Thursday, November 24, 2011

Victorian Ballet Theatre

Over at Inspiration Avenue, Luthien has challenged us to create something with the theme Aged Beauty.  I just love that aged look, from brass, to aged paper to distressed surfaces.

I found an aged looking pewter ballerina and from there on the rest was just magic!

I took an old cigar box and used plenty of vintage papers.  I lined the floor of the theatre with the classic harlequin pattern and distressed it to appear really old.  The walls of the theatre has been distressed and paint is peeling off.  At the back of the theatre is a sheet of pewter and you can see the ballerina's shadow against it!

On the inside of the door, which I also covered with paper, I mounted a vintage ballerina pendant on a piece of velvet inside an antiqued frame.

And a bit of magic with a candle lit theater!

And then I found this magnificent aged imitation pewter mask and I put it on top of my Victorian Theatre!

A happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Neo-Byzantine Iconography - Archangel Michael

I Am Michael, Micha-el, Mikkal.  The -el stands for Elohim or son of God.  Prince of Light, the Great Protector, the almighty Michael who commands the Legions of Light.

A shrine to Saint Archangel Michael with a print of my Archangel Michael painting in a golden frame, filled with faux pearls

A unique hand made sculpture of Mother Mary in the bottom right.  Her miniature rosary is defined by a string of the smallest pearls

A triumphant resin statue of Michael on the other side with the smallest Mary chaplet around his neck.  The chaplet is made of Indian Silver and the image is set in sterling silver.

A frame covered in gold paint swirls and miniature rhinestone, curlicews and mehndi patterns

Michael (who is as God) in Biblical and post-Biblical lore, Michael ranks as the greatest of all angels, whether in Jewish, Christian or Islamic writings, secular or religious.  He is chief of the order of virtues, chief of archangels, prince of the presence, angel of repentance, righteousness, mercy and sanctification.  His mystery name is Sabbathiel.  In Islamic writings he is called Mika'il.  Michael is seen as the forerunner of the Shekinah.  In ancient Persian lore, Michael was called Beshter, one who provides sustenance for mankind.

He is depicted most often with unsheathed sword, the warrior of God and slayer of the Dragon.  In Legends of the Madonna, Michael is shown as the angel who announces to Mary her approaching death.

The Rose of Peace

If Michael, leader of God's host
When Heaven and Hell are met,
Looked down on you from Heaven's door-post
He would his deeds forget.

Brooding no more upon God's wars
In his divine homestead,
He would go weave out of the stars
A chaplet for your head.

And all folk seeing him bow down,
And white stars tell your praise,
Would come at last to God's great town,
Led on by gentle ways;

And God would bid His warfare cease,
Saying all things were well;
And softly make a rosy peace,
A peace of Heaven with Hell.


Saturday, November 19, 2011

Mary's Blessing Seeds

During my travels to sacred places, I learnt the habit of always taking small items along to leave as prayers.  In some places in India, at the Buddha Bodhi tree for instance, it is the tradition to tie a ribbon to the tree.  You then really tie your prayers to the tree deemed sacred as Buddha reputedly sat there for 14 years.

One of my pilgrimage goals was to cover the entire Michael and Mary leylines.  These are invisible energy lines that traverse the earth.  The Michael lines are the masculine energy lines and the Mary lines obviously the feminine energy lines.  At times they run parallel and often they cross.  They flow underneath the sea and cross over the great oceans.  These energy lines have been well documented and they also run through Table Mountain in Cape Town, where I live AND the Mary line runs through my garden and house!  An interesting fact about these leylines is that the Mary line is dotted with sacred wells.

Chalice Well, Glastonbury, UK

  Long ago these wells were sacred to the goddess and later many of them were incorporated into church properties. 
St Michael's Mount, England

 And the Michael line is dotted with churches dedicated to Archangel Michael and specifically the Tower of Michael on the Tor at Glastonbury and the church in the cave at Mont St Angelo (See my other blog for more details on this

St Michaels at the Mump

At these wells it is the tradition to tie ribbons or sacred mementoes or even pictures of loved ones, into the shrubs surrounding the wells and also to scatter some sweet smelling herbs into the well and around the well.

All of this inspired me to create Mary's Blessing Seeds.  Each one is individually made from clay which will dissolve back into the earth when exposed to water and the weather.  

Our spiritual Mother, Mary, asks all of us to pray to Her regardless of our religion or culture. She has said to many visionaries that all people are her children – her spiritual children. Our bodies are temporary, but our spirits live forever, that is why Mother Mary is our true Divine Mother, the Mother of our Souls. Her love for all of us is truly that of a mother who would want nothing more than to help her children.

I created these blessing seeds from ceramic clay that will deteriorate and dissolve back into Mother Earth when buried. Each of these seeds are imprinted with the divine image of Divine Mary and thus contains Her sacred energy.

I used silicone putty and created molds from holy medals.  I then used white clay and created these beautiful seeds.

You can say a prayer whilst holding the seed in your hand, and then make a hole in the ground with your finger and plant these seeds wherever you want healing to take place. This way you can call on Mother Mary as you walk on her earth; you can place these at sacred places; in your garden or at places of sadness and trauma.

I package them with a handful of lavender seeds that I brought back from Lourdes in France!

Ave Maria!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Harlequins - IA Challenge

This week over at Inspiration Avenue Stephanie challenged us to create something along the theme of Harlequins, a great love of hers.  She has created the most beautiful and poignant harlequin paintings, have a look at Dragonfly Design Studios.

And so I thought that this whimsical and glittery affair of mine will qualify!! A Victorian burlesque circus with a carnivalesque flair!!

A Victorian circus in a shadow box with my own take on the Ringmistress!  She is a vintage doll from my vast collection of miniature dolls!  She can climb out of the box and bat her eyelids at those who applaud her performance!

 A wooden shadow box filled with 3D images edged and decorated with glitter, sequins, glass beads, bows and crowns! A ballet-shoe clad acrobat swings from a pair of gold spectacles suspended on a chain of hearts;

A vintage cake-topper ballerina surrounded by vintage circus tags, posters and tickets.

a sultry Burlesque dancer in the background; 

'believe' with a tiny gem dangling down, in the background; and do you see the clown/harlequin's image behind microscope glass slides in the background:

And to complete the harlequin theme, the checkered circus floor

Victorian Burlesque Circus
No 62

Dimensions : 25 x 25 x 5.5 cm

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Story of the Craftswoman and Seamstress

This is my entry for The Story of the Craftswoman and Seamstress;  a challenge at Inspiration Avenue Team. It is my week for hosting the challenge and I just love incorporating all feminine crafts, and especially sewing, embroidery, and creative needlework, into my pieces.  Just a wee note for all the manly crafters out there, feminine crafts do not refer to the gender of the crafter, but to the nature of the craft.  In Jungian terms, the feminine is seen as the nurturing, birthing, creating, feeding, nourishing and embracing.

I made another shadow box of course!  I also love to paint in oils and acrylics and mixed media, but my first love are the shadow boxes.  To me they seem like miniature worlds captured in a frame!

This is the shop of a victorian dressmaker.  She is a paperdoll, put together with pieces and parts of paperdoll clothes, a stamped paperdoll head, plenty of lace and porcelain arms.

The shoes are too adorable.  They are a pair of black Barbie doll shoes that I attached two violet roses onto. And a matching handbag! with a navy blue and white madonna on it.

She is standing in her milliner's shop, this craftswoman and seamstress

surrounded by the tools of her trade :  needles adorned with pearls and crystal beads;  a vintage pair of scissors, a mannequin, a dressmaker's mannequin, a mannequin head, a piece of vintage cloth measuring tape, an old key and more. Oh what a graceful time it was! although it must have been very uncomfortable to sew whilst wearing all those layers of lace and crinoline!

The dressmaker's mannequin in the background I decorated with ribbon roses.

She has a mannequin head in her display window with the latest Victorian hat!  I made the tiny little hat from the plastic end of a tassel and I added lace, tiny roses and a very immodest feather!

The lace curtains of the shop is decorated with many gold roses. The shop is wallpapered with victorian paper, lace, ribbons, vintage newspaper ads, a victorian die cut basket of roses.

Please step in and be measured for that special gown!  Pop over to Inspiration Avenue and see all the other loveliness that has been created and join us in the fun!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Undying Love


Spiralling into the center, the center of the wheel
Spiralling into the center, the center of the wheel
We are the weavers, we are the woven ones
We are the dreamers, we are the dream
We are the flow, we are the ebb
We are the weavers, we are the web - words by Shekinah Mountainwater

I bought this vintage statue of Mary on Etsy and when I took her in my hand, an image and feeling arose, which I then did my best to re-create in this shrine. The image was that of the Divine Mother, weaving us through the aeons and us weaving life in return. It was a dance of giving and receiving; receiving and giving; all held together by love, whilst honouring the suffering of this world at the same time.

So I dedicated this shrine to Divine Mother, the Weaver of All.

The tenacity with which for millennia of Western history both men and women have, in the figure of the Virgin Mary, clung to the veneration of the compassionate and merciful mother attests to the human hunger for such a reassuring image. This tenacity only becomes comprehensible in the context of what we now know about the millennia-long tradition of Goddess worship in pre-history. Riane Eisler

The intent of life is loving purpose. The intent of life is to manifest Love through our choices and decisions. As we live in a world of cycles, change and death, we often become burdened by the thoughts that joy, ecstasy and love is only fleeting. But by saying 'yes' to the givens in life, to the gifts and blessings of life, we can let go of our attachment to making it last and allow the inevitable change to transform us. As we weave our daily lives with the thread of Grace, we become part of the tapestry of the Mystery : that which shines with Love beyond reason, beyond logic and beyond mind.

The compassionate Mary holds the thread for us; She weaves the Web that holds us, both shadow and light. The shadow is that nothing seemingly lasts in this realm, but the thread is eternal and the Love is for all eternity. That is Her promise to us. And our greatest challenge is to allow it to happen, despite appearances and despite the suffering. Ultimate reality is both temporal and eternal and so are the world and we. We, as humans, include both the personal and the transpersonal; the human and the Divine. Mary is that highest divine potential; she is the Beacon of Love and Grace.

In this shrine she stands on a piece of woven cloth and she holds threads, combined with gold and teardrop crystals, between her two hands - a garland of the web of life. To her left is a porcelain wing and behind her is a crown embellished with real freshwater pearls. In honouring Her as weaver, we are also honouring all those who weave and sew the stories. For them I have added a miniature set of knitting needles and some knitting, a tiny ball of wool, a sewn babe's cap; miniature skeins of tapestry wool, a dressing maker's mannequin, tape measures (one vintage made of cloth), and a tiny sewing machine. On the right is a bucket with copper wire and roses twisted around : reminiscent of the Passion of the Christ. In the bucket is a tiny tag that says 'Faith'. On the left hand side, behind the tapestry wool, is a tiny safety pin, beaded with beads in the traditional African way. The shrine is decorated with pieces of vintage doily, trim and teardrop crystal beads.

As I worked on this shrine, I was filled with memories of my grandmothers; women who passed all their wisdom and creativity on to me. As I sat with my maternal grandmother and watched her sew, she told me about her life of suffering and the courage it took to re-create a life for herself. My paternal grandmother told me her story whilst knitting booties for the next grandchild. Both their lives spanned the war and my paternal grandfather died on the battlefield. In their memory and in holding their suffering, I collaged the frame with postcards and letters and ticket stubs from the war, as well as from some of my grandmother's sewing patterns.

When we move beyond our small selves, we bridge time and eternity and we do not have to cross the bridge we are. This world and our life can be considered the temporal aspects of eternity.

Grace is Undying Love.