a serendipitous mistake

Learning a new  craft is teaching me more than a new set of skills.  It is teaching me about my attitude to learning, creativity and more importantly, making mistakes.

I set to work making another kete/basket.  Each time I set myself a new challenge while trying to improve on the basic techniques.  On this one I was wanting to make a ridge at the base and near the top with a horizontal twill between.

It all went well until near the top when it quickly became clear that I should have done one less row of twill as I was runing out of material.  As I tried to finish off I pulled the ridge too tight in one place so that when I completed the kete and turned it right side out . . . bugger!   There were the offending tight bits right in the front.    Now aside from saying “bugger” I found myself thinking about what I could do to use this mistake . . . I did not berate myself, the IC (Inner Critic) did not even get a say!

So what to do, what to do?  It should have looked like this on both sides albeit with a wider band at the top.

Wendy @ Late Start Studio

Wendy @ Late Start Studio

Using the principle of enough of anything can look good it now looks like this on the front.

Wendy @ Late Start Studio

Wendy @ Late Start Studio       Beaded Kete

As if it wasn’t enough to add the fringing (shredded harakeke/flax) I broke out the beads that have sat in a bag since I left Thailand 5 years ago and went a little bonkers . . . and I think putting the beads in took almost as long as weaving the kete.

Wendy @Late Start Studio Beaded kete detail

Wendy @Late Start Studio       Beaded kete detail

So what did I learn?  Yes, enough of anything can look good (but I sort of knew than already), a mistake can lead somewhere interesting if you embrace it, time is of no consequence whan you’re having fun and I know to do another round of taki tahi (one under, one over weave) before I finish off.

Often times I’ll ask, “what’s the worst that could happen?”   The answer, in this case was I might need to undo some of it it and the weave up the last few rounds however my mucking around worked . . . a treat . . . even if I do say so myself.

Learning is such a pleasure when we choose to participate.

being transparent

I can’t say being honest because sometimes, like most of us, I lie to myself, however I try to be open so that you can really see me . . . flaws as well as strengths.

Now that I am a Creative Leisure Consultant (my fees come in the form of some good wine and cheese at this point in my career) I am grappling with issues and those aforementioned flaws on a full-time basis.  By the time I have them sussed I’ll be able to charge wine, cheese AND crackers as a koha (donation) for my services!

Seriously though, I don’t know what I want to do when I grow up and I’ve had several attempts to grow up . . .  sometimes life events have given me a nudge or a good kick but inside, I still feel like a gauche 11-year-old going on 66-year-old sometimes.

So the questions is, because I know you want to hear the wisdom of my vast experience with this conundrum, what do I do about it?  I embrace it!  It’s a bit shortsighted to reject parts of yourself isn’t it?  I mean to say . . . here I am with almost 66 years experience at living in this big wide world and I reject a 11-year-old aspect of myself?  That 11-year-old had more creativity in her little finger than I have in all of mine!  Sure mine are more skilled perhaps and my logical brain can team up with the creative part and problem-solve extremely well but she was freer, braver, less inhibited.

So I sent in the Wise Crone to stand alongside and tell her that she can take life one day at a time, she can try anything she wants, she can step out in any direction because she’s going to have a strength not available to many . . . she will be versatile.

My first commission was to draw a picture for a boy in my class . . . it was a girl in an Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini and no, there was no actual payment but I was 11 and I did feel special and that was a very rare feeling for me around that time.

Since then I’ve been asked to make all sorts of things from painted flower pots, vinyl sheriff jackets, beaded macrame dog leads (must make one for Rosie) to Raggedy Andy-type dolls and I sold them as well to fund Christmas presents for my children.

Do you see a pattern here?  They are useful, they were marketed . . . however the thing that gave me the most satisfaction was the drawing of a girl in a bikini.

So I tell that gauche girl to hang on to that joyous feeling, hone her skills, her talent will always be there to be utilised in any way she chooses.  It will be always be there and will be fed by world travels, relationships and ideas from out of left field.  She won’t always have to think of usefulness or marketability.  And the main thing that will undermine her talent is her own criticism of herself.  I tell her to simultaneously to harden up and to be vulnerable . . . to be real . . . to be a gentle warrior!

Kia Kaha Wendy is what I say . . . Stand Strong!

I am trying to stand strong and it isn’t always easy.

Rosie: my new, shy, little sheltie who has perfect manners.

Rosie: my new, shy, little sheltie who has perfect manners.

a small goal achieved

When you set a goal for yourself, make sure it’s small enough to meet the very first step . . . the satisfaction is immense!

My goal was to make two more kete/baskets and harvest enough harakeke/flax for 3 more.  Done!

The first step of the plan didn’t go so well with computer-time rationing went out the window, however it wasn’t necessary to achieve the goal and weed the garden, wash the year’s supply of salt from my windows (a small price to pay for living at the beach) as well as catch up with friends.

Kete #1 Wendy @ the Late Start Studio

Kete #1, 25 x 17 cms high
Wendy @ the Late Start Studio

Kete #2 Wendy @ the Late Start Studio

Kete #2, 27 x 25 cms
Wendy @ the Late Start Studio

And now?  I’m off to help some friend to pluck some roosters and maybe a pūkeko . . . the feathers will turn up in our work so watch this space!

Pūkeko or swamp hen.

Pūkeko or swamp hen.

Now, for my next week’s goal . . .

am I a lost cause?

I want to do everything! I want to paint, sew, embroider, draw, pot, sculpt, weave, create assemblages and make mosaics, knit and crotchet, make crazy creatures, spend time in the garden and read until my eyes itch. And I know I can do all these things as I’ve done them in the past. But what do I do? Sweet Fanny Adams! I either run round like a headless chook getting everything I need for the project and then something else has caught my magpie’s eye and I want to do something else . . . or I procrastinate and do nothing!

Yeah, yeah.  I know.  I’m being too hard on myself but quite frankly people, I really do want to do everything and I really do want to do it all and now and what’s more I want to do it perfectly!  How’s that working for me?  Well of course it isn’t.  The evidence being my sporadic forays into all of the above with little development in my skills because I flit from one thing to the other.

Today was a bit of a nothing day and my favourite Deng Min Dao quote has been haunting me: Each day passes whether you participate or not.

Wendy @ Late Start Studio.

Wendy @ Late Start Studio.

So what, you may well ask, am I going to do about this?  I am not going to sit on my expanding bottom and give up. No, no, no!  I have a plan, a plan so cunning you could put a tail on it and call it a weasel! (Yes, I’m a Blackadder fan.) I have a SMART goal (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and within a Time-frame) and a plan to reach it . . .

By Sunday night I will have woven two more kete/baskets and weather permitting, harvested and processed sufficient harakeke/flax for 3 more. Why will I weave only two?  Because that’s all the flax I have left that’s prepared.

1. I am going to ration my time on the computer to 40 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes in the evening, blog posts are ‘permitted’ extra time.  Spending time on the computer is a habit I am challenging!

2. For the rest of the week I will focus on my weaving.  This includes the considerable preparation steps: harvesting, sizing, softening, labeling, sorting into sizes, boiling and dyeing and then finally, weaving.  I also need to keep my visual journal up to date for the assessment in late October.

3. Health is paramount!  Eat well and get some exercise each day . . . and you have no idea how I hate to exercise for the sake of exercise.  I like my exercise to be part of how I live on a day-to-day basis and today . . . well it was too damned cold to do much outside and I had a good book to read.

The goal and the plan are probably a result of my reading Becoming a Life Change Artist: 7 Creative Skills to Reinvent Yourself at Any Stage of Life.   It’s not that I need to reinvent myself exactly, I just need to do a little remodelling.  Quinn McDonald recommended the book a while back and if she recommends a book I take notice . . . she’s a wise woman and my town has an excellent library.

The problem with knowing I can do anything is that I think I have to do everything . . . I’m not really a lost cause am I ( please note, this is not a question and you may insert a sardonic wink here).

gainful unemployment

I think that sounds better than ‘retired’ . . . there is nothing retiring about me right now and I trust there never will be.  I have some serious play to work at!   Always a dabbler, I want to know if an artist lurks within.

Day 1 . . . the official Day 1 that is.  At the end of the school term there was the usual two-week holiday but today everyone else went back to work while I stayed home.  As I lay in bed with my coffee, a book and appreciated the warmth on this cold winters day, I realised that I now get to do what I want every single day!

Last week I completed these two kete.

Wendy @ Late Start Studio.  Two small kete.

Wendy @ Late Start Studio. Two small kete.

Yesterday I began a new kete as part of developing the skills I need for being able to weave more sculptural pieces.  Yes, I decided on my major focus for the raranga/weaving course: start with kete and see where it takes me.

Beginning a new kete: Late Start Studio

Wendy @ Late Start Studio.   Beginning a new kete.

Today I finished it.

Wendy @ Late Start Studio - Kete Whakairo

Wendy @ Late Start Studio.   Kete Whakairo

Tomorrow, I shall begin another . . . but only if I feel like it (insert mental image of me winking here).

I need to make a choice

The first part of the raranga/weaving course I’m doing is complete and I have acquired some basic skills so now I need to decide what my major focus will be.  Having completed my whatu tauri I could make a korowai/cloak, an enormous project requiring a great deal of patience.

My first whatu tauri. Wendy @ Late Start Studio

My first whatu tauri.
Wendy @ Late Start Studio

I could focus on kete/baskets and look at textures, patterns and ornamentation but something in me says I should bring everything together, develop the basic skills and take the traditional skills and come up with 3 dimensional sculptures.  Off loom weaving has always been an interest however one where I haven’t experimented greatly so this will be new and require some daring.

So what do I choose?  Play it safe?  Explore new territory?  It’s no contest really.  I shall start with kete because there is still a lot to learn and then . . . sculptural pieces incorporating some beach finds! And maybe I’ll make another whatu tauri with ‘beach treasure’ in it as well!

When a choice is made I am not only choosing to do something, I am also excluding other choices . . . and that is the difficult part for me.

my wonderful news

I was planning on writing a post about my news and I began wondering about what makes some information news.  I could tell you about something you didn’t know and that would be news to you but perhaps not the rest of the world.  Or some event may be news but insignificant . . . is it still news?  And we talk about breaking the news and even breaking news . . . telling it as it happens.  So if you read about a recent event and are not at all surprised by it . . . is that news?  I digress.  This is news, my news, and while a turning point for me, not important in the great scheme of things.

If you read my blog closely, you may not be at all surprised by my news . . . which being a week old now is not news at all I guess.  It was certainly news from left field when I announced it at work . . . that I would be there for just 6 weeks longer.

Yes folks, I have handed in my notice at the day-job.  I have handed in my resignation before I get stale, before I don’t want to be there at all because I find myself wanting to be doing other things all day.

Most people have assumed I’m retiring becuase I am of an age to do so, or perhaps I have another paid job to go to but neither of those are true.  There is nothing retiring about me or indeed any of the members of my family.  So having no further paid work planned, just working at play, what do I call myself when I fill in a form?  Am I still an educator? Teacher?   Probably but just not employed in that capacity.

I will call myself a consultant.  I am a Creative Leisure Consultant!  And f you would like to consult me about how to spend time creatively . . . feel free.  I shall be liberal in my services.  Payment will be in laughter, for both of us, I will offer extended consultations is you bring wine, I will travel to your town if you provide accommodation and I will bring you a shining example of how to live a sometimes challenging life, and be smiling and, by turns, satirical and optimistic as I begin to contemplate the future.  According to my mother you don’t begin getting old until your 80s and she thought she might be old when she was about 100 . . . maybe . . . so I have a good few years before that happens.

I have good genes, good health, a good attitude and I intend to have few regrets although I may own up to a few remaining dreams.

Reaching out to grasp the furture.  A map completed in a recent workshop with Jill Berry organised by Fibre Arts NZ Wendy @ the Late Start Studio

Reaching out to grasp the furture. A map completed in a recent workshop with Jill Berry organised by Fibre Arts NZ
Wendy @ the Late Start Studio