HomeAll postsAshley Kalagian Blunt: a candle - bird? - in the wind

Ashley Kalagian Blunt: a candle – bird? – in the wind

This entry is part 1 of 16 in the series Thank you to #AuthorsForFireys contributors

Ashley Kalagian Blunt contributed to the Authors For Fireys fundraiser in January 2020. Emily Gale and Nova Wheetman organised this mammoth undertaking. They raised $513,149 to support firefighters and to help Australia’s bushfire survivors.

The entire list of original Authors For Fireys series of interviews and guest blogs are here. The ‘thank you’ posts, each of which include my cardmaking efforts, are here.

Meet Ashley Kalagian Blunt

Ashley Kalagian Blunt is a Sydney-based author. Her new memoir, How to Be Australian, is coming out in June 2020 from Affirm Press. My Name Is Revenge, her first book, was shortlisted for the 2019 Woollahra Digital Literary Award and a finalist in the 2018 Carmel Bird Digital Literary Award. Her writing appears in Griffith ReviewSydney Review of BooksWesterlythe Australian, the Big Issue and Kill Your Darlings. Ashley is a Moth StorySLAM winner and has appeared at Story Club, the National Young Writers’ Festival, and Sydney Writers’ Festival. You can find Ashley on her website https://ashleykalagianblunt.com and on Twitter.

Dark Matter Zine says thank you

I am a novice card maker but I made the pictured card. This is a thank you to Ashley Kalagian Blunt for appearing as a guest on Dark Matter Zine and for supporting Australia’s firefighters.

Ashley Kalagian Blunt: a candle - bird? - in the wind

Background to the card

I made this card way before I made some of the other cards in this series. After saving a bunch of posts with images in them to post later, I’ve been slack, only publishing them when DMZ needs content or doing a small group at a time. And now I’ve discovered that some of the posts DIDN’T SAVE THE CARD PHOTOS WITH. So I don’t know what card I gave to who. ARGH. Anyhoo, we’re here now.

This is the second in the ‘crazy bird’ thank you card series. The first I threw out because I thought it looked like the bird was in a bushfire (on the card due to the background color and black droplets) and I was so upset. When I made that, the bushfires were still raging. My morning routine consisted of waking up, checking fire alerts and smog levels in Canberra before coffee and hardly leaving home because TOXIC SOUP. I was not feeling resilient or in any way finding fires to be humorous. After I tossed that first card and tried making this one I felt that this one actually wasn’t as pretty because it didn’t have the glowing background color. I also thought the blue dots look a bit like water droplets (from a fire hose?) or something. I am NOT good at spatial awareness when it comes to design.

This is probably ironic because, when I was an art school student, I averaged distinctions. But that was following rules, formulae, and working my butt off. If another student had *a* visual art diary to hand in for assessment, I had SEVERAL. I am also a master of the spin. I’ve had artists come to me, show me their work, and I’ve given them their premise, their justification after the fact. If not for, you know, ETHICS, I could have been a marketing genius.

About this card

I stamped a Tim Holtz crazy bird – probably in versamagic blue ink but I’m not sure. It’s been too long since I made the card. But I obviously didn’t stamp it in black! Those bold blue outlines? Probably an alcohol marker. I colored the bird in with a blue watercolor marker, adding water to get paler colors. Glossy Accents make the eyes googly.

The “authors for fireys” sentiment is from a batch I printed and cut out.

This time I tried something different for the sentiment: I stacked a few layers of die cut words to give it dimension. I also tried using the versamagic ink then blue tinsel embossing powder and heat setting it. This is way harder than the instructional videos on youtube make it look. I gave it a couple of tries then called it done.

I used some distress ink (not oxide this time, I didn’t have any distress oxide inks when I made this card) and tried blending it for the background. It’s uneven and light but I was trying consciously not to make this look like another bushfire zone. I used a grey copic markers for the shadows and glued on some blue dots, whatever they’re called. Those blue beads.


In the end I thought the card I threw away was prettier than this one so I decided that, unless something was abso-fucking-lutely awful I would not throw it away. As long as every card is the best I can do, and hopefully I’m learning and improving every time, then I have banned myself from throwing any away.


Even when doing something you love, you can make mistakes. I know I can. Hidden away at home I have a jumper 95% finished but I dread doing that last 5% because what if it doesn’t fit? I used to knit all the time but too often – especially if I knitted something for myself – it was either too small or absolutely enormous. Although I haven’t finished that jumper, I’ve decided that even if it’s too small it’s ok. I’ll give it to a homeless person who will, I hope, LOVE a hand-knitted woollen jumper or will, perhaps, sell or swap it for something useful.

This is the thing: I need to take risks, I need to see projects through, I need to do what makes me happy even if it also feels like I walked off the edge of a cliff and I’m waiting to see if I fall. These days I just try to make sure those cliffs are manageable heights, not suicidal heights, and it’s ok.

While you’re coping with lockdown… I assume, I HOPE we’ll still be in lockdown when this goes live… While you’re coping with lockdown, think about ways you can take small risks, manageable risks, risks that make you feel good like stretching muscles whether they be literal or figurative. Don’t tear yourself or tie yourself in knots, just streeeeeetch, unkink, relax. I’ll try to do the same.

Stay safe and be kind to yourself,

Series NavigationBlue “sparrow” for Zana Fraillon >>
Nalini is an award-winning writer and artist as well as managing editor of Dark Matter Zine.


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