In which our heroine willingly uses a hot glue gun…

Back in January, the wonderful Carol Bass asked if it might be appealing to do a workshop at church in which we designed and built totems to represent the inner guides and demons that have influenced our lives. In the spirit of Lent, and of Jesus’ own temptation by the Devil (which you might think of as outer or inner; I know I see it either way at times), I thought it was a perfect topic for the wilderness season.

So we met for the past two Saturdays.

Now, I go into any kind of art project with a quotient of dubiosity, as we like to say around here, because aside from knitting, I am notoriously non-crafty. But Carol has a way of making everyone feel capable, and of creating an environment in which process feels so important that you’re able to be surprised by the product in the end.

My yogurt cup of paint.

I started with a cardboard tube, the kind you use to store posters.

First I painted it.

I mixed a little purple in with some white primer and then added a dab of orange that I never mixed in all the way.

Here it is, painted.

That’s all I did the first week.

Once I painted it, you see, it needed to dry.

Well, maybe it’s not all I did. I also thought about what I might do next. I liked the spiral seam on the cardboard, so I thought about ways to mark it. I looked through my incomplete deck of Angel Cards and picked some words I might want to put on the totem. I decided I might use some yarn that I’ve had at various offices for years now. I picked out some stones from my various baskets, looking for little pieces of places I’ve been in the past ten years.

I’m working hard to figure out which parts of my life to keep and which to set aside.

When we gathered again for the second time, we had a great QiGong session with Carol’s partner, Bob, and I felt ready to take some risks.

These risks, as it turned out, included a hot glue gun.

I have a history, and not a good one, with hot glue. I have described myself as having a morbid fear of hot glue. LP and I both suffered hot glue traumas in the dim past, and my practice has been avoidance.

But I wanted to glue little cards and yarn onto the tube, and that required hot glue. (Believe me, I tried the other kind.)

I passed the glue gun back and forth with its owner, Janine, and in the end I had a result I liked.

Here’s the front side, prior to being Modge-Podged.

Yes, I used Modge-Podge, too. It was a pretty amazing breakthrough of a day.

(That’s my friend, Sophie, in the background. I wrote about my first meeting with her here.)

I picked words from the Angel Card deck that spoke to the ways God has been present to me in the past year, and then I used the back of other cards from the deck to add words that described some of the darkness of the past year. It’s all there, you see, both the hard stuff and the good stuff, a spiral leading upward to whatever comes next.

Here’s the other side, post Modge-Podge.

Other people made fascinating paintings, constructions and intense acts of self-examination in various media. Everyone felt a keen sense of God’s presence in our time together. Some of us still needed words to get the message across to ourselves, but we all put the words into frameworks that stretched us.

For me, it mattered to express the darkness and the light that are equally part of our human experience, an experience shared by Jesus, which is good for us to remember.

Even if it requires the use of hot glue.

(I posted more pictures on Facebook, so if we’re friends, you can get a better look at the other totems there.)

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