Category Archives: Making Art

The List That Became a Book

All of a sudden, it feels like summer here on the river! My walks have been so dreamy lately, with cottonwood seeds drifting through the air and landing on the ground in a sprawling, fluffy blanket. The black locust trees lining our back yard are in full bloom with fragrant, white flowers that perfume the air with their heavenly scent. And the fireflies have returned!

All this signals the end of another school year, so congratulations to my teacher and student friends! My son has been home from college for a few weeks, and we are preparing for some friends’ graduation parties next week. It’s exciting because my very first class of students graduates from high school this year. They were first graders when I was student teaching, and I can’t believe they are graduating!

Speaking of graduation season, I am excited to tell you about an extra special project I created just in time! It is a handcrafted book, 50 By 50, that contains 50 nuggets of wisdom I acquired by age 50 – but wish I had found sooner!

After publishing my list of “50 Things I’ve Learned by Age 50” as a blog post during the winter, someone approached me about turning the list into a poster for her teenage daughter, and it got the wheels turning in my head because it seemed like a perfect book project to dive into. So I revisited my original list, tweaked it a bit, typeset it, and turned it into a unique, handcrafted gift book. Each book is different because I painted the cover papers myself and sewed different kinds of bindings to make it one-of-a-kind. It is perfect for grads and anyone seeking insight and guidance along life’s path. I put my heart and soul into it and am really pleased with how it turned out.

The book began as a letter to my one-year-old granddaughter, which I’d been meaning to write since before she was born. Sometimes I’d sit down and begin to write, but I didn’t get very far. There was so much I wanted to say! It finally came together when I was on a spiritual retreat prior to my 50th birthday earlier this year. The book is full of advice and seeds of wisdom I’d like to plant in my granddaughter and wish I had back when I was in my twenties and trying to figure out which direction to go. Above all, it is a message of love and self-worth.

This little book is infused with so much positive energy! In addition to authoring the words when I was in a very peaceful, expansive state of mind, I painted the cover papers and sewed the text blocks and decorative stitching on the outside. Each handmade book is unique, and it’s available for purchase through my Etsy shop.

I just wanted to let you know in case you’d like a copy for yourself or someone special! I’d love to send one or more your way!


If you’re not doing so already, I invite you to follow me on Facebook and Instagram!


The photographs in this blog (except for those attributed to other owners) and in my Flickr photostream are available for purchase as prints or cards through my Etsy shop by selecting a “custom print” in whatever size you prefer and indicating either the name of the print or the blog post and order in which it appears.

© Susan Meyer and River Bliss Photography, 2017. SHARING IS CARING, and I appreciate my work being shared with others! Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Susan Meyer and River Bliss Photography (River-Bliss.com). Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, including all text and photos, without express and written permission from this website’s author/owner is strictly prohibited. In other words, I put my heart and soul into my writing and photography and want to be credited for it and have some traffic sent my way. It’s the high vibration thing to do!  🙂

Gifts of Inspiration and Light

OK, I can’t wait any longer…

After putting my business on the back burner for several months to care for my dad and then tend to estate matters (including getting my parents’ house on the market), I’m so pleased to have my Etsy shop in order and filled with light at a time when our world really needs it! I’m thrilled to announce that my 2017 photography calendar is hot-off-the-press and available for purchase! It is loaded with inspiration and positive vibes!

frontcover

This is an oversize, 12-month calendar that features one full-page, fine art nature photograph per month. (I selected scenes that really stopped me in my tracks and transported me to a place of awe.) The bottom page of each two-page monthly spread contains American and some Canadian and multicultural holidays, celestial events (full moons, new moons, supermoons, eclipses, meteor showers), and an original, inspirational quote at the bottom, along with a small image.

marchcollage

This year’s calendar is larger than those I’ve offered in previous years (9.5″x12.25″ closed and 19″x12.25″ open) and expands beyond my local geography. It is a tribute to my parents (my mom who died in 2014 followed by my dad last month), whose love of travel brought them together and endured throughout their 50-year marriage. In addition to images of the upper Hudson River that runs by my door, it also contains pictures of Lake Champlain, Vermont, the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia, the North Shore of Massachusetts, Saratoga Springs (NY), Upstate New York waterfalls, and Fort Lauderdale Beach. In addition, it features images of my stone balance art and glorious Hudson River sunrises.

Here is some customer feedback I’ve received in the past few days:

“We just opened and went through the River Bliss 2017 calendar, page by page, reading each inspirational meditation. We love it! Can’t wait to give them as Christmas gifts. [My husband] wants me to tell you that it was exactly what he needed. It helped him to integrate art and spiritual contemplative awareness. Your photography talents and spiritual insights are truly treasured gifts to the world.”  –P.R., Cohoes, NY

“I just received your absolutely stunning calendar! Great eye, imagination, and attunement to the awesome Light of the World. A new paradigm must be available fast, and is better than despair. Your art is part of that already awakening empathy with nature!”  –L.B., Ithaca, NY

The calendar is printed professionally on extra heavy premium paper, and the binding is saddle-stitched. Price is $20/calendar.

TWO WAYS TO ORDER:
1) From my Etsy shop: https://www.etsy.com/shop/RiverBlissed
2) Pay by credit card over the phone (518.312.1853)

In addition to my calendar, my shop also features:

  • Handmade stone tile coasters (including scenes from Saratoga Springs, my stone balance art by the sea, nature/landscapes, flowers, and serenity/zen)
  • Customized “attunement” and “spirit” lanterns to illuminate your spiritual intentions, qualities, and aspirations
  • A variety of star-themed lanterns
  • Beeswax balloon lanterns
  • A one-of-a-kind, handcrafted, birchbark-framed print
  • Nature photography prints and greeting cards

…because it’s all about LIGHT – photographing it, sharing it, and shining a light in the darkness!

etsy-1

For the second year in a row, I am offering beautiful stone tile and ceramic photo coasters! They are handmade from start to finish, and I have many different nature themed sets available. I also can create custom sets of your pictures or mine.

coastercollage

These travertine stone tile coasters measure 4”x4” and are durable and waterproof. The photos are mounted under a protective coating of high gloss epoxy resin and are backed with cork to protect your delicate surfaces.

Inspired by the coasters and my love of waterfalls and Adirondack-style birch bark and twig picture frames, I designed this piece for a community art show earlier this year.

birchbarkframedwaterfall

After building the base from scratch, mounting the photograph, and covering it with resin, I constructed a birchbark frame around the photo and embellished it with twigs. Creating this piece was a joyful and satisfying process from start to finish!

I offer the calendar and photo products to share beauty and inspiration. I also offer spiritually-inspired lanterns to shine light in the darkness. Creating lanterns is a joyful meditation for me and a gift of light and peace to you.

I love to create larger “attunement” and smaller “spirit” lanterns! Each one is custom-made. Here is a spirit lantern I created for a customer this week, to illuminate her deepest aspirations and intentions.

claudialantern-1

And here is a larger “attunement” lantern I designed around the theme of abundance.

Attunement Lantern Miracle

I’m always inspired by people’s sacred words and themes and find it gratifying to create something to help them align with what’s most important…now more than ever. We’ve got to keep our light shining! The world needs it!

I’m also offering sets of enchanting Star Lanterns.

StarLanternsF

The set includes one larger dodecahedron lantern and two smaller, matching, eight-pointed star lanterns. The lanterns are made from sturdy, hand-painted watercolor paper and are folded and assembled with tender, loving care and precision and finished with sealant to make them extra sturdy. Insert an LED tealight (not included), and the 12-sided dodecahedron lantern casts a magical and stunning, starry glow in the room! Perfect for a child’s nightstand or wherever you’d like a peaceful glow. The dodecahedron lanterns have one side open and can be illuminated with the top open or closed (by turning it upside down). A variety of colors are available, and you can click HERE to order. I also sell dodecahedron lanterns on their own.

dodeccollage

I also offer a Rainbow Star Lantern with transparent stars folded from German kite paper. The colors are brilliant when lit and create such a peaceful atmosphere in a room!

rainbowlantern

In addition to the calendar, photo coasters, and lanterns, I have a few other items for sale, including origami bouquets and finger labyrinths. I invite you to check out what I have to offer and share this blog post or my Etsy link with anyone who might be interested. Supporting my recently launched business helps me to make a living doing what I love, and all my “works of heart” are infused with spirit and positive vibes!

You can order through my Etsy shop, or email me at riverblissed@gmail.com (please note that there is no hyphen in my email address even if this blog auto-hyphenates at the end of lines) to arrange Paypal or face-to-face transactions. Stop by my shop and have a look! I’d love to send some light, beauty, and inspiration your way!

I wish I could offer a spectacular discount like retail stores do at this time of year.  But I am just one person, an artist who is trying to make a living and help out my family.  I have a son in college, and a daughter and baby granddaughter who just yesterday relocated back home to escape an unsafe situation. Buying my work will help me to support my family and purchase the equipment I need to continue creating my art and publishing my first book, which means the world to me. That is what you are supporting when you purchase work from an independent artist. Every sale fills my heart with gratitude.


If you’re not doing so already, I invite you to follow me on Facebook and Instagram!


The photographs in this blog and in my Flickr photostream are available for purchase as prints or cards through my Etsy shop by selecting a “custom print” in whatever size you prefer and indicating either the name of the print or the blog post and order in which it appears.

© Susan Meyer and River Bliss Photography, 2016. SHARING IS CARING, and I appreciate my work being shared with others! Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Susan Meyer and River Bliss Photography (River-Bliss.com). Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, including all text and photos, without express and written permission from this website’s author/owner is strictly prohibited. In other words, I put my heart and soul into my writing and photography and want to be credited for it and have some traffic sent my way. It’s the high vibration thing to do!  🙂 

Spirit Lanterns: Illuminating Aspirations

Happy New Year, everyone!

I’ve been busy planning and setting intentions for 2016 and am stoked to discover a wealth of resources for manifesting goals! I feel like I’ve tapped into a mother load of resources, which brings to mind the adage, “When the student is ready, the teacher appears.” Teachers and active support networks of women coming together virtually to inspire and encourage one another!

For the past few weeks, I’ve been working with a tremendously creative and inspiring tool: Leonie Dawson’s  2016 Create Your Shining Year in Life workbook.

IMG_4763f

This workbook is so full of goodness that it would be impossible to describe it with only a few headlines or examples! It begins with wrapping up and reflecting on the previous year and includes a page to list everything you’re grateful for from 2015, which is a great exercise because gratitude is key for moving forward! The rest of the workbook focuses on creating a shining new year in all areas of life by setting inspired goals and listing resources you have to support you along the way. (My favorite page is the self-created list of “Things to Do When Everything Sucks!”) There are pages for affirmations, mottos, and plenty of space for creating a dream board. I’m having so much fun (with my colored Sharpies) brainstorming and imagining, setting intentions and goals, breaking goals into actionable steps, and writing the steps in my day planner. It’s something I can look back at throughout the year to help me stay on track. I’ve never done anything like this before and think it will be a catalyst for serious growth.

I anticipate that various pages in this workbook will inspire blog material throughout the year, but for now I want to start with something simple: choosing a “sacred word for the year”.

When I was teaching, I’d create an elaborate binder for each school year to keep me focused on what was most important and in alignment with my core values and aspirations. The cover of the binder featured a picture embellished with my word for the year. The word served as a compass to help me navigate the year. Since the binder also housed my weekly lesson plans for the whole year, I saw the cover every day and was reminded constantly of the intention I set for the year. It was a powerful tool!

So choosing a “sacred word for the year” was not something new for me. Before choosing my word for 2016, I made a list of words to consider. I kept the list in my phone and added to it whenever something new came to mind. I finally decided on abundance. Yes, I think it’s high time to expand my horizon and focus on that word!

Truth is, I never made money a priority in my life and was never intentional about it. Money was not something I considered when it came to choosing either a college major or a spouse. It simply didn’t show up on my radar. I lived simply and with some creativity learned how to live on very little. But since resigning from my teaching job, I’ve been doing some conscious work on my attitudes and beliefs about money because I think I’ve been selling myself short all these years and cutting myself off from a flow that shouldn’t seem so unattainable given my level of education and what I have to offer the world. Lately, I’ve been stretching myself to use my brain in ways that are entirely new to me and realize that developing a healthy “money mindset” is critical. It seems clear that all my life, the attitudes I’ve held toward money have obstructed the flow of prosperity in my life. Now I am curious about this energy and feel inspired to experiment with it and see what I can do with a friendlier attitude toward it. So I’m working first and foremost on raising my “money vibration,” which goes hand in hand with pursuing professional opportunities.

But abundance isn’t only about money. It applies to all areas of life, and gratitude seems to be a fundamental part of it – which is why it felt so worthwhile to make a list of everything I was grateful for in 2015. This year, I intend to be conscious about how I am either allowing or cutting myself off from the flow of abundance in my life. (Since deciding on my sacred word, I already have received some powerful lessons related to abundance. More on that in a future post!) To keep my sacred word front and center, I am printing the photograph below and mounting a small print on both the refrigerator and the inside cover of my daily planner and a larger, framed print on the wall of my work space.

IMG_4585abundance_f

To super charge my word for the year, I identified what habits and actions will draw more of the quality of abundance into my life. I also created a unique lantern for my meditation space with my sacred word and several other words to (literally) illuminate my aspirations and intentions for the upcoming year. This includes qualities that I anticipate will be useful to have in my toolbox for the year, to support what I want to accomplish. Words to uplift and inspire me when things don’t go the way I want them to. Reminders to help me stay on track.

IMG_4757f

Here is another view of my multi-colored lantern:

IMG_4759f

And here is a Spirit Lantern I made several years ago that ended up being a powerful manifestation tool back when I was pursuing a teaching job in a competitive job market:

24035680141_ffbf1f385a_o

I’ve received numerous requests to share instructions for making Spirit Lanterns, so here goes!

Materials:

  • smooth glass jar or straight vase (I like to repurpose 16-oz. salsa jars)
  • sheet of handmade/natural/mulberry paper from an art or paper store (either a large sheet or a few 8 1/2″ x 11″ sheets)
  • Mod Podge (either matte or glossy)
  • paintbrush or foam brush
  • inkjet or laser printer
  • a few sheets of regular copy paper
  • tape or glue stick
  • glitter (optional)
  • silver and/or gold Sharpie pen (optional)
  • sparkly star stickers (optional)
  • charms
  • thread
  • hot glue gun and a few glue sticks
  • ribbon, raffia, or twine

Instructions:

Step One: Brainstorm, Layout, and Print Your Words

  1. Brainstorm and select the words you want to include on your lantern. For best results, limit your list to no more than 12 words.
  2. In a word processing program, type out your list of words, leaving space between each word. (Eventually, you will rip out each word by hand, so you’ll want to leave enough space to do so.) Use whatever font(s) please you. At times, I’ve used a variety of fonts for one lantern. Other times, I’ve only used one font (and think I like this effect best). I prefer to use a calligraphy or script font, such as Caflisch Script (a free download).
  3. Test print your words on a sheet of regular copy paper to make sure the words are the right size.
  4. Print your words on a sheet of mulberry or handmade paper. I recommend cutting this paper a little smaller than a regular sheet of 8 1/2″ x 11″ copy paper and then either taping or using a glue stick around the edges to adhere the mulberry paper to the regular copy paper so the delicate paper won’t get eaten by your printer. In the past, I’ve been able to print directly on the mulberry paper, but the printer I have now is too rough for such delicate paper. Use the “best” print quality setting.
  5. After printing onto the mulberry paper, detach it from the copy paper.
  6. Tear each word out by hand, leaving as little paper around the words as possible without tearing into the word. If there are difficult to tear fibers, use scissors to cut through them, and then continue tearing.

Step Two: Prepare and Cover Your Jar

  1. Begin by cleaning your jar and removing any label residue if you’re repurposing it. (Goo Gone does the job well.) Make sure the jar is dry before proceeding.
  2. Cut your decorative paper to a size that will cover your jar with some excess left over. You will want the paper to extend about 1/8″ above the rim, and a couple inches beyond the bottom (to cover the bottom surface).
  3. Paint the entire outside of the jar with Mod Podge.
  4. Cover the jar with the decorative paper. Smooth it out as completely as you can. Try to have as little overlap as possible where the two ends of the paper meet, but make sure there’s no gap. If there’s a gap or you don’t like the way the overlap looks, you could run a strip of matching washi tape vertically along the seam. Trim the paper so it’s flush with the top rim of the jar.
  5. Cut slits in the paper that will allow it to cover the bottom of the jar, and carefully fold the slits over the bottom so it is covered completely. Smooth it out as much as possible. If you end up not having enough excess on the bottom to cover it completely, you can cut out a circle nearly the size of the diameter and adhere it.

Step Three: Embellish Your Lantern with Words, Charms, and Other Details

  1. Apply Mod Podge to the places where you want your words. Smooth out the words.
  2. When all your words are adhered to the lantern, paint over the entire lantern with a coat of Mod Podge. Let dry.
  3. At this point, you can embellish the lantern with designs and/or stickers. I love to take out my metallic Sharpies for this and make spirals! You might want to decorate with a few shiny star stickers.
  4. Cover with another coat of Mod Podge, and let dry. I like to sprinkle some fine glitter in the Mod Podge for the final coat!
  5. If you are using charms, attach each one to a few inches of fine thread. Find places for them to hang so they are not covering any words. Put a dab of hot glue near the top of the rim, and attach a thread to the glue so the charm dangles in the space where you want it. Do the same for the remaining charms.
  6. Use hot glue to secure ribbon, raffia, or twine around the top of the lantern, to cover any threads in the glass (that allow the lids to screw on).
  7. Place a tea light or votive inside the lantern (inside a small votive holder if you wish), and enjoy and reflect on your illuminated words!

I recently listed Spirit Lanterns for sale in my Etsy shop, so if you’d like one but don’t feel like making one on your own, I’d love to create a customized lantern for you using your sacred words for the year and/or even an inspirational quote!

© Susan Meyer and River Bliss Photography, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, including all text and photos, without express and written permission from this website’s author/owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Susan Meyer and River Bliss Photography (river-bliss.com) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.