Archive | December 2014

I got bit by the Polyclay bug and now….

… I can’t stop!!

 

But that’s ok! Cause it’s fun and if I get good enough maybe I can start selling these little guys to you and that would be pretty awesome don’t you think? Of course, being me, and if you know me, I am so drawn to dragons that it has become the main thing I find myself sculpting! It is just so much fun… see…

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This one has my very first attempt at a dragon in the background and a few cute little birds that I discovered a tutorial for over here at http://polymerclaycentral.com/masterindex.html#lessonsprojects

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My next few dragons, they all had to be hand painted cause I didn’t have any coloured polyclay at that point, except the one in the background with the teeny tiny little fairy sitting on his leg, they are made from coloured polyclay. I have to say it is a LOT easier and less time consuming to work with coloured polyclay!

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Yet another dragon styled in a similar way to one of my most favourite dragons I’ve created ever who goes by the name of Boo. Perhaps this is one of his cousins!

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I really love the foldy ripply effect of the thin clay and after doing a bunch of cute dragons I decided I wanted to do a more vicious look one. This one hasn’t been baked yet but I’ll put him in the oven in the next day or two. What I am finding though is once baked the spikes, teeth, small protrusions are easily broken which I really don’t like. I’m not entirely sure what to do about that other than to keep them closer and pressed down together but that isn’t usually the kind of look I’m going for. So I’m not sure how to combat that. Am I baking them too long? And if so, what about the rest of the clay sculpture if it needs to be baked longer. Or am I not baking them long enough? Though I don’t see that as being an issue. I think what I need is an oven thermometer as I’m not entirely convinced my oven bakes at the same temperature I set it as.

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This is just a little cutie I tried to use up some of my left over polymer clay on. Not much detail, no armature, but I think she is small enough that it won’t matter.

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This one is modeled off a dragon I already own and I absolutely adore him! The one I own doesn’t have any wings so technically it’s probably more a dinosaur than a dragon, so I had to turn this one in to a dragon. The one I own also has clothes on and is pulling it’s pants down. I think this one is much cuter without clothes on. I also gave this my own twist, not only with the wings but with the spikes going up the spine and the two little horns on the top of it’s head.  This one is just so cute!! He only stands about an inch high but his cheeky little attitude is sky high!!

So that’s been my obsession with polyclay lately. I’d like to get really good really quick and put some of these guys up on my etsy store or madeit store. What do you think? Would you buy one of these little critters?

I want to actually glaze them, only I’m unsure what kind of glaze to use. So I guess I can experiment on all these little new guys to see what ones work best. Thanks for reading and have a colourful day!

In Joy!

Polyclay Play

It’s been over 15 years since I did any kind of play with polymer clay. I used to make roses, dogs, and other sorts of beads, but slowly… as with all my art really… it faded out of my life. I’m not sure why or how. Lately though I’ve been getting the push to give it a go again. Especially seeing some amazing polyclay designers on facebook who do some really cute dragons and stuff! Check out Dragons & Beasties here: https://www.facebook.com/dragonsandbeasties?fref=ts

So I went and bought myself a couple bits n pieces to play with and see how it goes. I remember I used to love it. Yes, I still do! I may have jumped in to the deep end though with my first project back after 15 years by doing a fairy!!

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I just bought the one colour, a nice light beige kind of colour. Because you can paint over it. I thought there was no sense getting a heap of different colours and spending hundreds of dollars if it’s not something I still enjoy and want to keep doing. So just one colour I got and that is the fairy, uncoloured. From there I decided to make a couple of cat head beads and that left me wanting to do a whole cat…

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So much fun! Yes, I can see myself wanting to do this more. But really… is there any point? I don’t want to keep accumulating all these fun crafty projects to do and not earn money from them. I would want to sell these little critters, at least enough to justify me buying the clay and other fun stuff that goes with polyclay. Having said that as well, the polyclay can be used on another project that I would love to do enough to sell… and having done this post I realise a lot of stuff I do comes back to this project that keeps percolating in the back of my head.

But of course, I love dragons. That is what attracted me back to polyclay, the thought of making dragons and other mythological creatures. So while I was sitting there watching the riders of Berk with the kids this morning I started trying to sculpt a Toothless head. How could I not? How could I resist? He is after all possibly my most favourite and coveted dragon out there!! He didn’t turn out perfect of course, why would he when it was my very first attempt. But I think he came out ok. I baked him with a hole so he can be put on a chain or something, I painted him up and ….

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Ok, so I’m not happy with his eyes but guess what? They are paint, so I can try painting them again until I’m happy. I can see many things that need changing with him but overall I’m super happy with him and he is still cute!! It gives me hope I can pull him off and perhaps even add the body and wings one day!! Perhaps I’ll give him a pretty magenta tinged girlfriend or something 😉 The possibilities are limitless!

So here are all my little polyclay attempts so far, all together. The only one I didn’t do a close up of is the little rose in the right back, I’m not sure what I’m going to do with that yet. It’s not a ‘bead’ as in there is no hole to thread anything through it… but I’m sure I’ll find a use for it eventually. Perhaps for my other secret squirrel project that is sitting in the back of my mind… hmmmm.

I think there will be more polyclay posts in the future!

Artline Stix Review

Hello Tiddlipeeps!

So around a month ago I got this random email from Artline asking if I’d be interested in being part of some ‘artistic projects’. There was no mention of sharing the outcome of these so I figured I would blog about my experience. Of course I said YES!

I was told they wanted 3 images. One to be done just with the Artline markers, the second to be done with the Artline markers but in a different style to the first and to be recorded being done and third to be done with any Artline product and have a summery theme. I thought ok, I can do that. So they sent me a package *squee* who doesn’t love to receive packages of free products?!!

I was given the 3 different style of Artline Stix, there is the drawing pen, the bullet tips and the brush tips. If you don’t know what they are go here: http://artlinestix.com.au/ They have lego-type bumps and divets on two sides of their rectangular shape. They had also asked if I could come up with any cool designs to inspire the kids with… I tried. Oh did I try. Unfortunately I found it very frustrating, as did my 3 kids ranging from 4 to 15. The biggest issue was they came apart really easily. The next issue was the limit in size and shape of them. I did get some connector pieces and they were cool, and some toys that would cling to them, but no matter how hard we tried we just couldn’t come up with very much at all. So I kind of gave that up for a lost cause. Perhaps someone more spatially capable would be able to come up with something. I’m more of a 2D artist not a 3D artist. I was also given a bunch of their permanent markers and Artline 200 pens which I adore.

So then I decided to set to work. Seeing as I was doing my 100 mandalas in 100 days challenge I decided the first thing I would try would be a mandala.

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The first thing I really noticed was that the black pen tip was very weak. It looked really watery and not a dense dark tone like I prefer. I soldiered on though and got through it using each of the different tips to try them out. I decided they were probably not something I would ever use for a mandala again and that these would be better suited as something for my children to use. To go from the mandala below, to the one I did with the Artline Stix… well, you can see the difference for yourself and it is all in the products you use and how they can be used. Perhaps I need to do the exact same mandala design as the one above but with some of my other products to really show the difference in quality and feel, but I think you get the picture.

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After that experience it actually took me awhile to get myself back in to gear to get the other two images done. Then I was sitting there one day thinking, hang on, they are ‘water-based’ that means they should be water activated!! Now that excited me cause water activated products can be lots of fun for mixed media artists. So I thought, before I do the video which is meant to show a few techniques of how to use the markers, I would try them on the ‘Summer’ themed piece. It worked beautifully!! I laid down just a little bit of the ink and added water and the pigment actually went a long way! I was impressed. Now this was something I would definitely use these guys for. Because I could use any of the artline products I went over the top with some of the permanent markers for a little interest and voila!

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I don’t know if you can notice the beautiful subtle flow from deep pigment down to light watery pigment. I was really impressed with how far the pigment extended with water. With a bit more practice I could really get used to using them as a water-colour-type pigment.

After I had played with that and discovered it could be used in that manner I decided to go ahead and do the video. I’m not sure exactly what they wanted in the video. The details were very loose and lacking specifics, right down to whether I could share my experience or not. I would assume if they didn’t want me to then they would have very clearly stated so. Besides, while they may not be the best marker on the market, for something cheap that you can incorporate in to your mixed media pieces and not feel like you’re breaking the bank account, these are a good option. Plus, your kids will definitely love them, my younger two do. So this is the video I ended up doing. I fast forwarded a lot of it and stopped here and there to explain the different techniques I used.

I decided to do a cute little pussy cat xmas design because it is that time of year and… well I love cats! I really want a cat too. I want a Singapura to be exact, but because you can only really get them from breeders then it is a morally difficult decision to make. Anyway it was fun to make the video. I hope you like it. At the end of the day whether you decide to buy the Stix or not really depends on what you are after. They are not even in the same league as Copic or Mepxy but for a water activated marker they are ok. Especially if you don’t have a lot of money to spend. Honestly, at the end of the day, the products you use really do make a difference though. I used to hear that saying about how a bad *insert profession* always blames his tools. However, since really diving in deep with art the past 2 years and trying out all these different products, cheap and expensive… I have to say, the tools really do matter. If you get cheap mediums, you will get childish and cheap results. I even heard someone say recently that no one is going to know the difference between if you hang a painting in a museum that is made with cheap student paint or the more expensive paint like Golden or Liquitex, etc… but I actually think they really would. They may not know or care how much you spent on the paint, but the difference between what the cheaper products can do compared to the amazing versatility and endurance of the more expensive products make a huge difference in this artists opinion.

I don’t know. Perhaps people out there can make the cheap stuff work for them, if so, more power to them! I’m happy for them. But I’m quite the lazy artist. I don’t like to work too hard for my outcomes. So I’d rather get the better quality and let it do a lot of the work for me so I can just enjoy the process and end up with a piece I’m happy with at the end of the day without having to spend a lot of time to get the same end piece. I don’t get anywhere near as much time to play as much as I’d love to, so when I do sit down to play, I want it to go quick, easy, smooth. That’s why I love my copics.

But like I said, these aren’t a bad product. My kids definitely love them. The lego-like style to them give them that added fun factor. The fact I can use them in mixed media work is a huge bonus. It really depends on what outcome you want.

 

In Joy!!

Something fun.

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Currently I am….
1. Thinking…… about how I can get more productivity in to my day and put my name out there for people to know who I am and what I have to offer.
2. Enjoying….  air conditioning on a humid day.
3. Feeling… frustrated and unfocused
4. Wearing… my new teal fitbit band and a dress.
5. Needing….. more emotional and financial support in my life.
6. Wanting…. to get out of the house more and spend time at the beach without feeling so tired I can barely lift a finger afterwards.
7. Listening…. to what people are really saying
8. Making…. some vision cards to help me stay focused on where I want to be this time next year
9. Eating…. as healthy as I possibly can with the constant struggle that goes on in my head.
10. Drinking…. more and more water all the time. I haven’t had any coke cola in so long I don’t remember the last time I had it, some days I really crave it.

 

What about you?

Only those who stop trying are failures.

This is not an art related post. This is actually related to my post a month ago about the new journey I have taken on to try and bring some better health in to my body. So if you are reading for the art, today is not your day and I suggest you just move on. IF, however, you want to read my rabble about my journey then pull up a comfy chair, grab yourself a drink and stay awhile. This might be a long one….

 

Only those who stop trying are failures. By that I mean, it’s only when you give up, when you stop getting back on that wagon, when you completely throw in the towel and stop trying anymore, that you truly fail. I often have this thought, am I scared of failing… or am I more scared of success? I honestly think I’m more scared of succeeding! It’s this great unknown really isn’t it. If you fail well, you’ve been there, it’s familiar, it’s like a well worn in comfy pair of shoes. If you succeed though, who are you then? What is life like then? What does the world look like then? What will you have to strive for and work toward then? I have no doubt there will always be something to work toward and I’m sure with success the world looks a little brighter, you are a little brighter, life is a little lighter. Yet still, the fear persists.

A month ago I began a new program in the hopes to have more energy, be healthier in my body and of course to lose weight. The goal is always to lose weight right? In my attempt to lose weight for the past almost 20 years I’ve managed to put on over 70kgs… how the hell does that work?!! I’ve tried SO MANY things. I went on Jenny Craig, and that was great, lost 20kgs while I was on it. Of course I put it all back on and MORE eventually. I tried HCG, that is NOT for the feint of heart. Looking back now I’m not quite sure how I managed it for a month. I don’t even think  lost that much weight on it but I can guarantee I put on at least twice as much as I lost afterwards. I did the whole gym 5 days a week thing and that was great for muscle tone and maintaining my weight and when I’m honest with myself I truly love to exercise. It feels good. I feel good. The only reason I stopped was because life decided I didn’t have the money for such things. I did the green smoothie thing, and I still have them occasionally now because they really are great and packed full of nutrients… at least as many nutrients as is possible in today’s age of over-farming and nutrient deficient soil. I definitely had more energy when I was drinking them. However come winter I’m not a huge fan of the lack of fruit variety, all my favourites go in to hibernation and I’m left with only apples, oranges and bananas. Summer though, you have mangoes, peaches, apricots, grapes, cherries, kiwi fruit, plums, nectarines… oh the flavour-gasms! Though as much as they gave me energy, I didn’t lose any weight from them.

Do you know why I don’t lose weight? Because I’m a glutton. There I said it. If I believed in that sort of thing, I would be going to hell for gluttony at the end of this lifetime. Or perhaps I am now in the hell of gluttony because of past life crimes regarding food… hmm, food for thought. I read a quote from someone just yesterday and part of it said ‘If you want a good body, feed the hungry’ as in, feed people who don’t have food of their own. I like that. It made me want to rush out and buy food and leave it on the doorstep of all the poor houses in the neighbourhood, boy wouldn’t hubby have a field day if I spent our money on something like that!! Anyway, off on a tangent there. My point is, I am a glutton. I love food. Not just that I love food (if I’m totally honest I have a love/hate relationship with food). I love chewing. I love swallowing. I love the feeling of food going down my throat. I love that “Ow I ate too much” feeling. I love stuffing my face. I love the taste. Oh how I love the taste. In fact, it’s often the taste that leaves me continuing to eat when I know I should stop.

I can go for awhile doing really well. I can be motivated and on track. Then something will come along and hit me like a mac truck and then it all gets thrown out of the window. The worse I feel the longer my fall off the wagon lasts. Of course it’s far easier to put ON weight than it is to lose it. So I can do really well for 3 months and in just 2 weeks end up back where I started. You have no idea how infuriating and frustrating and depressing and disheartening that is…. or maybe you do. I end up feeling so defeated, useless, worthless which, of course, just exacerbates the cycle. I think that is my number one pet peeve in this journey. I feel like I waste so much time doing my best and it takes so little time for it to all go down the drain, then it takes so long to get back on the wagon.

It really hurts me too when those super fit and healthy people say things like, ‘just make the right choices’, ‘just keep going’, ‘just stop eating crap’, ‘just exercise more’, just, just, just… like it is the easiest thing in the world. To make that choice. I wish it was. I wish it wasn’t such a fight in my head every time I feel low (which is far too often). I wish it wasn’t the epic battle it is every time I go to do the grocery shopping. I wish I didn’t want to scream every time someone near me ate something I would love to have, or every time I see anyone with a bottle of coke. I would love to just disappear from society and be free of all the temptations that exist everywhere. Really though, at the end of the day, if those multi-faceted Inner Children in my head would stop throwing their tantrums all the time… but that’s beside the point of this post.

As I said way back in that 3rd paragraph, I began a new program a month ago. I’ve tried shakes before and never found one I can handle. They taste disgusting and they are often so gritty that I end up half-choking on them cause the only way I can get them down is to skull it in one hit. So when I found out I had to have 2 shakes a day I was thinking ARE YOU CRAZY? There’s NO WAY I would last. I often get through maybe a week until I just can’t take it anymore no matter how much I try. I did a lot of research on the product and my amazing friend who finally convinced me brought around some of the shake for me to try. It was smooth, the taste wasn’t terrible. I thought maybe I could pull it off. Then hubby got in on the act and showed me all the negatives. You know something I’ve discovered since being married to my wonderful husband? There is a negative for EVERYTHING. He, himself, has tried to steer me toward doing juices. I’ve seen negatives related to doing that; or to green smoothies again, there are negatives associated with that too. It really depends on what school of thought you are coming from. At the end of the day it’s all about moderation and I’m pretty sure I mentioned up there somewhere that I’m just no good at that. I practice a lot, and I will keep practicing but I know me, I know there is always going to come moments in my life where moderation is not going to happen. That is just the way it is.

Hubby almost talked me out of it. Then I stopped for a moment and I thought about all the negatives he was pointing out to me. One was the business part, well… I’m not really interested in that part. I’m not in it to make money and you don’t have to be in it to make money. The other negatives were focused on one or two ingredients within the system such as fructose. There was not a single reliable source for negative information regarding the package as a whole. Now if you take anything and focus on just one little part here and there then everything is going to have something bad about it. That’s just life. Before I committed though I went and spoke to my doctor. I told her some of hubby’s concerns, I explained what kind of products were in the system and a couple times she even raised her eyebrows in that pleasantly surprised kind of way and agreed to monitor my progress, including keeping an eye on my liver in case that pesky fructose content did any damage, and keeping an eye on my blood sugar levels in case those bars with 3 tsps of sugar in them tipped me over the edge. With my doctors approval, I signed up.

Despite what my husband thinks, I’m quite skeptical. Enthusiastic, but skeptical. I’m weary of sharing results or how I’m getting them because I know what I am like. I know that I am great at first, all gung-ho, motivated, strong. I also know that eventually something will happen and I will falter, stutter, stall. Inevitably it’s emotion. I’ve discovered I’m a super emotional eater. If I’m sad, angry, frustrated, feeling unworthy, depressed, feeling unheard, feeling misused and under appreciated, feeling misunderstood and unsupported… I want to eat. Not because I’m hungry. I’m rarely actually hungry. That has been interesting to witness this year as I’m becoming more present and mindful with myself. I’m also a ‘tired’ eater. If I feel tired, I use food to keep me awake and give me that very small boost of energy to get through. That’s a new one I’ve learned this year since trying to stop feeling so tired all the time. I do, I feel SO tired, so you can imagine just how overweight I am if I’m eating all the time when I’m tired!

The package arrived! A big box full of promises and hope, dreams and good intentions. I couldn’t wait to get started and see the results. More than anything I would like to reach a healthy weight for my age and height. I have no doubt before I even get close to reaching it people are going to start telling me I’m getting ‘too’ skinny. We, as a society, have come to accept being overweight as normal so easily that when someone who is morbidly obese keeps going past overweight and in to healthy people don’t like it. They start thinking things like ‘anorexia!!’ It surprises me how warped our views are on body image… in either direction. I feel just as bad for those of slight frame as I do for those struggling with obesity.

I began. I had my breakfast smoothie. It wasn’t anywhere near as bad as I was anticipating. I had the vanilla one. I could taste a cinnamon and banana type taste. Miss 8 screwed up her face but Mr Bee smacked his lips together and said, “mmmm tastes like ice cream!” After that I took the multitude of tablets, accelerant, flush, multi-vitamins, there were so many!! But that wasn’t all, after that I had a shot of this … it feels a little like medicine to me because I use my medicine cup to drink it. Holy crow but that stuff was disgusting!!! I’m not a big fan of ginger and I could certainly taste the ginger in it amongst other things. Miss 8 laughed so hard at the expression on my face. To be honest, it felt like such a huge ORDEAL by the time I was done! I thought to myself, that felt like such a mission I don’t know if I can do it every day! That day was a bit horrible too because I had to take my before photos. Well, I didn’t have to, but I thought if I can pull this off finally, if I can reach my goal, I want proof of how big I was. I want to have photos of where I got to so I will NEVER EVER go back there again. I want photos of the biggest I was so that when I’m half-way there and I’ve hit a plateau and I’m feeling hopeless and defeated I can look at those photos and see how far I have already come and use them as motivation and inspiration to keep going. So I did. I didn’t like it. But I did it. I avoid looking at myself as much as possible because no matter how many years I’ve been this big for, in my head I’m still how I was in my early 20’s!

By the end of day 2 I realised the process wasn’t such an ordeal anymore. I’d come to get used to it already. I realised I was actually enjoying it. I really love not having to think about what I’m going to eat every morning, not having to spend time preparing it, then sit there and eat possibly more than I need to simply because I’ve made more and I’m not a left-overs kind of person. Nor do I have to worry about one mouthful tasting wonderful and the next tasting horrible, or worry about things going soggy or cold. I realised that all of a sudden my breakfast and dinner were LESS of an ordeal than what they used to be!! It was a relief. It was bliss. It was ease. I wasn’t feeling hungry, I felt like I was doing something really good for my body and I was barely making any effort at all. I’d even stopped my morning walks at that stage but I was losing weight. Even in the first two days I’d begun to lose weight. I know, I know, you’re really not meant to weigh-in more than once a week but I am SO motivated by watching my weight that I weigh myself every. single. day. I just can’t help myself! Plus, when I see that weight go down, whether it’s just by 100 grams or more, it is so motivating for me. Even if the weight just stays the same, it’s encouraging. What I noticed too, is that there was always a little bit of a loss every day (or more). Then I went away for a week. All by myself, what bliss. The best part about that was with the program depending on what version you do, you have ‘fast’ days. I was going to do a deep cleanse which consists of 2 days of fasting. I am grateful I was not at home amongst all the foods my family eat. In the hotel I had nothing but my products and my coffee stuff. So I breezed through it. I have no idea how much I lost cause I didn’t have my scales with me. I was naughty the day after the deep cleanse though and went and pigged out on Hogs Breath for lunch. When I got home I saw I was actually 1oo grams heavier! SO worth it though LOL, I love Hogs Breath.

It was disappointing to see I was 100 grams heavier after 5 days away, however I did weigh myself in the afternoon and I’m always heavier in the afternoon. The next morning I was a whole 1kg down, that was better! I had a mini goal of getting under a certain weight that I’m not willing to share publicly right now but by the 3rd week I had reached it. I was down 4.7kgs! I lost 2kgs over my 2nd deep cleanse, unfortunately that is when shit hit the fan for me. It was such an emotionally intense time for me, full moon, pms, pent up feelings, feeling unheard, then finding out hubby wasn’t happy about how much the program was costing. So I felt like my wings had been clipped. I was started to feel so much better in myself. I was feeling happier (not necessarily because of the program, there’s no claims that it helps with moods), I was feeling more focused. I was losing weight even though I occasionally pigged out on food, or ate 2 meals instead of one a day, even though I continued to drink my one cup of coffee a day that you’re not meant to do during the initial detox month. I felt like I had finally found something that worked for me. I attribute it to the entire package. However, because of the inevitable brick wall I always seem to run in to, those 2kgs I lost during the deep cleanse went back on… but I happily stayed below my first goal. That’s never happened before!! Ever! So I was ecstatic and of course that renewed my motivation and determination. Because all the stuff was still there waiting for me and it is so easy to use, it was easy to just keep going. I never stopped doing it, I just overate, or had 2 meals on top of the shakes instead of 1, or it was the meals I ate… like McDonalds.

So I kept going and my weight has continued to go down. I have reached the end of my first 30 days. I didn’t stop drinking coffee, I stuffed up here and there and I still managed to lose 6kgs and 35cms from around my body. I can’t see it. I don’t notice it in my clothes or my face, however I have to trust that the scales and the measuring tape don’t lie. I managed to get in a 2nd months worth of the program before hubby said no more, $600 a month is too much and a stupid amount for my potential success in gaining better health and reaching my goal weight and having the energy I so deeply desire. So I get to do the entire program again for another month. After this I will go down to a lesser program and hope it works as well. This coming 30 days though I’m going to see if I can do even better than the first 30 days, now that I’m in the swing of things, in the practice of it all, in the habit of doing it. I’m going to see if I can reach my next mini-goal. So wish me luck. I will let you know if it works when I get there.

 

If you managed to reach this far in my rabbling, thank you for bearing witness to my journey 🙂 If you are interested in learning more about the product please email me at samm (at) creativealchemist (dot) com I’ll be happy to share more. Thank you for being here. In Joy!