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Creating: My Bliss

Happiness is what I make it

By Christy MunsonPublished 3 years ago Updated 3 months ago 6 min read
Top Story - June 2021
Hand-rolled paper beads. By Christy Munson

This inspired life

I create what I love and love what I create. I'm delighted to receive compliments on being prolific. Who knows whether being prolific is what makes me happy, or if being happy is what makes me prolific? Either way, my maker's life is my bliss.

At the root of my joy is scissors, what I can do with them. I rely on Fiskars for practically everything I make. It would be impossible to live my best life without them.

A sampling of necklaces. A multi-strand Aventurine on hand-knotted silk. Three Kumihimo necklaces - blue pearls with Tigers Eye donut focal bead; Landscape Jasper; handblown glass focal bead. All Kumi necklaces are made with thread, seed beads, and borosilicate. The silver spacers (at left) are Tibetan. Crucial tools: Fiskars Paper Edgers, embroidery scissors, and Titanium shears.
The Sweet Life. Each of my hobbies depends on scissors. For photography, I use X-Acto blades and a variety of scissors to customize mat boards.
Pink and purple paper bead necklace featuring hand-cut magazine papers and lavender glass bead spacers. I created these sterling silver jump rings, too, using pliers, scissors, sanders, and hand saw.
Another paper necklace made possible by scissors and a lot of handwriting on coarse paper. Here I've used lightweight metal beads as spacers to keep the feel light against the wearer's neck. This one's also long enough that the wearer need not deal with clasps.
Another personal fav. For this paper necklace I've used tiny metal clay spacers. I chose a strong pattern in black, white, and gray to emphasize bold lines. Three different types of scissors made this project possible - one for paper, another for embroidery thread, and the last for poking holes into the metal clay beads.
Close up of my chainmaille bracelet. The pattern is Dragonscale. I handmade every last jump ring in sterling silver and white gold. It strained my eyes something awful, and the bracelet weighs a ton, but I adore it! I used scissors creatively with this project -- as a paperweight. I also used the blades to help me keep count of stitches as I went along. I then used scissors to cut out the backdrop for this photo.
Paper layers cut out and 'stitched' together as part of my process in imagining the layers of the painting. A photo of the completed work follows.
Wayward Son. By Christy Munson. Acrylics on canvas. To create this image I used high quality, dependable scissors to cut paper layers in an effort to visualize the brushstrokes I later painted into place.
Better Angels. (work in progress) I am using scissors to help me template. Once satisfied with placement, I remove each cut-out and replace it with brushstrokes. Two areas to go!
Lost & Found. Watercolor and pen. Having used custom templates with acrylics, I attempted the same process with this watercolor. Precision scissors made all the difference, enabling me to capture the anguish I sought to expose.
Plated gold and borosilicate beads form the necklace. The focal bead is a metal tear drop that I hand painted. In person, the design looks 3D and draws the eye in. I think it looks like an archipelago. I used the pointy end of scissors to drag the darkest shades deep into the design.

A singular pursuit?

I've heard the argument that, to truly master any form of art, it's best to focus on a singular pursuit. That advice could be prudent for others, but I find the opposite works for me. Each new thing I try teaches me. The result is a wondrous tapestry of sights, sounds, textures, colors, patterns, styles, and experiences. I get to be a Renaissance woman of my own making. How fun is that?!

Waterlily. Photo by Christy Munson. When out in nature, I use garden shears to trim wonky petals. What a difference it makes, cutting away dead weight.
I love to challenge myself, so I made this image with PowerPoint.

What I lack in visual arts education I overcome with imagination and daring, not to mention patience and perseverance. My late mother and grandmother dabbled in poetry and painting and, like them, I am often inspired. Practically everything I hear, see, smell, taste, touch, or live through motivates me to create.

The journey itself often takes my breath away.

Self expression

As a maker, I create projects that combine materials, tools, and techniques in ways that sometimes turn out masterful, but it doesn't always work out the first time. Fortunately I approach life with a sense of humor. I have learned to relax into crafting, art, writing, photography, and a whole host of other passions, and I find it can be a lot of fun when things go awry. I simply keep at it until I'm happy. After all, I'm the one who decides what's good or else still needs a bit of love and attention.

A sampling of versatile papers. I use them in jewelry, cards, wands, bookbinding, quilling, mixed media, and a whole lot more.

No stone unturned

I dabble in ceramics, clay, fabrics, gemstones, glass and sea glass, inks, metal, metal clay, paints, papers, pastels, pens, pigments, thread, wire, wood, words, yarn, up-cycled materials, light, sound, and anything else that moves me. You can too!

Rose Quartz donut focal bead with Borosilicate (glass) beads and sterling silver (handmade chain, hand carved filagree). Not pictured: Custom silver clasp with diamond and mother-of-pearl inlay.

To be or not to be...

In 2000, I traveled to England to study the Bard and found myself every bit as consumed with Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone as I was with King Lear, A Midsummer Night's Dream, and Romeo and Juliette.

Faux Elizabethan script with splashes of gold leaf under resin.

Wands were inevitable

Upon my return to the states, I grew increasingly excited to try my hand at wand craft. I believed I could bind my love of words and budding photography fascination with my new-found fondness for witchcraft and wizardry. I added specialty paints and I was off to the races!

Ground rules

Before I delved into wand-lore and wand craft, I insisted that my creations pay homage to, but never be knock-offs of, J.K. Rowling's wands. I also knew I wouldn't create Ren Fest wands or kids' party favors; other artists already have those styles covered.

"Ooooh. What's that?" Gotta admit that excitement in a stranger's voice still gets me every time.


Naturally, I had to obtain all manner of wood (dowels, branches, discarded blocks, hardwoods from reputable dealers, up-cycled materials).

I also needed a sewing machine and bolts of fabric. Okay, car loads of fabric. While I'm at it, I might as well make other stuff, too. I'm talking cosplay, costumes, felt and stuffed toys, wearable art, mixed media...

I also needed a Dremel (carving tool, sander, buffer). And of course more Fiskars (yep, punches, scissors, shears, stencils, mats) and clay (ooooooh, so many options--had to try them all) and metal clay. And let's see... hobby paints and spray paints to complement my stash of acrylics and oils, and gold leaf and silver foils, and pigments, and adhesives, and stained glass window paints, and the kitchen sink...

My Jackson Pollock-inspired wand and its box. The wand's handle is simple to ensure it does not compete with the wand's dynamic, color-forward nature.


I knew that I would have to teach myself to make and decorate boxes in which to house my wands. Translation: I simply had to delve into woodworking. (A life-long dream of mine.) Sad to say, I don't have room in my home or funds in my bank account for all the equipment needed for woodworking (lathe, circular saw, jig, large-scale tables, etc.), especially given all the other things taking up my creative energies. But thus far I've found satisfactory work-arounds.

Someday I'll make furniture, too, but that'll have to wait until I complete the plethora of other projects.

This one took weeks. In person, the wand looks like watery glass in shades of blue and yellow. It holds sunlight like a gemstone and is balanced in hand. The pillow can be removed from its box. If the witch or wizard so chooses, the box can be used for any number of other purposes.


I decided to create pillows in which to nestle each magical creation and taught myself to sew. Well, sort of. I figured out pillowcases.

Thing is, I started with silk. (Hint: never start with the slipperiest fabric on earth.) Pinking shears proved useful, as did how-to YouTube videos about hand-stitching pillows closed.

Ultimately, I phoned a friend, two actually, who know the art and science of sewing. Their expertise made all the difference. (Shout out to Linda and Julie!) I no longer fear the snapping of a needle, although threading one sometimes still gives me pause.

My Cheetah-inspired wand. First pillow I made with faux fur. I thought faux fur might be easier than silk. It's not. It's different, but not easier. In any case, I love the results.


The finishing splurge is handmade Certificates of Authenticity, complete with my own flourish: couplets about each wand. (Here I borrow from Rowling's Ollivanders' Wand Shop while keeping true to my own vision.)

Each certificate gets a custom maker's mark pressed into a color-coordinated wax seal, and sometimes dried flowers or ribbons or whatever else makes me smile. And I use specialty scissors every step along the way. Some certificates appear intricate and delicate as snowflakes while others are crafted to seem rugged or ancient or boldly attention-grabbing. Still others are cut with wavy, regal, or playful edges.

Each careful cut brings to life each wand's temperament, and each certificate underscores the object's value: tiny works of art.

Tea and Distress Ink-dyed Certificate of Authenticity cut to size with specialty scissors and given the most suitable edges for the vibe I seek to create.

Wand cores

For my wands' cores, I get my hands dirty playing with clay, metal clay, paper, wood, and or metal. Sometimes I use up-cycled materials, too, in unexpected ways.

And now, dear reader, I'm trusting you with my secret. In reading the following paragraph, you make a solemn oath, a pinky promise, to tell no one what you're about to discover!

By Womanizer WOW Tech on Unsplash

For my wands' cores I add rare and alluring magical items: dragon heartstring, faery fire, lightning in a jar, little girls' whispers, mermaid scales (tip: keep to the iridescent ones -- the rest are too oily), barrel-aged phoenix tears, golden goose eggshell shavings, song of the bull frog (dipped in honey), necrotic toad's tongue (diced, naturally), troll tendons, unicorn hair, willow wipple dimples (soft side down, obviously), wolf's saliva (use within three days of collection), and such rare finds as ox-bat mucus (smells even worse than you'd imagine) and l'au d'lilypad (one of the loveliest fragrances ever to be distilled, but terribly expensive).

Bended willow and sandy brown glass paint with 24 karat gold. This wand's wizard requested a knurly, natural feel. Notably longer than the picture would lead you to believe, it's nearly 15 inches and light as a feather!

For my wands' exteriors, I either build up or carve away material using my Dremel, all manner of X-Acto blades, scissors, and all sorts of carving tools. Then comes the varying grades of sand paper.

Watching paint dry

Once I'm happy with the shape, width, and length of a wand, I use paints intended for stained glass windows to fashion either vivid glossy or cool matte/frosted glass colors, patterns, textures, and designs.

Not my snake. Not my hand. But a lovely representation of a process similar to mine. (Photo credit Pinterest)

I figured out the how-to to coat my wands with love and paint. The love is easy, but it's a beast overcoming the paint's insistence on taking nearly 72 hours to dry. That's difficult because the products seek their own level (like water), so putting colors precisely where I want (on a nonlinear surface) one brush stroke at time and having it stay where I want it (instead of dripping with gravity) without me having to babysit the drying wand the entire time took some MacGyvering.

Okay, now this is my snake. And my hand.
My home is overrun with wands and their boxes and pillows and certificates... and jewelry... and paintings... and photographs... and gemstones and tools... and completed projects I just can't seem to let go. It's a glorious problem to have!
Handwritten thank-you card edges cut with scissors that make me happy. Calligraphy in black ink on watercolor paper. On the back (not shown) is a watercolor heart in a variety of hues.

A final thought...

When not to color outside the lines

While I embrace using tools for any project in any way one sees fit, here's one piece of advice: when not to repurpose tools. I'm talking scissors. Try to use scissors for their intended purpose until, at long last, they've done their life's work. Fabric scissors, for instance, can be ruined if you use them on paper, plastic, wax paper, metal, wood, cling wrap, etc.

Otherwise, mixed media knows no bounds. Go for it!


Copyright © 06/04/2021 by Christy Munson. All rights reserved.


About the Creator

Christy Munson

My words expose what I find real and worth exploring.

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  • John Cox2 months ago

    These are incredible, Christy! I'm a hobbyist in comparison to the dedication and artistry that you bring to your work! Do you sell these? When we visited Province Town in the mid 80's, I saw lacquered boxes that sold for thousands of dollars, but they did not come with jeweled wands and certificates of authenticity. You're sitting on a gold mine if you're not selling these masterpieces!

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