Alternative Canvasses

Regular visitors to this blog (that’s you Jane) will know that I like to apply paint to different surfaces and shapes. I’m rather keen on the idea of tuna cans at the moment. I was kind of pleased with the ladybirds and I have some other ideas now.

I intend to use them as candle containers and I like the idea that each one will be unique and, hopefully, quite attractive.

I have a small tuna can in mind for the next one. I want to do trees in the snow on it. With the ladybirds, I didn’t need to do much planning. I just painted them facing in random directions and they were all the same size more or less. A snow scene is different. I need to think a bit more about placement and size. So I did a practice scene on paper. I have to do a lot more trees than I thought but it’ll be fun.

Here’s the idea. Rough but workable. It’s about 20cms x 4cms. Click it to enlarge.

Here’s the can, prepared

That’s it so far.


So, today I came across some items on Pinterest about things to do with tin cans. I didn’t see anything about using them for candles, as I’ve done but there was mention of decorating them in various ways. I spray painted some of my tuna cans previously but I hadn’t really thought about doing much else with them. But it set me thinking and I thought about how I could improve their looks as candle containers. I thought of snow scenes, replicating a graffiti wall or writing bits of poetry on them: all of which I might do in the future.

This evening, though, after practicing some finger-picking techniques in the guitar, I decided to do ladybirds. Christine suggested removing residual glue from the label with nail polish remover. So I did that and it worked well. I then sanded the outside of the can to make it easier for the paint to stick. Then I painted a base coat (3 actually) with Titan Buff acrylic paint. I covered that with light golden green, dabbed on with a brush. And then I set about doing ladybirds. I was going to do this over two days but I used a hair dryer to dry the acrylic coats and also did some more guitar practice to give the paint a chance to dry further.

The ladybirds were done in a rush and they suffered a bit because of that. But I’m quite pleased with the overall effect. I sprayed some varnish on it at the end, so that should protect it a bit. I’ll take another pic when I’ve filled it with candle.

Here’s the different stages …

Magnolia blossom

I can’t quite remember where I got the idea to make a magnolia blossom from pistachio shells. It was the shape of the shells obviously that put magnolia petals in mind. Anyway, it doesn’t greatly matter. What matters is that I went with the idea.

This was fiddly. I had to wait for the glue to dry on each petal before I did the next one. Then I tried painting the blossom white with gouache but it didn’t adhere to the inside of the shells. So I had to use acrylic paint. I was able to use gouache for the pink though.

Anyway, it’s done and I’m quite pleased with the way it turned out. I don’t think I’d make another one though.

Here are the models, found on Pinterest …

And here’s my version …

Otherwise, I’ve been strumming away. Actually, today I started teaching myself to fingerpick the guitar. I remember trying this when I played the guitar before and not really having the patience. Now, I seem to be better able to learn. Some YouTube videos have helped. Anyway, there’s no rush and I’m kind of just enjoying making music.

Out of the loop

Phew! It’s not that good but it represents, for me, an escape from paper flowers and a return to some painting. And painting on teabags. And using gouache and brushes.

I’m a bit relieved. Why? Well, because I went through an art phase about twelve years ago and I stopped for some reason and I couldn’t get back into it. I tried but there was some blockage. I don’t know what it was. Something in my head about not being able to do it. And I quickly got out of the habit. I don’t want that to happen again. That’s why I feel I must stick to my resolution and do something creative every day, even if I’m tired. Even if I really don’t feel like it.

That’s also one of the reasons why I now have such a wide range of creative pursuits to choose from. Because, if I don’t feel like carving wood, I can paint. And if I don’t feel like painting, I can make some candles. And if I don’t feel like doing any of those things, I can pick up a musical instrument and learn some new chords or find a new song to play.

Speaking of which, I bought this …

It’s a Yamaha F310 acoustic guitar. I bought it in Goodwin’s on Capel Street. The guitar, spare strings, a case and capo cost just under €200. I did a good amount of research last week before settling on the model I wanted to buy. For the price, this is a well-built, fine sounding guitar.

I’m not giving up the ukulele. The uke is a fun instrument. It’s easy to play. I enjoy playing it. I know most of the chords I need to play most of the songs I like playing. It’s also ultra portable and it’s a social instrument and I fully intend going along to Ukulele Tuesday again and maybe looking at other local groups.

I used to play the guitar when I was in my teens and early twenties. I wasn’t that good at it but I could strum and sing along and I enjoyed playing it for myself. Now that one can find the chords to just about any song, on the internet, playing songs one likes listening to has become easier to do. My fingers got back into chord patterns quite quickly on the ukulele and although the tuning is different on a guitar, many of the patterns are the same.

The neck is obviously wider on a guitar and navigating six strings rather than four is taking a bit of getting used to, but there is some muscle memory there and I’m enjoying the challenge. The steel strings are hard on the finger tips and so I’m going through the pain of that again but it’s definitely worth it.

Making Stuff

Annette’s birthday was last week. Annette is the spouse of my old pal Richard who lives in Brussels. I sent her a WhatApp birthday message and included a picture of one of the white roses I had made from rice paper. Well, I thought, why not send her one?

Last week I had been looking for something in which to display such things. I toyed with the idea of adapting a J&J cotton bud holder, and making a closure like a camera aperture but when I measured the box and had a go at adapting it, I found that it was too shallow and would have crushed the rose. I thought of other containers but none seemed suitable. As a last shot, I decided to go to a relatively new shop on South Great George’s Street called Sostrene Grene. It’s a kind of upmarket Flying Tiger.

Well, guess what I found? The perfect (well, almost perfect) container. A bit too high and the wrong colour but nothing that couldn’t be fixed with a knife, some rice paper (painted black with Chinese ink), glue and some creative thinking.

So I cut it and covered it, made the rose, popped it in the box, tied it with ribbon and posted it today. Hope she likes it.

Some of the things I make have more significance than others. Here’s the process from almost the start, to the end.

Oh, and I also made some more candles, scented this time with lemongrass and lavender. Lovely! (I hope.)

I’ve also been playing the ukulele a lot. It’s a very relaxing activity and I now have a range of favourite songs. Mainly chosen on the basis of attractive chord progressions.

Today, I have been mostly making …

Paper Roses!

Well, I bought Christine a little origami rose in the English Market in Cork at the weekend. Curious, I looked up how to make origami roses. Woah! Difficult. A bit beyond me, even at my most optimistic.

So then I kept on looking on YouTube and came across a nice video that showed how to make a paper rose out of three pieces of paper, 11cms x 11cms square. So, in the office, I cut out some lilac paper and, when I got home, I followed the instructions and, hey presto, a lilac rose. A bit rough but recognisable.

Not one to stop there, or to keep to the instruction book, I thought about that lovely roll of rice paper I have. So I decided to triple the quantity, i.e. use 9 squares rather than 3 because a) the rice paper is thin and b) I’d like to see more petals on my rose.

I meant to take pics all the way through the process but I was too engrossed! Here’s a few that give a small idea of the process and equipment involved.

And a picture of the finished product. I like how it turned out.

Next, I aim to use the Chinese brushes and some colour to make a few coloured roses. I’ve marked out more paper but I didn’t cut it because, instead …

… I made some scented candles.

This time, to secure the wicks, I used Glue Dots, and to scent the candles I used an essential oil blend. I bought the espresso cups in a local shop that sells mostly distressed furniture. They were on special offer at a ridiculously low price. The little bowls came from Flying Tiger and cost next to nothing.

Yesterday, Christine and I were in Cork at Ausome, a conference on autism organised by people with autism. All the speakers were autistic, as were about 30% of the 300+ conference participants. It was a fascinating event from which I leaned a lot about the nature of autism and how autistic people view the world and society.

Someone at the conference showed me this page in a book. I think it’s apt.

I also played the ukulele today. I’m enjoying the chord progressions on some old Beatles songs, especially ‘Something’ and ‘Yesterday’. This morning I found the chords for one of my favourite Pogues songs, ‘Thousands are Sailing’, a very moving song about emigration, so I’ve been playing that too.

Spiral Experiment

This is a bit rough and ready but I did it in about an hour just to see if it would work.

I found a picture in Pinterest yesterday that showed how to draw spirals on an egg shell. It was just a series interconnnecting lines and circles. Not rocket science but presumably mathematical. Anyway, I thought I’d have a go.

To do this properly you need time, a tape measure and less frantic energy than I had this evening.

Anyway, it was an interesting experiment.

As I said. Rough. But it has potential. I’d love to get my hands on a goose egg or three.