Once again the allure of the sea has inspired a nature mat.This was a work in progress as the weather changed and wild seas battered the coast.This mat depicts a more serene aspect of the sea, a calm rock pool that invites imaginative play and story telling.
After the wildness of the weekend a rosy sunset glowed on a sea that was tame again.
It seems to have become more difficult to post, because of fearing to be repetitious and boring. After a while even new projects seem to take on a similarity, although I can see, sometimes, an improvement or a new way of presenting a former theme.
Here are some newly created characters, miniature needle felted rabbits. They bring back to mind visiting one of Beatrix Potter’s homes “Hilltop” at Sawry in the Lakes District of England. Much to my delight we saw two rabbits ,pictured below,frolicking in a field.
In the main wild rabbits are considered to be a major pest. Here in Australia they were introduced and have multiplied too well endangering native species ( this introduction being a consequence of ignorance and folly of man, not the fault of the rabbit).
As a pet or subject in art or literature rabbits become endearing. In the whole scheme of nature they have a purpose and a reason, for everything is connected and relevant.Sadly the interconnection of all things has been forgotten and abused . The balance of nature is now much compromised and too many creatures,including humans, face extinction.
As happens with rabbits, these little characters are multiplying too! The only danger they represent is a pull at the heartstrings.
It is April, yet we are having another day over thirty degrees centigrade. A day that is bright,clear, hot and feels like summer. Its has a glow and blaze like the flame of the bird of paradise flower that has decided to reveal its beauty and light to the garden this week.
However, in the southern hemisphere, this is supposed to be the time of Autumn. The time of mists and cooling down.Instead we are still heading to the beach.
Nature is confused. The garden last month offered Autumn crocus that has been followed by the yellow jasmine that usually blooms in Spring and early summer.
Summer has lingered longer this year and felt much warmer than in the past. This week seasons and seasonal markers have come to mind and taken shape as persona.
These season sisters wear pointy hats for a reason. It was an ancient belief that such headgear focused energy and concentration to connect with a higher creative power; in this instance nature and the cycles that have manifested life and sustained it on our planet for millennia.
Whoops, not only are the seasons mixed up so is the order of the sisters, who stand as summer,autumn,spring and winter. initially i was going to remove the picture and replace it,on second thoughts I shall leave it ,it works well with the sentiment.
Felt + Food = Fun, Fascination, Frivolity and Fixation.
Once the urge to create felt food comes it takes on an obsessive compulsion.
Why? It has made me realise how little attention we pay to the objects around us. It makes me observe more closely, look at all the tiny details and realise that too often we tend to glimpse and not really see. So I make and wonder and enjoy the entire process.
Foxes are still much in demand as a subject. This one is a needlecase, my own design.
Pests to some, endearing to others, foxe are so beautifully shaped and coloured that they have long inspired artists and poets.
I’ve been fortunate to observe them at close hand, intrigued to see them interact with each other. I have seen the magnificence of their coat glimmer in early sun rays, gleaming like burnished copper. Awed to observe them move so lightly and vanish, in what seems a blink of an eye, as if they have turned into a wisp of air.
When they take our poultry they, like so much wildlife, are trying to survive in an increasingly hostile world where their link in the web is much altered and rapidly disintegrating. We are so appalled at what we perceive to be their cruelty and seeming delight to kill wantonly. But what of mankind whose greed and exploitation has brought us all to the brink of anhilation? Foxes,too, have a place in nature and if it is compromised it is not of their making.
Foxes were brought to Australia by the British Empire colonisers to be hunted in an attempt to civilise their lifestyle and this ancient land. Rabbits, domestic cats and dogs were also brought across the seas and all of these have become threats to our native species.
I wonder what wildlife thinks of mankind? What if they become our masters? Would humans be the pests?
Some scraps lay on the table. A winter themed project was on order and for weeks it had eluded, nothing seemed to work.
Autumn has only recently revealed its full colour statment in our location but higher on the mountain it has provided a rich and glorious display.
However,lately there is a hint of crispness. This week the leaves have fallen. Winter’s presence is a stronger whisper. The time now has felt right so that these scraps fell together, as if some unseen hand had shuffled the pieces and laid them out as a winter jigsaw.
A collage of various projects and treasures to greet the season. The harvest Queen is a recent project that was designed by Dionne Coburn for a parent craft group at Silkwood. The tiny gnome by the pumpkin was made by nine year old Star.
Again sharing a felt nature scene, a hollow tree stump that has been hand stitched, appliquéd and embroidered as well as needle felted. This hollow stump tells a story of protection and renewal.
The log hosts various life forms within and without.
Here you can see different types of fungi, and some vines,grass and moss.The little thread keeps the tiny mouse attached but also if gently pulled moves the mouse along, under and around the hollow branch.
The mouse is taking a risk but it allows an understanding of how nature has a chain of consequences and that nature is, in essence, a chain of who eats who.
Such a piece would also make a good story prop as well as being useful for the nature table and for nature study . Depicted are fungi, and other life forms that use the log in its decaying process to recreate life and to give shelter. Other animals could be incorporated such as snake or possum. It is a piece designed to begin an exploration and to inspire stories and to stimulate curiosity.
January has seemed to flip past and it seemed that not a lot had been achieved. Time to stop and consider that what seemed to be a lot of “Nana” napping due to the heat and time out, had actually achieved some results. Things did get created, even finished and better still some new ideas took shape.
For instance this donsey of gnomes, miniature ones, and a tiny felt mouse found their way into form during January. As did the frogs and tadpole and the tiny Waldorf babies of previous posts . It was also a month where art became the focus and experimenting with different media as in the programme Paint – but those efforts I’ve yet to be able to share as they are in the wrong format and I am still trying to work that out.
There was also a little episode of making felt food.
At first to patterns that needed to be tried when a kind friend ordered a Japanese craft book for me. That was such an inspiration and motivation as it made me really look at food, observe closely, understand , experiment and motivate me to create my own interpretations. As a consequence this mushroom slice and Rainbow Chard leaf resulted and there are several sketches for other items .
It was a pleasant surprise to take a step back and survey the results and realise that things have been progressing, slowly but steadily.
I guess if one were to draw on old wisdom it was a situation akin to the hare and the tortoise. My feeling pressured to be the hare and expect faster results led me to overlook that by being the tortoise and taking one sure step at a time results were forthcoming and goals had been reached. It also led me to ponder over the ancient fable and the wisdom offered.
The Hare and The Tortoise.
Modern thinking seems to have allocated a wiley and cunning nature to the tortoise who sometimes hitches a lift with the unsuspecting hare, who is depicted as being as brash, ego centred and overconfident. The suggestion is that by being devious and honing in on the opponents weakness you can win. This seemed so misunderstood as the whole point is to show that by setting a goal through perseverance and determination it can be achieved.
At school we were always told that “slow and steady wins the race”, whereas now there seems to be a drive for faster, instant results without taking into consideration the effects and consequences of a power driven, “more and more ” approach. Everything seems to need to be statistic driven; higher scores , pretty pie charts, statistics of statistics, goals, outcomes, interactions gets reduced to numbers and graphs. Do they really mean anything other than aiming for profits and manipulating these figures to justify a consumer driven economic policy, where more and greed are good and a simpler and slower pace that concentrates on quality of outcomes, using what is on hand and supplying needs rather than wants are seen as hindrances.
The most recent interpretation of the classic is to offer the Compound Effect. In this explanation the two opponents join forces, become a team and get even greater, faster, more efficient results.
Specialising and co-operating, takes the story to a different level, more positive yet still aimed to get higher production. It sees fast as the core to success and efficiency. As a tool for society cooperation seems an excellent outcome, especially if we are to address to problems facing the planet and come up with effective solutions, but rather solutions to encourage peace and sustainability than growth for growth’s sake. Applied it seems to lead to cutbacks and inefficiencies, loss of services and a rationale that boosts share prices.
However, this approach seems to me to miss the point of the fable entirely. The ancient wisdom is not about mass production or team effort but rather to point out that determination and focus can produce amazing results that would seem to most onlookers to be unachievable as well as the more humble personal outcomes that often slipped past unnoticed and unacknowledged. It also points out that by going full steam ahead and not using our energy wisely we can burn out .
So now I have come full circle and back to stitching in peace, slowly savouring each stitch with joy knowing that my creations are not to be a statistic but made with love, and a need to create and share. I savour the slower in and out, the sound of the thread slipping through the fabric, the feel of the cloth, the gentle rhythm and the connection it has through time hoping that what I create will be imbued with all these and the joy shared with the recipient.
Ror a moment sharing the soggy conclusion to the month, as the aftermath of cyclone Oswald wreaks devastation in many places along the East Coast of Australia. Queensland and N.S.W have suffered terribly yet this disaster has brought to the surface a true spirit of co-operation, great resilience and will to overcome.
Going under as water levels rise , a scene in the next road down from ours.
The year has begun down in the south with a heatwave of catastrophic proportions.
Hot and sticky, overwhelmed and saddened by the losses that have incurred to people, livestock and environment as well as being on constant alert for fire here, is not all that conducive to creativity. It seemed for a bit that that that also was all burnt out. Nothing new was being created and worse still ideas seemed to be stagnant.
However taking stock and actually making a picture of the craft room table revealed that things did seem to be muddling along. There were indeed a couple of new items and things that had been put aside, those ubiquitous U.F.Os, were getting finished. In fact looking at the photo made me aware that there had been some progress as well as some inspiration and creativity. That was so heartening.
Then one of those aha! moments occurred from a serendipity or universal poke when presented with a quote from a remarkable woman, Maya Angelou, who said that “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use the more you have”.
Self doubt, and this I should know, destroys creativity and is a trap that is all too easy to fall into.
For Christmas my daughter gifted me some pieces of wool felt. One piece is a rich, grassy green, just perfect to make a little frog. A little frog that has a tale to tell of how important he is in the whole scheme of things.
Frogs are important to the ecology and rapidly disappearing from the landscape, through agricultural practices, especially the use of pesticides, population growth and inbalance in the whole connection of life forms in nature as urban sprawl infiltrates and unbalances eco systems.
The character that grew from the felt was not quite like the sketches that have been made over time, as the idea has been simmering for a bit, but seemed to dictate the process. However, as he took form, it was apparent that he needed a mouth, and not the embroidered mouth that was in the original design but a mouth that opens and closes; a talking mouth as he has a story to tell. Again it was there waiting all the time, those little ovoid scraps lying on the table were a perfect fit .
Now he needs a setting, perhaps a pond , or a lily pad, or a log. Any ideas?
At the same time two little heads were in a box and waiting for bodies. These have become very typical, tiny, Waldorf babies; little comfort or pocket dolls. They were an absolute joy to make. Something about a baby instils new hope. These did that.
A frog to create awareness and love for nature and babies to remind of renewal and hope. This has turned out to be a powerful lesson , pointing out that from the ashes of tomorrow there will be a new day glowing with promise and opportunity, full of inspiration and creativity.