Wobbly

A month or two ago I bought this book:

It’s a fun idea, making art materials from scratch. It’s also amusing to see where the author goes in the pursuit of creating them ‘from nature’. Some of the tools used to make them are modern (drills, carving knife), and yet it suggests making glue by melting down animal hoofs, etc.

A friend cut me some of her bamboo so I could try making pens. It was easy enough to carve them. However, the book doesn’t say whether to use fresh or dry bamboo, or what kind. My pens shrivelled out as they dried out:

I don’t think I’ll be getting any nice lines out of these!

I’d like to try making my own paint brush and black ink. Hopefully they won’t be as great a failure as my bamboo pens!

Wednesday Art Evenings

Fro the last two Wednesdays, I’ve held my arty evenings in the studio. The first was a great success. Despite the awkwardness of people meeting for the first time, everyone settled down to make art and chat and were happy with what they produced.

Six friends joined me that first Wednesday. One was the mother of one of the artists, so not doing any art herself. A wide variety of mediums were used: pastel, brush and ink, watercolour, pencil, Copic markers and oils. Subjects included landscape, people, fish and feathers. Most of the artists worked at the folding table we’d set up, so I was the only one using an easel.

I managed to get over an hour’s painting done, which was less than what I’d hoped but more than I expected, when there were introductions to make and friends to catch up with. Afterwards I was all inspired, and took a long time to get to sleep.

The following Wednesday everyone was to busy to come or away on holidays, so I painted alone. I was determined to do it even if nobody joined me, and I was glad I did because the progress I made was good. But I don’t think I’ll be alone every time. Those who came the first week had such a good time they want to come again, and they’ve attracted the interest of a few more friends, too. I won’t really know if the idea has legs until school holidays are over and people get into a more ‘normal’ routine.

Posted in art

Spring Painting

I’ve started going to two art classes a week recently – painting and life drawing. My teacher is retiring at the end of the year, so I’m absorbing as much of her wisdom as possible. Fortunately, her niece will be taking over the class next year. Annie has been working alongside Carol for the last few months, so she will be familiar with all the students once she goes it alone. Her teaching style is bound to be different, but we get along well so I’m looking forward to working with her.

I finished Jane’s portrait a month or so back.

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Though I did a photo shoot with a writer friend, the only photos that came out well were in a pose too close to a previous portrait. So I revisited him and did another shoot, and came up with two more choices. Here it is with underpainting and one session of oils applied:

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Because I had to do a second shoot, I had one class with no portrait ready to start on. So I stole some photos of cats from friends’ Facebook feed and painted a mini portraits on a 10cm x 10cm canvas. I did one of Peri Peri years ago. They’re fun and quick to paint, and I’d like to do a whole lot more of them.

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On the Face of It

It’s been ages since I posted about the portraits I do. Well, it’s been ages since I finished one! Now I’ve finally got something to show off:

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I’ve really enjoyed this portrait, but it’s been a slow one. I started it in September. Art classes end at the start of November and resume in March, and though I did manage a few painting sessions during the break I didn’t like what I’d done and painted over it later.

My previous aims to speed up and get four portraits done a year are long abandoned. If a painting needs more time I have no choice but to give it more. And I’d rather take the time to do a good job.

Sketching at the NGV

A few Thursdays ago a friend from Brisbane, Kathleen, was in town. She’s an artist and writer, and does the most adorable drawings wherever she goes, so I proposed an afternoon of sketching at the NGV’s 200 Years of Fashion exhibition. We met at Senior’s Art Supplies, where I bought some Copic markers.

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Then we headed to the gallery. I stuck to black ink for this one:

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The rest of my sketches I coloured later from memory, my photos and pics of the exhibition on Google Images. This one wasn’t so successful – should have chosen a better viewpoint than front on:

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I love this:

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The next one was a colour challenge, with the limited number of markers I had:

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We were there until closing, and I did this with four minutes to spare, finishing it from memory as the guards herded us out:

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Later I couldn’t find a picture online for the colours. It was only a week or so ago that a photo finally appeared.

I’ve never produced so many sketches in such a short time! It was fun having a sketching buddy for the afternoon, and it was a great way to experience the exhibition. I’d like to go back to see it again, and perhaps draw some more.

Recent Sketches

A couple of drawings from our recent trip to Lake Hume. Both lunchtime sketches. The first done on the way up, the second of Tallangatta’s main street during our drive around the lake.

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I didn’t bother colouring them – sometimes they come out okay enough to leave as they are.

Projects of 2015

January:

First project finished in 2015 was the Bunny Mink Scarf with inlay.

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It was a good month for weaving. We finally got the pedals on the table loom, which made weaving much faster.
However, the next rigid heddle project, the Memory Scarf, was tortuous to weave.

February:

Paul and I put together a pair of Bedside Bookcases.

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Not a project, but it felt like one: I left Pinterest. And never looked back except with relief.

March:

I twisted my ankle badly, which is probably why the only project I managed for the month was the Stitchy Shirt.

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April:

I made a Shoe Modification ready for my trip to Europe.
A little less work and more down time on this trip, so I managed to stitch a
Beetle Pendant while I was travelling.

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May:

I made a Flamingo Pendant as a thank you present for a friend.
A post-trip bout of finishitis took hold, where I finished the Ribbon Scarf

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Fair Isle Beanie
… and Paua Ruanna Collar.

June:

A simple tweak turned my stiff I-cord Scarf into a relaxed, loopy scarf.

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I finished the Silk Stripe Placemats.
Some knitwear and scarves were spruced up on Overdyeing Day.
I went a little overboard making a Gingerbread House.

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July:

Giving up on altering it yet again, I turned the Origami Bolero into the Origami Bolero Scarf and the sleeves of the Gift Yarn Jacket into the Gift Yarn Scarf.
After a sudden and intense love affair with a pin loom, the Neon Blue Blanket was born.

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More weaving produced the Silksation Scarf.
And I replaced the sleeves of the Gift Yarn Jacket to make it the Blue Sleeves Jacket.

August:

Craft Day among friends was Refashioning Day (dress & two tops) for me.

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I tried a little simple knitting to make Capucine.

September:

With the leftovers I made a Capucine Cowl.
An experiment with circular weaving resulted in the Tapestry Hat.
And my determination to try weaving with fine yarn meant I finally produced the Scary Tea Towels for my Mum.

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Then I lived up to my blog name and, perhaps triggered by all the landscaping preparations, became a little obsessed with jewellery-making, refashioning old pieces to make the Washer Necklace and Tiger Tail Bracelet.

October:

I finally used some paper beads to make Paper bead jewellery.

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But the weaving continued, with another pin loom project, the Hunky Hank Shawl.
Colourful beads suggested to me a Tinkle Bracelet for a friend.
While for myself I made Seed Bead earrings & necklace, though by then the landscaping was nearing its end and the jewellery-making obsession had run it’s course.

November:

A simple solution led to me finally finishing the Art Necklace.

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I started 50 Cards by Christmas 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8-9, 9-10.

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December:

While way on a solo writing retreat, escaping the beginning of the new garage foundations work, I made some Inkle bands.
For the New Year, I bought myself a Katie Loom!
And I embellished a cardigan:

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Overall, it feels like I got less craft done this year than usual. RSI and a sprained ankle held me back in February and March, and I was away for most of April and part of November. Then there was all the landscaping and garage preparations and ongoing tasks that ate up mornings and weekends.

Thanks to the latter, I was exhausted by the middle of November and behind schedule with work. I reconnected with both writing and craft during my solo writing retreat week. In fact, I learned something useful. Because I wanted to avoid a sudden increase of typing, which would lead to RSI, I did craft in the mornings – weaving and card-making which didn’t work my hands too much. By the afternoon I was relaxed and my mind had been working over the story while I crafted, so the writing went well. Since I’ve been home, I’ve been doing the same, with varied success. I can’t help that the garage build and various chores are a distraction, but I can avoid spending mornings stuffing around on the internet – which just adds to the wear and tear on my hands and back. It is hard to switch into work mode, however, when the craft project sucks me in and I don’t want to stop.

A lot of refashioning, modification and reusing of materials were part of projects in 2015. When I did try something new, it was in weaving mostly, and also a few jewellery projects. In both I finally tackled and/or finished a few very long term projects – the scary tea towels and art necklace.

I only finished one portrait this year thanks to starting classes two months late, though the second is close to finished. That’s disappointing, as I was aiming to do four.

This year’s aim with the house was to take a break from big projects and stick to small ones while the pool fence, landscaping and garage preparations were done. The pool fence was ridiculously stressful and complicated. The actual landscaping was fast and stress-free, but the preparations before and pre-mulch preparations afterwards took up far more time than I’d expected.

The garage project is slow and ongoing, but mostly Paul’s task so I’m free to chase the work deadline and craft in 2016. I’m in a much more optimistic frame of mind than I was six weeks ago. In fact, the silly season, which I usually find distracting, stressful and a bit lonely, felt like a welcome break and opportunity to get everything back on track.

Happy New Year!

Dreaming Big, Thinking Small

What with the preparations for the landscaping and garage, and the post-landscaping pre-mulch tasks, birthday parties, coming book publicity, Paul’s half year assessment, and the looming end of year madness, we’ve had rather too much on our minds lately.

My creativity gave a couple of coughs and twitches, then died.

This worn out brain can’t contemplate the WIPs. They’re all too large and involved. The only one I’ve managed a little time on has been the olive handspun fabric, because it’s easy plain weave and isn’t demanding on the hands.

The jewellery twitch has passed. It was good for producing short term satisfaction – a quick fix of achievement. I think I need that right now, so I’m looking for something else to provide it.

The printing supplies box came out a week ago. I usually make wrapping paper, but what I really need is a stash of greeting cards. So I’ve been cutting up cardboard and brainstorming. An idea came to me. I have doubts but haven’t talked myself out of it.

100 cards by Christmas.

Each one unique – no repeats. Some themed (wedding, Christmas, etc.) but most just simple cards that I can then stamp “Happy Birthday”, “Congratulations” or “Get Well Soon” inside as needed. Some using stamps, some not. Some that I can do while watching tv.

100 little achievements. I like the sound of that!

The Arty Necklace – Inserts

I started the Arty Necklace in 2012. Let me recap…

First there was the preparation, then the linking.

Next I was supposed to fill the frames with… something. I’ve been changing my mind on what I want ever since. First it was mini artwork, then photos, then embroidery, then mirrors. Each kind of filling has difficulties to overcome. None are particularly quick to do. In the end I came full circle and returned to artworks, so I brought out the acrylic paints and got to work.

First I filled all of the frames with pieces of acrylic board – cardboard with a surface that mimics the texture of canvas.

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Then I wrote down a list of as many kinds of traditional paintings I could think of, and started painting.

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This is going to take a while, so I’ve decided my WIP Wipeout is over and have begun a few new projects. More on that soon.

Ribbon Scarf

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After getting my craft mojo back post trip, I couldn’t decide what to work on. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to tackle anything on my to-do list but that I wanted to do all of them equally as much. So faced with too much choice I figured I may as well attack the WIP list instead.

The first thing I did was finish the flamingo pendant, then warp up the rigid heddle loom for some more placemats. But I wanted to reduce the WIP list and I had four placemats to weave then a runner to warp and weave so it would be a while before I could cross that one off. Rather than start weaving I set my sights on finishing faster WIPs.

I made a tough decision and unpicked the embroidery on the grey vest, While I thought it looked sweet, it really wasn’t me. Nothing like abandoning a project to quickly reduce the WIP list!

After that I examined the ribbon scarf. I’d been basting ribbons on slowly, usually during an evening of tv watching. But I found it hard to tell if I was getting the colours evenly spread, or if I had enough ribbon to cover both sides. So I decided to lay the fabric out on a table and lay the remaining ribbon over it. I worked out that I really only had enough ribbon to cover one side.

I started cutting and pinning ribbon, and once I was satisfied with the arrangement, I basted the ribbons down over a couple of sessions. All that was left then was to sew them down, hem the scarf and unpick the basting, and it was done.

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This is a 100% recycling project. The gauze was left over from another project, and the ribbons removed from an old costume.

As for the rest of the WIPs… I reckon I can get the Paua Shell Collar done pretty soon. I’ve also returned to art classes, so I’m finally making progress on Justin’s portrait. What I really need to tackle, however, is the Art Necklace. It’s the oldest WIP and it’s time I got it out of the way.