when at first you don’t succeed . . .

I was rudely awakened in the early hours of yesterday morning by an earthquake.  The epicentre was some way off but here on the sand and with a house built on a concrete slab, it was noticeable.  It reminded me once again how, despite our best efforts to build a secure home life, everything can change in an instant.  It brings into  perspective that most of what we think are disasters are merely annoying and that nothing we do can withstand the forces of nature . . . wind and rain will triumph.

Recently I created some maṇḍala out of shells, raised a tepee of flax/harakeke stalks weighted down in the centre with a  net-covered stone that weighs about 7 kg or 15.5 pound.  I thought it would be strong enough to withstand the wind and rain until the flax stalks gave in to time.

Local stones, triangle shells/kaikaikaroro, horse mussels/hoemoana and flax/harakeke flower stalks.

Local stones, triangle shells/kaikaikaroro, horse mussels/hoemoana and flax/harakeke flower stalks.

One night the winds came in from the sea and moved the lot . . . again!   Some of the horse mussel/hoemoana shells and feather have since blown away as well.

IMG_0341So what do I do now?  Plan C, it’s idiocy to repeat plan A or B.  I need to splay the ‘legs’ out further, secure them to the ground (tent pegs perhaps) and bring the apex of the structure closer to the ground and replace the hoemoana shells with stones.

Hardly an earth-shattering disaster, nothing of that magnitude (puns intended), just annoying because I expected it to last the summer . . . when it gets here.

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.

squeezing in some creative time

Life has been very busy but still I managed to squeeze in a little time to doodle . . . not a lot of time but at least it was regular.

I often work with teachers and students to develop SMART goals: Specific, measurable, Achievable, Realistic and within a Timeframe.  On this occasion I made one for myself.   Often my goals are achievable but unrealistic so this time I kept to the KISS principle and Kept It Simple Sweetheart!  My goal was to do a very small doodle a day for a month . . .IMG_2170OTD stands for On The Day.   There were only 5 occasions when I was late so I feel really good about the other 25.  Why would I beat myself up about the 5 late ones?

Not long after I began this, Violette Clarke was encouraging everyone to do Messy Art Daily for much the same reasons . . . a little and often is the trick.

I’ve also attended a conference in Auckalnd recently and managed to squeeze in some creative work there as well.  I seldom take notes because I know I won’t refer to them again.  I tend to listen intently, perhaps jot down some key words or references and follow up with reading more on the subject later . . . this time I doodled as I listened, pages and pages in my Black and White Journal!

IMG_2172IMG_2174When I go away I take a minimum of materials.  The Doodle a Day needed just some pens and one Copic Marker (the damn thing bled through the page, most annoying!) however my watercolour crayons and pencils smuggled a ride along with a small Moleskine and spray bottle.IMG_2105The pencil-case is one of several that I made recently after borrowing Alisa Burke’s book, Canvas Remix, from the library.

So, how do your squeeze in some creative time when you’re run off your feet?

where did joy go?

Where did joy go?
Muffle your laughter; let your tears fall silently.
Let silence fill the world even if just for a moment.
This is not a time for joy,
This is a time to be struck by the miracle of living and despair at the cruelty of Death.

IMG_1769My dear friend’s daughter is just like mother: she has much grace and strength.   I can only trust that she and her husband have sufficient of both to bear this eviscerating blow: the death of their beloved Emily Rose.  Just 3 months and already showing she had inherited much those same traits through her mother and her grandmother, my friend.

Not for them the joy of their wee bairn flourishing within the circle of their love.  For them, the harrowing pain of watching Emily’s peers growing and thriving on the love of their families.  What, were there nine of them lined up on the couch?  Most of them there with parents to farewell that beautiful baby who was yet to become a child.   Their combined grief was harrowing.

I cannot imagine that this overwhelming pain they are feeling is in anyway comparable to what I have experienced, my loses pale into insignificance: they are a young couple without their first child, completely in love and loving.

I have no more words . . . please don’t comfort with talk of your god needing another angel . . . no god needed that baby more than her parents . . . I don’t believe in that god.   It makes no sense: it is not right.

From Emily Rose’s service, the words of Michael Leunig’s poem, When the Heart . . .

When the heart
Is cut or cracked or broken,
Do not clutch it;
Let the wound lie open.
Let the wind
From the good old sea blow in
To bathe the wound with salt,
And let it sting.
Let a stray dog lick it,
Let a bird lean in the hole and sing
A simple song like a tiny bell,
And let it ring.

And yes, I went straight from that sad, sad funeral to my son’s to cuddle my granddaughters, to hold that family tight and feel blessed.

winter, keeping warm

The shortest day is coming and I know after that, the worst of the winter weather will strike.   At the moment, walking on the beach is a weekend activity or on those days when I can get home in time for this . . . . staying warm is on my mind.

IMG_1762When Diana Trout asked the question “How do you feel about your clothing?” and spoke of Fast Fashion, I began thinking about the Slow Fashion movement and began responding about how I thought about clothes.  When I started rabbiting on, as is my wont, I decided my feelings needed a whole post.

Sometimes my attitude to my clothes is that they just cover my body and keep me warm.  At other times, I dress to alter my mood . . . I clothe myself much more carefully if I’m feeling low.  I made my first wearable garment fro myself at 11 and made almost everything for many years after, even earning my living sewing for clients for a while.   My claim to fame is making a strapless wedding dress that was worn by the bride for 12 hours straight without having to be hitched up once!  Sewing now?  Well I have boxes of fabrics I can’t bring myself to part with, and sometimes I’ll have a burst of enthusiasm and make my granddaughters dress-ups or tights (there’s a neat factory shop that sells the fabric nearby) or I might make merino tops for myself for the winter.  I wish I had more time to make more interesting garments than these pedestrian items but a full-time job doesn’t leave me with enough daylight hours.

I’m no more vain that the next person, I like to look good however I don’t really like shopping for clothes.  Fabric, yes, clothes, no.  I get annoyed by racks of clothing that are all the same, racks of clothing cheaply made from cheaper fabrics by someone in India, Pakistan or China that must be bemused by the size of these garments given that they could fit 2 or 3 people into one of them.  I get annoyed when a shop assistant tells me that something is popular, as if that should make me want it . . . it has the opposite effect.  I get especially annoyed when I see women slavishly following a fashion trend that must have been thought up by some misogynistic, money-grasping charlatan (male or female). I get especially annoyed to see young women looking self-conscious or uncomfortable in their fancy-dress (yes I know that’s my opinion but I think that’s how some look).

So from that little rant you’ll know I like good fabric, quality construction and practical yet interesting design that allows me to express myself.  So do I make or buy clothes regularly?  Not really, a few garments each winter or summer: good quality, thoughtfully sourced, classic items that augment what I have . . . and some garments have been in my wardrobe a long time.

It all comes back to consumerism, we must buy, buy, buy so someone else can work in substandard environment and some one else can make more money than they really need (my socialist leanings exposed here).  I try to be a minimal consumer, a recycler, a reuser, endeavouring to have as little impact on the environment as I can . . . I’m not very successful in some areas of my life but I try and I’m getting there.

When I read the following in my book of mediations by Deng Min-Dao recently, I realised how important my efforts are in this respect.   I’m sharing just a few of the thoughts expressed in the daily meditation.

Decadence

How do you know when your life verges on decadence?

When etiquette and morals become more important than righteousness . . . When procedure becomes more important than creativity . . . When patriotism becomes more important than measured governing and enlightened treatment of other nations . . . When the act of eating becomes more important than considerations of nutrition . .  When the opera becomes more important than helping the homeless . . . When style becomes more important than function . . . When books become more important than teachers . . . When expediency becomes more important than the elderly.

When you smell these things happening, you are not far from decadence.

IMG_1699

Recycled and repurposed grocery bags became kites that cost nothing and gave great pleasure.

Does that answer your question Diana?

empathy, encouragement and perseverance

Without perverance, nothing will come of my efforts – I’ve been receiving that message loud and clear from many quarters.   Take a step, stumble, fall down, get up, take two steps, trip, fall down, get up . . . . no baby ever gave up on learning to walk!

Encouragement to take the next step is a sure-fire way to get anyone to move on to that next step so thanks for the comments yesterday everyone.    And talking of next steps, watch this little clip One Thousand Steps . . . maybe it should be required daily viewing for me for a while, like medication.    Maybe, because my 4 year-old grand-daughter loves it and watches it when she stays at my house has something to do with my readiness to take on some changes.

Encouragement can come from any quarter, but if I don’t publicise my efforts only I can provide it and that nasty inner critic needs some competition – easy solution, be brave and don’t hide.

Enjoy the clip, it will only take 2:19 of you life.

In her Harvard commencement speech J. K. Rowling said, “There is an expiry date on blaming your parents for steering you in the wrong direction.  The moment you are old enough to take the wheel, responsibility lies with you.’  Now along with parents, I think you can lump in teachers, friends, society in general.   Watch/listen if you have 21 minutes to spare while you play at something on your workbench she talks of the value of failure and imagination – it’s full of humour, wisdom and inspiring.

Another quote from Rowling who knows failure first hand and used it to create a magical world and turned millions on to reading for pleasure . . . “It’s impossible to live without some failure unless you live so cautiously that you might not have lived at all, in which case you fail by default.”

So what’s the worst that could happen if I leave the well-worn path?  I could trip over . . . and I have the strength to get up because around me I have wonderful friends and family.

Off the pathway

My inspiration . . . a 2 year-old who continues to explore off the established pathways for the sheer joy of it.   May it last for life!

Imagine a big smile here please.