The Casual Alchemist
is a book I've been working on for 20 years
*about the creative process and common natural materials.
*about learning about human nature from nature
*about "ordinary creativity"-- that energy we all have and use to make our lives everyday.
* the result of working with trees for 30 years.
* an exploration of the needs, costs and benefits of tendencies we all have towards expressing the ungovernable, the untoward and the contrary parts of ourselves. But it is not just about the maker. It's an attitude towards the making of objects... Or perhaps, it's learning that objects get themselves made through us. Objects "matter" themselves into existence through humans and that there are old ways that effect this. Some call them "archetypes."
- *about what Carl Jung calls Active Imagination... processes, exercises for encountering and witnessing parts of the unconscious.
- * about self-directed activities: making things with ephemeral natural materials; making things in the tradition of the surrealists who favored chance and intuition over formula. It is in the tradition of the Trickster, that age-old tendency to take the world apart AND then put it back together in another way... using hand, head and heart:. The Trickster is not a destroyer, but an artist:
The Casual Alchemist is the artist-in-residence in us all. S/he must make.S/he makes: things, dinner, his way, appointments, deals and trouble. What s/he makes are imaginal artifacts.
It's taken me years to figure some of this out. Every so often, tucked in between sets of chairs, beds and tables, I'd find myself making something "else". Something that wasn't really a chair or a table. After years of "elses", I began to see certain patterns and themes in these objects.
The Casual Alchemist is "Wayward"
short for awayward, turned away, from away
following one's own capricious, wanton, or depraved inclinations : UNGOVERNABLE
"a wayward child" UNPREDICTABLE
following no clear principle or law;
opposite to what is desired or expected Synonym: positively, pleasantly contrary
An example of Casual Alchemy
Since 2004, pieces of bark from the Hudson River have been mattering their ways through me and my studio. I forage for them, carve them and arrange them. There are now hundreds... WHY?
What I seem to know about them is that they have something to say about the many aspects of our s'elves: some preferred, some hidden away, all with influence. At the moment, Anima, is the word associated with them.
There's also something about the Croning time of life.
another example: Totem animals have appeared
The Casual Alchemist is about the "'how" of making, but it's really more about the why and what of making. It's about ways of seeing, ways of being and ways of doing and the changing mix of all three. This means that there is no first way, best way or one way.It'sd about finding the Ways-of-the-Moment into a other parts of our s'elves. Here are a few dozen such ways. I am now writing this material on-line. I did not create or invent any of the ideas I'm collecting and writing about... I am just another elocution of these realities.
Samples from The Casual Alchemist