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Glittering Shards

Glittering Shards: June 2010

Glittering Shards

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Crafty suncatchers, emerging butterflies and an amazing mosaic loo!!

I like all things glittery and shiny (had you guessed?!) and hanging pretty things in trees just does it for me.

Here's a quick crafty activity I did with the kids the other day - a winner on all fronts as its easy, involves recycling stuff you would normally throw away and you can hang them  in trees and bushes (fairies like them apparently....) so that and they dance around and look verrrry pretty!

Use any old clear plastic tubs (like fruit punnets) that you would otherwise throw away, permanent marker pens, a hole punch and some clear thread for hanging.
I cut the plastic into shapes and we then used permanent marker pens to totally cover the plastic shapes in multi colours. Hole punch them and make a hanging loop with your thread and....voila! Recycled suncatchers in 10 minutes! Having recently done Amelia Critchlow's Experimental Art E-Course, I am quite tempted to do a whole batch and hang them on  trees in the neighbourhood as an experiment in guerilla art!

It was hard to photograph them (the light was shining through them and the wind blowing them around...maybe I should have done a video instead to show you how effective they are) so give them a go and you'll see for yourselves!

I have been indulging my own inner fairy...creating a mosaic of a butterfly (that's her at the top) which is going to be one of five mosaic stepping stones that lead the path from my back door to my studio. She is going to have to wait for a week to get the rest of her wings as we are off on holiday. I hope to do a quick post about our exploits on the beaches of South Wales next week....more land art maybe?

In the meantime, do visit this wonderful blog post by my blog friend, Ivy. It is the most amazing, whimsical, artistic toilet you could ever wish to sit in!

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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Taking ourselves seriously as artists

Please excuse my silence this week. I have a back that has gone into spasm...very ouchy and not quite recovered yet. As with all these things, you have to choose your attitude. I have been tempted to feel very sorry for myself as its been quite debilitating (not being able to put your own socks on let alone getting the kids dressed!) but I let that temptation pass and decided instead to tackle a lot of organisational projects around the house that had been neglected due to my immersion in the big mosaic commission which finished last week.

As part of my tidying and sorting, I came accross a document I wrote about 10 years ago, when I set up my Organisational Training and Consultancy business. I was so needs analysis, clear list of products that related to my areas of skill and interest, marketing plan etc... There I sat, reading this document and I thought, "why am I not taking the same approach with my art"? Now, I know that for us lucky makers, work is play and I certainly don't want to be too 'serious' about my art. But I do want to take it seriously and give it the attention it needs to flourish into the possibilities that are there, waiting for my nudge, my direction, my intention. I realise that art, as a line of work, still needs to be nurtured, structured, planned and administrated if it is to grow (as we all know when tax return time comes knocking!).

One thing led to another...the fermentation of many thoughts going round my head as a result of Kelly Rae's Flying Lessons, the accidental stumbling upon this document... And so, after more than one year of going 'pro' with my art... ladies and gentlemen... (drum roll)...I have finally.... set up my office space! Yup, a desk, a printer, a special place to put all the bits of paper associated with my art, categorized so they are easy to find. A place to keep the inspirations and ideas to hand and in sight.  A place to jot the things that need doing. Pictures of my beautiful family on the desk. A stapler...
I know, I know...for many, this act of setting up an office is not worthy of a fanfare. But for me, it is a huge, HUGE event that marks a transition, a mental shift. You see, 18 months ago, I chose to give up a career in social work, advocacy and training that I had spent 20 years building. I have never been without a 'professional' office space to work from. Leaving my hard built career was a scary, risky process for me (more about that another day). For now, its enough to say that the arrival of my creative business office space heralds the completion of that transition from social worker to artist. A letting go of all that was good from the last 20 years and a big, proper, unabashed HELLO to this new path, these new possibilities. I am happy, proud, excited and...eeek...I want to tell someone, show someone! So here you are...thanks for listening ;)

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Monday, June 21, 2010

Daddy portrait t-shirts

This little craft project didn't go up before the event, so that sneaky eyes could not see.

I am not sure where the idea came from last year to do a t-shirt with pictures of daddy drawn by little hands. I think one day, Isabella and Toby sat at their drawing table and spontaneously drew a picture of their papa, and the idea sparked to turn it into a t-shirt for the up and coming father's day. Well, this year I set them to task, drawing a new picture, a 2010 portrait of their daddy if you will. I then traced it onto a white t-shirt, did the outline with fabric pens and the rest with fabric paints before fixing it with an iron (make sure you have a sheet of paper on top of the picture and iron over that). Here is the result.


Now, I realise that we have a new family tradition evolving here...a t-shirt portrait for every father's day...and that as a result Daddy may well guess what he will get in years to come. Yet, I can't help but imagine what precious treasures those old faded t-shirts will become, though I do wonder if I will be able to cajole a sulky teenager to oblige us with a portrait?!Check back here on Father's day 2020 and I will let you know!

As for Mr Daddy, I look at my Neil, his utter devotion and gentleness towards these two precious children of ours, and I smile. They are lucky, lucky children.

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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

One life, six images, a tired artist and a question...

One life. My client asked me to mosaic 6 images that represent the life of her husband, father to their two little boys.
Six images of his life - love, skills, social life, true friendship. 
Ask yourself...what will be the images of your life?

A large mosaic...1m 60 cm long, 65 cm wide... 3 months in the making...
Some photos, taken in the workshop where the mosaic was installed yesterday. Poor picture quality, no natural light and yours truly was clambering up slabs of marble to get some height. Hoping for better shots once the mosaic goes outdoors in its final resting place.
One very tired mosaic artist...a whole day of installation...cement and grout mixing (achy arms), fixing (lots of vigourous boshing and polishing) followed by a mosaic worshop with my lovely students until 10pm (with kiddie bedtime in between!). I clock that up as a 14 hour day...phew!
To come...a post on the whole process of making this mosaic using the reverse method on brown paper and the way it was pre-grouted, flipped and re-grouted...
In the meantime, a huge welcome to new followers (visible and invisible) to this are welcome, friends.


Saturday, June 12, 2010

What is our work about?

I am trying to understand why making  is so transformative. I am sitting in my studio, cutting and laying tiles, placing them, moving them a millimetre this way and that until my eye is satisfied. I am making colour choices and pondering the reflective qualities of material. Materials given to me by the Earth and shaped into squares by human cleverness and by machines so that I may have the privelage to be a mosaic artist.
I step back from my work, look from a distance, admire the image that is emerging, that is taking on its own life, sometimes (often) feeling disatissfied and trying again with a new colour or flow of tiles. I complete a piece. I stroke it, like stroking a child, in awe that it exists when once it didn't - that I have bought this 'something' into being. Something that is a work of my hands but also of my heart.
I ponder all these thoughts while I work alone in my studio. As I work, I listen to some podcasts by John O'Donohue and am struck by his words "When we are making, we are on holy ground". Yes, this place where I make is sacred. I remember the title of a book by Elizabeth O'Connor "Eighth Day of Creation"  and consider that I am a partner with the Creator, continuing the work of creating, of filling the world with beauty, wonder, whimsy, depth and reflections of the vast inner and outer worlds we experience.

But still I grapple, trying to understand the power of making, of creating anything - be it using words, sounds, tiles, paper, colour, food, plants, yarn, fabric, your body or voice...

Then, like an email sent by One who sees my thoughts, these two quotes arrive in my inbox this week.

He who works with his hands is a laborer. He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman. He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist.                                                                                            St Francis of Assisi

Our work is more than work. It is enchantment. A divine act of creation and re-creation, which is also recreation. It is compassion on the loose.
                                                                                                                                  Matthew Fox

I am still pondering....

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Monday, June 07, 2010

Pebble mosaics, guerilla art and flying lessons...all in one weekend!

Phew...there is so much going on. All good stuff I hasten to add.

BWS tips button Not sure if I've mentioned, but I am taking the beautiful Kelly Rae's Flying Lessons of the creative kind intensive 5 week e-course on growing your creative business. Thanks to my lovely class mates who have been popping by. I am seriously trying to visit others blogs but there's about 350 of us so it may take a while! I will do a round up of my key nuggets from the course so far later in the week so watch this space!

In the midst of all the reading, thinking about dreams, goals, fears, blog development etc... my work on the large mosaic commission continues (fingers crossed, it will be finished this week ready for installation in a week's time). I have been putting my heart and soul into this mosaic (as I always do!) but not least because of the special nature and meaning attached to this huge piece (1.6metres by 60cm) which will be installed on a grave. You can read more about it here.

My new mosaic workshop students have just started - yay! Another lovely group with a couple of returning students who have got the bug and are trying out more advanced techniques. Have I mentioned how much I love teaching mosaics? (yes, I know, I know!). It is enthralling seeing people tap their creativity and watching the mosaic art emerge. I am hoping to organise an exhibition of my students work in the winter - its just toooo good! Here's a finished piece by Caroline who has returned for more...her first mosaic!
Then on Saturday, along with other local artists, crafters and community builders, I was involved in a special afternoon of making in our local neighbourhood. People descended on a bit of the neighbourhood (Moyser Road for those of you nearby!) and got involved in making street decorations from scrap fabric, plastic bags and the like.
Some guerrilla knitting had been going on secretly and the streets were adorned with various yarn creations. Plastic bags were turned into art, the beginnings of a gown and headdresses for the soon to be Tooting Trashcatchers Carnival - a local celebration on 4th July to promote recycling.
 The carnival is organised  by Transition Town Tooting, part of the Transition Town movement to help us move to a carbon neutral future.
As part of the fun on Saturday, neighbours brought pebbles and broken pots from their gardens which I and a group of about 15 children used to make a mosaic of a kite (they symbol of our local community, called Furzedown Community Network). It left me full of contentment - all the elements I love so much were all there in 3 glorious hours - community, connection, fun, mosaics, crafts, recycling, (oh and the sun shone!). The kids who got involved were just so absorbed in the mosaic making (they always is addictive you know!) and it is just so cool that this piece of work has literally risen from the soil (with the help of a few broken pots). The mosaic will be displayed at our big Furzedown Fun Day on 19th June when the community descends on our little park for music, dance, food, crafts, sport and the like.

I am so very very grateful to live in a neighbourhood where there is so much intentional community. It really wouldn't happen if people didn't have that intent and turn that into small actions. The community feel around here has been years in the making - the actions of many small groups and individuals, seen and unseen. This is what is possible in one of the biggest urban conurbations in the world. London does not have to be a lonely, isolating place. I have believed and lived that for years in this neighbourhood and I will continue to do so 'til I stop breathing as it is my deep conviction that the connections (however small) of daily community are the air to our lungs, expanding us, feeding us, helping us to live rather than just exist. Funny, my very first blog post, back in November 2004 was all about building community in London and when I clicked on the community category on the left sidebar, I realise quite how many blog posts I write in this vein. I guess it's a deep part of me and - as I am being reminded in Kelly Rae's e-course -  blogging is a window to the soul, like letting people peek into the conversations that take place round your kitchen table! Cup of tea anyone?

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Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Enjoying....Artists Way, Artist Dates and Morning Pages!

I am doing the Artist's Way at the moment...slowly. Morning Pages (3 pages stream of consciousness) are being written most mornings for nearly two months now. 'Artists Dates' are a bit more sparse. I am working through the exercises and prompts in the book at my pace, without getting on a guilt trip about not doing a chapter a week. It feels good.

The Artist's Dates are quite loosely defined - time out doing something you want, something your inner child would love...something a bit indulgent.

The other day, my two little ones went to the Ikea play area for the first time while I browsed round Ikea on my own...glee! In the spirit of the Artist's date, I bought this as a gift to myself.
Each morning it has my Italian coffee in it. In the afternoons, a lovely mint tea made with freshly picked leaves from my garden. Ah, yes..sitting with this gorgeous big cup in hand reminds me to slow down, to be, to listen to the still voice in the busyness. It definitely counts as an Artists Date wouldn't you agree?..

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