Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Wall Plate Installation

Permanent markers. A pile of old plates that are originally from a thrift store. And few pictures from inspiring views. 

When I make my long walks I tend to stop and take pictures if something interesting catches my eye. Some weeks ago it was bright sunny day and I saw tracks on ice. Tracks looked like a graphic print to my eye. Back then I was making a quilting project and all that I saw connected to quilting. You know, I have quilting weeks (or months) when I quilt a lot and then I have a break and do other projects. So when I looked at the surface of the ice I thought it might work as a stitching pattern. I let this thought rest and went to plan next projects. 

Then two weeks ago I came across two white wall plates that I had in my cabinet. I had all sorts of ideas to decorate the plates but then I remembered the pictures I had taken of the tracks. I actually first thought about making these plates black and white. But why if there are all these spring colors to use. Free hand I began to draw the tracks that snowmobiles, skiers and people by foot had made to the ice. Then I colored the drawing. Working with permanent markers was a good school about accepting mistakes. It was not that easy to go and correct and I just had to let go and draw. When I followed the circling paths people had made I came to think about how it is said in Boris Pasternak's Doctor Zhivago that "Life is no stroll through the field" (I like this saying and I wrote about it before when I talked about Cheryl Strayed's Wild). Actually these colored patterns on ice look like pictures taken from fields. I still think I might draw black and white version on paper using very thin marker. It would look like graphic print. It would be also easier to work on paper compared to slippery plates and permanent markers. When you scroll down you can see the two pictures I used when drawing the plates.

Monday, 19 March 2018

DIY Easter Twigs

Easter twigs are an essential part of traditional Easter decor. Here in Finland it is still winter on Easter. Easter twigs have been used to count how many days it is till leaves arrive to the trees. If I remember correct the number of days it takes for twigs to get leaves when brought in is the number of weeks it takes for the spring to be here. Because Easter twigs have been used to wish good luck for friends, relatives and neighbors I came up with the idea to decorate twigs with cute little gift tags. To the tags I wrote words that come to my mind when I think about Easter and Spring. You could also write short poems or wish good luck for the one you give an Easter twig. On an Easter table setting these simple and beautiful words work well and bring positive associations.

This is a fun and relaxing one evening craft. The materials are easy to get from store and you don't need to go to a specialized craft store if you don't have time. At least here in Finland bigger grocery stores sell cardboard paper and Easter craft supplies like feathers.

You will need:

Cardboard in subtle pink or white
Feathers in white, natural white and brown
Cotton yarn

Black marker

Step 1. Make a model for the gift tag. Draw 4 cm high and 2 cm wide tag and cut 0.5 cm from the corners. Then draw gift tags to the cardboard paper with the model. Write something to the gift tags with black marker.

Step 2. Cut out the tags and use a needle to add a hanging yarn. Hang gift tags and attach the feathers to the twigs. Choose a vase that goes with the natural hues of the paper, twigs and feathers.

Happy New Week to You All!


Saturday, 17 March 2018

The Secret History. When reality becomes blurred.

I don't know what took so long with Donna Tartt's The Secret History. I had a similar reading experience with A. S. Byatt's Possession. Both novels are enjoyable and have an interesting plot that keeps a reader hooked. When reading The Secret History I was keen to know how things will end up.  Still it took over two weeks to read this novel of 629 pages. I read Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina in eight days (as a challenge) but with this one I had difficulties to read more than 50 pages per day. I have been quite busy these past weeks and as a result I have been tired in the evenings when I usually do the reading so that might be something to do with it. Yet normally when I find a good read I tend to binge it quickly no matter what the circumstances. In the beginning this book made me anxious and I might have tried to avoid it's heavy atmosphere. When I got into the story it didn't feel that oppressive and I learned to read it as a good story. Also I liked that it took place with a group of classics students as I have studied both Latin and ancient Greek, many years ago that is, but still I found it as a fascinating detail. I have already forgotten the most I learned and I never went so deep in my studies that I could have spoken in Latin or ancient Greek (It is not usually even the point to learn to speak those languages). Neither were my study group in any way like the one described in the book which is only a good thing. 

11/52 Donna Tartt: The Secret History (1992). Young Richard is looking for a lifestyle that is completely different from his background. He works hard to attend to college as his parents are not willing to support his studies. When he hears about a group of special students that are studying ancient Greek he wants to get in. Other members of the group have some kind of elite upper class background and Richard lies about his parents to fit in. When inside the group he is drawn into a different way of thinking and seeing the world. Because the group spends so much time together they don't seem to operate with the same terms as the rest of the world. It is both fascinating and scary how the ancient culture and language they study begins to effect their logic. 

Ancient tales have been born in a culture that is different from the one we know now. Even though the Greeks and Romans have had a huge impact to the way our culture has formed it has still been a society based on norms and logic we do not share these days. When the group of six students and their teacher dig deeper and deeper to the ancient texts they begin to loose the modern world and their sense of reality. Closed groups are seductive with their power to make one feel special from everyone else. I began to think of a short story by Susan Sontag that I read some weeks ago, Old Complaints Revisited (I wrote about the collection of her complete Stories here!)where the main character has been part of a group and evaluates how it has affected to their life. It is good to find an interest of one's own and people who share the same passion. It is in human nature to need a group but sometimes groups can be too closed. In The Secret History it is described in a stylish way how small steps apart the classics group from other groups, other students and other thoughts and how fatal effects it has.

The small group twines together in a world of myths and ancient deities. The members of the group don't seem to find other students as their equals and communication with the others is sparse. Instead their thoughts are inspired by the classics they are studying. They are a group of absolute hedonists who want to live the roles given by ancient myths. This rises a question whether anyone has a right to demand divine experiences to fulfill one's own sense of superiority? Is it right to demand the knowledge about the essence of life that no one else has or to seek to live forever on the Earth when everybody else has to die? Is it right to keep oneself wiser than everyone else? And all this with the cost of others. It was scary how they sort of lost their sense of reality and began to see themselves as superior who have the power to evaluate others. It is the danger that lies in every group that is too closed and works just in a small circle not allowing anyone in to criticize it's logic. In a group where people encourage each other to think in a certain restricted way it is possible to create an own system of right and wrong. 

When the irreversible acts have happened the group of students begin to deal with guilt in different ways. If the reality was blurred for a while then after the horrible events the world and it's rules and laws begin to look clearer.  Their act that felt justified for a moment looks unforgivable in the daylight. It was interesting to follow the group's thinking process and the way they rationalized and made right something that is wrong in every aspect. What was justified according to the group's interest's was in huge contrast with the moral codes of the rest of the world. It is shocking how wrong decisions the group can lead itself when there is no one to bring in a new way of seeing things or to give objective opinion. An example of a different kind, one can try to find a solution to a problem but nothing comes up or the solutions are poor. A brainstorm with few people make one see things in a different light and find better solutions. When the members of the classics group become a one unit that comes up with bad solutions they should try to get a different perspective, but they don't. Also it is a good bad-example how group can lead itself to a sick decisions when all the members back each other and the group's inside reality becomes the only reality. They seem to lose their empathy for a while and act like in a game where they want to win without counting the costs. Afterwards the bad things they did to others begin to haunt the groups coherence. They begin to see each other as potential enemies. If the group could come to a such decision against one of it's members who is to know if that kind kind of joint decision is made again and I am the victim.  

Excellent read, truly recommend! Have you already read The Secret History? What kind of thoughts it provoked in you?

The open books in the picture are Latin to Finnish dictionary and The Bible in ancient Greek.

Monday, 12 March 2018

Comb Ceramic Inspired Easter Eggs

Easter is not so far away and I think it is time for a small Easter DIY project. I am not taking huge pressure about Easter decorations. Although I have to tell you about a nightmare I had in January. I saw a dream that Easter had gone and I hadn't decorated any Easter twigs and in that dream I was very sad about that and thought that now I have to wait another year to make things correct. It is a bit funny actually that after that dream I knew it was a nightmare but now that I think about it it would't be that tragic if I don't have any Easter twigs, laugh. But because of that dream and the feeling of disappointment I had in that dream I have already bought feathers to make Easter twigs. Also this Easter my friend from the other side of Finland is coming to spend the holidays with me so I want my home to look festive. Some decorative eggs, Easter twigs with feathers, Easter grass and a bunch of chocolate treats will do the thing. I have a storage full of decorations I have made during the years so I might bring some of my favorites to display. 

My recipe for a relaxed celebration is to spend some time with a simple craft that goes with the theme. Every now and then I like to put hands in clay so to speak and mold and ponder what shape the it will take. When I concentrate on some simple project it allows me to focus that moment and forget all the busy thoughts that sometimes occupy the mind. The best thing about this Easter Egg DIY is that the technique is easy and materials needed are minimal. In this DIY project you get to examine nature's own patterns, plan what kind of pictures to draw and feel the material taking shape. I got the inspiration for this project from the current terracotta trend and old comb ceramic objects that have the most interesting patterns. 

You will need:

Plastic Eggs
DAS Modelling Material in Terracotta Color

Tools to make patterns:
Get creative and look what you have in your cupboards. 
Look for example shells, wooden sticks, forks, knives, buttons, pearls, yarn..

Step 1. Cover the egg with modelling material. Put some water to your hands to make the material work better. Use knife if needed to make the surface about even.

Step 2. If you need guide lines to make the decorating easier, yarn is a great help.

Step 3. Decorate the egg with some pattern tool or draw triangles and lines with a toothpick. Here you can see some examples of tools that make interesting patterns. Shells are wonderful and create beautiful organic shapes. With a chopstick it was easy to make a fun dotted egg. Herringbone and triangles I have drawn with a toothpick. 

Step 4. Let the eggs dry about 24 hours or more. Turn the eggs to make them dry from all sides. Now you have trendy terracotta colored Easter eggs that go to different styles from minimalist to bohemian.

Inspiring new week to you all!