Saturday, December 26, 2009

The purpose of an Altar

from Jean: 

Intention and Intuition
The Purpose of an Altar

If you didn’t grow up with an altar in your home, having an altar now may seem like an exotic and unattainable idea. Yet having an altar does not have to be complicated or difficult, nor does it need to be based on a religion or a set of ideas that don’t seem to relate to you. An altar can be a simple, personal expression of what you want to focus on right now. You do not have to build anything or take up a lot of space. You do not have to buy anything new or follow a complex set of instructions to create your altar. All you have to do is have a general understanding of what an altar is and the willingness to allow yourself access to this wonderful, ancient tool of transformation. 

At its most essential, an altar is simply a raised structure that serves as a resting place for meaningful objects. It focuses the eye and provides a place for contemplation and, if so desired, ritual. All of these elements can be quite simple. One idea for a simple altar is a pot with a bulb planted in it, set on a box. This altar to growth can act as a reminder to you that all living things bloom in their time. A simple ritual might be to write down dreams you would like to see come to fruition on scraps of paper. You might place these scraps of paper in the box, or under the flowerpot, or in an envelope you prop against the pot. As the flower grows, so will your dreams.

If you look around your home, you may find that you have already created altarlike arrangements without even really thinking about it; this is something we humans do quite naturally. A candle, a decorative box, and a vase of flowers are just a few of the common household objects that lend themselves naturally to the creation of an altar. Simply add intention and intuition, and you have created your first altar. Remember that it isn’t necessarily about the objects you place at your altar—it is the time you spend with it daily, taking the time to be with it for your sacred time.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Creative Therapy --a shadow box

Just came across this in my "research and development" (or in other words my blog/twitter reading) and thought that our box project for next month could be a shadow box too!  Rebecca Sower is one of my favorite artists---I love her book kits especially but all of her art is inspiring.   Read about her latest inspiring project here:

Or follow her blog here:

Altered Shrine

Thought you all would want to see the altered shrine that Jean Webb brought in.  She was given the shrine by the artist Pam Thompson who is one of the people interested in joining our group.  The shrine has been in the classroom at Creative Stamper for the past couple of months but everyone may not have had a chance to see it.  Here's what Pam emailed me about the shrine:
I made a series of  Sacred "Alters" over a year ago and had them for sale in a shop in Covington. Although they were well appreciated and received many positive comments they did not sell, so I took them to Jean's yoga class one night and gave them away to good homes. Jean's selection was the largest one I made. All items were found at yard sales, thrift stores, etc.  Jean's was made from a hand constructed box from 1939 as I recall. I really don't remember what was in that particular box. If I saw a picture I could comment. I secured items with super glue (E600), but did not secure items that would hold candles or incense, so that they could be moved outside the box and lit if so desired.
The painting on the front was my first and only attempt at painting with a palette knife, but I had watched a friend do it and saw that it was very easy to do a mountain with that technique. It probably took me only about an hour from start to finish. It is the technique that Bob Ross taught.
I have two small Asian "alters" that I kept. One was made from a wooden cigar box  painted white and has a stature of Kwan Yin and the other was made from a small drawer  painted glossy black and has a statute of Buddha. The front of the Kwan Yin "alter" has a pastel collage of the goddess along with a 3 dimensional butterfly. The interior has her stature and a rose shaped incense holder.
The Buddha  "alter" has a black incense holder inside and the decorative top piece is an aquarium ornament of an Asian bridge painted black. 
I am about to embark on some new shadow boxes. It takes a while to collect things and I have several possible containers now and some items that could make for fun boxes. Since the "alters" didn't sell I thought I'd try a different direction. These will tell stories in some form. I am thinking about trying some of the old myths told in Women Who Run With the Wolvesas well as some other classic story images.  

Christmas Party 2009 part 2

Here's the pictures of ATC's (metal tape project), final 6x6 art, and Christmas items exchanged! 

Christmas party 2009

What a wonderful Christmas party we had!  The food and drinks were great and the Christmas ornaments were fun and festive!  Several people brought books to look through and we voted on using Altered Surfaces (a Design Original book) by Chris Cozen for our next few meeting projects. Let me know if anyone has trouble ordering the book and I will try to scan a sample image along with the supply list for the projects. You can order the book here:

January meeting:  Mon Jan 11th at 6:30pm
We also decided to alter a box for our January project.  Bring any kind of box (cigar, paper mache, wood, tin, whatever) and try to pick some kind of theme for altering your box so you can bring embellishments and paint colors to decorate/alter the box.  You do not have to make a shrine--your box can be whatever you want it to be--maybe you need storage for something in your craft room?  We came up with the following supplies you might need:  gesso, acrylic paints, glue, decorative paper(for covering box or lining the inside?), fabric, found objects, embellishments, ruler, Xacto knife(for cutting holes), heat tool, modge podge, glue gun.  Carla volunteered to teach us a crackle technique using elmer's glue,acrylic paint, and heat tool.  Here are some links to altered shrines and boxes that Angie and Jean sent along:  -- From menu on the left you’ll see shrines.  Some are more religious, but may be good examples.  had a list that you could go through and one was specific for cigar boxes at 

We talked about limiting the number of members for the group-we'd like to keep it at 12 due to space limitations in the classroom. There are 3 people(that I know of) who are interested in joining the group and we decided to fill the open spot by drawing a name at the next meeting.  We will keep a waiting list for any others who are interested.  I will be emailing the 3 people to make sure they are still interested and we will draw the name at January's meeting.  The 3 people are Margy Vogel-Coomer, Pam Thompson, & Carol King(not the famous singer but a friend of Kendall's).

We also discussed possible field trips briefly and Saturday art retreats twice a year to replace that month's meeting(spring/fall?).  Jean has volunteered her garage for an art retreat tentatively set for April 2010 where we will be learning jewelry techniques including copper etching(Carla) and possibly 1 or 2 other techniques that would need to be done in a well ventilated area. 

Merry Christmas to everyone!  It's been a fun year and next year is shaping up to be even better!