Dream Catcher Folklore

sunset_dreamcatcherLong ago when the world was young, an old Lakota spiritual leader was on a high mountain and had a vision. In his vision, Iktomi, the great trickster and teacher of wisdom, appeared in the form of a spider. Iktomi spoke to him in a sacred language that only the spiritual leaders of the Lakota could understand. As he spoke Iktomi, the spider, took the elder’s willow hoop which had feathers, horse hair, beads and offerings on it and began to spin a web. He spoke to the elder about the cycles of life…and how we begin our lives as infants and we move on to childhood, and then to adulthood. Finally, we go to old age where we must be taken care of as infants, completing the cycle. “But,” Iktomi said as he continued to spin his web, “in each time of life there are many forces some good and some bad. If you listen to the good forces, they will steer you in the right direction. But if you listen to the bad forces, they will hurt you and steer you in the wrong direction.” He continued, “There are many forces and different directions that can help or interfere with the harmony of nature, and also with the great spirit and all of his wonderful teachings.” All the while the spider spoke, he continued to weave his web starting from the outside and working towards the center. When Iktomi finished speaking, he gave the Lakota elder the web and said, “See, the web is a perfect circle, but there is a hole in the center of the circle.” He said, “Use the web to help yourself and your people to reach your goals and make good use of your people’s ideas, dreams and visions.” “If you believe in the great spirit, the web will catch your good ideas and the bad ones will go through the hole.” The Lakota elder passed on his vision to his people and now the Sioux Indians use the Dream catcher as the web of their life. It is hung above their beds or in their home to sift their dreams and visions. The good in their dreams are captured in the web of life and carried with them, but the evil in their dreams escapes through the hole in the center of the web and are no longer a part of them. They believe that the dream catcher holds the destiny of their future.

Ojibwe Dream Catcher History

Long ago in the ancient world of the Ojibwe Nation, the Clans were all located in one general area of that place known as Turtle Island. This is the way that the old Ojibwe storytellers say how Asibikaashi (Spider Woman) helped Wanabozhoo bring giizis (sun) back to the people. To this day, Asibikaashi will build her special lodge before dawn. If you are awake at dawn, as you should be, look for her lodge and you will see this miracle of how she captured the sunrise as the light sparkles on the dew which is gathered there.

Asibikaasi took care of her children, the people of the land, and she continues to do so to this day. When the Ojibwe Nation dispersed to the four corners of North America, to fill a prophecy, Asibikaashi had a difficult time making her journey to all those cradle boards, so the mothers, sisters, & Nokomis (grandmothers) took up the practice of weaving the magical webs for the new babies using willow hoops and sinew or cordage made from plants. It is in the shape of a circle to represent how giizis travels each day across the sky. The dream catcher will filter out all the bad bawedjigewin (dreams) & allow only good thoughts to enter into our minds when we are just abinooji. You will see a small hole in the center of each dream catcher where those good bawadjige may come through. With the first rays of sunlight, the bad dreams would perish. When we see little asibikaashi, we should not fear her, but instead respect and protect her. In honor of their origin, the number of points where the web connected to the hoop numbered 8 for Spider Woman’s eight legs or 7 for the Seven Prophecies.

It was traditional to put a feather in the center of the dream catcher; it means breath, or air. It is essential for life. A baby watching the air playing with the feather on her cradleboard was entertained while also being given a lesson on the importance of good air. This lesson comes forward in the way that the feather of the owl is kept for wisdom (a woman’s feather) & the eagle feather is kept for courage (a man’s feather). This is not to say that the use of each is restricted by gender, but that to use the feather each is aware of the gender properties she/he is invoking. (Indian people, in general, are very specific about gender roles and identity.) The use of gemstones, as we do in the ones we make for sale, is not something that was done by the old ones. Government laws have forbidden the sale of feathers from our sacred birds, so using four gemstones, to represent the four directions. The stones used by western nations, were substituted by us. The woven dream catchers of adults do not use feathers.

Dream catchers made of willow and sinew are for children, and they are not meant to last. Eventually the willow dries out and the tension of the sinew collapses the dream catcher. That’s supposed to happen. It belies the temporary-ness of youth. Adults should use dream catchers of woven fiber, which is made up to reflect their adult “dreams.” It is also customary in many parts of Canada and the Northeastern U.S. to have the dream catchers be a tear-drop/snow shoe shape.



Inspiration Board: Calligraphy

I move through seasons with my artwork, just as I do in life.  Inspiration boards are where I gather what is currently inspiring me.  It’s a way for me to catalog the journey.

Calligraphy Lessons ::  St. Francis of Assisi  ::  Muir John Potter script  ::  G. K. Chesterton  ::  Monk

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How to write calligraphy

Lessons in calligraphy

Why social media & I don’t get along.

Social media has enriched my life in a number of ways.  I love the connections that I’ve been able to make with people outside of my normal circle of everyday interactions thanks to FacebookPintrest has become my primary resource for finding new ideas and creative ways to do things.  And Instagam has inspired me to challenge myself artistically and encouraged me to keep working at skill that I struggle with to see growth over time.  In these ways, I can’t imagine my life without social media.

Over the last year, in a push to grow my business, I started focusing on social media, spending more time creating posts working toward a consistent schedule and a stronger online presence.  This strategy has been good for my business, but not so good for myself.

To begin with, it is a distraction.  For every 20 min. that I spend doing something productive, I spend another 60 min. distracted on a rabbit trail.  However, time management is a challenge for many entrepreneurs.  No, my issue with social media comes from a deeper, personal place.  For me, social media is a constant source of discontentment and jealously.

As I scroll down my Facebook timeline, I see all the places that my friends are traveling to, the concerts they are at, and the restaurants they eat at, and I feel jealous.  I log on to look at the pins that have inspired those who I follow on Pintrest, and I see beautiful homes, inspiring studios, and gorgeous works of art.  I compare these with my own home, studio and artwork and I feel discontent.

Jealousy and discontentment are not character traits that I am comfortable holding in my heart.  They rob me of joy.  Yet, it doesn’t stop there.  When I’m not on the computer, my mind is still on those social media sites as I ponder how to best document my life for maximum social media impact.  I’m not being present in the moments of my life if my mind is pondering ways to leverage my life moments on social media.  Trying to live my life as a promotion of my brand is like creating artwork because I think it will sell.  Neither is an authentic expression from my heart and neither is very fulfilling.

I ask myself why I spend my time participating in something that plants seeds of jealousy and discontentment and causes me to live my life without authenticity.  Sadly, the answer is, to grow my business. This is not a good enough answer.  I believe that if I continue down this path, it will instead be the death of my creative business.  For how can I expect to receive God’s inspiration, and create meaningful art if I am not being authentic?  For this reason there will be some coming changes as to how I stay connected with all of you.  More information about these changes will be coming later.

In the mean time, I’m wondering how social media has effected how you live your life?  Share in the comments.

When Painting Means So Much More

I am a third generation painter. My father is a painter, as was his mother before him. Painting has always played an important role in my life. My training came along side life training. I remember learning about points of perspective, and proportions of the human body, just as I remember learning to ride my bike and dancing ballet. Every school project became an art project. In fourth grade, I made a life size statue of George Washington for a history project. and in middle school, my presentations were shrink wrapped and displayed as fine art. Creating has always been second nature to me. It is a treasured bond that I share with my dad. As I have grown older, creating art has also become a way for me to connect with my heavenly father.

Rhythm & Balance LernerIn 2014, I had the privilege of doing some artwork for a fundraiser hosted by Elkhart General Hospital in Elkhart, IN. During this time, there was a tragic shooting that took place in our community. In response to this, the hospital asked if I would paint a memorial piece in memory of the shooting victims. It was my great honor to create an art piece entitled “A Three Stranded Cord”. The monument represents the strength of our community during that hard time. It shows that with love, hope, and unity, our community is like a three-stranded cord that cannot easily be broken. This was my first time painting for hurting people. The experience opened a door in my heart and gave me direction for my artwork.

Martin's 2 sidesShortly after the memorial dedication, I was asked by St. Joseph Regional Medical Center in Mishawaka, IN to begin painting their oncology unit. When I began, I didn’t realize how much this project would impact my life. As I have watched cancer patients view my artwork, I have seen them gain hope, and determination to keep up the fight, and this experience has greatly inspired me, offering me my greatest fulfillment as an artist.


When people are sick, it is important that they get out of bed, walk around, and have a renewed hope, and inspiration for life.  Art can do that.

When people have lost someone dear to their heart, it is important that their memory live on, that others remember their life and are inspired.  Art can do that too.

Art can offer hope.  It is an inspiration of life.  It can soothe the soul and offer healing to the hurting in way that words cannot.

As I dip my brush into the paint and I make brush strokes across the wall., it is my prayer that those who see my paintings are able to see God’s heart for their life, that in the darkness of cancer, His presence is known and His love for His people is felt. This is why I paint.

A Place to Create

As we come into the the New Year, I’ve been evaluating my needs as a working artist in regards to my studio. I have been living and working out of our house for the past 11 years.  Over this time, I have had my studio in 5 different spaces in our home trying to figure out what works best.  Now I am considering investing studio space outside our home.  I have the opportunity to share a great space that I believe will fit my needs.  However, after being a stay-at-home-mom for the last 10 years, I feel torn about working outside the home.  Even if it is working for myself.


As I have been weighing the pros and cons of both options, I came across some quotes from other artists sharing their thoughts about their studios.

What I try to use the studio for is what I call ‘thinking with material’. To do that you need an arena. You need a page to write on. You need a space to work in. That is what a studio is.”  – Tony Cragg, Wuppertal, Germany

I like his choice of the word “arena”.  A large space is needed to get everything out, make mess, and experiment. It’s important to be able to walk away from the project, leaving everything out for you to return to with a fresh mind.

“I tend to work on the floor, sometimes on the wall and then on the floor. It’s constant movement between the vertical and the horizontal. Part of the reason I work on the floor is that I need the physical contact. You get the consistency of gravity and you can move the paint around … I try to get in to my studio as often as possible. At times I set myself a certain goal to reach. Some days are very long.” – Tony Bevan Deptford, south-east London

I never thought about there being a “consistency of gravity”, but he is absolutely right.  I also like that the floor gives canvas stability.  I can work directly on the canvas without having to stretch it first.  I MUST work more on the floor, but to do so, I’ll need more floor space.

“The studio is the place where it’s my world. When I leave I do take work home in my mind, you always carry it in your mind, but hopefully you can separate it or you will go insane. You have to turn your head off sometimes.”  – Marc Quinn Clerkenwell, London

Working from home makes it incredibly difficult to separate, and turn your head off.  It’s also hard to be present with my family when there is a constant pull on my heart to go paint.


photo credit 1, 2

Take Me Deeper

One of my goals for 2015 is to me more intentional with my time.  I want to be present in the moments that take place throughout the day, but even more so, I want to see God’s  presence in these moments.  I want to KNOW God’s heart, and I want to be His hands and feet all day long, everyday.

I have always had a relationship with my maker, I have also always really struggled with spending time daily at His feet.  To be brutally honest, it’s always been boring to me.

After attending christian schools my entire childhood, reading the bible feels like reading a textbook.  It’s not alive to me, and I HATE that.  How can the words of my God feel so dead in my heart as I read them?  How can I possibly know God’s heart when his very word bores me?

I passionately LOVE my God with all my heart.  I hunger for more of Him every day, and it grieves me that I do not find life in reading God’s word.  This is why I’ve decided to join Take Me Deeper.


Every week, for a year there will be a new bible verse to read as well as a devotional to accompany it.  Then throughout the week we are to create a piece of art inspired by the verse.  I know this is going to be a challenge for me.  I have yet to stick with something like this for the entire year, but I really hope that I do.   I hope that it helps me find a renewed hunger for reading the bible.  I also hope it helps me learn to hear God’s voice in creating art.

Week 1 : Romans 12:1-2

wk 1


If I am to choose one word for the New Year, it is “Trust”.

Although this will be the second year that I have worked as a self employed artist, it is the first year that we are supporting our family with the income.  As we move into 2015, I feel like I am stepping out of the boat to walk on water.  This year, I am fixing my eyes on Jesus, and placing my trust in Him.

Being in this place is an exciting dream come true, but it is also scary.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. ~ Proverbs 3:5