Tin lid

Space Things & Galaxy Octodudes

I think after making my large scale shark coral reef, I felt a little bit of a lull with my ideas. Although I had some vague thoughts on new clay projects, I couldn’t seem to get started. I looked at Pinterest (go to place for inspiration!) and started thinking of a space theme for an Altoid tin. I drew round a tin I had in my drawer at work and did a mini sketch of a 1950’s style rocket. I liked where this was going!

Working with Altoid tins in the past, I found that putting clay over the entire thing doesn’t always work and wanted to try spray painting them. I learned pretty quickly that you should invest in some metal primer if you don’t want the paint to scratch off.

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I decided to used my rocket drawing as the basis for my tin lid. I mixed together Fimo clay in black, purple, translucent, green and stardust to get a blend similar to a galaxy. I rolled it through the pasta machine to stretch the colours out rather than completely mix them and placed this on the lid. Next I cut out some basic shapes in silver clay for my rocket, using a deep blue and aqua to define parts of the rocket ship. I used a pointed tool to make some indents and added some small gold pieces for detail. I used a fluorescent clay to make the stars which I thought would be add dimension.

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Ready to bake

After baking and leaving the tin to cool, I sprayed it with metal primer and left it for a few hours. I then did several coats of black spray paint before deciding what to do with my tin.

I really liked the galaxy clay I had made and as I still had some left I decided to make an octopus for the white dish I had bought a few months ago. I made his eyes and suckers from the fluorescent polymer clay too, although it doesn’t photograph well! I added some sand and resin to the dish and my latest creature was complete!

I decided to make a smaller one for my rocket tin and added a sort of moon rock and added resin and sand. On the inside lid I stuck some silver pearl gems, to be reminiscent of stars and constellations. I loved how it came out, although the lid doesn’t quite shut!

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Continuing the space theme, I decided to try another spaceship as a relief and made this on a round piece of wood. I had issues with the clay staying on, but loved how the planet turned out. It was a mixture if greens, translucent yellow and blue. While it is pretty rough, I think it was a good try at something new and I can see a way forward with this theme of space, aliens and kitsch 1950’s style sci fi. Maybe that is what I needed to kick my butt out of this creative lull.

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Polymer Clay Reef Sharks

I like to give myself creative challenges, and sometimes I think why am I doing this to myself!? But having seen some beautiful polymer clay sea scenes that include different sea creatures, I thought it was time to stretch myself and make a bigger version of my sea Altoids tins.

The first thing I needed to do was find a suitable container for my mini reef. I didn’t want it to be too heavy or deep so it was easy to see all the details inside. After looking round a few charity shops, I found a large bowl in the supermarket for £2 – bargain!

For references and inspiration I looked through Citizens of the Sea, a beautiful book recommended to me by a friend with has the same obsession with sea creatures! I also love Pinterest for ideas and YouTube for videos on techniques with polymer clay.

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Now I had all my materials, I gathered all the different coloured Fimo together I wanted to use in the coral reef. I also used white sand for the sea bed, some really shells and resin. I bought some rubbing alcohol and found it is one of the best (and cheapest) things to clean your clay of lint and dust while you’re working, and can be used to smooth the clay.

I started the coral reef in the bowl by adding clay around the edges, which was a mixture of brown, yellow and mother of pearl. Looking at a few pictures on my phone for reference as I made the different coral shapes, I worked intuitively as I went along and found this to be my favourite approach to this project. I didn’t draw out any plan of how I wanted it to look and I think this helped with making something organic and natural.

As the different shapes and pieces were so small, this became quite a time consuming project. I had to take frequent breaks over the weeks that I made it to save my hands from getting to rough. At first I was going to have one shark and maybe an octopus in the reef, and to get the scale at least semi accurate, I put the bowl to one side after doing a little bit to make the shark. I was very happy with the way he turned out for my first attempt.DSCN2486

As I continued building up the coral reef, I decided to make a second shark. This gave the piece more balance in the centre. I love bright colours and combining all the different effect clay really made the whole piece pop. Before I baked the bowl with the coral inside it, I dusted some of the edges with different Perfect Pearl powders, adding some shimmer and dimension. I baked the sharks on folded pieces of foil to keep the fins and tail in shape. I also make a few swirl shapes and a starfish to add to the sand.

After baking and my pieces had cooled, I added the sand to the bottom of the bowl, spreading it out a little with my fingers. I put in a real shell, the clay starfish and swirls. This is when I started to get nervous! I wanted to tint the resin but wasn’t sure how it would react. I added a tiny drop of Pearl FX ink in blue to a small mixture of resin and poured it into the bowl. I was adding my resin in layers so the sharks looked like they were swimming. After about 8 hours I mixed up some more resin and poured it in, then placed the sharks in position. The blue actually started to look quite effective.

At this point I ran out of resin so put my project to one side for a while. I noticed after a few days that the resin was still slightly tacky and hadn’t set. I looked this up online and realised I hadn’t spent enough time mixing it together or blowing out any air bubbles. Luckily I was able to rescue it when my order of resin turned up and I added the last layer. Phew!

I’m really pleased with how this challenge turned out. One thing about it is that it is quite heavy and I should have possibly used a lighter container. I love how the little bits of coral look. I used two and half packets of resin though and that stuff isn’t cheap! Next time I do a similar project, I might make it a bit smaller to save on my materials.

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Life, Creative Ruts and Days Out

I’ve had some creative blocks recently, and with other things going on in my life, it’s been over a month since my last blog post. And who knows how it is June already?! It’s only just started to get warm here in Manchester, May seemed to be a lot of rain.

I recently added a page about creativity and creative blocks, a topic I have been thinking about for a while. I also decided to take my own advice and went for a walk a few weeks ago to the Southern cemetery near where I live. Getting away from my desk was a good way to stop worrying about any creative blocks. It was quiet and peaceful with so many bluebells. I sat down on a bench and woke up some sleepy ducks – they gave me a heart attack being surrounded by old gravestones in the quiet!

It was serene and a lovely place to think, walk around and having a break from technology. I also went to Blackpool last week, somewhere I have never been. The weather was beautiful and the breeze from the sea was a nice relief from the sun – I still managed to get sunburnt, whoops! It was full of arcade places, fish and chip shops, tacky gift shops and I thought it was so much fun. My friend and I went to the Sealife centre there so I could continue my sea creature obsession. I loved the rays, seahorses and I got to see a nautilus. They are cool and weird!

As I’ve been trying to get back into sculpting, I started with a few octopus in Altoid tins – something simple helped me get over my perfectionist tendencies. Plus I find making the tentacles fun and relaxing. I decided to try putting my octopus in different things and got a small china dish and a spoon – I love how these turned out, especially after adding the resin. All my creations are now in my Etsy shop if anyone wants one!

My next projects are going to include a larger sea coral scene in a bowl and a Kraken, as well as an attempt at a four limb monster. Hopefully this will be a new beginning to more blog posts on here too.

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Mermaids and Sea Things

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If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you would have guessed I have a little obsession with the sea!

And not just the creatures but also myths and legends of monsters and mermaids. Sea things seem to come naturally to me in my art, and also lends itself well to creating mythical things. I think it is the organic shapes, swirls and diverse colours and patterns that draw me in. I could probably paint mermaids forever!

My latest journal page started out as me wanting to use my latest purchase Pearlscent Liquid Acrylic by Daler Rowney, and I always imagine mermaids to be shimmery with magical qualities. I love fun colours too, so decided to use pink for the hair and a mixture of greens and gold for the tail.

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For this page I sketched out my mermaid and coloured the tail and body with my Inktense pencils, going over with water to make the colours pop. I used a brush to paint the pink Liquid Acrylic in her hair, then went over the details in black in and a nip pen shown above. I was listening to a podcast about Jupiter’s moons as I worked on this which was when I decided that was were she would be; a moon! I used Posca pens to draw out the rock and add details, and Dylusions paints for the background. I just love the starry sky.

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Some other sea related pages I’ve done recently can be seen below, I love tentacled creatures!

I am having fun trying out these new inks, they give beautiful shimmer and coverage and can be used with a brush or pen. I’m going to try them out in my black journal next, see what affects I can come up with.

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Mixed Media Canvas ~ Sea Goddess

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This weekend I completed a mixed media canvas for a competition I saw in the mixed media magazine Cloth Paper Scissors. I love this magazine and is one of the only art magazines I’ve found that has a focus on mixed media.

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I wanted to use lots of my favourite materials, which included:

  • Dylusions paints & Sprays
  • Stencils
  • Inktense pencils
  • Posca Pens
  • Watercolour paints
  • Sequins
  • Embossing powders
  • Liquid acrylic ink
  • Embroidery thread
  • Beeswax

DSCN2393I had an idea for an embellished sea goddess, with lots of textures and blues and greens. After prepping the canvas with white gesso, I sketched a face and used my favourite Inktense pencils to give her an underwater colour.

I felt this piece was quite intuitive as I painted her hair and added the elements as I went. I just love the different shimmery materials such as the Liquid Acrylic ink and embossing powders. I also like the effects the sequins gives the whole piece. Below is a video of making the whole project, I have quite a library of art videos now so if you’re interested check out my YouTube page.

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Creating Physical Texture in Art Jouralling

 

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My new book 101 Mixed Media Techniques have inspired to take different mixed media elements and explore them in my art journal.

As I read other artists books and watch videos, I’m beginning to approach my art journaling in a different way. It feels more organic and, rather than planning a page in my mind from start to finish, I’m having more fun with the materials and allowing them to show me a direction.

Jane Davenport, an artist I adore, talks about journals having a ‘connective tissue’ and when I heard this idea, it stayed with me. Not all my pages need to be finished as I start them and I am looking at my journal as a complete book, with each page following into another.With these ideas in mind, I decided to focus on building physical texture in a few pages and explore different materials.

First Page

In my first double page of my Dylusions journal, I used modelling paste on one side, swirling the end of a paintbrush into it as it dried. I then dripped PAV glue across both pages, which took a while to dry. I used my heat tool to speed the drying process up a little, and then used a wide brush to paint over the surfacing using my current favourite Dylusions paint pots.

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A Mixed Media Daydream

Happy Springtime!

It’s my birthday tomorrow (32 years young!) and what better excuse to get some art supplies and new books! I got this gorgeous book The Book of Beetles: A Life-Size Guide to Six Hundred of Nature’s Gems and 100 Flowers from the RHS: 100 Postcards in a Box as amazing references for my artwork.

I also bought 50 Art Ideas you need to know as I love learning about the history of art and 101 Mixed Media Techniques which has loads of great ideas and things I am already trying out in my art journal pages. I think I need a new bookcase!

In my most recent project, I decided to incorporate many different materials and techniques. I had a piece of PDF wood for ages, for a long forgotten project which would be good for the basis of a heavily mixed media piece.

I often listen to different podcasts when doing my artwork and listened to a great one about the Egyptian God Re  the sun god whose tears became bees. I loved this idea and wanted to create some kind of sun goddess, incorporating bees into my imagery, along with golds, yellow, orange and bronze.

I have also been influenced by Susi Blu, reading her book and watching her mixed media videos on YouTube which inspired me to approach my work with more freedom and also try adding beeswax to my work.

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My journals

Art Journaling Delights

Recently I’ve been focusing on working in my art journal and trying new things to push myself as an artist. I felt some kind of creative block with my sculpting so I picked my journal and made marks on the page. I allowed myself not to really think, just enjoy the materials and the shapes.

Since then I have done quite a few journal pages and love what art journaling gives me. I work in front of a computer during the week, so it is normally the last thing I want to do when I come home. Sitting at my desk with my supplies, some music or podcast and my imagination allows me to come back to myself, to relax, explore and think in a different way than I do in everyday life.

I can experiment and play with my materials, find what works and explore my ideas and themes. I’ve wanted to try watercolours for a while so I got out my watercolour pencils (I use Derwent Inktense) and started sketching, seeing what effect I can get. watercolour is so dreamy. I love how the colours go in a flowing motion with the water. I also used a small watercolour block by Winsor & Newton.

Adding pen to the paint gives definition and detail, building up a nice contrast between flow and line in a picture. The pencils give you more control than the paints, but also the softness you get with the paints. You can use the pencils to build up intensity of colour and shape while the pens add a boldness and build the volume within the shapes. I used my favourite Posca pens in my journal. I wanted to try creating realistic skin tones and bought these Derwent watercolour pencils which come in a nice range of colours.

Working outside my comfort zone feels liberating!  I’ve been trying not to judge my work but to enjoy a new way of making art. I’m also finding a new way of approaching my art journaling, and it is in the process of creating it that I will find my style evolving and my ideas develop.

Another purchase this week (I am obsessed!) were these beautiful  Derwent metallic pencils, which I instantly wanted to try out in my new black Ranger journal. The shimmery blues and greens made me think of mermaids so that is what I drew! I love how it came out and I added some pen to the page for contrast. I want to incorporate these pencils into a mixed media page soon.

It sometimes feels like an ongoing battle, but it really is worth reminding ourselves to enjoy the creative process and experiment with new materials. Try not to get hung up on how it is supposed to look – draw or paint whatever feels natural. This is how we grow and develop our skills. I hope everyone had a great Easter break!

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Fizzling Evolution Plus Competition!

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Win one of these dudes!

I’ve been thinking for a while about writing a post just about my fun monster sculptures, which I called Fizzlings, and how they evolved and I also wanted to do a little give away competition as I have made so many and they need proper homes! So keep reading to find out how to win one of the three you see here!

Making my little creatures began last when when I had been playing with Polymer Clay Fimo for a while, just bored after making loads of mini charms. I, as always, wanted more of a creative challenge and to make something bigger, so I started with these oddly shaped characters. I added little metal bits lying around, giving them personality.

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In the Beginning…

Each creature I made was an improvement on the last, but I wanted to make something more substantial. I watched sculpting videos on YouTube (a great resource) bought a variety of books on Polymer Clay and sculpting, and began using an armature of wire and foil inside my sculptures. This is when my creatures started to get bigger and take on a proper form. I had been sketching rough ideas now and planning my work more, thinking of themes, embellishments and colour.

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Making marks on the page

New Art Journal Pages

It’s been a while since I put a new post up on the blog, partly because I got flu and wasn’t able to do anything but sleep for a week. I felt a little uninspired with my sculpting and wasn’t sure what art I wanted to make, so I just got out my art journal and started making marks on the page with paints, pens, Dylusions sprays, soft pastels and pencils.  As I did this I found myself getting back into my art journaling and did a few more pages over the last week.

My last page, the girl with orange hair I filmed as I made it and put it together as a video on my YouTube channel. I want to do more video projects, although the lighting in my room isn’t the best. I think it helps to try other mediums when you feel uninspired, it doesn’t have to be any big project just messing around with paints on the page is enough to get you back into a creative mind set. I’ve ordered some more Dylusions paints because they are really good and so vivid, I’m looking forward to doing more pages in my journal and even adding in college.

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Some Recent Things

This is a short post as an update on what I have been doing recently.

My main project has been an altered wooden box. I removed the lid and covered it with polymer clay (Fimo), creating a hummingbird on a branch as the central image. Using my pasta machine to roll the clay into sheets, I cut out the shapes and built the image up with leaves and flowers around the edges of the box. I used some tools to texture the bird, branches and leaves and added my favourite Perfect Pearls for shimmer and depth. I added some Tim Holtz hinges to the back and a clasp at the front I had.

For the bottom part of the box I primed it with Gesso then painted a few coats of Cosmic Shimmer paint in green and blue. When baking the lid I made some separate leave pieces with added gold leaf and once they were hard I glued them to the box for interest. I then varnished it and am quite pleased with how it turned out, especially the background.

Feeling a little despondent recently, I bought this book Pop Surrealism to inspire me. It’s glossy and beautiful with interesting essays at the being about this movement. I’ve always been drawn to this kind of ‘underground’ art and didn’t really know about Pop Surrealism until a few years ago.

I made a little frog from clay when I didn’t have any particular project in mind, which was fun because I just made something from scratch.

 

I made this octopus in the round sweets tin a few weeks ago but had run out of resin. I was finally able to complete his watery home the other day and think he is super cute. I experimented with the colour and made him gradient from orange to yellow. He is my favourite octopus I’ve made so far.

I’m updating some of my pages on the blog and starting some new clay projects as well. Next week I am off to London and the South for a few days so looking forward to going to some museums, getting some inspiration and having a mini break.