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Saturday, March 1, 2008

Ms. Natural's Dreamsticks

All my life I have loved to walk along beaches and through forests, enjoying the peace and sense of connection with the natural world. Like a kid, I still squeal in delight when I find a treasure. It could be a stone, a fallen feather, shells, or a funky piece of driftwood; something about it will ask to be picked up, ask to come travelling with me. From the many houses and gardens I see, decorated oh so organically in the South Sound, I know there are many Mr. and Ms. Naturals (still truckin’) in our different neighbourhoods. I know I'm not the only one with a pocketful of stones and armful of strange wooden creatures coming home with me. I know those who guard well the secrets of their agate hunting grounds...those who dust their shells and driftwood!

As my treasures began to amass, I began to wonder how I might create some natural art pieces out of them. I’d seen some beautiful “talking sticks” in discussion circles, made from pieces of driftwood wrapped with leather and beadwork. (The person holding the stick has the right to speak and, when finished, hands it off to the next person in the circle for their turn. I believe they should be mandatory tools for all meetings and political debates!) I began making what I called "Dreamsticks" for myself and for friends. They could be either a full-size walking staff or just a small piece to hold in your hand...and dream. This eventually led me to the idea of making natural art to be hung on the wall. I screwed little brass hooks into the pieces of wood for hanging necklaces, creating useful art that could be personalized and changed at whim.

This is one of my first attempts, made for my husband (hence the rooster feathers) years ago now. In the middle right is an old pin with a photo of his beloved grandmother as a little girl in sausage curls, circa 1905. This is one way to really personalize a piece...and it's just pinned to the leather.

This one was made for Violet, a wonderful First Nations Elder who lived in the same nursing home as my friend Grey Wolf. I never set out on the road without a travel blessing from Violet. She reacted to this gift as if I'd given her the Hope Diamond!

Sometimes a dreamstick could present itself as a mythical sea-creature, with quartz, amethyst crystals, shells and feathers for his scales and wings. His bulging eye is a snail's shell.

Sometimes it's the mood of the full moon, glistening in a spider's web of irredescent beads, with butterflies made of shells and duck feathers. A small upturned shell at one end is for a leaf of white sage to smudge with.

So get out all your beach-combing, trail-walking treasures and your glue guns. Untangle that mess of groovy necklaces that sit in a box or a drawer and make yourself a unique South Sound Dreamstick...A Ms. Natural wall-hanging, jewelry-organizing piece of funky art. I know there's a lot of glue-gunners out there...I'd love to hear about some more mossback arts and crafts ideas!


Kim Thompson said...

These are so COOL, Lorraine. Wow. Love it. You know, some of these pieces (or ones like them) would like fab on a fireplace mantle as art!

What we like to do with our beach finds (cool rocks, shells, wood) in my family is tuck into nooks and crannies in the garden or in potted plants. One time, my daughter and I made a shell collage and put it in a pretty ceramic pot for our back patio!

Lorraine Hart said...

I bet that shell collage was pretty!

We put a lot of pieces throughout the garden too. For a while I had a terrible weakness for buying little knick-knacks at yard sales...and kicked myself every dusting day. The perfect answer has been to also decorate the garden with miniature art. I don't have to dust 'em...and the sharp-eyed garden wanderer can have lots of little surprises.

EmeraldPrincessOnline said...

Terrifically creative ideas; beautifully executed.

Lorraine Hart said...

*blush* Well, thank you emeraldprincess. That's a great name, by the way. It conjures-up all kinds of pictures...someone should make you a graphic to post!

Oh! You've made me remember a sculpture I fell in love with, from the Dresden Collection. It was called (pardon the phraseology) "The Laughing Blackamoor." Somewhere between two to three feet tall carved African man in a turban and billowy pants. I believe it was out of pearwood. His body was covered in intricate tattoos and he was beaming such a smile (lovely carved ivory teeth) as he held a tray. Here's where the link comes in (thanks for staying with it!)...he holds a tray in front of him, piled high with raw emeralds. I immediately fell in love.

I have searched and searched online, through the Dresden Collection...and cannot find a picture or even mention of him now. If anyone can tell me where I might find a picture, I'd be most grateful. I find it amazing how people can find things on the Internet...I usually run into trolls when I journey into unknown cyberspace and I'm useless at riddles!

M. Sugimura said...

Lorraine -

The story & sticks are positively exquisite!

sclaverus said...

I love these wonderful talking sticks... and I thank you for sharing such a fabulous story