I wanted to do a different kind of nature themed project incorporating more mixed media in with my sculpture. While my love affair with the sea and all its creatures continues, I wanted to try something else for my new big piece. After finding a kidney shaped glass dish in Oxfam, I was inspired to make a pond.
I had all my materials and ideas but as usual I was procrastinating about starting my new project. I have a tendency to strive for perfection which stops me doing anything at all. I had been looking at Christi Friessen’s book Flourish which I bought a few weeks ago and I just love her approach to creating. Perfection be damned!
My tile for making+
Adding more beads
I decided to start of small and made some fish using a combination of orange colours and translucent. I was pleased with the way they came out, especially as they were my first try. I made my pond over about a week, starting on a weekend. I mixed browns, sand, translucent and grey together to get a marbled affect and started placing it in the dish, building up rocks around the side. I made more marbled colours with some lighter and some darker to add contrast between the rocks. I then began making reeds from green polymer clay, using a similar mixing technique to get a deep colour of green.
Adding the fish to their home
Preparing the resin
As I went along, I realised I was making more of a fantasy pond. The elements where exaggerated and stylised which is my favourite way of working and allows a kind of freedom to take something and change it. I added different beads to round-headed pins, twisted the ends with pliers and added them into the clay.
I decided to add a little bug and a frog, nestling them into some of the twisted leaves. I made a bunch of lily pads, baking a few separately so I could add them to the resin later on. I brushed different colours of Perfect Pearls onto the leaves and creatures to give it a gorgeous shimmer. When everything had baked and cooled I started adding the resin to the dish in layers, adding pieces of fantasy film in the bottom. I added the fish to the second layer and scrunched smaller pieces of fantasy film in cobalt blue, which added dimension and shimmer to the pond.I am really happy with the way this project turned out. It is lush and vivid and the glass dish was a great choice to build into a pond.
Beetle close up
Frog close up
Ready for resin
I’ve been playing around with altering tins for a while and wanted to try something new using them. While out shopping with my sister, I found a smaller tin, about half the size of an Altoid tin and thought it would be a cool challenge to make something fit inside it.
When I feel a bit out of practice with clay I like to go back to something simple such as my octopus. I made two mini ones, one in translucent yellow and the other translucent orange. They turned out so cute! One of these guys could live in my new tin, so I made a tiny bit of coral, seaweed and a starfish to make it more homely.
For the tin, I sprayed it with a few coats of metal primer and when it was dry, sprayed it with a gorgeous gold crome. While I waited for the paint to dry I made a whole army of octodudes! One even has a top hat, just to be different.
I added some head-pins to some of my new dudes before baking so I could make them into something like a keyring. When my tin was ready I added some white sand and placed the octopus in with his new things and added resin. I put this under my cake tray to cure, which means no pesky dust getting into the resin.
I wanted to try making something even smaller! So I found these little sewing tins and added a gold octodude chilling in some resin. I added the 20p for scale. I started making some frogs as well, the first two turned out very cute. My next project is going to be a pond so I’m planning to make some smaller frogs, fish and lots of flowers!
Frog and lily pad
If you follow my social media, you may have seen some updates on a Hindu goddess I was making. A lovely friend of mine sent me a commission request for Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess of wealth, fortune and prosperity (both physical and material). I just loved this idea and was thrilled – and a little bit apprehensive!
I looked through a few images I found on Pinterest and decided to approach my project as a clay relief on wood, adding different media to create the opulent and embellished style I love in Indian religious art.
My craft desk! Always messy with something
- A4 wood
- balsa wood
- Polymer Clay (I used Fimo)
- Clay tools
- Gold leaf
- Assorted beads, metal charms
- Strong glue
- Paper flowers
- Clay varnish
- Pasta Machine
- Liquid sculpey
Using a print out as a general guide, I started by sketching an image onto the wood, adding a board round the sides. Gathering my base colours of blue, pink and gold, I started mixing different blues together to get an idea of shade and, using my pasta machine, rolled out the clay into small sheets.
Sketching out my idea
Adding the first bits of clay
A short post on some things I’ve made in the last few weeks. I wanted to try and make more projects with resin, and how I can incorporate it into future mixed media projects. I experimented with different mould, making a jellyfish tank using polymer clay and drilling a hole to add wire once it was set.
I made some different sized beads using resin and added metal charms, beads, gems and glitter. I’m still thinking about a project to use them in.
Inside mini glass jar
I’ve also been playing around with different tins and thinking of new things I can make with them. I’ve like spray painting them and using different materials to alter them. No matter how much I try to work in a linear and organised way, my brain just doesn’t want to! So I end up doing several things at once, putting things to one side to set or dry while I make something else.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
My tile for working with clay
Starting the coral – taking ages!
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.
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!
If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you would have guessed I have a little obsession with the sea!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.