Thursday, March 25, 2010

Spirit Dolls, Altered Books, and Happiness

Hi everyone- Smith Farm tells me April 10th's Spirit Dolls workshop is sold out! Isn't that great? I'm looking forward to working with the artists who attend, making little dolls to embody strengths they'd like to call into their lives...a neighbor gave me her old bead box a few months back (Thanks, Dawne!) and I'm going to get to offer all these wonderful broken jewelry bits to be recycled into positive intention art. I might have to make a few myself!

We are going to do another of our altered books workshops, which sold out in the fall. Altered Books: Exploring Creativity & Identifying Strengths will take place May 1, from 10AM-3PM, and is $45 at Smith Farm in DC. Come explore an art form where old books are recycled into new works of art. Altering books - with paint, collage, beads, found objects, anything! - provides a rich means of exploration, reflection, growth and change. We will use our altered books to record and capture positive emotions as we acknowledge our strengths and gifts. Materials provided. 4.5 CECs Available* To register, call 202.483.8600 or email And you can always take my on-line course for only $25, "Altered Books in Art Therapy" under Art Therapy Theory, Practice and Techniques offered by the American Art Therapy Association here: AATA members get a 28% discount! Then, on a Tuesday evening, the 4th of May, Rebecca and I will be giving our lecture The Art of Happiness: Positive Psychology and the Arts for FREE at Art at the Center, 2804 Sherwood Hall Lane Alexandria,Virgina from 7:00-9:00 pm. Just be sure to RSVP to Come if you'd like to increase life satisfaction, meaning, and engagement for your clients and yourself and discover what makes people of all ages happier, and how to increase personal and professional happiness. Who is happy? Why be happy? Can creative endeavors contribute to happiness, and if so, how? These questions and more will be explored through an introduction to Positive Psychology, the science of happiness. Positive psychology seeks to help us identify and build upon character strengths as tools to increase well being. We will explore the connection between Positive Psychology and the arts and define strategies for using creative endeavors to increase engagement, mastery, and flow.

Objective 1) Attendees will be able to define happiness.
Objective 2) Attendees will be able to list two strategies for implementing Positive Psychology practices to improve life satisfaction.
Objective 3) Attendees will gain experiential knowledge of a creative practice designed to increase engagement, mastery, and flow.

This would be be great lecture for art therapists, counselors, mental health professionals, parents, and really anyone interested in improving happiness in themselves and those around them.

Rebecca and I have been asking for feedback from people who've attend our lectures, and GW student Kelly Heartland told us our teaching was“incredibly empowering and even life-changing. What a gift for me! What a tool to share with others! It truly expands one's perspective.” Wow, Kelly! I am so glad. And when we last did this lecture at Smith Farm, Cynthia Hart wrote me after to say it was, “one of best lectures I've attended in a long time, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.” Us, too! We are proud of the work we are doing as registered and board certified art therapists, and it's so exciting to have taken next steps and co-authored Positive Art Therapy: Envisioning the Intersection of Art Therapy and Positive Psychology, which was published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Art Therapy last October. It's so fun to get to share the best of this information with you, so I hope you can make it to some of these Spring 2010 events!

Friday, March 12, 2010

One way (there are many!) to create Spirit Figures…

Here's a bit of a start in case you can't make it to the workshop... Find yourself a wire and a bead that the wire fits through. The bead will be the little figure's head, so slide it to the midpoint of the wire. Twist wire a few times to hold the bead in place & make the neck. Loop & twist wire into arms and legs. Wrap any extra wire around the torso. At this point, some folks like to put a unique bead, bell, shell or rock inside, or write a poem or intention on a special scrap of paper to tuck inside. You could really tuck any object that means something to you within the torso. Select some fabric and a fine gauge wire. Use the fine gauge wire to wrap around the fabric to hold it in place, and cover body and arms and legs if you want with more wire wrapped fabric. Add details like hair, and decorate to suit yourself!
This little figure could use some more embelishment I think! But she's sure got some wonderful hair, created by a puff of unspun wool stuck on her head. Perhaps some more face would be nice, I'll have to see...
...what will your spirit figure look like?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Only a few spots left open in our Spirit Dolls for Strength Workshop!

Spirit Dolls for Strength
Gioia Chilton, MA, ATR-BC and Rebecca Wilkinson, MA, ATR-BC

Saturday, April 10, 2010 10:00 AM-3:00 PM $45 (4.5 CEC's available $15 administrative fee*)Smith Farm Center for Healing and the Arts
1632 U Street, NW
Washington, DC 20009
202 483 8600

“If you want to transform a situation or a relationship, focusing on strengths is often more effective than focusing on problems”
Fialkov & Haddad, 2009

In this art-based workshop, we will create small spirit figures to identify and celebrate a quality or virtue that we would like to increase in our lives. Using simple doll making techniques, we will wrap shiny wire and sparking beads with unique fabrics and found objects to embody qualities or virtues that we value--appreciation, gratitude, joy, hope, optimism; freedom from anxiety and depression; health, and humor.

“When well-being comes from engaging our strengths and virtues, our lives are imbued with authenticity.” (Seligman, 2002a).

Together we will explore our sense of play, delight our senses, and create spirit dolls which invite our strengths and virtues to come to life.

Objective 1) Attendees will be able to identify and list strengths using Peterson and Seligmans’s Character Strengths and Virtues. Objective 2) Attendees will be able be able to list three ways that making spirit dolls can be used to identify and examine strengths. Objective 3) Attendees will learn wire wrapping, simple doll making technique, as evidenced by constructing one or more doll.

Snacks will be provided. Bring a box lunch. Lunch can also be gotten form healthy, reasonably priced restaurants in the neighborhood. Contact Smith Farm CenterTo register or for more information call 202-483-8600 or visit
1632 U Street NW Washington DC 20009Metro accessible Red & Green Lines FREE Parking availableNBCC Provider #6327*Smith Farm is an NBCC Approved Continuing Education Provider an may offer NBCC approved clock hours for events and programs that meet NBCC requirements. Events and programs for which NBCC approved clock hours will be awarded are identified in the Smith Farm calendar. Smith Farm is solely responsible for all aspects of the program.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Joyful Fused Collage Artist's Books


Inside Pages

Inside Pages

This book ties closed with shiny ribbon, and says, "hope more' when opened.

These photos are not as luminous as the scans but show the pages better-books are a challenge for me to photograph. I wish you could hold them, and turn the pages yourself. There are very soft fabrics right next to the hard crunch of the fused dyed paper towels-I like that. Again many thanks to Traci Bautista for the inspiration-these books are sort of the opposite of her "Book of Ruins" (page 106 of Collage Unleashed, published by Northlight.) Hey, Northlight, come publish me!-I am getting ready, with more hope, more joy and more discoveries.

Ribbon Cutting of the Institute for Continuing Education of the American Art Therapy Association!

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Gioia Chilton is a registered and board certified art therapist.


Gioia Chilton, MA, ATR-BC

Gioia Chilton, MA, ATR-BC