Friday, 26 January 2018

Cycle of life

I wrote and decorated this poem on Wednesday evening as part of a mindfulness and creativity workshop I was running.

It is dedicated to a dear friend who's husband is close to the end of life.

This cycle of life
essence of nature
Why do we resist it?
Why are we fearful?
Celebrate instead
the energy created
from this individual.

Celebrate each drop
each pulse of energy
drifting out in the universe
as floating embers
from a burning flame
touching hearts and minds
wherever they land.

How far do these pulses travel?
How wide does their influence reach?
This energy of love and peace
of vitality and curiosity
carried on the wind
as floating embers
from a giant burning flame.

© 24 Jan 18

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Glass soap dishes

In between all the excitement of water pebbles I took some time (with my son's girlfriend and her mum) to go back to the local glass-making workshop in Knaresborough.
This time to make some soap dishes!
In my endeavours to reduce the amount of plastic we use in the house we have stopped buying liquid soap  dispensers and instead reverted to organic bars of soap. This is fine, and they were sitting in lovely blue dishes, but the soap got all soggy as there was nowhere for the water to run away. 
So I decided to have a go at making some soap dishes with holes in, to let the water drain.
Having researched a bit, I discovered the way I wanted to try would be strips of glass to make a grid, so they retain the holes in between.
This was new to Jane so it took some thinking about as to how it would work.

 These were the first two, following a similar pattern or glass strips laid in a grid. We had the idea of putting small squares at the end of each strip to create a knobble. This was more successful with the green than blue, as you'll see later.

This was one gorgeous piece of glass with clear squares of glass on top and fibre squares underneath so the squares would emboss. We ended up doing this twice to make the raised squares more prominent.
Having made the first three (these are all pre being cooked in the kiln) and taking them home I discovered they were too big for the downstairs loo, so went back to make another smaller one.

And here it is. The shards at the end of each strip are the ends cut off the blue one, as they didn't work once cooked.

This is the blue one cooked, pre slumping (to give it a bowl shape). 
Although it looks lovely I wasn't happy with the pieces at the end, which hadn't 'knobbled' as we expected and were too prominent. They came off and became the knobbles for the small one above.

The green one cooked but not slumped.

And finally, each soap dish in it's final resting place.

The blue one next to the kitchen sink.

The green one by the bath.

The purple one in a brand new en-suite.

And the small one in the downstairs loo. Sitting very neatly between the taps!

I'm really happy with how they have all turned out, and had so much fun exploring this with Jane. She's great to work with!
#mindfulnessandcreativity #glassmaking #playing #saynotoplastic

Friday, 12 January 2018

Water pebbles - breathe

I have since been exploring combing calligraphy with the water pebbles. I had some time on a retreat in October to play with this idea and a create a large piece, A2 size, based on the calligraphy breathe.
As I discovered on a workshop recently, with this type of calligraphy I find it easier to form the letters from right to left, working backwards and starting with the last letter. Obviously this is very counter-intuitive, so takes some thinking about and planning where to start!
I began with the word breathe, and played with the images around it.

1st stage!

2nd stage, creating the pattern before the fun of the water pebbles.

And then the water pebbles begin. 
On this one you can see the water droplets have only just gone onto the paint, and aren't yet really taking up the colour beneath. To the left of each droplet you can see the reflection passing through the water from the window.

This now shows half the image covered with water pebbles.

And now complete with the first stage of droplets.
Because some of the coloured dots and swirls were so close together I couldn't put the water droplets on them all at the same time as they would just merge together.

Stage one complete and dry.

And now the whole piece complete having gone over with a second stage of water droplets. 
Although it looks really interesting, to be honest, I wasn't pleased with how the spirals turned out, but this is all part of the experimentation, as I couldn't predict what would happen beforehand.

To me, these are the really interesting photos, close ups of the water pebbles 
with these below following the shapes of the spirals.

#mindfulnessandcreativity #waterpebbles #playing

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Water pebbles circle

Lots of glorious colour in the fabulous technique of water-colour pens and droplets of water, which I am calling water pebbles.

This circle is 14cm in diameter and shows the image drawn/painted and partly covered by water droplets. 

Here's a close up of the circle once all the water droplets are in place, picking up the colours of the paint. I love the way some droplets merge and collect more than one colour (this looks better wet than dry, as once dry it becomes a bit of a muddy brown!)

Here's the finished image.
Lovely though it is, I still feel the wet images are for more beautiful!

And them I experiments a bit with swirls of colour rather than just dots. 
This is the completed image still wet.
This circle is 21cm in diameter.

A close up of the image with water droplets on it.

And the image dry.

#mindfulnessandcreativity #waterpebbles #playing

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Mindfulness and creativity workshops

2018 is going to be a big creative year for me, I'm sure!

Not only am I offering an 8-week course in York Art Gallery
I'm also offering evening workshops at my house 
where each session we explore a different craft-based creativity, all supported by mindfulness.
So what's the difference between any creative class and one based in mindfulness?
Well. for a start there won't be a radio or music on in the background, 
as I find this a distraction rather than a help.
We begin with a mindfulness practice that sets the tone for the session
then proceed to different creative crafts
where we work quietly and gently, exploring together.
The stimulus for each session is one of playfulness rather than having to produce something.
All creativity involves an openness to what is in front of us, noticing what is present 
which is why we use the term ‘more curiosity than fear’.

There will be time for a tea break and questions or discussions as we go along
but the emphasis for each session is a mindful awareness of what is going on, 
maybe working with doubts that arise about our abilities,
 judgements about what we are producing or
comparing ourselves with others.
 These are not just ‘have a go’ sessions, but a chance to deeply explore creativity from a present awareness.
Session 1: Playing with words, including a creative writing exercise 

Session 2: Playing with paper, including making a card or simple concertina book

Session 3: Playing with colour, including a technique with watercolour pens and water droplets.

Session 4: Playing with pattern, including a contemplative exercise exploring pattern-making

Session 5: Playing with words II, including exploring a meaningful word or emotion from a creative perspective.

You can attend one session or sign up for all 5, but booking is essential, 
so please follow this link for more information and booking via Eventbrite. 
Evening sessions are Wednesdays, starting on January 24th, 6.30 - 9pm.
#mindfulnessandcreativity #playing #yorkmbsr #ncmc #waterpebbles

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Water pebbles - discovering a new technique

Not entirely sure what to call this technique, which I fell upon by accident as I was searching for an idea for our Christmas card. I have a set of water-colour pens that I bought after the recent calligraphy class, thinking I would use them for lettering, but instead stumbled upon the idea of drawing small coloured circles, like large dots and dropping individual droplets of water on top. Somehow, and I don't have enough know-how of physics to explain, but something to do with the paper, the water droplets stayed where they were and took several hours to soak into the paper. In the meantime they took up the colour underneath and produced this amazing effect, that looks likes pebbles of glass.

This one was the first attempt and the happy accident that led to lots of exploring and beautiful colours. 

These two are close ups of the wet design that became our Christmas card. 
It's quite unpredictable as it's difficult o control where the droplets of water go, and sometimes they merge into each other, bringing two colours together.

This is the image dried. I left it overnight to ensure all the water droplets were dry, so it was exciting to check in the morning and see how it had ended up.

And this is the final image for our card, with a bit of left-handed calligraphy underneath.

I must say I prefer the image wet rather than when it has dried. But of course it doesn't stay like that! It has produced some amazing photos though. More to come!
#mindfulnessandcreativity #waterpebbles #playing

Saturday, 30 December 2017

Harry Potter party

On 27th December we had a Harry Potter party.
This started with Hogwarts acceptance letters (invitations) sent by Muggle post.

Sealed with a Hogwarts seal and wax (bought from Ebay)

The letters were addressed with New font, downloadable and easy to find on Pinterest. It's wonderful that so many people have done the hard work first to find fonts and everything needed for a Harry Potter party! :)
Each letter had instructions to turn up dressed in robes (no Muggle clothes) and included a printed Hogwarts Express ticket.

For the day itself there was a display of potions in appropriately grubby bottles with a variety of carefully selected contents.

Other potions featured in Madame Rosmerta's Bar.

Honeydukes was also represented with a fine selection of sweets

And Floo powder ready and waiting by the fire

Guests were (L-R) 
Back row- Harry, Hedwig, Dobby, Dumbledore, Professor McGonagall, Rita Skeeter, Prof Trelawney, Ginny Weasley, a Dementor and Harry (number 2).
Front row - 2 golden snitches, Voldemort, Bellatrix Lestrange (x2), Luna Lovegood.
Some very inventive costumes here!

First stop was Ollivander's Wand Shop with a light to test if the wand was correct (the wand chooses the wizard after all!) If it was the 'right' one, the light came on with the Lumos spell.
The wands were collected by my husband (Dumbledore!), sanded and varnished.
Then the games began!
We had Hogwarts Bingo to introduce people to each other - we had to go round and collect each other's names for our own Bingo sheet.
Then we were sorted, not by a hat but a bag, which had coins in for each house.
Sorting coins

Team games were 
Duelling (each team has to name a magical creature in turn, then a Hogwarts Professor)
Library quiz - naming quotes from the books and completing quotes
Accio Butterbeer - dropping a wand into a beer bottle from a chair, not as easy as it sounds!

Cards in the cauldron - a very simple party game of aiming to get cards into a cauldron; 10 points for the cauldron and 5 for getting them on the paper round the cauldron.
Charms & spells - matching the spells to their descriptions.
Who's in the Cauldron? was the final game. A team game based on Charades where one team member draws out a name and has to describe them without saying the name. Round two is miming the person - very difficult when they are all connected to Hogwarts! Round three is one word to describe the person!

We even had a suitably Hagrid-style birthday cake.

A lucky dip gift for the end of the evening, filled with a Harry Potter keyring or necklace. The bags were made from Marauders' Map paper.

Great fun was had by all. It was a lot of fun planning and arranging everything, and on the day everyone chipped in to help get it all in place. 
We had some pumpkin pasta to eat, but that was insignificant compared to the laughter all through the evening. As I've said before, all the ideas were collected from Pinterest, and I have created a board called Harry Potter themed party. 

And finally, a sad little picture from the morning after! 
(Hope it's not too traumatic for Harry Potter fans!)