Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Faeries (or Fairies) and the next project(s)

There were nine excited little faeries (and two little pirates, one excited and one, unusually for him, very shy) at the Pickled Fairy in Fremantle on Sunday.  A glorious sunny, warm day, despite the fact that it IS supposed to be the middle of Winter and we DO need some rain.  Much fun was had, much faery bouncing happened (possibly due in part to the amount of Faery cake consumed), and a welcome flash of green among a sea of pink.  It's not that I really hate pink, but as the mother of two girls I am SOOOO sick of it.  But that's another story.
That's big sis in the background wearing her purple cloak

No, I didn't make these wings...luckily found this pair in exactly the right colour.

Awaiting the arrival of the Faery Queen.

Faeries conferring with mummy faery...no grey hairs showing thankfully!

I have two and a half weeks before the next birthday to finish the Autumn Faery.  Unfortunately I couldn't get wings in the right colours (too much pink, again!) so I've made this pair.  Well, it's a joint effort, as Beloved hubby made the wire frames, out of coat-hangers.  A pair of red stockings that I've worn once I think (yes, I DID wash them after), and some gold acrylic and gold glitter paint.
This is the front.  I've since added gold glitter over the whole thing.

And here's the back, with some of the glitter in the top corners.  

So, I still need to sew a red leaf hood, a pixie skirt, and some pixie pockets, and make a goblin stone, a magical invisibility jewel, a faery necklace and of course, a wand!  Phew!

*   *   *

While I'm at it, I'm making a new sign for the Mulberry Lane Cafe.  My almost nine year old has lately shown an interest in 'secret' clubs and the like, wanting 'spy girl' items from school bookclub.  I went through this stage too, about the same age or a little older, and so my favourite books were of course, Enid Blyton's 'Secret Seven' and 'Famous Five'.  So I thought I'd try and get some of them for her, and was very chuffed to get hold of a new boxed set of the first ten 'Secret Seven' adventures for her upcoming birthday.

But...my beautiful girl is struggling a bit with school, and is having some trouble with spelling and maths (though not as much as SHE thinks she is).  She also told me last week that she doesn't like reading and sometimes just turns the pages and pretends during free-reading time at school.  This is something we will have to sort out, as it's far more to do with her confidence level than her actual ability...she reads perfectly well at home with me, but she gets flustered when she hits a word she doesn't immediately know.  She seems to think she SHOULD know everything, and is embarrassed and upset if she doesn't...and she thinks she's letting me down somehow.

It's hard to understand how I could not have noticed, and I feel bad, but I suppose I just presumed my children would be good at the things I was and probably not at the things I wasn't good at.  Silly really, but there you have it.  So as a life-long book lover, I buy books, beautiful children's books, whenever I see them on sale.  So she has lots of books sitting there, 'waiting for her to read them' is how she put it, and making her feel guilty because she isn't.  Oh dear, my poor little one, all this angst and pressure at only eight.  And she also got upset because she thought I had probably bought her books for her birthday and it would be MORE books waiting to be read.  And of course...I have!  I thought they would be perfect, and now...well, I realise they're not so perfect.

I know she can read, and I know that for me, and for so many other people, the love of books can be traced back to one book that as a child just grabbed our imaginations and made us want to read.  So I thought that perhaps, rather than presenting her with the whole, daunting set, I might just give her the first one to start with, to be read together with mummy so we can get through any hard words easily, and if it gets a bit too hard or too tiring, mummy can take over and she can listen.  And to help make it a little more fun, I'm making this.  Perhaps I'll make some special members' only badges like the Secret Seven have as well.  And maybe she'll let mummy be an auxiliary member...I can supply the 'lashings of ginger beer', and hugs whenever they're needed.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Looking for magic...

I suppose it's something I always knew, but sitting on the couch in my family room yesterday morning, basking in the winter sun, coffee in hand, just day dreaming a bit...it occurred to me that what I'm looking for, what I've always been looking for, is magic.  Not wriggle-your-nose-turn-into-a-toad magic, but some indefinable quality of beauty, mystery and wonder.  At first it dawned on me that that was the quality I looked for in a house.  That what I wanted in a home when I was ten years old, is still what I want in a home today, what I've tried to create.  Some special spot where magic might happen: a secret nook, a twisted drooping tree, a lovely window, a climbing rose over a pergola, a corner of a room even, where something wonderful could happen.  The house I spent most of my childhood in didn't have much magic actually in it.  A long brown brick box with a verandah, built in 1974, on a concrete pad, one story only (2 story houses being something rare and therefore very magical that only appeared in the books I read), with its fair share of bad 70s wallpaper and bathroom tiles.  But I managed to conjure a little in my own room, with its green walls and pictures of fairytale castles and Cornish villages cut from travel brochures and stuck to my brown built-in wardrobe doors.  And my small bookcase (built by my dad) that held my precious Narnia books, and others of a similar vein.

Outside in the garden there were places under the grapevine, and the frangipani and the May.  There was the moss covered old log at my friend's house, their old overgrown orchard and the huge pine tree at the bottom of their very large garden.  And a little further away, there was a magical valley with a stream running through it, where I played and dammed the creek and tried to catch tadpoles and jilgies, where huge granite outcrops stood like sentinels facing the setting sun, tall gum trees waved in the wind and magpies sang their warbling songs and cheekily expected tit-bits.  It even had a magical name...'Whistlepipe Gully'.  In the last house at the end of the road before Whistlepipe began, lived an old lady who had once been an art teacher.  Who knows if she might have been a kindly old wise-woman as well.

I told myself stories about this place, invented characters and names for the stones, a language for it, and a whole array of scribbled ideas about the different kinds of magic that existed there, what creatures were aligned with each, and charms and spells to use for protection in encounters with them.  I think I still carry this with me now, and I go looking for it all, that sense of otherworldly-ness, in my mundane life.  And so I realise that houses that I like and dislike are judged on their potential for magical possibilities.  This is why, I can now see, modern glass, chrome and steel boxes hold little attraction for me, and old, rustic, slightly decrepit houses made of wood (especially wood framed windows) always do.

The house my parents moved into when I was 22 (and me with them...late to leave the nest) definitely had magic.  The house itself had some (wooden windows for a start).  But it was the garden that truly captured my imagination.  It was the garden I'd always wanted.  Big, and green, with real full-size trees including, most magical of all, an oak tree.  I was married beneath that tree.  Sadly it is no longer standing, the house gone with it, victims of 'developers'.

But it isn't just houses.  As I thought about this, I realised that I do this with almost everything.  Clothes, furnishings, jewellery, music, shoes...everything needs to have a touch of magical potential.  How odd I think now, to decide between two kitchen implements on the basis of which one seems to have more magic in it (new wooden spoons win over cheap new stainless steel, but an old metal spoon found in a dusty Op Shop's back shelves would win over both).  Silver jewellery is almost always more magical that gold.  Green velvet and suede.  Boots.  Red Hair.  Long skirts.  Old tea cups with roses and gold edging.  Second-hand books with scribbles in the margins.  Sea-glass.  Feathers.  Shells.  Rocks with holes in them.  Every time I pick something up, there's a little voice in the back of my mind, the voice of a child steeped in Narnia and Faeries and Green Men and Hobbits, that asks "but is it MAGIC!?"

One forest faery outfit finished, and a happy newly six year old faery!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Winter green and thinking.

Do you remember this little house, from this post?

It is winter now, and the rains have come and carpeted these hills in soft green.  I do love this time of year down south.  My girls are staying with their grandparents for a few days while on school holidays, so we drove down through a bright green landscape lit in glorious sunshine.

I have a multitude of tumbling thoughts that I want to let out but can't quite get them to behave so that they'll make sense.  I am reading David Abram's The Spell of the Sensuous at the moment.  I'm not very far into it, but it is speaking volumes to me so far.  But I can't quite get it all into a cohesive enough train of thought to post yet.  I think I need to mull over it a bit, and drag some of the vaguely orbiting, half-formed connections in properly, tie them down so they can't keep floating off again.  You think you have a nice solid idea, but as soon as you go to write it down in black and white, it all dissolves into mist and odd bits that aren't quite formed yet, and they change shape and slip between your fingers when you try to grab them.

The faery outfits are coming along...no further on the jackets, but I now have two brightly coloured fluffy tutus hanging up in my family room...must remember to hide them away before the girls come home!   I was quite tempted to make one for myself, but I'm not quite sure where a 44 year old woman wears a tutu...any thoughts?!
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