Blueberry Time!

That ripe, succulent season is here again.

Driving out from Metro Vancouver towards the Cascade Mountains, a popular summer escape route for city people, one gets to pass through a blueberry paradise. On the farms stretching along the highway as far as eyes can see, little bushes in orderly rows are laden with clusters of blue berries. Pop-up sale stands entice the travelers to stop and try many tastes of the bountiful harvest. If you happen to be a blueberry lover, it’s a heavenly time! 

After this introduction, it would be hard to pretend that I am not one of them. I love blueberries and enjoy their abundance to the fullest, picking them, eating them, baking with them and preserving them for sustenance through long, wet and cold winters…

This year, curiously, the blueberries made it to my lace work as well. In a surprise commission, I had an opportunity to imagine a happy chicken. I took an inspiration from a touching story of a rescued chicken who, in his new adoptive home, enjoys, and demands, fresh blueberry snacks…

Once I had a design in mind, I set out to find the right beads. I was lucky, because in Preciosa’s range of glass beads there are gems of blue and purple rounds with opaque satin finish that closely resembles blueberry’s delicate bloom.

What a joy it was to make little blueberries and then add them to the stems among green leaf tallies! I savoured the slow work, and while my hands were creating one berry and one leaf at a time, I let my mind to wander and ponder…

The musing took me back to my childhood, to the very beginning of my blueberry passion. Every summer, my family – otherwise culture and sports loving city folks – rekindled their gatherers’ instinct and roamed Western Bohemian countryside in search of sweet berries. The memories of fragrant forests full of singing birds and buzzing insects, dispersed light falling though the tree canopies, and the tangy sweet taste of wild blueberries are so vivid as if it all happened yesterday. Another impression reminded me of a joyous discovery of Canadian native blueberries in the Coastal Mountains, large berries that grow on bushes so tall that harvesting does not require kneeling or crouching.  Fast-forward to an unforgettable conversation with a wise woman, First Nation Elder from Northern British Columbia, whom I asked about the regional berries, and her list of nourishing wild edibles was so long that we ran out of time in our precious chance meeting. Yet another thought of witnessing the harvest of farmed blueberries, and the fact that in order to be mechanically collected, they have to be ripe, and therefore healthy, unlike many other commercially produced fruits nowadays.

While the lace bush was growing in my hands, I realized that the blueberry connection, while being very simple, is also deep and profound. In Canada, a country old and young at the same time, people still struggle to find common ground. Yet there it is:  simple goodness of a humble blueberry that everybody can agree on – from the aboriginal peoples, through generations of settlers, up to modern day farmers. It has strucked me as rather amazing. 

But maybe it’s not, maybe we truly need to simplify things and return back to basics to find the common thread of life, in order to understand and appreciate each other.

Maybe it is that simple – blueberry simple – to live and share, to gratefully accept gifts from nature and pay back with our gifts. To receive and to give, to love and to respect, to learn and to create.

Even if it is nothing more than a little lacy happy chicken…

June Solstice 2022

The summer season is officially here and summer weather is apparently on time, arriving in Vancouver this weekend. Finally! It’s been a long wait for the bright and warm sunshine. 

I plan to continue working on a lace sculpture for the last red cedar driftwood frame from Colin Hamilton of Thuja Wood Art. Colin and I have collaborated on four sculptures so far, with Colin designing the original frames allowing me fill them with metal lace. It’s been a very special project which inspired me to take the lace art into new territory. Most of my previous works had been firmly connected to great European tradition that started five hundred years ago and carried the Renaissance ideals of beauty and harmony of material and spiritual dimensions of human existence. 

Colin’s unusual creations reflecting his deep connection to the West Coast nature, invited me to traverse the big divide and use my beloved technique to manifest a completely different energy. It was quite an amazing experience seeing each piece taking shape reminiscent of nature and it’s cycles, while using symbols similar to the ancient cultures of North America.

I talked about it with my friend, an artist who – like many creative people on this continent – had been struggling to find an original expression in the seemingly irreconcilable influences in the modern Canadian society. She listened and simply said, “You have arrived.” We both knew that this “arrival” happened twenty years after I actually landed. Some things just take long, very long time…  And they are well worth the wait.

Thus the last frame from Colin’s original batch have been sitting in my studio, year after year, standing by patiently. It happens to be my favourite driftwood frame, because it is shaped as a womb that holds a sacred feminine energy. About two years ago, after a substantial gestation period an image of a new work has taken shape, and slowly, very slowly I started to work on the lace.  I dedicated the previous winter to fern design, and after that I submerged for almost an entire year to explore the depths of the soil. 

Today’s Solstice, marking another zenith of the Sun, is bringing me closer to completing the piece. All it needs now is the power of the Father Sun to unite the earth and heaven in a sublime harmony… Humbly, I will follow, working on long summer days, absorbing the life-giving energy, and rearranging it into a radiant lace pattern. Hopefully, with Sun’s blessing, I will be able to carry out the work to live up to the image in my mind’s eye. If it’s successfull, I will share it with you.

Wishing you all wonderfully creative summer!
And equally amazing winter to all lacemakers in Southern Hemisphere, because each season can bring something new if we are attuned…

Happy lacemaking to all!