Love, creation, and the textures of life

2 03 2014

Yesterday I went to an opening at my very favourite gallery, Swoon. It is a smallish gallery to look at, crowded into a house, spotted by its huge pink sign on Hammonds Plains Road. Without the sign, you’d drive on by, assuming the house was merely a home of someone with eclectic tastes in outdoor sculpture.

Inside is a texture- lover’s paradise. I can hear my father’s voice telling me to “look with my eyes”, but I can’t. There are luscious pottery mugs, earthen ware ones beside thin thin deliciously wobbly lighter ware. There are rough raku pieces, their metallic sides calling for a touch. I meant to buy a smoke-fired vase there yesterday but was too dazzled to remember – I’ll simply have to go back, soon.

Ceramic geese women, dressed in bathing suits, lounge on the antique furniture, the wood gleaming and caressable, history in every line. Crows and squashy pottery animals with haunted eyes peer out from china cabinets.

Upstairs, vintage clothing hangs out with shoes made of melted records, salt and pepper shakers of every kind trot along shelves, and folk art carvings make visitors laugh while they cuddle the stuffed animals made from reclaimed wool. There’s a dragon in that room that desperately wants to come home with me…

In another room, felted household objects lead you to carved tree roots that are so smoothly turned that your hands cry out to cup them, stroke them, hear the tree stories through your fingertips.

And everywhere on the walls, spectacular art: etchings in one room, encaustic oils and watercolours in the upstairs bathroom, acrylics here and there, hung to optimally show their colours and lights.

In the hallway, paintings of sea creatures that never were enchant the eye and cause a smile.

On the main walls this time, a wonderful display. The challenge: copy in rug hooking a painting or art object previously on display at Swoon. The results? Fantastic! Such creativity in choice of materials for hooking, such patience (many of the rugs were hooked with tiny tiny width wools), such wonderful mimicry! The original art chosen, splendid in its own right, was enhanced and reinterpreted in the hooked interpretations.

I couldn’t help myself. I touched everything. I’m sorry, artists of Swoon, and Brandt. But it’s your fault. Everything is so touchable.

And now I feel like ripping out every rug I’ve done and starting over, trying again for the right colour, the right feeling, the best it can be.

See, the worst thing about Swoon is that I’ve tried most of the art techniques demonstrated to such a high level in the gallery. I’ve tried them, so I know how much work and thought and time and practice it takes to make them so good.

I know there’s not enough time left in my life to get anywhere close to such mastery, but that won’t keep me from trying, in some areas at least.

Thanks for the inspiration, the feelings, the utter joy….

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Hooking my way through the year…

28 01 2014

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I’ve recently started rug-hooking. It’s the thing these days, post crewel embroidery…
I sit in my living room, decorated by the crewel panels my mother did, copying her activity, only I pull little loops through the linen with a tiny hook instead of passing a needle through.
It’s part of my fibre education – sewing, embroidery, needle felting, wet felting, knitting, now hooking. In some future time, I’ll combine all I’ve learned and make large lumpy installations to give to unsuspecting friends…mwah hah hah
In the meantime, I’m taking baby steps. Learning each skill in turn, sort of. Sampling the feeling of the different techniques, getting fingers poked and soaped and covered with bits of wool. Now I’ve entered a contest through Encompassing Designs, a corner of rug hooking paradise in Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia.. Every month, the shop owner and designer sends out a pattern. We hook it as we like, send in a photo. As you can see, the resulting rug will be huge. The thought terrifies me.
But the square for this month? Not so big. I can do it.
So, month by month, I’ll bite off a little chunk of the rug and work it through.
Now, if only I could take this approach to the rest of my life. Instead of looking at the whole picture and either leaping or panicking, maybe I could take it one square at a time?
Nah. Where’s the fun in that?





The pettiness of the long-distance writer…

21 01 2014

Oh, I’m so fed up. With myself, with my not-writing, with this foolishness that I assign myself only to fail.

I find myself avoiding reading reviews of new books because the bitterness of “I shoulda been a images-11” is so strong, though I know full well I don’t have the stick-to-itiveness to finish my writing projects. I read about award winners and hiss inwardly through my teeth, begrudging other writers their moment in the sun, chewing on the regurgitated bile of my not quite able to pull it together dreams.

It’s bloody sickening. Originally, when I felt this feeling coming on, I decided to give myself a three-month writing fast, just so I could ENJOY reading again, stop doing the back-seat driving thing, just enjoy the road, wallow in others gift. And then I found myself signing up for things, giving myself deadlines that I could fight against again, setting myself up to fail and getting angrier at myself all the time.

Yesterday, I gave in. I spent the day playing with felt, hooking rugs, practicing my ukulele. In the evening I dipped my reading toes into the unexpectedly and thrillingly charming “The Elegance of the Hedgehog”. I laughed, I found myself in a local Chapters store reading silly joke books and crafting books and just plain enjoying myself. It was a great day.

And no writing.

I think I may have to do it again.





Starting anew

23 05 2013

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I’m working on a new project. Im making a hooked rug to act as a headboard for my bed.
It’s starting slowly, like many new projects – I’ve got the idea but it hasn’t quite gelled completely, so, as with my writing projects, I’m procrastinating…
I know what the problem is – I’m not sure I have enough yarn to do the sky and sea I have planned.
Again, it reminds me of writing. Always when I start out, I’m not sure that I have enough story to run to the end, enough richness to fill the pages and round out the characters and make it all mean something.
So eventually I have to plunge in, gritting my teeth, hoping I can find my way, link up my scraps of yarn to make a picture that will be worth the hours of work it will take me to complete.
Still, at least when I’m done, I don’t have to send this in for publication.
Small mercies….





Piecing together a creative life

13 01 2013

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I’ve always known that my life would be a tapestry, as Carole King sings. Once I thought I might like to be a doctor, but I knew that focused a life was not for me. I want diversity in my life, a muddle of alternate activities, a variety of sources of joy.
For a while there, I called myself a ‘jack of all trades, master of none’ – because I try things for awhile until I know how to do them, then move on to another challenge.
But I think there’s another way to look at this. I’m managing to piece together not only a life filled with new learning (which I learned today can alter your nerve synapses throughout your life), but I’m also doing research for writing.
I’ve never been the kind of gal who can just slice open a vein and pour the writing out, not without filling myself up first.
So I play some ukulele, do some rug hooking, walk on the beach, swim my laps, take courses.
And then my creative mind is full to bursting and I can let it out. And I find that while I am doing all these other things, my inner self has straightened out plot points or sorted out my thoughts. It’s magic!!
So, my suggestion to anyone feeling blocked out there is to patch together a creative life of your own. Do something physical, large motor – or mindless and repetitive so your inner wheels can spin.
Life is so rich and full of creation. Wallow in it.








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