Friday(ish) Poem(sort of)

IMG_6225 (Large)It’s no longer Friday, and this isn’t exactly a poem, but it’s been a busy week here in Canberra, playing with little Juniper and helping her parents pack up the house ready to move.

In the process of packing some books, I got, um, distracted by a magazine, and came across the Eric Fromm quote.

I copied it into the book l’m making – Make Art Not Craft – and followed up with some thoughts on abandoning certainty in being creative.

Sort of a poem…I bent the rules and messed with the pattern…

Creativity: Art Away From Home III


This is my mini-studio right now! I’ve been doing some small pen and wash type water colours when I get a moment. The family are moving to a new house on Monday, so I’ve been helping fill boxes, as well as spending time playing with young Juniper. Playing with a toddler is a lesson in creativity all by itself, of course. Watching her patiently repeating some task over and over and over should remind me that sometimes I need to do that, too!

I bought the card with a New Zealand artists work on it, and a red frame for it, for 50 cents each in an op shop/thrift store. there are a couple of swatches of kimono fabric stuck on the wall, too, as inspiration, but I’ll have to take them down again soon…

I’m having an obsession with paeonies at the moment, collecting images from magazines (look through home decorator mags, and count the paeonies! It’s not just me…). I’ve used one of those as model for the pale pink blooms, the deeper pink from a modern Japanese fabric print, and a piece of vintage kimono fabric inspired the other floral painting. It’s only 10 x 6 cm . I tend to work small, but not always that tiny.

The last image is of a page in the artist scrapbook I’m making, titled “Make Art Not Craft”, for which I am collecting artist’s quotes on creativity generally, and the difference (if any) between “art” and “craft”.

Click on an image for a better look!

Friday Poem: Brotherhood

The politics of this country is a sore point with me, more so than usual, as it is, I’m sure, for every disgruntled idealist, so I’m sharing a sort-of political poem this week. (I just typed “plotical” for “political’, which may well be a Freudian slip…) Please note that I use the term”anarchists” in the ancient sense that humans are able to behave decently (with peace, love and empathy) without needing rules imposed on them to do so. The more modern bomb-lobbing type misused the word to put themselves outside of the law and also the common decency originally implied…rainbow heart (Large)

Transcendental misfit poets
Wild softhearted anarchists
Strike a blow and strike a chord
With a paradox absurd.
what’s the point and what’s the matter?
Smug complacency must shatter.DSCF4507 (Large)

I suspect that creativity and art are the way to go in countering dominator culture. “Fighting” it is just joining in, so that doesn’t work.

“Ah, the dreamers  ride against the men of action, Oh see the men of action falling back…”

Leonard Cohen

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The images I’ve used are from mixed-media artists books I’ve made.

Creativity : Escape XXVI

Escape VIII

This page of my altered book “Escape” is dedicated to my favourite daydream/future plan – I’m not completely convinced that the universe will drop a craft cafe in my lap, but there’s no harm in trying, I guess!

The old text was obliterated with thick white acrylic, and pink and orange watercolour used over top of that. New text isemphatically written in black Sharpie. The old photo of two little girls is a sticker from a pack I bought in a “cheap shop” – it contained multiples of both photos and text stickers, including clocks, flowers, hearts and sweet old photos like this one. Escape IX

The stamps on these pages are ones I made, drawing the image on an eraser, and cutting around it with a set of Japanese wood carving tools. they’ve been hand coloured after stamping – especially the piece of chocolate cake.

The clock sticker is from the same pack as the little girls on the previous page. The cups, petit four and spoon are stickers – slightly 3-d – that I found (once again) in a cheap shop. They are very pretty and olde worlde. I bought a second pack when they reappeared in the store – I like them!Escape X I used a finer pen to write on this page – Do what your heart desires and walk only where you can see the the truth. Unfortunately, writing in black across a dark coloured cup stamp makes the advice difficult to read. Learn from my mistake, don’t do that! I should have either worked around the cup, using the pale background to write on, or used a lighter colour – perhaps a gel pen, for the text.

Creativity: Escape XXV

Here are a couple more pages from my altered book “Escape”.Escape V For years I have cut out and saved horoscopes from newspapers and magazines if something in them particularly appealed to me. This page has three which kind of relate to each other – with the parts that didn’t apply redacted with scissors. I especially like the notion that time is precious and therefore should be “wasted” on daydreaming! Most of the page is masked with a big yellow sticker, with lots of doodles filling in the margins.

Escape VI


The following page has a page torn from an art magazine – the featured work is of Maldon, an historic old mining town near my birthplace, Castlemaine. The quaint old buildings have been protected, so it is a popular tourist destination, with art galleries and interesting shops (including my sister-in-law’s Teddy and Me). For once I kept the name of the artist for future reference! I also preserved the words “happy”, happiness” and “Oh, yes” from the original text. The leading edge is bound with a strip of adhesive copper tape. It is sold under the name “Slugga”, and is intended for use in the garden, for deterring slugs. However, it is useful and pretty in an art context as well!Escape VII

Lastly for this week, a detail of the stamp near the bottom of the page. It came as part of a set of vintage-style travel themed stamps. The smudges of watercolour look much more interesting in close-up. It also reveals the texture of the old book paper.

More next week!

Creativity: Escape XXIV

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I’m not sure where I cut this quote from, or who is being quoted, which is very remiss of me, but I glued it into my altered book, “Escape” because I liked what was said. It hides under a photo of a red poppy, printed on vellum and hinged with silvery duct tape. The translucence of the vellum allows the text on the page beneath to be vaguely visible.

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I keep an eye out for interesting papers on which to print images as well as to use for making hand made books. Cheap shops sometimes have really good stuff, if you’re lucky and quick. I once bought 100% cotton rag copy paper in the Reject Shop, which photos print on beautifully. If only I’d known, I would have bought every pack they had…

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Behind the flower is this wonderful quote –  I found it in a book of artworks by musicians, which I borrowed from a library. Work by Chris and Curt Kirkwood, the “brothers Meat” also featured. I wish it was mine…I knew a woman many years ago who was in the habit of “losing” (ie keeping) books she wanted from the library. She paid for the “lost” book – probably the original price, not the market value of out-of-print rarities. The thought of her dishonesty and sheer gall still amazes me, because she was an otherwise respectable school teacher. Surely the Librarians figured out her little scheme after a few “losses”!

Creativity: Escape XXIII

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Back this week with my altered book, “Escape”. I am almost at the end of it, but not quite. The list on this page comes from Martha Beck’s book “The Joy Diet”, which has almost nothing to do with food, and everything to do with living a joy filled life (which is not necessarily the same as being happy all the time). All the original text was obliterated with two colours of acrylic house paint (sample pots rule!), and I’ve painted swirls of various colours of watercolour over the top of it. A bird sticker, from Kikki-K, completes the decoration, and then I wrote the list with a sharpie, using a playful style of lettering.DSCF9434 (Large)

The following page, also painted over, has an image torn from an art magazine stuck in the centre. I added earplugs and another skull to illustrate the ideas, plus a thought about Creativity versus Duty, which is my constant bugbear. There is quite a lot of colour on this page, but in random blocks, unlike the swirls on the previous page.

Creativity:Making a Book

I’m having a very quiet time in Canberra (or Canbrrr as I like to call it at the moment) with just my daughter’s three cats for company. With few distractions, the plan is to get on with some creative pursuits, and I packed accordingly. One of my projects is to make some more books, using the skills I learned from Adele Outteridge at Grampians Texture in March of this year. I had prepared the paper and card at home, making use of my guillotine to cut recycled paper packaging to size.IMG_4783 (Large)

All I had to do was fold and assemble the papers into sections before making the holes and then stitching them together.IMG_4789 (Large)

I used part of a paper bag as an end-paper at the front of my book. The bull dog clips are holding the freshly pasted layers together while they dry. I added a couple of stickers to complement the stamp already there.  IMG_4820 (Large)


I didn’t use an end paper at the back, partly because of the tape and sticker there from it’s previous incarnation as packaging, which I like the look of. I pasted on the disk, which was backing from the gold circle inside the front – which was itself  a leftover from an envelope seal…IMG_4818 (Large)

This page is a little short, a piece of the paper bag. I decided to turn it and the next page (heavy kraft paper from wrapping) into a pocket in which to store things like the business card you see peeping out. It’s from a business wittily called KimoYes, which is nearby. I used a glue stick along the two edges, and reinforced with staples.IMG_4817 (Large)

I’ve pasted a piece of handmade paper onto the front cover. The book is still a work in progress, but the basic structure is now in place.IMG_4793 (Large)

As it’s to be a sort of record of my stay, I’ve started to add some inspiring content. I found an appropriately worded horoscope and highlighted the bits I liked, then wrote those same words on the opposite page. For the record, I read another one for this same week that said I might be too broke to go anywhere and should just stay home!

Creativity: Escape XXII

. My father-in-law has died, 6 1/2 months after his wife, as often happens with couples who have been together for a long time – they had almost 66 years of marriage. He was in his 89th year, and in a state of health that makes it a blessing to quietly slip away from this life. However, there are extra things to do and think about, so this is just a quick post this week – one page of my altered book, “Escape”.Escape III (Large)The original text was obscured with a mix of three colours of acrylic paint. This is ordinary household paint – leftovers and sample pots – I believe in using what I already have whenever possible. My ‘note-to-self’ was written first in purple, with a narrow tip, and then redone with black, for a lively style of lettering. I believe that’s a pleasure-fairy in the top right-hand corner. I do get very frustrated at times when I don’t get enough time for working on/playing with my bright ideas- I need those days Home Alone to read, draw, sew or whatever it is this week! Sometimes putting it all off is inevitable – life gets in the way – but I know there are other days coming when I can catch up on myself and create something.

Friday Poem: Cake Man

I know nothing about this man, apart from what is in this poem. I wish I did – I’d like to know his story. Is he recently widowed, with no one to cook for him anymore – and did his late wife never let him have cake? Maybe he knows his days are numbered, and he’s eating cake while he can. If I ever find out, I’ll be sure and let you know…tea tray

An old guy
with a beard
somewhere between  hipster
and Santa
A peaked cap
on his old white head
In his 70’s
maybe 80’s
Hard to say
Looks pretty skinny
under his khaki jacket.

It’s the third time I’ve seen him
in here
In the bakery cafe.

His order each time –
An assortment of cakes and slices
This time I count seven
There might be eight
Hard to tell
with them all piled up on a plate
like that.

He has a mug of tea
not too hot
Today he has a meat pie
with sauce
which he eats slowly
with a knife and fork.

It’s not all about dessert.

I have to leave
before he gets to the cakes.oct2010 015 (Large)

This isn’t one of his cakes – it’s a dessert taco we invented a few years ago – but you get the idea!DSCF7091 (Large)

I’m an introvert – well over to that side of the scale. I guess that’s why I like the internet, and it’s also a reason for liking sitting on my own in cafes, with a coffee and a notebook (and maybe something sweet) close to hand. Sometimes all I write is lists of things I need to do, but if I’m lucky, and paying attention, I get to glimpse someone else’s life, and take notes.