Saturday, 14 December 2013

Crow Lessons (2)

When I created my first small crow sculpture to attach to the Winter Tree piece (see post for July 7), I didn’t know what I was starting. That crow has led me on a journey that has taught me much. I have read everything I can get my hands on about crows, listened to dozens of crow stories, and created, to date, 5 art pieces based on crows.

Today I want to share with you the story of  The Secret Life of Cassandra the Crow. Who knows how creativity works? When someone, knowing my interests, commented that crows love shiny things, I “saw” in my imagination a crow playing with glass, diamonds, keys, and silver jewelry in her bedroom.

It was a blast working with that image. I immediately called my crow Cassandra and placed her in  “the boudoir”. Mais oui, cheri!  I pulled together fabrics that felt bright and light to create a background, and then began sorting through my own assortment of bright and shiny objects –  mostly thrift store finds I couldn’t resist buying. Apparently, it's not only crows that collect bright and shiny things.

Cassandra’s feathered body came together pretty quickly, so then the fun of dressing her up began. I gave her a mirror so she could admire herself. Ooh-la-la!

She tried on her diamond necklace with matching earrings, and I even gave her a nose stud. (Beak stud? Bill stud?) I created bracelets for each of her legs, and rings for a few of her toes. She was one swanky lady ... er, crow.

 Her boudoir was decorated with accessories – a jewel-studded telephone, a silver key, an extra piece of jewelry – everything the trendy well-dressed crow could want. Her boudoir needed a piece of wall art, and I had just the thing.

A recent browsing session at Sally Ann had really snagged a trophy: a unique brooch of a hand holding a silver bar from which hung various symbols of the successful life of a glamor puss/crow: a bag of money, a fur coat, an airplane, and a movie camera. Perfecto! My piece was finished.

 I hung it up on my design wall, awaiting a session with the resident sweetie, who would create a wooden frame for it. Months went by. Every time I walked into my studio, I smiled fondly at Cassandra. She was such a silly old crow, preening and posturing in front of her mirror, admiring herself. I could relate to her – and probably you can too. We have these secret sides of ourselves that we may not reveal to the public world, but which we trot out now and then in the privacy of our mental boudoir. We don’t take ourselves too seriously, but it’s fun to try on these other personas.

It’s only fun, though, if we know the difference between real and pretend. One day, when I was looking at Cassandra, she didn’t strike me as being so funny anymore. I realized, as I’ve learned from my study of crows, that they have much to teach us, and Cassandra’s preening struck me as being sad and a mite foolish – just as foolish as I sometimes am, thinking that I need a few more shiny baubles and magic doodads – and yes, great thrift store finds – to bring me lasting delight. And how easy it would be for me to stay holed up in my studio, playing with my fabrics, ignoring the community whose fabric I am a part of. 

I took down Cassandra and added a reminder to the piece that the best of us does not live in an enclosed boudoir. I added a window to the upper left side of the piece, and behind the frosty window pane sits another crow, on the outside looking in. She’s a reminder to Cassandra, and to us, that while we can hide in our boudoir for a while, there’s a big world out there, waiting for us to come on out, come as we are, and play for real.

PS: Apparently, crows are even smarter than we are: I learned that it’s a myth that they love and collect shiny things. You can read about it at this website –

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