They Call Me the Wild Rose…

The sound track to accompany these earrings would be this and that was the sound track I tunelessly hummed as I made them.  Lucky I work alone!

It is one of those days when overwhelm is lurking at the edges of everything.  I got a text this morning from my elder daughter saying that my 2 year old grandson asked, out of the blue, Grandma Wendy train? Well that nearly did me in because Grandma Wendy can’t come on the train and it all seems a bit hard and sad. So…simple and fun earrings for complex and not fun times! My mum talks about golden moments and in times of shittiness we remind each other about them…noticing and savouring the golden moments; not missing them just because they are fleeting. Or small. Or not the ones we wanted or planned.  We need to see the ones that are here in this present moment and savour them. Not grasp them. Just savour them. Om.

I learnt how to make the lovely loose spiral in the top of the earrings from a free tutorial here that Cynthia mentioned in a PCD years ago. I love the graphic spontaneity of it.  And the bottom component was cut from a veneer I made using slices of lace canes which I made using a technique similar to that shown here.  And the gorgeous pink is Honeysuckle which I made from one of Carolyn Good’s fabulous colour recipes. Hoping that these little earring tales bring a smile however slight. Maybe even a golden moment.

Small earrings

Another walk in the hills. Lots of people were up there. We all kept the appropriate social distance of course and said hello in that we aren’t going to mention it either kind of way.  I suspect there will be an increase in walking in the hills, gardening and cataloguing earring collections.  I collected some pink leaves to replace the browned ones in one of my garden mandalas. Some walkers passing by told M that they call our house Doris’s House because they have christened my lady Doris.  I think I call her Ghausala when I don’t refer to her as my lady!

Today I am wearing serious face furniture. My gorgeous earrings are created by the ever so clever Anna Small of A Small Art Factory. Anna and her husband usually make garden sculpture so technically I guess this is garden sculpture for the ears.  I love them because of how they look and how they remind me of being at my beloved WOMAD many years ago and actually meeting Anna when we bought a garden sculpture. As you do at world music festivals. The earrings accessorise a slightly grubby There is No Planet B t shirt in lichen green and grey running leggings. (Apologies to Kitty Flanagan but I was being active until ten minutes ago!)

Thank You Anna. I hope you are and stay healthy.

Earrings for hill walks


Today’s earrings accessorised the walk I did up the hill- taking a friend to the labyrinth and other favourite pilgrimage sights on Mt Ainslie. We kept the required social distance apart and I took his mountain goat comments as a compliment.  My earrings were made by the truly amazing Wendy Jorre de St Jorre.   A few years ago Wendy and our friend Pam stayed here after they taught at the Cotter Contemporary Craft Retreat. (Speaking of which, all things being equal, I will be teaching at in October this year. Come and join us!!)

I saw Wendy making and reducing her amazing canes and was stunned to learn that she was relative newcomer to polymer clay art. My goodness she’d learnt a lot in a short time! Her canes are astonishing and what she makes with them is beautiful and immaculately finished.  Things you just love to keep touching because they are so smooth and beautifully crafted.  I couldn’t resist earrings and a pendant and could easily have bought so much more. I had this image, before I met Wendy, of what someone who made canes like this would be like. Kind of deeply introverted, intense and aloof. THIS IS SO NOT WENDY!!! She is utterly down to earth and so generous sharing her tips and knowledge.  Every time I wear these I feel lucky to have met her.  Here is a great interview that Ginger from Blue Bottle Tree did with her which talks about the tree project.

Socially Distant Earrings

This will be the second time in less than a year that earrings have been part of a stress management technique.  I am more or less self isolating so matching earrings are not such an issue. For as long as social distancing/ isolation goes on,  I thought I’d wear a different pair of earrings from my close at hand collection. That is, the ones stored in my up-cycled dart board earring storage*.  I was going to say that there was not a whiff of Marie Kondo about this collection but that is not true! If they are up here it is because they do bring me joy! Every day, I will photograph the earrings I am wearing (maybe sometimes even of me wearing them) and upload them and a short comment to Instagram at @sociallydistantearrings

So…today’s earrings!

Strange times call for slightly strange earrings. These girls fit the bill. My polymer journey really began when I wanted to make a face cane having seen some beads in a market in Sydney’s Rocks district. This was decades ago, pre internet, pre guilds, pre related books really. There were hardly any books on polymer in Australia and so it was all trial and error. Pretty much all error really and my first face canes looked enraged or demented.  With years of practice and learning from all that error, I now teach a technique (when we can gather together again!) where people can make a face cane with a reasonable expression on their first go!!

As a friend pointed out when we passed at a safe social distance, she has to be at least 1.5m away to really focus on these girls so they are almost disease management.

*Well it seems I have not done a post about my up-cycled dart board earrings storage so I will!

Earrings as Rehab and why to dye your Anti Embolism Elastic Stockings

Recently I had surgery – 12 hours – as a result of a cancer diagnosis. I researched my  options*, read endlessly and participated in forums. There was  advice, gory pictures and what they can do would have been FASCINATING if it wasn’t being done to me!

Once I made my decision I researched what to take into hospital etc. There was lots of great advice but no-one mentioned earrings. Can you believe this? No-one! I’d been told that my hospital stay would be 7-10 days so I packed the 9 pairs of earrings pictured.  As it turned out I should have packed 3 more pairs but we aren’t to know these things.  You will notice that these aren’t all made by me. My selection included my beloved Heidi Helyard and Genevieve Williamson earrings  and some I made using turquoise from Nepal. I didn’t worry about matching those appalling hospital gowns of baby blue or white but chose what felt fun.

On the first day post surgery even I was not thinking about earrings but I began wearing my earrings on day 2. Wearing some pairs required more chutzpah than I could muster in hospital so, when you are wondering about which earrings to take into hospital after huge surgery my advice would be to remember that you may not feel oomphy enough to wear the big face ones.

What are the advantages of post operative earrings?

  1. Nursing/ medical staff have something to talk with you about apart from your bodily functions. They are reminded that beneath this sutured, anxious, shuffling exterior is a woman who loves her earrings and doesn’t really feel awake until she is earringed up!
  2. Physiotherapists can distract you from the discomfort of movement by asking you how you made your earrings;
  3. You can distract your self from the discomfort of movement by telling them;
  4. Your family, who know that if you’re not wearing  lipstick or earrings they should be worried, don’t have to worry;
  5. Hospital staff can be astonished that one woman owns so many pairs of earrings (if only they knew);
  6. Prolonged hospital stays can make you a bit blasé about hiding parts of your body that are normally hidden. Earrings provide somewhere for people to look if you’ve forgotten to pop the cotton gown over the normally hidden bit. And finally
  7. Wearing earrings reminded ME that I was not just the mightily sutured, anxious, shuffling, barely competent woman I felt like for a while there. I may not have been able to get out of bed independently but by golly I once made nice earrings and would again!  I may not have been able to make a heap of decisions or choices but I could choose my earrings for the day! 

    My thank you present to the staff many weeks later was a big box of Wendy-made earrings and I hope they each found a pair they loved.

    I’ve been surrounded by the love of so many throughout this whole thing. I visualised myself floating on a cloud of this love even as I was being wheeled into theatre. The love took so many forms: special cushions, flowers, nighties, books and puzzles, lucky undies, messages, phone calls, snacks, essential oils, visits, games, jigsaws, regular check-ins, patience with my appalling communication…the list goes on. My friend Libby, seeing the damage that a month of wearing TED stocking (anti embolism compression stockings) might do to me, came around and dyed one pair a deep magenta and one pair a practical but less institutionalised black!  I am deeply grateful to be at this side of my experience and profoundly aware of how different my experience has been to that of women in Nepal for whom diagnosis is made much later and treatment options often very limited.  This has made me more determined that ever to do whatever I can to make some sort of difference over there.

*and clearly my first response was not calmly researching options. I began with a somewhat head-in-the-sand approach which I think is pretty common. Everyone will make different decisions and mine won’t be right for everyone but was right for me. I just needed to take time to make a decision based on what was best for me in the long term instead of what meant I could get back to doing everything I always did ASAP.

Remembering Tory

Today I am especially remembering my colourful, intense, glorious and talented friend Tory. To me she embodied rigorous curiosity and openness and helped me to take myself seriously as an artist. She was also very funny and I miss her.

We ran out of time to do all the things we had planned but we had lots of fun and learnt so much in the planning.


My Wild and Precious Life

Tell me, what is it you plan to do 

With your one wild and precious life?

The wonderful and sorely missed Mary Oliver asks this question in The Summer Day. The way I think about that question has changed.  I used to say I wanted to fit it all in. To savour every secondsuck out the marrow of life and do as much as I can. I wanted to make every second count and enthusiastically agreed with an energetic friend who encouraged busyness saying You spend a lot of time lying down when you are dead.

I still want to savour but now I believe that a second counts even if I am not cramming a billion tasks into it. I am letting go of seeing exhaustion as a status symbol and productivity as a measure of self worth*.  I hunger for times of slowness, stillness. This morning, I stopped my run mid way and walked to a favourite rock and just sat. I watch hot air balloons float and land. I listened to birdsong. I watched a shy black wallaby forage in the dirt, oblivious of my presence. I felt my breathe enter and leave my body, becoming part of the crisp air around me.

Somewhat tragically, I also had conversation in my head where I had to tell myself NOT to think about the difference in calories burnt between sitting and running. I am trying to change my attitude to food and exercise – to approach both with joy and intuition. But that is another story.  I gently told Calorie Burning girl that I appreciated her help but that right now, birdsong and stillness were what I needed.  She seemed fine. She enjoys a good morning walk too.

In other exciting news I am teaching again! Woohoo. After months of procrastination (not to be confused with savouring stillness) I have finally signed contract with the Ainslie Arts Centre and will be doing classes in one of their lovely rooms once a month.  In the first class on Sunday March 17 is Earrings 101 and creators will leave having made three unique pairs of earrings. Spaces are filling fast (beside myself!!!) but email soon if you are interested in these or any of the classes. All are on a Sunday and most hover around the third Sunday of the month as long as I am not in Nepal.

And related to that, a tutorial of mine has been accepted by Anke, Sage and the team of The Polymer Studio magazine. More news to come!  Many of the pieces in the accompanying photos are (or will soon be) for sale at Trove or Yack Station. You can’t have enough Splash jewellery really.

2019: Suck it Up!

For over a decade* I chose a Word of the Year (WotY) and the dedicated among you can read about this at your leisure because I have blogged about it since 2009**.

I searched old posts because I was trying to work out when I stopped but I always knew it was 2015.  In 2009 I focussed; in 2010 I opened and in 2011 I reflected on courage but didn’t hyperlink anything.  In 2012 I learnt more about WordPress and I laughed In 2013 I listened; in 2014 I got greedy (or afraid of getting it wrong) and created and connected.  And then I stopped.   I did send you all a nice blessing in 2016 but nothing about WotYs.  I think it is positive that I am doing both again.

There’s a few approaches to WotY. One is described here and I combine that approach with my own choose a cloud technique (Patent Pending. Ha Ha).  Family members and friends sometimes ask me to choose one for them.  There is nothing woo woo about it.  I sit and think of that person and send them a blessing of lovingkindness…May they be filled with lovingkindness; May they be well; May they be peaceful and at ease; May they be happy.

You could do worse.

And then I choose a cloud from my lovely Nepali bag. I don’t cheat. I don’t edit or swap. I just note it down. If you are reading this I have probably chosen one for you. If I haven’t, I will. Just ask. A New Year’s gift.  I remade all the clouds yesterday because the others were getting worn and I eliminated words I wouldn’t want like endure, or anything that implied suck it up, brace yourself , it’s going to be another shocker etc.  My word is SAVOUR which I like. I will try to remember to ask myself How would this activity/ day/ moment be if I bought the quality of savouring to it?  I hope that savouring will help me to notice, to observe, to slow down.  And maybe to create in response to. Who knows? I am looking forward to seeing what thinking about this word brings!

For a good NY Day read this to read all that Kerrie Sackville didn’t achieve in 2018!

*Earlier WotYs have been recorded in journals. Based on this blog, the word for 2009 was focus; 2010 was openness; and 2011 was courage

**Gosh, August 2019 will mark ten years of sporadic blogging. there should be an award for that!


Getting lost and finding more than you hoped for

It was one of those magical Kathmandu days today. I will tell anyone who listens that I really don’t like Kathmandu and that I head east as soon as I can, but this dusty, crowded, busy city has charms and shows them when you approach with low expectations and openness.

I was apprehensive about finding a fabric shop but I told myself to adopt a growth mindset. I reminded myself that this day was a gift with no time pressures so I could take all day to be lost and found again. I could  wander down unknown roads and discover places I didn’t know about. It just got more fun as the day went on.

Faltering Nepali direction seeking led to lots of happy chats.  And the shop was a veritable Aladdin’s cave of glorious fabrics in a dark corner on the third floor of a department store.  Having found it, there was nothing I had to do but feel very proud of myself and then set off to discover more.

So I followed a fairy floss man. As you do. I discovered the French Bakery which sold gluten free food…and a Vegemite latte which even if it was gluten free I would not have tried. I could have got gluten free spaghetti there if it hadn’t been mid morning.

I was looking for small gifts for my darling grandchildren so it may seem surprising that I headed into a shop of fabulously colourful adult sized shoes. When these two good ladies realised I had grandchildren…out came the children’s shoes.  We decided that I needed measurements but either this trip of the next my grandchildren will have JUST the shoes they need for Nepali day at Pre School.  Or dress ups! And…they will match mine. How good is that?

PS WordPress seems to have changed something and I can’t work out how to get photos to go where I want. So you kind of have them all at the end. Sorry about that and I will approach learning about this with a growth mindset when I get home!!!