1st camping trip in a year, with our new camper trailer.
With friendly company, we drove off into drought ridden landscapes, battled the dust and rain, mourned the roadkill, enjoyed limitless horizons, sunsets, quirky towns, outback hospitality and soaked in hot artesian bore baths.
Nature is époustouflante!
People are fascinating, living curious and interesting lives.
I’m not exactly sure what it is about the open road and arid landscapes that attracts me so much...the vastness has something to do with it. Everything falls into perspective under such wide open expanses.
It is a humbling sensation and incredibly freeing...
Apart from that, everyone knows that creative, magical and logistical skills are required to successfully pack, unpack, set up and pack up for any camping trip and keeping everyone happy is an art unto itself that, apparently, I haven’t quite mastered yet!
Challenges aside, the call of the open road is a constant temptation and I await new adventures with anticipation and itchy feet!
I took a mini pause from hat making while preparing for our local makers and growers market. It is a fairly small event, still in its growing stages and was a lovely day. I am inspired and pleased to see and be part of this little creative hub. What a wonderful opportunity to catch up with friends and fellow creative souls. Being able to network with with others is a blessing, so many interesting people!
There was fairly frequent passage throughout the day. Artemis made some up-cycled jewellery and I made a small selection of textile pieces - brooches, bookmarks, correspondence packs, hair clips, magnets, notebooks and bracelets. The response was encouraging, many thanks to those who bought our creations.
I dub thee Princess Artémis.
Without going into details, she is definitely a crown ahead of me on the messy stakes and doesn’t seem phased at all.
What, you may ask, does this have to do with my making?
Well, I seem to have a tendency to spread out. I use my studio and the house and my bedroom and occasionally the kitchen table or outside in the sunshine.
Mixed media is a blessing and a curse. The world is my oyster and just about anything can become a pearl. I have an abundance of tools of the trade, collecting is easy, regular making is challenging. Even the way I approach many tasks is back to front.
I have never really considered myself to be messy as such. Disordered and muddled, to be sure, creative chaos, most certainly.
I often chastise myself about my migrating piles of stuff that seem to spread themselves around over time and space.
Then, I come across some incredible book that inspires the tidy organIser within me and in eager spurts, I attack these piles and make more mess in an attempt to find order.
No doubt I am surely going about it the wrong way because that tidy organIser is a very tiny and largely dictated by social expectations, so I rejoice and smile contentedly when I discover such reassuring titles as the ones below.
A Perfect Mess: The Hidden Benefits of Disorder - How Crammed Closets, Cluttered Offices, and on-the-Fly Planning Make the World a Better Place by Eric Abrahamson
The title alone does it for me!
I never got around to reading all of this but borrowed it many times.
Obviously got lots of comfort and reassurance just from the title!
I am not a hoarder as such though piles of things seem to trail about me...I've even found scraps of my writing about these stalker piles dated at times when they have bugged me most.
So I laugh and think must I simply embrace them as a part of me and do my best with them?
To be continued...
Keri Smith has published many creative writing journals that help you to explore and step out of your comfort zone.
A Perfectly Kept House is the Sign of A Misspent Life
I am always ready to live life and indulge in the moment...the dishes and co. will still be there later!
This sounds wonderful. I know a few colleagues who may find it reassuring too!
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying
This is the odd one out. I love the idea that there is magic in tidying, (is that the Mary Poppins in me?), and I am fascinated by the thinking behind many eastern philosophies such as wabi-sabi, boro, kitsugi...so much wise practical simplicity.
I haven’t finished reading yet but got a good laugh out of the extremely varied reviews.
Think Less Learn More: Unlock the power of the unfocused mind by Srini Pillay
And I’m taking notes while reading this gem. It touches on that nerve where we are all striving to fit into a social mould that may not correspond to us. Maybe my mind wandering, skipping and dancing helps me to be creatively healthy! We all know that there are many ways in which we learn, so naturally we think and function differently too. Why do we keep trying to shove ourselves into boxes?!
So rather than change who I am, seek the positive, make the most of my muddled self, embrace and accept, own it...and keep reading books like these!
In between the busy-ness of the musical, end of term and straggly ends, I continue to work on my projects, with a strong hat/headpiece theme, in preparation for my upcoming exhibition in September.
With two glorious weeks of holidays ahead, I plan on plenty of making as well as time to look at the clouds, change scenery, rummage, read, write and ponder.
Like my reading pile, I am working on a few things simultaneously!
Some beginnings and imaginings,
some embellishing and finishing.
Making time for relaxed experimentation is super important. Research is often rushed. It shouldn't be. There is much to be gained through testing, prodding and playing around with materials. I believe it takes a while before we realise that growth lies within the creative process more than in the finished piece. It is during this process, when you are immersed in activity, that you will feel that good, juicy well-being sensation warming you from within.
On a roll we say when we find our senses receptive and the creative wheel turns effortlessly from inspiration to process to product and back to inspiration.
Time stands still in these moments.
My challenge is to experiment while moving forward steadily, without getting caught up or lost in all the possibilities...or pondering!
testing testing 1 2 3...
After a rather long absence, Frankie agreed to model this little number.
We are still deliberating the final details because, interestingly enough the finishing off process is often more time consuming than the making itself.
It really is quite incredible to be able to experiment and create small wonders out of almost anything.
Hot glue gun
Tie wire for headband
Decoration? Flower, yarns, buttons, feather...
Sometimes I have a plan and it changes. Smooth changes are best and this week my hat theme turned into shoulder pieces. I am helping out with costumes for the school musical and decided to make the most of the opportunity by creating an assessment task for some of my students to design and make costume accessories. Exciting stuff!
Criteria: imagine a decorative shoulder piece...what materials can we use to create it?
This is an interesting learning experience for all of us.
As inspired as I am by life and all the possibilities it offers, how can I help others to discover this? To see it in their own way?
I teach 3 days a week with a lovely bunch of people in a rural high school and am part of the support unit team. This means that I teach students with particular needs, however, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are any less capable, only that they learn differently or may need extra assistance.
Lucky for me, I like improvising and working out of the box. Each day is a teenage lucky dip and keeps me on my toes...physically and mentally.
We are making some amazing pieces!
Experimentation...give yourself plenty of time to explore.
Ironing plastic bags together between baking paper is a great way of
recycling reusing reimagining recreating!!!!
How many layers determines the thickness and strength of your new fabric.
Take your time ironing so that the layers fuse well.
Play with colours, patterns, shapes, different types of bags and wrappers.
From this new fabric you can make pouches, purses, new bags, covers, clothing, hats and accessories,
the possibilities are endless.
Add machine stitching, use bias binding, trims, fabric and other materials to decorate or manipulate the new plastic into sculptural forms.
I have used this technique to make journal covers, decorative feathers, bookmarks, envelopes, hats and headpieces, accessories and shapes for mobiles. I love that I’m never quite sure what the results will be so the process is always full of surprises, like a lucky dip!
Being amongst so many Austenites helped helped to soothe my mind of the current predicament, if only temporarily.
Seeing all the ladies and gents dressed in their finery was a treat. Mr. Darcy would have had his pick of Miss. Bennetts, as the women largely outnumbered the men. We were frequently changing gender during the dance workshops and despite occasional mix ups, had lots of fun.
Not only is dancing a lively workout, it also lightens the soul.
The event was largely about learning the dances for the evening ball. There were a few talks, a little theatre and other workshops available.
We joined in 3 dance workshops and in the afternoon learned how to make feather quills.
A little practice is needed to get a good cut, otherwise it is fairly easy. We tested them out, made adjustments, then wrote a letter with our quills. The letter was then folded and sealed with wax and stamped.
As a longtime fan of letter writing and correspondence, I have already dabbled in letter folding, sealing, making envelopes and other creative mail art ideas.
This was the predecessor of the modern email and text message, obviously slower but powerfully intimate, personal and tactile. Receiving a letter is exciting, it fills us with emotion. The art and history of correspondence and the post is fascinating, without even looking at the art of writing itself!
Sadly it is becoming lost in devices and keyboards.
Today students write incredibly less than when I was at school. In fact, many students struggle with writing, not necessarily with writing well but with the physical act of writing.
Imagine then how Jane Austen, among others, wrote her books and letters by hand with feather quills and ink.
Week 12 has been distracted by week 11's slow behaviour stretching into the time frame, but I made the most of having extra teenagers around this weekend and after 5 years in our house, I have finally painted my bedroom walls!
The original dusty lilac was drab and dull and with the front awning covering much of the natural light, the room needed brightening up. So with my helpful assistants, the walls are now chalkdust white and the room feels fresh and light. When my four poster bed arrives next week it will be lush and decadant!
We also cooked and baked and though I bake most weekends for the neighbours and the school lunches, with extra mouths more was needed. Friday afternoon at the library was quiet so I feasted my eyes and tastebuds in the cooking section and borrowed a few, (because I obviously don't have enough of my own cook books),and got inspired.
Pizzas, spanish omelette, warm greens salad, cottage cheese loaf, dhal, apple teacakes and a heartshaped chocolate cake. All delicious, except for the missing sugar in the teacake!
This week I am working on a collaged self portrait as a sample piece for my students. I often find it easier to make with students rather than just explain. It offers a visual that breaks the process down into simple steps, creates a different dynamic and the creative vibe catches on easier.
I'm noticing that I have been underestimating some of my project time frames and am often starting late in the week,(hence late blog posts) which is limiting...but life is a constant juggling act! The beginning of my week is filled up with schook work, followed by a mid-week pause, work at the library, then the weekend with family sprinkled throughout.
My weeks blend into each other and as my autoportrait sticks itself together, I am getting back on track.
The process becomes important and more interesting as I progress and I recognise and remember aspects of it that are easily forgotten when not on task or focused. The path, the journey, not the result, is where meaning lies and learning begins.
For me, it seems there is not much difference between wondering and wandering. It has always helped me find inspiration. Creative dabbling is good for the soul, I couldn't imagine life without it and often surprise myself by what I come up with.