Friday, June 25, 2010

A New Project and a Spokesperson for MS

There is a new project in the works at The Scribble Group.

This project was spearheaded by member, kritterknitter. She chose the following quote by Oscar Hammerstein.
"Walk on, walk on with hope in your heart".

Using this phrase, we were given the task of creating a piece that in our own unique way represents this quote. The first of the projects are now listed in the shop.

This time, the proceeds from the sale of the items will go to Emm's Slackers. Emm's Slackers is a team, headed by our very own Emily (emmsgems). Monies raised by Emily's team (at MS walks, etc) go toward Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Research.

Emily herself was recently diagnosed with MS. She shares her personal experiences with us below.

Four years ago, I overheard my doctor on the telephone, suggesting to the neurologist on the other end, that the results of my CT Scan either reflected toxic exposure, or possibly Multiple Sclerosis. All I remember thinking was, “Sclerosis. What an ugly word.”

I had a CT Scan because I had a been experiencing a wicked headache, an inability to walk a straight line and dizziness for over a week. I hadn’t bothered to mention the numbness in my leg or my chest. What followed is now a reference point in my life: things either happened before or after “I got sick”. Unlike most people diagnosed with MS, I was diagnosed quickly, and didn’t have pre-existing events that would have hinted at a diagnosis of MS. But like most, I was diagnosed at the age of 32: it is most often diagnosed in young adults, between the ages of 15-40.

Multiple Sclerosis is an unpredictable, personal, chronic, and degenerative disease of the central nervous system (the brain and the spinal cord). How I experience MS, is not necessarily the same as how one of the approximately 70,000 other Canadians experience it. My experience with MS has caused me to forgo any gainful or regular employment. Regular, yet unpredictable bouts of vertigo and all-encompassing fatigue make life an hour to hour journey.

MS has no cure. Symptom management is the main goal of physicians. With symptoms as varying as vision problems, paralysis, vertigo, bladder and bowel problems, sexual dysfunction, cognitive challenges, there are many symptoms to manage. Not to mention pain, numbness, fatigue, depression, and mobility issues. On top of managing symptoms, MS patients may have the opportunity to possibly slow the progression of the disease with one of five disease modifying drugs. They are expensive and have uncomfortable side effects – but for me, these drugs help me feel like I have some power.

I try to live with MS, as opposed to “suffer from” Multiple Sclerosis. I could wake up tomorrow morning (or from my nap this afternoon) and not be able to move or feel my right leg. I could also wake up tomorrow, and read that researchers have cured MS – the disease is that unpredictable, and we are that close to ending it.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Meeting Brigitte

Brigitte is the newest member of the Scribble Group. We had only known her a few short months, when timidly she asked if she was allowed to offer up an idea for the group. Naturally, we happily obliged, and Brigitte presented her idea for the latest group project, The Daffodil Project. Each member was to make a daffodil inspired piece... an actual representation, or a representation of how daffodils made us feel. The projects are now completed and most are already listed in the scribble group shop on etsy. As I mentioned in our previous blog post, the daffodil was chosen as it is the emblem of the Canadian Cancer Society, to which proceeds from this project will be donated.

Brigitte has been a wonderfully enthusiastic addition to the group - breath of fresh air, energetically encouraging our daffodil creations, and promoting the pieces where she can.

Since we are still getting to know Brigitte ourselves, I thought it would be fun to ask Brigitte a few questions, and have her share her thoughts with us, and you, so we could all get to know Brigitte together.

1) What is your creative life composed of?

I can't imagine not living a creative life. I work in a very large theatre company so creative people and creativity constantly surrounds me. My job itself is not creative so I spend a lot of time finding ways express myself creatively outside of work.
I find knitting both challenging and therapeutic. I call knitting my yoga because sometimes all I need is the repetitive motion of my hands working the needles to relax and ground me.
Painting, sculpting, and drawing feel like luxuries to me. They're the artistic mediums I choose when I really want to explore and push my artistic boundaries. They still feel foreign and exotic to me so it's a real experience to spend some time exploring those mediums.
My job has required me to develop my sewing skill further. Although at this point I don't find sewing particularly creatively stimulating I have always been interested in the design element of fashion and I think as my skills improve I'll feel as though I have more creative liberty when I sew.
Music and writing are my less "messy" forms of creative expression. I have to structure my writing time carefully because once I'm engrossed I run the danger of finding myself sitting is a pitch black apartment staring at my computer screen, stomach growling because I've lost track of time. If I have somewhere I need to be, I set an alarm so I can pull myself away.
Lastly the buttons. Never did I ever think I would be linked to buttons and jewelry making. My button creations were born out of the necessity for a new and creative gift that wouldn't cost me the earth to produce. There are only so many knitted items you can give a person and I was at a point where I was searching for a new creative outlet.
I find my button making both creatively stimulating and immensely frustrating. Until it becomes indefinitely boring I'll keep exploring.

2) Have you always been an artist, and since this group is also intended to allow us the creative freedom to explore and expand our artistic boundaries, do you have advice for people who want to explore their creative side?

I've never been a natural artist. I remember the indignity of taking a sculpture course when I was ten and having my six year old younger brother excel at it more than I did. I've always been creative though. I started writing and illustrating stories about my friends and I in the first grade. Recently my Dad uncovered a binder full of my clothing sketches from when I was a little kid at our cottage.
What I'm missing in talent I think I make up with in perseverance and determination. I have the patience to press on through a complicated cable pattern because I know the end result will be worth it. A lot of what I do is self-taught. I'm always eager to try something creatively different and constantly work to build on my current skills and develop new ones.
The greatest leap I've taken in terms of expanding my artistic boundaries is to learn to let go of the pesky perfectionism gene that runs in my family. If you're looking for perfection I'm not your girl. I find perfectionism stifling. The fear of it not being perfect can prevent you from even starting. Instead I'm learning to celebrate imperfections in myself, in art, in the world at large. It's very liberating and can open many creative doors.

3) Was there anything special that made you choose this particular charity?

Cancer touches everyone. The recent death of a wonderful and vibrant woman barely a year older than me, has brought the illness closer to me in recent months. I think about it more than I have in the past. As a child I grew up with the idea that we are born, grow-up to be adults, live long happy lives and die as happy loving grey haired grandparents. As an adult I know better. There are many influential people in my life who have gone too soon from the disease and many survivors who continue to be an inspiration to everyone around them.
When I was a teenage my Dad's close friend was given a difficult diagnosis and a short period to live. Almost 15 years later he's still alive. His battle with cancer isn't over but he's a testament to what can be done in the fight against the disease.
I chose the daffodil element specifically because my Mum loves daffodils and when I was a little kid, she used to canvas for the Cancer Society during their Daffodil Campaign. I consider my Mum one of, if not my absolute best friend. I know many women lose their mothers to cancer every year so I cherish the fact that my Mum is healthy and that we have this time together.

Check out even more of Brigitte's work at bnazar.

Saturday, April 17, 2010


You have likely seen a profusion of daffodils lately. In yards, in spring bouquets and being sold by a group of dedicated ladies (and maybe gents) who are raising money for the Canadian Cancer Society.
The Canadian Cancer Society’s Daffodil Days began in Toronto in the 1950s. A group of Canadian Cancer Society volunteers organized a fundraising tea and decided to decorate the tables with daffodils. The bright, cheerful flowers created an atmosphere that seemed to radiate hope and faith that cancer could be beaten. Soon these gatherings came to be known as Daffodil Teas.

Jackie Brockie, a volunteer who also worked at Eaton's, supported the idea of Daffodil Teas and arranged for Lady Eaton to host a Tea in the store. Seven hundred women attended.

Another volunteer, Lane Knight, arranged for restaurants to give part of their receipts to the Society on the opening day of the residential canvass in 1956. Canadian Cancer Society volunteers were on hand at local restaurants to give patrons a daffodil when they paid for their meals as a token of appreciation. The sight of so many daffodils being carried around the city created interest. When some recipients tried to pay for the flowers or make donations, the Society quickly realized that the sale of daffodils would generate additional revenue.

Canadian Cancer Society volunteer Fran Shannon headed the team that planned the sale of daffodils on the streets of Toronto the following year. An anonymous donor paid for 5,000 blooms to be flown from British Columbia where the growing season starts earlier than in Ontario.

The daffodils were an instant success, raising more than $1,200 the first year. The idea was adopted by other provinces across Canada as well as the American Cancer Society. Today the Canadian Cancer Society is the world's largest purchaser of daffodils and the growers in British Columbia must arrange their plantings to accommodate the Society's spring demand for live blooms.*

*From the Canadian Cancer Society website.*

The Scribble Group is pleased to announce that we have just launched our own version of Daffodil Days! Please visit our etsy shop to enjoy (and purchase!) daffodil inspired creative projects. More items are still to be listed. Proceeds from the sales of these items will be donated to the Canadian Cancer Society.

This project was organised by Brigitte, bnazar, and these gorgeous bangle bracelets are her contribution to the project. They are inspired by the spring green and sunny yellow of the daffodils.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Great Rip-Off

The Scribble Group is proud to present our second completed project. The Great Rip-Off Project was initiated by Jenn of crazybliss. The idea of this project was to team participants up into sets of two. Each participant would find an item in the other's shop and taking inspiration from that item, recreate it in the medium of their choice.

So this jelly from BovineBubbles for example,

became this charming painting from ScowlingOwl.

Proceeds from the sales of items from this project are being donated to the Nelson House, a women's shelter in Ottawa. Already, we have had great success with sales from this project, and $90 has been donated.

I asked Jenn why she chose the Nelson House as the recipient for these funds, and she told me:

"I chose it to be the recipient of our charitable donations through selling on TheScribbleGroup because someone we know needed help during a time of crisis, and Nelson House was there for her and for her small child. Nelson House kindly offered temporary shelter, provided counselling services and assisted her as she set out to establish her own independent home. Their non-judgmental approach and the tremendous scope of kindness and giving were impressive. Seeing the results first hand gave me the desire to play a small part in the world of good they are doing. Thanks again to everyone who participated and made this project great!"

Please read on to learn a little more about Jenn at CrazyBliss and to view her two contributions to the project.

I have always been an artist in mind and spirit and my creativity was nurtured by my wonderful mother my whole life. I was given the opportunity to try most any medium and from there, honed my talents. It was not until I started showing my work online and in gallery settings that I considered myself an artist. I believe artist is a title given to you by others and I feel I have grown into the role over the last 10 years.

Right now I spend most of my time in Crazy Bliss land creating new products, working on my website and store and generally being inspired. I use a lot of my "free" time to work on other pieces of art that use other skills I've collected over the years such as hat-making, sculpting, journaling and multi-media design. I can be found making something more often than not though.

Remember to visit our shop. Thanks for visiting.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Where Your Money Goes

Last time I told you that proceeds from our initial project helped to send fellow a etsy seller on a 60km walk to raise money for breast cancer research. Today, I would like to tell you about another special cause to which proceeds were directed.

'Use words, not guns' is a program based in one of Canada's major urban centres. It originated through a city wide task force on guns and gangs violence intervention and prevention. One etsy seller became involved in this project early in its inception and has fully committed herself to its lasting success. Here she explains more about the program, and her role in it.

"My task was to identify the long term needs of the families affected by random gun violence. I had a small budget to work with and had to write grant proposals as well as seeking sponsors so that the families in my group would be helped."

Sadly, this seller encountered some health issues of her own which hampered the fundraising efforts. In time the official program was cut. She however refused to see the project lapse completely.

"I could not let it go at that and since then I've done what I can to help this group of kids through the trauma, sometimes simply providing basic needs, accessing resources and providing emotional support as they grow and move on. A large part of what I do/did focuses on providing trauma support by means of meeting the basic needs of the children involved (basic needs are often forgotten or unaffordable in a family crisis)and teaching coping stragegies in an effort to encourage making good decisions ... with the intention of preventing further violence in the future." "I do a lot of listening...really hearing the kids and their stories. So often there's not really anywhere to talk about it and they need a safe place to do just that. Sometimes they need a hug and warmth and sometimes I work in art therapy for the kids who are too traumatized to verbalize."

"There's not a lot in life that makes you appreciate what you have more than holding a 5 year old, sobbing and begging for his 'own gun-shot wound' (his father was killed in a drive-by shooting) not even comprehending what that is but knowing that's how his father died."

Last summer, TheScribbleGroup donated some of the proceeds from our first project to this project. From the monies donated, our etsy comrade was able to purchase a great deal of yarn for a senior's knitting group who will, in turn, knit several blankets, warm hats, scarves and mittens for the kids who need them. She was also fortunate to find a clearance sale at an art supply store and purchased some much needed paper, paints, crayons & markers for the art-therapy portion of her work with the kids.

Following is a letter from a young girl who benefitted as a result. (Nannie is nickname given to the etsy seller who is involved with the program.)

"I wish to thank of you so mutch. Nannie taked me shopeng. she is so goode. Scool is comeng upp soon. Nannie let me to by bran new soks for me and my brothur. Bran new. Plus 5 of them for al the scool days and we dont evene haf to shaer she let me get them al bran new for just us owr selfs. I am so hapy haveng my own soks. And Plus a pensil cayes and pensils for it to and ges wat it is jest for mine. And so this is wy I wish to thank of you for helpeng Nannie with her dolars. Thankyou. frum A"

In that one sweet and enthusiastic letter, is summed up everything that most of us take for granted. And it is evidence enough that any contribution, no matter how small, can bring actual joy to a child's life.

I greatly admire our friend's doggedness in seeing this program continue on despite funding restraints. If you have ever lived in an urban centre, you understand how important programs like this can be. Children need to learn early that violence is avoidable, and that it need not become a way of life. It is only through teaching an alternative that the path to violence can be altered.

Remember to visit our shop. All items in the "3-Step Project" section will have their proceeds donated to "Use Words, Not Guns".

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

How One Things Becomes Another....

....And then becomes something else entirely.

Here's what I mean. If you remember back to my first post, you will remember that each member made a doodle. Then they mailed the doodle. Another person went to their mailbox, and 'lo there was the doodle. The doodle then was coloured in with paint, or crayon, or pencil, or... well, you get the idea. Then, the doodle took another trip to another friend. That friend added some lovely collage bits and pieces, and... voila... a completed project.

Now, maybe you think that this poor doodle had travelled enough and had all the fun it was going to have. Ah, well see, you would be wrong. Because that one doodle, coloured and collaged would need to take one more trip. This was the trip that really mattered.... and it would be a bit epic.

This final trip would bring this doodle to one lucky buyer. And you would think that would be the end of the trip, right? Well yes and no... indirectly the journey continues, although the doodle can rest up for a bit.

The purchase of the doodle resulted in a simple enough transaction. Money was paid in exchange for the doodle. The money was donated in support of etsy seller Loopy4Ewe in her quest to help end breast cancer. This perhaps is the truly epic part of the doodle journey. For the second year in a row, Loopy (as we lovingly call her!) has walked in the 60km Weekend to End Breast Cancer Walk. By doing so she has (at last check) raised nearly $5,000 in support of this great cause.

So you see, one simple doodle, can go on a journey, and that journey can turn into something truly, staggeringly amazing!!

Click here to see how art projects are raising money for charity.

*Collaboraters for the above artwork are:

Monday, March 15, 2010

Emmarts and "Just Letting Go"

It was Gabriele of Emmarts that first proposed the scribble project. I have to admit to being a little envious of her freedom of creative expression. I tend to play my creative cards close to my chest. I'm learning to let go, and Gabriele has been a great mentor in this respect.

I asked Gabriele to explain a bit about her creative process, which largely is about not limiting yourself and opening yourself up to the concept of total abandon.

"(It's) playing around with stuff - doing scribbles, stirring in water colours, sorting handmade papers or gorgeous textiles....anything 'speaking' to your senses.
The senses then will overtake, pushing away the brain part more and more.
It brings me in a certain mood and going from playing to working happens without a gap in between.
Sometimes music can be a support, sometimes I prefer the silence or just the singing of the birds outside.
Having materials handy is important, see it as similar thing to mis en place in the kitchen."

Her advice to others who want to get in touch with their creative side is exactly what she attempted to instill in our group:

For people who fear to be creative, doodling is a great tip.
Danny Gregory's blog comes to my mind
He quoted Miles Davis "Do not fear mistakes. There are none."
That went very deep - it could help others, too.
You know - art has no rules or borders at all! Well, you shouldn't mix certain chemicals wildly......but other than that, you are free to do what you want. Dance a little, shake your bones and muscles....that should get rid of bowing, bending and obeying. Make them flexible again, feel the adventurous seed germinating in your stomach? Great! Let it grow, it's good for you. No excuses anymore. :-)
If you don't do it, it's not there. Not positive. Dare to be yourself.

Some of us need to dig deeper to find out inner artist. When I asked Emmarts about how she found hers, her response was both inspiring and surprising:

"There was no discovery. I just don't know myself differently.
But I remember my mother saying "I sat her down on a blanket or into the sandbox and she was so happy for a couple of hours, totally content with everything, creating little things or sandy cakes in a row, designing landscapes...."
Well, who knew about autism back then in the 50s?!
At the age of 42 I discovered that I'm synesthetic. I always had assumed that everyone sees the number 5 in green and an A in red and sees what people say, in front of him/her. So much easier to learn poems and stuff in school......
It was a shock to suddenly read about this. It explained many misunderstandings in hindsight but made me totally happy. Gave me the feeling to coming home."

So perhaps, letting go is mainly about letting yourself be. Embrace yourself - set aside pre-conceived notions about who you or others think you should be. Open your eyes to the world, open yourself to your senses and give your inner artist the opportunity to expose herself at last.

Find Garbriele on etsy at:
emmarts on etsy
fluur on etsy
and of course, thescribble group on etsy.

Or check her out here: