I had no children, so have "adopted" my great-nieces and nephew as my Pretend Children. I do things for them: send them to safe, private schools, take them on outings that their direct family members would never think of or do if they did. Today we went to the Red River Revel, an annual arts and music festival held along the Red River. It's just a few blocks from our school, so we drove directly down for our short fling at festing!
One niece is eleven, an often mature eleven--she's already taller than I (has a daddy who is six four); the other is five and goes into lock-up mode every day about six o'clock. It's an amazing phenomenon to watch. She acts possessed in varying degrees, according to what happened during the day. Often she howls as if possessed. Today she meowed. Is she insane? Truly not. After about an hour she becomes normal again. You can't make her stop it--it just has to wear off. We know she is probably ADHD. But she's our girl and we love her.
The older one, Chelsea, really is torn about growing up. She is moody one day and can't be trusted to be nice; all dependable the next. Today was a good day. I'm a good influence--or try to be. She wanted to stay in the kids section and play, but I wanted her to see the art and crafts.
But first, we ate food--another aspect of the Revel that people love! Of course, everything costs too much because each group is trying to make a good profit for their group--our school has a booth, for example-- Anyway, Chelsea wanted Carolina to try a smoothie, so they split a strawberry-banana. I watched. We got a muffaletta pizza that Carolina wouldn't touch--remember, five? So Chels and I split it. Got curly fries for the little one. Those she gobbled.
But it was the art that got to Chelsea. We recognized the Hmong handiwork as soon as we reached the booth. Last year they wanted novelty toy items--a snake for Chelsea--I've forgotten what Carolina got or what we got their brother.
Hmong Art Again
This time Chelsea simply fell in love with these small but incredibly designed purses with an outside stitching of one of those mesmerizing Hmong mandalas. In fact, the mandala is a square of fabric made of tiny intricate pieces stitched together. Chelsea chose a turquoise design. There's a long strap that can be shortened. Five zippered sections!! One pocket for a cell phone and on the other side, two insert sections for pens or sunglasses. Then the inside deep pocket for personal items. It is a very thoughtfully designed purse just about the size of those around-the-neck passport holders that are so the rage. (I just realized--days later--that the mandala is really "an elephant's foot print." Yeah. Live and learn!)
This is my elephant's footprint which I bought last year and recently framed.
I am the librarian at my school and am using a travel theme with middle school students this year. I took a small carry-on bag filled with my travel supplies for an early class demonstration of what to take on a long trip to an exotic destination. Later I will show them how to plan an overseas trip (Paris, Rome, etc.). One item I showed was my passport, credit card, airline ticket, and other small item holder that is worn around the neck for safety and easy access.
The instant she saw the purse, Chelsea said, "Look, Aunt Judy. It's the size of your passport holder." And so it is, and so the one I bought will become my new and stylish passport holder. Perfect!! Of course, I bought Chelsea one, too. In fact, she talked me into getting one. We are going to Dallas in December for the regional Science Olympiad competition. (Chelsea competes in three categories, and I coach one of them: Ornithology.) She kept saying how perfect the purses were for that trip. Yes, I paid more than I could really afford, but I wanted her to see that investing in quality items from an artisan like the Hmong woman is well worth the extra expense. Yes, I'm admitting that $25 each is a bit pricey for my budget--school librarian and all.
I choose this purse design and color for something different. There are so many zippered areas: about six. See the little pouch to the right. That's a perfect fit for a cell phone.
For more information about the Hmong and Hmong artwork, please visit a representative website at www.womenfolk.com/quilting_history/hmong.htm
Dragons and cats and other magical creatures of the night...
One booth we really enjoyed was Randal Spangler's. His work is so reminiscent of magic and candles and books and cups of tea and masters of book domains. We were enthralled with his art.
To view some of his artwork, go to http://www.randalspangler.com/
Here's one example
This is the print I bought and framed:
I had to tilt my camera a bit to prevent glare. My not-so-great shots of artwork are taken from the angle that produces the least glare. The name of this lovely print is "The Well-Read Cat."
We found another booth where a man sold beautifully carved duck callers. Some were real works of art, with a caller incorporated into a setting that also featured a postal duck stamp. These were beautiful. Each duck was a distinctive breed. I told my nieces how my father could really make his duck caller come to life! This artist is an artist but not an artistic duck caller. All he could do was blast through his. My daddy could sput out those little rapid chuckling sounds ducks can make, as well as those blasts! I hear ducks often as a flock lives on the bayou behind my house and often they camp overnight on my section of yard along the water.
Debris Art (Found objects)
Another favorite artist that we also visited last year was Trish Ransom, one whose work comes from "debris"--in fact, that's what she calls her business. She uses found objects, discarded items, which she turns into shimmering, whimsical, fantastic works of art. An example: she made a fish out of old Orange Soda caps for scales, pieces of netted bronze metal for fins and glued against an old piece of wood. Another is of a shimmering rainbow trout made of those pop top pieces from soda and beer cans. What imaginations artists have, what hard work they put into their labor, and what magnificent results.
Her URL is http://www.debrisart.com/
Here's an example of "debris" ("found objects"). I bought this last year.
Chelsea was so glad we meandered through art and beauty. You know I am.
For more information about our annual festival, please visit http://www.redriverrevel.com/