Dancing With Degas

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My last post put me on a Edgar Degas kick and reminded me of a jewelry project I made back in March for the “Springtime in Paris” contest hosted by Michaels craft store.

springtime_in_paris_collageMy project was inspired by Degas’ ballerinas: black ribbon chokers, colorful flowers in their hair and on their tutus. His palette is so vibrant, and I took the liberty of using my own favorite color (orange) as the primary theme.

I didn’t win the contest (the winners are quite something, though — check them out here), but I sure had fun making and designing my entry. The contest motivated me to set the creative fires burning, and it gave me a practical reason to do it (always important, I say).

Here are a few of Degas’ dancers that got my muse going.

“The Star (Dancer on Stage)”

“The Ballet Class”

See more at: http://blogs.getty.edu/iris/honey-theyre-playing-our-painting/#sthash.3COlDbtP.dpuf

“Dancer Taking a Bow (The Prima Ballerina)”

Paris has never been my dream vacation spot — I have a feeling the reality is a far cry from the Hollywood-ized, romanticized motif I see in craft stores and home decor. But if someone legit ever gave me a plane ticket and said, “You’re going to Paris,” I’m sure it would set my little heart dancing. I wouldn’t turn it down — I want to go to the Louvre.

To set foot in the heart of idyllic romanticism
To experience the reality for myself,
not through the rosy glass of imagination, but through
my own senses
— the beautiful, the common, the real.
To stand before representatives of the greatest
artwork of the ages,
with air alone
between me and them.

See the colors – the colors! – and hear the strange, fluid voices
rolling into my ears.
I open my wide mouth to
drink it all in.
Whet the wanderlust and call me away
To La Ville Lumiere,
Ah, Paris!
A star of history’s play,
What riches lie in your coffers?
Let me spy on your stores
Feel your pulse
Taste your air.

 

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Inspired Confidence

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In the old movie Bathing Beauty (1944) starring Red Skelton and Esther Williams, a eurhythmics instructor tells her dancers to carry themselves with a type of poise that she sums up with a mantra: “I have a secret; I am beautiful; I am beloved.” Although Skelton reduces her grand ideal to slapstick in his typical comic fashion, the motto itself is far from absurd. It captures, with reservations, a truth that really does inspire confidence.

“The Rehearsal of the Ballet Onstage” by Edgar Degas

In our humanistic society, people see confidence as a valuable trait. For example, many companies promote business practices that ‘empower’ their employees, and schools try to boost kids’ self-esteem, but that kind of confidence is easily shaken when circumstances or conditions change.

The only kind of personal confidence that can hold up under any kind of pressure is one that is based on an unchanging, unfaltering foundation. I don’t know any other foundation that fits these criteria except Jesus Christ Himself. In a saving relationship with Him, my life has poise for these reasons:

I have a secret: That I’m a coheir with Christ to an eternal inheritance that’s guaranteed by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:11-14).

I am beautiful: Because God the Father chooses to see Christ’s righteous record where my sinful one used to be (2 Corinthians 5:21).

I am beloved: Because God’s beloved Son has made me one with Him (John 15:9, 10; 17:20-23).

So yes, that funny old mantra speaks truth. It can inspire a degree of temporary self-confidence when taken at face value, but when viewed through the lens of Scripture, it inspires lasting Christ-confidence.

The Cage

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These verses were inspired by George Herbert’s poem, “The Collar.” In my own words, I echo his same conclusion. The life of a Christian may feel like captivity at times, yet true freedom is never found in rebellion against Him.

With Herbert I would see the world abroad,
Depart this gilded cage and risk the rod,
To live, to learn, to love, to lust, to laugh,
To taste forbidden wine, its stores to quaff.

Behind the bars I hear the whispering sighs,
“Sweet, Youth! Your sun is only on the rise,
Seize up the moment, journey while there’s light,
Forsake the crippling perch; rise up! take flight!”

With flurried wings in flustered thought I beat
Against the bars – relentless, no retreat,
The door gives way and in a frenzied rage
I tumble out and down, rid of my cage.

A sudden swirl, and falling, falling. Then
Tempestuous wind claws at my wings to rend,
Now down and down I plunge, the sun goes dim,
The smoth’ring clouds like ocean waves close in.

Oh, Youth, where is your golden, guiding sun?
Beneath the clouds you’ll find no other one,
Your golden cage looked on the morning’s dawn,
Yet here in ‘freedom’s’ cloud the light is gone.

The Reason to Celebrate

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Happy Christmas to my readers! Today honors the day about 2000 years ago when the Son of God came to earth as a human being to deliver us from eternal condemnation. Through His sinless life, atoning death, triumphant resurrection, and glorious ascension to heaven, those who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ are saved from their sins and declared innocent before God the righteous Judge. Reason to celebrate? Oh yeah.

DIY: Friendship Charm Necklaces

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 With the recent release of Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (and my anticipation leading up to it), I’ve been inspired to create pieces of jewelry that in some way reflect characters from the movies. For this project, I went with my sister’s and my favorite characters, Fili and Kili. Since the dwarf brothers demonstrate such strong familial love, it seemed appropriate to celebrate the special bond between me and my sister with Fili- and Kili-themed friendship necklaces.

Of course the design can be tailored to fit any theme that you and your friend share in common. Get creative! I’d love to hear what you all come up with.

Materials:

Tools:

  • Wood toothpick
  • Round nose pliers
  • Chain nose pliers
  • Side cutter pliers
  • X-ACTO® knife and cutting mat
  • Computer and printer (if you don’t want to cut up a book)

Step 1 — Choose what text you want to showcase in the bubble charms (I just went to Google Books, took screenshots of some Hobbit pages, and printed them out).

Step 2 — Adhere a bubble cap to the selected text. Press it firmly and rub gently to eliminate air pockets.

Step 3 — Using the X-ACTO® knife and cutting mat, slice around the edge of the bubble cap to free it from the remaining text.

Step 4 — Repeat steps 2 and 3 with the other three bubble caps.

Step 5 — With the toothpick, rub a tiny amount of rubber cement onto the back of each bubble cap. Glue the caps to the front and back of the square metal charms.

The following directions are for the Fili necklace, since that’s the one I made first.

Step 6 — Trim the flat heads off a head pin with the side cutter pliers. Bend one end of the wire into a loop with the round nose pliers, leaving it partially open.

– The reason I didn’t use pre-looped head pins was because I wanted to control how large I made my loops.

– If you’ve never made a loop like this before, Blue Moon Beads offers a simple illustrated tutorial here.

Step 7 — Insert the looped end of the head pin into the square metal charm’s connecting ring. Close the wire loop the rest of the way.

Step 8 — Add beads to the head pin in this order: round spacer bead, spacer flower, amber glass bead, spacer flower, round spacer bead.

Step 9 — Bend the remaining wire into a loop like the other end. Trim excess wire.

Step 10 — Repeat steps 6-9 for the key charm. The bead sequence in step 8 will be a little different: spacer flower, wood bead, spacer flower.

Step 11 — Connect the bubble charm, the key charm, and the locket to the chain necklace with jump rings. Done!

Step 12 — Now you’re ready to repeat steps 6-11 for the Kili necklace. In step 8 substitute the blue glass bead for the amber one, and in step 10 use the decorative cylinder spacer instead of the wood bead.

– *Tip: I stacked the two leftover round silver spacer beads inside my decorative cylinder spacer to keep it from sliding around on the wire.