Friday, October 24, 2014

Creative Practice Fall B Wk 1 - Button Book

This week, we are learning about well-designed care environment.  After observing a friend’s studio and her creative practice, I fell in love with Book Art.  This last week was the Annual Book Art Jam were over 50 artists display their work.  The location was at a historic community center made of red brick and a beautiful landscape of trees, flowers, wooden benches.  I believe it was a well-designed building to offer care and support to the community. The event was buzzing with treasure hunters and bargain seekers. Books of all sizes were sold –some as small as a button, but most were the size of your mini iPad. Some books were going for $5 to $500.  Fascinated by a button book, and affected by the visual beauty of the environment, I purchased the button book in order to replicate it at my studio.

The artist, Ginger Burrell ( used decorative card stocks and a deep-orange color ribbon to connect the circles together. She also wrote a quote on the circles, “Butterfly, not quite bird and not quite flower.” The colors used are chocolate brown and deep-orange.  

To start off, I wondered if the ribbon was one long strip or many tiny strips, since I couldn’t feel the ribbon in the center of the circle, I decided to use on long strip because it would be easier. The next was to figure out what I wanted to create that was visually appealing. I ended up with a Zentangle pattern (, because I was not able to create my button book at my art studio. Lack of transportation, I had to work on it from my sister’s home. The environment was chaotic. Her children’s clothes and toys were everywhere; the television on full blast and the husband is playing video games on the flat screen with the Bose speakers on loud. If I had my chose, this was not my ideal location for creative practice.  I was frustrated, but had no right to ask everyone to be quite, because I didn’t have transportation at the time. Instead, I used my brother-in-law’s computer room which was a little less noisy.

Once I decided to at least start on the project, it seemed that the noise and chaos fell away – as if the lights went out of the whole house and everyone decided to take a nap.  By using one of my niece’s block toys, I used as a template for my circle. Then, I wondered how Ginger was able to get the circles cute so perfectly. Well, it turns out that she used a circle die cutter, which I do not have. Out of frustration, I use a pair of scissors to cut the circles and glued the pieces together to form the button book. It did not look professional and I was not happy with it, but I was happy for the initial attempt.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Creative Practice Week 7- Star Book

I have wanted to learn how to create a star book for the last year, but never had the mental energy to do it. With the freedom to create what I want his week, I took the opportunity to make a star book. It took me three days in preparation. My mind was playing a tug of war between the Star Book and the Caterpillar book. After reviewing many websites and YouTube video, I decided on the Star Book. It seems hard enough and more effort for me. I sat in my studio thinking about what I should to do – my incubation stage. Then I thought, I always love fairies and unicorns. I’ll create a book with a faire theme – my illumination stage. I discussed with my colleague as to what I wanted to create and she thought it was a cool idea. When I was done, she verified that it was a good start.

Creating this book was a little frustrating at first. My mind couldn’t really concentrate because I felt overwhelmed after watching so many videos trying to figure out how I want to create it. At first, I was going to use thick white watercolor paper and paint it, but then worried it will make it hard for the glue to stick. (See Figure 1) 
Figure 1
I walked away from the table for 30 minutes and thought about what to do and decided on using construction paper in my favorite colors, yellow, black and blue. (Figure 2) 
Figure 2
In the tutorial videos, they tell you to glue the three papers together, but I thought that was boring so I cut a window in the yellow and blue paper, looking back, I should have cut a smaller window for the blue. (Figure 3)
Figure 3
I glued all the sides together and added the covers.  (Figure 4)
Figure 4
At first, I was stressed because I’ve never made a star book before and worried it’ll turn out bad. Once I committed into starting, the whole process helped me to feel better and when I looked up, I have been working for two hours. This was a fair quickly process, but I learned what to do and what not to do to make my next book better. (Figure 5-7)
Figure 5

Figure 6

Figure 7

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Health Issue Week 7 - Chronic Pain

Some years ago, I had a patient call me, wanting to share the experience she received just by looking at a photography displayed in the corridor at the hospital I work for. The picture is of an analemma by Masayuki Shiraishi.   By superimposing all the photographs taken of the sun at the same time each day – subtracting an hour as needed for Daylight Saving Time – the resulting figure-8 or the shape of infinity also known as an analemma.   See Figure 1, a sample photograph of Arizona desert by Frank Zullo 

Figure 1 - Photographer: Frank Zullo
 The patient crying with joy and hope in her voice told me that she has had chronic pain for the last 4 years. She had tried everything and is now at the last straw where she had to seek help through Stanford Hospital. As she was leaving the hospital, she saw this photograph of an infinity shape. That photograph gave her hope because she “knew there must be a God if the sun rotated in the shape of infinity. There is no way we are on this earth by chance.”  She continued to share that she was ready to end her life that day until she saw this photo, and had to thank the people involved in curating this art piece for the hospital.  I still remember this phone call every time I think of patients with Chronic Pain.

After some preparation and incubation of creating a new arts program for patients with Chronic Pain, I finally came to the illumination stage. Recently, knitting has become extremely popular in the Silicon Valley. Groups of ladies with their knitting needles and yarns are popping up everywhere –in the coffee shops, libraries, parks, community centers, and churches.  After approaching donors about the idea of starting a knitting program for Chronic Paint Patients, I received my validation two weeks ago. We now have funding that could keep the knitting program running for the next 10 years. I am proud to say that we are launching the knitting program on October 21, 2014. 

Benefits of Knitting:

In Betson Corkill’s presentation, she gave a list of psychological benefits to knitting. “Distraction, provides purposeful occupation and structure, enables contribution, calming, motivating, relaxing, raises mood, facilitates visualization, increases personal space, gives a sense of belonging, mastery of a skill, raises self esteem, gives feeling of control, breaks into negative thought patterns, reduces feelings of bitterness, encourages looking forward, fun, play and laughter.” What I found most value for the Chronic Pain patients is that knitting can “control the anticipation of pain.” Why knitting? Betson argues that “the hand movements are important. They are bilateral, rhythmic, and automatic. It [knitting] enables us to develop creative thought within a safe framework. Its portability can be used any time; anywhere to manage panic, anxiety attacks.” (Corkill)

“Carrie Barron, a psychiatrist with the Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons and a knitter, lauds handiwork as a tool for alleviating anxiety and depression. Her husband, Alton Barron, orthopedic surgeon and president of the New York Society for Surgery of the Hand, says knitting can prevent arthritis and tendinitis.” (Daily)

(2014) Pain Community Centre. Retrieved from:
Betsan Corkill was a physiotherapist, who now runs Stitchlinks, a support network for those who enjoy the therapeutic benefits of crafts particularly knitting (a bilateral rhythmic psychosocial intervention).

(2014) The Daily Gazette: Knitting making a comeback, seen as relaxing, therapeutic Retrieved from:

Additional Resource:

Riley, J, Corkhill B, Morris, C. (2013). ‘The benefits of knitting for personal and social wellbeing in adulthood: findings from an international survey’, The British Journal of Occupational Therapy, 76:2, 50-57(8)

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Health Issue Week 6 - Mind over Matter

Recently, I found a colleague crying in the break room. After trying to console her for a few minutes, she opened up and shared that her aunt has schizophrenia.  I had a friend from church who claimed that she healed her uncle from this mental illness by taking him on what she calls, “Heavenly Visits”. Though she may call it what she wants, she was actually practicing Guided Imagery.  I have known her for over 9 years, and I and I have to admit that her uncle J has healed. He is as normal as can be. He now responses to you when you call his name, he isn’t violent when I try to share his hand because he thought I had fire that Satan. He doesn’t constantly scream because he saw demons in his room. Her doctor even declared that J no longer has mental illness.

With my colleague in distress, I tried to find articles that will help her aunt. Her aunt is now admitted to a hospital and they are using electrical shock therapy. I wondered if there was anything else that could help her without the invasive treatment. Since the aunt used to love dancing, I was able to find an article written by Emma J. Barton on movement and mindfulness programs.  For 20 weeks, they used formative evaluation to monitor participants with severe mental illness. The results were positive in pro-social behaviors, stress management, and communication skills.
“Practicing yoga enables some people with schizophrenia to begin to articulate the confusing experiences of their inner worlds, the first step toward mastery over them” (Visceglia, 2007, p. 97)

“Yoga assists by building a strong, flexible body and mind capable of attuning to the surrounding environment, while simultaneously regulating the internal state of the body.   These skills both develop and sustain mental and physical wellbeing. Equally, dance/movement therapy offers both insight and lifestyle changes as one becomes aware of one’s own difficulties in relating to others, and learns to express or accept oneself. Therefore, it seems natural to combine the two modalities, offering myriad possibilities for healing with a variety of client populations.” (Barton, 2011)

The dance/movement therapy helped improved coping skills for participants with physical and mental tension, difficulty sleeping, poor interpretation and nonverbal communication. One lady with schizophrenia stated that she learned to put her emotions into movements and then put them into music to relax and feel positive. My colleague was vague about her aunt's schizophrenia. All I know is that she is in the psychic ward with electricity pumping into her brain. Barton’s study is formative evaluation; she didn’t use any tools to record the brain activities. This would be an interesting study to do with my colleague’s aunt to see if dance/movement therapy would truly be more beneficial than the electric shock therapy.

Barton, E. J. (2011). Movement and Mindfulness: A Formative Evaluation of a Dance/Movement and Yoga Therapy Program with Participants Experiencing Severe Mental Illness, American Journal of Dance Therapy, 30:1   DOI: 10.1007/s10465-011-9121-7

Visceglia, E. (2007). Healing mind and body: Using therapeutic yoga in the treatment of schizophrenia. International Journal of Yoga Therapy, 17, 95-103