Monday, 31 October 2011

the small things

pajama pants
it's the small things

I'm not going to pretend that any of this sewing effort is fancy. It's not. I don't do fancy when it comes to sewing. But I can make a pair of pajama pants. Thanks to the Japanese pattern book, Sewing Talk, that is. Yes, I know, I've made these several times already so I really should break out, experiment a little and sew something different. I'm not likely too though as even remembering how to sew button holes nearly did my head in with this pair.

But hey, look at that pin cushion. It's the small things in life that can give you so much pleasure. Instead of dropping pins all over the floor each time I move this little number keeps them all in one spot. And I didn't even use a pattern. I know, genius! Just don't look too carefully at the button holes on those PJ pants, ok?

Sunday, 23 October 2011


hand work
hand work
peace lily

Soothing tired nerves with hand work is a good thing. I'm working beautiful balls of angora and alpaca wool into a something useful. Hopefully....

My quirky 2012 calendars are now available at Mr Kitly. So if you're local (to Melbourne) and would like one pop on by. There is so much beauty in that sweet shop.

Some of my giclee prints are now listed with Fair Artisan. Much goodness abounds there too.

Edible Austin have illustrated a lovely article about zen and food and cooking with a woodblock print of mine called tea in black + white. It brings me a lot of happiness knowing my print is sitting there alongside such wise words.

What are you reading? I'm enjoying 'You'll be Sorry When I'm Dead'. Watching? Bright Star about the poet John Keats and his lover Fanny. Quite a moving tale.

Friday, 21 October 2011

generating the spark [thoughts on creativity]

tools of the trade

I read a lot about creativity. As someone immersed in making|designing|creating I find it an endlessly fascinating topic. And as a researcher, I do too.

There's quite a bit of information out there from psychologists that attempt to explain what creativity is, where it comes from, and how it works.

There are also a range of people immersed in teaching art or design who think about creativity from a making perspective. If you ever feel inspired to read more on this I recommend reading a book called Studio Thinking. These folk know about creativity from an insider-maker's world and that's what they focus on in their book.

The Studio Thinking people write about the 'habits of mind' that need to be developed for creativity to flourish in a studio environment:

develop craft|engage & persist| envision| express| observe| reflect| stretch & explore| understand art world

What I find interesting to think about are the kind of environments or atmospheres that encourage the possibility of creativity (and ones that don't). Creativity is about expansiveness. You can see that when you look at the habits of mind the Studio Thinking people have highlighted. So environments that encourage that expansiveness, ones that allow mental and physical space and movement, freedom, a sense of adventure, exploration and risk taking are really important when initiating and developing creative projects.

My question then, is do we have or allow enough opportunities for this? Do we have the kind of environments where this kind of creativity can spark and come to life?

These are important questions for individual artists|designers|makers, small and medium sized organisations, and also especially, I think, for large organisations and corporations to think about. And I mean organisations of any kind, not just the explicitly creative kind. Because creativity is important in all kinds of work and all kinds of projects.

I read and hear so much about large organisations being fearful of creativity and employees with a creative streak. These kinds of people scare inherently conservative folk because of their expansive natures and ways of working. There is a lot of emphasis on control in many organisations (small, medium or big ones) and, sadly, the loss is creativity. Creative folk and their thinking often freak out those who like to keep hold of the reigns. Imagine how much this impacts on creativity and innovation all over the world! And imagine how much untapped potential lies dormant because of this fear.

But things might be starting to change. 'Blue sky days' are now starting to creep into the way some innovative organisations structure their working week to enable the space for creative thinking (and doing). Google calls this their 20% time where they allow staff to spend one day a week on the dreamy, expansive thinking and doing needed for creativity to spark. There are many websites and books out there encouraging self-employed people to do the same whether they are artists|designers| makers or work in areas not traditionally connected with creativity.

Even those of us who are makers can get stuck in a rut and need to carve time out for some expansive thinking and doing. Do you have a structured way for doing this? If so, what is it and does it work for you?

Saturday, 8 October 2011

inside a Kyoto print studio

inside a Japanese print studio
inside a Japanese print studio
inside a Japanese print studio
inside a Japanese print studio

Here's a bit of nostalgia I've been meaning to share.

I took these photos in about 2003 when I was living in Kyoto, Japan. This is the inside of a traditional Japanese woodblock printing studio in the centre of Kyoto. I was very priviledged to go with my woodblock printing sensei (teacher) to meet Sato-san whose studio this is. I spent the morning there watching everyone work. Incredibly, there were 5 people working together in this intimate little studio. It was amazing to watch. Every square inch was crammed with materials and yet people seemed to be very happy and calm as they worked together printing woodblocks. The skill level was phenomenally high, leaving me feeling like a lazy printmaker when I left.

The quality of these photos isn't great - I had to scan them as this was pre-digital camera for me.

You can see more recent photos of Sato-san printing here on Annie's blog.