Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Just be Kind

Hello all.

It  has been some time since I have blogged! Usually it is lovely, nicey, nice, arty fulfilling words. At least I hope so!

Today I feel compelled to write about something very difficult to write or indeed talk about.

Coming to work today, I heard on the local radio station about an incident in Macclesfield. Then, as I approached the studio I was met with a neighbour who told be about a man up a pylon.

The Facebook drums were in full force about the traffic, police and ambulances. Oh, and a man up a pylon.

I do not know the man. I do know that he is someone's son. Perhaps someone's brother, uncle, dad, husband, lover, best friend. I do know that he will be loved. Even if he is not feeling it right now.

I do know that if he does come down and gets support, his life, however bad it may feel right now, can improve. Bad things do not last forever.  Good things do not last forever. Life is a mix of both and, though some people do have more than their share of one or the other, there is life after devastation. We can become accustomed to anything.

I hope and pray that the man (up the pylon) is safe. I hope he is supported to gain strength for his recovery. Otherwise, another family and friend-set will be going through the agony of being left behind.

I was shown a local paper today. I do not even wish to name it. I am quite disgusted. On the front page is a photograph of my friend. He took his life a short few months ago.

The reporter phoned his fiancée, who did not wish to speak to them. That mattered, not, it seems, as the reporter quoted her anyway. The front page story (though wasn't the whole story) made up from facts gleaned from the inquest into the death of my friend. My friend, a man: who was a fiancé, a son, brother, uncle, cousin, friend.

I am still praying that the man in the pylon is safe. There is nothing I can do for him. There was nothing I could do for my friend. There is little anyone who is close to someone contemplating suicide can do, except that which we do. We offer support, kindness, words, time.

But quite often we do not know. We each have our own daily dramas and time sprints ahead of us, as we sometimes, unsuccessfully, race to catch up.

And this is why it is imperative that, in our busy lives, when we are late for work because of unusually high traffic or the operator on the till is too slow, we need to be kind.

I was reminded of this during a discussion at dinner last night. My friend Nik related a story he had read.

So, I'm taking a deep breath and my intention is to be kind. I will smile at the woman walking past my car because I do not know her story. I will smile at the man who bumps into me in his rush to get where he is going because I do not know his story. I will smile at the cashier who does not make eye contact and seems disinterested in her job because I do not know their story.

With kindness,


Thursday, 27 November 2014

Mosaic Club Fun

Got to be a short one today, off to Lime Walk House to grout their mosaic:

creative therapy mosaic, lime walk house

But in the meantime, I need to recover from mosaic club this morning. My sides hurt with laughing! 

It never ceases to amaze me, the range of topics discussed around the table; interesting, scary, deep, funny. What I did notice, was that when someone is in the 'mosaic zone' they will miss most of a conversation but just one word will bring them back to real time. This can have either a mildly confusing or hysterical effect! Needless to say, it was the latter of the two today. Though I hold back divulging details about the well known, high street, adult only store which brought forth much merriment!

As I am thinking of bringing a dog into the family, various ideas as to the breed came up.  Once everyone was settled with everything they needed and their chosen brew, we did a bit of 'googling' but I'll blog that separately.

This took us to the www to research images and I was very happy to show one of my ladies how to use dropbox as she expressed a desire to further delve into the artistic creation of 'grotesque birds'. We were laughing too much to consider reprimanding Kevin when he said he was used to the company of grotesque birds on a Wednesday morning! 

I love the diversity of designs produced during Wednesday morning workshops: house numbers, dogs, dragons, hedgehogs, foxes, Italian City scenes and Toucans (Guinness!)

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

St Vincent De Paul School Mosaic

Wow! What fun I had making this school mosaic.

The Head, the staff and pupils were amazing from day 1!  Mrs Moores asked me to create a design which was to be pupil focussed.  I was more than happy to oblige!

 The staff asked the children to create a drawing, reflecting their ideas about their school. 

I had the very lovely job of going through nearly 300 pictures drawn and coloured by all of the children. 

Well, sitting in my studio, coffee in hand and with the sound of the narrowboats sliding up the canal outside my's a hard job but someone has to do it!

school mosaic

The predominant themes coming from the children were: 

Jesus, the World, friendship, the curriculum and nature.

My idea to  get the children to create ceramic shapes for the rainbow using a different curriculum area for each colour was very warmly received.  

Some of the actual drawings were used for the mosaic - Jesus, the butterflies and the Angel, in particular.

A heart shaped 'World' with Jesus in the middle, holding his hands out in love to the friendship band of children holding hands around, took centre stage in the mirrored cross.

primary school mosaic,

Now initially, the mosaic was produced on mesh and when I went to install the mosaic, one of the parents had expressed concerns that should it ever need to be moved, this would not be able to happen.

No problem, a quick shift to put it on some wood and an extra background was included to facilitate this.

Adapting to what is needed can add excitement and take me as an artist down unexpected but wonderful journeys!

Although not on the image, as the school has a strong musical background, I suggested that the tree was made separately. I created a frame to enable a recording device in the back which the children could push a button to activate.

I was certainly happy with the result and even more pleased that the children and staff were!

Mrs Moores very kindly sent me an email thanking me and to say that 'the mosaic looks spectacular'.


school mosaic

Monday, 24 November 2014

Virtual Creative Therapy For All

Virtual Creative Therapy

My passion is 'inclusive education'. I studied it at Masters level and implement it whenever I can. I truly believe that creativity should be available to all, whether an individual feels they are 'good' at something or not.  The chances are that that person was told early on that they were 'not good'.

But, do you know, being 'good' at art really doesn't matter. Unless you want to earn a living at it, in which case, it matters on a different level.

We are all creative beings but from an early age creativity seems to be passed over as a less-than-valid-activity. I was forever getting told 'don't play with your food' but, boy, did I make some AMAZING creations when I did! I would be gently reprimanded for being distracted with creative ideas. I know I am not the only one.

All that said, once a person has got over the hurdle of believing they can and want to give creativity a go, the next one may be the physical access to it.

I have been toying with the idea for a long time now - should I offer Skype tuition? My workshops are great fun and everyone benefits from working in a friendly group atmosphere but there are some people out there who cannot get out of the house. Now youtube is great and all but sometimes you just need a real-time workshop and an experience tutor to SHOW you how to do things and look at your work to help you improve.

I think I will explore this further - in the meantime, if you or anyone you know would be interested in this, please get in touch.

Love and creativity!



Sunday, 23 November 2014

Marvellous Maker's Macc

The Creative Space Studio at Maker's Macc
Heritage Centre, Macclesfield

Do you know what I think of when it comes to the bi-yearly 'Maker's Macc'? Vibrancy.  Yes - vibrancy, colour, texture, diversity. I LOVE it!

This little poppet's mosaic is a PERFECT example of just that! Can you believe this young lady is just 6 years old? A natural tesselator if ever I saw one!

Mosaic workshop, family workshop

I love introducing mosaics to new people and facilitating families to create together.  

Here are three mosaic Christmas Tree decorations produced by a client at a workshop a couple of weeks ago.

There are some places still available on Saturday and Sunday 13th and 14th December for either an adult only workshop or a family workshop.

Hope to see you at one of them :-)

mosaic christmas decorations, mosaic workshop

Mental Health and Art

Mosaic and Mental Well Being

The beauty of mosaic making is that is such an inclusive art form. As an artist it gives me a sense of well-being and as a teacher, I get an immense sense of satisfaction from seeing a tangible positive mood shift when working with others.

From my mosaic club students who come for a 2 1/2 hour fix of head emptying whilst mosaic making, to a 7 week course with participants in a residential rehabilitation unit - I see mosaic making giving much needed time out to all. 

We all need that time to just 'be' whether it be creative, sporty, cognitive or other ways of  'zoning out' we all deserve it.

 I love this mosaic which is to grouted next week. Produced at Lime Walk House in Macclesfield, this effective piece of artwork has been produced in just 12 hours (over a 6 week period) by a small group of people.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

September Smiles

I love September! Children are back in school and the grown ups can come out to play.

It was so nice to see my regular ladies again and our newest addition to the group - all working on something TOTALLY different!

The new Yogi teas were a hit - ginger and orange but I think I might just have to get some of the chocolate tea in. Yum.

I have promised to make my ginger and banana loaf for next week so I might just have to get some fresh bananas today so they will be just right for baking at weekend. It's always best left to mature for a couple of days.

No soup recipe today - I am trying to work out how to still do soup on Wednesdays. It will come to me but in the meantime, I've put a little recipe at the end of the blog - a nice sauce to accompany chicken and steamed potatoes.

Did I say I'd missed my gang?

Georgina working on her ladybird. 
Can't wait to see her new project, starting next week!

Do ducks eat fish? Sue's mallard might!

Bridget's White Nancy is coming along nicely - loving the sky!

Anita's  tray is beginning to look delicious!

I felt like to doing a little dance before - the sun was out, brews and  biscuits were on the table and chit chat was flowing.

We did, as always, get to discussing food and I promised I would share my recipe for my favourite quick sauce:

To serve 2
1 tablespoon low fat mayonnaise
2 tablespoons natural yoghurt
1 teaspoon English mustard
1/2 teaspoon honey
Mix well and serve in a sauce bowl on your plate.

I love this with baked chicken breast, steamed beetroot and potatoes, served with green beans and cauliflower.  

See you next week!

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Autumn at t'mill

Well hello my lovelies!

It has been an AGE since I last blogged.  Nearly a year!

I promise to get my act into gear now I have updated my blog page theme.  Prettier, methinks.

It has been a SUPER busy year; settling into the new, bigger studio, holding lots of workshops in and out of the studio. Here are some images of recent projects:

A lovely workshop with lovely ladies who all produced a mosaic table top.

A little girl's 5th Birthday Party with foam mosaic frames.

My new Husband and I! Our honeymoon patio. 
Yes - I finally got married in April. Told you it was a busy year!

Mosaic ducks and butterflies at a BUPA nursing home.

A3 mosaic for a local church.

Mosaic making at Barnaby Craft Cafe 2013

90 mini mosaics created and installed in the new gardens at Bexton Primary School.

Community mosaic in sheltered housing in Macclesfield.

Well dressing at local nursing home.

Well dressing designs and support at St John's Primary school, Bollington

Creative therapy at a mental health centre in Manchester

Creative therapy mosaic plant pots (and planting!) at nursing home

1m2 mosaic at Bushbury Hill Primary school in Wolverhampton

Mosaic workshops at the studio

Launch of new 'White Nancy Giftware' range. This image shows my Shamballa bead wine glass charm in a hand made origami box.

Pre-grouted White Nancy mosaic

Well, as you can see, I really have been busy. There are lots of other things going on too such as our Autumn programme for adults and children's workshops in half term.

If you would like to see how you can come and learn a new skill or even expand on existing ones, please get in touch, I would love to hear from you.

kindest regards

Debbie (Mrs!)