Want to know more about some of your favorite makers and creatives?
This week I asked Cecilia McDowell, the wonderful artist, photographer, and Reiki Master behind Alchimaera Healing Art, to join us for a fun little Q&A session. Cecilia kindly agreed to let us pick her incredibly creative brain for a few minutes and now I’m so excited to share this edition of The Hive’s Maker Spotlight with you!
What is your favorite color?
What is your favorite food?
What is your favorite treat?
Something sweet and gingery!
What is your favorite guilty pleasure?
Buying more crystals…
What is your favorite organism?
Otters – they carry rocks around with them too!
Do you have a hidden talent? If so, what is it?
I can eat fire, and spin it as well!
If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be and why?
An oak on Hampstead Heath, so that I could always be in my happy place with my tree friends!
Tell us a random fun fact about yourself!
I have my broadcaster’s license, a 3rd degree black belt, and a very low threshold for boredom!
Who are you?
Artist/Photographer/Reiki Master/Tea Fiend
Crystal grids – both their design, and their energy – captured in the medium of Cyanotype. Most everyone is familiar with blueprints; these are blueprints like you’ve never seen before! Cyanotype is an alternative photographic process that was the original method of the blueprint, and is known by its vibrant blue hue. The Cyanotype process requires sunlight, time, and the object whose essence one wishes to capture: in my case, crystals, and crystal grids. My crystal grids are laid out, activated with Reiki, and allowed to charge in the light of the sun as they expose onto the prepared paper. In this way, both the imprint of the grid and the energy of the stones are transferred to paper. The resulting print can be used as you would any mandala or crystal grid: for growth; in a scared space; to energize a room, office, or chakra; or in your personal practice of meditation, yoga, or self-healing – a blueprint for your growth and transformation.
What’s your story?
While helping my mother sort through the family home last summer, I was surprised to find a small amethyst point and a tumbled rose quartz packed away in a box of childhood treasures. I have no memory of them, yet they were important enough to the child I was to keep, and then later, to pack them safely away. The crystals reappeared after decades, along with my very first film camera… And 3 months later the idea of attempting to capture the healing energy of a crystal grid by exposing it to the sun’s rays on photosensitive paper was born.
What or who inspires you?
Those who are fearlessly authentic.
What was your biggest obstacle to success and how did you overcome it?
Perfectionism. I see each tiny speck of dust and imperceptible color change and every slightly wonky angle, and it drives me bonkers! I can lose hours frustratingly re-exposing a grid because of an imperfection. For me, 2016 has been about learning to be in the moment (without my internal censor!) as I create, and embracing the uniqueness of handmade, one-of-a-kind art. As a photographer, I’m used to being removed from imperfections; in the age of photoshop, anything can be altered if a photographer chooses to do so. However, the Cyanotype process doesn’t allow for post-processing, and I never know exactly how a crystal will show on the paper from print to print, due to the sun, the opacity of the stone, and how its energies affect any part of that process. That’s a lot of control to cede for a perfectionist, but a lot of honesty to be gained by embracing the process.
Creation comes easily for me, but the minutiae can become overwhelming at times. Since my Cyanotypes are exposed to the sun (rather than a UV lamp), there are only certain times of sunny days when I can work on printing; balancing running and promoting the shop with creating new art for the shop can be tricky. And like most artists, I get cranky when I’m not actively creating – that’s my preference, rather than sitting in front of a computer! I mostly address this with caffeine: black tea when I need to be calm, and coffee and chicory when I wish to be tense (Buffy references, anyone?). But in all seriousness, finding a functional balance – when my art is at the mercy of the weather, and my state of mind is at the mercy of making art – is something I have to work on daily.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received and/or what advice would you give to a maker who is just starting out?
My advice: Listen to your heart – let it speak louder than those around you. It’s (relatively) easy to stand up to vociferous defeatists, but the casual skepticism of the majority will erode your self-confidence – and your desire to create – over time. If you have something to share with the world, get it out there! No matter how crazy those around you think it might be.
Where can people purchase your items?
Where can we find you social media?
@accidentalalchemist on Instagram… for information on crystals, behind-the-scenes looks at my process, and crystal grids
@alchimaeraarts on Twitter… for buddhist quotes, art, sarcasm, esoterica, theatre, poetry, and music (early music, later classical, and Depeche Mode)
www.pinterest.com/alchimaera… for anything I find interesting or inspiring