faffing around

Faffing around is a bit different from simply messing around, for me at least.   Messing around is a bit like what Tom does in How Tom Beat Captain Najork and His Hired Sportsmen (by Russel Hoban and illustrated by Quenton Blake).  It is perhaps my all-time favourite children’s book.  You see Tom’s fooling around, thought to be a senseless waste of time that looked too much like play to his aunt, Miss Fidget Wonkham-Strong (who wears an iron hat and takes no nonsense from anyone), was very useful when it came to challenges.

Similarly my messing around has always been playful but usually has a purpose.  It may look decorative but more often than not has a purpose . . . well the garden sculpture that blew down in a gale twice, not so much, and maybe not the pumice stone carvings although you could use them to get all that hard skin off your heels if you wished.

Small carved pumice stones.

Small carved pumice stones.

And all those stones I covered make great door stops.

A stone from the local river covered in knotted harakeke/flax, embellished with beads.

A stone from the local river covered in knotted harakeke/flax, embellished with beads.

Faffing around is messing around with no end purpose in mind.  So now, having signed up for Swathed in Stitch with the wonderfully talented Karen Ruane, I have this lacy stuff (for want of a better word) and no earthly use for it.  Yes it was a bit of fun and with some practise I could make something rather lovely, but I sort of don’t do rather lovely without a purpose any more that I do tea-stained faux Victoriana.  You know what I mean, all that delicate embroidery that takes forever and looks gobsmackingly beautiful.  Already I’m trying to break some rules in what I’m learning (can’t help myself really) and stretch boundaries . . . and I like it!  But what the hell am I going to do with it?

Machined lace . . .  with a feather

Machined lace with a feather . . . or an attempt at a feather.

I can't take any credit for the starfish, but I do like the foamy, delicate edge I achieved here . . . but what will I do with it?

I can’t take any credit for the starfish, but I do like the foamy, delicate edge I achieved here (by accident but next time on purpose) . . . but what will I do with it?

Until I have a reason to do more, I probably won’t.   I’m sort of thinking myself into a hole . . . actually lots of holes . . . with beads.

Machined lace on muslin with quartz beads.

Machined lace on muslin with quartz beads.  There are another four holes to edge and weave into but why?

You might well ask “Why are you taking the class?”  I’m taking it so I can learn about design, stitches, techniques, materials and watch an expert at work . . . and then I want to incorporate it into work that is more along the lines of Jude Hill‘s yet mine, not a poor copy.   Did I mention I’m doing a class with her?  Small Journeys?   Small Journeys is different . . . it’s like getting to sit beside her and listen to her process, how she thinks about a piece in development.  And have you seen her work? Check our her photostream on Flickr.

Now don’t get me wrong, all of Karen’s work is useful and so is Jude’s . . . it’s just that me and an embroidery hoop?  I used one for the very first time today and it felt weird, like I was channeling someone else.  I’ve just got to face it, as much as I think Karen’s work is divine, Junko Oki is much more cup of tea, sort of messy . . . and I do like to mess around.

So that’s why I feel like I’ve been faffing around for the last two or three days . . . and don’t go and give me the ‘it doesn’t have to be useful’ or the ‘you’re too much of a perfectionist’ lectures.  I’ve heard them before.    If I could just work out how I can use all this prettiness . . . or how I can make it more . . . edgy?   (Insert a very big sigh here.)

making my own paper tape and stamps – cheaply!

Palmerston North, New Zealand has the most wonderful Arts Recycling Centre where $1.00 got me 10 beautiful fat corks (wine bottles no longer have corks it seems), and a roll of paper adding-machine tape – now that’s not to be confused with tape for a paper adding machine because for a start, I don’t think an adding machine made from paper would be of any use to fish nor fowl although someone may have made one!

I used my very old acrylic paints, an old credit card, a stamp pad and some white gesso as my white paint is all but gone.  I carved the corks and having used them, find they have cleaned up well and that I’m rather fond of the ‘square-peg-in-a-round-hole’ and the ’round-peg-in-a-square-hole’ stamps.

Here’s the results!

paper-tape 1

wiping on the acrylic background

paper-tape 2

the results

I’m much happier with the results where I used the black stamp pad however I guess I can always touch up the detail on the white and purple stars and moons.  I did think about using glue and dusting them with glitter – another time perhaps.

Each strip is about 150 cms long by 6 cms wide (60 inches by 2.25 inches).    I’ve found the tape tears very nicely down it’s length and although it curls a bit when it’s wet, it’s okay.

So not quite free, but very cheap – and I still have 5 corks and a lot of paper left!   Great value and a bit of fun on a Sunday afternoon!


pumice pieces and the work/play dilemma

Beach treasure – pick up the pumice, bring it home, play with a pocket knife!

Last week I was off to interviews and ended up with a temporary job for 5 months.  5 months income is better than none however I now have a small problem which I may have found a solution to.    It’s been a good news, bad news kind of week.

The good news was I found some work in a field I love with wonderful colleagues, many of who I know.

The bad news was that it was in a city some distance away across, sometimes, icy roads and I would need to find a place to stay.

More bad news, I recently re-homed a very neglected little dog and won’t be able to keep her.

The good news is that my across-the-road neighbour has adopted Kizi so I get visiting and walking access and yesterday, I think I found somewhere to stay.

The bad news is I have a full-time job for 5 months just when I’m really getting into the swing of just mucking around and re-learning how to play with abandon in The Late Start Studio.

How will I find the time?  That is my work/play dilemma.