Sunday 28 October 2018

Landmarks Rushing By. . . Domestic Stuff - Who Do We Think We Are? . . ;-) Cats, and of course, Beads/Drops/Thingies

I only noticed the other day, quite by chance, that I had reached an interesting landmark. It was four years ago on the 3rd of October, that I made my first bead sale on Etsy. (and probably about six months before that, that I had encountered my first bit of polymer clay) The beads in the pic were the ones I sold, and the buyer (from the West Coast USA) rejoiced in the rather wonderful surname of Carefree Buffalo. . . Not the sort of surname you get in the UK ;-) 

It only occurred to me later that this might be a native american name, but the image of a carefree buffalo skipping over the prairie, probably wearing my beads, still makes me smile.

Well, my Etsy shop is still chugging along four years later, on about 1200 sales now, and making beads has become a important part of my life, from being something it would never have occurred to me to get involved in. . . Life huh? ;-) 
Well, I've long ceased to worry about how I got Here from There. 
Embrace the randomness is what I say!

On the domestic front, I have been planning our living room makeover for a while. We are going for some fancy wood panelling on the wall round the fireplace, complete with some fancy wooden corbels and bits. 
The trouble is that even when you know the dimensions of the things you are ordering, it still comes as a surprise just how flippin big they are sometimes. The wonderfully ornate one in the middle is 10 inches by 11-1/2, which is pretty impressive. It will look amazing, if somewhat over the top. 

Still, us pretentious arty types with high falutin ideas aren't afraid of going over the top on occasion. . . It's going to be at the faux baronial end of the Georgian scale, if you get my drift, All dark wood and knotty grain. . .

Still on the domestic front, it's a big front. . . Here is what we did to the bathroom. 
The tiles were made by me with my heat press etc. The image is a copy of a William De Morgan tile design that my wife painted very large. I photographed it, sorted it all out on Photoshop to result in a three by three, nine tile design with single tile width edging. The tiles even have a crackle glaze effect, done in photoshop using a photo of a crackled dish of my wife's superimposed over the individual tile images. 
And I did the tiling too. . . I impress myself sometimes! Not too often, mind.

Staying with the bathroom for a further moment, here is my digital fractal based shower tile design. It's a continuous image representing water in an abstract way. That was another learning curve. 

Before I actually got round to tiling the shower we made do with bubble wrap stapled to the plasterboard wall. . . nice. . .

Boudicca or Boodie or Boo

Cats -
The three cats we adopted as kittens about a year and a quarter ago are in fine fettle. Now the weather has started to get a bit colder and wetter (we don't half need the rain! It's chucking it down as I write) they spend a lot more time indoors. I sometimes think they are too confident and well adjusted. There are three chairs round the kitchen table and the selfish little beasties are far too relaxed to worry about where I'm going to sit, fah! 

Actually they are joy. Happy, affectionate cats. We love 'em to bits ;-)

Cleopatra, or Cloppy or Clops

Hereward, or Hairy Boy or Himself

OK, the bit you have been waiting for, maybe. .  the Beads/Drops/Dangles/Thingies. . .
Two big turned look beads with a couple of resistors

My supply of unemployed beads is still going strong, although I am looking forward to the day when I start making some new polymer clay things instead of sparking ideas off already existent ones. I'm still experimenting and learning, and people still like what I am making, so I am happy.

A pair of textured charms with shaped wire bails

Wiggly wire is a new departure

Image tiles and looped wire 'flowers' is another

With it's subtle variations

Distressed image transfer beads with wiggly wire

My last pair of 'shards'

And the idea of hanging shapes from bent wire constructions was another one I liked.

So, as you see, life potters along in an enjoyable and satisfactory way. What could be nicer? ;-)

Until next time,

Jon x

Monday 15 October 2018

Visuals vs Verbals - New Stuff, Same Theme and New Hope for Unemployed Beads

It's funny how being busy creating stuff cuts down on my time and motivation for blogging. I feel like I have very little to say other than "Here's my new stuff, hope you like it." . . .
So far my fan base, if I am allowed to call it that, has been very supportive. Most things that I make and list, sell, which is why I have been busy creating stuff and not blogging. . .

I still find myself strongly responding to old/unemployed beads and found objects, so I haven't been experimenting with new poly clay things lately. I have some ideas backing up in my head, but they will have to join the queue of ideas there already.

Actually, 'Queue' is the wrong word really, it's a bit more anarchic than that. Whichever idea pushes it's way to the front tends to prevail ;-)
At present, things involving upcycled wire with objects attached seems to be my primary output. There is a lot of mileage in it, so I expect it to be my primary output for a while, but who knows how I may feel in the future?

I still have a supply of unused beads and electronic components to spark ideas from, so I imagine they will keep me going for a while yet. People seem to like what I do so that also encourages me to continue down my particular avenue.

Connectors is a new departure, though well within the aforementioned theme. . . Things in frames and the relationship between them is still a theme too.

Asymmetry and offset beads is another thing I still find interesting. It's also a nice way to use image transfer beads that I really liked but that never got much interest as beads in themselves.

Electronic components in fancy frames is a new variation too. They are so bead like, especially the ones in cool colours.

A wide frame gives the opportunity to explore repetition, which is something I am interested in too. These small, double sided, chunky, image transfer disk beads got repurposed in this framed connector thingy

And this Kangaroo bead I made a while ago using a retro rubber stamp from an old set I found in a charity shop got repurposed. I could never work out quite what to do with it before. It might still be less than useful, but we shall see. Maybe it will be big in Australia. . .

I'm still letting eccentric suggestions have their day. I have no idea what this is, but the organic beads and the bit of left over wire seemed to want to be combined somehow. Go with the flow, is what I say ;-)
Hope you enjoyed the pics and apologies for my lack of things to say. Maybe my art can speak for me even though I have no idea what it's saying . . .

Wednesday 19 September 2018

Just When You Think You're Done With That Idea, Long Furrows and One Thing Leading To Another


Just when I think a certain creative avenue has run its course, if avenues can be said to do that, something catches my attention and I'm off again. . . This time that something was these old springs from a knackered and previously mouse invaded and occupied armchair we eventually burned on the bonfire in the garden. The metal bits were left in the ashes, looking interesting, so I clipped a few of them out and took them into my workshop. On a whim I used them in a pair of drops/beads/dangles/pendants along with the usual upcycled wire grid stuff. They looked a bit nuts, in a good way, but I listed them on FB anyway as I figured they might raise a smile. They sold, and someone asked me to make two more pairs ;-) so smiles all round. . .

Digital Nouveau tile beads

I've been making variations on a theme rather than indulging in new explorations lately, which was why I was feeling that this furrow had perhaps been ploughed long enough and that I was in danger of repeating myself. But as with the old springs, some older rediscovered beads inspired some more interesting and creatively satisfying explorations.

Like use of more open wire structures and use of an almost traditional cross shape.

And the use of incised/scratched African influenced designs and a diagonal grid as a sort of 'loop'.

Some old two tiered earrings sparked the idea of twin beaded pendants on a rigid wire frame.

And some old faux ivory dragon teeth beads (from an online tut I read), two thin textured flake like beads and two electronic component thingies just seemed to work together once placed on a wire grid. There is something about the formality of a grid that seems to infer logic to the most illogical of combinations. I find this fascinating ;-)

I have picked up various bits of rabbit skeleton dug up from flowerbeds etc over the last year or so, and kept them aside as I liked the look of them. I also kept the filament from very old bulb/valve which had a mishap and broke. The two just seemed to go together once tied to a rigid frame. No idea how or why. Explanation is an unnecessary distraction. It either 'works' or it don't.  If I think it works it stays. . .

Taking the idea a bit further. .

A couple of very recent things. I love how the textured tube bead echoes the grey resistor or whatever it is. And the little black feet make me smile.

Old and new beads combine in another quite open frame to make something more than the sum of their parts. Which is the whole idea really isn't it?

Anyway, until next time, 
Jon x

Tuesday 4 September 2018

Enforced Creative Pauses and Their Usefulness. Conclusions. And Retrospective Introspection feeding Changes in Direction

I'm having a bit of a creative pause right now. Due to my workshop being out of action while a new window is put in. Quite timely, as the sill and the wooden lintel were pretty much powdery crumbly rubbish held together by a thin outer crust and/or layers of paint.

The old window was old, but nothing like as old as that bit of the house. The walls are brick and therefore comparatively recent, but the ceiling has a big beam across it with smaller ones at right angles every foot or so, the implications of which are that the room must be quite a bit older than the main Georgian/Queen Anne (1780) bit. We guess that it was part of the original building that was built around when the owners got grand notions. Nothing wrong with grand notions btw.

A fair bit of wood boring beetle activity is in evidence in the beams. Most of it historic, though I am not entirely sure about that. I have treated it with evil, anti-beetle stuff just in case. Someone who knows about these things reckons the timbers are fine so I won't worry unduly. The timbers will outlast me, beetle or no, so I'll pass the issue down the line to the next owners, which will be my kids. . . Thanks Dad. . . ;-)

Organic style

Anyway, or 'Any road up' as they say up north, this creative hiatus has got me considering things and weighing things up. This year has been a good, creative time for me. I have been busy making my beads and 'things' in the time available between DIY projects and general life stuff.

Most of the stuff I have been making has sold, often within a week of me making it, which is great, but means I only have photos to remind me that it ever existed. This is still something I am getting used to. Not a complaint, merely an observation ;-)

I made more in this shape and they sold, then I forgot temporarily

I have spent some of this downtime looking through my photo folders on my computer at what I have produced this year, and finding there were quite a lot of things I didn't remember until I saw the photo. This surprised me somewhat. The result of this retrospective introspection is that the mental list of 'cool things I really must make more of' has just grown exponentially!

lovely texture pattern

Looking at past work does make you see how your work has changed without you realising. This is all useful stuff whether you think it has changed for better of for worse. It gives you a chance to re-evaluate your creative decisions and adopt any lessons learned in the process.

subtlety. . .

As a result I have made a couple of decisions about what I am doing. I have tried making earrings using my beads and components, but found it a bit frustrating as I was very aware of how much I didn't know about the process or about the practical considerations that shouldn't be ignored. In short, it made me uncomfortable with what I was producing.

Ok but nothing special, how to find specialness, my ongoing project ;-)

I enjoy making beads and other components, then leaving it to others to decide how they might be used. I like to play with techniques and processes in an unpressured way. There is not very much to 'get right' when making beads, and if they go 'wrong' I haven't wasted much time or expense.
I may be in my comfort zone making beads, but as yet it isn't restricting me creatively so I see nothing wrong with hanging out there, it's a big place ;-)

minus ear wires. . . this sort of thing

So. . . I will be breaking up the earrings I made, which sounds drastic, but mostly means just taking the earring wire off in many cases ;-) and selling the components as just that - components. I may return to earring design at some point, but I will need to get my head into the right space if you know what I mean.
So until the next time,
peace, out ;-) Jon x

Monday 20 August 2018

Blog Neglect, Cats and Woodpeckers, Old Doubts and Responding to The World

Well. . . I always start with that word! (Except every now and then when I don't of course). Somehow it makes it all a bit more conversational, as though I had just sat down with a cup of tea and was about to tell you about my day. An imposition of course, as you didn't actually ask, but as is the way with us bloggers, we just carry on as if you did. . . I know, "What are we like?".

Do they say that anywhere but the UK? I hope not as it should be said in a London accent, preferably South London. . . . Oh yeah, and the three dots thing, I do that a lot too. . . see? . . .
How much do you bet that I'm going to start the next paragraph with "Anyway"?

Scratched 'African' influence focal rectangle thing

Anyway, (Hah!) I have been neglecting this blog, not through choice, but through lack of opportunity, or at least a space of time that wouldn't be 'better spent' doing something else, and also through the paralysis brought on by guilt. It is ironic that the longer you leave something the louder the voice that tells you that you can't possibly do it now, as everyone will have given up and gone home.

I've got over that one. Mainly coz I have no shame but partly coz you are all nice people and weren't exactly waiting around for my verbal meanderings, but are quite happy to give them the once over when they decide to turn up. I assume anyway. . .

Different size grids

The other morning I got up early, ( I do this a lot, not through choice, but because I am awake and know I won't drift back into sleep however much I would like to. It's an age thing I think as I don't need to get up early anymore being retired and all.) As I was saying, or writing rather, I got up early and glanced out of the window into the back garden, where, in the early morning light, I discerned the cat, (Boudicca, the skinny, wriggly one) wrestling/sparring with something on the lawn. A flippn' Green Woodpecker no less! They aren't small birds, in fact, you may remember the photo of a woodpecker with a weasel seemingly riding on it's back, it was one of those. About three quarters of the size on the cat. . . Anyway, I rushed down and opened the back door ready to rescue the silly thing. Luckily that was enough of a distraction for Boudicca to look away and the bird to scarper, making indignant woodpecker noises. I admit I was also a bit worried for the cat, as those woodpeckers have serious beaks on them. They do frequent our lawn, as despite their name, they much prefer to eat ants out of the ground than indulge in any of this pecking wood business. I think it was an immature one, as I saw a couple of them with their parents on the lawn the other day.

"The Wildlife Diary of a Polymer Claying Man" eh?

Hollow Image Transfer and wire thingies 

My 'beads' thing has been going well ;-) I don't think 'beads' is quite the right word for what I am doing at present. I'm not sure what the correct term would be. Jewelry components' is a bit general maybe? 'Thingies' is kind of convenient but doesn't make it sound like I know what I am doing ;-)

Offset scratchy squares

I seem to sell most things I list on FB these days, which is great, but brings up the old doubts about what I should be making. It's the classic 'problem' that rears ugly head (maybe not so much ugly as unwelcome) when things start to sell. Vis - Should I make more of the things that I am pretty sure will sell, or should I continue the creative experimentation and follow wherever it leads, sales or not?

Not making things that people actually want seems a bit ungrateful somehow, but repeating yourself, and risking losing the spark that makes you You as it were is not such a good idea either. The real crunch comes when you realise that if do the arty thing rather than the more commercial thing, you are turning down an almost guaranteed chance to make a useful amount of money. . . Not easy for a lifelong freelancer to turn down. It's a good dilemma to have though I suppose.

I think the answer is to make enough time to do both.
I'm working on it.

I am also lucky in that I have a client base that seems to be interested and involved in my creative journey, and seem happy to come along with me so to speak. That is pretty special I think ;-)

Texture Squares, new poly clay beads for  change

My recent work has mainly been about upcycling things, beads I put aside for various reasons, and various bits of wire and wire mesh I found stored here and there dating from before this house was ours.
I am always alert to the possibility of reaching a kind of saturation point with particular techniques and concepts, and producing uninspiring work as a consequence. I was feeling like this point was approaching vis a vis wire and poly clay orphans. . .
Until I found some old 'pod' beads I made about three years ago, in one of my bead boxes, and got all inspired again!

Captive Pod, looks kind of Inuit maybe?

Pod Suspended, Organic form meets Geometric Grid

It did make me notice something very obvious, but that had failed to penetrate my thick head, namely, that my work is very much about responding to what is around me. I don't plan anything. I don't sketch or design, I find that it all works better if I let things occur to me and see what happens. I have a general idea, some techniques and an aesthetic worked out, but other than that it's fairly spontaneous. That said, I like to think I have a trained and finely tuned instinct for what 'works' and what doesn't. It's all totally subjective of course, all about me and my personal tastes and preferences, but for better or worse, love it or hate it, take it or leave it, at the end of the day I think I am quite good at being me ;-)

Jon x

Wednesday 25 July 2018

Holiday Recovery, Scooter Trauma, Earring Unsuccess and Back to the Creative Stuff. . .

Well, I'm back from holiday. It turns out that at was as hot back home as it was where we went. Who'd a thunk. . .
But it did have the Med, lovely food, motor boats to hire and suchlike distractions. It was mostly relaxing. . .
Although we did just manage to avoid wiping ourselves out on a hired scooter. Scooters just don't handle like motor bikes! Horrible things. I didn't feel fully in control of it, the weight was all wrong, so we turned it in half a day early before something nasty happened. I did manage to drive slowly and sedately into a thorn bush, while negotiating a sharp turn on bumpy track, which was less than fun but not injurious. . . So no more scooters for me, ever.

Loggos harbour, from the track up to the deserted windmill, Paxos

The funny thing about holidays is that it takes a day or three to recover from them, which seems to negate the point of them in the first place ;-) It didn't help that the  journey home took all day, including a 5 hour coach ride that stopped every bleedin' where between Heathrow and Norwich, and didn't have wi fi, so I missed the World Cup Final. . . Anyway, enough moaning. Well done France, and Croatia, I might add. And England, for a work in progress, we did OK.

I managed to get back into the workshop for a reasonable length of time, once the recovery from the holiday was complete, and continued my experimentation with bits of wire and neglected beads. Some of which were very successful, and others which were frankly, a bit mad. It was good to relax into an extended bit of creative activity again.

Demented pendant

I got round to listing some stuff on LBA Galleria Elementals at long last, and sold most of them, so that kept me in a good mood. 

Oh yeah, I was forgetting, I tried some earrings on LBA Designers Galleria, but got no takers, some nice comments but nobody flashing the cash. Interesting. I feel that earrings are perhaps a longer term  sell than components. Maybe my Etsy shop is the place for them rather than short sharp exposure on FB. Dunno. Maybe they weren't what people actually wanted or they would rather buy the beads and make the earrings themselves. I might try a different group to see if that makes a difference. It's all a learning curve, and none the worse for that.

simple unsold, but not unloved spike earrings

Still no rain here. The lawn is brown and the pond is as low as we've seen it. Still, it does mean I don't have to cut the grass. Oh well, it will rain eventually and no doubt we will moan about that too ;-)
I'll share my most recent makes next time, so until then, have a good one.
Jon x

some textured spikes, just to keep my hand in. .