a job well done

I think the job has been done well but time will tell . . . it depends on my expectations about how long I have extended its use, which in turn depends on how much care I am ready to take as I spread the quilt out on my bed, whether I lie down on it to read or take the time to move it aside . . . will it last another year or five?

When I began mending my old Indian bedspread (another beginning) I knew there were quite a few rips and holes where the sun had eaten entire patches of colour away and that the fabric was whisper thin in places.  First the rips where no patches were needed were mended and then the holes, where a piece of recycled unbleached calico was underlaid and stitched in place.  As I worked I inadvertently created a few more holes . . . ending up with somewhere in excess of 120 (I stopped counting).  If the mending had not given rise to so much reflection I doubt I would have persevered . . . I have a low threshold to boredom.

As I worked I gave a lot of thought the what I hold as precious, what beauty means to me, that crossover between practical and beauty as if they were on to separate continuum and the was a sweet spot where, for me, the meet.

If something is truly practical, it does its job better than I had hope for, perhaps the look doesn’t matter so much . . . perhaps the truly ugly tights I wore under my ski pants, the rusty old bottle opener (although there is sentiment attached to it).  And if something is gobsmackingly beautiful, that alone is enough . . . beauty is its use perhaps?

And then there is age and sentiment. From newly minted, the loveliness of the just created right through to decayed, not wearing but truly worn, when an object, or person, can take on a new beauty, one where sentiment plays a part, where life is visible in every crack, every scar, every wrinkle.  Is there a sweet spot where the continuum of new to old crosses over the others?   (This could turn into a rant about human beauty, societal expectations, roles, power . . . but that is not my intention or at least not this time.)

So I pondered on all of this as I sat patching in pieces of cloth on a bedspread I am not quite ready to hand over to recycling . . . running stitch, back-stitch, simple stitches in simple cotton cloth.

Simple stitching around the patches, frayed edges visible, scars exposed.

Simple stitching around the patches, frayed edges visible, scars exposed, fabric whisper thin.

another book

I wanted to return to my son some of the gift he has given me . . . images of my grandhearts taken over the last four and a half years I’ve been back in New Zealand.

The album has a dyed calico backing, a paint-stained baby wipe, embroidery and a few washers.  The pages are tea stained paper bound with coptic stitch so it will lie flat when open.

Adam's Album

Adam’s Album

The baby wipe was stained from wiping off paint or cleaning up bits of acrylic paint as I worked in a journal or monoprinting papers. If you smooth them out a bit when they’re still damp with paint, they dry quite soft. You can also work them in your hands a little so they’re even softer. They aren’t hard-wearing of course and the pattern is quite random which dictated where the stitching went.

I save stuff just in case it comes in handy . . . I have several more.

change is so hard

The last week of my long summer holiday was taken up having new carpet laid throughout the house.  This is the first time I have ever had that luxury feeling of a brand new, decent quality carpet underfoot and when you’re essentially a barefoot fan . . . mmmmm loverly!

Preparing for the carpet layers meant that everything that sits on the floor had to be removed . . . thank goodness it’s summer and we had some dry weather!  Without my son and grandhearts coming to lend a hand I doubt I could have done it.  The girls were amazing and very willing to carry the smaller things outside while Adam and I moved the bigger items.  We arranged to leave some of the heavy furniture for the carpet layers.

During the removal process, I apologised to my son several times for the volume of stuff I have and, although I’m not planning to shuffle off this mortal coil any time soon, I have promised to buy nothing more that isn’t a replacement for something that is completely munted, I will use up what I can and weed out what I can get rid of . . . sell, donate, dump. Believe me, by the time I had moved everything back, single-handed, I was adopting this affirmation big time!   I have everything I need and more! 

A true statement in every area of my life . . . how about you?  Do you itch to have one more whatever?  A bigger or better thingimijig?  The latest whatsit, gizmo or doofer?  You probably don’t NEED it, you might WANT it but let’s be realistic . . . if you have access to good food, a warm bed, friends and family who know you on the inside and love you anyway, the freedom to make choices and some means of personal empowerment, fun, what more do you really need?   I’ve never really lusted after loads of possessions . . . I’m just a bit of a magpie and I’ve done my bit supporting struggling artisans around the world.

WANTS and NEEDS are very different and I’m focussing on getting my NEEDS met.IMG_2477Which brings me to my favourite tights.  They’ve died.  There is a hole in one knee and it’s just a matter of time before the other goes too . . . but I’m still wearing them.  Even mending is unwarranted as the stretch is going.  Although munted they can’t be replaced, Kozmik is out of business and these, you have to agree, are unique.  I guess I’ll just have to get out some of my fabric and some dye and make a new pair.  Do I NEED a new pair?  No.  Do I want a new pair?  Not really . . . unless they’re equally interesting.  Can I make a pair without buying anything else? Yes!  So if I want them enough . . . get my drift?

These wonderful tights . . . I bought them about 18 years ago and with some time-out when I didn’t wear them, they’ve lasted, although lately they’ve been getting a thrashing.  When an old favourite anything wears out it’s often irreplaceable and we have to get rid of the old, worn out whatever and accept something new.   Habits are like that too . . . the old habit has served it’s purpose, might not be taking us where we want to go in life but it’s hard to break and hard to adopt a new behaviour.

I am very reluctant to throw away these tights, I love these tights and if I decide to make them into something else I know they would just sit and be another job-to-do instead of a pleasurable, creative project.  They would become another bit of stuff weighing me down with responsibility.  So here’s the deal . . . when they cannot be worn decently around the house, I either make them into a toy as a keepsake or they go into the bin the VERY SAME DAY.  Oh . . . they’ll still be stuff for my son and daughter to get rid of!

Who in their right mind is so emotionally attached to a pair of crazy tights!  I think I need help . . . I kid you not!

yet another late start

. . . but at least I am starting.   I have no valid reasons for not having blogged for almost 3 months.  If I put my mind to it I could come up with string of excuses but they’d be rather feeble and really, you’d see through them in a heartbeat.  So what if I work full-time in a demanding job?  Others do too, along with caring for their families and countless other responsibilities, yet they manage to blog more frequently that I do.  And besides, I’ve been on holiday for 4 weeks now.

My energy deserted me, me get-up-and-go got up and went . . . it’s as simple or as complex as that.  I didn’t want to so I didn’t. It’s not that I haven’t been working on creative projects or thinking deep, analytic thoughts and my sense of humour didn’t desert me.  It’s just that I didn’t feel the desire to blog about them at the time.

Fortunately, I’m not about to castigate my Self for sloth or admonish my Self for procrastination, it is such a waste of time and energy and will only serve to make any internal opposition stronger.  Aren’t I lucky that my ‘I/you-should-blah-blah-blah-muscle’ can be rested?

It’s not that I haven’t been working on creative projects or thinking deep, analytic thoughts and my sense of humour didn’t desert me.  It’s just that I didn’t feel the desire to blog about them at the time.

This Christmas every gift was to be handmade or be consumable so I made gifts and gave food and music (which counts as a pleasure-giving consumable with longevity).  I slipped up just a tad when I gave Adam and Yo a Corkcicle to keep their bottle of wine cold while they sit out under the trees in the evening sun.

Recycled jeans, acrylic paint and a little imagination.

Recycled jeans, a zip, acrylic paint, a handmade stencil (recycled acetate), bubble wrap and bottle tops as well as a little imagination.

The colours in this photo aren’t great.  The jeans were a pale grey and the red and orange, same as the ukulele inside the bag, looked great together.

Meg's unicorn, complete with false eyelashes.

Meg’s unicorn, complete with false eyelashes.  I was laughed at for buying these ultra-cheap eyelashes in Bangkok but I just knew they’d come in handy!

Meg had asked a while back if I could make a pink unicorn . . . I don’t usually take orders but in this case, how could I say no?  She was one happy camper!

I took a tacket stitch class with Diana Trout and this journal was the first one I made.

Tacket stitch journal

Tacket stitch journal, recycled cereal box, gesso, sprays and handmade stencils made from recycled acetate pages. I used the used the stencils and then printed with them to blot them dry.

Here’s a close up of the stitching.


Tacket stitch journal #1

And my stencils!  One sheet of recycled acetate, one exacto knife and a pleasant half hour.IMG_1622I found that drawing an image and laying it under the acetate when cutting made the process easier.  I didn’t attempt to slavishly cut on the lines of the draft . . . they were just a guide.  Because the acetate sheet is clear I sprayed a page and placed it behind the stencil when I stored it in a clearfile . . . IMG_2469And then there were the little back-to-back notebooks as bonus gifts for friends and relations.  The covers were left over collage papers stuck to recycled manila folders or printed onto recycled and cereal box cardboard.  There’s quite a bit of recycling happening around here!

So I never really stopped, just a hiccup, we all have them, no need to explain.

good intentions

On Diana Trout’s blog last Friday I wrote “Today is the last day of the school term, 2 weeks holiday just around the corner (although like most educationalists I’ll have work to do . . . bugger!) and I am determined to pick up AND USE brushed and pens EVERY DAY! YES!!! You heard it here first. And I will POST every day . . . except maybe when the darlings are here. :)”  I missed on the very first day!   It’s not that I didn’t have some playtime, it that by 11:00 pm I didn’t feel like posting anything.     Yes, good intentions, that’s me.

My day started when I was jolted out of a book by a thump on my house . . . I leapt out of bed to find a dead tui on the deck.    These native birds are beautiful, and have a distinctive sound as they chortle, click, whistle and sing in the trees nearby and I was upset to find that one had tried flying though my house instead of over or around.   I guess with big glass doors on both sides . . . this is the third bird and they’re getting bigger and I’m wondering what will be next.  We have big black-backed gulls aplenty, the odd pheasant hiding in the sand dunes.   Just as long as there’s not an albatross blown in by the storm that’s heading this way!

Tui R.I.P.

The plumage is beautiful, glossy black, gleaning with blues and greens and that little tuft of white on their throats.   It seemed unreasonable to just bury it in my garden so I rang the Maori language university,  Te Wānanga o Raukawa.  My guess is that some Maori weavers will make use of the feathers – I hope so.

Oh my goodness, two entries in a row where a pointless death is featured so just to let you know that play took over for the rest of the day, here are some backgrounds made with homemade stencils (cut out of acetate).

Homemade stencils

I used 2 A4 sheets of acetate and cut the shapes freehand . . .

Homemade stencil 2


Chalk pastel overlaid with gesso

The trouble is, I get to this point and I’m not sure where to go next . . . I tend to just lay it aside for later and sometimes ‘later’ is a long time away.  For instance, this was a very early background that I just haven’t done anything with . . . yet.

Ah well,  maybe today it’ll speak to me.  I need to loosen up more and not expect to have a final image in my head . . . to just see where it will go if I make some random marks.

I’m still here

I know . . . it’s been forever and I will explain it a little but just not this morning.  This is the teaser:

If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading – Lao Tzu

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined – Henry David Thoreau

Put your ear down to your heart and listen hard – Anne Sexton (via Quinn McDonald)

Each is true and each is what I am thinking about . . . as well as working full-time and spending an extra 2.5 hours a day commuting in my car.

A recycled jersey, now a dress for my granddaughter – a little hand-sewing (so unlike me) and thinking (too much like me)

Now . . . I’ll be late for work!

altered books?

When my grand-daughters came to stay recently one of the first things we did was to go to the library.  In the bin of books that are worn and up for sale, there were a number of board books at 20 cents apiece so . . . . I bought 4 and got out the gesso.And now . . . gesso-ed booksI’ve left them standing on the dining table to dry completely while I go off to my day-job and next weekend, I’ll give one of the white ones a second coat.  They’ll need to have some sort of clasp or closure as already they don’t want to close completely, maybe I could remove a page or two?

I have no idea what I will do with them and no idea when – but they’re ready for when inspiration strikes.  How would you use them?