‘Swing Life Away’ {making, treasure}

Swinging is good for you. So is jumping on a trampoline. Especially good for you considering most people put an age cap on these activities. Under 10 years old? You should be swinging and jumping like your life depends on it. 30 or over? All of a sudden the sound of crickets chirping is overwhelming. I am here to tell you, I do jump. I do swing. Engaging in child-like activities is good for us. (I also glide on shopping trolleys.)

Infobarrel.com says,”Bouncing on trampolines help remove toxins by squeezing them out. Your body has about 60 trillion cells, so the gravitational pull pushes out the toxins when you bounce. During the period of weightlessness, when your body is suspended midair, the lower pressure in your cells promote the movement of nutrients into the cells. Imagine this as a workout to get every cell in your body to exercise.”

This information is telling us we should. We must. My newest piece is based around just the swinging aspect. The weightlessness, the freedom, the whoosh of air passing your ears, the feeling of two straight legs ploughing through the sky, casting your eyes up to the heavens, feeling on top of the world. The breeze in your face, the wobbly colt-like legs that jerk you to a halt.  Jumping like a gymnast and dismounting in the mulch.

Those of us who use swings, instead of leaving it to the little people, smile BIG smiles.

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Beyond Borders: Mosaic Auction for DWB/MSF

September 2012
(Doctors Without Borders)

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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.

The Guerilla Graffiti Granny {making, she is a treasure}

There has been a huge mention lately of guerilla graffiti. I got my first real taste of my very favourite medium of graffiti, in the form of stencil work when in San Francisco a few years ago. I love the complexity and yet, the simplicity of the profiles and shadows. Just black and white. Following the KISS method. Keep It Simple Stupid. I wished there were a few more movers in shakers in my small city. People with something to say. Something sassy to add to our sometimes sterile and pristine nations capital.

A year ago, my mother herself an artist and avid collector was taking her daily morning walk with her two lady coherts. Lets call them Betty and Jan. Obviously NOT their real names – I don’t fancy these 3 ladies being carted off to the clink for their community service. Read on.

A huge penis had been spray painted close to these ladies homes, on an underpass bridge. A lot of mature aged people are part of this community and this tacky take on manhood (probably put there by boys not old enough to know which way is up when dealing with said appendage) really outraged these gals. Not in a feminist way, just that it wasn’t such a fine display of skill, creativity or really, imagination.

One of these three ladies never let go of the idea of changing the outcome of this graffiti. For the next few days she ticked over in her mind how she could turn this big outline into something nicer. (For those Australian folk – just like Mr Squiggle would have done.) The lady in question was my mum.

A plan was made. A stencil was cut. Of a black bird on a branch. Spray paint was purchased.

The deed was done.  On a morning when these ladies would usually take their morning constitutional – the heavens opened. Down came the rain. So, walking was put off for the day. Not in my mother’s mind, however. She assembled her gear, placed the stencil carefully in a recycle shopping bag, spray paint too. She covered herself in a raincoat and hat. I badly want to say balaclava here – but just the facts folks, no balaclava was involved.

The quick walk to the underpass was full of uncertainty, questions in her mind, eyes darting from left to right, wondering if she would be discovered. The stencil was pulled from the bag, and spray can ready in her mit. Every second that passed was another moment expecting the hand of the law to land firmly on her shoulder. She balanced on the wall, stencil in place, and felt such a surge of adrenellin run through her body she was almost tipsy with excitement. (And if I know my mum – that means giggly too.) Still suspecting she may be hauled off to jail at any moment, she gathered herself, and pressed down on the can nozzle to release the paint. PSSSSSSSSTTT!!!! She forgot to test spray before she started and ended up covering her hand with black paint. (I would think more giggles would be inserted at this point too.) Not quite going to plan.

She collects herself, stifles the last giggle. Down to serious business, before someone discovers her. She has success. Pretty blackbirds on branches very strategically cover the doodle, of a doodle. One after the other, until… what penis? It is no more.

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Moving slowly home (she giggles some more, I’m sure) she goes over the details in her mind, and wonders if she might return to put some red berries at the end of the branch she just painted. Or what her next project might entail. She calls me to tell me what she got up to this very morning. Its only 8.15am. How on earth did someone squeeze so much tomfoolery into their morning? Such is the work of the Guerilla Granny.

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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