We have created a new collection of Posts: Making.
Last September I planned to have six months of not writing so I could concentrate on craft. For many years I worked as a potter alongside writing, gardening and bookselling and I had reached the point where I wanted to make things again. Basic practicalities ruled out pottery; I no longer have a kiln, nor anywhere to put one, the cat eats everything (poisonous glazes probably included) and has a fairly cavalier attitude to things such as ornaments (and probably fragile, drying pieces of pottery). If she wants to sit on a shelf, she will; the well-aimed sweep of her tail usually removes anything that might be in her way. Watching the objects bounce (or crash) onto the floor can be an entertaining bonus. Papier mâché seemed a perfect alternative and, strictly speaking, I’d be re-teaching myself as I’d done it at school.
In a manner remarkably similar to red London buses, three exciting book projects came along: a poetry anthology, the introduction for a beautiful book on roses and a new edition of our Orchards book. The paper scraps, wallpaper paste, brushes and paints were put to one side.
I had chanced upon Ann Wood’s website (ann wood handmade) when I had googled ‘papier mâché ships’. She lives in a delightful Victorian-looking studio in Brooklyn and makes enchanting ships and sailing boats (as well as a host of birds and animals, complete with settings and accessories for the little ones). Crucially for me, at this stage, she writes a ‘weekly-ish’ blog which she started in 2006. I read each entry, starting at the beginning; they are fun, fascinating and immensely inspiring. Last week I caught up and I had enjoyed reading them so much that I seriously considered going back to the beginning and starting again. Then, on Friday, she wrote about the Hundred Day Project. This is exactly what I need; a structure where a little time is set aside each day for some sort of making.
Chris and I both want to do the project so we have decided that we’ll post what we’re doing on alternate weeks; I’ll do the first week and then he’ll take over on Wednesday 10th. I’m going to try to do the project in two ways which will, I hope, combine into a creative few months.
First I want to make something every day. The crucial point here is ‘make’ rather than ‘write’, even if it’s creative writing. I have three half-made patchworks, the start of several papier mâché tests and projects, and a lot of ideas, so it shouldn’t be too hard. I’m already doing patchwork most days; it just needs a little more discipline.
Secondly I want to make one hundred boats. I have taken this idea directly from Ann Wood’s one hundred horses; she created a stampede, I want to create a fleet. At the moment I am imagining simple little flat, painted, sailing boats which will hang as bunting or mobiles but I hope, with time, other ideas will appear. Unintentionally, over the years, I have collected all sorts of boats so I am surrounded by plenty of inspiration.
The project is based on Instagram but we are going to post our progress here. Ideally every day. Below is Ann Wood’s useful advice.
* Be realistic about time. The amount of time you commit can be very small and still have lots of benefits.
* Have a plan for the bad days, a minimal but acceptable effort. And accept the bad days. Everybody will have lots of them. I have some very bad days and post some real stinkers.
* It’s helpful to do it around the same time every day. Your subconscious gets on board after a while and shows up with ideas.
* Think of it as an opportunity to listen to yourself and maybe get glimpses into your singular and powerful imagination that you would not otherwise get.
I shall aim for after tea so I can post the progress at the start of each following day. In theory it all sounds easy……