Archive for the category “Materials & Resources”

Beauty and the Blade

Do you have a favourite tool? We seem to write so much about what we make but not about the tools that we use to make it with.  As a lover of  creative making, I also love my tools.  Whether it’s a crochet hook, needle, scissors, jewellery pliers, rubber kidney, scalpel, wooden or metal modelling tools, rolling pin, chisel, sieve, stamps, cutters, burnishing stone, sewing machine, hammer, paintbrush or any number of other things, tools are crucial to whatever I am making.  Tools are not like materials that are depleted as they are used, but through using and looking after them they become our steady creative companions that will see us through project after project, that feel familiar and comfortable in our hands.  Eventually, with much use and practice, we (hopefully!) develop enough skill to become one with our tools, directing our intent through them as an extension of ourselves, allowing us to focus fully on the piece that we are making. Our bodies learn them, the way that we need to move them, the exact amount of pressure, the specific angle to achieve our desired result. It becomes so second nature that it is only when we have to replace a favoured old tool and pick up a new one that we will feel the very subtle differences: perhaps a slight difference in the weight, or that little imperfection that you got so used to working around which is no longer there.  It can take a while.

I used to have a favourite wooden modelling tool that I used all the time in clay work.  To an outside eye it looked like a wooden stick carved into a point on one end and a flat surface on the other.  I never used to think about how I used it.  Then one day it disappeared.  I hunted high and low for it but in the end realised that somehow, inexplicably, I had managed to lose it.   So I bought a new one.  It looked the same on the outside, but when I picked it up it was not the tool I had lost, it felt different in my hands, I did not feel that same connection to it.  Over time, the new tool became as comfortable as the old one, but it made me think about the relationship between makers and their tools and the process we go through in learning to use a new one. Read more…

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John Barleycorn Must Die

I seem to have developed a complete inability to finish anything at the moment. Not sure why that should be, but this is about the 5th blog post I’ve begun in recent weeks, so I hope that I will find my way to the end of it this time.   If you’re reading this then yay, looks like I made it :D.  So what to write about? Well, the focus of my days over the past week or so has been wheat. Or more specifically gluten, one of its proteins.

I won’t bore you with the frustrations of dealing with GPs, but suffice to say, that many months ago I had become very unwell and had started to strongly suspect that I had a bit of a problem with eating gluten. Rather than continue to endure it over the months it took to get an appointment with the right person, I decided to help myself, so I cut it out of my diet to see what would happen. After a few months I felt soooo much better and was really starting to feel more like myself than I had done for a long time: my symptoms were disappearing, I was exercising again, my energy was coming back more and more as the weeks went by. Yippeeeee I thought! So you may be able to imagine how dismayed I was a couple of weeks ago, to be told that I needed to be tested for a condition called Coeliac and that the preparation for this test would mean going back to a gluten diet on what they call ‘the gluten challenge’. Read more…

Supporting Handmade However It’s Made

It’s that time of year when I’ve been thinking about my direction again. As some visitors to my Facebook page will know, autumn seems to do this to me. The chaos of life undoing itself before my eyes makes me look to my own life and question, question, question. It can be unsettling but is part of a natural process and I trust that the other side of this seasonal transition will bring a certain peace. However, this year some of my internal leaf-wrenching is amplified because I am reflecting and trying to make a decision about my own position within a situation that has brought a lot of anguish to a lot of people. It seems the autumn storm has been howling loudly over at a certain art & crafting marketplace recently and while I have held back from getting involved with the heated debate in the forum, I have been watching, incredulously, at some of what has been going on. Read more…

Beads of Destiny: Recycling the Dream

Do beads have a destiny?  I think so.  Whether they are round or flat, thick or thin, long or short, huge or tiny; whether they are clay or wood or plastic or gemstone; whether they have a wide hole or a tiny hole; whether they are threaded onto wire or ribbon or chain or cord; they are all made with a purpose.  A purpose to be threaded or sewn with others of their kind and to live out their days in happy communities, loved by their owners and dutifully cared for.  Just take a look at these happy wooden and bone beads from my Etsy shop.  Here you can see them living out their beady destiny, just waiting for a new owner to take them home and love them :):

Ethnic Recycled Wood and Bone Bead Necklace – click picture for more info

But what happens when things go wrong?  What happens when those happy beads are neglected, unloved, or worse…I shall whisper this in case they hear me so come a little closer to your screen and cover the ears of any innocent beads that might be nearby…what if the owner of that little family decides upon a course of total abandonment and actually gets rid of them altogether?  And what if, instead of finding them a new home to move to where they will be loved and allowed to continue living out their destiny as a beautiful necklace or a delicious pair of earrings, they are simply thrown in the bin?  Well, unfortunately I can answer that question because this is what happens: Read more…

The Lost Art of Rummaging

A few days ago I paid a visit to my local craft shop in Glossop, this being the Glossop Craft Centre based in Smithy Fold near the town centre.  In fact here, let me show you a picture of it:

Glossop Craft Centre

As you can see from the array of tables, boxes, bird tables and parasols outside the front door, this is no modern craft superstore (such places shall remain nameless though I’m sure you know the kind of store I mean ;))!  Tucked away in a cobbled side street, this little shop could not be accused of attempting to lure the unsuspecting crafter through its doors with promises of shiny wrappers, pristine shelves and grossly overpriced merchandise.  No, Glossop Craft Centre has not succumbed to trickery and superficial gimmickry, or possibly even to the 21st century!  Instead, upon passing through its doors one finds oneself gifted with the now increasingly rare pleasure of ‘rummaging’.  Read more…

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