As 2017 comes to an end, this would be a good time to write a post reflecting on everything I’ve done, the art I’ve made and how I’ve changed.
This year I’ve naturally focused more on my embroidery and as a result I’ve become more precise in my work. Moving house meant I had more space for my crafts and while I set up the art room I would do embroidery projects in the living room. The more embroidery hoops I made, the more ideas and I would get for new ones.
I also started to spray paint the hoops, giving the whole piece a more completed look. I have lots of fabric pieces so embroidery was like a fun way to plan, doodle and relax. I would pick out my fabric, sketch an idea onto it and play around with colours and stitches to bring my ideas to life. I also challenged myself to try something more complex each time I started a new piece.
Skull and Flowers
When it came to subject, the main themes for my pieces were nature and whimsical – no surprises there! I find inspiration in so many things; beetles, flowers, seasons, the sea, anatomy, space. I also love looking at other artists and different styles such as Pop Surrealism, Kitsch, Kawaii.
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.
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.
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.
The Famous Thinker
A Sweet Rose
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.
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.
Other supplies included:
A3 piece of MDF
Picture hooks for hanging
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!
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.
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!
Awesome tattoo of vintage Victorian teeth drawing
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!
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.
Golden Bird embroidery with flowers
Lurking sea thing
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Making marks on the page
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.
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.
Close Up Clay Covered Box
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.
I’m planning to put more tutorials up on the blog this year and thought this would be a fun one to start with. I’m going to show how I cover a small tin in polymer clay, and here I used a Altoids tin (I found some in the supermarket and now I can’t find them anywhere!) but you can use any small tin you have. Some other things you will need: