Uniting for Love after Quebec City Mosque Shooting    Friday, February 3, 2017

This is a photo of two lovely women I met during a vigil in Kitchener, Ontario the day after the horrible shooting at a mosque in Quebec City. The photo at the bottom is of myself and my little sister at the vigil. The night of the vigil, I just knew I HAD to stand with my fellow Canadians at City Hall in Kitchener as a show of solidarity with those who lost their lives during evening prayers just one night ealier in Quebec City. Even with a 101 deadlines and -7 degree weather, I was outside. It was the most peaceful gathering with kind, compassionate Canadians from all walks of life. It made me feel proud to be Canadian.

When peaceful Canadians can't even get through their evening prayers without getting shot, I WILL stand in solidarity. I'm not Muslim and Islam doesn't particularly resonate with me, but I WILL stand with ANYONE for the freedom to practice their faith peacefully.

I stand on guard for freedom of religion, I stand on guard for women's rights, I stand on guard for LGBTQ rights, I stand on guard for human rights, animal rights and our planet. May we all be united by compassion, love, and the knowingness that we are ultimately all One. Peace.

Christine


Healing Through Creative Destruction    Monday, October 19, 2015

“Change can only occur with the destruction of the old. The very nature of destruction is creation.”   – Scott Cunningham

I find the concept of creation and destruction so intriguing. A common mainstream view is that destruction is bad and creation is good but we artsy types know better.  It just depends on the circumstances right? For example, destroying harmful habits can be good while creating debt can be bad. In fact, destruction and creation can both be beneficial when wielded to our advantage.

When it comes to artistic expression, many people tell me how they would love to be more artistic but that they are either wrought with anxiety, fear of failure or that they have no talent. Even an artist like myself has to constantly take care of my vulnerable inner child. In fact, every time I start a new sketch and see that blank page, a wave of anxiety overtakes me. Then I go about my ritual of destroying my anxiety by giving myself permission to fail. This gives my soul a chance to soar, if only for a little while. I find it fascinating that some of my best work was simply the result of getting out of my own way long enough for the magic to happen. Just a little healing can go such a long way!

 Do you have harmful programs that you’d like to destroy in order to make room for your creative endeavors? If you’re not sure where to start, here are a few ideas that I’ve found helpful for me.

There’s a great therapeutic product called “Wreck This Journal” widely available in bookstores. Not only is it absolutely freeing and liberating, it’s actually pretty hilarious! Each page includes an activity like dropping the journal from a great height, or scribbling outside the lines and even smearing what you had for dinner on the page! Oh yes, if you follow the activities you will absolutely wreck the journal in the most liberating of ways!

Oftentimes when working on an artistic project, that inner critic just will not shut up! Argh! Here are a couple of techniques I’ve found to teach my inner critic how to take a back seat during the creative process:

  • Give your inner critic a name. I call mine “Crusher” because that’s what it does. It attempts to crush my confidence and my will to accomplish my goal. Talk to your critic. When you receive criticism ask for it to provide concrete evidence for the criticism. Next, find all the evidence you can to debunk your critic’s harmful opinions of you.
  • When your inner critic just won’t shut up, ask it to take a back seat during the creative process. Then tell your inner critic that you will listen to what it has to say for five minutes afterward. Be sure to honor your critic and allow it a full five minutes to talk to you. I think you’ll be surprised at what happens.

By destroying old harmful programs, room for artistic healing and expression is truly possible! Working with my own inner critic is a regular process for me and my healing journey is not over yet. I’m making progress though, and I hope that this article helps you on your own journey as well. 

Creatively yours,

Christine

Black Cat Rescue Candles    Monday, September 28, 2015

 The Story

As we approach the darker half of the year, Halloween images of black cats, witches hats and candy are everywhere.  Each year in my small Ontario hometown, a black cat seems to cross my path in need of rescue.  I’m reminded of sweet Mira (short for “Miracle”) named by Pam, our gallery curator, while I was a resident artist at the old Mill. Pam came to my studio upset one day. Abandoned stray cats always seemed to find her and she was emotionally torn up.  A female black cat had been living under the porch of the studio next door.  Pam had been feeding her but as the weather grew colder she fretted about what was to happen to this sweet cat.  Winters here are long and bitter and there was no space for her at our local animal shelter. Mira was so frightened, that it was hard for me to get near her.  Something had to be done.

I spent several days befriending Mira until I felt confident that I could foster her until a shelter vacancy opened up.   Mira did well under the circumstances and I kept her isolated from my other two cats. Days later a vacancy opened up and I brought her to our local Humane Society. I learned that not too many people want to adopt black cats let alone an adult one. I felt sad because Mira was the sweetest soul you’d ever hope to meet. Pam and I continued to make donations in her name until finally two elderly women adopted her two years later.

The following spring, Pam introduced me to little “Picasso”:  A jet black male kitten with bright golden eyes who’d managed to get into some paint and was prancing around proudly with his newly painted white tail. How apropos that he was rescued at a visual arts center! That lively little character, got adopted much quicker! Nevertheless, a pattern was beginning to form. 

Banzi

One day I got an idea and it’s one I’d like to share with you now. I started making fanciful candles with cat charms on them in October and selling them in my studio to an eager public. I then used the proceeds to sponsor black cats in various animal shelters.  I call them Black Cat Rescue Candles. If there was more public awareness that black cats are just as sweet and lovable as other cats, maybe they’d be adopted sooner.  Fear of black cats being “evil” still seems surprisingly common. Even my older sister complains that certain friends won’t come to her house because they’re afraid of her cat just because it’s black!! Animal shelter volunteers also told me about other unspeakable things that happen to black cats around Halloween that I won’t even elaborate upon here. What if sponsoring black cats at rescue centers buys them more time to get adopted?  What do you think?

I should point out that this project is just an idea, and it’s something that I do for myself.  It’s not essential to attach a cause to your candle making project unless you feel called to do so.  They make great gifts and family crafts too! If my idea happens to inspire more ideas, joy, creativity, discussion and possibly save a cat or two, then I’m happy!  

The Project

Truthfully, candle making from scratch is an art and science that I haven’t fully mastered. My first attempt resulted in an epic mess, the wrong type of wick, ruined pots, a lost fortune on supplies, and a pissed off husband! This time, I decided to try upcycling and not only was it inexpensive, it was so much fun!

What you will need:

  • 2 white or cream colored identical candles to experiment with. When you are happy with your results, you can make as many as your heart desires and even experiment with other colors.
  • 1 cat charm (many great and inexpensive designs can be found in local craft shops and online – I purchased mine on Etsy)
  • 1 jump ring (add this to your charm if it only has a teeny tiny loop at the top.
  • 14” long piece of ribbon. Black, white or red ribbon looks good, but go with your gut or use what’s available. You can also substitute with raffia, cord, yarn etc.
  • 1 small tube of good quality black acrylic paint
  • 1 paintbrush (1/2” to 1” wide works well)
  • 1 small square of coarse sandpaper
  • Optional: 1 cake decorating turntable (I found mine at a dollar store!)
  • Aluminum foil
  • A lighter or matches
  • Optional: 2 pieces of 8 ½” x 11” parchment paper to print the labels.
  • 1 water soluble glue stick for attaching the labels.

Instructions (to be used, re-written, adapted or abandoned completely)

Step 1 – Choose your candles

I purchased 2 cream colored unscented pillar candles at my local dollar store for $1.50 each to experiment with (2” diameter wide x 5” high).  Quality can vary dramatically, so I chose to experiment with the cheapest first. They worked well so I could afford to make plenty more!  You may prefer to use natural wax such as beeswax, soy or palm so follow your intuition. Remember, the first two candles are just for experimentation and upgrades can always be made later.  

 

Step 2 – The Burn Test

Light just one candle with a protective dish underneath.  Let it burn for at least 30 minutes and watch how it burns. Is there any black smoke? Is the wax dripping excessively and starting to make a mess? Is the flame “drowning” in the wax? Are there any offensive odors? If so, you’ve just been burned! The quality is too poor for our purposes and I would personally try a different one.  Price is not always an accurate gauge of candle quality. I’ve been “burned” by expensive ones too!  Once your candle has passed the burn test we’re ready for step 3!

Tip: Repeat the burn test for every new brand to be sure it meets your standards.

 

Step 3 – Candle Painting

Before painting, remove any labels and packaging. In a vertical motion, use the sandpaper to remove any shininess. This will help to give the paint and wax decorating process a surface that it can “stick” to. Do not worry about how the surface looks as it will be covered up later.

Cover your work area with newspaper and add a small dab of black acrylic paint onto a little piece of aluminum foil. Taking your unburned candle, apply a small amount of paint to the brush and begin making wispy strokes from the bottom toward the top. Leave the top half of the candle mostly unpainted with the exception of a few uneven “wisps” here and there. Allow the paint to dry for 20-30 minutes.

Step 4 – Wax Decorating

While the paint is drying, prepare your cake turntable by covering the surface completely with aluminum foil.  Once the paint is dry, place the candle at the center of the turntable.   Take the candle that you used previously for your burn test and relight it now. Tilt the burning candle slightly allowing the melting wax to drip onto the painted candle. Work slowly allowing the wax to drip down the sides. Rotate the turntable, creating lots of spooky drips down all sides of the candle. Experiment by letting drips fall near the wick of the candle and some along the sides. By now some wax has probably pooled around the base of the candle and you can even tilt the turntable slightly to access hard to reach areas. Add as much or as little detail as you like. When you feel your candle is thoroughly spooky, leave it to cool completely for a few hours.  If you have several candles to decorate, wait a minute or two and then gently lift the candle from the turntable and leave it to cool on the newspaper. Remove any chunks around the base of the candle. Place a new candle on your turntable and keep on going!

Once you’ve got the hang of decorating your candles with wax, feel free to explore other candle colors and looks! Try new paint colors and painting techniques!

Step 5 – Finishing Touches

Once your candle is completely cool, thread the cat charm onto your ribbon and tie it around the candle with a double knot. Tie it firmly, but not so firmly as to damage your wax design.  Trim off the excess ribbon.

Optional: Add a parchment paper “Black Cat Rescue” label to identify the cause.  Free labels are available for download at ChristineMarieFord.com. Apply using a water soluble glue stick. Remember to sign your label and indicate what kind of wax you used.

You’ve now made your first upcycled Black Cat Rescue Candle! Experiment with new designs and themes or tailor them for your next holiday celebration. Most importantly, remember that no matter how your first candle turns out, skill comes with practice. Trust that creatively speaking, everything is unfolding exactly as it should. I went through several candles before I finally created this design which is now my favorite.  Enjoy!

***My candles are also available for sale at  the InSpirit Centre (downtown Georgetown) and the Upper Credit Humane Society in Erin Ontario. Proceeds will be dedicated to these sweet kitties below! 

 

Miniature Fabric Art Animal Totems!    Friday, September 18, 2015

New Animal Totems!

I've been so busy this year restructuring, finishing old projects and planning a new future for my artwork. In the meantime, my miniature fabric art animal totems are back and now available in Williams Mill gallery shop!

Blue Heron

Blue Heron Totem

Approximately 4" x 3", this series of miniature animal totems has been a lot of fun! I've attempted to create the "essence" of the spririt of the animal and have collaged and stitched together dozens of different fabrics to create the look. Each art piece comes with a miniature easel and a card with details on their medicine teachings from various Native cultures for $65 CDN. I'm a huge animal lover and have been a student of animal medicine for a long time. 

Bear

Horse Totem

Horse 

Fox Totem

Fox

Cat Totem

Cat

Rabbit

Rabbit

Dolphin

Dolphin

Rabbit

Rabbit

Each piece is truly one of a kind! Enjoy!

Christine

5 Things I Want To Create in 2015    Monday, February 9, 2015

If I were to be completely honest, I’d have to admit that there are so many things I’d like to accomplish for 2015 that it could fill a book!  I’ve recently started using OneNote and I love it!  I can add to my list of ideas and goals wherever I am and that list continues to grow and grow.  With so many ideas, goals and dreams to fulfill though, I sometimes get overwhelmed and my overall productivity drops dramatically. So with this in mind, here are my top 5 things to create this year. 

 

1.  I Want to Create my Goals for 2015

OK, so it’s already the middle of February, but it’s never too late to formulate goals and plans for the future right? While goal setting is a no brainer for some people, I have trouble deciding what it is I really want for both my professional and personal life.  As a result, I’ve been living in a sort of limbo since moving my studio into my home.  In the past 5 years my life has gone from being rigidly structured with almost no free time to nearly the polar opposite with a free form schedule with ultimate flexibility. Now is the perfect time to reassess where I’m at, what I really want and finally, how to get there. Wish me luck!

 

2.  I Want to Create Something New!

One of the challenges of running a successful Etsy shop is that there is less time to experiment with new designs, products and artwork. I think it’s really important to keep my shop fresh.  It takes a lot of hard work to get an online shop going and I don’t want to bore my audience or myself! My list of ideas is ever expanding and I’m just itching to play.  One of my goals from #1 will be to schedule to time to play in the studio and hopefully invent some new products for my shops. I have ideas for fiber art and metal bracelet cuffs, fiber art handbags, fiber art journals, jewelry designs and so much more.

3.  I Want to Keep Current with my Websites and Social Media

I’ll be the first to admit that if I go to a website and see that it hasn’t been updated recently, I move on and assume that no one is home. I shudder to think that I haven’t updated my blog here since last Spring!  Trying to keep up my Websites, On-line shops, Facebook, Twitter, blogs etc can be overwhelming. This year I’m planning on doing what successful bloggers do and work out a schedule to manage all of these important duties.  One of the most popular bloggers I know, Lil Miss Kate, started with spending only 5 minutes each day for Facebook, 5 minutes for Twitter and schedules her posts to happen automatically at pre-determined times.  From what I’ve learned, no matter how frequently you decide to post your information, it’s consistency that’s key.  I have a friend who posts on Flickr once every Saturday like clockwork and has been doing this for about 2 years. She has just reached over 8 million views!!! Wow!

 

4.  I Want to Gather Inspiration through Travel and Living Life

Inspiration is all around us. As an artist I know this, but how often do I actually, take a photo, write in a journal, sketch in my sketchbook, or record something to capture the moments of inspirations as they float by?  I think my OneNote list will grow exponentially just by recording moments of inspiration as it’s happening and before it is all but forgotten.  I've just recently returned from Puerto Vallarta Mexico and will be travelling to England and Scotland this April. I’ll keep you posted!

 

5.  I Want More Time to do Absolutely Nothing!

Does this one sound strange? I used to fill up every minute of my day, often working late into the wee hours of the night.  However, I find that I’m often more productive when I have some downtime when absolutely nothing is expected of me.  I hate the feeling of always being rushed off my feet while still missing deadlines.  Hopefully by setting more realistic goals and scheduling my time better, I’ll be able to enjoy more productivity while still having time to stop and smell the roses and recharge my creative fire.

 

Well that’s my top 5 list, out in the open, where everyone can see and where I know must be accountable.  What sort of goals have you set for yourself this year? I welcome your comments and feedback.

 

Creatively yours,

Christine

Spring Brings Big Changes at Williams Mill    Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Over the past 10 years as a resident artist at Williams Mill Visual Arts Centre, I’ve noticed a peculiar trend.  For some reason, every spring several artists would move around, move in or move out of their studios to prepare for the year ahead.  I called it “musical studios”, and I could never guess who would be the next artist to change spaces, join or rejoin our group, or decide to move on.

This spring at Williams Mill will live up to past trends, and in fact, the changes will be nothing short of huge.  It appears that there will be big changes coming to the lower level of the yellow building, prompting artists to move into other studio spaces within the venue.  While I’m not at liberty to say what all the changes will be at this point, one thing is for certain, there will be big changes coming for me.

Over the past few years, my online business has continued to grow.  In fact, over the past two years, it has become my primary source of income.  With this in mind, along with other changes occurring in the Stone Building, I’ve made the very difficult decision to move out of Williams Mill into a private studio so I can focus on production and growing and improving my online presence.

For the past 10 years, Williams Mill has been my “happy place” where I grew creatively into the artist I am today.  The camaraderie of the artist community has enabled me to blossom and flourish both artistically and as a businessperson.  I will always cherish my time at Williams Mill and the many artists and visitors I’ve met will forever be in my heart.  I’ve had the nicest group of clients I could ever hope for and am so grateful for their support as well. Even so, I hear the whispering in the spring winds telling me that it’s time to move on to grow my business and to make way for other artists to spread their wings in the studio space I occupied for so long.

Although I will be in the process of moving my studio out of the stone building at the Mill over the month of April, my fiber art, jewellery and bookbinding will still be available in the gallery. I intend to maintain a strong bond with the Mill.  I will be available to clients by appointment in my new home studio, and of course, I will be expanding my online selection of work in a big way.

If you should visit the Mill within the next couple of months, do be patient during these growing pains. There will likely be some inconveniences for a time, but once this year’s game of “musical studios” is done, the experience of visiting Williams Mill will no doubt be better than ever.  

Black Friday / Cyber Monday Sale is back!    Thursday, November 28, 2013

It's that time of year again! My annual Black Friday / Cyber Monday sale is back. It officially starts at 11pm EST standard time today (November 28th) and ends at midnight on December 3rd. 

Everything online at www.christinemarieford.etsy.com will be marked down 10%. Returning customers may use their secret coupon code for an additional 15% off!!!

In-studio visitors at Williams Mill will also receive 10% off everything from Friday to Sunday 12pm-5pm. 

Thank you for supporting handmade and Happy Thanksgiving to my many friends across the border.

Vote for Your Favorite Design!    Friday, March 22, 2013

Introducing Mejuri's Enchanted Emerald Jewelry Design Challenge!

Awhile back, I was approached by a new company called Mejuri to submit some designs for them. From time to time Mejuri offers a design challenge. Designers from all over the globe submit their designs hoping to get lots of votes and positive comments from people like you! You get to vote on the designs and winning pieces will be created and available for purchase! Designers receive royalties on all of their winning designs. 

Shown above is my submission. I don't have fancy design software but I hope you like it. The competition is stiff and there are many incredible pieces to vote on. Voting ends on April 3rd! Enjoy!

New This Week!    Sunday, February 10, 2013

Greetings!

If you've read my blog post last week, then you already know that I've been addicted to making semi-precious stone pendants lately! Here's a sneak peek of a few more brand new pieces...

This is an unusual Dendrite Jasper stone. It's unbelievably smooth to the touch.

I tend to hoard stones and gems like a secret stash of treasure. I've been hiding away this Lapis stone for some time. What a beauty! Real Lapis is getting harder and harder to come by!

This Sunset Jasper stone warms my heart.

This Snakeskin Jasper stone has a beautiful earthy green coloring and remarkable texture.

And lastly, here's a sneak peek at a bracelet I just finished in gorgeous Labradorite and Swarovski crystal.

I wish my photos could do these pieces justice. If you live nearby my studio in Georgetown Ontario, you may just want to stop in and see them for yourself. Each piece was created with genuine .925 sterling silver and Swarovski crystal. I love playing with pendants because you can just slide them onto any silver chain for a whole new look.

There's so many things I want to create! I'm currently planning my next fine art series in fabric, more upcycled shoes, a new line of books and so much more. I hope you'll stop by again soon to see what's next!

Creatively yours,

Christine

What's New for February    Monday, February 4, 2013

Studio life in February is quiet. Visitors are few and far between and it seems as if folks are hybernating to stay out of the cold.  But while my would-be guests are staying warm at home, it's "go time" for me in the studio! 

The quiet winter months at the Mill provides the perfect time for creativity to flourish. This is the time of year when I create my newest designs in jewelry and bookingbinding. It's also a time to focus on fine art projects that can't get done during the summer and fall months. 

This week I've been exploring new designs in jewelry. I'm starting a new series of romantic Swarovski crystal necklace sets like this...

I'm already planning ahead for spring formals, weddings and proms and of course, Valentine's Day.

Although I do love sparkly crystal, I'm also really interested in natural and semi-precious stones. In the past few days, I've been totally addicted to making pendants, pendants and more pendants, like this gorgeous pink texture agate.

...and this agate with bronze bail...

....check out this unusual granite stone...

....I love this moss opal agate....

....and finally, a trio of black onyx, filled with Swarovski crystal....

I hope you've enjoyed this sneek peek into my studio. It's time for me to get back to work so I'll have more to share with you soon!

Creatively yours,

Christine

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