Tuesday, June 29, 2010

All the sugar in the world

Milan Kundera in his Unbearable Lightness of Being gave a definition for kitsch that no one has yet managed to beat for me in good few years. I would love to quote here, but since I don't have the book on hand, you will have to trust my description or otherwise read the book yourself (bloody worth it!). So, according to the text, kitsch is nothing else that all the forced and acted emotions that are not really there, but we would oh-so-love them to be there. Like pretended friendship and generosity for a person you know would jump into your partner's bed at first chance. Like official parties where you actually hate all the formal bores around you, but hell, if you speak out you'll end up either socially anathemised or without a job. Like shop assistants smiling from ear to ear at your sight and jumping into their charming best when the only thing they think of is how long until their break. Like charity collectors, who give you long stories about suffering children but forget to mention that your donation covers also first class ticket to an exotic destination for a big fat company bonzo, who, when there, will indeed give a scrap to the kids and jog off to his company expense account 5 star hotel and golf tournament afterwards. Like...

Oh I know I'm balancing here on a line between kitsch and an outward lie, but more intimate examples are not something to put onto a public read. What I'm trying to say is that we seem to have a serious problem with admitting that the truth is not all sugar and glitter. And with accepting this fact. I'm so tired with people for whom everything is fab and brill and fantastic, no matter what you'll put in front of them. Example? Comments on any article in Etsy blog. Not that they are all there to get advertising, no, no...

The truth is out there? Not anymore, I sometimes think.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Supplies from around the world

Now, I bet I will get chastised by all the eco-conscious out there, but at least at the moment a good story is more valuable to me than environmental consciousness. Feel free not to like it if you so choose.

This story is to wonder about two things: how ideas materialise on their own if only you hang on to them and how each part of my new small project has a big story to tell.

I've been toying with the idea of making some business cards. Putting aside all the business advisors screaming it's a complete MUST, I felt that I want to have a little something with my name on it in case someone asks where to find me. I could write on a scrap of paper, but I will be much happier to give away a little pretty card instead.

I looked for ideas for a while, or, to be more precise, marked the project as 'open' and waited for ideas to flow in. And, slowly but surely, they did!

Now, I don't want to go into too many details - first of all, not to spoil the surprise, but also I have a feeling that the whole process, although unbelievably magical to experience, would be plainly boring to read. I'll just say that my supplies include an unusual gift from my sister from years ago, one thing travelling to me from Australia even now, another from UK and another freshly bought on yesterday's trip to Northern Ireland (man, that was a long drive..). Every single thing I'll be using in this project has a big story to remind me of and I'm sure it will change the energy of finished cards.

Well, I guess the only thing left to do now is to post the picture of it when ready. I'll try to do it in few more days, but I have to ask you for a little patience there.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Who likes ladybirds?

I have to confess something - few years ago I got a terrible ladybird fixation :).
It's not as strong as it used to be, but I still can't help smiling when I see one of those creatures. What had me so captivated? I don't have a clue, maybe the colours, maybe the fact that they are supposed to fulfill your wish, or any other reason I can't think of just now.
And finally the fixation proved useful - I have put ladybirds onto my freshly released pair of earrings. You can click here if you want to see more pics.
Ha, I'm really proud of this one!
Just curious what the reaction will be like.

Friday, June 25, 2010

And the answer is....

I was driving through Oughterard, Co. Galway, focused mainly on the road in front of me, when my passenger shouted - hey did you see the bells?
What the hell? I thought. Bells? Are we passing a church or something? Or was it a huge botanical speciman, big enough to spot from a speeding car?
A stop was ordered, a parking found and we went to investigate. And bells we did find! Huge pair of wind chimes, hung from two ancient trees in a roadside mini park. We tried them out and they sound just as well as they look.
What an extraordinary idea! I have no clue whose - if the maker or the idea giver ever happens to stumble upon this blog, I would be happy to hear from him/her. I bet there's a good story accompanying this one!
So here's the pic to answer my riddle. Note the troll bridge in the background!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Road trip discoveries

I've been driving around Ireland quite a lot recently.

First of all, I bought my first car and I'm enjoying the newly acquired freedom of travel. New possibilities opened up, but then - speed of moving around means that I'm not able to see things I would see if travelling on foot. Shame, but I believe some sort of equilibrium exists and I might find it one day. The best of both worlds...

My other reason for travelling is the endless hunt for inspiration and experience. Even if I'm not back home with a new idea (or materials!) for a project, there are always memories, little pictures in my head that are at least that tiny bit out of ordinary. And since I'm trying to be good and take my camera along (see my promise few posts back), sometimes I manage to actually transfer one of those pictures on the screen for other people to see.

So what IS pictured above? I'm wondering how much can be guessed based on the picture alone. The perspective is quite unusual and might make the riddle more challenging. If you guessed - ha, congratulations! If not - let me explain it all in the next post, more conservative pic and location included.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Mission accomplished

Castle day is gone and nearly forgotten now.

Among other things we had had an archery display and the tools of the trade are proudly displayed above.

21 kg draw strength bow made by Lukbis in Poland - piece of art in itself, even more stunning when actually put to work (although no, we did not hunt any tourists this time:).

My jewellery stall was not a success, I'm sad to admit, but muffins proved quite popular and made it worth my while.

Well, it's good to move on.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Muffin insanity

Another one of my how-to-live lectures? Naa, this time it's plain news.

I'm baking muffins for the open day up in the castle tomorrow. I'm a bit dizzy already and there are still another three batches or so to bake.. Well, I've heard of scrying with chocolate, maybe I'll invent falling into a trance with muffins tonight.

But there's so many yummy treats here! I've started with classics - blueberry and double choc, but then got more creative - almond (and I love almonds, so added twice as much as in recipe), banana + choc chips + roasted walnuts, spicy apple and I may even go as far as some peach and something muffins if I have any strength left.

Fingers crossed before the day zero!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Potato enlightment

I was reminded today how precious love is. Not the Hollywood-flick-pink-bubbles love, but the everyday, ordinary, down-to-earth kind. I realised how much I was missing softness and beauty in each act.

This happens sometimes, when I get carried away by the Ideas (capital I is essential here), and brain takes over all the energies. Ha, beautiful things can be created this way, but it's all sort of.. dry, lacking this particle of light, this quality of caressing peace inside. And this mode consumes loads and loads of inner fuel, and does it quickly, too. The way to keep going is to stuff oneself with movement, activity, excitement, the more extreme, the better. Some probably can work great in this pace - I know I can't. Not for long, too soon I'm out of breath and empty inside.

Then there's alternative - to infuse each act with soft, delicate love, or to be more precise - to open oneself and allow love to flow in. To put aside all the worries and ambitions, slow down and to focus on experiencing the love that's there anyway. Anytime. Sometimes difficult to achieve, but for me - priceless.

You don't need a prince charming to feel that, you don't need perfect body or a state of art house, you don't need a meter long list of success, nor any other of those things that mass media present as so desirable. You just need to go a bit deeper in and let yourself feel what's already there. Once I happened to fall into an all blissful state of this kind when... peeling a potato. Imagine that! Potato enlightment, sounds surreal, ha? But it only shows that there's love in even the most banal activities. And if you can laugh afterwards - even better.

I think it's extremely important to follow this energetical track when creating things. Probably beautiful objects can be made in all the other states of mind as well, whatever works for anyone in a given moment. But for me - I know I need a dip into this source. This is where I get the inspiration from, this is what translates making into pure joy and adds heart and soul to the tangible object I end up with.

Necklace Flower

A little something to be proud of.
This is a finished batch of my clay-seashell necklaces, made specially for the open day in Dunsandle Castle.
If there's any left over at the end of the day, they will go to etsy, although they may need to wait a little in the queue - still have lot of earrings to put up.
Making these was such a joy! The end effect surprised even myself. What started off as messing with what I had around at the time, ended in a coherent line of pretties to uplift everyone's mood.
I particularly love the way they look all together. Do you?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Monday bloody Monday

I'm not the greatest friend of Mondays even if I'm my own boss.

But today's share of work is done, two pairs photographed and up on etsy.

Magic of being seems to escape me today, so I'll let images talk instead of moaning on.

Here's more pics.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Writing vs photography

I guess I'm much more of a writer than a photographer.

I promised myself to update this blog fairly often and in my dream world a stunning picture would accompany every single post.
But then the reality sinks in and I find myself behind the schedule with no pics worth looking at.

For example - yesterday I went for another one of my shell-hunting expeditions, this time to Coral Beach in Carraroe. Place is unbelievable in its subtle beauty, no flashy colours or anything (apart from maybe the ever-present emerald green), but I bet the spirit of zen-like tranquility reigning there could be somehow translated into an image. Especially with a black-sailed ship passing by, the sails full of wind and water so blue...

But of course, I had to forget my camera.

Not the first time, as well. Actually, I forget the camera more often than not. Completely don't have a habit of taking it with me. I love travelling light, but well, some compromise needs to be put in place if I want to manage a decent blog. And a camera after all is not that heavy :P.

What I'm trying to say, getting distracted all the time, is that writing comes to me so much easier than taking pics. I could go on for hours at a keyboard but when it comes to photography I'm all forgetful and stuck up and need to actually make myself do it. It must have something to do with natural predispositions, I'm thinking - or maybe I'm wrong? Maybe all this happens because I DO have a habit of writing and I can't say the same on snap-snapping?

What do ya think?

That's my next plan: a bit of experiment on myself. I'm going to focus a bit more on taking pictures, spend more time on it, etc. and we shall see if it's going to get any easier with time.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Society overdose

Grrr, I've spent so much time with people recently that I don't know who I am anymore.

I'm not that good in setting my personal boundaries. More often than I would like to, I end up with people pushing their opinions, decisions, energies on me and it hurts. No amount of affirmations or self-conditioning seems to counteract it. It's like if I had some big open holes in my energy-body, through which all the rubbish from people around me gets sucked in. So I face a choice - either sterilise yourself, so that no feeling remains alive inside, or let it all get into you and spend loads of time and energy to get it out of the system later on. And you know what's the worst part? Most of the time I go out not because I choose to, but because I have to - to get some money for the bills, to satisfy one administrative office or the other etc.

And instead of slowly going the direction that may eventually free me from all that, I get fired by anger and burn some more.

I still have so much to learn.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Dunsandle Castle open day

An event coming up, and I'm going to stick my fingers in the organisation of it, so I thought I may just as well mention it here.

Dunsandle Castle is opening for the summer and does it in a big way. There'll be arrow shooting, sword banging, blacksmithing and castle touring, and I'll be there as well both giving tours and trying to sell/promote my creations.
The Big Day is Sunday the 20th of June and if you happen to be around and feel like jumping back to the medieval times, do drop in for a moment. Free entry!
Check out http://www.dunsandlecastle.com/ for more details.

Monday, June 7, 2010

She sells sea shells...

Still fighting with a bit of creative block (probably caused by too much time spent in the Big Busy World. Did you notice how this can kill any creative urge? If you did - you're sooo like me:).

But the time flies, and I start to miss the feeling of doing something with my hands. The first line in my collection - earrings - is done. Amazing how they got me burning, but when their time of fulfillment came - the ideas just stopped flowing. So now I have twenty-odd pair ready, half of which is up on the shop website, half still needs putting up (check it out from time to time, I take pains to update it every day or two), and the only things left to be dealt with are photography/marketing issues. Quite gripping in their own right, but with a completely different vibe.

I miss the other, trance-like feeling of actually MAKING something. I try to fill the gap with impromptu domestic projects - like baking a cake, for example. Last night - apple/peach shortbread tart, brimming with cinnamon and raisins, adapted from a recipe by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (check out his inspiring book The River Cottage Cookbook - I carried it with me even for field trips, at least for few good days) - yummy. And I enjoy it immensely. But still - I think the time gets slowly ripe to start on another finger-fiddly project.

I don't want to disclose too many secrets before anything is actually done, but just a bit to keep you hooked on - the ocean looks like my most likely inspiration. I've started on a series of hunting (mataphorically speaking..) - gathering expeditions, travelling all over Ireland from beach to beach, searching for different flotsam and jetsam specific to a particular area. Got good few handfuls by now (hopefully I'll manage to follow up with some pics soon) and there's more to come. Next destination - Coral Beach...

And of all that I'm planning to create something beautiful.

But for now - shh, let's not frighten the inspiration away! Let's allow it to mature in warmth and silence to see what will emerge!

Friday, June 4, 2010

De gustibus non est disputandum

Which means - you don't discuss personal tastes.

I won't, but I'm still amazed how different likes/dislikes people have.

I'm watching closely views in my shop, trying to see which pair proves to be most popular and more often than not it's the exact opposite of my favourites.

For example my non-marketing pair "A Moment of Sadness" which is my maybe least favourite of all beats records of popularity view-wise. How come?? And then again - the freshest design on the website, Chocolate Cross, is one of my picks of the whole collection (and I know them all, even the ones that have not yet been shown, ha!) and even so it is soooooooooooo slow to gather the views. Why does it happen? Search me.

Maybe my personal taste is much different than that of 'general public' (yeah, it gives me a slight smug feeling along the lines of 'how individual I am'...:), or maybe I gathered to little material for my statistics to come to any conclusions. But whatever is the reason, it's a pleasant surprise - funny to think that even the creations that I'm not exactly proud of can be seen by some stranger as perfect.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Soaring views

No, it's not about any fancy new ideology, it's just that last night seemed to add some extra charm to my creations, because views of each pair rose sky-high. Hardly any left now with 1-digit number of views! Makes me quite proud. Adds some motivation, because I'm hitting some sort of a slow-down in creative energies.

I've crafted twenty-odd pairs of earrings that now wait in the queue to be put on the web (and to be snapped with my faithful camera first...) and I'm a bit at loss as to what to do next. I started a new line of jewellery, bracelets this time, but making them somehow does not give me such a joy so I guess they will be discarded. I don't want to compromise my joy with any reasoning about market values and other - if it doesn't make you happy, it must be that bad - to paraphrase slighly Sheryl Crow's popular song.

It doesn't help, either, that I'm bound to fulfill my obligations with my old office and to work there few more days, starting tomorrow. Somehow all of my spirits sink at the very thought. Not that I have something against the place, it's just that it's so unlike me that it physically hurts to go there again.

Well, heavy armour on to survive next week and in the meantime - big hunt for fresh ideas! It's quite difficult to describe the process of brainstorming for new handmade projects. It involves going through all the different things I've ever tried to see what I feel like at the moment, and then thinking long and hard how could I enrich it, what fresh element I could add to make it something yet unseen. You need to get a bit crazy for that bit sometimes:).

But what a revelation when I hit the right one! Boost of energy that can last for weeks.
Fingers crossed!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Lilac for Luck

My latest addition to NoKitschProject on Etsy was inspired by lilacs. Well, May is already gone and I didn't think to snap proper photos when lilacs were in bloom. Above the flower I used instead, shape-wise nothing like lilac, but when you think of the colour...
Ha, to see the actual earrings you need to make a quick detour to the shop.
And when we're there - a question or a whimsical query of mine - have you ever heard of 5-petal lilac flowers being lucky? I've never met anyone who heard of it and I start to think it might've been my Mum's trick to keep me occupied for hours, me going through huge bunches of lilacs, counting petals flower after flower. Man, I must have found mountains of luck in those days:) Help me out (and save my Mum's reputation as a folklorist:)!