Friday, September 29, 2006

MajicCatsMini - Flying Star Toys

I've been so busy making toys for the State Library of Queensland these last 7 months that I've hardly had time for anything else! But I've managed to squeeze a few hours of designing in from time to time, and as usual continue my obscure studies.

Among my studies is the study of folk magic and the traditions of amulet making. This is not a new interest for me in fact I was mixing exotic perfumes and studying the zodiac since I was barely a teenager. While I crammed for chemistry I read religiously the way of the Wicca and at University while the aspects of Keynes where discussed my mind was also turning over the interpretations of the Kabbalah. I've always been interested in considering all sides to this big wide world not just the familiar ones. Curiosity, artistry, spirituality and a scientific-like process all pull me towards not just study but investigation. To do and to know, not just to think.

As I've been an embroiderer for most of my life I love fabrics and threads. Over time a great sensitivity to textures and sheens and fibres develops. One's fingers twist each thread differently and the needle is worked with the prowess of the conductor's baton. I love embroidery not just as an end product but also as a process - quiet, concentrated discipline that secures between its threads the heart. Fascinated, my studies have brought me to learn of the roots of embroidery as amulet. Designs and colours and subjects where all worked for the purpose of protection: decorative aprons around the waist where not to keep the dirt off but to magically protect the belly; an embroidered towel by the stove was to protect the fireplace. Anywhere or anything that people felt was venerable to the evil eye was in some way guarded by a magical devise. Once you become aware of it you can still see aspects of it today, and the world becomes a magical place indeed.

With a dual interest in folk stories, I'm drawn to discover the active imaginative link to our subconscious life. The type of art I'm developing seeks to recover this knowledge and then apply it, to satisfy our deep human need for beauty, love, belonging and security. I've found that these objects work because they are so rooted into human history that they function upon us and our environment just as colours can promote certain feeling like blue for calm, red for passion. This is the magic of objects: that their presence effect us.

MajicCatsMini's are black cats embroidered with Japanese untwisted art-silk, banded with protective cross stitch in red, blue and green and joyful life-giving flowers and vines. Their reflective button eyes stare out to confront those with harmful thoughts. Their colour acts as a warning for only friendly people and spirits to approach. The cloth I've chosen for the front is a course woven cotton to invoke its ancient roots and while the penne velvet back in electric colours balances with our modern environment and comes in five variations of red, green, blue, yellow and purple. These hand-embroidered cats stand 13cm high and are weighted with steel shot. MajicCatsMini are guardian protectors and are a part of my Flying Star Toys collection.


Anonymous said...

Wow, I LOVE the cats. I love cats anyway but these guys are great! I too was studying all that 'weird stuff' as my dad put it when I was a lot younger. I believed and still do, greatly in the unseen world. When I was in university ( the first time)I learned about the Wiccan community and made many friends in it. I also studied native North American Indian belief systems and did a huge term project on medicine bundles and effegy dolls, as well as course on African and Oceanic art...shamanism and well.. that stuff. I love it!
Having come from Gypsy stock, the strange list of superstition and beliefs in our family has been handed down and firmly implanted in my own head. Salt over the shoulder, knocking on wood, rowan trees in the garden,a belief taht the spirits listen so be careful what you say out loud... a curious blend from both my parents.

The world is a magical place, far more so than I think most people see. We poo poo the idea that magic exists yet we incorporate it into everything there is.Hell, even a microwave is a kind of magice... cold food goes in 5 minutes later piping hot food comes heating element to be seen.. nothing... that is magic!

The Chinese believe that cats are lucky. In the UK a black cat crossing your path ( at least when I was there) was also considered lucky...this stems from the belief that a black cat housed the soul of a sailor, however in North America the same black cat crossing your path was ill luck stemming from the fact that cats, especialyl black ones were witches' familiars. Omens and portents abound. WE didn't rent one particular house here because there was a dead bird lyingon the doorstep. ... go figure...

what a cool post and even cooler toys!!!!
mucho love and hugs
xxxxxs and oooos

Jean-Luc Picard said...

The cats look superb, Florence, and many with an interest in cats and/por majik will be keen to see them.

Liana said...

We are sooooo swapping stuff!

Rebecca-the-Wrecker said...

I love all your exquisite embroidered work Florence. The beautiful home amulet that you made for me is working well and warns me when tall people come to visit!
Merly, I saw a program last night telling about how during the black plague in London thousands of cats were killed because people suspected them of spreading the plague whereas they were probably controlling it by hunting the rats that carried the fleas that spead the plague! Silly humans.
Our cat has magical powers that she uses all the time to 'make you forget, make you forget' (that she has been fed already, to put her collar and bell back on etc)

mb said...

hey Florence what do i have to do to have a white cat and a black cat?
yours in space mb

mb said...

hey Florence what do i have to do to have a white cat and a black cat?
yours in space mb

Florence said...

Thank yo everyone for your lovely comments. Please forgive my long absence. My thoughts are still with you. I hope to be able to catch up with you all soon.


ps MB I'l consider doing white ones if I can find the right fabric. I have only found this fabric in black to date, but I will be keeping a keen eye out for some in white.

modmom said...

i'm posting these on my blog!
they're perfect for halloween

Florence said...

Thanks ModMoM!

W J Kington said...

I had to retrospectively comment on this posting to say those cats embody catness. Congrats on those. I have to back up the wrecker here. Our cat does have magic powers. There was that time where she heard rats in the roof and thought the noise came from the extradimensional space in the big scalloped mirror of the bedroom. She would sit next to the mirror and stare, sometimes meowling meaningfully to us. And then one morning she was gone. We looked and looked. We could here a meowling in the roof but there was no cat there. Finally I caught a glimpse of her in the mirror, just the mirror, not outside the mirror, inside the mirror. Next morning she shows up with a ginger friend and asks for breakfast. I can't say what happened in there, but cats know stuff.

shango said...

just oozing....

Florence said...

Mr Accordian (WJ), that is amazing story. It should be in your Urban ledgends blog under "stories from home" ;)

Shango, :D