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July 2015

The Posture of Craft - Learning to Stretch

Posture-of-Craft-Learning-Stretch

My first job out of college was doing jewelry repair. This experience made numerous lasting impressions on me, some not particularly positive. For one, I noticed that all the employees had a common trait -- bad posture. I mean really bad posture. A permanent hunched over posture due to constantly looking down at their work.

I began to notice that this trait was pervasive throughout hand media.  It was at every place that I worked at over the years. Bad posture, often combined with overweight from sitting and little exercise, seems like a chronic problem in all craft media.

CircuitTrainingClasslighterAt the age of 35, after having two children, I realized that exercise was essential to healthy living and creativity. It was a radical change in my thinking as up until then, I thought a dedicated artist didn't have to exercise.  Since then, regular exercise developed into an obsession. Along the way, I've become a certified fitness instructor leading five exercise classes a week and motivated to get my 10,000 steps a day.  

The-Chair-Rethinking-Culture-BodyPerhaps because of this background, any discussion about back pain catches my attention front and center. The issues surrounding prolonged sitting are finally surfacing in the news and awareness is growing in the general population. As surprising as it may seem, chairs and extended sitting are hard on your body. My concern is that this awareness has not permeated sufficiently into the craft community.

From hobbyist to professional, craft work may be exhausting as an activity, but it is not exercise, and it is having a negative impact on our bodies.  Sustained sitting is bad for our backs, knees, and hips and a better-designed chair will not fix the problem. Exercise and stretching need to become as much a part of our daily routines as eating or sleeping if we want to be able to continue creating with a healthy mind and body.

Reset_Neck_Stretch_1.0_CoverThis is why I applaud the efforts of Raissa Bump to bring more awareness to this issue. She is advocating for stretching and movement within the studio with Reset. 

She has agreed to share one of her stretches for today's post.

"Use the following stretch to counterbalance and relieve strains caused by poor posture and general stress."

 

 

 

 

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With both feet on the floor,

Sit comfortably either fully back in your chair or at its edge.


Put left hand under left sit bone,
palm down, fingertips pointing toward tailbone .

 

 

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Reach straight up with right arm.

 

Inhale

 

 

 

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Exhale.

Lean head to right.

Bend right elbow so fingertips are alongside jaw line. 
Keep lifting chest up as you allow your breath to flow along the side of your neck.

Stay here for a few breaths. 

 

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Lower head down another couple of inches,

Take a few more breaths carefully moving into a new area of tightness in your neck.

Hold position for 3 – 5 breaths.

 

 

 

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Release overhead arm.

Roll chin to chest.

Release the hand you are sitting on.

Leave head hanging.

Take a breath into neck and upper back.
Give yourself a self-massage.

 

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Place entire hand on forehead, inhale – lift head up

 

 

 

 

 

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Repeat neck stretch on the other side.

 

 

 

 

 

 

P.S. Join me for fitness at Belmont Planet Granite as my guest for one of my classes. Contact me by email in advance. 


Drought, Water, Grass, Art, and Personal Observations

GRASS-art-droughtOver 15 years ago, I watched a neighbor rip out the low maintenance landscaping in front of their house and put in a lawn instead.  I was shocked that their idea of a perfect front yard had to be a manicured green lawn.  The lawn-care industry had so deeply ingrained that idea through advertising as a staple of the domestic environment.

That incident provided inspiration for me to make a series of sculptures and a video about the environmental impact of grass lawns. blades of grass depicted the green grass lawn

Now here in California we are in the midst of a serious drought. For the first time people are realizing just how much water lawns consume and the environmental issues surrounding lawns that compete for our drinking water.  

Blades of grass as a sculpture

It has now become "the thing to do" for houses with grass in front to have parched looking lawns.

Blades
The water battles here in the west have a long history. With increasing population and agricultural demands, this problem isn't going away.  Removal of grass lawns is becoming the norm and more water-wise solutions are considered as permanent replacements.

Gainsborough-Painting-Mr-Mrs-Andrews with green lawn.

The modern lawn was inspired by the 18th century landscape architecture of grand estates in England on which nature and humans were perceived to peacefully coexist. The green lawn dependent on a mild, wet climate was transplanted to North America despite the harsher climates and diversity of vegetation beyond the American East Coast.   

Blades of grass art sculpture about the environmental impact of lawns.In America, we plant lawns in the deserts, forests, and prairie. We pour on chemicals, and emit tons of pollutants with mowers and blower equipment.

The grass \'gras\ video (below) shows the fabrication, assembly and meaning behind the lawn-size installation (9' x 9') with 32,400 blades of grass cut from post consumer tin cans.

View all the grass sculptures on my website.

The installation travels in 19 boxes.