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Stoics and Snowflakes

This is a reworking of a post from a few years ago. Sometimes it’s good to revisit and re-do things…..

For over 2 decades November has been my darkest month. November is haunted by my past so when the inevitable gloom descends on me in late autumn I slip easily into my November melancholia. As the colours fade to grey outside I view my life through an achromatic filter for several weeks until the saturation levels are turned up again by mid December. But this year I have been determined to redefine my November mood and I’ve done it with a little help from the Stoic philosophers.

The 3rd Thursday in November is World Philosophy Day (yes I realise I’m a week late but stay with me on this one.) so what better excuse to start enjoying November again?

I LOVE a bit of philosophy. Rummaging around in other people’s heads is one of my favourite activities and whilst the past can never be re-written, perceptions can change. Past events can be accepted and acceptance can, with a little work, be moulded into amor fati; not just the acceptance of fate  – but the love of it.

As the Greek Goddess of Fate, Clotho, spins the thread of our own lives we can either complain that it’s not good enough or we can accept it and love it for all it’s flaws.

“Don’t seek for everything to happen as you wish it would, but rather wish that everything happens as it actually will – then your life will flow well.” Epictetus

So that’s basically; some things in life just can’t be changed and therefore, aren’t worth worrying about. So stop worrying.

21st Century Stoics are a tribe growing in numbers, particularly among millennials and the so called Snowflake Generation and I love that the generation labled as flaky, over sensitive and unable to cope with views other than their own are embracing this wisdom.

Winter comes every year. That never changes. The melancholia of early winter brings with it the promise of icy beauty, shimmering landscapes and the anticipation of those first, exquisitely formed snowflakes……

In a cloud, a water droplet freezes and takes on a six fold crystalline formation. It shoots out six radials and starts to travel through the cloud. As it travels it bumps into other particles, it moves through different temperatures and humidity’s continuously melting and reforming into complex asymmetrical shapes.

The radials, or arms, each form independently and most snowflakes are visibly irregular; it is estimated that less than 0.01% of snowflakes are perfectly symmetrical. In contrast, it is almost impossible to find an image of an asymmetrical snowflake. It seems that even a snowflake can’t escape our prejudice against perceived imperfection – regular ones look nicer in photos.

It is well documented that it is almost impossible to find two identical snowflakes. In the late 19th century Wilson Alwyn Bently  searched for two icy twins as he documented images of over 5000 snowflakes, captured under a microscope. Snowflakes Images from Snowflake Bently.com

There is something very compelling about the imperfect uniqueness of a single snowflake that makes it the perfect motif for home-made Christmas decorations, and the starting point for a new crochet project. Paper cutting is perhaps, unlike bronze sculpture, abstract expressionism and landscape painting, not perceived to be a proper, grown up, artistic endeavour.

So here’s my advise, if you are on the receiving end of withering looks, patronising glances and quiet tutting when you pick up your paper scissors, consider what Henry Matisse, Rob Ryan or Tord Boontje might have to say, then snip away and watch the confetti fall. Paper Cut Art Image 1. Image 2. Image 3

How To Make a Paper Cut-Out Snow Flake.

I used large A3 sized sheets of paper, but A4 sized printer paper would be fine. First fold in half lengthwise and mark the central point on the folded edge with a small crease. With the folded edge at the bottom fold both edges in so that they are overlapping (see photos) and your paper is folded into 3 equal potions. paper cut snowflake Fold again bringing all the folded edges together. Crease well. Cut off the untidy bits at the top of your folded ‘dart’.

Now draw your design on the paper. This might take some planning. The most important thing is that your design touches both folded edges and also runs continuously from top to bottom. It might help to shade in the areas you are going to cut away. paper cut snowflake 2 Then snip with a sharp pair of scissors (I used nail scissors) and unfold. paper cut snowflake 3 Give it  a press – and your done! I have to admit to getting rather obsessed by the paper cutting. paper cut snowflakes paper cut out snowflakes  crochet snowflakes Oh – and if you prefer to crochet your Christmas decorations you’ll find a sweet little snowflake pattern in my latest newsletter – you can register here:  The Mercerie Post

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