Monday, June 29, 2009

goodness ...

Imbi (visit her blog), me and Cleo recently got together to stitch and make and make merry. Imbi was visiting from Darwin. It is always fun to be with other creative souls. We have all done workshops with India. I call us 'the Gondwana Sisters' cos I reckon we're all related through some ancient line, the way we resonate together. The same but still o so different.
I enjoyed Imbi's company and the boys thought she was a hoot. It's interesting to meet others, and especially practicing artists . Her notebook was a testimony of a woman who loves to make marks.
Treasures. Glass from Darwin's beaches, a piece of wool blanket dyed with plants and BULLETS from the beach also, and Imbi's buttons found on our button beach here in the Bay. Having recently seen the movie 'Australia', I was stoked to have a piece of that history on cloth. Do you love epic movies? Then I suggest you get this one out if you haven't seen it already.
I loved how the aboriginal people were portrayed, especially their song/stories and their traditions. We googled her hometown of Darwin and found the shore where all the WWII metal stuff was dumped and has since fused together. It's magical. Thanks so much Imbi. (Although Rich was a amused that the pile of old glass and metal were gifts, lol, he's slowly getting used to us weird birds and our strange ways, lol).
Imbi stitched her found buttons onto her skirt. She looked so colourful in all her thermals and layers. A far cry from singlet tops and the jandals in her 30+ sunshine.

Since then I have been stitching like a mad thing.
I made prayer flags with my buttons, some old woven Asian cloth (Indigo dyed) and my trusty white wool blankets ...
Most buttons were found amidst rocks in the craggy parts, so I sewed this into this little flag ...
White seems to be a theme, it makes me uncomfortable but that's what happened, and so be it.
The act of stitching is meditative. Anything found on the beach with a hole in it is fair game.
I get a bit tight at times, start putting things in straight lines, I hate it, but I do it naturally. I love it when it's more random, but again, it seemed to want to be like this, so be it.
Making hand twined silk string was something we learned with friend India. It's a handy skill when one desires to have all the bits handmade.
I wanted to get more of my own work on the walls around the place. If I had a studio I would put up my works in progress, as it is, everything is stacked up in the garage or in baskets in the corner of the lounge.
I reclaimed this piece from a recent exhibition piece I made. I pulled it all apart because what else was I going to do with it? It was good for that time. That's the problem with non-functional art. It ends up being stored away. But I like bits of it and it now hangs where I will see it everyday.
I made this as a reflection of the shores here in the Bay, the lines left in the sand when the tide recedes. Inspiration abounds when you're looking for it.And these two odd heads are some old stitching I did when I was angsting at art school. I stitched it to the side of an old Trade Aid hessian bag which although falling apart is still my favourite craft bag for projects on the go.
I like heads.
My jewellery, more handspun silk string, some embroidered cloth 'beads', shells, bone and shell buttons, more stitching.
And a few bits by Gondwana sister India.
A wee dress and a felted scarf that I love, love, love. I want to surround myself with things I love, that inspire me, and so be it.
And finally, my latest work in progress. A woolly dress repurposed from an old blanket is slowly coming together and will finally be dyed to tone down all that loud white. lol. White. lol.
Tadaaaah! The back sports my gift from Imbi. I love that those bullets sit over my rib cage, lol.
The stitching coming through from the back, in reverse is the best. What's happening on the other side of a cloth that I'm working on is always the most interesting to me, because that's the unconscious mark making stuff going on.
Shells buttons. A few 'x's.
The original blanket label and owners name. Thank you CC Hough. Imbi donated a few stitches of her own too.
A few thousand more stitches, a pocket for treasure findings and an immersion in a bath of homebrewed organic dye then she'll be right!
Our heartfelt sympathies and prayers go out to the families and friends impacted by the death of two young women here in the Bay last Friday. God be with you all.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Something happy ...

I wanted to write about something happy but we've just found out our friend's daughter was tragically murdered yesterday. It's big news here and although it happened in my suburb, I wasn't overly disturbed because I live in a place where one or two tragedies happen a year. The kinds that draw national media attention. So I just thought it was another event that happened to someone else. How cold does that sound now? And why am I not more disturbed when crime happens in this o-so-small community of ours? The answer unfortunately is that you just get conditioned to it and unless it's a personal loss, it's just sad news and bad luck.
My friend has been heartbroken and beside herself, since her 16 year old daughter left home over a month ago. She's a diligent mother, who loves her daughter but her daughter was determind to do things her way. Unfortunately she got caught up in a situation that took her life. My friends' worse fear came true.
It's every parents nightmare, I know it's mine. You raise 'em the best you can. But they do have minds of their own. And life happens. And now its another senseless murder. Another life gone. Another senseless thing that defies logic.
So as is our custom, we will rally around the family. We will send money, food, and support in whatever form we can. I cannot imagine how I would cope. I don't think I would. It's insanity-creating stuff grief, death in such terrible circumstances.
They caught the man responsible for the two murders. There is little relief in that though. I would be capable of murder if someone hurt my babies. Again though there would be no relief. So maybe I wouldn't kill anyone but I think I would die. A big part of me would drop out, and leave big holes.
Being married is like that too. We shape our lives around each other, til we are a custom-fit. It doesn't do to dwell on how we would survive without the other. But I imagine big holes form in our lives that take a long time if ever to heal and fill.
So, life goes on. Tears come, pain happens, grief overtakes everything. Anger, denial, more anger, frustration, helplessness.
Then time happens, and the edges become less sharp, memories soften, hearts heal, and the world spins still.
Are you ever amazed that when life stops because of an event like death and then you take a trip to the supermarket say, and everyone is carrying on with their lives? That always astounds me, that sense of being in a void. Surreal.
So something happy is in my heart but its squeezed by the all too real reality of my friends and neighbours and their loss. I am heading across the road soon to cry with the parents and share the burden of grief we are all feeling. The senseless waste of it all.
I am just so thankful that He is here with us all. The Comforter. That is where I find my sense in a nonsensical world.

Monday, June 22, 2009

150 Buttons ...

I found 150 buttons on the beach the other day. Yes, in the space of about an hour, in one small area. Does that officially make my beach a button beach. The day before I found nearly 40 and another friend 50. I have no photos cause I was too busy looking for treasure. They are mostly black and white and shades of grey. No coloured ones. And those clear ones. I found one with an anchor once. That was cool.
Three theories as to how buttons, used and new plus lots of disc-shaped plastic end up on my shores:
1) God throws me handfuls of buttons cause I'm a good girl and this is my reward;
2) The button fairy puts them there (Phoenix theory);
3) The button graveyard, where all good buttons come to die (Alena's theory).
Jury is out, but I like my theory best. Rich is worried buttons will deplete (perhaps thinking that then I will have to go and hang out at the mall and spend like those other normal women).
Not too worry. Three years and the buttons are still plentiful. I have a nice jar full to prove it and now to begin my crafty flag bunting, much like the Tibetan prayer flags. I've always admired those and wondered about making my own. I have some ancient chinese cotton from Asia and will stitch my buttons to this. It's a fun little project. My walls need more of my work on them.
The spiritual part - well that's easy. The beach is my favourite place to talk to God, it's where I feel closest to him. It's never been a building or an assembly of people. I really understand why Jesus would leave the crowds and escape into the hills to talk with his Dad. Away from the noise of life, the distractions, the self-importance. Just God and self. (And sometimes the odd kid to clamber over the rocks with).
Lots of crafting happening during winter solstice. A blanket-dress inspired by my tuakana India and assisted by my other sisters Cleo and Imbi, is currently a work in progress. Patches of silk, metres of random stitching and so forth. It's a very rewarding project after a couple of months of knitting. Finally finished neices hats so can send those.
Sometimes you meet people who resonate to the same rhythyms as you, who 'get' you and your passions. For me it's an intimate group of women, I call us the Gondwana sisters because we love the earth and all that she pours forth. Her clothing of nature, ocean, forest, foliage, sky. Our expressions, mark making. Our shared joy over stitch and cloth and painting and words and silence and food and gathering and sharing and generosity and gift-giving and treasure.
Around here lately there've been gatherings of women, lashings of creativity - the only joy winter brings is the lack of guilt of being indoors occupied with making stuff and the fun of wearing layers upon layers of lovely wool clothing.

Another secret place to roam where rusty treasures are revealed
and musings of travelling spiral ever upward.

Still, if the clouds clear and the air is still, I shall be found dashing to my coastal haunt and squatting down amid drifts of sea leavings, scratching for those elusive round plastic discs. Sigh, the ones with three holes just boggle my brain. Ahoy!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

taking five ...

I have discovered Facebook. It's been wonderful to catch up with friends, old and new, family and the curious. A bit time draining though, hours can pass. Needless to say that I love that my computer brings the outside world to me. Being an at-home mum again, I could feel isolated but I don't really. Winter is a good season to stay indoors and be cosy, craft, cuddle baby and do lots of comforting things. Despite my best intentions of starting and finishing works in progress, there is always something else that needs doing. I miss my work. I love my baby. It's not a difficult dilemna. Just an interesting one. Please leave a comment, its a bit tricky but I try and respond to everyone who comments. It's cool to get feedback. :)

I recently caught up with one of my favourite people in the whole world, India Flint who I feel so blessed to have as a friend. You can read about it here: She's author of Eco Colour, my bible when it comes to experimenting with natural dye processes on cloth. She's knitting too! It's winter and a good time to be knitting. With lots of babies happening at the moment, I am enjoying making little things for them. My love parcels are starting to look very cool. Wish I had more 'making' time. I'm loving all my crafty projects. I hope your warm and having fun too.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

World Wide Knit in Public Day

A few gals and I gathered at local cafe Aunt Daisy's here in Porirua to celebrate WWKIPD. Really just another excuse to get together and make stuff. I am here, behind the camera of course. Lots of great discussion about life drawing, babies, life in general, yarn and knitting. Especially guerilla art projects we can do - like knit-bombing public stuff and people. Missing was a few buddies including the number one knit nut Betty Ann. We talked about her too - it's a concensus that she's much loved and treasured by us all. Funny, I had that bunch of felted and crocheted stones from last year that I was returning to the beach this winter, but when I put them on the table, everyone protested. So they all disappeared to new homes and none went back to the beach. One of Sue's kid's wrote this on the wall - are we talking about my rocks that I knit or knitting that rocks?
Yes it does, you smart and funny kids.
Trisha and baby.
Charlotte and Bonnie (who btw taught husband Ash to knit).
Sue. Sue owns a basement full of wool. She's got it bad. Her Opal socks are eye candy. Those colours.
Sue's daughter, our youngest knit nut. It's cool to see kid's crafting.
And after everyone left, I meandered down to the beach for a spot of solace. Knitting little pink hats for our baby neices Ruby and Tiare.
See, I really am at the beach. My favourite place.
(Thanks to man who stopped to take photo of random woman knitting in public by herself.)
"Knots" ... get it. This beach is textile-savvy. And five knitters turned up to knit with me. (cue scary Jaws music) ... be slightly afraid. It's a sign.
Next year I'm gonna try and organise a bigger gathering. Imagine. How fun. Thanks to Siggy at Aunt Daisy's again for her love to our crafty group (and the band that played was awesome).
O, link to more info on World Wide Knit in Public Day is:
Happy knitting world.

A walk on a wintery day ...

I told you I'd get to the beach soon. It was lovely to walk along by myself. It was quiet and barely a soul there. I meandered with my camera (and knitting?) but today my eye's were up because it really was a beautiful day. Crisp wintery day with that clean salty smell and nobody but me. Sigh. I love these moments. My new friend - the sky. Isn't she beautiful?
That's right, this is my turangawaewae having moved here nearly five years ago. It's miles away from Ahipara but it's still coastal, so I'm a happy girl.
Seems my colours were all around today. Loving that beautiful rust-coloured seaweed.
New Zealand is really green especially in winter. A botanical photo for tree huggers cause I know your out there lurking!
Old boatsheds way off in the distance. Worn out, tired looking and well used. Imagine owning one of these beauties. Such fun. BBQ's in the summer, a few drinks after a long hot day, the kids swimming and playing, fishing, sleeping with sound of the waves lapping metres away, crafty circles of creative souls. O my. Lucky buggers.
A darning stone for India.
Cool chick surfer. I tried surfing once. I got concussion when the board smacked me in the head. Some idiot thought it would be a good idea to learn on an ocean beach. I so wanted to look cool like this. O well.
Sky on the sand.
And then this happened.
Check out the guys fishing off the rocks by those boatsheds. I love fish. I'm hungry.
And some more big beautiful wintery sky above Mana Island. Mana by the way is the Maori word for 'strength'.
Gnarled roots on the beach.
See, my colours. Love that spiney looking weed.
Sunset behind Mana Island.
Some treasure. I found this bird on the beach. Tui beer bottle cap.
And it's a sign, surely it is, when the beach access and Aunt Daisy's are both located on a street named "Richard"!
So this helps because I live in a cold, overcast city for nearly two thirds of the year. I always start pondering moving to a warmer climate about every winter. But seeing it through my camera lens helps. It's just beautiful isn't it?
I hope your warm, inspired and creating beauty where you are too.