creative Therapy

Catalyst One Hundred and Fourteen
June 16, 2010, 6:00 am
Filed under: catalyst


As always, thank you to all of our visitors and all the encouraging comments you left for us. For those of you who did, thank you for playing along with us.


Ok! Here’s catalyst number one hundred and fourteen:


What are your best/worst memories of school?


We’re thrilled to have Alexa Lett as this week’s Guest Artist.


Here’s a quickie self-bio for Alexa:


Old stuff becomes quirky, new wall and neck garnish. Alexa Lett enjoys the art of giving casual items renewed life and a fresh new purpose. Her inspiration for art comes from contradiction…rust and lace, pearls and wood, metal and fabric…books and paint…and a pure affection for anything considered vintage. Her ideas and art have been featured on various HGTV and Discovery Channel segments and shows, numerous crafting books and magazines, and her own book “Homemade”. All of her creations are best described as old, new stuff! Re-purpose…re-do…re-invent…re-use…thus, the art of being renewed. This is the philosophy of the arsty-craftsy merchant, Alexa Lett.



Make sure to check out Alexa’s blog, her site, and her beautiful etsy store.




Here is Alexa’s art with this week’s catalyst. You can click on it to see a larger version.




Alexa Says:

Most everything I create involves three basic elements…word or words, a conglomeration of old stuff, and my insane need to add something stitchy to everything! Most written contributions to my art tend to be quirky and humorous. Serious prose, generally do not accompany my work. I have been known to make up quotes and sign them under a pen name (Secret: I’ll never tell the name of my inner whack-a-doo child). Mixed Media has become my medium. It seems to allow my lack of painting skills to be celebrated in a non-traditional form, nurture my quest for finding the ultimate piece of old junk and somehow mounting it on some other piece of old junk; then cap off the entire piece with a little fabric and thread that probably holds a portion of my DNA, for I’m not a very good seamstress. My secret to artistic style is simple….less is not enough, more can get enhanced, and enough occurs when it is too heavy to hang on the wall!


In regard to the catalyst, “What Are your Best/Worst Memories of School?”, I was a wee bit perplexed. I was unsure whether to dwell on the good…the bad…the in between…or all of it. Trust me, Middle and High School was challenging. The touted “square peg in a round hole” syndrome certainly applied to me. I never quite fit with the “in” crowd, and was not really a card carrying member of the “out” crowd either. The arts became an immediate outlet for my own personal sanity. Whether it was music, crafting, painting, sewing, singing, or whatever; it was my inner peace. For the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ that happened in school, with an occurring segue of ‘in between’…I thank you. Those memories taught me to avoid conformity and pursue what you want to do. This particular quote seemed to just sum up the whole process: “Bite off more than you can chew, and just chew it.” Sometimes the bite is delicious, sometimes it just provides your basic sustenance, and often, it just makes you want to heave. But, giving it the old ‘taste test’ is more important than not tasting it at all.


Technique Highlight:

I am a huge fan of layers! Start with a beautifully colored, old linen book cover. (FYI: the best place to find them is in the free box at your local used bookstore) Layers of ephemera, stitching and old junk provide the foundation of most everything I build on the book cover. The key is to position everything like you envision, and take a photo. Now begin the process of gluing, sewing and layering all the parts. Layers…..just layers!



Here are some interpretations of the catalyst from members of our team.




Kathryn Says:

Choir was a major part of my high school life. I had an amazing group of friends, and we got to travel and make wonderful memories. Being a part of the Chandler High School honor choir, and all the fun we had, will always be my best memory of high school.





Carole Says:

We were a family that always moved around for my dads jobs, so I never really stayed in one place too long.


I think the longest school I ever stayed at was in England for 2 and 1/2 years in Folkestone Kent, so I never really made close friends. I can honestly say school was not somewhere that I liked to be, and because we travelled the schools were not only in different States but different parts of the world, which made learning totally different, which was fine when I was young but as I got older I found it hard to fit in when and I always felt awkward.


It wasn’t until I left school that things started to fit for me, I started to know who I was. Don’t get me wrong I loved traveling, it was wonderful, but there are always aspect that can be difficult.




Karen Says:

During my senior year in college, my husband, his roommate Jason, and I spent an exorbitant amount of time playing a computer game called “Full Throttle.” It was many years ago and so the games weren’t nearly as sophisticated as today’s games are. The game’s main character is a motorcyclist and you can make him do things by clicking on items and choosing an action. Depending on what you chose the character reacts. For example you can click on a door and choose “open,” etc. You can also choose a garbage bin and choose “lick” which will then make the character say “I’m not puttin’ my lips on that.” Which we would do over and over again just to hear him say it. In one part of the game, the character is looking for a secret passage and has to find it by kicking this wall all over until he finds it. If you try for a long time, he says “I’ll never find that secret passage.” and since I was quite bad at the game, I heard that over and over again. To this day, it’s one of those rare memories that brings me right back to my college days and my husband and I use random sentences from the game all the time. Like an inside joke.


I love the fact that I’ve known my husband for so long and we have so many memories just like this.




Lia Says:

My worst memory from school would be how awkward and under-confident I was! I admired schoolmates who were more popular, more sure of themselves – those who seemed to have everything going for them. Many years on and when I hear updates about these schoolmates, I would meanly chuckle to myself. Those kids that you expect would be successful in the future? These people weren’t them. I might have worn oversized glasses then, been grossly overweight, had really oily skin and unattractive hair but I think adulthood hasn’t been that bad to me.





Rachel Says:

Much of who I am and who I will always be was formed between the ages of 12-14. When I think about those years my heart literally aches in pain for the girl that I was, the woman I am now and all of the years in between. Middle school is where I learned how to be a friend and how to be an enemy. I learned how to lift someones spirits to the stars and how to cut them down to the core. I learned how I could believe someone was my friend and later on find tacks through my face in every picture. I learned how to love passionately and how to hate even more. I learned that lies could feel like truth and the truth could all be lies in an instant. I learned how to wage war with my words and how to silently and tearlessly cry until I thought I would die. I learned how to fight and I learned how to survive. I learned how to strike and how to take a hit. I learned how to stab a knife in someones back and what it felt like to wear one in my own. I learned what it was like to be hated without ever knowing until it was too late and I learned to take for granted the ones that would never really leave.


We waged a war with each other mercilessly with no concern for the casualties of that war and the scars that would remain in our hearts forever.


We had no way of knowing that the sins of our youth could and would haunt us to our adult years leaving us with misshapen, mutated ideals of friendship.





Wendela Says:

When I was 6 years old at grade school, I loved to learn to read! Reading books makes me happy! When I saw this slate at the flea market, I was thinking about that time, and of course I bought it, for altering!





Severine Says:

My bests memories of school is the “récréation” or playtime. I remember games with friends in the playground, and there are really really goods memories.





Larissa Says:

I always enjoyed studying a lot and had the pleasure of perfecting my notebooks. I remember I enjoyed drawing and that going to school was always an pleasant place for me. I’ve been always a very good student, who liked reading and writing.



Now it’s your turn: show us your therapeutic art around “What are your best/worst memories of school?” I urge you to give it a try. It can be any form of art as long as it speaks to you.


Leave us comments with your work so we can share in your creative therapy, too. If you don’t have a community or blog where you upload photos, you can upload them on our flickr group.



Remember, this is not a competition. If your art makes you feel even a bit better at the end, you’ve won.


Until next week, enjoy each and every moment.




Catalyst One Hundred and Thirteen
June 2, 2010, 8:00 am
Filed under: catalyst


As always, thank you to all of our visitors and all the encouraging comments you left for us. For those of you who did, thank you for playing along with us.


Ok! Here’s catalyst number one hundred and thirteen:


Who were your favorite relatives?


We’re thrilled to have Maya Donenfeld as this week’s Guest Artist.


Here’s a quickie self-bio for Maya:


Maya lives with her husband and two children in upstate NY, where she spends her days creating and repurposing in her old farmhouse. Her biggest inspiration comes from raising her children in rural surroundings and the contents of her recycling bins. She loves sharing ideas about creativity, green living, and celebrating all things handmade on her blog maya*made.



Maya also sells her amazing creations at her etsy store.




Here is Maya’s art with this week’s catalyst. You can click on it to see a larger version and a lot more detail.




Maya Says:

I love my grandmother beyond words! She has played a huge role in my life, and I’m blessed to still have her here with me. I created this piece for her 89th birthday. I’ve never known anyone as wise, nor have I met a person so filled with optimism. Fittingly her middle name is Hope. This photo depicts my grandmother in front of her clothesline with my mother and her baby brother in the late 40’s.She and my grandfather were in the throes of building their home while she simultaneously was directing a nursery school, and caring for her two young children. Yet, that smile. The banner contains here favorite saying: Smile and the world smiles with you.


Technique Highlight:

I printed an old scanned photo directly onto muslin and Mod Podged it to a piece of scrap wood. Using bits of fabric, I created a tree and painted with acrylics directly onto the leaves. The trunk received wood grain from a fine sharpie pen. Tiny bits of cardboard turned into mini clothespins to hang a raw edged square of fabric. Coffee grinds were rubbed into the creases of the banner to give it an aged look in keeping with the sepia palette of the entire piece.



Here are some interpretations of the catalyst from members of our team.




Katie Says:

IMy husband’s little brother Ian was killed by a drunk driver during the Summer of 2008. It’s not been 2 years yet. He was only 19. I met him when he was 8.


Coincidentally, my own brother also died at age 19. How could that day have not been the saddest day of my life, you ask? Time has soothed the pain. Also once I got through the shock of losing my brother, I felt comforted with the feeling that “it was his time”. I had a feeling that the Lord called him home. Ben had blossomed and taught his lessons here on Earth. My brother Ben died of natural causes.


That is a much different type of ending then losing my brother-in-law Ian to a drunk driver. I don’t believe that it was his time yet. I don’t believe that he was supposed to leave us yet. Ian was just beginning. He never even got a chance. I’ll never ever forget that phone call, I’ll never forget the news reports, I’ll never forget the Memorial Service or the Funeral. I’ll never forget the plastic bag from the Coroner’s office with Ian’s belt buckle in it saying that they cleaned it the best they could. I’ll never forget picking my husband up at the airport, home mid-deployment to bury his baby brother. All are as sad as the last.


I hope to never have a sadder moment in my life, never. I’m not sure that my heart could handle anymore.





Carole Says:

I have a lot of family that I don’t get the opportunity to see that often, as they live in England and I live in Australia. so for me this was more about the Relative that I haven’t seen for so long, and getting the chance to finally meet them.


Mum and I had the chance to go to England for 4 weeks, so it was very exciting and also an unreal experience to not only spend time with my mum (Mum lives in Sydney) but also to meet the relatives that I hadn’t seen for almost 20 years. It was really lovely to the get the chance to spend a few days in Godstone England with my Uncle Brian and Aunt Margaret, and this photo was taken outside their house, they were so wonderful.




Karen Says:

Besides my grandmother, whom I wrote about a few weeks ago (and my grandfather whom I also captured in a previous catalyst), my favorite relative was my uncle Lory (my grandmother’s brother). He was always so much fun and so interested in what I said and what I did. I could tell he was genuinely present when we were together. I have always loved him and I miss him terribly.




Iris Says:

My kid’s favorite relative is definitely their grandmother. We are just so blessed to have her live only a few hours from us. That way, the kids can always be with their grandmother during the weekends.





Opal Says:

My favorite relative is my Uncle Floyd, my dad’s twin brother. They were inseparable, Lloyd and Floyd, but so very different. Uncle Floyd was never without a smile or a joke or a kind word. He always had time to listen to me and was never at a loss for words of advice or support. He laughed even when he was in pain. A horseback riding accident left him severely handicapped, but he never complained. He traveled, studied, listened to country music, and loved his family. This is his favorite chair, a brownish La-Z Boy lounger. His Dodger cap hangs on the coat rack.





Dina Says:

‘ve talked about my Grandma M in past pages, who I felt particularly close to. But the truth is I really loved all of my grandparents. Our annual visit to both sets of grandparents was a highlight of my year. And I really, really enjoyed hanging out with my cousins. I have lots of fun memories of them–playing, running, swimming…even driving at tractor through a fence and into a house (oops). I had a blast with my cousins!





Amy Says:

I have two “favorite” relatives, a matched set. This piece pays tribute to only one half of that set. Growing up, there was a cabin near a lake… and outside that cabin was a sign that announced the owners. On that sign was a fish. There were many fish throughout my childhood, and many golf clubs, and many songs sung, and many Polaroid photos. But there was only one “Big A.” This piece is yet to be quilted, which will add new dimension and texture to it. But even as is, this “composed fish” is in memory of my grandfather.





Christine Says:

I have so many fond memories of my Aunt Lydia, my father’s youngest sister. She came to live with our family when I was about seven and stayed with us until she got married. She and I shared a bedroom together, and I remember the times I would watch her prepare her clothes for work the next day. I admired her outfits, and I asked her a few times if she would consider passing them to me when I grew older and could fit into them. She always laughed when I asked her that, and I didn’t realize until I was older why it amused her so much.


IShe was the first person to teach me something crafty…she taught me how to crochet. We would spend some of our evenings together, and she would show me how to loop the yarn around my hand and make even chains. She even crocheted a poncho for me that I wore until the tassles on it became tattered and worn. I will always remember my aunt fondly, and am grateful that she took the time to teach me something that we could enjoy together. Because of her, I found out that I could do something creative and truly find pleasure in it!





Shelley Says:

I have several favorites when it comes to relatives but these young girls are the ones I chose for this catalyst. These sweet girls are my nieces and they are true miracles as they are all the result of in vitro fertilization. Each girl is so unique and each one has such endearing qualities. The eldest sister is not much older than her triplet sisters so they very close in age and really enjoy each others company. More importantly…they can share clothes!! I know their parents can scarcely remember their babyhood as much of that time is a blur…but what a wonderful group of young ladies these girls are today! I look forward to seeing and hearing about their school events, proms, dances, and all that fills a young girls day!





Anna Says:

This shadowbox – canvas is my tribute to my grandparents. My grandma died when I was only 2 – she was a young woman who was taken too early from us. My grandfather passed away almost 20 years later. This picture is the only one we’ve got where they are together… it’s a kind of a family treasure now.



Now it’s your turn: show us your therapeutic art around “Who were your favorite relatives?” I urge you to give it a try. It can be any form of art as long as it speaks to you.


Leave us comments with your work so we can share in your creative therapy, too. If you don’t have a community or blog where you upload photos, you can upload them on our flickr group.



Remember, this is not a competition. If your art makes you feel even a bit better at the end, you’ve won.


Until next week, enjoy each and every moment.