30 Aug 2006

Blame TED for my new obsession with scribbling.

I discovered the TEDTalks last weekend and listened to a few of them. Very thought provoking, really worth a listen if you get the chance. I am working my way through the the audio files but I noticed that there are a couple on there that are video only. So, it being lunchtime, and having brought in a packed lunch on a pretty grey day, I settled in to watch Ze Frank. Towards the end of his set hse taled about some of the playthings on his website. The scribbler is just great. Go scribble.

23 Aug 2006

Hand and brain candy

While I am on the subject of candy, these hikaru dorodango really took my fancy. I want to make one now. One of the links on the site lead to an article about the shiny mud balls and Professor Kayo who has done much work with small children and balls of mud. The article concludes by saying:

In the field of developmental psychology up to now, play that developed children's imagination and creativity, such as role playing and drawing, was deemed important. But Professor Kayo is searching for whether developmental psychology has overlooked something very important: the experimentation children undertake in everyday activities like eating, getting dressed, and sleeping. He feels that making shiny mud balls is a good way of searching for the essence of children's play. Kayo believes that the answers lie within the hearts of children, and he continues to visit the preschool once a week.

To me, it's just soooo obvious that if you give a child a lump of to play with before they reach the age where they associate 'mud' with 'dirty', they are really going to engage with the material. It's an elemental act of alchemy, base mud becomes something shiny and precious.

I suspect that children don't have the monopoly on the answers for this, potters and other crafters may well have something useful to contribute to the field of developmental psychology. I think we all have an elemental urge to make things. We are all creators. The biblical creation myth says:

"And The Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being." (Genesis 2:7)

And while I am not a fan of the bible in general, the logic of 'god creating man in own image = we are all makers' doesn't suck. Maybe making these things is the ultimate 'god game' as you become the creator of worlds....

In the mean time, I found some more detailed instructions on how to make the balls here
and here are some more mud balls that their proud owners uploaded to flickr.

I think that some of my weekend may well be devoted to literally 'playing with mud'.

Eye candy

I think there is something magical about early colour photography. I was really very taken with this exhibit over at the Library of Congress. Ok, I know the photo that I chose is probably the least colourful of the bunch, but hey, he worked in a carbon plant so somehow it just appealed.

Also on the eye candy theme, you will find a mixed bag of delights here.

1 Aug 2006

Moving home

Custard seems to have died again so I guess now is as good a time as any to move my site and blog over to my shiny new domain at, www.beyondutility.co.uk. There may be some disruption and broken links in the blog for a little while as I change some links and find the missing pictures. Any problems, let me know.