Thursday, January 26, 2017

Year of the Rooster 2017

and the Rooster crows...

Many of you know my love of studying Chinese and Japanese art forms and symbolism that contribute to and inspire my own art work.

With this, I find the Chinese New Year animals I hold this as a gospel for myself personally? No, not really since I truly believe we create our own paths. 

But, it is a bit curious that last year was the Year of the Monkey...

Monkeys are masters of practical jokes, 
because they like playing most of the time.
Mischievousness, curiosity, and cleverness, 
can make them very naughty.


2017 brings the Year of the Fire Rooster. It will be a powerful one, with no middle of the road when it comes to moving forward. This year, impressions count. You’ll want to be at your best and be clear on your intentions concerning love, money, and business. Stick to practical and well-proven paths to ensure success, rather than risky ventures.
Remember: In a Rooster Year, all of the Chinese animals can reap great rewards by tapping into Rooster traits.
Here are some of the characteristics that will be rewarded this year:
Hard work
Family values
Top-notch appearances  

Watercolor by Arti Chauhan

The year's is the Yin Fire Rooster. Yin is (in Chinese philosophy) characterized as female and sustaining and associated with earth, dark, and cold.

Inherently this Yin year, the discipline of metal meets the passion of fire may cause the year to have a mysterious duality... a little out of balance at times.

By carefully blending discipline and passion together, it will make a complete balance to create a perfect masterpiece!
The element of the year combines with the animal to color its influence. This year it’s fire, and I think that’s a good sign. Fire’s basic nature is to rise. And through illumination, it’s able to shed light into the darkest corners; this heralds a time of transparency and clarity. Fire also unifies. Humans through the ages have gathered around its warmth, and though many kinds of things can be fed to a fire, it all becomes one as ash. " -Link here to DragonTree Newletter 

The Chinese Rooster is also associated with the Phoenix, which is representative of all the powerful bird family bringing new opportunities and chances to your front door. What we lose in the ashes of the past can rise again in our future. This year is the year of new beginnings and scenarios. Strike while the fire is hot! Use the resources, the strength and tenacity of the Phoenix Rooster to make it happen. -Mary Shurtleff

The Phoenix is used because it is a more spiritual translation with the potential for personal growth. By facing your fears is to be reborn but is not always easy.
Therefore, the year of the Phoenix 2017 is a time of conscientiousness, hard work, discipline, and a realistic outlook. Practical endeavors succeed. Nonsensical plans do not. Be a bit frugal financially, and refrain from complaining. Choose your battles wisely because there could be much crowing and pecking this year. Keep to the high ground and do not engage in petty arguments.
Keep life simple. -for more link here

Bottom line:

Find Balance between discipline and passion. 
Keep it simple...while strutting your stuff...
keep gracious...and crow- in happiness.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Word of the Year 2017

I was reading some Facebook postings and noticed a dear friend had chosen her WORD for the year!

I looked back on my blogs and noticed that I hadn't chosen a WORD for about three years...yup that seems about was a three year transition that I went through to get to where I am today.

Extreme hardships can bring on the opportunity for extreme personal growth. 
It can be a time where it becomes possible to shed un-needed people, places, and choice or maybe by the Divine. I choose to believe both.

I like to choose a word for soul growth and that sets an intention for that year. To me, this brings the New Year in on a positive note versus behavior modifications that (most) times cannot be met.

There was a litany of so many words that scrambled through my brain!

...and when you least expect the right word to come to you it does... was in the middle of a kick-boxing lesson when my instructor was asking me for suggestions for a name of a new routine of hits and kicks...I said the banana peel and got kind of an eye roll...then I said how about unfolding lotus...well needless to say THOSE were not the kind of titles he was looking for...but it told me exactly were my soul was...unfolding...

to open to the view
: reveal; especially : to make clear by gradual disclosure and often by recital
to remove (as a package) from the folds
: unwrap
to open from a folded state : open out : expand, blossom
: develop, evolve <as the story unfolds>
 to open out gradually to the view or understanding 
:become known <a panorama unfolds before their eyes>

perfect...I believe I am at a place in my life where all the bindings that were holding me from being all that I can be are gone...or recognizable...and I can be who and what I am blessed to inspire share my share my artist.

In order to make this journey all that is to be I have found that one of the greatest lessons is not to push the process...let it unfold and it will and it has!
See this blog posting for more insight LINK HERE

I have found that when I push things to happen in my life, it only delays or derails the beautiful things that are suppose to come into my life. It is suppose to flow…to unfold.

When I feel that strong un-ease, I know that I am out of balance…my soul is actually telling me so. I’m resisting all that could be…. I’m pushing down the wrong path.

So, I back off. I take the time to stop and be quiet. It may take moments or days but the truly rightful soulful answer comes to fact it is so clear that I think "duh, of course"! And in some cases the answer may be to wait a bit longer because the right answer or path has not appeared yet.

From there the path is so obviously clear and focused...then I know I'm where I should be on this part of my journey!

Next week...

Letting the Path happen:

The LL COUTURE Handbag!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017


Hello All,
I would like to share with you my process as I unfold my life as an is a life journey where at times you do need to question yourself...your path.

My life has had some incredible challenges, that I am, now, so very grateful for. I needed everyone of those challenges to question where I was and where I wanted to go...and work to become the person I am today and the life that I am living today...thankful.

As I now stand on my own two feet with great support and look at my future as to how I will make a living. 

I would like to share with you, as perhaps, an inspiration or my hope, as a guide into the unknown (as it is).

In the hopes of continuing with my Story Hat© line, I initially thought of a sponsor purchasing the collection as an art display and donating it to a hospital that helps children with cancer. This was at the time still raw within my own heart after my Dad passed from brain cancer. What a great tribute to him in his memory.
Note: My inspiration came from hats that were originally created for children in China by the expectant Mother. These hats imbue protection and well wished for the child-to-come future. It took this concept and created my line of Story Hats©.

Goldfish Story Hat © Leslie Molen
copyright 2016
Photography: Alan Rodriguez Villalobos

Next, came the idea of creating polar fleece hats for children in (chemo) treatment that would be purchased by other sponsors. As the Story Hat Project©,these hats would be gifted to the children, in my hopes, to bring them joy and a bit of play into their lives.

Everything was the point of being accepted as a project by a hospital. Then BOOM!
Several road blocks started to arise. Which brought up questions...questions within myself.

After designing several polar fleece hats, I realized that it was not within my ability to create a version of the polar fleece hats that could be (realistically) cost effective without watering them down to something that I would not be happy with. On the other hand, keeping them at the quality was in no way feasible to be able to create as a mass product.

My questions to myself as an artist, as a business person where as follows: 
1. Was it even doable to make a living being an artist? I do things by piece not by hourly rate. 

2. How do I produce and sell enough to receive a monthly income that I can actually live on?

I have been very fortunate to be a full-time artist for the last 25 years of my life. In this time, I have been able to master my craft of textiles to be the best that I can be...and understand also, how to run it as a business (of art). I have worked extremely and passionately hard at it...

Hydrangea Story Doll © Leslie Molen
copyright 2014
Photography:Mark Mortensen

I was thankful for these "roadblocks"... it gave me time to breathe and think this through.

To ask questions, I came to the understanding that I am an artist, I am not a mass producer...this is what I am- an my my soul...with each and every stitch.

1. Yes, I am extremely efficient but also need to continue to create at the quality level that is associated with me as a master artist. Continue creating each as a quality piece and know that people will appreciate the originality and uniqueness of my work.

2. Expand my business beyond dolls (small very limited market) to pieces that are still original and unique but gain a larger market share.

I started with simply made tote bags and scarves...not quite there...but on the right path.

A very dear close friend told me that I am very well known for my dolls and my hats...geez...of course...I decided to expand on what I am already known Asian techniques.

Butterfly Story Hat © Leslie Molen
copyright 2016
Photography: Alan Rodriguez Villalobos

And so with that I am creating a line that I call LL Couture. This also in memory of my Dad who called me LL.

I realized that my first attempt was a stepping stone but not at the level I wanted and have worked so hard to be known for. At this posting, I have drafted the pattern for my new handbag that compliment my dolls and Story Hats...

Most importantly, I took the time to listen to my my soul and take that direction. 

For the Story Hat© line, I will continue creating them and am working on having them as a exhibit to share with others. Eventually have them for sale as art pieces.

The Story Hat Project©. I have not dismissed that. I so believe in giving back. The Project is on my work sheets that I hang in my studio...perhaps moved to the side- for now...the right person(s), time and place will come.

I have all faith that this is where I am suppose to be...this is what I am suppose to be...

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Emerging from the Cocoon...Part 3: Taking Flight

As the New Year has come to us...I am writing this post to release the last of my crossover or transition. 

I am now fully engaged in my life as I have created it to be. I am more myself and happier than I have ever been in my is my I choose it to be.

I find my creations of The Moth's symbolism still emerges as my transition finds a steady foundation...
"...the moth is ever-vigilant in following its path of light. This may also serve as a moral to us to keep our own vigilance, but not fall victim of blind faith...
...It is important to seat ourselves in grounding foundations when we step in-tune with the lunar aspects of the moth. In other words, fly high with the moth - but always have a clear runway for happy, safe landings."
Photography: Alan Rodriguez Villalobos

Luna Moths are attracted to the moon as a source of light. In spiritual terms, they signify rebirth and new beginnings. Because they gravitate towards the light in the darkness of the night, the Luna Moth is seen as a symbol of spiritual transformation, if heightened awareness, and a striving towards truth.
Wings of vintage Japanese silk kimono.
Hand sculpted head overlaid with silk crepe
Hand painted eyes
Hand dyed tussah silk hair
 Kimono represents her cocoon.
Hand dyed gauze lined with silk dupioni.
Above: Obi- vintage kimono overlaid with gauze.
Below: Folds of kimono.

Below: Wings open
 Interior of wing: Printed silk vintage kimono
 Back view with wings spread.

I have always been extremely type A personality, which in the past helped me survive life they were. Through my transition and doing the work, I now find that those survival "skills" are no longer necessary.

As I took to my new life path, I have found that I am much more calmer and now able to take the time to think things through...and maybe even been able revisit define them to fit to who I am now...strong but with a deep understanding of compassion for myself as well as others.
"Here we see a fragile vulnerability in the moth. The moon is her mother, and she will follow her course at all cost. This makes her open to distraction...Here we may find another message to adjust our course as our path indicates rather than drive forward without heeding important signs along the way."


Ghost Moth is able to attract what it needs in life and have very little difficulty moving through life changes and transformations. They are joyous in rituals and their dance. Ghost Moth symbolizes intuition and awareness.

This Ghost Wing vintage kimono, I found to be one of my favorites.

The "real" ghost moth (male) is blue...which I took artistic license with the blue color to create my Ghost Moth.
Wings with hand embroidery

Close up: Face

 Back View: hand dyed tussah silk hair 
Close up of kimono and obi
 Silk dupioni lining- hand dyed

"Indeed, those with the moth totem will find this creature a magnificent assistant in developing higher awareness."
And so, out of my cocoon and taking flight in my new path with my life as well as my art.
My goal is to make a successful living as an artist...where my path leads me will be the adventure that I will share with you in this upcoming year!!

Friday, September 30, 2016

Emerging from the Cocoon...Part 2

I want to share with you this part of my journey of transition from where I was to who I am today. I have done the work and am well into my "new" life, so it is easy for me to look back with all wholeness, with no regrets. I am thankful for each and every hard earned step that brought me to my life as it is now- happy!

Plato's Allegory of the Cave...

What?? you say!
During my time of transition, I found that there where many things that I could relate to and see a connection from who I was to who I am at present.

One of the things that I found soulfully and at times mournfully fulfilling was music. I came across a song called the The Cave by Mumford and Sons...

And I'll find strength in pain

And I will change my ways

I'll know my name as it's called again.

While sharing this with (most incredible therapist) Mary..she said that is based on the Allegory of Plato's Cave..and yes, my turn...What??

So, of course I had to find out more..I just LOVE life and how it can speak to us and make us grow!!

Basically, it is that there are people (prisoners) chained to a wall in the cave. They can only see what is in front of them - shadows from behind cast by a fire. They think this 2 dimensional world is THE WORLD. 

One day a prisoner breaks free and comes out the cave to see the world as it is- as it can be. He is initially blinded by the sunlight but adapts.
He comes back to tell the others of his discovery, but when he enters the dark cave he cannot see after being in the sunlight. His people think that he has been cursed and will not listen to him.

My Summary:

How can someone understand what you have been through if they have not themselves been through something similar!??

BUT there are others who will relate and there is a new found bond, that I find personally incredible!

or here

So...follow me here...
My transition was a way of looking at things differently...I found that it is how I perceive my world around me...

And I'll find strength in pain
And I will change my ways
I'll know my name as it's called again.

...doing the work internally-emotionally to understand myself better and therefore understand the world better and who I am...and who and what fits into my world now.

So to the dolls...
I knew that I wanted to create pieces that spoke of transition and of emergence. I initially, thought of too perfect to pretty...I thought I have been through a hard time and I have some singed edges...and some dust on me...but I can fly!

Moths...of course! 
As you well know, I have to know the symbolism if what I wanted to're going to love this!!

“We gather these symbolic attributes because night creatures conduct their life-sustaining activities in complete darkness.

As humans, we may translate this as symbolic of living our lives by intuitive feeling rather than physical sensory perception.
Philosophically speaking, night creatures do not tumble in the dark, and neither do humans. We use our dreams, our awareness, and our deeper, inner knowing to navigate through the darkest hours of our lives.

Faith is another tool we use to move through shadowy times of uncertainty, and the moth also shares this aspect. The moth never questions provision. She has complete faith that all of her needs will be meet each night.

Bingo! There it is again- that connection, knowing by my gut what I was to create and the confirmation (faith) that I was on the right track!

I knew that I was going to make my smaller dolls that are more fragile and graceful in stature. I knew that I wanted them to be Japanese and that the kimonos were to be their cocoon. you well know I love doing the research:

Beautiful Cocoons of Moths:

Now for the fabric. I chose cheese cloth to mimic that beautiful texture of the cocoon. I dyed it several times to achieve the varied coloring.

I tried sewing it on it's own but it just fell apart. I realized that it needed to be lined so I hand-dyed dupioni silk to be a reflective underlining.
What struck me the most was the feel of the finished kimono, it actually felt like a cocoon!

This is a series of three dolls. I will cover one a week.
Photography: Alan Rodriguez Villalobos
Custom made stools : Gary Leitch
All three dolls in a private collection

Tiger Moth is the master of disguise and reminds us to be aware that we could be hiding from ourselves. Are we using our emotions to keep ourselves hidden from others? The Tiger Moth transforms emotional energy away from drama and into something closer to the heart. They symbolize having faith in the journey and trust that although things seem to be complicated right now – it will eventually see the light. It reminds us to use our heart to guide us.

In this series, each doll's kimono is closely the same, it is in their facial expression and wings that they differ. Of the same group yet different...still sisters.

Each set of wings are made from vintage kimono fabrics. I find it very spiritual that the right fabric is always is the right symbolism!

Side note: When researching the moth versus butterfly wings, I found that each open very differently. Butterflies close and open their wings up and down while moth tuck and open their wings from their back...just another one of those things to make this all work so beautifully. I believe that these moth wings could also be interpreted as the bow of the obi!

Below: Top wings of Tiger Moth.

 (right) sewn with added quilting around each segment and (left) with hand embroidery.

Back view
 Spread with interior view
 Top view

Close ups:
Hand sculpted head of DAS clay with overlay of silk crepe.
Moths differ from butterflies in their antennae, in that moths have 
feathery ones where butterflies have wire-y antennae.
Again, I feel a perfect connection in creating the Moth Series. 
 Tiger Moth's hair is of tussah silk that I hand dyed with a 
black acid dye to create the deepest black.
I usually use a mohair silk blend for my wigging but 
wanted a much more earthly-organic feel.
Close up of hands and pants.
Close up of obi- Japanese vintage kimono fabric 
overlaid with the hand-dyed cheese cloth to give 
a continuity to the feel of the cocoon.
Wing detail of hand-embroidery
Underside of wing
depicting the quilting effect
Shoes of silk
Underside of sole- silk

Tiger Moth

Next Week:

Ghost Moth

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