A piece of Perth {treasure, collecting}

As I have mentioned previously. I spent some time in Perth celebrating the wedded bliss of a sweet cousin.
While staying there I was mesmerised by these sweet budgies looking at me from where I was staying. They were enormous beauties – and simply stunning. Australian Artist Anya Brock is the person behind these beautiful images. She has brought street art to a new level, and the woman uses paint brushes! Her style is very distinct and colourful – and just like a car crash, you can’t look away.

I went home, ‘over East’ and thought about my new love, a giant budgie.
For weeks I couldn’t get his little beady eyes out of my head.
As luck would have it, a limited run of prints just so happened to be available through Anya’s website. Score!!

So, I got me a lovely new friend.

Who’s a pretty boy?

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The nest {making, collecting, treasure}

We made a nest, from silver birch twigs.

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We went walking to collect materials to weave within the birch. A piece of electrical wire was found, a bright red strand. This was woven through the twigs with great skill. We decided birds are very clever, they don’t have two hands to bend, twist and manipulate the twigs into the right place.

Just a beak. No opposable thumbs.

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Henry decided the birds would be more comfortable sitting in feathers from our chickens bottoms, rather than scratchy sticks. So, we gathered them up, along with violets and jonquils – (a sort of bird aromatherapy, if you like) and placed them in our nest.

Funnily enough no wayward birds arrived to take advantage of this ready made haven.

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Regardless of this, we now have bird nesting skills. Something to add to our can-do list.

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Disco steps update and my affection for mirrors {collecting, treasure}

I remember my early fascination with bevelled edged mirrors. There was a giant one on the wall at my grandparents house, a sweet country town famous for its cheese.

The mirror seemed enormous to me, and I wasn’t entirely sure it wasn’t the old back window from my Pop’s EK Holden, treated with silver paint.

It was foreign and very ‘granny-like’ and helped form my appreciation of all things old, rusty and lived-in. I realised  my Nana  and all of her sisters, in this same small town had these mirrors, or similar variations in their home. (Along with pretty coloured hair.)

I belonged in a house with an artist mother and conservative/gardening  father. They had their own taste, and bevelled edged mirrors didn’t have a place in our childhood home. They were decorating in the seventies, with huge colourful printed curtains (in hot pink, red and orange), sculptures, paintings bought from galleries, and huge carved elephants brought from Southern Asia. I believe sheepskin may have been peaking at this time too.

My grandparents died, and the Great-aunts did too. I don’t know where everything went. The mirrors, the aluminium canisters, the heavy club lounges, the chenille bed spreads… Everything did go, probably to the dump or Second Hand shops in the little town.

Anyway, I grew up, left home. I moved to Sydney. I only knew a handful of people. I had to find a new way to spend my weekends. I found Second Hand shopping. I was amazed at what I discovered. My love of treasure hunting soon overtook my weekends. I found a sweet small mirror with bevelled edges. I was naturally drawn to it, without explanation.

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Then came more. One by one. Its not about admiring my own reflection, nothing to do with vanity.

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I do love the way they reflect my garden. Bringing the outside in.

Along with bevelled edged mirrors, I collect any lovely piece that ‘speaks’ to me.

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The crustier, the better.

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Big mirrors, little mirrors…

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Old wardrobe doors with brass handles, make lovely full length mirrors.

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Eighteen years later, and five homes later,  they keep finding me. Garage sales at little coastal towns. Charity shops in my city. Birthday gifts from people who know me well. A lady at a little town Antique shop keeps them aside for me. Now I have…many.

So, what is responsible for this, may I ask?

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I’m not sure.  But I love these stairs.  I love mirror, I like shiny things.

I still have 2 steps left to glue – and wee bits to touch up.

More to come…

St Kilda Sea Glass {collecting,treasure}

I was lucky enough to spend a whole week of Winter school holidays in Melbourne, visiting a friend lucky enough to know me for 36 years. We ushered 5 children under 11 to St Kilda for a wee adventure and the promise of gelato too. There is a beach and a jetty, and you can probably see Tasmania on a clear day (no, not really).

The small folk very quickly tossed their shoes aside and took turns burying each other up to their necks. This friend of mine is not a fan of the beach, she doesn’t like sand getting in everywhere and everything. She was quietly having conniptions thinking of washing clothes x 5 kids and 1 adult, because I was right alongside them in the sandy department.

I managed to distract her with shiny things. These shiny things. We collected a beanie-ful, about 2 kgs of this goodness, sparkling in the sun along the shoreline. Two things I found out about St Kilda: 1.people drink lots of beer and wine, AND 2.they don’t use rubbish or recycling bins very often, on or off shore. Thank you irresponsible people! I love Sea Glass.

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Nasturtiums {treasure}

A little lady in my household has a new fascination for vases and flowers. They pop up in little corners of the house. With no warning, no words. What a sweet little bunny she is.

Nasturtiums are one of my favourite flowers, never thought they were vase/jar worthy – a 9 year old has shown me they are.

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5 things to know before you let mosaic into your life {collecting, making, treasure}

There are pros and cons that you can apply to most things in life.

Its the second week of Spring school holidays here (pro). Surrounded by children (pro… yep. pro), leaves bursting into view (pro), and wicked puppies by my feet (pro),  I grout a birdbath (con-ish), with black grout up to my wrists (damn it! con!). I think to myself… I wonder if there are any other mosaic artist/fiends out there who wondered why they could not have managed to obsess over a more polite art. Like building model planes, or pastel drawing, or knitting socks. Why on earth did I pick mosaics??

I appear at grouting time with a line-up of essentials, like a dentist’s tray. Gloves, sponges, tools, water and wine. I am VERY prepared. I still manage to absolutely balls up the process of grouting, whip off my gloves, get my ‘real’ fingers in there to do the job  – removing any fingerprints I may have had on my pink stumps that were once lovely, long piano-playing digits. This in turn begins a chain reaction of grout in hair, grout on new t-shirt, grout on lady-like leather boots, grout on deck, grout on puppies. This is usually the order of things, for me. I was prepared! What happened?? This is in no way the ONLY hazard of this art.

Think carefully. Mull it over. Is mosaic really for you?

Here is a list. 5 things you should know before picking up those damned nippers:

1. You will never have pretty hands. You will have hands like an elephants bum. If you are very lucky all 10 fingernails will be still be partially attached. You will have grout staining your skin and fingernails for days, should you really be making meatballs tonight?  Now, before any of you ask, ‘Why aren’t you wearing gloves?’ I do. Kind of. At first. I find gloves get in the way. I consider my options. I literally stop dead in my tracks, and have a little talk to my inner-Emily about the fact I am 2 nano-seconds away from whipping those gloves off. The decision has been made. Poor hands. Oh, I’m suffering for my art.

2. You will stop listening to people. Because you are looking over their shoulder the whole time wondering if you could mosaic the slow moving child behind them. For you it might be a car body, a step, a tree stump, a swing set – not necessarily a human. ‘Look at my eyes when you are talking to me!’ I say this to my kids all the time – this applies to me too! So, remember to listen. Try very hard. Ears AND eyes. We call this ‘whole body listening.’ This is very important if you intend to keep your friends/children/partner. You may need to consider mentally dividing your life into two. Real life vs Mosaic time, otherwise the lines become blurred and you can’t stay on track with reality and be even 42% ‘present’ while listening to your friend/children/partner/dog and simultaneously dreaming of rainbow glass. I know this because of number 5. See below.

3. You will need to get some tweezers. For you, not your mosaic. I once pulled a piece of glass, horror-movie style from my knee. I had knelt down on it 7 months earlier when glueing glass to mesh for a mural installation. I could feel something was ‘different’ and started ripping at my kneecap. It became like a little doorway flap, that a mouse might use if it lived in my knee. Out came a lovely piece of purple glass. Bandaids should be kept under your bra-strap if you are a bleeder. You will constantly be slicing yourself open. Oh! And its such a pretty red! Make firm friends with any First Aid Officers you meet. On the upside, you may want to consider your options of ‘murderer’ as a lifestyle choice right about now. Dexter-style. I’m not saying, ‘Go ahead. Do it!’ I’m just saying you’d probably get away with it. Has anyone been really pissing you off lately? Like I said above, you won’t have any finger prints left. So go for it! Its your time.

4. You will be the only person you know rockin’ an almighty Dowagers hump. Congratulations!! There is a remedy for this. Apparently. Go to your local Two Dollar shop and purchase a new Pool Noodle. (That’s what we call them in Australia, the kids play with/on them pony style or placed under the arm pits as a floatation device in the pool.) Anyhoo, get a new one that hasn’t been bent for a pony ride. Place noodle on the floor. Now place yourself on the floor, lie down flat on your back with your hands by your side. Wiggle onto the pool noodle until your spine is aligned with the noodle. Now drop your shoulders to the ground. AAHHH! That’s nice. Its a good boob stretch too. Remember, a stretch a day keeps the hump away. (Not kidding, my chiropractor recommended this).

5. You will forget important things. Like dinner. And your children’s names. You need to find a very understanding partner. Who will cook dinner because you have ‘gone crazy’, ‘need just 5 more minutes’, or ‘are in no way stopping what you are doing right now!’ And breakfast. Lunch too. And they need to do the washing. And walk the dogs. So, if there is no milk in the fridge, and the kid’s ribs are showing through their clothing, and that ‘understanding partner’ is say, at work – it might be time to take a break. Or your children might be taken away from you, by the government. Snap out of it! Down-tools time. Go grocery shopping.

So that’s it! 5 hazards of becoming a Crazy Mosaic Lady. Or Chap.

 Another one for the list! You’ll need a bigger house too. For all of your ‘stuff’.

Is it too late for you?

Today’s treasure {collecting, treasure}

Its Spring now. We are 12 days in. Thank goodness! My 67 silver birch trees are doing their very best to bud. I cannot wait to hear the wind swooshing through the leaves…

I took a few pictures today of the little treasures I have recently come across.

The tiniest of bird bottoms must have sat in here, with her equally tiny eggs.

She’ll be shocked to see her nest didn’t stay attached to the tree branch through our Winter – I only hope the bird in question realises this before she arrives ready to lay her eggs. She has a lot of work ahead of her! This knowledge has kept me awake at night for the last month.

Hurry birdy! Grab some twigs! You can have some of my hair!

Next is the Sea Urchin Family.

I found these 4 washed up on a beach after a storm.

I know! I know! You are meant to leave them at the beach.

They are gone. They died. So, I took their old houses home with me.

I will love them as if they were my own…

Then there was today.

The wicked puppies, Little Mister and I set off for a Spring time walk.

(This was actually taken post walk, to be absolutely fair.)

Look what treasures were waiting for us! Little Mister said this was the best day ever. It was. The puppies were bouncing through the long grass. Little Mister felt like part of The Famous Five diving through vines, bushes and long grass. And enough cockatoos had dropped stark white feathers which kept the Little fellow very busy. So, with full hands we returned to take a few photos of our loot.

A very happy boy. This my friends, is treasure.

What I call treasure {treasure}

I have a little person in my family who collects bottle tops. He thinks they are akin to gold coins. He was inspired by my mother, a collector and treasure hunter from waaayyyy back. She instilled this love of bottle tops in him when we were enjoying a coastal summer.
We tapped into the best beer-bottle-top haunts, and it was like Christmas had come all over again for my little fellow. His eyes were like saucers. He was happy. The bottle tops sit on a circle of wire on a hook, high on the wall, waiting till he comes to play again.

Another not fully grown person in my family collects stones. Nice smooth ones. Into the pocket they go! I still remember him at the beach totally overwhelmed by the bounty of smooth stones laid randomly before him. He stuffed one after another into his shorts, so that they were dragging down around his knees. He held onto his waistband and waddled back to the car with a look of pure delight on his face.

One last little friend of mine collects the world’s tiniest shells. She hands them to me to guard and keep safe so that she can continue her beach raid of micro pipis, I try to protect them in my hand – but instead I produce shell grit for any happy budgie. I crush them with my big silly hands while accepting the newest addition.

The other day I found a little round stone, that I automatically stopped and picked up. I rubbed it between my fingers, and for the hour I was holding it, it felt like the most treasured possession. I misplaced it for an hour and was quite frantic. It turned up later. I have stones from New York, Pebbles from San Francisco, the smoothest, roundest rocks from Kioloa. They are all special to me.

The day after, whilst walking wicked puppies in the Autumn leaves, again I stopped, this time I happened across the most amazing sight. A first for me. I found a butterfly. All tucked up, ankles politely crossed, wings folded down protecting a still tiny body. I held it in my hand with my thumb across my fingers like a wee butterfly car seat, moving slowly home. I didn’t dare look incase the wind decided to take her away while my hand was open. I arrived home and opened my hand to find the most extraordinary coloured butterfly. All mine. Such satisfaction!

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I have become a collector. My children are collectors, my mother is the mother of all collectors. She taught us all to notice the sky, and notice the ground. So, look at the sky, and take the time to look at the leaves on the ground. Treasure is everywhere.

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