Sunday, March 27, 2011

Hand Tooled Beauty in Paper

During my stay in Pakistan, I was constantly blown away by the amazing arts and crafts I saw ... past and present .  The markets and bazaars were filled with peddlers and refugees from all over central Asia selling their goods... Western and Northern India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and many others.  I felt like I was discovering treasures from an ancient civilization.  There were many ancient, antique and vintage finds yet their artistic and cultural heritage is still alive and thriving with new creations borrowing from old traditions.  

I'm not sure if it is an old tradition or new, but one of the artisans that I met (at Lok Virsa in Islamabad) was a man who was hand tooling intricate lace-like patterns in paper to be used as stationary.  I couldn't believe the perfection he created by would swear the designs were created with a laser.  And again, his prices were so reasonable. I still have many pages of these little masterpieces and save them for special occasions....they are hard to part with!

As an art major, I took many art history classes and never learned about the arts of Central Asia (Northern India, Pakistan, Afganistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan..).  Why?  I'm not sure. But, it infuriates me! Especially as Central Asia is home to one of the oldest civilizations on earth.... some say even older than Mesopotamia.  I was and still am saddened that the only image most people have in their minds of Pakistan and Afghanistan is one of desolation, destruction, guns and poverty when there is so much beauty still to discover. 

More artisans at Lok Virsa...

"Art is important. We tend to think it is a luxury, but it gives people deep pleasure because beauty is the personification of hope that something grander is at work."

 (see my post Slippers Fit for a Princess for more info on Lok Virsa)

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Kinder Chicks Are Here!

Reminiscing about my travels years ago is fun, but coming back to the "now" of the kindergarden world is way more fun!

The last few weeks my son's class has been keeping track of the progress of fertilized chicken eggs in their chicken journal, singing chicken songs, reading chicken stories, creating chicken art, dancing chicken dances, watching silent chicken eggs incubate and counting the days until the big hatch day.  Well, yesterday upon arriving to school, the children were greeted by almost twenty little baby chicks that had hatched overnight!  And luckily, a few chicks were running late so the kids were able to watch the hatching of the last few throughout the day.  Soon, each student will adopt a little chick, then name and care for it through the end of the year.

I just couldn't resist sharing their amazing class at Monica Ros School and their sweet new mascots!


And for those interested, we even have a live chicken cam....

"The Sky is falling!"
 - Chicken Little

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Slippers Fit For a Princess

I promised to share more memories of my trip to Pakistan and India so I'm here to continue ...

As I mentioned before, I journeyed to Asia almost 15 years ago for several months to visit my parents who lived in Pakistan at the time.  What an incredible experience.  One weekend, my mom took my sister and I to Lok Virsa, the National Institute of Folk & Traditional Heritage in Islamabad which was hosting a craft faire.  I was overwhelmed by so many incredibly talented artisans who were crafting their creations right there in front of us.  My sister filmed the afternoon and hopefully someday you will be able to link to the video.

That afternoon, I came across a very serious man with a beautiful face and beautiful hands embroidering slippers that would seem to have come from some Arabian kings treasure chest!  And he was selling them for a fraction of what I would have imagined.  Alas, I couldn't resist.  

Last Sunday, as I was cleaning out my closet, I found them all covered in dust bunnies. I was relieved as I had been searching the garage for months looking for them!  So, I cleaned them up and photographed them to share with you. You MUST click on the photos to see them close up....and to think this guy doesn't even wear glasses!!!!

 "The preservation and promotion of the traditional culture, folk arts and folklore are instrumental in strengthening a nation’s identity.Pakistan, like most other developing countries of Asia & Africa is in a transitional phase. Along with being faced with the challenge of preserving its cultural heritage, Pakistan also has to meet the needs of a nation in the modern industrial world."
"Tradition and change go together. These are like two wheels of a carriage that must move in unison for advancement. No nation can afford to progress in industry, science and technology at the utter neglect and cost of its cultural awareness."

~ Lok Virsa ~

Monday, March 14, 2011

Peony Roses

Peony roses. 

Yes, there is such a thing!  
They are my new favorite flower...well, almost.  
Peonies are still my favorite but they are impossible to purchase or grow in Southern California. 
It's possible that peony roses are also impossible to grow here too but no worries because I can order them from my dear friend Liza who owns a flower company (  
I first saw these roses at mutual friends house who received them as a gift for Valentine's Day from her husband via Fifty Flowers.  I freaked out!  
When Liza and I decided to host and decorate a table at our kids school fundraiser this year, I said I would love to use the peony roses.  
By the way, darlings, the official name is "Peony Rose Yves Piaget" fancy.
AND, they are incredibly aromatic and smell like heaven above!
 Well, Liza ordered TONS....and gave me two dozen to take home.  Woohooo!!!
Thank you my dear!

"I'd rather have roses on my table than diamonds on my neck."  
~Emma Goldman

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Ancient or Contemporary

I sketched the design for the following necklace sitting in a splintery old wooden chair set in a strip of gravel next to a decomposing asphalt parking lot behind an old gas station while my car was getting it's yearly health inspection.  Instead of dwelling on my unsavory surroundings, I enjoyed a quiet moment in the California winter sun and let my mind wander.  I came up with several simple designs, all with curves, dots (I love dots!) and holes.  I tend towards simplicity but I love detail.  I think the piece below is a nice compromise. But I can't decide if it looks contemporary or ancient....maybe my creative juices went back to the future!

This piece is now for sale in my online Etsy shop.

"The distinction between the past, present and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion."
 ~ Albert Einstein ~

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Monica Ros Kindergarden Class Project

I've been busy attending to one of my new jobs....Kindergarden Room Parent!

I just finished helping guide and complete the "class project" which will be auctioned off at our Savoir Faire Fundraiser next weekend.  We (parents) cut, sanded, primed and painted the wood blocks (cut from 4x4 post) then each student chose a block and painted a chicken on it.  The tape came off, cubes were screwed into a 1/4" painted plywood base, cork was glued on back to cover screws and voila.... a Kindergarten masterpiece!

I'm not sure what we're going to call it....any ideas???

The chicken is the Kindergarden mascot, thus the chicken theme for the blocks.  In a few weeks, each student will be given a fertilized egg to take care of, study and then watch them hatch and grow.  We can't wait!!!

The hangers on the back were just attached five minutes ago and now we're finally complete!  Here's a brief visual story of what they/we (kids and parents) created....
(Sorry there are no photos of the kids!)

Thank you Val, Blu, Andre, Susannah, Mrs. Fiore and Mrs. Krout and all you awesome kindergarteners!

We can see a thousand miracles around us every day. What is more supernatural than an egg yolk turning into a chicken?