Fire remains a powerful shamanic tool for transformation and you will see how fire adds to important insights on this blog. I am grateful to Katie Packham for answering my interview questions in the midst of wildfires that caused her to be ready to evacuate. She clearly had a chance to evaluate what would drive away in her car. Her answers are riveting and support the basis of my research.
I have been curious about the bridge between form(things) and formless(spirit). Eckhart Tolle suggests that when you have the right relationships with things they connect you to inner spaciousness and bringing you to the present moment.
In her book, “Joyful” Ingrid Fetell Lee asks “how do tangible things create an intangible feeling of joy?” Is it superficial? She documented people finding joy in gazing at a painting in the museum. As a designer, she noticed how people spend time, energy, and money to create a more beautiful environment. Ingrid learned that “countless experts agree that the kind of joy that matters in not around us but in us. There is no degree or study necessary. “The only requirement is what you already have: an openness to discovering the joy that surrounds you.
Katie Packham owns a very special business in Reno/Sparks NV named Copper Cat Studio. Custom hand-made mosaics made by Katie are for sale in all shapes, colors, and themes. Her studio is home to so many amazing local artists from mosaics projects, fused glass, wool felting, alcohol inks, and more. In addition to being able to see these magnificent pieces in the gallery, she has a full schedule of classes for people to enhance their creativity. To round out her offerings, Katie teaches yoga on-site so you can see all the reasons Katie was a perfect candidate to interview.
Photos Katie shared of her home are inspired by "Little Altars Everywhere", a workshop she recently hosted at her studio.
Do you feel beautiful things in your home/office are beneficial? If so in what way?
Over the past few weeks, we have seen a crazy fire season that has hit very close to home. I say that literally. Our property borders on the eastern edge of a mountain covered with sagebrush and other extremely ignitable vegetation. When the west winds blow this time of year in conjunction with afternoon thunderstorms, it can cause a bit of anxiety. When we were under voluntary evacuation orders a few weeks ago (we were never in immediate danger), I went through our house room by room contemplating the things I wanted to take, if I had the time to fill my car. Kitties #1. Laptop and cash stash #2. But when it came down to it, I didn't pack up the things they tell you to take. I wasn't too concerned about papers...everything is online or at city hall, dmv, etc. I wasn't worried about pictures/albums taken in the last 10 years..those are somewhere on the cloud. I wasn't even too worried about my passport because that can be replaced, although that is located with my cash stash, so that was an easy addition. I was thinking about all of the things that bring me joy that could never be replaced. The things I would want to surround me if we were starting fresh in a new home. The things that remind me of my travels, my relationships, milestones in my life, my shows, even some relics from when I designed model homes years ago. I've always been bummed when I have had to move in the past because "I just loved my home". However, when everything is boxed up, the nostalgia fades. I always discover that what I loved about my home was all of the things that occupy space in that home. Now I really do have an amazing home. The architecture and details are funky and wacky and perfect for an artist. Come the time we move on, there will be a sadness for leaving the structure, but the stuff inside is the real heart of the home. If I had an hour to pack my car, you better bet I'll bring some of my favorite pottery, artsy jewelry and art of all mediums after the kitties are packed up. My husband teased me when I packed my clothing bag last time, a pair of glittery kitty ears were on the top of the pile. What can I say, they were right there....
NOTE: I am going to add a question – if you had to pack to leave your house what would you take based on Katie's experience. It added so much depth to her answer.
Is there a color theme, shape, element of light that captivates you, making you aware of the present moment?
I love the full box of crayons. Every room in my house is full of color and light. I would say the abundance of windows makes me very aware of the present moment. If I'm feeling spacious, I like spending time on the main level of the house, surrounded by all of the things mentioned above, feeling like I'm in a treehouse, watching hawks circling the canyon, thunderstorms rolling in. When I'm feeling the need to be a little more cocooned, I spend time in the spare bedroom and its covered deck (aka the kittens' room) that is under the apple tree, watching jackrabbits nibbling on apples, quail families scurrying across the yard, listening to the countless species of birds that make a pitstop in our backyard on their journey. From our bedroom we can listen to coyotes howl after a meal, the sound of frogs croaking at sunset, Owls hooting in the middle of the night. I love our home because of the connection I can feel to nature while still being inside enjoying my art.
I hosted a workshop this weekend at my art studio called Little Altars Everywhere. It was a beautiful day of yoga, meditation, guided journeys, and creating mosaic altars and healing self-care items. One of the things we discussed was the concepts of what altars are and how we create little altars all over our house without even realizing it. As I was looking around, I was drawn to take pictures of my unintentional "altars" I have all over my house. The things that bring me joy. The things that transport me back to a time that conjures nostalgia and simultaneously pulls me to the present with gratitude for those memories. These pictures are not staged, the smoky lighting is not ideal and if you look closely, there is likely cat hair, but these are the things that somehow define me.
Over time we may not really see our beautiful things in daily life, what is in your experience keeps a space fresh and a place of peace?
I think we do tend to look past the things that are surrounding us in our day to day life. I occasionally move art around to different places, I also try to keep clutter at a minimum since my art is all over the place, (literally and figuratively)! When my house is clean and organized, it is my favorite place in the world to be...well, other than Akumal, but since we are staying home these days It's a good thing I love it so much!
I love Katie’s passion for living the creative life and the energy she brings to the community. Her commitment to bringing art to life, sharing it with others speaks volumes to the idea of how beauty, creating tangible things brings joy to the inner self where the glow of joy, light is everlasting.
I hope you will find your way to Copper Cat Studio: