In the Zululand Observer

In my inbox tonight…an interview with Kris by Val Van der Walt of the Zululand Observer, November 14.

amazing people, Inspirations, travel

An article in the Zululand Observer about Kris…

In my inbox tonight…an interview with Kris by Val Van der Walt of the Zululand Observer, November 14.

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amazing people, Australia, craftiness, Darwin, my friends

Three-day retreat

cycad

N.B. I wrote a long blog post about this, right after it happened, but failed to save my typing and lost it all when my browser crashed.

In early October I spent three days, two nights, with the glass artist Meng Hoeschle and her delightful, multilingual husband, Herb. I was put up in a second, smaller house on the other end of their 5-acre property, and told to “relax”.

It was quite funny, me not knowing how to do that. I hadn’t brought any current project (as I didn’t realise I’d be in a separate house, and who wants to unload a heap of things onto someone else’s dining table, engage in something as unsocial as painting, or make a big mess?) so I was rather at a loss for ways to spend my time, while I was alone. I don’t watch television, so didn’t even check to see if it was plugged in. I had a lot of showers, they were definitely luxurious—the bathroom was as big as my bedroom/workspace on the boat!—and I took Nana naps! I tried to draw a little bit, but this was early days for my sketchbook pages and I lacked confidence.

The best part of my time there was, of course, the hours spent in conversation with Meng, and with Herb. If I wondered, on the first night (lying in the white cotton bedsheets, in the air-conditioned bedroom, surrounded by the deep silence of a night on the rural outskirts of Darwin) what the heck I was doing there—in a spotless modern cottage like a resort’s—I had the answer by breakfast the next morning.

Life sends you teachers when you need them. Both Meng and Herb were reservoirs of wisdom and joy, and I cried often during our conversations.

Meng and I talked late into the night, in her studio like an alchemist’s laboratory, while she moved briskly about the room, cutting sheets of glass, enameling them, then putting them into the kiln to slump. We talked about art, about craft, about putting yourself into your work, about the value of such work beyond measuring sticks like money or time. From the rafters, tinkling glass discs and globes trapped or threw ensorcelled lamplight out into the darkness of cycads and gum trees surrounding the house.
sea wall by Meng Hoeschle

I fell in love with one of her pieces, that I have named Sea Wall, because looking through it is a bit like looking at a cross section of foaming ocean, and I love the submarine light that filters through it. The next day, Meng chose another of her works to give me…this one a turquoise tumbler that looks like the moment when a drop hits the surface of a tropical lagoon, frozen in time. It was still warm from the kiln, from the night before, and she wanted me to have something whose making I had witnessed.splash by Meng Hoeschle

Twice, during my stay with the Hoeschles, I was given the bulge and nuzzle of the sea to hold. Precious, precious pieces, representing their two radiant souls, and the gifts they gave to me, of courage and curiosity, of essence and message.

Today, because I cannot take them with me, I took these photos, and then wrapped each piece up in layers of bubbles and brown paper, for when we get back.

Thank you, Meng & Herb.

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amazing people, bookbinding, books + poetry, Inspirations, Online Shops

A few new journals, and Kris’ books, in my ETSY shop

I’ve been trying to photograph and write the listings for some new journal designs to post to my ETSY shop this past week, but there have been so many social commitments, lately…I can’t believe the number of my friends with their birthdays in September, there sure was a lot of baby-making going on during the Christmas holidays! Oh, curious thought: Maybe Santa’s your real dad?

Here are four new journal designs in my ETSY shop…these are made with Spoonflower fabric designs by other talented designers, not me. Sometimes it’s nice to see someone else’s ideas on a journal cover, I get tired of my own style.

Clicking on the image will take you to my ETSY shop. If you want to purchase the fabric, instead, click on the designer’s name under the picture.

Hither & Tither journal. Fabric is “Time Travel” by nadiahassan

Little Mothers journal. Fabric design is “Matryoshka Russian Dolls” by LittleSmileMakers

Tweet Forest journal. Fabric design is “Fun Trees” by Bethan_janine on Spoonflower

Der Deer Party journal. Fabric design is “Oatmeal Spice Deer” by scrummy on Spoonflower

I only bought a fat quarter of each design, so there are only four journals of each. This is pretty much the last bit of bookbinding that I will be doing for a while, so if you’ve had your eye on something in my shop, best grab it now! I can’t take these with me when I leave Darwin (too heavy!) and I will have to put my shop in stasis until I manage to make something new on my travels. I know this all sounds so vague, but I feel as though I am standing at the edge of my known world, about to hurl myself into an abyss! I don’t know any more than you do about what is coming…only that I’ll be with my love, again, and that makes up for everything else!

Speaking of Kris, he left me some of his self-published books, and I have decided to put them up for sale on ETSY, as well! They were printed by small presses in the Philippines, but Kris bound them all by hand (very roughly, but the point of these books is the story, not the binding), so they can legitimately go on ETSY. (As of this listing, Kris is in Africa, cycling through Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia.)

I am selling his two best books:

Monsoon Dervish by Kris Larsen

“Dream. The day you stop dreaming, you are as good as dead.” —the Monsoon Dervish motto.

On a home-built Chinese junk that had no engine, electricity, radio, GPS, not even a compass, my partner, Kris Larsen—a carpenter by trade, an adventurer at heart—crisscrossed the Indian Ocean and the Western Pacific for seven years, from Australia to Madagascar and Japan, covering a total of 45 000 miles.

Forever broke, dodging officials and flying by the seat of his pants, Kris found himself trading spices in Zanzibar, collecting sea-cucumbers on a deserted island, and entertaining gangsters in a Japanese night-club. In Sri Lanka he was arrested as a suspected Tamil terrorist; in Comoros he was chased out of the harbour by gun-waving policemen. He survived a 360º rollover in a typhoon off Taiwan, finally stopping on a beach in the Philippines to write this book.

For the next seven years he tried to find a publisher for his work: anywhere, anyone. Nobody was interested. Frustrated, he typed the text onto a CD and on the next trip to the Philippines he paid a printing press in Davao to run 200 copies of the book. Each book has been bound by hand and covered with old sailing charts, and every copy is different. The first printing sold out in 4 months around the Darwin waterfront. Roughly bound and roughly written in Kris’ pronounced Russian-English, this book is surprisingly funny, entertaining, and inspiring, too…it’s gathered a small following of readers from around the world.

Out of Census by Kris Larsen

“If I could choose one thing to take with me on a round the world trip, I would take a warm sleeping bag. If I was allowed two things, I would add a good passport. In that order.” — opening lines of Out of Census

This is the first volume of an autobiography by my partner and belovéd—a mad adventurer and prolific writer— Kris Larsen. It follows Kris’s growing up in Eastern Europe under communist rule, his days as a tramp and a rock climber, his brazen escape into the West, going half way around the world as an illegal alien with dodgy papers, over-landing to India and beyond.

It’s a humorous take on the life of a would-be refugee that nobody wanted, showing how little you really need in order to do the things you always dreamed about. You want to go on an expedition? Put on your boots and go.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” ― H. Jackson Brown Jr.

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amazing people, art + design, blogging, Inspirations

Zero the One: Muse and Tools for Wildish Creatives

So proud of my friend Kat’s evolving blog, Zero the One…it’s got a new look, stunning photographs combined with fun fonts and design, light-flooded videos featuring creatives and thinkers that she has met on her travels (and at home, which happens to be Rome…a historically rich seam for creative mining), and a brave, beautiful, distilled raison d’être:

We are shameless artists, seekers and movers who care about epic shit.
And a good story (that we live out).

Muse and Tools for Wildish Creatives

The blog’s official re-launch is this October. Get inspired!

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amazing people, travel

At the ruins of Great Zimbabwe

Great Zimbabwe

There was a boy
A very strange enchanted boy
They say he wandered very far
Very far, over land and sea

A little shy and sad of eye
But very wise was he

And then one day, one magic day
He passed my way, and while we spoke
Of many things, fools and kings
This he said to me

“The greatest thing you’ll ever learn
Is just to love and be loved in return”

(from Nature Boy by eden ahbez, 1947)

Kris wrote last night from the ruins of Great Zimbabwe…a major stop along his bicycle route around Africa.

This place holds special personal significance, and walking around the ruins was a sentimental experience for him. Kris grew up in the drab, oppressive environment of Czechoslovakian Communism. Everyone lived in fear or suspicion. The state determined every step of your life for you, well in advance. You were not encouraged to shine, or dream, or even enjoy your life. His father was a government official, but even they fell out of favour regularly, and when Kris was 13 his father died in a car ‘accident’ in which his brake cables had been cut. Needless to say, travel was not allowed (beyond the borders of neighboring Communist countries).

Yet, somehow, ten-year-old Kris—a voracious reader, and a serious, thoughtful child—managed to develop and nurture an adventurous, determined spirit. He tried to build a boat out of scrap wood in his apartment building’s communal courtyard, and he compiled a list of many countries, many places in the world that he wanted to see with his own eyes. Family, school and state did their best to squash such fanciful dreams, but I suspect they only sharpened the edge of his will. Eventually he escaped, traveling around the world, ticking off his list as he went, in his search for a new home, and finally settled in Australia. The ruins of Great Zimbabwe was one of the must-see places on his childhood list.

Every time Kris manages to reach one of the places on that list (and there have been many, now) it is an exultant declaration of his independence. It is the universe telling him that he is worthy of love. It is an affirmation of the validity, the possibility of his dreams. And it is another deep hurt, inflicted by his past, that life has kissed and made better.

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amazing people, books + poetry, Inspirations

Adiós, Gabo

Marquez

“It is not true that people stop pursuing dreams because they grow old, they grow old because they stop pursuing dreams.”
― Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez

Humanity has lost one of its brightest lights. Heartbroken, today, to hear the news of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s passing. I read One Hundred Years of Solitude when I was 17, and it set the rest of my life on fire. Both beacon and doorway, it set me off on a quest to make beauty, integrity, and the magic of the everyday world a part of my life.

cien años de soledad

You will never grow old. You will never be forgotten. We will speak your name with love and longing, always. Live forever in the dreams pursued by those whose lives you entered and altered.

“If I knew that today would be the last time I’d see you, I would hug you tight and pray the Lord be the keeper of your soul. If I knew that this would be the last time you pass through this door, I’d embrace you, kiss you, and call you back for one more. If I knew that this would be the last time I would hear your voice, I’d take hold of each word to be able to hear it over and over again. If I knew this is the last time I see you, I’d tell you I love you, and would not just assume foolishly you know it already.”
― Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez

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I experience a visceral delight whenever I see anything made by mad genius Jesse Reno. A real “Artist’s Artist”, and one of my absolute favorites, he is often grouped with the Outsider Art (a.k.a. Art Brut) movement, an artistic environment I find compelling, irresistible, alive and of-the-moment. Abstract narratives. Contemporary primitivism. A large and strong dictionary of symbols and icons that come together to form maps of Reno’s wisdom and experiences. Unapologetically personal and confrontational and courageous.

In addition to being a brilliant painter, Jesse composed, recorded, and produced all the music.

This video is over 20 minutes long, though I always find myself wishing it would go on forever. I could spend the rest of my life just watching Jesse paint. Every one of his books is a must-have.

Inspirations, music + film, my friends

Mishka Adams : : Songs from the Deep, The Philippines Tour

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jjyJyB2M_fs

Mishka sings a song by Marcelo Andrade, Razao de ser.

How I wish I could be in Manila to hear Mishka unveil her new album! Who  knows, it might still happen… If you’re in the Philippines in February, do try and make it to one of these gigs…the album launch of Songs From The Deep at no less than the iconic 70s Bistro on Anonas would be the most awesome event, of course (Oh my gawd, oh my gawd, it’ll be amaaaazing!), but any gig where Mishka and Ben play live will be a huge party and promises to become a night to remember!

via Miska Adams Music

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