Monday, 3 August 2015

Guilty...





Add to that - and I speak for myself -

  • Procrastinate
  • Feel lost when their muse goes on vacation
  • Daydream instead of doing the housework
  • Exist in another dimension where time is of no consequence
  • Can be hard to live with when “in the zone”….. which is often  :)


My poor hubby.





Monday, 20 July 2015

Highs, lows and shows


A whirlwind of energies – good and bad – has swirled around me these past few months. For now, it feels as though the dust is settling a bit, and I’m able to see a little clearer.  Not completely healed though. That will take time.

I’ve been away from here for far too long, and the yearning to return has been strong. Thank you everyone, for your kind words and support. I could feel the waves of love way over in my little corner of the world.  Hugs to you all  xx
~

I would've liked to have made six textile sculpts for the show, but, life stuff stood in the way, and my ambitious thoughts of creating something large and spectacular just didn't come to fruition.  Maybe next time.
Through a fog of discomfort, when I just didn’t want to go into my studio, but knew I had to, I took each day as it came, and eventually my creations were done, one by one.

Starting with two characters from my "sewing stable" - my ever lovely Hares.
No matter how many I may end up making, each are like new friends and no two are exactly the same.
First came Claude. Then pretty Cleo took shape. I gave her red paisley inner ears and tail to contrast.

They are always a favourite with people.

One rainy afternoon, as I finished sewing the little patch on Claude's tummy, I must have subconsciously rested his paw on my arm. I looked up momentarily at his face and warmed at the sparkle in his eyes - the studio light catching them just so, as to make him come alive.
And my heart melted.  All thoughts of feeling sorry for my ill-self fell away and I couldn’t resist a smile, and whispered, “you are a handsome hare, I can't believe I'm selling you".  Sending them out into the world, after having them close to me is quite the tug.
But, go they must, and hopefully, they bring happiness to those who receive them.

I know it might seem corny to be taken with a so-called inanimate object. But, we artists breathe life into our creations as we work on them.  From conception to finish - when they come alive with their own essence. We spend so much time with them. It’s no wonder that they in turn take on a part of us and are somehow inherently given a little bit of soul.

Or… maybe I just need to get out more  :D

After my Hares, my mind pushed through mental mush to moments of clarity, as I prepared for my next artwork.
I had a firm and clear picture. How it was to be executed was another thing.
Two failed mock ups later, I was happy with the beginnings of my Raven.

Slowly but surely, piece by textural piece, he grew into the makings of a fine large bird, each stage falling into place. But, not yet had I considered his beak or legs.

As I sewed, I recalled the first stanza of Poe’s poem, The Raven ~


Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore -
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
“‘Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door -
Only this and nothing more.”


Ever since a young girl, I have loved Poe and his melancholy works. Hardly surprising really…

The Raven is one of my favourites, and is universally loved by many.

Long had I imagined my own artistic version of Poe’s large black ebony bird, taunting the grief stricken narrator who pined for the “lost Lenore”, with an open locket held in its beak - a photo of Lenore enshrined within.  At any moment, the bird could fly off, taking his only memento of her far away.  To be seen… “Nevermore”.

Now, my ambition can very much get mixed up with my aptitude, and I worried that in no way could I realistically reflect that which was in my mind’s eye. But, I am nothing if not obstinate, and so I ploughed on.
Frayed and fringed feathers of fabric were sewn onto wings and body. My studio floor awash with thousands of tiny shreds of ebony filaments.

 Quick sketches for reference and Mr Gaiman’s words are always nearby…

Trusting in my muse, I completely gave over to her as the hours blurred, one into another. There were days I ran a fever, but I stitched on.

Finally, he was ready for his legs and feet. I worked my sculptors clay upon the wire armature, molding and morphing the lumps of grey into sharp, raptor-like talons.



***  A pair of magpies visit me every morning.  I can hear them caroling far off, singing their greeting to the day.  I whistle my call to them - one they are very familiar with now, and they come.
To see them winging their way, specks in the distance, as they glide and slice their way through the air to land at my feet gladdens my heart, no matter how shite I might feel. And, it is an honour.
These magnificent wild birds trust me enough to spend a small part of their morning with me.
Hubby says I spend far too long with them, but I have been able to study up close their anatomy – birds’ feet can be the hardest to “capture” realistically. ***

As a result, and with great surprise to me, my Raven’s feet and sturdy legs were crafted with ease.  My time with “the Maggies” well spent.
Now to the beak. A much more difficult proposition.
I had to make it natural looking enough to hold the chain from which a tiny oval locket hung.
After three attempts, I was satisfied. Eyes were placed, then the feet painted and attached to a wonderful old piece of time worn and weathered timber which hubby cut to size, then I sanded and oiled to bring out its wonderful grain.

The final touch - the lost Lenore.
“How”, I asked myself many times, “does she look?”
In my mind, Lenore was still young, vulnerable, beautiful yet “saintly”.  An angel.
Who, to me, looks like that? So many models and Hollywood stars are far too recognisable and truly not as untouched as the Lenore of my imaginings.
I searched through many archived b&w photos until I came across the naturally stunning Broadway and silent film actress, Maude Fealy.  One of her many images in particular stood out to me.

It is she who is my Lenore.



And so, my Raven was done. Titled, “Poe’s Sorrow”.

Poe wrote The Raven whilst his wife, Virginia, was terminally ill with tuberculosis. Perhaps much of the poem’s un-named narrator’s despair echoed Poe’s sorrow for his own beloved.
 



Black, textured pieces are super hard to photograph, and my photography skills aren’t honed enough to do him justice, but he really is lovely in reality.


With my Raven finished, I had enough time to create the last artwork to be submitted.



Wesley - the wise woodland owl - was born “an old soul”, fairly quickly and easily.
It’s as if he was in a hurry to burst forth in a blustery flurry of wildly frazzled feathery wings.

I swear, I heard him muttering and grumbling at the state of the world as I feverishly stitched him into being.  His furrowed fabric brow and stern stare reflect his thoughts about, “the shenanigans going on in society today” and how we humans aren’t learning from our past mistakes, and even worse, are losing what values we once held dear.

Crafted from recycled clothing, Wesley doesn’t give a hoot about material things, and says neither should we hold them in such high esteem. Values of respect, patience, ethics, caring, community, integrity, honesty and responsibility, among others, are what we need to focus on once more… 

Don’t let his grumpy disposition fool you, he truly is wise ;)

I figured that Wesley needed a pair of good solid feet on which to stand as he surveys his domain from on high.

And so finally, my fine fabric friends destined for the gallery were tagged and kissed on the nose and forehead for good luck and delivered… the deadline met.


The Grand Opening was held on Friday night.  I really didn’t feel up to going, but hubby took me nevertheless. Free bubbly, gourmet finger food and the chance to rub shoulders with some of Melbourne's VIPs?  Why not.  A rare occasion for this hermit.

The hall was literally filled to the rafters with very fine exhibits from many talented artisans. So full in fact, that even the smallest of space was truly at a premium.

Seeking out my Raven, I found that he had been awarded “highly commended”.




I was told by an organizer that the judge found her decision hard to make, and that he came very close to being awarded first prize.  I am incredibly grateful.  Seeing as there were no second/third prizes, that’s not too shabby for my very first art&craft exhibition in Melbourne, making my delirious days of doubt all worth while.

I silently allowed a tear to roll down my cheek before I quickly wiped it away…

To be assessed and judged by one’s peers, in a capital city where the arts community is vibrant, strong and fiercely competitive, is an honour, and it encourages me to continue to create and grow with confidence as I find my feet…
… until the demons of doubt once more gnaw at my heels and hopes, and I must fight them off with an iron will, and sharpened pinking shears :)
The inner rollercoaster is an artist’s lot, I’m afraid.


Oh and, one final word from Wesley about the.....  umm, Wesley?  Wesley?





 Nope.







Saturday, 4 July 2015

Lately...


... life has been a continual series of discomfort, sickness and ailments, mingled with the need to start and finish artwork that is to go into a gallery exhibition in two weeks, scattered with long sleepless nights, and stretched into seemingly endless periods of waiting.
Time marches on, waiting for no one, while the clock ticks endlesslessly.
Tick Tock.

Soon, I hope to return to Blogland in better health and higher spirits.

Til then, sending you all warmest hugs.



 biding time




 

Sunday, 5 April 2015

today...




Harry is rationing the little eggs. But, he doesn't know that I have two Lindt chocolate bunnies in my drawer, heh heh :)


In this politically-correct, heavily consumerist age, where easter eggs are termed "spring spheres" (no, I'm not kidding) and arguments rage about whether one should/shouldn't celebrate easter if one isn't christian, and whether the southern hemisphere should/shouldn't celebrate easter when it is clearly not spring, I will say anyway...  Happy Easter everyone!


 





Thursday, 26 March 2015

Mad as a March Hare


A little over a week ago I applied - and was accepted at the last minute due to a cancellation - to a popular market.

With just one week to prepare, I found myself hare raising and clay making, day and night… all while I battled the onset of the flu.
It’s been some years since I caught the dreaded bug, but, I’ve been run down and my defences are low, so, I guess it was my time for a bout.
Couldn’t have come at a worse time. But then, when is there a “good time” for the flu?

Downing cup after cup of my herbal “swamp water” brew, to reduce the time the flu hung on, I glazed for days in preparation for firing.  Then, I cut, stitched, stuffed, painted and patched hares.
I had intended to finish three… oh how hopefully optimistic I was.  No matter how I tried, the flu slowed me down.
With aching sinuses, I sneezed, wheezed, coughed and spluttered my way through the week.  All I wanted was to go to ground, rest and allow my body to recover – I’ve always considered that’s the best remedy.

So, once more, I decided to finish one soft creation rather than cobble together three hastily. They deserve better than that.

Currently, there is a tangle of striped legs and coffee stained calico paws in my sewing cabinet, waiting to be buttoned onto soft bodies, and fringed lashes to be attached to bright eyes.

On the eve of the market, with ceramics finished and packed up, I turned my attention to the pieces of unborn leveret on my sewing table.  I bent my head and worked long into the night.

At 5am on market morning, my ebony hare emerged out of the darkness into the dawn.
I drew a sigh at the look of her. Beautiful.

Harry and Elliot thought so too :)

A few hours later, feeling as though someone had thrown sand in my eyes, and with hubby shaking his head at my ability to stand upright, we arrived at our location and set up our stall.

We were blessed with perfect weather – sunshine and just the slightest of breezes.
As the hours rolled on, we chatted to our lovely stall neighbours and happily greeted customers. Ceramics were popped into gift bags and there were many admiring comments about our long eared trio.




One lady took quite a shining to my newest addition. She passed by the stall twice, hesitating each time and cast longing glances at her.
When she passed by the third time, the look of hope on her face turned to disappointment. The dark hare had gone.
Sold to another stallholder. A lovely young lass with lavender tinted hair who creates the most exquisite black & white fine art pen illustrations. I wish I’d remembered to take a photo of the two of them. But, as usual, I was a little overcome. Or maybe was I just plain exhausted.
I prefer to think it was the former. And I hope I will always feel a little tug at my heartstrings when I sell a textile creation. I get to know their personality as they are brought forth into the world.

There was something in the back of my mind in the wee hours of that morning as I battled flu and defied sleep. The small voice within that pushed me on to finish - no matter how I longed for bed.  For, this particular hare was destined to be found by that particular girl on that particular day. I like to believe that.

And now as I write this late at night, the kiln is firing a load of bisque ware, which I must glaze over this coming weekend and prepare for the big Easter Festival Market next Saturday.  Then, I will attend an autumn market the following weekend.

Already, 2015 seems to be marching on steadily.

Soon, my thoughts will turn to new characters, as they all jostle for attention in my head. One at a time please, I tell them. But my mind isn’t quiet as they chatter at me.
Who knows which one will make their debut.  But for now, they know they have to take a back seat while I tend to the promised Easter Hares.

After that, the creative floodgates open...




Sunday, 8 March 2015

Hare Raising Moments


Late, on the night before yesterday’s market, I put the finishing touches to two new little fellows that I created… or were they born, with just a little help from me?

Holding each one up in front of me for assessment, I warmed at the look in their eyes, and gave them a kiss on the nose.

As I busied myself preparing my trusty, sturdy, huge cane basket for the next day, I caught Harry giving the “newbies” a pep talk on how not to be nervous on their first outing into the big, scary world.


He’s such a wonderful mentor, that worldly hare.


I only took two hares to market on Saturday.  I had hoped to have three or four ready for their first debut this month, but, it was best I give two the attention to detail, rather than more that would be hastily put together.
I don’t want to condemn myself to “mass production”.  These are to be one of a kind. Some may be similar, but never be carbon copies.

Harry, of course, was not for sale, but was present for moral support – for me, as much as for the new boys.

To be honest, I haven’t had much confidence in how the new additions of soft sculpture art dolls would be received at my stall.

“Will people like them?”
“Are they too weird for people to get?”
“Do they look okay?”
“Are they appealing to others, not just me?”
“Have I asked too much or too little for them?” Especially considering the work that went into them - or did I not put in enough?
“Am I crazy to even attempt this?”
“Who buys such things?”
“WHAT THE HELL AM I DOING?”

I dropped my head, stared at the floor and thought finally, “what a stupid idea to think of doing this. I’m not a seamstress. I feel like a phoney.”

Too many questions.  So many doubts.
The tortured mind of an artist with little self confidence.
Again, I am plagued with demons from the past.
How bloody hard it is to get my own mother’s acerbic comments swept out of the shaded recesses of my mind corners once and for all.

***

Once, long ago, I came home with a “less than ideal” school report.
As usual, my maths mark was a fail.
Watching the disappointment on my mother’s face, as her gaze slid from subject title to the result, my heart withered and my stomach twisted.
Even though my Arts and English had an A+ in the column next to them, I knew she was vexed.

Reaching into the top drawer of her bedside table - the one that rattled with bottles, upon bottles, upon bottles of pills for all ailments, real and imagined - she pulled out a small black velvet box.
With venom in her raspy voice, she said, “I was going to give this to you if you came home with high marks in maths”, as she grasped the lid with nicotine stained fingertips and slowly opened it to reveal a pretty sterling silver bangle inside, nestled on a bed of cushioned cream coloured silk.
“But instead, I’m going to give this to your best friend Denise, because she is so much smarter than you and deserves it more”.

I died a little that day.
No matter how hard I try, I can’t forgive her for that. And, try I have. Even after all these years.
Move on. Yes I have, but such a poison filled barb can’t be removed. It’s lodged too deep.

***

And so, “the boys” were the last to be put out.
My hands were trembling. My heart in my mouth.
I wanted to hide, as stall holders watched them be placed high on the old wooden crate.




Then, one by one, they came to the front of my table and commented… no, gushed, in admiration.

“Did you MAKE THESE?”
“Can I touch them?”
“Of course!” I replied. “You can HUG them. They like that.”

A hug. Something so simple. Yet, so POWERFUL.
Something I very rarely ever received as a child. A heart devoid of hugs. So very sad.

As the boys were cooed over, held, appraised and delighted in, I felt something in me relax.
The breath that had caught, and been held, in my throat, gently escaped in a low sigh.

Even a market organiser came by, took a photo and told me how wonderful they were.

As admirers drifted back to their stalls, customers began to turn up.
Many stopped to buy a brooch, pendant, incense holder, plate or mini jug.  Or, to place an order for this or that.
Comments on my “lovely ceramics” were, as always, gratefully received.
But my surprise was how many stopped short to say how “amazing” my soft sculptures were. “They have so much character!” was oft exclaimed.
A few people asked if I took credit cards, as they didn’t have cash. No, I don’t. They said they’ll be back next month, if I will still have them for sale. I replied that there will be more to choose from, and they beamed me a smile.

More than once, I was asked, “how much for the larger one”.
I think Harry looked a little terrified at one point, as one particular lady wouldn’t leave without being convinced that I just wouldn’t sell him :)

What I am astonished by, is the amount of men who stopped and slowly appraised my trio, then leave with a wink and a, “very nice work”.
Considering that women make up the greater number of market goers, while their partners stand silently by their sides as they make purchases, it was interesting to note that men actually commented on my creations.

As the day drew on, a woman approached me, her husband next to her, and said, “I’ve been by your stall three times, and I honestly can’t go home without this one”.  She pointed to the stripy legged hare.
I think my mouth was agape for a second as I stared at her almost incoherently.
Then my brain began to fire on all pistons again and kicked into gear. “I’ll pop him into a bag for you”, as I reached over and held him, for the last time.

“Does he have a name”, asked her husband.
Remembering back, just a couple of nights ago, to when my own hubby came home from work and walked into my studio. He took one look at the hare sitting on my knee, resplendent in his oh-so-cute black and white striped leggings and black fabric boots, as I sewed a little patch of red linen over his tummy and said, “Nice. He looks like a Randolph”.

Randolph.
I contemplated his noble Roman nose and bright eyes.
Yes, Randolph.




I told the couple his name.
As the husband paid for him, the woman looked at him with a smile as she grasped the bag lightly and said, “well Randolph, you’re coming home with us”.

She thanked me, then walked away with my - now her - hare facing backwards, towards me.
The jaunty, bobbing motion of her walk made it appear that the wee coffee-stained calico, gentle young hare was waving me goodbye with his soft paw above the brown paper bag. His carefully fringed eyes twinkling in the light, as he disappeared into the crowd forever.

And, I wept into my scarf.

Such emotion over a silly little thing. But one that meant a lot to me.
It wasn’t so much the sale of my sewn creation.
It was the immense support given to me by a total stranger. Support in the purchase of something created from my heart. From my very soul.
Support that I never had from a parent. No matter how much I craved it.

In that very moment, if I could have packed up my stall right there and then and gone home two hours before market end, I would have been happy.
I wanted to go to bed. To sleep upon the crest of a wave of euphoria and gratitude.
A rare moment.

So, a new chapter in my life opens. It's a start. A wobbly one, but a good one.

I remain forever humble, but quietly – ever so quietly – proud of my Self.
Seeing as I couldn’t have that as a child, only I as an adult could give that back to the damaged child within.

And, thank you all, dear friends here at my blog, who come with me on my - often rambling - posts, or rather… journeys.
Your comments lift me when I need them most.
My faith in humanity - and the kindness of strangers - restored.

Strangers no more.



Harry, Randolph and Elliot.






Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Hare, there, everywhere


An anonymous photo was sent to me this morning...

Recently spotted in a swanky French-style café.




When asked about this, Harry said that he, “wanted to be alone with his thoughts for a while”.

I think he’s been watching old Greta Garbo movies.  Heaven forbid if he sees Casablanca. 

“Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world…”

I must admit, poor Harry has been quite busy supervising me in the studio in preparation for this Saturday's market, so he does deserve some alone time.
I'm just awfully glad there are no "bunny bars" anywhere nearby  ;) 



Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Fit for a King





Sometimes you walk into a café, and it fits. You know, like coming home.
That’s how I felt when I first visited the newly opened King Henry Arts Café on the mountain.

I’ve been a regular there ever since.

Built in 1902, the old cottage interior has been tastefully renovated inside and out.




Delightful old furnishings grace the interior.






 A cosy table for two - lucky number 13






 The man himself, HRH…


The ambience is warm and welcoming, and the cottage wears its antiques well.

There is even a stunning four poster bed in a room off the front entrance that would make anyone feel like a royal sleeping in it, I’m sure.



Outside on the wide, wooden deck, comfortable bench seating overlooks peaceful gardens.




A path lined with graceful, lush tree ferns that winds its way down into a secretive forest gully to a shaded winter creek hidden below tall trees.




One can almost expect a lyrebird, echidna or wallaby to pass by at any moment.
And, if you sit awhile, you might be rewarded for your patience.

The grounds are a wonderful place to explore and delight in sights, sounds, scents and textures.




Venture across the bridge to a magical, forested world...


Even esteemed four legged visitors have a stately font to drink from.


Back at the café, the large open corner window offers an enticing glimpse into the “engine room” filled with gleaming wares and machines at the ready for brewing that perfect cup of choice.




The friendly staff are there to greet and seat with a chilled glass of water while viewing the menu for breakfast, lunch, Devonshire tea or coffee and cake.

To me, the test of a good coffee is a flat white - no sugar.
If a well made coffee has correctly heated milk, then it’s sweet enough. Taste the full bodied flavours – without the sugar mask.
That goes for espresso too. There should be a hint of caramel, but never be “bitter”.
At King Henry, the head barista is always on point.  She knows coffee.  Has an affinity with it and builds a great coffee.  Fresh roast, grind and milk.  Correct dose.  Never burnt/bitter.  Never cold.  Just right.  Consistently.

And, when a barista samples their brews throughout the day, you know you’re in good hands.  Always something to look forward to.

On Saturday, hubby and I decided to drop by for breakfast.

I drew a sigh of contentment as I sat in now familiar surrounds on the deck.
Cradling our kick starter coffees, we relished the still cool, crisp mountain air - a welcome morning respite before the heat of the day.
We enjoyed a well prepared, cooked and served breakfast.  Each mouthful was savoured.

The old saying goes, “Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper”.

Well, we dined like a king - and queen - and were comfortably replete for the rest of the day.

We really are fortunate to have wonderful places such as this so near to home.
A restful haven to sit a while, replenish the senses and recharge the batteries.

I hope this café does well and draws visitors from near and far. A royal reward for all of the hard work and passion which the owners, and staff, have devoted to it.

Long live the King!




Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Dirty Harry


Meet Harry the Hare.




The first time you saw him, he was sewn but still, flat and lifeless, waiting for me to fill him with puffy soft clouds.

As I padded him, bit by fluffy bit, he came alive in my hands.

His long ears were wired, coloured and jauntily placed.
I used warm wooden buttons for his moveable joints.
And, I gave him a soft little cotton tail.

At 97cms (38 inches) from toes to tips of his ears, he sat comfortably upon my knee as I sewed for him a final flourish of fluttery lashes.
His character was complete.

Or, so I thought.

Late one night, while I slept, Harry snuck outside.

In the morning, I awoke to find him sitting on my studio table - just as I’d left him the night before.
But, as I entered the room, I gasped at his appearance.
He stared at me, as I stared at him - damp, dishevelled, dirty and... defiant.
“Well, haven’t you had quite the time, good sir”.

By the look of him, he’d traipsed through muddy puddles as he explored the big wide world of tall, tall trees and thick forest floor under the cover of darkness.
Creatures of the night must have looked upon this strange and unusual being with their large, round eyes wide in wonder, and suspicion, as he passed them by.

He'd nearly got the stuffing knocked out of him - from racing past sharp brambles, tumbling over slippery logs and sliding down mossy banks, no doubt.
I had to hurriedly stitch his torn seams and patch him up to make him better again.

And he is.

Although now, I think he has an air of shabby worldliness that he didn’t have before, with his ever so distressed countenance and a kind of knowing in his eyes.

Seeing as Harry is a curious hare - and to discourage him from wandering about on his own - I’ve decided that, if he behaves, he can come out with us sometimes.

So, keep a lookout for him - you never know when he’ll appear in photos on future posts...