Thursday, October 17, 2019

Thursday Thoughts...

"Reading transforms the human brain, which transforms the mind, which transforms the life of every reader". 

Dr Maryanne Wolf and Dr Mirit Barzillai

There is a part of me that is interested by transformations from one thing to another.  For example, I recall how thrilled I was when I understand the notion that data when interpreted becomes information which when considered and applied becomes knowledge...

And so it appears to be for reading as well - that reading can impact the brain; which them impacts the mind which then impacts a life.  I wouldn't dare suggest I understand what the mind really is, but there is clearly something that makes it different to a brain. It is more than the brain, it is somehow very personal and it brings together extra elements.

To know that reading isn't just a process of data in data out; that it can and does affect an individual's view point and thoughts and perceptions is wonderful, and to realise how that can change lives - well yes!

Reading a landscape.

This image from Crask, looking over the amazing blanket bog of Sutherland, just seemed to say that this becomes that, then the next layer emerges, and you see beyond and then...


Tuesday, October 15, 2019

The coasters...

I mentioned before that art-wise, this trip has been a fair bit about preparation - making  things and testing things and setting in motion some ideas for artworks, without getting stuck in and actually producing much.

On the other hand, I had done a small bit of preparation before I left Australia, thinking it would be good to have a sewing project on hand whilst I was here; and because of function, I decided to make a set of six coasters by hand.

It was an organic process - I had my squares cut and trimmed, and I had my threads, but beyond that not much was known or planned.

I have enjoyed the practice of randomly stitching within a structure and with purpose; and have been focussed this week on getting them finished before we head back.

The last of the internals almost finished.

Six coasters with their patterns stitched.

The first of the borders which joins tops and bottoms.

A completed first border.

A second border underway...

A couple of two-border ones done; with a bit of fraying begun.

Ta-da. Six completed coasters.

So, there are 6 new coasters to leave at the cottage, and to be used when we next return.  Of course, as I look a them I can already see how I could add something more to them and it feels like I might have another wee project waiting for me on our next visit!

Even as I type, three of the coasters have a glass of red wine on them, so they are being used already. Good news.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

A fun find!

When Barry I headed to Shetland a few weeks ago, we crossed to Orkney via ferry before flying onwards.  As we wandered the streets of Stromness on a Sunday afternoon, we saw a wee sewing machine in the window of a charity shop.

Of course, it wasn't open so we smiled and thought no more of it.

Until we returned and had an hour or two to wander before the ferry brought us back to the mainland...

The sewing machine was no longer in the window, but Barry asked me to humour him by going in to ask about it.

As fortune would have it, it was out the back, with a sign saying - needs repair.

For £5 Barry figured we couldn't go wrong, so we exchanged a fiver for a wee Singer Featherweight!

It came back to the cottage with us and we tried a few things to get it going.

I found a manual on the web; so printed it out and we set to thinking about.  We watched a few YouTubes as you do - not that there are many for this funny little model.

Barry worked out how to pull it apart and set to oiling things, tightening the stitch length lever; getting the thread to wind onto bobbin.  So we were making progress.

It had come with all the kit - a nice box with bobbins and feet and screwdrivers.

The tiny foot pedal which is either off or on - none of this gradual increasing pressure to ramp up the speed or decrease it.

This is how you control the speed - it is either off, slow or fast. Simples.

The detachable cotton reel holder feeds from the back...

But still, it made wretched screeching noises when one actually tried to sew.

Barry yarned to a guy and ordered a new bobbin case.  I spoke to the nearest sewing machine repairer who is 31/2 hours drive away and we contemplated the value of a long round trip and repair costs for a £5 machine...

We persevered and read the manual one more time and adjusted the stitch tension as a last resort and bingo! that made a difference.

The underside showing some terrible looping and lack of tension.

We fiddled with it a bit more and think we have actually got the wee machine up and running again!

Happy dance all-round.

So, now we have it set and sorted and ready to go I might be able to sew on it the next time we visit.

For scale - here it is next to a small apple and a kettle!

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Thursday Thoughts...

"Capital wants us to believe we are what we sell. But we are what we give away."

Jorge Reichmann

I think I like this one because it focuses on the notion of giving things away.

Over time I have come to realise that the character trait I admire most in people is generosity. Generosity of spirit enables so much; it shares so much, it is so open and honest.  It is just a marvellous thing to come across and I have found it in so many of my friends.

It is the exact opposite of meanness and competitiveness.

Generosity of spirit manifests in every aspect of a person's being,and they bring it as an approach to nearly everything they do.

He suggests that the true spirit of a person is found in what they give away. For me, it may not actually be the 'what' but more perhaps in the action - simply that they give.

They may give time, they may give humour, they may give money when its needed, they may give baking, they may give labour, they may give what they can.  But it is there in the fact that they give.

You know them...folks with hearts that give.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Peace persisting

A few weeks on from International Day of Peace, it is nice to know that some of the peace weather-grams and doves are still holding dreams of peace.

The winds have been pretty strong at times so I have been amazed to wake and see them flying still; however they took a battering on the weekend and only one or two still fly...

The tradition of remnant string continues - perhaps there will be years of string on the barbed wire, like there is on the tree in Maleny...

We did manage to rescue most of them however; and they are now greeting us at our front door.

And the doves and weather grams and rocks have been used by folk to leave wee gifts at our door...

Here, Karen from Coast Coffee had gifted Barry some sea glass for him to take back and use in something...


Sunday, October 6, 2019

Of coloured skies ...

One of the the things I find our two homes have in common is the sky.  It is big.  When it is big and blue here it is just like when it is big and blue in Maleny. Looking up at, and across it, something we do in both places.

However, I hadn't, until yesterday, really seen a great fiery sunset or sunrise here.

We woke yesterday morning to the colour starting in the sky.

By the time we were downstairs it was spreading and changing before our eyes, so it took a long time to have our juice as we kept ducking out to look.

It changed again and started to enhance the sky at the back (to the west)

So then I had to do an overhead panorama shot - looking like a limbo dancer as I did - to try and capture the sense of it.

And then we walked, as we do, to the cove and the colour shifted and changed again.

A mackerel sky it is called apparently - the clouds look like fish scales.

As we began to walk home it was still startling.

Even reflected in a puddle the clouds looked good.

And the cottage had this backdrop in the sunshine. Wonderful light all morning.

Sometime nature just puts on a show and all you can do is gaze in wonder...

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Thursday Thoughts...

"Success is dangerous.  One begins to copy oneself, and to copy oneself is more dangerous than to copy others".

Pablo Picasso

As if artists don't have enough to worry about: whether our work is good or not; whether people like it or not; whether we are worthy or not; now Picasso tells us success is dangerous!

The second part of the quote is the part that got me thinking and turning my brain this way and that.

Why is it more dangerous to copy yourself? And what does copying yourself even look like?!?

I can imagine what copying others appears to be - most definitely not a good idea and not at all helpful to yourself.

But copying yourself.

I imagine he may mean that its a trap and a way of getting stuck doing the same things. It may mean you stop exploring, trying new things or heading off down unexpected paths.  If he had said don't repeat yourself I would have got that in a flash.

Perhaps it is simply that he was trying to make the point that if you are successful, you are more likely to do more of the same thing because you have some measure that says this is what works, and that that can limit your actual creativity.

Point taken.

Some serviettes I made...

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

This and That

I am still learning how best to make and create here in the cottage.  This time I came prepared with some ideas and since I have been here, I have been doing lot of things, and in the end most of them are preparation.

I have been trying to dye threads using plants from here; as I won't be able to do that back in Australia.  I have tried to make brushes with materials from here and make marks on paper.  I will take the paper home, but won't be able to take the brushes - sheep's wool; horse's hair and feathers, all of which our quarantine folk would most likely want to keep, so I don't want to risk losing them into a bin.

So this week, I managed to get some more thread dyed and make some marks on papers.

I am retaining my serendipity is good kind of approach to things, but got caught out when I tried to replicate some colours.  This was stinging nettle.  I had had it turn the butteriest yellow before and then, as it started to die off I go a most gorgeous grey.  Being into grey I went and got heaps more in the hope it would go grey again.  This is what it did instead - absolutely nothing.

So I tossed the nettles out and started again with dead and dying nettle leaves. As ever, we shall see.

I had chatted with a neighbour one day about natural dyeing and she recalled some notes she had made from a book from South Uist (Outer Hebrides) about the old ways of dyeing.  She found them and copied them for me and we chatted about how water lily should give black.  I thought that was amazing, but where would I find waterlilies in Scotland I wondered?

As serendipity would have it, we came across a lochan (wee loch) with them growing and in an adventurous manner, with Barry leaning in, sleeve rolled up and me tethering him in the bog, we collected one wee root. And gave it a go.

It came out greyish. Not bad.

However I was chatting to a friend Lesley in Wales and she sent me through a book. It also spoke of water lilies but mentioned you should put copper and iron in to get the black.  We were a few days in by this stage, so I tossed a penny coin and some rusted washers in to see if that made a difference.  The brew is still in the pot, looking darker, so I shall report later.

Before adding copper and iron.

And so to brushes and marks and paper.

A previous bouquet became brushes with the addition of a goose feather gifted by a different neighbour.

I loved the soft ex-thistle flower - it held the ink well and moved smoothly.  The tight flower/seed head also worked well; but the open one didn't.  The feather gave really tiny fine lines.

The ex-thistle flower circles.

This is the short horse hair brush with Payne's Grey diluted.

This is wispy wool.

This is wispy horse hair

More wispy wool.

A few pages ready to pack and take back, cut up and use somehow.

Its very different to making and completing, but I know the investment is important.

Its also very therapeutic just experimenting and exploring and not really being in control!

Sunday, September 29, 2019

A road trip of books and beauty...

We have returned from a wee mini-break down to Ullapool.  It is a bustling, beautiful, arty-booky town of 1500 people on the west coast.  It is also the departure point for the Western Isles Harris and Lewis and we had visited briefly overnight once as we caught a ferry to Lewis, and had always thought it would be a place worth returning to.

So we tootled off down the single track roads and made Lairg for morning tea, then onto Ullapool via Oykel Bridge (love that name) and thru a craft market at Elphin.

We were staying at The Ceilidh Place - in part because it had a book shop, an exhibition space and seemed delightful.

I had not expected this when we arrived...

Each bedroom had a small library of books which had been selected either by a staff member or a long-term visitor. The folder listed them all with alit of blurb about the selector,a nd about the books. I really enjoyed glancing through the folder and flicking through several of the books. I managed to read fair chunk of a few of them

There was also a Guest Lounge which was really a big library, so we spent time in there as well.  There were books scattered on all the tables and in a room that was a library of sorts.  It was like heaven.  And of course there was the book shop downstairs that stayed open as long as the bar was open, so you could browse and buy well into the night...

The view across Loch Broom.

Having visited galleries and coffee shops and more book shops we turned north ward, heading of home at our own pace.

We stopped by Achiltibuie one afternoon, looking back towards Ullapool thru a rain shower.

We stopped off at Ardmair beach on the morning we left - a beautiful stretch of grey stones and pebbles. Gorgeous. Looking out to the sea where the ferry heads to Lewis.

The day was still and the light so clear, we saw some majestic and magnificent scenery.

The reflections on this loch were stunning.

Another book moment occurred at a tiny locality called Inverkirkaig - just out of Lochinver.  We had turned off the main road to discover this place and we travelled thru some tight turns and windy roads and steep bits on single track road and were thrilled to find it. Alchins' Book Shop and tea shop.

Literally in the middle of nowhere. we had scones and the and bought a book and just loved the notion of books in the wild.

On there return the main road we passed by Loch Assynt again - and once more the reflections were superb.

Heading further north to Kyelsku and Scourie the reflections continued.

And my favourite detour of the day was to a trio of hamlets Tarbet, Fanagmore and Foindle.  By far the steepest and windiest of single track roads we had driven - down to first gear in places - and yet the beauty was astounding.

We made it back to the North Coast at Durness - had a hot chocolate at Cocoa Mountain, and saw the beach again.  

Now back at the cottage, still a bit stunned by all that we saw on the trip, and settling back into the rhythms of our place. 

Sitting, stitching the last top of the coasters; next to sew tops to bottoms.