Long time no post……

Here’s a question for ya……is it a good thing or a bad thing to have no real creative focus?  To feel the need to flit from thing to thing – to be a creative tart (in the most vernacular sense of the word)?

There are so many things that I have my creative soul immersed in.  I dance and teach dance, I make costumes for dancers, make jewellery (so that includes marketing and photography which I SUCK at),  am creative in general and I try to do the best that I can to create two human beings who are thoughtful and funny and creative themselves.  To be honest I’m never sure that I manage to achieve any of the goals I set myself but I do try.

My new creative inspiration is a woman called Gillian Allen.  She is hugely inspiring to me.  Her artwork, in all its forms, has a coherence that I love and her aesthetic style is one I admire and aspire to whilst at the same time hoping that I might be able to forge a place for myself in the small and comforting sphere in which I inhabit.

Being a commercial artist (in whatever form you choose) takes some chuztpah and so I am not saying that I aspire to becoming a successful commercial artist.  In fact, to become someone who inhabits that realm I think one needs to have something different to chutzpah, you just need a grasp of bullshit.  And to travel in circles that ensure that you have access to those people who have excess cash and minimum taste.

In my former life (before children and responsibilities) I was enthralled by The KLF who amongst other things tried to perteptrate a great art scam by creating *art* and trying to sell it to art galleries (they filmed all of this) who claimed that they could not well it to them (the galleries) unless they were “artists”.  People who had risen through the ranks of those who were celebrated as artists by means of nefarious activities appear to be described and celebrated as *artists*.  I have to assume that they were nefarious activities (by which I mean bribery and sex) because who on Earth can determine is an artist except for the person who wishes to obtain the art that has been produced by the *artist* in question?  Our society has always placed a price on someone who has procured something via means of money or sex (and it’s usually sex if we examine history, money coming a close second).

What I loved about The KLF (Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty) was their burning of and then nailing to a board of a million pounds of their own money and then trying to sell the results nailed to a board as *art* (you should say, “One Miiiiillion Pounds” in a Dr Evil voice along with the *little finger at the corner of the mouth* affectation in order for this to have full effect).   Without an understanding of the *art world* one could assume that the burning of such a great amount of money, and then the nailing of it to a board to show how this form of swapping something (printed paper) for something else (things) is subject purely to our idea of what each thing is worth and perceived as, would be a massively important piece of art.  BUT, Bill Drummond and Billy Cauty were not recognised as artists.  So their work meant nothing.

Although Bill Drummond has apparently since said he regrets burning the money the documentary that was made about their efforts was hugely enlightening, with art gallery staff questioning their status as *artists*.  Being an artist was shown to be a commercial venture that those without special invitation were not allowed to take part in.  So art is not about what you like…..

Anyway.  I love that the Internet exists.  I love that I can experience the art that others produce without having to buy expensive books without seeing them in advance.  On the back of the stuff I have discovered recently via the Internet I have bought books and purchased craft materials that I didn’t know existed and now I’m doing my bit to share.

For inspiration go:

Here for colour ideas

Here for digital art ideas

Gettin’ all webby

So.  I’ve been busy re-building websites.  

Now, I’m no expert at this and I am the queen of using templates.  Why have I had to rebuild my websites?  Well, one was because a previous site host was too expensive for what I was getting so I shut down the site in September last year and it’s taken me this long to get it sorted out again.  It’s up and running and apart from a few tweaks and a bit of linking I’m pretty happy with how it’s looking and you can go and have a look at it if you like?  Blackwillow Tribal is the name.

Website #2 is my belly dance site, with information about my classes.  The host for this one is changing the package and I felt that what I was getting for the price I would have been paying it wasn’t right for my needs.  So I’ve used the same web-builder site that I have for Blackwillow Tribal and I’m currently waiting to hear from the current registrar to see if they will unlock the domain and enable me to transfer to the same registrar based here in the UK that I’m using for the above site.

And website #3 is my belly dance event site – and I’m re-building it for the same reasons as #2.  It’s unlocked and the transfer should be happening for that one in a few days.  Fingers crossed it all goes smoothly!

Getting things done

I had plans for today and I’m pleased to say that I got pretty much all of it done.

First job was to re-arrange the furniture in the attic bedroom so that a fairly tall cupboard that stores my daughters arts and crafts stuff was directly under the window up there.  This is the one room in the terraced house that gets quite a lot of sun, from when the sun rises behind the houses on the hill behind us until midday.  And even on overcast days it gets good light.  So the reason for wanting a work surface there is two-fold – I want somewhere to germinate seeds AND somewhere to take photographs of the things I make for my Etsy shop.

Second job of the day was to empty out all of the old compost from the pots in the garden and get it into the car and take it to the tip.  Done.

I then got the kids to help me with washing out all of the pots we own – they did the little plastic ones and I did the big earthen-ware ones.  And once that was done I filled the smaller pots with bulb compost, planted Summer flowering bulbs and topped each pot with a little regular compost and some Spring bedding.  The left over Summer bulbs were planted in random places in the garden although I’m unsure of how they’ll fare as the soil in the only bed available is very compact and full of roots from trees and shrubs.  I just figured that if the Bluebells could make it through every year something else might just manage it too.

Luckily this was all done just before a fairly heavy rain shower so that was pretty handy.

Tea was consumed and then the kids were restless so I took us all for a walk around the river which meant that we did about half the journey in the early dark of evening, so once we got home is was pyjamas and supper all round.  One of them is in bed already and the second is just watching Dr Who before I pack her off to bed so that I can try and get some dance practice in.

All in all I’m a happy bunny.

As Winter wanders away….

…I am feeling so much brighter and happier.  I do dislike the greyness and general coldness of winter, and to be honest, if I won the Lottery I would probably buy another home somewhere that was warm and sunny.  Why buy another home and not just relocate?  Because I do love the UK bizarrely.  I’d just like it to be warmer and sunnier…

As it was half term last week I did some tidying up in the garden and my next thoughts should what I’ll try and grow (and most likely fail at) in pots in the garden this year.

As last week was a busy one with the children generally I didn’t get a huge amount done, but I did just about complete a necklace that I was embroidering (you’ll get a proper picture once it’s all finished) and I got some fabric flowers made. I’m not entirely sure what I’m going to do with them yet…..

Once I’ve decided what I’m doing with them I’ll let you know..

And in dance news, well, I’m working on something for my solo at Hipnotic in March, will be tweaking and honing what my Tribal ladies and I will be dancing to at the same event, drilling my learning disability class in readiness for their performance in May, practicing with Covert Bling for the upcoming performances with them, researching what I’m going to do in my new fitness and drills class and start teaching my daughters Primary school class a (hopefully) simple folklore/fakelore dance as this term they are learning about ancient Egypt.  That should be enough to keep me out of trouble….

New Things….

….but not new things I have made.

It’s been a funny couple of weeks.  Very cold weather meant that I spent most days last week wearing my coat indoors between 9am and 3.00pm and getting very little done whilst J was at nursery.

And then at the weekend there was a great flurry of things happening.  First off I dropped my phone (one held together with gaffer tape no less) down the toilet.  I spent most of Friday and Saturday trying to get it dried out enough to assess the damage.  In the meantime my parents visited us on Saturday and within the haul of goodies they brought with them were:

A knife (I’ve got lots of knives so I made them take it back)

A First Aid kit for the car (I’ve got one in the car, one in the house and one in with my camping gear, so I made them take that home too)

Some teeny little stockings for the Christmas tree (ok, I’ll keep those then)

A couple of belly dance belts (ok, I’ll keep those too)

Chocolates (go on then, twist my arm….)

Another box of chocolates (owww, more arm twisting)

A bottle of wine (ooooh, ok, if I must keep it….)

Secateurs (long story, don’t ask)

A laptop (REALLY?  you don’t want it?)  It turns out that my mum got it from a friend who got it as an incentive when he bought a phone.  He didn’t want it, gave it to my mum who in turn spent three weeks playing Solitaire on it, decided she has no interest in anything it can do for her and so has given it to me. !!!  A while ago a friend came round to my house with her laptop and after identifying the network and putting in the password the laptop wouldn’t work.  I later Googled this (just in case I ever got a laptop – which in fairness seemed unlikely) and found out that I probably needed to get a dongle as my PC is wired, not unwired.  But on Saturday I got the laptop to connect via my home broadband and so now I was feeling all….technical 🙂

About an hour after my parents left my ex called to say that he had an armchair, did I want it?  Yes please!  We currently have a sofa that me and the two kids can get onto and the only chair in the sitting room was a creaky and uncomfortable wicker one – now we have a big old armchair so it’s all getting quite comfy.  I’m already looking forward to sitting in the wicker chair in the garden during what I hope will be a balmy summer (well, I can hope can’t I?)

And on Sunday I discovered that the dunking my phone took meant that the battery couldn’t hold a charge for more than 6 hours, and all of my photos, music, vids were wiped, and the camera would no longer work.  Time for a new phone.  I now have a pretty good touch-screen phone, nothing too flashy and got that to connect to the home broadband earlier so now I’m really teched up!

You may notice that no-where in this post do I mention dancing/classes/making stuff…..I’ll save that for later in the week, so in the meantime why not click on over to 1st Unique Gifts and see what the very crafty people over there have been up to!

Temple to atheists

As a recent convert to Richard Dawkins I think that the idea of an Atheist monument still gives credence to the idea of a god.  So read some Richard Dawkins with an open mind and read journalists as having agenda.  Dawkins says seeing someone as an Atheist means having an inherent belief in god…..

Up until about 15 minutes ago (a lie) I still believed in supernatural beings, ghosts, mediums, astrology, crystals, tarot cards and distance healing.  (By the way I am lying, I have been thinking about this for some time….)

About 12 years ago I went to a weekend event about psychic ability and how to develop it. The most vociferous adherent of this was the man running the event, backed up by the most pale and weak looking of the participants who described his experience with a UFO and it’s inhabitants.

Having spent more than 2 pence on this weekend I was keen to see something positive, but when I left after the first day I realised that I had left behind my sleeping bag (don’t ask) and so I went back to the venue – to the very room where I and others had been *advised* by someone who had greater psychic powers that I did – when I went back into the room I was greeted by a sheepish looking man, a down-trodden looking woman (his wife) and three slightly taken-aback young women (all participants in the weekend workshop).  Hmmmm.  The most vocal of the participants so far had been the pale and weak looking young man – he was no-where to be seen………..

After more than 10 years of *trying things out* I can honestly say that Richard Dawkins seems to speak the most sense.

If Darwin was correct then there is no Creator.  If there is no Creator then there is no other supernatural being. Jung had a hold of something, but it would seem to be that he had a hold of an idea that Dawkins has been able to describe a little more easily…..the ideas that seem to *us* to describe our view of the wider world…..

I have no problem with a temple that articulates our human and widening response to what we and (separately from us) biology can achieve…..

Belly dance headdresses – and other things….

The week to come is a busy busy one….

Amongst the motherly duties and volunteering that I do I have a new class promote via posters and fliers.  I hope it doesn’t rain this week as I really do not fancy walking around posting the fliers through doors in cold wintry rain.  Monday evening?  Not sure yet – might complete a choker, write a choreography (or at least start one) or have an evening off as I’ve got a full and busy week ahead.

On Tuesday evening I have troupe dance training/practice to go to as usual, and then on Wednesday we are all attending a baladi workshop with a fabulous dancer from the US who is here for a few days, Ranya Renee (very excited about this!)  Baladi is a traditional style of belly dance, a very beautiful earthy and folky style and the workshop with Ranya will be both hard work and a great treat.

On Thursday I’ll be sewing/promoting and I may well get to finish these two flower and feather headdresses:


I love making these kind of headdresses, and I have deliberately made these ones quite simply so that the pricing isn’t over the top.  As I have some of the base fabrics left I think I shall make another version of each but this time with more jewellery and bling attached so that customers can choose between a simple version or a mega-version.  Once they are completed they’ll be listed in my Etsy shop and then I really need to get on and complete the purple one that’s sitting on a head in my living room….

Friday?  It’s Bollywood night at my daughter’s school and although Bollywood dance isn’t really what I do I AM the only mum prepared to get up in front of everyone and perform as well as try and get some adults up to join in with a *copy me* version of the same dance.  I’m going to be doing a belly dance/bollywood fusion number that I performed in a troupe some years ago; the music is fun, and I can make the choreography a little simpler so that people can follow along more easily (note to self, I really must upload the track to my MP4 player….)

Once the Bollywood event is over I shall drop the children off at their dads for the weekend and next morning get to have that most coveted of things….a lie in!

At various points through-out this week I will be practising/reminding myself of a choreography that I shall be performing at a belly dance event (known as a Hafla) I’m going to on Saturday evening.  Now that I’ve decided what I’m going to do I’m feeling quite happy; I couldn’t decide on what to do until I realised that I have a choreo that hasn’t been seen outside of my Sunday class so I’m going to use it on Saturday.  As I have a small stall at the event I’ll need to make sure I’ve got everything packed into my wheelie bag by mid afternoon so that I can do a last double check of my costume and make sure I’ve got everything else I need.

It’s just as well I’m writing this down – I was thinking that by this time next week I’d have had a lie-in, taught a class and would have the children home, but in fact I shall be at the Hipnotic belly dance event I co-run every two months……wow, busy week it is!

As I feel as though I have been slacking on the making front I’d better point you in the direction of the 1st Unique Gifts Blog – by the time I’ve had a look at what everyone else has been up to I shall feel exhausted all over again but it’s great to go and see what people have been doing and making – all very inspirational!


Project De-Stash

Sometimes I really wish that I had a room all to myself for my stash of stuff that I use to make things with.  The set-up I do have is pretty good though, everything is stored in the under-stairs cupboard in various boxes and I’m pretty good at storing like with like – the feathers are in one box, the jewellery in another, lace and little bits of fabric in another and so on.

For ages though I’ve been meaning to have a good sort out and (against my magpie hoarding tendencies)  sort out all of the things that I’m probably never going to use myself, get them photographed and get them up for sale, either on Ebay or on Etsy.

Over the last week I’ve sifted and sorted, and today I have taken many many photographs.  I don’t have enough time today to get them all edited, so that’ll be my job over the next few days – editing and describing and then getting them all up on-line and hopefully selling them.  All monies from project de-stash are going to be put towards a new tent for me and the kids so fingers crossed!

In the meantime, pop over to the 1st Unique Gifts blog to see what everyone else has been up to.

Christmas Crafting

….has not been done by me unless you count food 🙂

I’ve done very little except for think about things that are *in production*, and look at a bag of rhinestones to sort out in my minds eye the ones I want to use on a headdress that’s about a third of the way to completion….

Other than that the children have held sway over the creative realm over the Christmas holidays.  Here’s my tree, looking a little bedraggled:

Today was Art Day.  My daughter came in to my room at 6.30am to ask if she could get her paints out.  A (random) prize will be awarded to anyone able to correctly guess my answer to her (I’ll allow some room for creative license here)  😀

Anyway, once we were up and bathed and breakfasted and dressed I got out the paints.   They both spent about an hour painting/vaguely arguing over who should have artists rights over the colours available to them.

After a great many attempts my son came up with this…

I can assure you that it’s not as good as his previous series of works, The Sarah Jane Game On CBBC renditions, which mostly comprise of grids drawn in green crayon (my apologies for having nothing to show of this collection, it *appears* to have been recycled).  But it did take him almost an hour to create this piece from a selection of 12 colours.

Kid’s art is fabulous, especially for me as his mum as I can see daily how this new skill ebbs and flows from him.  His drawings of people are now more abstract than they were in the first two days of him drawing Father Christmas, but they are suddenly more populated.  Here’s one of me:

I’m the blob on the far left.  Next to me the two tall beings are him and his sister, top right is the sun and bottom right is, *just something, I don’t know what it is.*  So the milestone today was him drawing more than one figure on the page available.  Would it be too “cod psychology” of me to imagine that his realisation about how many people can exist in a space is working on both an internal and external level?  Is he beginning to distance himself from those he loves, maybe in readiness for his next external milestone, nursery?  Is that why he can now draw more than one person on a chalk-board? (And can I just say that the chalk-board has earned every penny of the 99p I spent on it?)

The last in today’s series of child art comes in the form of a diagram representing small, medium, big:

I hope you’ve all had a wonderful Christmas whatever you’ve been doing, and that the New Year brings us all joy and wonder and hope. xx

Picture of Santa

My son (aged three) has gone though a milestone I wanted to share.  This week he drew a picture of Santa.  In fact he has drawn multiple pictures of Santa.  What’s fabulous about them is that I can see they are a picture of someone.  To be honest they mostly look like Mr Tickle but I am loving the fact that he can now articulate more fully what is in his mind rather than it being a random scribble that to him looks fabulous and to me looks like random scrawl.

Santa has made an impact on him this week – we’ve been to two toddler group parties where Santa visited – the first was a pretty poor representation (although well meaning so I mean no disservice) and the second was a fabulous example of an amply proportioned man in a bushy beard and moustache with equally opulent costume, glasses and a cheery demeanour.  I recall being scared witless by my first encounter with Santa (when I was in Infants School at 3 years) and although my son’s general exposure to the man in the red suit has been less than favourable (understandable as per my own recollection) he has obviously been able to  compute his experiences this week and make meaningful marks.

To those of you who do not have children this will seem like a meaningless, boring and petty observation, but I can assure you; the point at which a child can meaningfully portray an image that they hold in their mind and that they can convey onto paper so that an adult can interpret the marks is a wonderful and meaningful one.


The body incorporates the head, but the head has eyes and a smile, arms have hands and fingers and has legs (no feet but I can forgive that!)

I hope that Santa/Mr Tickle makes you smile.  🙂