on a hook in the cloak room with our coats. The dress was either tucked inside the leggings if they had straps or they were just worn underneath.  Girls were never allowed to wear pants to school, and tights weren't even invented. We wore skirts with anklets or knee socks. 

My grandmother made all my school clothes with the skill of a designer seamstress, although back then, I just wished I could have clothes from Sears Roebuck or JC Penney like all the other kids.  Little did I know the value of a custom-made wardrobe!  Every summer, starting in about July, I would be called in from play to try on the latest article under construction.  Who wants to come inside and stand there sweatily suffering the pinning of pleats on a wool skirt or the length of a long sleeve with white pique cuff on a brown plaid dress?  I was such an ungrateful wretch!  But come the Monday after Labor Day, my new wardrobe was ready and I couldn't wait to wear it.  No matter that it was still in the 90's and dripping humid  and stuffy in our non-air conditioned school.  Waaaaahhh!  I want the new dress!

Those are not pants under that coat, they are leggings with straps that have her dress tucked inside!
That plaid jumper could have been wool or possibly a heavy twill.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

The Diva Met Bijou! and I Find Zen Everywhere

One of the underlying concepts of Zentangle is - well - Zen!  I am convinced that if we take the time to notice, we can find that state in many situations.  In my last post, I shared a link with a sound energy experiment that produced images very like Zentangle on a black tile.  Beautiful, and what a concept!

A few days ago, I was planning dinner with some lovely red cabbage, braised à la Alice Waters.  I looked in the pantry for noodles to accompany the dish, but no luck.  Having an abundance of eggs to use up before the expiration (hubby gets nervous about these little things), and all the rest of what was needed, I decided to make noodles the old fashioned way - by hand. 

I put flour and salt in a big bowl, hollowed out the center, dropped in a few eggs with some milk and a knob of soft butter. I mixed away, ending up with a rather sticky dough.  As I transferred it to the counter top and began to knead the dough, I thought in dismay that the texture was not unlike the dreaded thunder thighs known only too well to middle aged women around the world.  Uh-oh!  Did I do this wrong?  But, I kept at it, kneading, chatting with my husband, who thoughtfully poured me a glass of wine, and before long I was "in the zone" with the dough.  At some unknown point in the process, the dough transformed from lumpy to that silky, smooth perfect dough of a baker's dreams.

While the dough rested, I wiped my sticky hands and gratefully accepted the glass of wine.  When the dough's little nap was over, I floured the counter again and smoothed that beautiful dough out into paper-thin sheets and set them out to dry for a while.  Once they were sort of crisp at the very edge, and surface dry, I rolled them up to get ready for cutting.  You start with a fold-over so what you get is not a cylinder, but a rolled up rectangle.  When you slice, you end up with something like this.  I call them Z'Nudles. (By the way, the noodles were delicious!)

White Z'Nudles

Saucy Z'Nudles

I am really excited about these Bijou tiles.  Just when I had been silently berating myself for not expanding into some larger-format ZIA works, along comes something right up my alley! These were my first attempt at Bijou-sized tiles.  I am waiting for my "official" tins of Bijou, so I just cut some out of cardstock to get started.

 Well!  Once I got started, of course, I couldn't really stop.  Here are some more I did - fast and easy - how fun!

Bijou Gardening

Three of Everything

Long Climb for Little Bijou

When you let Bijou draw the string, what can you expect?

Bijou Meets Calder

The Sacred Geometry Of Sound | The Mind Unleashed

Amazing Resonance Experiment – The Sacred Geometry Of Sound | The Mind Unleashed

When I looked at this image, of course it immediately looked to me like a black Zentangle tile.  After viewing the video, which I hope you will do with the link above, I was even more convinced of the connection between energy, the mind, art and the state of Zen.