Saturday, 17 March 2018

Messing with Bails, Strange things in the Veg Patch and More Variations on the Usual

I have been considering some artily distressed image transfer squares I did quite a while ago, and trying to think where I can take them. They somehow got stuck as interesting small squares with no particular purpose. They didn't suggest anything in particular strongly enough to connect with people. Imho. 
Oh yeah, I am forgetting, I did make cufflinks using them, but that didn't add anything to their 'interesting small square'-ness, if that makes sense. (?)

Anyway, I had various odds and ends of wire of varying thicknesses lying about, so I decided to try making some hammered flat, or hammered flat looking bails to give the little squares a definite function as drop charms. If that's the right name for this kind of thing.

The options I had were a) to flatten a small bit of wire and cut it off, leaving about 1/8" of round wire underneath it, if you see what I mean. Make a loop using the flat bit, drill a small hole, carefully in the 'top' of the square, apply glue to the round bit and stick it in the hole. That worked OK, but I had reservations about how strong the bond would be. I used superglue, but 2 part epoxy would be better I think. Drilling the hole was fiddly. A thicker bead would be needed.

Option b) was to use a longer flat piece of wire, make a loop, grind a groove in the back of the square with one of the various Dremel bits I have accumulated, and glue the flat wire into the groove. It might make the back look a bit too rustic though. Not that it bothers me at the moment. I tried filling in the bits of groove not containing wire, with liquid Kato clear and baking briefly, as this would make the bond stronger and I just wanted to see how it would look.

The flat wire in this particular case wasn't actually copper wire I had flattened myself. I up cycled a copper coloured steel staple from a large cardboard box I dismantled for recycling months ago. I spotted the staples and saved them as they looked as though they may be useful, and because it's the kind of thing I like to do. . . I like the way it looks. Trouble is you can't get hold of them in sensible amounts. I don't want to buy 1000 of them for twenty quid really. Anyway, that's a problem for another day.

Option c) was a cross between 'a' and 'b'. To flatten some wire, leaving some round wire, make a loop with the flat wire and instead of drilling a hole, cut a rounded groove in the back of the square and glue the round bit into the groove. I quite liked the way this looked, though that might have been due to the way the dark oxidised copper wire (the real stuff this time) and the white, ceramic/marble look of the clay of this particular square. I shall let it all percolate in the recesses of my brain for a while before making some 'for real' and trying them out on the World.

Bails aside, I was digging the veg patch earlier, as it actually stopped raining or snowing for long enough to get out there, and found what I thought was a rogue onion from a previous year or something. I poked it with the fork and it revealed itself as a rather cool lump of stone, probably flint. I shall pretend it's a fossilised onion from the triassic era though ;-) I think it's rather amazing, and the fact that it looks like a vegetable and was found in the veg patch gives it a whole different significance ;-) It now lives on the windowsill with other odds and ends.

 Here are some variations on 'turned look' beads, and a pair of more deeply scratched or incised spikes. All sold on FB apart from the blue and yellow ones. My internal jury is out on those, but the clean lines and colours are certainly a departure for me ;-)
Right, off to the jam night in the pub in the next village. St Patrick's day, but I don't think there is anyone Irish in the village. Nevertheless we have a few Irish folk songs etc hastily added to the song list just in case. Have a good one wherever you are,
Jon x

Thursday, 8 March 2018

Spring Interrupted by Fluffy White Stuff, Tedious Crackle Confusion and a Feeble Justification of Faltering Noble Aspirations. . .

Well, Spring was on its way, it really was, we had crocuses, the very first daffodils and some of those small, early irises, it was all going so well. . . 

But then a large quantity of cold air from Siberia decided to spoil the party. We had serious amounts of snow (for round here OK? Yeah, I know it's not much really, compared to many places but let me have a good old British moan about it), and temperatures down to about -6 at night. It was all rather beautiful when the sun came out, but it did mean that the waste pipe from the sink managed to freeze solid so we couldn't use the kitchen sink or the dishwasher. But were we disheartened? Well, yes, obviously, but we just about managed by using every plate in the house by the time the thaw came. . . Stoic? Isn't that a make of car? . . .

Very festive. Only the wrong festival, it's nearly Easter fer gawd sake

The house has rabbit ears. How endearing. .

The cats responded by staying indoors and sitting on Gill's iPad. Maybe it was nice and warm ;-)

Boudicca's response to digital media

Anyway, spike stuff still selling on FB, and some business has been done via my Etsy shop, so I am feeling pleased.
I made some crackle beads, photographed them etc, but then had to work out which beads were in which photograph, as they looked very similar and the only distinguishing features were the particular pattern of crackles on particular beads. 
Cue eyestrain and interesting language. I sorted it out in the end and labelled each set so I don't send the wrong beads to any prospective buyers. . . The pics make the process look a lot easier than it was. . .

You may recall in previous posts, how I went on about how I was following my artistic path and any that financial gain was a welcome extra, but not something that influenced my creative decision making. . . 

I know. . . I know. . .

Well, that noble, hi falutin' stuff is all very well, but faced with the prospect of making some stuff you are pretty sure people will buy, or going off on a creative tangent and 'growing as an artist', the former is tending to win out at the moment.

It's not so much the thought of gaining money that attracts, as it is the thought of losing almost certain earnings if the more commercial route isn't taken. It's like throwing money away ;-)

It takes a steely resolve to turn down likes and sales, especially if such things are a bit of a novelty ;-)
Still, I'm sure it will all stabilise eventually. I'll work it all out. It's still a bit new. 

I'm enjoying the ride meanwhile. I guess I need to take my audience along with me on my tangents eventually ;-)

Below are some of my newer spikes. Mostly sold. . . 'Enjoy', as they say. . . annoyingly. . .

Jon x

Friday, 23 February 2018

The Curious Case of The Blue Soup - A Spike Spike - and the imminent rise of Mid Century Primitive. . .

Well, starting in a backwards direction, just to be awkward, with the Mid Century Primitive, the above pic should show you what I'm on about. . .

The primitive bit is easy to get your head round, pretty self explanatory, but the Mid Century might be a bit less so. Someone mentioned it in a comment on FB and it resonated. I think there is something about the shape and colours that is resonant of fifties and sixties interior design. Your mileage may vary.

Dunno. A bit of a tenuous correlation maybe, but it's a fun invented category to explore the inherent contradictions, or indeed the inherent similarities to be found within it. ;-) 

More about this further down the blog post.

The spike in spike sales may be an oh-so-witty pun but it is also a real life event. I had another good selling session on FB the other day. (Update - and again last night!) My spikes seem to hit the spot with quite a few people.
Hooray for quite a few people, is what I say. Though a spike does imply a sharp up followed by a sharp down, so maybe it's not such a feel good analogy. . .
Anyway, the beads below all sold, amongst others. Long may it continue ;-)

I'll get to the blue soup in my own good time thank you. The subject of Mid Century Primitive is more pressing a matter. Imho of course.

It's a mixture of artily crude and deliberately and sophisticatedly unsophisticated workmanship and simple, sculptural shapes (whatever that means, as any shape could be 'sculptural' really. . . but I think you know what I mean) reminiscent of shapes popular in the fifties and sixties, especially amongst ceramic artists. Who were no doubt influenced by such artists as Brancusi, Arp, Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth etc. Well, that's my take on it.

Maybe because like such artists the shapes are defined by the process as much as by an imposed conscious decision. .  Discuss. . .

I'm not saying my work lives up that ideal, but it's what I am aiming for, without getting too precious about it all. It's fun to make this stuff.

Oh yeah, the ones below sold too ;-)

Blue what? . . Oh yeah, soup.

Well. . . It's all about red cabbage. I cooked a roast chicken with all sorts of veg in the pan below it, including red cabbage. The process turned the cabbage and consequently all the veg dark blackish blue. . . ooer. . .

When I made soup from the chicken carcass and bits (as I always do) I included the left over veg. I whizzed it up in the blender and got blue black, slightly frothy, due to the blending process, soup! Yay! My wife was appalled as it didn't look even vaguely appetising ;-) I ate it however.

It tasted great with a bit of yoghurt thrown in. Hah! Mid Century Primitive Soup. . .

Till next time,
Jon x

Monday, 12 February 2018

Spikes, Car Trouble, Rationalising Bead Boxes and Appreciating Past Efforts

Well, this is a bit late, as I try to post every ten days, but we took a short break for our combined birthdays and various DIY things happened too. But I did get some time in my workshop despite all that. 

I sold a bunch more spikes things on Facebook last week. So I am feeling appreciated ;-) These pictured below are some of they. .

On a less happy note, I managed to reverse into a friend's car on our drive a day or two ago, so the feeling of being appreciated is only transient. . . An insurance job, as it bent the front wing and cracked the lens on the headlight. My car was merely scratched a bit. 
Oh well, there goes me no claims bonus for a while. The rear visibility is not good in my car, but that is a poor excuse.
To bore you further, said car has done 100k miles, so I splashed out for a service. The mechanic asked me when the cam belt (I don't know either) had been changed, I said as far as I knew, I didn't think it had, so he looked it up in the manual. It contained the interesting information that it should have been changed 40k miles ago. . . So I have been pushing my luck apparently.

Back to bead matters - I have been sorting out my various bead boxes, in conjunction with checking my laptop, with a view to working out which beads have been listed on Etsy, which have expired, and which never got as far as being listed in the first place. There are surprising number of things that aren't in my shop. I am going to start remedying that situation forthwith.

It's been nice seeing some old friends lurking in their little compartments. Some things I was, and still am quite proud of. I always learn something from looking at what I was doing a year or so ago, it's easy to forget how far you have come in that period. And to realise what you have also forgotten, some it useful stuff that you would do well to remember.

Here are some of my new spikes, for sale in the LBA Galleria Elementals group on Facebook. Only a glimmer of interest so far, but give it 24 hours and we'll see where we are.

On to more general stuff, like the weather. . . 

Time marches on, and as was the case this time last year, (and every other year I imagine) the aconites are out in the garden, and some snowdrops, some cyclamen and even some crocuses are coming out. The hazelnut trees have catkins hanging off them, and all sorts of daffodils and suchlike bulbs are determinedly pushing their way out of the ground. At least Spring seems like something that will happen in due course. I even heard a skylark singing the other day, when the sun broke through. Don't know what it was thinking. . .
Winter ain't over yet however. I don't mind, as long as it stops blooming' raining. This winter has just been sodden. Give me a crisp, cold day anytime instead of dismal wetness and uncomfortable blustery winds. . . Extreme weather? We get extremely dull. Hence no photos ;-)
Jon x

Sunday, 28 January 2018

The Diary of a Complete Pillock, part 68 - Back to Vague Visibility, (Probably) and The Gentle Art of Not Getting Caught Up In It All. . .

So after a period of experiencing what Americans refer to as 'tumbleweed' in my Etsy shop, I got two big orders in the space of one hour. One from the UK and one from the USA. Exciting stuff. . .

So what do I do? I carefully package the orders and send the UK order to the USA and the USA order to the UK. Brilliant.

What a pillock. . . (A mild semi-swearword that I have used often but never thought to look up the derivation of. Until now, thank you Wictionary -

"The origin of pillock is believed to go back to the 16th century meaning penis, from the Norwegian word pillicock, presumably akin to the slang dickhead meaning inept fool.")

Oh right, another knob related insult. Had to be really didn't it? ;-) So it's not some sort of cross between a pillow and a hillock after all, that's a shame. . .

Anyway, both bead sets are being sent back to me as soon as they arrive at their erroneous destinations, so I should be able to rectify the situation amicably, refunding various bits of postage, and paying for it all over again as I resend to the right customers. Might take a week or two though.

Oh well, these things happen. Bloody annoying when they do though, for everyone concerned.

But, the good thing about this occurrence is that it might well mean that I am at least somewhat visible to prospective customers. A conclusion backed up by a couple of smaller sales in the last few days. We shall see.

Facebook has been interesting, sales wise. I sold out of the small selection of new spikes I listed, with a couple of requests for made to order thrown in, but a subsequent listing session involving crusty, ancient type beads met with little interest and no sales. So it's a case of the usual swings and roundabouts of online retail stopping me from getting complacent.

It's impossible to second guess the reasons for these ups and downs, but that doesn't stop me trying. . . The beads may have been too expensive, or the right people just weren't checking that group that day, maybe my potential customers had spent all their cash on the spikes a few days before, or some better known bead artist has a showcase on another group and all the buyers are congregating there, throwing their money around, not even aware of the wonders lurking nearby, who knows?

These things are pretty much unknowable, so I shall just try again, with some different things and see what happens. I shall relax and let it be instead of endlessly going over the ways I might be doing it 'wrong'. If a pattern emerges over time, I may be in a position to draw some conclusions and work out a strategy to improve things, but until then, I shall stick to happily creating things and seeing if anyone likes them enough to buy them.

There is a down side to selling well. I don't actually like the fact that on the relatively rare occasions it happens, I start thinking "Those beads sold, I should make more like that," because when I do I often find that the spark goes out of the process somehow, and the results aren't as interesting.
Once I am aware that I am going through the motions rather than exploring, I have to stop and try something different. After all, the selling is just an afterthought to the making for me. It's great, but it's not what I do it for.
Fah! Bloody Artists!
Jon x

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

More Adventures in Ancientness, (if that's a word), in Solving The Unwelcome Pinkness of Black and in the Production of Spikes

Well, here I am, taking a deserved break in the laying of tiles and grouting of same, and taking the opportunity to share some of my recent creations with you.

But first, I would like to say a special 'hello' to the interestingly large number (percentage wise, pertaining to this blog) of Russian readers. ;-)

I'm told that 'Privet' is the correct greeting. Though in English it is the name of a type of shrub largely used for garden hedging. . . .
There are lot of excellent polymer clay artists in Russia, as any time spent on Facebook will show you. So - Privet!

Ancient look blue simple beads - SOLD

OK. 'Ancientness'. I am having fun playing with all sorts of things that can make the surface of a bead look ancient and crusty. Mainly it involves using stuff you can use as a barrier between inks and paints, and which will then wash off in water, leaving an interesting random pattern.
Well, that's all the handholding you get I'm afraid. Have a play with anything you have lying around that fits that description and see what you get ;-)

This sort of thing

Now for the unwelcome pinkness of black. I mentioned in a previous post about the tendency of black alcohol ink to revert to a pinky purple brown when either diluted a bit, or when the brush starts to run dry ( if you use a brush to apply it instead of just using the dropper/nozzle on the bottle).

It fades into pink purple when baked too.
Also varnish can kind of leach out an extra bit of pinkness if applied too enthusiastically.

This is a pain, as it turns the edges of the black and white into a purply pink smear instead of a lovely clean demarcation between black and white, so I have been messing about with mixing several colours to get a better, non-pink black. (I could use black acrylic paint, but I want the particular surface effects that alcohol inks give.)

Dark brown pinky black with pinky smears. . .

Dark blue and dark brown seem to be the best colours to mix, as the brown compensates for any purpleness in the blue, and the blue compensates for the redness in the brown. I tried adding a small amount of green too, as black is technically the sum of every colour. Well, in theory anyway.
Whatever, it worked pretty well. See below.

How much more black can they be? The answer is 'none more black'. . .

I hope you got the Spinal Tap reference ;-)

I have also made some more of my popular turned style spikes. I probably need to explore some different colours next though. Not that there is anything wrong with browns and blue greys ;-)

Anyway, until next time,
Jon x