Friday, January 28, 2011

Bucket List: Fundacion Pacita Abad

In 2004, I chanced upon a magazine that I found among a bunch of old newspapers that were marked for disposal at the office.  I was listlessly going through the magazine, killing time and hoping for a reprieve from the emptiness I felt when an article in it caught my attention.  The article featured a Filipino artist named Pacita Abad.  I marvelled at the photos of her art that accompanied the article.  Vibrant, beating loudly like a thousand drums yet flowing like a clear river under a speckled sky  – her work told me to live and not be afraid. To walk the earth and not regret retracing steps  but rather regret those that were never taken.   I promised myself then that one day I would somehow get to talk to her and learn from her. 

Pacita Abad and one of her art installations
(Photo by
Pacita Abad died in 2004 of lung cancer.  Coincidentally, she died in the same month that I found the article.   And although I was to learn of her passing a little over a year after it happened, I remember feeling lost for no reason after hearing about her death, like some light had gone out and I could not find the switch to turn it back on. 

I chanced upon this photo last year on Flicker while browsing the net for inspiration during a bleak, empty time in my life -

I can no longer recall where I found it on Flickr but I fell in love with it instantly and fervently wished that the house in the photo was where I lived.

There was something about the raw, windswept vista that captured my heart.  And though the house atop this craggy hill seemed to sit forlornly by itself, the word isolation never entered my mind each time I looked at it.  What came to mind was a sense of peace, of wholeness, of standing on top the world and knowing your exact place on it.   Whenever I looked at this photo, it felt like I was looking at home. Each time I looked at it, I somehow felt comforted.

Last night, I came upon Carlos Celdran’s blog.  Carlos Celdran is a celebrity of sorts in the Philippines.  An artist and  history lover, he runs walking tours of Old Manila (one more thing on my bucket list) and in one of his posts, he wrote about a trip to Batanes he took with his wife.   After a few paragraphs, I realized that the lovely inn he was referring to in his blog post was the very same house in the photo above.  I fell head over heels, truly, deeply, madly, tear-you-hair-out-act-crazy in love all over again.

All photos from Fundacion Pacita Abad

Imagine how dumbfounded I was when I found out it was where Pacita Abad lived and worked for several years before her passing.

Visiting this place is now in my bucket list.  I don't know why I found all these at such times in my life -- moments when I felt lost and unsure and afraid.  I do know that the article and the photos of her and her art told me to live fully and that the photo of her home made me feel at peace. Maybe when I finally get to visit, I'll find out.

Strange how I found connections where I had thought there were none.  Stranger still that an artist I admire but never met is able to speak to me from atop the grassy knoll in the sky where she now paints.

I  don't feel so lost anymore.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Try Something New: Wire Crochet

Last week, I faced the monster.  

I went head to head with one of my worst foes, the one responsible for nights of endless crying over a school project in home education that I could not untangle, the one who threw me in a panic each time the teacher drew out her shiny, steel crochet hook – I stood up and faced this bewildering craft called crochet.

I have been a longtime fan of wire crochet but had been hesitant to try it because – well, let’s just say single crochet and I aren’t really soul sisters.  But I did want to have a go at it.  I did want to find out if I could finish something – anything! – that involved a crochet hook and thread.  But, my vanity prevented me from trying it out sooner than I did – I was afraid that I’d end up with a crocheted wire piece so ugly that people would laugh at me.  

Then I figured that since my projects using cotton thread looked a lot like those using wire and that the tangled, almost irregular and textured look of wire crochet is what charms me most about it, I got up one Saturday morning and said: “Hell, yeah. Let’s do this.”

So here is my very first wire crochet necklace.  

My fingers hurt a lot after and it took me a loooong time to finish since I went slow and worked without a pattern to follow so I got lost a lot (LOL).  I also chose to use a soft, thin gauge wire as I thought it would be easier to handle and therefore less frustrating for me.   After an hour, it didn’t seem like such a monster anymore.  

I am, shall we say, quite HOOKED.

Friday, January 7, 2011


My first post for the year.   Happy New Year to everyone!

Last year saw me actively working on my Artfire shop (even opening up a second shop on Artfire called The Bamboo Box) and getting quite serious in making a go of my handmade jewelry business.  And while sales on Artfire were quite slow, the last two months of 2010 found me working feverishly on Christmas orders from clients in the Philippines, alternately crowing with joy when an order for a custom-made piece came in and tearfully slogging on when the stress of keeping up with orders, holiday preparations and demands from the day job took their toll.  Needless to say, sleep was not an option for me in the last 6 weeks of the year.

The stress and harried pace also took a toll on my ME time.  I stopped journaling, forgot blogging altogether, and even forgot about marking time each week to try out a creative technique.  Now, THAT last one really made me a grumpy old witch. 

I finally had time over the New Year week-end to sit down and figure out how I want 2011 to look like for me exactly one year from now.   As soon as I did that, the feelings of being overwhelmed started again and I found myself making my first (and, I think, most important) reminder  for the New Year:   “Keep it simple, small steps  will still help you complete the journey.”

So this year, each month, I would like to:

a)     Try out or learn a technique I’ve been wanting to use in my jewelry or mixed media art.
b)      Visit a place in the Philippines that I have always wanted to see for the first time or revisit a place that I’ve been meaning to see again for some time now and see it with fresh eyes.
c)       Continue to help other handmade artisans promote their work.
d)      Do something brave regarding my creative work and business that will help push it forward and upward.

Four things.  Four things to do each month.  Four things to tell you about.  Four things to help me get over humps and keep walking forward. And I won't even hit myself over the head if I am unable to keep up. (That's my second resolution: to be more forgiving to myself.)

There – now that I’ve written them down, they’re not as scary as they first looked to me.  

What would you like your 2011 to look like?  
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