Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Building A Dreamcatcher for Dream Seeding

Dream Seeding is an art show for all ages that takes place in Ann Arbor every winter. According to the "About Us" on its website, "Dream Seeding for a Better World is an ongoing project of the very small Ann Arbor-based non-profit group Artists for Peace." It "seek[s] art and other creative inspirations that either actively offer visions of a more peaceful community or world or give an insight as how we may bring forth such a community or world."

This year, a few of us at Crazy Wisdom got together and created a piece for the show that represented not only our store, but the community we try to create every day, a community of consciousness. My Friday Night cohort Sarah was the instigator and our partners in creation were the chai master from the tea room, Alex, and my up-for-(almost)-anything boyfriend Greg. Our awesome manager Rachel also contributed items for the dreamcatcher, though she couldn't be there for its creation. 

I had no idea how to make a dreamcatcher, and I was excited to learn. Sarah, Alex, and I first headed out to the Ann Arbor PTO Thrift Shop in search of wood to build the frame of the dreamcatcher and little trinkets and fabrics to use for decoration. I found a baggy of feathers and some kind of old lacy net for 50 cents. I decided to grab it and see what we could do with it. PTO is a great place to shop for craft items. They also seem to have recently expanded the interior (or at least opened it up) to include a lot more home items. And you can't beat supporting your local schools.

After stopping for a fun, eclectic dinner at Whole Foods, we went to Michael's where we were quite excited to find an array of pre-made wooden hoops. They're probably intended to make front door wreathes, but they also made great frames for a dreamcatcher since we were going for that wild, hand-woven look. We had intended to weave the frame ourselves, however, finding the appropriate bendable sticks and twigs proved to be unfeasible in our limited time frame, so we got a large pre-made hoop that fit our needs.

I admit, we went a little nuts at Michael's finding all kinds of textiles to make the web, charms and such for decoration, etc. It was great! We even found miniature bottle charms filled with glitter, reminiscent of the bottles of fairy dust that we sell at Crazy Wisdom.

After picking up some great snacks at Kroger, we set up camp at Alex's house. Greg joined us, and we tackled the first order of business: braiding the three spools we had bought together to create a new and unique rope to make the web. There was a shiny golden thread, rough twine, and I think dark red yarn. (We also bought some earthy yellow yarn to wrap around the frame and strengthen it.) What followed a delicate dance requiring me to hold the three ends that we'd knotted together, and the three others to take up the other ends and and braid them together by going and over each other because we needed the rope to be very long. It turned out to be not long enough, but there was no way we were devoting another hour to weaving a new one, so we made do. Because that all had taken up so much time, we gathered another night to finish up. One of Sarah's friends also joined us. He turned out to be instrumental in helping with our, ahem, cat problem.

Alex has a very lovely and fluffy cat who apparently did not like all these people invading her territory. She had set up camp under the coffee table, probably because we were also gathered in that vicinity and she could keep an eye on us from there. The first night, after she continually attacked anyone who ventured too near to her (the coffee table was where the food was, as well as some of our supplies, so this was problematic), Alex opened the back door and allowed her to escape to the outside world. Later, she stared in as we played with string and twigs and ribbon, all kitty delights, and she immediately went nuts attacking the string when we were all getting ready to leave and she was allowed back inside. (Oh, kitties...)

On the second night that we gathered, we tried the same trick, but she would have none of it. Sarah's friend and Alex eventually collaborated to drive her out from beneath the coffee table. Alex grabbed a blanket and the other guy had a long stick that we had decided not to use for our dreamcatcher and together they managed to herd the poor, terrified cat, who was screaming, hissing, and clawing everything in reach (mostly the stick and blanket since we all had learned to stay way the hell back) out from under the table and under a nearby cabinet. Alex draped the blanket around her and the cabinet, making a "kitty fort - it's fun!" This made the cat and us much happier. She couldn't see us, though she could still hear us, which seemed to make her feel less threatened by our presence. Once Greg ventured too close to the blanket and she tried to attack him through it, but no harm was done. (A cat that didn't instantly succumb to Greg's catmancy! I can't believe it!)

Finally, we were able to finish up our dreamcatcher, tying on our buttons, fairy dust bottle, and metal charms, securing the pins Rachel had donated from the store, and tucking in swaths of fabric, a piece of a prayer flag, and a few stones, too. Sarah ran to Crazy Wisdom real quick to pick up the perfect center piece to hang in the middle, a multifaceted, round, clear quartz crystal. We hung it from the ceiling to get a good look at it, and it looked fabulous!

Sarah was kind enough to drop it off for us, and as we waited for the opening party, rumors trickled into the store about how awesome our dreamcatcher looked and what a great job we did. Yes! It was great to go to the gallery opening and see everyone studying it. One young woman had a notebook out and was taking notes.

There were a lot of great pieces in the show. It really was an all ages event with contributions from children and adults alike. There was a collaboration of multiple school art classes of a giant tree with all kinds of things attached to it, and many paintings of all styles. I really love art galleries. My grandfather, a photographer and artist, is a longtime member of the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, and I grew up going to shows featuring his and his friends' works of art. In high school, I often accompanied my grandparents to Kalamazoo's monthly Art Hops. So I was extra excited to see something I helped create featured at a show!

I am already committing myself to making something else for next year's show (I really hope they continue to have them so I can do this). Maybe I will enter something by just me as well as work on something for the store. I have been gathering a lot of materials over the past year for various projects I've been wanting to do - collages and so forth. Since my hours are still low right now, and I have a lot of free time between that and having submitted my column for the Journal and short story for that steampunk anthology, I think I may have to make a trip to Michael's or JoAnn's and pick up some supplies.

Art is awesome!

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