All the world was in darkness. The sky above was in darkness. The waters below were in darkness. Men and women lived in the dark and cold. Raven was sad for them.
He said, "I will search for light."
I was inspired to needlefelt this wall hanging by my favorite story for this time of year, a Pacific Northwest Coastal Tlingit legend of how Raven the trickster returned the light to the people on earth. Raven felt sorry for the people as they lived in darkness and cold, so he flew to the Sky Chief's lodge at the edge of the horizon to find the light and return it to them. He saw the Sun Chief's beautiful daughter come out to take a drink from a pool of water, so he turned himself into a pine needle and fell down into the pool. She swallowed the pine needle and became pregnant with a child. When the child was born, who was actually Raven in disguise, the Sun Chief loved his grandchild without measure and wanted to always bring him happiness. Raven-child realized that a special carved box in the lodge held the sun within it, so he cried and cried until his grandfather let him open the box. Raven quickly shed his disguise of a human child and flew off out of the lodge with the sun clenched in his beak. Flying back across mountains and forests, Raven returned the sunlight to the people of earth. This tale of Raven stealing the sun is also told with slight variations in Inuit and Athabaskan traditions as well. We read it every year on the Winter Solstice by the fire.
One re-telling I have been reading recently with my chidren, is an illustrated children's book written by Gerald McDermott, a consultant to the Joseph Campbell Foundation on mythology in education. I really love the lyrical way it's told. This one is called Raven: A Trickster Tale from the Pacific Northwest.
Another beautifully illustrated children's version we have is How Raven Stole the Sun by Maria Williams.
It is also included in a wonderful anthology called The Return of the Light: Twelve Tales from Around the World for the Winter Solstice by Carolyn McVickar Edwards.
I've been busy in the craft room making many things for the holidays. Here are King and Queen Winter. Needlefelted from wool roving in icy blues and whites, they rule over the Winter season bringing snowflakes, icicles and chilly winds. They create blankets of snow to tuck the fields and forests in for a winter slumber. Sparkling ice crystals sit atop their magic staffs. They can be found here on my Etsy shop at http://www.mountainhearth.etsy.com/.
And here is a little Jack Frost that I made as a custom order for a friend's season table in her Waldorf home preschool. He is rascally, jolly and his hands are full of snowballs just waiting for some winter fun! I am sure she will bring him to life with her gift for magical storytelling!
The little gnome, tired from a days work in his homestead garden, rests beneath the apple tree to the lullaby of a babbling brook...
He's just a little forest gnome,
the Olympic Mountain foothills are his home,
and he dreams and dreams under the apple tree
of all tomorrows adventures that will be.
I recently made this custom order for a friend to send as a gift to a family who moved away from their little Olympic Peninsula homestead to be near family in a far away land. They were missing the Pacific Northwest and dreaming of returning one day. Having grown up in the foothills of the Olympic Mountains, and having that landscape infused into my being, I was happy to make this needlefelted wool wall hanging to remind them of that rugged, beautiful place. May their dreams of returning come true!
Growing up by the Straits of Juan de Fuca, where rocky beaches abound, I spent a lot of time playing around tidepools and observing the little worlds they held. I have always been drawn to tidepool art. One of my favorite artists, Margaret Owens does these beautiful ceramic tiles of tidepools and sometimes makes tidepool bowls. You can see her work here at http://www.tidepooltile.com/.
The very first wall hanging I needlefelted was a tidepool. I had this whole vision of seaweed, starfish and crabs. I had so much fun making it, that I have since made many tidepool wall hangings.
I just finished this one as a custom order for a friend and another is in the works!
Some dear friends of mine just had a beautiful baby boy, and asked if I would make a wall hanging as a gift for their midwife. She had told them about her dreams to one day have a little homestead with a garden, fruit trees, chickens and a cow. Being a homestead dreamer myself, I was happy to work on this project and had a lot of fun doing it. When I was finished, I thought, "I wouldn't mind living on this homestead myself!" I hope that it brings her many hours of happy homestead dreaming.
Nothing is more peaceful than an evening campfire as the sun sets over the mountains. The cheery, crackling glow casts little dancing shadows all about, and the smell of woodsmoke puts a mind at ease. It would be wonderful to end every day with just such a campfire.
I made this needlefelted wool wall hanging of a sunset in the mountains a while ago, but lately I felt like it was missing a camper to enjoy it, so I added the tent and campfire.
After hearing a lot of interest from readers in the benefit raffle for Mujeres de Maiz Opportunity Foundation for which I created this wall hanging, "The Women of the Corn", I looked into it and folks are indeed able to enter the raffle who live out of the Olympic Peninsula area. Tickets are 2$ each or 3 for 5$ and all proceeds benefit the work of Mujeres de Maiz Opportunity Foundation assisting women and children in Chiapas, Mexico.
Here is the artwork up for raffle on December 8:
Women of the Corn: needlefelted wool wall hanging from Mountain Hearth Handcrafts
Upper Dungeness Camp: quilted wall hanging by Ann Colley
Fishing the Upper Hoh River: quilted wall hanging by Ann Colley
Ruby Beach: quilted wall hanging by Ann Colley
Shi Shi Beach: quilted wall hanging by Ann Colley
So, here's the raffle information:
To purchase tickets for the drawing, and get more information, email Ann at mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org.%20$2 The drawing will be on December 8th, and you will be notified by phone if you are a winner. Artwork will be mailed to you if you live out of the area. All proceeds will go to Mujeres de Maiz Opportunity Foundation.
Deep in the misty forest, King Bolete and Queen Bolete stand tall and regal in purple cloaks on their stump throne. All the other Chanterelles, Amanitas and little mushroom subjects are gathered around to listen to their royal decree. With this warm, wet fall in Oregon, it's a good year to be a mushroom!
My latest needlefelting project is this wall hanging for a raffle fundraiser benefiting Mujeres de Maiz Opportunity Foundation, a grassroots non-profit organization based in Sequim, Washington helping young women in Chiapas, Mexico. Mujeres de Maiz provides access to education for indigenous women in a seamstress cooperative, including literacy training, secondary school, vocational courses and college or university degrees. The raffle prizes will also include some beautiful quilted art by my mother, and other local handcrafted items. To learn more about this organization, visit their website at http://www.mujeresdemaizof.org/lang/en-us/.
When the Autumn comes rolling in, I love changing our seasons table to honor all of the abundant fruits and vegetables, and the fiery leaves outside. Seasons table figures are an idea I got from Waldorf classroom seasons tables, and I have loved making many Lady Springs, Queen Winters, and Harvest Maidens over the past few years (I still haven't made one for summer, likely because we're out camping so much). This Acorn Maiden, Wheat Maiden, and Harvest Maiden represent all that I love about this season. Harvesting food is such a sacred, sustaining activity and a good, honest days work. There is a fullness and abundance in the earth right now, everywhere you look. Autumn deserves some honoring.
This is the Harvest Maiden I needlefelted for our family's seasons table. She stands in our living room on bright orange and rich brown silks, surrounded by painted corn, jars of red vine maple branches, acorns and wheat.
This is the Acorn Maiden. Here is the Willamette Valley, we are blessed with an abundance of oak trees with big fat acorns. I gather them with my children every year, and we turn them into acorn meal for pancakes and muffins. They taste a little like maple syrup. Mmmmmmm.
This Wheat Maiden makes me think of the vast, rippling fields of ripe wheat in Washington State's Palouse region where I went to college. In the late summer, all you can see for miles and miles are these golden waves moving in the breeze. I always try to snag a few stalks for my seasons table when I'm driving through that area. This year I was lucky to have some spring up in my straw sheet mulch!
Underneath the apple tree, a little gnome is taking a well-deserved rest. He gathered all the apples he could pile in his basket, and now it's time for the squirrels to do their harvesting. I wonder what sorts of dreams he is having, nestled in those roots...
I made this little family of sunflower faeries for my friend's birthday. Taryn and Jeff, are expecting a baby in the coming weeks, and I wanted to make her something honoring the beautiful little family they are creating. Sunflowers are very special to these folks. They had them in their wedding, they have beautiful photographs of them in their house, and they pop up from time to time on Taryn's blog. I decided they absolutely needed a sunflower family. I had a lot of fun making a little beard, so you might be seeing some little bearded fairy men on my Etsy store sometime soon. I also have more teeny tiny baby acorn hats!
I just finished this needle felted wool wall hanging as a custom order. The parents from a Kindergarten class at our Waldorf school wanted to give their teacher a gift that honored her other big passion in life, surfing. Although I have never surfed myself, as I was working on this, I thought to myself that it looked like a lot of fun! Standing there on the shore with the waves spread out before you, as you prepare to travel upon them must be a great feeling.
Living here, in the Willamette Valley, I am always impressed by the diversity of regions and landscapes within such a short distance, and all the ways in which folks get out there to enjoy the outdoors. Surfing, skiing, kayaking, white water rafting, mountain climbing, backpacking, canoeing, and the list goes on and on. I'm glad to see all these people getting out there and connecting with the earth in their own individual ways. We all need it, really. It's just a matter of finding what your way is.
It's that wonderful time of year again. When I go out in the morning to feed the chickens, the air is cool and crisp, the roosters are crowing, and it feels like fall is here. This is my favorite time of day, full of the possibilities of the golden autumn day to come. Soon the smell of wood smoke will fill the air from our neighbors chimneys and our own. Squirrels are busy up in the oak trees building nests and storing nuts (and driving our dogs crazy!) I'm busy right along with them, gathering, harvesting, and storing food for the coming winter. I love every minute of it.
I needlefelted this wool wall hanging a few weeks ago in celebration of these sorts of mornings. It was so popular, apparently, it sold to two different people at the same time! Both to someone at our Waldorf School store, and an Etsy customer in Greece on the same day. What are the odds? It must mean that other people out there love homestead mornings as much as I do.
I am busy at work creating an identical one right now.
With all the bounty of the earth ripening in the garden and the fields, and the creative spirit of the Women's Festival at Stillpoint Farms where I vended this past weekend, I wanted to create something honoring this flow of abundance. I needlefelted this wall hanging, working on it late into the night, of a woman in the fields with a basket of apples she has just harvested from the tree. I wanted to convey the feeling of sowing and reaping, and of things being plentiful. This feeling abounded at Stillpoint Farms on Saturday. My little booth was surrounded by the crafting booths of so many amazing women artists, all of whom worked together throughout the day to uplift one another and create a flow of nurturing and abundance. I sold my handcrafts, I bartered for some other beautiful handcrafts, I won some beautiful art in the raffle, I listened to soulful music all day long, and I had numerous conversations with other women, healers, musicians and artists, making a few new friends along the way. I spent some time appreciating the landscape around the farm with its rolling hills, forests and fields. Apples hung ripening on the trees, blackberries glistened on the vine, and strawberries grew juicy and red in the fields below. I am grateful for this day, and for abundance.
I've been so caught up in the busy goings-on of summer on the homestead, that I realized I haven't posted anything on here in a while. Life has definitely involved more gardening and watering and less crafting as of late. In preparation for the upcoming Women's Festival at Stillpoint Farm, at which I'll be vending with my booth, I'm busy at work again in the craft room with my wool and gemstone beads making some whimsical creations. I thought I'd share a little peek here with all of you.
Wool pouches wet-felted around river rocks
Lady of the Forest
Abundant Harvest Goddess
I made these gemstone necklaces with beautiful ceramic goddess pendants handcrafted by a local artist.
Last, but not least, here are a few of my Mountain Hearth cards. I've been turning some of my favorite photographs into cards and selling them at my booth. I'm still planning on adding these to my Etsy store online, along with the new felted seasons table figures and necklaces after the Women's Festival. Be sure to check Mountain Hearth Handcrafts on Etsy from time to time for new creations posted.