A trip back in time

Clay and home made dye and ink are mediums I find inspiring. I always mean to master the use of such materials. When I was at university I created 25 ceramic wings, many of which I have since let erode back into the earth in my own back garden.  I was never brave or sure enough to spend a long time in the ceramics workshop getting to know my material but I have been fascinated by the work that can be made from the earthy substance. If you scroll down on my various blog posts you will see the original project to inspire my posts was one involving natural pigment and dye.

With this in mind, I can now tell you that I was genuinely excited to see The 17th Century Kiln Firing Day advertised in ‘Primary Times’ magazine. 

Little Woodham: A 17th Century village

We ended up missing the kiln firing day but visited instead, the following weekend: Rural Craft Day.

It can take alot for us to manage a family day out and on this one, we were not disapointed. Set in The Alver Valley, The 17th Century replica buildings are delight to wonder into. The volunteers in their period costume and their eagerness to answer questions and share knowledge make the experience educational as well as fun. 

From previous visits I recall the acting skills of the folk in the village made for an authentic atmosphere. So authentic infact, that one of my early childhood memories involves a family visit to the Village where the believable fear and passion in some of the villagers’ anti witchcraft talk had me in tears. This however was craft day – everyone was very friendly, I was no longer 5 and had somewhat of a clearer understanding of what it was all about.

We were able to admire the fired wares of the kiln- a kiln which boasts to be the only replica 17th century kiln of its kind. We spoke to the potter who was happy to demonstrate & share his skills. I was a happy lass and may even get the chance to go back for a turn on the wheel myself. 

We spoke to a young man tuning 17th Century style stringed instruments. My son got a nice helping of ‘Horrible Histories’ upon learning about catgut strings. (Not actual cat gut, silly. But not any nicer than that really either – I dare you to look it up!) 

My partner was excited to learn some history of long bow archery from the archer who had small audiences fully engaged in learning, and able to handle some of the weapons and armour. 

I don’t do the place justice, as I know there will be trades people that I will have left out. There were some we were not able to talk to between toilet runs and chasing after our two year old, who was excited about the village and playing in the surrounding woodland, in equal measure. To name a few there was a seamstress, some weavers, a sawyer and blacksmiths. On a visit prior to this one, we met the village scribe who told of the method of ink making. Although he was not in character this time round we managed to meet him out of character, by chance and he imparted his knowledge once more. 

On this particular visit I ended up accidentally networking too. (Networking- a term I still struggle to use without feeling pretentiously pompous and a bit silly. I’m trying to go with it.) The artist Di Alexander was in one of the cottages painting some beautiful work from purposefully blurry photographs. (“Photographs in the 17th Century?” I hear you cry! This lady was not part of the village as such but was still invol ed in the craft day and painting work that portrayed an essence of the time.) We swapped details and chatted briefly until toddler chasing became priority.

I’m not sure what it is that excites me about traditional craft. It might be the idea that things don’t have to be made en masse with contemporary materials and there is an awesomeness in the craftsmanship. It might be the sense of satisfaction from the texture and natural appearance of clay and wood. Or perhaps it is a misplaced nostalgia from the sepia tones I associate from old dye and ink. Whatever it is, an occasional visit to Little Woodham is a welcome temporary escape from moden life. Now, instead of tears, I find myself smiling and content as I wonder round.

The babies are asleep. Ready, Steady Arrrrgh-what to do?

Isn’t it a luxury when the children are sleeping? If there is one thing I have been blessed with in motherhood (and aunthood) it is sleepers. Not that It’s been an easy ride from day one by any means. There are also far more nights that one or two of my children will insist on finding me during the night and invading my sleep space, than not. By hearing the horror stories of others, I realise I have had it comparatively easier in this department. Which is just as well because the sleep deprived version if me is something that no one should have to endure.  I become an absolute mess and it is a far from pretty sight. To all the sleep deprived parents who get through the day in some shape or form- RESPECT!
I was pretty chuffed with myself the first-time I managed to get a 10 month and 21 month  old to have a nap during the day – in unison. I think on this first occasion I might have spent some bewildered time floating around in disbelief.  But also maybe not, because I know I had a lot of work on  and sleep time for them soon became time for me to fill with a patch of other working.
I shall add that an issue which has arisen here is that I have been spoilt. When the sleep aka sanity refuel bit of the day doesn’t happen smoothly, I get a bit twitchy. They owe me that time right? It’s alright though I love them dearly and it gets us through the day. 

One thing that hasn’t changed since the first short & precious newborn naps to their sleep now is the sudden rise of bizarre pressure. Pressure to USE THIS TIME WISELY (or regret it it for the rest of the day).

So initially I usually stop, listen out to check that I’m not imagining the bliss of peaceful infants. Then there’s the countdown panic of what to do… I might have an hour? what do I do..? I could: prep some activity for when they awake; get some of those emails looked at and replied to; pay bills or brave HMRC  and try to make sense or better still – progress with my self assesment. I could stick some paint on that bit half finished temple I’m building, do the washing up- the list goes on. All the things that whilst I am Mummying, I think would be so much easier to do child free suddenly become a possibility. But possible on an uncertain time limit. Quick do all those things!!! Some times I just sit down and have a cup of tea and a sandwich. That’s nice. 

Of course when they are still tiny you get told to sleep when they sleep. I’m not sure at what point this becomes less acceptable. (Not that acceptable should matter – you do what you need to do- I mean that.) I try to use the time mine sleep to do something productive or ‘worthwhile’ but actually Some times I do wonder if sleep might be more productive. This, however, is a tiny bit of time I get to be me. 

The other bits of time available to me are hideous O’clock in the morning. That depends on whether my ninja skills are up to scratch and I can successfully creep out of the room without the company of my littlest one.  There is also evening, I think I explained the pillow  race in my last post. Evenings are frequently a write off.

I am lucky, I get to have time to myself and even the luxury to write a blog. The space to process excessive overthought. 

This partivular post is being typed out at 4 am. Quick….They might wake up soon!

 

Wound up, wind down.

I used to feel ever so guilty about being lazy, or rather, worried about being perceived as lazy. It didn’t matter how hard I had worked or how I was feeling or what I  needed. I would compare myself to other more capable, admirable hardworking people. If those people did have a break they were worthy of it, and I know people who carry on like absolute troopers. Perhaps that works for them.

I don’t feel like I can do that though. I get so incredibly tired, I have been known to some times get up at 5am – or earlier, push on through the day – It’s a struggle, and when I get to early evening I am spent. I NEED my children to be in bed because I can’t stay up any longer. Sometimes the bedtime routine, or what little there is of one, goes completely AWOL in my desperate bid to get my head on that pillow. My head doesn’t always make it to a pillow. I have laughed with friends about my super power being that I can sleep almost anywhere if tiredness hits me. Sometimes I feel close to exhaustion, or just so low that I physically don’t feel like I can pick myself up. If I do move I feel slow and my body feels especially cumbersome.

On days off I regularly encourage my children to watch a film, read books and my favourite outfit is pyjamas. Then I might just pop on Facebook and see all the good, worthy hardworking people and what fabulous things they are doing with their friends and family. I would berate myself for being lazy, useless and rubbish. I still do this a bit but I am slowly learning not to.

Since the Easter holidays this year I have been on an anxiety rollercoaster. I had just finished one set project and then I received a letter from my boss asking of my availability to invigilate for the exam season. Invigilating. Nice, easy job. Borring even, if you like. What’s there to be anxious about? Good money for not alot of work. Sorted. But my brain doesn’t work like that. It doesn’t take long before I go into ‘what if’ overdrive. What if I do something wrong and inadvertadely mess up some poor students future? What if when I’m supposed to address a group of students, panic hits me, my words get stuck and I can’t speak? (That’s happened before but thankfully not in a formal setting). What if I cry? What if my daughter is poorly and I have to let them down at work at the last minute? What if she doesn’t like nursery? What if they leave me on my own now and I get it all wrong? What if? What if? What bloomin’ if??? It’s just invigilating, but what if? I ended up on the phone to my cousin in floods of tears through anxiety, I fell out with my Mum and I couldn’t arrange to do anything fun because the knowledge that this work was looming prevented me from actually enjoying myself. I ended up taking a trip to the doctor and was prescribed some SRIs to help level my mood. If I hadn’t, I honestly don’t think I could have worked this time round. Maybe that sounds pathetic. I was feeling like wasn’t in control, I was miserable andfelt like everything was completely impossible. I got through the invigilating, still looking after my niece three days a week and tried to be kind to myself for doing so. Then with about a weeks reprieve I was given the next set making project with approximately one month to complete the work. I wad tired and on one ocaasion found myself in the bathroom staring vacantly in to the air and shaking my head at no one declaring ‘I can’t do this’! It felt like more and more events were happening in my son’s last term at primary school that I couldn’t keep up and that being self employed/working from home meant I had to attend everything. It’s actually been lovely and I fully appreciate that I am fortunate to get to do this and share in my son’s achievements. It has however been another emotional climb on the rollercoaster and I have been trying to help my son deal with his anxieties as well as my own.  

Throughout this I have had to take time out occassionally. I’ve hermatized somewhat and again, I am fortunate that my very best friends and family do not take this personally and understand my need to rest, recuperate and recharge. If I allow myself to take time. If I allow myself a day or so where I do little and don’t call myself names or make shaming jokes about myself when I explain how my day went. If I let myself rest; I have found that when I confront the next day or pocket of bussyness I have the energy to do so. I feel more healthy and able. 
Having a lot on, especially lots of various different jobs and responsibilities is tiring and I can end up in a semi prolonged fight or flight state. This can be useful in that the adrenaline can help get me through certain activities or events. Did I mention that between invigilating, set building, childminding, and parenting I also applied for a job? I got an interview, prepared a 15 minute reading activity, survived the interview but just fell short of getting the job. Maybe I’ll explain that in more detail another time.  I’m pretty sure that remaining in a fight or flight state would be detrimental to my emotional and physical health and also my productivity. After a period of tension it can take a little while to believe that It’s okay to slow down and let my guard down for a bit. It’s like I’m still ready for that Sabre Tooth Tiger y’know? It probably goes someway to explaining why I get so very tired. 

I have had the fortune to have the most wonderful friends who encourage me to administer self care. Who let me know that this is not an indulgence. Instead it is a vital part of looking after ones self, of staying healthy, and by doing this I am in a better position to look after others too. 

I could try to make myself keep soldiering on until I burn out, but what good would that be? So this summer holiday I’m going to have some days off. I might read a book, soak in the bath, enjoy some time in the garden, with my children, family and friends. I might stay in pyjamas all day some days, drink tea and eat cake. I am NOT however on any account going to apologize for any of it. 

I think this could be called a Mum Post…

Working at home? Being a freelance artist? Working with children? These things are living the dream, I thought.

The reality is – as with most things, there are pros and cons.

This post will be a slightly different piece to my previous posts, a ‘mum post’, if you like. I mentioned previously that I considered writing a blog about the ‘mother from hell’ I become when there is a deadline looming. A friend of mine pointed out that this was not such a good idea whilst I was stuck in the middle of everything. I listened to this advice and three months later, I’m ready to write a piece that has evolved from my original idea.

To say I become the Mum from Hell IS unfair and untrue. Juggling three different jobs on top of being a parent, is testing. Let’s take the scenario from the end of last year:

I began looking after my then 10 month old niece alongside my 21 month old daughter in October, a 7am to 4pm (give or take) job, just 3 days a week. I realize I am lucky to have a brother and sister in law who are and willing to pay me for this, and it’s great to be so involved to with my youngest niece. But it is hard work, keeping two little ones safe, and well looked after and takes some planning and organisation.  I had also agreed to complete two lots of set design for a children’s drama group. A job that is great fun and allows me to use my creativity, it also takes a lot of energy, planning and obviously – time.

So, on my days off I have a fridge raiding boundary testing young lady to look after. I also have to be constantly ready for conversation with my 11 year old about who my favourite Pokemon character is or who would win in a fight between various marvel characters. My answers must be backed up with reasoning too. These are conversations that I want to stop and enjoy.

I desperately want to tell the to-do lists in my head to evaporate and not be so concerned about what I didn’t get done that day. I want, of course, endless amounts of quality time with my children. I’m poignantly aware however, that the cardboard set will not wallpaper itself, and that I’ve a whole room out of bounds, because of a giant tree (who’s ridiculous idea was it to build that..?) Modrock, ‘pom-pom spiders,’ and countless other ‘good ideas’ in progress. Good ideas which of course I can complete… if I start work at 2am!

When I get an email from my invigilating job to ask of my availability, well that’s, like meditation in comparison. Like meditation if you subtract the hugely disproportionate amount of anxiety that seems to go hand in hand with me ‘going out’ to work.

I’ve spent the last nine years of my life trying to prove that I am not only a good Mum, but a good person, a worthy member of society and fighting the stigma attached to being a single parent in receipt of benefits.  I’ve put enormous pressure on myself to do things outside of my comfort zone. Things which before becoming a mum I would have taken any available opportunity to hide from and made excuses for not doing things. I’ve still got a way to go but it wouldn’t be a journey if I didn’t. Sometimes I may make decisions not to go for particular jobs because it will prevent me from being the best I can be for my children. I am fortunate in that I have people who know me and care about me well enough to remind me to look after myself. These people encourage me if that’s what I need but remind me to take a step back when I need to as well.  I am lucky that I do have a special someone and that I have hopes of one day being able to live together so we can be one family unit. That’s a whole other battle which I shall not bore you with, but I count my chickens, having someone close enough is pretty good chicken to have.

Constantly juggling and trying to achieve a balance between  being a good mum – helping my children to become healthy & happy well balanced individuals, working – contributing to society to & the world, being a good friend & family member – these things are important to me but, sometimes, I get tired. Sometimes I do hide just for a bit.

I couldn’t sustain the amount of work I had going at the end of last year. I took the set work on knowing there was an end point and that I would have a little time to recharge before taking on the next project and I NEED that.  My children NEED that.  Sometimes it takes an unbelievable amount of energy to leave the house, to get out there and just face the world. Sometimes I have to put a little protective bubble around us, feeling like I am in a world where people are judging and waiting for me to mess up, to fail. I have to remind myself that I am not failing because trying deserves credit too and not giving up is awesome! (Just going to do a little shout out to my Mum right here for being an inspiration in not giving up!)

So maybe, I snap at my children, when I’m under stress and maybe I’m a lot less fun to live with when juggling all the balls and spinning all the plates (and any other relevant circus themed analogy). Working at home means I also get that bit of time, because I have more flexibility and say over when I’m working, to talk things through with my children. I can stop and explain myself, apologise. The ability and time to communicate with my children is something I am forever grateful for. I also work hard to make sure that we get family time when we can

I hope that their recent game invention ‘hide from the Mummy Monster’ is just a game and a bit of fun. I hope  they will grow to appreciate that whilst I can’t always be their friend and sometimes have days when I struggle & when my energy and good nature feels compromised; I do the very best that I can, and a lot of it, I do for them.

 

~I am a tiny little fish in an enormous ocean. The way I muddle through life is just one way. Everyone finds a way that is unique to them. I specifically want to acknowledge, everyone working hard to survive, everyone trying their hardest to be good kind people whilst battling their own demons and anyone stigmatized, marginalized or demonized unfairly. There’s far too much hate in the world. I’m trying to swim against that tide and I know that others are too.~  

 

 

They Did It! I did it; we all did it!

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Jungle book set

 

So the last couple of months has seen me spend every spare moment I have had, working on set and props for a children’s drama group production of Stuart Paterson’s The Jungle Book. (This may be a slight exaggeration but it has certainly felt like every spare moment.) I’ll tell you about that and pop up a picture or few in a bit. First I need to tell you a little about the show and Acting Up.

Yesterday, I  got to see the show and was absolutely blown away. Don’t be dismissive when you hear the term children’s drama group. The cast ranged in age from around 4 – 16 and each and every one of them were amazing. Sure there were a few lines forgotten and bits where they stumbled slightly but the overall brilliance of their work was not lost, they pulled together and go through it. This was great to see. The work and effort they had put in to get the show to where it was, paid off on the day. The characters were cast fantastically – so that their anthropomorphic personalities were a joy to watch.

This was probably closer to Rudyard Kiplings original story than the disney productions, so there were some darker, more serious themes that were touched upon. Themes such as law and justice, morality of class and hierarchies, the sometimes precarious balance of human kind and nature, themes of abandonment and not belonging. The list could go on. These deeper themes and content were dispersed by humour – I found myself laughing at some of some scenes – the whole audience were amused at Kaa’s hunger dance.

So I want to give a great big shout out – congratulations, well done, to all the cast from Acting Up in Gosport, especially Rosanna Sloan – and Sammy Tyler without whom there would have been no show at all. As a mum to one of the young actors, I can say from a parents point of view that the learning opportunities and benefits the children get from their drama classes are huge.In acting up, us parents are treated to a mini show at the end of each term, which gets the children used to performing in front of an audience and means we get to see what they have been up to; all of the end of term performances are lovely but to see their end of year performance is a proud moment that tops the rest.

Set Design

I feel like I’ve been on a bit of a journey with the group this year and feel incredibly lucky to have been this involved.* I was asked to help with set for two shows and between September and December. I had set for Matilda finished and ready to use by  the middle of October. I didn’t get any whole set pictures of this work but I hear it went well and didn’t fall apart which is a big relief. I think one of the worst nightmare scenarios doing set design is imaging something you have made falling apart in the middle of the show and being responsible for ruining the whole thing!

For the Jungle book set, I was invited to go and spend a day with the cast getting them involved with the making too. They created such a fantastic array of delights and this hopefully gave them an idea of another aspect of theatre, and more of an appreciation of set when it all came together later on.

I could keep writing about my work and what it has been like getting involved with a project like this but I think the best thing I can give you for now are some pictures.

Matilda Set Work

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The Jungle Book Set Work

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Jungle Back drop including art made at the making day
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Origami leaves: made by children at the making day
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‘Hut backdrop’ for village scenes

 

 

 

* Some of my closest friends and family will know I have been more than a little stressed at times during this journey. It’s been hard work. I said to a very good friend of mine not so long ago that when I get the time I want to write a blog about how I’m a ‘mother from hell’ when I get close to a deadline. (that could be extended to girlfriend, daughter etc etc)

Thankfully my friend is wise and suggested that I wait until the work is finished so I have some perspective and calm. I may still write a piece soon, but I wanted to do this celebratory piece first.

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Eureka!

In my last post I was trying to accept the fact the I may not have the time to concentrate on making art and I needed to focus on a ‘proper career’. This morning I reminded myself that it doesn’t have to be that simple. I can still find ways to be creative and may still be able to use this in between now and beginning teacher training.

 

Enter the Kettle Vase…

 

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No, don’t actually get inside it. That’s silly, that was just my attempt at a dramatic introduction.

Often, I don’t throw things away in the hope that they’ll one day be useful. I feel like I should be able to use my creativity to make something desirable from the things one might often discard. This is despite the fact the this involves hoarding ‘rubbish’, and the clutter in my house gets me down. So, when my kettle broke last week, I couldn’t simply throw it away. It’s been sitting in the kitchen redundant until I had one of those eureka moments – the Kettle Vase. So here we have a most simple work of art.  (I shall call it art so therefore it is. Ha!) Simple, but I am very happy with it. I also love the fact that the  weeds inside the vase are actually rather pretty.

So what’s my plan now..?

Well, I’m still intending to get on to a Primary PGCE course but it seems I just can’t put those paintbrushes down! Or kettles, or lightbulbs. (See picture below.) I aim to get on to a course starting in September 2017 and am seriously considering becoming self employed in the mean time.

I often feel people – family and friends even, don’t take me seriously as an artist – this may be paranoia rearing its ugly head – and thinking about I don’t always take myself seriously either,. Despite making myself post online and sharing my work as much as possible I still have that tiny seed of embarrassment, I can’t be a real artist- people are laughing…

On the flip side there have been a few people and situations that have made me think I might just want to give that little artistic bit of me another chance. By registering as self employed, attitudes, including my own attitude, might change. I might actually begin to be more productive. Firstly, Acting Up have asked me to join them for a meeting in August to discuss having me as an official prop maker for this years Christmas production. This is very exciting and makes the last few years that I have helped out on a less official level, feel even more worth it. I have also spoken to some arty friends of mine who have been encouraging and offered advice.

As you may glean from reading more of my blog posts, my moods can be up and down. (Although I usually write a blog post when I’m feeling a little more positive.) My mind is prone to changing and I’ve got more on over the next year than I could begin to write here. (If you haven’t lost interest already you would by the time I had typed up all of my plans.)  I’m pretty sure there will be times that it I will question my sanity and feel like I can’t do any of it. But I can and I will.

I’m just going to leave you with a picture of another up-cycled artsy crafty thing I couldn’t help but make.

 

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Time to put the paintbrushes away..?

I’ve hit one of those times in life where I know I need to make some big decisions about what I am going to do and when I try to work it all out, I don’t think there’ll be much more time for making art…

This isn’t as doomy and gloomy as it might sound. It bothers me slightly, but I have been lucky so far to have had the opportunities  I have had, to have had art to help me and the tools to express myself. For the future of my family and myself however, I need to look at something I can do to support us consistently and to work through my fears, anxieties, and fluctuating self esteem. I have been in two minds whether I should share my plan or not – if i don’t succeed it might be all the more embarrassing. But  I don’t think many people actually read my posts so I think I’m quite safe and I wonder if putting it here in black and white will make it more real. Over the next year – I need to do a little bit more work to get get myself in a good and stable place mentally. I am taking positive steps towards this already but it is slow and wobbly progress. I aim to be the best Mum I can possibly be to my children to support them as they grow. Actually, that’s something I always intend but sometimes I need to stop and rethink how I am doing that one so that I can do a better job. I shall be looking after my niece and plan to do a pediatric first aid course.

I also plan to learn to drive, or, at the very least get some lessons. Anyone who knows me will know that for personal reasons this is a huge deal for me and I am madly nervous but need to give it a good go. This year will have its difficulties but every year does.

I also plan to apply for a primary PGCE.

I did this just after my BA, but it was very last minute and I wasn’t successful. At the time this was a bit of a blow and I took it as meaning that I wasn’t good enough, wasn’t capable, was a bit of a joke even. With a more rational perspective and one that is much kinder to myself I simply say now that I wasn’t ready. I still have moments and sometimes days or longer where I have incredible doubts about my ability to do anything well, but I know this is just me being my own worst enemy, and I need to distract myself from these thoughts until I can be more realistic, sometimes this involves getting outside opinions – outside my own head. I can do it.

I am nervous about becoming involved in education as it is in it’s current state, but I have hope that things can improve and want to learn all I can to be the best that I can. I’d love to be a part of changing things for the better. As a teacher, I would want every child in my class to believe in themselves. First, I need to believe in myself to achieve this.

Wish me luck.

 

 

Spring Forward

Last week we saw the clocks go forward. (Or rather complied in putting them forward in keeping with our bizarre methods of counting time.) Spring seems to be doing its thing and my cousin who also writes a blog and does arty stuffs reminded me of this space. (if you get a moment check out her blog too, listed in my followers or I think if you search for Corvidendron you’ll find it.) Any how, I guess it’s about time I awoke from my winter slumber.

I suppose the implication is that I’ve slept through the winter. I sometimes wish I could, but it’s actually been a busy one. In terms of creative endeavor There are a couple of things you might be interested to hear about –

Jess Caudery, Set Design
This seems like a bit of an over statement to me. I basically helped out with the Christmas show for my sons drama group. This involved making some shaddow puppets, securing some items to form part of the set, liasing with the drama teacher and a little prop making. It did feel good to see my name on the programme and Rosie from Acting Up has asked me to be involved with next year’s play so hopefully I’ll get the chance to do an even better job.

Not Just Jars…

…I think I may have mentioned somewhere in my last post that I had started trying out a new idea with upcycling jars. Well, I’ve been working pretty hard on this one trying to ‘perfect’ the product. I have been finding lots of reasons why the jars are not yet ready for craft stalls etc. I think it’s getting to the point where I just need to go for it – nothing ventured nothing gained, so they say.

How about a few pics?

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Shaddow puppets from acting up. Can you guess the play?
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Captain... Shaddow puppet

Some of my favourite jars so far

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What about the plants and the paper..?
I haven’t forgotten that I began my blog about papermaking and natural dye. This is not something I have forgotten and I’m pretty sure it is something I will come back to. As an artist, my ideas evolve and I have a tendency to go off on tangents so ideas are constantly changing. The jars still have the recycling element but other than that seem a million miles away from what I was doing last year. I just hope you can bare with me whilst I find my way. 

As always feel free to make comments.

Happy Spring.

Hybernation

I want to take this opportunity to thank my small but smashing group of followers.

I’ve not been able to spend as much time doing the blog thing as I would have liked and similarly have not been able to spend quite as much time making art as I would like.

It’s been an incredible roler coaster of a year. I have insisted on going for job interviews partly because I think I need to put myself through them to stay in practice. For me, interviews involve a huge battle with anxiety and low self esteem where by I literally have to argue with myself to make myself attend. I have been offered a job which I have realized I could not in reality have managed and therefore turned down. I have come very close to getting what have seemed like perfect jobs but not quite reached the mark. I have even faced some of my demons and attended an interview at my old secondary school – something I would never have imagined a few years ago.  Our new family has taken time to achieve a balance and understanding of each others needs – we are still not in a position where we can all live together which  takes its toll on all of us. I returned to work after maternity leave in the middle of August whilst family members were in and out of hospital. childcare has been a nightmare and my physical and mental health has been put to the test. I have now resigned from my work and am giving myself a little time to get my head together and to stay at home with my 9 month old and be around to help my much older 9 year old. (Yes he is 9 years old but I think he still deserves his mum in one relatively sane piece.)

I may put the odd post up but will be most likely keeping it to a minimum and preserving energy for the spring. I have a few project ideas involving recycled jars and lids but this is a digression – maybe I’ll keep you posted on my progress with this idea, please let me know what you think in the comments below. I’ve had to put paper making and dye on the back burner but let’s please consider this as a period of hibernation and and I’ll be back in greater force in 2016.

I’ll leave you now with a couple of autumn pictures from our garden. Because I can’t write a post and NOT include any pictures.

Peace. X
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When I’m Not Making – Art Is Always On My Mind

Sometimes I just don’t get the time to spend on making art, It is a fact of my life that there are times when other things take priority. For the past two weeks this has been the case but that does not mean that art isn’t on my mind almost all the time, or that I am  not receptive to creativity and inspiration. Quite the opposite infact.

Ideas and thoughts will pop up whilst I’m washing up or doing the school run. Sometimes they are quiet little thoughts but more often they are noisy and hyperactive – shouting and waving at me for attention. I might see a post on Facebook about an intriguing artist or topic of emotive inspiration that calls to be addressed via visual expression. But the baby needs feeding, the house is a tip and one of the cats has decided that actually they didn’t really want to be outside after all and is scrabbling away at the door- for the third time in half an hour. I must put my thoughts and ideas away until I have the time and energy to give them.

When I am unable to create, I am still collecting tea bags and flower petals for a future batch of paper and storing beetroot vinegar in a jar because I’ve not finished drawing with it yet. I must be a nightmare to live with because surfaces and drawers are covered and filled with things that might be useful. One day. My son tells me that I am a nightmare to live with, but only sometimes.

I would like to invite you – not just ‘creative’ people but anyone who can draw a comparison, to share in the comments bellow your experiences of being unable to spend time doing something you feel passionate about. How do you cope with this? Do you make it a priority to fit it in to your life or are you able to give up – temporarily or indefinitely, without too much bother when needs must? Do please tell.