Monday, October 31, 2011

Sugar Skulls: Part 4

The final sugar skull that I made is a reflection on my Grandma Herzog. Grandma Herzog passed away in 2009 at the age of 99almost100. She was an amazing woman who was loved by many people.

Well into old my great grandma was active and social. I remember hearing stories about her cross country skiing in her 80s. She lived in the woods in Binghamton, NY until her 90s when her second husband passed away and she could no longer take care of the home herself. She moved into a nursing home of sorts and quickly became friends with the nurses and residents.

The green dots represent the number of grandchildren Marion had. My mom and I estimated that there are over 30 in all. And she remembered all of our names! The cross signifies my grandma's Christian faith.

The red wings are for Grandma Herzog's love of bird watching, especially cardinals. She spent a lot of time gazing out of her back window watching all kinds of winged creatures feast on her back porch.

I gave Grandma two diamonds because she was married twice. She once said that her first marriage was the one where she settled down and had a home and children and the second is where she got to have adventures. 

The star represents how far Grandma Herzog's influence spread around her. Every Christmas and birthday her house contained piles of cards from those who cared about her. She made it look easy to build friendships; she was a natural at meeting people and making them feel cared about. Her influence reached far in the almost 100 years she was alive and it is for that reason that she is my hero. I've always wanted to be like my Grandma Herzog: welcoming, loving, caring, giving. I am grateful that I was able to enjoy her presence and influence for so many years.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Sugar Skulls: Part 3

Paul and I had to allow our dog, Isis, to be put to sleep over the summer. She got into a fight and her injuries were too serious for her to be able to continue to live a healthy and happy life.

We, of course, were devastated. Isis was a sweet and loving dog who brought so much joy to our lives. This sugar skull is dedicated to her:

Unfortunately I couldn't get the whole piece into the scanner. Her floppy ears and part of her tongue were cut off at the top and bottom.

We took Isis on a walk one day as the sun was setting. We walked by a group of children and one of them squinted into the glare of the sun and exclaimed, "Is that a pig?!" I guess he was confused by her ears...or maybe the fact that she was a little overweight. Isis loved to eat and had a stomach of steel. She once stole an entire bar of dark chocolate off the kitchen table and lived to tell the tale.

I drew arrows pointing to Isis' nose to represent her most noticeable feature. The first time I met Isis she was wearing one of those cones on her head designed to keep her from pulling out stitches. Isis tried to poke me with her nose to get my attention but the cone got in the way and she just continued to bonk me with the cone. 

The nose poking never stopped. Isis' favorite past time was shoving her big wet nose under peoples' hands and convincing them to pet her. 

I gave Isis a big smile because she was such a happy and friendly dog. The water drops on either side of her mouth represent the slobber she left behind whenever she poked someone to get their attention. 

I was never really a "dog person" until I met Paul's dogs Isis and Floscia. Isis became my little buddy and I miss her terribly.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Sugar Skulls: Part 2

This is the second part of a series sugar skulls made to honor loved ones who have passed away recently. For more information on sugar skulls and what they represent see my first post here.

I met Devin Kusse during my freshman year of college. He lived in the same dorm as the guy I was dating at that time and was regularly the instigator of hijinks. Devin was not only talented at making people smile he was a good listener and thoughtful friend. He was killed in an accident this summer when he was riding his motorcycle home from work.

Devin's death was hard to process because he was young, we hadn't spoken in a year or so, and I couldn't go to the funeral. Designing a sugar skull in his honor helped me to reflect on my friendship with Devin and gain a little bit of closure.

There's a lot of symbolism around the eyes. The flower in the middle symbolizes Devin's wife, Emily. The cross is because he was a faithful Christian. The circles and arch represent Devin's enjoyment of his motorcycle. 

I added bright, sparkly spirals to to show Devin's energetic and sometimes crazy personality. For example, Devin used to enjoy causing a ruckus in the men's dorm by walking around naked with a single object covering what the other guys clearly did not want to see. One day he came out with just a checkerboard in front of himself and asked my boyfriend if he wanted to play checkers. That story is remembered fondly with the black and white checkered squares.

The mouth is simply another representation of Devin's bright personality. I have a picture where Devin has spiky, bleached blonde hair and is wearing a sweater the color of orange traffic cones. That's how I will always remember him.

Devin enjoyed music. He played guitar and was trying to convince me to learn The Devil Went Down to Georgia on my violin.

Even though I didn't have much contact with Devin anymore his death leaves a hole in my life. I wish I could have been at the funeral to reminisce with his friends and pay my respects. I hope that making art in Devin's honor will help to make up for what I missed.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Sugar Skulls: Part 1

I did a little research on The Day of the Dead and, in doing so, became enamored by sugar skulls.

Real sugar skulls are made by pouring melted sugar  into molds and then decorating with colorful icing. The skulls aren't meant to be scary; their bright colors and designs are meant to celebrate departed ancestors. Each skull usually has the name of a deceased loved one written across the top.

I wanted to take part in this tradition  in part because I've lost a lot of loved ones this year. My previous attempt at making candy, however, resulted in a house filled with smoke and a pan covered in charcoal. So I decided to honor my departed souls in a medium with which I have much more experience: paper.

The first skull that I created honors my Grandma Viola who passed away over the summer:

Grandma was a beautiful 90 something lady with a fantastic sense of humor. She had a daughter, a son and four grandchildren, all of whom are represented on the skull by flowers:

The cross in the middle represents my grandma's strong faith. There are also two tiny flowers underneath the cross that represent the twin babies who died as infants. 

Grandma Viola's Italian heritage emerged in her delectable spaghetti and meatballs. Grandma's famous dish shows up around the eyes of the skull:

Yes, that is a meatball and those orange lines under the meatball represent spaghetti.

I think Grandma Viola watched Wheel of Fortune even after she lost so much hearing she couldn't understand what was going on. I watched it with Grandma when I was younger and she was always so impressed when I solved the puzzle. When I moved to Tucson I tried out for Wheel of Fortune and I thought about Grandma Viola the whole time. These little symbols represent the Wheel: 

As a whole this sugar skull only represents a small part of who my grandma was. Designing and decorating the skull allowed me to reflect on cherished times with grandma and appreciate the time I spent with her. 

I'm in the process of making three more skulls. I'll post pictures when they're finished.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

This is not a Bucket Closet!

According to a greeting card I received when I was a child,  the name Emily means "industrious". (I think the card may have been mistaken because a recent internet search tells me that my name actually means "rival". I'm choosing to stick with the first definition, however, because it's what I've always believed and I'm too old to change my beliefs now!) I always thought that "industrious" was such a perfect label for me. As a child, I asked for extra homework in school and did a project on Anne Frank for fun.

As an adult, I haven't grown out of that label. I have a constantly growing list of things that I would like to learn, do and create. Last week I decided to turn that list into a motivating visual and this is what emerged:

Each scrap of paper lists something I'd like to achieve. The goals range from mundane and practical:

to fun:

and difficult: 

See my goals in a colorful, tangible format reminds me of all that I'd like to accomplish and encourages me to stop procrastinating. I have a lot to do! I'm also continuing to add to the list as the days go by and I'm reminded of more and more that I'd like to do.

The first square to be focused on is this one:

I'm already well on my way to accomplishing  my first goal!