Friday, December 24, 2010

Just a little post to say...

...Merry Christmas and a happy new year, season's greetings, happy you all no matter where you live in this wide and beautiful world, no matter what path you follow.  May you keep safe and sound with your loved ones, may you keep warm where the snow is falling, cool where the sun is burning, may you have food on your table, a good roof over your heads, and a smile on your face.  And may we all look forward to a new year with a little more love, a little more compassion, a little more tolerance for each other...a little more time to appreciate how beautiful the world is, how lucky so many of us are because we already have all the things we need...and a thought for those who do not, a thought that might become a deed, and a deed that might change someone's life for the better.

Peace and Goodwill to all

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A December birthday...

...and a gift for someone very special.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Fire Angel and Ice Queen...

The little Fire Angel is finished, and also Mother Winter who has been waiting patiently for her ribbons and bows.  Perhaps she has been sleeping, hiding away from all this heat and bright sunlight and dreaming of long dark nights and ice festooned trees.
She is lying on the small gift bag I made for her, 
hand-sewn out of linen dyed with onion skins and eucalyptus leaves.
And just for Oya's Daughter...the trick is actually a tiny, very fine pen nib, 
mounted on a feather for lightness, and gold ink!
In the end, I decided not to try looking for a suitable quote as I would be here till next Christmas on the web trying to find something.  So I just wrote a little poem that I think/hope will be appropriate for its new owner.

Old Mother Winter with her ice leaves and crystals.
Another little poem, about rebirth and the circle of seasons.  Within the dead of winter lies the seed waiting for spring (goodness, I sound like a Bette Midler song!), and here, in Western Australia at least (apparently in the East States summer has yet to put in an appearance) in the harsh dry summer we wait for the greening that comes with the Autumn rains.

It has been a busy weekend, I always have this pie-in-the-sky Christmas dream of a perfectly clean and tidy house ready to be decorated with gorgeous home-made things, but I never quite seem to get there.  Always there is a mad scramble of cleaning and dusting (accompanied by much sneezing), of putting away (or when that fails, shoving into the spare room), of cooking and Christmas always arrives at least a week early. I made my Pan Fortes, but will need to make more as they are likely to disappear without a trace when the other half is anywhere near.  Mind you, the munchkins will also magically disappear them now, despite the fact that they are quite spicy (Chilli has become a compulsory ingredient in the last few years)!  But today I decided I'd had enough with the cleaning, and spent a little time making a Christmas banner for my kitchen window.  Brown paper and string never looked so good, I think!

Friday, December 10, 2010

An angel in progress...

A work in progress, a 'sort of' commission.  The red background will become gold wings.  I need to find a suitable quote...something about rebirth, renewal I think.  I will post pics when it's finished.  Christmas is coming much too fast and I have too much to do and not enough time as always!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A song emerging...

I am writing my first ever song with the guitar.  I've written the odd song before, but always the words and voice/melody were paramount, with any accompaniment being just a vague idea in the background. But this is a completely new way of working for me...twiddling around finding an interesting chord progression (very simple stuff still, I've only been doing this for 6 months), then playing around with different picking rhythms, letting a melody line evolve that seems to compliment it, and only then allowing words to float in that fit in around that.  It resulted in something that is less of a clear narrative than what I've written in the past, with words that sometimes fell into place because of their sounds as much, if not more, than their meaning.  But I'm rather liking it so far.  It is currently only a two chord song...with a couple of surprise C chords thrown in, but I think I like it enough to hang onto it.  So perhaps in another year or two, it might evolve further, as my skill with the guitar evolves.  These are the words at present, but all are subject to change without notice! ;-)

Through the window she came
Too long to wait for the moon to change
Out to the trees where the owls sing
Who are you, who are you, who
She says....
Gotta get me some wings
To fly away.
And the old man on the hill says
Wrong time of year to run away
Winter is coming and the frost is cruel
Don't be a fool.....
And stay.

She got a red rose blooming at her throat
An old donkey skin for a winter coat
Her feet hit the ground running
And she will not stop
Till she's far away...
Lickety-split go her tiny little toes
Lickety-split she's following her nose
Who knows where she'll go....
Got a pebble in her pocket and a piece of string
Tied in a knot for remembering
Who she was
And still could be...

And the road is paved with white stones
They'll cut her poor feet to the bone
And a trail of blood leads away
To a house by the sea
Made of fish bones and coral and old sailors' tales
And the old man on the hill says
Go on and be a mermaid
Wash your white feet in the brine
Watch them disappear into fin and scales
Lickety-split go her tiny little toes
Lickety-split she's following her nose
Who knows where she'll go....
Got a pebble in her pocket and a piece of string
Tied in a knot for remembering
Who she was
And will be again...

Christina Cairns © 2010

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Anniversary Jam...

No, it's not a bunch of old musos getting 'the band' together again!  Yesterday the Other Half and I celebrated 16 years of wedded bliss.  And what did we do together to celebrate?  Well, apart from the fact that both of us forgot entirely until I was writing the girls' lunch orders for school and had to fill in the date and I wondered for a moment why it seemed significant...and then remembered...we made jam.  No, it's not a metaphor for anything else, we did indeed make apricot jam.  Having run out of bottles for bottling (I'm sure I've got some more somewhere but can I find them?!), we decided to tackle jam-making.  Neither of us has made jam before, so whether it was beginner's luck, or we're just 'naturals' I can't say, but it turned out beautifully.  I may have to make some scones tomorrow to really appreciate it's perfectness, and that will of course require the good china and the nice white tablecloth (can't be half-hearted about Sunday afternoon tea)...mmmmm.

I think I might have posted this photo before, but what the heck, it's entirely appropriate (I am, after all, wearing Apricot coloured silk), and I like it.  My mum made this dress and embroidered the bodice, and I hand-painted and beaded over the top.  I also made my hairpiece, and jewellery and shhhhh, don't tell anyone, but it's actually made with plastic beads.  It's the 'practice' one...because I never had time to make the 'real one!  But it doesn't matter, it's still the best wedding I've ever been to.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Busy busy...drowning in apricots...

I have promised myself that I will write a nice long post about a magic place that's very special to me, with lots of photos, but it will have to wait for a few days as I am rather busy at the moment, so this is just a quick update for now.  I spent this morning giving a 30 minute talk about art to my littlest one's pre-primary class.  They were so very good, and so very cute, and asked lots of wonderful questions...though one little boy was so very excited about the prospect of school swimming lessons this afternoon that he had to tell me about that, AND that he had new swimming goggles too!  And we did get off track a bit at one point when I mentioned that the Green Man was a bit like a special forest fairy who looked after all the forest creatures...which led to rather a long discussion about the tooth fairy and methods of extracting teeth.  But they were all so lovely, and told me my paintings were very nice.  Then it was off to in my new REAL job, wearing my graphic designer hat, which so far has turned out to be very low stress and so much like my old job that it feels like deja vu!  Then home again this evening, to deal with this......!

I wish I could say that these are entirely organic, but I'm afraid after two years of trying organic methods of controlling Fruit Fly, and two years of seeing not only our entire crop of Apricots but also all our Nectarines turn to brown rotting mush, we gave up and used a spray.  So these need a good wash before eating.  But at least we know what they taste like now, and my oh my they are good!
They still have spots and blemishes, and we've lost a few to the dreaded fly, which makes my shudder to think what commercial growers use on their fruit trees.

So tonight was our first bottling night.  I bought all these jars about 3 years ago in anticipation of our first crop...and this is the first chance I've had to use them...gosh, I've come over all CWA (that's Country Women's Association...the only cookbook I've ever come across that has a recipe for MOCK TRIPE, AND a cure for Scaly Leg in chickens all in the same book!)

This is the first 15 bottles.  There will be lots more!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

An old woman and a flighty muse...a story fragment needing a home...

I have been reading Rima Staines' wonderful post about the old and rather scary women who inhabit the dark forests of faerytales.  It's an odd thing, when something you've been thinking about lately suddenly pops up elsewhere.  But it reminded me of a story fragment I wrote a few years ago.  This is a typical example of the way my muse works, by the way.  She blithely drops the middle of a short story, or the first few lines of a poem, or a song melody with no words (or vise-versa) into my lap, then nicks off and never gets back to me with the rest of it.  It's incredibly annoying, and as a consequence I have notebooks filled with scribbles longing to be more than just a middle, or a first line...yearning in fact to be WHOLE.  She's better with paintings, I suppose I shouldn't complain too much, she might not bother to drop in at all if I'm too rude about her.  I don't know what class of muse she is, so I can't vouch for the quality of her snippets either...perhaps she gets the grab bag of factory floor sweepings, or drops off the bits she knows a better writer would throw in the compost.  Ah well, anyway, here is a middle that has no beginning and no end, and I have no idea what to do with it.  About an odd old woman in an old little house.  The painting is my Isis-Persephone.

She came stomping after him, like a reluctant child dragged along unwillingly for the ride.  He chose to ignore the over-heavy footsteps, because he knew that they were designed to make him look around, at which she would most likely pull a face of pain and indignation at being brought to this place.  She hadn't wanted to come, he couldn't deny that, and his stubborn refusal to acknowledge her anger was fuelled by guilt that he had talked her into it in the first place.  He had wanted her to be with him and convinced her it would be interesting, fun, a chance to get away from it all, all of which he had known was untrue at the time, with the possible exception of the last one, but he had argued nevertheless.
The sun was low in the sky when they reached a small outcrop of rocks that proved to be a dwelling.  The sole inhabitant was a woman so old she appeared to be part of her rough hewn home, rather than sheltered by it.  He spoke to her in the local language, and her voice cracked and skipped over syllables as if she had not spoken for a long time.  She was hard to understand, it was obviously not a dialect she commonly used.  She spoke of her daughter, who was not there, "away" somewhere, though whether gone for half an hour or half a century, it was not clear.  She heaved herself up and stirred the small cooking fire in the centre of the house, shuffling through the loose dirt on the floor.  She offered them hospitality in the formal manner, bade them drink with her and eat with her, and told them they were welcome to spend the night.  Miriam was tired, the trek from the broken down landrover had been long in the heat, and Matthew accepted the offer of a bed.
The old woman laughed and clapped her hands when they introduced themselves.  Her name was also Miriam, Miryam, Mariamme.  The stars burned brightly through the open doorway, as the night turned deep indigo around them, and Old Miryam made thick sweet coffee and offered them unleavened bread and honey, sprinkled with sesame seeds.  She hummed and chirped to herself as she worked over her fire, singing in a dialect that was entirely unfamiliar to Matthew.  He listened quietly, trying to penetrate the words and find some meaning, but though it had a familiar sound, like a nursery rhyme remembered, he could not understand it.  Miriam sat staring into the fire, hugging her knees, and saying nothing.  He watched the firelight play across her face, and between its flickering and the old woman's moving shadow Miriam grew old and young again, became a new person, different, alien.
After the simple meal, the old woman sat herself down across the fire from them and stared at them without speaking for what seemed like an hour but may have been five minutes.  Matthew felt embarrassed, as if she'd seen him naked, not only physically, but mentally too.  As if she'd looked through his facade and seen his true self.  Then she laughed again, and began to speak.  It was a few moments before Matthew realised that she was speaking English, the surprise of it completely confused him so he did not hear what she actually said but was only aware that he recognised it.  She was telling a story, and she introduced it with the words that are so familiar to every child.  "Once upon a time..." she had begun, waving her hands to indicate they should sit and listen.  "Once upon a time there was a mother.  And once upon a time this mother had a daughter.  A daughter young and strong and beautiful.  And the mother loved her daughter more than the stars in the sky, more than the earth at her feet, and more than the wind that blows three times round the world.  

 Christina Cairns © 2005

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


Alas, alack, I can no longer afford the luxury of being an artist who doesn't make any money (like most artists!) tomorrow I am back to work part-time, wearing my old, crumpled and sadly out-of-fashion hat of graphic designer.  This is good, because several years off to have a family have turned me into a semi-hermit and I've begun to doubt my ability to be a responsible adult and hold down a normal job...and of course, the getting paid part is definitely a bonus.  But it is also bad because there will be much less time for painting and stitching and other creative pursuits.  Ah well, such is life.  So things may be quieter in the attic, but I am not disappearing off into the sunset entirely.  And quality is better than quantity anyway, wouldn't you agree, so that's what I'll aim for!

As to other changes, I was rather horrified to be informed by the local Post office lady (as I posted off a small pile of parcels to giveaway winners, and Etsy customers), that as part of new security measures in the USA, any parcel going to the States that weighs more than 453g (yes, that last 3g is the killer!), will need to have a customs declaration on it AND it will cost $9AUD extra...even if it is just papers/documents.  Now the prints I posted today didn't weigh that much, so prints should be fine, but I imagine it will affect my original paintings.  So sadly I will have to increase some of my postage costs in my Etsy shop.  So if you wonder why, please remember, it's not my fault, really!

Well, first day back in the 9-5 daily grind tomorrow, so I'm off to bed early.  I'm nervous as all hell, but hopefully I won't do anything too disastrous or make too much of an idiot of myself (this from a woman who regularly falls UP stairs)!  'Night all...and here's Mr Bowie!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Summer is acumen in....phew, they're not wrong!!!

As the Mercury is bouncing off 39ÂșC (just over the old Century) at the moment, and Spring hasn't even finished yet, I'm sharing a favourite summer beverage.  I realise that most of you are descending into the long freezing nights and short cold days of winter now, but perhaps you might like to try it next July!  My other favourite summer beverage is a nice G&T with lots of ice, but this is more guilt free!
The two main ingredients...yep, it's essentially iced tea!

I was overjoyed to discover the Elderflower Cordial in my local supermarket a couple of years ago.  It might sound like an odd thing to get so excited about, but you have to understand that as an Aussie, I've never even seen an Elderflower, let along drunk Elderflower wine or cordial.  But it's something I've grown-up with all the same, because it's the sort of thing that gets mentioned in the kind of books I liked to read as a child, and still like to read.  So you have to understand that to me, the very words "Elderflower Wine" are magic.  It's the sort of thing that Faeries drink.  It's as if you popped into your local Bottle-O and found Hobbit Ale...made in the Shire by genuine Hobbits.  And what was even better, was that it tasted exactly as I imagined it would (there's always the chance of a terrible disappointment in that department)...light and sweet and flowery, like drinking nectar.  

Now, it's lovely on it's own, but it occurred to me that Lady Grey Tea (which I much prefer to the old Earl), being rather light and flowery itself, would marry beautifully.  So I gave it a whirl.  Mmmmmm!

The finished product.  A jug of this out under the apricot tree, this evening when it has cooled down a bit, would be perfect.

OK, so probably not perfect for a northern hemisphere winter, but there you have it anyway.  Magical winter drinks for me would be mulled wine, or a slightly warmed honey liqueur, like this one (scroll down to the bottom of the page).  Hubby and I discovered Bartholomew's on, appropriately enough, our honeymoon!  No I'm not getting a commission, but I'm happy to accept one if they're willing to pay me in Mead!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

And the winner is....

Scroll down to the bottom for surprises!
Yes, I couldn't help myself, I decided to have a second draw for a little second prize.

I also decided to give a Special Merit Prize because WOL really deserved a prize for her wonderful poem.  If you haven't read it yet, it's here...and it gave me a very good laugh!

So...Ren (from the wonderful Fairysteps) is the happy winner of my little pendant, and Valerianna (at Ravenwood Forest) and WOL (at The Owl Underground) can choose an A4 print from my Etsy shop!
So if my 3 winners can email me their addresses (and their print choices) I shall be sending their pressies out over the oceans to their new homes.

Thanks to everyone for entering!

Monday, November 15, 2010 to put the names into a hat...

...and draw out a winner.  Don't worry if you were a bit late, I'll include everyone who has left a comment up till the writing of this post.  And I may just have to include some special consolation prizes too, as there were some wonderful poems!  Thanks to everyone who entered, it's lovely to be able to give something back to the people who've helped me along the way on this blog journey, and kept me motivated to keep going!

I shall be back in due course with a winner!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

12 hours left to enter my giveaway!

Quick, go get your skates on.
Don't worry too much about poems and such,
It was just an excuse for some fun!
So leave a comment today...
And tomorrow we'll find out who's won!

Off you go and leave your comment HERE to win this!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

I wish, I wish upon a star...

I could go to this, but it's just too far.... :(

Vali Myers is one of my absolute favourite artists.  She had an amazing life, a wild, bohemian, gypsy soul who created the most incredibly detailed artwork.  Unfortunately she's barely known in her native Australia.  She lived most of her life overseas, but returned to Australia in the 1990s and died in Melbourne in 2003.  For a while her studio was kept open as a museum/gallery of her art and life.  Sadly, lack of funds forced it's closure...and even more sadly, I made a trip to Melbourne in 2006 to visit her studio...a month AFTER it had closed...sigh!  And I would so dearly love to be there tomorrow night for the opening of this exhibition, but there are several thousand kilometres between this side of OZ and the other side, and I simply haven't the funds for the plane fare.  So, if you happen to be in Melbourne, go and have a look, for me!

And don't forget to visit my Giveaway post HERE and leave a comment for a chance to win!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The mermaid turns ONE...and a gift for you...

Well, today it is my first birthday...well, the first birthday of A Mermaid in the Attic!  Yes, I have been rambling on about goodness-knows-what and playing show-and-tell with my little pictures for a whole year now.  And marvel of marvels, there are 191 people out there who find something worthwhile in my oft mad musings and ponderous ponderings.  So, that all seems like a good reason for a Give-Away, don't you agree?!  So, to thank all my readers and regular commenters for all your lovely support, I've decided to give this pendant away to one of my dedicated followers.

 So, what do you do to win this little OOAK hand-painted Olive Wood pendant?  Well, I'm sure most of you know how these things usually work, it's all very simple.  You need to be a follower, and leave a comment on THIS post.  Hmm, let's see, shall we make it a bit more interesting?  How about a 4 line poem (well, you can do more if you like, limericks are always fun) on the funniest (or weirdest) thing that happened to you this month?  I'll allow for a certain amount of 'poetic license' so don't get too worried about it, just have fun.  Don't forget to make sure I can contact you if you win.  Then I'll pick a bunch that make me laugh the most and put them into the top hat and draw out a winner.  Sound fair?  So, you've about till midnight on Sunday?  That's midnight here, where the mermaid lives, which is GMT +8.  But I'll warn you when the deadline is approaching.  So, hop to it, off into your various garrets and summon up the poetic muse.  And if you really MUST use a goose quill pen to get the creative juices flowing, go ahead!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Off to the Art Gallery...

I spent a lovely afternoon at the Art Gallery of Western Australia with a couple of friends, seeing this exhibition.  I love seeing the work of other artists, it's one of the things that inspires me, and one of the reasons I love the internet, a veritable visual feast available at my fingertips, from all ages and all places.  But nothing can compare with seeing the REAL THING.  There's something wonderful about seeing up close a painting that you've only ever seen in books or on the small glowing screen that's in front of me right now. A small, flat reproduction can't really give you an idea of the texture and the size, the techniques and even the true colours of the original.  So this was a chance to see a favourite artwork 'in the flesh' so to speak, but also the opportunity for surprise, a new artist, a piece you're not familiar with that is arresting and exciting.  This painting, by Max Ernst, has long been a favourite, and I was surprised by its size, it was much larger than I imagined it to be.  And it was a welcome burst of colour in a selection that was largely subdued in darker or neutral tones.

Then we happened upon this one, by William Congdon, an artist I'm not familiar with.  It's a large piece, and all three of us liked this one, spending quite a lot of time looking at it from different angles.  What you can't really appreciate from this small picture is that the artist has laid colours down on the canvas, painted over it in thick black oil paint (and thick cream on the left), then scratched back into the paint to reveal the layer beneath.  What looks at first glance to be fine white detail painted over the black is in fact very loose scratching back.  It gives it a wonderful 3D effect.

On the whole, I was a little disappointed that there weren't more pieces, but I suppose that's the nature of a travelling exhibition of this get a couple of famous 'signature' pieces and lots of less well known works.  But still, an enjoyable afternoon, I love seeing an exhibition with friends, it's always fascinating to discuss (or argue!) which ones we like and which ones we don't.  And I do like eavesdropping on other people's conversations as they look at art, it's fascinating hearing how other people are affected by different pieces, whether they liked them or not and why.  If you're interested, have a look at the official Peggy Guggenheim Collection website, they have lots of wonderful images of the large collection of abstract and surreal art.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Wildberries and old pants...

Oddly enough, it's the pants in the cooking pot, not the Wildberries!  The inaugural issue of 'Wildberries: Journal of Mythic Fantasy' is out.  I have a poem ('Beauty Remembers') and two paintings in this issue.  You can view the issue online here, and also download the PDF if you prefer.  Please pop over and have a look, there is a great selection of poems and short stories, and don't forget to let Joel know what you think, it's a labour of love and he has put so much into it.

More of this happening old holey pair of cotton 'bali' pants gifted by their owner.  Typically, I forgot to take a 'before' photo, so I dug out the discarded waistband to show the original colour.  I was hoping for more of a greenish hue, given that the onion skins were over-dyeing a blueish fabric.  But that is part of the mystery of natural dyes, you don't get a guaranteed result, you have to be patient and wait and see.  I rather like it, nonetheless, but I do want to incorporate more greens and reddish browns into this piece...well, I think I do, though it's very amorphous at the I may have to resort to commercial dyes.  I'm tempted to buy some of the gorgeous hand dyed fabrics on Etsy and the like, and I may do that, but I would like the majority of this piece to be old bits of fabric that have some meaning to me.  But it will be a long time in the making, so who knows what it will end up wearing!  It will have story incorporated into it too, but that is something that will develop in the weaving and stitching, not something that I can decide on now.  That's part of the journey, the story unfolds as the cloth unfolds.  Perhaps it will be a sad story...perhaps happy.  I won't know until I get there.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Halloween...when faeries turn into witches!

My little Autumn faery turned into a witch for a Halloween birthday party on Saturday.  She specifically wanted to be a 'kitchen witch' so I made her a little apron (with a pocket to keep her glowing eyeball in...eeek!), and a raggedy patched skirt.  Littlest faery wasn't going to a party but wanted the same, so that meant two of everything!

I'm in two minds about this whole Halloween thing.  While the IDEA of Halloween appeals to me immensely, it just ISN'T something Australians have ever celebrated, and as it's a seasonal holiday it's entirely illogical to be celebrating it in Spring anyway.  But commercialisation has taken over and where once we only encountered it in movies and books from the US, now every shop here has all manner of Halloween junk to sell (I managed to rein in the excitement of the small people and limit them to a hat, a broom, and a skull necklace each...oh, and the aforementioned glowing eyeball).  Most of it is really nothing more than instant landfill.  I've noticed the same thing happening with Easter and St Patrick's day.  Easter was once a time when you bought chocolate eggs...and that was about it.  Now you can go completely overboard and decorate your entire house with life size (or rather 'human size') Easter Bunnies, chickens, banners, easter egg 'trees' and ornaments and God knows what else.  And come St Pat's day, it's all green glitter bowler hats and leprechaun costumes.  No sooner is one holiday over, than they roll out all the stuff for the next one.  I don't have a problem with special, meaningful holidays...I love them, but these are being stripped of all true meaning.  I'm sure there must be someone somewhere as we speak, trying to come up with a new holiday that will require decorations and cards and gifts etc, for the middle of the year, it seems to be the only bit left that isn't already tied up.  Now that Halloween is out of the way, Christmas will take over...which usually means that by the time Christmas actually gets here I am thoroughly sick of it!  I have this dream to one day take my whole family away for Christmas, somewhere in the northern hemisphere where it will be cold and snowy, but somewhere that Christmas hasn't been entirely ruined by months of muzak carols in shopping centres, plastic Santa Claus' scaring me out of my wits by yelling Ho Ho Ho at me as I pass by them, impossible-to-avoid Christmas buy buy buy advertising, and people going nuts trying to buy the biggest, the best, the most expensive whatever-it-is and putting themselves into debt for the whole next year.  I don't suppose such a place actually exists, but I live in hope.  I love Christmas, but I hate what it's become...a 3 month retail orgy to convince as many people as possible to part with money they haven't got, to buy stuff they don't need.  I want a REAL Christmas!

Oh dear...I'm probably sounding rather like Scrooge by now...Bah Humbug!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

One little baby faery has flown the nest!

Just a quick note to let you know that the baby girl faery wrapped up in the rose petal blanket has found a new home already!  She will be winging her way to the other side of this wide brown land, just as soon as I add the final touches.  I'd better paint some more!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Plight of the Bumble-fingered faeries and bedroom make-overs...

Oh, I couldn't resist, I will blame it on my mum, who loves puns!

 My two baby faeries are FINALLY in my Etsy shop.  Yes, I AM the Queen of Faffing About, I admit it.  I considered adding beads or glass leaves to these, but in the end I decided I liked the ribbons the best.  Which is just as well, as I have discovered one of the liabilities of being a guitar player (well, a learner at least) is that I CANNOT PICK ANYTHING UP WITH MY LEFT HAND!  Once upon a time, I had soft, sensitive finger pads that could pick up small beads, pieces of paper, needles,, I have these rock hard and completely numb finger tips that can barely FEEL a needle lying on a table, let alone pick it up!  I can't hold anything small in them and manipulate it...I spent this afternoon dropping beads and accidently snapping the tops off crystal frustrating, and how unexpected.  I didn't realise learning a new skill could compromise my old ones!

I ummed and ahhhed about what to charge for the faeries too, and settled on $40.  According to this article on Etsy, I'm not charging enough, but I don't think it's a very realistic formula.  Speaking of Etsy, there are all sorts of changes afoot and not a lot of people are happy about it.  If you haven't checked your Etsy profile lately, I suggest you go and have a look at what they've done to it and judge for yourself.
You can find these two here and here.

Now....drum roll please.  How many of you remember the Super-Bedroom-Makeover?  Well, if you don't or have joined up to read my ramblings since the last SBM post, you can always click on the 'bedroom makeover' label at the top of this post and get the whole story.  But to cut a VERY LONG story short, it is finished.  Actually, it has been for a few weeks, but as I have already admitted to being the Q of FA (now, don't be rude, I didn't mean THAT!) I've only now gotten around to posting about it. We haven't moved all the furniture back in that needs to go in, but it won't be much more anyway, and about all it needs beyond that is a nice rug on the floor.  So what do you think?  He's a clever chap isn't he, that other half of mine!
Composite picture (I do love Photoshop) from the doorway

The bedspread I bought years ago because I fell in love with it even though it didn't go with any of the colours we had at the time.

This WAS going to be Beloved's special TV chair in the lounge room...but it looks awfully nice here.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Featured on FAT Tuesday...

Click here to visit Beth's blog!
The lovely Beth over at Beth's Artworx has a Featured Art Tuesday on her blog, and I am one of today's featured artists...woo hoo!  She saw my little Christmas ornaments and loved them, so they are featured along with some lovely work by several other artists.  Please pop over and check out her blog, and be sure to follow the links to the other artist's websites to see more of their work too!

Hmmm...I'd better finish those ornaments and get them into my Etsy shop quick smart!!

Friday, October 22, 2010

A short scribble for today, because I'm feeling a bit like this....

And shall I erect my cathedral in you?
The architecture of my mind striving to find
a silence of sky blue enough to reach to.
All this jingle-jangle daily bump and bang
grinds my too-fragile-for-today bright towers down
and my feet cannot ascend the stairs and leave the ground behind.

© Christina Cairns 2005

I'm not sure about the last two lines but one.  There was a temptation to write "all this jingle-jangle daily bump and grind / wears my too-fragile..." so it would neatly rhyme with find, and behind.  But I think that's too neat, too cliched.  I like 'almost-rhymes' so 'bang' and 'down' it is...for the moment anyway.

Hmmm...typos often present interesting possibilities.  I just checked my preview and realised I'd written 'jungle-jangle'...I quite like that.  I shall think on it further.....

Thursday, October 21, 2010

"Waves" is in a new Etsy Treasury!

This little painting is getting around!  It's just been featured by WillyNillyKnitter in a treasury that is all things HAIR!  I'm loving those long red plaits!
I have been creating LISTS in a (more than likely futile) attempt to become ORGANISED!  We shall see what happens.  I did spend today cleaning and sorting out my laundry because it was ON THE LIST...but how long I'll be able to keep it up I don't know...I know myself too well, and my dreamy, disorganised, procrastinatory inner (and outer) child will pretty soon be whispering "oh, it can wait...what's a few KNOW you want to go and paint something...anything!"

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Christmas pendants/hangers...and some slow stitching...

Christmas is coming and like many people, I love handmade decorations.  Of course, I have my fair share of plastic (ie. small people friendly) ones, but I can probably jettison a few of them now that my girls are big enough to be a little more careful when decorating the tree.  So with that in mind, I thought I'd make some that were special, OOAK, unique and customised.  A Christmas decoration that is a perfect gift all by itself.  These are the first, painted today.  An old mother winter, with her wise face and long silver tresses, and two little tiny faery babies fast asleep in their tiny cradles, rocking gently high up in the Christmas tree.  Customised with name (on front) and dates (on back) added, these two would be perfect as a gift for a new born's first Christmas.  I'm still twiddling around trying to decide on details, but thought I'd 'show and tell' to see what you thought.  I've done a very rough 'dummy' up in photoshop to show you how the lettering might go, though it would be hand-painted on the actual pieces.  As with my other hangers, these would come in a small hand-made gift bag, and I'll probably include a little certificate of authenticity or similar.  Any suggestions are welcome, including what you think would be a reasonable price...yes, I'm hand-balling that to you, my trusty followers, because it's the part I hate the most.  I am NOT the fastest artist out there, each faery baby took almost an hour to paint (and the wise winter woman took almost an hour and a half...but her face was being very troublesome!), though these are the very first and hopefully I might get faster with practice!

There is a little of this happening now...VERY slow stitching this is...I suspect it will be a long while in the making.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The wonder of the world wide web...

...that my little paintings can be seen on the other side of the world.

A week or so ago I received a lovely request from drama teacher Russ at Grassfield High School in Chesapeake, Virginia USA!  He and his students are putting on a play about Theodosia Burr Alston (sounds like an interesting story...mysterious disappearances at sea!)  He asked if they could possibly use one of my paintings for their poster.  I wouldn't normally say yes, willy-nilly, to anyone using my artwork, but it's for a school theatre production, and as an ex-theatre student myself, I couldn't say no.  So, if you happen to be in Chesapeake on Thursday, Friday or Saturday this week, do drop in and tell them all to 'break a leg' from me, as it's a little far for me to go!  Here's the poster they designed, with my 'Waves' featured.  I'm looking forward to receiving a T-Shirt!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

'Snow White to the Woodsman'. Just another scribble...

A poem, written a year or so ago, imagining that Snow White's heart may not just have been saved by the woodsman (or huntsman)...but won by him too.  But a princess must marry a prince, must she not, no matter who holds her heart?  This is probably the longest poem I've ever written.  It is also probably not finished, but none of my poems ever are.  I need someone else to tell me when they're complete, I never know, just as I never know if they're any good.  And so the perpetual perfectionist in me cannot resist tinkering over and over.  The illustration is, of course, by the incomparable Arthur Rackham.

GO, now.
Build your woodsman’s hut
     deep in the forest of star-stealing trees
     or by the sun-wrinkled sea.
It matters not.
Make a garden filled with herbs magical
     and all manner of things good to eat.
Plump tomatoes heralding summer’s heat.
Robust carrots finding their feet
     in the moist, dark soil.
Delicate beans fingering soft green toward the sun.
Pumpkins fit for any princess to ride home.
Measure the days out in teacups filled with sunshine sipped
     leaning on your spade
     beneath the apple tree
     heavy with fruit as red as heart’s blood (how else could they be?)
And look to the path that winds through the dunes
     or bends in the tunnel of trees.

And on terror filled nights when the wind whips the waves 
     to towering creamy peaks.
Or the forest cracks and beats trunk against trunk
     to splinter the weak...
     summon a maelstrom.
Cook with sheer passion, wild abandon
     be sure to always leave your windows open.
Then, frozen and wet, seeing your light
     draw the lonely and lost travellers to your door
     nostrils filled with the promise of warmth 
     in bellies cramping and cold.
When they knock, gently lead them in
     and pass out your bowls of steaming soup 
     piled high with love and hope.

In the morning when the storm has passed
     the sky is blue and the sun is bright,
     point them to the path they lost in the night
     where it dips and bends away to the east.
Do this.
Be patient.
And one night she will come.
Stumbling on small white feet
     frozen and bloodied from the stony path.
Perhaps she lost her sealskin, stolen
     by a heartless man.
Perhaps she followed a trail of breadcrumbs 
     too far to find her way home.
Wrap her in your warmest coat and seat her by the fire.
Rub her frozen fingers between your warm and
     work-roughed hands.
Ladle all your longing into a bowl and watch her sip.
Say nothing, for nothing need be said.
Watch her as you would a wild and beautful thing you cannot own.
A white swan.
A woodland doe.

When her fingertips warm between yours
     her cheeks flush pink
     and her eyelids dip,
Carry her gently to your single bed
     wrap her warm like a child, kiss her forehead. 
And spend the night yourself in the chair by the fire.
In the dawn when her eyelids flutter wide
     bring her tea made with herbs
     sweet honey from your hives.
When she stands to leave, give her your coat.
Point to the path she lost in the night.
And let her go.

Yet watch, hope, 
     for a moment, wait.
Let her see
     you fed her from your brimming soul.
And I promise you 
     she will not reach the gate,
     but turn around,
     turn back to take your hand.
What happens next I cannot tell
     it is for you to complete the spell.
But I fancy if I passed your window some days hence
     on business I know not what,
     I might see you standing by the wooden bench
     arms around her.
Floured hands on floured hands

     kneading the new day’s bread.
And as she leans back against you
     you might bend your head
     to kiss the long white curve of her neck.

And on wild nights
     still cook with wild abandon, but
     a small meal just for two.
Close the windows fast.
Let the weary travellers pass.
You cannot feed them all.

Promise me, 
     when she comes
     you will send a letter with your news?
I will take it down to the sea,
     wash it clean with salt-sea tears.
And when the page is bleached white and dry
     I’ll write the things I should have said
     and all the things I should have done,
     cut a long lock of my raven hair
     squeeze a drop of red blood from my thumb.
And binding three colours together, sealed with a kiss
     I’ll bury it beneath an apricot tree.
That something sweet and good might grow
     from what was almost, but could never be
     between Thee and me.

© Christina Cairns 2010

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