Mixed Media & Clay Jungle Frame

I wanted to get back into my clay work for a while and have a lot of ideas scribbled in my notebook. I had a few deep box frames since last year that I had been meaning to create something with, similar to my sea themed box.

To get back into using polymer clay I started with a mini frame and used scrap bits of clay to make a little frog. I definitely felt rusty as I made the foliage to go round the frog and the clay was super hard – it took ages to soften it.

I added some beads on a wire to give the piece some texture and added different Perfect Pearl Shimmers, beads and then some resin to the baked piece. I couldn’t fit the glass frame back onto the box as the frog was a little bit too big, although I quite like it without.

I decided to continue with the jungle theme on a bigger frame, this time with a tropical bird as my focal point.

I used scraps of blue and purple clays to make a background to build my image from. I then added different layers of leaves and two large branches across the piece. I decided to make another frog and used a skinner blend of peach and a translucent yellow. Looking at it now I think he was a bit too big, although I was try to create perspective.

I loved looking up different leaves for reference and trying to capture the shape and colours in clay.

One thing I find most enjoyable about working on a project like this is building the image by adding layers. I built the toucan up with black clay and had fun creating his colourful beak. I used a variety of tools to smooth the clay into the background, and textured the feathers to make him look less solid.

When I felt I had enough foliage in the piece I made some beaded wires as vines and placed them in over the leaves. I added some smaller leaves to hid where the wires started.

I made a little beaded spider from a tutorial I found on YouTube and decided to add him into the frame. I also added a few metal leaves, beads and a mixture of shimmer powders to add more bling.

Once I baked him, I added some resin sparingly to look like rain and spray painted the front of the frame with blue and splatters of gold. I varnished the rest of the piece without resin and added a few gems – because he wasn’t bling enough!

With this being my first clay piece in a long time I am happy with how he turned out. One major problem though, was that he isn’t secured to the back piece of wood. He feels quite solid with the frame in place, but next time I will try Sculpey Back and Bond to secure him.

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He is now on the wall in our living room. I’ve also been making a lot of beaded spiders which I will put up in another post and am planning another one of these mixed media clay frames. Possibly a desert for my next theme 🙂

Skull, Flowers and Goofy Embroidery

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Because I like to give myself art projects and challenges, I decided my next big embroidery piece would be a skull, surrounded with flowers. And I must have been crazy, because this piece took me ages! There was a lot of frustration, swearing and accidental stabbing of fingers, and wondering why I thought this was a good idea!

 

I love using black fabric for embroidery, it makes all the colours pop. As this hoop was pretty big I used two pieces of stabiliser fabric in the back to support my work. I used a white gel pen to sketch out an idea, looking at a few references for the skull and butterfly. With the flowers and foliage, I went with my instincts as I wanted it to be semi stylistic. I have loads of embroidery thread I bought online, so you will see quite a mixture in this piece. I think of it as painting with a needle, so there isn’t a lot of variation with the stitches, it is mostly satin stitch, back stitch and stem stitch.

 

I actually started this in June and had a few stumbling blocks as I tried to motivate myself to continue. So I set myself a mini task of doing 10 minutes a day free hand embroidery as a way to change my perspective on being so rigid with my work. This really helped as I had to think of something and start stitching without lots of planning and analysing.

Skull

While this was my larger ongoing project, I also did a few mini embroidery hoops and put together a travel pack when I went away to Paris and also for my lunch breaks at work.

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My Trip to Paris

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Paris has been my dream holiday for ages. I love the culture, French films, the history and the language. Paris has a magical allure with it’s museums, galleries, cobbled streets and rich history of the arts. So when my boyfriend and I were talking about going away at the end of June, I desperately wanted to go to Paris!

We could only go for a few days but we packed a lot in a short space of time; I am now recovering before going back to the daily grind!

We flew over on Wednesday 27th June to Beauvais Paris airport and got a coach to the city centre. After dropping our things off at the hotel, we got the Metro and headed to the Sacré-Cœur. It was warm but rainy, but we are British and live in Manchester so I was pretty used to that!

It was beautiful inside with religious gold mosaics and they had a service going on, which was pretty weird as loads of tourists walked past them! We walked around Montmartre and had a coffee in the square, before taking the Metro again and looking for somewhere to have dinner.

The next day we got up early and headed to the Rodin Museum which I had pre-booked and looking forward to. We strolled through a beautiful sculpture garden in the sunshine and a clear sky. Below you can see his famous sculpture of the Thinker.

After the Rodin Museum we walked to the Eiffel Tower. It was mega busy with tourists and people selling trinkets, so we didn’t go up. Instead we got ice cream and sat in the park next to the famous landmark.

By this point it was very warm and sunny, and I needed some shade! We got the Metro (this time a double decker train!) and headed to the Musée d’Orsay  that my Dad had recommended. On the banks of the River Seine, this building used to be the Orsay railway station built in the 1900. It is now a museum to mostly French art and sculpture including Monet, Degas, Cézanne and Van Goth.

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mosaic cuttlefish

Mixed Media Mosaic Cuttlefish

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I set myself a new project getting back to my love of mixed media. I decided to create a mosaic from my collection of beads, metal charms, paper flowers, seed beads and glass mosaics.

Mosaic art supplies

Other supplies included:

  • A3 piece of MDF
  • Mosaic Glue
  • Resin
  • Picture hooks for hanging
  • Pencil
  • Primer
  • Paint

One of my favourite sea creatures is a cuttlefish and I thought the textures created with all the pieces would make an interesting sea themed college, something I could hang in the bathroom.

Using some reference pictures, I sketched out a basic cuttlefish onto the wood and painted round it with Primer. When this had dried, I began picking out different beads and metal pieces I liked to start building up a pattern. Once I was happy with a few placements, the gluing commenced!

Mosaic Cuttlefish

I had a large translucent bead in mind for the eye, as cuttlefish have interesting eye shapes. To emphasise it I added smaller black beads around it.

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After adding larger pieces I began filling in the gaps with a variety of seed beads. I wanted the head, body and fins to be well defined so I focused on making the body blue-green, the fins more gold and the head blue and red.

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After finishing all the mosaic part of the piece, I painted around the cuttlefish with some blue Dylusions paint.

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Cherryblossom Tears is Five

‘ Creativity takes courage’ –  Henri Matisse

Everything begins with an idea. And five years ago I decided to blog about the creative things I was doing, like an online dairy. I was nervous about showing the world my ‘flawed’ works but part of my plan was to become an art therapist and this felt like one small step in that direction.

I started Cherryblossom Tears when I was 28 and now I’m 33. My art has changed as much as I have in that time. I’ve recognised that my blog was never going to be a glossy portfolio of finished pieces. My strengths lay in the so called imperfections and the process of creating. This is what art therapy was about; engaging with the materials and the creating of artwork. I learnt how to run a blog inside out by doing it, making mistakes and learning from them.

I developed better writing skills and found a natural voice when putting up posts. I learnt how to take better pictures of my work and how to plan my projects. The purpose of my blog started to shine through: It was about not giving up, sharing my frustrations with my work, the trying, the experimentations, working through to find and cultivate a personal style, the materials you connect with and feel on an intuitive level.

‘Life is like art. You have to work hard to keep it simple and still have meaning.’ Charles de Lint

I think writing in this way is liberating. I realised where my creative strengths were and also how much I love combining materials to makes something unusual. One my favourite things to do is go to the art shop and find something new to try. What can I make with Polymer clay? What happens if I add beads? What about wire? How can I create a monster in my own style?

By allowing myself this freedom, I stopped caring so much what other people thought of my art and really embraced the enjoyment I got from making things. It doesn’t matter if something I make doesn’t work, I can try again! I’ve found a quiet confidence in presenting myself as who I really am; a little eccentric, messy, prone to over-thinking. But who I wished to be in my 20s wasn’t real or authentic.

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mixed media embellishments

Paper Flowers and Mixed Media Project

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I’ve been having a bit of creative slump with my projects so I decided to just go take my own advice and make anything! I got this lovely Paper Poetry cherry blossom kit a little while ago so I decided to try it out.

At first I found it frustrating as it was quite fiddly and I’ve not been working with paper for a long time. But my flowers got better and making them was more about breaking my annoying creative brick wall.

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I’ve been doing a lot of embroidery projects the last few months and this was one of my biggest influences on my next project. I had bought a copper S shape from Hobbycraft a few months ago as I wanted to add some interesting wall art to my new craft room. I had a vague idea of adding wire and beads to it, so I just opened my box of embellishments and beads and started.

Of course my little friend Dr Truffles wanted to see what was going on as well!

When I ran out of colourful wire, I started using some black twine and tying parts of it in knots. I added beads, metal charms, paper flowers, anything I could find that I thought went together well. love how it turned out!

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Mini Projects & Rainy Days

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I feel like I’ve been neglecting my blog a little, but I have just been so busy with other things and a little side tracked! So here are a few mini projects I have been doing in-between my embroidery, celebrating my boyfriend’s birthday, working and general life things!

Art Room Projects

I bought a wooden mini shelf from Amazon to add all my tiny little knickknacks on. First I primed the whole thing ready for painting and used this lovely blue Dylusions paint. I added this floral patterned paper using Modge-Podge and coated the whole thing to give it a varnish effect. I then added some tiny circle mirrors, gems and mosaic tiles for embellishment. This is now in the corner of my window sill looking sweet.

 

The next thing I made was a pinboard to fit under my new shelf. I found this frame in Primark and loved that it was a hexagon. I bought it for £6 and basically took it apart!

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Textiles, Sculpting & My Birthday!

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So this is just an April post update on things I’ve been up to plus it was my birthday, hurray! 33 baby! I had a lovely chilled day with my sweet boyfriend; went looking round shops I like, got this cute tattoo of a vintage medical drawing of teeth (I just like teeth, what can I say?!) went to Richmond’s tea room in Manchester where it is themed like Alice in Wonderland and ate cake, then later we went to see Ghost in the Shell.

I bought this lovely glass terrarium and add two of my smaller cactuses; I made this crazy chocolate swirl cake and decorated it with m&ms; I also got my hair cut quite dramatically!

I’ve been working on some new embroidery projects and continuing with the sweet theme, did an ice cream cone. I’m also working on a new banner for this blog which is coming along very slowly!

I recently got a commission to do a small penguin sculpture; he was to be wearing a little jumper and bow tie! Well I do like a challenge and this is how he came out. I really liked this project and am planning to do some more bird sculptures.

I still feel like I’m working on making my craft area the best possible place to work in. I’m going to be making a little shelf unit for all my knickknacks that I put on the window; I also want to re-pot more cactus friends!

Embroidery Monsters & Cupcakes

Since finishing my bird embroidery I have had more ideas for hoops and decided to go with experimenting. I made this cute sea monster dude and my boyfriend suggested he have a top hat! So why not? I like how he came out and I spray painted the hoop blue.

My next hoop was this sweet oval I found among my fabric stash, and thought this pink fabric would go well with a frosted cupcake. Especially as I’ve been baking so many recently! I don’t really do plans for my embroidery, I just sketch an idea onto the fabric and then look at reference pictures as I go. Not sure if that is what you are meant to do!

I added some seed beads to the syrup as sprinkles and I am so pleased with it, I love the cherry!

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Recent Things in March

So the craziness of last month has definitely started to settle down and my new craft space is looking good. I have my favourite things on the window sill and my inspiration around me that make me so happy and fulfilled while I’m creating things or in need of ideas.

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Since moving into the flat with my lovely boyfriend, I have been exploring my new love of baking (especially decorating!) and also want to make the place cosy and a space to feel relaxed and content. I recently bought a magazine on up cycling and am planning to make a headboard for our bed and re-purpose an old lamp. Also my obsession with cacti has exploded!

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I have been getting back into embroidery recently, partly because our spare room wasn’t finished yet and I wanted something creative to do while sitting in the living room.

I started with a smaller hoop as a practise then planned out a bird silhouette filled with flowers. I forgot how much I enjoy creating with stitches. Colour, shape and movement are all my favourite elements in my work and feel I have captured that in this project. I’m planning to add some seed beads to this and also thinking about spray painting the frame. I’m thinking this would make a lovely Mother’s Day gift for my Mum as well.

Another one of my mini projects for my art area is a copper wire letter S I got from Hobbycraft which I thought would make an interesting addition to my wall art. I’m thinking of covering it with wire and beads and just generally experiment.

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Chaos and Creativity

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‘I have always believed, and I still believe, that whatever good or bad fortune may come our way we can always give it meaning and transform it into something of value’ – Hermann Hesse

It’s been about two months since my last post and probably the longest gap since I started writing my blog. Life suddenly got very chaotic and I found myself unable to anything art or craft related. I was poorly then I had to move house as my landlord was selling. I was also learning to drive and doing some volunteering at an art gallery. Looking back now it was a massive upheaval and I felt stressed and overwhelmed.

Gradually things began to level out and my boyfriend and I moved into a flat together. We now have a spare room for arts, crafts and magic (he is an actual magician!) but this is yet to be fully sorted and is currently a myriad of boxes and degu cage – they are cute though so they can get away with it for now.

Between moving house I did some art journal pages and made my friend a mixed media birthday card. I’ve also been teaching myself Illustrator so I can create a website layout for my boyfriend – magic is a great topic! It is a new way of approaching art and I am finding it a real challenge. I’ve always liked design and illustration and scrapbook interesting packaging, so learning how to create vector art on a computer is another step towards that kind of artwork. I have to admit that spending a lot of time on the computer is hard. I work in an office during the day and being able to make things with clay, paints, sewing is my way of escaping technology and feeling more connected by using the materials with my hands. Maybe once I get more to grips with the software I will find a balance between both.

Below are a few pictures from the last month. Now my life is calming down a bit more I have plenty of creative projects bubbling in my mind.

plants made from polymer clay

A Monster Tea Party

While it feels like I’ve been really busy over the last few weeks, I have been able to do some new arty projects in the evenings and wanted to try new ideas.

I went to see Little Shop of Horrors at the theatre a few weeks ago, I love the film and the show was brilliant! Inspired by my love of monsters and plants, I started making a few of my own polymer clay plant creatures. Sometimes I just want to make something and not have any ideas of preliminary sketches beforehand. This is how I started with my flower and cactus creatures below.

I had these tiny pots lying around for ages, I got them from a little craft shop near where I live. I also made some kind of steam-punk fish earrings with translucent clays and was thinking about what I could put in the Tim Holtz glass domes I’ve had for a while. That is when I decided to make a tooth – which glows in the dark!

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Altoid Tin Tutorial – Little Fishes

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Life has been pretty hectic recently as I got sick, then started driving lessons and a French class! So my art projects have been a bit neglected over the past month, but I did make this little fish pond tin a while ago and wanted to do another tutorial so I thought this would be a nice update on an Altoid tin tutorial I did last year. I hope you like!

Materials:

  • Altoid Tin
  • Polymer Clay
  • Clear Resin
  • Metal Primer Spray
  • Spray Paint
  • Shimmer Powers
  • Beads, fantasy film, other mixed media things

Preparation:

  • A general idea of what you want to make
  • A clean workspace, materials and tools, drink and snacks on hand

The first thing you want to do is prepare your tin. Spray with a metal primer to stop the paint scratching off. It will need a few light coats. While your tin dries, you want to start making something to put in your tin. I made two fish in different colours, but you make whatever you like. I also made a bit of seabed with plants to give it more interest.

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Once you’re happy with your coverage of the tin with primer, spray with the spray paint. I experimented a bit with my colours and did a vibrant purple on the outside and a gold chrome inside. It doesn’t need to look perfect and I actually like the effect of the gold shining through on the hinges. Before I baked my fish, I added some Perfect Pearls to them as I just love shimmer! With your creation add whatever you like – beads, powders, metals.

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Mixed Media Polymer Clay Fantasy Pond

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!

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.

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.

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Mini Things in Tins

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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.

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