Monday, December 29, 2014

Decorative leather lacing on a drumstick

This post continues my story of how I felt, wrap and finish a drumstick for my shamanic frame drums.  After the wool felt sleeve is dry I secure it with a band of plant-based glue  in preparation for the next step, which involves a circle of smoke-tanned leather and a pair of very sharp scissors.

The leather needs to be cleaned and well finished on both sides.  Any fiber or irregularities left on the skin will cause the thong to have weak sections, and I will need a length of leather that is thin yet even in thickness and sturdiness.

I cut 10 feet of  thong to cover 5 inches of drumstick.  I learned these calculations from my favorite book of ropework projects:  Des Pawson's Knot Craft.  I am going to use St. Mary's hitching to cover the center section of this drumstick, so I also cut a second thong of 5 feet. 

I begin with a constrictor knot in the middle of the long piece of thong that will also hold the end of the shorter piece of thong in place. 

There are now three lengths of thong on the right side of the stick.  St. Mary's hitching is made by always making the hitch from the top strand, with all hitches going in the same direction.  As I wrap I keep the hitches tight and each strand of leather snug against the previous ones so the resulting pattern is without loose places or gaps. 

I think St. Mary's hitching is the more unusual looking of the two patterns I use: hard to figure out how its done and yet easy to create.  I like that combination.

Moku hitching is made by dividing one thong into two equal lengths, beginning with a constrictor knot, and then hitching alternate strands in opposite directions. 

I'll conclude this photo album another time with a description of how I finish the handle of the drumstick.  You can see these and other drumstick styles by going to the Journey Oracle website or my webstore on Etsy.  

Friday, December 19, 2014

Making decorations for Winter Solstice

For many years I have been making traditions with decorations for Winter Solstice.  For me the beauty of the season is in the magic of snow, even if here on Cortes Island we do not have so much of the real thing.  So I am happy to have received these snowflakes years ago from a student when I was teaching at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design.

For me the winter solstice is especially an honoring of the birds; those that migrate through chill autumn skies, those that stay year 'round, and those I will never know.

My holiday cooking is also for the birds.  Suet-soaked bread and peanut butter bird seed ornaments instead of cookies and pies.

Even the Italian parsley gets into the act of adding a decorative accent to the window whose lights will help the sun come back.

Birds of blue to represent the spirit reality and red to represent this earth reality frame the three candles which are the three forms of the Divine Feminine in the lunar year: the Maiden of February through May, the Mother of June through September, and the Crone of October through January.

The day of Winter Solstice finds me outside in nature, decorating a young pine tree and enjoying a wilderness feast regardless of the weather.

While it may be hard to distinguish the tree from the surrounding woods, the birds, squirrels, and raccoon certainly can find their presents.

Happy Solstice and a blessed Winter Holiday from the Journey Oracle.

Friday, December 12, 2014

How to make a blog into a book

I want to write a book about how I created the Journey Oracle deck, titled The Journey of the Oracle. And I write a sort-of weekly blog about these oracle cards, my shamanic paintings and my journey drums. I am thinking that I can make my blog into a book, but how to get started?

In my art I love to trick myself with inspired limitations, that cause me to have to be creative to solve the puzzle of how to proceed, like in this painting called Goodness of Fit.  It was painted in 9 panels while leaning over a small lapboard against the dash of our van, as we traveled across Canada in 1985. But how to put it together so the edges of the paper didn't show--how to make a good fit? The answer was in painting the rims of the paper so the image wraps around each edge and no white shows.  The panels where then hung against a foam core backing with rice glue so each piece is still independently itself, and also makes a larger whole.

I decided I would let my paintings be the inspired limitation for how to structure my book.  I divided the short version of the Journey of the Oracle now on my website into 14 paragraphs that could logically be developed into 14 sections of the book.  I then made a chronological list of all the large acrylic paintings I have created since my partner and I moved to Cortes Island in 1990.  And discovered there were 14 paintings. This goodness of fit was a very spirit-directed confirmation for me. I next matched the painting list with the paragraph sections without attempting to calculate why each was paired with the other.  Painting # 3 goes with paragraph #3--how it does is the puzzle.

I next need to understand how each painting will "frame" the writing in each section of the book, and find the voice of the storyteller who will write this story.  Still, discovering goodness of fit between my paintings and the oracle cards is a good beginning.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Audio instructions for the Journey Oracle cards

I have recently recorded spoken instructions for the Journey Oracle cards, and how this new way of working with the Oracle came about is its own story of a journey.  My friend Oriane Lee Johnston and I were talking about the cards, and although I don't quite remember how the conversation came to this moment--Oriane Lee responded with lots of enthusiasm, "You should make an audio version of these instructions.  People will enjoy hearing you, and besides, it's much easier to work with these cards when listening, better than reading."

Like much of the creation of the Journey Oracle across these past 23 years--it was someone else's inspired moment that moved my effort to the next step. What a good idea Lee has, but how? And so began a journey exploring how to make a recording with no equipment but the Avid microphone I use to record my drums on youtube.  I decided I didn't have the experience or expertise to make the master recording myself so I camped at the studio of my neighbor Bruce Hipkin for three days while he worked some considerable magic with his state of the art computer programs. My speaking was cleared and normalized and put through filters with names like "low shelf" and "high pass."  The result is a remarkable flow of spoken words that are quite hypnotic in their clarity and rhythm.

If you already have a Journey Oracle card set you can choose from several versions for obtaining the audio instructions.  You can go to this link  and download the album, where you can also listen to all the tracks in their entirety for free.  My favorite version is for you to email me with your mailing address and say that you have a Journey Oracle deck.  I will send you a download card that will allow you to put the album on your computer, ipad, phone or m3p player.

 If you are planning to purchase a Journey Oracle card and book set, the download card will be included.  Thanks Lee, it was a great idea!