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Friday, 30 January 2015

A foray into scrapbooking and non-linear time

I've been a bit under the weather this winter and combined with my hatred of cold, gloomy days it's meant I have spent a lot of time indoors which is why I have had so many craft and art ideas.

It's actually a little hectic in my head at the moment. I have works in progress that I want to finish, new ideas I want to work up, a commission I need to get cracking with...and that's in addition to normal work, life, feeding ourselves, being social etc. So it seemed slightly mad when I was catching up on blog reading yesterday lunch and came across A Beautiful Mess post about e-course: Capture Real Life in 52 Weeks and I immediately signed up for it. (Side note: if you don't already read A Beautiful Mess, you should, it's fab)

I have plenty to be getting on with already but I think this is going to be great. I have never been part of an active creative community - I mean, I have my Etsy shop and I work with customers and have been creative all my life but I have usually operated and worked in a pretty solitary way. I suppose this blog is me trying to change that...and I think this course and interacting with other participants and seeing what they do will be fun.

I think there is an element of scrapbooking? I have not really got involved with scrapbooking in the past, which is stupid as I am a hoarder of sentimental scraps of memorabilia which are have been tucked away in sketchbooks, bags and drawers for years. Last year I bought a scrapbook and organised all our menus, ticket stubs, cards etc into a chronological pile and proceeded to do nothing with them.

Last night James was out and I was all revved up at the thought of my new e-course challenge so I dragged out various glues, pens, washi tape and the pile o' stuff and attacked with enthusiasm and what turns out to be a not very linear sense of time! Anyway, after a glass of wine, a fair amount of swearing and sticking, peeling and re-sticking glue dots and photo corners I condensed some great memories into a dozen or so pages. This was in no way an artistic triumph, this was more of a get-it-done-already job.

But I do feel better that it's not looming over me any more and I can embark on the 52 week challenge without feeling a bit freer and like I have at least attempted some scrapbooking.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

White peacock papercutting

It's been a while since my last post but I have been getting stuck into the new supplies and new projects...I haven't *quite* finished the Hamsa papercut, so more to follow on that soon.

I have gone back so some of my roots though in one of my recent projects. When I started papercutting, years ago, my main source of inspiration was the East African art movement, Tinga Tinga and peacocks were one of my preferred subjects. I haven't done any in a while and in this I wanted to do a very traditional papercutting piece, in white. 

I started out with a sketch in my sketchbook to plan it out. This was then transferred to white cartridge paper and then I started the cutting process. After a lot of the maps and more graphic work I have done recently this is one of the more organic and detailed pieces I have done in a while..which was a fun challenge.

This next bit was fun. I wanted to test out different options for the background for the final papercut - I didn't even want to wait until I was done with the cutting. 

I was torn about the choices. My boyfriend was really keen on the first one, the raspberry. Whereas I was keen on the one below, the dark purple, which I thought showed up the design better with contrast... 
It was a tough choice, and annoyingly, the wretched winter gloom hasn't done the pictures any favours - what would you vote for?  

Final choice to follow...I have further plans for the finished piece so stay tuned. In the meantime, here is the final, unmounted piece:

I'm pretty happy with the final result. 

When I told my Mum I was doing a white peacock she reminded me of an albino peacock we met on a family trip in the 1980's to Mt Kenya Safari Club. Apparently our family turned up with me, aged 3 or something only to find out that there was no kids allowed! 

We were hours away from home in Nairobi and my parents made a good enough case that I was such a well behaved child that no one would complain - which worked. 

I remember pictures of me and this white peacock that my parents took in the grounds of the hotel. 

It's nice to think that maybe that was a subconscious inspiration for this piece (Hi Mum!)

Sunday, 18 January 2015

New supplies!

I'm the worst for holding out to change a blade on my knife. I always leave it too long and when I finally do change it it feels so awesome to cut with a new one I curse myself for not doing it sooner..

So excitingly, 100 blades have just arrived in the post, hopefully this will make it easier to change as soon as I need to. 

Also, I have got a pack of origami paper. I usually use artist quality paper like this, so I'm excited to try something new. It's much thinner than the paper I usually use so I'm guessing it will be easier on my hand and on the blades. 

I guess I just need to figure out what my first project with this will be...

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Hamsa papercut

I had the idea for this and sketched it out over a year ago but work, moving and life in general got in the way and it was only when I was rummaging through my paper stash that I rediscovered it and decided to finish it up. 

The inspiration for this piece was actually from a key ring that my mum gave me a few years ago. The hamsa (or khamsa) is a symbol that has significance in Islam, Judaism and Christianity and is supposed to offer protection and ward off bad luck. More about it here.

Traditionally, papercuts are done from one single piece of paper and are all all parts of the image are connected. This one has lots of separate pieces so a bit of a departure from purist papercutting and my usual approach. 

There are a couple of bits that still need to be stuck down and then I need to cut out about a million dots for the border of the palm...which is daunting. I'll post the finished piece if and when I manage to get it done!

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Roof foxes

A few weeks ago I was looking out the kitchen window and noticed that there was a fox on the roof of the garages behind our flat. It was just curled up in the sun having a nap. Then, a couple of days later there were a few more. I have no idea how they get up and down from there but it's nice to see them hanging out. 


I've done a few fox papercuts in the past and these guys gave me a few ideas for a new piece, or maybe even a whole series...I'm pretty excited about this. 

I like Sunday afternoons that look like this....

Thanks for the inspiration roof-foxes!

Winter skies

I am not a big fan of winter at all. Back home (Kenya) it was the warmest point of the year so Christmastime involved drinks on the verandah and going to to the horse races with a barbecue. 

Even after 4 years in the USA and 12 in the UK I still hate the cold and I hate the dark. 

Although the other night on the way home there was an awesome winter sunset. I'd love to work this sort of colour palette and cloud pattern into a new papercut. I haven't done any trees in a while so it would be a good challenge to try some new effects with the sky.

So maybe winter isn't all that bad. It does go hand in hand with mulled wine after all.