Introduction to floristry

Embroidery, employment, Floristry
Abstract floral embroidery.

Abstract floral embroidery.

First attempt at a hand tied sheaf.

First attempt at a hand tied sheaf.

My birthday gift.

My birthday gift.

The general awfulness that went with this year’s birthday has fortunately passed.  I hope I don’t have another day like that again.  Thank you hormones…there were a few notable exceptions such as H’s impeccably timed gift.

I have been pursuing my creative endeavours as a bulwark or a counterpoint to the general unsatisfactoriness of my daily life.  Continuing to embroider, and I have started an introduction to floristry class.

Let me say at the outset that floristry is like ballet.  It looks effortless, elegant and exquisite, but there is so much work behind the beauty.  People may baulk at the high cost of flowers, but forget the skill of the florist.  Like many creative artists, florists are poorly paid and work long hours.  On the other hand, I had a quick peek on seek the other day only to find out that a senior florist earns the same amount as I do with a PhD.  Clearly the world is skewiff.

At my class this week my instructor was a little late because she’d been up to Sydney to take her certificate students to the flower markets.  Cymbidiums from New Zealand.  Roses from Kenya.  Australian natives from Israel!  It sounded like everything was imported, so I went digging.

What I found was truly disturbing.  In recent decades large swathes of cut flower production have been set up in South America and Africa to lower costs.  This has been done at the expense of worker health and conditions.  Some of the case studies I read were chilling, and every bit as Dickensian as Manchester’s mills.  Long hours, miserable pay, exposure to toxic chemicals, child labour, summary dismissal.  I don’t see why a woman in Colombia should risk miscarriage or the possibility of birth defects just so we can have red roses for Valentine’s Day.

I don’t know about you but I think this is unacceptable.  The subtitle for this blog is about kindness, gentleness and beauty.  Nothing of what I read about the economics of the flower industry is in accordance with that.  In fact, its a complete affront to everything I hold dear.  No idea currently about how to make a contribution to improving that, except through writing this and continuing to source as many of my flowers as possible from the growers at my local farmers market.  I won’t be able to do that for class.  Next week is poppies.  Poppies, a spring flower at the beginning of winter.

Treading water

Embroidery, Emotional management, Family, Stress, Uncategorized

It has been a while since my last post, frankly because I have been swamped with pain and drama.

On the pain front, I lost sensation in my right hand and have been forking out for physio and massage in order to get things working again. I was almost back to full function when there was a relapse, and I was back to being unable to turn my head to the right.  More massage, which sounds delightful but actually leaves you sore to the very touch.

On the drama front, none of it has been of my own creation but it is within my inner circle and therefore I’ve had to make some response to it. I mentioned previously that my mother had been diagnosed with cancer.  Turns out this was wrong, but on the other hand now she’s had a heart attack.  And the other involved a suicide attempt.  Fortunately unsuccessful.  The person who tried has only told me and while I appreciate the level of trust, it is at the same time a terrible burden.

So with all that, plus work and teaching, I am having a hard time keeping my head above water. I couldn’t care less about work and am wondering how I can structure my life so that I only need do as little as possible, and free up the rest of my time for what gives me energy and delight.

My hand issues have slowed down the embroidery but I am doing bits and pieces in the evenings. This photo is a simple experiment in colour and geometry, variations on circles on a background of chartreuse green wool.

I’ve attempted patchwork.  Not sure if this is really for me but I’m not shutting the door yet.  And on the weekends I have been doing textile related things but not ones that involved fine work.  I made an attempt at wax resist dyeing, but I forgot to add salt to the dye so the result is not going to be stable.  Plus I have discovered it’s a bastard getting the wax out after.

I also tried dyeing some yard with a natural dye.  Epic fail on my part.  I used the ivy trimmings from the garden, as I am constantly needing to stop the neighbours ivy jungle from taking over my place.  It turned green but despite using an alum mordant, both yarns refused to change.  If I was generous I could say that the cream wool turned from cream to a faint yellow.  Certainly there was no colour left in the pot but I am not sure where it went.

It’s probably a bit like my equanimity.

Why embroidery?

Embroidery, Uncategorized

It seems like a fair number of people resonated with my last post, which expressed my feelings about being allergic to work.  I had doubts about whether I should post a rant like that, but I am glad I did now.  I feel less alone.

We are having a heat wave in Canberra and I’ve run away to the National Library.  Quite simply, they have the best air conditioning in town.  They have to, to protect the collection.  I am here to chase up details in past lives, for example, the political climate around education policy reform in the eighties, and why a little inland school in Queensland evacuated some, but not all, of its students in 1942.  This then, is what constitutes the tenor of my day.

I’d rather be embroidering.  Why embroidery?  Why now?  I don’t have definitive answers to that at the moment but I do have some inklings.  One.  It’s making something.  Two.  It’s making something beautiful. Three.  It harms no one.  At least, I’ve not thought of any how embroidery could cause harm although I understand it has in the past.  Something to do with linen threads needing to be worked damp, although I’d want a reference-able source for that ideally.  Four.  It’s achieveable with my current skills with a needle.  I could not, for example, paint the dahlias I have almost completed.

dahlia embroidery

Five.  It’s small.  When I have a father with a terminal illness, a mother with cancer, a sibling with mental illness, a job that I find tricky and my own chronic disease to manage, small is essential. Anything larger and I might drown.

Small, beautiful, creative, doable.  Why not embroidery?