Sunday, 29 March 2015

Feet on the ground (almost).

Today my body has slowed my pace right down. This is because last night, my brain foggied by aches and fever, I managed to fall down our steep, dimly lit stairs and sprain my ankle. I have always had weak ankles, prone to spraining, that's why I hardly ever wear heels; it's just an accident waiting to happen... in any case, despite of a total annoyment at my bad luck and ill health, I cannot lie down and wait for a better day. Even if it's at snail pace, I try to find ways of completing my work, preparing my stock and planning for the trade fair in Harrogate, which takes place in only two weeks time.

Yesterday, before my accident, I managed to try out a new screen print, which I had prepared from one of my paper cuts, 'Girl and the Whale'. I have set up a cheap screen printing space in our cellar, where I prepare and expose my screens with photo emulsion and do the actual printing (and ironing). I have only ever done a short course in screen printing basics so a lot of what I am doing is learning by trial and error. But of course, like with so many creative things, it is often the only way to learn.

Girl and the Whale - my new paper cut greeting card

For a while I have wondered how better to make use of my paper cut designs, as selling them as cards is fine but quite limiting in the long run. Also, some of the new designs I have made, are simpler to screen print than the previous ones, and a lot of the times, simpler is ... well, better. I have so far made five totem animal cards; a whale, an eagle, a hare, a red squirrel and a bear. Most of them also feature a young child with/on these animals, to convey that often magical connection between our inner (childlike) nature and the natural world.

So I wanted to try to add hand printed household/giftware items to my line of products, for those who want my designs in 3d form and maybe in a more permanent medium than paper. Everything is still handmade: I use organic cotton for my fabric, environmentally friendly printing inks and I even sew every cushion by myself (my mother being a seamstress helped me to learn sewing in my childhood, in fact one of my earliest memories is falling asleep to the sound of my mother's sewing machine across the wall - and as a professional factory machine, it was LOUD...).

So, I printed a couple of test batches with my Whale design, which weren't perfect as the screen leaked a little, but gives a good indication on whether the idea works. And in my opinion, it does. Earlier the week, I had transferred my 'Magical Hare' paper cut design onto a silk screen and also made that into a cushion. Here are both of them, sitting on our sofa. I hope you like them. :)

Another silk screen is currently drying, ready to be exposed for two smaller paper cut designs, which I am going to use for printing on paper, including paper bags and cards. In some ways it's an interesting process to learn, but I also seem to lack a bit of patience when it comes to all the different stages, and, waiting. Today however, I am cutting greeting cards, as that requires the least movement on my part, but of course I could think of millions of other things to do - if I only could. Luckily it's raining outside so my twisted ankle will have a good excuse to rest, and hopefully, heal, quickly.

Some of my paper cut work, 2d and 3d... getting ready for BCTF.
 Hoping you all a safe weekend x

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Steps in the (Right) Unknown Direction

THIS is the beginning... whether this will be a blog of total randomness or a journey into wonderful, luscious marvel, I have no idea... like this empty page which needs to be filled, often I start my day like that, with an empty mind. Or should I say, full but emptied mind. I sit, look around slowly around me, whilst being in the moment, grabbing the tiniest tingle of inspiration coming my way. Usually there is a rush of images, sounds, memories, feelings. I don't know how I choose but often the other images disappear and I am left with something to work with, the one image that lingered....

I am an artist - for a long time I found hard to say it aloud, as if you needed an arts degree or a validation for something which no amount of education can validate - and of course I had those days when I wondered that maybe being an artist isn't a 'real' job. It was Picasso who said that 'every child is an artist' and Ursula K. Le Quin wrote that 'the creative adult is the child who survived'. In many ways I agree with these thoughts, as it is only due to my persistent inner child, which has got me to this point, where creating and playing is my work; work that nourishes, calms, and rejuvenates me. The child who just couldn't give up, even if I made hundreds of 'mistakes' and felt so awful and useless at times. You have to love the child, who wants so much to try and learn and understand, because we ALL have one inside... 

So this blog is my way of showing my artist's way; how I get from A to B, sometimes fast, sometimes slowly, sometimes via C first and at times, I may even fall in love with A enough to never reach B.
Life is not a straight line, you can plan it all you want but it will still create twists and turns which weren't in your original plan. As a creative mind, I need to cherish those turns, because that is universal intelligence offering me guidance; sometimes that can be pleasant, at other times challenging, but all of it is a way of learning, as long as I remember to keep an open, child-like mind. Watch your young children, they are often your best teachers.

Today, like most days in the last weeks, I am preparing for the British Craft Trade Fair in Harrogate, my first ever trade fair, so it feels quite stressful (and I don't do stress particularly well) to not to know what to expect. I keep thinking I can only do my best and whatever happens, I will learn a lot about the business side of my art, particularly as that is the one thing I am not so good at.
At BCTF (stand 252), I will be exhibiting my illuminated paper cut work, as well as a selection of my paper cut greeting cards - and hopefully a couple of cushion covers and cotton bags, screen printed from those same paper cut designs....

In the process I have had to learn about LED lights, wiring and cables, in order to be able to light up and exhibit my work; sometimes I only discover an easier way of doing something after several attempts to pound a hole in a wall with my head, but that's the way with A to B sometimes (and maybe the fact that I am a Taurus). To cut the long story short, today I put all my work on the kitchen table and plugged them in, for the first time together. Here is the result.... I still have one large piece to finish, but apart from that, they are ready to go...! Excited. :)

I will try to write here often, as I am trying to make a move away from Facebook as my main social media. It has its advantages but it can only ever show one photo snippet of the story. And life is a story, not one snapshot photo that hopefully as many people as possible will like. My artistic life is full of ups and downs, and sometimes it's good to write it out too (i.e. it's not all just pretty pictures). I love writing, maybe not as much as visual arts, but it is a close second. It is also a great way to express, which I can't do with photos alone. So I hope you join me on my creative journey, with words and images and find a bit of childlike magic from these pages. Til I see you again... creative dreams x

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