Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Hooked on Wool

How does a girl like me get so “hooked” on wool? It all started about 8 years ago, the day I set foot in the studio of Deanne Fitzpatrick, renowned Nova Scotia rug hooking artist. I was spellbound and speechless, completely mesmerized by her works of art. The truth, beauty and soul revealed in each piece touched me deeply. I left that day, my mind overflowing with inspiration and my shopping bag overflowing with wool!

Completely consumed by this newfound form of expression, I worked feverishly on my hooking that first year. I was simply unable to find enough hours in the day to flush out the ideas spilling from my mind. I used to rush home from the office during lunch hour so I could sneak in a few more precious minutes at the frame. Dressed in my dark navy business suit, I would drape myself in an apron and t-shirt to keep myself from looking like a lint monster upon my return to work. I spent countless hours sifting through bins at the local second-hand shops, seeking out inspiration in a has-been coat or a great old tweed blazer.

I created 31 works of art that first year. So deeply attached to the meaning behind each piece, I found myself unable to part with them. A large portion of the collection currently adorns the walls of my parents’ two hundred year-old farmhouse.

The years passed and my role and focus in life shifted. As a mommy, my number one priority and obsession these days is my family. My desire to create, however, still burns deep inside and it cannot be suppressed for long. Ideas soon start to surface and bubble over and there is no stopping me once that happens! The Wool Fairy evolved as a beautiful and natural combination of two passions in my life – my children and my love of wool (of course). Though not as time consuming and involved as a hooked rug, I consider each little carrot or strawberry a work of art on its own. It some ways the creations for Chi-Chi and Muffy provide greater satisfaction as I am able to witness first hand the innocent creativity and joy they evoke.

Not long ago, however, I did get an itch to get back to the rug hooking frame. I created this little rug, which depicts a landmark church in our community, as well as one of Hubby’s favorite surf breaks. I’ve decided to part with this creation and will be entering it in the upcoming Surf Show at the Laughleton Gallery in West Chezzetcook, NS. The show opens October 4th and runs until October 31st. You don’t have to be a surfer (believe me, I’m certainly not!!) to enjoy and appreciate the amazing works of art this show will display. It is a community affair that welcomes local artists, both professional and novice, to take part and celebrate surfing, the ocean, sea life and seaside people!

Although the hook in my hand may change from time to time, my love affair with wool burns as strong as ever!

Sunday, 14 September 2008

A New Life for an Old Tree

Hubby and I have been married for eight years, together for ten. Somehow, he still manages to surprise and amaze me with his vast array of hidden talents. Today we can add “chainsaw sculptor” to his list!

The boys and I enjoyed a very exciting afternoon observing Daddy chunk logs into firewood for the coming winter. The combination of power tools and little boys is always a sure hit! Hubby must have been struck by a creative whim. Before I knew it, he was magically churning out wooden works of art.

I’m known to have a bit of a fetish for child-sized chairs. I may have just two little ones under my roof, but I’ve got a plentiful selection of seating options for them. I can now add two more to my collection! Hubby sawed up an adorable pair of log chairs for Chi-Chi and Muffy. They create a perfect resting place for cute little bums to watch Daddy work magic with his saw. What a cozy picnic nook for the wee ones to enjoy a snack of cherry tomatoes picked fresh from the garden.

These rustic little chairs were made from a poor tree that fell victim to Hurricane Juan five years ago. It’s great to see this dear old tree find new life! They will surely outlive those plastic kiddie lawn chairs from Walmart that barely survive one season.

Best of all, these dear chairs were crafted with love by Daddy! As Chi-Chi and Muffy sat on their new thrones, the look of pride and admiration on those two sweet faces said it all. Thanks Daddy, we love you!

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Too Late To Chicken Out

Sounds of pounding hammers and screeching saws have been echoing through the house for the past couple of weeks. Our two-car garage was recently converted into a construction zone! Hubby, Chi-Chi and Muffy are all proud members of the crew working on the latest building project.

A month or so ago, I casually mentioned to my husband that it would be “very cool” to raise chickens. I guess I was feeling a tad cocky and inspired by the overwhelming success of my bean patch. Before I had time to “chicken out”, the local hardware store was delivering a load of shingles and lumber to our doorstep. A man on a mission, my husband wasted no time diving into the chicken coop design and construction project. With the enthusiasm of a young boy, he set his sights on building a safe, practical and extremely cute home for our feathered friends. He spent many an evening pouring over chicken coop plans on the net and researching the ins and outs of successfully raising hens. I’m actually quite impressed with the progress thus far. The coop is really starting to take shape.

Chi-Chi and Muffy are enjoying their “preschool shop classes” with Daddy. I’m impressed with the knowledge they are absorbing during the process. My three year old is teaching ME about levels, building paper and cedar shakes! They may, however, be a bit over zealous about the tools. We recently had to confiscate their adorable wooden tool kit. One of mommy’s dearly loved antique tables was severely damaged during Chi-Chi’s re-enactment of coop construction.

So, with the coop nearing completion, all I need to figure out is what comes first….the chicken or the egg?

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Ode to Seaside Farms I

I’m often asked the question, “Do you live on a farm?” Although the name Seaside Farms II certainly implies this, the answer is sadly, no! We do like to play make-believe and so we christened our 16-acre property with this name when we built our house and settled in four years ago.

I thought I’d shed a bit of light on the origins of our chosen name. As a young girl, I spent my summers and weekends on Seaside Farms (the original) located on the picturesque shores of Northern, New Brunswick. My parents purchased acreage in the quaint little community of Seaside and built a family cottage. For anyone who knows my Dad, he’s quite a character, always ready and willing to jump into a new adventure or experience. Before long, Seaside Farms was home to a menagerie of animal friends – bunnies, cattle, quail, honeybees, and an African frog to name a few. My father also managed a wood lot, stand of sugar maples and a healthy vegetable garden.

Summer months were spent beach combing for sea creatures and fossils and collecting and identifying wildflower samples. My mother encouraged our artistic and creative efforts, supporting and assisting my sister and I during endless hours of craft sessions. Berry picking, honey harvesting, ice cream making, daydreaming, gardening…there was never a dull moment and certainly never a reason to turn the dial on a television! We spent most holidays and weekends at Seaside Farms, enjoying the variety of activities and experiences the seasons offered.

I believe that growing up in these warm, rich surroundings, immersed in beauty and nature, had a profound impact on me. My unscheduled summer days allowed me the freedom to explore at my own will, creating and initiating my own activities. I received a valuable informal education that no classroom could replicate. (I simply can’t figure out how I ever decided to become a Chartered Accountant! It probably had something to do with the fainting/nausea episode while job shadowing at a veterinary hospital. I guess The Wool Fairy has returned to her roots these days!)

My dream for “Seaside Farms II” is to follow in the footsteps of my own parents and create a beautiful, educational and rich environment for Chi-Chi and Muffy. My husband and I want to offer them hands on learning experiences in their own backyard that promote a love of nature and freedom of creativity. We’ve got so many plans, it’s hard to focus. It appears chickens will be the first barnyard friends to find a home on Seaside Farms II – more on that later!

My reminiscing makes me realize what a wonderful childhood my own parents provided for my sister and I. Thanks Mom and Dad! You are the best!