Saturday, 28 March 2009

Conversation with Tastykaeru

Tastukaeru is Kate who lives in Scotland. I was drawn to her work by her luscious embroidery. Her titles bring the pieces alive, hinting at her unique relationship to the natural world giving us an insight how her craft is truly a meditation in an elemental exploration of colours and textures.
As she explains art is a universal language with the process providing its own reward – there is definately a meditative quality around these words and creations.

Many thanks Kate and check out the bottom of the interview for blog, Etsy, Photographic and musical links.

I see nature in your work. Why incorporate/replicate nature?

I see nature as beauty in one of its purest forms. The development of the planet and evolution of life over billions of years has created so many wonderful, complex, absurd, incongruous and incredible things. Nature to me is about purity and getting ‘back to basics’ – I want to celebrate the fact that underneath all the ugliness and sadness in the world, beauty and wonder are still possible – and inspiration for this from nature is abundant.

What inspires you?

Colour and texture. Memories, smells, light, and shadow. Biology, chemistry, astronomy, and photographs from the Hubble Space Telescope Serendipity.

Do you ever get obsessed?

I wouldn’t say I get ‘obsessed’ but I do love the satisfaction of finishing a piece, which makes me want to start another, and another, and…!

Have you ever experienced a spiritual element in craft?

Physically the Japanese ‘kumihimo’ braiding that I do is quite repetitious and almost meditative – I certainly find that I get into a rhythm that is soothing, relaxing and mind-clearing – quite like a meditation in fact.
I find music to be the creative outlet that connects directly with something deeper and more ‘spiritual’, whereas crafting is much more like a meditation, where I can celebrate and explore elemental perceptual ideas of colour and texture.

As for a connection to a certain place, I am always drawn back to the sea and seashore – the texture of wet sand, the subtle colours of shells, light glinting on the surface of water, and the perpetual motion and sound of waves. A place I am particularly attached to in this respect is the beautiful island of Tiree, here in Scotland. My memories and photos of Tiree often inspire ideas in my crafting.

What does creativity feed you with?

Creativity lets me feel that it’s ok to be alive in this world! (When it’s going well…!)

Is there anything creativity gives you do that is missing from mainstream society?

It feels like humans have forgotten that they are part of the Earth’s ecosystem, and that everything on the planet has its place and there is a balance that needs to be maintained for the benefit of all. I think it all comes down to responsibility – to oneself, to others and to the planet. Creativity allows us to distil our human experience into a pure form – art - that is like a universal language. The process is its own reward.

What kinda work inspires you?

Any work where the person has really enjoyed what they have done – the process and the result. Works that have taken lots of patience or fine attention to detail; fantastic textures or luscious colours. I also find really good raw supplies extremely inspiring – sometimes I’ll see a new colour combination that I never would have thought of, or a new fibre I haven’t worked with before, and it sets a whole new idea off…

‘Disasters or experiments? What’s your attitude when it all goes wrong?

I think it’s all about state of mind on the day. Usually when my ideas are too fixed, I’m unable to make my idea into reality in a satisfying way. If however I can relax a bit and ‘play’, I find all sorts of serendipitous things happen and that is often when I have the most fun and make the best pieces.

What are you working on just now?

Today I am working on a custom necklace – one of my felted, beaded and embroidered pieces. The colour theme is brown with a hint of pink and gold, like sea-washed shells.

Kate's links:

The Madrigal Project

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Nature, Spirit, Craft

Tree of life

This blog came about inspired by the amazing craft I’ve seen on flickr, Etsy and blogs. I’ve been so curious about the makers inspirations and thoughts and with serendipity weaving through virtual worlds we naturally connect, encourage and answer a barrage of questions!

My motivation lies in the sparks I feel when I see particular pieces. I want to walk around their creative sacred place and look at what they’ve gathered around them. I want to know what inspires them, what’s their working process and find words to converse in a language we naturally don’t use words for. This is an ancient language: one which we are naturally fluent in, through our long evolution on this planet alongside our non human family. We are after all interconnected and cannot live without each other.

‘It was as if my body in its actions was suddenly being motivated by a wisdom older than my thinking mind, as though it was held and moved by a logos, deeper than words, spoken by the Other’s body, the trees, and the stony ground on which we stood’.

D. Abrams*

Wooden Heart

The nature of modernity has somehow swayed us off that course away from our inherited knowledge, and lead us to believe that here in our man made world we are somehow elevated above the natural world.

Maybe that’s why we often feel a little lost in this modern world, we no longer embody that ancient natural knowledge we all possess. The prevailing powers feed us with distractions and maybe if we were a little more fluent in out mother tongue, we might just be less addicted to the quick fixes of modernity’s drugs and a little more self satisfied with our relationship to ourselves, each other and the place in which we live.

Reassuringly ancient

So when I see a craft piece that stirs my soul I wonder if the practitioner is fluent in this ancient language. I wonder if my questioning reflects that early on in life I knew I saw the world differently and by that nature it’s been impossible for me to ever feel alone, or lonely. How can you feel alone when their is the wind, the night stars beckoning from vast distances, bird song, snow, mist, weather, cold, thunder – they all have their voices their spirit.I am unsure where this questioning will lead, but it weaves serendipity so I set sail in it’s stream trusting the guiding forces. I do wonder if we are more aware of our relationship to nature – in that we are nature – do we then act accordingly? How can we then share that inspiration to act, share that feeling with others and offer an antidote to addressing the problems of the world?

* Abrams, D. 1996. The Spell of the Sensuous, pg 21. Vintage, USA

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Conversation with Highland Fairy

Here is my first conversation around the theme of nature, spirit and craft. I aim to make this a weekly feature. This is Heidi, 'Highland Fairy', she describes herself as 'a mother of four, ceramicist, textile recycler, garment maker,jewellery creator,painter,earth lover'.

Her work is her conversations with nature..........I find her incredibly inspiring...

I see nature in your work. Why incorporate/replicate nature?

I love using beautiful natural materials, and letting them guide me in the direction they want to go, like leaves and leaf stems that are so delicate you can only do a certain amount with them before they break...there is a simplicity about nature, but at the same time it's so amazingly intricate in pattern. I love organic shapes and forms and in my clay work I try to replicate these and the textures of nature so that I can be as connected to them as possible, and clay being from the earth makes it even more special to me.

What inspires you?

Anything that has a great texture, or has a colour that I would love to reproduce in a painting, a costume from a film, the shapes of the trees in winter, a seed pod, a landscape, an amazing piece of art, an old pair of trousers that I can turn into something else...or a drawing that one of my children has done! I am also inspired by other creative people and their energy.

Do you get obsessed?

I do get a bit too involved in my work sometimes, so much that I might burn the dinner or forget to pick my son up from nursery! I am obsessed by fabrics, buttons and boots....but I could never have too many of any of these things!

Have you ever experienced a spiritual element in craft, eg. A connection to a certain place or a ‘getting into the zone’ when working ….

I think my creativity is all about being spiritual, without thinking about it. It's such a spontaneous thing in me that sometimes I know I am being guided in the directions I go in, with my life and my work...I have a connection with nature and even though it's sometimes hard for me to get totally lost in something I am working on because I have my children to look after, I do day dream a lot!

silver paper necklace

What does creativity feed you with?

when I have an idea in my head (which is almost constant) there's nothing better than making it real and alive....and if I didn't have the ability to be creative I know I'd probably be lost in this world!

When you consider what creativity gives you do you think there are elements there that you might see are missing from mainstream society?

I think the best thing we can give our children is the freedom to express themselves through creativity.....and it makes me sad when I see people playing computer games or watching tv all the time (I admit we do these things too, but we have a balance). Sometimes I think schools don't focus enough on the practical things or music....or growing vegetables....being more grounded and not so into being competitive and successful in a high paid job! I know we need doctors and lawyers, etc, but we also need to be encouraged to be creative.

What kinda work inspires you?

I have found some amazing artists on Flickr and so much work is inspiring to me, all using different materials and having different ideas....sometimes it's overwhelming, but I think it's so special to see so much happening! I love finding other people who I have a strong connection to!

‘Disasters or experiments? What’s your attitude when it all goes wrong?

I make lots of mistakes and I'm sure I'm not the only one to be a perfectionist! If I paint something I'm not happy with I'll paint over and start again...if I sew a garment that I don't like I'll rip it up and make something else....It doesn't get me down....I see it all as an experiment anyway.....and at the end of the's all reusable.

What are you working on just now?

I'm working on about 5 different projects at the moment....button neck pieces, a patchwork dress, some clay bird necklaces, a painting that I'm not quite sure about and some other things!

Thursday, 12 March 2009

A birth day amoungst trees

Birthdays are weird things, love ‘em, hate ‘em. I oscillate between the two. What I hate is the expectations. It’s your 40th you MUST do something. Nope, nope, nope I want quiet.

This one however is overshadowed by big black clouds. When there is a family member gone, and the reality is that they, unlike you, are never going to celebrate a 40th birthday it taints the day.

But the sun shone gloriously, a reprieve from all the rain and the wild weather as winter gentles into spring. I walked in spring sunshine in the company of majestic trees. The clatter of heron’s are preparing their nest in a Cyprus of Lebanon sounding like Teridactyls, taking part in the return of ancient cycles: winter into spring, regrowth from death.

So far 40 has been realising your eyes are getting strained while doing wee close up work, leaving the iron on and having to phone someone to go round and turn it off - and having one thin slice of birthday cake gives me this almighty sugar rush like being on drugs at 10 am in work. Sad, eh?

It was a good day inspired by trees and lichen. I'd love to somehow replicate this lichen in felt, creating those little pods. I've been trying to make tree trunks out of felt with some french knot lichen, i'd love a little forest of them.Maybe I should try them in grey or brown.
I laughed at
small children trying to fit 40 candles onto a cake and basked into wonderful moonshine which somehow seemed brighter than usual. As I stood watching the clouds to clear from her face I felt rooted. She emanated a deep hush, and I felt calm, silent and tree like.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Fire in the head, heart and hand

NASA Picture of Ursa Major

This journey formed part of an Imbolc ritual. It has been suggested that Brigid: goddess and saint morped into a far older form of energy as the focus of a bear cult. Hers is a time of coming out of hibernation, when the bear was sacred as possessing the magic of dying and not just coming back to life, but to bring life back into the land.

I lead a journey which we became the bear. Pull your blankets tight around you and i'll tell you a story:


Curl up foetus like, remember being in that dark place of our mother’s as we return to that dark place of the Earth. Imagine our covers an accumulation of day and night, of all the seasons past until they merge taking us back thousands of years.

The familiar stories we recognise in the stars are no longer relevant. This is a time far more ancient. This is a time when bears roamed in Scotland. You are now the last bear, a lone female. As you prepare to enter sacred dreamtime, returning to the belly of the earth, your dreams will be earth dreams.

Overhead nights chase days and you are emerged in dreamtime. You make your own stories to the constellations that will become ancient tales and will be shared by those who come after you and tell tales of how to live the way of the earth. Make your intentions known to the universe; make them known to every cell and every drop of blood. As you feasted on the autumn abundance feed from the universal abundance.

Brigid's Cross Paving

Paint your pictures in stars; name them, give them stories that you wish to live your life by. Give them stories that tell of how to live with our mother, with ourselves, with each other. Give them stories from your soul, how to live in love. Create what you need to work in this world, gather them together, gather them together. Pull all of this into your sleeping body where they will gestate and come to life when you awake.

There is a deep stirring in the earth, you can hear the whispering of tree roots as they wriggle in the soil. Slowly you are preparing to come back into consciousness, to return to your body. Outside the howling winter gales are taming. All winter that you gathered from sacred dreamtime has been growing inside you. You can feel the energy shift as the Northern Hemisphere slowly awakens. Rock yourself gently and slowly bring movement back into your body. Slowly, slowly make your way to the front of the cave. Make your way to face the East to bathe in the morning light.


This is the time of Imbolc where the Calleach, the winter Crone gives up her reign. She can no longer stake her blackthorn staff and cull every sign of life, life now is growing in energy and her energy is weakening. She returns to Tir na Nog, drinking from the fountain of eternal youth. Turning around she has renewed the face of the goddess and now takes her form in Brigid. Brigid who is the bear awakening from her hibernation. She spreads her mantle across the earth leavening a greening hue.

As you reach the mouth of the cave. Brigid’s light greets you, washing your face in the dew. She is our midwife, assisting our rebirth as you emerge from the bearskins. Stepping naked into the new dawn Brigid takes your hand and recognising you as her daughter. She embraces you and you feel that fire within you smoulder. That fire ignites our head, swells in our heart and emanates from our hands are we are enthused in the work we must carry out. That fire ignites our plans, our loves and so Brigit will always be alive within us. She is that most ancient energy which has travelled life with mankind. Every night you look up to the dark skies recall those stories you spun out amongst them.

Monday, 2 March 2009

The mark of the witch

This lone blackthorn flower caught my eye shining out against the black tangle of thorny branches. A bright spark of blood appeared on my finger as I was nicked by a thorn. The very same thorns that the devil was said to mark witches with. The thorn marks that Witch Finder Generals (my flesh crawls even thinking about those twisted men) were looking for as they accused young girls, women, old crones and men alike in the medieval witch trials. The Blackthorn was so entangled with those supposedly involved in the ‘dark arts’ that their branches were cut and used as fuel of the pyres set to burn the accused alive.Its association with darkness is really just the oppressing hand of the medieval church in their attempts to overthrown those practicing an earth based spirituality.

In Scotland Calleach (the crone of winter) is said to have struck her staff of blackthorn into the earth striking down any sign of growth in her dark reign of the winter months.

Baba Yaga Rides

While modern attitudes might sneer at the idea of a tree encompassing a healing property or spirit I love that it’s existed for thousands of years, showing up in archaeological records going back as far as 8,000bc. Wither in spirit or metaphorically it can offer us the tool for overcoming negativity. It helps us to facilitate our rebirth bringing forth that which we may repressed from those long dark days where dreams fed from our unconscious to bringing our negativity into the light and begin to work with them.

One idea I’ve had for this blog is to talk to fibre artists – people who I see the soul of nature infused in their work. Feature artist’s I’ve met through workshops, Flickr, blogs etc and generate some discussion. I'd like to examine in this blog is when we consider the state of the world I want to question what what role does craft and creativity play in facilitate our relationship to our self, each other, nature and ultimately spirit, god, mystery (however you view the interconnection that is life).

Just now I feel quite infused with the spirit of the blackthorn. While I love the longer days I’m feeling quite naked separated from those winter layers that bathed us in darkness, it felt safe somehow, I was able to hide.

I’ve been working nuno felt scraps machine embroidered into layers, it makes me think of my Grandmother. She was a tailor working in an eminent dressmakers in Glasgow called Muriel’s, just off Suchiehall street. In the 1920's the rich of London Society would travel to Glasgow for tailored flapper dresses. Her embroidery was amazing as I remember as a kid not being able to work out which way down the embroidered tablecloths went!

As the machine stitches trails of gold and connects and merges the layers of nuno I feel like i'm bringing light to dark layers of my psyche. I need to explore them and recognise the patterns they, often unwittingly, weave in our life.