Random Acts of Giving

Amidst the sometimes stressful frenzy of Christmas shopping, the idea that giving to others can be good for your health and happiness can feel a bit of a stretch.

But a growing body of scientific research shows exactly that.

It’s now clear that doing good for others without any expectation of reward – known as behaving altruistically – can give you better physical and mental health and even help you live longer. Read remainder of article

This year Christmas Day was very special, thanks in large part to the giving nature of some friends.

It is timely to remember that it is healthy to be giving all year round.

Rather than making any New Year Resolutions Anastasia and I are going to actively promote ‘Random Acts of Giving’.

Feel free to ‘gift’ any suggestions of what might constitute ‘Random Acts of Giving!’

Identifying the Essence

spiritball-16-multiyellow09_smallI am not sure where I have been. I searched online to find out if there was such a thing as a Spirit Ball and discovered there are thousands to choose from.

Apparently, Spirit or, as they’re sometimes called, Witch’s balls have been popular since the 18th Century – first in England and then in New England. For well over three centuries hollow glass spheres have been hung in windows to ward off witch’s spells, evil spirits and ill fortune. Hanging these decorative glass balls in the window or on the porch is thought to tantalize the mischievous spirits which may be threatening a home’s tranquility.

The wayward spirit is mesmerized by the ball’s reflective beauty. When the spirit touches the sphere it is absorbed and trapped in the web-like strands of glass thus protecting your home and family!

My notion of making a spirit ball was quite different to this. I thought of a spirit ball as being something which holds, at its core,  some ‘essence’, some attribute that make an entity what it fundamentally is, and which, by necessity, adds character and without which identity is lost.

So! A ball, made with an unlocked lock inside it, given to a healer, represents that which, at essence, is what they do. Their identity is somehow lost when they do not help unlock that which is held within. While they hold the ball they know what it is that they must do!

Law of Accretion

noun: accretion
growth or increase by the gradual accumulation of additional layers or matter.
“the accretion of sediments in coastal mangroves”
synonyms: accumulation, collecting, gathering, amassing, cumulation, accrual, growth, formation, enlargement, increase, gain, augmentation, rise, mushrooming, snowballing;

AccretionIt began with a simple line of cloth rope.

Then, quite unexpectedly, the rope took on a life of its own and began whispering to me.

It began to grow.

First there was the introduction of varying shades and color.

Then, as the fingers worked, talking, as they have a habit of doing, directly to the brain, memories rose.

Voices called for me to bear witness to what lay, deep within.

Words on paper that need no explanation! The words sewn on the ball. Words that will disappear into the growing mass.

The process of accretion has been activated!

I am reminded of making Descansos!

there is a time in our lives, usually in midlife, when a woman has to make a decision – possibly the most the important psychic decision of her future life – about whether to be bitter or not”

Without a hint of bitterness I am acknowledging the role of accretion in my life. Some of those layers of matter that fill the crevices within may be represented here..

And so the ball forms a mass, hiding within it the things that lie hidden within me, yet yearn to be acknowledged.

A Simple Line of Rag Rope

Love your experiments (as you would an ugly child).
Joy is the engine of growth. Exploit the liberty in casting your work as beautiful experiments, iterations, attempts, trials, and errors. Take the long view and allow yourself the fun of failure every day.
Bruce Mau An Incomplete Manifesto of Growth.

The moment of liberation was when I understood that I didn’t need to have an end result in mind. It began as making a line, making rope out of cloth strips.

The moment of liberation was when I could watch and listen and hear about the other techniques and quietly decline, choose to go on making more of the rope.

And so the rope began to grow.

It was liberating to choose a limited palatte and choose to work with black, white, cream and silver.

Who would guess that this would be enough?

No end in mind! Just the making of a line of rope that began to coil and form pathways.

Pathways that lead to the amazing world of Judith Scott.

Anastasia was jubilant! The prospect of twisting and twining and adding secrets and memories to the ball of cast offs excited us both. We could barely speak.

Over coming weeks you will be able to see what emerges as we allocate some time to simply sitting, making rope, weaving secrets and memories as we go.

Oblique Strategies


An Oblique Strategy. It is true! Errors can be a very real positive.

Today, in the Textiles course I am doing at Castlemaine Continuing Ed, it was clear that it was ‘hump’ day. Even after lunch it was all too evident that most of us were tired after taking in so much creative stimuli. Even Anastasia was quiet as I struggled to do some basic weaving.

Anastasia and I went limp. Once again we were facing the specter that rises and prods and pokes and says, in a very harsh voice, that it is NOT enough to take one bird at a time and sit making dots or lines for the sake of making dots and lines. Worse! It sneers and makes pointed comments about never being able to achieve the standard of art we have been shown or anything to match what others in the class are doing. Enough to silence the toughest!

Neither Anastasia or I are very good at handling this dark, oppressive critic, who hovers like the grim reaper. However, Anastasia’s silence did not mean she had given way to this force. Rather she is one to bide her time and wait for the moment to confront that critic.

Sensing the general lull Ilka encouraged us to make some cards and asked us to write simple suggestions on them. A card might simply say ‘make some dots’ or ‘make dots using the color turquoise’ or ‘use wire’ etc. The idea is to use them as wild cards and use them to get yourself going to do a task. Then she introduced us to Oblique Strategies which offer suggestions or directions to apply when you hit a creative block.

As a writer I have used this sort of divination technique. I like my Raven Cards and I have found that it has helped to draw one and think like a raven.

A card I will sit near me will say ‘honor your limitations’, ‘take one bird at a time’.

Try drawing an Oblicard to help push through the block.

Use the automated cards online or make some of your own.

And please! Add suggestions for more cards in the comment box.

Birthing of Anastasia

Thinking and building in 3D – Textiles and beyond…     NEW DATES !
Five day intensive in Castlemaine November 25 – 29
Experience new ways of thinking and making in 3D! There are many textile and basketry techniques available (and many more we can invent) that lend themselves to sculptural outcomes.  Beginning with presentations of inspirational 3D Art Textiles of the World (both traditional and contemporary) we will explore a variety of approaches to sculptural construction in this hands-on course.  Content will also be shaped by participants’ sampling, reflection, current interests and observations.  Bring your own skills and experience!  Experiment and cross pollination are central to these workshops. A myriad of methods and materials begin to suggest themselves the more broadly we think, and the outcomes can range from the miniature to the architectural. Materials list provided on enrolment.
Monday to Friday 25 Nov – 29 Nov, 9.30am – 3.30pm. Cost $340

Contact: Castlemaine Continuing Education. ph. 03 5472 3299

Anastasia’s Entrance

On the first day of this Textile Course, as we set up our tables with our various stashes and nests of fabric, there were name tags to identify us. I cannot recall quite what was said to make Ilka say that we could be anyone we wanted to be.

In a fleeting moment Anastasia emerged, like a thin, barely visible waft of smoke from an incense stick.

As I wrote the name Anastasia on the blank canvas of the name tag everyone laughed. Within moments, like the bag of a hot air balloon she filled, puffed up, rose and gained stature.

Upon rising she spoke saying ‘I am Anastasia and Anastasia is happy to be here with Heather. We are ready to have fun and play.’

Then, during  an activity when Ilka was encouraging us to define the essence of a concept Anastasia prodded me, laughed as only Anastasia can laugh and suggested that it would be a challenge to forage and identify the essence of her.

Yes! She is a spirited one. I saw that unleashing her, filling her with warm air means I have something to contend with.

This blog is now Anastasia’s blog. Old posts have been removed and we are starting over, happy to be working collaboratively. The hunt has begun!