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Glittering Shards

Glittering Shards: September 2010

Glittering Shards

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Mosaic art from the heart

You Catch My Tears and Keep Them in  a Bottle
Again she cries alone
Tears fall like diamonds
Into the nothingness
Her heart lost, unknown
She cannot see
The veil that surrounds her
Tears of others also bent over, sobbing 
Connecting the broken-ones in their alone-ness
And the great Other...
 Nothing is lost or forgotten.

Work just finished, words just written...inspired by a song my friend Nina Astrom sang live 6 years ago (oh, and life...). Not much more to say except thank you for looking.  Concetta x

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Sunday, September 19, 2010

Eco Workshops, Inspiration and a bit of Oooooh!

Giving a quick shout to my friend Janine, who is starting an exciting new series of eco workshops, embodying recycling, re-purposing and thrift with creativity and making (great combo if I ever saw one!).

The first one is this Tuesday 21st September in Lewisham. I would definitely be there were it not for the fact that I am running my own workshop on the same night. And at a thrifty £15 a workshop, seems like a great night out to me...

Check out the details and programme of Janine's autumn programme for her eco-workshops here and do spread the word round your blogs if you are London-ites. If you are from far far away,  take a peek at Janine's programme anyway, just for the inspiration...and maybe do something similar at your own kitchen table.

Janine is using - a new, fabby looking, online listing and booking site. It's international in scope and worth checking out if you are an artist or maker with classes to promote - thought it would be a helpful resource to highlight here :) 

I am still in the process of purging our home from nasty chemical cleaning products. Looking at Janine's workshop list has motivated me to finally make my own household cleaning stuff (and maybe make some pretty labels for the containers too!).

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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Make cement foot prints and hand prints

This is a great activity which creates wonderful memories of babies & children's footprints at various stages of life - you can go to town and do the whole family, including your pets!

We have just done them as a memento of when Isabella started school. Her footprint will be a stepping stone. Toby's hand print was done in a smaller container and will become a paperweight. You can also do them as doorstops, bookends...whatever creative function for a lovingly adorned bit of concrete you can find! Think Christmas presents for grandparents, mother's and father's day etc..

A friend of mine left recesses in her patio especially for this and I recently went round and did them with her children (see pic at the top). They loved it and mum says it looks 'magical' having their footprints immortalised in the garden.

Don't be intimidated by concrete if you have never used it before...its easy peasy as you will see here.

What You Need
  • Mortar (a mix of cement and fine sand) easily and cheaply available from DIY stores (I have tried this activity with both rapid set cement and cement adhesive (thinset) and it didn't work so well, so best avoided)
  • Containers to cast the prints into. We used an old spring form baking tin (where the side can be loosened and removed) and an old Tupperware tub. You can use anything with sides (old take-away containers, foil trays, plant trays etc...)
  • An old bucket to mix the mortar in
  • Something to mix and smooth like a decorators palette knife - or a stick and an old credit card!
  • WD40 or petroleum jelly (Vaseline) for lubricating the container 
  • Water to hand
  • Gloves (it can be a bit messy and cement can make sensitive skin sore)
  • Mask (for pouring cement powder - you don't want to breathe it in)
  • Things to decorate your stepping stone with if you wish (we, of course, used mosaic tiles)
What to do

1. Get everything ready and to hand as you need to work methodically.

2. Line the inside of your casting containers with WD40 or petroleum jelly so that you will be able to easily release the cast when it is dry.
3. Pour mortar powder into an old bucket (use your mask)and slowly mix until you get a peanut butter consistency.
4. Pour the mixture into your casting container, pressing and smoothing it with your palette knife / credit card (should take a couple of minutes) until it is level.
5. Clean your child's hand or foot (and put a bit of oil on to act as a barrier for sensitive skin).
6. Rather than letting your child step into the cement (which will be their instinct), hold their foot and gently (but firmly) push it in yourself. This will help make sure you use the right amount of pressure (if they step right in it will squish too much). Babies will have a tendency to grab the cement so its best to push the hand / foot in firmly and then remove it quickly. If you end up with too much squish or not enough of an impression, simply smooth the cement out and try again until you are happy with it. There is plenty of working time with the mortar mix.
 7. If you want, you can now decorate the cast. You can also add name and age using a pencil nib. If you are embedding objects into the cement, make sure you push them in firmly so that the surface doesn't have jagged edges and the pieces stay put when dry.
8. Cover it and leave it to dry for 2 weeks - it takes this long to cure. You can spray it occasionally with water to help the cement cure, especially if it is very hot.
9. After 2 weeks, turn the cast upside down - it should pop out of its container easily - and voila! If at this point, a bit  of decoration falls out, you can stick it back in its place with PVA (Weldbond) glue.
10. If you want to use your cast as a paperweight or doorstop, you can stick some felt underneath to make sure it doesn't scratch surfaces.

We also added some iridescent glitter glue into the imprints of ours - for a bit of extra sparkle. Why not do a stepping stone a year and create a great garden path? I wish I had started doing this when my two were babies, but its better late than never!

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    Thursday, September 09, 2010

    What is it about art?

    When did the creativity bug get you?

    Or are you an onlooker, seeing 'arty' people and wondering if the creativity gift has passed you by?

    Is art elitist, only for those who have the time and money to buy it, learn it and do it?

    Or is it a universal language of communication, celebration, protest, there for all to make with whatever resources they have around them?

    Is art all around you, in everything, or do you have to go to certain places to see 'real' art?

    What is it about art and creativity that makes it so powerful, so compelling?

    Share your thoughts...I will too...

    Here's a little You Tube vid that has been doing the rounds and its about time I posted it here...

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    Sunday, September 05, 2010

    Celebrating Each Step...looking back on August 2010

    Welcome (back) to Celebrating Each Step, a monthly space to help us...              

                                            stop              breathe               take stock                    

                    reflect on the path our feet have walked in August

                                                                           acknowledge the struggles

                                        celebrate the achievements and successes...

                        and share with each other what we have actually managed to do!

    This space is an antidote to rushing and diving headlong into the next thing on the to do list. It is an attempt to momentarily slow down the speedy pace of life that stops us from looking back and celebrating what we have actually achieved because we are so focused on the path ahead and how much there is still to do.

    I saw my first red leaf fall a few days at least for us here in the Northern Hemisphere, the start of September is ushering in all the signs of autumn. (For those of you in the South, I hope you are enjoying the feeling of life about to burst all around you!). Isn't it funny how the seasons carry mood?

    Talking about moods, I was at the Greenbelt Arts Festival last weekend and went to a meditation that was being run by the Salesians (I am part of the worldwide family of ex-Salesian School pupils and was so happy to stumble across them here!).  As part of the meditation, we were encouraged to look back over the month of August and map our moods using Millers Mood Mapping. I have not come across this tool before and thought it was really helpful. It helped me step back and monitor my energy levels and degrees of positivity / negativity  in given situations over the month. By doing so, I could make connections between things and make some mental shifts. It's a very simple tool. Give it a go.

    My August has been quite creative but never as much as I would wish. I finished my Moonscape commission (which my client was really happy with - yay!) and have started my first piece this year that is not a commission but one that I am doing straight from the heart  - its very personal and there is story behind it which I will explain one day soon.

     That in itself has been a big step for continue the process of digging deep into my own soul for the source of my art and then connecting this to the wider world in physical form and in making connections between my own story and the stories of others.

    In August, I also met the most lovely lady, Hayley, who is the author of several Slow Guides - on how to live more slowly and purposefully in cities (so far she has done Sydney, Melbourne, Dublin and London). Anyone who has followed this blog for any length of time will understand that this kind of thing makes me hop with excitement (slowly, of course). In fact, one of my early blog posts back in 2005 was me waxing lyrical about the Slow Movement having read Carl Honore's In Praise of Slow.

    As well as being an author and generally creative bunny, Hayley knows web development like a second language (particularly Wordpress which I am shifting everything to) and she is kindly sitting with me in the process of combining my web site and blog into one.  What an angel she is. Having developed my blog and site incrementally over the last 8 years, I now know what I want it to look like and what I want it to do which invariably involves major redesign. This has been on my "To Do" list for months but since meeting Hayley, her enabling presence has helped me to start.  I am so grateful as I would have got stuck in at the first hurdle if Hayley hadn't been with me! I have many more steps to go with this creative endeavour.  In the meantime, I have twiddled with my blog this month so that all the resources available on it are easily accessible from the left hand column. I have also done a small section in the right column with my favourite posts - ones which I think are worth reading as they containing some gold nuggets. Do have a browse, especially if you are new to this blog.

    September focus will be art making, as I work towards my participation in the Wandsworth Artists Open House and my first solo art show at the Sprout Community Arts Gallery (hopefully involving a whole section of mosaic art which I will help a local group of refugee teenagers make). As part of my making this month, I will finally indulge my long standing desire to create mosaic jewellery...yippee.

    How about you? Tell us about your August...your moods, your endeavours, what you achieved and how it was on the way. What are you plans for the beautiful month of September? Would love to either write a "Celebrating Each Step" post on your blog and post the link below so we can visit you...or just let it all flow in the comments matter how short or long.

    Here's to September, to making connections with each other and creating a supportive, celebrating community together. x

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    Friday, September 03, 2010

    Mummy, I found a rainbow!

    The evening sun, pouring into the house, catching glass...
    "Mummy, I found a rainbow!"  A reflection onto the cupboard door in the hallway...
     Twenty minutes exploring colour and light with my little ones.
    Light transforming the mundane into something glorious....
     So easy to walk past the little rainbows shining into the day...

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