Hellena Post - Creatrix

I've tried on so many uniforms and badges that now I'm just me - mother of 8 children and all that entails, flowmad, and human animal parent. Writer of this living book of a blog, philosopher, and creatrix of hand dyed and spun crocheted wearable art. I gave up polite conversation years ago, and now I dive into the big one's.....birth, sex, great wellness, life, passion, death and rebirth.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

The First Day Of The Rest Of My Fibre Career......

Two weeks ago today, I had the tremendous pleasure of being asked to come to a beautiful yurt and show a group of women how to spin.  The wonderful Alice Moffett (who also took all these gorgeous photos), heard about me from someone who had seen me at the Blue Knob Farmers Market Fibre Festival, found me on Facebook, and then made it as easy as she possibly could, for me to turn up and share some spinning stories and inspirations.  

It was a real yurt from Mongolia, complete with horsehair rope and felt lining, put up 
by it's owner and her close group of friends.  Truly inspirational to be in and feel.

Got a lift from a dear friend and her little one, and Lilly came along too for the adventure.  First thing I did was rock up and spill my fleeces, skeins, crochet hooks, books, creatures, and fibre majicks all over her yurt :)  And started telling them stories as I did, all about how there's no 'proper' way to do anything, only your way to find, about the history of spinning and the spinning wheel, a perspective on it from archaic times to modern, and maybe most importantly to me..........the concept of how everything is connected and remembers where it's been.  And what we put on the biggest organs of our body (our skin) is important to have nice memories.  

I love other people's perceptions on what is photo worthy  :)

Lilly and Honu sitting with the various creatures.

Showing off crochet hooks whilst sporting a rather spectacular snake tattoo.

Skeins, fleeces, wool bag, hooks...

Searching for tools to get the spinning wheel spinning.

After the basics, we moved onto checking out the beautiful wheels that the lovely Chris, owner of the yurt had, and I showed her how to give them a basic service, and get them going.  We started out with learning how to spin, and getting the concept that there's the clockwise and anticlockwise spin, that are the two parts of the yarn whole.  First we spin, either way, and then we ply, which has to be the opposite way to the way it was spun.  Spinning is putting the twist into raw fleece, and plying is unspinning it round another yarn or thread.  

Here's Chris, her beloved dog, her mother sitting on the bed,
and her spinning wheel that we got humming along sweetly.

And her second wheel, which was a gorgeous little upright wheel,
probably locally made, which is common in the world of spinning.

Beautiful elegant lines on this upright wheel,
one of the nicest ones I've seen in my travels.

Sweet Marina probably listening to me telling her that there's no such thing as a mistake
when learning how to spin, and how it's like learning to drive, using feet
and hands at the same time, and it takes a while to get the hang of it.

Most likely saying something like "You're doing perfectly,
 and this is exactly the best way to learn, by just feeling it out".

We also covered drop spindling briefly, and I showed them how to make rope.  Chris took to it instantly, and loved my explanation of how this was like the perfectly balanced yarn, creating it with your hands only, and with both the spins built into each part of it.  She really dug the concept of being able to twist anything into rope with this method.  And what made it even more special for her (and me), was that the raw fleece she was using, came from a loved sheep of her mothers!

Using her mums fleece, and asking Lilly to hold onto the beginning,
I demonstrated to Chris how to twist rope into being.

The raw fleece doesn't have to be prepared in any way, except for thinning it out as you twist.
Check out Lilly's fingernails with the nail polish not quite cleaned off!

We were both so impressed with how delightful a process rope making was for Chris,
and she kept going on with the yarn I'd pulled out to show her, till it was all
beautifully roped up.  Love her angel wings in this photo :)

I also gave them a bit of a tour of some of the things I'd made, letting them try on and play with whatever they liked, and showing off some of my design tips as inspiration for them to make their own things their own way.

I do love these moth wings, and how they wrap round your fingers.

After years of doing markets and festivals, I've learnt the art of squooshing as much information into a tiny portion of time as I possibly can.  So all my stories about spinning had large dollops of other concepts I'm passionate about thrown in as well, like self organisation, and the gifting economy, and trust and surrender.  There was a gorgeous woman with her baby (I'm so sorry I forgot your name) who REALLY wasn't into crafting, but sat and observed and listened nonetheless.  And after all the hurly burly was mostly over, she came up to chat more about some of the other concepts we'd discussed, and I was so glad, that even though crafting wasn't her thing, she still enjoyed herself and was stimulated by the stories.  She really dug how a yarn was a physical as well as metaphorical yarn all at the same time.

Chris's mum and the gorgeous mamma on the bed.

And I reckon my most favourite moment of the whole event, that really sums up what I love so much about my chosen field, was this precious moment, when Chris was having a go on my wheel, (My Little Gem, the Rolls Royce of spinning wheels no less) spinning some of her mothers sheep fleece.

Such a beautiful photo.

She was talking to her mum about the sheep, (forgot his name too), and what he did when her mum fed him.  They had this warm moment of reminiscence about the sheep, while she was spinning some of her first yarn, which was all perfectly big and chunky and bobbly and full of character, as your first yarn always is.  And as I was winding her first yarn into a ball, I told them all how perfect that was, to be talking about the sheep whilst spinning his fleece, full of his memories of living with her mum, and how much he loved her in his coat, while her mum was listening, and there was oxytocic bonding, and all of that went into the yarn, and would be held in it's memory forever.  How gorgeous is that?

I did the whole thing by donation, and only realised in doing it, what a perfect way it would be to make a living from living.  On my own terms, having a real life adventure and meeting new people, who are already interested in what I have so much passion for, that I'd do it for free.  It's like all the best bits of the markets and festivals I've done over the years, but being able to connect directly with people already curious, rather than trawling through a whole bunch of totally uninterested ones.   Spontaneous and unpredictable enough to keep me engaged.  In person, instead of on the internet, which never really worked for me with the fibre feeling thing.  So inspiring to do, that I forgot about time, and the whole thing left me feeling charged and energised.  And almost like a party plan for my book.  Cause when folk have met me, they often feel they'd like to keep a bit of me.  Which my book certainly is.....

Even though a lot of people (and me), get a good giggle about how there's not that many things that I have that are actually for sale, and I leave just about everyone with the statement from Aileen Stace about how 'spinning's not something you BUY, spinning's something you DO!'.....there always is the odd thing that can be coerced out of me with trade or swap or donation or cash.  So a few skeins or yarns found a new home, and as a last leaving I showed them how to create a centre pull ball on a rolled up piece of paper.  

Started off with holding the skein around my knees, old fashioned way...

Then Lilly kindly offered to hold the skein and make the ball winding easier for me.
Lilly was a huge hit at the session, had some awesome conversations, and
really connected with Chris in their love of animals.

Telling a story and obviously incredulous about something.....
But look at that ball!

So I guess what I'm saying is.......to help me in my quest of bringing back the 70's Fibre Revolution, and making a living from living, I'm up for coming just about anywhere, anytime (bit like the Goodies), and sharing whatever skills I have, with all the stories that seem to come with me, and we'll all have a lot of fun :)  Schools, festivals, communities, interest groups, friends, whoever, whatever, just contact me and we can work something out.  If it's appropriate, the whole family circus could come along, with some drums, and some dancing and big family energy.  

I think this is a very exciting installation in this journey I'm on.  

Friday, June 12, 2015

The Friesian

After my adventures with the Wait A While vine colliding with my crochet and creating the Staghorn piece, and it making its debut at Nimbin's Mardi Grass on the luscious body of Nerelle, it was a bit of an anti-climax to have it sitting folded up and looking rather folorn on Currawongs drum in our home.  Inspired by the upcoming Fibre Festival at Blue Knob Farmers Market (and realising that in the rush of Mardi Grass, I'd not gotten my staghorn piece into the Fibre Festival exhibition at Blue Knob Gallery in time), I decided to make my own stand for it, to show it off, and take it along to the festival instead, and use it to lush out the stage I'd been asked to dress for the Fibre Festival.

I also decided to polish up and improve on the hat design that came from a collaboration between me, my Fibre Fairy Godmothers fleece turned into hand dyed and spun yarn, the Wait A While vine, my particular and quirky method of crocheting or hooking using hook sizes to shape rather than increasing or decreasing, and whichever divine genius or genie that was visiting at the time.  For a really incredibly engaging and quite magical explanation of this form of genius, please watch this TED talk by Elizabeth Gilbert....

Now from the moment we turned up ridiculously early to the Festival, I was playing stage dresser, and setting up my display, and chatting to loved friends, and goggling at others creations, and then being the first cab off the rank with the talks, and spontaneously talking and telling stories through both my time period and the missing next persons, and having a delightful and meaningful experience with a couple who ended up taking my crocheted pregnant woman for a world trip holiday, and catching the inspiring and impressive talk and presentation by Jen Harkness and Jeni Allenby on the political and social implications of Craftivism, with an impromptu update by the Knitting Nannas at the end.......and I didn't take any photos!  I wore the hat I've called the Friesian the whole time, and got more comments and attention from it in such a short time, than just about anything else I've made.  But fortunately, my beautiful friend Megan Jack who was our travelling mentor many years ago, when we first met in Alice Springs at the Beanie Festival, took a photo of me giving my talk.  And you can just see the bottom of my Staghorn piece on it's stand in the background.  

As the next day happened to be a Nimbin Market day, and all my stuff was packed anyway, I took it all along to dress the stage at market too.  Don't know if my big spiderweb had anything to do with the spectacular performance by our resident stage facilitator Sarah Stando and her love, the talented guitarist who treated us to a sparkling rendition of a variety of Oz pop and rock songs, or indeed anything to do with dragging into our web the two French couples, who turned up independantly of each other, to serenade and entrance us all with French songs and melodies, but I like to think it had something to do with it at least.  And same as the Fibre Festival, I didn't take any photos of that day either, but it was a month when we had two markets in a row, so I took it all along the next sunday as well, this time managing to take some photos afterall.  The next sunday we had the soulful Jolanda Moyle singing on stage in front of my web, amongst other musical artists.

And the 'Friesian' continued to attract intense attention all day both sundays, not least by my skater artist mate Franco ( who also loved my crochet cow skull, that he reckons would look rad on his skateboard), and some soul family had already started begging me to make them one.  It was too warm to wear it on the sunday I managed to take photos, but it hung out in my stall nonetheless.  Which was happening to look pretty gorgeous if I may say so myself.

And I was too 

In the background of this one you can clearly see the first incarnation
of the Friesian, before I made my red and purple version

Now Currawong's been asking me for YEARS to have some stock standard pieces, that I can replicate to make money from, AS WELL as continuing to be an artist and making one off creations, but I've always staunchly refused, told him I'm not a factory, and said if he liked that idea so much he should go and learn to crochet.  But the Friesian is so gorgeous, and apparently universally appealing, that I'm considering pimping myself, in order to birth this head gear into the world.  

There's something ancestrally evocative about this intuited design.  Harking back to our differing cultural heritages, and a more peaceful, gentle and connected time.  A pagan headpiece or a 1920's art deco diva's headwear.  A medieval Florentinians head adornment, or a gracious musical movie headdress.

And there's almost a geometric mandala like essence to especially the top of it, where my method of crafting with hook sizes rather than increasing stitches gives a lovely openness in the crown of the piece.

It's a dress for your head, or a head-dress.  And can be worn in many ways.  If I list one on Etsy I'll pay especial attention to showing all the ways it can transform.

And now here comes the trippy part.  In preparation for this post, I was coming up with all this arty farty rave about my Friesian heritage, and clutching at straws a bit about the little I knew at the time about the golden skull caps that my women ancestors wore, and then the coverings they made to cover them.  And inspired by various things, I've decided to do 7 artworks in honour of the Seven Sisters, or Pleiades, and was researching into alternative names and meanings of the constellation, cause I'll be damned if I'm going to honour the greek or roman versions, which are fairly tawdry and uninspiring.  So I've been looking into my Viking heritage, and incidentally, the Pleiades were often called Freya's hens, and compared to a hen with chicks.  But I got totally distracted when I found a few blogs with my ancestors traditional costumes and daily wear.  This blogpost was amazing, and taught me that the golden skull cap was actually called an oorijzer, which is Friesian for 'ear iron'.

Which was placed on a head, to show status, and to also hold cloth on the head in the strong Friesian wind, and had beautifully crafted lace caps and frills attached to the clips on the side.

And to be honest they're kinda kooky.  I LOVE IT!!!

Then I found a Pinterest page full of Friesian or Fryslan costumes, and it touched something deep in me.  To see all these images of richly coloured people, knowing that my ancestors would have looked like some of them.  I've loved looking at traditional costumes for years, having no idea that my own ancestry held such gorgeous ones.  So traditionally, women wore the oorijzer, had beautiful lace over the gold skull cap, held on by clasps on the sides of their heads, and then went into the spectacular for hats and head-dresses to wear over it all.   And I'll be buggered if I didn't soon come across something that looked a bit like my Friesian!!!

I loved this photo too.  I so believe that I can see echoes of my kinda pirate/gypsy/earth mamma/crochet creatrix fashion sense in her outfit!

Another beautiful woman in her outfit, and I suspect that at some point in the not too distant future, there will be some kind of creation coming out of me like this head-dress....

Then I found another blogpost about the folk costumes of Friesland, and I got another surprise.  Ever since the Wait A While vine came into my life, I've been talking about making a big top hat with it.  I was telling folk it was gonna be all 4 Non Blondes like, (remember that big leather top hat with the goggles?), and you coulda blown me away with a feather when I saw this one......

Don't worry, I'm in the process of having a crack at one as we speak. I'm so impressed I've got top hat in my heritage :)  I actually found the visual of this picture above after I'd had Currawongs and my appetites totally whet by a description of them in a book written by Sacheverell Sitwell - The Netherlands; A Study of Some Aspects of Art, Costume and Social Life - written in 1948.  If you're curious about the delicious way the outfits were explained, read on a page and a half in till you see the reference to the 'labyrinth' of Friesland, Molkwerum,  here.

I doubt any of you reading will remember, but long ago on this blog, I was talking about making myself a journeywoman belt, and taking my hooks and tool belt on the road, to find my fortunes, and I was tremendously impressed when I found some actual photos of the Friesian tradition of wearing one's tools, purse, scissors, needles, hooks etc, on one's apron.  Like thus...

Yes.  I know.  So much for the short blog post.  But anyone who knows me should have realised when I set the goal, that I was dreaming the impossible dream.  I find it impossible to be short winded.  I complimented a supermarket woman on the coles internet site, and the compliment turned into a short story :)  So to finish up properly, I really need to mention a massive inspiration to this whole Wait A While vine intervention.  And from the moment I've seen how it worked and moved and sat, I've been holding her art in my head like a flame.  With the joyous fusion between me, the vine, my crochet, and whichever genie visits, I like to think I can take a step closer to the magnificent creative and inspirational force that is the unique style of my Fibre Heroine Goddess Mandy Greer, and her wildly magical and sumptuous artworks in all their manifestations.  One of my very first favourite pieces of hers, is a headress with circles of crochet, and though the Friesian is nowhere near as spectacular, I'd like to think it's a spiritual relative of it at least.  

If you really want to treat your eyes to a delicious visual feast, just go to her Flickr page and see what fibre genius really looks like.  

So stay tuned fellow groovers, cause I seem to be on a roll......

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Happy Mardi Grass

After three and a half years around Nimbin, we finally made it to the Mardi Grass.  And I really got it.  Got why people have been sternly correcting me every time that I said Mardi Gras, instead of Mardi GRASS!  Got why it’s such a huge deal around town.  Got why so many varied people put in so much effort and organisation and love.

By all accounts we picked the best Mardi Grass in a long time to go, as it rained like Noah was just about to jump in his ark with two of everything the day before it started, keeping away everyone but the diehards – and the locals.  It wasn’t as packed as normal, so there was a peaceful and convivial vibe, and many ended up feeling like it was a massive local party.  The Rainbow Region’s talent was on display in every nook and cranny.

Two beautiful friends of mine had asked for a bit of crochet magic for their costumes, and Nerelle was totally up for wearing the staghorn based costume I’ve been dreaming of making since we got here.  She also introduced me to the Wait A While vine, which is the material I’ve been needing for years to replace wire in my sculptural creations, (it was such an exciting find!) and I outdid myself in terms of spectacular, so I just HAD to go along to the parade, and witness my creations doing their thing. 

From the moment we got to town, and felt the vibe, I jumped the barricades into the parade to play ‘fashion photographer to the stars’, like I was telling everyone I knew in my huge excitement.  And the magic of Mardi Grass unfurled before me.

After being part of many parades and festivals of many towns and countries in my time, the biggest thing to hit me was that this was a festival that actually MEANS something to the people that celebrate it.  It’s culturally relevant to our town, which is the centre of hemp education in Australia, helping folk to see beyond the stereotypes around it as a drug, to it’s curative and restorative properties, as well as it’s fibres, ability to grow so quickly thereby soaking up 3 times the carbon dioxide as regrowth forests, and potential to replace every paper, fibre, plastic and oil……….sustainably and responsibly.  Did you know Henry Ford made a car in the 1930’s, made totally from top to bottom in hemp for example?  Many folk in this region have positive stories to tell you about hemp, from healing their cancers and headaches, to making their anxiety easier, to meditation and enlightenment.  And when they say ‘Happy Mardi Grass’ to you, it’s a heart felt, culturally relevant, and meaningful saying. 

It’s also the only festival I’ve ever been to, where Original Australians head the parade, not as a token effort, but as a reflection of the deep honour and respect that Original Australians hold in our town.  Even more poignant in this situation, as elsewhere in the country, the renegade rednecks that are pretending to represent our country, are in the process of shutting down Original Communities, as their continued perpetuation of genocide on Original Australians.  So it was very important that our local Originals led, and set the tone with smudging the sacred herb and stories.

Next up in the parade, was the Ganga Queen, a local pregnant woman, taking her honour space as a celebration of the fertility of this area.  I didn’t know about this tradition till seeing it, and it truly touched my heart.

And then came my beautiful love Chantelle, who I had the privilege of making a skirt and wings for, looking like a Druidic style Ganga Priestess, and leading in the luscious Ganga Fairies.  She looked so divine, and graceful, and powerful, and serene, that I just had to take lots of photos.

After the Ganga Priestess, came the Ganga Fairies, (many people’s favourite bit of the parade no less), who with EXTREME colour and enthusiasm, and carefully crafted costumes, energetically did their dance all over the parade.  Their high spirits were totally infectious.

And then of course, a random piece with two hilarious men who were in character all day…….and with not much visibly to do with ganga at all :)

I’m not doing much justice to the rest of the parade, with so many incredible costumes, concepts, and people, but to be fair, I was so obsessed with taking good photos of my pieces and loved ones in the parade, that I became a bit tunnel visoned :)

Once I’d taken enough photos of the front of the parade, I worked my way to the back, to find my beautiful love Nerelle, who was going to do her unique and amazing thing in my Staghorn costume.  It took me a little while to find her, bursting with curiosity about how it was going to look on her, ( I made this piece in a record 4 days, and had to finish off the tail before I could deliver it to her at her stall in the market area, and hadn’t seen it on her completed yet!), but find her I did!!  Looking totally amazing, with purple body paint on her beautiful nude mamma’s body, green nipples and spirals on her breasts, and embodying the Forest Goddess that she actually is.

Finding her was one thing, but keeping up with her was another, as she was so into her Forest Fairy persona, asking people to plant tree’s for the forest, and giving them a high five if they promised, and I MEAN PROMISED to REALLY plant a tree that year,  and flitting all over the parade. 

And then came an event that signifies to me the true sovereign spirit of Nimbin, which welcomes and accepts all with open hearts as long as they harm none.  To give you a bit of a perspective on this wonderful event, I need to give you some background.  The relationship between the police and the folk of Nimbin is traditionally strained at best, with lots of water under lots of bridges.  When there was a fire in Nimbin, which burned out the heart of our town, taking away the Museum and the Rainbow CafĂ©, the local police put in for a grant to do a big drug blitzkrieg with an overwhelming amount of buses and officers, hoping to get the town while it was down.  Harrasment and intimidation has been rife, with police taking dogs through Nimbin Market, and performing all sorts of unfair actions.  For a sleepy peaceful hippy town, the police presence is far over represented.  I’ve personally witnessed plain clothes police selling ganga to tourists and then arresting them, which is entrapment at best, and harassment at worst.  Everyone in town it seems has a story to tell about unfair treatment by police. 

When the parade was coming towards the police station in town, a crowd formed around the police standing in front, and there was some chanting and finger pointing going on, and as a veteran of many protests and actions, I could feel the mood starting to swing towards aggressive. 

Enter stage left our beloved Forest Fairy, going down to build a bridge over some roiling waters. 

I was out of earshot, but Nerelle told me later how it went, so for the sake of continuity, I’ll tell you what happened here.  Our beautiful Forest Fairy went straight up to the new cop in town, and said she’d heard she’d joined in the tug of war the day before, and she’d wondered how it went.

Were there any injuries she asked?  To which the new cop in town, (bless her heart), said ‘Yes actually, I got a bruise right here….’  By the way, I love the concern expressed by the Forest Fairies hands clenched to her chest.

They continued to chat for a bit, finding out more about each other.

And then Michael Balderstone, who many call the unofficial mayor of Nimbin, came up to join in the chat, with a bit more of a political agenda.

Till our Forest Fairy said ‘Not now Michael, we’re talking about her bruise actually….’  And they all returned to light hearted banter and discussion of the bruise.

Nerelle told our new friend that she had a stall at Nimbin Market, and if she came along, she had some balm for her bruise, they could have a visit over some chai,  and hang out some more. 

And once the invitation was made, it was accepted with a handshake,

And our beautiful Forest Fairy took her hand to her bountiful breast,

Pushed all politics aside with a group hug,

And then came the photo of the year :)

As an organiser of the Nimbin Market, and an avid lover of this town and all it represents, this town that I hope to grow in till I die, from the bottom of my heart I hope that this beautiful photo is a sign of changes and shifts and relationships to come.  And the beginning of an improved relationship between the folk of Nimbin and those sworn to protect them. 

Then off down the street we went again, towards the end of the parade, and there came another classic moment.  Our Forest Fairy noticed the Roller Derby girls, and said ‘Come roll over me!’

Roller Derby gals are pretty darn cute afterall.

That was supposed to be it for the parade, but when you’re a Forest Fairy, it’s never over!  We walked around the back of Nimbin to where all the speeches and music were happening, and when standing in the mud, she said, ‘Come on Hellena!  Come into the mud and the earth with me!’

‘And look what happens to be over here!’ she said.

‘It’s a Staghorn!’ she said.  And as the artist of the staghorn piece, I like to think that you can see the similarity between the Staghorns tail and the Forest Fairies :)

On an emotional high from such a gorgeous day, and with such a luscious model, in such a greenly beautiful place, we just had to pause for some photos.

Gotta admit I love this shot the most....

We stopped by the stage for a bit, but then we were back off up the street, to see what fun could be had!  What's kinda funny about the next shot, is that I didn't even realise my two gorgeous daughters were in it until the day after :)  Like I kept telling people afterwards, all I could really see was Chantelle and Nerelle.

I love the movement in that tail....

On the famous Nimbin pedestrian crossing, where hens and roosters dare to cross.

And dancing it up with some muso's on the street.

On the way we bumped into our very loved house guests, and this time I could see someone else :)

Had to visit some shops on the way, and our Forest Fairies hand had been cleansed of the purple paint by the amount of high fives and promises she'd gotten from folks to plant a tree.

If you'd like a more well rounded representation of Nimbin's Mardi Grass as a video, please check this out, to get some of the glorious details I missed out in my obsessive chase of my gals.

This is just a smattering of the people and events of the weekend that I was priveleged and honoured to be a part of.  I finally got my towns festival.  And I totally and absolutely loved it.

Happy Mardi Grass!!