Monday, October 31, 2011

Playing With Polymer Clay

Remember when I wrote: "I realized that the best shop I can ever find is the one I am able to keep for myself"? The blog post was all about not to shop so much but make the stuff used in crafting from the very beginning.

Last weekend I realized my storage of handmade buttons was running low. I am not very skillful in polymer clay, but it has never prevented me playing with it! And I love the look of messy, handmade stuff that goes so well with my hand decorated papers.

To make my little "art shop for me" to be perfect, I sewed some to my handmade backgrounds, just like they would be for sale in a real shop. Looking at these makes me so happy! There's so much we can do without spending almost anything but time!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Enjoying Colors

I love dyeing wool!

I spun some baby sheep wool to get samples of various yarn so that me and my friend Susanna could decide what to get made at a yarn mill.

The first three skeins in the picture have been hand dyed after spinning. My personal favorite is the leftmost, the yarn with black, dark grey and red. It is called "Joy and Sorrow" and it is inspired by Karelia, the area where the sheep wool comes from and where also both me and Susanna come from.

The second one on the left is inspired by colors used in icons. Unfortunately the red got too pink! And for the third one I got an idea from embroidery stitches. But I did not succeed in color, neither in the dyeing.

The fourth skein is natural colored 2-plied yarn that I used for the first three. And the last one is spun with three different shades using 2 grams of each in turn. It is 3-plied.

Ok, those were pretty soft and I was quite pleased with the spinning process but still nothing like this one:

I love this yarn! It is so soft! Spun from the natural dyed Kainuu grey sheep wool. Susanna has handdyed it with hand picked lichen. I have two large skeins and I am so pleased I succeeded in bringing the softness of the wool into the yarn.

From the two of us, my friend is more specialized in dyeing with natural colors. But I have made some experiments too and here's a skein of commercial sock yarn, dyed with marigolds. Not any marigolds really, as I have grew them from seeds.

It brings me great pleasure to work with wool, dyes and plants. Probably as I love everything where I can enjoy colors!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Frugal Crafter's Guide To Hand Decorated Papers

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Sometimes I just want to overlook all the expensive materials and make art from plain and basic materials. While watching a video about embossing powders I got the idea of using color pencils as a resist for watercolor. So, if you are filled with ideas but hate to see instructions were special materials are required, this is just for you!

You only need
  • paper
  • at least one color pencil (basic one, not water soluble)
  • watercolors
Here's what you do

1) Grab a paper! I prefer quite thin (90 g/m2, 43 lbs) and smooth papers, but you can choose whatever you like or have.

2) Start doodling with the color pencil. You can use any color(s) you like but using white makes the result especially interesting, I think.

3) When you have filled the paper with your doodling, paint the paper with watercolors. Paint over the doodling! Use a lot of paint as we will wash some away in the next phase.

4) Let dry. Seriously. This is the only step where the patience is required.

5) Wash the paper with water. The idea is to get the color pencil strokes appear again. You may have to use the fingers to remove the color if you want a nice pastel background.

5) Let dry!

6) Here's my example. You can use papers for collages, cardmaking, bookcovers, all kinds of papercrafting!

Here are some of my experiments showing various colors of pens and paints.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Wild Doodling

Sometimes it's just not possible to stay controlled. I was thinking about art nouveau and Alphonse Mucha's work but wanted to give my pens a relaxed speed.

Here are some close-up details. The line is wild and fast.

The watercolor background is as arbitrary as the illustration.

The most difficult thing in illustrating is to get relaxed lines. That's why it's important to get wild once in a while!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Wool Fool

I am crazy about the wool my friend gets from the area where I lived as a child. I can't help buying it, dyeing it, spinning it, selling it. It is a part of my life nowadays. And the fact that my friend is equally obsessed with it makes it even better. I am not the only wool fool in the world.

I dye the wool with acid dyes but my friend uses natural ingredients she picks from the nature. The colors are softer and they all look great together.

Industrial dyes, natural dyes or no dyes at all, the wool is wonderful!

Where To Find Inspiration

This little piece of collage is an example of how the less obvious things can really be inspiring. It is all about the interpretation.

Here's what I do.

When I find something that gets my attention, I analyze it into pieces. For example, if I see a photo in the newspaper that I find attractive, I try to find the reason why I do so. It can be a color combination, an atmosphere, a composition, a small detail that looks nostalgic for me etc.

Let's assume I have now found that very thing that caught my eye. I then start seeking for analogies, the stuff that has that same factor. Soon I am filled with ideas that I am really enthusiastic about!

The story about the insect? I was thinking about the curtains of our library room (Compton by William Morris) and how I love them. They have very detailed floral ornaments that I absolutely adore. Actually, they reminded me of botanical plates. And I never had thought before how ornamental old botanical drawings really are! I went to a local library and browsed some botanical books, then accidentally found the book about insects and was totally hooked: I wanted to draw insects with ornaments, sort of go back to the concept used in the curtain. I would never have thought insects being so ornamental without deriving one thought from another!

Hopefully my method is useful for you too!