Monthly Archives: August 2014

Teach Now, she said. So I did….

I can’t say what the impact of doing Jen Louden’s Teach Now course was on my IMG_0018students* but for me, it was profound.  Yup, that good.  And let me say right now that I don’t get commission nor am part of any plan when I rave here. This is pure I really loved it raving!

I’ve taught quite a lot in different capacities and love doing it.  I teach for months each year in Nepal and am doing more and more teaching here in Australia. Teaching/ sharing is becoming more and more part of what I do and I want to do it as well as I can.  As a chronic over provider and an introvert, I also wanted to teach well without feeling very anxious and exhausted afterwards.  And without exhausting or overwhelming students with my excitementIMG_0026 and passion!

When the 2014 Teach Now course started I was in Nepal with unreliable internet, no hope of being around for phone calls and months of travelling ahead of me.  Was the timing right I wondered? And yet, inside me I knew it was and even when Jen Louden sensibly replied with Only you know that to my Is this timing crazy? email, her realistic description of expectations and time required meant I knew I could embrace this.

I’d spent some money previously on some on line training and was very underwhelmed. This made me fearful to spend more but Teach Now was a great investment. It’s worth so much more than you pay and the results far IMG_0019exceeded my expectations.  It helped me so much as I prepared for perhaps the most ambitious teaching I have done (the 6 week course) and some of Jen’s thoughtful questions have revolutionised the way I prepare and determine what to include.  And…in my case very pertinently…what not to include.

From my perspective, my teaching was so much more joy filled and energising rather than draining. I knew how to replenish myself after a class but did not have that utterly spent feeling I used to get.  I came home with more and more ideas and I grew to love using my creativity in preparing classes.  I could go on. And on. Suffice it to say, anyone wanting guidance about how toIMG_0023 effectively communicate something they are passionate about should have a look at Teach Now.

*I am blessed with cracker students and they all made gorgeous things and humoured me when I did my raves about creativity. The photos are from the most recent one day workshop! Ola and Tracey, you were blurry sorry.  So nice to have a bloke there Clem!!!!

Sona’s necklace (more about creativity and fear)

Don’t get too excited Sona! It’s not ready yet.

But thinking about Sona’s necklace was one of the things that triggered yesterday’s 1014479_723044334427115_2412235811036465977_n post.  Months ago, the amazingly talented and generous Sona Grigoryan made me a stunning necklace. When we met in Barcelona, I hadn’t made Sona anything so I promised myself that I would when I got back to Australia.  And yes, I’ve been busy, but the real reason I put off starting was because I was paralysed by fear.  I was so worried that what I made would not be perfect.  It would not be as gorgeous or creative or edgy or dramatic as Sona’s.  I was worried that anything I made would be…ordinary.

Then, as I prepared my course on creativity and polymer I rediscovered the quote I was trying to remember for Pam yesterday:

You may not be a Picasso or Mozart but you don’t have to be. Just create to create. wendy3Create to remind yourself you’re still alive. Make stuff to inspire others to make something too. Create to learn a bit more about yourself. — Frederick Terral

I am not Sona and my work is not cutting edge, or as thrilling as hers but I can create Sona a necklace infused with a spirit of love, sisterhood, gratitude, connection and joy.  In my way.  Sona conveyed all those things just in her being and I am now excited, rather than scared, about making Sona’s mala.

I’ll keep you posted. Sona is not holding her breath and her gift to me was totally without expectation but this is what I want to do! Mind you, I probably shouldn’t have looked at her Facebook page to see what she is doing now. The woman is INCREDIBLE!!!

Lower Your Expectations

Many years ago at the start of a live performance by the gifted comedians Lano and Woodley, the audience was instructed to do something that we were told would magnify our enjoyment of the evening enormously. We were told to join hands, close our eyes and…lower our expectations.

IMG_0921My husband adopted this very quickly as a bit of a mantra for life but I resisted for years, not really understanding the real meaning, the profound truth that was contained in this seemingly comic act. It was only after years of suffering because I didn’t conform to my own exacting standards, or not attempting stuff because it would never be good enough, that I understood how lowering my expectations makes a difference.

In a recent post,  Jen Louden (and more of her later this week) explained what she means by lowering expectations and as I couldn’t do it any better myself, I am quoting her here:

Lowering your standards might sound like I’m saying “go ahead, do sloppy work” or “sure, watch another five episodes of House of Cards.” …That’s not lowering your standards. That’s resignation. Or collapsing.

Lowering your standards means removing the deadly weight of perfectionism, of standards so impossibly high you never meet them or, if you do, you raise the bar and keep going. No rest, no recognition, and forget celebration or satisfaction.

Lowering your standards is remembering that to be human means to be flawed. It is to learn to grow down into the truer shape of your real life, not the glossy fantasy life you keep thinking will arrive… someday. Nor is it to live a stunted life of less than true, less than what you desire.

Lowering your standards fosters progress in a human-scaled, mindful way. “This is what I can do right now and I’m doing it.”

She writes here about Conditions of Enoughness which is closely related.  I also relate it to Brene Brown’s wise counsel to embrace self compassion rather than setting ridiculous standards of perfection.  And my experience has been that practising more compassion towards myself has really helped me to be more genuinely compassionate to others.

It’s hard to know how to pictorially illustrate lowering your expectations so I am just including this photo of something that totally exceeded my expectations – our wonderful Lake Mungo National Park!


A German, US, Outback connection –

In a recent PCD, Cynthia talked about the work of Randee Ketzel who has created imitation opal cabochons using polymer 9012649and other materials.  She then featured Liz Hall here We are lucky in Australia to be the home of incredibly beautiful opals and in fact, just 3 hours north of here is White Cliffs, the home of the unique pineapple opals.  White Cliffs is an opal mining town inhabited by 200 odd people when the weather is cool and 70 pretty bonkers ones when it is hot.  It gets very very hot in White Cliffs.  Most of the White Cliffians live in dug-outs, underground homes where the temperature remains a pleasant 19-22 degrees.  So in Summer, as long as you stay inside most of the time, you are OK.   Just a very long way away from anywhere.

I love to visit White Cliffs and am honoured to have some lovely friendsDSCN5462 there. A surprising percentage of White Cliff folk have come to Nepal with me which says something about their resilience and taste for adventure.  And some have done classes with  me both in White Cliffs and Broken Hill – a mere 300 kms away. One of these is Barbara Gasch, a German born metalsmith whose work is exquisite. Yesterday, she showed me a pice DSCN5461that combined her love of opal and otherness with her inspiration from reading Maureen Carlson’s Faeries, Gnomes and Trolls. While I still seriously covet her electroplated silver, kangaroo dung and fly necklace that Barbara now has on display in Lightning Ridge, I do like this one too!

And totally unrelated, here are two links that really made me laugh this week:

Paper is Not Dead (you go Emma!) and First World Problems

Don’t do the habitual thing….

….and how Brian Eno had an impact on polymer art in Broken Hill!

DSCN5443Recently, a wonderful teacher, Jen Louden*, wrote:

to shape and build more of the life you want, you have to make choices. To make choices, you need awareness. To access awareness, it helps immeasurably to be able to calm down no matter what.

Recognising that moment of choice and being calm instead of rushing headlong into default DSCN5452response is a work in progress for me.  Acknowledging the spaciousness of calm and not doing my habitual thing (if it ain’t helpful) takes practice.

A lot of that practising happens in my art.  And naturally it spills into my teaching.  In our classes we’ve been talking about being open to new things, taking risks, doing something that breaks a creative deadlock.

DSCN5447In the 70s, musician Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt developed Oblique Strategies -a set of cards used to break deadlocks in creative situations. Each card had a remark to ponder and think about how it might apply to your situation. Sometimes the remarks are cryptic and many of these related specifically to music  but can be reinterpreted to any form of creative endeavour. Here are some examples (with more here):

Use an old idea; Think – inside the work and outside the work; emphasise differences; tape your mouth; use the simplest idea; honour the error as a hidden intention; ask advice and many others.

Another version of this is Dayle Doroshow and Cynthia Tinapple’s Chaos Cards.  I have been making my own Oblique/DSCN5449 Chaos Cards which include general and more design related prompts like Add Spirals; Make a curve angular; Incorporate words; Add texture; Include a memory as well as more Eno-esque ones!

DSCN5445Last night the ladies made bracelets in an analogous colour scheme using the personal palettes they created the week before.  And they each had to use a card.  There were some groans as they read out the remarks – what does this mean? How am I expected to do that? But with encouragement to risk experimentation, to approach things with an open and curious approach, they came up with some fabulous design ideas.

My latest version of not doing the habitual thing is my response to the challenge issued by the organisers of the White DSCN5455Cliffs Art Festival.  The incredibly creative Cree Marshall gave a bust to a range of people with the instructions that it was to be covered and in line with the festival theme of RAW! I lacked the confidence to take progress shots and now wish  I had but at least I have the finished object! I was inspired by the phrases raw metal, red raw and raw edges. And I set myself the boundary of not buying ANYTHING to complete the task.

Her Teach Now course is simply one of the best courses I have ever done.


20140808_172037Out here, August is often a time of great Winter weather, people coming to visit and Sturt Desert Pea.  The Outback is at its magnificent best and while I might whinge about the remoteness at times, I really do appreciate the great joys of this place too.  Perhaps more so when dear friends visit and we show them around our favourite places.

Sometimes you have to travel a bit as we did to Mutawintji (more of that in a later post) but sometimes, a tip off from a local leads you down an ordinary Broken Hill street (Duff St for20140808_171855 you locals) to a most gorgeous display of Sturt Desert Pea in colours I have never before seen in real life!

While there is nothing ordinary about the Sturt Desert Pea, the ordinary 20140808_171906colour is vibrant red with black bosses.  Here in Duff St., was a display that included the red bossed red variety, the most fabulous coral and pink varieties and one so pale as to be nearly cream.  The owner of the display said they’d been flowering for months and that she’d never had the pink before.  To Ana’s delight, she was presented with a sprig that perfectly matched her ensemble!

Ana, thank you for these gorgeous photos to remind us of a great discovery!


Black and White for Dummies

DSCN5393I should have been a bit more ceremonial about my last post which was my 200th! Who’d have thought it? That’s tenacity for you.   Deeply grateful thanks to those of you who have been reading along.  Massive buckets of thanks to those who comment!

At one level I am still deeply immersed in black and white.  With my fantastic ten polymer journeyers at the Gallery, we are having a very exploratory and happy time.  Lots of loving myself sick moments and the flashing of the rings was fun this week.  We ran out of time to assemble the disc necklaces but will do that this Wednesday before leaping with wild exuberance into colour! It has nearly killed some of these girls to restrain themselves to black and white. And we are looking at you Beth!

One of the oft repeated comments is how amazing it is that using the same colours andDSCN5386 similar techniques and forms, the group comes up with such divergent and unique creations.  The rings don’t show this diversity as much as the samples and journals do. And the disc necklaces will!

In the process of preparing the class I made a lot of black and white things as you know.  I have this vague notion that the birth of my grandchild may coincide with the birth of my etsy store so things are accumulating beyond current busty limits.  A trip to the tip shop yielded NO mannequins or dummies and the information that they are not sold when they arrive.  The lady at the dress shop closing down in Argent St., was polite but negative when I asked if I could buy her mannequins.  And at a local op shop that will remain nameless, the manger also said she didn’t sell them. But then she did. Bless you M.  I promise I will treat these girls with love and respect.

DSCN5362Oh, and when I say these girls, I realised when I got home why one did not stack so well. He was a boy!  Different stackable bits.  I can gender re-assign him or start making male jewellery. Let’s see….

The other slightly black and white activity was for the birthday of a dear friend.  She loved my disc mala and wanted a black, white and purple version. Here it is.  Instead of using whole circles I used half circles this time (mainly due to lack of time) and I think it is an improvement on theDSCN5391 way the original one sits and moves.  She also commissioned PP to make up a necklace she designed using her collectables from dump journeys(it’s an addiction out here).  The shards of purple glass looked like amethyst and her rusted, oxidised tin lid looked like a tribal pendant.  I thought it was stunning and fortunately, so did she.