POEM: Patterns

natur003

Patterns

Bare trees branch the sky

like branchioles in lungs

 

like nuerons in brains firing

the smell of scorched spark plugs

 

Like water falling from a mountain

both divided and united, a spreading cooling fan

 

Like skyviewed landmasses seem rock

lined waves weaving through water as thread through cloth

 

Find these patterns with searching eyes and fingertips:

these Fibonacci fractals, this mathematic beauty

 

Underlying sounds pinpoint the reasons

wind sings through the leaves and rain

patters like feet running over wet stones

 

Pictures painted by one poorly versed in higher math

inspired by nature’s geometric beauty

 

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Since I’ve been posting so much about my book, I wanted to post an actual poem. I hope you enjoyed it.*

I was thrilled with the response to the cover reveal of my poetry book, Soul Picked Clean! Now, online only, the book is available to order for the low, low price of only $12!

But wait! There’s more!*

Also, Soul Picked Clean is only $10 to buy in-person, and I will donate 10% of that purchase to Project Gutenberg!* So, a new book, a chat with me, and a donation to something awesome. What are you waiting for?

Current and Upcoming Events:

Wednesday, March 20th (7pm – 9pm)

Latitudes Poetry Night: This Akron poetry event meets monthly at Compass Coffee, and usually features a guest poet reading, followed by an Open Mic.

Thursday, March 28th (6pm)

The Write Stuff This writers’ group meets at @North Canton Public Library once a month. If you’d like to check them out, bring 6-10 copies of something you’re working on. Writers break into groups based on genre and give feedback. I’ve always found it very helpful, and afterwards everyone usually goes to a local restaurant to talk–shop or otherwise.:)

Saturday, March 30th (7pm)

Book Launch party at Mac’s Backs, 1820 Coventry Rd, Cleveland Heights, Ohio 44118. Cat Russell and Pittsburgh-area poets Jason Irwin and Jen Ashburn will read.

Friday, April 12th

Aztilude sWord Fight Tournament in Canton, Ohio. I will be a “combatant” in my first live poetry competition. Come by, and wish me luck! More details forthcoming.

Saturday, April 13th (11am – 2pm)

Local Author Fair at Massillon Public Library, 208 Lincoln Way E, Massillon, Ohio 44646. I am scheduled to read briefly, and I will also have books to sell at my table!

Monday, April 22nd (6:30pm)

Cat Russell author talk with music by Ed Amann at the Barberton Public Library, 602 West Park Avenue, Barberton, Ohio 44203.

Saturday, April 27th (9am – 4:30pm)

Western Reserve Writers’ Conference Any writers in the area should definitely attend this free writing conference at Cuyahoga Library’s South Euclid-Lyndhurst Branch. I will not be reading, but I will attend, and I’d love to see you there!

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Thank you for visiting, and I hope to see you in the coming weeks at one of these events!

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*The posted poem, “Patterns,” is new and does not appear in the book, although it is a sample of the type of poetry I write. The image is courtesy of BigFoto.com.

**I know, I know, I couldn’t resist. 🙂

***That’s 10% of in-person sales, buying directly from me. This offer does not extend to online purchases or directly from other bookstores, as I have no idea how to arrange that.

****I realize some of the listings are duplicates that appeared in my previous blogpost, but I thought it would be easier for people to follow all in one place. You can also check the Cleveland Poetics Calendar for current poetry events by clicking the link at the top of the page.

 

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Upcycling Trash into Crafting Treasure

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Bob the zombie pincushion was made with old tshirt fabric, torn pjs, and salvaged stuffing from an old pillow.

Making art and homemade crafts is an exciting way to spend your time, but many people are put off by the mistaken impression they need special equipment and skills to participate. While it is true that some basic tools are required to create certain crafts, most are cheap and easy to find or–better yet–easy to make yourself! The main ingredients for completing any type of craft are creativity and the ability to learn something new (cough, cough, YouTube, cough cough). Crafting is making a resurgence, along with the DIY movement, and what better way is there to spend your free time than creating something original as well as beneficial? It’s a great outlet, relaxing, and it affords you the opportunity to actively use your skills for the common good.

For the uninitiated into the crafty arts, craftivism is exactly what it sounds like: a combination of crafting and activism. Craftivists actively use their DIY talents to try to make the world a better place: from making banners that bring attention to an important issue to leaving anonymous homemade gifts in public places as encouragement that may brighten a stranger’s day. And you don’t need to buy a bunch of supplies to enjoy your favorite hobbies while working toward a more benevolent world.

Most of us don’t have a lot of money to spend on new or fancy supplies, and even if we did landfills are already overflowing with the results of our consumer-driven society. However, if we upcycle our own craft supplies, we cut down on our contribution to those landfills as well as save money and use up things we already have in our own homes; upcycling means taking something and finding a way to reuse it rather than throwing it away. If you have some basic supplies, like scissors and glue (or a glue gun), there are tons of ways to upcycle your own craft supplies. I want to share some of my favorites with you!

TSHIRT YARN:
That’s right. You can take old tshirts, cut across them below the sleeves to make one large loop of fabric, and then by cutting a series of strips from one side to almost the other, strategically cut to make one long strip of fabric. If you pull on the fabric strip, the cut ends will curl up like the fancy chunky yarn sold in craft stores. The video is very precise, and she uses fancy cutting tools, but you don’t need to be precious about it. Cutting freehand with scissors works just fine. Tshirt yarn is great for chunky scarves.
Here is a link to a helpful video illustrating the process: LINK

PLASTIC YARN:
“Plarn” is made pretty much the same way tshirt yarn is made. Simply cut off the bags bottom, cut across below the handles to create a single large loop of plastic. With the same strategic cutting, make one long strip of plastic yarn. Don’t try to pull on the edges to make it curl like tshirt yarn though; you’ll tear the plastic. Plarn is good for knitting water resistant items such as mats and shopping bags. LINK

FREE FABRIC:
This one is a no brainer, but cut up old clothes and sheets and anything else that will give you fabric. If you like embroidery, linen towels make great evenweave fabric, but don’t disregard unconventional ones such denim in old jeans, print from old skirts, or patches cut from old purses and scarves: patterned and textured fabric make for interesting and unique projects. In a pinch, you can go to a thrift store and buy second-hand clothes to cut up. Who knows? They might even have donated thread, yarn, and other art supplies.

 
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EMBROIDERY HOOPS:
This one is a little outside the box (or hoop), but you can convert lots of moderately flat circular objects into embroidery hoops. You can use old bicycle rims as hoops by using glue or elastic to secure the fabric you are working on. You can also use an exacto knife to cut a hole in the lid of a tupperware container, cut off the top section of the container itself, and snap the two parts together to make a fabric hoop. And you don’t need to be limited by shape either; experiment!* Maybe try using an old frame!

 
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THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX:
I know I’ve referenced out-of-the-box thinking previously, but it bears repeating. Do some research by searching YouTube for crafting videos or checking out library books, especially upcycling ones. Add coloring to glue to make textured paint. Cut up old plastic bottles to make everything from pencil cups to Christmas trees. Disassemble that old keyboard before recycling to salvage the keys for beads and the circuit board for other art projects. Spruce up something ugly by decoupaging with cut up comics, wrapping paper, or magazine pictures. A new coat of paint can make something old look like something new–even if you are using up old paint or you scored a great deal on spray paint from the local GoodWill. Why buy new when you can reuse with just a little imagination?

 

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Star Wars themed Christmas tree made with cut plastic bottles scotch-taped to a candle. The lightsabers were made with unused juice straws left over from Halloween.

If you like to embroider, you can make patterns from old coloring books, or simply draw on the fabric yourself; I know you probably already know that, but I’m sharing my favorite methods so get over yourself. And you don’t need to limit your embroidery or other art to just fabric. You can sew on plastic packing sheets (instead of fabric) or use mesh from produce bags for art projects. You can poke holes in photos, postcards, tin salvaged from cans, or other paraphernalia for unconventional embroidery projects. Again, YouTube instructional videos are pretty amazing. Enough said.

EmbroideryBox
clothespins and plastic bread tabs can be used to store embroidery floss

Some other simple crafting hacks:
-plastic bread tabs for storing embroidery floss
-wooden spring-loaded clothespins for storing embroidery floss
-soda can tabs for jewelry beads or chain mail
-plastic lids for coasters
-pill bottles for storing needles or other small sharp objects

 

JellyfishEmbroidery
jellyfish created over embroidery hoop with assorted materials: salvaged mesh produce bags, bubble wrap, packing material.

The key to upcycling is the same as the key to crafting: imagination. If you get used to looking at things in new ways, there’s no limit to what you can make! So don’t spend money on any supplies before you’ve looked around your home for things that would work just as well if not better. In a pinch, second hand is better than first as you are not creating a need to manufacture more of an item that already exists and would otherwise go to a landfill.

Until I post again in two weeks, have a lovely life and happy crafting!

 

*Cards on the table, I have not tried the tupperware container one yet, but it looks really cool to me. 🙂