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…

The Vagaries of Light

Colour.  It’s part of our daily lives.  Whether we pay much attention to it or not, it’s there, all around us, in everything.  We might only engage with it when we’re deciding what to put on in the morning, or perhaps when picking out paint or soft furnishings or plants for the garden; or we might spend quite a lot of time making decisions about it as artists or crafters.  One way or another it finds its way into every part of our lives, moving us, challenging us to feel something about it.

I have often wondered why it is that colour can have such an effect on us and why that effect can be so powerful; why colour or combinations of colour can fill us with such joy or so utterly repel us and why these effects seem to differ from person to person.  For instance, why do people have ‘favourite’ colours?  Why does one person revel in fluorescent pink while another feels more at home with a soft warm brown?  You only have to sit outside on a busy street watching passers by to see the diversity in this thing we call taste.  Of course there may be other factors involved in some of the choices we make about such things – sadly, fashion, magazines and TV seem to have an every increasing influence on our decision making – but I would like to think that for most people there is a bottom line of ‘do I like it?’. Read more…

Head, Hand and Heart: Perfect Imperfections

How many of you who have taken a trip to the Post Office recently have noticed the new Royal Mail issue of stamps entitled ‘Morris & Company’?

The set is very attractive and features work from the latter half of the 19th Century by William Morris, Philip Webb, John Henry Dearle, Kate Falkner, William De Morgan and Edward Burne-Jones.  As the handmade craft movement within the UK would probably not exist in its current form without these pioneers and others like them, I thought I would use this post to write a little tribute!

Morris & Company was a reincarnation of an earlier design firm called Morris, Marshall, Falkner & Company.  The earlier company, set up by Morris and some of his Pre-Raphaelite colleagues set out initially to make ‘fine art crafts’, in stained glass, embroidery, architectural carving, tapestries and furniture.   At first the firm produced much of its work for ecclesiastical purposes, playing a role in the widespread church restoration projects that were ongoing at that time.  As the business progressed however, more work for private customers was undertaken in an increasing range of mediums, producing many of those famous designs that are still sold today as fabrics and wall papers and embroideries. Read more…

Blackbird Singing In The Dead Of The Night…

One of the things that inspires my creative work most of all is Nature. That’s everything, from the dramatic hills and moorland of the Peak District where I live, to the tiniest bugs that I find wandering around in the grass on my lawn (though sticking my toes in an ants’ nest the other week didn’t generate quite so much affection!!).  I can’t get enough of the green stuff and having finally escaped many years of town centre life a few years ago, I’m not sure I could ever go back to that now.

I grew up in a quiet village called Prestbury on the edge of the Cotswolds in Gloucestershire and spent my childhood running around in fields and woods. One of my most treasured childhood memories is of standing spellbound on the edge of the trees as I watched a wild deer grazing in the sunlight that had made its way through a glossy canopy of Beech leaves. The magic and tranquillity of that scene kept me returning to that place throughout my life, right up until I left the area. Read more…

The Creative Drum: Finding Our Natural Rhythm

I was feeling a bit unsure of what to write about this week. I had lots of ideas in my head but was struggling to pick one and settle on it. In the end it was a great post from The Butterfly Hobbyist on ‘craft block’ that helped me make my decision. As I commented on that post I found myself writing about something which had been on my mind to blog about, so here we are .

I’ve called this post ‘The Creative Drum’ because I believe that we all have a natural creative rhythm and that when we find it and listen to it then we can get the most out of our working periods. I might be wrong about this, it might just be me – everyone’s different – so feel free to disagree! It’s just that I’ve watched so many people sweating over what they perceive as a block, that I’m convinced that what we need is a mind shift in the way that we look at it. 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…

My Influences: Part 1: ‘Sons and Lovers’ by D.H.Lawrence

D.H. Lawrence

Well, I thought I’d have a go at writing some blog posts about those things that have influenced me as a person as well as my creative development. As I thought about this I found myself looking back and asking myself what had really had a big impact on me, what had gotten under my skin and stayed with me.  I don’t mean under my skin like a mite, more like…hmmm, I don’t know… perhaps like a hormonal implant; something that sends out messages all over your body and changes the way you feel about the world (yes, okay, I was struggling for an analogy there, but as it happened that one didn’t do toooo badly ;)). I could think of lots of things that I had enjoyed looking at, reading, listening to throughout my life; a string of new discoveries that had all fed into my creative process, but this wasn’t quite what I was looking for. I was looking for those ‘wow’ moments when the light bulb goes on and you either can’t pull yourself away from something or you want to rush out and research everything you can on it.

The first time I remember this happening to me in any kind of serious way was at school when we read D.H.Lawrence’s ‘Sons and Lovers’ for an English class.  Up until that point, we had read lots of books that I will always remember: George Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm’; Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth’; Jane Austen’s ‘Northanger Abbey’; Harper Lee’s ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’; H.G. Wells’ ‘War of the Worlds’, and many more, but this book – ‘Sons and Lovers’- changed everything. 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…

Making Odin

Well, the bank holiday weekend brought with it some fresh inspiration, or perhaps simply the impetus to act on an idea that had been swimming around in my imagination for a while now.  I decided to tackle a new figurine in clay, this time Odin, the All Father from Norse mythology.

Odin is considered the ruler of the Asgard realm, home to the Aesir Gods within the Norse pantheon.  He rules from Valhalla, whose halls house fallen warriors, lifted from the battlefield by the Valkyries.  From his throne he is able to look out across the nine kingdoms of the Norse cosmos, and with the help of his two ravens – Hugin (thought) and Munin (memory) – he is able to know all that happens across these realms. Read more…

New beginnings

So… my very first post on this new blog!  It seems so much is new at the moment.  I feel like a seed that is slowly germinating, sending out my roots and shoots, making my way to the surface, poking my head up tentatively to breathe the fresh air and feel the sun on my face.   Read more…

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