Saturday, 17 March 2018

The Secret History. When reality becomes blurred.

I don't know what took so long with Donna Tartt's The Secret History. I had a similar reading experience with A. S. Byatt's Possession. Both novels are enjoyable and have an interesting plot that keeps a reader hooked. When reading The Secret History I was keen to know how things will end up.  Still it took over two weeks to read this novel of 629 pages. I read Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina in eight days (as a challenge) but with this one I had difficulties to read more than 50 pages per day. I have been quite busy these past weeks and as a result I have been tired in the evenings when I usually do the reading so that might be something to do with it. Yet normally when I find a good read I tend to binge it quickly no matter what the circumstances. In the beginning this book made me anxious and I might have tried to avoid it's heavy atmosphere. When I got into the story it didn't feel that oppressive and I learned to read it as a good story. Also I liked that it took place with a group of classics students as I have studied both Latin and ancient Greek, many years ago that is, but still I found it as a fascinating detail. I have already forgotten the most I learned and I never went so deep in my studies that I could have spoken in Latin or ancient Greek (It is not usually even the point to learn to speak those languages). Neither were my study group in any way like the one described in the book which is only a good thing. 

11/52 Donna Tartt: The Secret History (1992). Young Richard is looking for a lifestyle that is completely different from his background. He works hard to attend to college as his parents are not willing to support his studies. When he hears about a group of special students that are studying ancient Greek he wants to get in. Other members of the group have some kind of elite upper class background and Richard lies about his parents to fit in. When inside the group he is drawn into a different way of thinking and seeing the world. Because the group spends so much time together they don't seem to operate with the same terms as the rest of the world. It is both fascinating and scary how the ancient culture and language they study begins to effect their logic. 

Ancient tales have been born in a culture that is different from the one we know now. Even though the Greeks and Romans have had a huge impact to the way our culture has formed it has still been a society based on norms and logic we do not share these days. When the group of six students and their teacher dig deeper and deeper to the ancient texts they begin to loose the modern world and their sense of reality. Closed groups are seductive with their power to make one feel special from everyone else. I began to think of a short story by Susan Sontag that I read some weeks ago, Old Complaints Revisited (I wrote about the collection of her complete Stories here!)where the main character has been part of a group and evaluates how it has affected to their life. It is good to find an interest of one's own and people who share the same passion. It is in human nature to need a group but sometimes groups can be too closed. In The Secret History it is described in a stylish way how small steps apart the classics group from other groups, other students and other thoughts and how fatal effects it has.

The small group twines together in a world of myths and ancient deities. The members of the group don't seem to find other students as their equals and communication with the others is sparse. Instead their thoughts are inspired by the classics they are studying. They are a group of absolute hedonists who want to live the roles given by ancient myths. This rises a question whether anyone has a right to demand divine experiences to fulfill one's own sense of superiority? Is it right to demand the knowledge about the essence of life that no one else has or to seek to live forever on the Earth when everybody else has to die? Is it right to keep oneself wiser than everyone else? And all this with the cost of others. It was scary how they sort of lost their sense of reality and began to see themselves as superior who have the power to evaluate others. It is the danger that lies in every group that is too closed and works just in a small circle not allowing anyone in to criticize it's logic. In a group where people encourage each other to think in a certain restricted way it is possible to create an own system of right and wrong. 

When the irreversible acts have happened the group of students begin to deal with guilt in different ways. If the reality was blurred for a while then after the horrible events the world and it's rules and laws begin to look clearer.  Their act that felt justified for a moment looks unforgivable in the daylight. It was interesting to follow the group's thinking process and the way they rationalized and made right something that is wrong in every aspect. What was justified according to the group's interest's was in huge contrast with the moral codes of the rest of the world. It is shocking how wrong decisions the group can lead itself when there is no one to bring in a new way of seeing things or to give objective opinion. An example of a different kind, one can try to find a solution to a problem but nothing comes up or the solutions are poor. A brainstorm with few people make one see things in a different light and find better solutions. When the members of the classics group become a one unit that comes up with bad solutions they should try to get a different perspective, but they don't. Also it is a good bad-example how group can lead itself to a sick decisions when all the members back each other and the group's inside reality becomes the only reality. They seem to lose their empathy for a while and act like in a game where they want to win without counting the costs. Afterwards the bad things they did to others begin to haunt the groups coherence. They begin to see each other as potential enemies. If the group could come to a such decision against one of it's members who is to know if that kind kind of joint decision is made again and I am the victim.  

Excellent read, truly recommend! Have you already read The Secret History? What kind of thoughts it provoked in you?

The open books in the picture are Latin to Finnish dictionary and The Bible in ancient Greek.

Monday, 12 March 2018

Comb Ceramic Inspired Easter Eggs

Easter is not so far away and I think it is time for a small Easter DIY project. I am not taking huge pressure about Easter decorations. Although I have to tell you about a nightmare I had in January. I saw a dream that Easter had gone and I hadn't decorated any Easter twigs and in that dream I was very sad about that and thought that now I have to wait another year to make things correct. It is a bit funny actually that after that dream I knew it was a nightmare but now that I think about it it would't be that tragic if I don't have any Easter twigs, laugh. But because of that dream and the feeling of disappointment I had in that dream I have already bought feathers to make Easter twigs. Also this Easter my friend from the other side of Finland is coming to spend the holidays with me so I want my home to look festive. Some decorative eggs, Easter twigs with feathers, Easter grass and a bunch of chocolate treats will do the thing. I have a storage full of decorations I have made during the years so I might bring some of my favorites to display. 

My recipe for a relaxed celebration is to spend some time with a simple craft that goes with the theme. Every now and then I like to put hands in clay so to speak and mold and ponder what shape the it will take. When I concentrate on some simple project it allows me to focus that moment and forget all the busy thoughts that sometimes occupy the mind. The best thing about this Easter Egg DIY is that the technique is easy and materials needed are minimal. In this DIY project you get to examine nature's own patterns, plan what kind of pictures to draw and feel the material taking shape. I got the inspiration for this project from the current terracotta trend and old comb ceramic objects that have the most interesting patterns. 

You will need:

Plastic Eggs
DAS Modelling Material in Terracotta Color

Tools to make patterns:
Get creative and look what you have in your cupboards. 
Look for example shells, wooden sticks, forks, knives, buttons, pearls, yarn..

Step 1. Cover the egg with modelling material. Put some water to your hands to make the material work better. Use knife if needed to make the surface about even.

Step 2. If you need guide lines to make the decorating easier, yarn is a great help.

Step 3. Decorate the egg with some pattern tool or draw triangles and lines with a toothpick. Here you can see some examples of tools that make interesting patterns. Shells are wonderful and create beautiful organic shapes. With a chopstick it was easy to make a fun dotted egg. Herringbone and triangles I have drawn with a toothpick. 

Step 4. Let the eggs dry about 24 hours or more. Turn the eggs to make them dry from all sides. Now you have trendy terracotta colored Easter eggs that go to different styles from minimalist to bohemian.

Inspiring new week to you all!


Monday, 5 March 2018

Winter Routes

River is a route. Highway since ancient times. Nowadays built roads have made the map a bit different. Before villages and houses used to situate by the river side. I would say quite a few people have a boat they can use in these modern times. During the summer time I take walks following the river line and my walks are bound to human built bridges. Winter gives me back the ancient route and makes it possible to walk to places that are too far in the summer time. 

There are many kinds of routes on the ice. Paths to walk, skiing tracks, snowmobile routes and car roads. Sometimes these little paths appear to curious places which tells a lot about the human nature. Shortcuts can be made through a pile of snow. One is ready to clear a path no matter how tricky it is and how much snow goes into the legs. This is me, this is my territory. I need to leave a mark. I have a freedom to go through, walk straight. And that freedom is used. Trickiest routes have butt prints. I guess it was worth it to stumble. Or maybe it is in human nature to seek adventure. On a way home, with large shopping bags in your hands you don't choose the pedestrian walk. Instead of that a slippery shortcut through a thick bush seems more appealing. 

When you look at these pictures you might think that there are no people anywhere. There is a contrast between what the pictures tell and how I would describe the same moment. On a sunny and warm winter day the river ice is full of people. Some ski alone enjoying the feeling of freedom and vast scenery that makes you think you can ski as long as your feet and skis take you. Some are with a friend sharing latest events of life. There are families having a picnic. Dog walkers. Enthusiastic sports people. What makes the pictures so empty is the space. Nature is something so big that only the prints on ice tell about the traffic. Human being alone looks small. The prints, stripes, dots, abstracts, that we make every day make us visible.

Adventurous paths to your week my Friend!


Friday, 2 March 2018

Quilt Tutorial: April Eclectic

Happy Weekend! This week my evening program has been clear and simple, stitching and some more stitching! To get beautiful texture and 3D effect to this pillow I covered bigger areas with stitches than I usually do in my quilts. Hand stitching makes the look organic and alive and it is always worth it to put some extra hours to finishing touches. I have been inspired by coming spring and its clean green and blue hues. It is still two months before the spring comes rushing to these hoods. When it arrives the pace is breath taking. The small idea of spring turns into first leaves and lush green forests. The scenery goes through rapid changes sometimes in a matter of days. I think the traditional quilt patterns I combined in this work resemble quite well the energy of spring and April, month that brings it to us living here in the North.

As you can see from the pictures this new pillow works well with the other pillows I have already published in my quilt tutorial series. You can check all the tutorials and make these pillows your own! I will put direct links to the tutorials to the end of this post. I would love it if you could share my posts on social media so everyone else interested in quilting can find these and maybe get inspiration to create.

You will need:

Cotton fabric in: Purple, Lime green, Blue and Lavender
Batting Fabric
Back fabric (Blue)
Sewing yarn
Embroidery yarn

You will also need:

Sewing machine
Quilter's rule
Cutting mat
Rotary cutter
Embroidery hoop

This stunning pattern is actually relatively easy to make and we have already used different modifications from this basic technique before (in case you have followed my quilt projects). The pillow consist of two chains and three whirl and square rows. We actually make the pieces for the whirls and chains at the same time, as you will see.

Step 1. Cut following pieces:

Purple 10 pieces in 8*8 cm and 30 pieces in  7*7 cm
Blue 10 pieces in 8*8 cm and 30 pieces in 7*7 cm
Lime 20 pieces in 8*8 cm and 20 pieces in 7*7 cm

Step 2. Put together following combinations in 8*8 cm: 10 blues & 10 limes. 10 purples & 10 limes. Put right sides together, draw a line from corner to corner and sew from 0,75 cm from both sides of the line. Cut according to the line and iron open. 

Step 3. Now pair triangle squares with 7*7 cm purple and blue squares: Blue & lime squares with purples. Purple & lime ones with blues. Do the same thing as before, put right sides together and draw a line from corner to corner and sew and cut according to line. Then combine the rest of the 7*7 cm squares: Blue & lime together and purple & lime together as in step 2. 

Step 4. Now collect the chains according to the picture using the parts you have.

Step 5. Sew first the rows of four together and then combine the rows together. Remember always open the seams before you go to the next step.

Step 6. Then use the rest of the tri-colored squares to make whirls. Then cut 6 10*10 cm squares from lavender. Sew three whirl blocks and two lavender squares to a row as you can see from the picture. Make three rows. 

Step 7. Sew whirl rows and chains together. Iron properly.

Step 8. Now put together batting fabric, batting and quilt and sew loosely together. Using embroidery hoop stitch one part at the time following pattern's lines. I usually use the same color's lighter hue in the embroidery yarn as I have in the fabric.

Step 9. When you are finished with the stitching cut of the extra batting and sew quilted piece to a pillow. Tips for that I have got in this previous quilt tutorial.

Inspiring quilting days to you all!

In case you got interested in quilting and want further inspiration check these quilt tutorials <3

>Brisk Winds, Warm Stoves Part 1. 
>Brisk Winds, Warm Stoves Part 2.
>Bohemian October
>Memory of August