Sunday 15 November 2020

Goodbye Website Shop, Chronic Blog Neglect and more bleedin' Lockdown to get through. . .

Blog neglect taken to the lengths that I have taken it to is probably a criminal offence. . . But I just don't feel the urge these days. The Groundhog Day existence this Covid virus has caused doesn't help. At least my repetitive life involves some repetitive selling. Grateful thanks to all the bead buyers out there still accumulating the raw materials for their jewellery projects.

My website has also suffered. I only have one because I feel I ought to, and my website shop is only there because people say that a stand alone shop is a good thing to have. I am not convinced. I am even less motivated to promote it than I am to make blog posts so it is somewhat unloved right now. Most of all by me. I do OK on Etsy and sell on Facebook so really it is surplus to requirements. I am going to wind the shop up and put the beads etc on Etsy, or FB from time to time. The website itself I will keep as a source of info if anyone wishes to find out anything about my work that isn't obvious by looking at it. .

Black and white scratch design spindle bead

On the domestic front, we are down to two chickens. Not sure what happened to the two that went missing but the F word is the obvious answer, a fox got them I am guessing. No stray tell-tale clumps of feathers though so it was a clean job. Must have been a daylight raid as they sleep in their firmly shut chicken coop thingy (a converted child's Wendy House according to the previous house owner. .) They had also stopped laying a week or two ago, not sure why but it does happen from time to time I am told. I will probably get a couple of replacements next spring, maybe some more arty, feathery legged ones this time, we shall see.

We have four adult geese now as the two goslings have grown into healthy adults, just as raggedy looking as their parents. Sebastopol geese are such eccentric looking things, like they just had a fight with a shredder ;-) Noisy, but amusing have around, mostly. .

Work - More of the same sort of thing. Variations on stripe painted 'spindles' and spikes, with some nice scratch design beads thrown in. Less of the Industrial Boho side of things but I am moving in that direction again.

I did make some moulds using plastic dinosaurs. Not as popular as I had hoped but fun to make and fun to use.

I have made a couple of small assemblage/diorama things but am awaiting a bit more inspiration before I take them any further.


Backing Singers. .

I would really like to make more actual jewellery, but it is a whole new ball game and I need to get more confident that I am making the most of my work and my particular way of creating. It has to fit my aesthetic so to speak. Also, if I am going to tie up fifty quids worth of beads and focal etc in a necklace, I would need to sell stuff for a decent price. I have to feel that what I make is 'worth it', not to mention whether there is a receptive audience for it out there.

Earrings do seem to be the way to go too. Everyone else seems to make them, and they keep on selling. I assume that earrings are the sort of thing that buyers like to have lots of around, unlike necklaces. Still considering this. . .

Oh yes, I also made a couple of pieces into cool wall art, by deepening a couple of small, ornate-ish frames that I had knocking around, to make shallow, shadow box type things, into which I put a couple of pieces that were once intended to be pendants but looked good just as they were. I think they came out well. The trouble is that now we have another Lockdown I can't pay a visit to the framing shop to see what other small frames they have lurking on their shelves so I can make some more. Fah!

Oh well, I shall persevere and we will all get through this. . . The vaccine news is good, so far, and though I hate to mention politics, the US election 'should' work out for the best eventually. I must admit it has been depressing the life out of me and I don't even live there!
Anyway, stay safe and stay well,
Jon x

Saturday 26 September 2020

Moulds, Molds, Bears, Giant Babies and The Cautious Emergence of The Weirdly Absurd

Well, I've been doing the usual thing, neglecting this blog and manically experimenting/pottering. 
Allowing that it is possible to potter manically of course - I'm taking the view that it most certainly is. .

The trouble is, as I have probably mentioned before, is that my focus shifts so quickly between projects and ideas that I am into a new idea before I have blogged about the last one. Then eventually, the weight of unblogged about things becomes so great that my Blogger's Guilt kicks in and I try to feature about ten ideas at once. 

Oh well, so be it ;-)

So, first up - You remember the plastic model railway figures from my last post? Course you do. I have made a few more little surreal scenes using them, (in this case some very nice hurrying passengers) and a few very pink plastic babies I came across on the internet (of course). Combined with an image transfer of one of my digital fake-cell-structure creations and a few other bits and pieces this interesting little scenario came about. It's called "Try to ignore The Babies".

Taking this post to be a vaguely logical progression, I considered said plastic babies and wondered how making polymer clay moulds of  them might work out. Polymer clay does seem to be pretty good for mould making. Non-flexible ones but that is OK. This Baby/Alien piece was made using crude impressions from one of the moulds I made. With some crackle effect technique and additional glass beads. (I was given a box of various small beads from a friend. I didn't think they were the sort of thing I would be using but as it happened they found a place)

One mould led to another, this time using a couple of model railway figures, which, my creative process being what it is, resulted in some pieces with a very different vibe. Using inks and Ren wax etc etc helped.

As is the way of these things, before long, some of my little plastic animals got roped in to the mould making frenzy. These two little Red Panda head drops came about that way. 

And this Bear pendant. All interesting stuff I thought.

And moving skilfully on, like a smooth radio DJ style link, talking of bears, I made some bear images using a rubber stamp I acquired, and taking sort of multiple, artily out of register monoprints from the stamp's impression on poly clay, which I coloured up in various ways. 
I used one of these images as the background for this piece called "Big Bear, Good Dog" ;-)

Moulds from the heads of various plastic figures I have had knocking around for years came into the equation also, to somewhat creepy effect. Only somewhat, as the absurd tends to trump the creepy; in the work I do at any rate. Here's a couple of spike beads and drops to emphasise my point.

The more observant amongst you will have clocked the strange image at the top of this post. This was me trying to mix and match heads and bodies ;-) The body is from a mould of an unpainted pottery dog blank that I acquired from who knows where, ages ago, and the head is from a plastic motorcyclist. the result is like some very odd artifact from an archaeological site somewhere. No idea idea where that 'somewhere' might be though. . .

So that's me for the moment. Other stuff will no doubt emerge from my fevered brain as this strange time of Covidiosyncratic Groundhog Days grinds on, and on.

Oh well, and talking of 'well', stay well!


Jon x

Friday 14 August 2020

Taking Bigfoot Golfing, Retro Image Thingies and other Potential Oddities

Taking Bigfoot Golfing

Well, having been through a mini frenzy of making odd, not really jewellery - not really anything else, type things involving model railway figures etc, I have stopped to take a breath and have a think about what and where it is all going, and if indeed it has to 'go' anywhere anyway. . .

Blue Bear says 'Hi'

As you probably noticed, the background images I have been using are rather wonderful, out of register, retro graphics of the cheap, far eastern variety. These ones date from around the nineteen sixties and are taken from some Japanese made water transfer sets I acquired from an Ebay source. I think they are beautiful in their unpretentious simplicity and depiction of various, often western (some are of cowboys, so the word Western is apt) cultural artifacts as seen through the lens of another culture and Art tradition etc. I don't imagine that they were ever intended to be admired as artworks as such, and probably you think I am nuts to love them so much ;-) Yeah, well. . .

A Bad Guy brooch

I've been trying to see how they want to be used. I tried putting them together with electronic components and upcycled wire grids and the like, which worked OK, but it felt like I was doing the same old thing that I do with my digital abstract images, without getting a feel for how these new images work with other materials. 

They are nice on their own as simple brooches or buttons, or just as image tile drops with a single hole at the top, but I can't help feeling there is something else I can do with them. I'll get there, I just need to give it time and space to emerge. . .

More Bad Guys

Godzilla or somesuch

Pairing them with little plastic animals from the same source has some promise, as does using the little animals on their own with other bits and pieces. Sort of surreal dioramas or scenes can be constructed with their own weird stories or non-stories. . . hmmm. . .

I'll continue to mull this over, meanwhile making various beads and such. I'll let you know how I get on. .

Jon x

Monday 20 July 2020

Fun with Biscuits etc. Not a Tutorial. A Journey Down My Creative Process, Such As It Is. . .

Start off by having a silly idea while trying to get to sleep.

Wake up in the morning and think "Why not? What have I got to lose?" etc etc and wander into the workshop. After all it is still Lockdown pretty much and you are going slightly nuts like everyone else. . .

In line with the aforementioned silly idea, take some of these. . .

'These' being what are known as 'biscuits', which shouldn't be confused with what are normally thought of as biscuits round here as they are distinctly inedible, even if dunked in really hot tea.
They are in fact small pieces of plywood used to accurately join two sheets of wood, as in a worktop. Useful things, only I didn't get on with them particularly, even with the proper biscuit jointer power tool thingy. I have plenty of them lying around though, and have previously used them every now and then in bead related projects. (I have no idea if Americans call them 'cookies' or not. . . Quite probably. Whatever. . . )

Now take some of this stuff, which is 2mm diameter approx blue plastic 'wire' from the large reel of it to be found in the shed, left by our house's previous owner. I assume it is strimmer wire but I can't be certain, and am not that bothered what it is. I am just aware of it sitting there awaiting some sort of use. (My strimmer uses those little plastic things rather than plastic wire, which though a bit pricey, is so much better. The wire ones are a complete and utter total pain.)

Lay the biscuits on a thin sheet of polymer clay and cut round them. Bake and then glue the resulting poly clay pieces onto the biscuits. Tidy up the edges.

Drill 2mm holes in patterns or at random intervals in the poly clay fronted biscuits.

Cut some short, roughly the same size, lengths of the plastic wire and poke them into the holes in the biscuits. Try different length bits on each biscuit. Look at the results and go "Hmmm.. ."

Decide to paint the biscuits with bright colours that will set off the blue of the plastic bits nicely.

Decide you quite like the results and glue the bits in place.

Think "Now what?"

Sleep on it. Not literally, obviously as that would be a bit spiky.

Next day, decide to see what one of the simpler ones would look like as a pendant. OK, a bit obvious maybe, but worth keeping. Looks like a little scrubbing brush, but in a good way I hope ;-)

Try one out as a brooch. Kind of funky, but as the plastic bits on this one are quite long the whole thing kind of hangs down instead of sitting nicely on the chest or lapel or whatever.
Try to stabilise it with some upcycled wire grid. That works pretty well. Another keeper.

Now, get distracted by the model railway figures you just bought, and ones you had around anyway. For fun, put the two retro, cute kids on the more minimal biscuit as though standing by a fence or somesuch. Nice. But how to use this as a pendant as it's flat and horizontal, not vertical. Maybe a tallish wire loop would do the job and allow the piece to be hung on a chain or something. That could work. I like. . .

For more fun, put the milk churn carrying man in amongst some shorter plastic bits, like he's walking through grass. How about a wire grid to maybe allow the piece to be strung somehow? The grid obviously needs some electronic components and an image transfer abstract tile to finish it off. The electronic bits also go with his shirt.

I like this 3D effect. The figures have a sort of environment to exist in.

Box carrying man can also get in on the 3D act, with a grid and another image transfer abstract tile above him as he heaves his box through the rather small opening in the 'fence'.

The question "Why?" doesn't need to be asked unless the answer "Because" is sufficient for you, because that's all the reply you will get ;-)

These can be weird pendants or equally weird small ornaments for the mantlepiece.

Just what you've always wanted ;-)

Now call it a day and wait for the next silly idea. . .

Jon x

Saturday 27 June 2020

Stripes, Glitches, Multi Image Trans Veneers, Model Railway Figures and Fancy Lawn Mowers

Well, still in the throes of this lockdown thing though the situation has eased slightly. Shops are open again apparently, which makes no difference to me as I am not remotely interested in risking my life and that of others in order to 'shop'. To be fair I don't do 'shopping' at the best of times, I buy stuff as and when I need it, so I don't see shopping as a recreational activity in it's own right and can't understand why anyone does ;-) Especially in those hideous, charmless and soul destroying places known as Malls. . .

Of course being a hypocrite, I enjoy trawling through charity shops and the scruffier kind of antique shops and finding interesting things therein. . . That doesn't count as shopping though, obviously. . .

My wife went to the coast yesterday to scope out the seaside town for possible painting locations, she is part of a 'plein air' landscape group who intend to meet up on Sunday for the first time since lockdown began. The place was heaving with visitors, no masks, no social distancing, just crowds of idiots. So she came home pretty quick. What is wrong with people? Silly question, don't get me started. . So no plein air meeting on Sunday, or if there is, she won't be going.

While I am on the subject of domestic life, the two goslings are growing apace and are over half as big as mum and dad. They are growing white feathers to replace the downy yellow ones they had up to now. Big fat healthy buggers they are too. Good to see. The moorhens have several babies but are being quite shy about it all, very protective, so I'm not sure how many babies. At least three.

Anyway, I'm still making and selling stuff, so not a lot has changed for me really. I tend to move between obsessions, bead wise, and have been exploring striped tube type beads and 'spindles' for a while. Encouraged, it has to be said, by buyers being quite keen on them. I try to avoid the temptation to make things because I 'know' they will sell, but I fall prey to it from time to time. I usually find that when that happens it turns and bites me in the bum. The surefire sellers don't sell and I am left feeling suitable chastened for my presumption, and determined not to get caught again. Until next time ;-)
The stripey stuff is getting to the bum biting stage I think so I need to move on again.

Luckily, I still have my obsession with image transfer tiles on upcycled wire frames. I have been messing around with veneers. Not very much, but I have been having fun painting and distressing sheets of poly clay and using the results instead of image transfers on tile beads. I have also combined paint and multiple image transfers, distressing and overlaying them. All great fun. I shall try some more in due course.

I also made use of what would otherwise have been an annoying glitch. The laser printer decided to splatter and splurge ink on the back of the paper, while printing faded rubbish on the front. It hadn't been used for a while so I think it was getting back into the swing of things via a mistake or two. Anyway, the splurges on the back looked interesting so I used them as image transfers. 

I also have an ongoing obsession with model railway figures, the little people that model railway enthusiasts position on platforms etc. I have used them before on wire frames, but it occurred to me that I could embed them in a sheet of poly clay, with other suitable and unsuitable objects. That is how my most recent pendant things were born. 

I am reluctant to sell them, but am not sure what else I would do with them. I may see how difficult or otherwise it is to make brooches, or try to find a way of hanging them on some kind of string/thing/whatever to make a pendant necklace, I dunno. No hurry. I do need to source some more figures though. Ebay is the place by the look of it. They ain't cheap though.

That's all very well, but what about the fancy lawnmower? I hear you cry. . Well, my wife finally got so fed up with having to ask me to start the old lawnmower as she couldn't muster the physical oomph to do it herself, that she went out and bought a small, sit on lawn tractor type thing. One that starts with key. It's red and shiny. . . It also doesn't cut shorter than 3mm, which is a bit long for a lawn. The solution to this problem? Let the tyres down! Only a bit, but it brings the blades lower and makes a nice neat cut. . . Technology eh?

See you next time, 

Jon x

Wednesday 27 May 2020

Lockdown - Overthinking, Goslings, Socially Isolating Chickens and Stripey Stuff

So, two and a half months since my last blog post. That must be a record. Not one to be proud of I have to say. (I initially wrote 'two and a half moths' until I noticed and corrected it, still, I like the image it throws up. . . )
I suppose the enforced limbo we are all in has eroded any sense of urgency I might have felt. Also, feeling guilty about not posting for weeks doesn't help. How can I possibly post after so long a gap? etc. etc.
Oh well, I am doing it now aren't I?

Scratch design rustic, turned look tube beads
The trouble is, for us, so far this lockdown has actually been rather pleasant, which is something else to feel guilty about. We have had fine weather, a lovely big garden to spend time in, access to pleasant country walks and good, responsible neighbours. I know, sickening. . . And it's so much like the everyday existence of self employed freelancers working from home, which is all I have ever done, that it doesn't even feel even vaguely disconcerting. (OK, the supermarket trip is a bit weird with 2 metre distances and masks etc but everyone is pretty chilled and considerate. I tend to go at 8.30 a.m. to avoid any queues.)

Pleasing shape stripey rounded bicone type beads
I feel guilty mentioning it, which makes no sense really. Feeling guilty doesn't actually help anybody else. You can end up feeling guilty because you feel you ought to, that somehow it's not right not to feel guilty considering the predicament some people find themselves in.  Somehow it's the least you can do. You find yourself feeling guilty for even wanting to not feel guilty. . . Like it's a social responsibility to make yourself suffer because others are suffering. Not that affluent middle class guilt is in any way comparable to real suffering you understand. Anyway, I've been round this convoluted moral dilemma enough times for one blog post so I'll stop wittering on about it. Apart from to say that of course I miss seeing friends and family, I miss pubs, I miss meals out, I miss finding cool things in charity shops and I miss playing music with others, but as long as they are just deferred pleasures and not permanently withdrawn ones I can cope without them.

Extremely bad taste
Obviously we wish the situation was different for those unfortunate enough to have been directly affected by this potentially lethal virus, and send them our sincere sympathy/empathy/thoughts/prayers/support. Meanwhile we will keep our heads down and maintain social distance and all the things a certain government advisor has shamelessly ignored recently. I'm not even going there apart from to say 'Grrrrrrrrrr!'. . .

Distressed blunt ended turned look spike bead
As I am talking about domestic stuff, I'm pleased to say that the two geese have done themselves proud and produced two wonderful, greeny yellow, fluffy goslings. ( I don't have pics, sorry) They have even reinvented themselves as good parents, the goslings are about two and a half weeks old and are thriving, unlike last year when the poor little things lasted two days.

Using some simple digital patterns and upcycled steel split rings
The chickens are also in lockdown. We have confined them to the orchard and the pond area, as they were trashing the spring flowers and threatening the well being of anything that might show it's head in the veg patch. (and pooing everywhere) There is more than enough room for the four of them and they are still amongst the most environmentally fortunate chooks you will ever come across so don't waste any sympathy on them ;-)

Weird conjoined tube bead focal thing
My jewellery components have had a few ups and downs, but that is more to do with general retail variation and the fact that I make different stuff every week which will either tickle someone's fancy or not. Recently things have been going nicely, so that is one more thing that hasn't changed much in this time of lockdown. They say that craft supplies are undergoing a boom as people turn to crafting to alleviate the boredom of lockdown. Not so sure about that in my case as I sell to a variety of repeat customers with only the occasional new buyer appearing. Whatever, I am still busy making stuff, so again, situation almost normal. .

An actual necklace - 'Red Lorry -Yellow Lorry' retro rubber stamp images with nylon garden string. .
I have been experimenting as usual, and producing variations on tried and tested things too. The images throughout this post are in chronological order, (apart from the first one) just showing some of the things I have made and mostly sold in the last two and a half months. Enjoy ;-)

I will post again soon, probably. . . ;-)

best, Jon x

Sideways spikes, like fairgound ride spaceships


Seriously large hole tube beads

Multi blob painted distressed spikes

Image transfer wrapped chunky large hole wooden beads


Stripey painted tube beads - these and others like them have been popular ;-)

These rustic image trans wrapped tubes have been popular too