Monday, June 19, 2017

A Hobby Makes You Happy

I dragged my feet all the way to the computer.

You know. When you were little and shy, grownups came visiting and your parents dictated that you display good manners by coming out of hiding to greet them.  That kind of feeling.

I'm learning about goal setting, a la Julia Bickerstaff at The Business Bakery.   Set a goal, decide paths, do micro actions.  Ready, get set, go!  You have 100 days to the finish line.  One of the paths to my chosen goal is blog writing.  When I mapped out micro actions, blogging fell on day 50.    I've abandoned the habit of writing regularly, and coming back to it feels awkward.  Today is day 50, so here I am, hearing that little Julia voice calling to me.

My life has had some not-so-recent upheavals.  It happens to everyone, but for some reason it hit me hard and it's taking me the longest time to get back on my feet.  I used to be very sure of who I am and where I was going.  Often now I feel like Mary, Mary, quite contrary.  I only know what I don't want, then I change my mind.  I'm going through a period of intense self-doubt and I'm convinced no one is the least bit interested in me and my small life.  Drama queen.

What would a person like that blog about?  I used to blog about my work as a teddy bear maker, but that doesn't define me any longer.  I'm a dabbler without a specialty.  My life is mundane and much of what I start goes unfinished or ends up in the dustbin.

One of my daily pleasures is reading the blogs of other artists.   I've been following many of them for so long that they feel like friends.  While reading, and agonizing about my own lack of writing inspiration, I realized something.  They all write about the process of their work - failed, uncomplete, or masterpieces.  They also write about how they experience life, often hilariously, whether it's a bout of stomach flu, home renovations, or random phenomenon.  Artists don't only produce a body of work, they represent humanity in their creations and the way they preceive the world.  Knowing an artist's thoughts can help to develop a better understanding of their work, which means that their art is easier to relate to, which makes it popular.  In these days of blogging, how privileged we are to get glimpses into artists' daily lives, and what a powerful tool blogging is in the hands of artists.

I'm not going to call myself Artist .  I'm a dabbler in search of a specialty.  I choose to be a Hobbyist.  Borrowing from the wicked Jane Laverick, if you take hobby, put a stick on the O and turn the Bs upside down, it will make you happy.  I'm doing what I do, because it makes me happy.

Or am I a Happyist?

I came out of hiding and wrote a blog post.  I survived it.

Monday, May 8, 2017

To Sew, or Not To Sew

We don't always realize where the seeds we sow (sew?) take root.  Today I received a link to a wonderful post by Charlize Stone, a long time teddy bear maker at Tin Soldiers.  She just started an Etsy shop, started teaching, and is in turn spreading the love for teddy bear Making.
You can read about her love for sewing HERE.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Birthday Adventure

Messy and me.  A week ago I had a birthday.  I like birthdays.  The more I have, the more I enjoy them.  I think they should be an adventure and an opportunity to do something one has wished for.  I always wanted to explore Lesotho on horseback.  
This is why you weren't able to reach me while I was gone. Lesotho is a largely unblemished part of the world.  No roads, no electricity, no phone network. 
The Valley of a Thousand Horses high in the mountain kingdom. Our herd of horses grazing while we take a break on foot to enjoy the scenery.

For days we travelled over mountains, through passes and valleys, hearing only the sound of wind, splashing water, and the distant bells of sheep grazing on the slopes.  (The animal in the foreground is the guide's dog, who ran with us all the way).
After a long period of drought, it started raining while we were in the mountains.  Riding in a rain suit is uncomfortable, but the scenery more than made up for it.  Waterfalls spouting  between the rocks, and an abundance of green all around.
We crossed streams several times every day.  Messy was sure footed and steady.  I laughed at the way she would lower her nose to the water and snort at the submerged rocks as she walked over them.
Riding along the edge of a cliff was certainly no laughing matter.  I snapped this picture with my knee in the foreground.  It doesn't do justice to the dizzying drop to the stream in the valley far below.  Often the terrain was downright treacherous and I had no free hand for the camera.
Thousands of years of wind and rain have hollowed the base of many sandstone cliffs into caves.  The caves offer shelter to sheperds and their animals.  We came across the ruins of several dwellings.  Henning looks like a real explorer!
There are Bushman paintings on the walls of many of the caves.  These are about 2 000 years old.  The paint is made of a mixture of red and yellow clay, charcoal, animal fat and blood.  Although badly weathered, one can clearly see human figures and eland in the pictures, a hunting scene.
Standing in the mouth of a cave.
Finding a trickle at the back of a cave meant time to refill our drinking bottles.  Water filtered by tons of rock, very pure and sweet!
Passing through a Basutho village.  Most of Lesotho's 2.2 million citizens live in the north of the country.  In the south where we were, villages are scarce and inhabitants few.  People survive by planting crops and tending small herds of sheep.
Charles, our Basutho guide.  He was born in these mountains and knows the country like the back of his hand.  
 A week on a horse, in the rain, in the mountains, sleeping and eating in the most basic way.  This was an adventure to remember, and to talk about for a long time. 
On our return to the South African side of the border, there was a hot shower and a warm bed waiting for us at the lodge.  But only after an evening of birthday cake, and reminiscences around the fireplace while rain drummed down on the tin roof. 

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Weekend is for play

I'm making cloth dolls for my own collection.  On my work table at te moment are designs by Susie McMahon, Marla Niederer, and Karen Musson.  Three artists with completely divergent approaches to doll making.  I'm learning a lot as I progress, and loving it.
I'm working in my hide-away spot under the trees.  In this terrible heat and drought it's difficult to find a spot to get comfortable.  The dogs are lying in the dust where lawn used to be... a summer storm with lots of rain would be so welcome!

Monday, August 8, 2016

Rowena Rabbit

I received a lovely letter this morning.  The picture that came with it actually tells the whole story.
Naomi chose the Rowena Rabbit pattern to make a doll for her little girl.  It was her first ever attempt at making a soft toy.  She says the pattern and instructions were easy to work with  and she's happy with the result.  I think the purple Rowena looks stunning.  Most important of all is that her daughter adores the rabbit and has a new treasured friend.  
When I see pictures like this, I'm keenly reminded why I'm a toy designer and maker.  It's not about stuff, it's about creating joy.