Friday, 29 November 2013

Learning something new, and loving it so far

A a few weeks ago, I decided to try out something new, something I've always wanted to do: pottery. I thought long and hard about whether to go for a sculpting or wheel throwing class, and eventually signed up for the latter. Mainly because I thought that this way, I would end up with things that would not only stand around gathering dust, but could actually be used.

So three weeks ago, I went to my first pottery class ever. I was a bit nervous, because, to be honest, while I love learning, I hate being a complete beginner. Having no clue, no control, no skill at all. But there's no other choice. I was glad that there was another beginner besides me, and the teacher took time to explain all the basics to us, and show us how to prepare the clay, and it wasn't long before we threw our lumps of clay on the wheel (so exciting!).

To prepare the clay, you have to knead it properly, to get all the air out. It's hard work, and it can take quite a while until it's ready, but it's important to do it well. When you're done, you form your clay into a ball, and then throw it on the wheel, as much into the centre as possible. Then switch on your wheel, and start to centre the clay, pulling it up and pushing it down again at first. This can take ages, and I always feel that when I finally got it centred, I've got about half of the clay I started with left. The next step is to make an opening, and then to pull the whole thing up, ring by ring, and give it the form you want. It always fascinates me watching my teacher pulling it up. It's a bit like magic. And I just absolutely can't do it. It just won't go up. I still have very little "feel" for the clay. How much pressure is too little or too much. I'm still a bit afraid of the clay. But I hope it will come soon.

Now we let the bowl dry with the help of a blow dryer for a few minutes, with the wheel spinning very slowly, and afterwards shape it with a round tool from the inside, to give it a nice round bowl shape. Then it's time to take it off the wheel and let it dry for a week or two. That's how far we got. So far, I have thrown four pieces, two bowls, and two smaller flat bowl thingies. Flat because with the first ones, the walls got so thin when I tried to pull it up that it broke and it had to be cut down, the other one because I just couldn't get it up. That last one was one that I did all by myself, without help of the teacher. Her comment on it was: "Considering that you did it all by yourself, and it's only your third day of class, you did not bad". So you can imagine what it looks like: flat, wobbly, and with a quite thick and uneven wall and rim.

Next week, we'll learn how to trim our bowls. That is, to remove excess clay with the help of a cutting tool (oh my, I can just imagine so many things that can go wrong here!!!) and to establish a foot on which the bowl will stand (which is also important for the firing in the kiln). And then it's off into the kiln for the first firing, and then it's time to glaze it (I'm really looking forward to that part!), and then back into the kiln again for a last firing at very high temperature. And then it's ready to use!

I really hope that at least some of the pieces will be finished before the Christmas break. I just can't wait to see them all finished! And I just hope that I won't mess it up too much, and not break anything.

I still got so much to learn, but I'm really enjoying it. I love the feel of the wet clay, the spinning of the wheel, the concentration and how you just can't rush it. It's very meditative, and you can really switch off very well (you'll be far too busy trying to get it centred, and up, and not send the clay flying all over the workshop to think of anything else, really). And you can throw a bowl in a relatively short time, and it's just so satisfying to see how you made a beautiful (more or less, anyway) bowl from a lump of clay. It's something I'll definitely want to continue with. My goal is to learn how to make tea mugs one day!

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

No sitting in the dark, but instead a very bright Christmas ahead

Last week, I was afraid I might have to sit in the dark at Christmas, because of a broken bulb, for which a replacement seemed just impossible to find. Well, I solved the problem.

It included getting another Christmas light, though. But at least both of them are working.

But then, last Saturday, I went to the julbasar, the Christmas market organised by the Swedish church here in town, and look what I found! It was actually the very same light that I had seen in several online shops, but which was just impossible to mail order to where I live.

And then, on the way out, I saw that other, smaller, red and green one, and I just couldn't resist.

So, instead of one, I have now a grand total of four. And all of them in perfect working order. Although the two new ones are much brighter than the two supermarket ones (which are a bit pathetic, really). They don't have those strange very low volt/watt bulbs that you can't get anywhere, but proper ones, for which I can actually get replacements here.

But the main thing is, I finally got my Swedish Christmas light (and some), and I'll definitely be having a very bright Christmas.

Monday, 25 November 2013

Some rearrangements, and a trip to IKEA to look forward to

There's some changes going on in the studio, which includes a weekend spent moving an entire big huge bookcase from one room to another (it's just unbelievable how many books - and other stuff - fit into one bookcase!), and a trip to IKEA next week (yay!). 

It also means that at the moment, most of my art materials are inaccessible, but once I'm finished, my little studio will have more space and storage. Can't wait 'til it's all finished!

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Sitting in the dark

I've been wanting one of those Swedish advent lights that you put in your window for ages, but there were hard to find here. Last year, finally, I spotted them in one of the supermarkets, but I was too late, they were already sold out. So this year, I made sure to go there early, and finally got one last Friday.  They're very simple, available only in red or plain wood, and with these horrible plastic thingies around each lamp. But I was going to paint it anyway, so it didn't really matter.

When I got home, before I even had unpacked it, I could hear a rattling sound inside the box. Not a good sign. One of the bulbs was broken. I considered taking it back the next day, but then I didn't really liked the bulbs either, and thought I would just go and get some new, plain ones anyway. So I spent the weekend happily painting. Several layers of white went on.

I even tried spraying the plastic thingies with a snow spray I found somewhere at the back of one of my supply boxes. But it wasn't really an improvement, so at the end I just threw them away.

I decided to keep it simple, and just added a green line around the top edges. That looks so much better, don't you think? Well, it definitely fits much better into my living room than the unpainted version.

Now all that was needed were some new bulbs. No problem, I thought, especially now, with all the Christmas lights everywhere. Well, I was wrong. It seems that getting spare bulbs is just impossible. I went to several shops, and even googled them on the internet, but with no luck. Not even in the shop where I bought the light did they have spare ones. They suggested that if I still had the receipt, I should just bring the whole thing back, and they'd change it for a new one. Yes, well, I do have the receipt, but I doubt they'll take my painted one back. Even if it does look prettier....

If you know of a place where one can buy/mailorder small 3,2V 0,064W spare bulbs, please let me know. Otherwise I might just end up having to buy another one of these lights, just for the bulbs - or sitting in the dark this Christmas...

Friday, 15 November 2013

Decisions, decisions...

I've been using ready stretched canvasses ever since I've started painting on canvas (because that's how my painting teacher did it), and I've never really thought about stretching my own canvasses. But recently, I've become a bit bored with the ready stretched things. There just doesn't seem to be that much variety, at least not in texture. So I've started thinking about doing my own stretching. I ordered two sample booklets from one of the big art shops here, and oh my, so many different textures and varieties!

But now there's the problem of deciding which one. Linen or cotton? (I'm not really considering the polyester options, that just sounds wrong somehow). Primed or unprimed? Well, I know which one I like most. Unfortunately, that also happens to be the most expensive. So the problem now is to find my favourite affordable fabric.

Umprimed fabrics are less expensive, so that might be an option. But I'm just a bit concerned about how the fabric will behave, if you first stretch, and then prime it. Will it warp? Would I have to gesso it first, and then stretch it? That might be a bit akward, though, especially with the larger sizes.

Well, before I make any definite decisions, and order a bit huge roll of fabric, I'll have to do some more investigating. I bought two more sample booklets from the other big art shop here. They have some great looking, and slightly less expensive, fabrics in their catalogue, and I'm looking forward to try them out. After all, it's quite a big investment, to get a big huge 2x10m roll (they don't seem to sell them by metre here), and I want to get the right one. Although it might probably take a while to find the perfect canvas. Not easy, but rather exciting.

Linking this up to the wonderful Paint Party Friday. I know, there ins't much of painting going on here, but I hope that some of you might have some tips or recommendations for me. 

What do you use/prefer? Ready stretched, or stretching your own? Have you changed from ready stretched to making your own? Or vice versa? I'd love to hear what you think and about your own experiences.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

DIY Postcard swap: Finished and on their way

My postcards are finished, and they're on their way. I posted them yesterday, to Germany, Scotland, England, New Zealand, and different corners of the United States.

 I just hope that I got all the addresses right, and that they're all going to arrive.

And now I'm looking forward to what the postman will bring for me :)

Sunday, 10 November 2013

{Happy Sunday} Autumn still life

I went for a little walk yesterday, when it was dry and sunny, gathering some autumn leaves and a twig for a little autum still life.

Today, it's very wet and windy, perfect to stay at home all day, and play a little bit in Lightroom and Photoshop.

Have a lovely Sunday!

Friday, 8 November 2013

DIY Postcard Swap: Work in progress

More details added to the collage backgrounds of my cards for the DIY Postcard Swap. A little bit of paint, texture, stamps, and some washi tapes. 

And I could finally make use of that postcard stamp I bought about two or three years ago. Isn't it just perfect?

They're almost finished but there are still some details I want to add over the coming weekend. I really like how they're coming along, and I can't wait to send them out into the world. I received the addresses yesterday. So exciting! The creative juices are definitely flowing again.

Linking up to the wonderful Paint Party Friday as well, even though there's not really much painting going on in these. But I've missed a few weeks, and it's always a great and inspiring place to to go.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

I'm a winner!! Thanks to Featuring Magazine

I meant to write that post 3 months ago, but well, better late than never, right?

I mentioned in my last post that I used some patterned paper I had won in a give away. Three months ago, a big envelope from Gauche Alchemy appeared in my post box, filled with all kinds of goodies perfect for art journaling and mixed media projects. And it was a really uplifting surprise, because that day hadn't been a very good one. But that really made my day. Well, where had I won these goodies? I hadn't entered any competitions or anything. But I had pre-ordered the latest issue of Featuring Magazine, by which I automatically qualified for the give away draw.

If you don't know it yet, Featuring is a printed magazine filled with inspiration from all kinds of artists all over the world. The first issue appeared in spring 2012 and so far, four issues have appeared. There's so much inspiration to be found online, but it is really nice to lie down on the sofa with a beautifully made magazine in your hand and flip through the glossy pages filled with creativity. I like the fact that it combines different media, and that it is based in Europe, which makes shipping rates affordable.

Thank you, Gauche Alchemy and Featuring Magazine for a lovely surprise! And I hope that there will be many more issues of Featuring.

Monday, 4 November 2013

DIY Postcard Swap: Getting Started

Fuelled with new creative energy after having signed up for the DIY Postcard Swap, I sat down on my desk on Saturday afternoon to get started. I wanted to make collages using (up) some patterned paper and stamps - both things that I have loads of but hardly ever use.

Me and white glue have never been friends, I just can't manage without making a complete mess all over the place. Especially when having two pieces of paper the same size, that need to be stuck together. But the result wasn't too bad.

The patterned paper are from a give away I won a few weeks back. I meant to blog about that, but somehow never got round to it. The past few weeks/months haven't been very good blogwise, but I hope to make up for it again.

Some collage bits added to the backgrounds.

The back sides needed a bit of colour too. The mess I made with the glue added some nice effects.

Friday, 1 November 2013

A postcard swap to help the creative juices flow again

As I mentioned in my last post earlier today, I'm feeling a bit uninspired at the moment. So today, when I came across a postcard swap, I spontaneously decided to sign up for it, in the hope that having to produce 10 postcards over the next couple of weeks will help me get back into the creative mood.

While I'm a little bit intimidated about it all (will I be able to come up with 10 decent postcards?), I'm also quite excited about it. It's the first swap I'm taking part in. I've tried to take part in one before, with an online class I was taking, but it took me so long to sign up with the internet site were we had to register our addresses, that by the time I finally managed it, I was too late. So all I got from that attempt is being registered with and receiving a steady flow of e-mails from a website I'm not even sure what service they actually provide.

The swap I'm taking part in is the DIY Postcard Swap, organised by Hanna of iHanna's Blog. In this swap, you have to create 10 postcards and send them out to the 10 addresses you receive by November 14 at the latest. And in return, you'll (hopefully) receive 10 postcards from all over the world. It's not too late to take part, registration is still open Sunday, November 3.

So, that's my weekend sorted...

Project 365 | October 2013

Another month gone, and only two left 'til the end of the year. Doesn't time just fly this year? But I enjoyed October, it was a nice month, with the leaves starting to change colour, the nights getting longer, and the days foggier. After the heat of summer, I can finally breath again, come to life again, feel the fresh cool air on my face when going for a long walk in the forest. With October, my favourite seasons start, autumn and winter. Yes, I prefer dark evenings to long summer nights, and fog and cloudy skies to endless sunshine, and I'm already hoping that we will get lots of snow this winter. October also brought another trip to lovely Dorset, with long walks on the cliffs, spectacular waves in the sea after a night of heavy storms, and a trip to the historical town of Bath. So here's my October in pictures:

I haven't been present in this spot very much this October. I haven't really had anything to show. I'm afraid I'm having a bit of a creative low at the moment. I don't think I've picked up a paint brush even once this past month. I've been spending a lot of time with learning about Lightroom and Photoshop CS6, and I've started doing some more extensive photo editing again, but I'm still waiting for the spark to get me going with painting again. I hope that November will bring inspiration back.