Thursday, June 30, 2005

the is a great art portal - lots of links to artists' galleries, information on art movements and artists, links to art books, etc, etc.

A treat for your optic nerve and braincells!

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Craft Manifesto

I've been a huge fan of "craft" for a long time - the type that I feel should really be called art. I don't want to sound like a snob, but following patterns religiously isn't what I call art - I look for unique, thought out, clever arts/crafts. I started following patterns, but was quickly bored and disatisfied with that approach. Then I started adjusting patterns, and now I don't use them at all. Don't get me wrong - I love looking at books and magazines on fashion, jewellery, etc - but I only use them for inspiration or to learn new techniques, not for copying. We all have to start somewhere, but I really respect those that grow.

I often think about the definition of art and craft - I feel that often craft is treated like the poor cousin of art, that it isn't as important, that it's considered easy... But anyone who creates items traditionally defined as craft can confirm that it can be anything but easy!

I've also noticed over the past few years a resurgence in the popularity of craft. I love the amazing weekend markets that you can find all over the place, the websites sharing ideas, techniques and support, the "stitch n bitch" style groups forming, etc. So I have been quite interested by a few sites I have discovered recently.

Ulla-Maaria Mutanen's Draft Craft Manifesto lists her thoughts on what is driving the increasing popularity of crafting.

From her site:
1. People get satisfaction for being able to create/craft things because they can see themselves in the objects they make. This is not possible in purchased products.
2. The things that people have made themselves have magic powers. They have hidden meanings that other people can’t see.
3. The things people make they usually want to keep and update. Crafting is not against consumption. It is against throwing things away.
4. People seek recognition for the things they have made. Primarily it comes from their friends and family. This manifests as an economy of gifts.
5. People who believe they are producing genuinely cool things seek broader exposure for their products. This creates opportunities for alternative publishing channels.
6. Work inspires work. Seeing what other people have made generates new ideas and designs.
7. Essential for crafting are tools, which are accessible, portable, and easy to learn.
8. Materials become important. Knowledge of what they are made of and where to get them becomes essential.
9. Recipes become important. The ability to create and distribute interesting recipes becomes valuable.
10. Learning techniques brings people together. This creates online and offline communities of practice.
11. Craft-oriented people seek opportunities to discover interesting things and meet their makers. This creates marketplaces.
12. At the bottom, crafting is a form of play.

I pretty much agree with all these points, and they got me thinking about why I feel so driven to create. Some days I find the urge quite overwhelming, almost controlling! I've come up with my reasons for making crafty things:
- I get to put a little piece of myself into something that I then share with people I care about.
- I love learning new skills and watching the quality of my work improve.
- I lose time when I craft, and that to me is the best sign that I'm doing something that is really "right" for me.
- I love being able to give a gift that I have created - it means more to me, and I hope it means more to the person I give it to.
- It's an escape from the mundane of "real life" - you know washing clothes, going to work, shopping for groceries. Having something to balance out all that stuff helps keep me sane!

Another approach is that taken by the DIY Trunkshow Craftifesto. (I have edited the below to make it more general)
1. Craft is powerful. Anything you want - clothing, jewelry, art, music - you can probably get from a real live person. And buying handmade, one-of-a-kind goods from your neighbor kicks the ass of buying mass-produced, slave-made corporate stuff.

2. Craft is personal. To know that something was made by hand, by someone who cares that you like it, makes that object much more enjoyable. And it makes you feel less lonely when you realize that you know the name of the person who made the bar of soap you use, the earrings you wore when you met that special someone, or the scarf that kept you from freezing while you waited for the train.

3. Craft is political. We're not just trying to sell stuff. We're trying to change the world. We want everyone to rethink corporate culture and consumerism.

4. Craft is possible. Everybody can create something you don't have to be an established business to make stuff. We hold workshops to teach people how to make things. And we're creating friendships and connections between crafters. Being a small business owner doesn't mean you have to work in isolation.

Good points, I think.

I'd love to know what you think - please leave me a comment!

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Blog wackiness

Apologies for the wackiness going on with Inspire Create. Something has gone haywire with the template (I didn't touch it I swear!).

So, please be patient with the oversized font and weird placement of items - I'm working on it!!

Finally - photos from NZ

The view from the Tranzalpine train travelling from Christchurch to Greymouth

Fox Glacier
Fox Glacier. We did a half day hike up onto the glacier - beautiful

Lake Hawea
View of Lake Hawea, late afternoon

Dansey Pass

Hoare frost and fog at 11am driving back from Dansey Pass to Cromwell.
Uploaded to Flickr by Michelle.

More Jewellery

Some more sites showcasing beautiful jewellery - for your viewing pleasure!

Fingers Contemporary New Zealand Jewellery
Rena Tom
Jewels by Jessica
Smallthings (absolutely gorgeous - I want one of these pendants!)


Thursday, June 23, 2005

Enchanted Mind

The Enchanted Mind web site has lots of useful information. There are articles in the areas of the creative mind, inspiration, creativity techniques, creativity-enhancing puzzles, and the science behind creativity.

This quote sums up the approach of the site:
"What is the ultimate creative experience? Getting everything out of life that you want. Sound impossible? That's because most of us are getting what we 'expect' out of life, not what we want. You don't need a magic genie to grant your every wish. You are the creative genie. Creativity is not only about finding solutions to problems or thinking up different ways to do things. Creativity is a life style. Creative living is knowing that you consciously create your life each moment. Finding innovative solutions is the by-product of a creative mind."

I like to read articles like this regularly - it's a virtual kick up the butt to remind me that I'm in control. Often we slip back into our old habits of just going with the flow and we need to be reminded of our potential and given some tools to help us achieve it. I also like that this site combines the "new age-y" approach with the science of creativity.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Creative Education Foundation

The Creative Education Foundation looks very interesting. i just discovered the site, but haven't had time yet to have a good look around. Their mission is to help individuals, organizations and communities transform themselves as they confront real-world challenges. It looks quite interesting. Just wanted to share the link so I don't forget!


Ken Duncan is one of Australia's best known landscape photographers, and for very good reason. He takes the most beautiful panoramic photos. Take a stroll around the gallery and enjoy some of the best my wonderful country has to offer. I'm sitting in a cold office (the airconditioner is on the blink) looking out the window to a bleak, grey day - it's snowing only 30mins drive away. But I can look at these photos and appreciate the true beauty of nature, the sun, the beach....Helps keep the winter blues away!

Monday, June 20, 2005

Believe Street

Believe Street is a new site selling beautiful things - and we can't have too many beautiful things in our life! The reason I am linking to Believe Street is not so much because of what is on the site - it's more about the person behind it and how she went about setting it up. Maria wanted to establish a business selling items that "inspire people through beautiful cards, journals, jewelry, and gifts that carry a message ... to encourage people to dream, to imagine, to believe ... in themselves, in all that's good about life, in the possibilities that open up to us each day".

I love the sentiment behind the business, I'm also impressed with how Maria set goals for herself (register domain name by this date, open bank account by this date, go live with website....etc) and she achieved them. I find that very inspirational.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

I'm back! - Digital Gallery

I'm back from New Zealand! It was wonderful - my dear hubby N and I had a lovely time being tourists and visiting friends. Mind you, we were freezing our butts off!! The west coast of NZ is a very beautiful, rugged place but it is way colder than home. I will post some photos next week - N is still there for a few more days and he has the camera. I can't wait to go through the shots - I think we got some amazing shots at Fox Glacier and of the hoare frost in Central Otago. Anyway... I'll write more when I have the photos to go with it!

New York Public Library's Digital Gallery has over 300,000 publicly available images. The images are sorted into categories, including arts and literature, culture and society, nature and science, etc. This is an amazing resource if you are looking for inspiration, especially if you are researching an era or style.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Friday Dreaming

Well, it's Friday afternoon (yippee!) and I'm sitting at work, looking out the window at the most amazing, clear, sunny, cold winter's day. But I'm wishing for rain! It's so dry here and we need rain desperately, plus I love the idea of a wet weekend. The thought of stoking the fire, drinking lots of yummy tea and eating homemade chicken and vege soup, lounging around reading and watching movies is very appealing at the moment.

I say that - but I can guarantee you I'll be racing around doing housework, driving to town to run errands, buying groceries, doing paperwork, etc, etc. I seem to be constantly rushing lately - thats why I hope it will rain so I will at least relax for a few hours. Plus I have a busy week coming up, so I need to catch my breath.

I'm very excited - I'm going to New Zealand for 5 days! My dear hubby has been working over there for a month, and we are missing each other terribly, so I'm off for some quality time with my man and to be a tourist for a few days. My husband is from NZ, so we try and get over there about once a year, but I haven't been over for 2 years, so I can't wait. Plus, normally when we go we spend the whole time rushing between family and friends' houses trying to visit everyone. This time we have agreed that we are going to be tourists and take time to enjoy his beautiful country. I'll try and post some photos when I get back around 15th June.

Sorry - this post is a bit off topic isn't it! Just started typing and couldn't stop. My trip to NZ will be inspiring as we are going to be seeing some spectacular countryside, plus I hope to buy some paua shell and beads for my jewellery making. Reflecting on previous travels OS, I realise that it's when I'm out of my everyday life that I feel most in touch with my creativity. I think that's because I can't see the basket full of clothes that need washing, the bills that need paying, etc, and because I make the effort to see as many art galleries and beautiful places as I can. Has anyone found how to have that sense of wonder, while still living at home??!!

A Painting a Day

Duane Keiser's blog A Painting a Day has impressed me. What dedication! But what a great way to build your skill and creativity. When it comes to realising your creative potential, I think just doing it is the best place to start. Duane generally does small, postcard sized paintings, which wouldn't be daunting. I often walk into my office/studio wanting to create, only to think "well, I've only got half an hour, and all the things I want to do will take longer than that" so I don't even start. What a poor effort!!

I'm going to get all philosophical and say that the longest journey starts with just one small step, so if you are finding it hard to achieve all the things you want to, try stepping back, choose a little task and do it. You'll be so proud of yourself and it's amazing how motivating it will be!

Thursday, June 02, 2005

1000 Journals

Confession - 1000 journals has been going since 2000 and I only just discovered it! I feel a bit embarrassed and out of touch. It sounds like such a wonderful project - 1000 journals were sent out into the world to be added to and passed on. From the web site:

"The goal is to provide a method for interaction and shared creativity. If you ask a kindergarten class how many of them are artists, they'll all raise their hands. Ask the same question of 6th graders, and maybe one third will respond. Ask high school grads, and few will admit to it. What happens to us growing up? We begin to fear criticism, and tend to keep our creativity to ourselves. Many people keep journals, of writing or sketching, but not many share them with people. (when was the last time a friend invited you to read their diary?) You will not be judged here. And you will have company. This is for you. For everyone."

What a fantastic idea and sentiment. You can view scanned images from journals, track where they are in the world and get updates on the status of different journals. But the above statement also makes me feel a bit down - it's so sad that we lose the link to our inate creativity as we grow older. I could get up on my soapbox and say it's society's fault (the schools don't teach it they discourage it, artists are undervalued, we have to focus too much on earning a living rather than 'playing', etc, etc) but really we each just have to make a choice to not let go of those things that make us happy, even if we can only find the time to do it very occasionally.