Talking turkey with my creative self

by wendy on January 25, 2015 · 11 comments

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

by wendy on January 17, 2015 · 0 comments

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

by wendy on January 16, 2015 · 0 comments

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

by wendy on January 15, 2015 · 0 comments

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

by wendy on January 15, 2015 · 3 comments

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.


#polymerartchallenge 1

by wendy on January 13, 2015 · 6 comments

I have several lovely friends who I have never actually met face to face.  The immensely talented Australian mixed media artist Sabine Spiesser is one of those friends. Sabine IMG_8471sm-150x150should be much more famous than she is!!!  Just look at the brooch on the left and these pieces of art! Yesterday, Sabine sent me an email to tell me that the Samunnat ladies and I had been nominated as part of Donna Greenberg’s Facebook Polymer Art Challenge.  An artist is nominated to display one piece of their work per day and also to nominate another artist each day.  Sabine knows that I am not on Facebook and that the Facebook person for Samunnat is barely Facebook literate (and there may be a link between those facts!)

Darling Sabine thought that this should not stop our work from being shared andExif_JPEG_PICTURE volunteered to present pieces from us via her own Facebook page and the special Facebook sharing page (you can tell by the non specificity of my language that I am still really not quite getting this!). Thank you so much for looking out for us Sabine!!!  I will post Samunnat’s first picture on the Colourful Journey blog tomorrow but don’t want to distract anyone from our wonderful virtual guided tour! Here however, I will post the picture of my art that Sabine posted today.

I wanted to nominate Sabine but she is a very humble person and said that, as she had already been nominated, she would decline.  Another person I want to nominate though is Heather Richmond of Over the Rainbow. Heather was the first Australian doing polymer that I met and since that time she has been such a gentle, reliable, generous source of support and encouragement.  And she made beautiful polymer items!!  She and lived in the US for some time and learned from some of the greats!  I will email Heather to see if she would like to be involved in this.  Being a Facebooker she may already be ALL OVER IT!

This particular figure is significant to me as she was made in Nepal during a time of abandoned play combined with sheer terror about the momentous move to Nepal that we had just made. She is very much my alter ego. I would look at the colours of ladies clothes over there, choose a combination that excited me and work with that for a month. I loved the luxury of immersing myself in those colours. These were the earrings darling Kopila Basnet saw me making when we met and she asked if I could teach the ladies about polymer.  And the rest, as the saying goes, is history.

Sabine, here’s to the day we finally catch up in person! We can discuss real estate!


Thoughts on a Thursday

by wendy on January 8, 2015 · 6 comments

image1. When you have travelled in planes for 24 hours and then driven in a car for 9 hours, sometimes even the company of your magnificent daughters and delightful grand-daughter is not enough to stave off sleep after Christmas lunch;

2. Today marks the beginning of Universal Letter Writing Week and I have undertaken to write one letter (albeit short!) each day for the week. A hand written letter in an envelope with a stamp. Read more about this here!

3. Truly understanding (thanks to being involved in this) that I am a human with limited time and energy and I must make hard choices every single day about where I can put that time and energy can make a profound difference. Jen Louden goes on to say It’s OK to mourn that I can’t do everything, but it’s not OK to pretend that I don’t have to choose.  Choosing is my art. Learning to live this made the latest time in Nepal very different and very special. For me and the ladies!


4. On a really long hot ( over 1000 km) drive when one hearing aid isn’t working so you1305549469484 can’t really talk and you only get inklings of music, you can make a wasabi coated pea – just the one – last for 20 minutes from mouth entry to swallowing final crumbs. I had to work up to it and think I could get to 30 minutes now. I can perfect the technique on the next long drive!

5. It’s always good to be reminded that the one thing that you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your story, your mind, your vision. So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can. Thank you for your voice Neil Gaiman.

6. Sometimes, reorganising the studio is more important than unpacking.  But because I am learning about these, it was delightful rather than driven!  And not totally finished but good enough to be playing in!

DSCN06797. Visiting the remote  Solu Khumbu home and family of my dear bhai (and Colourful Journey co-leader) Bishnu Rai was one of the most amazing things I have ever done. A joy and a privilege.  We could have done without the earthquake in Okhaldhunga (5.9 on the Richter Scale) but it meant I was all over the earthquake drill when we had another one (tidily at 2.9) in Broken Hill the night we got home!

And who said you can’t maintain a unique sense of style in tiny Himalayan villages? I can tell you where to get the sparkly pink rubber chappals I was wearing with my thick purple socks.

Happy New Year. May we cultivate open, inquiring minds.


Another Chutti

by wendy on December 1, 2014 · 3 comments

At least once during each Nepali sojourn I do a My Day Off post. Often there is only one official Day Off as we are trying to do a lot in a short time and that is the case this visit too. Saturday was the day, our chutti, and what a glorious day it was.

I knew what to expect when Kopila, who never encourages missing a dal bhat, said Didi, I think today would be good to not have dal bhat at breakfast because we are visiting some friends and don’t know what they will feed us. At this moment, I DID know that whatever they fed us, it would be in a large quantity. We consequently had a small breakfast of one large omelette, two rice dumplings, a DSCN0423plate of pomegranate seeds and I said no to the banana.

Last April I had promised to visit Deepa and her dad and then the time went so seeing them was top priority. Deepa and her sister in law, both women in a very vulnerable situation who have turned to Samunnat for support, made wonderful spicy chiya and fresh sel roti (fried donuts made using rice flour and sugar) flavoured with cinnamon and cardamon.  It was served with fried potatoes and chilli and I was so glad I had suchDSCN0413 light breakfast. Deepa’s father is a delight; a tiny man who, in spite of his hard life and blindness, pervades joy and curiosity.  He sang all his questions to me and once I realised that the songs were actual questions, not just folk songs, I managed better than I thought. I did NOT sing my replies as speaking Nepali is hard enough. Let alone singing it.

After spending a couple of hours with the family, we hopped back on the bike and headed further east to Surunga to visit a cousin-sister who had played a significant role in the marriage of Kopila and her husband, Binod. (By this stage, Kopila was DSCN0439suffering serious bike envy! We had borrowed her sister in law’s newer motor bike and she kept exclaiming about what a smooth ride it was! As Binod is the local Yamaha dealer, perhaps he can do something about this! Just joking bhai! Sort of.)

Surunga is a highway town of approx. 18,000 and M’s house was IDEALLY situated for intense sticky beaking. And close observation of every vehicle that plyed the road. At quite close quarters really.  Fortunately not so many ply late at night so position will not impact too much on real estate value.  For me, with no plans to try and sleep, it was anDSCN0428 EXCELLENT place to observe life’s rich tapestry.

Life’s rich tapestry included this sign and I would welcome interpretations. Obviously it has some thing to do with piles but what exactly? Maybe a surgical camp? Anyway, it all sounds jolly.

M loved my clothing and the fact that my jewellery matched my clothing. She thought however, that my haircut needed updating and that I would benefit from visiting her friend in the Beauty Parlour who could Cut it like this (She described a deep U shape with her hands – an edgy cut for the young girls with long black hair cut in a deep U shape.) As my hair is almost DSCN0430invariably thrown up in a bun or braid, we decided an edgy straight in a line across the back, not too much shorter cut would be more appropriate and that the deal could be done if the hairdresser made no comment about the edgy silver roots.


Creating and Connecting

by wendy on November 21, 2014 · 2 comments

One is not born into the world to do everything, but to do something. Henry David Thoreau

DSCN0166I choose a Word (or Words!) of the Year as a part of living mindfully, choosing what I do and responding to what comes up.  I started this year with a clutch of words, which perhaps reflected a fear of getting it wrong.  I mean what would happen if I chose the wrong word of the year?  What wisdom would I miss if I….(shock, horror) chose the wrong word of the year? Funny girl.

As it turns out, it’s just two that have quietly andDSCN0169 consistently called me.  Two that I ponder when I feel overwhelmed by choices and decisions.  Two that shed some light on what the something I was born to do might be.  Two words that I have sort of resisted.

My lovely man says I connect. He says it’s what I do. And, in a way he is right. I connect to my place, I connect with people, I connect people to one another (I often think a special quality of the Colourful Journey is the result of connections between wonderful people who have not met before), I have practices to help me connect to my breath and my body. As DSCN0172I get older, I see more and more our deep interconnectedness, the fact that most of us share that we are trying to make the best of what life dishes up.  Ironically, as an introvert, I feel more connected than ever! (My introversion was part of why I resisted this word but a lot of this article resonated!)

And I live to create.  You all know that.  I try to bring my innate creativity (which we all have!) to what ever I do.  In a post with the resonant clarity of a lovely bell, Jen Louden says about why creating stuff matters,:

The point of life is to make something good and beautiful in the face of meaninglessness and horror. To not give away your voice to false gods of cool shoes, Facebook likes, fat bank statements or to cynicism, resignation and anger. Rather to keep feeling, keep creating, keep enchanting yourself and others with the power of creation.

It helps to ask myself, Does what I am doing now help me in my goal to truly andDSCN0170 meaningfully connect, to create something good, or beautiful? It’s not always simple.  Sometimes trawling through someone’s Pinterest site does exactly that. And sometimes I use the same activity to avoid something challenging.  It’s not so much the activity but the attitude.

So WoTY watchers, I reckon, if between now and the end of the year, you tell me a few of the WoTY you’ve spotted, AND send a word that has resonated for you, we could connect and create.  And given the somewhat pontificatory nature of this post, photos of the struggle between good and evil from the newly completed burning ghats at Itahari seem appropriate. Can you pick the good guys?

BTW, I am regularly updating the Samunnat blog even though the veeeery slooooooow internet nearly sends me to distraction. Latest building photos are here.


1. My shampoo is black.Exif_JPEG_PICTURE

2. My toothpaste is red.

3. My breakfast is spicy and I eat more rice.

4. My tea is sweet, spicy and milky.

5. Some shops are like rainbows.

I was going to add 6. that there is Exif_JPEG_PICTUREno toilet paper but decided that would be too much information.

The Samunnat oven works and I am walking on air. Read about it here.