Monday, June 29, 2009

Bilums, buttons and broken bones

Why bilums, buttons and broken bones? They were certainly contributors to a very hectic week for me last week. I finally got around to doing the washing from our trip to Papua New Guinea, and the biggest job of all was soaking the many bilums we received and washing and drying them . Bilums are beautiful traditional PNG needle woven /string looped bags used for carrying all sorts of things from babies to kau kau ( sweet potatoes). Thank goodness for modern products like Napisan - it makes the job easier, but not less time consuming. But the result is worth it - I love these bilums.
Next, the buttons.... Earlier in the year, I had agreed to running a felted accessories workshop at my friend's studio LamboArt on 27 June. I thought ... no problem ... a week between getting home from PNG and the workshop ... plenty of time to get organised. All the felt project samples were made well in advance, but one of the workshop projects is what I call a felt button brooch - a beautiful but simple flat piece of handmade felt with a feature button. These buttons were going to be Australian timber buttons handmade by my husband, Jim who was to make them last week. You probably realise by now he has the broken bones, and was in hospital all of last week recovering from surgery following his accident in PNG! So I spent a couple of days ( in between hospital visits) searching op shops, antique shops, haberdasheries and going through my own stash for interesting and special buttons for the workshop participants to incorporate into their work. I did find some special metal and plastic ( not as good as timber) buttons which looked okay. Anyway, we had a great day on Saturday, and all seemed pleased with their results. Wow - check out those beautiful merino scarves made by Julie and Karen!

I must admit I was very happy to have Jim in hospital back here in Newcastle during the last week - in the seemingly absolute luxury of Warners Bay Hospital, operated on by a wonderful surgeon and in the care of fantastic health professionals. I certainly didn't mind visiting him in such a reassuring environment - it was such a relief to know Jim was in such good care. Here he is looking longingly at one of the floral arrangements from a friend - it included a bottle of Crown Lager! Not that we had any complaints about the care in Papua New Guinea. The photos tell the contrasting story of lack of resources, there was still genuine care and commitment - village women wrapping Jim's leg in aloevera leaves, being "plastered" over a bathtub in Goroka Hospital, and the very heavy, rather clumsy plaster.
While it may have been a hectic and somewhat worrying week, it was a happy week with wonderful outcomes - beautiful bilums,( with wondeful memories of PNG), a successful felt workshop and mended bones!

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