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learning to accept with grace

Lindsay Obermeyer photo by Maria Ponce

"Photography takes an instant out of time, altering life by holding it still."  -- Dorothy Lange

When the catalog for Chicago Artist Month (CAM) arrived, my daughter was flipping through it when she stopped at this image of me.  

"Mom, this doesn't look like you.  I mean it is you, but it's not."

She went on to explain that I don't look like a mom, but an artist.  I laughed.  I'm both, right?  I didn't get it.  I'm a little thick.  She saw an underlying confidence that I couldn't.  A confidence that has held me afloat during years of struggle to hold onto my art practice through the thick and thin of life.

I felt awkward having the picture taken.  I'm not one to jump in front of the lens, especially when I have cold sores the size of an elephant.   The day was warm, the beginning of a heat wave.  My mind was on getting to the trade show where I had a booth.  I couldn't relax to enjoy the moment.  The photographer Maria Ponce was great.  She kept ordering me to move this way and that.  I finally sank into the role as her model, letting her get on with the job she was paid to do.  

Me.  A model.  Good grief.

Being chosen as one of the featured artists is an honor.  I've worked hard to reach this point.  But so have many other local artists.  What makes me so special?! Nothing.  But as my daughter keeps reminding me, I should be thankful.  And I am.  

I am very thankful.  Hopefully the attention will allow The Red Thread Project® to grow.  I am excited by the number of venues hosting Red Thread Stitching Studios.  I have a great site for the installation and I learned last week that the performance will be at the Chicago Cultural Center as part of "What's your art?" on December 3rd.  Meida McNeal confirmed today that she will choreograph the performance.   I organized all of this on my own, without funding and not one intern, just the occassional help of a few friends. (Thanks!)  I've worked 12-14 hour days for several months.  I can't believe it is all real.  The official launch is in just two days.

Learning to accept everything with grace has been my biggest challenge.   I still feel self conscious, but I keep in mind a recent conversation with  Mr. Pringle, director of the Harlem Theater Company. He asked me if I was good at what I do.  I think so. " Don't you know?," he asked.  Okay, he had me. Yes, I am good at what I do.  "That's better."  Is this the part when I take a bow?  "Why not!"  

 I was kidding, but he wasn't.  I understood his point.  He wanted me to see in myself what my daughter was seeing in the photo.  I'm here.  I've survived a ton of crap.  Accept the kudos as part of the package.  I wouldn't have made it this far in life and art without some sense of confidence and endurance.

If Mom were still alive, she'd give me a hug and then serenade me with an ear piercing rendition of Helen Reddy's "I Am Woman!"  She played the song until the record srcatched.  

I can do anything
I am strong (strong)
I am invincible (invincible)
I am woman

Suddenly, I feel 13 years old with an urge to roll my eyes.  

The Red Thread Project® video!

Anni Holm  sent me this video of The Red Thread Project® when it was at Waubonsee Community College in 2010.  I can't thank Anni and the rest of the college enough for this gift.   So if you are thinking of getting involved and want to learn more, take a look at the video.  

(While I check on technical difficulties with embedding the video, try going directly to You Tube - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O6qb1qyHGn4


Howard Street Yarn Bombing

Lindsay and Carol at Howard St Yarn Bombing 2011

"The impersonal hand of government can never replace the helping hand of a neighbor."  --  Hubert H. Humphrey

Have you taken a stroll down Howard Street lately?  This past weekend it was transformed with over 100 sleeves for trees, sign posts and bicycle racks.  Colorful doesn't quite describe it.  

©2011 Lindsay Obermeyer Yarn bombing, yarn storming, community art, Rogers Park, Chicago

©2011 Lindsay Obermeyer yarn bombing, yarn storming, community art, Rogers Park, Chicago

Yarn bomb installation on a bicycle rack on Howard St. Chicago

Local knitters crocheted or knit each sleeve, donating $10 to a local charity for the honor of having it installed.  Each textile has a small tag attached identifying the name of the maker and the charity receiving the donation.  So far, well over $1000 has been collected! 

©2011 Lindsay Obermeyer yarn bombing, yarn storming, Rogers Park, Chicago
For two months prior to the bombing, stitchers gathered each week on Howard Street.  They sat outside answering questions from who all passed by them.  Nothing builds community spirit more than actually engaging in conversation with each other.

©2011 Lindsay Obermeyer Rogers Park Business Alliance, knitting, Rogers Park, Chicago

©2011 Lindsay Obermeyer Rogers Park Business Alliance, knitting, Chicago, Howard St., community art

Best of all were all the smiles.  I know my cheeks were hurting from all the laughter from the afternoon's installation.  

©2011 Lindsay Obermeyer Carol Lou, yarn bombing, yarn storming, installation, community art, Rogers Park Business Alliance, Chicago

There is still time to participate.   The Rogers Park Business Alliance, organizers of this community art project, are accepting sleeves until September 30th. 

Glass Prairie grows for ArtPrize with more beaded flowers

©2011 Lindsay Obermeyer ArtPrize Glass Prairie
"Adopt the pace of nature:  her secret is patience."  --  Ralph Waldo Emerson

Each flower I make takes an average of 5-12 hours to complete.  Average sum of time calculated for the flowers completed in the past month - 224.  My fingers and wrists ache from all the bending and twising, but I am happy with the results.

©2011 Lindsay Obermeyer ArtPrize Glass Prairie Primrose
A whitest evening primrose was made as a suggestion from Dad.  It's one of his favorite wildflowers.

©2011 Lindsay Obermeyer ArtPrize Glass Prairie Pasque
A pasque flower with a shooting star, fire pink  and michigan lily in the background.   I love wildflower names almost as much as the flowers themselves.

And for a glimpse into my studio, here are some of the necessary tools.   Flexible wire is at the core of each work.  I prefer ArtWire's product as it is easier to twist into formation and comes in many colors.

©2011 Lindsay Obermeyer ArtPrize Glass Prairie tools

And of course, you need a giant bead stash! I've organized most of it in my uncle's former dental cabinet, but it spills over into other areas of the studio.

©2011 Lindsay Obermeyer my bead stash

ArtPrize opens September 21st and runs through October 9th.  I will be installing Glass Prairie  at the Fifth Third Bank lobby in downtown Grand Rapids with a total of 6o flowers. 

Needle Felted Christmas Tree

©2011 Lindsay Obermeyer Needle felted Christmas tree 

"I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year."  

-- Charles Dickens


Mom's favorite holiday was Christmas.  She started getting ready in July and by late September all her presents were wrapped and packaged to send.  Though it seems a bit crazy to get started so early, the holidays were the busiest time with her catering company.  The only way she could have the energy to enjoy the season was to be prepared.  

For years I was the family holiday humbug, but as you can see, I've changed my tune.  This table top decoration is an easy weekend project that's fun to do, unlike raking leaves and painting the trim around the windows.  Leave those projects for another time.



1     STYROFOAM™ brand foam 12" x 5" cone

2     24" of kelly green roving

1    4" of cream wool roving

1   3" each of assorted colors of wool roving - orange, pink, lavender, deep rose, red, blue, navy, forest green,  magenta.

1    Clover Pen Style Felting Tool (holds 3 needles)

1    Clover Felting  Needle Tool (holds five needles)

1    refill package of fine gauge (40) needles

i     Clover Needle Felting Mat (small)

1    miniature star cookie cutter

1    Felt, 9" x 12" sheet in kelly green

1    Aleene's Original Tacky Glue

1    extra long hat pin with a pearl top

1     scissors

1     ultra fine permanent black marker



Place the cone on the green flat sheet of felt and carefully trace the base.  Cut out the circle and set aside.  

Loosely pull apart the kelly green roving and wrap around the cone, setting aside at least 10inches. Do not do the base.

Using the larger needle felting tool with 5 needles, begin felting the wool. Move your needles across the surface to adhere the roving to the cone without crushing it.  If you stay too long in one place, you risk weakening the foam base.  

Check for bare or thin spots and fill in with extra roving.

Pull apart the remaining roving (approximately 4") and roll into a loose log shape.  Place one edge of the log onto the mat and use the pen tool to begin felting a point.  This will be the top of your tree. Continue shaping, turning the work as you go for even felting to develop. Leave tails at the base to allow you to attach to the cone.  

Once it is fully formed, place ontop of the cone and felt into place.  You may need to add a little more roving at the join to fully adhere it and cover and thin spots.  The tip of your tree will feel softer and squishier than the base as there is no foam inside.  

Pull a small tuft of colored roving.   Place it on your mat.  Use one loose needle and twirl it onto your needle.  Needle felt it onto the cone.  For dimension of the dot, focus more of you needle felting along the edges rather than the center.

Continue adding more dots of color around the surface of the tree, leaving the bottom and very tip empty.

Place the star miniature cookie cutter on the mat.  Fill it with cream roving.  Use the pen tool to felt it. Use a loose needle to continue along the edges where the pen tool can't reach.

Remove the cutter.  Turn the star on its edge and use a loose needle to finish shaping.  

Glue the felt circle to the base of the cone.  Carefully trim off any overlap.

Add a pinch of glue to the base of the star.  Stick the hat pin through the top and place on the tip         of the tree.

Once the glue has dried, you may remove the pin or leave as added decoration.