My latest portrait is coming along well enough that I’m not ashamed to post a photo:
My latest portrait is coming along well enough that I’m not ashamed to post a photo:
I’ve finished Sam’s portrait:
I’m now letting it sit on the mantlepiece for a while to see if anything starts to bother me. Like with writing, sometimes it takes a while to stop being precious and pleased with yourself to see the flaws.
In the meantime, I’ve started another:
Cat, a fellow writer who was visiting from Sydney on the weekend. Being a graphic designer and artist as well, she had scouted out a great location before I’d got there. Just as with Sam, the last photo was the best.
I might not have a lot of craft mojo happening right now, except for a bit of embroidery while watching tv, but my painting mojo is going just fine.
I’ve been working on this portrait all year so far. Technically, it’s my second painting. I did a smaller version as a warm up after a long break from oils, and to work out an approach. There’s a tattoo, tshirt design and wall art still to be added.
Painting portraits is something I’ve wanted to do since I painted one of my ex many years ago. Unfortunately, I didn’t take a photo of it before we split up, but I got such a feeling of satisfaction and fun from it that I wanted to do more.
But it takes confidence and courage to ask someone if you can paint their image. I haven’t had that until recently. In fact, this one will be finished soon, so I need to start looking for someone to be my second subject.
Portraiture might be a good Plan B for future middle-aged me. There’s a lot of uncertainty in publishing and bookselling right now. Nobody can predict what it will look like in five years, let alone ten. If it all goes belly up then, thinking in the terms of my last post, having an identity as an artist would soften the loss of an identity as a writer.
I also like the fact that, unlike with books, an original painting still has more value than copies. And the incentive to copy portraits is… well, unless it’s a portrait of a celebrity, only close friends and family of the subject might be tempted. Sure, people can paint fakes, but I’m never going to be famous enough that anyone would bother.
On Friday, after writing the last post, I got stuck into a few side projects I’d started then put aside. I made good progress on making map coasters and turning some embroidery hoops into frames, then opened a template I created ages ago for a portable rigid heddle loom that could be laser cut from an A4 sheet of acrylic, and I tweaked it and managed to fit in a heddle.
I also made these cookies:
That night I gathered all my inkle looms and The Weaver’s Inkle Pattern Directory around the tv armchairs so I could dabble and read. Like other kinds of weaving, it always seems there’s a mountain of techniques still to learn. I decided I wanted to at least get the pick-up band done and off the loom so I can try a few new methods.
Saturday was Craft Day, and we had a lovely, relaxing afternoon. At the end of a long, chatty lunch I brought out a quilt project, then after a rather bad attempt to teach crochet to the host’s daughter (I was trying to reverse everything because she’s left-handed and I’m not and, well, I just find knitting easier to explain) I moved on to a test portrait of a friend. Here is an in-progress shot:
When it got too dark I switched to the pick-up inkle band. I made a right mess of it and had to unweave half of what I’d done. Pick-up requires focus, which is frustrating as inkle band weaving is the most portable and could replace sock knitting as my out-and-about craft. I kept thinking there must be an easier way to do pick-up. My head spun with ideas of additional overlapping heddles and such…
On Sunday I finished the map coasters, continued with the embroidery hoop frames, and spent a few hours on the pick-up inkle band. I also followed a link I found on Pinterest to a wood turner who makes inkle looms and found a curious heddle with extra slots designed to make pick-up bands easier.
Well, that made me sit up and take notice. I followed a link to the weaver, Susan Foulkes, who designed it, then watched a Youtube demo video. In the video the heddles are plastic and called the ‘Sunna’, so I googled them and found they were made in Sweeden by STOORSTÅLKA.
Needless to say, one of these is now winging its way to me. I’m wondering if this means inkle weaving is my next temporary obsession. My fixations on the Bond and sewing both involved me coming up with modifications and new tools. Perhaps I’ll finally get around to making a tape loom out a wooden magazine file, and there’s that laser cut acrylic loom template sitting on my hard drive.
Yesterday the lovely Karen and Michael hosted the first Craft Day of the year. I tried out the crime scene cookie cutters Paul gave me for Christmas the day before so I could contribute to the general sugar intake:
There was quilting, stamp carving, cooking and the sewing of 50s dresses:
The first project I tackled is a knee blanket made from swatches from flannelette fabric blind sample book. Yes. That’s right. Flannelette blinds. They are – or more likely were – a thing. I’m sewing them together in the same way as this strip quilt tutorial, but not cutting them into strips.
I also brought some stamp carving supplies, so when the lovely Beky arrived and produced her own, I put aside the blanket so we could work together. After making a very simple demo fish, I decided to try making a bookplate stamp. After several hours of delicate carving, I did a test print. Then started laughing.
So, what’s wrong with this picture?
The machine knitting:
Not as much weaving compared to previous years, but a lot of time went into inkle weaving:
I also didn’t do as many home decorating projects as usual, just a bit of macrame and a garden seat:
But I did make a LOT of jewellery:
(Some of the jewellery I made during the year is missing, as I decided I didn’t like it and returned the parts to my jewellery-making box.)
I also made some paper beads:
And I had my usual bout of the refashioning bug in Spring:
During Blogtoberfest I revived a stamp making hobby and made lots of wrapping paper:
And, of course, I made Christmas cards:
When the time came to test out my new stamps, I decided to use a roll of brown paper I’d salvaged from something. I also wanted to try using paint rather than the printing ink. Unfortunately, I don’t recall some of the paints I used with the different stamps, which is annoying because keeping records of such things is partly what this blog is for. But I’m fairly sure that gouache didn’t work as well as acrylic.
The first ‘stamp’ I used was the woodgrain making tool. Usually you paint the surface one colour, then when it’s dry apply a second colour and scrape it back using the tool in a rocking motion – which creates waves and whorls. But I didn’t think the paper was robust enough for that so I used a monoprinting method. I covered a ceramic tile in acrylic paint, scraped it back, then used the tile as the stamp. On the second sheet I used a comb-like scraper on the paint.
Then I tried the rollers. I’m fairly sure I used acrylic paints for these, as the colours are ones I’ve been trying to use up:
After that I tried the clear perspex backed stamps:
Lastly, I laid out a piece of plastic lace tablecloth and rolled gold paint over it (gouache, I think) then placed a sheet of coloured paper over that. The result was lovely. The paper is too thick to use as wrapping paper, however.
It is thick enough to cut up into greeting cards, though.
There are a few more printing ideas I’d like to try, and they involve printing on fabric. But at the moment I’m concentrating on the usual cards and presents projects of this time of year.
This morning I discovered a pile of photos in the directory I keep pics for this blog in that hadn’t been resized and tweaked. I had a closer look and realised that I thought I’d posted something I actually hadn’t got around to before going interstate – the last batch of stamps and wrapping paper I’d made. There are quite a few pics, so I’ll start with the stamps.
Visits to Bunnings are always perilous, but going soon after a whole lot of printing had me seeing everything as potential stamp material. Like these self-adhesive anti-skid pads:
I’d seen a tutorial somewhere in which the artist stuck dots onto a rolling pin. I didn’t want to sacrifice our rolling pin and I’m always looking for ways to recycle things, and it turned out we had just the thing:
Used silicone and caulk applicator tubes. They come with their own handle, too:
One even provided this cone of solidified silicone, which may also become a stamp in the future:
These ones were self-aligning.
I got Paul to cut up some clear perspex supports got these, so each print can be matched to the last easily:
I also found these clear plastic sauce trays in a discount shop to use as stamp supports in future:
And dug out a woodgrain scraper tool I’ve had since I was a teenager:
My next printing session was definitely more on the experimental side. I’ll post the pics next.
Recently I had to move my author blog to a new hosting company, because the old one wasn’t going to upgrade their servers so that they could support the most recent, more secure version of WordPress. In my hunt for a new host company, I found one with a domain name hosting plan for $6.95 a month, less than a quarter of the price of the old, and would host additional domain names on the same plan for just an extra $9.95.
Before I transferred the creativefidget.com domain name I got rid of my old illustration website and painting gallery site. I put a smaller selection of illustrations onto the “The Telltale Art” page and my artwork into the “Painting Gallery” page in the menu above. You can also find links to them in the sidebar.
I’d also like to try a new theme, but so far everything has worked and I don’t want to push my luck. Last time I tried to change my theme the blog disappeared, and I had to reload it.
Once again, I started with a sheet of wrapping paper from the original batch that was a bit of a dud, and overprinted with a coffee cup stamp I’d made back then, but never used:
Don’t ask me how, but the addition of black cups was all it took to fixed the dudness. I guess that as a pattern it was pretty boring, but as a background it worked better.
Since I had black ink on the tile, I tried the paw print stamps next:
I learned at this point that the silicone stamps only stick to a smooth, glossy surface, reinforcing my suction cup theory. One of them kept falling off the lid, and when I had a closer look the only difference I could see was the slightly matt surface. Also, the silicone surface of the stamps tended to repel the ink a little, so I’m wondering if these work better with ink pads.
I tried the keys:
They worked just fine. Time for some colour. I used these old star stamps next:
To make more of the star paper from the original batch, that was so versatile:
Then I mixed in some red and blue to the edges of the yellow for the lolly stamps:
So… yes, foam core can be used for stamps, but I wouldn’t recommend it. The backing quickly fell off on the first use, they felt fragile and awkward. I like the shapes so I’m going to make these again with foam.
And then I mixed the colours together and added more to make a gingerbread colour for the meat tray stamps:
I really didn’t expect them to work, but they did. Surprisingly well. I’ll definitely be recycling any meat trays that come our way in the future.
After that I washed off the tile and mixed some new ink to use with the elastic band stamp, blending them to make a graduated colour scheme:
Again, the result was another pleasant surprise – a non-dud-ish pattern:
I then used up more of the colour with my bottle top wedding ring and diamond stamps:
Gave that one a big tick. At this point only a few sheets of paper were left but I had only a couple more stamps to try. I didn’t expect the next stamp to work that well:
Turns out that while foam core isn’t great to cut into shapes, drawing into it works quite well.
That left the cups and glasses stamps. For the final sheet I added some red to the leftover blue ink to get a bugundy colour for the wine glasses, then white to half of that for pink sparkling, then yellow to the other half for beer and whisky, then… you get the picture, until I had the whole sheet covered. An old eraser from the end of a pencil gave me lime wedges, and the last sheet was done:
It was the most time-consuming of the wrapping paper sheets, but looks great.
Normally I try to print two sheets of each design, because one sheet never seems to be enough. The only double in this batch was the stars, because I had so many stamps to try. In the last batch I did have a few single sheets where I was using up excess ink or it was a mixed colour and I didn’t have enough for two sheets. I could mix up more colour, but the time it takes to match the colour isn’t worth it for an extra sheet.
I’m all out of crappy newsprint now. I could buy more, but I have a great stack of multi-purpose paper I can use and various other batches of paper I’ve saved over the years – like some newsprint-like paper that came with some ikea furniture, and some brown packing paper. On Monday I popped down to Zart Art and, along with more carving blocks, and some fabric dye, bought an assortment of A2 size coloured paper. It’s a bit thick for wrapping paper, but I could make gift bags out of it – always good for people like us who tend to forget to buy a present until the last moment… or on the way to the event.
I’d like to try using the stamps to make cards, too. One thing I have more than enough of is sheets of cheap coloured A4 paper.
The Shadowed Sun N. K. Jemesin
The Way of Shadows Brent Weeks
White Tiger Kylie Chan
Kevin McCloud's Principles of Home
My Cool Shed
The Final Empire Brandon Sanderson
Last of the Gaderene Mark Gatiss
The Deep Tom Taylor
Dead Ever After Charlaine Harris
Star Wars: Blood Ties Tom Taylor
Gamer's Rebellion George Ivanoff
Through Splintered Walls Kaaren Warren
Salt Mark Kurlansky
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Roald Dahl
The Path of Anger Antoine Rouaud
At Home Bill Bryson
Crandolin Anna Tambour
The Blade Itself Joe Abercrombie
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