I’m playing with clay.
I had an idea about birds…
Tick. Tick …
Ticking over. Making stuff. Drawing. Dreaming. Keeping busy. That’s important. Keeping busy.
Carrying on crocheting. Getting the hang of the hook action but dealing with the ends of the rows is a bit of a nightmare. I’ll get the hang of it in time, I’m sure.
In Vienna, near the Hundertwasser Haus, there was a shop with some very cute ornaments hanging on a piece of beautiful Indian embroidered patchwork.
I’m having a go at the birds …
I’ll paint it when it’s dry.
Then. Teabags and pens.
This morning, I was reflecting on beta-blockers. They were referred to in the book I’m reading at the moment, as having been prescribed to counter feelings of anxiety.
Some years ago, I was diagnosed with high blood pressure. I was prescribed some medication designed to lower it. The medication made my ankles swell up and, when I reported this to my GP, he reduced the dose and prescribed beta-blockers to be taken in addition. Previously, I had only heard of beta-blockers as something that snooker players took to help steady their cue hands. The combination of medications was effective in lowering my blood pressure and I thought nothing more of it.
This was around 2015 and I did notice subsequently that I had slowed down a bit. I didn’t seem to have much energy. I’d fall asleep in front of the TV or find myself staring into space in work. I put this down to getting older.
Following a procedure to address some atrial fibrillation I’d been having, another doctor altered my prescription in late 2017, lowering my dose of beta-blockers. Well, my goodness, it was like being poked in the face with a sharp stick and I haven’t looked back. The fog of indolence lifted and I felt as if I had twice the energy that I had before. And so it is to this day and hopefully for the foreseeable future.
There ARE downsides. Too much thinking, sometimes obsessively. Not enough sleep. Some anxiety and hyperactivity. Occasional frustration and impatience. Stressing over unimportant issues. Throwing things and shouting (but not at other people, I hasten to add). Putting the energy to good use by, for example, engaging in creative stuff, helps to counteract some of these, however. I rarely achieve calm though, unless I become absorbed in an alternative activity. That can get a bit wearing, to be honest, and occasionally I crash.
That’s got nothing to do with the stuff I’ve been doing in the last few days. I just wanted to get those thoughts out of me and on to a page.
I saw this on Instagram and decided to have a go. I drew a heart shape, some leaves and flower shapes, cut them out with a sharp knife and laid them on top of a contrasting background. Quite a nice effect and easy enough to do.
In the last post, I mentioned that I had made a bags of a macrame bracelet. So I made another one. I kept away from the superglue this time and so the slip knot slips in the correct manner.
I haven’t done any wood carving for ages. One of the reasons is that I’m not very good at sharpening tools and some of them are a bit blunt. The guy who runs the firm I bought my carving axe from, Robin Wood (yes, I know!), suggested making sanding/sharpening blocks out of wood and very fine gauge sandpaper. I bought the sandpaper in Halfords ages ago, but I only got around to buying the wood to make the blocks with on Friday. So I made the sanding blocks today. Here’s the process …
Yesterday I popped into Evans art supply shop and bought a few tubes of Holbein Acryla Gouache. Just black and white. One of the properties of gouache is that, once dry, it can be reactivated very easily by water or other paint. One consequence of this is that if you paint a light colour on a dark background, the paint can mix and become muddy. Acryla gouache doesn’t reactivate.
Finally, on holiday, I started doing some sketches in a journal I keep to record the arty stuff I been doing. You’ll have noticed the lined paper on which some recent paintings have been done. I like doing this. Much of the art I’ve done over the last year is scattered randomly in my attic so doing them in the journal keeps everything in order and means I can track my progress, in painting anyway. Also, it makes the journal more interesting to review.
Here’s today’s page, with the writing ‘artfully’ blurred.
This morning, as well as thinking about beta blockers, I thought, pretty randomly, about the chef Ken Hom and wondered what had become of him. In the gym later, I happened to glance at one of the few remaining TVs and, what do you know, there he was, cooking stuff. I wrote about co-incidences recently and paying attention to them. There was the weirdest string of them at the start of last week. Too complicated to explain but ultimately, positive.
I’m off to adjust my chakras.
Tetley Tea Folk
A painting on a round teabag popped up in my Instagram feed recently. It was really well done: a dark background with a boat seen from above. Actually, I mentioned it before. It was the inspiration for my rowing boat painting a few posts back.
Google eventually told me that Tetley put their tea in round bags and so I started trying to find Tetley teabags in supermarkets. Tesco didn’t have them but we were walking past Dunnes in town last weekend and Christine suggested having a look in there. And what do you know? There they were. Special offer too. So now I have 160 of them.
I soaked a few, dried them out, emptied them, painted them black and came up with these, as a start. Both a little rushed but you get the idea.
Otherwise I’ve been sketching in snatched moments. There’s this …
And Newgrange …
And an androgynous imaginary friend … (people and faces are not a strength of mine – I gave up on his/her nose after five attempts.)
And last night, before I took Edward out in Christine’s car to practice his driving, I made a really lovely thin black macrame bracelet. I used superglue to fix the locking slip knot. Unfortunately I used too much and it no longer slips. Annoying but I won’t make that mistake again.
Here’s something a little more successful macrame-wise.
Almost forgot. I was messing around with lettering too …
That’s about it for now.
Playing with Matches (and other things)
Years ago, I saw a cute idea on Tumblr and saved it. I haven’t been on Tumblr for ages but I went into it the other day to look at something embroidery-related and found the thing I’d saved. The idea is a series of boxes, like matchboxes containing little messages.
Anyway, long story short, I got hold of a matchbox today and deconstructed it, used the now flat pieces of cardboard as a template, and made a little box out of black card. Now I know I can make these easily, I have some ideas for how I can decorate them.
The matchbox I got a hold of had a few matches in it. In work I started trying to glue them together but it didn’t really work. At home I happened to look behind the fire guard in front of one of our fireplaces and found a load of spent matches. I gathered them up, cut off the burnt heads and made an abstract sculpture. Fun times.
I bought some thin cotton cord recently with a view to doing some small scale macrame. Some years ago, I got stuck into macrame with paracord: a kind of man-macrame. I enjoyed it for a while and made some interesting things. The nylon-based paracord came in different colours and one could create interesting patterns. Finishing paracord projects was easy too, With nylon cord, a bit of a flame sealed the ends of the cord and stopped fraying.
Finishing projects made with cotton cord is a bit more challenging. On YouTube I found a few methods involving either glue or sewing the loose ends into the knotted part.
The other thing I wasn’t sure about was how to create a tightening mechanism for, say, a macrame bracelet. YouTube, again, provided the answer. I gave it a go today. So, you make the bracelet. I made a simple square knot one. Then you do a further tight sinnet of square knots around the loose ends and put a stopper knot or a bead at the end of the loose ends so that they don’t get pulled through the sinnet. Simple, when you know how.
Today’s architectural drawing/painting is of Haddon Hall in Derbyshire, England, found on p186 of Rice’s Architectural Primer.
Apart from getting used to drawing buildings, the other benefit of this exercise is getting used to watercolours. That’s very useful.
I know I’ve done these before but they are fun to do.
Today’s offering …
And just to give an idea of scale …
I suffered a significant loss of creative confidence over the last few weeks. This time of the year can be challenging. May and June are quite stressful work-wise and then the speech and drama year stops quite suddenly. The switch from crisis mode to ‘what just happened’ can deliver quite a shock to the system and often puts me off-balance. Anyway, some positive interventions have helped to restore my equilibrium and the ideas have started to flow again.
This, which was a good idea, I think, didn’t quite work out. It’s worth coming back to and executing better in the future though …
I enjoyed thinking about this, planning it, and painting it. I’m pleased with the result …
Its translation to a teabag didn’t quite work out as well. I know what went wrong. I rushed it too. I’ll try it again …
… and Candles
I enjoy the process of making candles. It’s a bit like cooking with a bit of chemistry thrown in. I think that this is the first time I’ve made scented candles in painted tuna cans so … yay!
I may have explained before, there are various formulas used to calculate the amount of wax and the amount of fragrance to be used and then there are temperatures to be observed. Put the fragrance into wax that’s too hot and the fragrance will burn off. Pour the candles into the containers too hot or too cold and you run the risk of bubbles or shrinkage.
And there is a calculation to be made about the thickness of the wick. Too thin and the flame will be overwhelmed by the wax. Too thick and it’ll smoke.
Here they are, poured …
And, because I’m quite pleased with how I decorated the cans, here are some gratuitous pics …
Poppies and Bees
I’ve spent a lot of time on this idea.
I made a few poppies yesterday out of rice paper but they looked like poppy day poppies and that’s not really what I wanted. I’ve painted poppies in watercolour. Some weren’t bad but not really good enough.
Anyway, to cut a shortish story shorter, I went back to my tuna cans and trusty gouache.
Here’s my first go …
And here’s my second …
I feel a candle making session coming on.