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…

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The front steps needed disco {treasure, making}

A mirror broke. I didn’t do it. A paint tin did. No bad luck for me.

I make the very most of situations such as this one, as you see. I contemplated a design of my own, but in such a prominent position, I didn’t want to start using the back gate in order to avoid using the front stairs. (What I mean is, I didn’t want to *sigh* or *cringe* every time I arrived home, because my skills & ideals of coolness have changed.) So, I turn to disco – as we all should.

One step down, seven to go.

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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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‘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)

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?

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.