Monthly Archives: July 2014

Rise to the Challenge!

There is nothing like a design challenge to kickstart your creativity, especially when your creative get up and go feels like it got up and went.  The magnificent Paulette Walther of Kazuri Beads has issued such a challenge on her Many Hands Marketplace website and there are so many wins for those who enter.

sammunat-polymer-bead-leather-braceletFirstly, the sale of Samunnat beads provides an income for my beloved Samunnat ladies.  Secondly, this is a way to spread the word about their beautiful loose beads. (Please send the links about the competition FAR AND WIDE!!) Thirdly, winners can win wonderful prizes and fourthly, it helps to strengthen and nurture this amazing creative connection that exists in our community.  One of the judges, Pearl Blay, is a talented, generous, inspiring lady who has written about the ladies on her fabulous Beading Gem blog and made it possible for them to own a Modahaus Table Top Studio after I loved mine so much.

DSCN5353She has created several designs like the one above to inspire people entering the competition and you can see them here.  Because every bead the ladies make gets sent to Paulette, I don’t have many here in Australia to play with but that is about to change as I am giving myself the challenge of creating one piece a month using Samunnat or Kazuri beads.  Here’s one which does not use our sliders but does use the Bindu beads in Black/ White combined with black ceramic beads from an exotic bead market in Rockdale. I was inspired by the shape of those seeds that have a tail to carry them across vast distances.  You will also see the influence of ethnic and tribal jewellery because that’s what I love!!  Stay tuned as I grow in my role as part of the Kazuri West-Many Hands Marketplace with several other designers. Over the next few weeks, I will introduceDSCN5357 you to them!

La, back to packing a box of Samunnat goodies to take to Canberra. More piccies soon!  Why don’t you respond to Paulette’s call to make a piece of jewellery using Samunnat or Kazuri slider beads? Or tell others who might.

Sending Rainbows

My mum and I share the practice of sending rainbows.  In her recovery from breast cancer, she had come across the writing of Petrea King and as we lived hundreds of DSCN5324kms apart, we used the image ourselves. We would imagine the qualities we wanted to share – courage, strength, resilience, healing etc – being beamed across a vibrant and beautiful rainbow that extended between each of us.  From heart to heart.  I still use this image when I meditate and am sending love to someone in times of pain and stress.  At the very least it gave a a sense of I just made a difference, rather than I just felt helpless and powerless.

The other day I was running. Reluctantly and mechanically. Reminding myself grimly that, for me, running is part of making good art.  Slowly, I stopped my internal joyless monologue and became aware of the magical morning sky, the vast open landscape around me, my legs moving well enough to get me home, my nostrils clear. It occurred to me that on at least two occasions in the past 7 years I had thought I’d farewelled my running days for ever.  I am grateful I can run at all.

As I ran, thinking about some beloved friends, a very clear image of meditation beads, a mala, emerged.  Malas are used in a number of religious traditions and the one I was imagining was a sending rainbows mala.  108* beads to help focus a busy mind, to link to a mindful breath.  And in case that mind persisted in wandering (as mine does) 11 different beads, each with a special (very personal) meaning, to draw the mind back to the breath.

An ammonite: for me, a symbol of resolution and joyous discovery;DSCN5320

A turquoise coloured bird: a symbol of joy;

A faux ivory feather: a reminder to hold things lightly, with openness;

A coral coloured heart: symbolising compassion and love;

An open hand: a symbol of healing, creativity and connection;

A lotus blossom: something beautiful that grows from muddy places;

A spiral: a traditional symbol for energy;

A leaf: symbolising growth and renewal;

A cloud: aaah…my precious clouds…symbolising acceptance, equanimity and wisdom; and that all things pass;

A faux ivory knife: clarity and the capacity to make wise choices; and

A small brass Nepali bell: a reminder to listen, to heed.

Most meditation malas have a large bead called a guru bead or parent bead and for each, I used a lapis teardrop bead I bought over 30 years ago in Nepal.  For me they are special like the people I am making the malas for.  They also love Nepal.

And with these rainbows, I send love.  I will make more.

*108 is a traditional number and there are all sorts of reasons given.  I like (being the ace mathematician that I am – ROFL) the fact that it is a harshad number – an integer divisible by the sum of its digits. In Sanskrit, harshad means joy. Nice.

Sunday reading pleasure

Sunday is a day for reading. Sometimes books, sometimes links I DSCN0197follow from my beloved Brainpickings…all sorts of stuff.  I am loving Ann Patchett’s This is the story of a Happy Marriage which I gave my mum with suspect generosity.  And I am continuing my research into the going gray project which starts in nine months.  (This in fact has become my latest form of procrastination and I will have to watch it. I limit it to one page of reading now.  Other woman just gracefully grow gray. I bore people for a year and then make a song and dance about it. Still, to each her own.)

Today I came across two thoughts that I am going to ponder. No more reading now…justDSCN0189 reflection:

From the poet Mary Oliver:

Let me keep my mind on what matters, which is my work, which is mostly standing still and learning to be astonished.

My sister stayed last week and after a magical run through the bush early one morning, the sun rising and colouring the sky and strong, red kangaroos leaping up the hills around us, we both talked about the importance of appreciating the wonder of the ordinary, of not missing the treasure right before us.

I am slowly seeing that my running, my meditating, being astonished, being still, is indeed all part of making my art. All entwined.  In several aspects of my life there is this slow awareness of the oneness of it all.  Has that got anything to do with fray hair?  Maybe.  I think that is why this comment by 90 year old Phyllis Sues so inspired:

People ask me all the time what’s my secret. I tell them move, learn and listen…What inspires me is the process of learning. Inspiration creates creativity and creativity creates a better life. I like experimenting and I have no fear of trying something new, so flying high on a trapeze at 80 was never a question…stay fit and enjoy the journey. Accept the challenge and go for it!

Read her whole article here.


Something to remember #5

Chandigarh girlsTo require perfection is to invite paralysis.  The pattern is predictable: as you see error in what you have done, you steer your work to what you imagine you can do perfectly.  You cling ever more tightly to what you know you can do-away from risk and exploration, and possibly further from the work of your heart.

Bayles and Orland, Art and Fear 1993

(Image of figures from Chandigarh Rock Garden. This wonderful photo was taken by Nisha of and you can read more about it here. Nisha tells me that the figures are made from recycled glass bangles and old toilet cisterns! Love it! )

Something to remember #4

DSCN3727There is ecstasy in paying attention. You can get into a kind of Wordsworthian openness to the world, where you see in everything the essence of holiness. . .


Anne Lamott

In a recent Studio Mojo, Cynthia Tinapple featured the the work  of Ellen Langer on Mindfulness (five points that help are summarised here).  Dr. Langer says:

Beginning an artistic activity is one way to help us move from excessive mindlessness to a more mindful life…engaging our creativity more fully, giving itDSCN3885 a a form that holds some innate interest, ought to be a part of every day life for each of us. (On Becoming an Artist: Reinventing Yourself through Mindful Creativity)

Look at what happens when Genevieve Williamson looks mindfully here.


Something to remember #3

Laughter is a spiritual form of communing; without words we can say to one another I’m with you, I get it….knowing laughter embodies the relief and connection we experience when we realise the poser of sharing our stories-we’re not laughing at each other but with each other.

Laughter is a bubbly effervescent form of holiness.

Anne Lamott.

Roller Skate boy


Something to remember #2

There is no such thing as creative people and non creative people. There are only people who use their creativity and people who don’t…the only unique contribution that we will ever make in this world will be born of our creativity…If we want to make meaning, we need to make art. Cook, write, draw, doodle, paint, scrapbook, take pictures, collage, knit, rebuild an engine, sculpt, dance, decorate, act, sing – it doesn’t matter.  As long as we’re creating, we’re cultivating meaning…

Brene Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection



Beautiful pieces from Thimi Ceramics, Nepal.

Something to remember #1

Get a life in which you are generous.  Look around at the azaleas making fuchsia starbursts in Spring; look at a full moon hanging silver in a black sky on a cold night.  And realize that life is glorious, and that you have no business in taking it for granted. Care so deeply about its goodness that you want to spread it around…think of life as a terminal illness, because, if you do, you will live it with joy and passion, as it ought to be lived.

Anna Quindlen A Short Guide to a Happy Life



Walls of China, Lake Mungo National Park, September 2013

Who Won and What’s Happening?

I have to confess that I have been having way too much fun writing and preparing DSCN5316 this 6 week program to stop and write in the blog!  And the good news is that Creativity and Polymer Clay will be running as we have already got the minimum number of participants* (and bless them, some are coming without having really heard ANYTHING about the course! Gotta love that trust!)

As well as making some gifts** and preparing samples*** for participants, I have loved the process of getting really clear about what I want people to be able to do as a result of having spent the 6 weeks together.  WORD OF THE YEAR ALERT: Clarity was one of the words I selected and for those of you noting them down to get the big prize, here’sDSCN5319 your second one!

I am going to write more very soon about a program called Teach Now but doing this course has really helped me to get clear about what I want to say and how I want to say it.  And I think it contributed enormously to the amount of joy I’m getting from preparing the course.

I have also been revisiting favourite sites and rediscovering some wisdom! I love this one from the Skinny Artist about how to deal with too many ideas and not enough time!

I loved the ideas Emily, Deb and Margaret came up with for a name for the course and so all three will get a pendant. Margie, it won’t be another black and white one for you! Only so many a woman can wear really!  Thank you all for connecting!

*Still room for more!

** Just knew I would eventually find a use for some of the little plastic thingies that came with flowers a daughter got once. Did you know the flower getting gene is not familial?

*** Can you spot monochromatic, analogous, complementary and split complementary colour schemes?