A rich, deep, productive life

As I type these words, a group of friends are gathering in Albury, the town I spent 20 years, to mourn the death and celebrate the life of a gorgeous woman who died way too soon.  Kim was one of those positive, radiant women who was likeDSCN1035 sunshine. Her enthusiasm and passion for life was infectious.  And she made you feel as though you could do things. When I think of Kim, so many words spring to mind but three in particular are abundance, generosity and connection.  My life is richer for having met her and there is a sadness for so many people now that she is gone.

My older daughter sent me the link to a wonderful article by Oliver Sacks. It is powerful reading in its entirety but several thoughts bear highlighting.  Sacks comments that he is face to face with dying but not finished with life. In response to this he says: I feel intensely alive, and I want and hope in the time that remains to deepen my friendships, to say farewell to those I love, to write more, to travel if I have the strength, to achieve new levels of understanding and insight.  I feel a sudden clear focus and perspective…

Sacks talks about a response of gratitude:  I cannot pretend I am without fear. But my predominant feeling is one of gratitude. I have loved and been loved; I have been given much and I have given something in return; I have read and traveled and thought and written.

Every morning, as I put my feet to the floor, I say words of gratitude.  Some mornings I sleepily utter a formal phrase, other mornings a jubilant list of things that bring joy. I didn’t need Kim’s death to remind me to be grateful that I lived to meet my grand daughter.  And now, some mornings I will use this wonderful sentence from Sacks’ article:  I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure.

My pictorial choice of a vibrant, joyous piece of jewellery is no coincidence. It celebrates the life of a vibrant, joyous woman and expresses my gratitude for another day.

Taking a plunge

I create and I connect. I create designs for Samunnat, I connect with people who support us and buy beautiful Samunnat jewellery. I create my own art; I create and connect through classes and articles. I want to create and connect with clarity and abundance.  So I am making some changes to my website to do that.

DSCN0930The regular visitor to this blog (and may your god bless you!) may have noticed some of these changes! Like the vanishing comments! (I think that is fixed now.)  Or the challenge to subscribe…still working that one out!

In an attempt to embrace a growth mindset and become more independent, I am doing an online course for artists who want to create their own websites. To say I am not naturally gifted in this area is a massive understatement so it will be a testament to Susan Lomuto and the patience of Cynthia Tinapple when I can finally think For now, I’ve done it.  Unlike most website designers who no doubt have mantras like Beautiful website, Beautiful experience or We develop Smart Ideas mine is No-one will die if you press this button.

So, bear with me while I tweak, explore, press wrong buttons, discover new strengths and skills and create and connect in another way.  And feast your eyes on these babies: my personal flyer and business cards and the flyer for the magical Colourful Journey! Very exciting!

You can tell a lot about a girl by her caddy…

I don’t subscribe to many posts but one I love is Ginger Davis Allman’s The Blue Bottle Tree. She writes clearly, frankly and intelligently about all things polymer and her latest post about the Sculpey Organiser Tool prompted me to photograph my DSCN0933wonderful organiser!  We both agree that often the best storage tools come from other people’s junk.

I haunt our tip (as I may have mentioned before) and got these two caddies on two separate occasions. Gosh, I must have paid at least a dollar for them! I slightly modified one and find it to be a perfect tool caddy. It revolves. It is easy to shove in a box to take to classes and it was in one of those classes that students told me they were stands for remote controls! All I can say is that some people must have a lot of remote controls. I am just glad that sometimes they chuck out their holders!

I love that my fabulous texture sponges from Daniel and Natalia have their ownDSCN0936 slot and my extruder disks go in small containers blue tacked onto one of the corners. (Cynthia Tinapple’s have their own and the rest go underneath).  Another corner is for carving tools and a third for exacto blades which are stored in an old film canister (remember them!?) The final corner is for water spray when using molds.

DSCN0935I have a section for blades, a section for exacto handles and a Berocca tube stuck in one section is great fro storing my carving tools.  A second caddy is great for my pliers, scissors and measuring bits.  The careful observer will see that the caddy is decorated with a favourite Neil Gaiman quote:

Go and make amazing mistakes.  Make interesting mistakes. Make glorious and fantastic mistakes.  Break rules. Leave the world more interesting for your being here. Make good art.

The presence of Bandaids clipped to the side indicate that at least I take the Make mistakes bit seriously!

Choose

Some times, it is almost like you are being TOLD something. In my reading from various sources last week, there was a repeated message about choice.
First I was reminded of Victor Frankl’s words:
Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response is our growth and our freedom.
DSCN0716Then, as I read my beloved Brainpickings, I came across this from Anne Lamott in her books Stitches:
Most of us have figured out that we have to do what’s in front of us and keep doing it…Every time we choose the good action or response –  the decent, the valuable – it builds incrementally, to renewal, resurrection, the place of newness, freedom, justice…
We live stitch by stitch, when we’re lucky. If you fixate on the big picture, the whole shebang, the overview, you miss the stitching. And maybe the stitching is crude, or it is unraveling, but if it were precise, we’d pretend that life was just fine and running like a Swiss watch.  This is not helpful if on the inside we understand that the life is more often like a cuckoo clock with rusty gears.
It is an art to learn to spot the space to choose. So many of my practices – like my yoga, my journalling – are to help me to do that…to spot the space and respond mindfully and, as a wise and darling friend reminded me, with good intention.

Straya Day and a day for Australians

Thirty years of marriage to a soccer tragic means I have developed some 4574382622_e1869d4832interest in the game. And that interest was abundantly rewarded in last night’s nail bitingly tense final of the Asian Cup.  Two teams of frighteningly fit and dedicated athletes gave their all to see who would win.  And the Socceroos bought it home. Thank goodness or life here would have been morose for some time.  My football tragic has always believed in Ange.

Watching the post match analyses, as you do, made me reflect a little on what it means for me to be Australian. A stroke of luck rather than anything to do with wise decision making or careful birth plans on my part. I struggle with Australia Day celebrations. I struggled (read felt violently ill) even more this year when (apologies to any monarchists reading the blog) our PM knighted Prince Philip. (You have no idea what I really wanted to type but have restrained myself from typing in the interests of keeping this suitable for family reading).  It made it a debacle.

Listening to one of the Offsiders‘ commentators this morning was calming. He noted that the name of the Socceroos coach is Postecoglou, the captain is Jedinak, the scorer of the first goal was Luongo. Iraqi fans wore T-shirts acknowledging their heritage and their home.  This is what makes Australia special for me.

May we become a kinder, more welcoming, diverse, tolerant nation.  May we elect a government that helps us to be that nation.

About the photos: The football cane was made by Toni Ransfield (of incredible pen fame) from her FlickR photo stream and the fan was taken by Stefan Postles and is from Gettyimages.

 

Talking turkey with my creative self

DSCN0748At the prompting of Jen Louden, I recently asked my creative self what she was hungry for. I told my creative self I was ready to listen and I wrote while she dictated.

Boy, did she let fly! I confess to being taken aback. My creative self barely stopped short of swearing at me. Let me quote her (removing the more colourful language):

For months without end you’ve been utterly immersed in [various worthy things! Ed] …In all this, I may have got an hour! A scatty distractedDSCN0815 hour if I am lucky!! … You came back here and I was hopeful I’d get some quality time. But what did I get? Nothin’!  When do I ever get that focussed, dedicated time you give [various worthy things. Calm down creative self! Ed]? When does the unhurried dreaming happen?…Wendy, I want to tell you that all that other stuff will totally wait! If you give me a day, just one day, that other stuff will all be there the next day. No-one will have eaten you. No-one will have died.  Pretend the line was down, the power cut…whatever. Just do you and me the enormous good favour of a date! A joy date! A creativity date. VERY SOON! Tomorrow even…what I hunger for is your wholehearted, committed time. [Bold hers!]

DSCN0899So we had a date, myself and I. Four hours.  I turned off the computer and put the phone out of checking reach.  I said aloud to my creative self, OK baby, it’s just you and me. Alone. The two of us. I’m yours.  And we played.  We had a ball.

For an embarrassing number of years I have wanted to make a cane inspired by my handbag* so I did. It was a blast.  I made more pendants than one woman could use.  And the next day when I went back to work on all those waiting things, things flowed. Grace abounded. I achieved more than I had for ages.

I think I heard my creative self muttering ungraciously about how if I divided that one day among all the months she’d been bloody waiting there were still some dates owing blah, blah, blah…. but I can forgive her.  I say the same sort of thing myselExif_JPEG_PICTUREf.

*My elder daughter gave me a handbag by a wonderful Argentinian artist Graciela Fuenzalida for a special birthday and it never fails to bring a smile!  Her faces remind me of Picasso’s Les Meninas!  Her bag inspired my canes.

#polymerartchallenge 5

This is another piece made for the exhibition. Regular readers will know that I haunt our DSCN3218local tip looking for things to up cycle and this was an old Twinings tea box that now houses my texture tools. I based my design on the intricately silver work of Tibetan prayer boxes (gaus) and included images that are significant to me: tiny lapis birds (joy), a coral dagger (wisdom), turquoise (resilience), a small white cloud (patience), a lotus (growth), a pomegranate (creativeDSCN3215 fertility) etc These are all just things I made up. Anyway, the figure is called Sraddhaa as this is the Nepali name the ladies gave me.  It means reverence, devotion.
Nomination: Angela Bucolo –  fearlessly creative, gorgeous woman!
The rules: Post an image of your work on 5 days and each day nominate another person to participate.

#polymerartchallenge 4

This necklace is significant as it was the first thing I made that was direct response to a place near my current home which is on the edge of the outback in Broken Hill.  We spentDSCN3417 an atypically pleasantly cool Australia Day weekend camping in Mutawintji National Park and it was very beautiful. Sadly, it was very nearly overrun by feral goats, which is why I wanted to incorporate faux pooh in the necklace. Life is beauty and ugliness.  We have revisited and there has been some culling but the feral goat problem is a huge one.
This piece was also part of my very first solo exhibition, one of the scariest but most satisfying things I have done!
Nomination: Wendy Martin ( a local artist, a student of mine who is an amazing painter who now makes amazing polymer jewellery. Not sure if she has a Facebook page but I will check!)
The rules: Post an image of your work on 5 days and each day nominate another person to participate

#polymerartchallenge 3

A real quick one! My third selection for the #polymerartchallenge is a very sentimental Exif_JPEG_PICTUREone! These beads were made in Nepal and it was from these that the idea for the Samunnat Sari beads evolved. The Sari beads then became necklaces we sold in the very early days when we were truing to establish ourselves. We approached a Fair Trade organisation in Kathmandu several times and it wasn’t until we showed them our sari beads and our bahini beads that they took notice of us!  Making the sari beads using Makin’s extruders donated by Jen Tattam from Metalclay became aExif_JPEG_PICTURE standard part of our training for new ladies and the ladies still love making these when they get the chance.  My early versions are all sold now and I hope are still making their owners smile.

My nomination for today is an artist who constantly inspires, delights and shares: Genevieve Williamson

#polymerartchallenge 2

Here is my day two entry for the challenge.  The riotously coloured flowers are DSCN4682components of a few necklaces I made and were made in the colours of the Pantone  colours that Carolyn Good mixes each year. These were from last year and rather different to what I would normally combine but I loved them and wear them a lot. I have sold several of these to flamboyant women who tell me they feel happy whenever they wear them which is kind of what my jewellery is all about!

Today I would like to nominate: Carolyn Good because she is one of the people who inspire me! Her approach to her business, her creativity, her generosity and those wonderful Pantone mixes in Kato clay!!!

The rules: Post an image of your work on 5 days and each day nominate another person to participate.