A couple of years ago while I was in the middle of creative slump a friend recommended a book to me called The Artists Way by Julia Cameron. I will be completely honest and say that I didn’t follow all the exercises but two of them stuck with me, the one I want to tell you about is the idea of having a creative ‘date’ with yourself, a concept of giving yourself a day out, to explore something that inspires you, it could be a walk somewhere beautiful, it could be a trip out with your camera or a visit to a gallery or exhibition, something that inspires and replenishes your creative well.
This week my lovely hubby took me into Glasgow to the Kelvingrove Museum to visit the Alphonse Mucha exhibition, its only on for a short time and I really wanted to go, I wasn’t disappointed, such incredibly beautiful work on display, and stunning colours, I can only say that if you have the opportunity to visit, go, its so worth it, even more so if you love Art Nouveau.
Needless to say I came back to the workshop brimming with ideas, this weeks beads are a bit scattergun, so many different colour combinations, I’m not convinced they all work but somewhere in the chaos of being inspired is a seed, something that will grow and develop until it becomes something more tangible 🙂
Either way, when you next sit down with your beads and feel stumped or blocked, take yourself out for a date with yourself, refill that well!
You might have noticed this week that I have changed my banners on my shops, I have been thinking a lot about the images I present and decided it was time to get a little help to ‘up my game’ as far as photographing my work is concerned.
I have been really lucky recently to have been introduced to a fantastic photographer Lottie Judd, she’s recently moved to Scotland and last year we were lucky enough to win a family photoshoot with her, over the last few months we met up a few times for coffee and a natter, we have a lot in common, neither of us are native Scots, we both love images, colour and jewellery and seem to find things to natter about endlessly, naturally it made sense to as Lottie to help me with my photography.
I knew that I needed an idea of what I wanted out of our session, I knew that I wanted help ‘staging’ my jewellery but I also wanted to create images that were inviting and warm, over a couple of days prior to Lottie coming over I collected a few props together including some lovely pussy willow sticks, pieces of wood and dried leaves/petals.
Lottie helped me to check my camera settings in manual were correct for the photos I wanted, we talked about depth of field (blurring the background so the foreground is in focus) we talked about F numbers and why they are important and we talked about white balance and light, more importantly I came away with some wonderful images, the knowledge to create them again and a sense of direction and purpose to take forward.
If you are a small craft business and you want help to polish your images and sharpen your skills I can honestly say investing in an few hours with a professional photographer who is happy to share their skills with you is invaluable! Consider these things:
- Choose someone who appreciates your work and understands the images you want to create.
- Choose someone who has patience and is willing to talk you through your camera and its settings
- Have a good idea of what you want to achieve before you pay for a session, look at Pinterest, think about how you want your images to ‘feel’ to the viewer.
You can see Lottie’s photography on her website here: http://www.lottiephotography.com and follow her on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/lottiephotography/?fref=ts
Its that start to the new year thing again…..I’m trying desperately hard not to make any resolutions other than to be healthier and try to balance work and life a little better, its harder than it sounds, not the balancing part but the not making any resolutions, I’m not dead set against them, I’m just terrible at keeping them and really don’t need the self imposed guilt trip!
So, my plans (not resolutions) for the new year are as follows:
- Look up more, pay more attention to the gorgeous place I live and enjoy just being here and now!
- Come up with some new and exciting ideas for beads (not quite sure how thats going to happen, I’m hoping that a dust mote of inspiration will strike, the stars will be aligned and all will be good!)
- Try to be healthier, not just in my diet but I need to move more, the downside to shed life is largely not moving about enough.
- Work outside my comfort zone, I want to try new things, things with glass, things with metal (theres other mediums I could add to this list but I really don’t need to start another hobby with all the paraphernalia that goes along with it!)
I think thats probably enough to be going on with 🙂 so I’m going to leave you with some of the photos I took on New Years Day, we took a trip to Glen Etive and it couldn’t have been more beautiful!
I have been making beads for nearly ten years, granted the first couple were a huge learning curve, and it certainly took a while before I had anything I felt was saleable and even longer before I could confidently say that I had something that was distinctly mine in terms of style. Its not really any surprise that my mojo has taken a little bit of a hiatus recently and in some respects I think my confidence has thought ‘ooh, mojo is on its hols, I think I will go with it!’ I will be honest, its a pain, and a worry, I don’t want to go back to working for someone else, I love that I am home with my kids, I love that I get to listen to audiobooks while I work and drink tea whenever I want, I don’t have scheduled breaks and if I want to sit and eat my lunch in the sunshine and dip my feet in the kids paddling pool I can do that too 😀
I don’t love the fear of not selling enough, or the realisation that selling in quantity has become validation for what I am doing. I wish with my whole heart that I could pop back to the days when earning money from, what was then a hobby, was a wonderful bonus to what can only be described as the absolute pleasure of melting glass and turning it into wonderful new shapes.
So this week I decided to cut myself a little slack, I pulled out my rather dusty paint box and started to play 🙂 I don’t know what will become of these yet, I think that little notebooks might be rather nice but we will wait and see. For now the pleasure lies in watching the paint float across the page and mingle its colours
One of the things I love most about what I do is the opportunities to diversify, as with so many other crafts, one often leads to another and another, in some respects its distracting, in others its a joy, I will never be at a loss for things to do, try, learn. It does on occasion leave me with a sense of panic that I will never have enough life time to experience or try out all the things I want to do.
Anyway I digress, this week I was having a long overdue tidy up in the workshop, and was distracted by some discarded copper sheet (my kids do this when I ask them to tidy their rooms, they always end up playing with forgotten toys and the room never gets cleaned) I started by cutting a circle of copper and using my sandbag and a ball pein hammer started hammer in a spiral from the centre ( its at this point I wish I had taken photos of the process) after repeatedly annealing the copper and gradually hammering until I reached the outer edges I ended up with a small copper dish, I know I haven’t done it properly because the edges of the dish shouldn’t be fluted so I must read up on properly sinking bowls.
Having left the project alone for a day I had another look at it and decided to enamel the centre, I have some lovely enamels that I use for glass beads, I layered them up and then heated the kiln, it has to get really hot for the enamel to melt.
You have to be careful moving the unfired piece to the kiln so you don’t disturb the powdered enamel.
You can see from the second photo that the enamel has fired but there are still small spots of it where its moved slightly when I’ve placed it in the kiln.
When it comes to this type of work I am a complete novice, I really do need to read up more on the proper processes, but it was a fun distraction project and I am left with a pretty bowl that looks like it has a pool inside 🙂
When I first started on my lamp working journey I was determined not to create character beads, its odd really but at the time they somehow didn’t feel quite ‘proper’ ….I know, right! Since then I have had a massive change of opinion (helped along by selling a good few of them) Character beads are a touch of escapism, a journey into the storybooks and favourite toys of childhood. When I was little my favourite teddy was a rabbit (called raddit) so in honour of the easter holidays I’ve been making bunnies.
This week has been about trying out new ideas, playing with colour combinations and thinking about where to take my work next, it often feels like I’ve been making dolls for so long that I have forgotten where all this started, with a huge passion for beads, making jewellery and components.
These are my first lampwork headpins.
One of the greatest joys of trying out new ideas is opening the kiln in the morning, its like finding treasure, the anticipation of finding out if what you’ve made has worked, if your ideas have translated successfully into glass.
I love the versatility of these pins, they make great simple earrings, perfect dangles to a charm bracelet and are made more interesting by the addition of beads to the stems or wire wrapping, I can’t wait to see what my customers make.
Its that time of year again, planning our easter break with the children we decided to revisit the Isle of Skye, we found the perfect isolated retreat with views across the water and few neighbouring houses.
With hope that we will get a chance to see the Aurora Borealis it got me thinking about capturing all that sky in the dress of one of my dolls, knowing that it would likely require some of the more costly glass I didn’t then want to cover that with hair and so I decided to revisit my Windswept Lost Girl. I can just see her standing on the cliff top letting the wind carry her cares away can’t you?