Cranes (Tsuru) for Japan... the bird of happiness

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Every day, we have reminders of just how fleeting and sacred life is. And every day, many of us go about our ways, being anywhere but in the moment. Life changed in the blink of an eye for thousands in Japan with the earthquake, then tsunami and then nuclear reactor and radiation scares. Life is sacred. Life is ephemeral - fleeting, like a spring woodland flower.

My lesson of how ones' world can be rocked happened almost 16 years ago (April 8, 1995) when my mother and best friend lost a brief battle with cancer. She had just turned 58. My mom was a very selfless and giving soul, and she instilled that in me from a young age. And so, when this disaster struck Japan, I felt I needed to do something - doing something is better than doing nothing. So I found beautiful origami paper, and I made cranes. (For a video tutorial on making origami cranes look HERE.)The act of folding the paper to makes the cranes became a meditation of sorts. Cranes symbolize healing and I felt that healing as I folded the paper. Cranes remind me of my mother. At her viewing, children came from her school (she was a teacher) and laid origami cranes on top of her. Before they closed the casket, I took one... to remember. So it seemed a good thing to do - make cranes for the healing of Japan. I took photographs of the cranes I made, and also made card sets. My favorite photograph, a red crane with a red flower, and the card set is offered in  MY SHOP where all proceeds from the sale of these items will go to the RED CROSS relief effort in Japan.

How can you help? Here are some wonderful ways to lend YOUR hand.
Make a crane and send it HERE.
Donate to Save the Children.
Support UNICEF's relief efforts in Japan.
Make cranes (great school project) and send them HERE for a donation to SAVE THE CHILDREN.
For those who LOVE TO TEXT: People can also donate $10 by texting REDCROSS to 90999 to support disaster relief efforts in Japan and tsunami relief throughout the Pacific.

                                                   THE LEGEND OF THE CRANE:
Throughout history, birds have been viewed as animals of special value and have been ladened with meanings often derived from legends and stories that have survived over many generations. The Crane may conceivably be the oldest bird on earth; there is fossil proof that they existed over 60 million years ago. Greek and Roman myth tended to portray the dance of cranes as a love of joy and a celebration of life. The crane was usually considered to be a bird of Apollo, the sun god, who heralded in Spring and light. Throughout all of Asia, the crane has been a symbol of happiness and eternal youth. In Japanese, Chinese, and Korean tradition, cranes stand for good fortune and longevity because of its fabled life span of a thousand years. Existing in fifteen species which inhabit five continents, the most majestic is the Japanese Crane which stands almost five feet tall with its wing span of more than six feet and its white body capped with its red crown. The Japanese refer to the crane as “the bird of happiness;” the Chinese as “heavenly crane” believing they were symbols of wisdom. The powerful wings of the crane were believed to be able to convey souls up to paradise and to carry people to higher levels of spiritual enlightenment. Over time, the crane has also evolved as a favorite subject of the tradition of paper folding – origami. It is said that a thousand folded cranes, one for each year of its life, makes a wish come true.

Shortly after the end of World War II, the folded origami cranes also came to symbolize a hope for peace through Sadako Sasaki and her unforgettable story of perseverance. Diagnosed with leukemia after being exposed to radiation after the bombing of Hiroshima, Sadako became determined to fold 1,000 cranes in hopes of recovering good health, happiness, and a world of eternal peace. Although she completed 644 before she died, her classmates folded the remaining 356 to honor her. A statue was raised in the Hiroshima Peace Park to commemorate her strong spirit.

Today this practice of folding 1,000 cranes represents a form of healing and hope during challenging times. After the events of September 11, as a gesture of support and healing, thousands of cranes were folded and linked together in chains and sent to fire and police stations, museums, and churches throughout New York City.

“O flock of heavenly cranes
cover us with your wings.”

Interview by Etsy Team Columbus (ETC)!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

I was delighted to be interviewed by members of Etsy Team Columbus - a great group of women artists here in Central Ohio. This post appeared on their Blog, and I decided to cross post here!!

Etsy Team Columbus Blog Interview

1. Tell Us a bit about yourself. (Please include your Etsy Shop name, real name, how long you’ve been a member of the team and whatever you want us to know about you. You may also talk a little bit about your family here.)

Joy StClaire shop: Website:

I’ve been a member of ETC for not quite a year & have been active with my shop for a year this January. I live in NE Columbus with my dog Maggie May & 2 kitties. I’m happily single and am fortunate to have wonderful friends to fill in as family (my parents passed 16 years ago).

2. Apart from creating things, What do you do?

I’m a portrait photographer, although I guess I’m still creating there!! My other passion is gardening. When I was little, I turned my Barbie into a Gardener Barbie! I’m very into eco conscious garden design & plantings using native plants. I stay grounded by taking daily walks with Maggie & bird watching along the walk (I am a closet birder!). When I can, I take off to northern Michigan to recharge my creative & spiritual well (& take fine art photos). And foraging in thrift stores makes me happy, especially if I find a great vintage camera!

3. What first made you want to become an Artist?

Now I know I was born that way – seeing things a certain way. But it was about 5 years ago when I enrolled in a workshop at my church called “The Artist’s Way” – based on the book by Julia Cameron. When I was younger, I always thought I was “strange” because I had trouble fitting “in the box”. It was through that workshop I realized what I was calling “strange” was actually being creative. It was that year I started my portrait photography business. Alternating between portrait work and my fine art photography helps keep me fresh creatively.

4. Tell us about your Art/Craft.

I am a fine art photographer 9portraits & landscapes). Many years ago (a LONG time ago!) I shot film & focused on black and white work. I still have my 2 original Ricoh 35mm cameras. About 8 years ago, I switched to digital out of necessity.

5. Please describe your Creative Process.

In my digital work, I process my photographs using Adobe Lightroom and have created specific presets to give my work its signature tones and hues. I also use Photoshop Elements to apply textures to some of my work. Flower photograph and still life works are my favorites. I will often get a subject and look at it for a couple days. Then I try to see it in a very different way – to stretch myself beyond my initial ideas.

6. What Handmade possession(s) do you most cherish?

Gifts from other artists – painted stones, a 2011 calendar, jewelry, photographs. These are all things that remind me of the maker - & that is what holds the value for me. Each time I see the handmade, I think of the artist.

7. What advice would you give to artists that are new to Etsy Team Columbus? If you are a new member within the past year, What are you looking forward to being a new member of the team?

I’m a relatively new member to Etsy and ETC, so I’m not sure I have advice yet! But I’m looking forward to participating with others in ETC in learning and growing as an artist.

8. What are your Favorite features on Etsy? What new features would you like to see?

I’m really pleased that we can now search for items among our favorites. I’m still trying to get the hang of circles. I’m liking the activity feed. In some ways I feel Etsy is trying to become a bit like Facebook & I would like to see them focus more on business/selling.

9. How do you promote your work? (You don’t have to go into super detail but please be specific.)

I try to blog as much as I can – when I have a new product or sale I blog about it. My blog is also “networked” on FB so when I post to my blog, it automatically goes to my personal & to my Business FB pages. I also “tweet” (still trying to get the hang of that) about treasuries I’m in, sales, portrait promos and I try to do the Follow Friday on Twitter. I have a fan page on FB and through google analytics, it seems I get quite a bit of traffic to my Etsy through my Facebook business page. I send emails out to friends/aquaintenances about sales or news I’d like to share.

10. Where can we find you on the web? (Please include your Etsy website, a personal site if you have one, your Facebook/MySpace page and/or blog. Only include the sites you want to share with the general public.)

You can find me on the web in these places:




FB: http:///

Twitter: @joystclaire

11. In ten years where would you like to be artistically and personally.

Wow – this is going to sound like a bio at the end of a book! Lol! But I believe in living with intention – picture it & make it so!

Joy StClaire works out of her studio in a rustic cottage in Northwestern Michigan near the Lake Michigan shoreline. She is thrilled over the recent opening of her natural light portrait & fine art studio, and has begun offering classes in fine art & portrait photography. Visit her at art shows nationwide. She lives with her husband and 3 dogs in the log and stone home they designed together.

Collaboration with Polarity on Etsy {Columbus Ohio Fine Art Photographer}

Thursday, March 3, 2011

For weeks, I have been keeping this under wraps & I can finally make the announcement! (I am such a good secret keeper!)  I'm delighted to have entered into a collaboration with the fabulous Polarity! Since I first saw her picture lockets, I have been smitten! Her lockets are recycled steel auto parts, and include a set of 3 interchangeable tops. So fresh and clever & eco chic! To see what we came up with & for more info,  STOP IN HERE.

In her own words about her shop and lockets:

Polarity Lockets™ are the original magnetic, interchangeable jewelry! I weld, with love and propane, these adorable little lockets from a recycled steel auto part that with the help of a strong little magnet turns one piece of jewelry into many! Doing more with less is something I am absolutely committed to!

I collaborate with the most amazing and talented artists to bring you the most gorgeous and unique jewelry you will find anywhere.

I am a mad scientist mom living life with polarity (the presence or manifestation of two opposite or contrasting principles or tendencies) at the beautiful Jersey shore!

I seek to repurpose sustainable materials in unique and beautiful ways and leave the lightest possible footprint in my wake. The polarity locket is made from a used steel auto part that has been given new life as a piece of jewelry that with the help of a very strong magnet and some beautiful lids can turn one piece of jewelry into several- the idea of doing more with less is something I am absolutely committed to embracing in all facets of my work and life!

Steel's distinctive environmental fingerprint has many advantages. More than half of the steel we see around us has already been recycled from scrap. This valuable material from old buildings, bridges etc. is a powerful energy and resource saver. It takes at least 60% less energy to produce steel from scrap than it does from iron ore. Waste disposal problems are lessened because used steel can be recycled over and over and its magnetic properties make it easier to separate in the waste stream.