Cherryblossom Tears is Five

Celebrating five years of my art blog

‘ 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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Paper Flowers and Mixed Media Project

paper crafts and mixed media

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

art projects and blogging

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!

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

embroidery monsters, cakes and birds

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

art and tattoos in manchester

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

‘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.

A Monster Tea Party

polymer clay creatures

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

polymer clay tin tutorial

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

How I made a mixed media 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

Polymer clay creatures

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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Mixed Media Hindu Goddess Lakshmi

A short post about making my mixed media art piece Lakshmi

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.

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My craft desk! Always messy with something

Materials 

  • A4 wood
  • balsa wood
  • Pencil
  • 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.

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Mini Resin Creations & Altered Tins

A few things I have being working on recently, including resin and tin projects.

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.

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.

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Space Things & Galaxy Octodudes

New polymer clay pieces with a space theme

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.

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Polymer Clay Reef Sharks

A post showing a sculpted Coral Reef with 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

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