Flower Necklaces and getting ready!

by wendy on October 20, 2014 · 2 comments

DSCN0085I am in the countdown phase again; getting ready to head off to Nepal again which means a lot of organising.  Still, it is all stuff I feel really passionate about and that means I feel very satisfied when things get done!

Recently I put some of my own work (as opposed to Samunnat pieces) in the wonderful Gallery Shop at BHRAG and it has been selling really well. I am stoked!!! So, I am busy making a few more pieces to keep stocks up in the run up to Christmas.  I love making what I like to think of as my signature piece, the phul mala, flower necklace, and over the weekend made some in the wonderful rich colour of Sangria using Carolyn Good’s recipe.  Some of these incorporate garnets from Nepal and one is heading on a long journey like me! (More of that later!)DSCN0106

I also finally strung together a necklace that had been lying around on my work table half assembled.  This was born when I was teaching the 6 week classes and we were looking at complementary colour combinations.  Seems very summery to me!


More than a scarecrow….

by wendy on October 13, 2014 · 2 comments

DSCN0049This was going to be a reflective (and possibly wordy) post on collecting my thoughts again after an eventful month away. But now it won’t be. Instead I am just going toDSCN0043 put up some photos of what happened one day, when instead of answering my usual question of OK, What should I do today? I gave myself the chance to answer another one.

What would be fun to do right now?

Samjhana was the result. She was made entirely with stuff around the house (slightly scary to think that an Eiffel Tower was lying unused in the shed but there you go).  She is life size (taller than me) and extraordinarily authentic down to a small thauli purse containing rupeesDSCN0046 tucked into her blouse in case she needs it and she can move. Not independently obviously, but I can change her position according to weather conditions, needs and interests.  Each time I look at her, she reminds me to be mindful. To be present, to lighten up. Her name comes from the Nepali word for remembering or memory.

Given that I will be in Nepal again in month, it would be good if she reminded me of my Nepali language (getting somewhat rusty) but that may need to be a process of more active engagement (with my text book!) DSCN0048rather than gazing at a Nepali figure in my back garden.

BTW, Zoe Margaret continues to delight and inspire. She can’t say angel yet but her mother reports that she looks at hers!


Two angels

by wendy on September 18, 2014 · 15 comments

IMG_0035I wanted to make something very special for my first grand child. I did not know the gender and I am not of a particularly practical bent but had fairly clear ideas about what I wanted my special creation to say. It was to convey profound love from grand parents who lived a long way away.  It was to provide a new mother with the knowledge that her own mother was always there at the end of theIMG_0031 phone, sending love, remembering those first crazy months.

I am one of two girls and had two girls of my own so struggled a bit to imagine having anything but a grand daughter. I hoped that if the baby was a boy, at least his mother would appreciate anything a tad too feminine!  On a run, as has been the way lately, the image of what I photo 2wanted to make came clearly and I loved the very meditative process of making my angel’s wings/ arms. Laying each feather with a thought of love and a wish for joy for our new little person and the new family.  I used some of Helen Breil’s texture stamps and clear Kato liquid mixed with a little acrylic for the glaze which I applied after the preliminary baking.  She was mounted on Nepali lokte (daphne) paper;

Our precious new angel, Zoe Margaret, is now just under one week old and I have been living with her and her besotted mum and dad since her birth. I have one moreIMG_0080.JPG week of this bliss and then will rely on the wonders of modern technology for a while until my next visit.  I was describing to my daughter how we would have to take photos, take the film to the processor to get them developed and post them to far away family to share those precious moments and I think it was genuinely hard for her to imagine a world where the connection was so slow.  We sometimes bemoan modern technology and social media but four great grand parents are now asking for more pictures, more videos, more Instagram shots of this amazing little girl.

IMG_0070.JPGThis blog does not usually contain family photos but as every grand mother I know would understand, I am now a totally biased, somewhat boring, overwhelming Zoe-centric human being. I do not for a second take for granted my good fortune in being here to meet and get to know this little angel; to hold her and to see my daughter radiantly in love with a daughter of her own.

Priya Zoe, swagatam.



by wendy on September 6, 2014 · 4 comments

The regular reader will know that I got greedy and had several Words of The Year and  (here comes another one for those watching!) one of them is connection.  This year I have been so aware of connection at many levels:

image006Connection with my place (like running in the Living Desert and doing lovely walks in Mutawintji NP); connection through my yoga and meditation; connection with friends and family; connection with people I meet who seem to often have just the thing I need to hear or learn….

There has also been connection in the form of teaching, buddying, mentoring and creating. At the moment, the work I am making is connecting ideas that seem quite disparate and I am absorbed with the link between seed pods and reliquaries.  Steve Jobs said Creativity is just connecting things. And Maria Popova in brainpickings writes about the role of connection and creativity here.  She quotes Paul Rand who says, The role of the imagination is to create new meanings and to discover connections that, even if obvious, seem to escape detection. Imagination begins with intuition, not intellect.

Some of the loveliest connections lately have come from students! Only this weekimage021 two students sent me some real treasures. In response to a conversation about colour, Carol sent these fabulous photos of birds (she didn’t know the source. Ideas anyone?) and after we talked about the importance of creativity in life Clem sent this fabulous quote from Helena Bonham Carter which he displays in his workplace for all to reflect on:

imagesI think everything in life is art. What you do. How you dress. The way you love someone, and how you talk. Your smile and your personality. What you believe in, and all your dreams. The way you drink your tea. How you decorate your home. Or party. Your grocery list. The food you make. How your writing looks. And the way you feel. Life is art.

I think the pod photo was taken by Cynthia Mooney of this site but I am checking!  Soon I hope to connect properly with our new grand baby. Obviously I will need to wait until after the birth but I will be doing some preparatory connecting this week when I drive over to let it know that grandma is ready now!  At least you are all used to sporadic, irregular blogging.

Here’s a sneak peek at my polymer ponderings on pods and gaus – the Tibetan Buddhist amulet containers:IMG_0050


Teach Now, she said. So I did….

by wendy on August 28, 2014 · 3 comments

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!!!!


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

by wendy on August 25, 2014 · 5 comments

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 –

by wendy on August 20, 2014 · 2 comments

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….

by wendy on August 14, 2014 · 2 comments

….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.



by wendy on August 11, 2014 · 2 comments

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!